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Goddess of Hard Work

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Rock Lee was very much minding his own business when he heard a sound that had been absent in recent years: someone diligently pounding away at a wooden dummy. The sharp retorts of flesh-to-wood and expelling of breath on furious sound brought to mind his own genin years. A smile tipped his face as he followed the sweet song to it’s source… only to stop in his tracks.

 

A woman stood there, younger than he, but not by too much, fists wrapped and bloodied with her hard work. Sweat stained her shirt, dripped from her temples, matted her hair where the wild gathering of curls lay flush to skin only for more to fly with abandon in the strength of her movements. Her biceps rippled all the way to her shoulders and down her back, tensed in the taunt flesh of her buttocks and thighs, twisted like a rushing river in her calves to the broad, wrapped feet that were unadorned by more than the heavy wrapping of a close-combat specialist.

 

Hips thick with muscle, shoulders broadened by hard work and a face that was too handsome to be pretty finished the picture.

 

He might have stopped breathing. He wasn’t sure.

 

Then she turned and saw him, blushed, and started to run away .

 

Heart in his throat, he couldn’t gather the strength to chase his goddess of hard work.

 

.•*•.

 

A few days later he heard of this goddess, this magnificent woman of Youthful Determination.

 

“Yeah, that’s Tanzaku-san. He’s pretty weird.”

 

Only, everyone always said he . Did no one notice that Tanzaku-sama was a woman? Did they lose their sight? Could they not tell in the swooping rhythm of their punches and deadly crack of their legs connecting with their target? Did not the grace of her movements speak for themselves? Was her beauty not the height of her prowess?

 

He had to find out more.

 

.•*•.

 

So he did. She was five years his junior. Her chakra capacity was small, but her will was bright and thundering. She was able to use minor Illusions and Healing techniques, small but precise in application, had felled a man with just her bare hands before. She never wore a dress into battle, instead using standard issue blues, her form covered and blanketed.

 

For some reason, this made his happy, gave him a jealous, frivolous thrill to realise he was one of few to see her in all her sleeveless glory, clothes tight and filthy from her continuous hard work. He waited to find her again… but he had a mission. So he asked his friends if they could find his goddess, tell him about her. He would ask her himself but he was to be sent out again.

 

They agreed and he left with a hopeful heart.

 

.•*•.

 

And came home to no luck! Feeling his joy drain from his body, he climbed into a tree at the Team Gai training grounds and sat watching the sky lighten from rosy morning red to fleshy peach, to brilliant blue. That’s when he heard it. He heard her .

 

Alighting from his perch with all the silence he had learned as a mere child, he ran to the sound, heart near bursting when there she was , his goddess! He nearly knelt in supplication to her beauty highlighted by the rising sun, throwing her features into a golden glow. Her hair was held back, this time. A pretty pink bandanna with pretty pink roses and peonies and lotuses and sakura blossoms, all. Her clothes were tighter, her top cropped so it bared a long line of flesh that was pale and lined with the rays of brilliant light over every divot and curve of muscle worked to the brink.

 

He had to take a deep slow breath or he was sure his heart would leap from his ribs and flutter into her scarred, toughened hands. Still. This was his chance! He didn’t know if he would see her again, so he had to make the most of this moment! Gathering his wits, he strode forward.

 

Only to kneel behind her, bowing. “Glorious, amazing, sumptuous glowing lotus of the spirits, please, grant me the greatest gift,” he began, looking up at the woman that had halted her hard work so suddenly, bright sun gilded eyes wide in surprise as she turned to him, hands raised and bandages already stained with her dedication. “I would wish to be anointed with your presence, to follow you into battle and to your glory. Would you spend this eve with me?”

 

She took a moment and for a disheartening, terrible second, he thought she would say no.

 

“... I have a mission this afternoon,” she murmured, husky and rich and thick enough to drown in. “I cannot.”

 

He was saddened, but she had not said no . She had said she could not . “Then, goddess of hard work and dedication, when you next return, may I be within your presence?”

 

He nearly swooned as she actually smiled, brighter than the sun behind her head in a halo. “I would like that.”

 

.•*•.

 

It took them a month to have time off together. Lee had been sure to learn about his goddess, his imperial empress of his heart already, and had shown up to their first date with a bouquet of peonies if the softest pink. He smiled as she stood in her shadow, her face flushing red in pleasure and embarrassment even as her chest heaved with effort of her hard work. He liked surprising her.  

