Twenty-year-old weapons expert Tenten thought she knew every needed weapon for any given circumstances. Unfortunately for her, it seemed she was too confident of her skills, because that certain night, she found herself for the first time in practically her whole life as a shinobi at lost as to what weapon should be used to deal with this kind of…situation. Yes, situation. She had no idea how else to call this…this atrocity happening before her very eyes.
Hyuuga Neji, his usually grave brooding clear eyes now a shining shimmering splendid worthy of Disney theme song lyrics inclusions, was holding the microphone and belting out the most powerful lines of this world-shaking, fate-shattering Celine Dion song.
"All by myself….don't wanna live…"
Fun. Yes, such fun.
"…don't wanna live by myself, by myself anymooooooreee!!!" Somewhere between the momentum inhale and the abrupt squeaky end of the screech, the little world where her eardrum and stirrups used to co-exist in tranquility until this certain night suddenly exploded into smithereens. The microphone-amplified shriek guised in karaoke sing-along nearly made her body and soul separate, but thankfully, years of chakra control had stopped her from mental breakdown.
She eyed her teammate warily. No doubt about it: Hyuuga Neji was dead drunk.
Rock Lee and Maito Gai were hooting happily in the background, oblivious of the lethal and freaked-out looks they were receiving from the remaining one-fourth of the customers in the little karaoke sing-along pub.
"OoooooooOOOOOOhhhhhh—" Neji suddenly coughed, causing the mic to release a teeth-smashing noise that made everyone else jump out of their skins.
The manager on the right helplessly clasped his hand together, sweating nervously. Had the four been just some regular customers, he would have unceremoniously dumped the quartet out of his establishment three hours ago. But really now, how could one throw out a respected Konoha Green Beast Jounin, a powerful member of a very respected clan in the village, a Taijutsu genius that holds a Chuunin rank, and a weapons expert known practically all over the whole continent?
It was just his unlucky night, and this one would just have to go down to his books as an inevitable profit loss to check and balance his accounts.
The song had now ended, and as the cheerful drum sounded, everyone watched what score the machine would give the singer.
"79?!!" cried Neji, eyes crinkling in anger. "No one gives me a 79! Not even Hiashi-sama, damn it!!!"
"T-The machine, I-I believe i-is broken, S-Sir," interrupted the floor manager, smiling nervously.
Neji paused, swayed a little because of the intoxication effect of the some four bottles of beer he drank, and then smiled. "Oh well… who cares about…hik… those scores anyway. I bet… if I were a child…hik… of the Main Family, I would have gotten… a line of 9." Humming, he looked at the song list, and then punched in the number combination of his next entertainment number.
Tenten cupped her face and sipped her friggin'ly expensive ladies' drink that Neji earlier insisted that she drinks.
"Don't touch that beer, Tenten. You don't know what spirits can do to you," he reminded her sternly back when he was still his sane, somber self, and that his wits weren't abducted yet by the intoxicating beer that for some insane reason, Gai-sensei and Lee had spiked into the guy's Coke.
"My…next number…" Neji turned to Lee and grinned. Yes, grinned. She could have died and went down to hell, but that stupid grin would still haunt her for eternities. "This is…for you, man…"
When she heard the piano introduction of the music, she nearly spat her drink out. Even more so when Neji grabbed the mic and sauntered towards Lee, sitting on the table. "You are so beautiful…to me…" he crooned.
"Yihiii!" cried some of the audience who were starting to find some amusement in watching this usually stoic Hyuuga clan member explore his wild, wild side.
She shut her eyes and thought of any genjutsu that would make her believe that everything was all just a stupid nightmare. She failed—she knew taijutsu was more her area of expertise.
"…can't you see?" Neji's voice suddenly ascended into a roaring angry voice, imitating the original singer. "You are everything…hik…I hope for…hik…everything I need for…HIK!"
Lee's eyes shone. "Neji-kun, why…you are so emotionally free! You are actually expressing your soul's marvelous sentiments about me and the special bond of friendship between us!"
Gai nodded enthusiastically. "YES! Look at his shining glowing face! Have you ever seen him so…so free? He was liberated from the chains of his dark shadowy past! He has transcended the lines that keep him too straight! Why, all it took was a little spiked drink and a karaoke and he is already a made man! Healed of his brokenness!" Tears streamed down the sensei's face as he watched Neji clench his fists and bend down his knees as the song dipped high and low. "I feel so accomplished as a teacher! I have saved a boy like him!"
Tenten groaned some more.
And Neji heard this. He looked at her, studied her intently for a moment, and in the process, made her wince nervously. She never liked being the focus of his Byakugan-able eyes, but it was scarier this time. Neji was drunk. Neji was singing. That was enough to make her cower behind the tall glass of colorless liquid topped by a slice of lemon.
