Hey, peoples! I am so very sorry I released this late. I said a couple of days, but it turned into a week . I hope you forgive me : And wouldn't let me upload any of my documents! I was seriously going to cry : Well, I'm just in the process of starting this out, I know the bare outline of it, but the details so far are vague inside my brain. I'll probably have the next one up in two days at most (I'm serious this time!) Without further ado:
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Nope. Not even the whiskers.
Chapter One: It all started with…
"This is a kunai. You hold it like this. Now, throw it. Aim for that target."
Tenten bit the inside of her cheek in concentration and threw the kunai. It missed the target by a whole tree." Neji looked at the tree miserably.
"Um…Neji, right? Are you sure I specialized in flinging these things?"
"Almost 100 accuracy." Tenten sighed. She threw another kunai as hard as she could and plopped down onto the floor. "Come on, let's try again. It'll all come back to you." Tenten grumbled. This whole 'ninja' business was no fun. Was this what all girls her age did?
"Um…Neji…why don't we take a break?" Neji looked away and leaned against a tree. He looked deeply hurt. What was this dude's deal anyway? I mean, sure, she wasn't too thrilled about learning this stuff. But why was it so important anyway? She'd get it when she got it. As far as her knowledge on ninja-ing went, it was just a job.
Neji ran his fingers over a very battered old shuriken that had many nicks in it. And many memories.Flashback
"Your aim is off."
The small white-eyed boy looked over at the bun-haired girl who as walking over to him, arms behind her head. He shrugged and looked away. What did some stupid little girl know anyway? Didn't those people get it that he liked his alone time?
She walked in the middle of the nine targets, reached into her pockets, and threw nine shurikens. Each one of them hit the targets dead center. Neji's arrogant thoughts subsided as his face took on a look of surprise.
"How did you do that?"
She walked over to him, placed her hands on his arms, and repositioned them. He stared at her, wide-eyed. She smirked casually. "The position of your hands is throwing off the angle of your aim." He nodded as she continued to give him pointers on throwing shurikens. By the end of the day, he was able to hit all nine targets.
"How did you learn to throw shurikens like that?"
"I've just always had a natural talent for them. You're a Hyuga, right?" She pointed at his eyes. He nodded somewhat reluctantly. "I thought Hyuga kids weren't allowed to train outside."
"No...that's only the main house. I'm just a branch house member. I can go outside. It doesn't matter." Tenten shrugged. She was never one for politics. But whatever that meant, it must mean a lot to him, because that was the most words he'd said all say.
"Are you going to start at the academy tomorrow?" Again, he nodded. Tenten made a mental note to herself: The boy likes to nod.
"So am I! I'll see you tomorrow then." She waved as she turned around and walked away. Neji stared at her retreating figure, with the expression of a person that just got mugged, until she disappeared from sight.End Flashback
Neji looked at the girl sitting in the grass, hands tucked under her knees. Was this the Tenten he had grown up with? Or was in someone else, temporarily residing in her body? Her long, tawny hair swayed around her back with the light breeze. She looked nice with her hair down, but what happened to her buns? She always wore buns; half the population of Konoha knew her as "that one bun-haired chick with the needles."
Neji carefully tucked the shuriken inside his pockets and walked over to her. He sat down and carefully looked at her. She had Tenten's face, but there were lines of fatigue drawn all over her usually smooth, relaxed face.
Tenten gulped. She felt something tugging at her every time he looked into her eyes. Was it fear? Uneasiness? Confusion? Comfort? She couldn't tell. She felt so…detached from her mind.
She cleared her throat. "So tell me…what do I like to do in my spare time?"
"You like to sharpen your weapons, train, fortune telling."
Tenten felt an emptiness creep inside of her stomach. None of these words invoked any kind of emotions inside of her. "My friends?"
"Lee, Gai-sensei, Sakura, Ino, Hinata-sama, all of the other rookies."
"Sakura…the one with pink hair?" Neji nodded.
