Cleo (istoria) wrote in nejiten,

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Fill-in exchange gift for hyuugatenten

Title: Rock Idols
Author: istoria
For: hyuugatenten
Prompt: "S/he's Mine". Humor. Earthtones. Jungle!Neji, lol. Fanboys. Team Gai. Hair. Weapons. Swimming. Singing. Dares. Clashing. Smirk. Fly. Love. Tension. Hidden agendas. Thunderstorms. Fears. Yes... they are ALL there.
Rating: K
Notes: Ah... this one was easier to write because it was far far far far less serious. Hopefully still maintained the romance parts enough.

The sky above her rumbled and Tenten glanced up at it unhappily. It was bad enough they had spent the last three days traversing jungle trying to find a specific plant for the Hokage but if it rained one more time, so help her, she was going to start hurling things at the sky in revenge. Her clothes hadn't even dried from the last deluge. The humidity stuck to her like honey and it seemed to double her attraction to the mosquitoes. She was only thankful Shino wasn't around to see how many of the things she squished.

"Did you find anything?"

She stood up from her crouched position on the ground and looked over at her teammate. A bit of envy washed over her as she took in his perfect appearance. His clothes were nowhere near as disheveled as hers, no mosquito bites were present and worse of all, his damn hair was still perfect while some of hers had escaped the buns and curled up tightly, her head a nice halo of frizziness.

"Nothing," she muttered, kicking the ground a bit. "Are we even sure it grows here?"

Neji looked around. "The instructions were not specific, just that it would grow at the base of trees with fruits in the shape of stars."

Tenten frowned. "This better be a medicinal herb and not some flavoring for sake," she replied, feeling a bit bitter towards her idol, Tsunade, for sending them out there. What had the Hokage said? People paid to go to places like this for vacation? Well, those people were clearly insane. "Where's Lee?"

Neji took in a deep breath and held back his annoyance. He could sense his female teammate was on edge and making a snide remark about Lee's plant searching habits would most likely result in a lecture about treating him better. "He said he was going to run around the perimeter and search for plants."

Tenten arched an eyebrow. "The perimeter?" she asked, waving her hand at the tree. "This damn jungle goes on for miles!"

"I never said it was a good tactic.” The sky above him rumbled again and he saw her twitch slightly and reach for her pouch. "We should find Lee and take cover before it rains again."

She nodded a bit and headed for the nearest tree. It would be easier to find Lee above the canopy anyway. She ran up the trunk with practiced ease and rested on the top of the tree, scanning the horizon for any sign of him. The sky had turned an ugly gray and she had to strain her eyes to make out the movement in the foliage a mile away.

"That's got to be him," she commented, knowing her teammate's lack of stealth was most likely part of some self-concocted training regime. But Neji's attention was elsewhere, the thin lines around his eyes a telling sign he was doing a sweep with Byakugan. She was about to ask what the problem was when he spoke.

"Natives," he said, pointing about half a mile from Lee. She squinted but couldn't see anything. Of course, natives would be more accustomed to moving silently through the jungle. She looked back to where Lee had been and realized there was no more movement from his location. "Lee must have sensed them coming," Neji commented.

He took off running after that with her following closely behind. It was easier to clear the distance traveling on top of the jungle but they still wouldn't make it in time. Lee would be able to hold off a few natives, right?

A small explosion ahead dispelled that certainty rather quickly and they increased their speed. Suddenly Neji's path altered and he dipped down into the foliage once more. She followed suit, forming a series of hand symbols and using a genjutsu to turn the normal colors of her outfit into more earth tone ones so she could blend into the background. On-the-fly camouflage was one of the better techniques she had learned over the years.

They reached the site of the battle but it was already over. Several tree had been toppled and singed, the ground was torn up with the signs of a fight and Lee was no where in sight. Tenten scoured the area, trying to find some sign of him while Neji used Byakugan to pick up the trail. She found a small needle, buried in the dirt and fringed with feathers. She touched the tip lightly and tapped her finger to her tongue. "Sedative," she remarked.

