Naruto: not mine.
Aquarius Galuxy is one of the gals to go to if you are a NejiTen person and you want to read a wide variety of fics. This idea came up during a late night PM conversation (don't they all?) and has evolved into what will probably be no more than 10 chapters of light reading.
Fun, single pairing, NejiTen.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Underneath it All
***You're really lucky, underneath it all...***
It didn't matter how it had started – it never mattered how it started – it mattered how it ended. She wasn't quite sure when their conversation had taken such a ridiculous turn but she suspected it was sometime after he realized he had lost the last two bets to her.
They almost never bet money. It was an unspoken rule, because they both knew what it was like to go without. Even though Neji had the resources of his clan and the approval of the Head Family, he never touched them in non-clan related matters. Tenten simply had what she had earned and worked for, and that had been carefully reinvested into weaponry, scrolls, and a tidy little business she had growing in Konoha.
Besides, betting with money was boring.
If there was one thing that could be said for the members of Team Gai, it was that they were inventive with the challenges they'd undertake. They never went to the extremes of Gai and Lee – (Tenten wasn't walking anywhere on her hands, and Neji would not be carried on anyone's back) but they had their own eccentricities and were fiercely competitive.
Once they bet a week of first bathroom privileges, meaning the loser probably had only cold water left.
Once whoever lost had to accept any challenge that Lee offered, no matter how ridiculous, for the next three missions.
Once it had been that the loser had to pay for Naruto's ramen on a joint mission. They drew the line at paying for Chōji.
But this time?
This time it was personal.
"You aren't serious," Tenten said flatly, raking a skeptical look up and down her teammate.
"Perfectly," he said in that haughty-calm the Hyūgas seemed to learn from birth.
"You realize this is ridiculous, right?" she eyed him closely, trying to gauge his expression.
His shrug was minimal. "No more or less ridiculous than any of our other wagers."
"I'm thinking this is way more ridiculous than any wager we've ever made," she crosses her arms. "Who in their right mind bets with their underwear? There are limits in life, Neji."
His expression didn't change, but one brow arched. "Are you backing down from the challenge?"
Tenten narrowed her eyes and her voice dropped dangerously. "Pardon?"
"I asked you," his smooth, dark voice was steady and pointed, "if you are backing down from the challenge."
Something inside of her boiled and snapped even as she suspected that this was a terrible, terrible idea.
"Of course not," she seethed, hands on hips. "But this is a stupid idea."
"But we agree?" he asked, nonplussed.
"Fine," she said through clenched teeth. "On one condition. Before we start, we place 5 garments that are off limits."
Neji arched an eyebrow. "Conditions, Tenten?" he scoffed reprovingly. What happened to your 'all or nothing?' attitude?"
"Two things," she crossed her arms, "and they are both under bindings right now. Unless you can use your genius powers to figure out a way for me to either give up training or working or running - which I will have to do if I don't have support – then those are the terms."
Neji had the good grace to flush slightly, even if he thought her to be exaggerating. "Still sounds like a cop out. Are you that certain you will lose?"
"Of course not," she muttered, "but I'm not dumb enough to take a blanket bet."
"Well then I propose another condition," Neji said coolly. "All undergarments are to be sealed into a scroll, and we can only utilize the five items we exempt from the bet. Winner gets their garments back. The looser does not, and may not purchase any replacement garments for one month."
A wicked smirk curved her lips. "Agreed."
"One more thing," Neji added. "This bet includes all garments that can be considered 'underwear,' correct?"
Tenten frowned. "Well, yeah," she said, "that's the point."
"Whether garments are worn regularly or not?" he pressed.
"Good," Neji spread his hands elegantly. "I look forward to seeing those garments that Ino is always lamenting she has bought you and you never wear."
Tenten froze. "Pardon?"
"Tell you what – I'll even be generous. Since you require a variety of garments," he flicked his gaze to her chest and back up, "We'll up the number to seven. You choose how to split up your supplies. We also won't count any binding materials, since we both utilize those for various reasons. Those can be purchased, used, and replaced as needed."
Tenten didn't know whether to glare at him or to be suspicious. Neji was not one for granting too much leeway in a bet, unless he was accounting for something Lee absolutely could not do but would never admit to it. (They NEVER bet with alcohol.)
"That is strangely generous of you," she said guardedly.
He shrugged. "Makes it more interesting. On a practical note, we have had extended missions lately, and it is possible we won't be able to launder anything for days at a time. So. Are we agreed?"
"Alright," Tenten stuck out her hand. "Agreed."
"Excellent," Neji said shaking her hand perfunctorily. He checked the time. "No time like the present. You have sealing scrolls I trust? Of course you do. Let's get this done."
Tenten handed him an empty scroll with a guarded expression. "Here."
"Thank you. Shall we?"
"Fine. Where will we meet up?"
"We can discuss that as we work," he tucked the scroll away.
"While we-?!" She looked up at him quizzically. He raised his eyebrows in that infuriating 'I'm waiting for you to figure it out' sort of way, and her own eyes grew wide. "Ohhhhh no. No, no, no." She shook her head vehemently. "I've had a long day, and I am going home to my apartment and I am going to enjoy it and my fully stocked supply of underwear in peace. Go seal your own things; I'll handle mine. I've got plenty of practice."
"Ah," Neji said, "I know you have plenty of experience. Experience enough to create a seal with exceptions. Therefore we shall work together and bind the scrolls with a seal that requires us both to open it."
"Then come over tomorrow," she rolled her eyes.
Neji shook his head. "That gives us both window of time whereinwhich we can alter the contents. We shall both go now and ensure this is done properly."
"Don't trust me?" Tenten asked in a calm tone laced with venom.
"I believe you indicated you are not foolish enough to accept a blanket bet? I am just trying to ensure the integrity of our wager."
There were few things that irked her more than Neji when he got in moods like this, and she knew from experience this fight was over before it started.
"Fine," she bit out. "Let's go."
Neji watched her stalk back toward the village, catching up with her easily. "I find I am actually looking forward to this wager," he offered, ignoring Tenten's glower. "It is far more interesting than our normal bets, wouldn't you agree?"
Tenten didn't answer. She pressed her lips together, more determined than ever to win their bet- while Neji mentally patted himself on the back for having already won.
I seem to have a thing for Tenten and placing bets. Thanks for coming along for the ride, friends!