"You wanted to see me, Hokage-sama?" Tenten's voice was respectful, but more curious than anything – the days of her blind hero-worship for the female Sannin were over, though she still held Tsunade in high esteem. The Hokage thought of previous days of starry-eyed adoration slightly wistfully, then got down to business.

"Yes. Your team is due to leave on a surveillance mission in a week?"

"To the Country of Stone, yes," Tenten affirmed.

"There's been a change in circumstances. Now, we've just received intelligence that indicates your target will be exposing himself to…opportunities…" In ninja-parlance, this meant a chance to do what they would – usually kidnap or assassination. "And you are the only one who can take advantage of these situations."

Tenten felt a pleased flush creeping up her cheeks. For once…for once…She wasn't one to complain – she liked not having to be in the frontline, having time to plan and target – but there was no denying that Neji's Jyuuken and Lee's taijutsu were much more attention-grabbing than her weapons-skills.

But now, apparently, her expertise in long-range precision attacks would be the lynch-pin for the mission's success. Hah!

She was already plotting which weapons would be best for either case – assassination or kidnap scenario? Quick cuts or poison? Blunt trauma, perhaps? She'd pack kunai, shuriken, a bo-staff, her favorite tonfa…perhaps a pair of tanto – should she bring her new six-foot naginata? She kept half an ear on Tsunade's words as she happily catalogued her weapons.

"Your B-Class surveillance mission has been upgraded to an A-Class capture mission. The target is to be subdued and brought back to Konoha for interrogation, preferably before he makes contact with Sound shinobi. The capture should be quiet, and the target should be as unhurt as is possible. Your team-leader has already been sent the details of this revised mission. You, however, need to receive specialized training to prepare you for your part of the mission."

Tenten raised a thin eyebrow, something she had picked up from Neji and now did with as much cool aplomb as the white-eyed shinobi.

Tsunade ignored the silent question and called out to the outer office. "You can come in now."

Tenten turned around just in time to see Mitarashi Anko walk into the door.


Three hours later, in Anko's apartment, Tenten was throwing a temper tantrum. And in perfect accordance to her personality, her flare of temper was accompanied by huge amounts of steel being hurled through the air. Thankfully she had enough presence of mind to aim outside the apartment – the tree just outside Anko's window now sported a three-inch-thick covering of bladed steel. Anko paused to admire the geometrically-perfect placement of the kunai.

Tenten's eyes were like two dark-amber flames in her face. She could not remember ever having been so angry – no, not even when Lee had used her favorite katana to chop firewood, and ended up ruining the blade forever; or when Neji had not stopped making caustic remarks about her match with Temari of the Sand until Naruto had thrashed him well and truly.

And why shouldn't she be? Here she was, all ready to use the weapons she had devoted life and blood to – ready for the chance to show how simple weaponry could do as well as exotic taijutsu styles or fancy ninjutsu – and they told her that it wasn't what they meant at all.

No – they meant for her to become exactly the sort of simpering, shameless, weakling person she had always detested – the type of person who couldn't rely on good honest steel and had to resort to baser ways of getting her way.

They wanted her to wear a dress.

When her eyes strayed to the scraps of fabric – really, did it even merit being called clothing? – arrayed on the bed, her anger flared anew. She launched a barrage of shuriken cleanly through the window, not even watching as they thudded neatly into the paper-thin spaces between the kunai, shuriken, and other bladed weapons already embedded into the tree.

Anko was regarding the younger kunoichi with knowing, amused eyes. Unbeknownst to, well, anyone, she rather liked the fiery little weapons-user. She saw a lot of herself in Tenten – well, herself before the snake-bastard-asshole-&)! came along: spirited, decisive, and ambitious – ambition quite beyond the usual, petty 'be strong for the sake of X shinobi, my one twoo lub', but ambition that was grand and searching and real – and ruthless in a way that many kunoichi could not be. She knew, for example, that Tenten poisoned the edges of her weapons regularly, and that as a genin her kill-rate was one of the highest recorded – a trend she bid fair to follow as a chuunin.

She also knew how to get Tenten to acquiesce.

"Oh, I do agree," she drawled. Tenten's eyes flicked to her suspiciously.

"I mean," Anko continued, uncoiling from where she leaned on the wall with the sinuous grace of her summons, "I told Tsunade-sama that you weren't the right type for this mission."

