This is a oneshot set in Singapore. Always wanted to write something set in my home country (after reading the NejiTen fic set in Philippines by lass-that-is-gone).. this is the closest I could get without it turning into some sort of touristy fic lol. Was finally inspired to write this after a reminder by DMHG. ;)
Fic title "tian ya hai jiao" essentially means "edge of the sky, corner of the sea".. usually to denote a vast amount of space, as in "I'll follow you to the corners of the Earth". ;) I've also always wanted a title in Mandarin. Bilingual to reflect the Singapore setting. Present tense suited the tone more.
Naruto and its characters do not belong to me.
天涯海角) Edge of Heaven, Corner of Sea
You could look forever, but you won't find me.
The trickle of water from the tap is loud. It beats like a slow drum into the stainless steel sink, tap, tap, tap, tap.
She's seated on the tiled floor nursing umeshu from a little sake cup, back against the quietly-humming fridge.
I should shut it off, Tenten thinks, water is expensive here.
But she makes no move to get up, makes no move to cross the one scant meter over to the sink, to twist that shiny metal knob.
It's too hot here, and I'm too depressed.
So she sips the amber liquid, tastes sweet and sour on her tongue, and feels it burn lightly down her throat.
It's a blessing that there is still Choya umeshu to be found here - the plum wine is cool, comforting, and reminds her of the good times back home (and only the good times). Granted, it's expensive here (everything is expensive here) but this beats an eight hundred dollar round trip back to Tokyo, to get her hands on the booze she knows so well. (It isn't as if things aren't expensive in Tokyo, anyway.)
Besides, Tenten likes going to Isetan. Isetan Singapore almost reminds her of Isetan Shinjuku, where she used to frequent, and the departmental store carries some of the brand names she's familiar with.
The one upside is that Isetan Singapore is 5,300 kilometers away from Tokyo, somewhere she doesn't want to set foot in anymore, come hell or high water.
A lazy gust of air sweeps into the kitchen, bringing little relief from the afternoon humidity. It blows the cloud cover away, and the sun's rays inch back across the dark lines between the tiles, creeping over Tenten's toes.
She makes a little noise of frustration - maybe sitting behind the fridge would have been a better bet - and cracks the fridge door ajar, to grab the umeshu bottle for another cup of wine.
This cup goes straight down her gullet, giving her a rush, and Tenten pours herself a third cup. The round, green shapes of plums look stupidly at her from the bottom of the wine bottle; she makes a face at them, and carefully replaces the umeshu in the fridge. It's something both her roommates enjoy, but they're off on a vacation this weekend, and Tenten is taking the opportunity to consume as much of her favorite liquor as she can.
Full cup of wine in hand, she squirms onto her belly, facing away from the open windows, and presses her cheek to the cool tiled floor.
If Ino and Sakura were here, they would have hauled her away to do something "fun". Probably to shop, or watch a movie. Those don't fall under Tenten's ideas of "fun", and she likes to be left alone once in a while, to mope about her friends and family back home.
Oh, sure, she could've just avoided him and remained in Tokyo, but his goddamn face was (and probably still is) on all the magazines in the supermarkets and convenience stores.
Hyuuga Neji, most attractive bachelor of the year!
An interview with our esteemed Hyuuga Neji!
The heir of Hyuuga Corp shares details about his one true love-
Tenten clutches her head with her one free hand, and squeezes her eyes shut. She was supposed to be over that two years ago, when she moved here. In fact, she should be thinking about her colleague Sai, who is calm and intelligent and who isn't her boyfriend, but whom she's seeing somewhat regularly... every time her mind strays too far. Like now.
She groans and bumps her head none-too-gently on the floor.
Think about Sai. Think about Sai. Think about Sai.
Sai is pale and lean and nicely-sculpted. He's screwed-up like she is, and if it isn't for him being such good friends with their department head, Naruto, he'd probably have been fired ages ago. Sai's idea of making friends is telling Naruto what a big dick Naruto doesn't have.
Tenten cracks a smile at that, and sips from her cup of liquor. She likes where she's currently working - a Japanese instant noodle company with a branch in Singapore. Sai, Naruto and herself are in the research department; Naruto likes being in the department, because he gets to sample all the new varieties of noodles they come up with. Not a surprise, considering that he loves ramen and instant noodles above all else.
