::A/N:: I have been ressurected!!! THANK YOU LORD! Anyways, to all of my friends and reviewers and any one else who would want to kill me for taking so long to update this final chapter, I AM SORRY! I was working at the best amusment park in the world and now, well...I really don't have an excuse. Please forgive me!
So since a LOT has changed since I last logged into fanfiction, I hope everything comes out okay. Um, as many of you noticed, this is the final chapter. I would have liked it to be a chapter longer, because I don't like the quick fix solution, but I also A: don't know when I would upload another chapter and B: hate writing depressing scenes when I want the characters to be happy together! My only concern is that it was still too quick. Though I did spend a few days on writing it, and I mean, sitting at my computer for days coming up with how to write it. I think that was all, so if you will excuse me, I need to go and find a place to hide from the angry mob of people...
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. If I did, Team Gai would NOT have been sent on a mission before Pein attacked the village!!!
The sun had disappeared behind the storm clouds a few hours ago. Occasional lightning flashed across the sky, followed by the crack of thunder. The rain pelted the ground, and the temperature had dropped tremendously in the hours the storm had been raging. Most citizens had retreated to the comfort of their own homes to escape the cold and the rain.
But Neji didn't seem to notice at all.
He sat along the bank of a river, watching the rain fall into the stream. He wanted to jump in to the freezing water and let the current take him somewhere far far away. But he knew no matter how far he went, he would still be plagued by what he had done. No amount of travel, no amount of time sitting outside freezing, was going to change anything.
He had lost her, and for good this time. He had been lucky she had been generous enough to take him back during the week, but he had pushed it too far with this.
His face began to sting again as he lifted his hand to his cheek. She had hit him, and had done so out of hurt and anger, something she had never done before. As much as the slap had hurt physically, it was nothing compared to the meaning behind it.
He should have told her about the challenge. He should have known that eventually she would have found out and this would have happened. He kept telling himself that it would be okay, that he would be able to keep it from her.
But since when was he able to keep anything from her?
He pounded his fists into the ground. Why did he not see this coming? How could he have been so stupid as to think everything would be alright when he was, in fact, using her to get what he wanted. He told himself that he wasn't, that he enjoyed spending time with her, which he did. But if that were the case, why was he sitting out in a storm, soaked and freezing, because he had lost her?
"If you stay out here any longer, you're going to catch a cold."
The voice caught him off guard and he almost fell into the river. Quickly, he turned around to see who had found him.
He was not surprised to see his uncle. Instead of responding, Neji just turned back around, his attention focused on the current.
Hiashi sighed deeply, knowing that Neji was torn. He had seen his reaction when Tenten showed up at the ceremony, and had seen him bolt out of the house to talk to her. By the way Neji looked and acted, things hadn't gone well between them.
"I understand you do not wish to talk, but at least come back and stay dry. This storm is not supposed to die down any time soon."
"I want to be left alone."
Neji didn't even turn around, and had Hiashi not been listening, the rain would have drowned his voice out. But the elder did not leave Neji alone as he had wished. Instead, he walked up to the younger man and held the umbrella he had been using over his nephew.
"You love her, Neji. I can see that now."
The prodigy merely threw a rock into the river. "What makes you say that?"
Hiashi sighed again, taking a seat next to Neji. "How can you not? You have come all this way, Neji, and yet, you are still blind to your feelings. What is it going to take for you to realize that that fear of losing her, that happiness when you are with her, is more than just friendship?"
Neji stared at his hands and quietly responded, "I've already lost her."
The two men sat in silence, listening to the rain pound the grass around them. Hiashi had never seen Neji like this. It was like he no longer cared. Perhaps that is where he had messed up. He had wanted this challenge to help Neji figure out what it meant to be in a relationship, not necessarily in love. But he had seen how happy he had been. He had seen how hard he was willing to try, how far he was willing to go, not to succeed, but to be with her.
Maybe Neji just wasn't ready to cross the line between friendship and love. "Perhaps that is where I went wrong, Neji," Hiashi said after a few moments. "I wanted you to not only do well in this challenge, but to find someone whom you could be with and be happy with. I wasn't expecting you to succeed with the first person you were with, or the next. That is why I gave you a month. When I saw how happy you were with her, I assumed she would end up being the one for you. Perhaps I influenced you too much."
Neji sat in silence. He appreciated his uncle's comments, but Neji knew the real meaning behind losing Tenten wasn't his uncle's influence, but because of his own decisions.
"The only person who messed up was me. There is nothing I can do now to get her back."
Hiashi didn't know what to say. He knew how important this challenge was to Neji, but he was willing to throw all of that away to be her 'friend'. If this challenge was so important to his nephew, how important was she in his life?
"Do you regret it?"
Neji turned towards his uncle. "What do you mean?"
Hiashi restated his question. "If you could go back and do it all over again, would you? Would you find someone else, or would you still choose her? Can you replace the time you had with her? Do you regret getting involved in this opportunity in the first place?"
With that, Neji looked away. If he could go back and start over, he would, but he would not have chosen her. Then again, he wouldn't have been able to have those precious memories he had from the week. He turned back to his uncle, realizing the point he was trying to get at.
"I couldn't go back and start over. All of this time, I have had this feeling when I was with her, but I simply thought it would happen with any one I chose; that it was all part of the challenge. But it wasn't. I know I would probably gain so much more by redoing everything I have done this week, but I would be losing the time I spent with her. I can't do that. I can't afford to lose those memories."
Hiashi merely smiled. "If you would rather give up a second chance to make things better than losing that time you spent with her, I am safe to say that someone has a very special place in your heart."
They were quiet again, but suddenly, Neji stood up quickly, catching his uncle off guard.
"Are you alright, Neji?"
