Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me…
A/N: humm…. I can't write romance, I find. At least not very well. So sorry if I've completely mangled up your idea of a perfect ending. Feel free to leave any comments/criticisms on how to improve.
" I don't know."
It sounded foolish, even to Tenten's ears. But what could she do? She wasn't really sure of most things anymore, only basic instincts and the remnants of romantic feelings.
She noticed Neji watching her, as if not sure what to say. And truthfully, Neji didn't.
"You don't know?"
Tenten felt just a bit awkward now, and averted her eyes from his piercing gaze.
Her method of forgetting Neji had been ridiculously simple- stop thinking about him, preoccupy yourself, and control herself. And now, 2 weeks after, that goal of hers so long ago didn't seem so far away. Maybe it had been just the thought of loving Neji, having the security of loving someone who ultimately would never change too much, that had given her comfort.
It was that trait that she had loved so much about him in the first place, and what had made her fall in love in the first place. And she wasn't going to deny it; she had loved him.
Was this supposed to be another chance? A part of her hoped it would be, though an equally as pushy part of her screamed for her to get a grip and stop acting like a lovesick fool. She hated being weak and compared to the rest of the girls in Konoha. She prided herself on being somebody that could easily fit into a male shinobi society of battle.
Tenten looked back at him, wondering just what he thought. She had no idea if this was just his way of telling her that her love was weak or that he could never think of loving her. But it hurt, to know that she might have lost the first man she loved as a friend. Neji was dependable as a friend above all else. And it was the most important thought running through her mind right then, so she decided to just state it.
If you love something, set it free…
"Look Neji." She said with her eyes averting once again to rest on a tree behind him. "I know that love is weak, and loving…you above all else was foolish, or in your eyes anyways."
She continued desperately, noticing something change in the Hyuga's blank face. Panic shot through her. " But I have been trying to get over you, and I do think it's working, and really, I just really don't want to lose you as a friend."
" And… it would just make things awkward if we were at odds on missions, and…" she was just rambling now, not really knowing how to stop. But the emotion that she thought resembled resentment on his face made her heart clench horribly. 'Get a GRIP on yourself!' she thought to herself silently, finally stopping to take a deep breath.
She finally just sagged, the wind blown out of her sails. "I'm just rambling like an idiot here." She sighed. "Look, I know I'm weak, but I'm getting stronger, and I don't want to have to stop sparring with you because then I really will fall behind. I don't want to lose you as a friend, because you're…good one… I guess and it would make things fall apart for the team and I know how much you hate failures."
"So…even if you think me stupid now, or hate me, I'm sorry. But if you don't want to stay friends, I understand." She finished, daring to raise her eyes to meet his. Because she wasn't going to show him that she was weak, no matter how much she just wanted to sink onto the grass and lie there.
"Are you quite done?"
Tenten bit her lip, knowing that things had gone downhill. "Yeah." She said a breath above a whisper, cursing herself for not projecting a confident manner. " I'm sorry to have bothered you then." She turned around, eyes not meeting his, preparing to leave.
Neji had been listening to Tenten the whole time in amazement behind a mask of indifference. What Tenten had thought was resentment was no more than just Neji's bad attempt to hide amazement, what came through being some mangled emotion that oddly resembled anger.
And it all made so much sense, when Tenten had just let everything out, because things were becoming clearer now than they ever were before. And in the farthest reaches of his mind, where a part of him still dreams of the future and fantasies that are every bit as unrealistic as your or mine's, he can see an image of him and Tenten, 10, 20 years down the road, happy as can be.
It shocks him, amazes him, scares him, but most of all, and fills him with contentment. How weird it was that an argument that had lasted days and probably months beforehand could be resolved in a split second. Because when you get it, you just get it.
Are you quite done?
He hadn't said that to be mean. He just really wanted to speak. Tell her he could see it and did believe in them, though obviously not in so many words. What his mind is able to scream and what his mouth is able to say were two completely different things, and he doubted that he could get anything half as meaningful as what his brain was thinking out of his mouth. And then when she started to leave, his heart clenched horribly. And he knew that not many chances like this would exist later, and although part of him told him it was too soon, he decided to take the plunge anyways.
A warm hand took hold of her wrist as she turned to go, a silent plea for her to stay.
"If it helps, you were right before."
She turned around, not quite believing her ears, fighting the floaty feeling that was threatening to rise and consume her chest. "About what?"
" That I'm entirely too stoic." "And without somebody to keep me here, I'd probably lead just as hollow a life as you pictured it to be." That didn't make much sense, Neji knew. He sighed mentally. It sounded so much better in his head. Damn.
He cut her off, speaking first, because damn it, he'd waited for her before, so now it was his turn. " But I know that…if you were here to keep me grounded…" He trailed off, completely at a loss for words.
But Tenten understood. She was good that way, she always had known Neji better then he knew himself. So it just seemed right when she made the first move and hugged him, because she knew he would never have taken the initiative.
Tentative arms wrapped around her waist, and he allowed himself to bury his face in her hair, undoing the elastics that normally kept her hair up in their buns. And the smell of shampoo wafted into his nose, and under all that, the smell of her, of just Tenten, and a smell no other words could describe because it was just she.
She smiled into his shoulder. But she knew that they were still shinobi, and stuff like this may not last forever. So she's going to savour what she can.
And once again, it was Tenten that took the initiative, though it isn't as if she was complaining. She pressed a small kiss to the side of his mouth, a small one, to be sure. But Neji is never one to be denied, and through instincts that he didn't know he had, he managed to take control of what started out as a small start to something bigger. It was far from perfect, neither having much experience, but it was still satisfying, and just knowing that each other was there was more than enough.
And at times like this, a little phrase that Tenten had often read in storybooks as a child floated up to fill her mind. She had though it was incredibly dismal when she had first read it, because it was more based on chance than anything else. But her grin widened as she thought just how much it applied to her.
"You're welcome, Neji."
If you love something, set it free. But if it comes back, it's yours to keep…
This could have easily been a three-chapter story, but I'm weird so I stretched it. And it's also kinda short. :D BUT IT'S DONE. Reviews?