Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-sensei.
Sixteen-year-old Tenten is the pride of Konoha, the renowned Weapons Mistress of the Fire Country. No shinobi has matched her skill yet when it comes to handling weapons. She has mastered the use of every weapon known and has the knowledge in harnessing their abilities to her advantage. Her combat style is an offensive-defensive one. She could easily attack and hit someone at a distance but still keeping herself from any close-range attacks.
Her hit rate is also 100 percent, which means she can hit the same target 100 times in 100 tries. Her accuracy and mastery at weapon handling, along with her rational mind and calm exterior, makes her one of the best shinobis in Konoha.
But even her skills are no match when her target is something not seen easily by the human eyes, something that is elusive, something that hides constantly from her. In other words…
"You have a stalker, Tenten?" Lee asked the young lady as she flung 5 shuriken at the dummy on their training area, each hitting a vital point on a human body.
The brown-eyed girl clenched her fists around her kunai then threw it at the dummy at mach speed, hitting it dead straight on the forehead. "If I find out who the hell he is, I'm going to make him a nice pincushion!"
The taijutsu master, seeing the irritated, frustrated look on his teammate's face, clenched his fists in front of him, his eyes resembling balls of fire. It was one of those days that his energy just seemed to be bursting out of his system. "Fear not, Tenten! I, Rock Lee, will vow to protect your budding springtime of youth from that horrible and vile person who stalks you!"
Tenten rolled her eyes before tugging her kunai which she impaled on one of the trees some minutes earlier. "Lee, I'm sure I can handle him—"
"No, Tenten! As your teammate, Gai-sensei has assigned me to take care of you as the frail flower of our group!" Lee practically screamed while still looking up at the sky, staring up at who-knows-what. Even Tenten had no idea what he was looking at. "I shall make sure that justice will prevail! I shall put an end to this stalking business of this being!"
"Lee, it's not necessary—"
But she knew the green-spandexed shinobi wouldn't even hear any word she's saying. He's too busy planning how to capture that stalker of hers. In his mind, she mused. And whenever Rock Lee would say that he's going to capture him and put an end on his stalking business, she knew that it would always up in a disaster, with her pulling him out of the hole he had dug. Literally.
"A stalker, huh?"
She raised her brown gaze to the third member of their team, the white-eyed, Byakugan-user Hyuuga Neji, then continued to pull the stuck kunai from the tree. "Yeah, I've been noticing—"
"Neji, my eternal and most worthy rival!" Lee called from the other side of the field and Tenten let out an exasperated sigh, rolling her eyes. The boy never had a chance to drag off Neji in one of his 'exciting' excursions. "You have to help me find and defeat Tenten's stalker so that we may be able to preserve her delicateness and frailty—"
The kunai that was once embedded on the tree whizzed past Lee, missing his neck by a few centimeters, aimed from the direction of a fuming Weapons Mistress. Neji folded his arms and smirked at the stunned bowl-head. Yep, irate plus something pointy and sharp equals a murderous Tenten.
"I am NOT frail, Lee!" The only girl in their team scowled at him darkly. "And I don't need your help in taking care of this person!"
"But Tenten, your springtime of youth will be in danger if—"
5 more kunais were thrown at his direction, emphasizing each word. "Stop it right now, Lee!"
Suddenly, much to Neji and Tenten's dismay, there was a puff of smoke and Gai appeared, his thumbs up and his grin blindingly bright in his Nice Guy Pose. Somehow, the thought of suffocating his students with the smoke or blinding them with his smile never crossed on Gai's mind.
"What is the matter, my talented and brilliant students of mine?"
Tenten grimaced. Didn't her teacher know anything about the rules on redundancy in English?
"Gai-sensei! Tenten is being bothered by a stalker!" Lee shouted with a stiff salute to his personal idol. "As her teammate, I vow to keep her safe so that her flame of youth will not waver!"