 

She was the eldest of seven, she liked Matcha at night, preferred red bean paste in mer mochi, loved the colors pink and green, and when she wasn’t working her hardest physically or on missions, she loved to read quietly or to one of her younger siblings. She was also a good five inches taller than him, loved dressing up, and was often a window shopper for pretty strappy little kitten heels (that she had lamented, where Ino could hear, were too small). There was a festival in four days. If she was in the village… well, he had wonderful plans. If not, then he would have the perfect gift.

 

“My most glorious Lotus,” he murmured, taking a hand and pressing a kiss to the bruised knuckles. “For you.”

 

She may or may not have tackled him in a hug. While crying.

 

He was glad he had decided on a picnic. Bless Tenten and her sealing scrolls.

 

.•*•.

 

She smiled every time she saw him now, soft and warm and tender. He took a moment every day that he was within the village to go see her before his very special planned date, and on the fourth day, showed up at her house just before lunch. Smiling at the suspicious glower of the twin brothers set to inherit the civilian business, he waited for her to come down the stairs, an almost suspect look to her face. He couldn’t help that his face went tender and loving, heart in his throat.

 

“Ah, Tanzaku-chan,” he murmured, holding out the single lotus. “May I have your time for the rest of today?” She blushed, gently taking the living flower. Holding it to her face to shield her blushing cheeks, she nodded. “If you do not mind, let your brothers handle your flower. I has a surprise for you.”

 

Her look sharpened, her eyes going narrow for a moment. Then she gave a small helpless smile because he had worked hard to show his adoration of her, to gain her trust. “Alright,” she murmured, handing the floating lotus to one brother and grabbing her sandals. “Lead the way, Lee-kun.”

 

So he did. Tucking her arm in his, he lead her directly to a small hole-in-the-wall boutique, smiling at Ino as she came from the back with a covered hanger. “Hello, Tanzaku-chan! It’s not my best work, but I was asked by my very wonderful friend to find you something for your lunch. I believe he has something in mind for your dinner.”

 

Tanzaku blushed brightly, brilliant eyes glittering as she was lead to the back to change after Lee took the bag for himself. He trusted Ino very much about matters of the physical appearance and would, for today, put his spandex to the side and dress up for his golden lotus. Taking a moment to step into a changing room, he carefully folded what he usually wore and pulled himself into the “more fashionable” clothing. The slacks were a bit tight in the thigh and buttocks, and the shirt couldn’t be buttoned all the way, but he suspected he looked nice. Rolling the sleeves up as he had seen Ino do to Sai and Kiba and Naruto many times before, he flexed his forearms. It was odd not wearing weights. Like he was floating. Grinning like the love struck fool he was, he supposed that was appropriate considering.

 

Tying the unusual shoes over the tabi, he stepped out and waited.

 

Not ten minutes later and Ino was leading a blushing, smiling Tanzaku-chan back out. The dress was lovely, shoulder cap sleeves and a high waist with a flared skirt that teased the knees. Little strappy, Akimichi made kitten heels adorned her feet in delicate lines and crosses. Only the barest of gloss teased over her lips and her hair was held back by a headband with a side decoration of lotuses. And, best of all, the entire ensemble was in pink and green.

 

Lee never noticed Ino’s dropped jaw, her roving eyes, or incoherent wheezing, too focused on the lotus that was blooming right before his eyes. “OKAY! This occasion deserves pictures! Come on, right in front of the wall, Lee, Tanzaku-chan!”

 

They came together, Lee holding out his hand to his lady, his sun, his goddess. Thin leather bands in green and pink and white held her wrists almost delicately, the supple yet simple adornments perfect. They didn’t notice the camera going off more than once as they took each other in. “Come on, you two. Look at me!”

 

Lee did so, Tanzaku-chan doing the same. They smiled, soft and warm and tender. Tanzaku stood well over Lee now in her small heels, her heart in her throat as he looked at her like she was his everything. He looked at the towering, glorious star that graced him with her presence and felt his chest tighten. She was always so lovely, but right now, she had softened herself and he felt grand and foolish and overwhelmed. Had there ever been a woman so daring, so dashing, so magnificently beauteous that all the stars sing her praises?

 

Suddenly, Ino was calling them again, making them aware of the world around them and Lee lamented that he could not be lost within the eyes of determination if he wished to surprise the one they belonged to.

