A/N: Yeah... you ladies (any guys?) are most likely angry at me. My most sincere apologies. Wait, how 'bout I say this in my new found favorite Kyoto-ben (compliments to Shizuru from Mai HiME/Otome)? Kanina na, minna-san! Explanation later. Summer near, let the updates begin once more.

Fun Fact- Naruto 2 movie up for download; there's been an announcement of a third moving coming out.

Chapter 9: Rescue Mission

Day 7: Christmas Eve

"Neji," Hinata called quietly from below the balcony, staring up at the two figures.

Neji, having stayed up late to watch Tenten sleep because she looked cute, suffered lack of sleep and ignored his younger cousin. He didn't want to move, he was comfortable in the position he was in and felt warm even though it was freezing outside. Two bodies heating each other up was the best way to warm one another. However, Hinata was very persistant.


An eye popped open drowsily, observing ahead of him and watching the morning birds chirp their song before looking down at Hinata. His brows knitted in annoyance, sending off the signal of not wanting to be disturbed and to tell him what was so important that she had to come over instead of later.

"What do you want?" Neji replied grumpily.

"F-father said you're disgracing y-yourself by being p-publicly a-affectionate."

Surely enough, Hinata was right. After getting a real look around at his surroundings, in the far distance beyond the walls of the Hyuuga estate there were people who would stop and gaze at the scene before them, a few genins in which he proved himself a fierce opponent. Now that those "unworthy" battle enemies had seen him being an actual softy there was no hope left of them fearing him once more; Neji had to break such intimate contact at once.

Getting up rather abruptly, Tenten fell from lack of support, the back of her head hitting the concrete floor. To say the least, it was a surprise awakening, more so than she ever had before.

"Ow! Shit!" Rubbing the injured spot, Tenten sat up careful not to worsen the pain. Glancing at the door, her eyes trailed after Neji who was going on with his usual buisness. "You could've woken me up before attempting to move! That really hurt..." She cursed silently, seething and wanting to get back at the Hyuuga.

"It slipped my mind," he replied coldly.

"Lame excuse, Hyuuga. Think of something better."

Neji smirked, watching her stomp into the room. "Alright. I forgot."

The kunoichi pouted, "You're such an ass..."

Grabbing a few warm clothes to change into, Tenten marched out of the room to the bathroom without another word. Neji knew she was in one of her 'moods' and would soon get over it. It was only a matter of time.

During this, Hinata was entirely forgotten outside, not that it bothered her much as it always seemed to happen.

Heaving a sigh, she murmured under her breath about her father going to punish Neji for missing out on practicing that morning. But of course, he wouldn't indulgde on such a thing with their guest of honor, Tenten, who he saw had been accompanying the Hyuuga each time. The girl turned to leave having kept Naruto waiting to long at the gate for her. The boy needed his ramen and had invited her to join, his treat.

"Good morning my princess," Haru said, bowing and taking Tenten's hand, kissing the back of it. He gave a soft smile.

The girl blushed. "Morning."

Neji scoffed at the couple's show of affection from behind them. He had been trailing after Tenten to the kitchen, both having missed out on breakfast for sleeping in. Was last night all but nothing? Neji thought silently. Why do I care?

Haru gave a sideways glance at the Hyuuga and a curt nod of acknowledgement. "Neji."

"Haru," he replied coldly.

Tenten scowled. "Be nice you two."

Haru gave an apologetic look to his girlfriend. "Sorry. But what's the use in being nice to an indignent branch member like him when he will only reject what kindness I have to offer?"

Indignent? Neji's eyebrows furrowed. "I'll have you know there is no rule in which I have to be respectful for those whom are married into the family and not born of the clan. If you want a repeat of what happened at the ball, I will be more than happy to punch your face in again."

His enemy took a step forward. "Why you little-"

Tenten stepped between them, the tension never ceasing as Haru and Neji's eyes locked. "Please, not today." She took Haru's hand and dragged him away, glaring at Neji for his behavior.

The Hyuuga was left to ponder on what exactly happened the night at Sakura's Christmas party. He sensed his cousin Hanabi step up beside him. "What is it you want?"