It isn't a surprise, either, that so many of them working here are Japanese. It had been ridiculously easy to lure talent to the island city, before the locals voiced their growing displeasure with the sheer number of foreigners in the labor force. Tenten counts herself lucky to be able to remain working for her current employer.
She drains her cup of umeshu, feeling a little mellow, and is about to open the fridge for yet another round when there comes a knock on the metal gate of the apartment.
Tenten frowns; she doesn't like dealing with door-to-door salesmen, and would much rather they go away on their own, before she resorts to speaking a string of Japanese. The locals understand English, but not Japanese. (The physically- and mentally-disabled are whom she especially dreads facing, though - she's hard pressed not to buy a can of whatever it is they're selling, if just to help them get by.)
The rental flat is large - an older version of public housing. Tenten makes her way out of the kitchen, turning into the hallway, then the living room. There are two parts to the only entrance of the apartment - a floor-length metal gate, padlocked, and a wooden door, opened to let air circulate within the apartment. A vague shadow is reflected in the peeling blue paint of the door - someone is standing in the corridor, but not closely enough for her to see his face through the vertical bars of the gate.
Tenten makes her way forward cautiously. It could be a predator, for all she knows - even though it's highly unlikely, with the city's stellar safety records - and sets her sake cup on a side table.
She's very glad she did, because the person steps in close to knock on the door again, and she sees long black hair and pale skin, and eyes a light, light grey in the way only a certain lineage in the world has them.
She turns abruptly and leaves the room, her heart pounding so hard that she cannot think, cannot breathe.
What the hell is he doing here?
"Tenten," he calls, baritone low and familiar, and her heart stumbles.
She turns back into the kitchen and curls into a ball behind the fridge, hands over her ears.
Louder this time, and audible, even from her spot in the kitchen. She pushes the tips of her index fingers into her ears and hums softly, to keep any and every sound out.
It is many heartbeats before Tenten realizes that she is crying, silent tears streaking down her cheeks.
That sight at the door has to be a figment of her imagination - perhaps she's going insane, and he's starting to appear around her.
Hyuuga Neji has never returned for her - this is just a fantasy, something she's dreamed up. That is precisely why she left - because she was tired of always being the first to yield, because he was too important to her, because he haunted her thoughts, night and day, and the twilight between.
It feels like forever before she gathers her bearings, and pulls another sake cup out to pour herself more umeshu.
Two cups of plum wine later, she's calmed down somewhat. The bottle is back in the fridge, and she makes her way back to the living room - that wooden door has to be closed. She doesn't want to see more ghosts of what may have been.
She walks over to the wooden door - no reflections in the paint, no ghosts-
-And claps her hand over her mouth, to keep from swearing.
Hyuuga Neji is seated on the concrete floor two meters away from her front door, his back against the parapet wall, knees drawn casually up. He snaps his head to look at her at the slightest indication of movement, and Tenten freezes, eyes wide as he gets to his feet, striding towards her like a large cat gaining ground.
The light from the sky illuminates his regal features - high cheekbones, flawless skin, thin lips, and Tenten is rooted to the spot. She cannot move, cannot think.
He has been haunting her dreams.
"Tenten," he says again, pale eyes boring into hers.
"What are you doing here?" she croaks, in their native tongue. "It's over between us, remember?"
At that, his eyes narrow; his lips press into a firm line. "You left me, Tenten," he replies in kind. "It took me two years to find you."
She comes to her senses then. "I didn't want you to find me," she snaps. "I've had enough of you!"
"You were mine," he answers, standing at the metal gate, one fist closing around the rusted iron bars. "Come back to me."
"No," she tells him (her heart is quavering, she's wavering on the edge again and how can he do this to her).
Tenten wraps a hand around the gleaming door handle, exactly one meter away from him, ready to yank the door from its magnetic holder and slam heavy wood in his face.
She swings the wooden door at him - Neji stops it with his palm - and pushes at it with all her might.
He anchors himself with the metal bars, and exerts an equal force on his side of the door, so she isn't able to shut it. For good measure, he slips his foot through the bars and forces it between the door and doorjamb, so there's no way she can close the door without breaking his bones.
