"Neji. Neji." A distant faminine voice whispered in the darkness of his consciousness. It pulled him from the deep slumber if not reluctantly. "Neji, wake up." TenTen demanded and suddenly his eyes snapped open with alertness. Her wide brown orbs shined down upon him, and she smirked softly. Neji darted his eyes this way and that finding himself at their training grounds. He was propped up against the base of a tree trunk. The sun rising just enough to paint the sky with beautiful pastel colors. "Sorry I'm late. I got held up with Gai and Lee. You know how they get."
He gaped at her, her brows knit gazing down at him. Confusion played on his forehead as he listened half-heartedly to her explanation. "It's fine." He forced out, dropping his gaze to the ground, bafflement only deepening within him.
Had none of it been real? Had it all been a lie? Yet he could recall her sleeping so deeply on that giant white bed, motionless and pale, unresponsive to all silent pleas and all the begging touches.
"Are you alright?"
The questioned lingered as the birds chirped greeting the sun and flew with the soft wind. Neji looked up to her again. Her hands were on her hips, her white long sleeve shirt and dull red pants new and unused.
She was standing there perfect and whole. Unharmed, vibrant and alive. "Bad dream." He reasoned finally in a soft distant voice.
Her hand reached out with a swift scent of vanilla that assaulted his senses. "Let's train."
He stared at the hand, the unsure feelings rising deep inside him. Fear was convincing him to stay still. Telling him if he touched her she would disappear like a setting sun. But he couldn't stop his rising hand and he watched it place itself in her palm. She wrapped her long nimble fingers around him. Neji's gaze widened, the iron grip slapping him with ice water as reality threw aside all irrational thoughts he still possessed.
She was here.
Numbly he got to his feet and her hand fell from his. "I'm not going to go easy on you." She warned playfully.
His response was automatic. "It's about time." She glared dangerously whipping out a large katana. Neji lowered himself in his normal stance, unable to stop his body. His mind continued to tell him something was different, that this wasn't real but everything was continuing on as if nothing bad had happened to either of them. He wanted this, more then anything. Even if it was a dream, he'll live in this world forever with her. He beckoned her to come and instantly she jumped in the air.
Their fighting was exactly the same. Her movements trained and hurried, practiced and honed. Neji watched even as he fought back, dodging her blades. His eyes never once left her face watching every thought that sparkled through the open doors that were her orbs. His movements only responded to whatever expression her gaze wore, never once noticing the shifting of her body.
Numerous times he found himself distracted, thinking how he should go about showing her how much he felt for her. And when these distraction became too obvious, TenTen would take the opportunity to punch him in the gut or kick him in the shoulder, laughing lightly while she did so.
He glared at her, spinning sharply to deflect her throwing knife back on herself but she only laughed harder when she dodged it.
By the time they finished, their chakra diminished to nothing and they were barely capable of standing much longer. Neji fell to his feet panting heavily, rubbing his bleeding cheek with the back of his hand. TenTen stood weakly on the branch a bit above him and smiled triumphantly, panting also. "What are you smiling for?" He bit bothered.
"I was a match today."
She laughed lightly at his discontent and dropped to the floor before him and fell back on her butt to rest against the tree. TenTen got out a small wipe and began her usually ministrations of shining her favorite blade. She ignored his gaze, however harsh it was and sighed. His brows knit at her expression, finding the hesitation disconsorting. She bit her lip, something she never did before, in her nervousness. "You haven't been practicing."
Neji's deep breath caught and his movements stilled as he stared down at her. She was mindless of it, her eyes to the sky to catch the first real glimpse of the sun that had risen greatly since they first started. Her hands continued working on the blade, a habit she needn't pay attention to any more. When she was done she set it aside, her eyes darting all around refusing to meet him. In her apprehension, she removed a few strands from her forehead and wiped the sweat from her brow then rubbed the dirt from her cheek.
Neji's heart beat so wildly in his ears he was sure she could hear it over the ten feet that separated them. He swallowed harshly, his hands barely shaking.
