Author: Fire Halo
Summary: Sometimes, it is just being there that matters.
Disclaimer: I'm a girl, clearly not Kishimoto-san. What I own is the story idea.
She stands at the edge of the forest, her slender figure highlighted against the disappearing sun. Long hair, for once unbound, whips past her face as she turns to glance over shoulder at the approaching form that is her teammate. Her eyes are chocolate-colored, just as sweet and appealing as said item, and they light up at her friend's approach.
She gives him a small wave, beaming while she greets him with an affectionate, "Neji."
The other responds in that calm voice of his, graceful tongue pronouncing her name with restrained emotion. "Tenten."
Still, despite his seeming indifference, the kunoichi smiles again. She is used to his ways and knows that he enjoys being in her company. Because she is aware of this, Tenten turns away, gazing out at the painted horizon, and is confident that Neji will join her shortly. He does and she smiles, yet again.
"It'll be dark soon." Neji comments as the sun slips further into hiding.
Beside him, Tenten nods. "Hai."
The Hyuuga's brow arches, but he makes no comment, as he, too, is used to her ways.
Moments later, she speaks, drawing his attention, "Is there something the matter?"
His pale eyes fall on her, scrutinizing. Perceptive, as always. he thinks silently, choosing not to voice his thought aloud. Perhaps, Tenten is also a mind reader because at that moment, she glances at him, as if hearing him address her. Her features are drawn into a concerned frown and she twists her mouth, biting her lip in worry.
"Iie," he says anyway, lying. "No."
She does not believe him, and he knew that, expected that even. He had only denied her question out of habit. After years of emotional interdependence, Neji still found curbing the protective barriers he had erected difficult.
At her narrowing eyes (while she understands his reluctance to admit he is troubled, she does not like that habit of his), he adds, "Family."
Her eyes soften then. She lifts her chin in acknowledgment, her lips moving to form a silent 'oh', and she glances back at the cowardly sun, still retreating from the oncoming night. The matter is finished then and she knows not to pursue the subject further, because she is wise in most situations concerning Neji. He would not appreciate her nosing about, but . . .
...he would appreciate my company.
The two are silent, but it is no strange happening for them. These moments were not rare. Neji is often found at the kunoichi's side, quietly absorbing her calming presence after a painful run-in with his family. Sometimes, it is Tenten who is discovered at his side, gratefully soaking up his emanating strength as she relays to him the source of her frustration and trouble as he silently listens. It has become something of habit, almost ritual. For him, serenity could be found on her person and for her, Neji made a good listener.
Today, it seemed, was Neji's turn to find peace.
The sun finally falls beneath the skyline, throwing dark shadows across the pair. The moon appears shortly afterwards as the cloud that covered its silver beauty drifts away. Tenten's gaze is drawn to this shining disk and is reminded of the eyes of the young man beside her.
Though,the kunoichi corrects herself. If you look close enough, you see that his eyes are tinted lavender at some places and not completely white.
She glances at him. He is staring at a sight in the distance, but does not seem focused at any one thing in particular. A minute later, his eyes focus on her, rendering the previous statement obsolete.
"Hn?" he asks, using his infamous monosyllable in place of a questioning word.
This is also a habit of his, but, yet again, Tenten is accustomed to this particular aspect of his personality. She is not bothered.
"Nothing, Neji." is the reply and she smiles.
Once more, he raises an eyebrow.
"Ah," he mutters, likewise acclimated to her own personal tendencies but by no means is he understanding of them. He decides it is simply because she is female. "I see." Of course, he doesn't, but he will not admit that. Maybe, one day, but not now. He is simply too exhausted emotionally (rarely ever physically as he, just as rarely, ever exerts much effort in defeating opponents) to summon the strength to share his faults with her.
Admitting things has always been difficult for Neji.
Tenten knows this, though she suspects he does not, and will not allow herself to expect him to pour his heart out to her. He is not the kind to easily gush out his deepest, darkest secrets and, instead, prefers to let one in on them slowly, one piece of his past at a time. Tenten is patient and, besides, he has already informed her of several secrets.
