Title: Jealousy of Ice
Chapter: 3 - Compliances
I turned around and Neji was right there.
My heartbeat thumped wildly in my chest. I could almost hear every beat pounding rapidly in my ears. The rhythmic drumming continued whenever my eyes rested on Neji. He was source of all the guilt, sadness and hurt I had suffered for the past months. Wave upon wave of emotion racked through my body in pure unabashed surprise. It washed over me like the sea beating roughly against the sandy shore. I was partly in shock; in a purely dream-like state. I knew I was awake yet I couldn't concentrate with all the thoughts that continued to sway into my mind all at once. Memories and emotions piled on top of the other, causing pure confusion. My mind was broken for seconds, my mouth refusing to move. I probably made a spectacle of myself. Gaping as I was.
It was happening all at once. I had finally managed to break out of the trance his jaded orbs held me in when I felt Sasuke automatically tense up and growl. It was a feral growl filled with nothing but malice and discontent. Malice at how Neji had treated me and discontent for a reason I could not fathom. The air smelt deathly. Tense silence reigned amongst us. With the exception of facial expressions, nobody moved, nobody spoke. Not a single word. I wasn't planning to, at least, not yet. The dimming sunlight didn't help with the uneasy mood either. If anything, it only served to dampen things further. As the brightness began to fade, being replaced with the ever-growing darkness, the silence began to illuminate.
Sasuke made a movement towards the three in front of us, but something – or shall I say, somebody – stopped him. It was Sakura; her soft voice whispered something in hushed tones for only the Sharingan user to hear. However, that didn't mean I hadn't caught some of it. 'Don't.' the words floated by me, 'for Tenten-san's sake'. So Uchiha Sasuke relaxed reluctantly, but I could feel his gaze boring into Neji as the Hyuuga heir in turn, Neji looked past me.
"What do you want?" Firm and resolutely stubborn was Haruno Sakura. Her tone surprised me as she had an intended air of demand. As a fellow teammate I could not help but admire her for being so commanding and yet calm enough to demand attention and acceptance from her comrades and her superiors.
I finally saw Lee, orbs raking over his form. It didn't shock me when I saw that he was clad in his usual garments and giving me a weak smile. His onyx eyes darting in between the couple around me; it was then I realized this was the first time he saw Sakura and Sasuke together. I felt bad for him, he had a face torn between disbelief and hurt. He obviously had no knowledge forthwith of the pair. None at all. Poor man. This was one of the worst ways to find out your love, loved another.
Love was a deadly thing.
"The mission…" Rock Lee muttered faintly. The silence hung in the air so thick that it would have been easily cut through it with a knife.
Coolly, Sakura took on the voice of a person of her rank, "I presume you three are our back-up for the mission then." It wasn't a question in particular. She was simply stating a fact for the rest to hear; something that neither me, nor, Sasuke really wanted to know. The wind enveloped around me, pulling me in its warm embrace and whistling soft musical notes of support in my ear.
I felt my eyes drawn towards another figure. Whether male or female I couldn't tell. The mysterious person wore a simple black mask, accompanied with a simple beige cloak for warmth in the already too cool season of autumn. Our eyes met and the brightest blue passed as their shaded orbs twinkled in an emotion I wasn't able to decipher.
"Apparently," said Neji as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. The cloaked form shook its copper-faded hair that was tied in a high tail, swinging gracefully to its shoulder blades in what I thought to be amusement.
"Why else would we be here?" Silence in turn came to greet him once more, "Not for the pleasure of your company I assure you." He continued with a look of contempt. I shivered inside; the way he looked at us as though we were so insignificant hurt so much. He was never so cruel before. Not until he broke me.
That's when Sasuke really reached his peak. He growled once more and tore himself off Sakura's grasp, in which she gasped in return. Unbelieving that he had done such an action. Neji just stood – simply stood – arms folded over one another. Smirk hanging off his face sardonically. A vision of etherealness. Of damnation.
What nobody expected, however, was Sasuke to freeze in motion when a hand of my mine flew out and placed a barrier between him and the opposition.
He whispered in a hiss, "Tenten?"
"Leave him. He's not worth it." I explained calmly as I dared to meet the great Hyuuga's gaze. I had not bothered to whisper that part. Silent conversations passed between us. And it certainly wasn't of the happy kind. I turned back and strode calmly towards the swing. Sitting down with ease I came to find that everyone was staring at me. "What?" I murmured with a frown. I didn't like being looked at like that. It made me feel vulnerable, not to mention uncomfortable. I was different from before. No longer as weak. I had hardened inside. Missions that involved assassinations had taught me that resolve was always your greatest asset. Never show weakness.
"If you are to assist as back-up, may I remind you to know where your place lies Neji-kun," Sakura came to stand next to Sasuke as a pillar of support for his already waning patience.
The Hakkeshou Kaiten wielder chose not to answer, and calmly turned around. As if it was no manner of importance to him. "Takeshi, Lee." So that's the name of the cloaked, I figured. Takeshi-? I assume male then.
"Tomorrow at dawn, we'll choose to meet here again." With such speed and agility that Hyuuga Neji had come to become acclaimed for he had thrown a kunai in between my legs, embedding deeply in the ground. A warning, perhaps? So like him.
I stared at the piece of metal and heard them walk away. The metal glistened with a sheen of onyx. Reminding me so much of the darkness in his soul. The same darkness I had reinvited. I had caused. It was a sign. He had once again become a caged bird.
