..Time Of Dying..

.: By: Panda-chan :.

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: Standard Disclaimer Applies :

- Dedicated to: Shikyo No Amatsu Shinsei-

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... Story 2 ...

... Neji ...

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I will not die...

I will survive...!

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Mission

A perfectly rounded fingernail swerved over the top of a wine glass, the liquid inside rippling as the desk shook with the steady tapping of her foot. "I see that many of you have come for an opportunity to take this mission." The woman spoke with a serious tone; the regretful ting in her voice showing through.

The men and women inside the room simply stared at the her, there faces' wiped of emotion. The woman sighed and grabbed the glass's thin mid-section, tipping it over her plump lips and letting the red substance drain down her throat.

She slammed the glass down, "Now then, I shall begin the elimination process." She shouted commandingly. The solemn ninjas' inside the room made no urge to move or speak. The golden-blond let an amused smirk dawn on her face.

"I see many familiar faces here, but only three of you will be able to go on this mission. That means that—twenty of you will be dismissed from attending this special mission." She spoke smoothly at the ninja inside the room. Tsunade wasn't dumb. She knew that half of the ninja inside the room didn't have the courage or skills to take on this mission.

Thus, she retorted to pointing out the gravity of the situation they were naively setting themselves up to. "Now then, we shall begin!"

Tsunade went around her desk and up to the open window, with a quick glance to the city outside, she turned back to the men inside. "This mission is an Un-ranked mission. The most dangerous type of missions' we have." She explained. "So dangerous, that this would, most likely, be compared as a suicide mission." Her voice was steely as her eyes scanning the faces' in the room; seeing who was not going to be doing the mission.

Tsunade was pleased by the many faces' that looked slightly nervous. "Those of you who do not wish to participate in this mission, may leave." She said quietly, touching the wine glass again. Out of twenty-three, six left the room. There foot steps slowly growing distant as the clock ticked by.

The middle-aged woman sighed, "Alright then. This mission, like all missions, has a survival rate." She closed her eyes as she said the next sentence, "And I have calculated the percentage of survival. As a rough estimate, your survival rate will rank between... eight percent and twelve percent."

Many faces inside the room paled, there eyes widening to an extent that will be considered as bewilderment. But no one dared speak a word, in fear that they would be upsetting the Hokage by doing so. "Again... those of you who do not wish to participate in this mission may leave." Seven left the room, now there were only males left, an exception from the one female who stood defiantly by the door.

Ten left huh? I'm surprised that there are so many left by now... Tsunade took a breath. "This mission is to take place in the most dangerous part of the Fire Country. Sound. If the mission doesn't kill you, the people living in there sure will." She said in a low voice, her eyes staring down most of the people who looked unsure.

Four left the room.

Six left. Heh... Tsunade calmly picked up her wine glass again, putting it high above her head and rotating the glass slowly; staring at the small pinch of red liquid that dwelled inside. "This mission... is also a 'one-take' mission as I call it." Many faces inside the room scrunched into confusion, some staying as they are; knowing what the nickname ment already.

Tsunade sighed, "That means, even if you do complete the mission successfully. You will be either to injured to continue your ninja career, or someone else will eliminate you. There is a small, two to five percent chance that you will come back with grave injuries... but will still be able to carry on your ninja duties."

The woman shifted her eyes to the small group of people, "Those who do not wish to participate in this mission.. may leave." Three left the room. Tsunade let out a small, huff-like laugh and stood up straight; eyes staring approvingly at the three who were left.

"Good." She breathed. "I am pleased by the fact that this mission will be completed by three extraordinary ninjas." Tsunade praised. The woman took the scroll that was surrounded by unfinished paperwork and some small-sized Sake bottles.

"Now then! I shall commence the mission briefing!" She shouted at there perfectly composed faces. She stared at them with slight pity, a heavy sigh exiting her lips. "Oh, I just hope you guys know what you're getting yourselves into. Nara, Hyuuga, Aburame." Tsunade addressed before continuing.

I just honestly hope I'm not making a mistake...

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I will not die, I'll wait here for you

I feel alive, when you're besides me

I will not die, I'll wait here for you

In my time of dying...!

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Second-thoughts

The three men exited the room quickly, there faces' still masked with nothing. Shikamaru looked at his two teammate's, his coal black eyes serious. "Are you all sure you want to do this?" Shino said nothing, his face shadowed by the hood that lay overhead; hands stuffed deeply inside his over-sized trench coat.

