Disclaimer: Naruto and all related characters, places, events, etc. belong to Kishimoto and whoever else is included in the whole legal mess. I'm just a student trying to satisfy my sporadic muse by writing when inspiration hits.

Notes: Written on a whim, started as a drabble, turned into a full-blown oneshot. Well, that's me for ya... Lee/Tenten, with hints of NejiTenten, with Gai being himself. Enjoy!


Perfection

The needles gleamed in the fading light as the sun slowly sank below the western horizon. But despite the dazzle of light and shadows, the three missiles flew surely through the air and hit the center of each target.

Tenten drew out three more, dashing toward the next set of targets, launching her weapons with perfect aim.

She landed neatly, bending her knees to absorb the shock of impact. She stayed in that position for a moment to catch her breath. Her entire body screamed at her for this sudden, unexplained exercise. She'd been there since midday, with not so much as a break to compensate for the soreness of her muscles or the dryness of her throat.

Her breathing was growing heavy, her heart pounding loudly in her ears. But Tenten ignored it all.

She had to concentrate.

Her hands clutched a handful of the sharp, thin weapons, and she prepared to take another run at the targets. Her eyes narrowed, honing in on the center of the target as she mentally calculated the distance and trajectory.

Her hand flicked outward, launching the weapons with unnerving accuracy.

With a zip, the needles embedded themselves into the pole the targets were tacked upon.

Standing up, Tenten looked at the ring of targets around her. Each one had three targets upon it, and the center of each target resembled an agitated porcupine. Reaching into her weapon holster, she realized that all her needles were gone.

She'd started out with a hundred needles, but seven of them had snapped earlier.

Ninety-three, then. Just seven more to go.

Tenten walked to the nearest target and plucked out a handful of needles. She was going to prove that her aim was impeccable. She would prove it; she'd prove it to them once and for all. She'd make them believe, she'd make them see that she was worth something. Neji. Lee. Gai-sensei.

Her grip tightened, unconsciously.

Snap.

Tenten was jolted out of her reverie by the sound and the tingling sensation that lanced through her hand. She stared down at the splintered bit of metal in her palm.

Damn. There went another of her needles. At this rate, she was going to run out of the said weapons by the middle of next week.

She kicked at a tuft of grass. Why did everything have to go wrong for her?

Take a deep breath, she told herself. Calm down. There were still plenty of needles in her hand.

Counting them, she found that she had exactly seven. Perfect.

She eyed the targets. They all pretty much resembled pincushions that had been subject to a particularly mean-spirited seamstress. The needles gleamed wickedly, like death, like ice, like...

...Like Neji's cold glare.

Tenten's hand clenched tightly as the thought invaded her mind. She had no time for Neji's attitude. Not right now. Not ever! Gritting her teeth, she glared at the targets before her. There were seven that she could see without turning. Seven needles in her hand.

She would end this. She would end it now.

That way, she wouldn't have to keep seeing that frosty look in her teammate's eyes each time she paused or closed her eyes.

She would prove him wrong.

The needles left her hand like lightning, slashing through the air. Tenten landed gracefully. Her quick eyes followed each of the needles as they sped toward the targets. She watched as they buried themselves solidly into the center of each target. Ninety-four, ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine...

Her eyes glanced at the last needle. It seemed to travel in slow motion, approaching the target with an ominous finality. This was it...

Plink.

Tenten stared, unable to believe her eyes. The needle had been thrown with perfect accuracy...but it glanced off another that had already been embedded in the target, and bounced back off. It twisted in the air, tumbling, gleaming as it fell.

The needle hit the ground. In reality, there was no sound, but she could almost hear the apocalyptical crash. Or perhaps, that was the sound of her world crashing down around her. The sound of her failure.

She fell back, her tired muscles finally giving out. Instinctively, she drew her knees closer, curling up and hiding her face. For some reason, she saw Gai-sensei in her mind's eye, heard his voice echoing out of the past as she remembered the words he had once spoken.

"There will be times when you've simply reached your limit and can go no further. Even the greatest of geniuses will find this limit -- this wall that they will one day run into." Here, Gai-sensei had paused and glanced at Neji. The latter ignored him. "Remember this well, and learn your limits. When it comes to a real-life situation where you become drained of all you have, your limit could save you -- or destroy you."

So, was this her limit, then? Had she finally hit her wall? After years of intense training, honing her skills for hours, pushing herself to be the best shinobi she could possibly become...was it true that she could advance no further?

No... No! That couldn't be!

