Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. If I did, I would've added a lot more romance between my fav characters. And I would have also
Summary: It's time for a trip to the zoo! But will this trip cause happiness or heartache for the kunoichis of Konoha? NejiTen ShikaIno NaruHina SasuSaku
Started: July 2, 2006 about 5:00
Finished: July 3, 2006 12:13
Author's Note: Everyone is 18 except for Tenten, Neji, and Lee, who are all 19. Also, there are small spoilers such as the fact that Neji is a jounin and Tenten and Lee are chuunins. This takes part sometime in Naruto ll, but I really don't feel like getting into depth with all that. Oh, and Sasuke isn't with Orochimaru anymore and everyone knows about the Kyuubi.
I'm sorry if anyone seems OOC in this story, but I must confess that this is my first Naruto story. Also, I haven't read all the manga or seen all of the anime (I tend to skip around from episode to episode) so don't get mad at me if I get something wrong or spell something incorrectly.
Chap. 1 Summary: Tenten has always liked giant pandas. She'd like to tell Neji about why she models her hair after a giant panda, but he doesn't seem to care, now does he? Or, at least, she thinks he doesn't care…
The Kunoichis' Animals
Giant Panda: Neji x Tenten
"I haven't been to the zoo in ages! What about you, Neji?" the weapons mistress of Konoha, Tenten, asked the boy sitting next to her on the bus.
The boy merely glanced her way before resting his head on his propped up fist, letting out a sigh of pure boredom. Tenten ignored her teammate's obvious lack of interest, and she continued to stare out the window. Her chocolate colored eyes widened like a child's as they approached the zoo. She may have thought her sensei was crazy most times, but she'd definitely have to thank him for this 'field trip'.
Tenten had just got to the training grounds for her team's weekly training session. Ever since Neji became a jounin and she and Rock Lee had become chuunins, they had little time to train with each other anymore. And although it was a bliss not to hear so much speeches about youth anymore, she kind of missed being around her sensei and teammates. She had, after all, grown attached to all three of them.
She walked up to Neji, seeing as their sensei and Lee were swept up in a moment of 'Lee!' 'Gai-sensei!' 'Lee!' 'Gai-sensei!'. But before she had time to ask the genius what exactly the other two were doing, Gai announced loudly, "Tenten! Our lovely youthful flower is here at last!"
Tenten winced mentally, not liking being described by the terms 'lovely' and 'youthful' and 'flower'. She smiled weakly as her sensei gave her the good guy pose. Lee jumped over to her, also rewarding her with a much-unneeded pose similar to Gai's. "Tenten! Gai-sensei is taking us on a field trip of youth today!"
Warnings were flashing off in her head. Where would these youth obsessed freaks take her? A youth factory built by Gai-sensei to brainwash the minds of innocent children?
Hey, you never know. It could happen. Just look at Lee.
"Yosh! We're going to the youthful zoo!" Another good guy pose. One of these days, Tenten was going to go blind from all those shiny teeth. She was already half deaf because of the 'ping' sound.
But that didn't matter at the moment. She was going to the zoo.
Hey, it was a whole lot better than Gai-sensei's youth factory that brainwashed innocent children.
Now Tenten and Neji were sitting side by side on the rickety old bus Gai and Kakashi had rented to take them to the zoo. In front of them, Lee was cheering loudly. In turned out, they weren't the only team along for the ride. In fact, Gai, Kakashi, Asuma, and Kurenai had all planned this out for their old genins.
The four senseis had all agreed that their former students needed a break from C- and B- missions. So they got together about a week before and decided to take their former students to the zoo. Kurenai and Asuma had put their money together so they could pay for all twelve ninjas, and Gai had rented the rickety old bus before Kakashi could.
And it was Kakashi who explained to them that they weren't going with them.
"Kakashi-sensei! You're twenty-five minutes late!" Naruto screamed at the silver-haired shinobi upon his arrival.
Kakashi laughed softly and tried to explain, "Oh, look, the bus is getting ready to leave. You had all better get on." He ushered the twelve shinobi onto the old bus and waved to them from the windows.
"Wait! Kakashi-sensei, aren't you getting on, too?" Sakura yelled at him, sticking her head out the window.
Still waving, Kakashi produced four tickets from thin air. "I'd love to come along, but I just got these tickets for that new restaurant everyone's been talking about. It's to celebrate Asuma's and Kurenai's engagement."
Before the twelve could jump off the bus, it started rolling in the direction of the zoo. Kakashi chuckled at the sight of the shinobi trying to kill the bus driver so they could get out.
And there they were, stuck on a two hour long bus ride to some godforsaken zoo. Tenten had fallen asleep almost as soon as she sat on her seat, seeing as Neji wasn't willing to start a conversation. But her nap only lasted the first half-hour, seeing as a fight between Kiba and Naruto had started. And not long after that, another fight between Ino and Sakura erupted when Ino had proclaimed for the nth time that Sasuke belonged to her and only her. That was followed shortly by annoying exclamations that made Tenten want to rip out all of her hair.
