Hearts in love and denial chapter 15: Complete at last.
By Gasha Aisu.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Last time, in hearts in love and denial:
You can't be sure of that. And even if you do, it's better then being incomplete.
This was ridiculous. There had to be some other explanation for this…there had to be. Yet Tenten found herself stepping back to the edge, her toes curling over it as she stared down at the water beneath her. Better then incomplete…
Suddenly Tenten was pushed.
Now, the story continues :
Tenten opened her mouth in an silent scream as she fell down. Her hair and clothes danced wildly in her fall, her eyes wide in horror. The wind cut of her breath, she was going too fast, the water…the water was waiting for her. She was speeding to her death, and there was nothing she could do. Falling, tumbling, spinning, there was nothing she could do. She could hardly breathe, she couldn't think, she couldn't act.
She couldn't save her own life.
Then suddenly she couldn't breathe at all and the space around her was cold and dark. Tenten struggled to get to the surface, her jaw clenched both in fright as in determination. The minute she surfaced she coughed and tried to get air in her lungs but was forced under again by the water before she managed to.
I'm going to die…
Her heart raced as she struggled to get to the surface yet again, struggling against her clothes, the water, and her own panic. Tenten felt that she was loosing as the water spun her around, disorienting her, pulling her down and twisting her clothes around her body. It clawed at her, it held her like some giant monster. To others this might've just been a river, but to Tenten…
I'm going to die…
It was destruction.
Panic took hold of her as her movement became more drastic, more desperate. Her feet kicking wildly, her arms reaching out, and her eyes wide in horror despite the fact that she couldn't see anything. She could feel the blood pounding in her ears, yet Tenten managed to get closer to the surface…closer.
I'm not going to make it, I'm going to die.
It was power.
The water spun her again taking her down half the way she came up. It toyed with her. The gigantic monster, it played with her before it was going to force her to die. Tenten could feel her lungs burning, screaming for air. Opening her mouth and swallowing water, Tenten grabbed her throat, her eyes clenched shut in fright. Taken by panic, Tenten kept her hands at her throat, her legs kicking uselessly, leaving her as a toy to the water. A toy, for a cruel game. The little air she had left escaped her, for panic made her open her mouth, trying to scream.
That thought, that plea, made her eyes snap open and her body moving again. For a moment she just floated in the water, allowing her fear to take her away as slowly her control returned to her. Then a determent expression was on her face as she swam again, struggling to return to the surface. Close…so close…
Tenten resurfaced, coughing madly before greedily gulping air. She was still taken further by the river, but at least she could breathe again, for now… Tenten struggled to stay up, but the water was simply too wild, too strong.
It took her down again.
Tenten felt her body spin, but there was little she could do. She tried using chakra, but it was of no use for she couldn't focus, not with the water spinning her. Nor was there anything to grab, nothing to save her.
I'm all alone…why? I can't do this on my own…
It was death.
Tenten tried to struggle, she tried to fight the water. But it was so cold, so powerful. It had taken her parents, and now it was taking her.
I can't do this…I can't fight this…Not on my own. Please, anyone…I don't want to be alone anymore, I can't do this alone anymore. I'm strong, but not invincible. Please…
It was stronger then her.
Took you long enough…
Tenten looked around, confused. The water was gone completely. In fact, the area where she stood looked as if it hadn't seen water in a thousand years. The place, wherever and whatever it was, seemed like a centre, a crater, as if a huge explosion had taken place right where she stood. Tenten frowned and looked around.
Where was she?
Tears escaped their eyes and all that they could do was hold the others hand.
Hinata glanced at Sakura who met her eyes and offered a shaky smile. Some place else, they knew, Tenten was fighting for her right to live. Some place else, Tenten was facing her fears all alone.
Somewhere in their dark apartment, for they hadn't had the heart to put on the lights, a clock was ticking.
Hinata silently squeezed her friend's hand and offered a shaky smile of her own. They needed to be strong. They needed to allow Tenten to do this on her own, but it was hard. So, very hard…
The clock continued to tick away seconds. Perhaps the last seconds of Tenten's life.
Sakura averted her eyes to glare at the wall opposite of her. She didn't have the same patience, and often dignity, as Hinata had. She wanted her friend to be safe, safe and near her, now. Though she understood that it wasn't going to happen any time soon.
The ticking of the clock was maddening.
Hinata heard Sakura's frustrated sigh, and silently watched as the other girl stood to pace before their couch. Not knowing what to do with her hand, now that Sakura had released it, she folded both of them in her lap.
