And... it's the weekend! Don't you just love regular updates? ;) ;) (And for those who write NejiTen and are reading this, PLEASE update.)
As usual, Naruto and its characters do not belong to me. Prompts are from LiveJournal community 1sentence.
#221 - Fool
The school days following the college party are ones that Neji drags his feet to, when whispers abound that he was seen hitting on a girl not from the faculty (and he wonders if this gossip will reach her); he is, however, glad that they were only seen kissing, and not having at each other with their clothes half-off (heaven knows what she thinks of him now), though he cannot deny the undercurrents of attraction running between them, and believes himself a fool for succumbing to it.
#222 - Mad
Neji is beyond furious when his uncle calls him to the Hyuuga & Hyuuga offices one evening and casually reminds him of the bond he holds with the family firm after graduating from law school; it is something he has known for a long time and does not surprise him - until Hiashi continues to say that he will be entering an arranged marriage with his cousin Hinata, to combine their familial assets so as not to dilute them through the generations, and all Neji can think of is hazel eyes and chocolate hair and how Hinata is nothing like her.
#223 - Child
"It's a positive," Tenten mutters, shoving two thin, long sticks at him, tightly wrapped in tissue; uncomprehending, Neji stares between her and the gift, glances at his watch (ten minutes to her bartending shift), and feels his stomach plummet even before he's fully unfurled the tissue; he finds two pregnancy test kits, both with 'plus' signs glaring at him, burning into his mind - there is no way they're in any position to see this through, with him in college and Hinata about to become his fiancee (that he hasn't told Tenten about yet); it seems that nothing can really get any worse than this.
#224 - Now
Set in motion around them are things they're powerless to prevent, such as his impending engagement and their separate career paths - in this moment, however, Neji is past caring about all that, because he is in Tenten's apartment, where he feels safe, and the cocktail she's mixed for him dulls the stress from his argument with Hiashi thirty minutes ago (he doesn't want to marry Hinata, not in a million years); it is a little chilly in here and the alcohol warms him up, though he knows that Tenten herself is cold, because her nipples have been straining against her tank top since the moment he stepped in, and they distract him to no end.
#225 - Shadow
Tenten's shadow falls on him when she pauses behind the couch, her fingers finding and pressing into his shoulders where the knots are, and Neji moans - he hasn't felt this good in ages, and his gratitude towards Tenten swells but he doesn't quite know how to express it; she pauses at his reaction, and continues when he doesn't make another sound - Neji downs the rest of his cocktail in one fell swoop and decides that he doesn't want to live by the rules of others, not tonight, so he waits until he can no longer bear the touch of her fingers, before he catches her hand and pulls her down ("Neji?" she gasps) so her mouth meets with his.
#226 - Goodbye
Things do get worse, contrary to what Neji thought, when he leaves Tenten standing at the phone booth without a word, and tries to think of something he can do, anything - it is their child and he doesn't want to see it snuffed out; Tenten sends him a total of three text messages, each more acid than the last, and when he is still unable to come up with an answer, she stops contacting him completely; time is ticking away and when he is finally able to come to terms with an abortion, her phone line is dead.
#227 - Hide
Tenten mulls over the contents of her second text message to Neji, and absently mixes drinks behind the counter - she wonders if she's been too harsh on wanting a response from him (he hasn't bothered with any word so far, the nerve of him), yet at the same time, the new life in her belly is slowly, but certainly, taking form, and she is torn about keeping it; the door chimes - she glances over - and it is perhaps fate that she sees Neji in the midst of this new gaggle of college students - this isn't their first bar visit tonight and some are already drunk; one girl clings to his arm, tipsy, and she leans over and presses a kiss to his lips, at the same time Neji stares at Tenten; shock mirrors in their eyes, and she wants to hide, so desperately, but she can't.
#228 - Fortune
Through some stroke of fortune (though does that exist in Heaven?) Neji, Lee and Gai witness Tenten's last battle in the looking-glass pond; they watch solemnly as too many enemies surround her, and share a breath of relief at the relative quickness of her death (it had to happen at some point to their lotus, after all); as one, they make their way to the birthing grounds, where the newly-perished awaken, and find Tenten's spirit slowly coalescing - when she is fully intact, but still unconscious, they carry her to Gai's house (green, almost a replica of the one he had on Earth), and anticipate her rousing with all the patience that they can muster (Neji finds himself just as antsy as Gai and Lee are, even though he doesn't show it).
