Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
A/N: As some of you may know, this story comes from a drabble set I wrote a while back… Also, for those of you who are familiar with my NejiTen stories, I'm sure you're aware that I love to experiment with different styles and genres every so often… well, this one's going to be one of those experiments… It's a little different from what you're used to (at least at the beginning, because I may very well hate it and just revert back to my usual style, or I may just not be able to pull it off, period)… Anyway, the idea is not only to try out a new style, but basically to write a NejiTen love story, through the eyes of a third party (or perhaps third PARTIES)… I'm unsure as to how well this may or may not work out… but I hope you can all still enjoy the fic. Thanks for giving it a read! ;D
Anyway, hope you all enjoy it; please remember to review to tell me what you think. THANKS XD
DEDICATION - I dedicate this ENTIRE story to Midnight Memories, Shadeehue, Nichi Nara, Kunoichi-of the-Leaf, Apple Bubblegum, ChristinaAngel, Nightshadow Dweller, AnimegirlKiki, Jizzy, Classic Tragedy, and animechick96 who requested that I extend the drabble set into a full length story. Sorry for making you all wait so long for it… I hope you like it... Just to let you know, I will be changing the ending... (making it much more fluffy XD)
SUMMARY: Tenten loves Neji; Neji loves Tenten. But of course, neither knows. She's given up. Set up on a blind date; but with who? and how will Neji react? What's going to come of our favorite couple? And will "he" find the answer to his question?... What is love?
What is love?
From the beginning of time poets, philosophers, artists, and musicians have attempted to capture and define the elusive and ineffable qualities that best portray the intensity that is this grandest of emotions. Yet the answer, to this seemingly simple question, has remained as indefinable as life itself. What is love? Why do we love? Who do we love? When do we know if it's love? There are no easy answers to these, and many other questions. So, why then, do people insist on asking these questions?
Gaara couldn't understand it; yet for the past few days, that was precisely the question he had found himself asking.
What is love?
Was it a "feeling" of butterflies in one's stomach? A quick, nervous smile; uncontrollable laughter? Was it something physical: a jolt of electricity down the spine; a sharp intake of breath; an increase in salivation? Or was it something entirely different? Something which held no form; merely was? Something that could never be explained, only experienced?
To understand what had led the young Kazekage into this reflective contemplation, one would have to go back to the beginning of this story…
One Week Earlier…
"I'm afraid this has gotten far too out of hand." The counsel member with the annoyingly coarse voice addressed Gaara.
The red-head silently watched the council members circle his desk like hungry hyenas. Their faces sternly observing him, as if they were waiting or him to object, so they would finally have an excuse to expel him from the office he had earned. Or perhaps it was their intent to hypnotize him with their eyes, and convince Gaara that this decision was actually in his interest.
"Therefore we find ourselves forced to inform you that you have until the end of the month to decide." Another council member voiced; this one was taller than the other one, with a flat nose and crocked teeth. "If there is no suitable prospect in that time, we will make the choice for you."
With that, the five elder members of the council stepped out of the Gaara's office, leaving him to silently seethe at his desk.
"Jeeze, what was that all about?" Temari sneered as she and Kankuro entered the office.
"Hn." Gaara turned to the door and gave his older siblings a curt nod.
He knew they would worry about him; but there really was no point to their anxiety, it wasn't like they or anyone else could actually do anything about it. Despite having been named Kazekage over four years earlier; despite having had the tailed-beast within him removed; despite dieing for his village; despite everything he had been through, and everything he had grown, many in the village still looked upon him with the same hate and distrust they had held before. True, over time, the villagers had grown to love and respect him; but Gaara was aware that there were still many, especially among the older generations, who harbored a fear for him that would not allow them to open their minds to the possibility that he was a good leader. On several occasions there had been called to remove him from office; all in complete secrecy of course; in fear that he would overhear and take action against those who might voice their opposition.
