IMPORTANT NOTE: I know the title sucks. I'm sorry. The site's eating a lot of symbols so I couldn't use the title I wanted to use. Those of you who got the author alert e-mail, you guys probably saw that the story's title was "I". Well, I made a mistake so I had to change it. Sorry.
I am back with a new chapter story! Wooh! But I'll still be posting one-shots every now and then even though I'll be working on this. This is a NejiTen Romance chapter fan fic, just like my last one. But this first chapter doesn't have that much humor. Sorry. But maybe there will be a few laughs in the later chapters.
Enjoy and please be kind and R&R!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
"Neji! You're back! My youthful friend! Give me a hug!"
"Lee!" Neji sharply backed off as his former teammate, Rock Lee, tried to bombard him with a youthful embrace. He swung the huge bag on his back to his face, covering himself to avoid Lee's 'youthful' attempts.
"I don't have time for this!" Neji yelled, trying to push Lee away. On the other had, Lee had drawn attention from everyone else present.
They were actually in the middle of a crowded and busy street in Konoha when Lee saw Neji walking around. If you haven't seen a dear friend in almost five years, you would've done the same.
Neji managed to shove Lee away and when he had done so successfully, he fixed his hair with his palms, flattening the raised strands, "Yes, Lee, I know I've been gone for long," Neji started, "But I've got something important to do."
Surprised, Lee arched one of his bushy brows and asked, "You've got something important to do? You just got back from the Land of Waves and you're finally home! What could be more important than going around Konoha, youthfully announcing your arrival?"
Grumbling, Neji pulled Lee nearer and he muttered, "A lot of things are more important than that, as of now. Where's Tenten?"
Patting his pal's back, and completely ignoring his statement, Lee then exclaimed, "Look, let's host a youthful party tonight! We'll invite every youth we know! And Gai-sensei will be so happy to finally see you again!"
"Lee!" Neji growled, shutting Lee up. He looked fierce and irritated and he was practically clenching his fists and nipping his lower lip. Neji breathed a sigh then muttered with a growl, repeating his previous question, "Where's Tenten?"
Upon hearing that, Lee smiled and foolishly answered, "Actually… I don't know, either. I haven't seen her for some time. I think she's busy, like always. You know how ANBUs are, always on their missions."
"She's an ANBU?" Neji repeated, almost shocked. Although he has always thought that she was a great kunoichi, he never expected her to try her hand on becoming an ANBU. And this little realization somehow broke his hopes somehow…
"I need to see her." Neji plainly said, grabbing Lee's shoulders, firmly shaking him. Lee tried to stand still and when he was finally standing right, he said, "Well, we'll look for her later. We must proceed to Gai-sensei to tell him the wonderful news of youth!"
"No," Neji sternly replied, now getting annoyed with Lee's ignorance of his words, "I have to go see Tenten first, before anything else. It's really important, Lee. I have to do it before it's too late."
Suddenly beginning to catch on with what he meant, Lee's eyes sparkled and he exclaimed, "Aw, you missed her, didn't you?"
Hiding a slight blush, Neji muttered back, "Of course I missed her… but that's not the only thing… Just take me to her!"
"No problem, Neji!" Lee said, his hands in a salute. Then, Neji froze at what Lee did next…
"TENTEN!" he yelled, bringing too much attention to the two of them. His eyes grew as Lee turned to every direction in the street, screaming, "OH, TENTEN! NEJI'S BACK AND HE WANTED TO SEE YOU BECAUSE HE MISSES YOU!"
"Lee!" Neji half-yelled at his teammate. Neji slammed his palm onto Lee's mouth, shutting him up once again, "You're embarrassing yourself." Neji plainly explained.
But despite that, Lee's efforts weren't in vain.
"N-Neji?" a soft, delighted voice said from behind Neji. He knew well who it was. He turned and found his best friend and teammate, Tenten.
She gazed at him with gleaming eyes and a huge grin. She still looked the same: her brown hair was still fixed into buns and she still looked as beautiful as ever. The only difference was that there was now a Panda ANBU mask that loosely hung around her neck and she now sported an ANBU uniform.
She looked back at him as the two just stared back at each other, both too stunned and in high spirits to even speak or make a move. Breaking the awkward sense in the air, Neji chuckled and said, "It's been… so long, huh?"
Tenten didn't answer immediately. Soon, she found herself throwing her arms around Neji and squealing, "You're back! I can't believe you're back! This is so great!" Her hug got tighter by the second as she swung around with Neji in her arms.
"How come you don't complain when Tenten hugs you?" Lee grumbled at Neji jokingly as he watched the two, still caught in their tense embrace. In a minute, Tenten let go of him and joyfully asked, "When did you come back?"
