Pointless NejiTen fluff, because I love them and hate that they never got a chance to be together :(
I don't own Naruto (Because if I did, Neji and Tenten would be married and have fifteen kids :3)
p.s, the cover image belongs to BayneezOne on Deviantart.
"Oh come on Neji, I'm bored!"
When she didn't get a response, Tenten scowled, crossing her arms across her chest. The weapons mistress didn't take too well to being ignored, especially when it was by her best friend.
She heard him sigh, but he didn't move otherwise. Neji Hyuga appeared to be the personification of 'cool, calm, and collected," as he sat in the grass, legs crossed and eyes closed, back ramrod straight. Not much provoked a response from the Jonin, much to Tenten's annoyance, but she was used to it. They'd been partners forever after all, and they were closer to each other than they were to anyone else in all of Konoha.
"But Neji!" she groaned, dropping to her knees beside him. "I'm bored!"
"Then do something else," he said finally, his voice still as calm as ever.
"But I don't want to do something else!"
"Dammit Tenten," he snapped finally, and she almost smiled at succeeding in provoking the man. "I am sure you can find something other than playing with my hair to entertain you."
"But Neji!" she whined again. She was watching his usually stoic face carefully. Most people would say that he wasn't going to budge, but she knew him better than that. She could see that his resolve was beginning to crack. Victory was near. "Please?"
"Pretty, pretty please?"
Tenten could barely hold back a happy squeal as she shuffled behind him, tugging out the tie in his long brown hair. Neji was grumbling something under his breath, back stiffening, but she didn't pay him any mind. She had gotten her way.
Then again, she usually did where the Hyuga was involved.
"What was that Neji?" she asked, a smile in her voice as she sat up on her knees to run her fingers through his long tresses. If she had been paying more attention to the man in front of her, she would have noticed the slight shiver that ran through his body, or the way his eyes drifted shut for a moment.
When she slid her hands into his hair to gently rub against his scalp, she could have sworn that Neji leaned back into her hands. But that couldn't be. The Neji Hyuga didn't do things like that. It was probably just her imagination.
"I asked you what you said," she repeated, starting to gather his hair back into the beginnings of a French braid. Frowning slightly, she wondered why the man seemed so…distracted.
He hadn't been that way earlier when they had first set out on their mission. Team Gai was dispatched to a little village near the outskirts of Konoha to gather some information about a local gang leader. They had reached the town sooner than expected, and located the man they were sent to track down, thanks to Lee and Gai's 'motivation' and Neji's Byakugan.
They had gathered all the Intel they needed, and they should have been on their way home, but night fell and Gai suggested that they rest here for the night before heading out in the morning. Despite his suggestion to 'rest', Gai soon managed to rope Lee into another one of his ridiculous training exercises. So now the two of them were out in the forest somewhere, doing Kami knows what. Probably running laps on their fingertips.
Shaking her head, she brought her attention back to Neji, who had yet to answer her question. But before she could ask him again, he spoke.
"I said that if Lee comes back, sees this and requests to also braid hair, you will be the one to incur his wrath. Understood?"
Tenten chuckled under her breath, shifting slightly as the braid progressed past Neji's shoulders. "Alright, alright," she laughed, the backs on her fingers brushing against him now and again.
Neji didn't say anything to that. Instead he sat there listening to the sound of Tenten's laugh as it echoed slightly through the otherwise quiet clearing. He didn't know when the little smile appeared on his lips, or when his muscles had relaxed. It wasn't the first time it happened, and yet he realized that it almost always occurred in her presence.
Neji was a man who prided himself in being matter of fact. Of being able to analyze a situation and accept the answers regardless of what they were.
So being a man of that sort of character, he couldn't deny the fact that Tenten had an effect on him. She alone held the ability to make him smile, even though he usually hid it or played it off as nothing. She alone held the ability to make him feel completely at ease, as though he didn't have to be the Neji Hyuga, child prodigy, in her presence.
With her, he could just be Neji, her Neji. The Neji who secretly enjoyed every moment they spent together and hated every moment they were apart. The one who'd protect her with his life without a moment's hesitation, and the one who'd kill anyone who tried to hurt her.
He didn't know when they shifted from being just comrades and teammates to being friends and…more. Perhaps that's why he let it happen without shutting it down like he did with most other emotions. It was just so…natural. He barely even noticed it was happening.
But it was there, whether he or she decided to acknowledge it or not.
They were more than just friends. Hell, they were more than just best friends. He knew what he felt for Tenten went beyond that, and he would bet that she felt the same.
