By: Kriste-chan

Disclaimer: Naruto & all its characters © Masashi Kishimoto. I only own this plot. Don't use without permission. I bite.

Completely edited. A/N at end. Feedbacks are welcome

Nejiten Community Festival's Ten for Ten Challenge Anthology
Theme: We Might As Well Be Strangers

Introducing, Tenten-fanboy, as inspired by Cyberwolf. XD

Tenten, for the first time in Neji's life, was currently looking at him as if he just said something... peculiar— not stupid. It didn't sit well with him, naturally, because as far as he was concerned, Hyuuga Neji did not and will not resort to saying stupid things.

"You're joking, right?"

Although his much-esteemed teammate was really staring at him as if he just did, "I don't see the point in asking if I am."

"But Neji," she nearly whined; her arms waving up in sheer protest, "it's like... asking Shino to plant explosive tags and detonate his clan's insect colony!"

In the name of deciphering her currently deranged reasoning, Neji pondered on her statement for a while. He didn't know if it was that time of the month again or Tenten was just, well, being Tenten. In stubborn-mode, "I just don't see the analogy between you going with me to the party, and Shino mutilating his clan's insect colony." He gave up after a while.

"Well, screw it Neji!" she visibly steamed, "I meant to say it's impossible!"

"Impossible?" he repeated incredulously. Six months ago, he had seen her kill an army of fifty enemy shinobi within three moves and now she's complaining that attending a social gathering with him was impossible? "What's so impossible with that?"

"Well..." a wrinkle appeared on the bridge of her nose, "everything!"

Talk about twisted logic. "It's just for tonight, Tenten," he shrugged, "and since the Godaime had disseminated mission requests for this particular congratulatory party, you could very well take it as it is."

"Of course," Tenten looked like she was about halfway to sulking, "a mission request..."

"I don't see why you wouldn't come," an eyebrow rose, "you're entitled to attend it since you've just been promoted to Jounin."

"Oh I'm sure I'm not such a big loss. You guys could go on ahead and have some fun."

Neji looked at her blankly and silently counted the number of times that he had been rejected by, of all people, his sparring partner— the person whom he least expected to get all worked-up about a simple stupid mission party. Who was the bright spark that suggested to bring along a "partner" anyway?

Tsunade-sama. Right.

He sighed. The number was 11 within the span of 20 minutes and, well, the Hyuuga couldn't help but think that this was already something worthy of being published in the shinobi book of world-records. "I heard from Gai that Tsunade-sama had arranged an array of fireworks display, exclusively for the party," he said, throwing in one of the last two trump cards he had up his sleeves, also known as her sort of attachment for explosive devices, "I just thought you'd want to know."

"Well..." the thoughtful, wavering look was suddenly shattered by a frown, "I could watch it from the rooftop."

Okay, so that didn't work. Neji sighed exasperatedly, "they don't call it a congratulatory party for newly promoted Konoha shinobi if previously promoted Jounins were the only ones to attend, Tenten," he vaguely felt as if he was a father, explaining to his bratty three-year-old daughter that cookies will be served after lunch and not before, "and even if it was, I'd still invite you to come."

"And even if it was, for my part, I'm sticking to what I just said earlier, Neji." she scowled and stubbornly turned her back, "I'm not going."

"It's a partnered mission, Tenten; stop being impossible! I'm already saving you from the trouble of finding an appropriate—" he halted and horribly felt the tell-tale signs of a blush creeping on his face. No, definitely not a date— Tenten's too much of a kunoichi for him to even think of its feasibility; although admittedly, the very prospect was something... refreshingly welcome, "companion for tonight's gathering." But he'll die first before she heard that from him.

"Yes," she returned to sulking, "and you think you're heaven sent because you actually took the initiative of asking me." She huffed stubbornly, "I'm a kunoichi, Neji; not your personal chaperon."

Right, thought the prodigy dryly, Maybe a little too much of a kunoichi for her own good. And what does she mean by 'personal chaperon'?

