Chapter 3

Tenten panted, feeling lightheaded in the evening sun. Her clothes clung to her, her body slick with sweat, and Neji was far too close to her.

She deflected his attack, twisting her body to avoid any further strikes.

Why she had agreed to a spar was beyond her. Perhaps she thought the physical exertion would help clear her mind? Perhaps (if she was being honest) she just sought an excuse to have his hands on hers.

Seeing Neji advance, she pulled open a scroll and summoned a staff, quickly blocking his strikes once more.

However, she was still stuck in a defensive position, and while his hands did not connect with her, Tenten found herself being pushed backwards.

She twisted her staff and snapped it in his direction, creating distance between them. She had expected Neji to take a step back, but she had not anticipated the way he side stepped her and grabbed her staff, yanking it (and her) towards him.

His outstretched palm rested a mere inch above her chest, above her heart.

Her chest rose and fell rapidly, stunned at how easily she'd been bested.

She stood up and Neji lowered his palm, straightening out as well. Tenten dropped her staff and peeled off her gloves.

Although her body protested, and her forehead continued to leak moisture, Tenten forced her legs to move towards the shade of a large acacia tree. She sunk down onto the ground and summoned two mugs of water from a scroll.

Neji had followed her into the shade and accepted the beverage from her outstretched hand.

He watched her take a long drink and sigh. Tenten eyed a patch of dry grass and laid back in the dirt, resting her head on the makeshift pillow.

She pushed her hitai-ate up and off of her forehead and Neji sat down next to her.

Neji tried to ignore the way the heat clung to him. They were lucky enough to have a dry heat, but with no breeze to break up the stagnate air, it didn't seem to matter much.

They were tucked into a secluded corner of the oasis that ran along a river, just on the outskirts of town. They had both hoped that shade and running water would break up the heat while they trained, but it didn't.

His eyes fell on his teammate and he noted the way her chest rose and fell heavily, panting as she struggled to cool down.

He let her rest for a moment, mulling over his thoughts carefully. They had tiptoed awkwardly around conversation points all afternoon, both careful to avoid brining up what was on both of their minds.

Their spar had been relaxing. It brought a sense of normalcy and routine - something they were both craving.

And though Neji had not lost his appetite for Tenten, it was too hot to even entertain the thought of crawling over to her and finishing what they had started.

Though, it did linger in the back of his mind.

Since they were both relatively grounded, Neji thought it would be appropriate to discuss what they should do next.


"Let's go for a dip in the river."

Tenten had turned her head to meet his gaze and the suggestion had been sluggish and fatigued.

Neji debated the idea. The river would be welcome but it also meant removing a few layers of clothing. That in itself seemed like a good enough reason to decline her suggestion.

They were supposed to talk whatever 'this' was out and swimming could easily cloud their minds and judgement.

But before Neji could make up his mind, Tenten had begun to tug at the snaps on her shirt. His face burned and he lowered his gaze as she opened her shirt.

Slowly, Tenten pushed herself up, allowing her shirt to slide off of her shoulders. Neji looked up again when he was sure she had turned her back to him.

The snug, beige band of her bra appeared, dividing the creamy skin of her back in two. Neji snapped his eyes away when Tenten rose from the ground and bent over to take off her shoes and pants. But he had seen the glimpse of sky blue clinging to her hip and tried to center his thoughts.

Tenten feed her hair from her buns and ran her fingers through it, shaking out the knots and loosening the kinks.

She didn't look back to him, or beckon him to come after her as she usually would.

He watched as Tenten stepped into the river. Her ankles... her calves... her thighs... her bottom... her waist - all disappeared under the surface before she submerged herself completely.

She surfaced with a sigh and Neji felt the intensity of the sun increase. Reluctantly, he began to tug at his own clothes before following her into the water.

The relief was instant. Even just the river lapping over his toes sent a much welcomed chill though him.

Neji sucked in his breath and slipped under the surface briefly, as he'd seen Tenten do. It was refreshing and when he surfaced again he felt the tension release from his shoulders.

"I needed this," said Tenten.

"It was a good idea," said Neji. He glanced briefly at the swell of her breasts before looking up at her face. "It would also be a good idea if we talked."

Tenten broke eye contact and studied the surface of the water.

"Oh? About what?"

Neji sighed. Although the topic was awkward, he had no intention of dancing around the subject.

"You know what."

He watched Tenten chew her lip.

"I... Well... I thought it was nice."

Neji raised a brow. Nice? He remember her whimpers and thought 'nice' was quite the understatement.

"Really? I couldn't tell."

She glanced up at him and he cracked a smile.

Tenten scooped her hand in the water and sent a splash his way.


He stepped closer and caught her wrists to prevent more splashes. She didn't resist.

"We could try again," he said.

He felt her tremble. He'd dipped his head closer to her's and she'd slipped a little closer.

"We could."

"Maybe a little slower?"


He nuzzled his nose against Tenten's before kissing her slowly and gently.

She melted into him and he wrapped his arms snugly around her.

They stayed like that for a while, kissing softly and slowly.

Neji tried to keep his breathing slow and even, setting a pace that was in stark contrast to their earlier encounter.

Kissing Tenten was akin to mediation for him. He was completely present and aware of every inch of their bodies. Their tongues formed strange, new mudras that sent electric spikes of energy through his body.

There, in the river, Neji felt closer to enlightenment than ever before.

"Do we have everything?"

Tenten nodded in response to Neji and adjusted her backpack on her shoulders.

"Yes, we're good to go."

"Yes!" Said Lee. "I cannot wait to return home to show Gaara everything that's changed!"

"Not much has changed, Lee," said Tenten. "He was in Konoha a couple months ago."

"But what about the new noodle stand?"

Tenten pursed her lips. Surely Gaara had more important duties to attend to in Konoha than noodle stands.

"It is our duty to be the best hosts we can!"

"My wonderful students are so considerate!"

Tenten sighed. It seemed that whenever Lee made a suggestion, Gai someone assumed Tenten and Neji had agreed to do whatever ludicrous idea Lee'd tossed out. She had no intention of taking Gaara to sights he'd already seen.

She had visions of locking herself in her apartment with a certain Hyuuga.

Tenten drifted off as they ran through their final checklist and began their journey. She'd had no clue where they'd mustered the self restraint to only kiss in the river and she had no intentions of keeping it that way once they were home.

It was probably a smart move on their part, sticking to kissing. Tenten had heard snickers and jokes before about how new lovers pretty much only had sex and they did not need that distraction during their journey.

Besides, their river make out session had been amazing just as it was. Sure, the lust had coiled in her belly, but their kisses had been so intimate that she hadn't minded pushing her desire aside and had been content to stay in his arms for days while each sweep of his tongue made her knees a little weaker.

Tenten watched his back as they ran through the desert. She studied his broad shoulders and remembered how her fingers had curled over them as he held her close.

A/N: It's short, but it's something! Special thanks to Nairil for helping me work up some motivation! Toned this one down a little bit to give them a chance to breathe. Let me know if you have ideas!