"Yes." Neji said solidly, his face holding no doubt. Though his pose said he had no regrets, his inside's were churning with nervousness and insecurity. He knew that he could die. He knew that his whole ninja career could be thrown down the drain. He knew that he might not be able to... to see her again. But he had to take this mission. It would boast up his ninja rank and make him an ANBU Captain.

Then Hiashi would take off the Caged-Bird Seal and he would be free...

It was a big price for a small reward. But if he got the seal removed, then he wouldn't be bond by the Main Branch and he would be able to slip past the arranged marriage's that had been thrown at him during the last couple of years. The again, if he were to die.

There were no second chances.

Shikamaru nodded at the two men, "Fine. We'll meet at the front gate at twelve-midnight sharp. No exceptions." He stated firmly. Neji and Shino nodded, walking away from the lazy ninja and going there separate ways.

Neji kept his quick stride as he passed several stores, ignoring his admirers' loving gazes. A voice startled him, but not enough for it show through his face and calm pose. Neji didn't slow his pace as a panting Naruto came from behind him, a look of mild-worrisomeness passing his features.

"Neji!" He started. "I heard you accepted the mission..." Naruto said in a low voice. The man nodded, now knowing where the conversation was going to lead to.

"Yes." Naruto growled.

"Dammit Neji! Why the hell did you accept?! Fuckin' idiot!" He yelled at him as some of the bystander's stared at the two men with curiosity. "Well?!"

"Hn." Neji replied as he kept his steady pace, ignoring the hysterical blond beside him. Naruto growled yet again and grabbed his shoulder, yanking him to a stop. Neji slapped his hand away, an annoyed glint in his eyes.

"I had to do it for my own benefits." Neji said frostily. Naruto's azure eyes widened before he growled once more, a feral look in his eye.

"Are your benefits that important that you're willing to risk your life!?" By this time, they had reached the forest and were alone. Neji stopped and looked at Naruto with a cold, uncaring glare.

"Yes." Naruto gasped silently before continuing.

With his voice solemn, he said. "So important... that you're willing to die and leave Tenten?" Neji stared at him with passive eyes. He felt a sudden spike of remorse at the name of his secret love. He hadn't thought of that. If he left and never came back, would she be devastated by the news?

He doubt it.

She showed no sign of liking him back, aside from the extent that he was her best friend. He knew that. So she would be sad for a couple of days, wouldn't everyone?

Neji unsuccessfully convinced himself as Naruto stared at him, his eyes sparkling with hope. Neji smirked, masking his denial perfectly, "Yes."

Naruto's breath hitched a bit, his eyes darkening. "Fine then. If it's that important then I guess I could let you go and die!" He snarled out. Neji made no gestures that showed his annoyance or guilt.

"I didn't ask for your permission." He stated. "But, I'm glad you finally got it through your thick head." Neji shot coldly at him. He walked passed a shocked Naruto, going to his normal training ground before going home to pack for his mission.

"Neji..." Naruto said gravely. Neji stopped but didn't turn around. "Something tells me that I'm gonna regret telling you this but... do it for Tenten. She—She likes you." Naruto said nervously. "A lot."

The long-haired Hyuuga stayed bolted in place, not moving a muscles as he digested those words. The,suddenly, he felt foolish for even believing those words; even if it was for an instant. "Don't play with me Naruto." Neji said smoothly. "I'm doing this mission so I could get this curse seal removed." He revealed.

Naruto stayed quiet. "Oh, I see... but—but is it even worth it!?" He exclaimed with a sudden panic. "Once I become Hokage I could take it off for you! Can't you wait a couple of years?! I have the place! I just need to be twenty-five to take it!"

Neji stayed in place, his back to Naruto as the blond turned around to confront him once more. He wasn't going to give up that easily. He still had a chance to knock some sense into him. Naruto gazed hopefully at a stoic Neji.

"No. I can't wait. I will still be going on this mission, Naruto." He resumed his walk to the training grounds as Naruto stared at him with a blend of fear, worry and panic.

"Dammit Neji! Don't do something you're gonna regret! Tenten's gonna be devastated if she finds out you died! God dammit Neji, listen to me!" Naruto caught up him again, tugging on his specially made Hyuuga-robe.

The Hyuuga glared down at him, "Naruto." He growled in a warning tone. The man disregarded the warning and kept pestering him, trying to make him think twice before going.