"Just yesterday." Neji answered her question with a beam on his expression, "I had to submit the reports to the Hokage so I couldn't show up earlier." Still jumpy, Tenten just managed to say, "Oh, I'm so glad you're back!"
Once again, she gave him another hug, making Neji feel better all the more. Lee made a youthful gesture and offered, "I'll go and call Gai-sensei! You two just stay there!" He then zoomed off, leaving a trail of dust behind his steps.
Neji and Tenten chuckled at their teammate's eagerness and only now did they realize that most of the people around (since, like I said, they were in a crowded street) have started to stare at them and some have begun to grin at the two, glad for their reunion.
Slightly embarrassed, Neji sheepishly smiled at Tenten and whispered, "Let's talk somewhere… private, what do you say?"
"I agree." Tenten quickly replied, grabbing hold of his hand and squeezing through the people to get through, "Let's go to my house, okay?" Tenten said, not waiting for an answer from him. Neji just nodded as he passed through the villagers.
Her hand was comfortably wrapped around his and with that, Neji couldn't help but stare at their entwined fingers. Every time he did, he felt more and more gauche. 'Okay…' he thought to himself, 'We get to her house, talk a little about our lives so far… then, I propose. Yeah, that's it.'
Neji shoved his free hand into his side pocket, making sure that he didn't lose the engagement ring in his journey through the crowd. When he managed to sense the ring's miniature rhinestones and smooth texture against his finger, he felt quite relieved.
He saw that Tenten had moved from her original home to a house she had rented. The outside definitely needed a new coat of paint but when he had proceeded inside with her, everything was homey and cozy. It certainly had Tenten's touch.
Tired, Tenten threw herself onto the spacey couch at the center of the living room, in front of the television. She heaved a sigh then turned to him, "I still can't get used to the streets of Konoha nowadays. Back when you left the other year, the Hokage was forced to narrow down the streets."
Nodding and pretending to be interested, Neji sat beside her after she motioned to him. "So, Neji," she began, scooting nearer to her best friend, "Are you back for good? Or is this just some vacation of some sort?"
Slightly chuckling, Neji faced her and explained, "I'm not back for good, unfortunately. You can say it's a vacation, though. But I won't be considering it one. While I'm here, I'll be in the Hyuga Manor where Hinata lives."
"I see," Tenten said, acknowledging, "Remind me again why you left. It happened so long ago and somehow, it still doesn't make sense to me. Why did you have to go?"
'You're right.' Neji thought, 'Why did I need to leave? Why did I need to leave you?'
Fixing his seat, Neji then went on saying, "Remember how the abolishment of the my clan's system didn't go well? It ended up to forcing the Main Branch and Lower Branch to separate, making the clan present in more countries. The Main members stayed in Konoha while the Lower Branch spread out."
In understanding, Tenten nodded and muttered in reply to this, "But that's unfair, isn't it? And why do the Branch members need to spread out?"
Shrugging, Neji answered, "It's to create a better alliance with the other countries, I think. All we can do is follow from fear of death. You know how things in my clan goes." He stopped there and changed the topic, "What about you, Tenten? How're you doing so far?"
"Well," Tenten started, cupping her own chin in her hand as if she was thinking deeply, "I tried to become ANBU several times already but I only became ANBU last year. I moved to this house, which I just rented, since I didn't want my parents to worry about me anymore…and…"
Suddenly, a pleased smile crossed to her face, making Neji feel strange. It was the kind of smile she would make when she was crushing on Sasuke. It was the kind of smile she made when she thought of fluffy love scenes during her free time. Something told him that there was bad news for him…
"And I'm engaged." She finished.
Then and there, Neji's eyes grew and his throat went dry. His hands shook a little and all he could say (actually, stammer) was, "E-Engaged? You're engaged? To who?"
Tenten drew her hand out, showing Neji the golden (A/C: You can give golden engagement rings, right?) and diamond studded engagement ring she wore on her finger. She lovingly smiled at it and said, "Kankuro gave me a golden ring because it matches the golden sands of Suna…"
"Kankuro, eh?" Neji muttered, trying to smile as he hid the fury. She merely nodded and explained, "He proposed to me just last week. He's a nice guy, you know. I just never thought that he'd…"
"So you two were dating?" Neji calmly asked her, gripping a portion of his shirt as he released the anger. At first, she thought then mumbled, "Well, not really dating as in dating." She knew she didn't make much sense. "He'd sing outside my window and take me to restaurants and go watch plays…"
As she went on, Neji imagined in his head how it looked like… how it would seem to be if he suddenly saw Tenten holding hands with Kankuro as they walk down Lovers' Lane with the nosy Temari and the suspicious Kazekage Gaara trailing them, noting their every move.