Tenten glowers at him. She isn't stupid.
Neji loses his balance when she swings the door backwards, at herself, and, with his limbs slackened, Tenten attempts to slam the door on his hand and foot.
She acknowledges, grimly, that he hasn't lost his wit; the man grits his teeth and flattens both palms against the wooden door, to keep her from closing it. (Because he knows, as well as she does, that when this door closes, there will be no more chances for him to talk.)
Tenten glares furiously at him. "Get lost already," she spits, "I don't want to see your face around here-"
"You've missed me in your bed," he has the gall to say.
Rage boils over in her gut; she pulls the door open again, reaches through the metal bars and grasps the collar of his shirt.
With her other hand, she slaps him hard across his face. Her palm and fingers sting.
"Say that again," she seethes.
But all Hyuuga Neji does is glance triumphantly at her, and the next thing she knows, he's wrapping warm fingers around her wrist, and drawing her closer to the gate, so her chest is pressed against the cool metal bars.
She tries to yank her hand from his grip - he cups the back of her neck with his other hand, and pulls her close, so her cheeks are pressing lightly against rough, peeling paint, and leans in.
His lips are moist and soft against hers.
Tenten stiffens, eyes wide, heart pounding a deafening litany.
It isn't a forceful kiss, or a possessive one - Neji slides his lips slowly over hers, parting them, as if to learn her again, like their very first kiss, and Tenten feels her heart crack.
He nips at her bottom lip, draws his tongue against the seam of her flesh, and Tenten finds that she's powerless to stop him, because he knows how she likes to be kissed, where she likes to be touched-
Her body heats, and she jerks herself away, breathing hard.
He pins her with his pale stare, filled with hope and desire. "Let me in, Tenten. We can talk this over."
And as much as she wants to refuse him, as much as she tries to think of Sai, and of her resolutions, she can't.
It is very difficult to say no to one's first love, when he's at your doorstep and begging.
She lets him in.
Her fingers are still shaking when she turns the key in the padlock and puts it away.
He is upon her the moment she turns back to him, cupping her cheek with his palm and pressing her into the wall.
Tenten doesn't think to protest, not when his lips slide tantalizingly over hers, and he's in her mouth and stroking her tongue in a way that makes her burn, the way Sai never discovered how.
Neji's hands slip under her tank top, pushing them up over bare skin, and he finds her stiff nipples just as she arches towards him, needing more, needing this because no one has been able to make her feel this way for two entire years.
He still tastes like green tea, and she groans when he eases a knee between her thighs, rolls her nipples between his fingers.
She isn't surprised to find him hard behind his starched black trousers, isn't surprised when her body responds to him with slick, desperate heat.
"Umeshu?" he whispers, in the brief moment their lips part, and he trails kisses down her jaw, licking the skin behind her ear.
Tenten nods jerkily, panting, and turns her face back to his, so she can drown herself in his kiss again.
He pushes her pants and panties off; she steps out of them, parting her legs so his fingers fit between, and slide into her with sheer familiarity.
She comes once, leaking wetly onto him, and Neji takes the time she shuts her eyes to look around.
"Your bed?" he murmurs raggedly.
There's no stopping this cycle - it has to run its course, Tenten acknowledges, and leads him there, moisture slicking her thighs.
Neji makes short work of their clothes - she says yes to using oral contraceptives, and he's pressing his face between her legs, bringing her over the edge again and again and again, until Tenten is sure that she's moaned herself hoarse.
She gasps when he finally slides into her, grinding into her sensitized flesh, and the look on his face is beautiful. Neji tries to hold himself back - she sees it in the way his jaw tightens (still remembers what every expression of his means) - but she runs her nails down his chest, and his control slips; he fits himself roughly into her. She throws her head back, swamped with sensation, begging him not to stop from the edges of her consciousness.
Their crescendo is harsh and blinding and earth-shattering, and it is a long moment before Tenten regains her thoughts and is able to think again.
When she's able, she rolls off her bed, ignoring the faint sheen of sweat on her body, and collects her clothes, slowly pulling them back on.
"Get out," she tells him, her voice scratchy. She pulls her tank top firmly down, covering every inch of skin exposed. Her back is facing him, but she knows he's looking at her anyway.