The quiet between them was bothering and it lasted for several minutes. TenTen looked to the trees and closed her eyes upon the sharp wail of the wind. "I'm tired, Neji. I want to go home." She whispered.
Her words shoved the harsh reality brightly in front of him, but he fought against it as a man too stubborn to give in to a dream. "You've never told me you were tired before. Why now?"
She shrugged with indifference. "Can I go home?"
"No." He instantly shot back.
She sighed and finally rested her chocolate eyes on him. "How long do you want me to stay?"
"Until you wake up."
Her gaze fell from his and TenTen picked at the grass with edgy intention. It was silent for a while until finally, "Will you sit with me?"
A simple request that forced his legs to move. He braced his back up against the small tree, resting down on the ground. She folded her legs into her chest, wrapping her arms around them to rest her chin down on her knees. Neji watched her intensely, finding every familiar feature of her lively face more vibrant and full, making it impossible for him to turn away. TenTen flickered her eyes over to him and she blushed, darting them quickly away. "Are you still mad at me?" She asked briefly allowing their eyes to connect.
She had heard everything. And it was a shock that took him a moment to respond to. "A little." He admitted.
She nodded, "Yeah…I was too for a long time. But I'm over it now. I was stupid. I should have listened-"
"It wasn't your fault." She snapped almost with anger in her tone but it faded quickly. "It wasn't." She reassured. Upon seeing the distress shine in her chocolate eyes, he nodded, allowing her to soothe his own blame.
More birds flew by as the sun rose higher but they felt none of the sun's heat while hiding in the shade of the tree. They watched squirrels and chipmunks scurry over the large training ground and it helped pass the silence. It was a welcome silence however.
Neji opened his mouth, "I-"
Her bright smile and blush stopped him. Her eyes for long moments refused to meet his but then finally she dared to catch his gaze. "I already know. I've known how you've felt for a long time. Probably before even you did." His brows knit, wondering how she found out. "You didn't react because you were scared." Neji glared at that and shook his head. She giggled nodding. "You didn't think I had any interest in you. That's why you were so shocked. But I did. Unfortunately. You are not an easy man to love, Neji."
She giggled, "I know I'm not an easy woman to love either." TenTen eyes drifted down to his hand that rested in the grass. Her hand dropped next to it, a finger rising almost as if to touch his skin but it fell before it could reach. "It would have been fun though, wouldn't it of?"
She was talking in past tense and it scared him too badly. Instantly he whispered, "Wake up, TenTen."
Tears blurred her vision and she violently shook her head, "Don't ask me to."
"I won't be me anymore." His brows knit and he wanted to question but she went on. "There was too much damage Neji." She wiped the tears fruitlessly as they continued to pour and sniffed. "Please. I'd do anything for you so please don't ask me to go back."
Neji got to his feet and took several steps away from her, fisting his hands at his side, not knowing what he was suppose to do or what he was suppose to say. He heard her stand and turned to her. She rubbed at her cheeks once more and faced him with a straightened spine. Slowly he walked back over standing in front of her. "It's not fair." He told her plainly.
"Won't you fight it at all?"
"What do you think I've been doing all this time? I have fought. But I'm tired-"
"Stop saying that."
"I'm sorry I'm weak-"
"You were never weak, damn it. You have always been a challenge for me. Fight a bit longer-"
"It won't help-"
"You don't know that."
She smiled and all the anger he felt up till now was released with the small upraise of her lips. TenTen stepped closer, her finger tips brushing away the blood that gathered on his cheek. "There's that stubbornness I've missed." He closed his eyes when she rested her palm against his flesh. Tears rose to her eyes and she whispered through her tightened throat, "You know I would stay if I could." She forced out and swallowed harshly, sniffing. "You know that right?"
It was reluctance that stalled him. If he answered like he should, then that meant he was giving her permission to leave. But he couldn't bring himself to say no. Hesitantly, he nodded against her and his jaw clenched in anger of himself and of the situation.