"They're heading east," he said. She stood up and started to head that way but he caught her arm. "We need a plan," he stated.

"Go in, beat the crap out of the natives, rescue Lee," she replied. "Plan done," she added turning on her heel and walking away.

"That is not a plan," he said, grabbing her arm. "That's an irrational response."

She shook herself free. "I'm sorry I don't want to waste time trying to think of what to do when Lee could be in real danger."

"We'd just put ourselves in danger as well not thinking things through."

"What's there to think about?"

He crossed his arms. "This is why you and Lee always get into trouble. You don't take the time to think before you act."

"I'm a little too concerned about his welfare at the moment to start drawing up tactics and battle plans."

"Why are you concerned?"

"Because he's my teammate and he's in trouble. Don't you get concerned when we're in trouble too?"

"Of course not. I..."

"Of course not," she interrupted. "Because we're so irrational we always get in trouble, so why bother getting concerned at all!"

"I did not..." But before he could finish the response, she had jumped into the trees once more. That wasn't what he meant at all. He was simply attempting to point out the fact that Lee was more than capable of taking care of himself and why would he be concerned when he knew that they were both highly skilled shinobi?

But for the past several months, Tenten had been on a short fuse. Attempting to find the reason for her sudden change in attitude had proven fruitless. He knew her birthday was coming up but she was only turning twenty, not exactly a milestone year. When he had asked Lee, all the boy had muttered was something about her getting tired of waiting for something. But she was already jounin, one of the more respected kunoichi in the village and had earned the trust of the Hokage herself. What more could she want?

He followed her into the branches and caught up to her just as she came to a stop. Ahead of them the forest cleared and a village of huts filled most of the empty space. A large pit of molten lava was in the center and a large chair sat upon a high platform several feet from it. This wouldn't necessarily be unusual if it weren't for the fact that seated on the throne was Lee.

"What's going on?" she whispered. But he had no answer for that. Instead he watched as Lee woke up and was greeted by several native women who adorned him with a crown of various flowers and several necklaces. They picked up a few fans nearby and began to wave them at him.

"You have got to be kidding."

Neji was about to agree with her when he realized she wasn't looking at the same thing he was. He followed her gaze and again almost echoed her sentiment vocally. There, to the left of the lava pit, was a large rock, nearly green from the moss that covered it, with two black marks spaced evenly apart near its top.

"They don't think..." she started.

Neji nodded. "Primitive cultures often use naturally occurring items as icons representing their Gods."

"So... they think Lee is their God?" she asked. A few more people appeared in front of him and offered him plates of food. "Well... it's not that bad then right? They'll just shower him with devotion and gifts, right?"

Neji nodded slightly. "That or throw him into the lava. Some cultures believe that this will release the trapped God from his mortal..." He trailed off when he realized she was staring at him horrified. "That's not to say that they're the type who would do that."

Around the lava pit, the natives had started to dance, throwing flowers and plates of food into it as they moved. Lee seemed rather oblivious to all of it, enjoying the sudden attention. A group of young boys were crowded around the bottom of the dais, using sharpened rocks to shear their hair to mimic Lee's.

It was like Lee had fanboys, Neji thought to himself, attempting to wrap his mind around that idea and finding himself nearly shuddering at the thought. The situation was spiraling out of control faster than he would like. "Can you sneak around the throne's back and warn Lee what's about to happen?"

She nodded curtly and started to make her way over there. Of course she could sneak there, she was a shinobi after all! Half way there, she forced herself to take a breath and calm down. She knew Neji wasn't questioning her abilities and that she was just overreacting. But he deserved some of her wrath.

"Of course not," she mimicked his voice. "Why would I be concerned over my two block head teammates? It doesn't matter that one sees me like a brother and the other is completely in..."

She stopped her diatribe. That wasn't his fault either. It was entirely her fault. Three years ago, when some of the boys had started asking her out, she was the one that had asked the other kunoichi what was going.