"I don't need a chap— to hell with it Tenten," Neji took two deep calming breaths. Matching her mood would not lead them anywhere and would undoubtedly encourage that annoying rat gnawing on his forehead. His teammate was being unreasonable for some reason and he's going to find out what it was, "well it's either you've been asked by someone already or you're having problems with wearing a dress instead of your usual clothes."

On that mark, he was as sure as hell he caught glimpse of a blush crossing her face.

He blinked. Well, it was something uncalled for but not at all unexpected, "it's the dress, isn't it?"

That remark earned him a double-take and a glare that bid him ill if he didn't shut up right away. On the other hand, the action she took only prompted him to devilishly smirk.

"It's the dress." He concluded. Aloud.

"Look," she glared when she saw his smirk deepen, "I would understand if it's a kimono or something that we usually wear during festivals but—" she waved her hands exasperatedly, "a dress? We're shinobis! Not some bunch of party-loving business people! And... and... as far as I know, the only party that we engage ourselves into are those that involve shoving a bunch of pointy-ended things right through an enemy's parts!"

"..." Neji. He thought it wise not to comment on how wrong that sounded but, well, she does have a point— in a morbid kind of way. Skewering somebody in battle was true, in her case, but the prodigy thought his point wasn't really coming across, "you could ask Ino or Sakura for help."

"Well, why don't you just ask them instead?" she snapped.

Neji only shrugged, "... although Shikamaru had already promised he'd go with Temari to acquaint her with everyone as Suna's representative—" Tenten looked like she doubted that, "I heard Ino say that Sai had asked for her company to improve his... people skills; and Sakura's with that Uchiha Sasuke," he had uttered the last part as if it explained everything, "Besides, it's not as if I'm going to ask them anyway."

"Hinata then? Why didn't you ask her?"

"Well, I don't— Tenten," he decided, before he explodes and wreck havoc upon the world, that it was already pointless to argue. He honestly didn't want to use his... persuasive methods on Tenten but it's his only hope of putting some sense into his currently irrational teammate and at the same time, getting a mission partner, "there are more than just one type of mission, and some of them would even require you to dress up," he stubbornly crossed his arms, "If I had known you were the type who backed down on missions then I never would've committed the mistake of assuming you're more versatile than the others. I'm severely disappointed to know you're as weak-willed as they are."

"Weak?" Tenten's blood pressure nearly flared up, "Weak, you— you...!" she groaned, "you. Take. That. Back. Hyuuga Neji."

"Hn," a smug look crossed his face as he dropped his final and most-effective trump card on the table, "not until you prove something."

"I'll show you—"

"Meet me at the venue's lobby then, fifteen minutes before seven." If her attachment for explosives won't work, at least Neji knew Tenten answered better on challenges, "Let's see how you'd do your mission in a dress."

"Hmph," Tenten proudly pulled out her most formidable look, "what's the score?"

Neji let out one dangerous smirk, "you have to impress me."

"Well at least, he could've offered to pick me up," she thought out-loud as she recalled how much his air of finality nearly damaged her lungs, "I'm betting five thousand ryo that a mop had more scrap of chivalry in it than that... that..."

Tenten groaned hopelessly and glanced at the clock. It says 6:35 pm. Great. Ten minutes more and the longest night of her entire lifetime would finally commence— not that her day felt like it already had been long enough, when Ino and Sakura subjected her to their girly shopping-crazed demons. They had immediately and mercilessly half-dragged the older kunoichi around the shopping district with Hinata, after the weapon-specialist's inevitable harassment into spilling the beans and particulars of who her presumed "date" was.

By the time that she mentioned Neji's name though, they actually looked more thrilled than surprised when they found out.

"But that's... that's..." after much debate and throws of Ino-pig and Forehead-girl, Tenten was now looking in horror as she studied the dress that Ino and Sakura had laid out for her, "that's just a scrap of fabric!"

"Yes, and we call it a dress, Tenten-san," Sakura nearly hurled her inside the dressing room, "and you're putting it on."

