Now for a submission at last! I apologise again guys… I am going away for a week soon and hopefully that will return my muse to me. If not, I am going to take down Gone Bush. But anyway…
I have been working on this for quite some time now. I put all of my mother's Garth Brooks CD's on the computer, and this song just screamed at me to write a fic based on it. The only pairing it could possibly be is NejiTen. Not my best work, I will tell you that now. I hate the ending. I hate it with a passion.
Anyway, enjoy my newest one-shot, based on 'That Girl Is A Cowboy' by Garth Brooks.
She's got my back
Even when it's against the wall
When I need a friend
She's the guy I call
A sigh escaped his lips as he stared down at the blank piece of paper in front of him on the table. He raised his cup of sake to his lips and sipped from it, before placing it back down on the table and once again trying to focus on the task at hand. He loved going on missions, they were by far the highlight of being a member of Konohagakure's ANBU squad. It was the paperwork afterwards that he despised. He tapped the tip of the pen against the paper, hoping that it would suddenly develop a mind of its own and write the report for him. It didn't happen. He ran his free hand through his long brown hair, and closed his pearl coloured eyes. He, Neji Hyuuga, was being mocked by a blank sheet of paper, and it irritated him to no end. He heard a soft chuckle from behind her, and turned his head to see his brunette team mate standing not far from his table, a smile on her lips.
"Having a few troubles, Neji?"
She stated softly, inviting herself to sit opposite him at his table. She placed her own cup of sake near his, and folded her arms in front of her. Her eyes ran over the blank sheet of paper, and she sighed.
"Working on another report? Every time I see you these days you have a pen in hand."
'Not that I see you much anymore anyway,' she thought bitterly, keeping the smile on her lips.
"ANBU isn't all fun and games, Tenten."
"Apparently so; you don't even have time to train with Lee and me anymore."
"Tsunade-sama has been keeping me busy with missions."
"Ah yes… Tsunade-sama always goes out of her way to keep her ANBU so busy that they can't even train for an hour with their old team mates."
Neji scowled at her, and shifted his attention back to the sheet of paper before him.
"Your last mission was to the Land of Lighting, right?"
"Assassination, I presume?"
"Tenten you know I can't discuss my missions with you."
"Oh right, because I didn't pass the entrance exams to ANBU. How could I forget?"
She stated dryly, raising her sake to her lips and draining the cup. Neji went to reply to her when Tenten placed her cup back on the table and stood.
"I'll leave you to it, then."
She muttered, walking away from the table without looking back.
"Ah Tenten-chan, I do miss our sparring sessions with Neji, don't you?"
Tenten glanced up at her other old team mate and shrugged.
"He is ANBU now; he doesn't have time to waste with us."
"Training isn't a waste of time though, Tenten-chan."
"It is to him, unless it is with his fellow ANBU."
"I am sure it's not like that."
Tenten sighed, and stood, placing some money on the table.
"Sorry Lee, I have to disagree. And I have to go."
Tenten folded the note up and shoved it in her pocket as she walked towards the Hokage tower. Sakura Haruno had caught up with her earlier, with a message from Tsunade requesting that she see her as soon as possible. She nodded to the guards at the entrance to the Hokage Tower, and proceeded into it, climbing the stairs to Tsunade's office. She knocked lightly on the door, and opened it when she heard the Hokage's voice order her to enter.
"Ah, Tenten, please have a seat."
She moved into the room and sat in a chair by Tsunade's desk, and waited for the Hokage to speak. Tsunade scribbled something on a sheet of paper on her desk before placing it to the side, and shuffling through a pile of scrolls until she found the one she wanted.
"Tenten, I have a proposal to put to you. I sent a squad of 4 ANBU to the Land Of Earth a few days ago, following leads of Akatsuki. The last message I received from them was sent yesterday, saying that they would be beginning their attack today, and requested back up. I have sent another squad of ANBU as back up, but I fear that is not enough. For one, they do not have any medical ninja with them. I have decided to send a squad of Jounin to assist them. Tenten, I want you to be the captain of the squad. This mission is S-Class, and success in it could have you promoted to ANBU. Do you accept it?"
Tenten was silent, gazing at the Hokage.
"Yes, Lady Tsunade. I accept."
