A/N: Okay so this is just a random story that's been in drifting around in my head for quite some time. I thought it'd be nice to write it down for all of you to enjoy. Please R&R!

The Plan

There is a reason why Kakashi chuckles every time he's challenged to a competition. There is a reason why green has been mingled with gold in every shinobi medal of honor in Konoha. There is a reason why Tenten, Lee, and Neji crack small smiles at the mention of the word "youth". And that reason is Maito Gai.

Now, this man was probably not an epitome of fashion or style of any sort, but he was a shining example of perseverance and will power. His proof that such methods alone could work wonders on any ninja, no matter if they were prodigies or simply sacks of water? His evidence that underneath all his inhumane energy and exuberant attitude, he was actually quite sensible? Why, the word of his three students was, is, and always will be enough to silence any opposition.

In their academy days, all three were picked out to be somewhat special. Tenten, the girl with no last name, who was mesmerized by weapons and all things pointy and lethal, inspired to become the next Tsunade. Neji, the prodigy of the Hyuga clan, sought freedom, as a caged bird escapes from its prison. And lastly, Lee, the boy with only taijutsu skill, who was determined to become a great shinobi despite his poor chakra control.

They were strewn together in a squad, with no former friendship or mere acquaintance to assist them through the obvious awkwardness. Their dreams were laid naked before their sensei, who was idolized by one, and thought of as rather queer by the other two.

Their first meeting was rough, crude, and filled with the utmost disgusting comments. All members of the now renowned "Team Gai" left feeling either unappreciated or disturbed. Fortunately, their relationship eventually grew to be an unbreakable bond, useful as strength in battle, or a weakness in miserable times.

In fact, it is the coming about of this very relationship and all parts afterwards, which I have self- commissioned myself to tell you and any with whom you associate, about today.

They were never alone. They were always under the guidance of one of the most powerful men on the planet. This is how they gave back, and mended the broken road.

Mapping out the Path

"Are you going to give up just like that? Right when you are about to surpass where were you were yesterday? Hmm?"

Lee, Neji, and Tenten hunched over and panted, feeding their starved lungs with oxygen. They weakly shook their heads in unison, wiping sweat from their faces.

"I will strive to be stronger than I was yesterday!" Lee exclaimed, thrusting his fist forward in an exuberant display.

"Stronger than I was yesterday!" Neji joined in, equally pompous in his show of determination.

"Stronger than I was yesterday!" Tenten finished, her eyes glinting with a beautiful ferocity in the setting sun.

Gai grinned, placing his hands on his hips.

This was their motto. From day one of their training, they were told to perform at nothing short of their best. That they had to want to succeeded. They had to have the most dire craving and passion for improvement.

From Genin to Anbu, it was chanted, pounded, and branded in to their minds with an unbeatable force that was the love of their sensei.

These few words, helped carve the road to their futures.

The Beginning

"Alright team! Let's move out!" Gai shouted, flashing a dazzling smile over his shoulder at his students.

It was the day of their first serious mission. The team had assembled before the main gate of the village, anxious, excited, and nervous of what was to come.

Neji rolled his eyes at his sensei's exclamation, adjusted his bag on his shoulder, and set out in a sprint.

Tenten, half awake, stumbled out last, trying to keep up with her best friend.

Lee, of course, was racing along side his teacher, grinning like an idiot.

The task at hand seemed very simplistic. They were to help rebuild a small fishing town in Tea Country about one hundred miles from the southern border of the Land of Fire. However, rumor had it, that a band of rogue ninja had taken refuge in the surrounding mountains and was causing quite a predicament for the hired hands.

"Now, the first element to becoming a spectacular ninja is to be alert at all times! Everyone keep quiet and observe the nature. Look for any signs of followers," Gai instructed.

"The only one talking is you," Tenten mumbled, her eyes drooping. Neji smirked, but he slowed down to assure she wouldn't get hurt. The brunette female watched him wearily, but as soon as she was sure he wouldn't be a nuisance, she let him be.

They made good time, their pace staying intact for the most part. At nightfall, they set up camp in a clearing.

Lee and Neji collected firewood while Tenten and Gai unrolled the sleeping bags and opened the cans of food.

The four sat on the grass huddled around the fire, eating slowly. Everyone was tense.

The foliage was as black as the sky. It ruffled and made quite an eerie sound as it was raped by the cool breeze.

The sole female of the group shivered and quaked as every leaf fluttered in the wind. Her training partner took note of her fear, and subtly moved closer.

They went to sleep, shoulder-to-shoulder, comrade-to -comrade, and love-to-love.

It wasn't this part of the mission that was deemed difficult, nor was the construction. It was teamwork and trust.