Ino agreed with a grin before dumping the "scrap of fabric", as termed, on Tenten's arms, "Come on! Give your Taijutsu-toned body the break of compliments it deserved every once in a while! What with those rigorous exercises you do with your teammates..." she scowled suddenly, "Unlike mine..."

Tenten looked pleadingly at Hinata.

"A-Ano..." Sakura and Ino smiled at her which, Tenten didn't fail to notice, was something similar to a shark baring a set of razorblade teeth, "I-Ino-chan's right and i-it's just one night after all, Tenten-san."

A few minutes after those three conspired against her later, Tenten could recall herself scowling at the stranger in the mirror. This image was so not her. It's insane! It's defective! It's... damaging the purity of her normal spiritual femme fatal reputation and neurological processes! It's so unbecoming of a weapon-specialist known, practically, throughout the continent! And—

"Are you done yet, Tenten-san?" Sakura.

"Uh, j-just..." where, oh where were those fail-safe dresses that had more fabric than obscene holes? "J-Just a second—!"

"Do you need help?" Ino.

And she was doomed. By the time that Ino unceremoniously invaded the privacy of the dressing room, she was doomed.

Tenten was tempted to either hurl her entire collection of weapons, or flatten Ino on her anvil until she had that slack-jawed expression wiped-out from her face. And when she said wiped-out from her face, she didn't mean it should be replaced by a wide toothy grin and an ear-piercing squeal that prompted Hinata and Sakura to curiously peak in, in which the latter managed to copy her best friend's banshee-reminiscent squeal. Hinata was such an angel for throwing her an appreciative smile, until of course, Tenten had enough time to ponder on the look Hinata was giving her. It didn't sit quite well on the comforting side since it awfully felt like she was saying how his cousin would drop dead when he sees her teammate.

Tenten massaged her forehead in an attempt to ease her growing tension. It didn't end there, of course.

After Ino and Sakura saw how much of a body she had been hiding beneath those baggy clothes— or, as they claimed she had— they immediately discarded the wine-red ensemble and took off like a rocket to collect two more dresses before finally arriving at the one she was currently wearing.

"There's no way in hell you'd get me to wear that piece of fabric! I mean, come on! Use your eyes! That looks like... like... it was designed by a paper-shredder!" she protested frantically.

"If we weren't using our eyes, we never would've singled-out this dress, Tenten," encouraged Sakura, although the word "encourage" was too mild a term for someone who resorted to using her Herculean strength to shove her inside the dressing room, "Come on! It couldn't be that bad!"

Hinata just stood on the door to watch (Tenten thought, it was her contribution of help since she was practically blocking the exit) while Ino kept her from making a run for it, "it'd fit you nicely. Trust us."

"B-But... But..." she groaned, "That scrap looks more obscene than the very idea of wearing nothing but a bath towel in public!"

"Quit making such a ruckus and put it on!"

"W-We'll find something else i-if... if it doesn't suit you, Tenten..."

Ino and Sakura nodded in hopeful vigor as they held out the ivory-colored dress.

"God forbid..." the brown-headed kunoichi could only groan and resign to her fate.

They still won in the end, thought Tenten bitterly as she studied her reflection on the mirror with a sigh. She could only console herself with the fact that, well admittedly, it didn't look half as bad as it did earlier anyway. She guessed a girl could only get used to such dresses before she could actually consider it decent to look at.

Well, decent or not, Tenten thought that although the body-hugging quality of the Venus' cut dress was somehow allowing an abnormal concentration of blood on her face due to embarrassment, it actually emphasized a... flattering amount of curves, on all the right places, that she hadn't noticed before. Still, she rebelled at the thought that Ino and Sakura really had to pick something that revealed too much of her waist's skin. And did the slit on the right side of the dress really had to race up to infinite and nearly obscene heights? If she was the employer of this dress's designer, she'd unceremoniously fire him or her for carelessly rigging such valuable piece of fabric. Tenten didn't appreciate feeling the need to constantly pull it down whenever she sat.