"No," he answers, and she turns to glower at him. To his credit, Neji has pulled his underwear and trousers back on, and she's glad her eyes stay fixed on his.
"You don't belong here," Tenten maintains.
"You belong to me," he retorts.
"I never belonged to you," she hisses, clenching her fists. Her eyes are starting to tire from glaring at him so hard, but she refuses to look away. "Get out of this place."
Neji sends her a smug look. "You enjoyed-"
"We're done fucking," she growls. "Now get out."
"Not by a long shot, we aren't," he returns. "You never have enough."
Tenten sends him her most poisonous glare. "Well, I've got someone else."
Neji blinks, taken aback, but he recovers quickly anyway. "It didn't stop you from sleeping with me."
A light blush surges into her cheeks. "I just wanted to confirm that I haven't been missing out on anything," she fumbles.
"Really." His eyes are cool and prideful, now. "I remember your fingers in my hair, keeping my face between your legs."
Tenten sputters, and gulps, and leaves the room, for lack of a suitable retort.
It embarrasses her that she still isn't over him yet, that her control slipped sometime in the past half hour, that he can still read her so easily.
He follows her into the kitchen, fully dressed now, and watches as she pours another cup of umeshu for herself.
"I can bring you a larger bottle the next time I return," he says.
"Save it," Tenten snaps, and slams the fridge door shut. "I don't want to see your face ever again."
Neji's jaw tightens. "I will keep returning until I convince you otherwise."
Her stomach flips, and it is all she can do not to look away. "How did you find out where I'm living?" she grits.
He lifts a shoulder. "You don't have to know that."
But her mind is churning, moving forward, and she guesses that he's used his connections and found her through her company. "I'll quit my job," she told him, "And I'll move elsewhere. You won't find me then."
(She doesn't really want to quit, no, but it's threat enough for Neji.)
He narrows his eyes. "Then I'll find you again."
Tenten doesn't know what to think of his perseverance, doesn't know what to think of them getting together again. What she does know is that she's tired of being hurt.
"I'm not a toy, Hyuuga Neji. I won't give in to your every whim anymore," she tells him.
It's so easy to say that, and believe it, when he's not promising sex and kisses and good times with those intense eyes of his.
He takes two steps to close the distance between them; Tenten is so distracted by his proximity, his heat, that she doesn't register him easing the sake cup from her fingers until it's too late.
Neji takes a sip of umeshu, and licks his lips, leaving them glistening.
She swallows hard.
"You haven't moved on from Choya yet," he remarks, referring to the brand of wine. Then, more quietly, "And you haven't moved on from me, either, Tenten."
She draws a sharp breath, hating that she can't keep secrets from him. If they'd never met in school, if they'd never sat side-by-side and began talking, and if she'd never stepped into that classroom with him and allowed him to kiss her...
"I hate you," she says, not meaning it at all.
She drags her eyes away, to the tiled kitchen floor.
"Are you happy here?" Neji asks abruptly.
Surprised, she glances up at him. "What?"
Tenten takes a step away, to put some distance between them, so she can think better. He doesn't follow her, but continues to sip from her cup of plum wine.
"This place," Neji clarifies, waving to the tiled walls. "This country. Are you happy here?"
Thrown by his question, she frowns. "What does that have to do with anything?"
He slants an unreadable look at her. "I want to know if you're willing to move back. To Tokyo."
Tenten stares incredulously at him. "Are you insane? I moved here to get away from you."
Neji shrugs. Sips from her sake cup. "Then I will have to schedule more visits to this part of Asia to, ah, convince you to return."
She rolls her eyes. "Get out. I've had enough of your crap."
Tenten stalks out of the kitchen, and heads to the living room. She's very glad that Ino and Sakura aren't in this weekend - this would have been a pain to explain otherwise.
Neji trails after her, still bearing her sake cup. She pauses at the door, key in hand. "Don't you dare come back," she tells him. "I don't want to see your face again."
He sets the cup down gently on the shoe cabinet, and steps close to her, eyes trained on hers. "I meant what I said," he says quietly. "I'm sorry."
Her eyes widen; Tenten blinks at him, and tears are blurring her vision before she can think to wipe them away.
