This story was originally started for a Show Me the 'Color' Challenge, but it took so long to complete, I'm presenting it to you for my Show Me the 'Review' Challenge instead.

Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

Alone in the dark of the night, she stands motionless before the headstone of her beloved. Illuminated solely by the moonlight, a sea of white separates her from his name etched in stone. Nothing but rows of traditional white chrysanthemums fill the vases before her in the ground. They're homogeneous and unremarkable, but the display speaks volumes, and what she feels stings. "This is their way of having you remembered as one of 'them.' A branch member. The designated protector of the main offspring and a tool to the Village," she grumbles aloud. She was told the traditional white chrysanthemums are there to represent purity and innocence, but the display only feels empty. She supposes at the funeral, the colorless, fragrance free flower was solemnly appropriate, but their presence now makes it seem like he's completely lost in the sea of nothingness. A voice within wants to speak up and shout: NO! You were so much more than this!

Up until now she respectfully bent to tradition. Only those with clout or who had special titles were typically remembered with colorful flowers at the cemetery in Konoha. It was not her place to say anything to the contrary. Short of her ninja skills, she knows she's a nobody, with no prominent Clan behind her. Her blood is as mixed and watered down as any nameless civilian and she has no authority to challenge this. Still, the unfairness of his death and what feels like a disgraceful way he is being remembered is stirring feelings of anger mixed with sorrow as the days pass. Nightly trips to his gravesite fire her emotions hot, until eventually she can't stand it anymore. It's as if she can't exist until she stands up and does something, and finally on the fortieth day something inside her breaks.

It starts off as another night alone in the moonlight, but tonight it's ignited with purpose as she twirls the lone yellow daffodil between her fingers. It holds a mixed meaning bearing a message she's held near and dear to her heart.

"The sun is bright when I am with you," she remembers hearing Ino say when asked for its meaning. Of course the traditional meanings of 'respect and regard' she already knew of, but her reason for sharing this flower with him is a secret she's held close to her and not revealed to anyone, not even to him: Unrequited love.

Trembling hands hesitate. It's difficult to muster the courage and yet she knows she won't be able to rest until she follows through with what her heart's been aching to do. She knows it's a longstanding tradition, but she refuses to let this remembrance of a sea of white be the final way he will be remembered at his upcoming Forty-ninth day service tomorrow.

"For you Neji," she whispers, "From me."

And steadying her hand, she scoots aside a cluster of the white flowers and makes room for the bright yellow one she brought. There it sits, a sharp contrast to all the others around it, and catches the eye right at the center of the display. Its presence makes a glaring statement, and before she can change her mind, she gathers her wits and races home. Her heart hammers at the breech in protocol, but at the same time, she feels her inner spirit sing. There's a sense of freedom in expressing what she's longed to do all these days. It's wrong, she knows, but somehow it feels wonderfully right!

In the safety of her apartment, her heart hammers frantically, both in fear and joy. Cognizant that the abrupt placement of the flower will cause a stir and her message may not be taken by others in the way she had hoped, she stands her ground and just this once is non apologetic and lets it be.

Sleep doesn't come immediately, but eventually it does, and dreams of an alive Neji with a radiant smile fill the night. A weight lifts that she finally was able to express what her voice was never able to say all this time, and the contentment makes her feel warm inside.

She awakens to a new day but when reality settles, the nervous butterflies in her stomach let her know she's done something very wrong and it may just be the biggest mistake of her life. This isn't a little prank like young Naruto would pull as a Genin, and she belatedly realizes her actions may result in her being banned from his gravesite. The thought of that alone makes her sick and regret begins to rear it's head.

Slipping into a white sleeveless collared qipao dress with red trim, she ties her maroon obi and slips into her stockings before strapping on her black high heeled boots. Worry creases her brow. Her conscience warns her to work to undo yesterday's action, but her true nature pushes her to stand strong. With a deep breath, she heads over to the cemetery for Neji's service and to ready herself for what's next.

At the entrance, she can already tell there's a commotion at his gravesite, and it's unsettling. She doesn't think anyone knows it was she who left the yellow least not yet, but this is a ninja village and there's no doubt, sooner rather than later it will be traced back to her.

"Tenten," a familiar voice addresses, and she freezes in place. Years of preparing for battle has taught her never to show her true feelings outwardly and she keeps her face neutral.

"Lord Hiashi," she returns with a bow. Her heart pounds. Of all the people to run into, she curses her luck it's Neji's Uncle.

Reigning in her nerves, she considers herself lucky there is no killing intent emanating from him. In the past, doers of less crimes have been known to face harsh punishments. The Hyūga would never outwardly taint their reputation with lowly acts of revenge for minor infractions like this, however she knows they are a proud family where honor and duty mean a great deal and there's no telling if 'unofficial' payback might materialize if they are not happy.

"I wasn't expecting it to be such a bright, yellow day," he comments.

Her stomach drops. With those words, it's clear she's been discovered. "I...uh..." Surely there's a lie she can use to excuse the mistake, but not a single one comes to mind and she knows she's screwed.

She braces herself for what's next, the harsh retaliation for her blatant disrespect of protocol at Neji's sacred place of rest. It's pitiful but it's only now that she's been caught does she start to see how the consequences might affect her life forever. What will she do if this is the last time she is allowed here? What if the meaning of her flower is the last message she will ever be able to place at Neji's gravesite? Her heart sinks as she starts to process the ramifications of her actions, and although it's too late, she now wishes she could have done things differently.