"...A-And if you die! Not only will you loose everything! But Tenten—Tenten will go insane!" Naruto said using exaggerated hand gestures. Neji stared at him in mild-amusement.

Neji snickered once, "Naruto." The blond stopped. "I am going on that mission ,and nothing you could say can stop me." He stated somewhat smugly, his voice thick with seriousness. Naruto furrowed his brow's sullenly, feeling suddenly dejected.

Neji turned again and continued to the training field, but not before saying: "Naruto. I suggest you don't comment about this conversation to Tenten. If I find out you told her, there will be hell to pay." He threatened.

Naruto looked up sadly, "But how can you beat me shitless if you're practically already dead?" Neji's pose went rigid for a instant before going back to neutral.

"Don't be foolish." Neji sneered, his mind and body suddenly to overwhelmed by the thoughts he was thinking. The sudden emotions of uncharacteristic fear and apprehension took over his once positive thoughts. He didn't know if he could even carry outthe mission. Tenten was still completing her A-classes mission. She was suppose to come back to the next day.

But he wouldn't be there with her the next day, because he would be out in Sound; trying to survive and complete an almost impossible mission.

Am I really making the correct choice?, Neji thought as he rested on a tree. Naruto had long since left, leaving only his foot prints and echoing words. The Hyuuga male sighed aggravatingly and jumped onto a tree branch, perching himself on it.

Of course I am! This is what I have wanted for over ten years..., The man wiped a bead of sweat that trailed down his temple, But... why does it seem like I'm making the wrong decision?

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On the ground I lay

Motionless in pain

I can see my life flashing before my eyes...!

Did I fall asleep...?

Is this all a dream...?

Wake me up..! I'm living a nightmare...

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Mistake

Neji had a triumphant smirk on his face as they made there way back to Konoha. They had completed the mission; sucessfully. Though they were severely low on chakra and had some pretty nasty bruises, maybe a fractured bone or two, they managed to narrowly escape all of the criminals that had tried to attack them through out the long days.

He felt like nothing was going to go wrong. Everything was fine. That was a mistake. A life or death mistake. He shouldn't have left his guard down even the tiniest bit. He shouldn't have left his thoughts drift to a certain kunoichi. He shouldn't have even thought they were out of danger.

But he did, and that was a mistake he would surely pay.

"It's to quiet." Shino commented. Both of the other men nodded in agreement. It was to quiet. It was to easy. Something was wrong.

"This is way to easy." Shikamaru said, troubled. "Stop." They all stopped on-top of the wide branch, the heavy rain still falling over them in slivers of green and gray. Shino brought his hand up to his face, the small insect that sat there talking to him, and grunted.

"We're being followed." In that instant. All hell broke loose.

Shikamaru gasped and jumped up, the branch they were standing on splintering in two. He narrowed his eyes, why didn't he sense them before?! How could they all not have sensed the four people that were skulking in the shadows before!?

He opened is mouth in panic, "Hyuuga! Shino! Duck!" He shouted as he ran down the sleek tree, foot slipping and sliding as he tried to fend off the enemy that was trying to slash him with a kunai. Shino crossed his arms across his chest as a daring man punched him repeatedly. Shino could narrowly see the grin that stretched on his face.

"Well, well! Lookie here! Konoha Ninja!" The man snarled as he kicked, punched and kneed Shino, who would always replace himself or fight back. "Just what I was looking for!" The bulky man screamed before sending Shino into the slushy ground.

"Hyuuga!" Shino shouted as he preformed a jutsu, his bugs swarming all over the man. Shino smirked, wiping the dirt and blood that dripped down his cheek as his bugs they slowly devoured him whole.

"Hai!" Neji shouted back as he activated his Byakugan. Catching momentum, the Hyuuga crouched and slammed his chakra infused palms into the two men that were attacking him. "Jyuuken!!"

He swiveled and hammered his palm into the mans stomach, the rouge ninja could only gasp in surprise as the kunai dropped from his hand and he fell to the water-drenched floor. More men came after the long-haired Hyuuga, seeing him as more of a threat then the two other ninja.

One of them escaped Neji's site and punched him on the temple, Neji could only smirk as an out burst of chakra blew them away harshly. The prodigy ran after them, taking out the Kantana Tenten had given him for his sixteenth birthday. He quickly killed the men in two swift moves.

