A/N: This is a dedication one-shot for Wolves1990, one of my loyal reviewers. Thanks for everything, Wolf, I hope you like this!
Neji sat in the tree, waiting. He was expecting the rest of his team to show up any time now…
Neji sighed. And there was Lee with his daily challenge to Neji to see who was stronger. Neji always won without breaking a sweat, and he suspected Lee wasn't trying his best anymore. Maybe he knew he would always lose…
"Oh, Lee, give up." That was Tenten, always telling Lee to "stop hurting himself" by challenging Neji. "You know you're never going to win."
"W go through this every day," Neji groaned, jumping down from the tree. "Can we give it a rest already?"
"Apparently not," Tenten sighed. "Lee, you never know when to give up! Tsunade-sama just finished that surgery with you and she told you to take it easy for the next couple weeks and-"
"I've been 'taking it easy' as you say for months now!" Lee cried. "I want to do something!"
Tenten sighed. "But Tsunade-sama said-"
"I'm not going to do much," Lee protested. "And Gai sensei is going to be here, so he'll tell me to step out if something is too strenuous too soon!"
"Sure he is," Neji drawled. "And I'm a pop star."
Tenten groaned. "Take a seat," she muttered, flopping down at the base of a tree. "Neji's off on a tangent again."
"I've barely said anything," Neji protested. "Jeez, Tenten, must you?"
"My point exactly!"
Lee drew a set of kunai from the pouch behind his hip and began twirling them around his fingers. "Hey, did you hear?" he asked, abruptly changing the subject. "There's a new genin team-and the girl is hot!"
"Lee, your idea of 'hot' and the world's idea of 'hot' are two totally different 'hot's."
"Well, you could see the drool coming from these guy's mouths, it was insane!" Lee said. "I'm telling you, this girl is sweet."
Tenten sighed. "And now that that annoying Haruno's gone off someplace, he's after somebody new."
"Sakura wasn't interested," Lee mumbled. "But this girl…"
"Lee, just stop now," Neji interrupted. "Just stop now."
Lee sighed wistfully and let go of the kunai. They arched into the air, twirling end over end, to settle once again in Lee's hand. He flicked his wrist and sent them sailing towards a target nailed to a tree and, with a satisfying thunk! They both landed dead center.
"Bingo!" Lee cried, dancing around. "Wheeeee, it's so good to be back!!"
"Lee's hyper," Tenten muttered. "Take a seat."
"No, just sick of all the delays. Speaking of which, where's Gai sensei?"
"Ladies and gentlemen!"
A puff of smoke exploded dangerously close to Neji's face, and the Hyuuga growled a warning. Gai appeared as the smoke cleared, and Neji heaved a sigh.
Neji ran through the forest, in no particular direction. He was in no mood to put up with Gai, and his sensei seemed in a mood for "the power of youth!!" Sighing, the Hyuuga continued on.
A kunai zipped past Neji's face.
"Hey! Watch it!" he shouted, pulling up to avoid another. "What were you gonna do if that it me, huh?!"
A girl of about fourteen emerged from the trees, blushing furiously. "I am so sorry about that," she gushed, pulling the kunai out of the tree branch where it was stuck. "My teammate is a bit shaky with his taijutsu, so I offered to help him practice and-" she stopped abruptly. "Y-You're Hyuuga Neji!" she gasped, blushing even more. One of Neji's eyebrows arched as he studied the girl.
The girl giggled and blushed an even deeper shade of crimson, if that was even possible. "Reina…Reina Asakura…"
"And the talent less teammate is…?"
"Oh, that's Ryuu," she said quickly. "He's the bottom of the class, not really good at anything except ninjutsu…because it doesn't involve moving around very much!"
Neji chuckled and lowered his head. "I'm willing to teach him something any time."
Reina smiled and looked up; she was shorter than Neji by several inches, and her head only reached his shoulder. "You can come back with me, if you like."
Neji shrugged. "Why not? It's better than listening to Gai fawn over Lee and try to promote 'the power of youth'!"
Reina laughed, and to Neji it sounded like bells. "Oh, you trained under Gai?"
"Sadly, I still do sometimes," Neji said. "I do missions and all, but since I'm a jounin I do A-ranks."
Reina nodded. "Okay, so do you want to train?"
"Anything is better than hanging around Gai and Lee all day," Neji huffed, and followed the girl as she turned tail and pushed aside several branches. "Sensei!" she called, holding aside a branch for Neji. "I found the kunai!"
"Wonderful," a female voice responded. "Where are you?"
Reina shoved away one last branch and stepped down off the tree to set foot in a clearing speckled with wild flowers and tall grass. Neji followed her, eyes quickly scanning the area and taking in every detail.
A young woman of about twenty stood in the middle opposite two other boys. One of them had long, black hair, and looked a bit like the young Orochimaru. Except for the eyes; his eyes were an electric blue, and stared at you with a hard glare that could cut stone. His skin was slightly less pale than Orochimaru, but the facial features were like an exact replica. The other boy had spiky brown hair and brown eyes, nothing unusual. He glanced at Reina, and then took the kunai from her hand.