The ticking continued.
Sakura shot an annoyed look in the direction of where the ticking came from. The hair on the back of her neck and on her arms stood on end, and there was a tension in the air that couldn't be explained. Judging from Hinata's unnaturally straight spine and stiff posture, she felt it too. It was strangely cold in the room as well, though Sakura knew that all the window's were closed.
The ticking seemed to go slower, though they both knew that the clock was working fine.
Hinata shivered and raised her hands to rub her own arms. She shot Sakura a questioning look, but confusion was all she got back from her friend. A soft sad sigh escaped her, and her eyes travelled to the window, as if she was expecting to see Tenten come through it.
The ticking became the loudest sound in the room, though the clock itself was in another room.
Sakura closed her eyes in a pained way. Her friend was suffering, she just knew it. When she opened her eyes again, she saw Hinata shiver and send her yet another look. How could she think that she, Sakura, could have all the answers? Yes, she was known to be smart. Yes, she was the first one to release her strength, but that didn't mean she knew everything. Though right now…she wished she did.
The clock continued to tick, as the two friends continued to worry.
Tenten's limp body was taken away by her biggest fear. Her eyes closed as her mind was elsewhere…
A loud roar came from behind her, and immediately Tenten turned. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at the creature, the power, before her. Had the others seen this as well? This…this...huge being behind a wall of fire? No, no wall. The fire seemed to be a cage.
No, they did not. Don't you feel lucky?
Tenten blinked, before she frowned annoyed. Who was that sarcastic bastard talking to her? And why wasn't he doing anything? She swallowed nervously as the creature before her roared again, and she could feel his strength. She felt her knees weaken and buckle beneath her by the sheer force of it all. Great…trapped by a creature a thousand time stronger then her, in a place she did not know, with only a sarcastic jerk to help her.
That's mister sarcastic jerk for you, thank you very much.
Wait, a sarcastic jerk who could hear her thoughts. The creature roared again, and Tenten repressed a shiver. She was doomed…she just knew it.
You're being pulled along as some helpless puppet in a wild river as we speak, so I'd say you're pretty doomed, yes.
Panic overtook Tenten, as she finally realised the situation she was in. That's right, she was drowning, or supposed to be anyway. Confused, Tenten scanned her surroundings. But if she was drowning right now, then why was she here? And why wasn't anyone helping her? Her pulse quickened as her wide eyes looked around desperately. Where was she?
Now, now, don't panic. You asked for help, and we both responded.
Help? This was helping? She didn't even know where she was, while apparently, she was drowning at the same time. And he called this help?
I said not to panic. The only thing you have to do is to either tame that dragon inside of you, or convince me you're ready for your training. But to be honest, you haven't impressed me much yet. Perhaps you do deserve to die, from what I've seen, you won't be able to handle the power that sleeps inside of you.
Annoyed that the voice was of little help, Tenten turned once more to face the gigantic dragon before her. That was supposed to help her? It looked more willing to eat her! It was huge, so huge in fact, that she had to crane her neck in order to look at it. Black leather like wings sprouted from it's snake like equally black body, and the red eyes staring down on her looked fierce.
Or did they?
Tenten frowned slightly, and moved towards it without really realising it. Behind her, her grandfather smiled, though she did not see him. Her attention was fully focussed on the beautiful being before her, for that was what it was, she realised that now. But his eyes…
They weren't that fierce at all, she realised that too. In fact…they reminded her of Neji.
Trapped, lonely, lost, and in need of a friend.
She felt fear leave her, as if she let a cloak drop from her shoulders. She was hardly aware of her heart, strangely slowing, nor the burning in her lungs. She wasn't aware of her grandfather, watching her from where she could not see him. She wasn't aware of her footsteps, that didn't make a sound, or her breath, that didn't come. Only that mattered now, was befriending the fascinating creature before her.
And love it.
That's my girl…you're finally beginning to get it…
As if sensing that she was a force to be reckoned with, the mighty flames lowered to show the complete body of the dragon. It looked down on her, not as if he wanted to eat her, but rather as if she was a fascinating being, worthy of being studied.
Tenten was hardly aware of the sensation of being taken away. She was hardly aware of swallowing water. She was hardly aware of the fact that everything seemed to be going slower. That everything was beginning to get blurry. The only thing that mattered was the being before her.
The being inside of her.
She reached out to it, her gaze intense and focussed on the dragon only.
