No words can express the remorse I feel for this chapters timing. I should be doing exam revision, but what the heck? It cant be that hard! I don't own Naruto, btw.
Day 5: Delirium.
Delirium. The only word for it.
Rocking backwards and forth, Tenten sat, huddled on the grass just outside the fire country's forest. The poor girl had obviously lost her grip on things.
The weeks events had just caught up to Tenten and she was, to put it bluntly, astonished with the predicament she had found herself in. Fool her father? Right under his accursed scrutinizing nose? With none other then the closest relation to a rock, Hyuuga Neji? It would be easier to convince Lee to get a haircut.
Last week, Tenten was a normal girl, well, as normal as a girl ninja in team Gai could get. This week, she could possibly be engaged to an ageing, lumpy man and was practically Neji's girlfriend. This Sunday, merely 3 days away, she, her family and her 'boyfriend' would be having a conversation over lunch!
She didn't want to jinx herself by saying things couldn't have gotten any worse.
Tenten giggled slightly, despite being so upset, thinking up scenes where things did get worse. She could be at the academy in her underwear. She could have missed a target in front of Tsunade-sama. She could be forced into one of Gai-sensei's green spandex contraptions of death…
"Tenten," a voice called out to her, bringing her back to reality. Looking up from her position, she saw Neji looking at her, an impassive expression on his face, despite last nights events. "You better pay attention. We are being briefed on our mission."
Tenten nodded slightly and stood up, in a daze. She supposed a few things had been going her way. Her cold had gone, for one. Her father had been out, probably discussing arrangements with her 'suitor', and without the stingy man home, Tenten had full access to the heater remote and turned the heat up to a level which enabled the house to sustain human life. Neji had also been nice to her. Really nice to her… almost… strangely nice to her?
"Tenten? Are you listening?" Gai-sensei's voice rang in her ears, as she looked up surprised to see 3 faces, two concerned and one blank, looking at her inquisitively. Though she had no idea what was going on, she felt the best thing would be to smile and nod. So she did just that, and was rewarded with Gai-sensei's smile, along with its customary sparkle. "Excellent!
"Now," Gai-sensei continued, enthusiastically, "A genin of our village was poisoned by a foreign competitor yesterday, as you all should know," Tenten discreetly glared at Gai-sensei, "and the Hokage-sama has found a cure! Fortunately, most of the ingredients are grown in the Village's herb garden, but there is one ingredient that is not. Surprisingly, it is a common fungus used in foreign delicacies, not rare or valuable at all, and it grows right here in the forest! Up till now, no healing properties have been found in this plant, so the need for it to be grown in the herb garden has never arisen! We have been assigned to this special task… the task… of finding… THE MYSTICAL, MISSING MUSHROOM!"
Tenten fought the urge to back away swiftly when tears sprang from Lee's eyes. "Gai-sensei," he sobbed, obviously happy and practically bursting with pride, "so… poignant… don't you think, Tenten?"
Tenten knitted her brows in uncertainty, and her jaw slightly dropped as two bowl-cut, thick-browed heads turned expectantly her way. Think, Tenten, Think, Tenten…
"Yes. Very… elaborative?" She could have sworn she heard a snort from the direction of one Hyuuga Neji, but she took Gai-sensei's and Lee's smiles of approvals to mean she had done well. She looked smugly over to Neji's direction, as if challenging him to do better. Neji, seemingly bored, just looked back into her eyes, his unwavering gaze unnerving her slightly. She suddenly remembered last night's events. What had she been thinking! Sharing a jacket with Neji! Neji's Jacket nonetheless! To her mortification, she felt a burning sensation rise into her cheeks at his constant attention. Oh, my Hokage… was she blushing because of Neji?
It had seemed Neji had noticed to, as a cocky smirk had appeared on his mouth. Tenten looked away, fuming. He had won that round… and that sudden flow of blood to her cheeks was just a defect from her passing cold combined with the antics of Gai and Lee… yes… Yes. She had a logical explanation for everything.
"So… Gai-sensei," she began, wanting to get back to business, "What are the characteristics of this type of fungus?" Tenten's heart literally sank when the grin dropped off Gai-sensei's face.
There could be thousands of fungi species in this forest, damn it!
Grey with dark speckles… Grey with dark speckles…
Tenten pounced through the forest, keeping an eye out for moist areas that could possibly support small, grey mushrooms with dark speckles, and that smelt like Lee's shampoo product. She shook her head slowly, thinking about the crucial, yet undeniably fruitless search for the plant, with such a poor description. Even without jinxing things by stating that things could get worse, they already had.
A static sound reached Tenten's ears… Someone was transmitting a message through the radio.