Neji, constantly training with Tenten, fought by her side and was only ready to assist her. Lee and Gai's mirrored moves were not compatible with the fighting styles of the rest of the team.

They stumbled, were nearly killed, and barely got out alive carrying a bloody Lee and unconscious sensei.

Breathing hard, and nearly ready to collapse, Tenten and Neji barreled through the gates of Konoha, dragging their fallen comrades' bodies behind them.

They were admitted to the hospital. Neither the Hyuga or his female counterpart will ever admit they were rather excited to be taken to the emergency ward for injuries from a mission. They felt like true shinobi.

Rough Patches

A few years passed from the time of their first mission. Neji, changed by Naruto during the Chunnin Exams, quickly surpassed his teammates and became a jounin. Tenten and Lee, however, were close behind.

Regardless of their varying ranks, Team Gai remained just that: a team, a family.

They fought, triumphed, and fell together, just as they had always done. They laughed, cried, and experienced every emotion in between in the presence of their comrades.

Neji and Tenten, in particular, felt love and the sweetest affection towards each other. The matter of confessing, in fact, was very near.

Gai remained the essence of energy as he propelled forward with unrelenting power. It seemed to his students, that he never aged.

"Gai! Slow down!" Tenten exclaimed, as she leapt from branch to branch, trying to keep up with her sensei and teammates.

"Tenten, you must speed up!" her sensei retorted, flashing her a smile.

"It is true! You aren't training hard enough!" Lee told her.

Tenten stopped. She was tired, injured, and disheveled. She had worked so hard to become who she was and now, no one seemed to appreciate her.

She placed her hands on her hips and glared.

"Tenten let-" Neji was cut off by her raised hand.

"I am not going one step further," she bit out.

"Tenten! We must reach Konoha in exactly five minutes to break our record!" Lee complained.

"Then you go ahead. I'd rather return to that diseased little village, then home with you three."

They had come back from a small town in the Rice Country infected with a strange illness. Tsunade had worked out a cure and dispatched Team Gai to deliver it. The four had nearly caught the disease themselves, but were immunized in the nick of time.

Gai and Lee were speechless. Neji sighed.

"You two go on," the Hyuga said," I'll talk with her." When the green beasts were out of sight, he turned to look at his training partner. The sourest expression adorned her face. Her lips were scrunched and twisted and her eyes were narrowed.

"I don't want to talk to you," she hissed. Neji planted himself directly in front of her. He towered over her, and she knew there was no escape. The Hyuga placed his hands on her shoulders, clearly concerned.

"What is upsetting you?" he asked, pressing his forehead to hers.

Tenten remained silent as tears threatened to spill from her eyes. She made an awful snorting sound as she tried to hold in a sob.

Neji watched her, observing every twitch of her muscles, testing her patience. Then, ever so gently, he pulled her against him. His teammate scrunched his robes in between her fingers as she hugged him.

"I don't want to go back," she whispered. To Konoha or the Rice Country, Neji was uncertain; nevertheless, he told her this:

"I don't want you to go." Six simple words that made Tenten's head spin.

"Why?" she asked. "Because I'm your training partner or-or your teammate? Huh?"

Neji tightened his hold on her, and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "It's because I love you."

Trust

Team Gai had been sent on yet another mission. They had stopped traveling for the day, as a blanket of stars and darkness shrouded the sun.

Their camp was on a beach. In the morning, a boat would come and transport them to the small island where their task lay.

Tenten and Lee were sound asleep, lulled by the noise of the crashing waves. Neji, however, remained alert and wide-awake. He knew Gai was supposed to keep the first shift to watch for danger, but the man had disappeared.

The Hyuga sat up, curiosity nagging his mind. He had to find their sensei. He got to his feet, searching for the man's form.

His head snapped to his left when he heard shuffling. His heart calmed, however, when he realized it was just Tenten, rolling in her dormant state. He crawled over to her, brushed her bangs from her face, and kissed her forehead. When she stilled, Neji resumed his search.

Gai was sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, his legs dangling in the air, and his head bowed low in thought.

Neji hurried over to him, keeping his footsteps light as to not startle anyone.

"Gai sensei," the Hyuga said, once he came to a stop a foot away from the green beast.

"Neji. I was waiting till you found me. Come sit down," Gai urged, as he patted the space next to him and scooted a bit to make room.

His pupil did as he was told, and the two sat in the silent moonlight. Neji was disturbed as he glanced at his sensei now and then. Gai looked serious and so-so old. His face, which seemed smooth and untouched, was wrinkled. His eyebrows didn't look quite as hairy as before.

"Is something wrong?" the Hyuga finally asked.

