19-year-old Tenten walked out of the Hokage Tower, the paycheck from the mission she'd just completed in her pocket. It was her fourth mission this month, a long escort to the Grass Country, and she was tired. She stretched and started walking home, wondering if she would run into anyone on the way. Maybe I'll see one of those three…she thought, thinking of her three best friends: Sakura, Hinata, and Ino. Konoha had had a hectic few months, and as the top four kunoichi in the village, Tenten, Ino, Hinata, and Sakura were generally the Lady Hokage's top choices for missions. As a result, the four of them had been on missions virtually nonstop for months, barely spending any time in Konoha and not seeing each other due to overlaps.
Tenten turned a corner onto a busy street, full of shops and people. It felt good to be home, and she took her time, looking into each shop window. She stopped in front of one boutique, as something caught her eye.
It was a beautiful fan, cream silk with a beautiful design embroidered on it. Tenten realized it would look perfect with a dress she'd just bought. She walked closer to the window and looked at the price tag. She hesitated. It was pretty expensive, but not out of her range…plus she had just gotten paid…
"And it is your birthday next week," a voice said.
"Yeah…" Tenten unconsciously agreed, slowly nodding her head. Realization hit her, and she whipped around to see an amused-looking Ino leaning against the wall a few feet away from her. "Ino!" Tenten exclaimed, quickly hugging her friend. "Am I that readable?"
Ino just laughed and said, "Man, Tenny, a little spacey?" Tenten grinned and raised one shoulder in a half-shrug. Ino returned her smile and said, "It's so good to see you. I just got back from my mission…I seriously haven't been home for more than a day at a time for months. I missed you! I'm guessing you just got back from one, too?"
Tenten sighed as the two of them walked into the store. "Yeah, I just got back from what was probably the longest escort of my life." She carefully picked up the beautiful fan and carried it to the cashier.
Ino raised her eyebrows. "Isn't that, like, your third escort this month?"
"Yeah! I had to walk this annoying punk all the way to Grass, and he kept offering to teach me techniques and talking to me like I was a little girl. I think he thought I was a real amateur or something." She took out her wallet.
Ino snorted. "You should have brought your ANBU mask with you, and taught him a thing or two. I admire your patience."
Tenten laughed as she picked up the bag and walked out of the store. "Believe me, I almost ran out of it. I really wanted to kick his ass. But whatever, it's done. How'd your mission go? ...I mean the latest one. I know you've probably had about 30 lately."
Ino rolled her eyes and put her arms behind her head as they started down the street.
"Isn't that the truth. They were all pretty useless, too—escorts and stuff. The one I just got back from was pretty interesting, though—A-rank," she said.
"ANBU?" Tenten asked, as they stopped at a corner to wait for traffic.
"No, just normal."
"Was it an…" Tenten glanced at a little boy near them, and dragged her index finger across her throat to indicate execution.
"No, I just had to steal some information from some rich lord in the Tea Country," Ino replied.
Tenten let out a slow whistle. "You had to go all the way to the Tea Country on foot? That place is, like, on the other side of the world."
Ino smiled and shook her head as they crossed the street and started down the path that led out of downtown Konoha. "Yeah, but the journey was harder than the actual mission. The guy's security was a joke. I mean, it was just sad."
"The lord had 11 armed guards, but I was in and out of there in under three minutes and I didn't even touch any of my weapons," Ino said.
"Yeah, that's pretty bad, I guess…" Tenten said.
"It was broad daylight."
"What?! Okay, I take it back. That's just pathetic."
Ino laughed, and the two of them continued on in a comfortable silence. They were almost at Tenten's house when Ino spoke again.
"Hey, Tenny, I almost forgot."
"Yeah?" said Tenten, turning toward her.
"Sakura and Hinata just got back, too," Ino said.
"What?!" Tenten exclaimed. "We're all actually in Konoha at the same time? I'm dreaming."
"I know, that's exactly how I felt," Ino replied. "But all four of us are here, and we're free from missions for the first time in a long time. Unless you have one soon?"
"No, I don't. I think I'm actually done with missions for a month, Tsunade-sama probably realized she's overloading us. I mean, it's not like we can't handle the pressure, but not talking to your best friends for months can get…you know," said Tenten.
"Exactly. So I was thinking we could…don't laugh," Ino said as they stopped in front of Tenten's porch.
"Um…I can't promise that, but I'll try," Tenten said.
"I was thinking the four of us could have a sleepover. Just like we used to when we were younger," Ino said. Tenten's face lit up.
"That's a great idea, Ino! We haven't had one since we were…what, 13? It'll be awesome!" she shouted.
"I know, it's been forever. I know they're childish, but I don't care. I was thinking we could do it tomorrow night, how's that sound?" Ino asked.
"Yeah, tomorrow's good. Actually, we could have it at my house." Tenten offered.
Ino grinned. "Great, thanks. I'll call Saku and Hina, and tell them to come at…6:30, alright?"
Tenten nodded as she unlocked her door. "That's fine. By the way, thanks for helping me decide on this." She held up the bag with her fan in it.
Ino smiled. "No problem, Tenny. You know I can read you like a book. I could practically hear what you were thinking!"
Tenten laughed. "Well, I guess that's what happens when you're a mind jutsu master like yourself, Yamanaka-sama," she said, with a mock bow.
Ino smiled again. "No, that's what happens when you're friends with someone long enough." She winked and started walking away, before half-turning and calling, "See you tomorrow!" over her shoulder.
Tenten smiled as she pushed open her front door. Can't wait, she thought.