Author's Note: Finally, a multi-chaptered NejiTen! This idea hit me the other day and I just had to run with it. It is, again, set in the future. Neji and Tenten are both Chuunin and around sixteen. A little adventure, a little romance, and a whole lot of fuuma shuriken. :) Enjoy!
Tilting At Windmills
They were training at night again.
It was a cool one, too, the night wind caressing her face with cold fingers. Tenten didn't much care for low temperatures. They made handling steel difficult, especially with her bare hands, and she couldn't afford to make mistakes, not when she was with Neji. So she resigned herself to numb fingers and tightened her grip, directing all her focus on the man below her.
Standing on a tree limb as she was, she had a good view of his position. He was out in the open, unmoving, hands limp at his sides as he used his senses to find her. He knew her location, of course, but he had no idea how or when she would attack. They were testing his Kaiten, exploring the limits of Neji's chakra and range. Tenten had already attacked twice and had barely escaped her teammate's ultimate defense each time, saved only because Neji knew exactly what he was doing. She was definitely worn out though, the ground littered with her scattered weapons, and she was beginning to feel slightly light-headed, a problem she had been experiencing all day. She thought she might be getting a cold, not surprising considering all the bad weather training sessions they had had lately. It wasn't enough to make her miss a practice though.
With a small smile, she drew out the folded black metal of a fuuma shuriken, fanning out the shadow windmill until she could hold it by the circle in the middle, the four blades extended like fangs. She did not use fuuma shuriken often, mostly because they were large and she could only throw one at a time. They were good for testing her accuracy though, as well as for creating the boomerang effect that would force Neji to alter the direction of his Kaiten if he wanted to avoid it.
The shuriken left her hands with a whisper, slicing through the air like a knife. She moved upwards through the tree even as she kept an eye on Neji, watching him to turn to meet the spinning weapon.
Neji whirled and her shuriken skipped off the surface of his self-created whirlwind, rebounding only to began it's turn back to her. Tenten took that moment to send a flurry of kunai at Neji, hoping to distract him long enough for the fuuma shuriken to strike at him again.
Her kunai ended up embedded in the surrounding trees, the ground, and one even managed to fly right by her head as she descended. The fuuma shuriken hit Neji's ultimate defense again, grinding against his revolving shield before being sent on its way back to her with renewed force. Tenten tsked to herself as she reached out to catch it just as a racking cough shook her, making her drop to one knee in the grass, a long cut appearing on her arm as she caught the shuriken awkwardly.
Clearing her throat, she hissed at her weakness, wondering why now of all times she had to get sick. Straightening from her crouch, she held the shuriken in front of her one-handed in order to take a look at her cut. She really was an idiot.
"You hurt yourself," Neji said, almost accusingly as he walked over to her, his white eyes fixed on the drip of her blood into the grass at her feet. She shook her head.
"It's shallow. I'm alright."
"You were coughing," he pointed out, crossing his arms over his chest. He frowned at her but she ignored him, letting the windmill-like shuriken fall to the ground so she could take a roll of bandages out of her waist pack.
"I'm alright," she repeated, seating herself so she could wrap her cut more effectively. To her surprise, Neji kneeled down in front of her, his hair falling over one shoulder as he took the roll of bandages from her hand. She smiled slightly as he started wrapping quickly and tightly, his fingers well accustomed to the familiar action.
"I didn't expect the fuuma," he told her after a moment, not really looking at her. She nodded absently, still watching him.
"I thought I would change things up a bit," she said, and then bit her lip. "Still, you learned all my moves a long time ago, Neji. I don't think I'm much of a challenge to you anymore. Maybe you should train with Gai-sensei, or— "
His hands paused. "You don't want to train with me anymore?"
She blinked. Ever since Gai-sensei had made Lee his priority, she and Neji had trained together, she throwing numerous weapons at him, he giving her a presentable target to try and hit. It was mutually beneficial, although she had always believed she got more out of it than Neji, whose ultimate defense made him impossible for someone like her to fight. The only thing she could possibly do to defeat him was barrage him until he finally ran out of chakra, something she did every now and then just to take him down a peg or two. Never once had she considered telling him to look for a different sparring partner. She had never been able to deny him anything.
"N..No, but— "
"Good." He cut her off flatly, ripping the end of her bandage off from the roll with his teeth. "Because training with anyone else would be a nuisance." He tied off her wrappings and then stood, turning away to return to the crater his Kaiten had created.
He spoke over his shoulder. "Shall we try scythes next?"
She smiled. "Yes."
Neji reread the scroll in his hands for the third time, committing it to memory even as he chafed at the thought of following its orders. It was a C Class Mission, not too easy, not too hard, but that wasn't what had set his teeth on edge the moment he had learned he and Tenten were being sent to a nearby village. It was the fact that they were being hired to reclaim a girl that had been kidnapped by what his employer thought had been a Rain-nin. A single ninja taking a girl right out of her bedroom? To Neji, that sounded like the story of runaway lovers escaping from the girl's arranged marriage, and he would be damned before being forced to drag back a screaming, wailing woman to her father.
Tenten seemed to find it all amusing.
"Well, we don't really know that the girl was involved with her kidnapper. It's possible she was taken against her will." A twitch of her lips betrayed what she thought of that idea. "Her father is obviously worried." She shrugged. "We won't really known until we get there anyway." A sneeze abruptly escaped her and she rubbed her nose apologetically. He raised an eyebrow.
"You're getting a cold."
She wrinkled her noise at him. "I am not," she said stubbornly. "Besides, I don't have time to get sick. The scroll says Ishin-san is expecting us by nightfall."
He tilted his head at her slightly, eyeing her pale complexion, the brightness of her eyes, the slow way in which she moved. She was definitely coming down with something but he agreed that they didn't have time to deal with it. All he could do was make sure she didn't over do things too much, something he didn't mind doing as he was sure their late night training sessions had contributed to her current state.
Without a word, he leaned down and hefted his pack along with hers, slinging them both over his shoulder and eliciting a slightly annoyed sound from his teammate.
"Neji, I can carry my own pack…"
He started walking. "I know."
After a moment, she fell instep beside him and they headed out the gates of Konoha towards what was probably going to turn out to be an idiotic tale of two lovers.
Neji struggled not to sigh.
It was going to be long day.
To be continued…