A/N: We have come to the end my friends, alas, we must part. This story has been a joy to write and reading all of your fantastic reviews has been one of the highlights of my summer and . . . stuff. Look at me, getting all sentimental and shit.
This chapter was a bitch to write, rewrote the damn thing 3 times so I hope it's good (took me 3 weeks to do so it better be.).
R.I.P. to that bomb loving psycho Deidara . . . Art is a bang.
Disclaimer: I don't own.
"Are you alright?"
Tenten turned to Gaara in surprise, brows furrowed in confusion. "Why wouldn't I be alright?" she asked, giving a saccharine smile. Her mouth hurt from all the smiling she'd done. Maybe if she actually felt happy it'd be easier . . .
He held up their clasped hands up. "You're squeezing really hard, Tenten."
She abruptly let go, blushing fiercely. "Oh, god," she said, closing her eyes as he massaged his fingers. "I'm sorry, Gaara. I didn't—"
"It's ok." he brushed her cheek tenderly with the back of his hand. "You look sad," Gaara said, studying her eyes intently. "Do you want to leave?"
Tenten stared at him, eyes wide. "You can't leave when your sister is getting married!" she insisted as he dragged her to her feet. "Gaara!" People were watching them and she felt a flush of embarrassment flood up her cheeks. "Gaara!" she cried, a little irritated now, but they were already walking out of the church through a side door near the back. The red head dragging her outside cast her an amused smirk when she tripped over a rock. "This is your sister's wedding!"
One of Gaara's non-existent eyebrows cocked in a do-you-think-I-care look. "Temari won't mind," he said confidently. "That place was stuffy."
She let out an exasperated sigh but smiled.
His words echoed in the silent hall, all eyes were trained on him and Neji forced himself to meet his uncle's icy gaze. Hiashi's eyes were narrowed to slits and his lips were in a thin line, showing his evident displeasure. Baki was gaping and out of the corner of his eye, Neji could see Temari was smirking. Was she enjoying this? Perhaps she was since she'd be able to be with Shikamaru again.
"Hiashi-sama," Neji dropped to his knees in front of his uncle and, even thought it brought bile to the back of his throat, his voice was pleading. "Please don't make me marry, Temari." He'd never begged a day in his life, but it seemed to come naturally. Neji kept his eyes on the floor, not daring to look up at his uncle.
"Why?" Hiashi asked coldly. "This is for the betterment of Hyuuga."
Neji didn't know who to respond but thankfully Temari came to his rescue.
"Gaara will probably be the one to inherit Sabaku," she explained. "Neji marrying me wouldn't make much difference in business matters."
The older Hyuuga ignored Temari. "Neji, do you want to have the company?"
"I wasn't aware that you were giving it to me." he answered honestly. "Hinata is your first-born."
"If you want to man my company after my retirement," Hiashi said, voice deathly serious, "you get to that alter and marry this girl."
Neji rose from the floor and brushed invisible dust from his black dress pants. He gave a respectful nod to Baki and Temari before looking at Hiashi. "I can't." he said.
Hiashi sighed deeply in a very un-Hyuuga-like manner, rubbing his temples with his fingers. "It's that Tenten girl, isn't it?" Hiashi asked, giving his nephew a stern look. "That girl is what's making you change your mind, correct?" Neji said nothing but it was enough to convince him he was right. Hiashi waved him away with displeasure and said sharply, voice cutting, "Leave."
"Thank you . . . Uncle."
Wow, I never thought I'd be here again . . .
Tenten looked around at the very pink interior, she had a feeling that Gaara was grimacing inside though his face was expressionless. The same blonde man she'd had when she and Neji came here was their waiter and the look of recognition on his face told her he remembered her.
"You seem to be known in this place." Gaara commented absently.
"Neji and I came here and he was our waiter." she replied flippantly before realizing what she was saying. Tenten slapped a hand over her mouth, eyes wide while Gaara's were passive. She hadn't meant to say that but the red head seemed unmoved.
"You and Neji?"
"It was a long time ago."
"This place opened only a few months ago, Tenten." he reminded her, noticing how her cheeks reddened. "Were you and Neji an item before?"
She scoffed. "We were never anything."
"That's not what Lee says."
"You talk with Lee?" she asked incredulously. "Rock Lee?"
Gaara folded his hands and propped his chin up with them. "It is that surprising?"
"Yes." she answered bluntly.
"I see." he replied quietly.
"Not that I'm against it or anything." Tenten added hurriedly. "I just never expected you and Lee to be on such good terms, I mean, I thought you found him annoying."
