Tenten had always been one of the most reliable ninjas when it comes to the success rate of a mission. All her C and D missions were perfectly executed into a flawless hundred percent degree, while her B missions were impressively above the ninety-three percent rate. She was also a most likely candidate for Jounin rank, and so, it was only but natural for her mentor since her genin days Maito Gai to be proud of her.
Yes, very proud, that he finally spent a hefty sum of his savings to purchase what he thought was the pinnacle of this young spirited woman's dreams: a Bokia 6600 – one of the finest examples of innovations in man's continuous quest to find ways to connect people together and in the process, get them to release their grip on their wallets for purchase of prepaid loads, phone accessories, and more. Gai-sensei smiled his trademark toothpaste grin as he listened to the mobile phone dealer rant on the features of this little hi-tech wonder.
Of course he didn't understand what WAP was, or he didn't know a thing about polyphonic tones or downloading java games. He didn't know either what a skilled soon-to-be genjutsu specialist like Tenten here would do with those foreign whachamacollits. But he was glad when he recognized one word from the very eager man's mouth: a camera.
So after making the mobile phone man happy by giving him his gold credit card – one of the perks of being a high-level Jounin like him – off he went to Tenten's pad, excited to give her his gift.
Now Tenten here was in a hurry—she overstayed in the couch, yet again enthralled by the soap operas that Rock Lee warned her about. He told her that it was addictive, and she didn't believe him. Now she wished she did, but it was too late, for she was now enslaved by the ludicrous twists and turns of the mushy loophole-laden stories of childhood friends getting separated but exchanging promises and keepsakes that would symbolize their undying love for each other. Never mind what seven-year-old kids know about love conquering eternity. She was a sucker for these stories of finding each other amidst all trials and tears.
Funny. The tough kunoichi and number one female Chuunin Tenten being a softie for these kinds of shows. Tsunade-sama, her number one idol, might bury her head in the ground in shame once she learns that one of her favorite female ninjas were watching these sappy boob tube spawnees.
But that was the least of her problems, for she was now in danger of receiving piercing gazes from her teammates whom she was scheduled to meet today for more training and sparring. Lee wouldn't be a problem, of course.
But Hyuuga Neji would be.
His pacific demeanor belied the volcano within him. Even when he speaks calmly, one could not be so sure, since the next few words he might release could be a string of mockery that carry the brand of acerbic humor this Hyuuga Chuunin was well-known for. Lee had often been the target of those bullets, and though he was gentlemanly enough not to do the same to her, his gazes were still fearfully intimidating, even to a proud kunoichi like her.
So she was not exactly pleased when the doorbell started to ring insistently. She had barely finished her hair buns, but the continuous doorbelling was getting into her already rattled nerves. She stomped furiously towards the door and pulled it open. "Yes?" she asked curtly.
Gai paused for a second, and then raised a thumbs-up, grinning his killer smile. "Hellooo, student of mine! Glad to see you up and in the highest of spirits! I trust that your health is good, which is only right, since health is wealth! And although it's no really wealth as in monetary value, I'm still happy—"
"Whatisit?" she hissed. Usually, she could tolerate her sensei, but today was different. She was in a frenzy, and this was the last thing she needed.
Her sensei was not even deterred by her snappy attitude. He pulled something from behind his waist and thrusted a paper bag into her hands. "Accept my humble gift that cost me my quarterly allowance, my student of mine!" He didn't seem troubled by the presence of two first personal pronouns of possession at the same sentence; he only wanted to see the reaction of his student.
Tenten arched an eyebrow, and then opened it. Seconds later, her annoyance was chased away by a jovial smile as she lifted a box from the bag. "OH MY GOD!!! A BOKIA 6600!!!"
"Yes, Tenten, a Bokia 6600." Gai nodded, visibly pleased by the reaction of his student. "It is the latest of all models of molecular phones that had carved its place in the modern civilization we live in."
"Molecular, cellular. Both pertains to smallness anyway," waved the sensei dismissively. "Ah, you must check out the features!" And like a trained parrot, he repeated the same words the mobile service man stated, only his memory was a bit…faulty.