"For my…hik… pretty teammate who…hik… refuses to look my way even once…" The Hyuuga male abruptly clicked on the remote control before she could fully digest what he just said.
The lyrics on the screen filled with women wearing skimpy two-piece bikinis changed at once.
"Whenever I'm weary…from the battles that rage in…hik…"
My head, the screen finished for the drunk singer.
…you make sense of madness when my sanity hangs by a thread…
I lose my way but still you seem to understand
Neji smiled at her warmly. But the freakiness she felt gradually melted into something like awe. This was something Hyuuga Neji would never do if he were in the right state of mind. And perhaps, Lee and Gai-sensei were right: she should enjoy this while it lasts.
"Now and forever… I will be your man." And surprisingly, in that line, there was no slur in his speech.
However, the two males never said anything about the spectacle ending so soon, leaving her on the most awkward position.
Gai patted her shoulder. "I trust that you can take care of Neji-kun until he reaches his house."
"Why don't you just take him in?" she asked, annoyed as she and Lee staggered beneath the weight of the still-in-a-stupor Neji after the poor guy simply collapsed from the stage, snoring soundly.
"My house is too far away, and so is Lee's," replied Gai in his most sensible, no-nonsense voice. "Your house is more geographically strategically near this pub and his house, so you would take care of our Neji."
She would have believed that her sensei was just trying to be reasonable, but when she saw how he excitedly dragged Lee away all of a sudden, she knew what the two were up to at once.
"It was all a set-up, wasn't it?" she hollered after the two leaving men. "You're still thinking that you can matchmake me and this guy, am I right, huh?!"
Lee glanced at her and waved. "Ja, Tenten! See you and Neji-kun in the morning!"
"Lee, come back here! Help me carry this guy, Lee!" she called even if she knew that him listening to her was a wish in vain. Who was she to compete with Lee's personal hero anyway?
Groaning, she looked down at her teammate. "Well, I guess I'm stuck with you, Hyuuga-chan." Tightening her grip on his arm that was slung around her slender neck, she gathered her chakra and jumped off.
"Just a bit more…" Tenten sighed in relief when, at last, she and Neji reached her bedroom. She had decided to bring him to the place nearer to the pub, which was her pad. She made the decision with much reluctance, for although she idolizes Tsunade-sama, she still had to muster the woman's lax ways when it comes to dealing with men.
"There you go." She gracefully threw his body on the bed. The small mattress moved, as if complaining with the unfamiliar weight, but for now, she had no choice. She still had a bit of conscience left not to throw him that way on the kitchen floor instead.
Pulling a chair, she sat down beside the bed and gazed at him, wondering what to do next. She had always seen in movies what happens when the girl attempts to make a guy comfortable by trying to give him a sponge bath, and she was not too keen on that idea.
It wasn't that she wanted to insult a Hyuuga's oozing sexuality, but she was too practical and too level-headed for one-night stands, especially with a PMS-stricken teammate like him.
But still, she had to do something for him. It was not like he voluntarily drank beer. She saw Lee and Gai's manipulations on the drink, and she didn't react because she thought Neji sensed it too and would just decide to deal with that on his own way. How was she to know that trusting his Byakugan too much would bring her to this point of small regrets?So devils make humans sin this way…
The stone-faced Hyuuga looked gentler when asleep, and had she not known earlier who he was and how cruel he could be, she wouldn't be able to distinguish the meek lamb and the devil in him now that she was scrutinizing him intently.
She vigorously shook her head, pushing those thoughts away. "Coffee…I'll just make coffee…"
Her sudden speech must have triggered his eyes to open slowly. Confusion shaded his eyes.
"Already feeling well?" she asked, peering down at him, unable to mask her tender concern just in time.
"Hot…" he murmured.
She blushed, but reminding herself that she was talking to a very drunk man, she quickly composed herself. "Well, it's understandable. You consumed an amount of alcohol equivalent to four bottles of them. All in one sitting."
"I'm…dizzy…" He tried to sit up. "Bathroom…"
"Right" She felt a surge of sympathy for him. Obviously, this guy was not made for the drinking game, or how else could four bottles defeat him so easily? She helped him up, and then led him to the comfort room at the other end of the room.
The minute they arrived there, he immediately headed for the toilet bowl. She could only wince and reach for a towel as he threw out the contents of his dinner.
"You know, Neji-kun, it's not your cursed seal that is bound to kill you one day," she laughed when at last, he leaned on that bathroom wall, breaking into cold sweats and his face a sickly shade paler than usual. "Be more careful of what you drink the next time, okay?" Her towel wiped his face gently. "You okay now?"