It wasn't that he cared; Gaara was used to it. He had long since grown accustomed to the hatred in their eyes; to the fear in the voices; to the anger in their faces. There was nothing he could do about it. His only choice was to try and live by the rules he was given; and hope that someday they might recognize him for the man he had become. This latest development, however, had become burdensome. Gaara wasn't sure how he was supposed to handle it.
"What's wrong?" Temari asked in as caring a manner as the tough-skinned kunoichi could muster, as she and Kankuro approached his desk.
"Nothing." Gaara plainly replied, before turning his head down to face the pile of papers that had him presently occupied; anything to keep his mind off the ultimatum he had just been given.
"So they're at it again huh?" Kankuro sighed heavily; of course he understood where Gaara's head was; there weren't very many things that could make the intimidating red head look so troubled, and he and Kankuro had often talked about the subject lately.
"Hai." Gaara nodded; hoping that would be enough for them to drop the subject and leave him alone; he really didn't feel like thinking about it any long than was necessary.
Never one to back down, Temari took a seat in front of him. "Well, what did they say this time?"
"They have set a deadline." Gaara offered; figuring it would be less time consuming to just answer her and hope she would leave it at that. Of course, he should have anticipated it would not be that easy to be rid of his overbearing older sister with a simple sentence.
"How long?" Temari persisted.
"End of the month." Gaara continued sorting through the papers in front of him; trying to conduct himself in a manner that would express that he had no interest in the matter.
"Jeeze." Kankuro looked down at him sympathetically. "That's tough."
"Hn." Gaara sighed; as if he had not already been well aware of that fact…
Meanwhile, in Konoha
"Yay!" Ino cheerfully jumped up and down; unconcerned about the many odd looks she was receiving from the surrounding tables.
"Calm down Ino." Sakura looked around nervously.
"Aren't you all excited?" Ino continued bouncing up and down merrily. "It's a festival!" she exclaimed.
"Yes we know this!" Sakura apologetically smiled at the many stern faces staring back at their table, from the crowded restaurant where the four kunoichi had agreed to meet up for lunch.
"Naaaah!" Ino childishly stuck her tongue out at the surrounding tables. "Spoil sports!"
Just because the rest of the villagers were bitter old hags and grumpy old men didn't mean she couldn't be happy; at least that was Ino's view on the way things were. She had as much right to be happy and cheerful as she wanted to be, and if other people got annoyed with her happiness, that was THEIR problem, not hers!
"Ino!" Sakura scolded. "People are staring." Her pink-haired best friend self-consciously looked around the sizable room.
"How many times do I have to tell you Forehead?" Ino protested. "You shouldn't care what anyone else thinks!"
"That's not it, Ino-Pig!" Sakura angrily shouted; irritated by the nickname that Ino had bestowed on her long ago. "But they have a right to a peaceful meal too you know!"
"Fine!" Ino sat down at the table; satisfied that at least her outburst had brought out a little of her best friend's true face.
She hated it that the pink-haired medic still had moments of insecurity. Sure, every girl did form time to time, but Sakura was still constantly being plagued by teenage insecurities, and they were already eighteen; adults! Furthermore, as far as Ino was concerned, Sakura was amazing now. She was Tsunade's top apprentice; had climbed to one of the highest position in the medical unit (at such a young age no less). She had a ton of guys vying for her attention; though why she had settled for just plain old Naruto was a question Ino could still not understand… and yet still, Sakura allowed herself to be intimidated by others; Ino just couldn't comprehend it…
"Anyway, why are you so excited? You've known about the festival for months now." Sakura asked.
"Oh, well yeah." Ino cheerfully smiled; forgetting her earlier irritation. "It's just that I was so busy helping with the preparations, I completely forgot about what a festival is all about!"
"Celebrating the five year mark of the Konoha-Suna alliance?" Tenten hesitantly offered from across the table the four girls were sitting at.
"No." Ino shook her head.
"Five days off of missions and paperwork?" Hinata suggested; quietly sitting next to the bun-haired kunoichi.
"No." Ino firmly shook her head.
"Music, food, entertainment?" Sakura offered.
"Of course not!" Ino again shook her head.