"…and you can also download polyphonic games, play WAP tones, and surf in the Java!" said Gai proudly as Tenten tuned him out secretly while checking out her prize.
"This is only the rightful reward to my student who worked so hard as a Chuunin!" The sensei raised his fist happily. "Even if Kakashi's kunoichi is a medical nin like Tsunade-sama, my own kunoichi is a Genjutsu specialist! HAH! The battle is not yet over, Kakashi, eternal rival of mine!"
The kunoichi's eyes narrowed. She knew it: her Gai-sensei was just engaging another competition with Kakashi-sensei after the latter gave Haruno Sakura her own Pentium 4 laptop to keep all her medical records in. Sometimes it could be annoying, the way they pick their own unwitting students as their weapon of choice. She shrugged. Oh well. This was the only contest between the two Jounins that she would approve of: as long as she was the beneficiary, she would gladly compete indirectly with Haruno Sakura.
Her excitement was remarkably reduced when she saw the panic in Rock Lee's face though. She hurried to him, trying to maintain the breezy smile on her face. He didn't need to know about how scared she was too. He had always respected her because so far, she was the only one that the Hyuuga Neji guy wouldn't treat as dismally as he usually did.
"Neji-kun is furious, Tenten" he whispered when at last they she reached him, her brave smile still successfully in place.
"O-Oh?" She placed her kunais on the bandaged side of her leg. "D-Did something come up?"
"No. And that's exactly why he's not in the mood." Lee gestured to their timer. "It's an hour past the scheduled time, Tenten. What took you so long to come?"
He sighed. "It's those dramas again, ne?"
"B-But Leo had already picked up the bottle of lavender in the trash can—"
"Try telling Neji-kun that."
She fell silent.
"I tried to make him calm down by asking him to spar with me. He glared at me." Lee placed his hands on his hips, shaking his head. "See? He just GLARED. He didn't say anything."
"I know," she said, starting to be more visibly perplexed. Normally, Hyuuga Neji would humor his teammate by taking time out to speak a few derogatory phrases towards him. But when he was pissed, he really was pissed. Then like a true volcano which was his epithet, he would be strangely calm, and seconds later, BLAM! HE would explode with such frightening, destructive force, his taijutsu and Ninjutsu skills like hot molten lava that would scorch to death anyone who tries to get in his way. They knew so—he had already exploded that way when he learned that Uzumaki Naruto had just proposed marriage to his cousin, whom he was tasked by the late Hyuuga Hiashi to take care of.
Naruto tried to get him to talk it over, for the sake of his beloved who pleaded that they try to resolve things as peacefully as possible. Hyuuga Neji though, was adamant. In the end, the two broke into a battle, and Hinata could only watch in helplessness as both men earned their bruises and black eyes that the eventual wedding photograph couldn't hide. That was over three months ago, but she and Lee would still remember that incident as if it was yesterday.
"Tenten, you better wait until tomorrow to talk to him," advised Lee, patting her and snapping her out of her daze. "He's mad."
"I know that you're really brave, and that he treats you with more respect than I usually earn, but I'm not sure if he would still be as approachable today." The worry in his eyes was displaced by a light, teasing twinkle. "The first thing he asked me an hour ago was you. You should have seen the disappointment in his face when I said that you're not here yet!"
She didn't know which happened first: the sudden rise of color on both sides of her cheeks, or the power punch she slammed on Lee's head. Either way, she was already on her way back to her pad, steaming in annoyance. Hah! The nerve of Lee to make fun of her and Neji! Thank goodness the Hyuuga wasn't there when Lee remarked that, or she would have died of embarrassment.
Hey, the truth always hurts, right?
She was nearly out of the woods when she remembered he new cellphone. Taking it out carefully from her small messenger bag, she sat down on the grass and started tinkering with it. However, the one that really grabbed her attention was the camera. Smiling, she decided to test it on her surroundings.
The colored screen showed a replica of the forest, making her cry out in excitement. Now she could photograph Leo and Yi Shin together! Her favorite loveteam of all time!
The color on her cheeks returned when she remembered what Lee said. Was he serious with the part where Neji looked disappointed upon learning she wasn't there?