Gai looked at his little clone with teary eyes. As to why, both Neji and Tenten had no idea. "Lee! I am proud of you!" he cried then turned to Neji. "What about you, genius prodigy of my mine? What shall you do to protect our flower's wavering flame of youth?"
"I will…" Neji glanced at Tenten who looked more homicidal every passing minute. Adding insult to the injury would injure him and that would not be good. "… do nothing." The two green-clad men looked scandalized. "I'm sure Tenten is capable enough to handle them on her own."
Tenten wanted to thank Neji but was promptly cut off when the two identical men bawled loudly. The chestnut-haired girl slapped a hand on her forehead, fighting hard not to walk away and leave Neji to deal with the two nuts.
"I cannot believe that our dear beloved Neji is blatantly ignoring the danger surrounding our blooming flower!" Gai shouted, waterfalls of tears pouring down his cheeks. "We should melt the ice surrounding his heart and bring back our dear beloved Neji!"
"Yes, Gai-sensei!" Lee smartly saluted him, crying rivulets of tears. "We shall protect our frail flower and shall bring back our beloved companion, Neji!"
As the waterworks, embraces, cheesy lines and tsunami-like-waves-hitting-the-cliff-with-matching-sunset begun, Tenten rolled her eyes and restrained herself from summoning her scrolls and impaling the two idiots with all of her weapons. It really was taking all her energy not to kill them right there. She turned back to pick up her weapons that littered the field.
"How sure are you that you have a stalker?" the Hyuuga prodigy inquired as she rolled out her scroll, did some hand seals and the weapons flew back into the scroll. "It could just be your imagination, you know."
"I know, Neji," she answered flatly. "I always have this feeling that I'm being followed and being stared for the past few days. I thought it was my imagination at first until I saw a shadow lurking in an alley. It disappeared when I saw him."
"It might just be someone."
"No, Neji! Why then would he suddenly hide when I saw him? It's not just a 'someone'! And I'm pretty sure he's stalking me! And when I found out who he is—"
"So, you really think you could handle your stalker?" Neji asked her, a cocky smirk on his lips. "Think you could catch him?"
The Weapons Mistress raised an eyebrow at him, half-amused and half-annoyed. "You don't trust my abilities as a shinobi, Neji?"
The Hyuuga prodigy raised his hands in the Hakkeshou stance, his smirk not leaving his lips. "Not really. He may be more powerful than you, you know."
"What do you know?" Tenten snorted as she prepared herself for his attack, her hands behind her back to pull out her scrolls. "You're not my stalker."
"Who knows?" His grin was impeccable that Tenten couldn't resist but throw him a kunai. It irked her too much. "Temper, temper, Tenten. Concentrate on this sparring match. I might just tell you who your stalker is!"
"Yeah, like you'd know. You probably are the most anti-social person, after that Uchiha Sasuke."
Neji scowled at her as well then performed the hand seals, activating his Byakugan. If there's one thing he hated and clashes with his ego, it's being compared to or placed lower than Uchiha Sasuke. "Oh, really now? Well, let's see if you could really outsmart and catch that stalker of yours."
A blood vessel twitched and Tenten yanked out her scroll, throwing one of them in the air. "That's it! You're going down, Hyuuga Neji!"
Tenten stretched her arms above her head, feeling her joints crack at her every movement. It was already sunset when Neji decided to stop their training. And as usual, the white-eyed boy worked her hard and pushed her to her limits again. The sadistic bastard.
I want a nice hot bath when I get home, she told herself as she walked down the lamp post-lighted streets of Konoha, a bounce in her every step. Then I'll sleep and sleep and sleep! No Hyuuga Neji will be able to stop me from doing that!
She was still walking down the road, thinking what she'd do when she gets home, when she heard a rustle behind her. Swiftly, she turned around, a kunai in one hand and scanned the area for anyone, even a slight shadow. But there was none. At least, no trace of anyone.
What the hell…
Thinking it was just her imagination or the wind, she slipped her kunai back in her holster and started walking again. Only to be bothered by the same sound earlier. She turned around once more, placing her hands on her waist.