Another bone to pick with the dress was, when asked about why Ino picked white; she had claimed with that large, untrustworthy grin on her face that she didn't think its whiteness was reminiscent of the Byakugan-able eyes. Unfortunately for Ino though, only an idiot wouldn't notice the way that she had been glancing between Hinata's eyes and Tenten's dress with that annoyingly sparkling quality, proving how right the latter's instincts were kicking into high gear. The only consolation to that fact was, at least, Ino wasn't lying about the reminiscent part because in reality, it actually reflected the color of a Hyuuga's eyes.

She instantly felt the need to murder Ino, but...

"You ready, Tenten?" Ino's head poked through the open door before fully emerging with Sakura and Hinata; all of them were looking rather pleased at the result, "Because you know, it's rude to make your date wait."

"Let him wait," she waved her hand nonchalantly, "that idiot said I couldn't handle missions that require wearing a dress!"

The younger kunoichis glanced at each other. Wheels visibly turned as their brain processes bled for two minutes.

"You mean to say that this—" Sakura blinked and waved her hands expressively, "you accepted a challenge from him?"

"Well, yes. My integrity as a Konoha kunoichi is at stake here!" Tenten scowled, "Although I think I'd enjoy playing the part of a chaperon more than actually masquerading as his date."

The expressions on her companions' faces looked like they wanted to say 'I should've known'. But, hey, they've had their own share of fun, what gives?

"W-Well, what else did Neji-niisan say?" Hinata queried instead.

"Would you believe," Tenten snorted and smugly crossed her arms, "he said he wanted me to impress him?"

Something in the air was definitely warning Tenten's kunoichi senses to bolt away and never return from their sight, by the time that she noticed how the younger kunoichis switched meaningful glances and unnerving, if she may say so, grins— and she would've done just that if it weren't for those pesky heels she was wearing. Add that to the fact that the three resembled a determined-looking three-headed Cerberus on a duty shift to guard the gates of the underworld— Hinata was the purring head, while the other two growled determinedly.

"Well then," Sakura was first to break the stillness, "don't you think it's about time to prove him wrong?"

"And impress? Pfft." Ino batted a hand; a maniacal gleam was in her eyes again, "I'm rooting for drop-dead and overkill with a bleeding nose, if you ask me."

Tenten couldn't have said it any better.

They were to meet at the Hokage Mansion's lobby at 6:45 pm and Hyuuga Neji, dressed in his sharpest suit and hair pulled back tighter than his customary loose hairstyle, was as confident as hell Tenten bit the bait; hook, line and sinker. There was no mistaking it. He used his Byakugan to confirm if she was set with the conditions and felt rather pleased when he actually saw that Konoha's weapon-specialist was nearly buried under stocks of fabric; obviously, after being harassed by Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura in the shopping district. His Byakugan was confirmed for the second time when Hinata-sama informed him that she went shopping with Tenten and the others.

In all honesty, Neji was actually tempted to use his Byakugan to see what she was going to wear but decided against it all for the sake of surprise. Well... that was honestly put in a sense that he had other things in his mind's eye— other things that ranged from stilettos, lingerie, and a half-dressed Tenten in a dressing room, which, he had felt the need to wrestle around until he was victorious against a blush that had been threatening to smear his perfectly expressionless face.

He shook his head at the thought.

Not to mention though, he didn't want to violate the norms and ethics of the Hyuuga clan when it ran down to using his Byakugan just so he could see a girl dressing up— of seeing Tenten, his practically life-long tomboyish teammate, dress up because he wouldn't give a damn if some random girl stripteases in front of him.

And he really had to take his mind away from it before his synapses adjoined strip-teasing and the rather... distracting image of Tenten.

He shook his head again— harder this time. Damn overridden imagination.

By the time the clock struck 6:45 pm, he still managed to pull out a smirk as he heard Tenten's voice among the conversing kunoichi four near the lobby's entrance.

And he nearly lost his jaw in the process when his sight finally beheld her.

There was something... raw in the beauty she possessed but it stood out among the polished three-fourths of their female group. Maybe it was her coarseness and lack of femininity during training days that gave her an air of change; exuding something unknown and refreshingly new yet he felt it's still the same old Tenten.

