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29 October 2006 @ 11:46 pm
Ten for Ten (my clock says 11:49 PM, too, so they're on time-ish!)  
01 It's Been Five Days | And It’s Been Five Days Too Many


“It’s not stupid to miss someone, you know,” Lee prodded gently. He really was capable of treading softly, especially around a teammate more put off by pressure than gentle suggestion when it came to the other one.

“I think it is.”

“Well, if you truly thought that, you wouldn’t be telling me that you miss her.” Lee had a very good point – if Hyuuga Neji ever had an idea he was ashamed of, Rock Lee would be the last person to know, aside from the king of denial himself.

“It hasn’t even been a week since we saw her last,” Neji snorted. “Not even five whole days.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s stupid to miss someone after not seeing them,” Lee reiterated tonelessly. He really was a patient person. Really. But Neji was just so…

Logical? Oblivious? Dense?

“Lets go see her soon, okay? Then this won’t even be an issue.”

“The Hokage said she’d hold a meeting sometime after we got back. She’ll probably be there.”

“But that could be as late as tomorrow night.”

“So?”

Lee sighed, loudly, dramatically, impatiently.

Honestly

“So what if we’ll see her tomorrow? Why not go see her tonight? She’d love it, her two old teammates coming to visit right after a mission, just like old times.”

“We’ll probably just see her tomorrow.”

AAHHHHH!!!!!

Lee fought the very tempting urge to shake Neji, as Tenten often shook him. There was dense and then there was dense.

What kind of genius thinks like this, really? Complains (well, for him) about not seeing her, then when I suggest it, he doesn’t want to?

“Setting aside time to see her tonight would let her know she’s special to us.” Lee’s tone was that of a patient adult talking to a very young child.

“But we can tell her that when we see her tomorrow.”

So. Freaking. Logical.

“If we see her tonight, though, we won’t have to tell her anything. We’ll be showing her. Actions speak louder than words!”

Neji just looked at him as if Lee had just said the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. Without a word, he stood up, stalking off in the general direction of Tenten’s apartment.

So I guess I don’t get a “thank you,” then? Lee thought, following after Neji wordlessly. He sighed. I guess I’m glad I’m not a genius if it means being that stupid.




02 Sincerely Yours | It’s Better to Give Than to Receive


“He gave that to you?”

Tenten glanced at, to be quite frank, ugly expression on Shikamaru’s face. It was hard to believe that this was the most sought-after bachelor in all of Konoha.

“Yes, Shikamaru, he did, though I don’t see why you’re giving me that look.”

“This is Hyuuga Neji we’re talking about?” The shinobi looked dumbfounded.

Tenten rolled her eyes. “I know you don’t really like him, but he can be nice sometimes.” She blinked. “But I must say he’s never really been nice to you.”

“And I cry myself to sleep every night over that fact,” Shikamaru muttered. He looked at her gravely. “I think you’re missing the significance of this, though.”

“Of what? He bought me a katana sword for my birthday. Yes, he must be in love.”

“You are a shinobi. And you do like weapons.”

Tenten crossed her arms. Shikamaru blinked.

“Okay, it’s pretty unromantic, but what do you expect, really?”

“Sakura gets flowers from Lee, Hinata gets sweets from Shino, Ino gets both from you...”

“Neji is socially retarded, Tenten. It doesn’t matter how many people are giving him great examples to follow, he just won’t understand them.”

Tenten laughed. “It’s just a shinobi tool…what’s to read into?”

“It’s nice that he gives you things that reek of phallic symbolism.”

Tenten blinked. “That’s not funny.”

“Only because Neji doesn’t think about sex.”

“Shikamaru!”

“Sorry, sorry,” he sighed. “You know I don’t like the guy, and I’m not reading into the gift because Neji just doesn’t work that way. It’s just…he gave you a gift.”

“…Yeah…”

“I’m just mental over that tea set he bought me last Christmas.”

“Neji bought you a tea set?”

Shikamaru groaned. The girl just did not get sarcasm sometimes.

“My point is that how many people do you know receive any kind of tangible sign of acknowledgment from Neji, period, save an ass kicking?”

Tenten thought for a moment. Her thinking bled into two minutes, then three.

“Yeah, I see what you mean. Though he did get me something that I can kick ass with.”

“So you agree he’s got the hots for you or something.”

“…I wouldn’t necessarily say that…”

“…But I would say all signs kind of point to that by elimination, since he hasn’t kicked your ass yet.”

Tenten shrugged. “I guess that means I have to get him something for his birthday, then.”

“Well, he did get you a sword…it’s only fair you get him something yannic.”