"Neji," Gai began. He placed a hand on his student's shoulder and looked him square in the eye. "I've always had faith in you. I knew you wouldn't need my help, for from the moment I saw you, I knew you were already greater than I ever could be."

"That's not –"

"It is." For a while, those words hung between them. "Neji, I'm-I'm not young anymore, you know that. And-and I'd like to ask of you-"

"Stop it. What is wrong with you?" Neji demanded. His sensei was crying; not tears of joy, but tears of fear and grief.

Gai shook his head, inhaled sharply, and attempted to stifle a sob.

"I'm not going to live much longer. And I'd-"

"How dare you! What are you saying?" his pupil interrupted him again. Neji was frightened, worried, anxious, stressed, and so much more. He could not comprehend his sensei's words. They sounded so-so foreign when spoken in the voice of such an exuberant, youthful man.

"Neji, listen to me. You must listen," Gai begged, "When I-I pass from this world onto the next, promise me-promise me you'll take care of Tenten and Lee. They need you just as much as they need me, if not more. Can you promise me that?"

The ocean seemed very tempting now. Neji wanted to jump into it and be swallowed. He wanted to be free from this-this-whatever it was. Life, would you call it? It seemed more of a curse now. Gai was not going to die. Gai would not just leave him like-like his father had left him.

Neji, soon enough, felt his face grow wet and his vision blurred. He touched his skin, surprised to find water. "Have I fallen into the ocean?" he thought. He felt a hand-no- a callused finger-brush away what he came to realize were tears.

"Do not worry, I will always watch over you," Gai whispered softly. He was surprised when his student hugged him, and began to sob into his shoulder.

"No! No! You won't die!"

"Neji," the bowl haired man asked again, "Will you promise to take care of them?"

The Hyuga nodded, wiping his face with his sleeve, "I promise."

All the Spaces In Between

Two years later, Gai walked Tenten down the aisle. As he handed her off to Neji, he winked and flashed him a smile. The Hyuga shook his head, amused. Tenten grinned and linked arms with her soon-to-be husband.

Lee, the best man, was the first to embrace his teammates after they had completed their vows and had been announced a couple.

The cameramen chuckled as they photographed the group hug (which Gai couldn't resist to join and make all the more awkward).

Gai smiled wide as he danced with Tenten during the reception.

"He won't let you out of his sight," the green beast whispered of Neji, who had kept a concrete gaze on his wife throughout the entire function.

Tenten blushed and rolled her eyes. "He won't be getting away with anything, either, as long as I'm around."

"I know," Gai told her, and walked her back to her husband after the song had ended.

The End of the Rope

"Tenten! Watch out!"

"Neji! Duck!"

"Lee! To your left!"

"Gai sensei! Gai sensei!"

The cry for the man echoed throughout the forest, tussled the waves of the ocean, and collided with the mountains.

The battle ended in and against the favor of Team Gai. The four had defeated their assailants, but in the process, Gai had become severely injured.

Neji picked up the bloody body and leapt to the branches, heading for Konoha. Tenten and Lee followed quickly afterwards.

At the hospital, the three remained glued to their seats outside the operating theater. They refused to be healed until their sensei had been saved.

Neji held Tenten in his arms tightly, kissing her head now and then to calm her. Lee's hand was trapped in the Hyuga's and squeezed till it lost circulation.

Shizune slipped out of the ER twelve hours later, clipboard in hand, prepared to tell them the news. From the grave look in her eyes, Neji could tell something was wrong.

He curled himself around Tenten and shifted his body in front of Lee. His eyes were filled with fury, daring her to say the worst.

Shizune gulped. "Gai is… alive, " she began slowly, "but… he has amnesia."

"What?" Neji growled. Lee pulled Tenten towards him as her husband stood up.

Shizune took a deep breath. "He doesn't remember anything. He cannot be a ninja any longer."

The Hyuga shoved her into the wall, choking her. Tenten rushed over to him, and pried his fingers off the woman's neck.

"Neji, stop it. You're making it worse," the brunette female told him.

Shizune was down on all fours, coughing up blood. Tenten squatted down and rubbed her back soothingly.

"Can we see him?" she asked. Shizune nodded.

The Journey

Over the next few weeks, the three reminded their sensei of every single moment they ever had together.

Gai had also begun to recollect memories on his own.

One day, as the four walked hand in hand through the streets of Konoha towards the training grounds, Gai asked:

"What was our team called?"

His pupils glanced at each other, a fond grin tugging at their lips.

"Team Gai," they answered in unison.

They were never alone. They were always under the guidance of one of the most powerful men on the planet. This is how they gave back, and mended the broken road.

A/N: The ending was terrible, but that's all right. I just wanted to pay a tribute to one of the greatest teams in Naruto. Please review!