But Neji saw it was futile. No matter how many of them they killed, more came in place. They had to think of something. Fast.

"Dammit!" Shikamaru screamed. "SEPARATE!" He yelled as he disappeared, ten ninja following after him. Neji vaguely saw Shino disappear using his bugs. He had to go. Now.

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Splash

Neji's foot sunk in a puddle of murky water as he panted, his arm tucked under his arm pit in pain. The mission was going perfectly. Shikamaru had devised a clever plan to go around all of the dangerous area's of Sound. But something had gone awry in that seemingly perfect plan and it turned out to be a bloody massacre of pure survival.

During the time, Shikamaru had said to separate. Now Neji had to regroup with his two lost teammates. Being Shikamaru, he had thought of a Plan B before they had gone that way. If they were to, somehow, become separated, they would regroup by the tallest tree in they could find in Sound in exactly four hours.

Neji coughed, splotches of blood setting inside his now-muddy sleeve. He wiped his sleeve over his mouth and kept running; ice-cold rain pounding down at him mercilessly.

They had chosen a very wrong day to go to Sound. From what he knew, it was rainy season there and the rain wouldn't lighten until, his best guess, the next day around noon.

Neji stopped and quickly activated his Byakugan, knowing that the enemies that lurked within the shadow's felt the spike of chakra. He smirked when he found the tallest tree. Running towards it, Neji kept his Byakugan turned on, searching the area throughly before going there.

Neji halted abruptly. His eye's wide; heart pounding in his ears. Shikamaru was there, he could vaguely see the man's spiked pony tail through the dense rain. Neji swore and deactivated his Byakugan for it was worthless.

The Byakugan had a dire weakness. It couldn't see though repetitive objects. For example, rain. It fell in layers. That meant that Neji could only see through about five or six layers before they fell to the ground; new layers taking over the old ones. It was difficult for him to concentrate on one specific object because the rain would obscure it to the point where it was like seeing through a fogged window.

Neji silently jumped up a tree branch, crouching low so he could get a better view of the Nara. It looked like he was struggling to take off something. The Hyuuga had no idea, until a speak of sky blue caught his eye. He was tied up. Not with normal rope, no. If it was normal rope, then he would have ripped it off ages ago.

It was Chakra Reducing rope. It basically looked like a regular mop of rope, only it was made out of chakra, making it practically indestructible. The opponents chakra it was made from would evenly suck out the victims chakra everytime the chakra vessels refuels, leaving the victim practically vulnerable. It took a very strong jutsu to even make it work against an ANBU ranked ninja. That gave Neji the idea that he wasn't dealing with regular rouge ninjas.

"Shit." Neji swore as he backed up slightly. He froze. Cold panic prickling up and down his shivering body.

"Lookin' for someone?" A deep and humor-filled voice spoke mockingly at the shocked Hyuuga. How he didn't sense him before-hand was beyond him. The man was obviously very good at controlling chakra; more evidence that he was in deep trouble. In an instant, Neji felt a sharp pain in his head. That was when he noticed that the man had punched him and he was now hurdling toward the tree across from him.

Neji went through about three tree's before the fourth one stopped him, but not before smashing the middle of the tree in, cracking it almost in half. Neji sat there with his head inclined to his chest, his breath erratic; arms limp at his sides. The stinging pain he felt on his back and head was worse then the hit itself, but he managed to supress it as he tried to move.

"A-A-Ahh..." He grunted as he tried to move. He couldn't. His body was weak from overexertion. He had been fighting non-stop for more then six days already, including the spar he had with Sasuke before he left. Neji gathered up his remaining strength.

In a flash, he was gone and running through the forest in wild panic. Through the corner of his eye, he could see the man that had attacked him quickly gain speed and slash his chain at Neji. He gasped as the chain wrapped around his neck tightly, the sickle embedding itself deeply in his shoulder.

In a last minute attempt to save his own life, Neji bent his hand to the side, curling it like a tigers paw and expelling chakra through his palm, only he had to slam his chakra-infused fist through his own arm so it could reach the man. The man froze and then screamed, the large waves of chakra passing through one of his vital points.

Neji put his hand under the chain and pulled it, grutning loudly as the sickle yanked off a small chunk of flesh. Neji quickly got into his Hakke Rokujuyon Sho pose and slammed his palms into the mans body repeatively, making him shiver in pain as Neji struck into his body.