“Yannic?”

“Cups, bowls, boxes, anything that you put things into, really…”

Shikamaru!




03 White Out | You Can Cover Up Mistakes, Not Erase Them


When Neji first asked Tenten to train with him, she was beyond thrilled. It was flattering, to think he trusted her enough, valued her enough, noticed her enough. And for that one month, it was a never-ending high.

After the exams, the training stopped. Not all at once, no, but eventually it dwindled until they both knew it would be the last night.

“You’re distracted,” Neji remarked. No, there wasn’t any question there.

Tenten nodded. “It’s the sky.”

Neji looked up with the eyes that missed nothing. His irises matched the shining full moon that hung in the middle of the sky.

“A full moon.”

“Yeah.”

“And that troubles you?”

Tenten shrugged. “That sounds stupid, I guess.”

Neji frowned. “I didn’t say that. I’m just wondering why it does. I’ve always admired the full moon. It’s the brightest object in the sky during the night. I—”

He paused, something Tenten found odd because he was always so articulate and so damned prepared when it came to what he was going to say.

“People say the moon chases the sun,” he muttered, only the tiniest trace of bitterness in his voice. “But I like to think the sun chases the moon.”

I don’t suppose many girls could boast that their crushes use not only nature imagery, but symbolism, Tenten thought wryly, not missing the comparison to the Hyuuga household, that it’s brightest prodigy was not the main house, but the branch house. The sun chasing the moon, indeed.

However, Tenten felt it necessary to point something out to him. After all, not everything in the night sky could shine so bright.

"When the moon is full," Tenten said quietly. "It wipes out the light from all the tiny stars around it. The moon does chase the sun, not the other way around. That’s never going to change – the sun will always be more brilliant. But the full moon still shines bright, so bright you don’t even know there are such things as stars, even though they’re all around it, striving for recognition."

Neji looked thoughtful for a moment before resuming his stance. Knowing the conversation was over, Tenten did the same, readying her weapons. Before his first strike landed, her last thought was that she hoped when Neji finally reached the sun, he wouldn’t forget she’d still be there, twinkling weakly in the sky against the light of a too-bright moon.




04 Listen | Silence Is So Delicate You Break It When You Say It


The sacrifices I make in the name of love…

Tenten’s vaguely half-hearted attempt at self pity fell flat when she realized that it really wasn’t that bad. Watching Neji meditate, while boring, was remedied by the fact that Neji was beautiful. After all, she spent a fair amount of time with Shikamaru and he wasn’t nearly as good looking.

I suppose he’s very aware that I stopped trying to mediate hours ago, Tenten thought inwardly, not guilty at all. She smiled. Neji didn’t need Byakugan to read through a lot of her moods…he just had trouble figuring out why she acted the way she did. She wondered if she made enough commotion, if he’d activate it just to spy.

…But that would be too sneaky of you, Tenten, interrupting Neji’s meditation just so he’ll notice you…

She smiled, content to watch.

Several feet away, Neji’s eyes were closed. Even with his back turned, he was acutely aware of Tenten fidgeting. Her attempts to sit still were admirable, but she just didn’t have it in her. He heard all the familiar sounds that happened every time they tried to meditate; or rather, he tried to meditate and she just sucked it up and sat with him.

The sound of fabric brushing the floor as she stretched her legs…The rustle of her hair as she shook out her ponytail and pulled her hair back again…The trying-oh-so-hard to be quiet sighs…

Neji knew she wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he appreciated the fact she was with him, even though it made it impossible to concentrate. She was with him regardless of whether she physically followed him or not, intruding unbidden upon his personal thoughts even when she was far away.

You’ve had every chance to tell her she’s not invited to come along, his traitorous mind persisted.

Neji frowned even deeper upon realizing that even if she wasn’t with him, it wouldn’t necessarily bring a stop to thinking about her. This irked him; he could focus his genius, energy, and anger into bringing down the Main House, but couldn’t stop thinking about a girl.

Neji’s hands tightened on his knees as he resisted the contrary urge to stand up, turn around, and immerse himself in her. He wanted to acknowledge her eyes on him. Tenten was usually fairly confrontational, and her increasing diffidence in this situation was maddening. If she acted first, that meant he didn’t have to.

It was frustrating, to be so happy to be with her one minute then resentful with her the next. Now he understood why Yamanaka Ino looked so pissy sometimes. She was in love with someone, though Neji personally thought his choice to be much better than hers. But even Shikamaru, with all of his avoidance and laziness and apathy, had been forced to confront it.

And how am I going to do that? What do I do? What do I say for the love of God, how do you tell someone what you don’t even know or understand yourself?

