|The Ultimate Fairytale: Tenten's Story
Author: Esperwen PM
Tenten is a young farmgirl who must part from her love, Neji, so that he may seek his destiny to give them both a decent future. Can she and her friends withstand the wait? AU TentenXNeji Nejiten -The Ultimate FairyTale is a paralleled series-Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Tenten & Neji H. - Chapters: 14 - Words: 45,421 - Reviews: 78 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 08-16-08 - Published: 06-19-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4335237
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Esperwen- Sorry for taking forever, everyone! There was this wedding, and...gah! If you want a free week, do not allow yourself to become involved in the makings of a wedding. That is all I can say.
Anyway, thanks for your patience (or your cleverness with using FF's 'story alert' capability), and here's chapter 14:
-Chapter Fourteen: "As You Wish"-
When the world came back to Tenten, the first thing she felt was straw underneath her.
Am I...at the farm? Tenten thought groggily.
She raised an arm to wipe sleep out of her eyes, and her wide sleeves brushed her face. Touching the fabric with both hands, Tenten realised it was neither wool nor cotton, but silk.
Nevermind, Tenten sighed, letting her arms drop back down, I'm still a princess...Ugh. ...wait, am I kidnapped?! What am I doing on straw?!
Tenten tried to sit up, in a moment of panic, but something was held securely over her neck. Every time she tried to get up, whatever was there blocked her progress and kept her pinned to the straw and wooden boards she lay on.
"I would take it easy, if I were you," a rough voice said, nearby.
Tenten didn't reply at first; looking around, she saw she was in a barn or stable loft, with some large, black cloak on top of her like a blanket. Throwing the cloak off, irritably, and touching what held her down, she found she was held captive with the wooden handle she had been holding before she blacked out. It was leaning against a block of wood that was nailed down, right beside her neck, so she couldn't wriggle under and out. Turning her head, Tenten saw that her captor crouched nearby, with a foot on the pole, preventing her from being able to lift the broomstick up. He was dressed in plain clothes, which may have been white at one time, but were now somewhat worn down and stained with travel, and a light gray mask covered the bottom half of his face. Tenten could only see his profile, because his face was turned away, and sunlight coming in through a window shone into his eyes, so Tenten could only tell that they were light-coloured.
"Who are you?" Tenten asked emotionlessly; she was still a bit groggy from being knocked unconscious.
"Nobody of consequence," the man replied, his voice sounding strained, as if it were unnatural to him.
"Were you the one that knocked me out?"
"...Are you with the spider-like man?" Tenten asked.
"No," was his terse reply.
"Did the king send you?"
"Then what do you want with me?" Tenten wondered, starting to get annoyed with this toneless man.
"Ransom. So I suppose in a way, his Majesty did send me."
Tenten raised her eyebrows, disbelieving, then her temper reared its enraged head, and angrily she tried to kick out at her captor. This guy was so...! However, she painfully found that the block of wood by her neck also prevented her from twisting to the side.
"Damn!" Tenten exclaimed, rubbing her sore neck, "Dammit! Damn you," she pointed at her new enemy, "And damn Gai for getting me into this mess!"
"...Feh...that's some affection for your fiance," the man rasped, cold humour in his tone.
"My fi-...!" Tenten threw him a baleful look; she was really going to lose her temper if he didn't let her go, soon!
"I'm not marrying King Gai! I'd kill myself, first! I'm marrying the stupid Prince stupid Lee! And you know what? You can damn Lee, too!"
It was the man's turn to raise his eyebrows when he heard those words. After a thoughtful moment, he closed his eyes and bowed his head, chuckling silently.
"What're you laughing at? Tenten snapped, really not liking this man.
"Nothing...I simply should have expected such an attitude from someone who...could not love," he replied, still not looking at her.
"'I can't'..." Tenten's voice trailed off, then her temper flared up again, "What the hell do you mean, 'I can't love'?!"
"Oh, I've heard stories of you, Highness," he said, saying the title like an insult, "You once lived on a farm, correct?"
"And there you tormented, for sport, a boy who loved you."