"You know," she called out loudly to the empty street. "I already know you're there so why don't you just show yourself!"
Silence answered her and Tenten gritted her teeth. What the hell was this guy playing at? If didn't know better, he was making fun of her. And since she was already pissed off to the nth level by this stalking business and she wouldn't let this perpetrator get away without so much of a limp!
She heard another rustle behind an alley and she flung her sharp kunai at the direction of the sound. She waited for someone to come out, someone who would raise his hand in surrender, someone who was…
"Naruto!" she exclaimed as a pale blond boy stepped out of the shadows, scratching the back of his head. "You're my stalker?"
"Ah, Tenten-san!" the Kyuubi boy greeted with a slight wave. "Was it you who threw the kunai? You nearly got me there."
"Why are you following me?" she asked in a dangerous voice, her eyes narrowing into slits.
Naturally, the younger shinobi threw her a confused look and scratched his head. He clearly has no idea what the young woman was saying. "What are you saying, Tenten-san?" he said. "I'm not following you."
"Then why the heck are you hiding in that alley like some kind of a creeper?" she demanded, rolling her eyes.
"I was taking a shortcut to the Ichiraku!" the blond boy replied nonchalantly. "Iruka-sensei told me he'd pay my ramen if I get there first before him!"
"Oh." Tenten stared at Naruto flatly. The boy obviously knew nothing about the predicament she's in. His mind was continuously occupied by ramen and food thoughts. "Ah, er, Naruto…"
"Did you see anyone following me or anyone who's in the same street as I am?" she asked.
"Me!" He pointed at himself with a grin and Tenten wanted to slap her forehead in exasperation. Naruto was just as clueless as a lost blind worm. She doubted that he'd know the perpetrator even if it danced naked in front of him. "Well, I'll see you later, Tenten-san! Ja!"
"Thanks, Naruto!" She smiled slightly at him as she watched him tear down the alley towards the Ichiraku. She sighed and went her way, withdrawing her kunai from the wall using her chakra strings.
She folded her arms across her chest and thought of people who could be stalking her. She may be famous, but not as hotshot as Sasuke or Neji or Gaara. If that person could be an assassin, why would they assassinate her? She's not the type who could throw a rampage around town. They should assassinate Naruto or Gaara or Uchiha Sasuke or even Neji! That Hyuuga could really go on a rampage when he's on a PMS-ing mode.
Now who, in their right minds, would even stalk me?
Lee? Nah, impossible! He's too busy stalking Sakura. Neji? As I've said earlier, he's the next most anti-social guy in Konoha after Uchiha.
Gai? He's probably too busy challenging Kakashi! Shikamaru? The guy is even irritated when he gets up from his cloud-watching position!
Chouji? The boy's probably eating right now.
Kiba? Too busy taking care of Akamaru and challenging Naruto or taking care of Akamaru and protecting Hinata from Naruto.
Shino? He's too busy with his bugs.
Jiraiya? Yeah, could be. That perverted hermit would stalk any girl from Konoha just to get a front page for that book of his!
Another sound pricked her ear and she turned around again, her sharp eyes scanning every shadow, every alley, every corner. Her temper was near to boiling point again but there was no way she'd go home with that in her mind.
"I swear, when I finally have found and caught you, you'll experience a torture you'll never forget!" With that, she pivoted on her heel and stormed down the street, towards her pad.
From a corner, unbeknownst to Tenten, someone smiled mysteriously at her, his eyes glinting impishly under the pale moonlight. "We'll see about that, Tenten…"
Usually, a pissed off Tenten meant dark glares directed at the training dummies, more trees impaled by weapons, Lee receiving more punches whenever he gets excited and Neji earning monosyllabic words for answers. That was a level 5 pissed off Tenten. A level 10 pissed off Tenten would mean early deforestation of Konoha and emergence of another Sand Village. It also means mass genocide for irritating green-clad men.