He practically radiated antipathy as he strove to quell the strong, uncharacteristic surge of emotion in his heart. It just wasn’t like him to pine like this, not like him to agonize over decisions anymore. He could focus on fragments of emotion and what he could identify didn’t comfort him. There was fear. There was weakness. There was—

Neji stiffened when her hands settled warmly against his shoulders. He glanced up at the concerned expression before she buried her face against his hair. It hadn’t been more than a quick tap of footpads against the floor, a rustle of cloth, and harsh intake of breath. There wasn’t any noise now. There weren’t any words. And he liked the way that sounded.




05 Gravity | Nothing’s Going to Bring Me Down, ‘Cept You My Love


Hyuuga Neji knew there was something weird about that Sai character asking Tenten to help him with a painting project. His teammate, after all, had no background in art so he thought it was quite a random request. Why pick Tenten? It didn’t make a lot of sense, unless…

Neji was slightly relieved when he overheard Naruto yelling loudly that Sai was obsessed with penises, he liked to spy on guys at the hot springs, he had to be gay, etc. So when the yellow-haired loudmouth, Inuzuka Kiba, and Haruno Sakura decided to stop by Sai’s house to share a quick bite, Neji figured he’d accompany them and check on his teammate’s progress.

“He’s gay, I’m telling you,” Naruto insisted.

“Dude, I could have sworn I saw him checking out Sakura.”

“Sakura? No way, he thinks she’s ugly!”

Neji rolled his eyes when the pink-haired nin flattened him without mercy. By the time they finally got to Sai’s house, Naruto and Kiba had worked out an official bet regarding Sai’s sexuality, which he thought to be perfectly ridiculous. Even if he wasn’t gay, Neji was fairly certain Sai was no threat to his and Tenten’s sort-of-romance.

But then he saw Tenten on the roof of Sai’s house, clad in a tattered pair of overalls and wearing what had to be the skimpiest tank top he’d ever seen, showing a great deal of skin above the neckline and below the hem. He didn’t have to use Byakugan to realize that she wasn’t wearing a bra, either, a fact that did not go unnoticed.

Neji scowled when he realized that behind his back, money was exchanging hands between a very defeated Naruto and a rather triumphant Kiba.

Tenten saw Neji and stood up, but her foot caught a rotting shingle and she slipped. Sakura gasped out loud as Tenten went pitching off the roof, right into the arms of Hyuuga Neji. She was gasping for breath, chest rising and falling less than a foot from his face. He reluctantly tore his glance away and directed it up to where the black-haired artist was looking down at Tenten worriedly.

“Is she okay?”

“No thanks to you. You shouldn’t be up there, nor should you have dragged Tenten up there. I don’t have much respect for someone that puts my teammates in danger.”

Tenten explained to the very fussy Hyuuga, “It was just an accident, Neji. I’m not mad. Besides, it’s just Sai.”

Neji glanced up to were the artist nin was waving benignly and smiling so big that his face had to be hurting.

Just Sai, uh huh, right. Creep.

He was just about to say as much when he glanced down at Tenten, watching a bead of sweat roll down her neck and disappear beneath the top of her paint-splattered tank top. He blinked to clear his mind and found that turning his face to the side so he couldn’t directly see her helped out a lot.

“Are you okay, Neji?”

Neji’s inner child was practically bowled over in laughter, pointed finger waging back and forth, chanting “that sneaky bastard totally outsmarted you! Getting Tenten up there…all alone…on a hot day…in skimpy clothing…”

“I’m fine.”

“Then can you put me down? I need to go back up there and help him.”

Think fast, think fast, think fast –

“Maybe it’s a good thing you fell.”

“What?”

Sakura, Naruto, and Kiba whirled around.

Thinking fast does not mean not</i> thinking before you talk, Neji.</i>

“I mean, we were going to invite you to lunch. It doesn’t make sense for you to go back up there if you’re coming down soon anyway. Unless you don’t want to eat lunch with me.”

Tenten smiled, her arms tightening around Neji’s neck only a little, but enough to make him smile inwardly.

“Alright.”

Neji nodded. He nearly dropped Tenten with a scowl when Sai’s voice drifted down from the rooftop.

“So…if I jump down will you catch me too? We can save even more time!”

“Why do ya wanna do that?” Kiba barked.

“Well, it’s not like Naruto could catch me. He’s not strong enough. I bet Hyuuga Neji-san could, though. He’s probably got a much bigger—”

Kiba huffed as he handed the money back to Naruto.




06 We Might As Well Be Strangers | But Don’t Let That Stop You


“She’s going to want the blue one.”