His warm arms are pulling her into a hug; she heaves a sob into his chest, but doesn't allow herself to return the embrace. It's over between them, it's too late for him to change her mind, and she doesn't want to hear what he should have said two years ago.
She twists out of his grasp, and dashes the traitorous tears away with the backs of her hands. "It's too late, Neji. Go away. Move on. I've got a life here, and I've got friends. I even have a boyfriend."
Pale eyes narrow. "Then you know you shouldn't have slept with me, unless it wasn't an important relationship."
He's right. Her relationship with Sai isn't important, but he doesn't have to know that.
"He doesn't hurt me," she reveals, and takes pleasure in watching Neji flinch. "Give up on me. Find someone else."
"I'll return in two weeks," Neji promises, his eyes not leaving her.
Tenten thinks about her roommates, and winces. "No. Don't create more trouble for me. Save the plane fare. I don't want to see you after this."
She unlocks the metal gate decisively and swings it open, waiting for him to leave.
He steps in close, finds her lips with his. Tenten stiffens, scents plum wine on his breath.
She doesn't step away from his kiss, but she doesn't respond, either.
"You're still the most important person to me," he whispers against her mouth, trailing his fingers up her forearms. A shiver slides along her spine. "Tenten."
Neji looks at her a last time, then steps out of the door, and into his shoes.
Her fingers are trembling minutely when she locks the gate behind him and turns away. He's still watching her.
Tenten swallows dryly, collects her sake cups, and returns to the kitchen to wash them.
She doesn't know what she should do.
"You have been distracted since Monday," Sai comments evenly, as they settle into his couch after dinner on Thursday. "Even Dickless noticed."
"Naruto?" Tenten winces. She flicks the TV on, and turns it to the news channel. "Really?"
Sai nods matter-of-factly. "You've been lost in thought on more than one occasion, every alternate hour or so."
She cringes outright, supremely glad that Sai has not reported this to Naruto yet. "Thanks for not telling Naruto."
He gives a polite nod. "It is common courtesy to warn one's colleagues first, before telling one's superior."
"Well, thanks," Tenten mumbles. She's used to Sai's detached way of dealing with people, though it is a far cry from Neji, and how he is intense and reserved all at once.
Maybe Sai is the exact opposite of Neji - he can't read her, and that is why she gravitated towards him.
"Will I be able to help with the underlying issue?" Sai asks, slanting a sidelong glance at her. "After all, we can't afford to screw up on more experiments."
Tenten winces again. She allows a heavy sigh to leave her lungs, and rubs her eyes tiredly. "It's... someone from my past. I don't know what to do about him."
Her almost-boyfriend blinks at her, inky eyes calm, calculating. "Women are more prone to issues of the heart," he recites. "Are you trying to make a decision about him?"
She nods reluctantly, and stares at the moving pictures of the news without comprehension. Sai is really not the person she should be talking about this with... but he can answer a few questions.
"You can help me with this," Tenten decides suddenly. "Bedroom, now."
"Is his penis size the issue?" he asks, trailing after her.
She cringes and sighs, discarding her clothes along the way. "Were it that simple, I wouldn't be losing my mind over it."
Yet, as Sai moves above her, and she sighs in pleasure, Tenten realizes that this detached sex is nothing like what it is with Neji. How is it that her body reacted so explosively this past weekend, when Neji is, really, just another guy?
It takes her longer than usual to find release, and by the end of it, Tenten knows that she can't keep this up with Sai.
She rolls over onto her stomach, covering her face. "I can't do this," she mutters. "We need to stop this friends-with-benefits thing. No offense."
Sai looks at her in question, head cocked. "Did I do something wrong?"
Tenten shakes her head. "Maybe. Probably not. I... just have issues."
Issues that include a pale gaze haunting her, and the whisper of her name clinging to her ears.
"Tenten! Guess who we saw on the way up?" Ino titters, dropping a bag of groceries on the kitchen counter. She makes her way back into the living room, where Tenten is.
"Someone very famous," Sakura adds with a grin. "You can't not have heard of him."
Tenten looks up from her magazine, and realizes that it's been exactly two weeks since Neji's visit. It was a lot of running herself into the ground at work, and taking on more jobs than she can really handle, before all thoughts of that man were squashed out of her mind.