But that day, that hour, that minute, Tenten was just passing the 8th level of her pissed off mood: destructive sparring matches with Hyuuga Neji, which meant ultimate destruction of their training field.
"For the love of Tsunade-sama's pig, calm down, Tenten!" Neji shouted at his teammate as she continued to throw sharp objects at him, her brown eyes hazy. She was clearly not listening to any of his words. If she was, she'd realize that she was already throwing scythes and spears at him.
"Calm down!" He activated his Kaiten, deflecting several weapons being thrown at him per second.
It was really surprising to the Hyuuga prodigy. It was often him who was being calmed down by the young woman whenever he would start his rampage against green-clad taijutsu masters or when he would get tensed and stressed. He could never imagine doing the same to her. But this time, unlike her, he was dodging weapons while trying to calm her down.
"Die, Hyuuga Neji!" she shrieked as more weapons rained down on him, her rising twin dragons twisting around her.
Neji grimaced. Die, Hyuuga Neji? Isn't that such a clichéd line? And since when did Tenten wanted to kill him? Not even wanting to think about that, he jumped high in the sky, matching her altitude, and seizing her arms, ignoring the shuriken grazing his skin. He then pulled her down and pinned her to the ground.
"What the hell is wrong with you today?" he demanded coolly. "Your aim was off."
She snorted. "Yeah right." She pointed the shallow cut on his neck which he covered with his hand. She aimed a neat kick on his head which he promptly dodged and got up. "Sorry, got distracted…"
"By who? Your stalker?" he asked, helping her stand.
"He's bothering me since last night. And I nearly killed Naruto." Neji smirked. "Hey, I didn't mean it. I thought he was my stalker."
"Now why would someone as idiotic as Naruto would stalk you?"
Tenten sighed and brushed the dirt from her clothes. "I was just guessing here," she replied then grinned at him playfully. "But then, I realized. Naruto-kun wouldn't stalk me since he's too busy making a move on Hinata-chan!"
"What!" Neji practically growled at the news of the Kyuubi boy and his cousin. "Wait 'til I get my hands on that idiot! He might just pollute Hinata-sama at an early age!"
"Oh, go get a life, Hyuuga Neji!" She waved a hand at him impatiently, acting like an older sister again. "Don't bother them. And let me give you this advice: Instead of hunting down Naruto and pummeling him to death because of his love life, why don't you get your own love life?"
The young man stopped at her words. "My own love life?" He looked away. "I don't need it. Besides, I'm too busy…"
She raised an eyebrow at him but said nothing. She stood there, her right hand holding her left arm, gazing wordlessly at the green grass. There was nothing to say anyway. Neji's tone made it sure that the topic ended there. A soft sigh escaped her lips and she started picking up her fallen weapons.
That was when she heard a soft rustle behind her and she flung a sharp kunai at the source of the sound. Lee emerged from the bush, looking harassed.
Tenten rolled her eyes. "What the heck are you doing back there, Lee?"
"Listening," the taijutsu master admitted, scratching his cheek sheepishly. "I thought Neji would say something romantic to you and that would set off a youthful experience for the both of you!"
Tenten let out an exasperated sigh while Neji looked impassive again. "Where do you get those things?"
"Why, Gai-sensei taught them to me!" Lee cried proudly, banging his chest with a fist. "He told me that when a boy and a girl are left alone and they have nothing to talk about, it means that they are awkward with each other and that they are in love!"
The two shinobis snorted. "Yeah right!"
Another rustle disturbed Tenten and she flung another kunai at its direction. When nothing but a small squirrel came out, she released a relieved sigh while Lee started his loud speech on squirrel rights, saying that squirrels should also have the right to live according to how nature wants them to live. The usual declamation whenever Tenten or Neji would go on a deforestation rampage across Konoha.
"He's not there," Neji told her simply, sliding his hands in his pockets.
"How would you know?" she shot back, her eyes narrowed into slits.