Neji felt as if his left arm was torn off, as well as his other arm; he had expelled a hefty amount of chakra out of his palms.

"F-Fuck..." He gasped out before falling on his right knee. Neji panted, left eye closed in pain as he stood and ran back to a annoyed Shikamaru, who's hands were still bonded. The Nara's eyes went big as he felt Neji's presence close by.

"No! Run away! Run away!" He shouted at the Hyuuga. "It's a trap!!" But it was to late. By the time Neji had heard the Nara's heeds for cover, over sixty ninjas were tackling him down...

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On this bed I lay

Loosing everything

I can see my life passing me by...!

Was it all to much..!?

Or just not enough..?!

Wake me up..! I'm living a nightmare...

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Aftermath

Crimson liquid trickled down the side of his lip, his chest rising up and down unevenly, his body was covered in slashes and bruises; clothes almost ripped to shreds, various bones broken or cracked.

"Neji!" Called out a hoarse voice. "Wake up! Neji! Dammit..." The Hyuuga slowly opened his eyes, his head pounding fiercely. He slowly turned his head to the sound of his comrades voice. Nara Shikamaru sat by the tree trunk, his wounds all bandaged slopply.

Neji felt his breath come out in heavy pants. He stared at a distressed Shikamaru, he could see the various splay of emotions in his eyes. Fear. Pain. And worst of all, remorse. But for what? For almost getting killed? For unknowingly crippling themselves beyond recognition?

For what?

"We-We're safe." Shikamaru pointed out roughly. "The Sound ninjas; they're gone now. It was all a genjutsu created by an Akatsuki trainee." Neji narrows his milk-white eyes at the name.

"How could that be...? If he was a trainee, why...?" He leaves off. "I should have sensed it long-ago." Shikamaru sighed. And, much to his dismay, when he touched his pocket, the pack of cigarettes were to soaked to be lite. Neji tired to sit up, but let out a strangled cry when he did.

Shikamaru let out a puff air that resembled a chuckle. "You're to gravely injured. I managed to dispel the genjutsu before you actually died, though." The man rested his head on the ruff bark before continuing. "Shino's dead."

Neji felt his blood run cold. "...What...?"

Shikamaru's face indifferent facade crumbled, his features showing despair. "You got ambushed by a group of ninjas, and.. Shino—he undid the binds around my hands and went after you... he used all of his chakra to try and kill all of the Sound ninjas." Shikamaru closed his eyes as Neji's lips parted in disbelief. "By the time I found out it was all genjutsu... Shino dropped his guard for an instant and he..."

Neji made no movement as he shifted his eyes back to the ceiling. "He what Shikamaru...?" Neji didn't need to know the next piece of information for all of the days events came crashing into him. The way he felt himself slowly drift in and out of reality, the way he felt someone grab and steady him, the way he heard a loud, pain-filled scream before his world became black.

The Nara opened his eyes, they were strangely blank. "He got a sword lodged inside his stomach. It ripped all the way through. The the Sound ninja took it again and—and finished him off." Shikamaru finished with a strong, yet weak voice; lips thinned.

He had never, not after all those years of leading a missions, lost someone. This was a big shock for him when he saw Shino's tattered body land on the ground with a loud and dreadful thump. His ripped and bloodied body was unnaturally still. Shikamaru didn't need to see if he was dead, he knew the instant the ninja tore his sword through his stomach.

Neji stared at the ceiling a bit longer before speaking again, "Where are we...?" Shikamaru shifted his eyes to him sluggishly.

"By the outskirts of Konoha. It's been six days since we left." Neji nodded stiffly. "We're lucky that we made it to Sound in exactly ten hours, it usually took one day to get there. We carried out the mission though... I sent the scroll by air to the Hokage when we separated." The coal orbed man informed.

Neji clenched his jaw and sat up abruptly, ceasing the loud grunt before it could be voiced. He scooted back and bumped into another tree, where he rested there, waiting for the pain to subside before moving again. "How long have I been asleep?"

The man looked up at the Hyuuga, "About one whole day. My estimate is that it's about—five in the evening right now. I carried you back though, I only made it to the border before I stopped and passed out from exhaustion." Neji nodded at the new information.

That meant that it was about one or two in the morning when they were ambushed. And then the fight... he assumed it didn't last long. They were way low on chakra, meaning that they were as weak as newly-assembled genin's.

