Title: Mirror Mirror
Rating: PG-13, T may go up later
Fandom: Naruto
Characters: Hyuuga Nejime (Neji), Tian (Tenten), Li (Lee), Mai (Gai) and Rookies

Notes: Genderflip AU. What if the members of Team Gai were born the opposite gender of what they are in canon? (Rest of the Rookie 9 may/may not be similarly flipped. Although for sure Yamanaka Ino remains the same.) Definitely inspired by the awesome Naruto RP narukorp and especially by Nejiko and Tentsuke (played by the lovely istoria ) although I deliberately tried to write it as somewhat different from their much more plausible take.

Mad props also to tainted4life , who let me natter on at her about the idea, came up with the names Nejime and Li, and did some AIM RP with me to help develop the whole concept.

Fate, she decided, had a horrible sense of humor. And irony. (Among other things)

Why else would it have let her fall in love with Tian, of all people?

It was an entirely unsatisfactory situation. Hyuuga Nejime was not in the habit of lying to herself about her own capabilities - and her own allure. She knew she was not entirely ugly - in fact, she took carefully-hidden pride in her long, dark hair (which was nicer than Yamanaka's) and she detected no abnormalities in her features. And she had the toned body of a kunoichi - a genius kunoichi, moreover - so while not entirely pleased with her lean, trim build she did not think it shameful either.

But Tian? Tian would never look twice at her.

It was not that Tian did not look at girls. He did this often, and with great glee - Tian ru Jian had a great appreciation for female beauty, that no one could deny. And more often than not, girls looked back, because Tian was good to look at.

(Nejime stomped down that part of her mind that wanted to linger on how good Tian was to look at.)

It was only because Tian's ambition to become a powerful shinobi - one spoken of in the same breath as his idol, Jiraiya of the Sannin - did not allow for the distractions of a girlfriend that he did not spend all his time flirting and wooing civilian girls, Nejime was sure. A kunoichi girlfriend might have worked, but (and she refused to feel relieved at this - she would have rather he had one, so she could just move on and forget about him, and NO she wouldn't have been unbearably jealous - not for too long, anyway) all the kunoichi in their age-range were hopelessly fixated on other boys.

Well, Nejime wasn't. Fixated on other boys, that is. But, as she told herself again, he'd never look at her that way.

Not when he saw her as a rival; an opponent. Someone to beat. (And not in the fun way either) Nejime remembered being twelve years old, graduating from the Academy and being pleased that Tian would be her teammate. They were an odd team - female sensei, which was unusual - no assigned number, because Mai-sensei had insisted they deserved an actual NAME (and if the name was hers, so much the better) - and a complete reversal of the usual kunoichi-to-shinobi ratio. Tian was the only male in the team and sometimes Nejime wondered (hoped) that all his so very guyish tendencies to ogle were just a reaction to that.

And Tian was someone Nejime respected. They didn't talk much in class - Tian too often surrounded by his gang of buddies (he wasn't into looking at girls, then, though some girls were already looking at him) and Nejime just alone, usually. But they had exchanged conversation - mostly centering around weapons, which Tian already knew more about than the Academy sensei. And Tian was the shinobi closest to her top-of-the-class ranking.

Yes, she had been pleased that Tian was on her team. Li was an annoyance, and her sensei quite possibly insane (and looking to infect Li with said insanity) but Tian would be a welcome companion...

...this happy daydream (that's what it had been, a daydream) was promptly skewered - as completely and neatly as one of Tian's kunai into a target - when Tian had stood up, confidently announced that his hobbies were weapons and blades (and no one pointed out to him the overlap) and that his dream was to become as great as Jiraiya of the Sannin, and then - just as Nejime was nodding her head and mentally approving of setting high goals to strive for - turning and pointing at her, and said, "And to beat YOU, Hyuuga Nejime. I should have been Rookie of the Year, not you."

And that had set the tone for their relationship as teammates.

It was not that they hadn't become close - Nejime knew full well that there was no one who she was closer to than Tian - no one who knew so much of what was going on inside her head. And she also knew (hoped, actually, but with a good deal of evidence to support that hope) that she was the one to whom Tian confided his hopes and his dreams - the one who got to see Tian first try out his moves and maneuvers - someone he wasn't afraid to be himeself with.

They were established partners. Sparring partners, that is - ninja who trained together come snow or sleet or driving wind. They had each other's backs in combat. They made snarky comments - well, Tian made comments, Nejime made pithy one-syllable remarks - about everything and everyone else to each other.

It was ironic, that was all. That the reason she had gotten close enough to love him - being sparring partners - was the same reason he could never look at her as anything else.

But Nejime was well-versed in the practice of quietly suffering through whatever comedies - or tragedies - Fate decided to throw at her. She could live with this. Tian's worth as a sparring partner and friend was enough - most Branch House Hyuuga did not even have that much, too restrained by duties to the Clan to cultivate friendships outside. It was worth enough that she did not want to endanger the balance of it by even mentioning her inappropriate feelings.

(She had been utterly furious - with herself, with Tian, with the universe - when the realization that she was in love with her infuriating, hot-tempered, girl-chasing ...sweet, strong, funny, handsome, ABLE TO MAKE HER LAUGH ...teammate hit her over the head like one of Tian's lead-weighed tonfas. But she got over it. After screaming and ranting and utterly decimating a good parcel of forest.)

She was a Hyuuga. She was good at meditation. She could live like this.

This is what she told herself until the day she saw Tian kissing Yamanaka Ino in the street.