"Well," Ino had replied smartly, "they figure they gave Neji enough time to make his move."

"Wait, what?" she had asked. "Neji?"

Sakura had shared a smile with Ino. "Well, it's not like you guys ever train with anyone else..."

"We just have alternate fighting style that are good for testing the skills of the other," she had replied quickly.

"Most of your missions are together," Ino had added.

"Lee is there too... sometimes."

And then Ino had gone in for the kill. "So why did you say no to every boy that asked you out to dinner?"

"Because..." Tenten had stammered. "Because there wasn't time... with the training... and the missions and..."

They had looked at her skeptically. Because if you looked at it, she had time. Sure, missions took her away, but training was mostly a morning ritual... one that was followed by breakfast together, occasional weapons shopping or checking the Hokage's tower for what was going on together, and then it was already time for lunch so they might as well...

Her head had dropped as she realized that the majority of her day had one common thread. And the worst part of it was... she in no way wanted that to change.

"Ah.... shit," she had muttered.

And then Hinata, sweet Hinata who had pined for the completely clueless Naruto for so many years, had put her hand on Tenten's shoulder and said somewhat sadly, "I'm sorry my cousin is so dense."

Dense... oh yeah, he was dense. He was worse then Naruto. Light years beyond Naruto's cluelessness. Because for the past three years, she had tried subtly to change things and had met with complete indifference. It’s fine, she repeated to herself. I said I would give him until I was twenty and there's still... a few weeks left.

She let the train of thought die as she rounded the edge of the camp and used the shadows to mask her approach. She crouched just behind the throne so that no one could see her. Lee had sensed her approach. He nodded at the fan wavers and they retreated so there was no longer anyone in ear shot.

"We need to get out of here," she whispered.

"It's okay!" Lee whispered back. "They think I'm a king or something."

"They think you're a God."

"Really?" he said with a normal volume, before clearing his throat and flashing the confused natives a sparkle-filled smile to distract them again.

"Yes Lee, but that's not a good thing. They sort of have a hidden agenda."

"What's that?"

"They like to throw their Gods into lava."

"What? But that's..."

A group of villagers in front of the throne hoisted a straw dummy that looked surprisingly like Lee and tossed it into the pit, while singing a rather merry tune. After a few seconds of watching it catch fire, burn and sink into the lava, Lee's disposition had changed.

He stood up and waved at the crowd. "People of this village... thank you for the food and cool air, but the time has come for me to..." The moment he tried to take a step, four guardsmen appeared and held their spears at his neck. "This isn't working," he whispered to her.

"Try..." but her idea was cut off as one of the guards reached around the throne and yanked her from her hiding spot. She tumbled down the stairs, falling just next to the group of boys that now looked like mini-Lee's. They pointed at her and began singing. It took her a second to realize it was the same tune as the one they had just roasted Dummy-Lee to.

She tried to fight back but they were fast and they had her by the wrists, eliminating her ability to do hand signs or reach her weapons. They carried her off the ground to the lava’s edge in record time. As they swung her back and forth a few times she tried to remain calm. After all, you can use chakra to walk on water. Lava isn't that different... right?

The natives tossed her in the air and she started to channel her chakra to her feet. Just as she started to descend down towards the lava, she saw something hurtling towards her from the trees. She stretched her hand out just in time for Neji to grab it. He pulled her up and she grabbed on to the vine.

"Nice catch," she said.

"Convenient vine," he replied, somewhat grimly.

"Good plan," she smiled. A branch jutted from a tree only fifty feet away, making for a perfect landing. Too bad the vine grew taunt while they were still that far away and then started to swing them back towards the lava pit.

"We're heading back towards them," she pointed out, trying not to sound too panicked.

"I know," he said, looking around the area. "I didn't exactly... think this through."

"WHAT?!" she cried.

He frowned slightly. As much as he hated to admit it, there were times where he shared the personality of his teammates more then he would like. Especially when it came to her. True, he knew that Tenten could take care of herself, but that never seemed to stop him from actively looking for ways to help her.

