The White Lotus that didn't Bloom: Chapter Two
Maemi looked down at the hospital food in disgust, her stomach churning just at the thought of putting that waste into her mouth. Maybe it was because she just didn't have the appetite, or was still reeling from what Tsunade told her. But she felt like she couldn't force herself to eat anything right now. So she set her tray aside and laid down on her left side, her arm folded beneath her head.
"Let's face it Maemi, the life of a shinobi is too much for a girl like you."
End of Flashback
Maemi's left hand curled into a tight fist, "Maybe she was right," she found herself murmuring aloud. Maybe her mother really was right. She was just not cut out to be a ninja. The truth behind this thought broke her heart, but there was no other explanation behind all this. It must have been fate that she broke her spine, a sign to show her that the life of a shinobi is too brutal and hard for her to handle.
Her indigo eyes darted to her headband that lay on the bedside table. She immediately rolled over and away from it, like she couldn't stand to look at it. Her life as a ninja, from now on, was over. She would live the boring but safe life a civilian lives every day, going to the grocery store, living by herself, no excitement In her life anymore…
Naruto and Sasuke, her only friends would probably be off on missions all the time and won't have enough time to hang out with her. She would be lonely, but that's what she has to deal with when the time came.
And what about her spine? Lady Tsunade said that if the operation was successful then she would be able to walk around like a normal person. But what if the operation isn't successful? What if she's stuck to being on a crutch, or even worse, a wheelchair her whole life?
She was worrying too much. She knew that. And yet…
Maemi was shaken out her thoughts as the door to her room flew open. She sat up and looked over in time to see Naruto Uzumaki rushing over to her. He wore his usual orange jumpsuit, but his kind blue eyes were wide with concern. He all but glomped her as another two followed in, but much more slowly. First, Sasuke Uchiha came in. As Maemi hugged Naruto back, she gave Sasuke a smile in greeting. Though he didn't return the smile, as usual, all she got was a small nod. Kakashi came in after him, holding one of his books in one hand.
"Are you alright? They finally let us come up and see you! How bad is it? Are you gonna die?!" Naruto was squeezing her so tight that she feared her spine might crack again, and gently pushed Naruto off of her.
"I'm fine, Naruto," Maemi says with a small smile as she looked at the others, "Thanks for coming to see me, Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke-kun."
"No problem," Kakashi's only visible eye curved upwards, showing that he was smiling underneath that mask of his, "How are you feeling?"
"I feel well, thank you," Maemi lied, since her stomach was doing back flips by now. How was she supposed to break the news to her teammates? It was likely that Lady Tsunade already told Kakashi-sensei, but did he tell Naruto and Sasuke yet?
"What did granny Tsunade tell you about your condition?" Naruto pressed, now standing next to her while Sasuke stood by the foot of her bed, Kakashi next to him.
That answered that question. Maemi bit her lower lip and looked down at her lap, "Oh, n- not much," she murmured softly and let out a small sigh, "Okay, she told me a lot actually… And I have news for everyone here…"
They all stayed silent, waiting for what she had to say. Even Sasuke looked curious, while Kakashi's expression was calm. It was obvious that he already knew.
Maemi sucked in a deep breath and looked off to the side, "Tsunade-sama told me that she'll perform an operation on my back that should heal my spine. She said that she's confident that she could have me up and walking by the time everything's said and done-"
"That's great news then!" Naruto cut in, his blue eyes lit up, "Than you can rejoin the squad and we can start going out on missions again together-"
"Let her finish, Naruto," Kakashi cut the blond off and gave him a meaningful look. Naruto fell silent, but it was obvious on his expression that he was confused.
Maemi's hands clenched together lightly as she continued, "She'll have me back up and walking but…" she couldn't bring herself to say it, but she had to. She looked down at her lap as she finished, "She told me that my days as a ninja were over. I cannot still be a shinobi even after the operation. It's over."
They were all silent for a moment.
"What?!" Naruto sputtered in absolute shock, his blue eyes had gone really wide, "What do you mean that you won't be a ninja anymore?!"
"I mean it exactly as it sounds," Maemi replied without looking up.