"What?! That's not wh-"
"But then you saw that boy actually had a chance at a bright future," the young man stood up and turned completely away from Tenten, disgusted, "You pretended to love him so that you, too, could have that glorious future!"
"No!" Tenten's voice cracked, but she swallowed and ignored the mist in her eyes to say, "No, I truly lo-"
"But then you found a chance at your own, greater glory! Marry the heir to the Lotus Throne!" the man growled, ignoring Tenten's protests, "So you forgot about that boy. And here we are now."
"You...you pig!" Tenten spat as her vision blurred, struggling with the pole that held her down, again, "You don't understand a thing!"
"I think I understand, Highness," the man in the mask said coldly, "You're completely incapable of love. Heartless."
"Oh, really? Am I?!" After hearing those biting words, Tenten couldn't hold back her tears any longer; she let them fall, no longer caring who saw, "If that is true, what aches every time I think of him? What beats faster when my friends and I find something that reminds us of him? What is grieving, now that I've found out that he's dead?! I have a heart, you bastard; I'm not the one collecting lives for money! Did you know...I'm never going to see my Neji again in this life, and the only thing stopping me from joining him, is that I promised him I'd take care of his sister and friend. The only thing. And...and..." Tenten finally yelled at her captor, "And they need me, dammit, so just...just let me go!"
During Tenten's whole tirade, the man never moved an inch, his back to her the entire time. A moment passed after her outbust, and still he did not move. A thought occurred to Tenten; maybe she had made him so angry that he would suddenly whirl around and beat her, thoroughly enraged with her insolence. Silently, Tenten cringed, but she wiped her eyes and kept her face straight; nothing was going well for her that day.
But instead, the stranger shifted his weight, and hooked the foot that had been standing on the pole underneath the broomstick. In one fluid motion, he kicked up the broom handle, so it came away from Tenten's neck, and into his hand.
"As you wish. ...Highness," he said softly, no longer making his voice rough to disguise it.
...it...it can't be... Tenten thought, slowly getting up, disbelievingly.
Then he turned back to her, his eyes no longer closed or disguised by sunlight. And his eyes were as pale as winter's full moon.
"Neji!" Tenten exclaimed, jumping up and running at him with her arms outstretched.
"Tenten," he smiled, though his mask hid it; he took a few steps forward to meet her halfway.
"Neji! It's really...! How could...But he said...!"
Tenten's momentum when she embraced Neji caused both of them to stumble backwards, until the wall behind Neji stopped them with a thud.
"Careful," Neji chided gently, a smile in his tone.
"Sorry," Tenten chuckled, but then she continued in almost a whisper, gripping the front of his shirt tightly as if he might disappear any moment, "Oh my gawd, is that really you?"
"Yes, it is," Neji answered, nodding emphatically as he brushed a few strands of hair from Tenten's face and tucked them behind her ear.
"But then..." Tenten looked searchingly at Neji's face, then rolled her eyes, "Ok, what's with this mask?"
"Nothing," Neji said too quickly, pushing Tenten back.
"Oh, come on," Tenten teased, grabbing at Neji's mask, "What's with this Kakashi impression?"
"Don't-!" Neji started, but before he could stop her, Tenten pulled the grey cloth down.
Neji started to turn away and put up a hand to cover it, but Tenten's low gasp told him that she had still managed to see what he was trying to hide.
At first, there was a shocked silence, but Tenten soon recovered, accepting what she saw. After all, she loved her Neji because he was who he was. Not because of what he looked like.
For Neji had a jagged wound across his face.
The wound was about a finger's width thick, and though it did not bleed, it was still an angry red as it tore across Neji's face; the wound started from his right cheekbone, went across the bridge of his nose, down his left cheek, and ended just below his left ear.
"...what happened?" Tenten asked, pulling at the wrist of the hand that Neji was using to cover his face, "Let's see it."
"Leave it," Neji protested, batting off Tenten's hands with one arm, keeping the other on his face, "...Stop!"
"Would you...just...aha!" Tenten exclaimed, pinching Neji's side.