 

“Come, Tanzaku-chan, lunch awaits.”

 

And he lead her out, through the bustling streets, up to the one place he knew she adored and seldom partook of. The small eatery was busy, the owner readying for the festival that night, yet opening his doors to the two. Lee thanked the man profusely, tipping him well as he assisted his lovely woman to a small table for two, low lit and humble. Immediately upon sitting, the doors to the backroom opened and trays of prepared food came out in a rush. Teriyaki beef skewers, chicken, pork, salmon with roe and fatty tuna. Steamed vegetables and Calamari… All of her favorites!

 

She smiled and dug in once she thanked the heavens (and Lee) for the meal. It was magnificent and filling and she laughed when Lee had a bean sprout stuck to his chin.

 

He may have left if for several minutes just for her amusement.

 

But, soon enough, they finished and bowed their thanks to the proprietor. The man waved them off, smiling at the two as Lee tucked her arm back in his and swept them out the door to their next destination. All the while, a bundle of boxes and bags trooped to her house, pretty, feminine clothing that she had looked at longingly, made just for her, and Ino took great delight in setting it all across the floor just beyond the genkan with a note on top that read “ For our one month anniversary, my earthbound goddess ” in beautiful calligraphy.

 

Lee felt his heart flutter at what she would do when she got home. He hoped she liked the gifts.

 

Still, they were enjoying themselves, him dancing around the topic of what else he had in mind and her trying to tease the information from him and often stopping to look at something soft and pretty. As the afternoon wore on, he finally took them to a large, well known Kimono shop, the keep a retired kunoichi due to missing most of her left leg and part of her left arm. The prosthetics were well built, but not meant for her line of work. That didn’t make her any less pretty, but she was but a fire to the carpet of stars his sight fell on.

 

He was quick to take his garment bag once again, an attendant at the ready, while the lady of the shop looked at Tanzaku-chan with an assessing eye. “You didn’t do her justice, Rock-san. She is truly magnificent.”

 

With that, the woman took his fair maiden off into the bowels of the fabric dense room, leaving him to the tender mercies of her helper.

 

Mercy… ha! The woman was a tyrant and had him all but nude within moments. His arms were thrust into sleeves, a fundoshi was slipped and twisted and tied, and he was wrapped in a two layer yukata, the top a sleeveless full length vest in hsi signature green with swirling leaves of dark green and gold and amber embroidered and painted on the hem and up the length to the tops of his thighs. The under kimono with full sleeves was a pale pink (unusual for men) with slashes of dark green and black held together with a black obi crossed with pink and amber braids. The front was left widely parted for what the woman called “aesthetic and appreciation” despite his blushing protests. Geta forced on his feet, he was deemed ready and sat on the long bench to wait.

 

And wait he did, for several minutes, then an hour, then two hours before, finally, the lady of the shop stepped back into the room. “You have a good eye, young man. She is a glorious challenge and I hope to see her more often after this.” Well, if that wasn’t a threat to hunt him down if he didn’t bring his lady love back. “Now, for the reveal.”

The woman stepped away, the figure behind her coming into view like… oh, that could not be his radiant star for she was more glorious that even the first bloom of a lotus or the early touch of the sun to the morning sky. Tanzaku-chan simply glowed , her face subtly softened, her hair a distracting halo, her eyes lined with coal, tipped in red. Her lips were barely a blush, a soft match for her kimono in the softest pink he had ever seen. Peonies trailed from her breast to her ankles, Cabbage roses embroidered, white-pink lotuses painted on in delicate shades that almost blended in. The lady of the shop had outdone his requested expectancy.

 

An obi widely wrapped her waist, showing just how fit she was, pale creamy yellow with golden leaves, a deeper green slashing through the middle in sharp and startling contrast. Braids of rope in red and black ran like sharpened lines around the center most point, a gold and red charm hanging with a larger, paler pink peony charm made of soft, gauzy layers. White tabi with gold and pink embroidery were tucked into lovely geta the color of mahogany with black straps, set high and rounded, definitely not the more masculine style he wore.

 

In her hair was a comb with a Lotus, a Peony, a Cabbage Rose, and a twig of Sakura Blossoms - he hadn’t requested that, but then again… the lady of the shop really had out done herself.