"…Tenten…" Lee's voice called out, "…any sighting…of the…objective?"
The search had been going on for at least 2 hours, and nothing, according to Gai-sensei's description, had been found. Tenten herself had found many specimens that were small and grey with dark speckles, but when she had met up with Gai-sensei and Lee, both had insisted the scent was far off from Lee's shampoo, which they had obviously learnt by heart (they kept sniffing Lee's hair).
Tenten released a long sigh. "No, Lee," she replied, sounding bored, "Not yet."
"…Okay… but if you do find…something similar in description…remember…Aloe Vera with honeysuckle extract scent…"
Their conversation ended when a large static sound ended the transmission. Tenten shook her head slightly at Lee's habits… even she, a girl, didn't remember or care what shampoo she used. Aloe Vera with honeysuckle extract… honestly that boy should get-
Tenten's nose twitched slightly. She smelt… Lee… She stopped and jumped to the ground, into a small stream and a secluded dark section of the forest, dense with trees and plant-life. Darkness and moisture… it seemed like a place fungi would grow…
Stepping forward a bit, into a small section of the area not covered with trees, Tenten sighted… a cluster of small, grey mushrooms with grew speckles and smelt like Lee. This was definitely it. Smiling incredulously, she had learnt Lee's scent by heart as well… now she needed to get out more…
Stepping forward and reaching her hand out, Tenten was surprised when she felt the slightest bit of pressure applied on her fingers, and when the air around her hand started shimmering… Shimmering? A look of confusion struck Tenten's face, as she pulled her hand back, the sparkles moving around…
All of a sudden, she saw hordes of spiders submerge from the trees. Her eyes widened as she realized… those sparkles were the reflection of light from what were obviously the spiders' webs! Stepping back into the stream, a look of disgust crossing her face as she took in account that there were spiders in their hundreds, Tenten examined the spiders… were they poisonous? She observed that they were quite small and black, some with a coppery-red patch on their backs…
'Red-backs,' Tenten thought grimly. They were venomous and, in these numbers, if she were bitten multiple times, it could be fatal, and she only had a limited supply of antidote for general spider bites carried around with her. Plus, the thick trees around the clearing meant that there was no way except this way to get through to the mushrooms. This could prove to be difficult…
"Tenten." She flipped around, taken off guard, by Neji's voice penetrating the sound of the small stream Tenten was standing in. Tenten felt a strange sensation to suddenly see him there; butterflies flew in her stomach. What complete and utter rubbish to be feeling nervous around Neji… she hadn't even sensed him! Tenten shifted, uncomfortable, from one leg to another, casting her gaze down in case she should blush like before.
"I found the mushrooms…" Tenten mumbled, shifting her gaze to a very interesting rock; Course and brown. She watched, interested, as it caused ripples to form in the water flowing around it… one ripple… two ripple… Does Neji like rip- three ripples…
"Tenten," Neji repeated, voice still bland, "You are acting strangely. And it is usually polite to look at someone when you address them-"
Suddenly, Tenten laughed loudly, disrupting the peace even more, not wanting to answer any awkward questions that she didn't even know existed. "Haha, Neji!" she exclaimed loudly, "Lets get this mission done… While we're still in the springtime of our youth! Um, Yosh!" Tenten raised her fist in a poor imitation of Lee. Under Neji's critical glare, she just wanted to either hide under her ripple rock or grab it and ditch it, with her amazing accuracy, at Neji's emotionless face. At the moment, the latter sounded oddly comforting…
Tenten dismissed the (inviting) thought and started towards the spiders and the web veil separating her from the prize; freedom from this wretched mission, this wretched forest, her wretched situation with Neji and Lee's wretched shampoo. She was surprised, and jumped slightly, when she felt Neji's arm on her shoulder. The butterflies increased, and then and there she swore an oath to throw a kunai and impale any butterfly that happened to cross her path.
"Yes?" Tenten squeaked out meekly. The atmosphere was suffocating.
Neji raised a thin eyebrow at Tenten's sudden Hinata-like ways before replying. "We don't have enough antidote if you get bitten several times. I have Byakugan; I will be able to see the spiders and in turn effectively avoid being bitten. It is best for me to do this task."
Tenten nodded quickly and submissively. Anything to get away from Neji's hand, which was still on her shoulder and was now starting to feel strangely warm… When Neji raised another eyebrow at Tenten's lack of argument, and failed to remove his hand, Tenten's will broke. Releasing a small 'meep', she jumped away from Neji, slapping his hand in the process. If Neji was a more expressive person, he would have gasped.
Tenten felt much more comfortable now… Neji a good metre away… his hand not on her shoulder or making any contact with her at all… Tenten smiled, overenthusiastic, as she ushered him along. "Go on, Neji! We should finish the mission! Come on!"