#229 - Safe
Tenten is kissing him back, hard, after her initial hesitance, and Neji is a little surprised, though he sets his cocktail glass down and pulls her onto the couch, over him, so she can leave if she wants to (but she is winding her fingers into his hair and nibbling on his lips hard enough to bruise); when he closes his eyes, they are no longer the college student and bartender, just a man and a woman sinking deeper into desire - he wants to explore all of her, slowly, but she is squirming, pushing herself close; he caresses her chest with his hands, then his lips, and Tenten groans low in her throat; they find themselves bereft of clothes soon after, tangled on her bed, she is his safest place and he hopes she knows it, when she cradles him with her body and Neji sinks into her, giving himself to her in the most carnal way possible, and she moans, their bodies fitting together like they were always meant to be.
#230 - Ghost
Little Lord Neji thinks he can almost see his father's spirit sometimes, when he lets his attention drift just before he sleeps, and the misty image hovers next to his futon, just out of his reach - he tells Father about his day, and the things he's learnt, and how Uncle Hiashi never believes it when he says Father is still around; he asks why the girl from the circus never returned, and what she could be doing now; though as the years trudge by, Neji gets frustrated by the lack of answers, and his father's spirit fades from sight, only to be replaced by an overwhelming sense of loneliness, and a festering anger that all who really cared about him have not loved him enough to stay by his side.
#231 - Book
Little Tenten teaches herself to read when the other girls are busy racing around the circus, dressing up and being pretty; she likes flying through the air, and walking the tightrope, but her heart is set on the exhilaration of fighting, of being able to defend herself - the boys aren't afraid of stealing from pretty girls, though Tenten has discovered that they stay well back when she throws sharp, metal objects at them, and so she practices with knifes and daggers, throwing stars and arrows, and she throws and throws until she is able to hit the bullseye from ten yards away; she gives up on reading then, and merely concentrates on her precious weapons, because books cannot defend her when the boys are too close and leering at her, but knives and daggers can.
#232 - Eye
She tires of the circus, little by little, because weapons and fighting are her strongest points now, what her heart sings, instead of trapezing through the air; the ring master thinks naught of allowing her a knife-throwing segment in the show, even if she can fling ten daggers simultaneously and have every one of them hit her targets; the boys she grew up with are beginning to see her as a challenge, the one girl who refuses to sleep with them now that she's of age - and when they steal into her wagon one night, outnumbering her, Tenten is enraged, humiliated, and she unleashes the entirety of her weapons on them before they can lay their hands on her; a few are blinded, and some have metal through their stomachs, but it is an eye for an eye, and she leaves the circus the very next morning.
#233 - Never
The incident at the circus does not stray far from Tenten's mind, and she vows never to let a man near her; the opportunity that Lord Neji offers is one too good to be passed up, however, when he asks for her to be his tutor and guard, and all she can think of are the weapons she'll be allowed to have; inexplicably, Tenten finds herself intrigued by the distance the Lord keeps from her, and the depth of his lilac eyes, and "never" becomes "maybe", which becomes "to Hell with that", when he slips his shirt off before they spar, and the sculpted planes of his chest tempt from the edges of her mind for days after.
#234 - Sing
Lord Neji is the first to initiate contact with Tenten, briefly, when he visits the marketplace at dawn the very next morning, to bring her to her new home (her worldly possessions are mostly metal, a few scrolls on ancient weapons that she's managed to get her hands on, and some belongings left behind by her parents); Tenten blinks when he gets down on a knee and offers his other leg as a stepping stool for her to mount her horse; she grasps his hand and clambers onto the steed, surprised by how warm his fingers are.
The second time they touch is when he hands her a broadsword by the hilt, and their fingers brush; the fifth, when she holds his hand and shows him how to throw a dagger, and dares to press her body to his, pulling his waist a little closer (because she knows in her bones that she can trust him, that he won't hurt her), and the contact feels pleasant; the nineteenth time is one where she kisses him; and the twentieth, when they are tangled beneath covers, skin on skin, and her heart sings.
