Neji peeked into Tenten's room and spied the telltale lump underneath the blanket. She was asleep. He stepped in and shut the door as softly as he could behind him. The dinky little inn they were staying at was no 5-star institution, and the walls were paper thin. If Lee, who was sleeping in the room they were supposed to share next door, ever heard him sneaking into Tenten's room so late at night, all bets were off.
Tenten's room had two small beds, just like Lee and his had. However, Neji had no intention of using that bed. Unless it was to push the two beds together. Neji considered doing that, but decided he'd rather snuggle closer against Tenten instead.
It wasn't that they didn't want to tell Lee, it was just that they've been a "three man team" for so long. If Lee knew, they were afraid he would feel neglected and abandoned and probably end up sulking. It was a volatile situation, but it was best. As much as Neji and Tenten loved each other, Lee would always be a part of the equation. They loved him too, even if he was annoying sometimes.
"Psssst! Tenten!" He tiptoed a bit closer. Neji couldn't remember Tenten ever being this heavy of a sleeper.
Hiding their relationship did have its advantages. It led to some particularly daring and exciting trysts in caves, restaurant restrooms, and even the Tomb of a Feudal Lord. The latter of which seemed a bit wrong, even though they did have the courtesy to step out of the tomb and into the entrance corridor, but Tenten had explained that the particular Feudal Lord was the kindest and gentlest of the previous Daimyo. He was big on love, and probably wouldn't have minded. Neji, of course, needed no other encouragement.
"Pssst," Neji hissed for what felt like the billionth time as he finally just climbed into bed and wrapped his arms around her. "It's me."
Neji froze as Tenten shifted. Tenten's shoulders were curiously wider and harder tonight. Perhaps it was because they had spent the entire day out in the blazing sun searching for their target. The guy had decided to be extra obnoxious and led them on a wild chase with Tenten as a hostage before tripping on his own stupid feet. The scroll they were supposed to retrieve from him needed to be destroyed in a certain way. Neji demonstrated this when he impatiently recruited Lee to help him while Tenten was researching on how to do it properly. They both sustained only minor scarring to the hands, but they agreed on a sacred brotherly oath never to tell Tenten.
"Mmm, Sakura…" she breathed quietly.
He tried not to be turned on by the fact that Tenten dreamt about Haruno Sakura, but he was an eighteen year old boy. Some things just could not be helped. Tenten sounded a bit congested, though, her voice thicker and deeper. With all the traveling that they had been doing, a little cold was to be expected.
"No, it's Neji."
"Mmm…Neji?!" A decidedly masculine voice cried out in surprise.
Neji reached over to the nightstand and switched on the lamp. Sure enough, he was practically draped over the half-naked body of Rock Lee.
"What are you doing?!" Lee demanded, covering himself up with the covers as if he were hiding his breasts from Neji. Neji gagged at the mental image and shot off the bed, landing hard on the floor.
"What are you doing in Tenten's room!?
"What are you doing in my bed!?"
"What are you two yelling about?" They both swivelled around to find Tenten glaring at them, hands on her hips and massive quantities of tangled, brown hair cascading down her shoulders. Neji had to actively resist the urge to get up and kiss her into the wall. It was always the natural look about her that made Neji want her so badly, unkempt hair, muddy feet, and all. It was odd and sometimes he wondered if he just had some kind weird fetish, but that thought was shot when Neji fell in love with everything else about her. Every little thing that she did was amazing. When she laughed, or fought, or looked pensive, or even glared at him with a murderous look in her eye, just like she was then.
He shook off Tenten's trance and climbed to his feet clumsily. "Why is Lee in your room?"
"We switched rooms while you were downstairs talking with the inn keeper," Lee told him. "Neji, why didn't you even go to our room first?"
"What made you switch for?" Neji asked, sweating as he avoided Lee's question. Tenten, too, seemed to be fidgeting. Neji in fact did not even bother to go to his room. After the long day they'd just had, he'd fully intended to spend the entire night with Tenten and then sneak back to his room before dawn. But Neji and Tenten had agreed to hide their relationship from Lee on one condition: they could never lie. Half-truths and partial information hurt, but it was necessary unless Lee asked the right questions.
It looked like it was just about that time.
"There was a spider in yours," Tenten explained slowly, as if trying to draw out the conversation so Lee never got to ask his next question. "Lee couldn't sleep, so I let him switch."
"It wasn't because of the spider." Lee's neck colored sheepishly. "I just…figured Neji and I should be in the room by the stairs, in case there was an attack, you know?"
"Oh, then I suppose I should thank you for protecting me, and allowing me to get rid of the spider myself - "
"Hang on, don't change the subject," Lee interrupted. "Why is Neji trying to crawl into your bed in the middle of the night?"
Silence. Awkward glances back and forth. Neji hoped Lee would just be dense like he was about several other important things, but his jaw dropped.
"Oh my - Neji molested me because he was trying to molest you?!"
"I didn't molest you!" Neji replied sharply. He'd barely touched him! And any contact was only because he was confused and sleepy.
"Lee, please, let us explain - " Tenten pleaded.