"Let's go." Neji demanded. He slowly stood up, catching a glimpse of the shadow manipulator while at it. From his visual analysis, he looked to be gravely injured also. A broken bone here and there, some internal bleeding perhaps.

The man looked up at Neji, a small smirk on his face, "Let's go...?"

"Yeah..." And they left, accumulating the left-over chakra they had to run down the rocky path before seeing an an ambush of greenery.

This mission turned out be one of the most challenging I've ever been on... Not only did we loose a teammate, but I could've died... Could've died huh?. How fortunate I am...

Or am I?

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I will not die, I'll wait here for your

I feel alive, when you're besides me

I will not die, I'll wait here for you

In my time of dying...!

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Reacquainted

Shikamaru stared at the scene that befell him. He saw there pictures. An alter. Almost all of Konoha bowing there heads down in dismay; some with white flowers others with non. From the corner of his eye, he could see Neji frown in disapproval.

He could relate. It didn't feel very good when almost all, if not all, of Konoha was there for a funeral that wasn't needed. He stepped forward when he felt Neji move towards the crowd people.

He heard a rather loud wail, it sounded familiar; his heart clenched at the scene he saw. Ino. His teammate. In tears. Sobbing as if her life depended on it. Her eyes were blood shot and her hair was in disarray, to his surprise. She looked as if she hadn't a wink of sleep in days.

"Shikamaru!" She screamed in a tone that made Shikamaru very uncomfortable. He felt his eyes narrow at her compulsive sobbing and yelling of his name. He didn't know that his death would affect her so much... he had always though that she didn't care about him as much as she cared about Sasuke.

It made him green with jealously but he simply ignored it. Insulting her when she began her rants on how Sasuke was so 'fine' or 'sexy'. But now... he could care less about all of that. He just wanted to comfort her, somehow.

"You troublesome woman." The man drawled out. Everything seemed to still and all eyes came onto them. "Look at you, you're a mess! I thought you were suppose to look pretty for Sasuke." Ino stared at him with glossy eyes.

"Sh-Shika... maru...?" The man nodded, an amused twinkle in his eyes. Then, in an instant, she was latched onto him, crying once more.

"S-SHIKA-KUN!!" The man fell over, wincing as Ino squeezed the life out of him. Shikamaru groaned as her body pressed onto his hurting stomach. He wanted her off, not because he didn't want her on him, but because the pain he was feeling was immense.

"T-Troublesome woman! Let go of me! Oww!" He felt a smile dawn on his face dispite the pain as many people greeted him and started to cheer. He felt Sakura come over to him and detach a joyful Ino.

"I-Ino! Get off of him! I have to heal him! I think he's in pain!" The rosette said, giggling. Ino shook her head and kept her possessive pose.

"NO! NO, NO, NO!" Ino screamed out, her voice muffled by Shikamaru's torn and bloodied shirt.

He sighed, "Troublesome woman..." Then, his smile appeared again. "Heh, who knew you would have grown so attached to me." Ino made no move of hurting him more then he already was, she simply hugged him tighter.

"Yes!"

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Neji ignored the joyful scene that lay behind him and searched the crowd. Not seeing the person he was looking for, he looked up into the tree's and smirked. He saw the branch vibrate, meaning someone had recently jumped off it.

Neji limped slowly into the dense forest, searching for the person he wanted to see very much. And there he found her. At the bottom of the steep hill he and she would sometimes sit in after a long and tiring training session.

He frowned and felt his heart lurch suddenly. He blinked and lowered an eyebrow in genuine confusion. He wasn't familiar with the new emotion he was feeling. But... that didn't mean he didn't like it. Neji went down the hill, almost slipping and falling while he was at it.

He looked up, hearing soft crying. As he neared the woman, he saw her small frame tremble, her shoulder's hunched in a position he was mildly familiar with. She was in that position also when she got the news that Lee had been interned in the hospital after he got back from an A-Class mission.

He found she was crying, but not as hard as she was right now. Neji limped over to her, but stopped abruptly when a loud wail came out of her mouth. He saw her slap both hands over her mouth.

His heart suddenly gave another clench. She looked so.. fragile. Like she was about to break and shatter into a million pieces any second now. Neji didn't like it. Not at all. He quickly came up with the conclusion that maybe he liked his teammate... more then a teammate should like a teammate.

He placed a hand on her shoulder, then another on her other shivering shoulder. Neji winced but managed to bring her into his chest as he embraced her. He felt her tense at the sudden contact.

