Chapter: 1 – One-shot
Pairings: Neji x Tenten
Disclaimer: These characters pitifully enough, do not belong to me. So leave me alone.
Summary: Tenten gets a puppy, Neji's not happy.
It had been two weeks. Two sufferingly long cruelly drawn weeks.
Hyuuga Neji who was sitting in a comfortable lotus position, was inwardly frustrated. Though his stature remained outwardly drawn and poised; his eyes closed coolly, giving away no inkling to any surge of emotions coursing through him whatsoever. Anyone who knew Neji would come to see that his breathing was more rapid than normal, posture tense and features pinched in annoyance as he tried to calm down.
It proved ineffective.
Had anyone stumbled across the Byakugan inheritor at this very moment, they would have immediately become acquainted with the disturbingly eerie aura that surrounded him. It floated like a sea of mist – enveloping and encircling him – until even Neji himself could stand it no longer.
"Stupid," he seethed, striding towards the garden of the Hyuuga mansion. Seeing no one else around to bother him, and none to take out his frustration onto, he glared at every single form of life his gaze landed on; an act that Tenten would have surely frowned upon were she there to have seen it.
Soon he was impaling kunais into an innocent tree. "Stupid Kodoku."
In quick succession he embedded seven kunais into another tree. He proceeded to throw the following kunais at a sturdy branch – wanting to cut the limb off entirely – knowing full well the consequences of defacing certain household items within the Hyuuga property. However, this particular tree wasn't inside the house, thus could not be subjected to his uncle's firm rule. Neji pitied the tree. He pitied it greatly.
From what Neji's relatives could see as they passed the boy who was grunting something under his breath which he repeated like a mantra. Occasionally including the word 'ten' and 'kodoku'. They could evaluate with their jaded orbs that he was clearly agitated, a feat that was almost impossible when their young relative was put under consideration.
Neji was never one to be practical with his emotions. Preferring to remain stoic and unapproachable, his personality created by the course in which his life took after his father's death.
People not personally associated with Neji automatically defined him as someone who was socially-challenged. Perhaps it was true. The young man was usually beside himself, if not by his lonesome then accompanied by one of his team members, but most frequently a certain brunette.
They had not seen her recently.
Neji frowned, an act that some would call presumptuous if they actually saw what he was glaring at. A winged insect flew around the ocean-dipped sky, fluttering around to land on the flowers growing in the garden every few minutes. Hyuuga Neji was glaring at a butterfly.
Right now, Neji was filled with emotions that had never occurred to him before. All because of what had happened a few weeks ago.
"Because of that idiotic mutt!" He continued to harass the foliage in front of him. Its trunk already chipped after a few minutes of 'training'. Branches and leaves looked astray, most already at the foot of the bark collecting together as if trying to huddle together in safety from a kunai-wielding maniac.
He felt someone behind him.
"Neji?" Came the questioning voice of his companion. He whirled around on one foot and let his features drop into an emotionless mask as he surveyed the girl giving him a tentative blink.
"Tenten," he greeted calmly not knowing what else to say, he quickly hid the kunai in his hand before she could see it. Easily he slipped it into his holster.
The Weapon Mistress stood in front of him, her hair done up in a single bun letting the stray strands fall teasingly on her cherubic face. She had replaced her normal attire with the green Chinese-themed wear that she had worn to his match with Naruto. She was giving him an odd appraising look that made Neji feel uncomfortable. In her hands lay Kodoku, perfectly snuggled. Neji felt his eye twitch.
"Neji, mind telling me what you've been doing?" Quick to the point as always.
Neji swore under his breath whilst his mind swam trying to make up a logical excuse to explain his actions to the kunoichi. Tenten had caught him as he was deforesting the Hyuuga mansion.
"Training," he said coolly, stepping forward in time to see her bend down and place Kodoku on the ground, letting the young puppy run amok.
The shinobi straightened and gave him a speculative glance before turning her head and gazed past him seeing the obvious area of destruction. "Of course Neji, our training frequently includes destroying trees in our home." Her voice dripped of barely laced sarcasm. Neji twitched once more. "I didn't know Gai gave such lessons," she huffed.
He eyed the puppy that was trying hard with it's might to catch a butterfly with a paw; swiping every so often, only to meet with air. Neji felt the urge to stifle a laugh – albeit - evilly. Ever since this dog had landed in Tenten's arms approximately two weeks ago, his worst fears had been realised. Her attention had shifted to the innocent but devious minded – as Neji knew – animal. Neji felt himself losing his comrade and close confided friend. She would visit him less, proceeding to spend more time with 'man's best friend'. Neji tried not to choke. It was true. Hyuuga Neji was jealous of a dog.
He half-shrugged. "I was bored."
Tenten raised an eyebrow. "Remind me then to not be anywhere near you when you fall into that situation."
