Title: Because

Author: Persephone-sings

Date: 12/14/04


She was leaning over him to brush out his long hair when his eyes first blinked open.

Wincing from the bright light that blinded him after so many months of darkness, Neji eyed Tenten's haggard face.

"You haven't been taking care of yourself."

His voice was raspy from disuse, but so was hers.

"No, I guess I haven't." A sheepish glance at him and then she turned her attention to his hair.

A brief smile flitted across his face but disappeared when she hit a tangle.

He lifted a weak hand to brush against her limp hair and glanced towards the other bed.

"Good thing we woke up, then."

"We?" Tenten's head whipped around to look at the other occupant of the room. Lee's eyes were wide open and he watched her with a resigned expression. He tried to blink away tears that gathered when he took in her weight-loss and her pale features.

"Tenten, you shouldn't treat yourself like this every time this happens!" He sat up and winced when the motion pulled muscles he didn't know he had.

Tenten made a small noise of concern and went to his side. He grabbed her wrist to stop her prodding fingers and peered at her face closely.

Flushing, Tenten refused to meet his eyes and instead focused on plumping his pillow. She already knew her hair was a tangled, dirty mess and that she might have lost a couple of pounds in the four months since Lee and Neji had been carried into the village. She hadn't really had the inclination or the time to deal with her appearance when she had been focused on nursing her men back to health.

Neji slid off his bed with a grimace and pushed it weakly towards Lee's bed. Tenten made to stop him, but Lee's hand around her wrist moved her around the bed until she stood at the foot.

When Neji had slid his bed to rest flush against Lee's, Lee gave a gentle tug on her arm and motioned for Tenten to crawl onto the bed.

She waited until Neji had readjusted himself back into the bed before giving in.

Her limbs felt like lead as she crawled across the bed to the head. Her head ached and her stomach was beginning to beg notice.

But it didn't matter.

Because when Lee pulled a blanket up and over her and curved around her back, she decided that she just might have the patience to later deal with her tangled hair and sit down for a meal.

Because when Neji settled her against his side, she felt herself begin to relax in mind and body.

Because when her teammates exhaled softly against her face, Tenten felt the tight constriction around her chest ease and the aching lump in her throat disappeared.

Because as she drifted into sleep with the feel of her sweet boys around her and the knowledge that they were safe keeping her warm, Tenten began to breathe easy.