"Then…what are you?" Neji looked taken aback. She started flailing her arms around In front of her. "N-No! That's not what I meant. It's just that…"
"…Well, I don't remember you or anything." Her words cut at him, leaving behind a stinging pain. "But…I can't help but get a feeling that…you're important to me."
The pain stopped, but he could still feel the sting. Was this the way it would be for the rest of their lives? Him trying to recreate the Tenten he knew, and her, trying to become someone she doesn't remember?
"I just…sometimes…I don't know what I should do. What if I do something that I usually wouldn't do? What if I act a certain way that I'm not supposed to?"
So that explained her bland, passive behavior. Tenten was normally energetic; she didn't talk much, but she was always moving. He looked the other way, staring at the leaves slowly falling from a tree.
"We've been teammates since we graduated from academy. You've…always been there." "Until now…" Neji quickly took back his thoughts. It wasn't her fault, after all. She was trying; only time would heal her. The question was…how much time?
"Tell me something. Something funny that happened."Flashback
"AND NOW, MY NO LONGER PUPILS, YOU HAVE SHED YOUR CACOONS OF THE SPRINGTIME OF YOUTH, AND NOW EMERGE ARE BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLIES!"
Tenten smashed her cup under her fist. If he said "springtime" or "youth" one more time, Konoha would have one less a green, prancing freak to worry about. Neji's eyebrow was twitching so fast that you couldn't see it twitch.
Gai swaggered around. He reached for his 87473875th bottle of sake, too drunk to notice that Tenten had already replaced the rest of the sake with milk.
He brought up a glass of sake to make yet another toast.
Tenten pressed her hand against her forehead. "Toast number fourty-six…"
"IN THE WORLD OF A JOUNIN, THERE IS NO MORE SPRINGTIME OF YOUTH. YOU WILL FEND FOR YOURSELF AGAINST THE TYRANNY OF THOSE WHO WISH TO DIMINSH YOUR BURNING FLAMES OF LIFE!"
Neji took another big sip from his bottle and inhaled sharply. He tapped tenten on the shoulder and whispered something into her ear. Something about "…ditch…migraine…Ichiraku." Tenten nodded.
"Hey! You guys, how about some karaoke!"
"Oooo!" Gai and Lee ran up to the karaoke stand. Tenten shook her head. Those poor innocent civilians…
While they were busy 'getting their groove on' with the karaoke, Neji and Tenten called upon all the stealth they had learned in their ninja careers and slipped out of the bar. They made a run for it to the nearby ramen stand."
Tenten laughed softly, covering her mouth. "Did that really happen?"
"Wow…it must've been very funny."
"Torture is the more appropriate word." She smiled a little and looked at the unfamiliar pale, white-eyed man in front of her. She didn't think she would be the kind of girl who liked the strong, silent, manly men.
Neji shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. Her cheeks were tinted a pale pink as she turned away and played fumbled around with a flower that was beside her foot.
"Did I like flowers?"
Neji winced slightly at the excitement in her voice. "Well…you said they were impractical." She deflated a little, before picking herself up.
"I see…Ino, she is the flower shop girl, right? With blond hair?"
"Hinata…she's your cousin, the quiet one?" he nodded again. "They don't know, yet?"
"How did they find out?"
"They all know you very well. Only a fool wouldn't be able to tell."
She looked depressed as she started plucking the petals off of the flower. Was he always like this, or is he just being mean? In a matter of seconds, the flower was reduced to confetti. What was the point if she didn't like flowers anyway? She let the shredded petals scatter in the winds…
She stood up and brushed the grass from her knees. "I'm ready. Let's try again."
Neji let out a sigh of momentary relief. He stood behind her and very carefully, very gently, placed his hands on hers, positioning them to increase her accuracy. Memories of the day he first met Tenten, with her aiding him in throwing shurikens, flooded into his head and flashed before his eyes. He laughed bitterly at the irony of it all; it all started with a shuriken…
I'm guessing this fic will be longer than my last one. Thanks to all who gave me encouragement and support! Please review, make my day : Thanks for waiting. For being s darn nice, I'll release the next chapter today as well.