"I just know, Tenten. I have my Byakugan," he said flatly. "Why are you so hell-bent on catching that stalker anyway?"
"So I could kick his ass, ask him why he's stalking me and tell him that he's got no chance in getting me," she answered matter-of-factly, giving the babbling taijutsu master a punch on the head. His incessant talking matched with his voice was irritating her again.
"Get a grip, Lee! Those godforsaken creatures won't get extinct! And don't think we're talking about love issues here because we're not!"
"Aww…" Lee rubbed the spot on his head that came in contact with Tenten's fist. "Gai-sensei even asked me to look after the both of you…"
"Whatever the reason for?"
The taijutsu master suddenly pointed an accusing finger to the pokerfaced Hyuuga genius who merely stared at him flatly. "So that he, my most worthy and eternal rival, Hyuuga Neji, will not be able to take advantage of you, dear sweet flower of ours!"
Neji snorted, folding his arms across his chest. "Like I'd want to take advantage of Tenten."
"Hey!" The Weapons Mistress glared at him. "What does that mean, Hyuuga?"
The pale-eyed young man shook his head wordlessly then got ready for his 64 Hands of Hakke. "Never mind. Ready?"
Tenten pulled her kunai and raised it in defense mode. "Hell yeah! I'll beat you to a pulp this time, Neji!"
Neji let out an inaudible sigh. "Fine, fine. Let's just get this over with."
"You idiot! You should've known better than to interfere with our sparring!" Tenten scolded Gai's clone as they walked in downtown Konoha.
Tenten and Neji were having their usual sparring match (not the destructive one, mind you) when Lee had suddenly jumped in the middle of the battle, crying and howling something about destruction and withering of Tenten's flame of youth. Of course, Neji never took something like that as an excuse to interfere with their battle and so, instead of attacking Tenten, he attacked the clueless boy who fell unconscious for an hour after Neji had kicked him hard in the stomach.
Lee rubbed the top of his head, the part where it had hit the large tree. "But, Tenten-chan, Gai-sensei told me to keep you from harm!"
"We were sparring, Lee," she replied flatly. "Besides, did you really think Neji would kill me?"
"He's always on a killing spree when it comes to me and Gai-sensei!" the taijutsu master argued defensively. Obviously, he just had no idea that the prodigy was annoyed at their tittering sessions, especially when about squirrels, fashion tips and hair conditioners.
"Well, that's Neji, the unpredictable walking disaster," Tenten murmured, slipping her hands inside her pockets. "Oi, Lee!"
Lee, now rejuvenated at the sight of an okonomiyaki stand, was jogging towards the stall, waving at her happily. "C'mon, Tenten! I'll treat you some takoyaki!" he called brightly.
The chestnut-haired young lady smiled at her energetic "little brother". He might have been incapacitated by the Hyuuga prodigy, pummeled by the red-haired Sand Nin or impaled by herself, but his cheery disposition would never waver. She was just about to follow him when a sudden gust of wind blew behind her, startling her.
She turned around, kunai out, and glanced around the place. It was her stalker again, she was sure of it. She scanned every face, stared at every passers-by. No one looked suspicious. When she got several strange looks, she quickly stuck the kunai back in her holster.
Why she was obsessed on catching her stalker was just her curiosity forcing her to work and move. She wanted to know who he was, wanted to know why he was following her every single moment. There should be a reason for that. It couldn't be because it was out of randomness. Why else would this person have the energy to follow her nearly everywhere?
Then… there it was again. The shadow in the alley. Pulling two more kunais between her fingers, she ran swiftly down the road to the dark alley where she saw it. Apparently, the shadow must've seen her go his way and promptly disappeared. She didn't found anyone, not even a trace. He just vanished like that into thin air. Tenten cursed quietly.
She looked around at Lee who was waving at her. "Hey…" She grinned at the two trays of takoyaki the taijutsu master was holding. "That's for me, right?"
