Chapter 8: Memories Besieged! Neji's Terror!
A/N: Haven't written fanfiction in a while, and didn't really want to get into writing serious stuff again. So here's more for ya!
Neji sighed as he stared towards the sky. It was the third day after the invasion had ended, and the Sandaime had died as a result of too much ninja boogieing with Orochimaru, although with his sacrifice he managed to seal the dance moves of the other nin. Nobody really mourned his death, though, as they knew he had died doing what he loved to do. Instead, they had a celebration of his life going on in the streets, as well as a dance tournament that Gaara had ended up winning in the end with his mad breaking moves.
In the distance, he saw Gai and Lee arriving. Usually, their presence alone would be enough to start his eye-twitch, but after seeing what he had during the third part of the Chuunin exams he had realized that he really had it easy. Two spandex demons from straight out of hell were better than four spandex demons from straight out of hell with one that looked exactly like him.
He shuddered uncontrollably as Gai and Lee landed next to him. Retaining his aura of 'more-destined-than-thou' snobbishness, he looked down his nose at the two. Lee gave a youthful 'Yosh', and Gai did his teeth-sparkle.
"My students!" cried Gai. "We are all here now then! Let us get on with our youthful training!"
Neji's eyebrow rose.
"Wait, what are you talking about?" asked Neji. "We aren't all here just yet. Have you forgotten about Tenten?"
This exclamation had a strange effect upon the youthful duo. Gai's face took on a confused expression and Lee looked at Neji strangely. The white-eyed youth couldn't help but feel as if something was wrong.
"Tenten?" asked Gai. "Who's that? Do you know, Lee?"
"I have not heard of that name before either, Gai-sensei."
Neji's jaw would've dropped had he been that kind of person, but he was much too cool for such reactions. Instead, his one eyebrows rose higher, almost vanishing underneath his hairline.
"Tenten? Girl with buns in her hair? Throws a lot of weapons and doesn't have much of a personality?" asked Neji, crossing his arms. Had the youthful duo become senile after spending too much of their youth too quickly? Goddamn it, they had him saying youth too. "The third person on our team? Hello?"
Gai shook his head.
"I think you're confused, Neji-kun."
"Yosh!" cried Rock Lee. "We have always been a two person team!"
Neji shook his head. What was going on here?
"What are you talking about?!" cried Neji as he screamed at the woman, the reception in the Konoha Office of Internal Affairs. "What do you mean you have no records of a Tenten in your database?! That can't be right! She's my third teammate, she throws a lot of weapons and was in the Chuunin exam! Check under Team Gai!"
"Look, I already have!" said the woman, shaking her head of blonde hair exasperated. "There is record of a Team Gai, but that's only a two-man team! It says here that the academy that year was short a member, so they had to make this arrangement! That's what the paper says!"
"That's impossible! Check the academy records!"
"This is the second time you told me to do that, and I did it already!" screamed the woman back at the white-eyed Hyuga prodigy. "Look! Here's Rock Lee, here's Hyuga Neji, but there's no Tenten of any kind, alright!? Leave me alone! She's probably just a figment of your imagination or something!"
However, there was doubt there.
"Oh yeah?! Well what's her surname then?!"
"You don't even know that?!" cried the woman. "Then get the hell out of my office! How do you expect me to find somebody who doesn't exist?!"
Hyuga Neji was run out of the doorway as a barrage of office supplies followed him on the way out. What the hell was going on in this town!?
"Naruto! Do you know where Tenten is?!"
"Temari, please tell me you know where Tenten is!"
"The person who you beat to advance into the third round!"
"What are you talking about? I was seeded during the preliminaries because there was a lack of people. I didn't get to fight a match during the preliminaries at all. You crazy, fate boy."
"Shikamaru... Do you know where Tenten is?"
"Does this have anything to do with my clouds?"
"Then kindly get the hell out of my face. You're blocking the view."
"Kurenai-sensei! Do you know where—AAHHHHHH!"
"GAAAAAAAAAAAH! Don't you know when to knock, Neji?!"
"Asuma-sensei?! What the hell are you doing here in Kurenai-sensei's...! Is that... is that whipped cream?! What the hell are you two deviants doing?! What... what's with the vacuum cleaner and the balloons?! How could you do that with a lightbulb?!"
"NEJI, GET OUT!"
"Fine, I don't want to be here anyway! Look, just one question before I go."
"What is it? Make it quick! We're busy here!"
"Do you have any bleach? I need to wash my eyes."
"Underneath the sink in the washroom, second bottle from the left. It's gray-coloured, and has a skull-and-crossbones on the front cover. You can't miss it."