"Good. Now, do me a favour and go round up a team. Make sure one of them is a medical ninja. I would send Sakura, but she needs to remain here to prepare for her mission in a few days."
Tenten nodded, and hurried from the room.
She sat in the same chair an hour later, the Hokage and herself joined now by 3 other people.
"So, Team Tenten… Team Captain, Tenten… Medical Ninja, Hinata Hyuuga… Team members, Rock Lee and Shikamaru Nara… Now, the four of you will be providing assistance to the two other squads."
"Who are the squads, Lady Tsunade?"
"The back-up squad was Neji Hyuuga, Kiba Inuzuka, Shino Aburame, and Sai. The original squad I sent was Kakashi Hatake, Genma Shiranui, Naruto Uzumaki, and Anko Mitarashi."
Tenten stopped listening at the first name.
Tenten and her team, all wearing cloaks of black, were crouched in the branches of a large tree beside a ravine, listening intently. Hinata formed her hand seals, and within moments the veins around her eyes were very prominent.
"I can see a small group of people about 900 metres north-north-east of here. No one else in sight."
She stated quietly. Tenten was silent for a moment before signalling for her squad to follow her.
A growl formed in the back of Akamaru's throat, and Kiba looked up at him in concern, placing a hand gently on his leg.
"What is it, Akamaru?"
The squad were silent as Neji formed his hand signs, using the Byakugan to spot the oncoming four people.
"Four of them. Take cover and attack when they arrive."
They all nodded, and disappeared.
She bent her knees as she landed on the ground lightly behind the cover of bushes, gazing around her. This was where Hinata had said the group was, but there was not a single person in sight.
"Where are they…"
She muttered quietly, and then she felt the cool metal against her neck.
"We're right here."
The voice hissed into her ear, and she froze. In a quick movement, she had pulled her own kunai and used it to push the other kunai away from her throat, and she made to leap out of harms way when a pair of firm hands grabbed her arms twisting them around behind her, and slamming her onto the ground. She gasped when she felt the weight fall on her back and she felt the metal on her neck again.
"Who are you?"
The voice hissed.
"I am a Jounin of Konohagakure."
She snapped, and she felt the kunai slip away. A hand grabbed the hood of her cloak and pulled it away from her face.
"Tenten? Damn it, I almost killed you."
Tenten blinked as the weight was removed from her back, and a hand grabbed her arm to pull her to her feet.
"God Neji, don't you look before you attack?"
"Not when I am in Akatsuki territory I don't. We've already had a run in with one of them. Kakashi's squad is off looking for them again now. What are you doing here?"
"Tsunade sent us as back up."
"Who are us?"
"Shikamaru, Lee, Hinata and myself."
She could see too clearly the look of disapproval on Neji's face.
"Clearly Tsunade isn't too worried about us, or she would have sent another ANBU squad."
"What, you think we can't handle it?"
"Only the best could handle this mission, Tenten. And only the best make ANBU."
Tenten glared at him, fighting back to urge to slam her fist into his face.
"Is that your way of telling me that I am not good enough to be a ninja?"
She snapped, and Neji gazed at her evenly.
"That isn't what I am saying at all."
"Then what are you saying?"
"I am saying that they had their reasons to fail you."
Tenten bit her lip to hold back the words she wanted to say, turned on her heel, and stormed away from him, leaving Neji wondering if he had done the wrong thing.
Night had long since falling when the two squads heard the sound of people moving through the trees. Neji and Tenten both jumped to their feet immediately, Neji activating his Byakugan, and Tenten pulling out her kunai. 4 people stepped out of the forest, and Neji began to relax. To one at the front of the group raised his hands.
"Easy guys, it's just us."
Neji smirked and sat back down on the ground, but Tenten was not so quick to relax. She had heard stories of some of the best squads being slaughtered by placing trust in fakes. She too sat down, but kept a wary eye on the four people who joined them in the clearing.
Her eyes opened slowly, protesting the bright light of morning. She sat up slowly, rubbing a hand over her eyes. And then she froze. Kakashi's squad was gone once again, and Neji's squad was still asleep. Which meant that there was no one on watch. Tenten did not know Kakashi well, but she knew him well enough to know he would not leave his comrades sleeping without protection. She stood slowly, gazing around her, her hands closed tightly around her kunai. A sound from behind her caused her to spin around, and her eyes widened when she saw the blue-skinned man standing there, smirking.