And yet they never acknowledged it out loud.
They never professed their feelings of love, because love was what he was fairly certain it was, nor did they ever act on those feelings. Instead they spent almost every minute of everyday by one another's side. They'd train, or go out to eat, or just lay in the grass and stare up at the clouds. Sometimes he'd go over to her apartment and watch her pathetic attempts at cooking, smiling behind his hand as his all-seeing eyes followed her every movement. Other times she'd come see him at the Hyuga compounds, reading scrolls with him in his room or playing with the children there.
People thought of them as a unit, two halves of one whole. Even the Hokage recognized that fact and almost never sent them on missions without one another. Neji was fairly certain that most people in Konoha thought they were dating, he saw the looks they got and the whispers that travelled through the grapevine.
But never once did he correct anyone.
Why bother? Neji had accepted some time ago that they'd end up together at some point. He had already made up his mind that she would be the one he'd marry one day. To him, it was a fact, it was certain, and so he didn't feel the pressure to outwardly stake his claim. Tenten was his. She would always be his. Completely his.
She was saying something, he realized after a moment. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even register her loud, cheerful voice.
He did that sometimes, not because he didn't want to listen to what she was saying, but because he enjoyed the sound of her voice so much that he would get lost in it. Drawing out of his reverie, he tuned in to her words, the little smile still present on his usually stoic face.
Turns out that he was completely hers too.
"I don't know how many times I have to tell Lee not to do that," continued Tenten who spent the past few minutes idly reporting an encounter with their other teammate. She didn't realize Neji wasn't exactly listening of course, and so she chattered on happily.
It usually happened like this. They'd be doing something together and she'd talk endlessly while Neji just sat there listening. She was the talker and he was the listener. It was a system they had that had always worked so well for them. Then again, they just worked well for each other overall. In battles and out of them. They were just so…in sync.
In battle, they were a force to be reckoned with. Neji's Byakugan and her perfect aim were the perfect combination. There was no mission that they were sent on that wasn't accomplished successfully. When Neji moved, she felt it, and when she moved, she knew he felt it too. They didn't even need to see one another to act in accordance. They worked like a well-oiled machine, in perfect tandem.
But it wasn't even just in battles. Even when they spent lazy days just lounging around, they seemed to be in sync with one another. Oftentimes they could communicate without even speaking out loud. He knew her like the back of his hand, and she knew him like the back of hers.
Falling silent, she smiled to herself as she tied the end of Neji's long braid. She knew, from the moment she was first put on the same genin team as him, that he was the one for her. She fell in love with him soon after.
When they were young, Tenten spent more than a few of her nights crying in bed because she didn't think Neji would ever return her feelings. He was a Hyuga after all. And not just any Hyuga, he was the child prodigy. She berated herself for even thinking she'd stand a chance. She who came from nothing, who had no clan or claim.
It took Ino and Sakura's intervention to help Tenten finally see that perhaps not all was lost. They had mentioned how close Neji was to her, how he treated her different than he treated anyone else. Even Hinata, who had grown up with him, shyly put in her two cents of agreement. She said that Neji was different when he was with Tenten. That he seemed…happier.
From that day, she paid extra attention to her teammate, and she saw what they were talking about. Neji wasn't the emotional type, he was probably never going to extravagantly profess his feelings to her, but she could see that he treated her with more tenderness than he did with others.
And as they grew up, it became more and more obvious to her that they were meant to be. She knew she loved him, and she was fairly certain he felt something for her too, regardless of whether or not he'd admit it.
She was going to marry him some day. She knew it. She would marry her Neji, and all her childhood dreams would have come true.
"All done," she said, pulling herself out of her thoughts. Leaning back, she traced one finger down the length of the long braid before swinging it over his shoulder.
"You know," she started slowly, a warm feeling settling in her stomach. "Your hair is nicer than-"
Before she could finish her sentence, she was silenced by the brush of warm lips against hers. It happened so fast, and it was so soft that Tenten wondered for a moment if she had just imagined it. But as she blinked her eyes in surprise at the man kneeling across from her, she could have sworn that she could see a faint tinge of pink in his cheeks as he looked at a spot somewhere over her shoulder.
"Neji…" she whispered, her hand coming up to lightly touch her own lips. His pale eyes turned to meet hers then, and when she saw the look of contentment in them, she couldn't help but smile in response. She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, pale hands shot out and tugged her hair out of the buns on top of her head. As the long brown locks floated over her shoulders, she raised an eyebrow at the man in question and waited for him to explain himself.
And her laughter rang out into the silent forest.
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