Lavender and Lilies
At this time of night, the air was very still.
The wind, which had before seemed wild and rabid, calmed into a peaceful whisper. Even the cheerful chirping of the crickets seemed like a wave of noise in the echoing silence. And in this gentle silence came a most peculiar sound—it was the sound of a woman scorned.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," Tenten muttered under her breath. "God, you're such a weenie. I can't believe you actually thought this day would go well—serves you right." She kicked a pebble viciously, which ricocheted off of a tree trunk and slammed into an overturned trash can. The can went sprawling from the momentum of the pebble, careening down a rock-studded hillside and causing a rather spectacular ruckus. Tenten didn't even bat an eye, continuing to mutter to herself as she walked along the outskirts of town. Unconsciously, the kunoichi had veered off of the darkened street towards the general direction of the training grounds.
"ARGH!!" She let a frustrated scream out, whipping her kunai-pouch open to grab a kunai and flinging the object at a deadly speed until it 'thunked' into a tree to her left. Not anywhere close to being pacified, Tenten stalked up to said tree and began to tear it apart until nothing was left except for, perhaps, kindling.
Ten minutes, multiple screams, and a pair of bloody hands later, Tenten stepped back to survey her handiwork. She nodded approvingly at the neat pile of sawdust before wiping her hands with a spare bandage she had rummaged out of her pocket. Tenten wiped a trickle of sweat away from her warm forehead with the back of her hand and exhaled slowly.
At heart, Tenten wasn't a violent person.
It was true. And while she liked to play with pointy objects (in fact she had a room in her apartment dedicated to them), that didn't mean she was not bloodthirsty or homicidal.
Tenten turned around, rubbing at a particularly stubborn dirty spot on her chin, ending up face-to-face with the sweet Hyuuga Hinata. Her fierce longing to rip Hinata's cousin's head off ebbed slightly as she allowed her friend to take her gently by the wrist and lead her back to Hinata's apartment like a lost puppy.
"Please, make yourself comfortable, Tenten-chan." Hinata was not disturbed by the late hour they were up at—her cousin and his increasingly neurotic moods had her up at the oddest hours, but hopefully that would end soon.
After entering, Hinata locked all five locks (some salespeople just did not take no for an answer sometimes) and nearly shoved Tenten onto her overly-stuffed couch before hurrying to the kitchen with the parting words of 'I'll grab us some tea'.
Tenten took a gander about the room, noting affectionately the warmth and feeling of home within the small walls. Half-opened boxes littered the floor, and more pieces of home poked out of the openings of the boxes. Even in the chaos of moving, this apartment was more homier than Tenten's ever had been.
Hinata had done well for herself. Tenten swiped at her eyes and told herself it was just the dust (she stubbornly ignored the feather duster waving peek-a-boo at her from the table to her right).
Perhaps she should tell Hinata to hire a housekeeper, because this much dust was not healthy. Not all people were cleaners at heart, after all.
She waited patiently until Hinata reappeared, the teacups and pot balancing precariously on top of one another. She sprang up to help her friend, but was waved down. "I got it, thanks."
Once the hot tea was served, they both sank back into the couch's heavenly soft embrace and wearily watched the steam spiral up to the ceiling. Tenten then idly watched Hinata's kitty clock swing its tail with every tick of the seconds hand. It was rather therapeutic, sitting there drinking tea and watching a kitty cat wag its tail in all its glorious silence.
Of course, all silences came to an end.
"Mind telling me why you're dressed up?" Hinata set her teacup down, her eyes unwavering from her friend's own chocolate ones. Tenten felt the calm from before slowly slither away, replaced with a growing frustration.
"Oh, just wait until you've heard this," the Weapon's Mistress said darkly.
When the why-Tenten-wants-to-make-Neji's-life-miserable monologue finally came to a close, Hinata merely smiled knowingly, albeit sadly. Poor Neji. He was never one for words. Come to think of it, none of the Hyuugas were much talkers.
