A/N: - Another NejiTen. This takes place in some vague time before the Chuunin exams. It's just something that I could imagine happening between Neji and Tenten, so I scribbled it down. I'm not sure if anyone's OOC; if they are, I'm terribly sorry.
Reviews will be accepted with a smile and promptly reciprocated. Ditto for flames. :-)
Disclaimer: - Insert appropriate denial of ownership here.
He stood there, arms folded across his chest, looking maddeningly complacent.
She stood there, arms akimbo, sweaty, tired and furious.
Arrogant bastard, she thought, chest heaving. All that, and even his hair still looks perfect.
Off to the side, their team-mate sat propped against a tree, long having resigned from this battle of wills. He looked on with interest, curious as to who would win. So far, his eternal rival seemed to have the upper hand.
The white eyes of the Byakugan coolly assessed his opponent.
The honey eyes of the weapons specialist glared daggers, shuriken and kunai into her partner. Some senbon, too.
Abruptly, she attacked, sending a volley of senbon flying straight at him. With two kunai and a smirk, he blocked them all. Tenten gritted her teeth. He didn't even blink. Calm down, the kunoichi told herself. Take a deep breath.
Neji looked up at the sky.
"Pretty," he murmured softly, eyeing two birds soaring against the azurite backdrop.
So, he's not taking me seriously, is he? He should know better than that. Well then, I'll show him!
She took the scroll out of her pocket and held it behind her back.
He's seen this move before, but it's been ages since I last used it on him.
She narrowed her eyes and gave a smirk of her own.
Let's see how well he remembers.
She broke into a brisk run, circling him, never taking her eyes off of him. Making a complete revolution, she vaulted into the air, performing a series of flips and turns, pivoting her body gracefully. The scroll whipped about her. Tenten straightened her body and began to spin, the scroll descending in a whorl around her. Suddenly, the speed of her rotation increased rapidly, and she slapped the scroll, grasping metal. All manner of weaponry flew down at Neji with that friendly buzz of steel that she loved; kunai, shuriken, senbon, fuuma shuriken, katana, flails, maces, scythes.
Neji took a step back, and raised his brows. He grasped the first weapon thrown at him, a wicked-looking scythe, and there was the clash of steel on steel as he began fighting the onslaught of artillery. He never blinked, hardly even breathed hard as he deflected each attack. The markswoman in the air gritted her teeth and hurled weapons faster. He was underestimating her….
There was that sickening squelch that all ninja become used to after a while; the sound of a knife piercing flesh. Tenten grinned as she noted the kunai in his leg and the shuriken in his shoulder.
Being hit seemed to slow him down, and three senbon got him in the chest, and those were followed by a flail that grazed his side. She dropped to the ground, triumphant, flinging her last weapon, a scythe. Too late, she realized that there was no way he could dodge that in his current state. She shouted his name, but it was no use. She watched in horror as the blade cleaved him in two.
Blood spurted. Tenten let out an uncharacteristically girly scream, and dropped to her knees, mouth hanging open in shock. Lee jumped up, eyes even larger than usual. She had gone too far!
There was a tell-tale pop, a puff of smoke and before her lay two perfectly mutilated pieces of wood. She gasped, then narrowed her eyes.
Kawarimi no Jutsu? Damn it, where did he go?
Suddenly, she was on her back, with her arms pinned above her head and a smirking Hyuuga looking over her. Tenten snarled and struggled to free herself, but he only held tighter. He leaned closer, and placed a knee on either side of her, his hair falling in dark waves onto her shoulders. She resolutely refused to notice the silky, soft texture of his tresses, and their woodsy fragrance, and instead concentrated on flaying him alive with her eyes. Instead of bursting into flames, he merely looked amused.
"A piece of friendly advice, Tenten?" he asked.
"Advice?" She cut her eyes at him." For what?"
"No particular reason. Just thought it might be useful." He shrugged. "You know, with the upcoming Chuunin exams and all."
"Alright, alright." There was nothing she could do but listen to him. "Just hurry up, so I can get back to training." And kicking your ass, she added silently.
Neji's face was serious now.
"At all times, in every circumstance, remember to stay calm. Don't let yourself be provoked, especially by the enemy, because that's what he wants. He wants you to attack blindly in anger. He wants you to not think. And once you stop thinking, your opponent will have the upper hand. Got it?"
"Okay, yeah, I got you."
"No, you don't. You just want me to get the hell off of you so you can kick my ass for being such a condescending bastard."
She had to laugh a little at that one. He shook his head.
"I'm serious. Don't let the enemy sucker you into going at his pace. Or else you could end up in a compromising situation like this."
Off to the side, Lee was scribbling furiously in his little green notebook, trying to be discrete about it. He would never let his rival know it, but this was good!
Tenten gave Neji a genuine smile and nodded. This all actually made sense. And she had acted rashly, allowing him to get to her, unnerve her and ultimately defeat her with a simple technique like the Kawarimi no Jutsu.
"Thanks. I understand. I won't forget."
He gave a curt nod. She waited patiently for him to get off of her, but he made no move to do so. He was staring down at her with a curious expression on his face. Tenten looked to the left, then to the right, and then back up at him. Still staring. She blushed slightly, beginning to feel the tiniest bit uncomfortable.
"What are you doing?"
She gave an almost inaudible gasp as he drew nearer, eyes silver in their intensity; face all hard angles and planes. Closer he came, until they were but a hairsbreadth apart…..
He snapped back, and was off of her in a nanosecond, on his feet. Looking down at the bemused kunoichi on the ground, he sighed, ran his fingers through his hair, and then turned towards the idiot in green.
"I'm pumped! Come on, Neji! I have a burning feeling within my soul that this will be the day that I defeat you!"
Neji threw the weapons specialist a halfway apologetic look, to which she shrugged. He then regarded Lee.
"Well? Come on then."
All four shuriken fell to the floor beside the Suno-nin, the tower reverberating with the clanging sound.
"I missed? That's not possible!" Tenten exclaimed. She could hear sounds of disbelief coming from the balcony. She heard the Sand kunoichi say some mocking words, but she refused to listen to them.
Stay calm, she thought in unison with the voice in her memory. Don't let her provoke me.
Tenten counted mentally, making calculations.
If she's dodging it, then I just have to make her not dodge it.
As she performed the move, she couldn't help but think of the day she last used it in the dell, and the sound advice she had received that day. She could feel eyes boring into her back, but not once did she look back. Knowing he was there was enough. Neji, she thought as she twisted and turned twenty feet off of the ground. I will not disappoint you.
Every single weapon missed its mark.
"What? My weapons…."
The blonde ninja looked, infuriatingly enough, smug, confident and bored, all at the same time. Tenten tried to block out her words once again, but she still managed to hear one phrase.
"…you're going to lose."
Involuntarily, she gasped.
From the balcony came the voice of her team-mate.
"Tenten! Don't let the enemy make you go at her pace! Stay calm! Stay calm!"
She clenched her jaw and closed her eyes.
I know, Lee. A small, barely noticeable smile flitted across her face. I was there that day too.
She took a deep breath, and decided upon a course of action. She would not let him down.
That day, she lost, but he was proud of her for keeping her cool. She fought well; he told her so. It was just her bad luck as a markswoman to be matched up against someone who used Wind Jutsus.
It is hard at times, but during almost every battle, she remembers those words, and the person who said them. She applies that piece of friendly advice, stays calm, and goes at her own pace.