Reina flushed angrily. "He's not my boyfriend! He's just a friend! And he's here to teach you a thing or two about how to throw a kunai!"
one must be Ryuu, Neji realized. "And the other one is…?"
The boy gave him a look that clearly asked, Why do you care?
"When asking someone else's name it's polite to give your own name first."
Neji's left eyebrow rose. "Uchiha attitude, Orochimaru face. Very well. But I still am ashamed that you do not know who I am…Hyuuga Neji. You should know that."
Ryuu's eyes widened in realization. "Ooooooooh…you're that guy!"
Neji sighed. "You're clueless, you know that?"
The other boy smiled and stepped up. "Kimimaru."
"Oh?" Neji asked. "I once fought a ninja named Kimimaro…"
"Well, one of us hasn't been living under a rock!" Neji exclaimed. "He's not clueless! Well, the girl isn't either, but still…"
Reina smiled. "Okay, Ryuu listen to Neji. Sorry, Shizune-sensei but Neji might have something to go with…"
"Shizune?" Neji asked. "Oh, that is you. They let you take a squad?"
The teenage girl smiled and brushed her hair from her face. "Yeah, Tsunade-sama thought that since I was already at jounin level she could let me take on a group."
Neji nodded. "Okay, kunai-impaired," he started. "Let's see just what you're doing wrong."
Neji fished a kunai out of the pouch behind his hip. He carved a circle in a tree trunk and handed the kunai to Ryuu. "Okay, try to hit the center."
Ryuu hesitantly picked up the kunai and hurled it at the tree. The kunai whizzed past the fairly large tree and struck another some six feet to the left. Neji sighed.
"We've got a long way to go."
At least three hours later, Neji was satisfied with Ryuu's progress. He was now able to hit the tree he wanted to, and not one ten feet to the left or right.
"Okay," Neji said with a sigh. "You could not pay me to take on a squad."
smiled. "I'm just good with kids, that's all."
Neji reclaimed his kunai and put it back in the pouch. "Keep practicing so you don't forget anything. I'll come back tomorrow to help you more if you want to. Oh, and I might bring a friend."
Ryuu nodded. "Thanks so much," he said. "Now I can become Hokage!!"
Neji groaned. "Don't count on it," he said dryly. "The last person to say that to me wound up in a hole in the ground."
"And many others. Don't get your hopes up because so far, you can't even throw a kunai straight."
Ryuu looked chagrined. "I won't stop trying until I-"
"Put a sock in, amateur," Neji mumbled. "Lest I put you in a hole in the ground."
Ryuu gulped and stepped back. Neji turned around.
"It's almost sundown," he said slowly. "Let's head back."
Reina nodded and fell into step beside him. Neji barely gave her a glance, but Reina seemed content just to walk.
Neji saw Tenten standing around the next morning, waiting for Gai, and slowly paced over to her.
"Tenten," he called. The kuniochi turned, seemingly surprised to see Neji.
"Oh, hi, Neji," she greeted. "What's up?"
"We have a hopeless taijutsu team," Neji explained. "I need help for this one."
Tenten nodded. "Better than hanging around with Gai and Lee all day," she said. "Okay, what the heck?"
Tenten followed Neji through the forest to where Reina had told him to go. Sure enough, the directions were accurate, and Neji found himself exactly where he had been yesterday. Reina, Kimimaru, and Ryuu were all standing there, and Shizune was leaning against a tree.
"Hey, Neji," Reina said shyly. Ryuu's eyes popped at the sight of Tenten.
Neji looked at him with a inquisitive stare. "Oh, you mean Tenten?"
"Neji!" Tenten scolded. "We all know you like me-"
"Ryuu, shut up!" Reina hissed.
"But I don't like you back," Tenten continued. "So, yes, Ryuu, I'll go on a date with you."
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have struck gold!" Ryuu cried, throwing his hands into the air. Tenten sighed.
"Well, he can't be worse than Lee."
"Good," Neji said. "Now teach him how to throw a kunai."
Reina had followed Neji back to the village that night. It was sunset, and the sun was a fiery ball of flame setting just on the horizon. A last bird flew into it, aiming for its home tree to spend the night. Neji watched the bird; so much like himself. So wild and free, yet bound by certain laws that could never be broken.
"I've always liked sunsets."
Neji turned to Reina, who had been quiet the whole time. "Hm?"
"I said I've always liked sunsets," Reina repeated. "They're so pretty; all different colors mixed together, and its like a whole new look at the world." She turned to Neji. "Do you think…maybe…it's time we…looked at each other…a different way…?"
Neji stopped cold and turned to look at her with a steady gaze. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Reina leaned forward, stretching up to touch her lips to his. Neji felt a shock, and then a wave of electricity traveled down throughout his entire body. Neji decided he could let her; just this once, maybe, he could let her get away with something stupid they would probably both regret later.
A/N: Thank you again to Wolves1990, and this one-shot goes out to her. Thanks for everything Wolfie! 8D You're great!!