It took him some moments before he was able to shake his head slightly.
She bit her lip, thinking of what she could do to help him out. She then got an idea. "Try to stand up. Maybe you'll feel better after a quick shower."
She might as well have tried to talk to the ceiling. He groaned like a wounded animal, and it panicked her slightly. Why weren't kunoichis armed with knowledge on how to deal with drunk teammates?
Out of cluelessness, she slapped his cheek slightly. "Hey, hey, don't die in my bathroom, do you hear me, Hyuuga Neji?" Her eyes roved around the small tiled bathroom for something she could use to wake him up long enough for her not to panic and not be able to think the way rational shinobis do.
She snapped her fingers. "Right! The shower." She got up and twisted the knob counter-clockwise. It was beyond her why the fixture works in a reverse way, but she had gotten used to it already anyway.
Slowly, water trickled down from the shower head. She went back to his side and gently pushed him under the shower. The minute he got wet, profanities of varying degrees of vulgarity filled the four corners of the lavatory.
"Bear it, Neji. It'll cool you down," she advised him. "Just some more seconds, then you can change into one of my bathrobes while we're drying your clothes. Take them off when you're done--" Her eyes widened when he suddenly took off his shirt. "BAKA! Not yet! Not in front of me!"
She whirled around and buried her burning face on her palms. Idiot, idiot, idiot. And a pervert too. She knew he was drunk, but she didn't know that it meant that he was mentally deranged too!
This made her look up from her palms.
"How do you…put this off?"
She sweatdropped, and then turned around to face him, and then nearly jumped when she saw his naked chest right in front of her. Laughing uneasily, she sidestepped him and clasped the knob quickly. "G-Gee, I know you guys are rich, b-but I was thinking you still use showers in your bathrooms. Or do you have spas instead?" Not waiting for his answer, she turned the knob to the right.
Only to remember that her bathroom equipment works the other way around.
A second later, water blasted on them in full glory. She unconsciously turned around to protect her face from the flashflood of the showerhead, and immediately, Neji's arms surrounded her protectively.
The feel of his embrace suddenly made her whole system freeze. The rush of water and the chill slowly faded into insignificance, replaced by the tingling sensation that was his masculine warmth hinted with virile sensuality.
And for the first time since they all met as genins back when they were twelve, she saw Hyuuga Neji as a man. A fatally handsome piece of flesh and blood.
It was a shock much stronger than touching cold water. She had always regarded him as someone untouchable, way out of her league. His aloofness only serves to affirm this. Yet being held by him this close…
He was warm. He was beating. He was alive. The Hyuuga Neji.
She looked up, startled. The showerhead that banged water down on them minutes earlier was now meekly reduced into drops, and the knob had been turned clockwise. It was all over.
As if electrocuted, she immediately withdrew herself from him, blushing profusely. "S-Sorry about the shower…it's insane. It's possessed. Really, I apologize for it…"
"Please get your robe," he said gently. "I am not a saint."
"H-Huh?" And then she remembered her wet clothes. Face flaming, she stepped back and reached for the cherry robe hanging on the bathroom door. "S-Sorry again," she stammered, tying the robe around her. Her eyes couldn't lift themselves from the floor.
"Don't worry about it," he replied. He sounded saner now; perhaps the water shock did him wonders too. "Forget it."
Hah, fat chance. Unforgettable didn't become an entry in the dictionary for nothing.
Both of them now were seated on the bed, sipping coffee. Tenten, now a little calm because he was nearly back to normal, looked at him sideways. "Are you aware that you had just lost most of your reputation?"
Neji looked at her, and then shrugged. "Your eyes tell me as much. I don't think I want to remember what I did." A pause, then he spoke again. "Thank you for looking after me while I was still not in the condition to thinking properly."
"No problem," she replied breezily.
He was still looking at the window when he spoke again. "Did I do something improper to you?"
She blinked. "N-No."
"Said something improper?"
"My regrets," he muttered.
Neji blinked innocently and shrugged. "I said, the coffee is good."
"Oh." She stirred her drink thoughtfully. "Why ever did you agree to such a ridiculous team bonding activity, Neji?"
The Hyuuga male winced. Some things were better left unsaid.
"I am not going on a karaoke pub!"
"I thought you need our advice on how to properly ask her to be your girl, student of mine with sterling genius in him?"
"I don't see why I have to—"
"Just drink Coke and smile. Gai-sensei and I will do the rest."
"It'll end up alright, don't worry, Neji-kun!"
For Aenid, a NejiTen request. I tried to make a lime, but unfortunately, I failed hehe. Maybe when Christmas vacation comes and I could devote more time to brainstorm. For the meantime, I hope you would make do with this.