two days after Groundhogs Day everyone! So anyway, it's my first time posting here, and I come with a little one-shot, dedicated to dear Punxsatawney (yeah, I had to google that.) Phil for announcing that spring is right around the corner! And don't be fooled by the icy streets, 20-degree temperatures, and the two-foot pile of shoveled snow on my front lawn.
Name: 3:00 A.M.
Genre: pretty much general, with maybe a teeny tiny hint of romance
Preview: By 2:51, he was wide awake and climbing out of his bedroom window, heading west towards the village.
At 2:49 a.m., Neji was rapidly escaping the realm of rest, and by 2:51, he was wide awake and climbing out of his bedroom window, heading west towards the village.
By 2:54, he reached his first destination: in the shadows of a sleeping building on an empty street. Though the moon was only a thin sliver of white veiled behind swirling black clouds, everything was entirely visible for Neji. Not a shingle on the roof can escape his vision, nor a crevice on the sidewalk, and every leaf on every branch of every tree knows that there is no place to hide from those silver eyes.
He paused for a moment, to make sure that all was still. A cat crossed the street, a leaf fell from the nearby tree, but he was prowling stealthily by 2:55, concealing himself in the slight shadows of the buildings.
It was 2:56. He made a lightning-quick dash for a large tree on the corner of the street. He got there faster than in took to write the word "street."
2:56:21: Chakra rushed to his feet, and Neji walked up the tree. Quietly but swiftly - there was no time to lose.
2:57: He stood on one of the thicker branches and only one level away from his final destination.
2:57:45: His foot slipped and he plummeted to the sidewalk.
2:58: He landed roughly on his tush. Neji decided to screw stealth, quiet, and discretion. He made one strong leap towards the third balcony of the building.
2:58:15: He made it. Neji walked slowly and gently, as though walking on a cloud, towards the locked balcony door and peered through the glass. There she was. Looking behind the slightly opened curtains, he saw her curled up under the thick, violet covers of her bed, and her long, tangled hair sprawled on the pillow. He could see on her side table numbers blinking a piercing red. "3:00 a.m." the digital clock told him. Neji smirked. Same time, once again...
For weeks, Tsunade has been sending Neji on missions that require him to be alert at night. They were quick assignments--spying, reconnaissance. He napped during the day to conserve his energy and be more vigilant.
This resulted in irregular sleeping patterns when he went back home for a 10-day break--tired, heavy eyes when the sun was up, and restless, active muscles when the moon was up. But he knew that those missions would eventually evolve into something larger, more important, so Neji submitted to the new sleeping habits.
On the first night, he just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling until gold light infiltrated through the curtains.
On the second night, he took to a stroll around town. He must have circled the village three times before he allowed himself to walk by Tenten's apartment.
A walk by her apartment turned into a strong, insatiable urge to see his old teammate. He climbed up the tree and onto her balcony and just watched her sleep until the first crack of sunlight...
At around 5:15 a.m., Neji saw her stir, and what has been his nightly ritual for the past week was drawing to a close. He felt an ache in his chest...he'll have to leave soon...
The digital clock read "5:16." Perhaps a minute longer, Neji thought wistfully.
5:16:10: Tenten stretched her arms out with a yawn and sat up on her knees.
5:16:13: Reluctantly he left. Neji started leaping from rooftop to rooftop, heading east towards the Hyuuga compound.
At 5:16 a.m., Tenten was rubbing the sleep away from her eyes and running her fingers through her messy, snarled hair.
Though light was still dim at that time, she could have sworn she saw on her balcony a human's silhouette.
And pearly white eyes...
At 12:12 p.m., when the sun was towering up in the sky, Neji was walking sluggishly and drowsily towards the market.
It turned to 12:14 when Neji finally reached the pineapples section.
What he was doing there in the first place was still hazy to him, but among the flurry of shopping housewives, misbehaving children, and grumpy husbands was a familiar voice.
From the corner of his eye, he saw two girls--one with short pink hair, the other with her hair twisted into buns (gee, who could they be?). "He came to your house again? Oh, that Neji," she said with a giggle. It was that Haruno Sakura.
"Yep, same time, same place. 3 o'clock at the balcony." ...and Tenten...!!!
So she knew--they knew--they both knew!!--about his nightly excursions!! Heart racing and flushed with embarrassment, he quickly tried to maneuver himself out of the crowd in the market--
"Oh, wait hold on--I need lettuce." The lettuce section was only 4 carts away. "Wow, who would have thought--Neji, of all people, would do something like this."
"You make it sound like a crime, Sakura. I think it's kind of sweet...in a creepy, stalker-ish way. Quite frankly, I'm flattered that there's someone who would wake up at 3 in the morning to watch me sleep."
Neji decided to stay a little longer...huh, 2 pineapples for 8 ryo...
"Hey, if you're asleep, how did you know he was really there?" Sakura asked. "And how did you know it was Neji? I mean, for all you know, it could have been...Naruto, or something."
"Well, sometimes, I'm really not sleeping." Then Tenten paused. "But even if I am sleeping, it kind of feels like it's him. Even though I haven't seen him in a while, I feel like he's around, watching me..." Oh, crap, does she know he's here too?? "...do you know what I mean?"
"Uh, no. Not really."
"Well then, why don't you go ask some guy to climb up to your balcony at 3 in the morning and have him watch you sleep?"
"But I don't have a balcony--"
"I...Hey, look--watermelon on sale!" 6 and a half carts away. 12:21. Neji strained his hearing.
Their voices were fainter (it was that, or the market grew louder), but he could still make out their conversation.
"So," started Sakura. "Neji has been going to your balcony every night for a week and watching you sleep...has he ever...you know. Broken in?"
Tenten let out a cheery laugh. "No, at least I don't think. But it wouldn't surprise me if does." She added airily, "though I wonder when that'll be."
12:23:30: The conversation dissolved into the clamor of the market and was no longer audible for Neji.
In his current state, it all could have been a dream. But regardless, Neji assumed Tenten's last statement as a command.
At 2:48 a.m., Neji was, once again, rapidly escaping the realm of sleep, and by 2:50, he was wide awake and climbing out of his bedroom window.
But not without making sure that he had a crowbar with him.
With a small smirk and a tool (that could possibly be used to, let's say, break into an apartment), he began heading west towards the village.
Notes: Um, I think this fic was the result from watching the first half of Day 5 of 24 yesterday (so addicting!).
Oh, and don't ask why Tenten and Sakura are grocery shopping together...I mean, even kunoichi need girl time, even if it is shopping for fruits and veggies.