Author: wingsover aka Cyberwolf
Group: Hyuuga Neji and Tenten
Disclaimer/Notes/Whatever: Pure NejiTen fluff in 20truths format. :) Plot? Plausibility? Deeper meaning? Pfft, I laugh at the thought. Away with thee, o ye who are extraneous to fluff!
And I do emphasize the usual complicated meaning of the acronym.
1) Everyone assumes that Tenten's true and pure love for Neji gradually – over the course of their shared history - melted the boy's icy heart, leading him to overcome the emotional barriers of his past and to the formation of one of Konoha's Golden Couples. The story is particularly popular among Sasuke fangirls, who like to plug in certain other characters in the place of Neji and Tenten.
2) This popular assumption is entirely wrong and is, in fact, the exact reverse of what happened: Neji got Tenten to melt.
3) Their story begins not with Team Gai but actually three years earlier, the year Neji spots an amber-eyed girl idly juggling two kunai in one hand during the entrance ceremony for the Konoha Academy, and decides in that instant that she is his fate.
4) He spends the next three years at the Academy using both his Byakugan and his top-of-the-class-rated ninja skills to watch her. Daily his conviction that he was spot-on during the entrance ceremony grows.
5) Because of her cheery, uncomplicated disposition and impressive weapons-skills – something that boys anywhere appreciate – Tenten is one of the more popular kunoichi in the class. This displeases Neji greatly and part of his top-of-the-class ranking is because he beats up so many of Tenten's admirers every week.
6) The longest conversation the two have in school is when Tenten explains the advantage of titanium-alloy shurikens over plain steel ones to Neji, then wishes him luck in the target-range. Neji thinks it's a deep and meaningful event and spends the evening analyzing every word and nuance thoroughly; Tenten thinks it was interesting that the Hyuuga actually cared about his weapons enough to overcome his antisocial tendencies, then goes out and plays ball-games with the other children.
7) Tenten thinks she is the token mid-ranker because she is assigned to a team with the clearly top-ranked Rookie of the Year Hyuuga Neji and the even more clearly bottom-ranked Rock Lee. Actually she is the highest-ranked kunoichi and fourth-ranked overall. Neji just used his family influence (that is, he glared at the teacher with Byakugan until the poor man began to gibber) to get her assigned to his team.
8) By the time they graduate, Neji is used to thinking of Tenten as his future bride. He even begins scouting out the Hyuuga compound for quarters she would like. Tenten is used to thinking of him as 'that kid who's really good but kinda scary'.
9) Neji considers Lee not only a hopeless moron but also an interloper on alone-time with Tenten. When he sees that Tenten will defend him when Lee does one of his loud challenge-declaration performances, Neji goes out of his way to needle Lee into it.
10) During the Chuunin exam preliminaries, Neji is so incensed by seeing his beloved beaten to a bloody mess that he cannot move; thus it is Lee who saves her. His anger over Temari, and Lee doing what he couldn't, bleeds over into his already tension-fraught match with his cousin.
11) Neji loses his finals match with Uzumaki Naruto but gains more out of the loss than he would have from a win: an improving relationship with his family, a new incentive to train, a surprisingly pleasant attitude adjustment - and the emotional stability needed to decide that he will actually tell Tenten what he feels for her.
12) It still takes him several days to build up the resolve to follow through with this. He finally tells her a little after Tenten's idol, Tsunade of the Sannin, arrives in Konoha. It is after one of their private training sessions, while they lie on the grass and catch their breath, and he manages to compress it into a single blunt sentence without any explanatory preamble. "Tenten, I love you."
13) Tsunade herself (smirking as she hears the whole story) has to reassure a distraught Tenten that no, it is not lingering head trauma from Neji's match with Naruto, and yes, he was in full possession of his faculties when he said that.
14) Tenten does not then react the way Neji hopes – stammering and apologies and "Can't we still be friends?" not being the hugs and kisses and agreements to marry him and bear his children that he would have liked.
15) Neji is depressed for a whole day; then Hiashi, fulfilling his promise to try and make up for his twin brother's absence, gets the boy drunk and babbling, and dispenses sage advice handed down from years of Hyuuga wooing experience. The night ends with Neji's slurred declaration of intent, followed by his passing out on the floor.
16) Still, things are somewhat awkward between the two of them until the day Neji wakes up in a hospital bed, his hair significantly shorter, and discovers an upset, haggard-looking Tenten sleeping uneasily in a chair beside him, her head pillowed on her arms. He wakes her by stroking his fingers across a tear-stained cheek.
17) Her reaction to Neji's waking is to burst into tears and fling herself at him; followed by a shrill scolding for his foolishness and stupidity and recklessness and why did he leave her behind, they were a team, they were partners, weren't they, Neji you idiot. The way she clings to him and buries her face into his chest takes away some of the impact of her angry words.
18) Neji, grinning broadly, stops her ranting (and her tears) with a technique detailed in the famed Hyuuga Guide to Dating that Hiashi had solemnly passed onto him that drunken night – the French Kiss no Jutsu.
19) Tenten avows that the reason she permitted his indiscretion – and the similar indiscretions that would occur during the rest of Neji's hospital-stay – is because Neji is an invalid, and doubtless also doped to his eyeballs.
20) This does not explain, Neji points out to her, why she continues to permit it when he is out of the hospital. She does not answer – her mouth is otherwise engaged.
Thanks to a very helpful reviewer over on the 20truths comm, a collection of snippets and moments from this piece are to follow.