It's Friday! Thank you for all the lovely reviews, I'm glad people are enjoying Postcards! :) (And hopefully it's not too confusing ;) )
Did you read the latest manga chapter? I think that could be an alternative if Kishimoto doesn't revive Neji...
And as always, Naruto doesn't belong to me. Prompts are from LiveJournal community 100_prompts.
#281 - Lively
Show me that dance, Lord Neji requests, the one by the bonfire,and Tenten obliges (it is a little bit of history they share); she ties her steed up by a clearing in the forest and motions for him to join her - while he is making his way over dry earth, she closes her eyes and reaches into her memories for the music, the horns and strings and drums, and begins to move, her steps rough and unpracticed (it's been years but she remembers to raise her arms and take three steps forward, and three back, two twirls and clap, clap, clap); it feels more natural when she goes over the motions again, and after a third time, she skips over to Lord Neji, and teaches him to dance once more.
#282 - Remorseful
Hinata looks especially guilt-ridden when Neji picks her up to attend a family event one day; he watches her from the corner of his eye, and finally asks, curtly, "What is it?" when her fingers twist and knot too much to bear; "I- um, th-that is to say, I-I m-met s-someone, a-and-" she stutters, and blushes, refusing to meet his eyes; Neji raises a brow at her - "You're seeing someone else?" he deduces, and she flushes scarlet and nods; Neji isn't surprised by it - there's no chemistry between them whatsoever, though he wonders how this will all play out (and Tenten's image glows at the back of his mind).
#283 - Dismiss
"Is this a serious relationship?" Neji probes, a little more conversationally, and Hinata nods once, jerkily (it's a little strange to be asking one's fiancee about her new boyfriend), and he continues, "What's he like?" to which Hinata replies in a surprisingly louder voice, that he's a blond she met at an archery school up north, whom she's been seeing during her month-long stay there (his name is Naruto, Neji gleans, and he inspires Hinata to stand up for herself); Hinata's change of circumstances gives him second thoughts about dismissing her as unimportant - she may well be the key to swaying his uncle's decisions, and ultimately, clearing his path towards Tenten.
#284 - Heavy
The way Lord Neji kisses her is bittersweet, as if he is savoring every touch of her skin; when his hands slip over her nightshirt and eases the buttons open, Tenten trembles - his lips are nipping at her earlobe and he is gentle, slow; the night air brushes cool over her skin and he cups her breasts reverently, and draws away, to look in her eyes (her breath hitches); "Don't leave me again, Tenten," he murmurs, and she hears the plea behind his words - "I won't," she tells him, her heart pounding slow, steady beats, and she reaches up to wind her fingers in his hair and pull him close, against her; his lips are on hers and he's lowering her onto the tatami floor, her nightshirt pooling at her waist; it's the third time she shares her body with him, and Tenten realizes that she's been making the right choice all along.
#285 - Forward
They do not speak for a long while, when Lord Neji trails his lips over her chest and takes a nipple into his mouth - she arches up at him, and moans, and he reads her with a searing gaze; when she bares her legs to him, Tenten admits to herself that she trusts the Lord entirely, that she is unafraid, and he kisses her at the juncture of her thighs; she most certainly did not see this coming, when she first accepted his offer, that he would dip his fingers into her body, that she would lift her hips in response; and as Lord Neji hovers above her, his blunt tip pressed against her entrance, and he seeks her answer with his pale eyes, Tenten realizes that she would give herself to no one else (she dips her chin, he presses forward, and she is lost to sensation).
#286 - Prowl
The moon is playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds tonight, and Tenten is on her nightly prowl around the Hyuuga compounds, to check for intruders before she retires to bed (Lord Neji has his own rooms, and she is content with her servant's quarters); the grounds buzz with the occasional cicada (it's been three days since they returned from Tea Country and she's been avoiding the Lord whenever she can) - nights like this are one of the few pleasures she looks forward to, however, and she feels, rather than sees, the presence that emerges from the shadowy buildings this evening.