Overcoming his shock and after one last quizzical look, Neji turned his back (to Tenten's immense relief) and started towards the spiders. A few feet before reaching the veil, he activated is Byakugan and began his way through. Moving swiftly around and moving his hands around his body, though Tenten couldn't see it, he was releasing chakra from his fingers to exterminate the spiders. Finally, he was through, with the majority of the spiders dead on the ground, and the rest quickly retreating.
After he disappeared into the clearing, Tenten took that time to breathe in and out and to compose herself. This was Neji! Her team mate! Her training partner! Her… boyfriend? NO! Pretend Boyfriend… Pretend boyfriend… Maybe she got bitten by one of the spiders and it was affecting her thinking… Yes. Yes, logical explanations, logical explanation…
Neji emerged to find Tenten hyperventilating, trying to calm herself down… In this case, he thought she deserved the honor of him raising both eyebrows at her. She had been acting strange all week, but today she was really not composed.
In reply to his face, Tenten nervously smiled, again overenthusiastic, and rubbed her arms nervously. "So… You got the mushrooms?" Neji replied, the same skeptical look on his face, by lifting up his new-found treasure, showing Tenten that he had, indeed, retrieved the mushrooms. Tenten smiled even wider, causing her to look positively insane and unbalanced. "Great!" She said, her voice breaking slightly. What was wrong with her? Why was she so nervous in Neji's presence all of a sudden? "Let's go then!"
Neji, rolling his eyes, although left unseen by Tenten for he had only eye whites, the pair started off, a jittery Tenten jumping far ahead as possible, as a befuddled, yet completely composed Hyuuga followed, the valuables tucked safely in his holster.
"Excellent! Neji, Tenten, you have done exceptionally well! In just 2 short hours, you have scaled the forest and found our objective! Now, present them to me!"
The excited face of Gai-sensei was hovering over Tenten, and she was glad to be back in the presence of people other then just Neji. It was just too strange and awkward. She looked away as Neji removed the mushrooms from his holster; on the way back, she had tried to sneak glances at him, but she kept blushing. Now, with Lee and Gai here, she wouldn't want to be caught blushing, now, would she?
Instead, she averted her gaze to a sulking Lee, who was disappointed that he hadn't found the mushrooms and received Gai-sensei's praise. Tenten shook her head slowly; if he had jus asked to swap positions with her then, she would have gladly agreed.
Her attention was pulled back towards Gai-sensei and him at his sharp exclamation of, "What!"
From the small disappointed, reassuring smile on Gai-sensei's face and the Mr. PMS-ed face on Neji's, Tenten had already figured out the answer. A vein popped in her forehead and she flipped out a kunai… All… that agony… and embarrassment… For nothing!
"I'm sorry, Neji. Tenten," Gai-sensei said sadly, "it seems like Lee didn't use his shampoo that smells like the mushrooms today. Instead of his Aloe Vera with honeysuckle extract, he used his Aloe Vera and fruit extracts…"
Tenten fumed when she heard Lee's giggling behind her.
After all the awkwardness, Neji and Tenten shared a moment of understanding. Tenten took another kunai out; she would need two.
Tenten gently rested the flowers on the beside table between the hospital beds of the, unconscious, Gai-sensei and Lee. Though Gai-sensei could have taken them, he hadn't wanted to harm his 'precious students', and Lee's inability to use genjutsu and ninjustsu proved to be a disadvantage to him. Neji and Tenten, both feeling just a tad bit aggravated, had taken advantage of these two factors, and with satisfying results.
Tenten smiled happily and walked out of the room to meet Neji, who had just run to give Tsunade-sama the mushrooms, which did turn out to be the ones Neji and Tenten had found.
When Neji threw Tenten a questioning look, she replied, "They're fine. They're just sleeping it off. You didn't have to hit them so hard, you know."
"They deserved it," Neji replied. Holding his arm out as an invitation, Tenten happily looped her arm through his. It was now automatic that he would walk her home. Tenten was quite happy about that.
As they walked towards Tenten's house, Tenten felt no awkwardness as she had before. She felt completely at ease and in place. Heck, everything felt almost normal! Neji and herself opposing Lee and Gai, the dramatics and strange happenings… it all seemed almost normal, even though it wasn't, with the whole suitor and arranged marriage thing. But for now, she would just settle with walking home with Neji, after a good day's work out.
And the awkwardness? Tenten, logically, blamed it on delirium.
Ok then. That's wot I got out from today! Enjoy cos, unfortunately, I procrastinate. So if I put skool work off, I put this off. But ill will try!