"I know something you don't know!" Hanabi sang childishly, a mischievious smile planted on her lips.

He didn't have time for her childish antics. "What exactly might that be?"

"Your beloved Tenten has a boyfriend! It's Haru! Isn't that great?" She taunted, knowing that his anger was boiling at the mention of Tenten, boyfriend, and Haru. All too suddenly she was shoved up against the wall, Neji lifting her by the collar of her shirt.

"It isn't true," he said persistently.

"Jealous are we? I'm only trying to help! However, it's true that they're a couple."

"Lies!" Why am I overreacting at such an inevitable information?

Hanabi's hands went to grip Neji's and try to pry them away but to no avail. She gave a shrug. "If you say so. Give me one good reason why you shouldn't believe me."

The branch member was clueless. Hanabi was probably correct. Tenten's boyfriend was most likely Haru and he had no proof as to not. He noticed how she acted towards the his superior. "Tell me everything you know," he demanded.

Day 8: Christmas

Tenten looked at her bed partner warily before swinging her legs over the edge of the mattress and slipping out from under the covers. Neji was sleeping, so she thought, and she didn't want to disturb him. Carefully she tiptoed out into the hallway, not a noise did she make, and made her way towards Haru's bedroom. It was midnight that the meet was set.

The kunoichi knocked on on the sliding door to his room quietly, looking around to see if anyone nheard or seen. Luckily, to her relief, everyone was fast asleep. After a few seconds of waiting she was greeted with Haru.

"Come," he said, beckoning her to step into his bedroom.

Even though it was the middle of the night and she needed her rest due to training early in the morning, she obliged to her boyfriend's gesture and strolled right in. For a guest room, it wasn't so bad considering she assumed he decorated a little bit himself. A few scrolls here and there, couple of his paintings that she was amazed by.

"Wow! Your room looks nicer than the one I'm staying in!"

"You mean Neji's." He said flatly, an utmost disapproval clearly heard in his voice. He still hadn't enjoyed the fact that she was staying with Neji in the same bedroom, preferrably the same exact bed too.

Tenten smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I meant the one I was in before the water pipe burst above mine and flooded it."

Haru clucked his tongue and rummaged through a drawer, taking out a bag with art supplies, a canvas, a bundle of clothes, a few candles and matches. Setting the candles on top of the drawer, he lit them, the sudden burst of light brightening the room. Tenten watched him and caught the bundle of clothes he tossed to her.

She gave him a strange look. "What's this for?"

"To draw you, I need you in a change of clothing. Those are probably your size, besides I know they would be perfect for you." His orbs glinted and he gave a gentle grin. "Don't worry, I won't peek." He turned around and covered his eyes with his hands.

Tenten pondered on whether or not he would hold to his word then shrugged it off and changed, setting all her hidden weapons aside. It was a light blue kimono, a tad tight, but it fit nonetheless. She looked at Haru who was still in the same position as before and hadn't seemed like he moved at all. Not an inch. He's such a gentleman.

"You can turn around now. I'm fully dressed."

Haru took her by the hand and spun her aound. "Tenten, look lovely!"

Tenten blushed lightly. "Thank you."

"Please, sit and pose. Something sexy and says 'I want you'." He grabbed his pencils and canvas, sat down with legs crossed and set them in his lap, waiting patiently.

Her brown eyes gazed at the ground, feeling a bit uncomfortable and awkward at the order she had recieved. Slowly and hesitantly she got down on her knees and hands, lifting one up and having a finger barely touching her lips, giving a seductive look. Once Tenten had seen a woman take a position like hers while browsing Ino's girly magazines.

"Is...is this good?"


Taking a large charcoal pencil, he began the outside dark outlines, carefully making the rest with a regular lead pencil, and smoothed out a few touches. Staying in the pose for such a long time made Tenten really tired and was hoping he would finish soon. It had been almost twenty minutes after he started the drawing and her kimono was slipping off her shoulders.

He set the canvas aside. She was just where he wanted her. Vulnerable.

"You're done?"

"No. My masterpiece has yet to be completed."