She groaned quietly, forcing her eyes open, only to be met by darkness. With a slight struggle, she managed to sit up, her arms tied firmly behind her back. Looking through the darkness around her, she could see numerous other unmoving forms. And then a voice came through the dark.
She cast her eyes towards the noise and saw Neji lying on the ground near her, watching her intently.
"Are you all right?"
He asked, and she nodded.
"How about you though, are you okay?"
"I've been better."
"This is my fault. I should have woken you up the moment I realised something was wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"Neji, Kakashi's squad wasn't there when I woke up."
"But nothing; they weren't there. Kakashi wouldn't leave us unguarded as we slept."
"But when did it happen…"
"Last night. It wasn't them last night, Neji."
"How do you know?"
"Naruto didn't say a word."
The sound of a door opening silenced their quiet conversation, and Neji immediately fell back into a false state of unconsciousness, whilst Tenten remained as she was, staring towards the shaft of light that was shed into the room.
The voice sent a shiver down her spine, and the man moved towards her, reaching down to grab her arms and pulled her to her feet. With little protest, she allowed Kisame to push her out of the dark room, neither of them seeing the dark look in Neji's eyes as he watched their retreating backs.
Tenten sat in the chair she had been ordered to sit in, and she shifted her arms around beneath the rope which tied her to it. It rubbed against her bare arms, and she grimaced at the rough feeling. The sound of footsteps caught her attention, and a man with shoulder length dark hair entered her view. And then she saw his eyes.
She whispered, and a smirk tugged on his lips. He grabbed another wooden chair and moved it over near her, and straddled it. He was directly in front of her, gazing at her with his blazing red gaze. Her eyes were downcast, staring anywhere but his eyes. She knew that he was capable of casting a genjutsu without eye contact, but she chose to overlook that for the time being.
"What is your mission?"
His voice was cold and chilled her to the bone.
"I don't really know. All I was told was that I was to bring a squad here for back-up."
"Don't lie to me."
"I am not lying."
"If you want to play that is fine by me."
She bit her bottom lip and thought hard. There was no way she was going to tell him anything that she knew, but she still had to decide whether to lie, or not say a word. Her lack of response made up her mind for her. Itachi stood and walked away from her, and she heard a soft sound of metal on metal, and then his footsteps.
"Your name is Tenten, correct?"
She stared straight down at the floor, not even acknowledging that he had spoken. His footsteps retreated, and she breathed a sigh of relief.
Her chin was tucked into her chest and her eyes were closed, until footsteps alerted her again. She raised her head to see a blue haired woman with a delicate with flower in her hair. She shot a look at Tenten, her face expressionless. Tenten noticed then the box the woman carried, which she placed down on the chair Itachi had previously been seated on.
"Good morning, I am Konan. Itachi said you aren't very talkative, Tenten."
Silence was her response.
"I don't mind though. I work better in silence. Now, you are going to tell me the names of the people you were with, starting with those two Hyuuga's."
Tenten bit her lip, and stared defiantly up at the woman, who shrugged.
"Let's see what will make you talk, shall we?"
Tenten's eyes widened as the box on the chair was opened, revealing a wide array of metal objects. The first that Konan selected was a kunai, which she grazed softly down Tenten's cheek.
"Believe me, you will talk."
The kunai plunged deep into Tenten's shoulder, and she cried out in pain.
"What is the name of the Hyuuga boy?"
She jerked the kunai to the side, tearing it through Tenten's shoulder. This time she didn't make a sound, but her teeth dug deep into her bottom lip.
"What is the name of the Hyuuga boy?"
The kunai was jerked again, this time to the other side.
"What is the name of the Hyuuga boy?"
Her face was lined with scratches and grazes, the blood from it coating her face in a fast drying layer of dark red. Her arms were stiff, the wounds in them beginning to stop bleeding and scab over. Her eyes were weary, and her mind was in sleep mode. She was breathing, but it felt to herself, and would appear to others, as though she was dead. She closed her eyes slowly, dropping her chin down into her chest. A lone tear slid between her eyelids and slid through the mess of drying blood on her cheek.