"I'm never bored with you," he whispered. He wanted to stab himself with a senbon after hearing that sentence come out from his mouth. What on earth possessed him to say such words?
Tenten blinked, coming to stand directly in front of him in less time if would take for one to bat an eye. "What'd you say?" Neji flushed and looked away, his face burning now knowing that his friend must have heard some of his words.
"Nothing," he denied. Tenten's face spilt into a silly grin as she amiably dropped the subject.
"Fine, if you say so." After realising the uncomfortableness of the situation, Neji turned and motioned for her to follow him. They sat on the steps of the traditional home. Their view being the garden, in it's lush green and the sky-blue atmosphere. Tenten swung her legs outward, watching as she kicked out into the air in boredom.
"What brings you here today?" He asked, returning with a tray of scrumptious looking cookies, a teapot and two teacups. Being the respectable host, Neji placed the item of food and drinks beside her and began to pour the tea into both cups.
Tenten continued to swing her legs lazily. "I was sent to deliver something, and besides I haven't seen you in awhile." She gratefully took the cup he passed her. She blew on the liquid, watching the heat rise up as gas and pursed her lips together to blow once more. "So I thought, 'What the hell! Might as well see Neji.' So here I am!"
Trying not hard to gaze at her long legs. A thoughtful look on his face Neji took a bite out of his cookie, chewed, swallowed then said, "How long are you staying for?"
"For awhile," she answered. Tenten took a cookie and dipped it into the tea soaking it lightly before emerging it out of the hot liquid and biting from the dampened area. Neji frowned before remarking.
She shrugged before answering, "It tastes better," She laughed after giving him a wink, leaving Neji blushing before turning back to gaze towards the gardens, or what was left of it. He saw his rival and fought down the desire to stab it with several kunais.
"It's soggy and damp," finished the ninja, as well as finished his cookie.
"Ah, Neji you have got to lighten up. Try it sometime. It's not that bad," teased Tenten, watching her puppy roam around and bark at random insects and proceeding to pounce on them for fun.
Neji's face creased and his eyebrows knotted as he stared. Alternatively switching his gaze; first at his right hand which held another cookie and then to his left, which held his teacup. Cautiously he submerged his biscuit into the tea before remerging it and taking a small bite out of it.
Tenten turned to smile at him. "How was it?"
Neji's face contorted into three different stages of feelings before resuming to his normal mask. "It's…" he tried to find a word for it, "All right."
"Live a little Neji," the Weapon master grinned. She congratulated, "Nice try though."
"Hmm…" he glanced at the animal in front of him, that came when Tenten called for it, "I still can't believe you named him that." He shook his head in disbelief.
Tenten looked up at him, startled for a moment, before questioning back, "Who Kodoku?" She gestured at the bundle in her arms.
He nodded empathically. Tenten just grinned. "It suited him," she said as if the answer justified all. Neji's mind reverted to the first time he met the puppy.
"What's his name?" Neji asked, studying the energetic pup who began barking upon his sight. It was obvious they weren't going to get along. Tenten cuddled the tiny dog before answering. Neji was quite uncomfortable with the animal's presence to say the least.
"Kodoku." The shinobi's ivory eyes widened in disbelief. He looked at Tenten in a way that asked, 'are you serious?'.
Staring at the puppy as if the name said all, he twitched in surprise. "You named your dog, Solitude?"
Tenten shrugged. "I couldn't think of what else to name him."
And from that day on the puppy found in a lone alleyway by Tenten was named Kodoku.
"You're keeping him?"
Tenten shook her head. Neji could see the slight shine of sadness in her eyes as she answered, "Nah, I can't keep him. I'm too busy with training as you know."
For a split moment, Neji felt his body drain of all the hatred he had collected for Kodoku in the past few weeks. He had gained all of Tenten's attention lately and now she was going to part with him. Neji was torn between feeling elated and offering to keep the puppy himself just to see Tenten smile.
"What's going to happen with him then?" Curiosity was starting to get the better of the Kaiten master.
Tenten began to perk up. "He's getting a new owner. Aren't you Kodoku?" she patted the pup's head affectionately. A sly smirk making way through her face, Neji was suspicious and jealous that the puppy was receiving a pat whilst Neji on the other hand, nothing.
"And who has graciously offered their services to keep this young animal?"
The smirk still on her face, Tenten's eyes twinkled mischievously. "You'll see," She sipped her tea and then placed the cup down looking past the Hyuuga heir. "Actually, there she is now."
"She?" Neji twitched. He didn't have a particularly good feeling to this. He was almost afraid to look.
Tenten, having deposited Kodoku on the grass stood up and jerked her head behind Neji. "I believe you know her."
Neji didn't have a good feeling at all. He decided to calm himself with a drink of tea.
Tenten raised her hand to wave enthusiastically behind Neji, who could hear the slight fall of footsteps that threaded lightly on the waxed floorboards. "Hinata-chan!"
