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Fanfic: The Woman Warrior; Chapter 1: Gai


Title: The Woman Warrior; Chapter 1: Gai
Author: meepers369
Pairing: Nejiten
Summary: AU. Being a woman warrior is not easy during times dominated by men. A retelling of Mulan. 

Read the Prologue | Backup on Fanfiction.net



"Name?"

"Tian."

Iruka looked up quizzically. "No surname?" The boy flushed.

"I have none."

"Hometown?"

"Also none. I'm an orphan. No one to call family, and no one to call home." The boy said this defiantly, chin pushed upwards, as if challenging Iruka to contest this. Iruka smiled reassuringly.

Gai noted with interest that this self-proclaimed orphan had a very aristocratic manner of speaking. He could recognize that hard, authoritative voice well enough now, having served under and worked with numerous of those types. He also noted the finely crafted double sword handles peaking out of the boy's belt, decorated with some intricate symbol on top. Yet this boy had an honest enough face. Gai smiled at the youth. Surely it must be some terrible circumstances that caused this boy to lie about his identity! There were many of such that had registered for the life of the military, using it as a convenient excuse to escape whatever it was they were hiding from.

Gai glanced at Kakashi, wondering if his youthful rival had noticed this particularity. To his surprise, instead of his usual bored, disinterest look at anything other than his latest disgraceful book, Kakashi was staring intently at the boy, so much that it seemed almost…hostile. It wasn't unfriendly, merely an apprehensive type of dislike.

"As an orphan, you'll be in the mass tents with the regular foot soldiers. This is unlike those of noble families, who have the option of living in smaller, more private tents, and have the right of protection for their more...valuable possessions." Kakashi stated this blandly, staring directly at the boy.

So Kakashi had noticed after all. Gai turned to look at him openly now, again surprised by Kakashi's interest. The boy looked a little taken back.

"I never claimed to be anything else," the youth responded. Kakashi cocked his visible eyebrow, as if saying, oh really? He shifted his glance to the boy's sword handles.

"Yours?"

The boy stiffened. "Of course!"

"Mighty fine for someone who claims to have no family and no home," Kakashi drawled.

"Will you assign me my tent now?" The boy stared back at Kakashi defiantly. Kakashi continued to stare blandly back. The tension of disapproval on both sides was clear.

"Kakashi!" exclaimed Gai. "I cannot believe that you are already showing doubt in such a promising boy with such burning enthusiasm to be a hard-working member of our family! Iruka, please put Tian in my camp. Her youthful passion is simply inspiring!" Kakashi looked highly irritated by this outburst.

"It's not too late for you to leave, you know," Kakashi drawled. "If you stay here, you'll be stuck with this lunatic for months on end." The boy looked a little hesitant during Gai's speech, but seemed to clear his head after Kakashi's jibe.

"I'll stay. Thank you, sir…?"

"I am Gai! I look forward to working with your youthful enthusiasm!"

Gai returned to his camp after watching a few more new arrivals register. Kakashi likewise left with him, having been chided into going by Gai in the first place. Gai had counted fifty promising young soldiers, while Kakashi merely yawned and said there might be five who were interesting.

On returning, Gai was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic Lee. "Gai-shifu! I am thrilled to see that we have so many more members to our family after today! I cannot wait to train with everyone tomorrow!"

Gai smiled brightly at his young pupil. He was supposed to be impartial to all in his company, but this child was slowly growing to be his favorite among all in his barrack, despite the boy's lack of an obvious talent. Normally Gai would engage in more conversation with Lee to catch up on his doings, but today he couldn't concentrate. From the corner of his mind, Gai found himself unexpectedly looking for that new boy, Tian. There was something else off about the self-proclaimed orphan that had nothing to do with his obvious aristocracy. To his surprise and amusement, Gai spotted Tian nestled in the top branches of a tree at the edge of the camp, watching everyone warily.

"Lee!"

"Yes, Gai-shifu?"

"I am going to move you to a tent with the newcomers! I trust you can handle it?"

Lee got very silent. Gai was almost worried that this may order might not be taken well, but was happily treated to Lee's burning youth. Bless this child, he never failed.

"YOSH! I am honored that Gai-shifu would impart me this responsibility! I will show the newcomers the same welcome that you have shown me!"

Gai grinned. "I expect nothing less, or it's a hundred laps around the camp for you, my boy!"

Unsurprisingly, the boy, Tian, learned the rituals of the military quickly, showing both practical and theoretical knowledge of warefare, despite apparently never having been in the camps before. Surprisingly, Tian was phenomenal in marksmanship. Gai and the rest of the military camp watched in awe as the youth let arrow after arrow fly into the heart of its target. He also showed dexterity with staff, spear, and of course, sword. A decidedly very expensive, aristocratic forms of weaponry. The only thing he was relatively weak in was empty hand; even so, the boy had enough agility to run away from the largest targets and confuse them by using his small stature.

Kakashi was also watching the practices. If Tian noticed, he showed no signs, never once changing his composure. After a while, Kakashi left without saying anything. Gai wondered what his youthful rival was thinking. Probably envious that he had lost this chance to have this boy in HIS division!

Lee, he could tell, was greatly impassioned by Tian's abilities. A true orphan, Lee never learned any weaponry, but excelled at barehanded forms. Lee must have certainly seen this opportunity to further his weaker abilities! To his pleasure, Gai saw Lee drawing Tian into conversation, and chattered almost nonstop with his new friend. Tian looked overwhelmed, but was patient in listening and dealing with it. Gai smiled brightly at a passerby, nearly blinding the poor man. Things were going very well!

The afternoon brought yet another delight. "The Hyuuga family sent one of their branch members here," Asuma was grinning wildly at the news. "No one from their precious main branch, of course. Rumor has it that this one is quite a bit of trouble, with the tendency to rebel, so they were very happy to send him here!"

Kakashi looked thoughtful at this news. "You should take him, Gai."

"What?" Everyone looked incredulously at Kakashi.

"He'll be a good challenge. To your Lee. He will be the perfect rival to fire up your Lee's passion." Gai looked absolutely struck by this idea.

"YOSH! EXCELLENT IDEA! I will see to it immediately!" Gai proclaimed, dashing away.

"Excellent. Now the boy won't be any of our problem," sighed Kakashi. Asuma laughed approvingly.

Notes: I decided to use Chinese conventions instead of Japanese ones, like shifu instead of sensei, since this is supposed to be in China. Can't do much about the names, though, since they're already Japanese.

Incidentally, could anyone tell me the rankings of military officers in China? I'm kind of making them up as I go along…officer-captain-general-commander.



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