A/N: I do not own Naruto.


Tension

Tenten threw open the door to her shanty apartment, and threw herself on the couch, throwing her shoes off and throwing her head back and sighing. A lot. She always found herself like this after she saw, spoke to, or sparred with Neji Hyuuga. It was as if he had the ability to suck the air right out of her lungs, and make her body ache in places she didn't even know existed. He just… She clenched her jaw, aching again.

Everything he did made her want to run her hands through his hair, trailing down his neck and lips and chest and stomach. The tension was insurmountable. Insufferable. Unbearable. She was frustrated with everything in every sense of the word, and she finally understood why some people just gave up. It was hard to look at him with these thoughts festering in her mind, boiling until they consumed her.

She needed to vent these feelings away, let them fade into some abyss somewhere so they didn't eat her alive. Still agitated, she sprang from the couch, kicked open her bathroom door, and hurled the shower curtain to the side and screamed.

"You're awfully intrusive this evening," Neji said, glaring up at her from his bath. The white, bubbling froth covered everything below his neck, which was craned upward at her. "Can't this wait until I'm finished?"

"Y-You, but…! How, a-and when!?" She stammered hysterically, trying to avert her eyes and gawk at him simultaneously. Finally she managed to choke out: "Why the hell are you in my shower?"

"Technically, I'm taking a bath, not a shower," he answered, undisturbed. "Anyway, I told you today that my bathroom was being renovated, and you said it would be okay if I used yours in the interim. Don't you remember?"

Tenten thought back as coherently as she could, and… yes, she had some vague recollection of him saying something about a… a bathtub? And then it hit her, and she remembered everything. They had just finished sparring for the day when he said something to her, and she had been so focused on not staring at his lips for too long at a time when he brought up possibly using her bathroom, to which she distractedly affirmed. She nearly slapped herself.

"Right… I just forgot. And now you're here, naked in my shower."

"I'm naked in your bath." He said. "But actually, while you're here, do you mind if I stay the night, also?"

"Don't tell me your entire house is being renovated, too."

"No," he replied. "It's just far away."

"Yeah," she said, trying to sound calm and nonchalant. "That's cool." She turned and left, shutting the door softly behind her and trying to imagine this scenario in its most platonic form.

"Am I dreaming?" She whispered vaguely to herself. Tenten, still in shock, plopped back on her couch and waited for him to finish. Every poorly subdued feeling returned with ferocity while she yearned for him: Neji Hyuuga—the man of her every waking dream—was feet away, naked, slathered in bubbles, and about to stay the night in her house. Even Ino couldn't have thought of something so cheesy and kinky and perfect. The creaking of a door snapped her out of her thoughts. Neji emerged, dripping and damp with a towel loosely girded about his waist. His hair was an ebony mane that framed his face freely, the ridges and valleys of his muscles pulsing and rippling as he moved. If Tenten were in the jungle, she would have pounced on him right there. But she wasn't, and she struggled to keep her composure.

"If I didn't know any better, Hyuuga, I'd say you're trying to seduce me," she grinned up at him, making her voice as light and teasing as possible. He grinned back at her.

"Trust me, if I wanted to seduce you, you would be intimately familiar with my bed by now."

She laughed, but secretly acknowledged the truth. If he honestly and completely wanted her, he would have her by now. The fact that it hasn't happened yet could only be attributed to his lack of interest. And she mentally sighed. But she kept the conversation light, "Do you really think I'm that easy, Hyuuga? It would take more than showing up in a towel to sway me."

It wouldn't.

"What would it take?" He asked, not flirty in the least. "I'm actually quite curious. I don't think I've ever seen you swayed by a single soul."

Tenten nearly laughed, but she decided to be honest with him. "I look for someone who is committed and ambitious. Someone intelligent… kind. He would need to love me, thoroughly and completely—he'd need to convince me of it, too—if he wanted to sway me."

"And if he did love you—thoroughly and completely—in every way possible—how could he ever hope to convince you of it?" He replied, softer this time. Tenten froze and stared at him—into him. No, he didn't love her. He couldn't. Not she, when he could sway any woman in the world.

"He would have to tell me," she said, just as softly, but with more intensity. His eyes seemed more silver than ever. Tension, unspoken and unacknowledged, clung thickly to the air like fog. Both were silent, and Tenten was waiting for him to—maybe—say the words that would relieve her forever. His lips parted and she waited, nails digging into her palms.