Neji grabbed Tenten's pinching hand, but she kept putting pressure, staying latched on. She used her free hand to pinch Neji at the other side, and reflexively Neji put his other hand out to stop her, leaving his face uncovered. Just as Neji realized his mistake, Tenten leaved forward, and her lips met his; at the same time, Tenten stopped pinching him, and Neji let her hands go. After a brief, tender moment, Tenten put her arms around Neji's neck, and when they pulled apart, their eyes were soft when they looked at each other.
"I don't care about it," Tenten smiled gently, "...I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too," Neji nodded, touching the side of Tenten's face.
The two were silent, savouring their first moment back together, but then Tenten's smile slipped a little, when reality and the night before came back to her.
"The barkeeper at my inn told me a troll killed you," she said, remembering what she had heard the night before.
"He got it wrong," Neji said, putting his arms around Tenten, "I was just wounded. He's also the one that said you were engaged to King Gai. I supposed his information is close, but not quite."
"But...wait, how do you know we're talking about the same guy?" Tenten asked, looking up at Neji skeptically, Neji's gotten taller since he left the farm...
"I'm also staying in 'The Angel's Whisper'," Neji explained, "I was in the common room last night. I think Kakashi saw me looking at you when you came in, but you didn't pay me much attention. And you never noticed I was following you when you left the inn."
"Well, I was kind of, I don't know...sad when I left," Tenten said sarcastically, resting her head against Neji's chest, still not quite believing what was happening.
"...Tenten," Neji started, holding her a little tighter, "Why didn't you wait for me? The farmhouse was empty when I got back, and rain basically ruined the note you left."
"Well...the Lotus Castle sent for us, and the thing is..." Tenten looked up at him again, "Neji, I'm so sorry..."
"What is it?" Neji asked, careful to keep his voice level, What else has fallen apart while I was gone?
"It's Hinata...she was kidnapped by some witch... I...It was the same day you left, and by the time I got back, she was gone," Tenten explained, too ashamed to look Neji in the eye anymore, "So, when we got the chance to go to the Lotus Castle, I agreed to go because people there might have known about the kidnapper."
"Hinata-chan was...damn," Neji breathed, a frown growing across her newly scarred face, "Then...why are you engaged to Prince Lee?"
"I had to," Tenten ducked her head, pressing her forehead against the front of Neji's shirt, "King Gai threatened to kill Kakashi and Asuma if I refused."
Neji didn't speak for a moment, then he tilted up Tenten's chin so that she met his eyes again.
"Neji, I"m so sorry..." Tenten said again, but Neji shook his head.
"There must be some loophole or way out that we can use," Neji pointed out, "And threatening our friends' lives is now useless, since they're Guardians; we have our own hierarchy and laws, and no country's king or emperor have any real claim on our lives, anymore. It's disputable, but true. We'll work this out."
"I-" Tenten started, but Neji stopped her with a soft kiss.
"I love you, and I'm not lettting you go. It'll be fine," Neji insisted, but Tenten gave him a aggravated look, and after a moment, Neji had to ask, "...what is it?"
"You make it sound like King Gai is completely sane and reasonable," Tenten answered, earning a mildly amused look from Neji, "What? It's true."
Our favourite white-eyed Guardian-in-Training opened his mouth to rationalize with Tenten, but then he was conveniently interrupted.
"Whoa! What's going on, Tenten?" a loud voice questioned, causing both the sweethearts to jump, "Who's that?"
"Who just...!" Tenten exclaimed, looking around wildly for the speaker.
"Kakashi," Neji nodded, pointing out the window for Tenten's benefit.
"Oh, it's Neji! I didn't recognize you with that huge scar! I'd heard you were dead!" Kakashi smiled, waving to the young couple from the branch of a tree just outside of the stable's window.
How did I not hear him climb up there?! Tenten thought, a nerve and sweatdrop appearing on her forehead.
"Sorry to disappoint you," Neji said sardonically, rolling his eyes.
"What do you think you're doing?!" Tenten exclaimed, having the strangest 24 hours of her life.
