Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, Kishimoto does. Let's hope he's got better plans for them than I do.


Sitting in a Tree

Neji and Tenten, sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love, then comes marriage,

In a small part of the Fire Country, there is a village called Konoha. In a small part of Konoha Village, there grows a tree. Not just any tree. A weeping willow. Among the shaded branches of the tree sits a man. Not just any man. A waiting husband.

He sits alone, listening to the wind rustle through the leaves of the tree. Faint sounds of laughter can be heard from the school nearby. A children's rhyme, a simple ditto, sung by childish voices, drifts across his memory.

Neji and Tenten…

They had just graduated from the Ninja Academy, he at the top of his class, she in third place. He had never really talked to her before, although he had seen her around the academy. She played a lot. Especially dodgeball. He could faintly remember how every team would want to pick her first, because she could throw better and faster than any of them. He didn't care at that time. He wasn't into games. All he was interested in was proving that he was better than anyone else in his class.

While they played, he watched, noticing strengths and weaknesses, evaluating how well they would do if forced to fight him. He remembered being impressed by her accuracy, and marking her out as a possible threat to him.

She had been a possible threat to him. Just not in the way he had imagined.

sitting in a tree…

They had been teammates for three years now, training under the same sensei. She had attacked, he had defended. Always the same training partner. No one was able to test him like she could. Except for his sensei, of course, but he was always celebrating eternal youth with the third member of their team. So the two of them had trained together, in this very field. When they were at the point of exhaustion, they would sit together in these branches, and talk about things. He had been a little hesitant at first, but a certain close encounter with death at the hands of a Sound ninja made him realise that there could be more to life than training. Friends were important too.

So they had talked. About anything, and everything. He told her about his family and his curse. She told him about her family and her interests. She brought a semblance of reality into his life – made him realise what a normal family was like.

She had slowly started to infect him with a need for companionship.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

He still remembered their first kiss. They had been sixteen. She had been uncharacteristically shy, and he had been abnormally hesitant. They had had a quarrel about something, during training – he forgot now what it was – and she had blurted out her feelings for him accidentally. She had quickly hidden in the shelter of the tree when she had realised what a fool she had made of herself. After struggling with his surprise, and with the emotions he suddenly realised had been within him all along, he had pursued her. They had talked. Then, as he had looked into her wide, open, vulnerable eyes, he had realised that the time for words had ended, and there were better things he could do with his mouth.

Embarrassingly enough, it had been their loudmouthed teammate that had discovered them underneath the tree. He had told it to Gai-sensei, and their sensei had broadcast it to the whole world. Their "celebration of youth" thing went a bit too far sometimes. A bunch of their comrades had gathered around the tree in a flash, and started circling it, peeking up at them with merry faces, and chanting that same annoying song.

Her eyes and her mouth had been the deadliest weapons she ever used on him.

First comes love…

They had used this tree as their rendezvous point before setting out on their dates together. It became a cherished place for them. Sometimes, they wouldn't even go anywhere else, but just stay seated among the branches, and look up at the birds or the stars. They didn't have much time to spend together, since they were both called out for different missions, but every moment they had, they would try to be together. It had been an idyllic time. Knowing that there was someone back home in the village that loved them kept them alive during their missions, gave them extra incentive to make it back in one piece.

When he was with her, he could forget about the twisted family he came from, even though it was just for a brief while. She and her family had welcomed him with open arms – made him a part of their happy home. The only thing she had done with his curse seal was to kiss it, glad that it had brought him into her life. Glad that it had made him train so hard every day, that he had been able to save her life when she was in danger.

She had managed to lance the festering boil that was his soul with the needles of her love, and allowed healing to come.

then comes marriage…

It was the day of their wedding, and they had decided to say their deathless vows here, underneath the branches of the tree that had sheltered them during their courtship. He still remembered it clearly – oh, so clearly. It had been a rosy dawn. Their friends and their families (even some representatives from the Main Family had come!) had gathered around the tree. She had looked beautiful, hair elaborately done up in the buns that he loved, a glowing radiance on her face, graceful curves outlined by her bridal dress.

He had just looked at her, too enthralled at having this glorious woman as his wife that he had barely managed to get through the saying of vows without stumbling over his words. Everyone had chuckled to see him, the confident, poised Hyuuga Neji act as flustered as a harried housewife. Shikamaru had snickered something about "being whipped". He didn't care. She had smiled at him, underneath her veil, and he didn't care about what the rest of the world thought about him.

She had pierced his heart with her own, and they were no longer two, but one.

Neji and Tenten, sitting in a tree,

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love, then comes marriage,

She had been pregnant with their first child, the day she and her Genin team had went out. It was to be her last mission before she was excused for maternity leave. He had come to the tree every day, thinking about her, planning their future together. He had a strong reason to fight the Hyuuga Main and Branch family system now, and he had thought up a plan that might have been able to save their child from embracing the same fate that he had to undergo. He couldn't wait to tell her.

On the day she was expected to come back, he had been in this tree, waiting for her. It was where they had arranged to meet, after she had returned. He had been a little worried when her team failed to return on the appropriate day, but not unduly so. Sometimes missions may take slightly more time than anticipated. Then two days passed. Then three. Finally, a week after they were supposed to have come back, the lone surviving member of their team crawled through the gates of Konoha Village.

The mission had gone badly. A simple C-rank mission suddenly turned into an A-rank one, when enemy Jounin had attacked. Her teammate said that she had fought bravely to protect the client, protect herself. But he had seen her die with his own eyes, sacrificing herself to kill the last of the enemy. When he heard the news, he had scoured the countryside, looking for her. But they had never found her body.

After a while, he had given up, and come back to the village, to wait at the tree for her. He knew that she would keep her word, and one day return to him – here, underneath the hallowed branches of their love-tree. Her spirit still lingered among these branches, times of love and laughter hung in the air. The leaves rustling in the wind sound almost like a voice – a voice that he had been longing to hear for the last thirty years. He strains, but all he hears are the sound of children's voices, singing the same haunting song:

Neji and Tenten, sitting in a tree,

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love, then comes marriage,

Neji and Tenten, sitting in a tree,

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love, then comes marriage,

How they mocked him.

-FIN-


Author's Notes: Yes, I know. It's terribly angsty, isn't it? It's not that I don't WANT to write a happy ending for them... it's just that I seem to write better angst than fluff. One of these days, though... I WILL write a proper, happy ending for NejiTen. Eventually. When I get a clue how to do it realistically.