Standard disclaimers apply.


By Cassandra's Destiny


"Still not up for training, I see." She paused, glancing out the window. "Or maybe I just got up too early."

Tenten smirked. "Now don't go calling me an eager beaver."

Eyes shut, lips unmoving; he did not respond.

"Oh! Do you remember the argument Shikamaru and Temari had?"

She took his silence as a yes.

"Temari hasn't visited Konoha for a while now, and everyone thinks it has finally taken a toll on Shikamaru. I actually beat him in his game! I forgot what it's called but it's that board game Asuma couldn't beat him in." Huffing on imaginary strands of stray hair, she continued. "I know he wasn't even concentrating… or looking, but still."

Still no response.

"It's not like he forfeited though. But Chouji says my victory hardly counts for anything."

A pregnant pause.

"He's mean. Saying such in defense of his best friend is no excuse."

Slowly, she lay her head on his chest and closed her eyes. For a brief moment, she imagined they were sitting side by side under the shade of a tree – breathless and weary – enjoying the silent rewards of a quiet afternoon after what seemed to have been a week's worth of training. "Do hear the swishing sound the leaves make?"

She raised her head to stare down to him. "Neji?"

He did not answer; hadn't spoken for days. Still, she tried to get him to talk.

"Why aren't you speaking to me? Are you mad?" Her face screwed up, lids low and hands shaking. "I know it's too early in the morning. You usually don't get up to train until 4:30. Usually. I can remember an instance when you woke up at 2 AM to proceed to the training grounds, though. Maybe that did happen, but I clearly was not invited."

She let out a heavy sigh. "Gai advised us that a week from now, Lee and I will be summoned by Tsunade for our first mission since… since, yea."

Tightening her grip on his wrist, she placed a loving kiss on his forehead. "I better go now. Those two would flip, lose their control over the burning flames of their undying youth, if they happen to check up on me this early and not find me home. I can only imagine the ruckus they are going to cause." A bitter laugh. "I'll be back tomorrow, or later, whenever really. Plus, I think you need new bedsheets. The ones you're using are getting dirty already. Maybe I'll bring a set when I come back."

She stood and dawdled to the door. A hand on the knob, Tenten looked back at his form.

"Wake up soon, okay?" she whispered.

Brain dead or coma, it didn't matter. She visits him every day.