I guess this officially makes me part of the Naruto fandom. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Title: An Apology
Word Count: 926
Summary: Tenten finds Lee training in the middle of the forest, and they have a bit of a chat.
Pairing: A (mild, as always) Lee/Tenten.
Notes: Set after Lee's surgery, so probably during the timeskip somewhere.
Rock Lee hammered the log with his fists. One fist, then the other. He'd been repeating these movements for almost an hour and a half, now, and despite the wrapping around his hands, he was beginning to feel blood seeping from his knuckles. Soon he'd have to switch over to kicks to prevent any real damage to his hands.
Another two hundred repetitions first, he thought to himself. The pain was good. It meant that he was making progress.
“One,” he began counting. “Two. Three. Four. Five...”
He stopped suddenly, his right hand spinning out to catch a kunai out of the air. His grip closed aroud the handle, directly behind the blade. His eyes followed the path the weapon had taken, and identified who had thrown it.
“Greeting, Tenten,” he said, giving her a quick bow. “I would appreciate it if you would not throw deadly weapons at me without warning.”
Tenten, dangling upside-down from a tree branch high above him, giggled. “Aw, Lee, I knew you'd catch it.” She dropped from her perch, plummeting towards the ground, and then kicked off the tree's trunk. A few bounds later, she landed, unharmed.
“Besides,” she said, brushing her hands off, “It's not like it would have hit you anyway. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.”
“I see,” Lee said. “Well, then, do you require my assistance with something?”
“Nah,” Tenten said, taking a seat on the grass, “I was just getting a little worried, that's all. You've been out here ten hours, you know. That's a long time, even for you.”
“I did not mean to cause you any alarm,” Lee apologized. “While I was injured, I was not able to keep up with my training as well as I should have. I need to make up for that lost time.”
“Nifty!” Tenten said, drawing her knees up. “Mind if I watch?”
Lee blinked in confusion for a moment. “Certainly, if you wish,” he said. Nobody had ever come out to watch him train before. Except for Gai-sensei, of course, but Gai was his instructor. It was expected of him.
“Great!” Tenten sat back, watching expectantly. When Lee didn't move, she gestured at him with her hands. “No, no, go ahead. Don't mind me.”
Nodding, Lee turned back to the log and resumed punching. Tenten watched as he moved rhythmically back and forth, striking it with first one hand and then the other. He called out a number with each blow, counting upwards to two hundred. Not once during the set of grueling repetitions did he falter even for a second, even when his blood seeped right through the wrappings and began spilling droplets on the log. Finally, he took a quick rest, turning away from the log and grabbing a towel off of a nearby branch, mopping the sweat off his forehead.
“Hey, Lee,” Tenten said as he returned to the log, kicking it this time.
“Yes?” he called out between blows.
“I never really got a chance to tell you before,” she said, “but when you fought that creepy sand kid in the Chuunin exam...well, you were pretty incredible.”
Maybe it was just her imagination, but it seemed that Lee's flawless rhythm hesitated for just the briefest of moments. “I appreciate you saying so,” Lee said, “but I know that you weren't present to watch it. You don't need to say things like that to make me feel good.”
“No, I did see it,” Tenten said, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “They took video recordings of those fights. Gai...well, he sort of carried the tape around with him for about a month, showing it to everyone he could convince to watch it.” Tenten grinned sheepishly, embarrassed on her teacher's behalf.
“I see,” Lee said.
“I just...I would never have thought that you had that sort of power. None of us did. I think even Neji was a little bit awed, but he'd never admit that.”
Lee stopped altogether. “Neji...was...”
Tenten held up her hands to calm him down. “Whoa, I don't know for certain. I wasn't there, remember? That's just what it seems like to me.”
Despite the qualifiers she had tacked onto the end of her statement, Lee was still grinning like an idiot, and his eyes practically blazed with happiness. Tenten couldn't help giggling a little. No matter what happened, it seemed that Lee was still Lee, the eternally enthusiastic boy.
“Anyways,” she said, “I guess what my point was is that I used to be kind of a jerk at you because you weren't as strong as Neji. And...and I'm sorry about that. I was totally underestimating you, and I should have known better. So I'm sorry, alright?”
Lee blinked a few times as he processed her statement. “But of course, Tenten!” he declared passionately, one fist clenched in front of him. “No apology was necessary! There was no way you could have known about the secret training that Gai-sensei did with me.”
Tenten giggled again. No matter what Lee was doing, he always did it so...gleefully. It was sort of cute, in a weird way. “Well, I'll leave you to your training, then,” she said, getting up off the ground. “Just promise me you'll come back soon. Even you can overdo it.”
Lee gave her a thumbs-up. “Don't worry, I will,” he said.
Satisfied, Tenten went bounding through the forest, and Lee returned his attention to the log, more enthusiastic than ever.