"Thank you very much... Ah, yes, that's much better. I'll take my leave then."
"Neji? The door is a couple meters to your left."
"Thank you. My sight is a small price to pay to get rid of that image before it sank into the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind. Fate dictates that I should get out of here as fast as my little ninja legs can carry me."
Neji collapsed in the middle of the town, finally finished with running around. His breathing came out in gasps and puffs, as sweat rolled down his face. He blinked his eyes as his mind connected everything that he had collected from around the village, and put them all together.
What the hell was going on here?! It was as if Tenten had never existed. It was beyond strange, it was too weird... It was completely impossible!
What if... what if the problem wasn't with the rest of the world? What if the problem was with...
"Say, my good fellow. Are you having a spot of difficulty over there?" asked a well-mannered and cultured voice. "I'm a psychiatrist, you know. I have a PhD. Perhaps I can help you out a little."
Neji looked up, and the sight of Dr. Uzumaki met his eyes.
"So you say that you have been running around this entire day," recapped Dr. Uzumaki as he licked the nip on his pen. "Looking for a teammate of yours that may or may not exist. You can remember her, but nobody else can. There is no evidence that she has existed at all."
They were situated in his little clinic in downtown Konoha, he had moved here after realizing just how many people in this world were messed up in some way or the other. Being summoned by his alternate self, Dr. Uzumaki considered, had been a blessing in some ways, allowing him to use his full abilities to help a world that needed him. It had been rewarding so far.
"That sounds about right so far," agreed Neji as he sank into the recliner. "I don't know what to do, doctor. What's going on? Is there something wrong with me, or is there something wrong with the world?!"
"Calm down, Neji," said Dr. Uzumaki calmly. "I believe that you are simply suffering from the effects of too much stress."
"Yes, Neji, stress. You say that you have always remembered your team as being three people, when it was actually two this entire time," said Dr. Uzumaki, licking the nib on his pen once more and jotting down a few lines. "I believe... that this Tenten of yours is a figment of your imagination. Now, before you protest, consider this scenario. You, a young, normal man, has just been put on a team with two people you consider lunatics, and will be spending much of your time with them. You consider them both crazy, and cannot talk to them. Soon enough, you begin to want to vent your feelings, but you cannot. Thus, you create an imaginary being to converse with and create stability that your teammates cannot provide you with..."
Dr. Uzumaki crossed his fingers.
"...this Tenten of yours. Tell me. This Tenten... Is there anything about her that stands our whatsoever? Is there any particularly sharp image that comes to mind whenever you think about her?"
Neji thought about it.
"Well... no, not really. She's very plain, and I barely notice her sometimes. The only thing that I really notice about her is the fact that she uses a lot of long-range weaponry."
"Classic symptoms," said Dr. Uzumaki. "She is plain, and there is nothing special about her. She is simply... 'there'. You don't notice her unless you suddenly need her for something, as she never approaches you. There is nothing special, there is nothing different. She is simply another 'girl'. Her personality is a complete opposite to your companions, 'weird' compared with 'normal'. Even her weaponry is opposed to the weaponry of your teammates... 'long-ranged weapons' as opposed to 'close-ranged fists'. Consider this, Neji. Do you see my point?"
Neji nodded, slowly. Although he didn't want to believe it, it seemed as if the doctor had a point. Perhaps... Tenten really was a figment of his imagination, then? It seemed more and more likely the longer he thought about it.
"I... see, doctor. What do you recommend?"
"Take a break from your duties for a little while," said Dr. Uzumaki. "Lay back and relax in your home. Talk to your family, play some board games. Whatever you do, do not think of your teammate or sensei. If 'Tenten' appears again, simply ignore her or tell her to her face that she's a figment of your imagination. By doing something out of the ordinary, you can dispel your illusions."
Neji smiled. The doctor had some very good points. Of course, it was to be expected. The man was wearing white, after all, and everybody knew white was the colour of prodigies and the Gods.
"Thank you very much, doctor. I will take my leave now."
"Take a business card with you on the way out," said Dr. Uzumaki. "My assistant Haku will provide you with one if you require it. If any of your friends start acting strangely, please recommend them to me."
"I will. Thanks again for your help, doctor."
Dr. Uzumaki smiled as he watched another patient walk onto the path of recovery. It was good to see that his efforts were rewarded.
Tenten swore as she looked around, having returned from her long-term mission. People that should've known her walked by her in the streets, and all of her paperwork in Internal Affairs had been put through the shredder apparently by accident.
Konoha had forgotten about her. Again. This was the twenty-third time now.
'Generic, Expendable Ninja' was a horrible Bloodline Limit.