Gaara shrugged. "He's tolerable."
"Look, Gaara, I'm really sorry but—"
"You're breaking up with me." he stated flatly, giving her an amused look.
Tenten's eyes widened to saucers. "It's not you, it's me!" she cried, which only seemed to increase his amusement. "You are such a great guy and if I wasn't in love with some other guy I'd totally continue dating you!"
"I'm sure." The red head gave her a look. "Why did you go out with me?"
She groaned. "I guess I was feeling down finding out that Neji didn't want me anymore. God, I feel like such an idiot! I'm so sorry!" She was blabbering now. "I don't know why I said yes, well, besides the fact that you're such a great guy and stuff but I can't believe I was leading you on like this. I should've broken things off when Neji kissed me the other day—"
"He kissed you?" Gaara asked monotonously while Tenten buried her head into her hands. "And how long have you been in love with Hyuuga?" She didn't respond. "A while then." he surmised.
"I'm so sorry." she whispered.
He shrugged. "It doesn't matter."
"It matters to me. God, Gaara, I'm sorry I'm such an idiot."
"You're not an idiot."
He said it with such certainty that she actually found herself believing him for a minute. He was so nice about it that it made her want to cry. "I didn't envision such a good break up." Tenten admitted truthfully. "I thought there'd be screaming or something."
"I'm not a screamer."
Tenten found herself thinking of something entirely sexual when he said that and couldn't help the chuckle that escaped her lips. "You made me think of something naughty." she confessed wryly when he stared at her in confusion.
"I see." he murmured. There was a moment of silence until Gaara said, "I was going to break up with you today."
Neji pushed open the door to the church and looked around for the familiar buns and white dress. His eyes scanned the crowd ten times before he realized she wasn't there. Where was she?
"Are you looking for Tenten?" Sasuke asked, turning around slightly to look at him. Sakura smiled beside the Uchiha and Neji could see that their hands were touching.
"Where is she, Uchiha?"
"Left with Gaara." he replied, short and to the point.
"Shit," he muttered, ignoring the fact that many people's eyes had gone wide at his improper language. Hyuuga were not known to curse. Neji frowned at the alter for a moment, debating what to do. "The wedding is off," he told the two, "you can leave if you want."
"You're not marrying Temari?" Sakura asked happily, practically bouncing in her seat.
"That's fantastic!" she cried, getting out of the pew to hug him.
Neji watched as Sasuke's eyes narrowed dangerously and he smirked in response.
"Well . . ." Tenten looked down at her clasped hands on the table, then back at Gaara. "I guess I beat you to it."
The corner of his mouth twitched. "I suppose I should tell you why."
She grinned. "If you want to. I don't care."
"I'm gay." he confessed stoically.
Temari ripped off her veil with a contented sigh and walked out into room full of people. Baki had already announced that the wedding was off, to her intense relief, and guests were just milling around, drinking champagne and eating cocktail shrimp and miniature stuffed crab cakes. She looked around and immediately found the man she was looking for, his pineapple head was hard to miss. So was the blonde girl who was currently standing beside him.
"Shikamaru," she said, coming up beside the dark haired teen, "this is yours." Temari pressed a small manila envelope into his hand and he immediately seemed to know what it was. She smirked and smiled sweetly at the girl. "Ino."
"You look good." Ino said with a large smile. She wanted to rip the other girl's hair out.
Shikamaru could sense the tension between the two and sighed.
"I have a few things to take care of." Temari stated, brushing the side of her dress casually. "I'll see you guys later."
Ino clenched her teeth as Temari left, noticing the way the girl sashayed away. "Why did you go out with that girl?" she demanded, turning to Shikamaru.
He shrugged. "She was cool."
"That's not even a good answer!" the blonde hissed.
Shikamaru stared at her and said evenly, "You sound jealous."
"I am not jealous." Ino snapped, crossing her arms over her chest.
"What's in the envelope she gave you?"
She clenched her teeth together in annoyance.
The dark haired boy nibbled on a piece of shrimp before he was roughly grabbed by his jacket and jerked around to face angry blue eyes. "I-Ino!"
"Do you like my dress?" she asked hotly.
"Do you like it!? Do you think it makes me look sexy!?"
"What th—Ino let go!"
"Why won't you answer!?" she screeched.
"Yes! It makes you look incredibly sexy." he said, relieved when she let go. Damn, women were so troublesome. Why the hell was she asking him about this? "Why the hell are you asking me this?"
"Do you like Temari?"
"Answer the damn question!"