"Come on now Tenten, I don't think there is much more I can do to you… Well I can think of a few things, but are you sure you want me to resort to them?"
Tenten's voice was quiet, almost just a breath.
"If you insist... Just be a dear and give me a few minutes to prepare."
Kisame entered the room a few minutes later, and roughly untied her from the chair. Tenten considered him quizzically, wondering what exactly Konan was planning to do. Kisame pushed her forward roughly, and she stumbled, but Kisame slid an arm around her waist and yanked her backwards before she fell.
"Konan wants to be the one to hurt you, so don't go hurting yourself now."
His voice sent shivers down her spine. They walked down a rather long corridor, before Kisame pushed a door open and forced Tenten inside. She stared blindly through the darkness of the room, and heard Konan laugh softly.
"Bring her over here, Kisame… I am quite sure that I will get answers out of someone with this method."
The words made Tenten's muscles tense. 'Get answers out of someone'… That meant that Konan had now roped another one of the squad members into the torture. Kisame pressed Tenten's back against the cold stone wall, and grabbed her wrists, pinning them above her head whilst Konan fastened shackles around her wrists. Kisame retreated into the darkness, and the shaft of light made by the door opening cued his departure. Konan made a soft sound in the back of her throat, her words smiling for her.
"Now, let's get started…"
"You can make this so much easier for everyone, Tenten. Lying in this room, are 5 other members of your squadrons. They are all currently unconscious, but once they all awaken, I will begin my persuasion. Your screams will make one of them snap, Tenten. So either you can suffer and have one of them give in, or you can just tell me what I want to know now. Which do you choose?"
"They won't betray Konoha."
Her scream echoed around the room, and past it she heard someone sobbing quietly… Hinata. Konan had started her 'persuasion' only a few minutes ago, but already Tenten was having troubles coping with the pain. The lights were still turned off, and apparently the lights were the next step if the screams didn't do their job. Surely seeing the state she was in would push one of them over. And by how Hinata sounded at the current time, the lights wouldn't be necessary. Hinata was the only one other than herself who had made a single sound throughout the ordeal, and she wasn't sure whether she would have preferred them to make noise. Konan hissed quietly.
"This is taking far too long… I think it's time to start the light show, don't you Tenten?"
Tenten squeezed her eyes closed as she heard Konan cross the room, and their heard the flick of the light switch., which was followed by Hinata choking on her sobs as Tenten was revealed to them.
She heard her name forced from Hinata's lips, and she curled her lips into a smile as she slowly pulled her eyelids open.
"Hinata-chan… Stay strong."
She focused her eyes on the pale girl, shaking as she cried. Her eyes swept slowly over the other 4 in the room… Naruto sat leaning against the wall opposite her, his eyes diverted away from both her and Hinata. His face has extremely pale. Kakashi sat with his eyes closed and head bowed, not allowing anyone to see his reaction. Lee was staring at her with wide eyes, sympathy clear in his eyes. Even compared to Kakashi, Lee was the emotionally strongest in the room. Tenten smiled inside as she realised that Lee would be the last to break. And then she saw the last person in the room, and she wished that Konan would hurry up and kill her. Neji was leant back against the wall in a similar fashion to Naruto, but his head was tilted back, eyes fixed on the ceiling.
Konan whispered, pulling a senbon out from her hair which she had fixed back into a bun. She pressed it against the side of Tenten's neck, running it down the side of her neck to her shoulder, gently. The run back up wasn't so soft. Her brow furrowed and she bit her lip, hard, filling her mouth with blood as the fine needle tore a line in her skin. But she stayed silent. With quiet resolve, she jerked her head towards Konan, driving the senbon deeper into her neck. Konan's fingers released the needles in surprise at Tenten's reaction. Tenten turned her head towards Konan, a smirk on her lips. She closed her hands around the chains connected to her shackles which pinned her to the wall, and used the last of her strength to pull herself up and kick out at Konan, hitting her in the shoulder and knocking her off balance. She flooded the last of her chakra to her feet and slammed them into the wall behind her, and contorted her body as she walked part way up the wall, as far as she could without causing worse injury to her arms. The muscles in her arms strained as she threw herself out against the chains, slamming her feet into Konan again, this time into her chest, knocking her to the floor. She heard the sound of footsteps and glanced warily towards the door, only to see movement out of the corner of her eye and see Kakashi standing over Konan, hands no longer tied behind his back. His lack of focus on her earlier was now clear.