Her heart beat slowed…
The dragon gazed down on her, before slowly lowering it's massive head.
Darkness took away her vision. She closed her eyes…
"Trust me," Tenten spoke, in a hoarse whisper, "And love me. Be my companion. Be mine…I'll take good care of you" She did not know where the words came from, but really, did it matter?
Her mouth opened, and a bubble of the last precious air she had left in her escaped her.
The dragon gazed down on her, his gaze seemed to be going through her. Tenten felt as if she was bearing her soul to this creature, allowing it to see all, and know all. She kept her eyes locked with his, knowing she had nothing to hide. Though her expression was determent, showing him that she was not weak, that she would be strong enough to take care of it. That she deserved having a loyal companion.
Life, slowly slipped away as the water continued to carry her limp body. Unaware, of a worried shadow following her on the river's edge.
It seemed like forever before the dragon came close to her reaching hand. Tenten waited, patiently, though her fingers tingled unpleasantly, as if numbed.
The beating of her heart was slowly stopping…
It needed to be done, and soon, Tenten knew. The sharp outlines of the dragon were becoming blurry, and from cracked dirt, chains were moving, as if they were snakes. Slowly…every so slowly the chains slithered to her and her dragon. But then…
They touched. And the fire, the cage, spattered.
Tenten's eyes snapped wide open, as her heart slowly began struggling again. A light seemed to shine from her eyes, which has taken in a faint reddish hue to their normal brown. She began struggling to reach the surface again, though this time with more power behind her strokes then ever before. But it wasn't enough…
"Tell me your name" Tenten stated, more then asked. Her hand was slowly stroking the black scales of the dragon's snout as she almost feared for a moment, that it wouldn't answer her.
"Akhekhu" the dragon rumbled. The sound seemed to flow through her whole body, vibrating in her veins.
The seal on her back glowed, giving the water an strange orange tint, and her hands seemed to claw at the water around her, which continued to carry her body away. Feeling her life slipping, Tenten gritted her teeth and called forth what she knew she had inside.
She felt the seal rip, not release like Sakura and Hinata had described. It was nothing, like how it had felt like when Tsunade had done the ceremony, nothing at all. She didn't feel ready, like the others had said they had felt, but she rather felt that she had to be ready. There was no other option, she had to be ready, or willing to die.
But she did feel complete.
And it was then that Tenten realised that her time had come, that she was ready, and that no stupid river was going to stop her.
Her seal shined with a blinding orange light, as Tenten arched her body, throwing her head backwards. But life was slipping from her, and she needed to get out of this water. This water that was suffocating her, suffocating the fire in her. Chakra burst from her back, and shaped into two bat like wings. Combined with her chakra and the power of her arms and legs was enough to finally get her to the surface again, spraying water to all sides. She hardly noticed the bright orange chakra wings. She saw the drops flying as if in slow motion, as only one thought directed her actions.
Get to land, get safe, and survive.
She struggled, not even knowing how she was moving, only that she should. Closer to the land, closer to being safe. She was cold, freezing even, for the water had been as well. But she ignored her numb limbs, she ignored her exhaustion, she only focussed on the side of the river, slowly coming closer.The minute she reaches the land, half swimming half flying with her chakra formed wings, she dropped on it, coughing loudly and violently. Behind her closed lids, she saw the light of her fire-like chakra dim, and she could feel her seal close again. But it didn't matter.
She was ready. She was complete.
And no one was going to take away this power from her anymore. A smile curved her lips, and the minute she regained her breathing and had coughed up all the water, a tired but happy chuckle escaped her.
A shadow blocked the light of the moon.
Slowly, she raised her head, showing him her reddish eyes, though she was unaware of that fact.
"Neji…" she whispered, in a hoarse voice.
And all went dark.
Neji watched her impassively for a moment, before bending down to feel her pulse. It was slow, but steady. Yet he knew he had to get her somewhere safe, and warm, for the skin beneath the tip on his fingers was much too cold. Frowning mildly, he bend through her knees and gently rolled her on her back. She made a soft noise as he hooked his arm underher legs, the other placing itself on her back. As he slowly lifted her, she slowly opened her eyes he was relieved to see that they were back to normal.
"I did it" she whispered, hoarsely as one hand came up to grab the fabric of his shirt. He stared at her, not knowing what to say.