Tenten pressed her hands to her burning forehead, squeezing her eyes shut, attempting to forget about the terrible ache in her body and soul. She felt like on huge bundle of pain, physically, mentally...and emotionally.

She'd tried to prove to herself that she could achieve her goals through hard work. She had felt close to Lee, her teammate, in that respect for the year that they'd been together as a team. But lately, Tenten had begun to feel herself fall behind the bob-haired, thick-browed teen. He'd mastered his techniques, he'd quickly advanced in all his endeavors while she'd more often than not found herself right back at the beginning -- failing, but always getting up to throw herself against the obstacle, against her wall, against her limit time and time again.

And now...

Now, she lay there, drained and dejected, unable to summon the strength or will to continue her seemingly futile barrage against fate.

Oh, how Neji would scorn her if he saw her now...

Just thinking about her pale-eyed teammate brought tears of anger to Tenten's eyes. She brushed them away quickly, her anger building and chasing itself in circles: anger at Neji, anger at fate, anger with herself for being so weak...

Weak. A dropout. In the end, it looked as though Neji was the one who was in the right, while she had been in the wrong all along.

But, why? Why couldn't she rise above this weakness?

"A dropout is a dropout." Neji's cold words rang in her mind, further darkening her depressing even as the sun slowly faded away in the west. Darkness stole over her, within and without... "People cannot change... Dropout."

She had wanted to prove him wrong -- oh, how sweet she'd imagined her triumph to be, to catch up and surpass his genius through hard work and determination, to prove that he was wrong. It would be the crowning moment of her young life, and she'd worked tirelessly for that elusive dream. Now the dream had slipped away like sand through a child's fingers, and she was left only with her confusion and self-doubt.

She'd wanted that dream so badly. Wanted it so much it had almost become obsession.

Only, Tenten never showed it as obviously as Lee did. For all anyone saw on the surface, she was just "the other member of Gai's team", just another kunoichi, nothing special. She wanted to be special; she wanted to be different and for people to recognize her.

No doubt, any other genin, any other shinobi, any other person in the world wanted the same thing. Even Neji, a genius among geniuses had the same desire in his heart.

Twilight settled over Tenten as she sat in the middle of her training area, utterly still, a statue carved from stone as far as anyone could tell.

But suddenly, on an unpredictable impulse, she slammed her fist into the ground, anger flooding and swamping all her other thoughts and emotions.

Damn you, Neji, she thought bitterly. It's all because of you -- yes, it's all you. When reason's been reasoned, and the analyzing's been analyzed, it still boils down to the fact that all this time...I've been chasing after you.

She couldn't remember if it had started that way. She only remembered that during all her trials and stubbornness she'd always had Neji as some part of her goal; the genius, her rival, her destination. But he'd never even given her a passing glance, dismissing her as weak and inconsequential to his own climb for success.

That's was what it was all about. She'd trained for him -- Hyuuga Neji, her dream, her goal, and her curse...

So caught up was she in her thoughts, that Tenten didn't hear another's approach until she felt a shadow fall over her. Her entire body tensed instinctively, and without a second thought she bounded up, ready to defend herself against this unwelcome intruder. She lashed out with a powerful kick, intending to lay out whoever it was...

...And found herself blocked by a heavily bandaged arm.

She blinked. In the darkness of twilight, she stared at the familiar bobbed haircut and the ridiculous green jumpsuit.

Lee stared back at her.

Tenten leapt back, feeling slightly embarrassed that she'd reacted so violently. But her legs suddenly weakened, and she fell back. Hard. Stifling a curse, she quickly gathered her composure and glared up at Lee.

"What do you want?" she demanded peevishly.

"I just came to check if you were okay," came the reply. "You disappeared as soon as we completed our mission, and no one's seen you at all today. This isn't like you, Tenten."

Was that a hint of worry she saw in his eyes?

"I..." Suddenly, all the anger and frustration drained away, leaving her with only an overwhelming sense of loss and fatigue. Tenten hung her head, feeling a wet tear drip from the corner of her eye. Lee was at her side in an instant.

"Tenten, what's wrong?"

"Shouldn't you be training, or something?" she mumbled.

"Not when my teammate's disappeared, and hurting herself in her distress." His voice was solemn, but the concern projected sounded just a little fake, and Tenten smiled weakly as she was reminded of the gallant bravado of Gai-sensei.

"What are you doing?" Lee asked softly. "You look awful; you shouldn't push yourself like this -- you'll injure yourself!"