In my dreams, the white bird who had once flown so high chirped in fear and anguish as metal trapped it, barring it from the rest of the world. It cried soft tears.
"What the hell do you think he was doing like that?" Snarled Sasuke, biting off the head of his fish and chewing on it with features that could only be explained as 'one plotting murder'.
We were at a ramen shop, the same one that had been recommended to us by Naruto himself. The owners weren't so bad. They treated me with respect and kindness like they would anyone. Now I couldn't say the same for the rest of the customers though. Which was why we had chosen a secluded booth in the eatery, away from prying eyes and listening ears.
Injected his friend and lover, "He is so full of himself!" she murmured and took a large sip of miso from her bowl.
I couldn't help but smirk when I heard the two argue non-stop about Neji. As miserable as I felt, the pair always made me feel better. "That ass is so cocky I could stab him with my Chidori multiple times and his head would only inflate," came the growling sentence from the Chidori-user himself seated beside Sakura who was practically downing her miso at one go.
"Argh! What right does he have to give orders? Tenten-san is the leader of our team. She should be the one appointing." I blinked after hearing my name. My mind was filled with thoughts of – you guessed it – him. I couldn't help it. They would float in on their own accord and refuse to leave me in peace. My head snapped up and my own cup of tea with my watery reflection within sadly stared back at me.
They were both giving me looks that could be classified as staring. Sasuke had a half-eaten fish in his mouth, and Sakura had begun to commence downing yet another bowl of soup. "Don't worry." I said giving them an assuring smile of confidence, "I'll make sure that he won't do anything to jeopardize the mission. It is, of course, my priority as the oldest in the team."
They nodded and left me to my own musings whilst they continued to insult Neji. It was nice of them to stand by me. Faithful as they are. A shadow then came to befall upon us, over darkening my reflection in the cup. I looked up and saw a group of young men sneering at us, or me, I presumed. Drunk it seemed. Wonderful. The couples' ramblings came to a mute when they regarded the new comers with a look of unconcealed suspicion.
"Oh look, it's the slut," sneered one who looked so greasy it was disgusting. His lackeys snickered on cue as if it was the funniest thing in the world. A hushed silence fell over the ramen store. Everybody had stopped at what they were doing to witness a brawl that may occur.
Sasuke who had already been infuriated by Neji looked as if he was about ready to kill someone. Sakura placed a single hand on his lean shoulder, but the other reached downwards to hover over her holster in a patient movement.
I gave a heavy sigh. I, neither, was in any mood for anything of the sort, so I gave them a smile but my eyes were tinged with the coldest element. That I was so sure I would be able to freeze hell right over. It was funny to see one of them wince when he saw my expression. "We're just eating here, is there a problem?" I speculated innocently. One of them had the guts to place a hand on the table we were eating. Sakura's eyes narrowed. Sasuke looked deadly. I looked bored.
"You're the problem. We don't want you here," came the smartest response of the century – not.
I arched an eyebrow and continued to smile – albeit – a bit darkly. I had enough of all these pathetic insults on my behalf. I would be damned if I let it continue, "And who says that I would actually listen to you?" This promptly offended the band of idiots and suddenly they lunged at me forcefully with a fist that was intending to smash my face. But the three of us had moved before their eyes could even see. We were nothing but blurs to them, nothing but the wisp of a gale.
Stupid. They thought that because they had more people that they could outmatch us. How wrong they were. We were already outside the store when his fist connected with air. "Pathetic," snorted Uchiha. Sakura giggled and said something about how funny they looked with the punk hair and clothing. I agreed delightedly.
After a few seconds of gaping and realizing that I was in fact – not – in the place I was supposed to be. We were met with everyone's stares, with a few added shocked gasps. The leader of the fools then let out a scream of rage and charged outside bringing out a knife in the process. The smile left my face in an instant. How dare he use weaponry against me, "If you wish to play with weapons; then I suggest you learn how to use them first," I had whipped out chakra strings that I had placed on the floor and wrapped it around their bodies. Coiling it around them like a snake, tightening it to emphasize my seriousness. I heard the leader gasp in pain and drop the blade with a clank.
I later dissolved the strings easily, releasing it back within my body with practiced skill. "Idiots." I murmured in the midnight breeze as I turned to face a smirking Sasuke and a grinning Sakura. Sasuke threw a moneybag over to the shocked ramen-keeper who with his daughter bowed down in respect when the latter was received.
"Let's go home." the medic-nin smiled. I nodded softly. It was nice to know they were there for me. I trailed after them, watching the sky shrouded with the bright stars. And wondered what exactly did my future hold for me.
Somewhere, a bird cried.
Sakura and Sasuke live together. Tenten lives in her own apartment close to them. However, during nights before missions, Tenten stays over their apartment so that they can prepare together. She has spare clothes there as well. They all share a sister-brother type bond with her.
Takeshi, whose last name has not occurred to me, is solely my property? He's a medical-nin whose rank I have no idea either.
Tenten seems a bit OOC within this fic, but keep in mind she was betrayed by a man she had loved. And was shunned for 5 whole months by her fellow villagers all because of one misunderstanding, so changes do occur. Blame Neji. Don't worry she'll be regaining that spitfire personality we all love soon enough though.
Dedicated to my nii-san, Aventri. For everything.