Ai Hotaru

A girl held a cupcake with a candle blooming on top, the fire was dim as she sat around a flock of trees. Her name embedded on a dog tag hung around her wrist on a cheap gold chain bracelet that reflected off of the tiny flame. "Happy birthday to me." she said in a monotone yet very light feminine voice. Before she could attempt to blow out the candle, a gust of wind did it for her.

With that sign she got up, dusted her clothes off and headed home from the forest surrounded the Leaf Village in which she lived in. Her home wasn't near the village but not on the outskirts either, just close enough to admire nature a few feet away and a sandy pathway to civilization. She entered her home and saw her parents cuddled up on the couch performing shadows on the way using their hands. Hotaru sat down on a wooden chair and smiled.

"So how was your encounter with nature? And did you enjoy your birthday?" Her mother smiled as she questioned her still creating rabbit images. Her mother's long hair was braided to the back stopping at her shoulder blades and her dark eyes sparkled with happiness.

Hotaru took a deep breath, "I enjoyed it! I'm finally sixteen and now...hmm," she stopped speaking. She's sixteen, that's a milestone for someone but what could that age do for her. "i can possibly go on missions now!" she continued, her dog tag jingled.

Before her mother could say something or her father even stand up to hug her, she darted around the corners of her home and entered her room. The window was left open and a strange question rang through her ears. "Who?" she looked at the window, a small owl with large eyebrows paced back and forth rolling its neck.

"Thanks for blowing out my candle for me little owl, I'm sure you enjoyed it." She smiled as she stuffed her face with the cupcake. The owl entered her room and continued to roll its neck and dance on her bed as if it was lit with fire, hopping and flapping its wing from each pattern stitched on the spread. Hotaru finished and looked at her dresser, a mirror reflected her eager face back. "Tomorrow I am going to talk to Lady Tsunade."

A red headband accompanied with the leaf symbol plate was strapped lightly around her waist as she ran through the village. People glanced at her probably questioning why she was running then went on to what they were doing. Her dark hair which naturally had deep wave curls bounced to her shoulder blades as she picked up dust running.

"Can I speak to Lady Tsunade?" She asked two standing shinobi at the large door which held the fifth hokage behind it. She was bombarded with questions and answered them with a smile on her face, that led to the door being opened.

"Yes, is there something you need?" Her long blonde hair stood still until she looked up with her piercing eyes to see who was at her door. Tsunade remembered this young girl participating in the chuunin exams but never really did nothing afterward. Ai Hotaru she thought then smirked a little, "What have you been doing?"

Hotaru didn't speak back immediately, she looked over at an older man with jet black hair and a cigarette box in his hand he played with. She had heard of him, Sarutobi Asuma, the third hokage's son. He seemed so laid back yet cocky to her, she was nervous to say on her whereabouts. She remembered him when she was in the chuunin exams.

Next her dark eyes fixated on a younger guy, probably her age with dark hair as well pulled back and shooting out in an exploding ponytail also looking laid back, well rather yet bored with weary eyes. He helped with the exams and was quite lazy with it, Nara Shikamaru. She questioned in her mind why were they here and what horrible timing.

"Well my sixteenth birthday was yesterday, I was wondering if I could finally and actually do a mission now. I'm sure you know my parents were not for or against me being a ninja but, I wanna do least..." She spoke proudly and loud enough as a her tiny voice could make out. She took a deep breath, "i'm kinda alright with chakra, I'm quick on my feet with taijutsu and i'm pretty loyal." Okay, i've stated some good points, I should be in.

"Yes, I spoke with your parents just a few days ago," The hokage's voice spoke calmly but Hotaru's heart sank hearing that. She knew it...not only embarrassment but it also seemed like a waste of her time even trying to be a ninja.

They're just not ready for you to go off alone or try missions. These are their words, i'm sorry. You are very outgoing and i'm sure ready but I- Hotaru repeated Lady Tsunade's words over and over in her head as she sat alone at a nearby park close to the Academy. She didn't become a chuunin when others in her class participated then when she finally did make it to the exams after the third hokage's death, well it seems irrelevant to even wear a leaf village headband marking her rank.

"What a drag..."

She looked over, it was the monotone drowsy voice of Shikamaru. He was looking up at the clouds leaning against a tree with a lazy slouch, hands in pockets. Instead of missions, try to improve yourself by helping others in the Academy or just around town. Maybe then your parents might have a change in heart or maybe you might have one also in what you want to do. Hotaru's face grimaced with her voice floating in her head, but Lady Tsunade might be right.

Hotaru stood up from sitting in the grass and looked up at the clouds, they weren't moving at all. Just sitting still, kind of like her life. Shikamaru, try to teach her the ropes, you're not doing much this week are you...just a week, try to not be so lazy. I have nothing for you to do. Hotaru looked over and found her self bluntly staring at the other chuunin. She heavily tapped her head a few times trying to get Lady Tsunade's words from her brain.

"Guess i'll see you tomorrow..." she whispered then walked away as the sky changed colors slowly, this is not what she prepared for.

OKAY! First fanfic :) hope you guys at least enjoy the beginning and read and review. I don't care what is said but I truly just adore Shikamaru and thinks he needs someone who just isn't busy and keeping him on missions and all that.

I do NOT own NARUTO just my three little characters and whatever else comes up.

Remember R&R please