Distracted by worry, the surprise of her life then occurs. Hiashi merely grunts, moving past her briskly and says in passing: "It seems his true colors now shine for all to see."

It takes a moment for her to process but when the Hyūga patriarch moves on, Neji's gravesite comes into full view, and her breath catches. There's no longer a sea of white that divides the gravestone from the visitors. White is of course still there but amongst the colorless border brims flowers of all sorts, bright and vivid with colors that catch the eye and loudly profess a far deeper meaning. Overnight, the memorial now displays a statement beyond her wildest dreams.

Hinata then approaches with a small upturn of her lips. "Here," she says. "This one should come from you." Presented to her is a bright yellow acacia. "It's meaning is true friendship," she adds.

Tenten accepts it with a bow and swallows down the sadness of all the could have beens and hope to bes. Carefully she walks over to the display of flowers and nestles it into the colorful array before her.

Watching her, a sense of happiness blooms on Hinata's face, and she shares a small nod of her head. The Hyūga heiress hasn't lied, the flower's meaning is true friendship, but there's also a second meaning she's not sure Tenten is aware of. Neji's death has been hard on all of them but she's noticed the weapon's mistress is the only one who has held onto her grief and hasn't openly shared her sorrow yet.

As Tenten steps back, she admires the bunches of new flowers that color the once bland stretch of space: Daisies for faithfulness, daffodils for respect, yellow roses for nobility and even hydrangea's for pride. So many other friends have contributed to this varied flower assortment and she drinks in this moment, the moment she realizes she herself inspired.

Neji was many things to many people and here displayed colorfully is the final proof!

"Neji," she whispers. Intimate words spoken for just the two of them. "Do you see?"

A wind suddenly picks up and ruffles the petals of the flowers before her, and as the warm air brushes by her, the caw of a bird echoes out in the distance. For a moment, she finds solace, and there's a brief second she feels like his spirit is there.

"They represent our feelings," she says of the display. Not able to hold back any longer she admits: "Gods I miss you, Neji."

A comforting hand then touches her back and she turns to find pale eyes looking at her.

"Tenten, it's time for the service to start," Hinata tells her, and she leads her back to the row of chairs near the front as she squeezes her hand. "Please," she insists, pointing to three chairs in the front on the right. "You, Gai, and Lee are like family. Father, Hanabi, and I already discussed this, and we'd like you to sit in the front with us."

Suddenly, there's a lump in her throat. From expecting to be banned, this gesture is far beyond anything she expected. For a moment she hesitates, but her heart wants to be as close with him as possible today, so she agrees.

"Neji touched the lives of many people," Hinata says, once they settle into their seats.

"Yes," Tenten agrees.

"I've been told, by the forty-ninth day, the departed's consciousness will leave his body and move onto his next one. If Neji's spirit is present with us today, I'm sure he'd agree this is a wonderful tribute to him."

"I hope it's true," Tenten replies.

Hinata then rises and carefully removes a framed picture of her cousin from her bag, stepping forward to display it at the front. The sun glints off the glass before she angles it slightly left and returns to her seat. "It's strange but just now it felt like his spirit was shining down and thanking you," Hinata tells her.

Tenten is surprised by her statement but looks to Hinata and sees genuine happiness and gratefulness on her face. She's also comforted the Hyūga's seem to know she was behind this idea but support the gesture and there are no ill feelings. The fact they've embraced it, and this is what's become of Neji's final farewell, is truly heart-warming.

While Tenten is lost thought, it's subtle, but Hinata finally thinks she sees a hint of emotion peeking through in her friend. She's watched from a distance over the past many weeks as Tenten has been nothing but numb, stoic, and solemn, and this shift is good to see. When she's ready, Hinata vows to be there for her. Neji's teammate stayed by her side when the shock of it all crumbled her world, and in the coming days Hinata would like to be there for her to return the favor, and help her friend to heal. She doesn't think the weapon's mistress has cried yet, but now she's hopeful this outward display will serve as a first step toward coming to terms with things. Tenten was a cherished teammate her cousin admired, and moving forward, she plans to show her just how much she was and still is loved in return.

The End

Author's Notes:

From what I've gathered, in Buddhist tradition, the Forty-nine day service is held sometime before the forty-ninth day after death. As mentioned, it commemorates the time when the spirit of the departed passes from Earth into the next realm.

For those who are curious, the second meaning of the yellow acacia Hinata gifted to Tenten is 'secret love.' If you're wondering why she picked this flower, the reason is disclosed in my story "Ties." (Note: This story is the loose Pre-quel to that story.)

Boy, writing a story after taking a break all this time was certainly a challenge! Feel free to share any constructive criticism and be sure to hop over to the other stories entered in my Show me the 'Review' Challenge and share your feedback. A big thank you to: mississippimudpiecraves, Neonnavywriter, naash, Pandasushiroll, Poodie, usagi-no-usotsuki, and Yengirl for your participation. Not only are the aforementioned wonderful writers but they are staunch supporters of the positive constructive review. I hope you'll shower them with feedback.

Lastly, for those inspired to join the Fanfiction Review Movement, and are interested in participating in a future challenge, review (of course) and please follow up with a PM. Thanks again everyone and take care!