His comment actually got a weak laugh out of her. "Look who's talking."

There was silence for a few moments. Finally, Lee spoke again.

"You're thinking about the mission, aren't you?" he asked quietly. Seeing Tenten's hands suddenly clench into fists, he knew that his inference had been correct. "You shouldn't let that affect you so much. It really isn't that big of a deal."

"You don't know what you're talking about," she snapped, annoyed that he'd read her so easily.

"Yes, I do," Lee said calmly. "You made a mistake, Tenten, but it's not the end of the world."

"It's not about that," she said sulkily.

"No," he replied. "It's about your limits, your self-doubts and your fears, isn't it?"

Tenten glanced up at him, startled by his acute observations. Her eyes told him that he was correct.

Lee sat down next to her. "We're a lot alike, you and I, so sometimes it's easy for me to understand your thoughts. I just had to put myself in your place, and the reasons became obvious. During our last mission, you feel that you failed the team because your weapon attacks were unable to help Neji while he was assaulted by the bandits. You pride yourself on your weapon attacks, but when they proved to be useless in that real-life situation, you naturally felt weak and helpless. Later, I saw you talking with Neji. He was being a jerk, as far as I could tell, and I guess now that he was giving you the usual talk about geniuses and dropouts. And now, you've been training hard, practically abusing yourself as you try to prove your own doubts wrong. Am I correct?"

This entire speech had been delivered with an almost casual certainty, as though Lee knew that he was right. But the thing was, he was right. About everything. Tenten had never known that Lee could be so shrewd of an observer.

She nodded, affirming his question.

Lee glanced around at the targets set up all around the area. He noted the needles, the perfect aim that was Tenten's pride.

"How long have you been here?" he asked.

"Since noon," she answered in a subdued voice.

He contemplated this for a moment. "So...did you succeed?"

She didn't need to ask what he meant by that. They both knew that the other always pushed himself/herself to the limit, striving for a perfection that was nearly insane. Lee was asking her if she'd succeeded in proving to herself that her aim was as perfect as ever, if she'd succeeded in crushing her self-doubting attitude.

Tenten shook her head, slowly.

"Why?"

"I..." Tenten fumbled for the words, unsure of what she was trying to say. She shook her head again, feeling a familiar cloud of confusion looming over her. Her voice was soft as she asked, "Lee, what if Neji's right?"

"Neji's wrong," he said flatly.

"But what if we're the ones who are wrong?" she persisted. "Neji is so convinced that people can't change, that geniuses will always surpass normal people like us. And he's proven himself to be right time and time again, hasn't he? Hasn't he?" Her voice took on a desperate tone, her eyes pleading with him to tell her otherwise.

Lee was silent for a moment. Finally, he looked at her again and replied, "There will be a day when Neji becomes the one who is wrong. There's no such thing as his ridiculous theory about elites and dropouts. He's just fooling himself. A dropout will defeat a genius with hard work; that's the truth. And besides..."

"What?"

Lee smiled as he glanced at her. "And besides, you're not a dropout. The number of people in this world who have aim as perfect as yours is few -- you have a great talent, Tenten. Be proud of that, because you're a true kunoichi of Konoha."

A soft evening breeze rustled the leaves, blowing away the few clouds in the sky to unveil the silver face of the moon. Tenten just looked at Lee for several long moments, really looked at him. He usually seemed so...weird, almost comical with his haircut and clothing. She'd always considered him to be her teammate, just a teammate.

Now, she felt that he was more than just that.

Suddenly, Lee blushed, looking awkward as he ran a hand through his hair. He swallowed. "W-why are you staring at me like that?"

"Lee..."

She soft soprano of her voice broke the awkward moment, the canorous sound bringing something akin to reverence back to the atmosphere. Lee's nervous countenance evaporated.

"Yes?"

Tenten smiled, really smiled as a trickle of contentment returned to chase away the doubt in her mind. She shook her head, and whispered, almost to herself,

"Why?"

"Why what?" he echoed.

"Why did you come looking for me?" she questioned. "This isn't the first time I've gone off by myself. Why were you so worried?"

"You're my teammate," he answered simply. She noted that he glanced away for a moment to avoid making eye contact. "Those who would leave their teammates behind and not care about them are worthless scum."

"Is that it?" Tenten didn't know why she was prying like this. She didn't know what her own motives were, or what she wanted his reply to be. All she knew was that a part of her desperately needed to know... Whatever it might be. "We're on the same team, so you came looking for me?"