She is trusted by him.
There is a weight placed on her shoulders and she looks up at Neji in surprise. His hand arm is around her and he grips her lightly, gently, but he is not facing her since it seems that he has turned back to the sky. Tenten gazes at his profile in silence, waiting patiently for the explanation she knows will come, and she knows it will come.
Neji was not one to perform random gestures without meanings or reasons. Everything he does, every word he speaks and every action he takes, is thought out. Unlike herself, she realizes and flushes immediately as she remembers all the clumsy missteps and accidents that have resulted from her lack of consideration.
Quickly, she dispels the blush and looks again at her companion, noting with disappointment that it seemed that she was wrong today. Neji had made no move to explain himself and when he wished not to speak, Tenten knew there was no forcing him. She smiles at him, though, and decides to make her own assumptions of what the arm around her meant.
Carefully, slowly, Tenten lays her head against his shoulder. His pale eyes dart to the top of the kunoichi's head, and when he takes in what his eyes relay to his brain, the corners of his mouth twitch upward. The arm wrapped around her body pulls her, nearer still, to his own, and she allows herself to be moved against his chest, making only a small sound that Neji believes suspiciously resembles a contented sigh.
The moon is high in the sky, and the stars are scattered against the nighttime darkness. The pair stands at the edge of the forest, their two forms, which could easily be confused as one from a distance, are highlighted against the shining moon. Long chocolate locks, for once unbound, mingle with the dark strands that escape the confines of the band that hold their fellow hair captive. Her bright eyes, as warm as a cup of hot cocoa, turn upward as she tilts her head back to look into the pale eyes of her companion.
As expected, she finds that only his chin faces her; he is staring still into the night. She smiles though, despite his detached demeanor, knowing that he enjoys her presence and that the same applies to her. Tenten is used to his ways.
But then . . .
He looks at her and smiles, watching as her eyes grow large with surprise. After a moment, she gathers herself, returns his smile, and decides that she has more to learn of him. He is surprising, but Tenten knew she should have been accustomed by now to his ever-shocking ways.
Perhaps, she is not so used to him.
There is more to learn.
And she finds this a welcome thought, a challenge even.
Neji smirks at her, displaying that infamous arrogance of his, as he knows her well, too, and has an idea of what is going on in her head. However, he couldn't have possibly predicted her next action. He raises an eyebrow as she shifts in his embrace. She presses closer to him, turns her head again, stretches to the top of her toes . . .
Tenten plants a kiss on his neck.
Her lips do not linger and she pulls away. He is speechless, not knowing that she could be . . . bold. So, after a while of contemplation, he comes to the same conclusion as Tenten came to moments earlier.
There is more to learn.
And he kisses her head, finding the thought amusing and agreeable. Perhaps, a challenge even.
The stars are all out. The moon beams proudly down upon the pair, pleased to have displaced the sun. A gentle breeze sweeps past the two, feathering their skin. She smiles at him as he smirks at her, and at that point, they share similar thoughts,
Let me see . . .
...Let me know.
The two are silent now. They are both patient and can wait to understand. The virtue was bestowed in great proportion on the pair.
"I like having you near."
Then . . .
"Ah," he says. "I see." This time he does see because he shares the same sentiment, and Tenten seems sense this, but adds nothing as she knows how to look for the meaning behind his words.
Neji's gaze rises to sky, hers following shortly, and the moment lasts, uninterrupted.
The stars are beautiful tonight . . .
Author's Note: When I first started writing fanfiction, I began with one-shots. After I joined I attempted to write several shameful multi-chapter stories and am now in the process of rewriting them all. To be honest, I'm only proud of Azure Steps (another of my Naruto stories) and this oneshot. Coming back to my roots by writing this was probably one of the smartest things I've done. Though, I'm kinda rusty... Sorry. Hehe... Anyhoo, I hope you've enjoyed.