"Nice work, Tenten. Now-"
"Kakashi. Let me down from here."
He turned towards her, studying her for a moment. With a sigh he walked over to her working the shackles loose one by one. As he undid the last one, he slid his hands around her waist in time to stop her from crumpling to the ground. He crouched down with her in his arms and sat her on the ground, her back leaning against the wall. He released her and hurried over to Hinata, untying her before moving on to Naruto. Hinata immediately moved over towards Tenten, tears still running down her cheeks.
Once Kakashi had untied the rest of them, he moved over to Konan, who was immobile on the ground. Tenten glanced at Kakashi curiously, and he smirked at her.
"Genjutsu. Didn't want her getting away."
Tenten forced a smile.
"Now, to leave her whilst we get out of here, or kill her."
"What a stupid question, Kakashi! Kill her!"
Naruto exclaimed, and Kakashi glared at him, silently ordering him to be quiet. He withdrew a kunai that had littered the ground around Tenten, and moved over to Konan.
Tenten muttered, forcing her eyes open, sliding herself back into consciousness. She gently pushed Hinata away and slowly crawled over to Konan, staring at her. She reached her hand up to Kakashi, and he placed the kunai in her hand.
"Release the genjutsu?"
Tenten nodded. Within moments Konan's eyes flashed open, and she went to sit up, until she felt the pressure of the kunai against her throat.
"Game's over, bitch."
Tenten hissed, before applying more pressing to the kunai. The blade slid into Konan's skin, slicing through the flesh and her windpipe. Tenten didn't stop pushing until she heard the soft sound of the kunai hitting the cold floor underneath Konan. She released a soft sigh and fell backwards, unconscious.
Her eyes fluttered open, and the first sound she heard was the sound of footsteps on a stone floor. She glanced around her, and gazing up she saw Neji's stoic face above her, a few strands of his hair tickling her face. She wrinkled her nose, the movement attracting Neji's attention.
"We're almost out now. Kakashi sent me ahead with you whilst he and the others got everyone else out."
Tenten nodded slowly and allowed her eyes to slip closed again. She heard Neji quietly active his Byakugan, and she felt his arms tighten their hold around her.
"Change of plan…"
Tenten felt herself be jerked to the side as Neji took off down another corridor, and she snapped her eyes open. She remained silent in his arms as he threw his weight against a door, and kicked it closed behind him. He gently lowered her to the ground, and she held onto his arms as she stood shakily.
"They found Konan sooner than we expected. Hinata has probably already noticed that, because they are all off the path they said they would use. They'll catch up with us soon, and then we will continue."
"They're coming here? Thanks for saving me the trouble of searching."
Both of them spun around, staring at the man standing beside them, half merged with the wall. Half of his face blended in with the shadows cast by the dim light, whilst the other half stood out clearly. He slowly slid back into the wall, and Neji turned to pull the door open, but the moment it opened he found himself staring into a pair of red eyes.
"Leaving so soon?"
Tenten took an unwilling step backwards as Neji continued to stare back at Itachi, his body trembling slightly. Within moments Neji was falling backwards, and she dived forward to break his fall. She rested him gently on the cold floor and stood, glaring at Itachi.
"You recovered rather well, didn't you?"
He muttered, a cocky smirk on his lips.
"Let's see how you cope when you are up against me, without worrying about the Hyuuga."
Her eyes flicked to Itachi's hand which had just appeared out of a pocket in his long robe, and she eyed the kunai.
"There's plenty of time before the others arrive."
Her head slammed back against the wall, Itachi's hand around her neck pinning her to it. He released his grip slowly and she fell to the floor, breathing heavily with her hand rested over her throat. She looked up at Itachi, who had his eyes cast over towards Neji.
"He really is a fighter… almost out of the genjutsu. Of course, it was only a simple one. But it is time to be rid of him."