Lee shook his head. “She wants the pink one.”

“I’m buying her the blue one.”

“But she wants the pink one!”

“Blue.”

“Pink!”

“Are either of you going to actually buy something, or are you just going to argue in front of the counter and scare away all my customers?” the shop owner asked tiredly.

“We’re not scaring anyone,” Lee said indignantly.

“We’re your only customers at your moment…probably all day, too.”

Lee sighed. Neji can be so blunt sometimes…

“It’s a little difficult to scare people away when they’re not even around to scare.”

…Not to mention insulting,

“Well, if you knew this girl half as well as you profess to, you two wouldn’t be arguing over what color scarf to get her!”

Ouch. Touché.

“Well, I know what color she wants,” Neji said stiffly.

“Do not,” Lee countered automatically.

“She wears blue pants, Lee.”

“And she wears a pink blouse, Neji.”

“You just pick pink because it reminds you of Sakura.”

“And you pick blue because it reminds you of you.”

Neji blinked at him, frowning heavily.

“Why don’t you just compromise by buying a different color?” the man behind the counter suggested. He just wanted them to leave as quickly as possible, having no idea what he’d just done.

“What a great idea, let’s buy—”

“—White—”

“—Green.”

“Well, I guess you can’t accuse me of choosing blue with myself in mind.”

“Oh, and the white isn’t yet another reference to yourself?”

“Oi.”

Both men turned to find Nara Shikamaru entering the shop. He looked as gloomy as ever, and they soon figured out why.

“Tenten sent me down here to figure out what was taking so long. You’ve been here for over half an hour.”

“We couldn’t decide on a color.”

Shikamaru looked at Neji and Lee like they’d grown multiple heads. “Are you serious?”

When neither of them answered, he groaned. “For crying out loud, if you guys hadn’t taken so long she wouldn’t have made me come down here. Do you know how long it takes to get here?”

“You live less than ten minutes walking distance. And if she’s the one that sent you here, you’re less than two blocks away.”

“Exactly.”

Neji rolled his eyes. “If this was so easy to do, then why don’t you just tell us what color to get.”

“That’s easy,” Shikamaru shrugged, going up to the counter and pointing to a scarf.

“Purple?” Lee blurted it out before he could stop himself.

“Yeah, why not?” Shikamaru shrugged again, fishing for money in the pockets of his vest. “It’s her favorite color. It complements her well, and as someone who has to look at her, I think it’s a nice choice. Plus, it’s what she asked me to get. Didn’t she tell you guys?”

Lee blinked. “I guess she figured we’d know what to get.”

“Which is exactly why I had to come down here,” Shikamaru sighed. “God, I hate to think what you would have bought instead.”

Lee and Neji glanced at each other, daring the other to speak.




07 Mine | It’s Not All About You


“Stop stealing my bathrobe.” Neji glared at Tenten, who was currently donning his black silk robe over her pajamas.

“But it’s so comfortable.”

“But it’s mine.”

“Weren’t you ever taught to share?”

”Hyuuga’s don’t need to share” was left unsaid, but it was pretty clear that he was thinking it.

“Just don’t do this again.”

“What’s the big deal?”

“I don’t like you going through and touching my things.”

Tenten’s brown eyes blazed fiercely for a tense moment. Finally, she took a deep breath and averted her gaze. “Fine.”

Before he knew what happened, Neji’s black robe was shoved into his arms and the bedroom door slammed shut in his face. It wasn’t really how he envisioned the night before leaving on a long mission, but he was running out of time. He meticulously hung up the bathrobe and left the apartment. When he finally reached the rendezvous point that Shikamaru had picked (another godforsaken bar), he was almost late.

“Guess Uzumaki isn’t right behind you, huh?”

Neji shook his head.

“Great. He doesn’t know what it means to be on time. I guess we’ll be here for awhile, then.”

A long, awkward silence stretched on between them; neither man was especially talkative. Most of them only spoke when their teammates were attempting conversation, and since they really only had one point of relation…

“…So…how’s Tenten?” Shikamaru asked half-heartedly. Despite the lack of enthusiasm, he really did like the woman. Nice figure, not irritating (at least not compared to Ino or Sakura), didn’t beat him up…really, his standards weren’t that high for casual company or random eye candy.

“…I think I made her angry.”

“Oh really?”

“She keeps wearing my clothes. I told her to stop.”

Shikamaru smirked. “I know Ino does that sometimes with my stuff. I don’t really mind anymore.”

“You don’t mind her going through your stuff and taking it?”

