Standard disclaimers apply.
By Cassandra's Destiny
Tucking an arm under his chin, he let out a heavy sigh. This was supposed to be his day-off: no missions, no sign of danger for the village, no paperwork, no academy students to look after, no Tsunade bossing him around, no Shizune telling him what to do, and no Temari nagging about the simplest things. This was supposed to be his day-off, his quiet time; it was all he had until Temari arrives late in the afternoon.
"So, what do you think, Shikamaru?"
He groaned in frustration. What does he think? He thinks she does not want to know what he thinks. Exactly what did he do to deserve this? What did he ever do that gave her the faintest idea that barging into his house and babbling about something you don't talk about with just anyone would be okay?
"I don't think you want to know what I think," was his reply.
She grimaced. "I think I do."
"No, you don't."
"Tenten." She really does not want to know what he is thinking right now. Besides, anything he ends up saying can be taken against him. "You really don't want to know what I'm thinking."
"Come on, I came here for you to tell me what you think, not for you to tell me what I want and what I don't want." Back straightened, she stood her ground against his lazy, uncooperative ass.
Wow, when did she become so pushy? He must have paid no attention to this persistent attitude of hers during their first chuunin exams. "I guess she's been this stubborn to begin with. How else could she have kept up with that stubborn Hyuuga?"
"It's…" he began, uncertain of his choice of words. "…complicated. I don't think I can give you the answer you want to hear."
She tried to sound oblivious to his dismissive tone. "There's no particular answer I'd like to hear, really."
Shikamaru gave her a look that says you've got to be kidding. There was no way she was not expecting a singular decent answer. "Why are you even telling me this?" Did he do something to her that might have hinted that they were the best of friends?
"I tried telling Lee… and it was, well, odd. He's like a brother to me, and telling him was…" As she struggled in her explanation, he tried to picture in his head a warm, beautiful, cloudy and Tenten-less day.
"Let me put it this way – can you imagine yourself making a love confession to your best friend for the mere purpose of practicing?"
A love confession in front of Chouji? "Ugh, that's going to leave a mental scar."
Another sigh. "It's not the same thing, Tenten. You are not making a love confession."
"It doesn't matter." She shook her head, shelving the prior analogy. "Okay, what if Temari came up to you one day and told you she's—"
"Don't say it!" He was quick to interrupt her mid-sentence.
Without assessing the situation, a very un-Shikamaru thing to do, all honesty took over him. "No guy in his right mind would want to hear something that troublesome!"
As soon as those words escaped his lips, he wanted to take them back. Badly.
Her lips were pressed together and she turned stiff from head to toe. Shikamaru quickly evaluated his position.
Today really was supposed to be his day-off. That was why he had his cans of beer in arms-length and the remote control handy. He was not asking for trouble, and surely, he was not looking for it. Now why does it feel like he just dug his grave? "Neji's going to kill me."
He moved closer to her, tried to think of something to say, something that will calm her nerves. Alas, he was not a Naruto, a Sakura or a Lee. He was a Shikamaru – a lazy, uncooperative Shikamaru. "Tenten?"
"What am I going to do?"
Taking a moment to filter his thoughts, he decided to let it all out in one blow. She needs to learn the truth, the fact that she cannot tell him all that out of context because doing so might result to unwarranted consequences. "Just tell him."
"Tell him? That's your bright idea?"
"Look," he started with a firm tone, hoping she'd buy his stab at rationalizing such a troublesome dilemma. "I can't even begin to understand why you're being so hesitant in telling him. It was him, right?
She nodded once.
"Then what is the matter?"
She was about to argue on the query when he raised a hand to cut her off. "Don't answer that. What I'm trying to say is that you are worrying about something that might not even happen. He's not going to kill you. He's not going to send you away, and he's definitely not going to not take responsibility."
"Nara," disarray fueled her to butt in.
"Hyuuga." He said flatly, making her shift uncomfortably in her seat.
"See? You're not just Tenten now. You're Hyuuga Tenten. To add to that, you're not just any Hyuuga," he paused, allowing the train of thought to sink in. "You are married to Hyuuga Neji."
As if being in a relationship with the Hyuuga prodigy does not make an impact big enough, being married to him can only mean one thing: acceptance. Exactly how far he was willing to go with the enthusiasm that comes with it, he can't say for sure. "What do you know… he might even be thrilled."
She did not respond.
"Do you plan on getting a second opinion?"
"A third opinion," she corrected. "And yes, I plan on getting one."
He gave her a look of mock disappointment and said, "You don't trust my take on the matter?"
"No," she answered, heading for the door. Truth be told, she wanted to trust Shikamaru's opinion. In fact, she was hoping Neji will resonate the same response. "Maybe I should try a different approach."
He thought of a suggestion in passing. "Why not the scientific approach?"
"Yea, a scientific explanation on how it happened, something parents would normally say to children in order to confuse them." Opening a can of beer, he was only too relieved to shed light on his idea. After all, she was on her way out. "If that doesn't work, you can try an analogy."
"At least let me state my case first," she pleaded. Who would've thought sustaining a conversation with Sasuke was harder than with Shikamaru? Probably everyone but her. He was not lazy and uncooperative; he was just indifferent and uncooperative.
Lee suggested talking to Naruto. But even if it is true that Neji once became a changed man partly because of him, she could not imagine herself spilling the beans to Naruto. Because he is so carefree and accepting, she was sure he'd smile at her, crack a joke, and push her to confessing right away.
Lee also suggested Shino, noting that the serious aura is a shared trait. True, she would not argue with him there, but that does not mean she was about to drag herself to Shino's house and talk to him. Heck, has she ever said a word to the man with no insect within a two-mile radius?