Her heart quickens, and she struggles to breathe.
"Do I really want to know?" Tenten asks carefully. She turns her back to the front door, and ducks her chin. If he's here, she certainly doesn't want to see him.
She hopes he doesn't show up.
"I wonder what he's doing here," Ino replies. "No one famous visits anyone living in public housing in a foreign country."
He's visiting your housemate, Ino, Tenten thinks.
"We should have got an autograph," Sakura sighs. "Do you think we'd see him again?"
"Did he alight on the same floor as you guys?" Tenten asks, morbidly curious.
Sakura frowns lightly. "Well, he held the door open for us... but he didn't step out of the elevator."
"Even though he was apparently alighting at the same floor," Ino gossips.
"But his voice, Tenten - you should have heard his voice," Sakura moans, "He sounds better than Uchiha Sasuke."
If she could, Tenten would've cracked a smile - Uchiha Sasuke is Sakura's biggest crush. But right now, all she can think about is Neji's voice in her ear, his breath on her skin.
"I've got better things to do than listen to the voices of strange men," she says tightly, keeping her eyes glued to her magazine.
"You can't be serious, Tenten," Ino gapes, scandalized. "He's the number one bachelor in Japan!"
Don't I know it.
She gives a careless shrug, and flips through the magazine - one of Ino's, that she happened to find lying around, opened to a random page. The medley of hiragana, katagana and kanji is a pleasure to read, after pages and pages of English that she's been looking through at work.
The pages fall open on a splash page featuring pale skin and grey eyes, and Tenten catches her breath.
Hyuuga Neji is the epitome of calm and cool in these images, but Tenten still remembers the times he's stared heatedly at her, eyes dark with lust, or something else-
"There he is!" Ino exclaims, wandering over to take the magazine from her. "Isn't he beautiful?"
A quiet knock sounds on the flat metal sheets of the gate. Tenten freezes, Ino gasps, and Sakura talks to herself to keep from fainting.
"Excuse me," comes the too-familiar baritone, in the most formal Japanese.
There's a pause.
Tenten sees the way Ino glances between her and the man at the door, and gulps. Neji is probably staring at her, drilling holes into the back of her skull.
"Are you looking for someone?" Sakura asks sweetly, and Ino gives Tenten a last suspicious look, before heading over to the door.
Tenten winces, and wishes there was a way she could disappear from her spot right at this moment. But moving immediately from the room is downright suspicious, and she doesn't know what Neji will tell Ino and Sakura, now that he's caught sight of her.
Another pause drags out, and Neji makes a polite request, "I would like to speak with Tenten-san."
She pulls a face. So much for escape.
Slowly, painfully slowly, Tenten eases herself up from the couch, turning to face the trio at the door.
Ino and Sakura are staring incredulously at her, and Neji meets her gaze, sweeping his eyes over her form in the way that he knows makes her throat go dry.
Tenten swallows. Remembers to breathe.
He gives a shallow, polite bow, and Tenten is forced to mimic the gesture, so as not to seem rude in front of her housemates.
"Surely there are other places for us to talk, Hyuuga-san," she addresses him, formally, though the flatness in her tone speaks otherwise. "But I believe the matter has already been settled."
Ino and Sakura are watching them, eyes bouncing back and forth, like spectators at a tennis match.
His lips curve in a tiny smile; he glances at Ino and Sakura, as if as a warning. How much should they know? is what Tenten thinks his eyes are saying.
"There is more to discuss," he answers idly.
She presses her lips together, narrowing her eyes by a fraction. "We can speak somewhere else."
Tenten doesn't look back at her housemates when she opens the door. Neji backs away to make space; she steps into her shoes and slips the house key into her pocket.
"We'll be hearing about this when you get back," Ino mutters.
"Get us an autograph," Sakura adds in an excited whisper.
Tenten ignores both of them, and leads Neji to the elevator lobby, hitting the call button.
"Where are we going?" he asks in a low tone, glancing towards the corridor. The elevator doors open soon after; he follows her in.
"Somewhere nearby," she tells him, eyes narrowed. "Don't try anything funny. There are cameras in the elevators."