“I’m not that attached to my possessions, least of all clothing,” the younger shinobi muttered. “If she misses me and it makes her feel better, why not? Besides, she looks pretty hot in most of my stuff…a hell of a lot better than I do. Like there was this one time when I came home and she was wearing my bathrobe…”

Neji scowled. Tenten was in particular overly-fond of that article of clothing, in his opinion.

“…and she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Ino’s such a goddamned tease, telling me how she loves the color of the fabric on me, loves the way the fabric feels on her, how the silk just slides all over her bare skin when she puts it on…”

Neji’s mind was extremely skilled at cataloging all the imagery his keen eyesight was bombarded with daily. And it wasn’t a challenge for it to fill in any missing gaps, either. It was all too easy to imagine Tenten climbing out of the shower, brown hair dripping trails of water down her back and chest, dampening the silk of his bathrobe as she slid the garment around her body…

Neji glanced over to where Shikamaru was smiling over a recent memory, completely ignoring him, which was actually quite good under the current circumstances, as Neji was quite unwilling to share his thoughts at the moment. Despite the fact he and Shikamaru weren’t close friends (or really even friends at all) he was quite grateful that Shikamaru often approached life in a different way. Really, a fresh perspective, every now and then, could be a very good thing

Seven days later (and five and half days after Neji got back from his mission), Tenten, very satisfied body wrapped up in Neji’s black silk bathrobe, decided to write Shikamaru a thank you card.




08 Gamble | Because Sometimes Plans Get Complex


“I want to be the boot!”

Tenten and Neji stared at their teammate, not quite expecting him to have such strong feelings on the subject of his Monopoly piece.

“I’m glad we’re not using the Star Wars edition; I don’t feel like fighting him for Han Solo,” Tenten muttered. Neji gave her an odd look when she realized she was perfectly serious. Maybe it was because he’d always preferred Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Lee eagerly distributed the money and the game pieces, clearly surprised and disappointed that Neji and Tenten clearly did not have similar loyalties to their selections; Neji chose the top-hat (“an elegant choice”) and Tenten, the iron (which both men found to be a little ironic, but wisely said nothing).

As the game progressed, Tenten realized that she was apparently playing against the world’s first- and second-place Monopoly players. They each had the kinds of skills that only hardened veterans of the game seemed to possess, such as the ability to place hotels on both Boardwalk and Pennsylvania Avenue within twenty minutes of starting the game. The entire last side of the board was pure hell to navigate, as every property was rigged with either houses or hotels.

“I can’t believe this,” Tenten groaned, watching Lee swipe his four green houses away and replace them with a shiny red hotel. It landed quite heartily on Park Place, much to Tenten’s despair and Neji’s annoyance, as the Hyuuga heir had wanted both salvia blue properties as his own.

“What can’t you believe?” Lee’s question was issued from a perfectly innocent face.

Tenten grit her teeth at his even tone. “You guys are just…”

“…Monopolizing the board? That’s the point of the game.” Neji wasn’t trying to hide his arrogance.

A muscle in Tenten’s cheek twitched. “I know, but still. It sucks. Hardcore.”

“Not for us.”

Tenten rolled the dice and slammed them down, a considerably more wise option than slugging Neji in the face.

“Seven...”

She winced as she led the piece through what she had internally dubbed “the treacherous side” of the board. Even though she didn’t hit Park Place or Boardwalk, she did manage to hit the luxury tax. Again. Eyes skyward, she counted out seventy five dollars from her meager remaining money stack and handed it over.

“I don’t even see why I need to pay a luxury tax…I’m the poorest person in this game,” she whined. “Baltic Avenue doesn’t really rake in the dough.”

“You should have saved your money for better properties,” Neji advised sagely.

“Then you’d be able to keep up with all the taxes and fines we levy on you,” Lee chirruped.

Tenten was very tempted to flick the miniature pewter wheelbarrow into his eye, but decided against it. A trip to the hospital was the only way this night would get any worse.

“You’re almost out of money,” Neji reminded her. “What are you going to do the next time around? The two hundred you’ll collect won’t cover you again if you land on one of our properties.”

God, he acts like this is real life, Tenten thought miserably. Though this game was my idea and it would be pretty pathetic if I bitch and moan to get them to play and I don’t even enjoy myself at all because they’re apparently Monopoly whores

“How about if I make it around the board again without landing on anyone’s properties, you each pay me four hundred bucks…In Monopoly money,” she hastily added.

“There’s no way—”

“Okay. You’re on.”

Tenten’s eyes darted to Neji’s. A challenge…and a rather daunting one, at that, but a challenge she could handle. Even if it was all in the hands of fate, it felt a whole lot better viewing it as a competition. Her high spirits quickly died when she landed on the income tax box after she passed “GO.”