The tea suddenly went cold. Neji wanted to bang his head against the wall. Kodoku was being adopted by Hinata-sama, wonderful. Purely extravagant.
Placing the teacup down, Neji tied to take in everything around him. Standing up, turning around with a stiff bow to the true Hyuuga heir, his right eyebrow twitched impassively. "Hinata-sama," he greeted coolly, watching Kodoku bound towards Hinata, barking happily. Hinata donning a regal kimono returned the bow and bowed as well to Tenten.
"Neji-niisan, Tenten-neesan," she smiled towards them and bent down to pick up the puppy who began to lick at her face in greeting. He seemed unable to contain his excitement upon seeing his new master. Which was just as well, seeing that Neji wouldn't particularly be happy if Kodoku did the same treatment to Tenten.
"Take care of him, ne? Hinata-chan?" Tenten said with a small smile. Hinata nodded, cradling the little puppy into her arms.
"Hai, Tenten-neesan, thank you," Hinata smiled wistfully. "Please come and visit him often."
Tenten held the back of her head in her hands and smiled. "Of course I will."
"I need to go and introduce Kodoku to Hanabi-chan now." Casting a glance behind her back, the member of Team 10 looked at both of her seniors and politely turned to leave. "See you at dinner Neji-niisan. See you soon, Tenten-neesan."
Neji grunted in acknowledgement whilst Tenten waved a farewell, shouting a, "Ja Hinata-chan!" Kodoku barked a goodbye.
"Can you get any louder?" asked Neji, not impolitely to his partner.
Tenten simply shrugged the remark off. "I can't help it."
"Anyway, I need to go now," grabbing a biscuit in hand, Tenten smiled at Neji and turned to leave, "I'll see you during training tomorrow."
"Wait!" Reaching forward, he caught Tenten by the wrist and she looked up at him in surprise. His ivory eyes looked determined.
Hesitantly, confused at his actions Tenten queried, "Err… can I help you?"
"Why did you give Kodoku to Hinata-sama?" The question was egging Neji and he desperately wanted to know the answer. The tenseness seemed to fade out of the kunoichi as she breathed a sigh of relief.
"It's obvious that Hinata will make a good companion to Kodoku," she replied, wondering if he didn't trust her.
"How did you manage to secure him a home a here?" Neji pressed onwards.
Tenten bit her lip and rolled her eyes upward, signifying to Neji that she was reverting to a memory. "I talked to Kiba – you know? Kiba, Hinata's teammate," a shake of head, Tenten sighed. She knew it wouldn't hurt if Neji associated himself with people more, or at least got to know their names. It could prove useful. "The one with the dog," a knowable nod. "Well, since his family is accustomed to animals, particularly dogs. I asked him if he knew anyone who was willing to keep Kodoku. Apparently I was lucky that Hinata was there and she managed to have overheard our conversation."
"Is that all?" Tenten frowned and thought about it some more. She nodded after a brief moment. She was curious as to why Neji seemed intent on knowing why she gave Kodoku to Hinata. She didn't really understand but that didn't make her any less undeniable to the growing curiosity forming in her.
"I see," Neji said. For some reason he had a nagging feeling within him telling him he was missing out on something, but he couldn't figure out what it was. Tenten blinked and looked down. Neji followed her gaze, he realised he still held her wrist in a firm grip. Unlatching himself from her hand, he turned away so that she couldn't see the heat rising to his face. The kunoichi smiled wickedly.
Tenten snapped her fingers as something dawned on her. "Oh, it was also a good reason," she breathed slowly in his ear, "for me to visit you more often."
Neji snapped his head back, just as an evil smirk flitted on her features. Did he hear her right?
She quickly pecked him on his cheek and left. She waved a goodbye. "Ja, Neji-kun!" And then she was gone, she had left as easily as that. A cookie on her mouth. He was left in her midst, a look of disbelief and surprise on his face, cheeks heated and eyes blinking.
He wasn't jealous of a dog, by all means no, if anything, the dog should have been jealous of him.
A small smile crossed his face as he closed his eyes.
Solitude, no one needed to be alone anymore. And maybe it was the beginning of something more. He began to think that he now knew why Tenten named the innocent puppy that. And maybe, he could just make a friend out of the pup yet. And perhaps, maybe with Tenten, something beyond friends.
Took one hour and a half to finish. I'm quite happy with this. It was quite spur of the moment and I enjoyed writing it. This is set in between the series. No where in particular so you can just fit this anywhere you like – timeline wise – though I doubt it really matters anyway. Thanks for the read, and if you like Bleach stories, maybe you would like to check out 'It only rains on good days' by me and Scythe.
Hyuuga Engaged will be updated by Tuesday. I hope Aventri-san will reply to me. I don't want to post a chapter without him… but everyone's nagging at me! I don't know what to do…
Reviews and comments appreciated.