Title: The Terror and the Time

Fandom: Naruto

Pairing: Neji/Tenten/Lee

Rating: PG

Word Count: 508

Summary/Description: The woods are burning. There's a big blaze going on all around.

Warning/Spoilers: No spoilers.

A/N: Written for Ingrid for the 'write me this pairing in a dysfunctional way' meme. Summary is a quote from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Disclaimer: Insert witty denial of ownership here.


The forest is glittering and dark. Tenten cannot see her way out, coffined as she is in their arms; Lee's hands beneath her armpits, Neji cradling her legs. She watches the sky move past in patches through the dull green of the leaves above her while the blood soaks into her skin. The day is cloudy, but when the sun comes out, it burns.

Somehow, it is all too bright for her. Her eyes shutter close, and it is such a relief.

"No!" someone barks, and her eyes snap back open immediately. She feels fire behind her lids.

They have stopped moving. Her team-mates are looking down at her with terror mute in their eyes, and she realises that it was two voices that she heard, melded together as one.

"Do not close your eyes," Neji says, strengthening his hold on her legs. It should hurt, but her whole body is numb. She can barely even feel the blood running into her eyes. "You've lost a lot of blood, and you're losing more as we speak, and if you lose consciousness now…" His lips tighten as he trails off.

"We are going to get you to some place safe," Lee says before the silence can stretch too thin. He brushes her blood soaked bangs off of her forehead.

They look at her, all eyes and quiet desperation, and she nods as best as she can. It is hot and oppressive, and all she wants to do is rest. But then they are moving again, and Tenten sees spots.

Her lids feel heavy and droopy, and it does not help that the sun is slipping out from behind its cloud, bringing the light and the burn. She swallows; feels the blood grate down her throat. The sun shines down on the canopy of trees, and it looks like the leaves are on fire.

"You should not hold her legs so tightly," she hears Lee tell Neji a moment later. His voice is quiet and strained. She wants to tell him that she cannot feel Neji's grip at all, but her throat is sore and the sun slices at her like a knife of dawn.

"And a suitable alternative, of course, is to let her fall," comes the hollow reply, burning with implicit animosity.

"I was just—"

Tenten groans. She wants to tell them that it is alright, that she's afraid too, that they shouldn't fight… but it is all too much. The forest is glittering and dark; not dark enough. She wants to keep her eyes open like they said, but the sun is hurting her, and the darkness is so comforting when it comes. She groans again, and blood trickles out of the side of her mouth.

"Tenten!"

Again, their voices are as one, and she wonders if they notice and find it ironic. This time, the fear is written plainly on their faces, streaked with sweat and lit up with anxiety. The sun shines on. They call again, but their voices are fading in and out.