"Hn," he said at last. "It doesn't sound like you require much to be convinced."

Her eyes stung, but she hid it. "Maybe," she said, her smile looking more like a crack in porcelain. "But I'd like to think I would be able to tell if he meant it."

"And maybe you could," he shrugged. "I'm going to go and change. The breeze is… too breezy."

The disappointment was heavy on her chest. But what else did she expect? They were teammates, friends, nothing more. Like he said—if he was really into her, they'd be together by now. She picked at the worn fabric on her clothing, cursing herself for her passive nature. But she suddenly stopped, her thoughts frozen.

No, she thought. She refused to be passive any longer. She'd spent so long pining from a distance—and what good had that done? She was sick of waiting around for him. No, this was her move. It was all in her control, and if he didn't reciprocate any feelings—then so what? The tension was thick enough as it was, a little more would make no difference. She stood resolute, she stood with a will. The universe had lined these events up for a reason—coincidence was a foolish man's gambit. She was going to make something of the night. She was going to take advantage of Fate's fine hand.

She was going to tell him.

She marched back to the bathroom, and threw open the door. He was feet away, hand paused in midair as if he was reaching for the knob. He looked startled. "Tenten?"

The tension filled her throat, dripping like languid molasses, filling her lungs. She fought it vigorously and opened her mouth. Nothing was going to hold her back. "I've got something to say to you, Hyuuga."

He quirked an eyebrow at her sudden determination. "Yes?"

"I've kept this inside for so long, so sorry if it just… gushes out. But I've liked you for too long, and it's to the point now where it's boiling my blood. I feel like I'm being eaten alive, and I'm sick of it. I love you, you white-eyed bastard, and I'm tired of waiting around for you to love me back. So hate me for saying it, I don't care. I refuse to be a victim to my feelings any longer."

She turned violently and marched to her room, slamming the door, not bothering to wait for a reply. She slumped to the floor, exhausted by her outburst. She sighed. That hadn't quite gone as well as she'd planned—she'd seemed too angry. Probably scared him off. She wouldn't be surprised if she walked out and he was gone. But the violence of her feelings had dissipated, and she felt relieved, if only a little. She let her head rest against the wall, and before she knew it there were tears, too. The road to recovery was hard, she told herself, but she'd get over him eventually. After ten minutes of lying sprawled on her floor in mild angst, she mustered the courage to leave her room.

He was gone.

Her mind had known this would happen, but there had still been hope in her heart that maybe… But he was gone, and so was the tension. So that was that. She felt lighter, for some reason. Relieved, maybe, that he was gone and she wouldn't have to face him—at least not tonight. She walked to her small kitchen, grabbed a bottle of sake, and poured herself a glass. She mentally toasted herself for having the courage to give action to her feelings. She downed her drink, feeling invincible. She did it, and that's what mattered.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

Tenten dropped her glass, shards spraying the floor. Her hand shook—she didn't even realize he had returned. She whirled—he was behind her—

And they were inches away, tension reignited wildly. His hand found the small of her back, and pulled her even closer and she stammered: "How did you get back in here? I… didn't even feel you return."

"Because I never left."

"Why?" She asked, but she knew the answer. It was on his lips and in his eyes and pulsing from him. He leaned in closer, and Tenten could feel him exhale as he spoke.

"You never gave me a chance to reply," he murmured, his fingers tracing her cheeks and jaw and mouth. "You are not the only one tormented by feelings you can't escape. I was too much of a coward to admit them—even when you gave me the chance, earlier. But you did it—you did what I couldn't. You have courage where I fail. That's why I love you, Tenten."

And he kissed her. Not the soft and gentle kind—it was hungry, desperate. The tension mounted and swelled, bursting only when Tenten weaved her arms around his neck. And they stood for a time, kissing breathlessly. The tension was gone completely. Released. Dispersed into some unknown abyss somewhere. But it wasn't here.

"I never pegged you as the romantic type, Neji Hyuuga," she remarked once they pulled away, winded. "That was quite a declaration."

"Sometime's it's warranted."

She paused for a moment, her hands still wrapped snugly around his neck. "Is your bathroom really being renovated?"

He smirked.

"Not at all."