"I did it…" she repeated, and her hand became lifeless again as her eyes closed once more. For a moment he watched her, holding his breath until he was certain her chest was moving. Without a word he turned to walk back to their village, tightening his hold while doing so. He hated not knowing what was going on, but at the same time, he hated not being able to trust his team mate. But still..
He glanced at her again, and shifted her so that he could hold her more closely. He was getting tired of Lee and if he was truly honest with himself…he was getting worried. What had possessed her to fall down that river? Had she meant to commit suicide?
I did it…
But that didn't make sense. And besides that, what had possessed him to follow her in the end? Why hadn't he done anything while he helplessly followed her as she was taken away by the river. He had seen her struggle, but even more worse, he had seen her lifeless, helpless body being taken away.
Yet he hadn't done a thing.
Why? Why had it been so important to let her do this herself? What had stopped him? A quiet sigh escaped him as he only shook his head. He could figure that out later, it was more important to get her safe first.
"Neji…" she whispered, her voice still hoarse. Neji only spared her a glance before looking up to the direction they were going again. He wasn't going to show how much she had scared him. He wasn't going to show how panicked he had been, thinking of his life without her. For frankly, he himself didn't want to think about that.
"Neji…put me down…" Tenten whispered again, and he scowled, though he did not look at her. Carefully stepping over roots of the trees, for he did not want to risk tripping and dropping her, he was silent until she whispered his name again.
"No, Tenten. You're exhausted, your temperature dangerously low, and you're unable to sustain your own body" he stated, knowing he was right. It made her smirk, and he couldn't help but frown mildly. How could this even be mildly amusing for her? She had almost died, surely that was no laughing matter? She weakly coughed again, probably still winded from her struggle, but her hand tightened in his shirt again.
"Go left here please, Neji" she said, her voice still hoarse but slightly stronger. For a moment he paused, not wanting to comply, but the same strange force which had driven him to follow her, made him comply with her request. Though he kept his gaze before him, he could see that she was surprised, but pleased, at his behaviour. They continued in silence for about ten minutes, in which Neji was surprised that Tenten didn't loose consciousness, even though she seemed as if she was about to. He stopped in surprise when they entered a clearing on which one wooden log stood. He could see two others had stood there before, but there was little left of them. Tenten shifted in his grip and he looked down on her. Seeing the determent glint in her eyes, he gave in, somewhat wearily. He bend so that he could set her feet on the ground, and stood again, keeping hold to keep her steady. For a moment his team mate swayed, grabbing his shoulders as she struggled to stay upright. Neji stiffened when she bend her head and rested her forehead on his collarbone, it was an affectionate gesture, one Neji didn't know how to deal with. Hesitantly he reached out to hold her at her waist. After a moment she smiles up at him, and her hold loosened. Though he would rather not, for he doubted that she was able to stand upright on her own, he slowly released her in response.
He was surprised to see that she stood quite steady on her feet.
He was even more surprised when she turned and walked toward the last remaining log.
Tenten could feel her seal tingling as she slowly forced her body to move towards the piece of wood, that was so much more. She could also feel Neji's gaze on her back, and it made the corner of her mouth lift. She knew he was aware of the state of her body, and that the fact that she could move surprised him. But her will was too strong to crumble now, and she had been through too much to just give up now. She wanted it official. She wanted the others to know for certain, she was ready, and she was going to be trained.
She wanted to destroy that damned piece of wood that had kept her for weeks now.
That's the spirit, I knew you were truly my granddaughter. Tenten smirked, but didn't dare to respond. Neji was watching her every move, thus he would surely catch up if she as much as muttered a response. She stumbled, but forced herself upright before Neji could do anything. Having finally reached the log, she placed a gentle hand upon it and slowly let it slide down. Silently she watched it for a moment, before dropping in her battle stance.
Be with me, grandfather, and watch how I earn the right to study beneath you.
Without a thought she let her leg fly, hitting the side of the log, putting all remaining strength in her body behind it. For one, terrified second, she thought she wasn't going to be able to, but then her leg flew through the wood, effectively cutting it and destroying the log. A weak, but satisfied smile curved her lips as she completed her swing. Then her eyes glazed as she, once again, lost consciousness.
Both Hinata as Sakura relaxed at exactly the same time. Sakura smiled in a tired kind of way and rested her head on the back of the couch, closing her eyes as she did so. Hinata let out a tired, but satisfied sigh as she rested her elbow on the arm rest and rested her chin on her hand as she watched the night make place for the morning.
It had been a few long hours. But the ticking of the clock seemed cheerful now, instead of threatening.