She'd soon be moving out of Konoha, to live with Kankuro in Sunagakure. There, she'd be part of the Kazekage household. Their kids will all have brown hair and that way, they'll all match in front of Christmas cards (A/C: Wait… what?) and she'll have a beautiful and rich life there…
"…I never saw him as more than a close friend, actually, but when he asked me if I wanted to marry him, something told me that saying yes was the right thing, don't you think?" Tenten concluded, leaving Neji staring blankly into her eyes.
'Humph.' He thought angrily, 'I lost her even before I had her.'
"Oh, and Neji?" she interrupted his thoughts, but for once, he didn't mind, "You're going to be the best man. Lee declined that because he wanted to be the ring bearer. Is that fine?"
Soon, Neji remembered that he wouldn't be in Konoha for long, "Wait a minute, when is your wedding, anyway?"
With the question, Tenten rushed to the kitchen, took the calendar that hung above her fridge then brought it to the living room, flipping through the pages. "The first day of next month. Kankuro said that would be great because it's sort of a good luck thing."
Upon hearing that, Neji made a disappointed face as he thought, 'So soon?' He bit his lip and muttered to Tenten as she put the calendar on the coffee table nearby, "Well, that's too bad. I can't attend your wedding."
"Huh? Why not?" Tenten asked with a worried and saddened expression, "It's just almost a week and three days away."
He heaved a sigh told her, "I told you, I'm not back here for good. I'm just… back for a quick report to the Main Branch and a few more requirements. I have to go back to the Land of Waves on the morning of your wedding… Yeah, there."
Brushing the fact off, Tenten then said, "Is that all? Then reschedule your journey back the day after. It's that simple."
"It's not that simple." He sharply replied, "Uh… some of the Branch members that stay with me back in the Land of Waves will be picking me up. It'd be really shameful of me if I kept them waiting. And… I have permission to stay here until then. Yeah, that's it."
This disappointed Tenten greatly. She couldn't reschedule her wedding for Neji because Kankuro would freak if she did. Plus, the invitations have been sent. And Gaara would kill her before she even became part of their family if she messed things up.
She looked down and as she did, Neji felt guilt eating him up… because he lied. He had permission to stay in Konoha for a maximum of twelve months. He could attend Tenten's wedding and nothing was holding him back… nothing but his aching heart, that is.
Clearing his throat, Neji glanced at his watch and excused himself, "Tenten, I have a meeting with Hinata in an hour. Do you mind if I went and got some rest for a little while? I'll be back after the meeting, if you like."
Her expression changed from the dismayed frown to a carefree and charming smile, "You can rest here, Neji! I'll make you some ramen or maybe some barbecued beef. I also have an extra room upstairs and you can catch up with your sleep there. Just stay."
Seeing that she wanted him to stay so badly, Neji shook his head and said, "No, that won't be necessary. Besides, I… also need to talk to the Hokage on how things are going. I'm sorry."
Pouting, Tenten then finally asked, "Can you come over tonight? I'll make dinner for the two of us to celebrate your return and we can talk some more! You'd like that?"
Hearing that, Neji answered with a cheerful grin, "I'd love that."
Tenten giggled and stood up, escorting him to the door. Her arm was locked with his and she said, "I'll pass by the Hyuga Manor to pick you up around seven o'clock tonight. You might have a hard time getting here since you're new to my home."
Neji just nodded and when he was out the door, Tenten waved good-bye from inside her house and after that, she slowly shut the door.
When she had completely closed the door, Neji sighed deeply and grumbled, "I'm such a liar…"
"Neji Hyuga," a messenger came by, holding a scroll, "There is a message from Lady Hinata of Konoha for you."
Slightly surprised, Neji took the scroll then read it on the spot. Somehow, the letter made him happy inside:
'Dear Cousin Neji,
Things here in Konoha have changed a lot. The streets were narrowed to make more space for houses. The Ichiraku Ramen Shop is now thrice as big as it was before. The alliance with the other countries, especially Sunagakure, is getting stronger. There is now trust around us. How are things there in the Land of Waves? I apologize that you had to be sent there.
I have a special message from my father, Hiashi, for you. In the effort to make the Hyuga clan more vast and composed of more members, my father has given you the free will to marry anyone you choose since you are now of age.
As the head of the Lower Branch of our clan, you are given the privilege to pick a wife from any country or village, including Konoha. My father has been questioning my choice of spouse for I wished to marry Naruto. But he only approved of Kiba. He said it would make the clan's bonds stronger.
