This is a fan-fic that was created for a user on another site as a Xmas gift. Yes, I know I'm late… '=o)
Please note, that this fic contains violent fights and some sexual themes in the later chapters and is built around a homosexual relationship. If you have a problem with that, please, leave this story right now.
Also, this fic may contain spoilers until the Chapter #475 of the manga. Then I start to drift off, so don't be surprised.
Disclaimer: The only purpose of this fan-fiction is to have some fun and all the characters and the universe of Naruto are the intelectual property of Masashi Kishimoto.
A young man was beating a wooden training post. Repeated hits, one after the other, with perfect rhythm and in a high speed. The harsh sunlight of Suna afternoon and the physical effort made him sweat and his green training suit was drenched in some places and covered in sand, dust and light crust of salt in others. His black hair was totally wet too and several strands stuck to his face, the rest slicked back. His labored breathing only accentuated the sharp staccato of his fists connecting with the polished wood, the bandages already stained red. But Lee would not stop. He could not stop. This was his punishment
Exactly like his sensei, Lee also had the tendency to punish himself for a lot of things. For a bet lost, for an expectation failed. Or for a mission failed. His sensei, the great taijutsu expert Maito Gai, explained to him when he was just a kid that if he fails, he should do something to make himself better instead. Failed a mission because he wasn't fast enough? Run thousand laps around the village. Did not perform on training as needed? Do more training. And this time he really needed to get better. Fast.
Most of the time it was fine, they carried out their missions without a problem, but lately Lee started to despair. He felt like he was failing his team and was not good enough for this mission. He kept making mistakes.
Who knew that the subject of youth was so… disliked by Suna civilians? After just a few of his Good Guy poses they started to avoid him and even call him a freak. This didn't show his village in a good light. He tried to be even more diligent and youthful, but that seemed to worsen the things even more.
Like the time he saw that old guy berating Tenten for training his grand-daughter too hard. Lee told him that in her power of youth his teammate had the right to use whatever means necessary to ensure his daughter would become a powerful kunoichi.
The guy frowned at him and replied haughtily that he doesn't wish for his daughter to become one of them freaks and that he'd rather see her settle down and have a family, than to parade around in skimpy disrespectable outfits.
Lee then proceeded to demonstrate on Tenten how useful her outfit was in the battle and explain to the old man that it was an honor for shinobi to serve their village and even die for it.
How he was supposed to know that this was one of the most respected merchants of Sunagakure? True, Neji said something about the scrolls they were supposed to study, but the real way of ninja lied in practice, right? That was the day when the first official complaint against him was filed.
But this was only beginning.
The Green beast of Konoha gritted his teeth and blinked the burning sweat drops out of his eyes. He will continue to train until he could show all the Sand citizens that he does not damage the name of ninja and that he deserves some respect too.
And perhaps his teammates will stop being so angry with him then.
After reaching the count of ten thousand hits, Lee stopped to abuse the training post with his hands and started to kick it savagely. He will not rest, he could not. He had a reputation to uphold.
Sabaku no Temari, the older sister of Kazekage and number one Sand kunoichi, turned from her place near the window overlooking the training grounds. She was observing the Leaf ninja training there and she could see his taijutsu was amazing. Although, after the last few weeks she wondered, whether the whole capacity of the man's brain was focused on the martial arts only and nothing was left for thinking.
After several years of cooperation, the hidden villages of Konoha and Suna decided to swap teams. Each of the current teams (means no solitary chuunin or jounin; the ANBU were exception to this as well) of Konoha was supposed to spend three months in Suna, acting like Suna shinobi, learning their customs, carrying out their missions, sparring with their regular ninja, teaching their children and treating their sick. At the same time Sand would send one of their teams to the Leaf. After three months the teams would return to their villages and next two teams would be swapped.
The idea behind this was simple: people fear what they do not understand. And when you understand somebody completely, when you eat with him, sleep next to him, kill by his side, it is hard to think about that person as of an enemy. Also, it would allow greater understanding of general culture of the other village – and because the climate was so different (hot and dry in Suna and humid with changing seasons in Konoha), the shinobi will also expand their abilities to fight and hide in the terrain that would hold them in disadvantage. And finally, it was a blatant show of trust between the two villages, which also told all the other countries that this alliance is strong and prospering.
So far all was going well. The new Team Seven, Sakura, Naruto and Sai, seemed to do wonders in this department.
The blond jinchuuriki tore through the training fields and flashed his smiles left and right, speaking openly about what does it mean, being hunted by Akatsuki and having a demon sealed inside, which greatly improved the public opinion on Gaara too.
Sakura spent a lot of time in the hospital, teaching some of the trickier chakra manipulation processes and, being given access to Chiyo-sama's poisons and notes in exchange for saving Kankuro's life too, she constructed several new poisons and antidotes during her stay.
And Sai, with his sweet smile and uncanny crack for saying the weirdest things in the most polite tone, kept the Elders on their toes and already helped to devise a change or two in the laws that the Kazekage, Sabaku no Gaara, could recognize as something that will help his village in the near future a lot.
Team Eight, Hinata, Shino and Kiba also made very good impression.
The Hyuuga heiress was great in teaching children and was especially loved by the young kunoichis-to-be.
While there was no such things as gender discrimination amongst the shinobis themselves, the civilian public was strongly patriarchal and a fighting woman was something frown upon.
Hinata, with her soft-spoken words, her impeccable behavior and her high political status, definitely took the wind out of sails of those, who said that a fighting woman is either a whore or an old maid unwanted by men.