Still, despite the early hours, their bodies hummed with a content feeling. They were finally complete, all three of them. They could move on now. Perhaps even train together. And no matter what, they would have two others to fall back on. For they were connected in both spirit and body, something which was something they had, and had not, have difficulties to get used to. Needless to say, their own feelings confused them, but that wasn't of importance now.
The doorbell rang.
Expecting Tenten, both Hinata as Sakura stumbled to the door. Only now did they feel their exhaustion from staying up all night. Sakura leaned against the wall of the hall while Hinata moved forward to open the door.
Both stiffened in shock.
They had expected to see a tired, but extremely satisfied Tenten. They had expected to see her, worn and dirty from training, leaning against the wall. They had expected to see Tenten conscious.
What was before them, was a mildly annoyed looking Neji, with an unconscious, drenched,Tenten nestled comfortably against his body.
"Neji-nji-san," Hinata said softly, surprised but not uncertain nor scared. She had truly grown. Neji offered her a stiff nod before brushing past her. For a moment he stood still in their apartment, taking it in it seemed, while Tenten steadily continued to drip water on the floor. Finally Neji spoke, somewhat annoyed,
"Is any of you two going to show me her room?"
Sakura finally blinked out of her stupor and send him a annoyed glare before leading him to the room which was Tenten's. As Neji slowly, carefully lowered her to the bed Hinata's soft voice sounded in the room.
"Is she hurt?"
Neji turned to coolly look at his cousin for a moment, making her stiffen. Sakura glared at him for it, but he ignored it, only turning back to Tenten. She was slowly making her bed damp, but he ignoredthat as wellas his eyes travelled over her form. Finally he shrugged, and answered though his eyes never left Tenten's form.
"Only some small cuts and bruises, from where she had hit stones and branches which were taken away by the river like herself,"
Both girls blinked before their eyes once again settled on Tenten's unconscious form. Without a word Sakura suddenly left to get a few towels, which she handed Neji without a word. Neji frowned slightly, wondering why he was the only one taking care of her, before beginning to dry the places he could reach without taking of her clothes. They could hardly fuss over Tenten at the same time, after all, and both girls looked as if they were about to faint from exhaustion. Tenten's steady breathing and relaxed expression assured Neji that she was going to be alright. Though he wasn't that much worried…of course….
Restraining from shaking his head, for it must look strange if he would, Neji was glad that Sakura distracted him with another question.
"How did she end up in the river?" She asked, frowning mildly. Neji paused as Hinata too frowned confused. They blinked as a hoarse, tired laugh suddenly came from Tenten who slowly opened her eyes. She looked at Hinata and Sakura with dazed eyes, apparently not aware of Neji being in the room.
"He pushed me," her hoarse voice answered, "It was the only way…"
Both girls immediately understood, while Neji frowned in a way which seemed close to anger.
"Who pushed you?" his voice was oddly calm, as he quickly arranged his expression to a blank one. But Sakura had the strangest suspicion that he knew something was up, as he glanced at them briefly before his eyes focussed on Tenten again. Tenten looked mildly surprised before she blinked and her eyes focussed.
"Neji?" her tone was surprised as she tried to sit up, "What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Did you carry me?"
Neji made a noncommittal sound as he gently pushed her down again. Tenten silently stared at him as he watched her. He resisted the urge to frown mildly as she muttered a soft "Oh" in understanding. She always did manage to read him, even while he wasn't trying that hard to communicate. To Tenten's horror she felt her cheeks heat as she muttered a soft "Thank you," after that. Again, Neji didn't respond, but she hadn't expected him to.
Suddenly he stood, looking down on her with an arrogant air of a man who knew what he was capable off.
"You will tell me in time, Tenten. But for now, I suggest that you get some rest,"
Without any further word, and only a nod to her two female friends who had been suspiciously quiet, he left the apartment.
"So what happened?" Sakura asked, curiously as she walked over to sit on the edge of Tenten's bed. Hinata, who also looked very curious, followed her example and seated herself besides Sakura. Tenten smiled slightly.
Ah what the heck, the night was lost anyway.
And she started to tell them everything.
To be continued.
There, another chapter at last. Now for the people who are interested as of why I hadn't updated sooner, I was really busy with school. Yes, school. My holiday starts much later then those of most of you, and they decided to end it with a week filled with tests…
But, I've survived the week, and finally managed to update. Aren't you proud?
Until next time!