"And you didn't tell me?! How could you not tell me?!" Lee fumed, bouncing up a little like he was throwing a tantrum and causing the century-old mattress to creak in agony. "You two have been doing it, haven't you!?"
"Ahhhh!" Lee burrowed his face into the mattress and groaned, hiding under his sheets. "Oh no, the images! No, no, nonono!"
"Lee, it's not just that," Tenten walked over to the bed slowly and tried to tug away the blanket and bring him back. "We're in lov - "
"How could you not know she wasn't me?" Lee demanded suddenly, his head shooting up and nearly knocking Tenten out cold. "You groped me for a good ten minutes - "
"I did not grope you!" Neji snapped. He looked at Tenten. "I didn't grope him!"
Tenten raised her eyebrows. "Didn't the lack of breasts throw you off?"
Lee gagged and looked about to go into convulsions.
Neji ran his fingers into his hair in frustration and pulled. "Look, I was tired! And Lee has really soft skin for a guy."
"I do not! My skin is dry and scaly!" Lee bellowed. "How could you not tell me you're together? Why didn't you - how come - oh, God, you feel Tenten up?! You guys get naked?!"
Neji couldn't quite follow what was going through his friend's head then, just that whatever broken path of logic Lee was trying to follow seemed to be confusing him. One bit distracting him from another and so forth. There were definitely way too many things running through his mind, the poor guy. He wished he had discovered their relationship in a slightly nicer way then being…touched by accident.
"Well, we don't have to get completely naked sometimes," Neji muttered, trying to joke. At Tenten's outraged expression, he knew it was a failed attempt.
"Neji!" Tenten smacked him in the shoulder. Lee looked thoroughly horrified at what he had said. Then he looked astonished, and finally his last expression was that of pure irritation.
"Neji, Tenten, I -," Lee rubbed his fists into his eye sockets, as if that would make everything better and the mental image would go away. "Guess what, Tenten, your boyfriend over there tried to destroy the scroll earlier on his own, and that's why our hands are messed up!" he exclaimed defiantly.
Neji gaped. Lee had just broken their brotherly oath. No self-respecting male ever broke the brotherly oath. It was unheard of, no matter what the circumstances. Neji cringed a bit as Tenten grew even angrier. It was always a good thing to have a healthy fear of Tenten's temper.
Whack! Sure enough, Tenten's hand connected with the back of his shoulder again. Harder, this time.
"How could you do that? Are you insane?" Tenten demanded.
Neji glared at Lee, who looked somewhat triumphant. At that point, Neji decided Lee was toeing the line.
"Lee ate three of the sandwiches for dinner last night! There wasn't any bear. Lee was the one who at all the food!"
Lee gasped, but Neji held his head high indignantly. A brotherly oath for a brotherly oath. It was only fair.
Tenten crossed back over and whacked Lee. "You mean you're the reason we've been starving!?"
"Owww, Tenten, that hurt!"
"Do either of you have any self control at all?!"
"Self control?" Neji raised his eyebrows. "Do you not remember that Daimyo's tomb?"
As he suspected, Tenten did. She had gone violently crimson, as did Lee, but Neji was somewhat satisfied. It was Tenten who had gotten the sudden urge, and it was Neji who ushered them out into the exterior chamber so that they didn't desecrate the tomb of one of the most powerful people in history.
"You…you guys…in a Daimyo's tomb?! Do you know what you've done?! We're cursed!" Lee moaned, no doubt drawing on stories of cursed Egyptian tombs.
"We weren't in the tomb," Tenten squeaked.
"Thanks to me," Neji reminded her.
"Oh shut it," Tenten growled. "At least I was able to perform."
Neji froze, shocked at the low blow. Tenten's hands flew to her mouth, clearly regretting what she had said, but Neji still felt the sting. The one time…
"Neji, I didn't mean it. I'm sorry!"
Lee snickered, looking slightly amused. His smug expression made Neji angry. He knew Lee was expected to take this badly, but he really wasn't helping anyone.
"It happens to all males," Neji stated defensively. "Though Lee being a virgin might - "
"You're a - ?" Tenten began to ask, but managed to shut her mouth just in time, a feat Neji had failed to do. Lee flushed.
"Lee I didn't mean…" he trailed off, unable to think of a way to make it better. If words were a tangible object he could tug back and swallow, he would have done just that.
Lee only sighed and looked away. "Just leave. Both of you, okay?"
Neji didn't budge, even though Tenten had made a move for the door. When she saw that Neji was standing his ground, she stopped and stayed. Tenten looked at Neji and narrowed her eyes. She obviously thought Lee needed time to digest everything, and they would see him in the morning. Neji thought otherwise.
"Tenten is afraid of ice cream."
Lee and Tenten stared at him. Several beats of confused silence ensued before Lee cracked a smile.
Tenten caught on. Lee was a brave, loyal, kind, trustworthy man. He was everything you could ever look for in a friend. But Lee was still Lee, and he was still easily amused, and very easily distracted.
"It's cold," Tenten insisted by way of explanation. "Food shouldn't be that cold! I just don't see the appeal - "
"When I held out that ice cream to you last week, you jumped back at least three feet," Neji smirked.