Sakura could drive this point home too, but honestly, who would care about what those fools think about kunoichi, when there are so many interesting things to analyze.
Both Shino and Kiba showed another aspect to the Sand shinobi. The bonding with another live being.
Dessert is seemingly bare and dead and so Suna never paid much attention to animals. There weren't much summons and not every species surviving amongst the dunes was interesting for the shinobi to think about deeper cooperation, but after seeing what kikkai, skillfully directed by their master, could do – spying, reconnaissance, attacks – even the smallest creatures were suddenly of interest.
Kiba then helped those, who wished to improve their connection with their partner, just like he had with his nin-ken Akamaru, and trained the shinobi in the art of communication.
When Team 8 was leaving, a regular team for the exchange left with them. As well as five more shinobi, who would continue to train under Kiba's and Shino's supervision with their new summons.
It was the turn of Team Gai: Tenten, Neji and Lee. Technically, they were no longer Team Gai, what with their graduation and their Sensei going on solo missions, leaving the oldest three of the Konoha Twelwe as an independent team, but they still continued to call themselves in this way. When asked about it, they just shrugged and told it simply was so and there was no reason to change it. It stuck with them so much that they appeared under this designation even on the duty roster, and after that there was no getting rid of this name. They didn't mind in the slightest.
Tenten was usually helping to train pre-genin in the Academy and Lee and Neji were mostly left to themselves, spending most of their time going on missions with Suna shinobi.
Temari's younger brother, Kankuro the puppeteer, was now lazing on a sofa with his eyes closed, and recounting all the mess the overzealous visitor managed to create.
Rock Lee so far managed to insult Makimoto, one of the most respected merchants and a close relative to one of the elders, scared several civilians by appearing out of nowhere and shouting his youthful proclamations, upset several of their ANBU by insisting on being his usual… loud self while on a stealth mission, wreaked havoc on their mission room by re-filing all Suna mission scrolls in Konoha's filing order – without telling anybody and of course, without showing anybody the ropes, which forced them to close down the whole place for two days and bring everything back into order.
Granted, the mission scrolls were never so organized before and they've found some really old gems, including their own genin team reports, but still, this was causing more harm than help.
Gaara, the former jinchuuriki and now the Kazekage, the supreme leader of the Sunagakure, sat by his table, his hands folded under his chin, listening closely to his brother's speech. It was without doubt that unless some serious damage control was executed, Lee's behavior could cause the whole shinobi exchange program to be permanently terminated and turn the public opinion slightly hostile towards the allied village.
Kankuro drank a bit of water and came close to the end of his long monologue: "And then I caught this genin team, Cell Twelve, beating their heads against trees. When I asked them what happened, they told me that the green man told them they should punish themselves in order to be greater shinobi. Of course he did not explain to them how he meant it and the guys were on a nice road to concussions by the time I found them."
He sighed and run his hand through his hair, enjoying that he could appear without his usual combat attire and kabuki paint in their house. Suddenly he got an idea and turned to his red-haired brother with a clear look of hope in his eyes, "Say, Gaara, how about you just make him disappear, yunno…" and he squeezed his fist, as Gaara did when activating his sand coffin.
The former jinchuuriki glared at him icily, "No."
"Oh." The puppeteer's face fell disappointed.
Temari smirked and turned back to the window, sometimes she would really appreciate such a simple solution to their problems.
The green-clad form on the ground below continued to attack the post as if holding a grudge.
She really could admire his determination and effort, but frankly, he was getting on her nerves too. She glanced at her brothers again. "Seriously though, we need to handle him somehow. I spoke to Tenten about how they used to calm him down."
Both guys turned to her, one slightly interested, the other even more hopeful than before.
"And?" prompted Kankuro.
The blonde woman sighed, "They didn't. Apparently they just let him run around until he exhausted himself. After Maito Gai running rampant through their village, Lee appeared almost normal by comparison, even to civilians."
The brown-haired shinobi shuddered at the thought of the Green beast of Konoha appearing normal. He purposefully omitted the word "beautiful" from his name too. Seriously, what with the outfit and hairstyle…
Gaara snickered and stood up. "That is all nice, but this technique would not work here. And we need to handle him before he gets somebody to declare war on us. Temari, you are in charge of handling the damage control."
The woman nodded.
Gaara shifted his gaze to his older brother, "Kankuro, you will find a way to stop Lee from creating this chaos and you will explain to him, what is going on."
The puppeteer groaned and hid his face in his hands.
The Kazekage smirked and joined his sister by the window, observing the small green figure.
Apparently Lee was now running laps around the training ground and it was fairly obvious he was limping rather heavily.
Temari shook her head, "I really don't understand why he trains so severely. I mean, he really punishes himself instead of training."
Kankuro's voice came muffled from behind his hands. "I asked Neji after that Cell Twelve incident. Maito Gai told him at some point that failure was unacceptable and so in order to avoid further failure the punishment has to be something that makes him better. Like, being faster, stronger, stuff like that. Maybe he's punishing himself for all the blunders?"
The blonde rolled her eyes, "Well, I'd prefer if he could do some training in etiquette and diplomacy, to be honest." She took her gigantic tessen and strapped it to her back. "I'm going to have a word with the sensei of Cell Twelve about how comes he didn't stop his genin himself."
"Have fun." The brown-haired man still hadn't moved from the couch, nor did he stop hiding his face.
"Come on, Rock Lee can't be that bad," she punched his shoulder on her way out.
The Kazekage continued to stare out of the window.