Lavender and Lilies
Tenten was mad. No, scratch that.
She was in Angry Female Mode. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as they say.
Hyuuga Neji, Tenten said scathingly to herself, is an arrogant prick. How dare he insult her skills! How dare he stare down at her with those infuriatingly snobbish eyes and that smug smirk! How dare he insult her in a tone he could've used to discuss the goddamn weather and still sound so degrading?
How. Dare. He.
Neji was going down. He was going down so hard he didn't need a shovel to dig a hole to the other side because his big fat face would dig it for him before he could even think about sneezing.
Right. So making scathing remarks weren't one of Tenten's strong points. That was okay. In fact, that was just dandy. She didn't need words to make those stupid (amazing) eyes cry. That's why she had pointy things to throw. Actions speak louder than words, after all. This brings us back to the million-dollar question:
Why did Tenten loathe Hyuuga Neji's guts with all her soul?
It was simple, really—he made her cry.
And for Pete's sake, this was monumental because she hadn't cried since she was four years old and her favorite hair tie snagged on an errant branch and snapped. But this man, this stupid, stupid man, merely had to insult her and she started bawling like a baby. It was embarrassing.
One look, one sneer, one sentence. And she broke like a twig.
The last time she could remember being so preoccupied with what Hyuuga Neji thought of her was when they were genins.
Before, when they first formed as a team, she had been a different variation of his typical fangirls. She thought she was more mature than they were because she didn't cling to his arm or simper or flutter her eyelashes. Instead, she did his mission chores, became his sparring partner, and gave him the better tasting ration bar.
Kami, how she was tired of it. She was tired of his smirks, his knowing glances. She was tired of Lee and Gai-sensei's pitying looks that they tried to hide with their bright smiles and exuberant statements. She was tired of how he treated her. She was just tired of Team Gai in general. It was quite easy to get driven nearly to insanity on her team. Neji was a walking ice cube and the other two…well…
She did not have many friends to confide to. Sakura and Ino had always been the best of friends (frenemies), even before Sasuke had influenced their brains and turned them inside out. Tenten always envied the way they joked around and laughed with one another. The only way she had established a cautious friendship with the two of them was because of Hyuuga Hinata.
Hinata acted as glue, friends with Sakura and Ino as well as Tenten and keeping them all together. But Hinata had been Tenten's first female friend. They had met up in a bathhouse after a grueling day of training for the both of them, and came to relax. To forget. They began to talk, and sat there long after dark came outside.
Strange how hot water, bruises, and irritation with teammates could bond two girls so closely together.
"O-ohayo T-tenTen-chan," the shy Hyuuga princess stammered meekly as she climbed into the hot springs.
"Ohayo, Hinata-chan!" Tenten waved lazily from her corner of the springs before dunking her head under to wash the unwanted grime from her hair.
When she reemerged, Hinata was sitting next to her and was calmly washing her body with subtle gestures. Tenten smiled affectionately at this. When they had first met, Hinata had turned the color of a lobster when Tenten had whipped off her towel and started to bathe in front of the Hyuuga girl. To Hinata, it had been embarrassing. How could people do that? Even now, the lavender-eyed girl was still modest around Tenten.
"H-how was t-training?" Hinata asked the Weapons Mistress quietly, pausing in her bath when she finally noticed Tenten's sulking and obvious discontentment. As if waiting for that moment, Tenten immediately shouted, "AWFUL!!" Hinata 'eeped' and nearly fell over.
"I-I'm sorry that is so, Tenten-chan," Hinata said, patting her friend's tanned shoulder in a motherly act of understanding. "What h-happened?"
"What happened? What happened?" Tenten shook her head, scowling to herself as she scrubbed angrily at the quickly reddening flesh of her forearm. "I'm sorry Hinata-chan, but there's something wrong with that cousin of yours! He thinks he's all smart and powerful and makes sure we all know it. I mean, even after I helped him train for his exam he had the nerve to insult me to my face. Does that man know the definition of gratitude?"
"He can get on your n-nerves," Hinata acknowledged, "But h-he is not such a b-bad person when you get to know him." She offered a tentative smile, and received a strained one in return.
What else did Tenten expect? She was talking to the cousin of her problem, after all. And Hinata was such a nice girl, not a mean bone in her body.
"Neji has his moments," Tenten allowed with a sigh. "But most of the time, I just want to strangle him! I mean, who became Chunnin before him? Huh? Huh? Yeah, I did!" She huffed, crossing her arms below her chest. "Damn bastard," she muttered. She blew sulkily at the water surface, watching the ripples with a detached sort of interest.