"Come on, you don't have to say much. Just have me practice what I'm going to say."
He looked like he wanted to glare at her, but his reply was rather constrained. "Talk."
She saw his lips moving, but was unable to catch what it was he said. "What?"
"I said talk, then go."
Tenten only heard talk, and so she did.
"Alright, pretend you're Neji."
He grimaced. Allowing her to continue her futile attempt at practicing, as she puts it, was probably a bad idea. Was she not aware that he was not exactly Neji's favorite person? To add to that, she wanted to talk about something intimate – no, not that intimate at least, but a conversation that should be exclusively between husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend.
"I'm, well, here goes…" Taking a deep breath, she began her litany. "When a man and woman are involved with one another, emotionally and, you know, physically, well, things happen."
Sensing her growing discomfort, he refrained from smirking at the realization of what kind of surprise Neji was in for.
"As you may already know, by the time a woman enters her teenage years, sometimes earlier, uterine bleeding starts, and it continues until menopause, which occurs around the age of fifty. Now, in response to follicle-stimulating hormones, an egg in one of the ovaries matures. During the fourteenth day of a typical 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. It then begins to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus."
He did not make eye-contact with her, yet she continued her speech – a string of scientific jargon he paid no attention to.
"If the egg is not fertilized, it either dissolves or is absorbed into the body. Also, the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period. However…"
He blinked. Was he really seeing what he thinks he's seeing?
"As this cycle is a preparation, and the shedding is something you can call a fallback, then…"
It was only out of the corner of his eye that he saw him walking to their direction, and since today was unlike any other day, he decided not to stick around. After all, today was not about who was stronger. Today was not about who will emerge victorious in a one-on-one battle. Today was not about him as an Uchiha and him as a Hyuuga.
Today was about him and Tenten, and then some.
"I have to go," he said before fleeing quickly.
Dumbfounded, she let out a heavy sigh. Was her explanation that boring?
She stiffened. Blame it on familiarity, but she certainly did not sense his presence beforehand. Neji could not have gone more undetected, but the sound of his voice – the way he utters her name – was something that would not go unrecognized by her. "Neji."
"What are you doing here," he paused, "with Sasuke?"
Swallowing hard, she realized she was unprepared for this encounter. Her plan was to get as many opinions as possible before dinner, so that when she comes back to the Hyuuga compounds and sees him, she will be ready. "I was just telling him something."
He raised a brow.
In an instant, questions began popping in her head: Tell him? Now? But how? "It's nothing special."
Taking a seat next to her, he urged her to continue talking.
Neji was summoned by Tsunade-sama early that morning, and that allowed her to double, triple, quadruple check her findings and gather her thoughts. Before speaking with Lee, she intended on telling him right before they went to bed, but the conversations she has had later in the day had her thinking otherwise.
"But he's here now, and waiting for some explanation," she thought. Perhaps this was a sign from the heavens, or destiny toying with her for getting in the way of the miserable future it has panned out for Neji.
"There's something you should know." She began with a serious lead-in. Since the scientific explanation only bored Sasuke, maybe she should go for Shikamaru's other suggestion: an analogy.
"Let's say I have a box of crayons, and for reasons you may already be aware of, I lost one of my favorites. This crayon, the red one, is really special to me. I mean, words cannot describe how important that red crayon is in my life, and it just so happens that I lost it."
The expression he was giving her was a blank. It seems her analogy did not pull her through.
"Are you saying Sasuke has your crayon?"
Her crayon? Did he think she was speaking of crayons literally? "Neji, I don't… what I'm trying to say is that for some time now, I haven't had my, well, red crayon, and by not having it, there are things one will initially speculate on."
"This isn't really about crayons, is it?"
She smiled. Thank goodness she married a genius. "No, it's not about crayons at all."
Placing his hand over hers, he entwined their fingers. "So what's it really about?"
Perhaps if she goes in hiding, take on a new identity and leave the village for good, things will be much easier. The mere idea of a married couple not being able to do it leaves a sour taste in her mouth.
Mustering all the courage she has, she took it upon herself to tell him now. "My periods have been irregular for some time now, and just recently, I missed it altogether. And..."
"It was Tsunade-sama herself who advised me not to partake in any sexual activities until further notice." There, she said it. "I know we've only been married for a few months, and the situation is a bit absurd, but because she was not sure if missing my period was an effect of being… overwor—pleasured," she corrected herself quickly, "or an aftershock from any physical injuries in the hip area that might have damaged my organs, particularly the ovaries, she specifically asked for abstinence… from both intercourse and high-profile missions."
She shut her eyes after uttering the last word. With anxiety taking over, she really wished she just went in hiding, took on a new identity and left Konoha.
"Think nothing of it."
What did he say?
"Come on, Tenten, we're ninjas. If self-constraint is not in our value system, then what is?"
She bit her lip to suppress a giggle. He was right; they were not sexually-deprived animals, even if they sometimes do act like ones. There were probably more than enough activities they can occupy themselves with to take their mind of whatever ideas they may have… until further notice. However, the giggle was not intended for her agreement with his words. It was more of her poking fun at his attempt at rationalizing such a troublesome dilemma, as Shikamaru puts it. Little does she know, the Hyuuga prodigy she had for a husband and lover was secretly dying inside. But she'd rather not bring up the teasing, at least not today.
She mouthed the words thank you before a sigh of relief escaped her lips. Lee was right; it was best to tell him as soon as possible. Having had let that off her chest, she felt comforted in general.
Taking hold of her hand, he placed light kisses on her fingertips. "For a moment there, I thought you were pregnant."
That too, but she'll probably talk to him about that tomorrow, or at least as soon as Sakura releases the official medical report.