"I let concern win over reason."

She blinked. "Neji... if we weren't hurtling towards our doom, I'd say that's really sweet."

"Is that so? Then remember that sentiment a few moments from now."

"What's happening then?" she asked.

"I'm throwing you at Lee as a distraction."

"WHAT?!" she cried again. But by then he had wrapped an arm around her waist and twisted her enough so that she let go of the vine. A moment after that, true to his word, she was hurtling at Lee. Lee had luckily realized what was going on and leapt from the dais just in time to catch her.

They both tumbled to the ground, the full attention of the guards now on them. Lee came up into a fighting stance, silly crown still on his head, and charged the moment he had his balance. Tenten stood behind him pulling out one of her scrolls with one hand, biting the thumb of the other. Lee jumped in the air and with a split kick, nailed two of the guards right in the mouth. A third came around him, spear poised and ready to strike. There was a whistle and the spear's head fell to the ground, cleanly cut from the shaft. A few more spears were similarly decapitated and Tenten reached for a second round of shuriken.

"So what's the plan?" Lee asked, landing next to her.

"Ah... distract them for now."

"Okay, I can distract!" He flashed a smile and a thumbs-up before he returned to the fray. The crowd swelled and Tenten dropped her ranged attack, pulling a long bo from out of the scroll, twirling it once before lunging and burying its top into the belly of a nearby guard. She turned and swept the bo again, hitting the side of another head before stopping and sending the staff backwards, getting a third as he tried to sneak up behind her. A fourth appeared, unarmed and beckoned to her with a hand.

"Lee, trade places!" she called out.

Lee swept low to the ground at the feet of one, sending him toppling backwards. Just as another advanced with a menacing battle axe, he heard her call out. He back flipped, landing in front of her just as she turned to face the axe in mid-swing. Her bo was sliced in half as their weapons clashed together and she was reduced to using each half like a tanto. True the axe was sharpened and more deadly, but she had speed. She avoided the second swing and brought the sticks down on either of his wrists with enough force to make him let go. Then she followed up with a blow to each temple, sending him unconscious to the ground.

She turned to check on Lee and found him blocking the unarmed guard's attacks with one hand. She watched curiously until she realized he was counting each block. "LEE!"

"Just twenty more blocks and then I can..."

She threw one of sticks at his head and he ducked at the last second, letting it clock his opponent instead. As the guard fell to the ground, Lee looked hurt. "But Tenten now I have to block two hundred times!"

She clenched the other stick and waved it at him menacingly. "Just try that again, I dare you."

He cowered a bit, all too aware of how seriously she took her threats. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Most of the guards were on the ground, rolling around in pain.

There was movement behind them and one of the hut's doors opened. A tall man stood there, adorned with feathers and carrying a long staff. "I think that's their chief," Lee said, stating the obvious. Tenten didn't get a chance to point that out as the chief pointed at them and yelled a few words.

The entire village replied in unison and produced assorted sticks, knives and spears from seemingly thin air. "That's kind of neat," she remarked. The villagers took a step towards them, holding the weapons tightly. "Okay, now it’s less neat."

There was a slight disturbance in the air and Neji appeared next to them. Tenten didn't bother to hide her relief. "Do you have a plan?"

He paused. "Not so much."

"What do you mean, ‘Not so much?’"

"I mean it's not so much a plan as it is an observation."

"And that would be…" Tenten said, attempting to hurry things along. The villagers were only a few feet away by then.

"The rock idol... is not Lee." Tenten and Lee looked at him, waiting for an explanation. A loud roar tore through the jungle and the ground shook. "That is the rock."

The trees fell as a towering green lizard appeared, sharp teeth glistening with saliva. It had one black mark over each of its eyes and two tiny little arms clawed the air in front of it.

Lee turned and saw the entire village had emptied out. "Ah... we should start running," he remarked. Neji nodded and they started to leave before realizing their last teammate wasn't moving. She was paralyzed with fear, staring up at the lizard just as it turned its head towards them and roared. They both reached back and grabbed one arm, hauling her off as they started to run.

