Disclaimer: Naruto and Co. don't belong to me. They are a privately held corporation based out of Konoha Valley.
Notes: I know that as usual I've posted the birthday fic late. I did it for Naruto's birthday fic; I barely made it in time for Tenten's. This was supposed to be a oneshot, was deleted and rewritten for being stupid to read multiple times, and is now a series. Hopefully it'll be finished by Sasuke's birthday. (Which will probably be late too)
The first time Tenten had given Hyuuga Neji a present, it was for his thirteenth birthday, and they were both newly-instated genin underneath an arguably insane, inarguably powerful Maito Gai. The kunoichi had thought long and hard about this - this celebrating of her new teammate's date of birth - and had come to her conclusion with less than full certainty.
She knew his birthday was on July 3 – and that was not due to her, upon learning who her teammates were to be, having obtained and then memorized their dossiers and stats. She knew because the third of July had become the equivalent of an official holiday in their class for all their Academy years. Starting weeks beforehand, the females of their year would embark on a very intense, very competitive campaign to make Hyuuga Neji's birthday the best one ever oh my god!
Whether it was or not, it was certainly always memorable.
Wardrobe and make-up was planned with an intensity that rivaled the creation of contingency war-plans. Colors were mixed, matched, analyzed and compared. Presents were sent away for, labored over, bought – stolen - sabotaged. Anxious mothers, hoping for the chance to become related to the prestigious Hyuuga clan, trotted their equally anxious daughters around all the best shops of Konoha. A veritable feast was cooked in various kitchens. The classroom was gone over by professional interior designers and party consultants and decorated accordingly. Arguments broke out. Fights did, too, as the day grew nearer.
Tenten had once remarked that, if nothing else, the hysteria over July 3 accorded many of the kunoichi the most combat training they were willing to undergo.
In the meanwhile, the other boys (and Tenten, who could not bring herself to descend to this level of silliness) sat back, watched everything - in varying amounts of disbelief, jealousy, and amusement - and gleefully took advantage of the food brought to the classroom on the day. Neji himself let everything occur – she wouldn't go so far as to say 'accepted' – with silence and a sour look on his face, and it was rumored that the head of his clan had to order him every year not to skip school on his birthday. He ate nothing, glared at anyone who attempted to hand-feed him, and left as soon as the end-of-class bell rang. A Hyuuga servitor would later drop by to pick up the myriad presents he always left behind. Each girl fondly thought he was now treasuring her birthday present – and only hers – in his room, secretly.
Tenten privately wondered whether he put it in storage or threw it away. She certainly never saw him use, wear, eat, or otherwise acknowledge the existence of any of the presents.
And it was the memory of these largely useless (for Neji, anyway – Tenten and the boys always enjoyed the food and the interruption of classes) birthday celebrations that gave Tenten pause. She had finally decided in favor of, for the first time, acknowledging Neji's birthday beyond a casual (and redundant, what with all the Happy Birthday Dear Neji banners strung up all over the classroom) greeting. They were teammates now. Surely things were different.
She wasn't sure if Lee had given Neji anything for his birthday. In order not to run against that potentially embarrassing little issue, she waited until she and Neji had been left alone for training to give Neji his birthday present.
She thrust the slim box at him with a mumbled, "Happy birthday, Neji," trying not to keep staring at her feet. She could only meet his blank white gaze for a second before her eyes darted back to the immensely interesting – undoubtedly less intimidating – ground, with the result that her head bobbed up and down for a few seconds before she forced herself to stop.
Neji's Byakugan-pale eyes traced slowly over the small white box, over the outstretched arms extending it to him, and finally to Tenten's half-embarrassed, faintly blushing face. Without making a move to accept it, he asked, in a quiet voice, "Why?"
"Why?" Tenten repeated awkwardly. "W…well, because it's your birthday, you know, and we're…we're teammates, and…"
"Ah," Neji said flatly. He looked down at the present, then casually accepted it from her hands. "I see."
Tenten fidgeted. "O…okay then. Um. Want to spar?"
Two weeks later, Tenten paused in the middle of her monthly run for groceries – she bought in bulk, to save both time and money – to watch a group of children play at ninjas-and-samurai in the street. One of the biggest boys, apparently the leader of the 'ninja' side, was garnering considerable respect from his playmates for the real kunai he wielded in his hand.
It was actually a ceremonial kunai, its edges blunted, so Tenten did not exercise her authority as a duly recognized kunoichi of Konoha and confiscate the weapon from its unauthorized wielder. Let the kids have their fun; heavens knew she had done worse – for example, wielding live steel – in her time. She watched them quietly.
She knew that blue-stained kunai as intimately as she knew the contours and shape of her own hands, from the dragon engraved onto the blade to the intricate scrollwork around the handle. She had, after all, forged it herself, and had last seen it in a small box, being gingerly offered to a white-eyed teammate.
She watched them for a few more minutes before resuming her errand, leaving the site with a casual shrug of her shoulders. She was entirely unsurprised at seeing it in the hands of a stranger child; and at least this way someone got some use out of it.
Preview: Neji's fourteenth birthday is remarkably similar to his thirteenth - except for one thing.
Please to be leaving the delicious, delicious reviews. They are bread-and-butter, you have no idea. And I really want to finish this before the 23rd.