"Yeah, of course." Was it her imagination, or was Lee's voice suddenly trembling as she stared at him? He still avoided her eyes. "You're my teammate... Just my teammate..."

"Just a teammate?"

Something in her voice must have caught him off-guard, because suddenly he glanced at her. She caught his gaze, almost daring him to try to break eye contact again.

"Tenten... I didn't mean..." Lee sounded confused as he gazed back at her, unsure what to make of this... "You're not just a teammate, no... I mean, you...you're..."

"Lee." Not even thinking about what she was doing, Tenten laid a finger on his lips to stop his babbling. He immediately fell silent, and froze.

She gazed intently at him, and he was unable to do anything but stare back. Maybe it was a trick of the moonlight, but Tenten's eyes held a tenderness and understanding that he'd never seen before. And suddenly, he became all too aware of the tickling sensation that was her finger pressed against his lips, too aware of how close they were sitting...

Her eyes seemed to see right through him... Tenten drew back her hand, and he was almost sorry to feel the contact being broken. But she still stared at him with the same look in her eyes.

Suddenly, she smiled -- the sweetest smile he'd ever seen, filled with a tenderness that couldn't be explained.

"Tenten... I-"

"There you are!"

The loud, boisterous voice shattered the magical atmosphere. Tenten and Lee both sprang to their feet, their minds rudely jarred from the peaceful reverie just moments before. A kunai was in her hand before she registered who the speaker was.

"Gai-sensei!" Lee gaped at their teacher, who was wearing his trademark smile. "What--"

"I was looking for you two," the jounin informed them cheerfully. "It's not everyday that two of my protégés just suddenly disappear. People are getting worried about you, Tenten, Lee."

Worried? Tenten smelled a lie in his statement. Her parents were used to her running off by themselves -- they certainly wouldn't raise the alarm unless she'd been missing for at least two days. And as for Lee... She glanced at him, she saw doubt written on his face as well.

Gai quickly realized that they weren't buying this at all. He chuckled lightly. "Ha, well, actually that's not exactly true. But anyway, it is a little unusual for both of you to just wander off like this."

"I was training," Tenten said quickly.

"And I...was looking for Tenten," Lee admitted, unable to lie to his teacher.

"Oh? I would have thought that your disappearance meant you'd gone to train, Lee," Gai said sternly. "Tenten can look after herself."

"But..."

"Please, Gai-sensei," Tenten said, intervening. "I appreciate Lee's concern. If he hadn't come, I might have done myself an injury through my own stubbornness. He did the right thing."

"Yes," Lee added quickly, eager to clear his name in front of his teacher and role-model. "After all, those who do not look after their comrades are the worst kind of scum!"

Gai glanced at his two students, treating them to a moment of heavy silence before pronouncing his judgment.

Tenten resisted the urge to glance at Lee. She wondered how long Gai-sensei had been watching them... Thinking back, it would be so simple to misinterpret their conversation, especially in this poor light. But then again, had it just been a conversation? She'd felt it turning down a slightly different road than the normal "teammate-to-teammate" talk...

"Well, then!" Gai-sensei's voice cut across her thoughts. "It doesn't look like there is anything else to discuss. Tenten, I suggest that you go home now and get some proper rest after all this strain. And Lee! You've been slacking off lately! Run two hundred laps around the training field tomorrow for a warm-up!"

"Yes, Gai-sensei!" Lee said promptly, throwing a salute.

"Yes, sensei," Tenten added, but refrained from saluting. That was one thing she would never do, no matter the circumstances.

"Then, you're dismissed!" With a wink and a bright smile, Gai vanished in a poof of smoke.

Both Tenten and Lee let out a sigh of relief as their teacher left. Tenten shook her head.

"What timing," she sighed. "Trust Gai-sensei to always pop up at the worst of times."

"Yeah, but he's still a great man," Lee said, respect written clearly on his face. Then, he suddenly registered what Tenten had said. Glancing at her, he saw a small smile shadowing her lips.

"You never finished what you were going to say," she said softly.

"Um..." Lee swallowed, trying to stall for time. What had he been thinking? What was Tenten trying to get at, anyway? He had a suspicion...but what if he was wrong? "Well, ah... I, um... I was just saying that..."

The look in her eyes was making him feel dizzy. His thoughts were running away from him. The truth was coming out, whether he wanted to say it or not. "I...Tenten, I..."

"You what?" she prompted gently.