What is with all the flippin’ taxes? she thought wildly. Oh well, at least I didn’t land on Reading Railroad. Neji owns that one…and all of the other railroads

Neji and Lee advanced around the board, but most of the attention was on Tenten. She smirked in triumph as she narrowly avoided landing on “Electric Company.” By the time she landed on Marvin Gardens (which was blissfully unaffiliated with Lee or Neji) the trio was watching with baited breath. Tenten stared at the hotel-laden path to her thousand bucks.

Tenten shook the dice and got a four. She sighed audibly in relief when she landed on Community Chest. She smiled half-heartedly at her unexpected but ultimately paltry “Beauty Pageant” prize of $25. She paid no attention to Neji and Lee’s turns, as she was mentally calculating on how she could manage to escape that side of the board unscathed.

I need to roll a seven or more…those aren’t good odds. She glanced over to where Neji looked way too triumphant. Damn it, he knows I’m probably screwed. Jackass.

Tenten released the die she’d been nervously shaking. The first landed. A six.

Yes! Whatever the second one is, I won’t land on one of their properties!

The second die landed and it was a one. She was safe on “GO.” Sighing deeply in relief, she could feel her security melting away even as both teammates grudgingly handed over their four hundred dollars. They were giving each other these strange, conniving looks…

“I’m thinking we should actually play real Monopoly now, seeing as how Tenten is improving,” Lee said.

Real Monopoly?!

Neji nodded. “Good idea.”

“What’s ‘real’ Monopoly?” Tenten demanded.

“You’ve never heard of it?” Neji looked at her with what Tenten could only surmise as disdain.

“No…”

“You’ll like it,” Neji said cryptically.

Tenten was starting to get annoyed. “And why’s that?”

Lee grinned diabolically. Even Neji looked pleased. Tenten glanced back and forth between them.

“What’s so great about ‘real’ Monopoly?”

“It’s Sudden Death!”

Tenten paled. Sudden Death?! What?!? She opened her mouth to protest, shoulders sagging when she realized she was once again in over her head. Neji had pretty much cleared the board by the time she’d snapped to her senses and reached for a new game piece. Lee’s hand nearly took off her own as he claimed his first.

“I call the boot again!”

Neji already had his top hat on “GO.” Tenten tentatively picked up the iron and placed it on the board in time for Lee’s first roll of the dice. The confidently moved his piece forward, a look darting to Neji before he smiled broadly. Hyuuga smirked as he too took his turn.

What the hell is Sudden Death Monopoly? she groaned internally as she reached for the dice with trepidation.




09 Running | When I Said That I Love You, I Meant That I'd Love You Forever


Rain fell in torrents. It pelted the treetops, railing against them furiously and drenching everything below them with near-equal force. There was no shelter, not in the middle of the forest in the middle of the night. The sound of fierce rain drowned out everything as it fell around Neji and Tenten.

He’d sent Lee for help. It made sense; Lee was the fastest runner and was actually quite good with directions when it was essential. Though it was painful to admit, Lee was more reliable than Tenten and himself, especially after—

“Neji?”

“I’m right here,” his voice was even. It was always even. And it wasn’t going to break now.

“Lee’s gone, isn’t he?”

“Just for help, but he’s coming right back.” And if he’s not in time, I’m going to kill him myself.

“Good. I hope he’s not too late. I want to see him before I—”

—Don’t say it—

“—Die.”

“Don’t waste your strength with talking.”

“What strength?”

The strength that leeches into your words and out of your body every time you say another sentence that damns you to death, literally and figuratively.

“It’s not like you to think this way. Don’t start now.” Don’t you dare start now.

“At least you’re here with me, though.”

I almost wish I was Lee – He won’t have to watch you die.

“Why are you happy about that?” I failed you.

“I love you, Neji.”

I’ve known for years so why does it hurt so much when she says it?

“Why?” Yes, Neji, interrogate the dying lady about why she does, in fact, love you when you can’t even save her and want to run after Lee to flee yet another failure…

“I love you because you’re strong—”

—Not strong enough to save you from this—

“—and because you’re not perfect.”

If you mean flawed enough to let you die, then yes, I am.

“I’ve spent my life chasing after you, Neji. And I never caught you.”

God, if you only knew.

“I wouldn’t say that, Tenten.”

A single, gut-wrenching sob of frustration, understanding, and hurt escaped. It spilled from her lips but landed deep inside his chest.

“I always thought you were running away from me.”

I was. I was afraid.

“I’ve stopped. I’ve finally stopped running. Now you’re all caught up.”