Haru smiled wickedly at Tenten who had raised her eyebrows curiously, the once ever-glowing smile on her features turning into a frown of confusion mixed with uneasiness. What exactly was Haru planning other than having her model for his painting? May he be wanting more than she all ready had to offer? If so, she'd have to approach cautiously.

"Don't be afraid, Tenten," he said, in a calm voice. A deadly, calm voice that she didn't recognize.

In the blink of an eye, Haru was behind her. His grip on her wrists registered in her mind and she struggled against his hold as he bound them with barbed wire. Tenten's eyes shut and she screamed fiercely despite herself. For once she was scared. No weapons and the Hyuuga's movements were much faster than hers. She was left defenseless, but she tried her hardest to resist whatever else Haru would do.

As he shoved her to the ground, he proceeded to grab at her ankles. Tenten acted quickly and kicked his face, sending him flying backwards into the sliding door with a loud thud and crack. If she was lucky, someone would have heard.

"You bastard, what do you think you're doing!" Tenten yelled at Haru.

The Hyuuga got up slowly, glancing over at his beloved, beautiful model. She was a fiesty girl. And the more fiesty, the better the fun. Tenten was going to be entertaining enough for him. She gave a cold glare, eyes narrowing into slits, anger growing as she clenched her teeth. He gave no response and in result the girl charged at him and delivered a flying kick.

Tenten gasped as he caught it head on and swung her around before flinging her into a wall. This is easier than I thought. Walking over before the writhering form beneath him, Haru sneared and kneed her in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her as she desperately tried to take multiple breaths in. Kneeling over her, he whispered in a menacing voice in her ear.

"The fool Neji isn't here to save you now, is he? It's such a shame that he doesn't give a care in the world about you. That Hyuuga thinks he's above everyone else because of the power and wealth bestowed upon the family that those below his standards are nothing but dirt. Including his teammates and especially you."

Tenten's dark eyes misted over with the words he spoke of her mind. Did he know? It was all true. She felt that Neji didn't notice her. Because he was so high up he didn't see the people below him even with those Byakugan eyes that could supposedly see everything and anything. He wouldn't come save her; she was merely someone who got in his way, an obstacle to be cast away was through with.

Haru smirked, knowing the affect his words had on the kunoichi. "Does it hurt?" He asked. "The pain of unreciprocated love. Let him go, Tenten. I can give you everything you want. All the things that Neji never could or would."

She wanted to get away, away from his words that spun in her mind and dug deeper into her heart, creating holes that would never be filled. The voids of innocence and despire entwined. She could lose her sanity in believeing Haru. His words. Words of venom dripping into her ears, poisoning her. Tears began to form at the corner of her eyes.

"Stop.." she managed to utter out. The mention of her love for Neji and him unable to return it always left her so helpless, no matter the situation.

Since when had Haru, the boy who was sweet, kind and gentle, the total opposite of Neji, become something more than she percieved? A sick, twisted, perverted, dillusional physchopath that wanted nothing more than to harm her from the very beginning of a blossoming friendship. Was she wrong not to heed Neji's warnings? Yet so in love with Neji, she couldn't take simple orders as to stay away from people.

Tugging at the barbed wire, she only bringed in pain. Tenten wouldn't be able to get them off without first ripping her hands off in the process and what would she do then? Simply use taijustsu even though Haru seems exceptionally skilled in that art? Surely she'd lose hands down.

"Stop what?" Haru's smirk broadened. "Stop telling you that Neji...doesn't...love...you?" He made sure that he said those last few clearly and agonizingly slow for a nice torture of her mentality.

No! He speaks lies! Only lies!

"NEJI!" Tenten screamed loudly at the tops of her lungs, the sound echoing throughout the walls of the mansion, the entire estate.

"Woman! Shut your trap!" A hand slapped her face with brute force.

Blood slipped and trailed down her chin. Gathering both saliva and blood into her mouth, she spat at his face. This girl disgusted him; wiping off the substance she only earned another slap across her face along with a follow-up that wasn't necessary, mostly just for his enjoyment, then clamped his hand over her mouth to silence her.