He acknowledges her words with a nod and fits his hands in his pockets. "I've missed you," he says quietly.
"I haven't missed you," she retorts, folding her arms. "Why are you back?"
"To convince you to return." He slides a quick look towards her. Her breath catches. "I told you I'd be back in two weeks."
"You won't be able to convince me." Her answer is dry, uninterested.
They fall silent when the elevator slows to a stop at the ground level, and Tenten strides out, not waiting for Neji to follow her. He lengthens his strides to match hers. Quickly, they cross the parking lot at the foot of the building, duck into the shadows of the next building, and take that elevator up to the highest level.
"Is this location sufficiently private?" Neji asks, when the bell chimes, and they step out into a landing almost identical to the one they've just left.
Tenten glances around, and heads over to the door leading to the stairwell, pushing it open. "Get in."
He looks curiously at her, but does not question her order. She follows him into the stairwell; the door creaks shut behind them.
Tenten steels her features into a glower and folds her arms across her chest. "I've told you, Neji, it's over between us."
"I don't want it to be," he says quietly.
Tenten thinks her mind might have stopped working when Neji steps forward and slants his lips over hers.
This isn't what she expects to happen.
But her blood heats, and she knows, without a doubt, that Neji is the only one she wants to yield to, when he cradles her cheek in his palm and slips into her mouth.
He presses her into the wall; her heart pounds. Tenten realizes that this connection with Neji is something she can never sever.
Yet she left him for a reason - a perfectly valid one.
With no small amount of effort, Tenten plants her hands flat on his chest and pushes him away, meeting his eyes with a fierce glare.
"Stop it," she hisses. "I've had enough of you."
"We were good together," he returns, and she reads the way he leans slightly towards her, but holds himself back. "I promise it'll be better this time."
She draws her eyebrows low. "I don't believe you. I was always giving in to you and I'm tired of it."
Neji holds her stare - and falters.
"I'll give in to you. I'll prove myself," he tells her. He curls his fingers into a fist. "It isn't the same without you around."
She scoffs. "I'll bet you had plenty of girls waiting to get into your bed."
He looks a little chagrined at that, but Tenten doesn't press him on it - she's been no different with sleeping around. Sex has always been a big thing in their lives.
"What do I have to do?" Neji asks instead.
She reads a hint of helplessness in his eyes, and knows that it isn't easy for him to go against who he is. Hyuuga Neji is someone who takes more than he gives. He isn't used to doing otherwise.
Tenten feels her resolve weaken.
"You can't force me to return to Tokyo, or enter a relationship with you," she hedges. "I don't want to see you showing up unannounced at my workplace, or my home."
Pale eyes widen; Neji stares in surprise, that she's not cutting off her connections with him entirely.
(She doesn't know if she can bear to. Deep down, she thinks he's wired into her like a third helical strand of DNA.)
"Gifts?" he suggests.
"None," she tells him firmly. "No flowers or holidays or stuff like that. We've done without before."
"But I can continue to see you," Neji presses.
She nods, and the relief is palpable in his eyes.
"May I... touch you?" He steps a little closer, lifting a hand, and she swallows hard.
No, she wants to say, but she knows she'd be lying to herself if she did.
She inclines her head slightly, not wanting to come across too eager. Yet he closes the distance between them anyway.
This time, Neji presses her to the wall and winds his fingers into her hair. His lips mesh with hers; he inhales the moan she breathes, and the slickness of his tongue makes her think lewd, hungry thoughts that crash into her mind like a scalding bolt of lightning.
His body is hard against hers; his hand cups her bottom, brings her flush against his torso, and Tenten whimpers at the feel of his thick length between them. Heat pounds in her belly.
It doesn't take her long to wrap a leg around his, opening herself to him, and Neji grinds insistently at her through their clothes, drawing low moans from them both.
It's risky, starting something like this in such a public place, but it isn't like they haven't done this before in Tokyo, on multiple occasions.
Tenten unbuckles his belt and pulls his trousers open, sighing at the silkiness of his engorged flesh. He eases her pants and panties off; she extricates her foot from them, and spreads her thigh.
Neji slips into her with familiar ease and swallows her moan with a possessive kiss. She drags her nails across his shoulders, breaks from the kiss when he thrusts deep into her, sending pleasure reverberating through her flesh.
