Drabble Collection: Letting the Cables Sleep
Chapter Title: Neon Lullaby
Pairing: NejiTen (FTW!)
Also Posted: FF.net (u.n.: bluegreenapples)
Summary: The plush feel of her blanket as he tugs it up and over her little body reminds him why he likes her apartment so much more than his own.
1. NejiTen. Pre-Technopath. Neon Lullaby
Neji was less than pleased. Responding to his irritation, his mutation routed energy to his feet until he was more hovering than walking. Naruto had just conveniently mentioned that Tenten had gone Surface-level today. Alone. The blond recalled that he'd seen the technopath returning to Hidden Leaf through the blast doors.
From what he could gather, it had been a simple assignment. One of the tech-specialists was having a problem encrypting one of the radar scramblers and had requested that Tenten take a look. The scenario wasn't uncommon. Every couple of months, the tech department would contact his teammate with a problem they couldn't seem to solve. After all, who better to consult than someone who could literally communicate with the technology?
What irked Neji was that fact that she'd gone without backup. The circuitry that she was asked to look at was more than a mile from the nearest passage to the Underground. In the past, Tenten had always been levelheaded enough to ask he or Lee to tag along. But not today.
The trip from his home in Tower Square to her apartment in Midtown had never seemed longer.
At last he reached his destination. Plasma-panels lined the exterior of the building, their screens flashing from advertisement to advertisement. Everything on this block was on the cutting-edge of technology. Neon lights and the buzz of electronics permeated the very air. It was perfect for Tenten.
Walking up the escalator in impatience, Neji reached the landing and pressed his hand to the ID plate. Rather than flashing green for admittance, the plate instead beeped loudly and began to play a recorded message. The clear, confident tone of Tenten's voice sounded from the device, "Hey, thanks for dropping by but I'm a little busy at the moment. I'm probably either sleeping or Surface-side. Hit the blue button if you wanna leave a message or catch me on my Com." Laughter sounded as she continued, "Or, if you think I'm just trying to avoid you, you can press the green button and try your luck at getting me to answer--"
Without waiting on the rest of the message to play, Neji jabbed the green button to the side of the ID plate. A moment later, the panel shimmered and changed its display. The abstract outline of a hand was replaced by a live feed from Tenten's apartment.
A groggy Tenten rubbed a hand over her eyes as she peered out from the screen. Squinting, she asked, "What can I do for you, Neji?" She sighed and stretched a little, as if she had just woken up.
"Let me inside."
At the exceptionally cold intonation of his voice, Tenten seemed to rouse herself at last. As she moved out of the view of the camera, Neji heard the chirp of a button being pressed. Simultaneously the ID panel turned green and the door before him slid back.
Striding forward, he continued into the building until he reached apartment seventeen. This time the plate flickered to green immediately and chimed as the door opened. Neji stepped inside the apartment, stopping short when he located his teammate.
Tenten was curled-up, asleep on the pristine white couch in the living room.
Neji's eyes narrowed. It couldn't have taken him more than three minutes to come in from the street. So, not only had she gone Surface-level alone, she'd also depleted most of her energy. He felt some of his faded annoyance begin to trickle back. She just had no common sense.
He was careful not to jar her too much as he settled his weight onto the couch at her side. The plush feel of her blanket as he tugs it up and over her little body reminds him why he likes her apartment so much more than his own. A thousand little things fill the space around him, mostly electronic, but make the space feel so much more like a home than anything else he's ever seen.
Pale eyes scan over the hundred or more blinking lights and read-outs of the machines scattered around the room and he marvels at the strength of Tenten's energy. The sights and sounds of flashing bulbs and ticking parts are synchronized with the soft rise and fall of her chest.
Drawing in his limbs to lay beside his teammate, Neji decides that her lecture can wait. For now, he wants to soak in the peace and comfort that her presence seems to resonate. If he knows Tenten, and he does, he knows that he can doze for an hour or two and still be up and coherent before she is. As he settles himself next to her sleep-warmed body, he wonders if his relationship with his female teammate is as platonic as he'd like to think it.
Once his pale gaze slips shut, no one is awake to see the way their energy responds to their subconscious thoughts. So, when the two wake hours later, neither can decipher how Tenten wound up cushioned on Neji's chest or why the radiopod is playing something soft and soothing.