They caught up to the villagers almost immediately. By then Tenten had regained enough sense and was running on her own. "Go up!" Neji called out and the three shinobi jumped up into the trees. While this gave them an easier path to run, it also put them on eye level with the lizard. Neji glanced down at the ground, wondering exactly where the villagers were running to.

"Cliff!" Lee yelled and Neji's head snapped around, realizing that his teammate was right. The forest ended and what appeared to be a sheer cliff appeared in front. The villagers seemed unfazed by this. In fact a number of them were jumping right off.

"What do we do?" Tenten called back.

Neji looked over his shoulder at the approaching lizard and made the only decision he could. "Jump for it!"

The trio broke through the foliage and into empty air, hanging for a moment there like they were preparing to take flight. But gravity took hold and their descent quickened, sending them hurtling towards the pool of water below them. They hit it at the same time, three perfect splashes in the water. It wasn't very deep so they hit the bottom soon enough and used the momentum to return to the surface.

"Is everyone okay?" Lee asked, as soon as he had caught his breath. Neji nodded and Tenten gave a wave. Lee stayed in place, treading water as he looked around, somewhat surprised to see the villagers swimming at full speed towards the shore. A shower of rocks fell into the water and they looked up, seeing the lizard peering over the edge.

"No way," Tenten said. "It wouldn't."

But it did. All seven tons of lizard came crashing into the water, creating a tidal wave that pushed the entire contents of the pool out and towards the jungle. The speed was so intense that a majority of the trees snapped in half as it hit. The trio was thrown apart, struggling to regain control as they were thrown at the trees. Lee managed to grab a passing branch and held on for dear life as the water rushed by him. Once he was sure he wasn't going to get washed away, he tried to find his teammates.

Neji was having more success with that but then, having an all-seeing eye helped. Lee looked secure so he searched for Tenten, finding her struggling several feet away. She wasn't the best swimmer as it was and the twisting current of the wave did little to help her. He dove under the water and started heading towards her.

She lost track of how many times she had turned around but she forced her eyes to keep open. She was searching for the surface but saw a familiar shape approaching instead. Once more she stretched out and grabbed his hand, just as she caught sight of a tree in their path. She pulled her hand free but he caught it again.

She tried to pull free again but yelling under water does little and by then he had hit the tree. He managed to hold on to both tree and her even as the water started to recede. The pull was immense and it was only when she had grabbed the branch he was standing on that he could relax even a bit.

They both collapsed on to the branch, out of breath and occasionally coughing up water. They used each other as support, Neji resting on the tree itself and giving her a shoulder to lean on. It took several minutes before things started to return to normal. The trees were drenched with water and the ground below had turned to mud. The birds returned and the jungle came alive. It would have been peaceful, almost serene if a loud voice had broken the tranquility.

"Are you guys okay?" Lee called out from nearly fifty feet away.

Tenten tried to reply but she was still too exhausted to talk. Worse, she suddenly found her ability to wave to Lee was impaired by the fact that one her hands was still clamped tightly in Neji's. It should have been awkward, the silence that started to permeate between them should have been filled with tension. But it wasn't. In fact, it was almost natural to be here together like this.

The angry part of her started to quiet down. That part that had put an end date on things, that had made a promise to give him until she was twenty to act, it was washed away. Because deep down, she knew and always had known, that it didn't matter if she was twenty or fifty or even a hundred. She wasn't going anywhere. Even if they were in rocking chairs when he finally said he wanted to be more than a teammate, she'd still say yes.

She was hooked, stuck, completely and utterly trapped in this partnership and it was the only place in the world she wanted to be. So she lifted a foot to show motion and prove they were still alive.

"You have to come here!" he yelled in response to the movement.

"Are you kidding me?" she muttered, feeling Neji start to stand up. He helped her to her feet but failed to disengage her hand.

"Can you make it down?" he asked.

