Disclaimer; Not mine to claim, I'm afraid.


Tangles


After nearly four years of nonstop living and training (which was, essentially, living) with Tenten, Neji found that he had only one complaint. For all of the girl's imperfections-- the kunai fetish, the Chinese-style clothing which showed absolutely no pride for Japan, the irksome mess left after their spars-- it was a relatively small thing that pulled at his nerves. Not her lack of femininity (no, that was a small blessing, in its own right). Not her fashion sense (which color's showed a small amount of girlishness that wasn't there, making it all really confusing to those who would meet her, assume that she was a very feminine human being with all of the white and pink and maroon. Not so, would be their final conclusion after seeing her disregard for getting said pretty articles of clothing filthy with blood and dirt and sweat, etc.)

No, nothing like that. It was the matter of Tenten's hair that drove Neji up the wall.

Being the Hyuuga that he was, Neji was a subtle fanatic over hair. It was a known fact that if the prodigy had somehow forgotten to bring hair-care products on missions (1 out of 100 times, mind you), there would be a 72 percent increase chance of bloodshed. He had been secretely relieved when, after about half a year after Team Gai was formed, Lee chopped off that ghastly braid and took more furious care of his bowl-cut, therefore proving to the Hyuuga prodigy that he was somewhat worth his time and effort. Hair and vengeance had been everything to him for the better part of his life-- now that one had been eliminated, the other took its place.

That is why Neji could not stand to look at his teammate in the mornings until she had brushed that beast she called "hair." All was well when the girl's brown tresses were tied into twin knots at the top of her head-- they never fell, even though she didn't use any products to make it so. He respected that the locks were healthy enough that they didn't need help to remain firm. When they pitched a tent or purchased a hotel room on the way back to Konoha from a mission, Tenten would let her hair out through the night.

The next morning, in Neji's opinion, everything went to hell. She would wake up, push herself into a sitting position, and stretch. The movement would wake him in turn, just in time to see the tangled forest growing from her scalp. Dark brown threads wove in and out through each other in clumps in such unorthodox, patternless disarray that he had to grimace and look away.

Four years. Four years, and Neji hadn't yet come up with a way to keep Tenten's hair from becoming the beast it was when morning came. He had ideas, of course, after realizing what made it so gnarled. Through the night, Tenten would roll around in her sleep. When she stayed still, she would play with her hair, strand at a time. Then she would roll some more. Repeat. The thought made Neji feel the need to twitch. He knew that this could be cured by tying her to the bed. But he seriously doubted she'd let herself be chained down during sleep just for his peace of mind.

Other than that, he just didn't know.

It was an impulse that helped him in the end.

He was startled awake when Tenten rolled into him, about fifteen minutes since they'd collapsed, exhausted, into one of the hotel's double-room's bed. At the point of collision she stopped, and he knew that it would be just a matter of time before her fingers left her side and infiltrated her still-wavy tresses. Neji didn't know if he could take another mental beating that her morning hair tended to dish out.

So he did the first thing he could think of; before her hands could remember that they had hair to ruin, he turned from his back to his side and gently (so as not to awaken her ninja senses that would make him out to be an enemy) slid his arm over hers and around to her back. His arm was only slightly heavier than hers, so its presence would be enough to keep her arm from moving. With his own appendages locked around her back, it would keep her from rolling as well.

With this blissful thought, Neji drifted into his first truly restorative sleep in four years.

... only to be awoken once more, in the calm moments before dawn, to a finger jabbing lightly at his abdomen.

"Psst. Neji."

His eyelids creaked open to find a curious, slightly baffled face peering into his. "Hn?"

"You do know you're kind of... hugging me, right?"

Lee and Gai's snores on the bed parallel to them filled the following silence. He didn't know what to say-- last night, it had been exhausted instinct that led him to do what he'd done, but the prodigy hadn't thought of an explanation for his female teammate the following morning. What should he tell her? That he absolutely despised her reckless morning hair? That would be offensive, and he didn't want her to hate him, even for the short amount of time that would surely follow.

No. He couldn't tell her the truth. And what could he do when he couldn't tell the truth?

He'd lie.

"At age sixteen you can't even keep still while sleeping when your guard isn't completely up. This is a serious flaw, Tenten. I'm going to help you get rid of it."

Tenten narrowed her eyes and then, slowly, she grinned.

"Are you sure you didn't just want to hold me?"

A hot flash from cheek to cheek told him that maybe he should have been truthful instead.


Fin


Seeing as I haven't written any proper NejiTen in about... oh, say... forever, you can now spork me to death if you like. But if you plan to, review first, plzkthnxbai. I would really, really, REALLY love it. A LOT. Liek srsly.
I've had the idea of Tenten waking up to find Neji's arm around her for a few days now, and I couldn't think of how to write it out until this morning when I looked at a squeezy-bottle-tube-container of honey. Seeing as honey has nothing to do with hair or tangles makes it kind of nonsensical. (What the truck is wrong with my way of thinking? she asks herself while tossing a hairbrush down the garbage disposal)
-Bya