And perhaps, that was mainly the reason why he couldn't argue when Lee commented on how beautifully Tenten had "bloomed like a dessert flower in her prime" because, admittedly, that poetic description suited her; no matter how it irked him to think that he just called Lee "poetic".

He could vaguely recall Gai, wailing something about how her fledgling had grown up and that a lot of men would surely woo their way to her heart (at this, Neji quirked a bit but his attention was still stuck on her); an appreciative whistle from Kiba and Chouji, and a complimentary double-take from Shino and Shikamaru— well, Shikamaru did a visible double-take and nodded respectfully at Tenten before returning his attention to Temari, while Shino simply tilted his head two times in a rapid five-second succession. Sasuke was still glum-looking but he did throw her a glance that, in Neji's opinion, was the Uchiha's way of saying she was worthy of his five seconds attention (which didn't sit well with Neji under any circumstances), and Naruto just... well, complimented her outright.

"Wow, Tenten! You look good in that dress!"

"Thank you, Naruto."

"Although I find it a bit weird since I never actually imagined you wear dresses like girls do..."

A dark aura that emanated from Tenten warned Hinata to drag a patently confused Naruto away, "What. Do. You. Mean. Naruto?"

"Well, I don't see you in dresses often so it's a bit new," the Kyuubi boy chuckled nervously. Looks like he felt the negative charges as well, "b-but you do look beautiful ne? Hinata-chan?"

Hinata nodded vigorously, "I-Ino-chan and Sakura-chan helped us in getting these dresses in the shopping district."

Yes, he thought dryly— as much as he could under his... distracted state. That woman was definitely Tenten.

Aside from Naruto though, one comment had been too much for him to handle, he had no option but to listen.

"I wasn't aware that someone's been cruel enough to hide something like this during training days. It's a crime to hide such beauty don't you think so, Neji?" Kakashi, despite the fact that he was currently wearing a tux, was still wearing a mask, "If I had known the existence of a goddess in Konoha, I would've informed Jiraiya-sama to come over often to do his little "research work" for his next Icha Icha Paradise edition."

"Too bad," Neji intended to skewer Kakashi in a 'you-wouldn't-dare' death glare, but he got stuck staring at Tenten, "that way, you just saved him from inevitable doom."

"True." Kakashi nodded solemnly, "But you got to admit that she looks different now, hm? And judging by the way you're looking at her, I could tell that you have seen Tenten in an entirely different light," the older Jounin took on a slightly serious note, "but never went as far as actually paying attention to these things... almost, as if both of you might as well have been strangers in some random event."

"It's either you're putting too much meaning on trivial things, or you've just had too much of Icha Icha Paradise." He retorted. Inwardly though, Neji admitted grudgingly that he couldn't have said it any better. Tomboyish Tenten was... distracting in her own unique way, and anything beyond that was treading over dangerous, dangerous water, "what do you want anyway?"

"Oh, me?" he pointed to himself, "Nothing much. I'm just your friendly old Jounin giving free love advices for emotionally-challenged comrades."

Neji thought that he had garnered enough love advices from the defective brains of Gai and Lee; although admittedly, Kakashi's hidden implications made more sense than those two. But that didn't stop Neji from turning and officially killing him with a lethal glare.

The older Jounin only chuckled.

"I guess the difference between you and Sasuke is that he's driven by the will to resurrect his clan," Kakashi offered him a saccharine smile as Neji's glare intensified, "well, if I were you I wouldn't keep the lady waiting now, would I?" he nudged him forward, "I don't think you need to use your Byakugan to notice how many cold-blooded males are lurking about her by now, hm? Ja ne, Neji."

Fortunately for Neji, Tenten had made it unnecessary for him to maneuver his way through the ocean of people. She was already standing in front of him with a grin when he looked up.

"What?" Neji was actually asking himself why he never noticed how sexy she looked like when she did grin at him, "Cat got your tongue?"

"Hn," he willed himself to recover. He refused to admit that his treacherous mind had called Tenten 'sexy when she grinned', "more of the fact that my opinion of you was raised a little."