"Tenten..." He gasped slightly as the girl turned to him abruptly. He clenched his jaw at her disheveled form. He caught a glimpse of her black streaked face before she jumped on him, grinning as he shouted his name.

"N-NEJI!" He took note of her appearance and sudden emotions. Her voice was so hoarse and broken.

He smiled a bit, "I'm here Tenten, calm down." He spoke in a steel-like voice. He didn't know what to do really. Hug her back? Whisper some comforting words? Suddenly, he regretted not taking those lessons Kakashi was going to give them on 'How To Understand Women'.

"S-Shut up..." His train of thought broke as he strained to hear what she was saying. "You ha-have no r-right t-to sp-spea-eak!" Neji felt a chuckle escape his throat. Even in tears, she still acted strong around him. Another trait he greatly admired from the kunoichi.

He decided to lighten up the mood. "Hn. The great Tenten. "He muttered, "Reduced to tears? That's not the woman I knew a while back." He could feel a smile stretch on her face as he spoke those words. Suddenly, a piercing pain penetrated his stomach as he toppled over in pain. It took him a moment to see that Tenten, the woman he had recently found he loved, had punched him mercilessly.

Well... He thought with immense pain. Where there's love there's pain... I just thought it wouldn't be this type of pain. The man looked up at Tenten and got a good look at her. She was wearing black eyeliner, which surprised him that she would even touch make up, let alone put it on her. And she was dressed in formal funeral attire.

His eyes drifted to her face, which was contorted into fury. "SHUT UP!" Neji winced at her loud voice. "Don't you dare ever do that to me you egotistic bastard! If I find out that—that went on another mission like that! I'll rip your pride and glory out of your mouth asshole." Neji felt a smirk tug on his face.

Tenten only swore when she was very pissed... but she also swore when she was very relived. "There we go." Neji cleared his congested throat. "Now that's the Tenten I came to love." Neji, inwardly, panicked. He slipped. Again. She wasn't suppose to know that. Maybe she would take it as a joke. He wished to God she would. The again, he wished she didn't so he didn't have to come up with some cliche way to confess.

The ranting girl stopped and looked at him, "Huh?" Neji thinned his lips but squinted an eyes when Tenten's hardened eyes seemed to lighten; she couldn't ignore the sentence Neji had said he presumed.

He smiled. Then stood up straight and wiped his face of emotion. "I can't lie." He stared as Tenten's features resembled confusion. "I got pretty bored waiting around with no one." Then Neji did the boldest thing he had ever done in his life, aside from the mission he had recently came back from and the day he made fun of Hiashi in a inteligent way. He bent down and connected his mouth with hers.

If he was lucky, she wouldn't push him away and slap him. If he wasn't, he sure as hell would never live that little event down. But, luckily, he slowly felt her respond back. And soon, Neji took the liberty of letting his tongue slide into her mouth.

He was finally back. And he was going to keep note to never take a mission like that one unless its absolutely necessary. He was also going to, from now on, tell his teammate and maybe newly-acquired lover, every mission he's going on.

Just the thought of having her in distress like she was a couple of minutes ago made him shiver.

Neji felt the kiss get more heated when he heard a moan rise from her throat. With a sudden feral growl, he wanted to hear more of those moans.

He stopped the kiss and thats when he noticed how badly he needed air. He felt her rest her forehead over his own, which was uncovered since he lost his head-band somewhere in Sound, along with his kunai pouch and part of his Hyuuga robe.

Neji felt his eyes shift onto Tenten's calm face. He stared at her. His eyes memorizing every crease, every curve. She opened her eyes and Neji saw her once dull hazel eyes, bright with joy.

She smiled and hugged him again. He stiffened, thinking that after what he did, she would be mad. But he relaxed soon enough and wrapped his arms around her waist rather awkwardly as she shouted:

"Welcome back! Neji!"

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I will not die, I'll wait here for you

I feel alive, when you're besides me

I will not die, I'll wait here for you...

In my time of dying...

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I thank all of you who reviewed this story! I had a lot of fun writing it too! I hope that you all enjoyed reading this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it! I'm also sorry for the late update, but I got sick. So right now, I can't speak at all because my voice went out and, to be blunt, I feel like crap. I'll stop writing for about 2 days then keep going because my head is killin' me right now! T.T

R&R Please! It keeps me goin'!

Song: Time of Dying - Three Days Grace