Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
To all who read: Happy New Year and God bless!!
"To a new year!" Tenten exclaimed, her brown eyes twinkling in mirth. Raising her glass of amber liquid with slender fingers, she nodded to the two weeping, wailing men and one solemn shinobi that had made up her team. Glancing over proudly at the men in her life, she sighed contentedly. She was to turn twenty-four this year--a big deal, apparently, to Sakura and Ino--since she was hoping to be married by her upcoming birthday. Watching with amusement as Lee had attempted to do something which ended with him getting soundly punched by Gai, Tenten gave another sigh. Boy--er, men.
Sidling over to the saner of the three, she gave her pale eyed ex-sparring partner a bright smile. Noting the casual way he held his cup between his thumb and forefingers, her gaze trailed upwards to said person's matured, handsome face. "Why hello, Neji."
The Byakugan user gave her a sideways glance and made a grunt in reply.
"Isn't it amazing?" Tenten continued, "It's a new year already! This year has gone by fast." Neji gave her another grunt. At least he was listening. "And, well, you know what happens at the stroke of midnight, don't you?" she questioned, brown eyes meeting his.
One slim eyebrow rose along with the quirk of his thin lips. "Hm?" Eying her with slight interest and amusement, Neji watched as the usual composed weapons mistress fidget.
"You know," she said hastily, "the New Year's resolution?" Swirling the liquid in her glass, Tenten nibbled on her lip before timidly glancing towards Neji. With his intense, pale gaze directed at her, Tenten flushed as she suddenly felt warm. "Do you--"
"Yosh! Gai Sensei! Did you just hear our youthful flower say 'New Year's resolution'!" interrupted Lee, tears running in streaks down his face. "Truly, we should all make one!"
"Why yes, Lee! Wonderful idea!" cried Gai in his baritone voice along with a dazzling smile and wink. Lee agreed enthusiastically and with more hugs, streams of tears, and drinks, the twin-like figures dressed in green turned their attention towards Neji and Tenten. "Well?" he asked, his eyes roving among his former students, "Who shall go first and let their flaming passions be let known!"
"Me! Me! I shall, Gai Sensei!" Lee yelled, his hand raised and eyes wide. "This year I shall strive to become a better ninja and show everyone that I can become great with mainly using taijutsu!"
Neji and Tenten exchanged glances. Great. Gennin years all over again.
Tenten coughed. "Lee, you said that last year…and even the year before that. It's supposed to be different this year. You know, a New Year's resolution." Hearing Neji give a soft 'humph', she shot him a look before he could say anything. "But…that's alright, Lee. If you want to be a stronger ninja in the next year than this year, then I suppose it is a new one."
Lee beamed. "Yosh, Tenten! One can always strive to be better!"
Gai thumped Lee on the back and made the younger man go flying. "Oh Lee, I always new you were a splitting image of me!" the older man exclaimed, the water works flowing once more. Neji and Tenten both sighed.
Lee posed from the ground, his thumbs up and grin shining. "So, the beloved blossom of our team," he said once he made his way back to the group, "what will be your wonderful, new promise to the next year?"
Three pairs of eyes were trained on her. "I…would like to get married," she said frankly, a light blush staining her cheeks. "That's my goal for the next year."
"Truly a wonderful goal!" Lee exclaimed. "What a great resolution! When are you getting married?" Wide eyes began to tear and lips trembled, "I will be at your wedding, right? What a truly splendid day--or will it be night? Whichever time is fine! I shall get you a most magnificent wedding present! When are you expecting? Will it be a boy or g--"
"Lee!" Tenten yelled once more, slightly exasperated. "I'm not going to have a baby!"
"Ah, but you will," he said happily. "What shall you name your youthful bundles of joy?" He gave her an eager glance. "Perhaps it shall be named after me? Or maybe even Gai Sensei? Or maybe ev--"
"Lee!" Tenten shouted, her cheeks now crimson. "Relax," she continued, calming down, "I don't even have a husband yet."
Lee stopped ranting, his expression full of disappointment. Eyes leaping between the flushing Tenten and another ex- teammate, he said rather bluntly, "Why not?" Staring at the Byakugan user openly, Lee was only met with a blank expression.
Tenten choked at his blatancy. "Well, Lee, I guess…" she trailed off slowly, her eyes lowered, "I guess I just didn't find him yet, that's all." Then she beamed, her heart only half there.
"Ah…" Lee trailed off slowly, getting the hint. He turned towards his beloved teacher. "What about you, Gai Sensei," he asked, his eyes rapt with attention.
Tenten smiled as she watched the familiar scene. Even though they had grown and aged, Lee had never stopped calling his former teacher 'Gai Sensei' and had continued on the path of his 'Gai likeness'. He was getting there.