"... Oh?"

He smirked, "at least you didn't back out."

He saw her eyes flash indignantly, obviously reconsidering the urge to throw an armory of weapons in one swift move, but hid it well behind a sweet smile, "of course," it was dripping venom though, "and only a stranger would say that you didn't go slack-jaw when you saw me enter the steps with the girls."

"I did not." He huffed indignantly.

"Hmkay, so it wasn't me." She flashed him a confident smile, "You were awed by Gai-sensei's green tuxedo tights get-up then."

Her bad joke earned a glare, although something in his chest seemed to be pounding when she smiled.

"Come on. Just admit that I impressed you so Ino and Sakura wouldn't run after your head."

Like he cared about Uchiha's harem; but impressed him? Well, seriously, he grudgingly admitted that she undoubtedly had, but Hyuuga Neji wasn't someone who easily admitted defeat, "This mission's far from over," he smirked as that oh-so-familiar I'm-really-really-annoyed-with-you look rushed back in Tenten's expression, "you still haven't done anything to prove your competence."

She was about to spat out when somebody interrupted.

"Excuse me, Neji-taichou—" Neji realized with disdain that it was his cousin, Hideki, "Tenten-san..." the prodigy glared when he saw how his cousin flashed a rather disarming smile at his teammate and bowed like a gentleman, "If I may, I would like to respectfully have this beautiful lady's first dance?"

"Of course," long before Neji could say anything, Tenten gleefully grabbed Hideki's offered hand with a smug look directed at an obviously PMSing Jounin, "be back later, Neji."

After the Godaime had announced the event's opening rights, couples started to flood the dance floor; and, among them were Hideki and Tenten.

In Neji's perspective though, the only thing that flooded the dance floor was blood red.

He was reduced to merely, and perhaps, helplessly glaring on one side; grabbing a flute of champagne and nearly downing half of its content in one gulp. It didn't matter if it was alcohol, especially when he got to the part of running over his memory. Hideki is a newly promoted Chuunin, about his and Tenten's age, reliable, and a competent shinobi in his own right. He was Neji's underling in the Hyuuga clan's defenses and had taken a reputation for being liked by everyone because of his gentlemanly ways, even when they were still students in the academy. Of course, as common knowledge went, a typical Hyuuga Neji could care less about his cousin's affairs, but there was a time when he even regarded Hideki as someone respectable since he didn't use his charming ways to woo the hearts of women and break them in the end like his other cousin, Hasori, was reputed after.

This perception, however, changed 5 minutes and 43 seconds ago, as Neji recalled the manner his cousin used to win Tenten's first dance; especially when Neji, through gritted teeth, noticed how Hideki's hand was firmly set on Tenten's exposed waist as the waltz progressed.

A couple of Chuunins slinked away when Neji's bare hand shattered the empty flute.

Tenten found him on the balcony with a glass of beverage— this time, an orange punch or something; but she was acutely unaware that Neji's activated Byakugan had already seen her and his soon-to-die relative part ways. The veins on Neji's face throbbed even more as he recalled that his really, really dead relative had kissed Tenten's hand and, along with that fact, she was also unaware that Neji's fifth glass of beverage had been mildly spiked with a bit of something hard because the latter needed something to vent off a very suppressed turmoil of emotions.

Gai was only too happy to know that Neji's manly demeanor was already surfacing more and more as the days passed, with accompanying comments from Kakashi that it was normal to explore the bit of his wildly jealous side while pouring a generous amount of golden liquid on his juice.

He had glared at Kakashi for that comment and stubbornly refused to name it as the yellow monster of jealousy.

"Neji," Tenten stood beside him with a radiant smile, it nearly outshone the northern star, "I've been looking for you."

"Really?" He snorted, "I thought you're too busy with Hideki."

"Well, I was dancing with him but—" her forehead suddenly creased, "what do you mean too busy?

"I asked you to come to this event with me," his frown deepened, "instead, you left me for him."


