Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, and I also don't think that you think that I do.
Author's Note: Yeah, this is a story about me expressing my inner Lee fan girl. I've never understood why he doesn't get as much credit as the other guys. I mean, guys like Sasuke and Itachi are pretty good looking, but they have horrible attitudes. I wouldn't want to date one of them. Sasuke would ditch a girl for a gay pedophile and Itachi would probably only date a girl within his clan and then kill her. Lee is nice to everyone, even squirrels! How could you not like a sweetheart like him? Well, that's enough of my rant. Enjoy the story and please review.
Today was a special day, even though you may not have been able to tell from looking at Hottan Megumi. Megumi was acting the same that she did everyday. She was at the Academy before anyone else. She took her usual seat by the window and took out a thick book to read. No one thought twice about this as they entered the room and took seats beside their friends, chatting happily.
Megumi finished the last page of the book and sighed, satisfied with the ending of the book she had been reading all week. She looked at the books inside her desk; besides the standard academy textbook, there were her own notebooks where she kept information she wanted to remember. She would be taking these with her if things went right today. Today was special because it was the day of the Konoha Shinobi Academy's yearly graduation exam. Today, the students in this class would be given a test of their potential shinobi skills. At the front of the room, twenty new, shiny hitai-ate, or forehead protectors, were lined up on a small table neatly in five rows of four, one headband for each potential graduate.
I guess that that one will be mine, Megumi thought, looking at the first headband in the second row. In alphabetical order, she was eighth in her class. Wow, my very own forehead protector.
Their class's main teacher, a young woman named Kotone, entered the room quietly. Immediately, every person in the room was silenced. Kotone was a beautiful young woman, only twenty, but she had been their teacher from the beginning. She had thick, dark-red, pixie-cut hair and pretty gray eyes. The entire class respected Kotone. Girls admired her for being a strong and beautiful kunoichi, and most boys just thought that she was hot. Only a few of the students, like Megumi and a boy, knew how really compassionate their sensei was.
"Good morning, everyone," Kotone said, smiling around at all of them.
As a group, the class chorused, "Good morning, Kotone-sensei!"
I'm going to miss Kotone-sensei, Megumi thought suddenly. She's been a really great teacher.
"As you all know, today is a very important day. We will be giving a practical examination today to determine who graduates from the academy. I am happy to tell you that every one of you did well on the written portion of the test, which means that everyone will be participating." Her smile grew. "I wish you all the best of luck."
"I'm impressed. It seems we will have an excellent graduating class this year," Kotone said. "Now, I know that you are all ready to go out and play, but we have to have one more demonstration. I want you to show me your best clone technique when I call you forward. After I give you your headband, you will need to stay in the classroom until I dismiss you. Understood?" The class agreed.
Megumi waited patiently for her turn. Watching as seven classmates went ahead of her, she felt herself move to the edge of her seat as her excitement grew stronger. It seemed like it would be forever before she would get to take her shot at the jutsu.
Finally, Kotone called, "Hottan Megumi, it's your turn."
Walking down the layered areas of the room to the bottom, she went a little too quickly and tripped over her own two feet. There were a bunch of snickers from the seated children, which Kotone silenced with a venomous glare around the room. When Megumi stood back up, her hands stung a little bit, and she saw that she'd skinned them when she caught herself. She dusted herself off and tried to pretend like nothing happened, though her cheeks were burning. As she walked into the center of the class, she thought, this is it.
She took a deep breath and began to prepare her chakra. Concentrating on accuracy, she made the hand seals. Releasing the right amount of chakra for three clones, she muttered under her breath, "Clone Technique." There was a puff of smoke, and when she looked behind her, three good-looking clones were standing there, waiting for instruction. Megumi's sensei smiled.
"Good job, Megumi-chan." She said it no differently than she did for anyone else, but it seemed more meaningful to Megumi. She handed the girl a forehead protector, smiling like she did for everyone. The lilac-haired girl grasped at the cool metal happily and went contentedly up to her seat.
I did it! I'm a Genin now! I can't believe it!