"I," Gai started, his voice dramatic, "will strive…to beat my bitter rival Kakashi!" Doing his signature pose, his teeth glimmered and his eyes narrowed. "Because you see, my ex-former-students-turned-adults, Kakashi is…" he paused, his voice dropping, "still beating me by one point in our on-going competition between us!"
"You mean the one he's still not aware of?" Neji muttered, remembering all to well the ridiculous things they had to do at times to prove their team was better.
"Ah, but that is where you are wrong!" Gai exclaimed. "He is just much too cool to admit it!" he cried.
"Oh Gai Sensei, do not be discouraged!"
"Can we stop with that already?" Tenten yelled over the two blubbering men before they somehow ran off into an instant sunset. "The countdown is about to start." Both quieted, their bobbed heads turning to the sky in wait of the fireworks at midnight. Taking another sip of her drink, Tenten also craned her neck to watch the dark, night sky. It was impressive. The stars were out, highlighting the depth of the unexplored heavens.
"So," someone breathed softly in her ear, breaking her train of thought, "is that what your real resolution was?" Taking her eyes away from the beautiful night, she found a sight much more striking.
Thinking for a moment, she decided that perhaps in order to fulfill her promise to the new year, she would have to be honest. "Only partially."
His eyebrow rose for the second time that night. "Partially?"
A pause. "So what is the other--"
"Ten!" interrupted the shout of the crowd, a display of fireworks exploding.
"Part?" she finished, a mischievous glint in her eyes. "I'm not going to tell--"
"Nine!" Lee yelled over the group enthusiastically.
"Me?" he asked, his lips twisting upwards. "Why n--"
"Eight!" The two exchanged glances.
"Why not?" Tenten laughed. "Because I don't want you to--"
"Seven!" Now Lee and Gai were hugging with tears streaming. Again.
"Know." Neji said, rather confused. "You're so co--"
"Six!" The two rolled their eyes at the sight their old teacher and teammate made.
"Confusing," she sighed, "I know. But what--"
"Five!" The green clad men were still weeping happily.
"About me," he stated, his gaze roaming the crowd. "I…"
"Four!" Neji's eyes strayed to the fireworks above as Tenten glanced toward him.
"Yes," Tenten said, brown eyes focused on the Hyuuga prodigy.
"Three!" the crowd chorused even louder.
Neji was quiet, almost inaudible. "I promised to myself…"
"Two!" came the excited chant.
"That I would ask you when the time was right," Neji finished, his lavender eyes trained on hers.
Tenten stared, the final count, cheering, and the explosive finale a buzz in her ear. "Oh? And what is that?" she asked softly, a hint of a smile forming on her face. Glancing at the bell tower as it chimed loudly in time for a new day of the new year, she felt firm fingers slide across her cheek. Startled, Tenten looked up to find Neji closer than before. Much closer.
"You know what happens at the stroke of midnight," he said, a trace of humor in his low voice. Stroking her jaw lightly, Neji's lips curved upwards. "Don't you?" he exhaled, cupping her cheek.
"Why of course," Tenten said, humoring him. "You make new year resolutions." Giving him a playful look, she tilted her head to rest on his open palm as she smiled.
Neji laughed, his voice husky. "That, we do."
And as the final chime pealed, he closed the distance between them. Lightly and soft, his lips pressed against hers. Using his free hand to bring her closer, Neji wrapped one arm around her waist as he angled her head with his other for easier access. Passionate then gentle he kissed her soundly, making her thoroughly breathless.
Pulling away, a light, dazed smile adorned her face. "So that was the question?"
Neji shook his head, his breathing uneven. "First of all," Neji rasped as he strained for breath control, "what you said, was it true?"
Tenten nodded, her voice failing her.
His pale, intense gaze was focused on the woman before him. "Then, Tenten," Neji said quietly, "let me be that one whom you will plan your wedding with, have it with, and be with for the rest of your life." Noting her eyes line with liquid, he ran his thumbs gently over the corner of her eyes. "Bear my children," he whispered softly, "and perhaps we could even name one after Lee if you so desire."
Tenten gave a small laugh, her forehead pressed against his. "And is that all?" she asked, waiting on baited breath. He smiled, their lips faintly touching. "Tenten," she felt him ask against her, "will you marry me?"
Wide eyed, Tenten's breathing hitched. "I…is that your que--"
"Yes," Neji breathed, still awaiting her answer.
"Why Neji," Tenten couldn't help but tease, "you seem to have gotten much more romantic lately."
He smirked, his arms still wrapped possessively around her lithe figure. "That, my dear, was also another one of my resolutions for the new year."
Giving him a cheeky grin, Tenten kissed Neji deeply once more. "Well then," she finally replied once they paused for air, "in that case, I will."
Neji's lips quirked, his eyes lit with amusement. "To a new year," he whispered, enfolding her within his arms.
"To a new year," Tenten echoed softly as she lay her cheek against his chest. And, she inwardly added, to a new beginning.
For the both of them.
First one-shot for the year 2007. Review!