He answered her by gulping down the remaining half of his drink's content.

"Well," Tenten stubbornly crossed her arms, "you did say you wanted me to impress you."

"You've, so far, managed to impress other men, Tenten," he grunted; all the while repressing the urge to scowl and failed miserably, "but not me."

"Excuse me?" she paused, "I think you've had too much drink to even think straight here." A pair of brown eyes were flashing angrily at him right now, and yet he couldn't help but think how... fetching she looked like with that angry expression and the ivory-colored dress she's wearing, "I caught nearly everyone's attention whenever I walked past them and... and—" she groaned frustratingly, "don't you even dare deny that I didn't catch your attention when you saw me!"

Since when did that tomboyish girl he had grown-up with turn into such a splendidly alluring woman?

"Why did I ever get teamed up with someone as impossible and obnoxious as you are?"

Well if you ask him, he'd say it was fate. It had to be fate, and for the record, he wasn't cursing the damned thing for this incident— no wait, he just did but in a good way. That was the only logical explanation. But it had to be fate.

"I went through all that trouble in the shopping district; got molested by Ino and Sakura and... and you—"

Kakashi was right. She is a goddess.

"—Hyuuga Neji..." an apparently angry goddess, whose beauty violated even the limits of nature in his far-seeing eyes, "why... are you staring at me like that?"

The curveball she took didn't even faze him, "I want to kiss you."

Her jaw was nearly dislocated, "W-Wha—?"

"I said," he smiled lazily, "I want to kiss you."

When she recovered though, the weapon-specialist instinctively backed one pace away, "N-Neji, I-I was only, er..." she chuckled nervously, "j-joking about the... the... you know..."

"It doesn't matter." He advanced as she retreated, "When I said I wanted you to impress me," he reached forward and brushed a stray strand of hair away from her face. "I hadn't known you'd take it this seriously..." she was now blushing between the lines of adorably and furiously.

"W-Well, I know you didn't exactly mean it to be this way, right? I-I mean," how she managed not to lose her gracefulness with the awkward flapping motion of a bird while wearing that dress was beyond his comprehension, "y-you don't really mean it that way, right? You're... You're not like that! You're not— N-Neji! Stop looking at me like that! Geez!"

"Like what?" retreat, advance; retreat, advance, "I only said I wanted to kiss you."

"I- I don't think... my p-point has come across now, do I?" that seemed to do nothing for her frazzled nerves, "Y-Y-You really should stop drowning yourself with that punch... and... and... we still have to keep watch over Lee, after all b-because of the—"

"This won't take long," he said, languidly, "and even if it did, Lee's a Jounin and in his proper age to take care of himself already."

"The... The alcohol then? T-The drinks you consumed!" she stuttered as they kept doing their movements, "I-It's probably getting in your head now!"

"Maybe," came his monosyllabic reply as he took his final step.

Tenten was now trapped between the balcony's balustrade to the left, a wall that blocked her exit to the right, and Hyuuga Neji's towering height upfront and center. She gulped, and chuckled nervously once more— her final effort of mustering her wits, "s-so, you admit that I've impressed you already?"

Neji looked at her thoughtfully and placed the empty glass on the balustrade after a brief while, "No," he said, leaning forward; his right hand coming cool and gently against her nape as he pulled her closer, "you did more..."

Tenten didn't know if the explosion she felt came from the fireworks that littered the evening sky of Konohagakure or from the pressure of Neji's mouth on hers. The consciousness she felt under his intense gaze lingered for only a few seconds until finally, it evaporated like dew and droplets of water on leaves on the first ray of summer. Well, either way, as Tenten's hands snaked its way up his chest and around his neck for support, both could care less.

Gai-sensei's words were reliable for once, thought Tenten as she smiled against his lips. Tsunade-shishou had, in fact, prepared the most spectacular array of scintillations that night.

Author's Note:

Supposedly one of the themes for Daizai but since it had grown into a monster; I figured I should probably separate it. I changed the entry for the life of it because I didn't like the original entry. Blame migraine-attacks. Hope this turns out to be better.