She watched the next boy in the class, Hyuga Neji, perform a flawless technique and earn his headband. The next was another girl, a brunette named Tenten. Only three more to go, she thought as Tenten took her seat with her own headband. The tenth in the class, a boy named Rock Lee, took the center stage next.
An unexpected sorrow filled her when she saw him. He's not going to graduate. He may never, she thought forlornly. He can't do any ninjutsu or genjutsu. Taijutsu alone would be hard to master thoroughly enough to be a shinobi based off of. Poor Lee…He may never accomplish his dream. The idea was depressing to her, and she tried to push it away.
Instead, she watched as Lee made every seal with no faults. The boy squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force his chakra to work correctly for just this once. Instead of getting a bunch of beat-up clones like some others did when they failed the jutsu, his resulted in a puff of smoke and no clone at all. The boy's shoulders sank dejectedly when he saw the nothing behind him. Megumi frowned, but Kotone smiled.
"Good job, Lee-kun." She said. She turned towards the table and gave Lee a forehead protector. The boy looked up, large eyebrows furrowing in confusion. She smiled at him and made a motion for him to return to his seat, and so he went.
I wonder what she did that for. She might get in trouble for that later, Megumi thought, But regardless, it was really nice. I'm glad he'll still get his chance. Maybe his dream will come true. I hope so.
No body was really paying attention as the last few members of the group passed their examinations. Most of the students were trying to understand why Kotone had passed Rock Lee on to geninhood. Some, like the school bullies, twin boys named Ichirou and Jirou, looked indignant that he had graduated. Others seemed a bit amused, like Hyuga Neji and Tenten. Some didn't seem to mind, one way or another; they just wanted to understand. But Megumi was the only one who was really and truly happy for the boy, regardless of the reasoning of his graduation.
"Now that everybody's graduated, I want to congratulate you all once again. It has taken a lot of hard work to master all of the difficult things that you had to learn in order to graduate. I'm proud to be – or, I suppose since you've graduated, have been - your sensei." Kotone looked at all of them warmly, pride glowing in her smiling face.
"Tomorrow will be the day of your Orientation, as I'm sure you've all figured out by now. You will be sorted into teams and each team will be assigned a new sensei." She smiled again. "You are dismissed. I'll see you all tomorrow."
The kids scurried out of the room, with some mutters and calls of "Bye, Kotone-sensei!" and "See you tomorrow, sensei!" tossed over their shoulders. Only Megumi and Lee remained lagging behind, getting out the door at almost the same time. Lee was ahead of Megumi, and she suddenly wanted to talk to him.
"Hey, Lee-san," she called to him. He stopped, shocked, and turned back towards her.
"Yes, Megumi-san?" He asked curiously; they had never really had much interaction. He stopped and waited until she caught up with him.
"I..." she looked for the right words. "I'm glad that you graduated, too." She smiled slightly. "You deserve that forehead protector."
He looked shocked for a minute. He reached up to touch the metal plate on the fabric of the forehead protector. Then, he smiled. "Thank you, Megumi-san."
"You're welcome." She looked at him. Both she and Lee had been the victims of bullying more than their fair share, but unlike Lee, she had been given some kindness from the other girls in the class. He had gotten no slack from anyone, and even though everyone knew that some people would beat him up for his dream occasionally after class, he still held on to it. "I just thought that you should know."
"M-megumi-s-san…"He closed his eyes, and she saw tears on his cheeks. He wiped them away with the sleeve of his robe-like shirt. "I'm sorry. You just have no idea how much this means to me."
You're right, the golden-eyed girl thought, I don't. It was only one compliment; it shouldn't mean so much.
She observed his face, not for the first time. It was a round, babyish face with large round eyes. His oversized black eyebrows gave him an almost clownish look, and his black, braided hair was so glossy that it looked like it might be made of plastic. His dream was so close to unreachable that others scorned him for it, yet he had never given it up. Megumi was certain that he never would, either. He was definitely of the oddest people in the village, but she found herself with an overwhelming urge to be his friend.
I will become your friend, she thought at the boy, Because you deserve to have at least one.