For being less than 700 words, I've posted this and taken it down, posted it again, and took it down, making little corrections. Now this one I'm keeping, mistakes and all. I hope it's still enjoyable.

Anyway, this is set right before the final round of the Chuunin exams when Neji and Tenten are training and he says "I think I used too much chakra." and passes out.

It's a character study on Neji, not a pairing.


He passed out from lack of chakra. She quickly followed suit, from fatigue.

By the time Neji regained conscious she had already woken up, and was sitting up against a tree. Her head was resting on the bark while she scanned the clouds above. She looked over at her teammate. Her eyes gave away a look of worry.

"Neji," she whispered. "I understand you wanting to win. But you pushing yourself like this... it's not healthy." she looked almost pleadingly at him. "I don't think even Lee could stand this kind of training."

Neji was sitting up, his arms resting on his knees. While she talked he had shifted his pale eyes from her face to the grass. The final part of the Chuunin Exams was just around the corner and he still had the nagging feeling that he needed to do more, train harder. People were going to be there. Thousands. And among them he knew was suppose to be the Hyuuga Elders. People from the Main Family, Lord Hiashi in particular.

In truth, Neji was ambivalent on whether he made Chuunin or not. Rising within the ranks of Shinobi was never his goal. Achieving more strength and mastering his Bloodline was what he strived for. Becoming Chuunin or Jounin was a side benefit. A title for all to see that he was an exceptional Shinobi. A mere point of pride.

But what drove him to this goal was the constant fire that he felt was consuming him from within. Most of the time he was able to keep the feeling suppressed, a dancing flame within his heart. But it had raged beyond his control so many times.

When Neji would think of the injustice of his father's death he found himself fighting against the inferno. And on occasion even Lee had shown an ability to entice the flames. But whenever Neji felt the flames licking at him he would take the time to step back and meditate. He would regain his composure.

Showing your emotions is not the Shinobi way.

There was, however, one day when the fire had burned beyond, and Neji did nothing to try to quell it. Quite the contrary, he fanned the flames until it blinded him. It was painful. It made his skin tingle, and his inside feel as if his organs were being burned to ashes. He had ran forward, his hand held out in a death blow. It had occured to him that maybe he had the ability to put it out. Maybe it was within his reach. If he could hurt...

No, kill...

The person that was the source of the flame...

Then maybe the fire would be extinguished...

But the Jounins prevented that from happening.

And even as he watched her laying on the ground, suffering from the wound he had inflicted, Neji felt no better. It was at that moment that he realized that even had he killed her, the flames would have raged on.

No, his goal was not necessarily to become a Chuunin or Jounin. Or even to be the master of the Gentle Fist and Byakugan. Rather, his constant need for strength came from his own reasonable conclusion that it was the only way he could keep the fire at bay.

"Neji?" the Hyuuga looked up, meeting Tenten's concern gaze. "Are you ok?"

Neji sighed.

It was little more than a flame now, dancing within.

He raised himself, and stood in the initial Gentle Fist stance.

"Tenten... Let's do it again."


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