"That's none of your business." Shikamaru muttered, aware that all eyes were on them. Ino looked like she was close to tears and he wondered why. "What the hell is wrong with you?" He rubbed the back of his neck and mumbled something close to 'psycho women' under his breath.
"Nothing is wrong."
"You're acting more psychotic than usual."
"I am not psychotic."
"Whatever," he muttered, adding, "troublesome woman."
Ino couldn't take it anymore and screamed, "You're such an ass hole, Shikamaru! Can't you tell that I like you!?"
He'd visited nearly every place he could think of searching for Tenten but to no avail.
The girl was no where to be found.
How could she disappear like this?
It was damn irritating.
Neji ran down the street, black jacket flapping behind him and suddenly stopped when he saw the familiar pink building.
She wouldn't be here . . . Would she?
"You're gay!?" Gaara motioned for her to sit down and she did, not even realizing that she'd stood up in the first place. "You can't be!"
He found her reaction quite amusing and the look on her face was priceless. "I assure you I am." he replied, mouth slightly turned up in a smile. "I thought the overuse of eyeliner would tip you off."
"B-but—I—you went out with me!" Tenten said, pointing at him with her index finger. "You kissed me! A lot!"
"I may be gay but you are a good kisser."
"I don't know whether to thank you or punch you." Tenten leaned back into her seat, slightly dazed.
Holy crap this was a revelation.
'Oh, there's more to Gaara than meets the eye.'
No way. Was this what Gai had been hinting towards?
That stupid idiot. He'd known all along and yet didn't say anything? If he came around her apartment again she's pour salt in his tea perhaps . . .
"I should get going," Gaara said, getting up from the booth.
Tenten placed her hand on top of his as he put down some money. "Gaara," she said, giving him a smile, "thank you. I had a lot of fun with you these past few weeks." She stood up a little and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him. Gaara tentatively returned the gesture and Tenten smiled into his flaming red hair.
Neji's eyes widened when the back of Gaara's head popped out of a booth and when Tenten suddenly hugged him. Tenten was hugging him. His Tenten. His girl. Neji could swear he was seeing red as he busted through the door and roughly wrenched Gaara away from her.
"N-Neji!" she exclaimed, eyes wide with shock. "What the hell are you doing here!?"
Neji growled and narrowed his eyes at Gaara. "Don't touch her."
The red head raised an eye brow but didn't comment.
"What is your problem?" Tenten demanded. "Let go of him now!"
And then he grasped Tenten by her shoulders and kissed her.
Neji woke up when light sprinkles of rain hit his cheek. He was slightly disoriented and blinked rapidly to clear his blurry vision.
He'd left Café Aka Tsuki after witnessing that hug, wandering aimlessly till he found himself back at the park he and Tenten had come to when she wanted crepe. He'd crashed on a bench, intent on only resting a little but he ended up falling asleep. It was dark out and he vaguely wondered how long he'd been sleeping.
He'd screwed up.
Tenten loved another man.
Death was coming for him.
It couldn't get any worse.
And then the sky opened up.
"Where's Neji!?" she asked, gasping for breath. She'd run all the way back to the church in high heels, it wasn't easy, and she leaned against a chair, pressing her forehead against the cold metal arm. "I need to talk to him!"
Sakura looked around to Naruto and Sasuke.
All of them shrugged and/or shook their heads.
"We don't know where he is either." she replied, watching as the brunette's expression turned from tired to horrified. "What's wrong?"
Tenten turned her head to the left and wasn't surprised when Gai was there, tapping a finger on the watch he wore.
"I have to find him and tell him something—"
"It's pouring outside!" Naruto noted grimly, looking out the giant window. "Are you sure you want t—Tenten?"
"Ran out while you were talking, dobe." Sasuke said, staring intently at the open side door.
The blonde scowled. "Crazy girl."
Gai watched Tenten run out, smiling to himself before he left too.
Oh how he loved playing matchmaker.
Killing people all the time was just so boring.
"I-is Neji-niisan really not inheriting the company? Father?" Hinata pressed her index fingers together shyly, flinching at Hiashi's cold glare.
"You and Hanabi certainly don't have the capability." he said. "It will have to be Neji."
"C-can't you be a little e-easier on h-him? N-Neji-niisan does everything he can to please you, father . . . Y-you've always said he was the most t-talented and I-I t-think Hyuuga would do very well under h-his leadership, w-with or without Sabaku . . ."
Hiashi looked away from his eldest daughter, wondering when she'd gotten so talkative . . . And right. "Do you want to own the company?" he asked, staring at Hinata.