"Waaah! Erase, erase!" She got up, her grip tightening on the phone. "I shouldn't be thinking of things like this! I-It's not what a proper kunoichi should do, for crying out loud!"
She started to walk again, when she paused. Her camera was still focusing, and the screen was asking if she wanted to take the pic already.
And then an idea formed in her mind. She hurried back to the forest, taking another route that Lee wouldn't usually take.
OK, so the plan sounded easy when she formulated it hastily in her mind awhile ago. But now that she was standing on top of a branch, looking down at the sleeping figure of Hyuuga Neji on the grass, she wasn't so sure anymore.
She was hoping that he would still be training when she arrives, and he would be too busy taking out his anger on his training for him to notice the digital reproduction of his handsome form in her LCD screen.
But he was asleep, and that was the first hitch in her plan. She wasn't counting on that one.
Many might think it would be easier to capture a picture of him when he was asleep and his defenses were in the state of rest, but she knew better—the senses of a Hyuuga never sleeps. The clan of Hyuuga was not immortalized for nothing.
She reached for her backpocket slowly, not wanting to disturb his vigilant sixth sense by movements that were too hasty or nervous. Being a sparring mate of this person for more than five years now, she had learned pretty much of his nature now. She had to move as peacefully as the forest breeze.
And then with one deciding move, she threw a kunai on a random bird that passed overhead, and at the same time, used her Genjutsu to hide herself. Hyuuga Neji may be a genius, but it would take him some time before he breaks her illusions. Ah, even Kurenai had to applaud her Genjutsu skills. And this was her specialty: erasing her presence.
As she expected, a split second later, Neji's facial muscles reacted. The bird, on the other hand, fell down on the grass, the small bag of sleeping potion she tied in the kunai sprinkling over the man who didn't bother to open his eyes upon recognizing the familiar flapping movement of a bird.
Three…two…one! Her eyes lit up when she sensed Neji's breathing return to its peaceful normal pace again. The sleeping potion had started to take effect!
Quietly, she waited for five more seconds. When nothing happened, she smiled and jumped down towards his sleeping body. She never had felt prouder—the triumph was more enjoyable than her victories in B-class missions. She won one over Hyuuga Neji! She dismissed the fact that: a) it was an ambush, and b) she used a potion.
So smugly, she focused on Neji and clicked away. In less than a minute, her mission was over. Yet something nagged her in her mind. She knew this one was risky, but she relished the idea. Besides, opportunities like this knock only once in a blue moon and Gai buying something worth more than his hair rebond home saloon kit.
But this had to be done very quickly.
She carefully knelt down by Neji's asleep figure, and then focused the lens on them. She pressed once, and then inspected the picture.
It was good, but she wanted a picture that looked much more intimate. One that she would never regret taking while Neji was helplessly in slumber.
So once more she focused the lens, only this time, she lied down beside him, cautiously placed her head on his outstretched arm, and lodged the side of her head under his chin and above his chest.
Her heart was pounding like there was no tomorrow, and she even shot a glance back at his face to check if he was asleep even if she knew there was no way that he could escape her sleeping potion that Haruno Sakura made especially for her seductive tactics on Uchiha Sasuke.
She gulped inwardly, and then released her hold on the click button.
It was all over in two minutes, and she was rushing back to her pad, feeling giddy and happy while trembling at the same time. She did it! She really did it!
Her hand still shaking from the pent-up eddy of emotions and excitement, she looked at the gallery of her phone. She looked at the pictures smilingly, and then shifted to the last one.
And nearly fainted.
There she was indeed smiling shyly at the lens, looking every inch a happy and in-love girl. And beside him was the love of her life, who to her shock, had his eyes half-opened, smiling.
The message tone came some seconds later.
Do you mind forwarding the pics to me too?
Hyuuga Neji's number was registered on the screen.
Neji did a quick reply of thanks to Gai, who was only too excited to tell everyone that he bought his kunoichi a cellphone unit that was at the same quality as Sakura's laptop that Kakashi gave.
"Hmm, not a bad day," he said to himself, smiling. "Not bad at all."
A request fic for Attorney. Nutty Scribbler to you guys hehe.