Stay. Stay here…

She smiled. Her voice was so weak he had to strain his ears to hear it, even as he bent over her and her shaky breath ghosted upon the shell of his ear.

“I have to go on a journey soon. Maybe you can chase after me this time.”

Tenten smiled at him and Neji didn’t move, even as the rain continued to fall and Lee ran futilely for Konoha.




10 Razorblade Kiss | This Is Going to Sting a Little


Neji and Tenten were waist-deep in what had to be the coldest lake in Konoha. It was in-between missions but there wasn’t time for them to return to the village. They were shivering, teeth clattering, attempting to wash their hair because it was covered in sweat, dirt, oil, and in Tenten’s case, blood.

Isn’t this romantic. Tenten thought dryly. She glanced up to where Neji’s back was facing her, his white undershirt clinging sinfully to his body. Mouth hanging open, she could only wish she looked half as hot. She always teased Neji about being sort of vain when it came to his hair, so she was puzzled when the soap he’d been carefully lathering was not applied to his hair.

Surprised, she said the first thing that popped into her brain.

“I guess I kind of assumed Hyuuga’s didn’t grow beards.”

The withering glare Neji sent Tenten made her smile sheepishly. Yeah, it was sounded kind of dumb (especially when spoken aloud), but really – How many Hyuuga men sported facial hair? She sure as hell didn’t see any, though they certainly had nice hair on the crowns of their heads. But there was never any evidence of beards, mustaches, sideburns…Before she knew it Tenten was wading towards him in the frigid lake water. Neji nearly squawked with indignation as her hands grabbed his face, her hand sliding beneath his chin and fingers running across his jaw. She shrugged, dropping his manhandled face very detachedly.

“I guess I kind of feel a little stubble…” The skepticism was quite obvious.

Neji glared. Tenten sighed, rolling her eyes. Neji glowered even more - No one rolled their eyes at a Hyuuga.

Just like no one makes fun of us for not having facial hair?

Neji, to his dismay, was confronted with a giggling Tenten, who was apparently amused by the idea of him with a full beard.

“What do you want me to do about it, then?” he snapped.

Tenten gave him a very surprised look.

“You’re asking me?”

Damn,

“Yeah,” he tried not to say this without his teeth grinding too loudly. He blamed it on the cold.

“I can shave you.” She drew out a kunai and waved it in the air.

Neji blinked. “What?”

“It’s better than you doing it blind. Look, you already slipped once.”

She swiped her finger against his cheek and it came away with a spot of white lather and a streak of red blood. To cut off her protest (and divert her from the fact his hand had slipped when he’d let his mind wander to her wet and scantily-clad body only a few feet away) he allowed her to continue what he’d started, her hands drawing the blade quickly and deftly across his skin.

Neji was painfully aware that she was getting closer and closer. He could practically see through her shirt and if she moved forward a few inches, he’d be able to feel her through it too. He inhaled sharply as he attempted to quell the thought, causing her kunai to nick his cheek and slip against her slick hands, also slicing into her finger. Both cuts were deep.

“I’m sorry!” Without thinking, her injured finger flew to her mouth while the other hand went to his face.

You probably wouldn’t be sorry if you knew what I was just thinking about.

He couldn’t help but stare at Tenten. Her hair was wet, half-pulled back and several pieces were slicked to her face. He’d memorized what lay beneath her drenched clothing, simply from years or watching her grow up and move and run circles through his mind. Neji knew it was perverse, but Tenten standing there, bloody weapon in her bloody hand, with a smear of scarlet on her lips…she was utterly tempting. Now it was him closing the distance between them.

On his cheek as her cut finger was trailing red over his skin, her first thought was how good her blood looked on him, so bright and vivid against his marble-smooth, marble-white skin. And when his lips finally crashed against hers, Neji’s first thought as his tongue swirled against the red spot at the edge of her mouth, was how good his blood tasted on her lips.
 
 
 
wildcattmiss_wildcatt on October 30th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC)
Smexy finish. ^_^ Love your Shikamaru/Tenten interaction - he's such an unashamed ass, I think I broke down somewhere between 'phallic symbolism' and 'get him something yannic'- Sai asking to be caught - bearded!Neji (I remember bringing up the question of how Tenten would react if he ever grew one....I guess we have the answer here!).....and...ShinoHina!

SHINOHINA!

I guess it's strange to celebrate the pairing in a Nejiten community but it's so rare that I find them mentioned.....*loves on them*

Wonderful stuff!
wingsover: puppywingsover on October 30th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
*rejoices openly*

Every single one, lovely, lovely, lovely. I loved reading each character: Shikamaru, Lee, SAI, and of course Neji and Tenten. You write him so delightfully arrogant. ♥ I was just GRINNING the whole time through.