"Y-you said so yourself t-that I don't have the c-capability." she answered shyly.
"I'm beginning to think otherwise." Hiashi said. "Go back to your friends."
Shock was written all over his face and Shikamaru gaped at her, at a loss for words.
"I like you, you idiot!" she cried, swiping her hand over her eyes. "They say you're a genius but you're so stupid! Couldn't you tell!?"
"No. How can I tell that you like me when all you do is play games with me!?" he asked furiously.
"I was flirting! It works with every other guy I've ever tried it on! I wore my sexiest outfits for you but you never noticed you ungrateful jerk!"
"What the hell!? You were that stuff everyday, Ino!"
"You're the damn genius here! Can't you tell the difference between wearing a regular shirt and a tight, form-fitting one that shows off skin!?" she screamed.
Shikamaru clenched his fists. "God dammit woman! How the hell am I supposed to know these things!?"
"You're an ass hole, Shikamaru." Ino said resolutely, shaking her head.
He threw up his hands. "This is exactly what I was telling you about. I don't like when you women play mind games. It's so damn irritating. Just come right out and say it, Ino."
"Fine." she snapped loudly. "I LIKE YOU SHIKAMARU AND I WANT TO GO OUT WITH YOU."
To her utter surprise, he kissed her.
On the mouth.
Ino wrenched herself away from him and his delicious kiss, eyes wide. "What the hell are you doing!?"
He rolled his eyes. "I'd think you'd want me to kiss you, Ino."
"D-don't you like Temari?" she asked, slightly bewildered.
"Did I ever say that?"
"No . . . but—"
"We went out before, but there's nothing between us now." Shikamaru said, crossing his arms. "You know I've liked you for a while, right?" She simply stared at him in shock and he snorted. "And you say I'm the oblivious one. Troublesome woman . . ."
"Are you serious?"
He shrugged. "You were going out with Sai at the time and then Temari asked me out so I figured I'd give it a try."
"You figured you'd give it a try!?"
"We weren't going out then so don't tell me it wasn't alright." he snapped.
Ino's eyes widened. "Are we going out now?" she asked.
Shikamaru brushed her hair out of her face and kissed the side of her mouth softly before whispering into her ear, "What do you think?"
She put a hand between her mouth and his when he tried to kiss her. "What's in the envelope, Shikamaru?"
He rolled his eyes. "I won the bet."
"I knew I'd find you here."
Neji turned his head slightly.
He'd never seen her in such a state. Tenten's bangs stuck to her forehead, she was soaking wet, her white dress hugged her like second skin and since it was white it was slightly see through; he could see the outline of her bra. She was breathing hard, chest visibly rising and falling, and she tired moved towards him, collapsing onto the bench beside him.
"What are you doing here?" he asked through the pounding rain.
She grinned good naturedly. "I was looking for you, Neji. You're missing your own wedding."
"You're soaked." He felt stupid for stating the obvious, but he was just surprised that she was sitting there.
"Rain." Tenten replied, brushing some of his hair away from his face. "You're the biggest idiot, you know that?"
"I'm serious, Neji."
"You're the one who's out in the rain. Love me that much?"
She smirked. "You sure know how to sweep a girl off her feet. Here I thought you were going to wrap your arms around me and kiss me senseless."
"Optimistic." he replied sarcastically.
"Do you love me?" Tenten asked seriously.
"I would've married Temari if I didn't."
The brunette girl smiled and threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and squeezing him hard. She suddenly realized she was crying, tears mixing with the rain. Tenten sobbed into his neck and Neji encircled her waist with his arms, holding her close. She pulled back and kissed him, closing her eyes while he explored her mouth with his tongue.
"You know," Tenten murmured against his lips, "if you'd told me about this marriage thing from the very beginning, plus the Death business, we could've been together from the start. Your stubbornness is going to be one of your shortcomings . . ."
Neji rolled his eyes and tried to ignore the fact that he could see Tenten's breasts quite easily through the dress she was wearing. "Hn."
She grinned and brushed her lips against his ear. "I love you, Neji." she whispered, causing him to shiver.
He brushed it off as coming from the cold rather than her effect on him.
"Don't you have something to say to me?"
Tenten narrowed her eyes at him and said darkly, "Neji . . ."
"Don't make me say it."
"Say it right now Hyuuga Neji or I'm walking away from this bench."
". . . I love you."
A/N: Thanks for reading and please review.
Good god, what a lame ending. I don't know how to end a story and there was so much crap to tie up . . . I don't know how the professionals manage.