Anyway, you are given permission to leave the Land of Waves for other lands and villages to search for a proper spouse. But you can only stay outside the Land of Waves for a maximum of twelve months.
By the way, Cousin Neji, I heard Tenten-Chan's single, if I heard right.
Lady Hinata Hyuga'
And on that moment, he knew he had this chance. Immediately, he rushed to the jewelry store with an eager and joyful grin on. Slapping some money onto the counter, he exclaimed, "Sell me the most expensive and best engagement ring you have!"
End of Flashback
"Neji! My youthful Neji! Give your sensei a big, youthful, manly hug!" an ever-familiar voice came booming from nearby. Neji regretted turning around for he soon came face-to-face with Maito Gai, still in a spandex and still donning his freaky grin.
Neji said nothing as Gai outstretched his arms, ready to give Neji a squeeze. He simply stood there with discouragement and misery in his eyes. With that, Lee gasped, saying, "What happened to the youthfulness you had, Neji? Why so down?"
Shaking his head as he looked down, Neji muttered, "Nothing, nothing."
As soon as he was done murmuring, Gai yelled, "Let us rush to the nearest bar and celebrate with a cup of sake or ten! Then, we can go my place and surf the Internet for 'Youthful Ways to Celebrate a Teammate's Return'!"
Lee then smirked a la Gai-sensei and yelped with his thumbs up, "Yosh! Let us do so, Gai-sensei! Come, Neji! …Neji?"
Indeed, Neji appeared puzzled and staggered, "There's… There's Internet in Konoha nowadays?" he said in a shocked tone. He never realized how much the village has improved (and kinda modernized) since he left.
"Of course!" Gai-sensei answered youthfully, "We even have wireless connection in every restaurant around here, including Ichiraku! Seriously, our village needed to keep up. Can you believe that the Hidden Rain Village already have water-proof laptops?"
"Well, they needed those badly, Gai-sensei." Lee explained, "No time to talk! We must go and celebrate, remember? Yosh!"
But Neji's mind was elsewhere. He didn't want to celebrate anything. All he wanted to do was think deeply, thoroughly and intensely so he'd come up with a way to do something about Tenten's engagement. He only wanted to either get over it in three seconds or get her back…
…Okay, he chose the second choice. But how will he do it?
"Wait…" he suddenly whispered to himself, snapping into a series of ideas. The two spandex-wearing shinobi in front of him stared back at him, perplexed. He cupped his chin and thought, 'With the technology Konoha's beginning to have, I might be able to get Tenten back…'
"Neji, what the heck's youthfully bothering you?" Lee asked, curiously and worriedly, "You've been looking so deep in thought and anxious since you arrived." Knowing Lee won't stop asking him about his behavior (and hoping that somehow they'd help him), Neji decided that he could trust the two.
"Tenten's engaged, right?" Neji muttered, biting back the frustration he had. Upon hearing that, Gai and Lee grew sparkly-eyed and (almost gaily) squealed with their hands folded, "Aww! Neji's jealous!"
Turning bright red, Neji snapped calmly, "No, it's not that. I… I just don't like the idea of her moving to Suna with that puppet guy Kankuro. It's… It's not good for her… complexion."
Lee threw an 'I know what you, like, mean' look and Gai-sensei then exclaimed, "I knew you've always loved her! Youthful love must prevail!"
Seriously, Neji wanted to throw those two guys to the next village with a Kaiten but all he could do was mutter, "Be quiet. Fine, so you're right."
Eager and excited, Lee asked, "What are you going to do, Neji? Gonna woo her with every trick you know? Huh? Huh?"
Shaking his head, Neji murmured loud enough for Gai and Lee to hear, "I don't know any tricks. But I think the new technology here in the village, especially the World Wide Web, will help me."
"What?" Gai said, almost baffled, "How?"
Neji smirked and muttered back, "You'll see. Gai-sensei, can I use your laptop and your Internet server… if you have one?"
Nodding and holding up his thumb, Gai replied, "Gladly, Neji! What are you going to do with it? Look for youthful pictures of nude girls?" Neji swore he heard both Gai and Lee giggle with the statement.
"No." Neji plainly said, walking ahead of them, "I'm going to win Tenten back… hopefully."
Here's the first chapter! I hope the story sounds interesting. The next few chapters will be good, I promise. If you like the story so far, stay tuned for the next chapters.
Please leave a review, saying what you think of this.
Thank you and if I think it'll be worth it, I'll continue the story down to the last chapter!
By the way, I have nothing against Kankuro. I am a Kankuro fan girl. But I'm against KankTen. No offense.