"I...have to go!" Even as the words left his lips, Lee mentally punched himself for being such an idiot. But he couldn't take the words back, and he'd already turned to run off when he felt a hand grasp his arm to restrain him.

"Lee!"

He froze. There was a choked tone to her voice. Was it disappointment? Anger?

"I need to tell you something," she said softly. Lee turned slowly to face her, his heart beating faster than usual. He glanced up at her face...

...And read a blazing anger in her eyes.

"You're an idiot!"

His mind barely registered that her words heralded danger before a punch connected solidly with his chin. The shock of it was doubled by two things: Tenten was the one who'd punched him, and it wasn't a rabbit-punch either. It hurt.

"What was that for?" he asked, shocked and indignant.

Tenten was glaring at him. "For being an idiot!" she replied heatedly. "I can't believe you, Lee!"

He gaped at her, feeling his own anger stirring. "What did I do?"

"You..." Tenten seemed to be fuming at herself, as if trying to find the most suitable words to fling at him. Finally, "You were asking for it!"

"How?"

"How? You were being a jerk, that's how!"

Her words stung; they hurt more than the punch she'd treated him to. He was a jerk? What the hell? He'd come all the way out here because he was worried for her. He'd comforted her, helped her overcome her fear and confusion, and now just when he thought...

His chest constricted in an unexpected spasm of emotional pain. No, he'd been a fool to even think of that.

But how dare she call him a jerk? She was the one who was being a complete bitch!

Anger lanced through him, riding along with the waves of hurt that tore at his heart.

Tenten threw another punch at him, but though it was dark the moon was bright enough to illuminate the training area for Lee to block her attack. Besides, she'd never been a match for him in taijutsu. He didn't fight back; he didn't need to -- Tenten wouldn't be able to lay another finger on him, not as long as he had his guard up. Physically, and emotionally.

"You jerk," she hissed under her breath. She suddenly spun around in a powerful roundhouse kick. "You jerk!"

Lee jumped to dodge. She was up in a flash, seeming filled with the intent to beat him to a pulp. He easily caught her fist as she tried to hit him again, almost too easily. He frowned to himself. Tenten wasn't a taijutsu expert, but this was just ridiculous. The energy behind her attacks was irregular, and her aim was shabby... This wasn't like her at all.

She tried to twist away, but he held on firmly, catching her other arm as she retaliated in vain.

"Stop it, Tenten!" he commanded firmly.

"Let go, you jerk!" She still struggled though he had her completely at his mercy. There was no way she could break free. "Let go!"

Lee immediately sensed that she was weak from physical exertion: her muscles trembled, and she barely had to the strength to put up the semblance of a fight. She was worn out, but wouldn't admit it.

He tightened his hold as she continued to struggle, wrapping his arm around her waist in an attempt to hold her still.

"Tenten! Stop it!" This wasn't good. If she persisted, he was going to have to knock her out to ensure her cooperation as he took her home.

"I hate you!" The cry tore from her throat, anger mingled with agony. Lee nearly let go in shock as he felt a warm drop splash onto his arm.

A tear?

Suddenly, she fell still. Her shoulders shook, though she tried to hold back her sobs. Tenten was crying, really crying. The tears flowed unchecked down her cheeks and she bit her lips, but it was useless. The floodgate of all her sorrow and frustration had finally broken from exhaustion and this unexpected emotional trial due to Lee.

He stood frozen, stunned by this sudden turn of events. She could have easily broken away at this point, but Tenten made no move to escape. Her body grew limp in his arms, and he could feel each tremor as the sorrow racked her body.

"I hate you..." The words were soft and slightly muffled, choked by her tears.

The words struck a chord in his heart -- not anger, not sorrow, but a horrible, terrible remorse. It was illogical, it made no sense at all why he should feel this way, but he hated himself for making Tenten cry. Somehow, it was his fault, no matter that it had been totally unintentional.

Tenten suddenly felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her, and a soft voice was whispering in her ear, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry... Please, forgive me."

She swallowed a sob, but the tears seemed to double in strength. The idiot... He was just making it worse; there was an inexplicable pain in her chest, a strange new sensation that she couldn't put a name to. To feel his arms around her, to hear his soft voice, so pained and remorseful... Her throat constricted, and a fresh wave of tears flooded her eyes.

"Leave me alone," she said hoarsely. She struggled half-heartedly, too weak to truly present any challenge, but Lee tightened his hold anyway.

"No," he said in reply. "I won't. I can't leave you... Not like this."