"I've made a mistake."
Hiashi stared at Neji for a second. "What do you mean?"
Neji looked down at his confused elder. "I know that I have hurt her, but I have made the mistake in not being there for her when she is hurt. I have to go."
Hiashi smiled. "Are you going to apologize?"
Before Neji walked off, he turned around. "You asked me if I regretted this. Perhaps I went about this the wrong way, but it happened. I know for a fact I will regret passing up an opportunity to apologize when I had a chance."
As Neji faded into the storm, Hiashi stood up and smiled after him. "I do believe someone is in love."
Neji had been in this situation before. He found himself staring at Tenten's door, too scared to knock, but too afraid to walk away. He knew that no matter how hard he tried, she wasn't going to listen to him. Hell, he'd be lucky if she even opened the door and allowed him to speak before she slammed the door in his face.
But he knew he had to try. Maybe there was a chance he could be forgiven.
So he knocked and waited. When there was no response, he waited a few minutes before knocking again. Nothing. Maybe she wasn't home. Maybe she was out and about with Lee, explaining to him how he had messed up.
But the proud Hyuuga would not give up. He knocked again, a little louder, and listened for any sort of sound from behind the door. He leaned up closer to hear better, and nearly had a heart attack when the door opened.
"You're the last person I want to talk to right now."
Neji's hopes shot up; she had even spoken to him! Knowing his time was limited, he got right to the point. "I know that you are mad at me, and you have every right to be, but…Tenten, I meant everything I did. Yes, I took you to eat, I bought you a gift, I did all of those things because it was my task, but that was it. I tried to make you happy, because–"
"Stop." He was not expecting to be cut off, but he stopped and waited for a response. "I've heard it before, Neji. This time, I'm not buying."
She stepped back inside and got ready to close the door, but Neji wouldn't let it happen. "No, please," he said as he stopped the door from closing. "I don't want to lose you like this."
To his surprise, she didn't fight him. "You want me to be honest? You broke my heart. You were the only person I could trust, that I could count on. Maybe I am a little bitter about the fact that you used me so you could win this bet, but Neji…that is nothing compared to when you told me you wouldn't hurt me again! You lied then, you're lying now!"
And Neji knew then he had lost the fight. He should have known it wasn't going to work. He must have been pretty stupid to think she would have accepted him back.
"Whether or not you believe me, I am sorry for making you a part of this ordeal, but I will not apologize for the time I had with you."
And then it was silent. Neji was sure that Tenten had stopped listening to him a long time ago, but he had to say what he felt before never talking to her again. But nothing else would come to mind. He must have sat there for a good five minutes just staring at the ground.
Before he had the strength and ability to walk away, he whispered to the floor, "I just didn't know what I had until it was gone."
He walked back out into the remnants of the storm, trying to tell himself the pain he was feeling would go away with time. But he knew it wouldn't. Every time he saw her, heard her name, held a damn weapon in his hand, he was going to think about what he had lost. Perhaps he should have just swallowed his pride and never accepted the challenge in the first place. Had he known things would have ended like this, he never would have done it. He thought it would be easier to explain his planned marriage because of the family than to go through this again.
He stopped and stared at his reflection in the small lake forming in the street. He would always be haunted by the challenge, the tasks, the best week of his life, followed by the worst day. He dug himself a hole, and now he had no way of getting out.
Hearing his name, he looked up, but did not turn to the source. He wanted the dark night to swallow him whole and never spit him back out. He didn't want to see or talk to anyone.
He turned to tell the person off, to leave him alone, but as he opened his mouth, his voice caught in his throat.
It was Tenten.
He couldn't think of anything to say. He never would have thought that she would have followed him, let alone talk to him again. Maybe she wasn't done yelling at him.
"You seem just as surprised as I do that I am here."
Neji was taken aback. "Why…why are you here?"
She looked away. "You've been lying to me, and by lying you have hurt me. You already know that. But…"
She had Neji's attention now. Hopefully she was going to accept his apology and allow them to be friends. He didn't want this meeting to permanently end their friendship.
Tenten took a deep breath. "Even though I have been a fool this entire time, I would do it all over again, Neji. I really would."
Neji could not believe what he was hearing. "…What?"
"I have been so happy this week, so happy that it makes me mad because you hurt me. There are things I want to forget even happened, but I can't forget how I felt when I was with you."
And that was all Neji needed to hear. She hadn't forgiven him, but she was no longer mad with him.
"I just…wanted you to know that."
Before she could turn and walk away, he ran to her and grabbed her arm. "I…I know I hurt you, and I can never tell you how sorry I am for what I did. But the fact that you were…happy with me, I can't tell you how that makes me feel."
She gave him a weak smile, but a smile nonetheless. Neji couldn't have been any happier.
"And I want to keep making you happy."
Neji crossed his fingers while he waited for an answer. He didn't want it to be so sudden after all that had happened, but it had just slipped. But when she did not pull away or speak up, he began to get anxious.
However, she took him by surprise when instead of an answer, she wrapped her arms around him. "Is this task eight?"
The world could have ended and Neji wouldn't have cared. He was where he wanted to be.
"No," he responded as he returned the embrace and held her in his arms. "This is week two of our lives together."
Oh am I ever so worried that it wasn't good enough for how long I had to work on it! But, hey, for bein out of it for months, I am proud of what I did. So hate it, like it, chew me out for taking so long, I'm always glad to hear it. And I will be happy anyways, just because this is a personal achievment for me! I completed a story!!
And I never would have done it without you! All those reviews and comments I got, yeah, I GOT UM! And they motivated me to get this done! I cannot tell you guys enough how much that makes my day! Anyone is "pleased to hear [their] work is appreciated!" Thank you guys so much!
Until my next update!