Muffled yells emitted from her as she tried wriggling away from him, only to be pinned down. Haru reached for his bag filled with art supplies, he dug in and found exactly what he was looking for: duct tape. Ripping off a strip, he tightly taped her mouth shut. Then came a roll of more barbed wire that would be wrapped around her ankles in case she did one of her unexpected kicking tricks again.

"You're much more suitable when bound up like this."

Silencing himself, he waited to see if anyone of his clan was up and about now. Shuffling of hurried feet came running down the hallway after a few moments and the door slid open with none other than Hyuuga Neji standing there with a pissed off expression.

Another restless night. The only time he seemed to be able to sleep was when Tenten was here. At least, she was here, right? Neji shifted in the comfortable bed of his, his hands feeling for the familiar figure of his female companion. He grunted at the fact that no one was next to him. Perhaps she had gone to the bathroom and so he thought nothing of it.

A piercing scream he had heard. He jumped to his feet, grabbing the weapons by his bedside. The scream was no other than Tenten's, this he knew. Neji rushed out and down the hallway activating his Byakugan. He was ready to fight. Reaching his destination from where Tenten's scream emitted, he slammed the sliding door open.

"Tenten!" His mind reeled at the scene before him.

Haru and Tenten. Scratch that. Haru with Tenten below him tied up with barbed wire.

"Good morning, Neji," Haru said evenly.

"Let her go!"

"Is that anyway to greet a member of your clan?" He scooped Tenten in his arms, the girl's eyes pleading for Neji to save her and quick.

Neji snarled and hastily performing a set of seals. Haru was currently in range and had sensed this, moving quickly with Tenten in his arms. The Main House member jumped out the window, glass shattering to bits as he broke through. Having no time to dwell on thinking of a plan, Neji raced after him as the boy flitted into the trees, only but a blur.

"You're never going to catch her Hyuuga. Give up now," came the echoing laughter of the one he despised the most.

He's fast! Then he saw double, triple, quadrouple, multiple. The chakra all the same.

Neji was now having a hard time trying to track where they had gone through the trees, not even his Byakugan could tell. Haru had used the Kage no Bushin Justsu like Naruto was able to so it didn't make his situation any easier on him. His eyes widened at the fact of not being able to save Tenten if he couldn't figure out who the real replica was. But when did he care so much about Tenten?

It was odd. Neji was so angry that he'd even go ahead and rip Haru's spine out and use it as dental floss, and that was only what he had been wanting to do from the minute he set eyes on the member. Now his emotions formed into something else; he couldn't place what it could be, only that it drove him to successfully rescue Tenten and keep her from harm's way for all eternity.

Secretly he vowed.

What can I do? Neji was a genius, he should've been able to think of something by now. There isn't much time left... Maybe if I feed more chakra to my eyes I'd be able to tell which the fake ones are... That's it!

Being able to easily circulate chakra throughout his body could highten his advantages. Neji began gathering chakra to his eyes and in an instant he could recognize which clones were fake. Where exactly was that betrayer of the Hyuuga clan off to? And just as Neji had thought about it, into the Forest of Death did the boy go. Damnit.

Neji halted at the entrance of the forest, eyes seeing right through the fence. It was forbidden to go any further unless the chuunin exam was in session.The fence sepearated him and getting Tenten back. It was a risk. A risk that he and he alone would take. The Forest of Death was dangerous, but it didn't matter. He had a few hours to get his teammate back.

Climbing the tall fence, he hopped down, clear eyes determined.

A/N: No, I did not forget this fic. I'm being honest. I merely had other interests and there's the huge case of writer's block and inability to write fighting scenes. Inspiration came back to me because of the soon oncoming start of summer. This is the last week of school, exams are to be done. Might as well update before my muse has gone down the drain. Expect updates this, summer. I am back! Do review please! Even if it's yelling at me!

Poll Results- Happy ending; it as a close poll.

Next Chapter- The Forest of Death is filled with many unpredictable creatures and events. Looks like Christmas is as bad as Tenten predicted. Neji is figuring out his feelings, battling monters; and Tenten...well, she isn't having a good time with Haru.

lonely bloodied rose