Tenten has never been good with her words. It's why she had submersed herself into weaponry; talking wasn't a necessity when handling axes. At first, Tenten thought she was blessed with a team of hard workers who'd rather focus on training than trivial things. But once Gai-sensei had them run for three days straight, Tenten wished they'd stop to ask how her day was.
Small talk was fine, explaining a jutsu was good, too. Emotions? Tenten didn't want to touch them even with a fifteen kilometer pole.
"So… How've you been?"
But here she was.
With so many dead, there was no way all the bodies, or what could be salvaged, could be transported back to their respective villages. After a unanimous decision, a makeshift graveyard was made not too far from the main base of the Alliance.
They had to be quick with Neji's funeral. Hinata, Hiashi, and her remaining team members watched as they dropped his body, wrapped in some dirty blanket half the Alliance has used, into a shallow pit. Neji deserved more, but it was all they could do. She heard, over Lee's sobbing – oh, God. She felt so helpless around him, she did her best to comfort him, she did – how Hiashi wanted to give him a proper ceremony once they returned.
Her throat went dry and churned ice in her stomach once she realized they had to tell Hanabi what had happened. Neji's relationship didn't just mend with Hinata and Hiashi, he adored Hanabi. He was always there for her, to train, to teach.
She could already hear her cries.
"Hinata is fine. You should've seen her—I bet you did up there—but she took charge after you… y'know." Tenten picked at the scab on her face. "Gai-sensei and Lee are good, too. Lee is really upset, but he's determined to… he's still gonna train like you're here. You're still his rival." She shifted from sitting on her legs to her rear. One of her bruises was giving her pain. "I'm glad… I'm glad we had that talk, y'know? The one before we left for this damn thing."
Tenten wiped her eye, she felt a hair.
"I thought I was gonna be the one to die. I know I've said girls are just as strong as boys, but you three are freaks of nature."
The person seated six graves down from Tenten left; they were soon replaced by three others. Today was the last day to say goodbye before they all left for home.
"But, uh, yeah…" She fidgeted, going from scratching her neck to her nose. Why was it so hard for her to talk? She wanted to let him know, she wanted to speak to him before they were gone. Her palm seemed a lot more interesting.
"Th-that talk we had when we… We talked about things. Feeling things. Like I said, I really thought I would die. And I know you don't want me being all mushy and grieve-y, and, yeah, I-I… It just sucks you're not going to be with us anymore."
There was some yelling in the distance, maybe for dinner. The sun was almost beyond the horizon.
"We're all going to try and move on. We still have goals and dreams, and—and I know you'd be pissed if we didn't go for them. So… could you watch out for us? Y'know, not just me and Lee and Gai-sensei—Well, obviously you're going to watch over your family, but for like…"
For who? Who else would he look after if not his friends and family?
"You know what I mean," she whispered. "Just look out for us."
Tenten rose and gave the cross of Neji's grave a kiss from her fingertips. She didn't look back as she walked towards camp.