 

Feeling pride swell in his breast with more excitement that would be proper, he stood and made his way to the lovely spirit before him. “My magnificent lotus, the peony that stands strong despite the winds, the frail blossoms of a sakura that at last unfurl for one final hurrah, the rose that smells so sweet that it brings tears to my eyes… What glorious, magnificent, radiant beauty I see, maiden of my heart, keeper of my soul. You are always the sky, the stars that carpet the velvet of night and the sun that brings the voices of life to the lands and the soothing moon that lights even the darkest paths… but now you are the galaxy itself, the creation of life. Whatever great deed have I done to be allowed to experience your presence, your existence, I would do it a thousand times more no matter the peril just to spend my immortal eternity with you.”

 

He looked up at her, his heart growing with his love of her and she smiled with tear bright eyes, more radiant than anything he had seen before. How was he so blessed. Holding out his arm to her, she took it shakily, teeth pressing into her bottom lip as if she wished to bite it. Then, as the lanterns were being lit, he led her into the bustling, growing crowds. People turned to stare, the tall, statuesque goddess on his arm a full head taller than him in her geta as they moved with ease together. He couldn’t be happier to allow her the true and proper glory shine through for even the most blind of people to see, his eyes barely aware of their surroundings.

 

“Call me Haruka, Lee-kun.”

 

He stared at her for a moment before a blush swept over his face. He was gifted her name! He could use her glorious name! Nearly flying and not merely floating, the young man felt his eyes water but held back. For now. Instead, he laughed with joy and warmth and love all bundled under his ribs like a balloon that kept getting bigger and bigger. He pulled on her gently, twirling them to her merry laugh that was deep and fond and made his heart skip beats. Twirling away, he plucked from a startled vendor a sprig of white orchids, dropping coins on the top before turning to settle the sprig behind one delicate, scarred and notched ear. Big, vibrant eyes looked into his own and he saw the universe for but a moment. Smiling, he tucked her arm again into his own before glancing at the games.

 

“Would you like to try your hand, Haruka-chan?”

 

The name rolled from his lips with possessive joy and she blushed so prettily that he felt faint.

 

She nodded and he grinned. They played every skill game available, her beating him on some, he beating her on others. The arm wrestling table was set up and Lee cheered as Haruka owned the field in competition. She blushed and smiled upon winning against the previous year’s champion, the man checking out her biceps through her kimono and shaking his head. Lee was beside himself as she proudly tucked the ribbon of her conquest into her obi. They ended up snacking on most anything, and Lee presented her with a full tray of homemade red bean paste Mochi, still freezing cold despite the heat of the bodies pressed in close. If there was anyone there that Lee knew, he wouldn’t be able to recognize them, would not even know their name for his eyes never left the precious being beside him.

 

Smiling as the fireworks started going off and people crowded around the viewing roofs, he took the hand of his goddess empress and lead her further from the chaos, deeper into the night so they may look not only upon the bursts of short lived comets but also the eternally burning diamonds that glittered with the sharp hardness of their longevity. He made no move, pressed no advances, yet longed for them all the same as they sat in the quiet, the muffled retorts ignored as the bursts of light reflected in her eyes. They sat close on a small bench, her hand warm and calloused in his own, scars puckering from kunai against her fingers, from the shuriken, from battles for her life. Her skin was a tapestry of her life to now and every scar was a moment of her life he wished he could have seen, been a part of. He hoped, soon, to see her in motion, to see how her body bent and curled and jutted, how it twisted and hit and breaks the motion of others.

 

And then she turned to him, held his hand and cupped his face and leaned in to press her lips to his in a chaste moment of happiness. If he could have, he was sure he would have taken off into the sky not unlike a firework, only to explode with his sheer exaltation on fiery display. Her smile was miles wide when she pulled back, looking at him properly and she blushed. And kissed him again.

 

What a glorious night this was indeed…

 

.•*•.

 

As the night wore on, the two had exchanged small tokens in kisses, spoke softly of their joy from the day, held hands and sat quiet to bask with the other so close by. As midnight approached and the rockets lessened, Lee lead her back home, pressed his lips to her hands, and said goodnight with his heart in his throat and his face split by his smile. Leaving her in her genkan, he left to his home.

 

About halfway there, he heard a shrill cry of his name. He laughed, running the rest of the way, knowing Ino-chan had left his clothes at his house. Somehow, he knew, Haruka would get him back for his mildly extravagant one month anniversary gift(s). Surely a wardrobe she would have liked to have was not too much, yes?

 

Dancing his way into the door, he supposed he would have to find a way to top his gift next month.