His name slips from her mouth; the sound makes him move faster, more hungrily, and it isn't long before she arches against him, gripping his shoulders as he groans and spills into her, her lips parted in a silent cry.
She's shaking a little as she pulls her clothes back on - the possibility of them getting caught is only sinking in now, and Tenten welcomes the clarity of mind after they've worked that lust away.
"We could start afresh," Neji suggests, when he's impeccably dressed once more, his shirt and trousers straightened out. "Bearing in mind the boundaries you've set."
It isn't a completely bad idea, she acknowledges. Maybe. But what happened to her resolve to avoid him?
Neji slips his fingers into her hand, and it is with a pang that Tenten realizes how badly she wants to sink back into old routines with him, things that carry with them a thick sense of nostalgia.
He's never acted like someone rich and famous with her - all he is is Neji, even back during those carefree school days. Tenten chews on her lip.
"People change, you know," she says.
He lifts his shoulders in a noncommittal shrug. "We've changed since we first met," Neji agrees. "And we'll continue to change."
"Does that mean you'll become a better person?" she asks, eyebrows raised.
"I could become worse," he tells her, with a slight curve to his lips, and Tenten is hard pressed not to smile back.
"You never get your mind out of the gutter," she mutters.
He turns to face her fully, wrapping an arm around her waist to pull her close. "You aren't squeaky clean yourself, Tenten," he whispers in her ear.
She's still hesitant at yielding to his touch, though she remembers feeling safe in his arms, and feeling warm.
Slowly, she allows herself to relax against him. He feels good against her. "Jerk," she replies.
Neji presses his lips to her cheek. "Anything for you."
Tenten rolls her eyes.
"Are you going to introduce me to your housemates?" he asks at length, pulling away to look her in the eye.
She looks incredulously at him. "Now? They're your fans. You can introduce yourself to them."
He glances at her, injured. "I don't want to give out autographs. At least you never asked me for any."
"You've signed your name all over me with... other things," she mutters, and blushes at the slew of memories that come with that.
Neji lifts his brows. "You still remember that."
"Of course I do. You're a damn pervert." Tenten refuses to meet his eyes.
"Then you were a pervert yourself for enjoying it," he whispers in her ear.
"Jerk!" She turns and glowers at him, only to have him catch her lips with his. "You're an underhanded, horrible, perverted-"
"Let's go on a date," he interrupts, pulling away from her, though his hand remains linked with hers. "I have until this evening before I fly back."
Tenten stares at him, her mouth falling open. "I'm not even dressed for it."
He slants her an expectant look. "You never take long to get dressed. I want to see what you like about this place."
Unbidden, a grin creeps up her lips. "You're paying the cab fares," she tells him.
"Fine." Faint amusement crosses his features. "It doesn't cost as much as in Tokyo."
"No, it doesn't," she agrees, leading him down the stairs. "But you're paying for food too."
"Are you trying to drain my wallet?" He follows after her placidly, and Tenten pulls a face at him.
"Are you saying that I eat like a pig?" she counters in challenge.
Neji wisely steps down from the accusation, and brings her hand up to kiss her fingers. "I'm not."
The resulting silence eases into casual chatting about things and people in Tokyo, and Singapore, and Tenten marvels at how it's hardly taken them any time at all to return to familiar banter.
"You didn't drug me with anything during that first kiss, did you?" she asks suspiciously, when they've arrived at the bottom of the stairs.
"The only things I drugged you with are my charming good looks," he returns without missing a beat.
She casts her eyes towards the heavens.
"You're still full of yourself, I see," Tenten mutters.
"It's my best attempt at winning your heart," he replies lightly.
"I'll let you work that out with Ino and Sakura," she tells him. "They'll both want a piece of you too."
At that, Neji winces, and a laugh bubbles from her throat.
He may be chasing her down to the ends of the world, but there are some things about Hyuuga Neji that will never change. Tenten thinks she prefers it that way.
A/N: Yes it was a whirlwind thing ;) The apartment Tenten lives in here is modeled after the one I grew up in. ;) Love love love Choya umeshu. ;)
Thank you for reading, and taking the time to review! I hope the real-world setting didn't throw you guys off by too much. :P