Her hand smoothed his jaw though, her fingers rubbing against it to untighten the rage that he felt. He basked in the attention, having not felt anything more soothing then that of her fingertips. "Do me a favor?" Neji opened his eyes. "Tell Sakura that what she did meant so much to me. She tried so hard and she took such good care of me."
Neji pushed himself forward, meeting her lips with blind ferocity. He felt her arms wrap around him, and he too pressed his hands on the back of her head, keeping her locked against his lips, allowing her to feel all the love and passion that he saved only for her. She trembled against his frame, and her fingers fisted in his hair. He tightened his hold, knowing that never again would he be able to feel her against him, or hear the way she said his name, or see those gorgeous eyes that shined only for him and he put all the kisses that would have been shared in their lifetime together into this one single moment.
When finally, they parted, they panted against each other, clutching each other as life lines as both their forms shook in the aftermath of their devastating kiss. Her tears were gone and her eyes shined so brilliantly as they gazed backed at him. Their foreheads touched, still breathing heavily. TenTen smiled softly but tears were now stinging her gaze and she blinked, "Live a good life, okay? Get married. Have kids. And maybe think about me from time to time. But live and don't waste a moment on any regret." He nodded, just to make her happy but he knew he would obey her because he loved her so much. "I have to go."
"Can't you stay?"
She shook her head. "I'm tired." He closed his eyes upon that sentence and when she went to pull away he yanked her back and kissed her again. But she somehow managed to slip away from and she shook her head. "It's too much," She admitted while tears poured from her eyes but she managed a smile, "I certainly missed out." She forced out a laugh but a sob soaked through it. She stepped back, out of reach. "Don't lack off in your training. I put in too much time on you for you to just throw it away." She smiled but it was fake. He stared back at her, taking a step forward a hand reaching out but she was already too far away even though she was right in front of him. The wind whispered to him, "Wake up, now Neji."
Neji snapped opened his eyes when the door slammed opened. Gai and Lee stood in the doorway panting, tears flowing down their eyes as they gazed at her. Neji swung his gaze to TenTen, a smile rested on her lips but she looked no different then all those hundred times before.
Except the heart monitor no longer beeped.
Neji stared down at the grave that resided his formal female teammate. The wind blew and he tucked a stray strand of black hair behind his ear. With his other hand he held tight to the gift that was wrapped in blue paper with a white ribbon. Slowly lowering to his knees he dug a small hole next to tomb and placed the box in it before swiftly covering it up with dirt again. It was his last gift for her. He wondered what her reaction would have been but it no longer hurt him knowing he'll never know. Too many years had past and had dulled the ache. He was thankfully for that. Living without her all these years had been enough torment.
Tons of fresh flowers decorated her tomb as they always did. He rolled his eyes in annoyance but was silently amazed that others still cared after all these years. He shouldn't be surprised, many had said great things about her at her funeral.
"I'm getting married." He got out suddenly, still on his knees before her large tomb, staring at her carved name. "And I won't be coming here anymore." He swallowed harshly and bowed his head in weak forgiveness. But a smile played on his lips. "She reminds me a bit of you." He looked up. "She stubborn and doesn't listen to a word I say." He chuckled a bit imagining TenTen cursing him wherever she was in the afterlife. He sobered quick enough, a hand reach out to grace the stone, his fingers running over her name. "And despite everything. I think I am happy. And that's your fault." Neji stood and bowed deeply for a moment. "You will always be first, TenTen. Always. But I am doing as I was instructed. Living as you told me. It took me several years to obey but I am doing it as I promised you I would. So this is my goodbye."
Neji faltered in his turn. He clenched his muscles tight and forced movement in his feet and finally took a step away. The step afterthat was not as hard and then from then on, it was just as easy as walking usually was. He straightened his back and felt a small uplift of his lips when he felt the wind blow harder against his back, to help him move further and further.
Thank you for reading. And I hope you didn't cry too much! I know I did while writing it lol.