Summary: A girl with a severe spine injury is told that she could never be a shinobi ever again. Losing all hope for herself, she sinks into a deep depression. But what happens when a youthful ninja named Rock Lee suddenly gives her a reason to smile again?

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, I only own Maemi.

The White Lotus that Didn't Bloom: Prologue

"So, that's it then?" Maemi whispered softly as she looked up at Tsunade, sitting upwards in her hospital bed, the hospital gown loosely fitting her small frame. Tears were in her indigo blue eyes, her periwinkle hair hanging down her shoulders limply. However, she attempted to keep a brave expression on her face as she looked back down at her lap, "I can never be a ninja again?"

Tsunade sighed deeply and rubbed her forehead, "The injury in your spine is serious," she stated, as if she was trying to find the most gentle way to break it to the young girl, "Three bone fractures, there's a lot of internal damage, not to mention the bone fragments that were lost. You shouldn't even be able to sit up let alone fight. If I can find a way to somehow fix your spine, then even then there's a high possibility that you won't be able to handle fighting. Though I was able to heal some parts, it will take surgery to full reconstruct your spine."

Maemi held back tears, her lower lip trembling as her breath came out in short, erratic gasps. The pink haired girl that was standing behind Tsunade gave her a sympathetic smile, but Maemi returned it with a frustrated glare over her teary eyes.

"B- but, I- I'm supposed to be a ninja! I'm supposed to prove to my parents that even I can be as strong as they were! Is there any possible way?! Any way at all that I could still be a ninja?" Maemi's voice was desperate, panicked, and very scared.

Tsunade didn't look her in the eyes, but she shook her head slowly, "I'm sorry," she whispered as if that would help.

Maemi's hands balled into fists on the bed sheets, hot tears welled up and finally rolled down her tanned cheeks, 'Well, this is just great,' she thought to herself as she lifted a hand and rubbed the tears away with her forearm.

A hand rested on her shoulder gently, "I know that you're hurt and in shock, but look on the bright side. You survived, you're alive and well. You shouldn't be too hard on yourself," Tsunade says in what was supposed to be a soothing tone, but it only angered Maemi even more.

"What's the point in being alive if my reason for living is gone?!" Maemi burst out and swatted her hand away angrily. She began to move, pain seared through her, but she ignored it and managed to stand up and out of bed. The pink haired girl- Sakura, she thinks- walked forward to help her, but Maemi shook her off.

"I can walk," Maemi whispers as she grabs a crutch, "I am fine. I won't give up," but there was emptiness in her words. She had no choice but to give up, Tsunade said that she would never be a ninja again.

Maemi, using the crutch, hobbled out the hospital room.

Tsunade sighed softly and looked at Sakura, "Make sure that she doesn't leave the hospital or go too far. I'll be back tonight to check up on her."

Sakura nodded, "yes ma'am," she hesitated for a moment before asking, "Are you sure that you will be able to save her spine?"

Tsunade sighed, "I am," she replied and nodded to herself, "If I could save Lee, then I am confident that I could do the same for Maemi. Both her and Lee will be just fine."

"But, ma'am, Lee can be a ninja if he recovers," Sakura says with a slight frown, "It would be impossible for Maemi to become one after everything that has happened."

Tsunade nods, "I know," she says softly, "But I also know that I could at least have her walking normally once I perform this operation. Now, go check up on Lee, I'll be back," Tsunade then left the hospital room to do some research.

Maemi wandered through the halls of the hospital aimlessly. She didn't know where she was going, but she didn't want to go back into her room. Tsunade's words floated through her mind, she couldn't shake them off no matter how much she wanted to. She sighed deeply as she made it to the roof, somehow making it up the stairs, and stepped outside, the cool wind hit her face, causing her bangs to fly back a bit. She saw a bench and hobbled over, sitting down, she lost herself in a sea of thoughts and worries.

Flashback

Maemi panted softly as she sank down to her knees, her arms and legs were scratched, and blood even seeped out of some scrapes on her arms and legs. She was out on a mission; it was a c-ranked mission that any genin could do. Though she somehow got separated from her team, and was now leaning back against the smooth bark of a tree, not knowing where the hell she was.

The mission was to stop some bandits from raiding another village. They were just supposed to be low life thieves that didn't know how to even fight. Maemi was confident in taking this mission, knowing that it would improve her fighting skills and be easy for her. Tsunade thought the same thing, and even sent them off without a sensei, since their sensei was off on a mission of his own.

Apparently though, this was bigger than a couple of bandits. The one who had requested the mission lied, he told them all they were was bandits, but that's not what Maemi and her team was facing moments ago. There were rogue shinobi's involved too, powerful ones. They jumped their squad and took them all by surprise, and in the heat of the battle, Maemi lost track of her teammates and ended up lost. She knew that they could be anywhere, and if she lingered around here, she'll never find them. She was able to shake the rogue shinobi off her path, but for how long?

Not to mention that it was starting to get dark…

Maemi folded her arms in front of her, shivering uncontrollably as she stumbled through the forest unsteadily. She could hardly see in front of her, and the blood loss and low chakra was starting to make her head spin. Though she kept her guard up at all times, her indigo eyes darting to and fro.

It took her a second to realize that she was being followed, and she was able to jump out the way of an oncoming attack. Now in midair, she did a handsign and extended her left hand, and out flew a water snake twice her size, and crashed down unto the enemy on the ground.