"What?" Tenten asked, slightly unnerved by the fact Hinata seemed to know something she didn't. It was a rather irritating Hyuuga trait that always seemed to ruffle her feathers. There was something in that glint in her eye that wasn't Hinata-like. Unnerving, too.
Tenten gulped at that thought. Maybe she was actually rubbing off on her. Normally that would be a good thing, an extremely good thing, but somehow with Hyuuga Hinata and with that look, no way was it a good thing.
"Tenten-chan, can I tell you a story?" Ignoring the alarmed glances she was given that clearly meant Tenten was calculating the various and quickest routes to get her friend to the hospital, Hinata continued, talking deep into the night.
"…and then he said—er, Tenten-chan? Tenten-chan? Helloooo?" Hinata waved her hand frantically back and forth in front of her face. Tenten jumped, startled, and rose to her feet.
"Er, you know what? I think I'm okay, thanks. The tea was good, but I'm going to have to take a raincheck on the rest of the story. ThanksgottagobyeHinata!!"
Hinata stood in the doorway, looking utterly befuddled as she watched the cloud of dust grow smaller and smaller in the distance. Then the confused look slid from her delicate features like water, replaced by a small mischievous grin. She reached up and brushed the dark hair away from her ear to reveal an earpiece.
"Neji-nii-san, s-she's coming in north-west at a-approximately a 37 degree angle. I detained her as long as I could."
"I see," a deep masculine voice crackled from the communicator. "Thank you, Hinata-sama."
"O-oh, think nothing of it, Neji-nii-san. But next time p-please give me more warning. She probably t-thinks I'm crazy because of that harebrained story I told her. I-I am not very good at improvisation like s-some people."
"I apologize, Hinata-sama."
"Well, good luck."
"I think I will need it."
"…gotta get Hinata away from Naruto…" Tenten muttered to herself. "She's losing brain cells every day he's by her. It's dangerous for her health!" She slowed to a walk. "Where am I?"
Undoubtedly, she was in the forest. The canopy of trees was hard to make out against the dark night sky, but the familiar smell calmed the kunoichi. Shuffling over to a weathered and cracked tree trunk, Tenten settled against it and kicked off her sandals, reveling in the delicious feel of grass.
One eye snapped open, flicking immediately to the figure at the edge of the clearing. Her eyelid slid shut. "It's you."
Hyuuga Neji stepped into the moonlight, looking as perfect and emotionless as the last time she saw him. Damn him.
"Apparently," he agreed. He ventured closer, eyes fastened on her face.
She refused to budge an inch, tilting her chin up so as to stare directly into his eyes. "What are you doing here, Neji?" Neji. Because even as mad as she was, Tenten could not bear to call him anything but his name. His eyes did not waver, and suddenly Tenten felt like she was suffocating. God, how she hated it when he stared at her like this. She wanted to run, dig a hole, maybe—anywhere to escape Neji's heavy gaze. Man, ostriches had it made.
"Talking to you, I would hope."
"So I take it you have not forgotten that I am, in fact, very mad at you?"
Neji inclined his head slowly, inky black hair falling over his shoulder. "No, I have not forgotten."
Tenten nodded briskly, turning away abruptly and dropping to her knees, scraping up her weapons and dumping them in various pouches. "Good. Just so you know. So," she said, glancing up at him with a dirty look in her eyes, "what are you doing here still?"
He fell to the ground beside her—gracefully, always gracefully—and plucked a senbon from her fingers. He studied it carefully before twirling it with his long fingers, never once dropping it.
"I came to apologize," he admitted finally. She nearly missed his words, as they were quiet as the wind that blew around them.
"Apologize? Why? You didn't exactly do anything wrong," she pointed out. And as much as she hated to admit it, it was true.
"Still, I…I said some inappropriate and rude things to you. It is unforgivable. I should have found a diplomatic way to diffuse the situation. Hence, I have failed as a Hyuuga."
Tenten raised an eyebrow, wondering if he realized how ridiculous he sounded. "Ah, Neji?"