"Well, from my room in the inn, I heard a commotion in the stable loft," Kakashi began to explain, "So, I thought I would come out and...Hey, Tenten, what's with the pole? ...Wha...wait! What're you...! Don't...! AGH!"
Tenten stood triumphantly at the window, one foot on the sill and holding her broom handle like a staff. Below, Kakashi lay sprawled rather ungloriously on the ground, having fallen from his perch.
"Ow..." the older Guardian-in-Training groaned, regretting teasing Tenten, yet again.
"Don't you think that was a little much, Tenten?" Neji asked glancing down at his former caretaker before dismissing him and looking at Tenten again.
"Nope," Tenten grinned, looking back at her love.
"Kakashi, what happened?" Pooriin's voice came to their ears, as well as a door slamming, "Asuma says to come inside; we'll eat breakfast first before looking for Tenten. Can you make it?"
"I didn't think so either," Neji chuckled, wrapping his arms around Tenten from behind.
"I think I need help, Pooriin," Kakashi moaned, waiting for Pooriin to reach him before even trying to get up.
"Aw, poor Kakashi-kun," Pooriin said sympathetically, putting one of his arms over her shoulders, "Here, I'll support you."
"Thanks," Kakashi smiled at Pooriin, then scowled at the stable's window, "Quick, Neji, push Tenten down!"
"Tenten? And...Neji?" Pooriin looked at Kakashi questioningly, then, after following his gaze, her expression lightened dramatically, "Neji!"
The girl dropped Kakashi, allowing him to crumple to the ground again, and ran for the stable doors.
"Pooriin!" Kakashi sighed, mildly hurt, "Thanks for nothing..."
"Wonderful. Pooriin is going to tackle me when she gets up here," Neji winced.
"Oh, relax," Tenten shrugged uncaringly, teasing him, "It'll be fine. Just like you said, right?"
"NEJI! What happened to you face?!"
"Yes, it will," Neji confirmed, moving away from Tenten and turning to the loft's ladder, bracing himself for Pooriin, "Trust me."
Tenten looked at Neji, still barely able to believe that he was really there, with her. His travelling and training had done him good, she realized. He was a Guardian-in-Training, he was stronger, he was more confident, he said he loved her...and he was willing to work her engagement out with her. All she had to do was trust him.
Tenten couldn't hold back a smile as she whispered:
"As you wish."
"Aw, that's sooo cute!" Shiyama hugged her plush butterfly to her chest, her eyes slightly aglow with delight, "Grandpa, I like your stories!"
"Ew..." Shiari muttered, lying on his back in bed, his eyes narrowed into slits, "That's corny..."
"Ari-kun, you were listening!" Yama cheered, sitting up straighter as she turned to look at her younger brother.
"I...no, I was...hmph."
The children's grandfather hid a smile while he watched the young boy roll over so that his back was to the both of them. During the whole story, Ari had been listening; the grandfather could tell.
"So what happens next, Grandpa?" Yama asked, leaning forward; she was so intent on listening that she never saw her brother roll over to face the ceiling again, so that he could hear his grandfather better.
"Well, now that Tenten and Neji were together again, their problems were over," the grandfather answered, getting up from his chair, "That is all."
"Wait, Grandpa, where're you going?" Yama asked, while her grandfather stretched where he stood.
"That is all," he repeated, putting his hands in his pockets, "Erm...the end."
"Eeehh?!" Yama's jaw dropped and Ari sat up, "But Tenten's still gonna marry the silly prince! What happened?"
The grandfather suppressed a sigh, wanting to go home. It was very late, basically early morning, and both he and the children needed their sleep.
"Well, originally, Neji and Tenten wanted the king to be told that they were dead, and therefore, Lee would have nobody to marry, but when the time came for Sakura to inform King Gai of the trip's events..." his voice trailed off.
"...What, Grandpa, what?" Yama stared at her grandfather, wide-eyed, even Ari was looking at him intently.
"Well...by then King Gai was overthrown," he answered vaguely.
"Overthrown? Did he get hurt?" Yama looked confused.
"Was there a fight, at least?" Ari couldn't help adding.