"I told you, I don't like it! I didn't want it to touch me!"
Lee was laughing now, and Neji knew he had mended the situation a bit. Tenten knew too, though she looked like she wished he hadn't done it at her expense. She had told him time and time again that it wasn't a fear, it was a dislike. Two completely separate things.
"And you make fun of me for disliking spiders!" Lee hooted.
"Well….well, Neji puts cushion lifts in his shoes to make him look taller!" Tenten revealed, to Neji's chagrin. He narrowed his eyes. If she wanted to play this game…
"Tenten brushes her teeth in the shower."
Lee stared. "That's just weird, Tenten." Which was kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. "It's not weird, it's efficient," Tenten grunted. Who was the one who wore green spandex suits and ran around, proclaiming about the power of youth? Exactly.
"Ooh, I have one," Lee said loudly, clearing his throat. "Tenten kissed Ino on the mouth last New Year's!"
Tenten gasped and hid her face behind her hands. Neji was intrigued. Intrigued in a way that made him desperately want her to be wearing less clothing.
"LEE! It was a dare - "
"You kissed Ino?" Neji was completely mystified.
"Oh, shut up. Lee wore Gai-sensei's underwear for a whole day before realizing it wasn't his!"
"Tenten talks to her weapons like they're real!"
"Lee threw out the Rice Krispies cereal I gave him last week because he was scared of the way they were crackling at him!"
"Tenten fainted the first time we heard Tsunade-sama would be the new Hokage!"
"Neji thinks it's sexy to get my attention with pssst' at night, but all it does is make me want to go to the bathroom!"
"What are you bringing me back in for?" Neji turned on her.
"Sorry, I'm just so confused!" Tenten moaned into her hands.
"You're right. When Neji tried to wake me up he went pssst' like fifty times…I think I still need to pee."
"Well, Lee keeps a framed picture of Sakura under his bed that has got the glass all covered with kiss marks!" Neji declared.
"The first time he got drunk, Neji woke up in the morning on the roof of his house covered in nothing but paint and feathers and he still doesn't know what happened!"
"Tenten was so fat when she was five, her parents were forced to monitor her chocolate intake!"
"Neji got hit on by Jiraiya-sama once because he looks like a girl!"
"Lee dropped his forehead protector in the toilet the other day and didn't bother washing them because he was late for his morning laps with Gai-sensei!"
"Tenten didn't learn how to read until she was nine!"
"Lee has soft, silky girl skin."
"I DO NOT!"
"Okay, you guys, STOP!" Tenten bellowed, interrupting Lee's hunt for some embarrassing secret of Neji's. They both looked at her sheepishly.
"Okay, look, some things have been said…" Tenten looked at each one of them carefully. "…that may or may not necessarily have to be true…if they just don't leave this room."
The boys nodded vigorously.
Not for the first time, Neji was glad he had his stubborn, unreasonable friends with him. Despite the complete ridiculousness of the past half hour or so, they did in fact keep him sane. They kept him grounded as Neji, as opposed to just The Hyuuga Prodigy.
"Okay, I knew when we finally told our secret it would be rough, but I didn't quite expect this," Tenten admitted.
"Guess some things are just better as secrets, huh?" said Lee. "Though…I do wish you told me about you two…"
"We're sorry Lee…" Tenten clasped her hands together nervously.
"It's okay, I'm not mad," Lee assured her. "Actually, when the blinding shock wears off, I'm sure I'll be happy for you. It's just that, seeing as we now have enough dirt on each other to makes ourselves an island, hopefully you know you can trust me with stuff."
"We know that Lee," Neji said. It was hard to think of Lee as a grown-up. To Neji, Lee would always be the loud, goofy kid he had grown up with. He never realized when any of them grew up, but it had happened, absurd secret-spewing sessions aside. It was stupid of them to think that Lee was on another level. It wasn't fair of them, not to give Lee his due credit. "We're really sorry."
"Don't be. If there was one thing I learned tonight, aside from the fact that you two go at it like rabbits and I now must live with scars in my brain for the rest of my life, it's that obviously, none of us are perfect." Lee grinned. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed and pretend none of this ever happened.
Tenten leaned over and gave Lee a kiss on the cheek before returning to the other room. She began to shut the door as she left.
"Hang on, Tenten, you left something." Lee pointed at Neji, who was starting to climb into the other bed.
"But…" Neji looked back and forth between them, torn at what to do. Tenten always looked enticing to him, but her standing there at the doorway looking so unsure and worried made her even more insatiable. Neji didn't want to just run off with his girlfriend and leave Lee alone. To some degree Lee must have already started feeling lonely, knowing that they had each other.
"Take him, Tenten," Lee insisted. "I don't want him. He might try to night-rape me again."
They laughed, Neji jumping up from the bed and whacking Lee in the head with a pillow.
"Good night, Lee."
"Good night, you guys. And Neji, just remember. It happens to all guys sometimes."
Neji lunged, but Tenten grabbed him and pulled him out of the room, leaving Lee alone to laugh himself to sleep. Except Lee knew he would never be alone, no matter what happened between those two.
Together or apart, they'd always be Team Gai.