"Gotcha!" she says in victory as she lands in a crouch, confident that the jutsu had hit him.

"Not quite," a scratchy voice said behind her.

Before she could even turn around, she felt the blade of a long sword dig into her back. She coughed up blood and stumbled forward. Though she managed to stay on her two feet as she desperately scrambled away from them all. Blood dripped out the corner of her mouth and stained the grass beneath her.

"It's going to take more than this," she grunted in pain as she pulled the sword out her back painfully, "To stop me!"

Maemi didn't know how many enemies there were, but she knew that she was outmatched. However, if this was her time to die, then she would die fighting. She jumped out the way of a few other attacks, they were easy to dodge since they were now swiping at her with kunai or punching at her.

She suddenly sensed something and spun in time to be greeted by a fireball rushing right at her. She tumbled out the way, the fireball hitting the tree behind her and exploding on contact. Another one followed, that one followed by another, and another. Maemi tumbled and stumbled out the way of each one, getting hit by one definitely wasn't a good idea.

One came rushing at her faster then expected, she dove out the way, but it caught her shirt and set her shirt on fire. She screamed in terror and writhed around on the ground, trying to put out the flames. This distracted her, and the enemy grabbed her, lifted her, and threw her through a few trees. The trees spilt on contact, since that man was really strong, and by the time Maemi hit the biggest of them all, she heard a sickening crack that she knew wasn't good.

She slumped against the tree, completely motionless though she was still half conscious. She saw what looked like three figures slowly approach her as she began to black out. The last thing she saw before she lost consciousness was a bright orange jumpsuit come running out of nowhere, and the sound of battle filling the otherwise quiet forest.

End of flashback

Maemi rubbed the fresh tears out her eyes at the horrible memory. She had been completely useless! She wasn't able to even hold her own against only three ninja! She always needed Sasuke, Kakashi or even Naruto to come in and save her. She always needed their help. It just wasn't fair. Why couldn't she keep up with them? Even Naruto was slowly getting out of her reach. It felt like she would never be able to be as good as her teammates were. No matter how hard she tried.

She rubbed her upper arms lightly, wanting to just sit on the roof forever and drown in her sorrows. But that wouldn't help anything now, would it? Sniffling softly, she made an attempt to stand, though her legs buckled lightly underneath her and caused her to sink down again.

She heard the door to the roof creak open slowly, and it snapped her out her reverie. She looked over to see who it was, expecting to see Sakura or a nurse coming to tell her to go back to her room, but surprisingly, what she saw was completely different.

A boy that looked a bit older than her- maybe by a year- hobbled out, also leaning onto a crutch. He was wearing a green jumpsuit, he had bushy eyebrows and a bowl haircut. He looked cute, but who was he?

Flashback

"Next match: Gaara no sabaku vs Rock Lee."

End of Flashback

Oh right. She remembered this guy from the chunin exams, that fight she'd had witnessed with Gaara was both intense and brutal, especially at the end. She could still remember the sound of bone shattering when the sand slid up his limbs. Gai saved him from certain death when Gaara attempted to really finish the job, but Maemi was amazed when Lee was able to stand, even after everything that he was put through, he was able to get on his two feet. Unconcious, but standing.

The male was seriously injured after what happened, and to see him actually managing to walk around- even with a crutch- was amazing to Maemi.

'How can someone have such endurance?' Maemi found herself wondering as Rock Lee's eyes met hers.

"Hi," Maemi greeted him coyly as she fumbled with the hem of her hospital gown.

"H- hello there," Lee says as he hobbles over to her until he was standing a few feet from her, "I- I'm Rock Lee."

"I'm Maemi," The girl introduces herself as she pats the seat next to her, "Y- You can sit if you'd like."

Rock Lee nodded as he went over and sat on the bench next to her, resting his cutch on his other side as he turned to look at her, "Ah, please don't take this as me being rude, but what happened to you?"

Maemi rubbed the back of her neck and sighed softly, her shoulder beginning to quake, but she kept on a brave face as she looked over at him, "Broke my spine in a few places," she tells him softly, "T- Tsunade just told me that I will never be a ninja again."

Lee's eyes showed sympathy for the girl as he replied, "I am sorry," he didn't know what else to say.

Maemi shrugged like it was no big deal and stared down at the ground in front of her, shifting a bit on the bench as she replied softly, "I- it's fine," her hands clenched on her lap lightly, "I guess that some of us just aren't cut out to be a ninja…"

Lee frowned a bit at that, "Don't give up hope yet!" The young male suddenly exclaimed, making Maemi jump and look over at him as he continued, "I was also told that I could never be a ninja again! But I'm not going to let that stop me! I will be fine soon, and I will continue down the shinobi path!"

Maemi blinked at his cheery words and sighed softly, "I only wish that I could have your optimism." She said softly.

Lee looked like he wanted to say more, but the roof door opened to reveal a nurse. She looked at Maemi and said, "Sweetheart, come back to your room now, it's not good for your injury if you walk around like this," she says with a small frown.

Maemi nodded, "Alright," she sighed softly and got up. She settled her crutch under her arm and looked down at Lee, "I guess I'll see you around," she murmured before hobbling off, past the nurse, who helped her down the stairs, and back into her room.

A/N: Well, this story takes place after the chunin exams obviously, when Rock Lee is recovering from his operation. Also, Maemi is on team seven, not Sakura. Sakura will be working in the hospital for my fic, and yes Rock Lee does still have a crush on Sakura.

Let me know what you think!