Hinata sighed before sinking lower until she was completely submerged. She knew what Tenten said was true, but she also knew that Neji didn't need any training. There was only one reason why he allowed Tenten to help him train…but when Hinata had figured it out, Neji had threatened to slit open her throat and pull her intestines up through it and nail it to the training post if she spilled the beans. Honestly, that boy was a bit sheltered in the ways of human interaction. So, she resigned herself to the occasional hint.
Obviously, Tenten had not picked up on them.
"I better go, Hinata-chan," Tenten said, slowly rising from the steaming water. Her towel was clinging dangerously low on her dripping figure, and Hinata could easily tell why her cousin was obsessed with her friend. "I'm sorry for bothering you with my troubles."
"Oh, n-no," Hinata protested softly, "it's no problem at all, Tenten-chan. I-I'm fine with it." Tenten flashed a charming grin which made her pretty features light up. Since Hinata's back was pressed against the fence that blocked the boys' hot springs from the girls' Hinata could hear the audible gasp of awe that sounded awfully familiar.
"Thanks, Hinata-chan! See you around!" She waved before turning to walk back to the changing rooms, her hips swaying slightly. As soon as she disappeared, Hinata turned her head slightly and murmured, "You should just tell her, Neji-nii-san."
There was a pause.
"How did you know I was here, Hinata-sama?" Neji's deep voice was strained, and Hinata knew he had eavesdropped on their conversation. Hinata smiled.
"Easy. I could practically feel your presence, and only you would know that we meet here every day at this time."
"…and you probably came in hopes of apologizing…"
"…and you looooove Tenten-chan…"
"…tru—hey, what?" Hinata giggled before getting out herself.
"Nothing. Just, please, cousin. Tell her soon." Before Hinata left, she could just hear her cousin whisper, '…I will…'
Humming to herself, Tenten walked at her own leisure down the dirt road that winded around the trees in the forest by the hot springs. Here, she knew she could forget her troubles in an instant. Picking up her pace in anticipation, Tenten soon began sprinting off the path and through brambles and trees before bursting into a clearing.
Inhaling deeply, Tenten dropped her kunai holsters and scroll bag by the calm stream, kicking off her sandals and dipping her feet in. She gave out a groan of relief, nearly sagging on the ground. She sat in silence for a few minutes, content in listening to the birds and other sounds of the nature around her.
"Tenten," a quiet, calm voice murmured right by her ear. Tenten gave a Hinata-like 'eep' and whirled around when she came face to face with Hyuuga Neji. Her eyes widened as her mouth opened to form a perfect 'o' as her face held the classic pose of confusion and surprise.
"N-Neji," she whispered, her hot breath tickling his cheeks. He inwardly shuddered as he reveled in her scent and her closeness.
"Tenten," he whispered back, and Tenten suffered the same effects.
"What are you doing here?" Then, as if remembering that she was supposed to be angry, she snapped, "Aren't you supposed to be out training or something?" When he was silent, she raised an eyebrow. "Well?"
Neji muttered something under his breath. Tenten's eyebrows went well past her hairline.
"Excuse me?" she asked, not sure she had heard right.
Giving out an exasperated noise, he repeated in a louder tone, "I said I wish to apologize."
She blinked. Then she blinked again. "…why?"
"Because I was stressed earlier today and I did not mean to take it out on you. Tenten," he said, and his breath fanned over her cheeks and oh god, she couldn't breathe, "I am sorry."
"…oh. Um, I'm still mad at you, you know," Tenten mumbled feebly, still a touch dazed.
"Let me buy you dinner as a token of my humblest apologies," Neji offered. Poor Tenten was reeling in shock; thoughts could not connect.
Neji broke out into a smile that took Tenten's breath away. "Good. Then, I shall meet you here at five o'clock this evening." With that, he disappeared in a swirl of leaves, leaving a very bewildered kunoichi in the clearing. Shaking her head, she got up, no longer anywhere close to angry. Neji had that way with her…she just couldn't stay mad with him. And that smile of his…
Wait, smile? The Hyuuga Neji, the icebergs of all icebergs, smiled at her?
And so a confused-as-hell Tenten stumbled down the road to her apartment before fumbling for her keys and entering. Flicking on the lights and locking her door, Tenten turned to find a single rose on her coffee table. She picked it up and breathed in the soft, powdery smell, and let out an unbelieving yet happy smile, although she did not realize a pair of white eyes caught every single movement.
Author's Note: Hi, everyone!! Back when I first posted this chapter (before I revised it, that is), a fantastic reviewer by the name of anon pointed something out to me. Neji reached the rank of Chuunin before Tenten, which is different than what I have here in LL. But you know what? Screw it. This is fanfiction, folks. Hope you enjoy this revised version!!