"It's okay. Really. And I honestly doubt that you've failed as a Hyuuga. You're insufferably polite half of the time and the other you're politely rude. All in all, I'd say you're a very polite person."
Neji was unmoving, however. "It is inappropriate to say rude things to a lady."
"This again?" She sighed exasperatingly as a fond smile crept onto her face. "Right. So it's nice to be called a lady once in a blue moon, but really. Everyone's allowed to have a temper—yours is just more buried than everyone else's. Besides," she shifted uncomfortably, "I jumped to conclusions. It was my fault, so I apologize for upsetting you, Neji."
"I'll accept your apology if you accept mine," Neji offered after a while.
"Works for me." Tenten smiled up at him, and for a moment he returned the smile. They smiled at each other for an amiable silence.
"Why are we tiptoeing around the subject at hand like this?" He snorted, shook his head. "You are angry at me."
"Was," she corrected mildly. "Remember how I accepted your apology ten seconds ago?"
She wondered if there was anyone in the village who appreciated silence anymore. Wasn't Neji supposed to be stoic and strong and silent? Why was he continuing this conversation?
"You are angry with me," Neji repeated. "You did not believe me when I said I wanted to go on a date with you. Why?"
Boy, this wasn't awkward at all. "Um, isn't it obvious?"
"Actually, I am quite confused."
Right. What was she thinking? This was Neji—Hyuuga Neji—the man rumored to have the emotional capacity of an icicle. Or ice-cube. Whatever. She was Tenten, the woman talented with weapons but awkward with words. How the hell was she supposed to get through this one?
'Grin and bear it, Tenten,' she thought. 'You once had to explain to Lee what a tampon was when he found it sticking out of your bag once. This should be a piece of cake.'
'Piece. Of. Cake.'
'Kami-sama let me drop dead right now.'
"I thought you were lying." There. That should be nice and clear. She'd even enunciated for the guy, even.
This was not the case, unfortunately. Neji merely furrowed his brows and murmured, "You know I never lie."
Tenten blew a stray piece of hair from her face. "I know."
He leaned forward. "So why would you think I lied?"
Crossing her arms, Tenten told him, "I hope you know that what I'm about to say is the last thing I'd ever want to say."
The line between his brows became more pronounced. "…yes?"
"Right. Just so you know." Flushed, she pressed a cool hand to the side of her neck. "Have you ever wanted something so bad that if or when it finally happened you couldn't really believe it?"
"Oh." Tenten rolled her head in a circle, swallowing once. Twice. "Well. You know the saying 'de Nile ain't just a river'?"
"Okay." If possible, he looked more confused.
"Ah! This is so frustrating! Aren't you supposed to be good at solving riddles or something?" Her fingers tore at the grass, ripping them into smaller pieces anxiously.
"Tenten." His larger, warmer hands enveloped hers in heavenly warmth. The grass pieces dropped from her stiff hands. "I would understand if you would just stop speaking in riddles."
She took a deep breath. "Okay. Okay," she said.
Her mind laughed at her. 'Cake, Tenten-chan.'
"I like you," Tenten said. "Like, I really really like you. A lot," she exhaled noisily. "So when you said you wanted to go on a date with me—with me!—I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe you. I mean, why would," she faltered at this. "Why would you want to go on a date with me?"
Hyuuga Neji was frozen on the ground, hands hovering where his had been clasping hers before she had torn them away in her haste to flee. A slow, wide smile spread across his handsome face.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are," he called out quietly, drawing to his feet. Konoha would not be big enough to hide from Hyuuga Neji. Not when Tenten was out there without knowing exactly how much he loved her.
And so the chase began.
Hello, hello. Glad you guys still care. It's been an excruciatingly amount of time since the last chapter, and I was rather horrified at the gap—both of time and skill. I started this so, so long ago and I combed through every line, every letter, so it might be worthy enough for you guys. I'm so grateful for your support (and threats to my person on what would happen if I didn't update soon, too). So here it is. Sorry for the lack of NejiTen love (I like to torture them a bit because I'm just sick like that). Hope you enjoyed it.