But she guess it had all been worth it, especially when she caught a glimpse of the zoo. This would be her second ever visit, and she couldn't wait to share this experience with all of her friends, despite how demented they were.
They all clambered off the bus excitedly. Even if it was a place as childish as a zoo, it was still a vacation, nonetheless.
Tenten shielded her eyes from the sun as she peered up at the entrance to the zoo. She gave a small laugh and turned to Neji, tugging on his arm. The Hyuuga stared at her silently, those milky orbs seeming to see right through her. Tenten felt a shiver crawl up and down her spine at the intense gaze, and she let go of his arm quickly. She hadn't yet quite gotten used to the odd things she felt when she was around him.
"What do you want to do first, Neji?" she asked with a bright smile.
He blinked, unsure. Tenten almost burst out in a fit of giggles. It was as though no one ever asked for his insight before. He carefully looked at the big map by the entrance to the zoo. He stared at it for what seemed like forever. Finally, he turned to Tenten and said, "What do you want to do?"
Tenten grabbed his arm, laughing out loud. It figured. Neji had never been to a zoo before. He didn't know what was what or what to expect. He needed someone to guide him to all the right places. And if memory served her right, she knew just the place she wanted to take him to.
After grabbing a map of the zoo and leaving the others behind arguing at the entrance about what they wanted to do first, Tenten led Neji by the arm to her favorite spot. Along the way, she explained, "This is actually my second time here. The first time I was here, I was only six and my mother took me while my father was on a mission."
Neji listened, his face not showing any hints as to what he was feeling. After about fifteen minutes of walking and Tenten pointing to an exhibit that she remembered from her first visit to the zoo, they arrived to what seemed to be several outdoor enclosures with big hunks of fur in them. But the more Neji looked closely, he could tell that the hunks of fur were real live animals.
Tenten led him farther, past the enclosures. They passed grizzly bears, sun bears, Kodiak bears, and even polar bears. Neji's pearl-colored eyes widened about a millimeter when he saw the white bear swimming around in its little pond. How could a bear from the arctic live in such a different climate? He'd have to ask Tenten sometime before the day ended.
Tenten let go of Neji's arm just as they reached the last bear enclosure. She ran to the little wooden pole with information about the bear they were looking at and read it aloud, "Giant Panda, common name for a bear found in provinces of western China. The giant panda resembles other bears in general appearance, with the exception of the black patches over its eyes, ears, and legs and the black band across its shoulders. Giant pandas live in bamboo forests at high elevations and feed primarily on bamboo. Unlike other bears, they vocalize by bleating rather than roaring. The giant panda's so-called sixth front toe is not a digit or claw but an enlarged wrist bone that functions as a thumb in grasping food. The total number of giant pandas in the wild is now about 1500. Because giant pandas are restricted to a small area of western China, their status may be the most precarious of all the species of bears. World interest and research funds from many nations have improved the giant panda's status, but the species remains vulnerable to humans. Well, that's sort of interesting, now isn't it, Neji?" Tenten looked up at Neji. "Neji?"
Neji stared for a second at the bear, taking in its dark beady eyes surrounded by black fur, its black nose and ears, its black shoulders and arm and legs, and its white head and body. The Hyuuga stared a moment longer at the giant panda's ears before looking at Tenten. He squinted at her, then went back to look at the panda. Tenten chuckled and asked, "Do you think I look like a panda?"
He hesitated before giving his answer. "Yes."
He was grateful that his answer did not offend her. Truth be told, he was sort of afraid that if he said the wrong answer, she'd get mad and leave him alone, right by the giant panda enclosure, so that no one would find him and he'd be lost forever in the zoo.
Tenten looked up at the animal in the enclosure, eating its bamboo without a care in the world. "My mom said I looked like a panda, too."
Neji's face didn't give anything away, but he was slightly intrigued. Tenten rarely offered her family story, and even though he had known her for several years, he still didn't know anything about the family of the weapons mistress.
"Like I said before, my father was on a mission when my mother brought me here. That day, she put my hair up into buns, like these." The weapons mistress pointed to her never changing hairstyle.
Neji nodded, telling her in his silent language to go on. "Anyway, when she took me to see the giant pandas, she told me that I was just as cute as a panda because my buns looked like panda ears. Don't you think?" Tenten giggled, knowing she wouldn't get an answer from him. "And since I was such a foolish little girl at the time, I told her that I'd wear my hair in buns everyday just to look cute for her. Wasn't I so sweet?" Neji didn't answer that time either. But that was okay. It wasn't like she was expecting him to. Or like she wanted him to.
She'd only been in love with him ever since they were genins. She'd only wished she had enough courage to tell him how she felt. She'd only wished that he felt for her the same feelings she felt for him.
But that wasn't possible. Because Neji was a Hyuuga, unfeeling and uncaring. Well, he had been when they had first met, but after his fight with Naruto in the chuunin exam, he'd pretty much given up some of his cold exterior.