#235 - Sudden
There is no denying what just happened when he withdraws from her, sweaty, their chests heaving; the fulfillment of lust leaves their minds lucid, and Neji stares at Tenten in her bed, like a deer caught in headlights; he begins to apologize, even though there is no going back, not like this, so instead, they move forward, as before, but with stolen moments of intimacy in her apartment or his car, always with the promise of something deeper than friendship, though not quite (and Neji's engagement to Hinata looms ever closer, with him dreading, and her not knowing it).
#236 - Stop
They are crowded around Tenten, him and Lee and Gai, anxiously waiting for her eyes to open; Neji clenches his fists and forces calm upon himself - it has been so long, and a little while more wouldn't hurt - they have time aplenty in Heaven; Lee and Gai are peering down at Tenten's face from either side of her, as if that would help (and he wouldn't be surprised if she flings a punch at them for being so close).
After what seems like forever, her eyelashes flutter open, and Neji's breath catches in his throat - he takes a step forward, and another, and watches quietly as she absorbs her surroundings, disbelief in her eyes; the Green Beasts shout and cheer around her, bringing a smile to her lips despite their racket - and then she sees him; recognition lights in her gaze, understanding flickers between them, unspoken, and her first steps in Heaven are ones she takes towards him.
#237 - Time
It doesn't take a genius to see that Gai and Lee have plenty of stories to share with Tenten, chalked up over their time apart; they do, however, agree that her first conscious moments in Heaven should be spent with Neji; with quick hugs and promises to be back, the pair disappear with uncharacteristic tact, leaving him alone with her, in a silence that stretches between them; she is the first to smile (he can't stop looking at her) - "Neji," she greets, her voice tight with emotion, and he returns the greeting by pressing his lips to hers, because there is nothing, and too much, to say, all at the same time.
#238 - Wash
"I dropped my phone in the toilet," PrincessPanda's chat window pings on his screen; Neji blinks and winces - that is every phone-owner's worst nightmare, especially when- "I'm broke," she continues to type, "And I don't think I should, but I washed it- well, more like wiped it down, though it's still pretty gross," and Neji winces further - "Think I have any chance of reviving it?" Tenten asks, though they're both painfully aware that the chances of it working again is close to zilch; Tenten's phone is a battered, old model from five years ago, so the logical next step would be to toss it; "Ditch it," he tells her, and Tenten returns with a sad face - what is with people and their tendency to hoard?
#239 - Torn
A box arrives in the mail two days later, while PrincessPanda is still contemplating a new phone (or to dunk the old one in alcohol, to kill the germs); she opens it curiously, to find an almost-new model of her toilet-dipped phone, and her jaw drops; "Neji!" she pings, "You didn't have to send me a new one," to which he fairly smirks, "That model is dirt cheap these days," and she tries not to glare at his webcam image; "Dirt cheap to you, Hyuuga, damnit, I'm not a charity case!" (and she would have been torn between chucking the old phone or the new at his image on the screen, if it weren't for the fact that she'd have to replace her monitor for it).
#240 - History
"Lee," Tenten's voice rasps over the phone, cracking at the edges, and Lee immediately stills, his five-hundred-and-thirty-eighth push-up forgotten; "What is it, Tenten?" he urges, looking at the clock - he is too far away to drive down right now - and his heart almost stops when she sniffs, "Neji- he- I-" and he demands, "Did Neji do something to you?"; he dreads where this is going - Neji hasn't contacted him ever since they graduated - "I'm pregnant," Tenten whispers brokenly, and his eyes widen (how dare Neji? he thinks heatedly); "He hasn't- hasn't said anything, I told him and then- nothing," Tenten continues, her words slurring the slightest bit and he suspects she's been drinking - "Hang on, youthful lotus, I'll be right there," Lee tells her and ends the call, grabbing his keys on his way out.
I am actually in love with the lawyer/bartender series (and the rest of the storylines in this update too), if you haven't realized it yet ;)