A flash of sympathy for the girl appeared on Sasuke's expression, but he said nothing.
"B- but, i- it's not fair!" Naruto exclaimed, his expression fierce, "Being a ninja was your dream! Don't you still want to prove your parents wrong?! You can't give up hope now! This is so not right-"
"Enough, Naruto," Kakashi cut in before Maemi could say anything, like she would say anything. What could she say anyways? She kept her head lowered, her periwinkle bangs hiding her eyes as Kakashi tried to calm Naruto down, "Yelling about it won't solve anything. That's the way things are for now."
Naruto turned to Kakashi and fixed him with a heated glare, "You can't tell me that you're okay with this!"
"Of course I'm not," Kakashi replied smoothly, a sigh escaping the jounin's lips as he closed his book and put it away, "But there's nothing we can really do about it, now is it?"
A knock sounded on a door and in came Maemi's nurse. The same lady that brought her down from the roof earlier. She looked at the visitors and said, "Maemi's check up is soon and visiting hours are ending, you guys will have to leave now."
Maemi fought the urge to glare at her nurse for being so intrusive. She hadn't seen her friends in what felt like months, and even though it was a bit grim now, she didn't want them to leave. But, of course, her opinion didn't matter and she watched with a sullen expression as her teammates and sensei said goodbye to her and left. Naruto looked like he didn't want to leave, and stayed a few seconds after Kakashi and Sasuke left.
"Don't give up hope yet," The blond says and hugs her tightly, "I'm sure you'll endure and be a ninja one day, soon again! You'll get better, I know it!"
Maemi was doubtful, but she didn't want to burst Naruto's bubble and nodded softly, "Thanks Naruto," she sighs as the blond releases her, "Be sure to visit me again soon, okay?"
"Alright!" the blond says with a fox like grin before turning and leaving the hospital room, leaving Maemi alone again to get lost in her thoughts.
When Naruto was heading down the hallway, he ran into Sakura, "Hey Sakura-chan!" Naruto greeted her with a grin, but Sakura returned the greeting with a grim expression in her green eyes, her hands clasped in front of her, "Is something wrong?" the blond asks curiously.
"You really shouldn't give her false hope like that," Sakura says to him and frowns a bit, "Maemi-chan won't be a ninja after this operation. Stop getting her hopes up only for her to be disappointed in the end." She scolded him.
Naruto stared at her like she was speaking a foreign language, "I'm not giving her false hope!" the blond defends himself, "I know Maemi-chan better then you or anyone else does. She's strong, she'll be able to pull through this, I know she can!"
Sakura sighed and shook her head, "You really are hopeless, Naruto," Sakura says and walks past him, leaving the blond to stand there, dumbfounded in the hallway.
Sakura walked into Lee's room, "Hey Lee," she greeted the male wearing the green spandex and sitting in his bed. He turned his head as she entered and gave her a smile, "Hey, Sakura-chan."
"How are you feeling?" Sakura asked as she walked over to him.
"I feel great," Lee says and gives her a bright smile.
Sakura knew that he was putting on a brave face, but decided not to comment on it as she says, "Tsunade-sama wanted me to let you know that the surgery will take place in a few more weeks. She delayed it because we have another patient who's in need of a surgery, and she's been doing some research and will most likely be really busy."
"Is that other person's name Maemi?" Lee asked in curiousity.
Sakura nods, "Yeah," she tilted her head, "How do you know that?" she asks curiously.
"I met her not long ago, out on the roof this afternoon, she was really sad though she tried not to show it," Lee says with a small sigh.
"Oh, well it's a good thing you know her."
"Because we need more room for a few extra patients that are coming in around now," she looked over her clipboard, "We decided to move you into her room, I hope you don't mind. "
"Not at all." Lee replied and smiled his wide smile, "I am sure Maemi and I will get along just fine!" he says with confidence.
Sakura couldn't help but smile a bit, "Good, here, let me help you up."
