Ahh! I'm only 5 reviews away from my goal of 100 reviews. You see all those crazy stories out there with a billion reviews or so, and it motivates you, no? So if I could just get a 100…well, that's like one small step, right? Thanks to everyone who reviewed, it really made me come up with chapters faster. Sadly, this is the last chapter. I'm very thrilled you all enjoyed it, from what I can tell from your reviews. So many of you are such nice people, and I never got flamed (Yet D8) all of your reviews have been encouraging, especially the ones with constructive criticism. Thanks again, everybody! I hope this meets your standards.Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto D8
Chapter Eleven: Somewhere I Belong
Tenten spooned at the vomit-like consistency of the broth the crazy hospital people expected her to eat.
She was too full. And she was seconds away from overflowing.
He entered the small, dimly lit hospital room with a glass of water. Tenten winced at how cold the water felt in her hot, lumpy throat. She swallowed down the water with some difficulty.
"Doctor says you were probably just exhausted from over-exposure to the heat. You'll be fine by tomorrow." Tenten shook her head.
"I'm not sick." Neji ignored her as he tried, without success, to shove the disgusting broth into her clenched teeth. She couldn't help but feel defeated.
This was what they both wanted to desperately, and now that they had it, he didn't even believe her. He wouldn't even listen to her. Didn't he see that it was slowly cutting at her, killing her?
"Neji. I told you…I'm…me. I re-" He silenced her. He then moved closer to her until they were only centimeters away.
"You said before you passed out that you wanted to pretend to be the old Tenten. You don't have to lie to me; I still like you just the way you are." The tears that stung her eyes tasted salty as the tears seeped into the shaky corners of her mouth.
"You don't even realize it. I tried so hard, Neji. And you don't even care. How could you forget me?" Tenten felt a bitterness inside her mouth that she couldn't wash away with her glass of water. Would he really give up on her that easily? Saying she felt sad was an understatement; Tenten sat in the corners of Rock Bottom.
Tenten turned away laid down on her bed, trying to sleep. Neji sat down on a chair besides her and looked at her 'sleeping' figure.
…Could it really be her? Was she really herself again? "No…you said you wouldn't think about her anymore. She's not coming back. Don't ruin both your lives over something that happened so long ago." Neji laid his chin is his head. The bags under his eyes were purple and wrinkly.
Sitting here, next to Tenten with her back to him, Neji could almost feel like it was really her. He almost fooled himself.
Sakura had Tenten sit up on the bed as she did a few examinations. She pried open her tired eyes, examining them closely. "Is something wrong with my eyes?"
Sakura shook her head. "You're perfectly fine, minus a few cuts and scrapes. It's just…it's good to have you back…Tenten." The hint in her voice when she said her name was unmistakable.
"Oh come on, you can see it in your eyes; they're like a mix between a newborn and a wise old woman."
Sakura cursed under her breath as a few tears slithered down the crook of Tenten's nose. Why was she always saying the wrong things? "Did I do something wrong? I'm so sorry, Tenten." Tenten shook her head vigorously. More tears spilled out of her glassy eyes, soaking the hospital scrub at her knees.
"He doesn't know Sakura. He's been by my bedside for days, and you can just tell right away. He can't tell Sakura. He doesn't know what he put me through. All those times, when the 'new' me could tell he missed the 'old' me, I could feel it somewhere inside. But know I think he really doesn't miss me at all."
Sakura gathered Tenten in her arms in a motherly way and rocked the unstable girl. "Oh Tenten…that's not it at all. It's my fault." Sakura waited for her to protest, but she couldn't speak yet; she was shaking with tears. "He…I told him to let go of you. It wasn't right. What he was doing wasn't right either, but that doesn't make what I said any better. He never forgot you, Tenten. And I can tell you, he never will."
Tenten inhaled deeply several times until she was sure she could talk. Her voice sounded weak and hoarse. "Sakura…how can I convince him? It really is me…you believe me right?"
"Of course I do. And…you shouldn't have to convince him. In fact, I'm sure he already knows…we'll just give him the shove he needs."
Tenten searched through her brain, looking for something; something that had been forgotten. It had to be something that he would remember…
Tenten was lying in the grass with her hands beneath her head, humming a song.I'm going back to where you said
Tears disappear to whenever they're shed
Somewhere I would find you when I fell apart
Recollecting the pieces seeping out of my heart
I lost myself to the hollows in the center
Sing me the requiems of uncertain lamenters
I'm only halfway in the grave, but you're already burying me
Don't forget; I'll linger on you 'til my mind's set free
Tenten could hear the grass crunch under the weight of someone's footsteps.
Neji scratched at his head. He heard that song somewhere…
He saw her, lying in the grass with the same distant expression, the same hat. "No…it can't be. It must be a"
"Coincidence? Yah, that's what I was thinking too."
"…Why didn't you show up?"
"…" This was starting to creep him out.