"...no," was the frustrating reply.
"What?! Then how did Neji win?!" Ari bursted out, feeling cheated of a fight scene.
"Politics," the grandfather answered.
"Is 'Politics' Neji's special fighting style?" Ari asked, thinking of Neji's charmed black guantlets.
"Not quite," the grandfather shook his head, putting away the small chair he had been sitting on.
"Grandpa, you can't leave now!" Yama exclaimed, starting to get out of bed.
"You haven't really finished your story," Ari agreed, while the grandfather gently pushed Yama back into bed.
"But it is not my story. It is Tenten's story," the grandfather pointed out, then motioned towards the window, "Look, the storm has passed. It is time for me to head home, and for you two to sleep."
"But what about Hinata and the doggie and all of them?" Yama asked, putting on her best wounded puppy face.
"And politics?" Ari added, making a fist to show how serious and enthusiastic he was.
Looking down at the twins, the grandfather struggled with himself for a moment. He dearly loved his grandchildren, and did want to fulfill their every wish, but sleep was sleep.
"Now that Tenten and Neji are reunited, their story has ended. What you two speak of are other people's stories," he finally said, "Perhaps another time."
"Tomorrow?" Yama pressed, "I love stories, Grandpa, and you tell the best ones!"
"...Very well," the grandfather allowed, kissing both children on the forehead, "If I am not called away, then I shall tell another story tomorrow."
"Promise?" Yama asked, tugging on her grandfather's sleeve.
"I promise," the middle-aged man nodded, and when he reached the twins' bedroom door, he turned back to them, saying, "Now goodnight, young ones."
"Goodnight, Grandfather," the twins chorused together, and the man left, closing the door behind them.
"...I hope Grandpa doesn't go on another trip tomorrow," Yama whispered fervently.
Me too, Ari thought, but he would have died before letting his sister know.
As she lay quietly in bed, Yama started to worry about something. The grandfather had left the room's candle lit; it was all the way on the other side of the room from the beds, beside the door. Yama supposed she could wait for the candle to burn itself out, but it was a tall candle and her parents always said not to waste good candles. But then, if she got out of bed to blow it out, she would have to run back in the dark, and she might trip, or jump into Ari's bed by mistake, or something under her bed might grab her ankle with cold fingers and...! Yama put her head under her covers, wishing she hadn't imagined that last thought. If only they had a nightsstand by their beds, or something; then she could take the candle to bed with her!
"...Ari-kun..." Yama whispered, glancing out from under her bedspread.
"What now?" Ari asked in a tired tone of voice, rolling to face his sister.
"Can you get the candle? I'm scared of the dark..."
"You're scared of everything," Ari grumbled.
"Please, Ari-kun!" Yama pleaded, "The windowsill's right beside your bed; you can put the candle there before blowing it out! Please get the candle?"
At first, the boy didn't move a muscle. But just as Yama started to ask again, Ari mumbled something, got up, stepped across the room, and blew the candle out right where it was on the table before recrossing the room and climbing back into bed.
"...Ari-kun, did you say something?" the girl whispered, wanting to know what her brother had mumbled.
"Yama, go to sleep!"
Finally, the girl obeyed her brother, curling up in her bed and getting herself comfortable for the night. But she had to smile.
Because she knew that she had heard her brother mumble, "As you wish."
Esperwen- I LOVE THOSE TWINS! (deep breath) Yes, now you know why I kept putting off posting this chapter. It's the last one. And I'm kind of worried how people are going to react to this...
In my defense, the grandfather is right! Tenten's story ends here, because this is where her problems end! Face it: when Tenten and Neji are together, nothing can stop them (Tenten has ultimate attack, Neji has ultimate defense. They win!).
The next story I'll be posting is "Sakura and Ino's Story". You'll have to give me a month or two (or three...). I prefer to completely finish writing a story before posting it; I'm a control freak and perfectionist like that; so you're just going to have to check in on my profile every week for updates.
So yes, thank you all for your invaluable support! I honestly thought nobody would read this fic, so all of you far exceeded my expectations!
Until a couple months from now...ja ne!