#287 - Cut
Ever wary, Tenten watches the figure step away from the buildings of the Hyuuga compound, her fingers gripping firm around her dagger - the moon glides out from behind clouds then, and Lord Neji continues on his stroll, passing her by, where she remains under the shadow of a large tree, stock-still; she inhales sharply when he turns, and looks straight at her (it's as if his lilac gaze pierces her clean through like a blade); her beating heart is the only thing that moves, when their gazes lock; the Lord is the first to break their stare - he inclines his head, and continues on his way, and Tenten's breath rushes out of her lungs.
#288 - Compromise
Tenten learns that Hyuuga Hinata is in town for a month, though the latter is visiting the archery range mainly due to one of the guys who works there, Naruto; it's cute, and softens her heart to watch the two skirt one another, though she's resolute that she will never fall in love again, because Neji had hurt, and she refuses to find out how he's doing (though he appears on the news sometimes, as an up-and-coming criminal defense lawyer); Tenten decides to make a compromise with herself one day (because Hinata would know, and she sees her so often these days), that she would obtain key information about Neji, and leave it at that.
#289 - Impulse
"Are you related to Hyuuga Neji?" Tenten asks, careful to keep her tone neutral (it's the first time she's spoken his name aloud in years), "You have the same eyes," and Hinata gives a start; "Neji?" the Hyuuga repeats, "He- He's my cousin," and Tenten gapes at her (is such a coincidence possible?)
"He's pretty famous now," she remarks weakly (Neji had never mentioned cousins, and she shudders to imagine bumping into him here), and Hinata, despite her timidness, is sharper than she looks; "Do you know him?" Hinata asks - Tenten glances away quickly and tries to wave the subject off - "We were classmates in high school," she mumbles, fishing around for something to say, "The tabloids are always saying that he's been seen with some woman or other-"
"He- Well, N-Neji-nii is to be in an arranged marriage," Hinata blurts, and covers her mouth immediately after, mortified; Tenten feels her heart stumble, at the same time she whips her head around, to stare at Hinata; "He's getting married?" she asks on impulse, incredulous, and realizes that she shouldn't, because she doesn't need to know this much, and because he has every right to move on, as does she.
#290 - Hush
"Lower your volume, Tian-san, people are starting to stare," Hinata mumbles nervously, fiddling with the arrows in her own quiver, "It's not in my place to talk about Neji-nii's affairs," and Tenten asks, in a voice that doesn't quite sound like her own, "Does he love her?" - Hinata turns to give her a strange look, but does not answer - instead, the Hyuuga steps up to her and studies her for a long moment, before she speaks, quietly, "Why don't you ask him yourself?"
#291 - Morals
Upon finding out that Hyuuga Neji is in town for a highly-publicized court case, Lee makes his way to the courthouse, and lies in wait until he sees his former friend stride towards the entrance; Neji is caught unawares when Lee approaches him and swings a punch at his jaw - "This is for Tenten," Lee growls, and his fist connects with Neji's face again, "And this is for what you've put her through, you bastard, I thought you had more in you than that," and Neji stares surprisedly at him - "How is she now?" are the first words out of his mouth, and Lee pauses ("Did she keep the- her child?" Neji presses, before Lee has a chance to answer); he is thrown off by the sincerity in Neji's eyes, and the lecture on morals he's been bent on delivering fizzles away to silence.
#292 - Engage
When Lee doesn't answer his questions, Neji glances at his watch (thank heavens he's early) and extends his business card towards his ex-classmate; "Contact me," he says (but it's more of a plea), "I need to know how she's doing," to which Lee gives him a dubious look, before taking the card (his cheek aches, but it's more than a fair exchange for any news about Tenten); "I didn't leave her, Lee- she was the one who did," Neji offers, though whether Lee believes it is beyond his control, "I've always loved her."
#293 - Voice
They find their voices gradually, when ragged inhalations mellow into steady breathing, and Tenten props herself on an elbow, looking down at Lord Neji - she doesn't know why the hands of Fate have brought them back together, though the differences between the Lord and the child of her past are stark (and somewhere along the way, her heartstrings have tangled with his long fingers and silky hair, and the dark threads in his lilac eyes and the lines of his palms); "When did you leave the circus?" Lord Neji asks, finally, after she's spent an eternity staring at him, and she's drawn back to the present, where he's trailing fingers over her skin (he brings her hand to his lips and kisses her knuckles, and she begins to tell her story).