"So I've been wearing my hair in buns ever since that day. Well, except for the occasional day when I want to wear braids, but that's a different story." Tenten was now standing on the gate separating the panda's enclosure from the outside world, leaning against the railing with her eyes staring blankly ahead. "Turns out, the mission my father was on that day was his last. He was killed on that mission, and Mom and I learned about it only two days after we went here. After that, Mom raised me until she got killed on another mission. Luckily, by then I was old enough to care for myself. Otherwise, I'd be up a creek without a paddle, seeing as I had no other family to turn to." Tenten gave a soft laugh, still not looking at the Hyuuga. She could feel his beautiful eyes watching her, examining her, trying to decipher what she was feeling.
Neji let out a small breath. He, too, had lost his father, and he never knew his mother.
Tenten put on a happy face, finally turning to him at last. "Well, now that we're done here, let's go explore the rest of the zoo. Maybe we'll find the rest of the group. Do you think they're wondering where we are? I know! Let's go look at the polar bears. I always thought they looked cute."
Tenten reached for his arm again, this time to pull him away from the giant panda exhibit. But Neji wouldn't move a muscle, refusing to leave that moment. The weapons mistress looked back at him, seeing that he was staring at the giant panda eating bamboo. She waved her hand in front of his face. "Come on, Neji. Let's go look at the polar bears."
"Your mother was right." Tenten froze. She was starting to regret all that she'd told him. It wasn't like he cared about her life story, right? He was, after all, only a teammate, a friend, nothing else. She had drilled that into her head for several years, telling herself that he'd give up respecting her if he knew of her feelings for him.
Neji turned his head to look her in the eyes. Chocolate clashed with milky white. Tenten wanted to look away, afraid that he could see the grief for her dead family and her love for him in her eyes.
She hadn't realized that he had grabbed the hand she had been recklessly waving in his face. She shivered at his warm touch and subconsciously noticed how nice it felt to have her hand in his. With his other hand, he brushed a lock of brown hair out of her eyes. She was frozen in place, wishing that the moment would end already. She was sure by now he could see her longing for him, and she didn't want to be rejected, not by him. She felt heat rushing up to her cheeks, and she tried to force the blush down. But she didn't succeed. It didn't matter, though. Neji had already seen it.
"The panda is cute." She was stunned by his words. Had the Hyuuga Neji just said the word cute? Tenten hadn't thought that word was in his vocabulary.
"The panda is very cute," he repeated, the tone of his voice a softer whisper. He leaned his head forward until their foreheads were touching and their lips were just millimeters away from each other. He stared deeply into her eyes, and she saw a flash of something she had never seen before. A small, caring smile adorned his face as he whispered the next three words that took her breath away. "Just like you."
She closed the gap between them, surprising the Hyuuga. Their first kiss was slow and steady, but filled with emotion. Neji was the one who deepened it, sending shocks through both their bodies. Both wondered how they had managed to last as long as they did without feeling as wonderful as they did that moment.
When they finally parted, both were speechless. Their first kiss had been the most amazing thing they had ever experienced. And nothing could ruin it.
"Ew, Mommy! Those two were kissing!" a little boy screeched behind them. Neji's head whipped around as he glared at the boy. Tenten laughed loudly as the boy held onto his mother's skirt, pointing at Neji as though he were the devil himself, "Mommy! That man is scaring me!"
The mother scowled at her child, grabbing his hand as she walked away, but not without one last accusatory look at Neji.
When Neji turned to face Tenten again, she was holding her gut as she laughed uncontrollably. He tried glaring at her, too, but he couldn't hold in the smile that graced his features.
"You're smiling." Tenten stated suddenly, she grabbed Neji's hand and squeezed it lightly. He was taken aback by the caring, loving smile she was giving him. He felt his insides warm at the sight of her, and he couldn't help but pull her into a tight embrace. Tenten immediately sank into his embrace as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Whenever you feel like talking about your mother or father again, you can always cry on my shoulder." He whispered in her ear. Tenten nodded against his chest, tightening her hold around his neck. She looked up at him and kissed him tenderly. It seemed like the only natural thing to do.
Neji returned the kiss and when they parted, Tenten told him, "I love you."
"That had better mean 'I love you, too, Tenten' or else I'm going to kill you when we train tomorrow."
"I love you, too, Tenten."
Tenten smiled as she glanced over at the giant panda. She silently thanked the panda. Because if not for the panda, and the memory of her first time at the zoo, she would've never have told Neji about her parents, and she would've never have told him how she felt. And she would've never have been standing in Neji's embrace at that moment if it weren't for that panda.
Ok? What are your opinions? I personally think it was very cute for my first Neji/Tenten. Wow, this was only 6 pages & it took me 8 hours just to write it...I'm a fast typer, but a slow thinker.
Be nice! REVIEW!
Summary for Chap. 2:
Two-toed Sloth: Shikamaru x Ino
Ino never liked the zoo, and she especially doesn't like it after she and Shikamaru are separated from the rest of the group. But now that she's thinking about it, he has his perks, and he does kind of resemble that somewhat cute sloth…