Tenten stared as Itachi stood over Neji, kunai in his hand. She watched as he crouched beside him, whilst Neji's eyes began flitting around beneath his eyelids. She tried to force out a scream, but failed. She pushed herself to her feet and launched herself at Itachi, her body slamming into his and knocking them both to the floor. She used the strength she had regained through Hinata's healing to pin his arm holding the kunai, and pulled it from his grasp. Itachi pushed her off, and she lost her grip on the weapon as she fell backwards. She sat up and saw Itachi aiming the kunai at Neji, whose eyes were now slowly opening.
Her voice suddenly came back to her as she lunged towards Neji, and fell on top of him, one hand on either side of him. He blinked, gazing up at her. Her arms trembled, and she parted her lips in a smile at Neji. A thin trickle of blood fell from between her lips as she fell on top of him, her head falling on his chest.
She blinked slowly, adjusting to the bright light around her. She breathed in deeply, wincing at the sharp pain between her shoulder blades. She turned her head to the right, and cast her gaze out of the window. From where she lay, she could see the Hokage monument. She blinked again, staring at it with a narrowed gaze. The Hokage monument? She tried to sit up, but the pain kept her down. She turned her head to the other side and spotted the vases of flowers beside the bed which she lay in. From the corner of her eye, she saw something move, and turned her head too quickly, wincing again. But she forgot the pain when she saw the pale lilac eyes blinking wearily at her, before widening as the person they belonged to realised that she was conscious.
She heard her voice come from his lips as he stood from where he had sat on the stiff-backed chair beside her bed, using her bed as a pillow whilst he slept. He stepped closer to her, and ran a hand through his unruly brown hair.
"I thought you'd never wake up."
She forced a smile to him.
"I'm wishing I didn't… it hurts."
"Of course it hurts; you took a kunai to the middle of your back. Just missed your spine, Tsunade said."
His gaze darkened, turning almost into a glare, before softening again.
"But you know what would have hurt more?"
"If you didn't wake up. There are some things that you could leave this world without knowing, Tenten."
Surely she imagined the heat building in his cheeks.
"Uh… Such as this."
He turned around and scooped something up off of the ground, before holding it up for her to see. The plain white mask was in his hand, begging to be painted.
"Congratulations. You made ANBU."
"They probably only did that because they though I was gonna die, and wanted me to die with some sort of honour."
"Now that's a lie. You earned it."
"How? By almost getting myself killed?"
"Apparently it was for your loyalty to your comrades and village. Though I personally thought your stubbornness should have knocked all of that out."
She snarled at him after he finished speaking.
"But hey, I'm glad that you did make ANBU. Because now I can tell you all about my missions."
"Even the one to the Land of Lightning?"
"What? I haven't had a mission to the Land of Lightning… "
"But the last time we spoke before the mission, I asked if that's where it was to, and you said-"
"Oh, I remember. It was a personal mission."
"You said you would tell me."
"It wasn't even a mission."
"Then what was it?"
"More of a hunt."
"A hunt for what?"
"Can't tell you."
"Neji Hyuuga, you are the most annoying bastard I have ever met."
"Why thankyou. Since you have confessed yourself to me, I shall confess myself to you. Tenten, I want you to be my wife."
Neji smirked and reached into his pocket, withdrawing a small ring of gold. He held it closer so that she could see the intricate ornament resting upon the band. A kunai with a diamond hilt.
"They only make things like this in the Land of Lightning. I passed up an S-Class mission to go get this, so you'd better put it on right now."
"And if I don't?"
"I will turn myself in to Akatsuki. They'll want their revenge on me for what I did."
"What did you do?"
"That is something only spouses may know."
"Well I'm gonna be your bloody spouse once I am well enough to get outta here and plan a wedding, so tell me already."
"I love you."
She gazed at him as he took her hand gently, sliding the ring onto her finger. He leant down to her and planted a soft kiss upon her lips. She gazed up at him, and smiled.
"Wow… But stop changing the subject!"
"Oh geez, what've I gotten myself into…"
Did it suck? It sucked didn't it? I told you it would suck, didn't I? Chyeah, I pwn at sucking :P
If however there was a part of it that didn't suck, send me a review. Oh, and this is one of the one-shots I have written that I may consider a sequel to… if enough of you request it, I will write the wedding is that's what ya'll want, or I can write an angsty mission where one of them dies etc etc… If you think I should write a sequel, review with an idea for the sequel.