She jumped to her feet and puffed up angrily. "Fine! I didn't come because I didn't feel like it! I'm not having a good ha-I mean, I'm just not having a good day! Okay?" Tenten made sure to follow the script very closely. She had to get every detail right, down to the smallest gestures or blinks.
Neji was tired. He decided to just play along with the unwritten script. "The hat?"
"What? Now I can't wear hats anymore?" Neji noted that her voice wasn't the frantic, rushed voice it was back then. It was a more knowing, teasing voice.
Neji walked over and pulled the baseball cap off. Her long brown hair tumbled down to her shoulders, and kept falling, until it was halfway down her back. Her hair fluttered gracefully in the light breeze. She looked beautiful; more beautiful then she did two years ago.
His voice was a mix of a question and a statement. It was more to himself than to her. The way it sounded in his mouth made a whole world of difference. It contained disbelief, grief, exhaustion, eagerness, a hint of hopefulness, and a dash of affection, all whirled together into two syllables that swirled into her ears.
The usual fragile note that he used to say her name was gone. Tenten walked over to him carefully, and answered his question without words.
She placed on hand on his shoulder and used it to raise herself on her toes. Tenten reached up and, ever so softly, brushed her lips against his cheek. She tried to run away, but his arm was latched onto her wrist.
"Do you believe me now? Or am I going to have to actually run all the way down that street?"
He just stared at her with a pained look in his face. His face was twisted up in an effort not to shed tears. But more than anything, he looked tired. She couldn't really blame him, she supposed. Tenten had to look away; that look of his was breaking her apart.
"I just don't know anything anymore, Tenten."
"Did you give up that I would ever remember?" He hesitated for a while, but shook his head firmly.
"I thought I owed it to you, in the least, to look after you until you came back. In the back of my head, there was always a small voice telling me to wait for you. And I never bothered to correct it."
He wrapped both of his arms around her and pulled her closer. She let herself get dragged to him and closed the gap between them. Tenten kissed him, with one hand in his now short hair, and the over pressed against his chest, where four pointy bumps pricked at her fingers.
"And here I am."
"And here you are."
"Do you still want to forget…this whole thing happened? Do you want to just live like we always did?"
He felt her head shake side to side. "I'll never forget things anymore. Because everything's important."
Tenten was on the floor with her limbs sprawled all over. Her head was propped against the couch lifelessly. Her hair was splayed all over the floor. Her hands were empty and cold. A little three-year-old girl with brown hair and lovely pale, copper eyes was braiding her hair.
Neji turned the key to his house and entered. The first thing he saw was Tenten, on the floor. From the looks of it, she had passed out, hitting her head on the floor. No…not again…panic raced through his head. Neji walked over to the small girl and picked her up.
He walked over to where she lay; she looked dead.
He set the girl down and grabbed Tenten by the shoulders, shaking her. Tenten's limp body lolled like a doll's as her eyelashes fluttered while she opened her eyes. They looked innocent and empty. "W-Who are you? Who am I? Where am I?"
Neji's nightmares resurfaced. The corners of his mouth were slowly dropping downwards; Sakura had warned him that is she ever fell or hit her head again, there was a very high possibility that she would lose her memory again. So why was he so unprepared for it?
Tenten couldn't take it; she cracked. Her wide, toothy grin spread across her face, stretching from ear to ear. The look on his face was too sad for her to bear. Her laughs snapped Neji out of his reverie. He huffed and turned away from her. Tenten walked over, still giggling like a little girl, and rubbed his shoulders.
"Ah, come on Neji. I was just kidding." She poked him in the side with her finger playfully.
He shrugged her hands off of him. "It's not funny, Tenten." He was obviously very hurt and upset. "I lost you once; I can't again. Don't…scare me. Not like that, ever again. Do you understand?" Tenten's face softened a little. When he used his dictator voice, she knew she was in trouble.
She walked up behind him and hugged him, pressing the side of her face against his back. Her hands joined against his toned stomach. His stern, cross-armed posture eventually relaxed a little as one of his hands gently held onto both of her small hands. "Come on, Neji. We can't fight; not in front of the kid. We don't want her to become those freaky kids who are scarred over painful parental memories, like this one kid I used to know; think his name was Hyuga Neji." The little girl was playing with a kunai and jabbing things with it, humming innocently.
"Besides…it'll take a lot more than a little fall to conquer Tenten's fortress of memory!"
Tenten breathed in the silence around them. "I won't let go of you so easily, Hyuga Neji. Know that…"
He turned around so that they were facing each other, hugging. Her head landed softly against his chest; his chin rested on the top of her head. He had one arm around her shoulders and one around her waist.
He scoffed. "Better not."
Thanks for reading this, you guys rock! Help me reach my goal of 100 reviews, please! xD Be on the lookout for my next story in a few days! Probably have it up tomorrow, or the day after that, or so on. Just check! Sayonara!