Tenten had never been this close to anyone before. She could feel his heart beating, could feel his soft breath on her neck. A shiver went down her spine, but her mind was too hazy with strain and fatigue to analyze it and figure out what it meant. Right now, all she could concentrate on was soft, steady beating of his heart.

"What are you trying to say?" she asked quietly, almost afraid to ask, yet desperately needing an answer.

"I don't know," was the reply. But he didn't sound confused; instead, his voice was calm, as though stating a simple fact. "I don't know what I'm trying to say. I don't know what you want to hear me say."

She would have been mad at him; she should have been mad at him for that almost idiotic answer. But the honest tone of his voice soothed her.

Tenten managed to raise her arm and cover his hand with her own small fingers.

"Then..." she said softly, "tell me what you're thinking about."

Lee felt her relax against him, felt all the tense anxiety in her body suddenly drain away. He closed his eyes, breathing in the faint scent of flowers that must have come from her shampoo.

He spoke -- softly, slowly, sincerely. "I'm thinking...about today, how much I worried when you disappeared on your own for so long. I chased after you, and found you here -- exhausted, training so hard you weren't even aware that you could have hurt yourself. You're so volatile sometimes; in the short space of time I've been here, you went from depressed to thoughtful to angry...to now. You're dangerous when you're angry; it really did hurt when you hit me..."

Lee paused, then continued, "I'm thinking of how much it hurt when you called me a jerk, and said you hated me. But most of all, I'm thinking about you. I'm thinking about that look in your eyes, the way you stared at me so intently. And I'm wondering what it all means."

"You seem to be thinking an awfully lot about something so trivial," Tenten said softly. But there was a small, unfathomable smile on her lips.

"No," he replied. "It's not trivial. It could be the world to me, the meaning of this."

"What do you think it means?" she asked in a hushed whisper. Tenten closed her eyes, leaning back so her head rubbed against his cheek. "Tell me."

When he didn't reply for several long moments, she opened her eyes, twisting her head around to gaze up at him. "Lee...?"

His eyes were mostly shadowed by his hair, and she couldn't make out his expression. She felt him wiping the tears from her cheeks; though his hands were rough from harsh training, his touch was gentle.

"Close your eyes," he whispered, "and I'll tell you."

She closed her eyes obediently, feeling her heart fluttering slightly as she wondered why this strange request.

Suddenly, all her wondering thoughts were wiped away as she felt a gentle pressure on her lips. For a moment, all she could register was shock.

Then...

Tenten found herself returning the kiss, turning around in his arms so that they faced each other instead of standing in that awkward position. She completely lost herself in the moment, thinking only about the pleasant rush in her heart.

When they finally broke apart, Tenten found her arms had traveled to wrap around his neck though she didn't remember the movement. His hands were a comforting weight at the small of her back, holding her close to him.

She closed her eyes, resting her head against his shoulder, wanting to just stay there forever in that moment of perfect contentment.

"Tenten..." His voice was a soft sigh, barely audible if they hadn't been so close together.

"Don't say anything," she replied, just as quietly. There was a smile on her lips. "I already know."

There was a moment of contented silence, then...

"But we should be getting back now." Ah, the dreaded voice of logic. "You need to rest, Tenten; you're about to fall asleep on your feet."

"I'd like to," Tenten said, smiling. "Just to stay here, with you." Her voice was fading even as she spoke. "Forget about anything else. Just...fall asleep...with you beside me..."

Lee felt her body grow limp as her breathing evened out in peaceful slumber.

There was something profound yet inexplicable in the way the soft beating of her heart fell into time with his -- so peaceful, meaningful, wonderful. It felt as though his whole world had suddenly fallen into the right, here with Tenten asleep in his arms. For now, his stubborn wishes for success were forgotten -- lost in this moment...this other perfection.

He closed his eyes.

"Aishiteru..."


Ah, I surprise even myself sometimes. Eh, heh...

When I started writing this, I originally intended it conclude with a very short scene between Tenten and Lee, where she confronts him about his crush on Sakura, and they confess their love for each other or something (this would have taken place after their first chuunin exam).

Then, during one stage, I thought that I preferred pairing Tenten with Neji -- hence, all those thoughts about the Hyuuga genius.

But then (yes, I know, I am so bad at being consistent), I decided I didn't like Neji, and that Lee was the better man in the end.

I don't know how Gai ended up in there... ((is sheepish)) But, all's well that ends well! (For those of you who like this pairing, anyway. Heehee.)

Anyway, thanks for reading this fic, and reviews are always appreciated!