"Of course," she replied with a smile. "Getting there in one piece... fifty-fifty chance."

He arched an eyebrow. "Should I carry you down?"

She pulled her hand from his, waving at him. "I'm kidding," she remarked. He eyed her critically for a moment as if trying to decide whether she was joking or not. She stared back at him, more sure of herself then she had been in months. And for that, she earned a smirk which she rewarded with a smile.

"What are you guys DOING OVER THERE?" Lee yelled, effectively ruining the moment.

"WE'RE COMING!" she screamed back. He had the patience of a hummingbird sometimes.

They made their way over to where Lee was, staying in the air to avoid the mud on the ground. He was jumping frantically on a branch, not making much sense as he continued to yell at them. Amazingly the necklaces and crown had survived the ordeal and the only served to make him look even more foolish. Deciding he had gone insane, Tenten started to slow down. Until she caught sight of what was in his hand. Then she let out an excited squeal and cleared the remaining distance in seconds, joining him in his celebration.

Neji studied them for a moment before seeing the star shaped fruit in Lee's hand. So as luck would have it, Lee had landed on the exact tree that they were looking for. He scanned the ground and realized that luck was fleeting in this case. Anything that had been at the base of the tree had washed away in the wave.

He let them celebrate for a few moments longer before clearing his throat and pointing to the ground. Lee burst into tears, naturally. Neji joined them on the branch just as Tenten put her hand on her head to work out a growing headache.

"Could things get any worse?" she asked.

And before he could answer, there was a flash of lightning followed by a boom of thunder and then the sky opened up and drenched them in rain.

It took nearly an hour to convince Tenten that the sky would not stop raining just because she was threatening it with increasingly deadly weapons. They retreated to their camp and waited out the remainder of the storm, trying to determine whether it was thunder or the beast's roar that shook the jungle. Eventually, the rain stopped and there were no more noises, lizard or otherwise. Neji went off to collect supplies while Lee and Tenten attempted to set up camp.

"Well, this mission was a wash," she muttered. "In more ways then one."

"I thought it was fun," Lee replied cheerfully.

"You were being lavished with food and beautiful women," Tenten pointed out.

He shrugged sheepishly. He pulled the crown off his head and examined it. "At least I have a souvenir."

"You don't even know what half those flowers are. You could get poisoned." He frowned and hugged the crown close to him. "At least look up what you're wearing," she snapped, throwing him a scroll from her pack.

While he scanned through the information, Tenten used the quiet to start organizing things. The tents took no time to set up. "Red Ginger!" Lee called out as soon as she finished the last one. She unpacked her bag and attempted to hang things so they could dry, not that anything ever dried in this place. "Ixora!" he added. She nodded absentmindedly, making a stone circle on the ground for a fire.

"Tenten!" Lee suddenly cried. "Look!" She sighed and headed to him. He was excitedly pointing at the scroll and at the crown. "It's the one we were looking for!"

Her brow furrowed and she looked to where he was pointing. After several verifications, she realized he was right. "Hey, that's great," she said.

But Lee frowned. "I thought you would be more enthusiastic."

She sighed and patted him on the head as she went back to work. "I'm just tired."

He closed up the scroll and put it away. "No, you're defeated," he pointed out. She paused for a moment and then went back to work. "You still have a few weeks, you know."

She rolled her eyes and looked back at him. "That was... it was silly, wasn't it? It's not like you should put a deadline on such things."

He smiled. "So not defeat, just..."

"Defeat," she assured him. "The idea that I'm stuck, no matter how long it takes." She collected a few things off the line. "Not like it would have mattered. I'm not exactly overflooded with date requests lately... well, not in the last few years." She put a hand to her head as her headache started to return. "I'm going to wash some of the mud off me. Try not to knock anything down while I'm gone."

He watched her go with a smile. A few moments later, Neji returned and dumped a collection of wood and food into the center of their camp. He looked around, catching sight of Lee grinning stupidly. While he knew he would regret asking, he did it anyway.

