Author's Notes: Written for the May contest at Ten Squared. I'm really pushing the deadline this time… Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. End of story.

First and Last

By Nessie

The rain darkens the silk and satin, making it heavy and a hindrance to her movements, which must be swift if she is to gain victory. Blood sputters and mingles with the needle-like water falling everywhere; not hers but a man's who made the mistake of challenging her. Making an instant decision, she takes the bloodied edge of her kunai and slices off the train of her elaborate garment. Tenten briefly wonders if she will later regret the act.

She has heard of women preserving their wedding dresses.

Momentarily, she finds her husband through the curtain-like downpour. Neji is doing battle with a shinobi masked so thoroughly it is a wonder he can even see. But it only takes the Hyuuga a handful of seconds to disarm and defeat the opponent. He then turns in her direction, and Tenten can feel the highly-energized gaze of the Byakugan on her. She smiles wistful just before whirling to plunge a three-pronged dagger into the gut of an enemy.

When next she turns, Neji is at her side. His hakama is smeared with grime and rain, ruined as surely as her dress. "Well," he vocalizes softly, "I doubt this is how you envisioned our wedding day."

In the next second, they are back to back, fighting with blade and bare fists. Their power blends and molds together, creative an impregnable defense that they can only form when they are together. When another wave hits, they spin together and switch directions. It is like a dance, their movements so fluid and complementary of each other's. A celebration of their union, accompanied by battle. It is, in a way, quite fitting.

"Tenten," she hears him say. There is a newness in the way he speaks her name, something that makes her grin and want to see him. So she takes down her final man just as he does his, and they swivel to grasp at each other.

This is the man she has pledged herself to, she thinks. Not just the man, with his talent and technique, but the depths of the man. He deactivates his bloodline limit and allows her to see the soul behind it. A smile curves her lips. "Perhaps not," she murmurs softly. "But we chose this life."

Concern is etched into his jaw, and she feels her heart flutter wildly. The values Neji holds, ones that make him ponder her happiness even while he has just seen to the deaths of five people, his hair dripping, his muscles burning. One of his hands rises to cup her cheek, and she revels in the texture of the calluses on his fingers. If things had gone as planned, she would already know his hands – and other parts of him – intimately. As it was—

"We should report to the Godaime," she tells him responsibly. "She will look to us to form an investigation squad. We will have to learn of this attack force in case they return to threaten Konoha again."

This is who they are. Their dancing can only be done in a shower of blood.

Another emotion enters his eyes. His hand travels down the line of her neck, over the back of her shoulder until finally his whole arm encircles her waist and forcefully pulls her against him. She can feel every dip and plane of his body, just as she knows he can feel hers. There is desire there, not cooled even by the rain.

"Tonight may not be the honeymoon we wanted," he begins.

This is their duty, to dance upon command, steel and chakra in their hands.

Plans of privacy in an exotic location flee her mind as she lifts a hand to press her cool fingers to his surprisingly warm chest. Silver eyes droop shut at the touch, and she feels him inhale sharply. It is a promise that they will have their time, but for now…

"Please know that I love you," she whispers as she gently guides his mouth to hers and closes the distance between them. Her entire body tenses when he curls a grip into her hair.

"You have my name now," he says against her lips, the responding emotion making her wish they could dodge duty after all and simply belong to one another. "I do not merely know your love, Tenten."

As they hold each other in the rain, their wedding dance ends. As husband and wife, it is their first and last dance. As shinobi and kunoichi, there will be many more.

The End