"Yeah!" Lee grinned back at her then peered behind her shoulders into the dark alley. "Why did you suddenly took off? What happened? Was it your stalker? Did you see him?"
"No, Lee," she said wearily. "I got here a bit late. He was already gone."
"Well, we can catch him later! Here!" The green-clad boy handed her the tray of takoyaki and started walking away.
Tenten threw a glance at the empty alley behind her. She was too late to catch him again. With a sigh, she started to walk away as well, her gaze still lingering at the alley. Suddenly, she saw something very familiar yet out of place in a spot like that. Walking back, she crouched and stared at that 'something' on the ground.
"Tenten!" Lee called her from a distance. "C'mon!"
She smirked slyly before taking and pocketing it. "Coming, Lee!" She strode back towards the confused Green Beast with a large grin.
Hah! I got you now!
Neji surveyed Tenten the moment she came in the next day to training, a wide smile on her face. She was clearly happy about something. Whatever the reason was, he had no idea. She was laughing, giggling, telling jokes or teasing Lee and him. She was not trying to impale Gai on a tree while he was having one of his long boring speeches. She was brightly picking up her weapons on the ground and humming a soft tune while target-practicing. She also kept smiling towards his way.
Tenten has gone finally gone mad.
After training though, she had stayed with him for a while and he found out why she was just oh-so-happy today.
"You finally found your stalker?" he repeated as if unsure of what he just heard.
"Yup! I found him at last!" she declared happily, clapping her hands together. He was sure that she knew something he didn't. "I told you I could do it!"
He snorted. "Yeah right!"
She grinned at her impeccably then glanced behind his back, her brown eyes glittering with mischief. "Neji, where's you hair ribbon?"
The Hyuuga prodigy glanced around and saw that his hair was untied. He had lost his tie yesterday while he was, er, taking a trip around town. "I must've lost it. Didn't notice it was gone…"
Her grin widened at his words. "Oh, what a coincidence!" she said, mocking a surprised and extremely pleased voice. "I was walking with Lee in the market yesterday and I found something that looked like your hair ribbon."
Neji gulped inwardly. "Really now?" he said, forcing a calm voice. "Maybe someone had dropped it."
"That was what I was thinking as well," she continued, pulling the black band from her pocket. "You know where I found this?"
"Where?" His voice was still cool and composed, something that irritated Tenten.
"In the alley where I saw my stalker, imagine that!"
He shrugged his shoulders and she let out a sigh, pulling her kunai out and pocketing the band.
"Last spar, promise," she said resolutely. Neji nodded deeply.
After several scrolls and a whirlwind of Kaiten later, Tenten fell to the ground on her knees, panting hard. Neji landed in front of her then held out a hand to her, the usual offer of help. She took it gratefully.
"That was really nice. Thanks!" she said cheerfully, summoning back her weapons into the scroll.
He said nothing and just helped her pick up some of the weapons littering the area. "Where are you going now?" he asked, handing her the kunai, shuriken, senbon and other sharp and pointy objects around.
"Home," she replied nonchalantly.
He nodded. "Aren't you going to tell me who your stalker is?" he asked, the corners of his lips twitching.
She smiled at him playfully then tiptoed and kissed his cheek lightly. Colors suddenly flooded the usually-stony-face prodigy. "Oh, but you already know him, don't you, Neji-chan," she teased, winking at him conspiratorially.
For the first time in his life, the infamous Hyuuga Neji was speechless, a hand on his cheek where Tenten just kissed him. "W-Wait! Now that you know, can I get my tie back?"
She giggled and started skipping away. "It's a remembrance, Neji!" she called at him. "And don't you dare stalk me again or I'll make sure you won't be able to spread your genes! I'll see you on Friday at 7, okay? Don't be late!" With that, she jumped into a tree and skimmed the forests of Konoha towards her home.
Neji slid his hands in his pockets and started on his way home as well. He didn't know to get angry at the gods for conspiring against him or thank them for giving him a girlfriend.
Stalking isn't so bad after all…