"Then what?" Tenten asked.
"Boys!" a wide smile covered Ino's beautiful face.
"Of course." Sakura rolled her eyes.
"We should have guessed." Tenten's drone tone echoed that of the pink-haired medic.
"What do you mean?" Hinata timidly asked the blond.
"Come on, think about it!" Ino explained. "What better romantic setting for a perfect date!"
"A festival?" Tenten looked at the blond skeptically; of course Ino had expect that from the weapons mistress.
"No, she's got a point!" Sakura replied; agreeing with Ino.
"That's true." Hinata nodded. "The perfect ambiance."
"So you two are buying into this?" Tenten questioned the two other girls.
"Yeah." Sakura and Hinata nodded.
"Come one Tenten!" Ino looked at the bun-haired kunoichi readily. "Don't tell us you're not planning on going to the festival."
"As a matter of fact…" Tenten began.
"HAH!" Ino gasped. "Please don't tell us Neji hasn't asked you!"
"What?" Tenten scoffed. "Of course not! Neji would never ask me to go to a festival with him." Ino could hear a slight whimper in the kunoichi's voice that she tried to conceal by pausing. "Besides, we're just friends." Tenten paused again. "That sort of thing is more for couples. Like Sakura and Naruto, and Hinata and Kiba."
An awkward pause stilled the small table for a while. It was a well known fact among the three other girls that Tenten had an enormous crush on her white-eyed teammate. And though Ino had never heard her deny it, Tenten had yet to acknowledge the fact, or even address it amongst the others. Still, Ino could tell how much her friend loved the Hyuga prodigy; and that it hurt her deeply to feel as if she meant nothing to him outside of training and missions. Yes, they were friends; and if anyone were to ask, Ino could truthfully say that Neji held Tenten to the highest esteem; but whether he felt anything in the slight bit romantic toward her… that was a question no one seemed to know the answer to.
"Who are you going with anyway?" Tenten broke the silence. "Last I heard, you broke up with your 'significant other' a week ago."
"Oh, yeah." Ino brushed off the statement as if it were an irritating bug. "We just weren't compatible." Of course, that was true of pretty much all the guys she always dated.
"So you're going by yourself?" Sakura compassionately looked over toward her.
"Don't feel sorry for me!" Ino exclaimed. "Of course not! I'm going with Sai!"
"Sai?" compassion was quickly replaced with doubt and shock; though that hardly surprised the bubbly blond.
"Yup." Ino smiled widely. "I asked him this morning and he agreed to go with me."
"For the whole festival?" Hinata curiously asked.
"Mhm." Ino nodded. She had been chasing after the ANBU member from quite some time; Ino was happy to finally say she was making real progress with the socially inept boy.
"You do know he's gay right?" Sakura questioned.
"That's just a rumor!" Ino replied; though even she had reservations about that piece of gossip, especially when he had disregarded her prior attempts at seducing him; but no more! "Besides, even if he is, who could resist all this?" Ino waved her hands in front of her face smugly.
"Well, at least no one will ever accuse her of being unsure of herself." Tenten mumbled under her breath before bringing her lips down to the straw of her soft drink.
"Girls!" Ino pounded her fist on the table. "Our mission is to get Tenten the prefect date for the festival!"
"What?!" Soda came spitting out of her mouth as Tenten jumped to her feet in surprise.
A/N: I'm not sure how well this worked out… I kind of wanted it to all just be in Gaara's POV, but then, I realized it's not possible, since there's no way for him to be in all the scenes, and of course I can't just ignore Neji and Tenten's sides of the story too… so… first scene was obviously Gaara's POV, second scene was Ino's… I've never written in either of their voices (well Gaara's in the crack drabble set in NIS, but never in Ino's). I admit, I tend to pick on Ino a lot… so I'm throwing her a bone in this fic… and I'm going to make her an awesome chick that I can finally say I actually like… I'm determined that by the end of this story, I will have a new found respect for the girl!... yup… that's my plan and I'm sticking to it!...
REVIEW! Please and thank you. XD