#294 - Awkward
"Are- Are you f-fine with m-me and N-Naruto d-dating?" Hinata asks a little later, during the family event (her face is the shade of tomatoes, and he leads them away to where there are fewer ears in the walls); "Why wouldn't I be?" Neji returns with a shrug (Hinata seems to find the subject far more difficult to navigate than he does); "H-How do you d-deal with the en-engagement if y-your heart is e-elsewhere?" Hinata questions, her attention seemingly fixated on her fingers, and Neji stiffens (is he that easily read?); without waiting for a response, Hinata continues, "There w-was a woman at the archery s-school - s-she seemed to know you, N-Neji-nii."
#295 - Lower
"Lower, Neji, mmm," PrincessPanda moans, her arms curled loosely around the back of a Golden Arches chair, and HProdigy stills in his massage (how far down is "lower", really, because he can certainly think of somewhere further down her body he'd like to massage- oh for god's sake, Hyuuga, get your mind out of the gutter) - he presses his thumbs between her shoulder blades and rubs, then moves them an inch down, and does the same; "Here?" he asks, and Tenten moans again, "Lower," and Neji sends prayers skywards, because he's seen her naked during that one webcam chat and this does not help his imagination any.
#296 - Plead
"Do I have to get on my hands and knees and beg you, Neji?" PrincessPanda mashes into her keyboard, "For the last time, I'm not a charity case!" and Neji smirks at her, about to key a response, when she types, "I mean, will you stop if I'm begging on my knees, in my underwear?!" and for the first time, HProdigy is truly torn (though Tenten is probably kidding and would never do that) - he sees her in his mind's eye, and wonders, but her reactions to his gifts have been vastly enjoyable; would that be a worthy price for them?
#297 - Caring
"Would you really?" HProdigy types, "Do you dislike the gifts to the extent that you'd bare all to stop them?" and Tenten flushes the moment his words register; "You're such a pervert, Hyuuga!" she all but screams at him (the summer attire incident, with Neji in briefs, is conveniently forgotten), though the thought of Neji watching her in her unmentionables excites her the slightest bit (more than she'd like to admit); Tenten realizes, with some shock, that she cares very much what Neji would think of her were she dressed in less.
#298 - Believe
"I saw Neji earlier," Lee mentions over dinner, casually, and Tenten's stomach plummets like a rock; it's busy in the little cafe this evening, so their food is taking longer than usual (she's moved out of Lee's place two years ago, and loves how un-green all her walls and furniture are); "Y-you what?" she sputters, nervous (he's in the past now, Tenten tells herself); "I met him, at the courthouse," Lee repeats (and avoids her question, "What were you doing there?"), "He asked about you," he continues, his dark, bushy eyebrows drawing together, "That was the first thing out of his mouth," and Tenten refuses, refuses, refuses to believe him.
#299 - Found
"What was her name?" Neji mutters, slanting a look at Hinata; "She s-said it was Tian," Hinata replies just as quietly, as they move between clusters of relatives, "H-hazel eyes, dark b-brown hair," and Neji inhales sharply (she leans over him, and her unbound hair falls around his face, like a curtain, glowing honey in the morning sunlight), "What did she look like?" he asks tersely - "Sh-she had high cheekbones, Neji-nii, a sh-sharp nose, and she's two inches t-taller than me," Hinata recalls, contemplatively, and her eyes widen abruptly, "S-She's the girl you b-brought back once, in h-high school," and Neji stares at her, unable to breathe, "You met Tenten?"
#300 - Shield
Tenten tells him about the circus, and weapons, how the boys invaded her wagon - fury rises hot in his chest, and Tenten yelps when he grips her wrist a little too tightly (he apologizes, and releases her); Lord Neji does not doubt that Tenten was capable of defending herself against thugs, but all the same, he is aghast at the danger she's been in, that she could've been hurt - and somehow, even though Tenten is his guard and mentor, he wants to protect her instead (and Lord Neji is suddenly acutely aware of just how vulnerable Tenten has made him).
Yay for plot unfolding! ;) ;)