Tenten really wanted to relax. Anko seemed to be on her side. But something in Anko's tone and stance and most especially in those dark, glittering eyes made her feel like a cat with its back arched and bristling. And claws out.

"Why not reassign the mission to Kurenai's team, or better yet Asuma's, I asked the Hokage. Hell, send your apprentice out on her own, I said." Anko met Tenten's wary eyes with the most evil grin imaginable. "After all, those teams have kunoichi who aren't tomboys."

Tenten's face blanched completely white, and for a horrible moment Anko thought she had miscalculated and she would now have to deal with the sobbing, broken remains of a shattered-ego kunoichi.

Damn it, she didn't deal well with crying.

But then the next moment, red rushed into Tenten's face, her eyes flashed, and Anko knew she hadn't miscalculated at all.

"WHAT!" Tenten screeched. A pair of wickedly-curved daggers all but materialized in her hands – not consciously drawn, Anko thought, but rather an ingrained reflex – and the young weapons-user began unconsciously – and impressively - whirling them by their hafts.

"I AM NOT A TOMBOY!" She began to advance on Anko, murder in her eyes. The insult had cast Tenten's usual caution to the fiery winds, and the fact that she was chuunin and Anko a high-ranked, infamously-dangerous jounin registered not at all.

"Okay then," Anko drawled, so at ease and grinning so widely that Tenten checked herself in confusion. "So prove us – them – wrong. Show me you can do this."

Tenten glanced once at the dress, then back at Anko. She came to a decision almost visibly.

"Alright. Alright. Let's do this."

Anko fought the urge to cackle hysterically. She had known she was going to win, yes – she knew the girl better than any of the other jounin after all. (Even, she would wager, better than Gai.) She had not known that she was going to win this big.

It turned out that underneath her billowing, almost robe-like clothing, Tenten was all long curves and clean, elegant lines – due equally to good genetics and to a strict regimen of physical training, trying to keep up with Konoha's best taijutsu users. Immediately Anko seized the dress and hurried to a tailor, returning with what she called "Something more suited to show off that body!" and what Tenten called "OMG there's even LESS fabric than before WTF."

Of course, just draping a body – however drool worthy – was not enough for the purposes on kunoichi.

Tenten balked at the training Anko proposed to her. Actually, she leapt screaming for the window, and Anko had to chase her for fifteen minutes over the rooftops of Konoha before snagging her back.

Anko, encouraged by her previous success, had another brainwave. She presented the training as a sort of taijutsu exercise – can you move in such a way as to hint that you had no bones whatsoever – and also hinted that the other kunoichi could probably do it. Tenten knew that it was untrue at least in Hinata's case, but there was the nagging suspicion that Sakura and Ino not only could move like that, but that they practiced daily in front of the mirror.

Tenten hated being short of anyone else.

So she agreed. She knew Anko was manipulating her but once she had introduced those ideas to her, she could not help but throw herself into it.

And it showed, as within a week Anko had her able to move in such a way as to cause the liquefaction of men's wits; to speak in a low, alluring voice, whispering sweet nothings or things less sweet and more sensual (what was more difficult was learning not to turn bright red when she did); how to do her hair, and how to undo it when necessary, in such a way as to make men's eyes pop out; and a hundred other little details necessary to command a room's attention immediately .

Tenten complained, but caught on very quickly. Or – she caught on very quickly, but still complained. She didn't like this, but understood the necessity. The only thing she could never learn to do was how to look at a man with bedroom eyes – they were always snapping rather than smoldering. Anko just hoped that by the time men were close enough to look deeply into her eyes, they would have been so dazzled by her body and her moves to mistake sparking rage for deep-buried desire.

Team Gai left on their mission a week after Tsunade had summoned Tenten to her office. Tenten had packed her new dress and accessories dutifully, but was much disgusted by the necessity – she'd had to leave several weapons behind, including some really nice knives, to make room.

When they returned, Tenten was grumbling continually underneath her breath and stalking a good distance away from the rest of her team. Gai was sniffling, mourning the fact that his little girl was all growed up now with many tears and wistful sighs. Neji and Lee were simply dumb, as unable to speak as to detach their eyes from their teammate.

Anko grinned widely. Her work here was done.

Also, Kurenai owed her fifty ryou.

you look so good it hurts sometimes

-John Mayer

AN: one-shot inspired by a picture of the kunoichi at the beach recently posted at the Tenten FC. Tenten is wearing a really stylin' bathing suit/dress kind of thing, and we joked how she could wear it to a formal event.