"What are you so happy about?"

Lee blinked and looked at him, a bit of fear in his eyes, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Then it suddenly faded and he held up the ridiculous crown from earlier. Neji shook his head. "I don't understand why you kept that thing."

"But Neji..."

"It's not like you were the one they were worshiping..."


"Fanboys... the thought is frightful."

Lee fell silent and if he had been anyone other than Rock Lee, it would look like he was pouting. Instead, he put the crown away and stood up, brushing the dirt off of him. He started to separate the wood from the food without a word until he realized Neji was looking around.

"She went for a walk," Lee said.

Neji looked at him without a hint of expression on his face. "I was securing the perimeter."

"Of course you were," Lee sighed, making a little pile of wood.

Neji took the food and sat to the side of the ring of stones, pulling out a kunai and gutting some of the fish. "She seems... in better spirits."

Lee finished his work and reached into his pack to grab some flint. "Oh. Yeah." There was a pregnant pause which Lee eventually interpreted as Neji's way for asking for more details. "Nothing, she was just worried over things, now she's less worried."

"Less worried?"

Lee shrugged. "Well more like, less worried about one thing, more worried about something else."

"Lee. Think through a sentence before you say it."

Lee frowned a bit at being spoken to like a child but then a small part of him grinned evilly as he hatched an idea. "She's just turning twenty in a couple of weeks and I guess she's just overwhelmed. What with balancing her missions and all the date requests lately."

Neji gutted another fish, unwavering in his disassembling of the food. "Is that so?"

"Oh yeah," Lee continued, rather pleased that his plan was succeeding. He struck the flint and a small spark caught fire on some of the smaller twigs.

Neji finished the last fish and started placing them all on sticks. "Well, it is interesting you say that, since I know no one has asked her on a date for several years now."

"Yes propositions just pouring in every..." Lee trailed off as his mind caught up with what he had heard. He eyed his teammate. "How did you know that?"

Neji returned the stare. "Why are you surprised?"

"Well... it just doesn't seem like the topic would interest you at all."

"Why wouldn't it?"

Lee was backpedaling now, looking for some way to answer that question that didn't sound insulting. "Because it's Tenten," he settled on.

"Exactly." Neji replied.

Lee's brows furrowed, creating a frightful looking caterpillar-like feature on his forehead. "I don't get it."

Neji knelt down and placed the fish kabobs evenly around the fire. "Tenten doesn't get date requests because someone informed the one that asked that it would be bad for their health to keep trying."

Lee tapped a finger to his chin. "Ah... I see..." He paused. "Hmm... I would think then that that person had a special interest in her."

"I suspect so."

"But that would make most people wonder why he was just watching from the sidelines rather than doing something about it. It's been several years and..."

Neji raised an eyebrow. "There is a time table?"

Lee fell silent at that. "No, I guess there wasn't." He shrugged. "But at the same time, at some point, some dashingly handsome ex-God might just sweep in and..."

Neji stood up and walked over to him. "Lee. She's mine." He walked away after that. "I'm going to go wash my hands. Try not to let the fish burn."

"Ah, Neji..." Lee started. Neji paused and looked over his shoulder. Lee had realized he should warn his teammate that someone else was using the nearby water source and would not be happy if she was disturbed. But he remembered Neji's mocking over Lee's Godly status, including calling those wonderful young boys frightful, and suddenly Lee forgot what he was going to say.

"Turn the fish in two minutes, right?" he asked. Neji looked at him skeptically but nodded none the less, disappearing into the growing darkness around the camp.

Lee leaned back and put his feet up, letting the fire warm them. He enjoyed the noises of the jungle as he began to relax. The distant laughter of a monkey colony. The gentle song of a night bird. The unadulterated screams of fury as his female teammate was interrupted mid-bath followed by the repetitive sounds of metal hitting against an increasingly weaker chakra shield.

He opened his pack and pulled out the crown, letting it balance on his head. This trip hadn't been so bad after all.
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