Maemi was staring up at the ceiling of her hospital room. Gosh being stuck in the hospital was so BORING. She didn't even have a decent book to read! All she could do is sit here and stare at the ugly walls of her room, maybe even look out the window and watch everyone else have fun while she was cooped up in a hospital room.
Just as she was about to resort to banging her head against a wall, the door to her room creaked open yet again. She looked over to see that pink haired girl from earlier walking in and giving her a smile, "Good evening Maemi," she greeted her as she walked in and set a clip board down on the small table next to the empty hospital bed next to her.
"Hi Sakura," Maemi greeted her as a familiar figure hobbled in after her, and she blinked her large blue eyes, "Oh, hi Lee," she greeted the male as he came in. She looked from Sakura to Lee as the male settled into the bed next to her, wondering what was going on.
"Lee will be staying with you from now on. We just had new patients arrive and I figured you two would get along well with each other," Sakura answered her unspoken question as she moved back and clasped her hands in front of her, "If you need anything, just call. I'll leave you two alone now," Sakura waved and left the room.
Maemi looked over at Lee and attempted a small smile, "Nice to have you here roomie," she says softlyt as she messed with the edge of her hospital gown.
Lee gave her a smile, "Likewise, Maemi-chan!" he says brightly.
Maemi smiled and laid back down, looking up at the ceiling for a long moment before asking softly, "So, when is your surgery?"
"In a few weeks," Lee told her softly.
"Lady Tsunade didn't tell me when mine was," Maemi says absent mindedly as she ran a hand through her hair softly, "Though, I guess it'll be in about a month or so."
"And what happens after the surgery?"
"If the surgery is successful, then I guess I'll fall into the everyday life every villager has," Maemi murmurs softly as she played with her fingers silently, her indigo eyes downcast, "It'll be a boring life but whatever, it's what I gotta do."
Lee was silent for a moment, "You shouldn't be so quick to give up on yourself," he finally says.
Maemi looked at him and blinked like he was speaking a foreign language, "Nani?"
"I used to be like that," Lee murmured softly, "A long time ago, before I met Gai sensei and my comrades. You see, people never thought that I could become a ninja, because I can't use ninjutsu or genjutsu. The only type of jutsu I am able to use is taijutsu."
Maemi blinked, "Really?" she says in amazement, she once again remembered the Gaara fight, and realized that it was true. Not once during that fight did she see him use Taijutsu, "But you're such a strong ninja! Even if you can't use ninjutsu or genjutsu! You're one of the best ninja I've ever seen!" she found herself saying.
Now it was Lee's turn to look at her like she was speaking a different language, causing Maemi to blush a bit, but she didn't turn her head away as she continued, "I can't imagine someone as strong as you ever being anything but a great ninja. Even if you technically lost that fight… Every time he knocked you down, you got back up again. I could never be like that."
Lee found himself blushing at her praising words and looked away in embarrassment, "I- I'm not as good as you seem to think," He says modestly and scratches the back of his head, "I still have a long way to go as a ninja."
Maemi nods and smiles at him, "Still, I think you're amazing." She hums without realizing what hiden meaning those words had.
Lee's heart fluttered a bit, no one's really told him that before. He looked at her and replied, "Th- thank you," he looked away and attempted to not burst into tears as he asks, "W- why can't you be that way about yourself?"
Maemi tilted her head at him in confusion.
"Well, I'm sure that if you persevere and put your mind to it, then you will be able to become a shinobi once again too!" Lee says and gives her a bright smile and a thumbs up, "You appear to be a strong willed person Maemi, you just give up too easily! And if my prediction turns out to be false, then so help me I will run 30,000 laps around konoha and do 10,00 push-ups! Twice!" he declared loudly.
Maemi sweatdropped but laughed a bit at this, "B- but lady Tsunade said-"
"I mean no disrespect towards lady Tsunade but," Lee leaned a bit closer to her, "Why don't you stop listening to the things people say you can't do, and make your decisions by yourself?" he smiled again, "I'm positive that you will be much happier like that."
Maemi blushed lightly and looked away from him, back to the wall before a small smile formed on her lips.
"Thank you, Lee."
A/N: A bit longer then the last one, please review or favorite! *puppy eyes*