The katana! The yannic suggestion! (and I learned a new word today!) The bathrobe - died when Tenten gave it back to him angrily, and then when Shikamaru changed his mind. ^________^ Sai's drawings!

The 'running' drabble was one of the best character-death (it is, isn't it?) I've read in a while.

As for the razorblade kiss - wow HOTT. *actually had an idea something like, but decided not to. You did it better anyway*

Anyway, loved them ALL.
Alisonsonnie_skies on October 30th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
I fucking love Sai. To pieces. He's fabulous. And I love super-arrogant Neji - he's a lot of fun.


And I really like "Running" - it's probably my favorite.


Thanks for commenting ^^
Alisonsonnie_skies on October 30th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
Shikamaru and Tenten remind me of a friendship I have where we can talk about sexual things freely because the relationship is uncomplicated and we're not attracted to each other.


And men + facial hair = funny especially when my daddy shaved off his beard and my mom didn't talk to him until it grew back - the role of facial hair in anyone's life, period, amuses me.
wingsover: cross foodwingsover on October 30th, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC)
You know, though, you've spawned a little ShikaTen shipbunny in me. The other bunnies are not amused. :P The Shikabunny just yawns at them.

*tries really hard to imagine Neji with STUBBLE*
Alisonsonnie_skies on October 31st, 2006 02:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, Neji with stubble is hard to imagine, which is why I made Tenten actually feel around for it.
silverteardropxsilverteardropx on October 30th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
YES FINALLY SOMEONE CREATED A SHAVING FICTION FOR RAZORBLADE KISS! i was wondering if ANYONE would do it! U ROCK!
btw GRAVITY was f-ing AWESOME!! lol sai is gay!!!
Alisonsonnie_skies on October 31st, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
Razorblade Kiss screamed for a shaving fic.


Gravity was fun to write - and I have no idea as to Sai's sexual preference, he's just one of my favorite characters.
riri: gigglescrimson_riot on October 31st, 2006 01:24 am (UTC)
11:49 PM? Ha~ You win. Way to conquer with one blow.

Running is so sad... but I'm oddly addicted to it. I love Razorblade Kiss for its perfect amount of sexiness. But Gravity... hilarious~~~! Hurrah for Inner!Neji. Sai messing with NejiTen is always amusing!

I'm glad several of my favorite characters (besides Neji and Tenten) are featured... and they totally rock in their parts. (Loved the Naruto/Kiba bet~!) You wrote out the Shikamaru/Tenten friendship brilliantly. (Katana, bowls? Oh, Shika-kun~ ♥)

Thanks for helping to conclude the festival with your great writing!
Alisonsonnie_skies on October 31st, 2006 02:34 am (UTC)
I don't do angst very well so I figured I'd try to accomplish that with "Running," though the premise has been done a lot.

And I adore Sai so I wanted to incorporate him somehow. I like friendship pieces a lot - the bet was fun to write. Guys are always speculating as to who they think is gay o.O

I'm glad you like my entry ^^
rong_chan on October 31st, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
Wow. This stuff is definitely different. In the good way. :D

Perverted Neji! XD Everybody likes Neji abuse, huh?
Alisonsonnie_skies on November 1st, 2006 12:09 am (UTC)
Thanks ^^ Did you have any particular favorites?


And I think Neji can be perverted - I don't think Tenten's the type of girl to slap him for it, though ;)
rong_chan on November 1st, 2006 12:22 am (UTC)
I pretty much liked We Might As Well Be Strangers (#6). Razorblade Kiss was also pretty cool. (I'm using the word "pretty" too much. xx)
Cosmo-san: NejiTen [ white out ]blooming_cosmo on November 11th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
I read this back when you posted it the first time...and I wish I commented, but I was planning to comment...and I delayed myself until after I made your banner...but yes, I loved it. I love your writing, and I demand more. XD

This was my favorite part from White Out:

“People say the moon chases the sun,” he muttered, only the tiniest trace of bitterness in his voice. “But I like to think the sun chases the moon.”

*___* Makes me squee...and just everything was awesome. So many good pieces. So sorry your banner is this late.

Alisonsonnie_skies on November 11th, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like my writing; I'm actually starting a new Naruto epic o.O It's AU and I already posted the first chapter on ff.net.


White Out was my first drabble of the bunch. I'd like to think it benefited from that ;)


And I LOVE the banner, thank you, BC.
Reinacoconutmandarin on July 20th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Lovely end ;)

These were wonderful.