the natural order of things
Hyuuga Neji had never believed that he would live to see this day.
After all, the thought of Hyuuga Hinata marrying Uzumaki Naruto, now a Rokudaime, was very, very surprising, and not in a good way. Although he didn't hold any grudges towards Naruto and his blond hair, this thought just never appeared before the day.
And now, walking down the aisle, was Hinata-sama, dressed in a very beautiful white kimono, her dark hair in a tight chignon, her lips red from the lipstick she was wearing. There was something clinging to the air around her, something that captivated him and everyone else. Her Hyuuga eyes shone of happiness, and on her lips was the widest smile he had ever seen, coming from her.
"Hinata looks so happy." A voice came from behind him, surprising him.
Neji turned around, not immediately recognizing the owner of the voice. "T-Tenten?" He coughed after a while, his eyes wide.
The woman in front of him was wearing a dark blue furisode, a white obi tied around her waist. Her hair was tied in her customary buns, as always, but there was just something about her that was different. She put her hands on her hip and chuckled, "Who did you think it was?"
He raised his eyebrows, quickly coming to terms. "You look different." He told her after a while, his speech smooth and was genuine in every way.
"Do I, now?" Tenten sounded amused.
"Yes." Neji nodded, sipping his cocktail, and it was the truth. She looked different. Beautiful, even, in a way he had never thought of before. He had always thought of her as beautiful, but this was a different kind of beautiful. Unfamiliar with his thoughts, he coughed and solemnly added, "I didn't think you'd come."
She chuckled again. "You know I wouldn't miss the wedding of our beloved Rokudaime." She said. There was no need to mention that the bride had also asked her to come personally, 'just in case' they would need her.
"Even if you have to wear a kimono first?"
"Hey! Neji, you—that's a very offensive thing to say to a lady." Tenten said, disapprovingly, and then turned around, muttering under her breath, "No wonder you're still single."
"What was that?" Neji asked, amusement dancing in his white eyes.
She turned back at him, an innocent smile blooming on her lips. "Nothing. I was just admiring the flowers." She said, gesturing to the pot of flowers beside her nonchalantly.
He stared at it distastefully. It was obviously a flower arrangement made by one of the Hyuuga elders; there was a trademark symbol on the pot, but it was obviously the most hideous flower arrangement he had ever seen. First of all, it broke one of the most important rules of flower arranging: it had around twenty colors, all clashing against each other and definitely making it bad-looking. Now, a lot of colors were good if they enhanced beauty, but when half the colors didn't match, it was best to forget about it and just stick to one gradation of colors. Secondly—
As Tenten gave a little poke on his arm, Neji immediately snapped into consciousness. "What?" He asked, bewilderedly.
"Hiashi-sama calls for you." She said, gesturing away from them.
He looked up, and sure it was, Hiashi-sama was standing right across them, doing the little Hyuuga wave. His face showed urgency, and Neji's stomach automatically lurched. Did something go wrong?
"I'll be right back." He said, and turned to look at her. There was a brief moment of silence until he added, albeit hesitantly, "Wait here."
A look of surprise flashed in Tenten's eyes, but she gave him a smile and nodded quietly, turning around to examine the colorful disarray of flowers as if it was the most interesting thing in the hall. It was, indeed, the most colorful thing, but definitely not the most interesting. She tilted her head and looked around the room, her fingers toying with the flowers absently. Hinata was standing up beside Naruto, her eyes shiny and her whole presence beaming with happiness. It was interesting to think that once, she was that shy girl who never quite knew what to say, and then now she was a woman, a bride, and the man she thought she could never be with and had dreams about, was in love with her.
Tenten knew it wasn't easy. She knew that Hinata's relationship with Naruto didn't come out that easily. She had silently watched both of them, her and Neji—him for the sake of his cousin, her because of her tireless curiosity. There were a lot of things Hinata had to do, a lot of things she sacrificed in order to talk to him, to catch his attention, or to simply look at him. It was a very pleasant thing to know that her dream had come true—and yet, it also made Tenten wonder what it was like, to have your biggest dream come true, to be so in love with someone that—
Her eyes focused once more. "Oh, you're back." She said, grinning her customary grin.
"Yes, and you ruined the flower arrangement." Neji replied, his eyes shifting to the flower arrangement in front of her.
She looked at the flowers in her hand, and let out a soft gasp. The leaves were sticking out, the tiny flowers held more focus than it needed be, and some petals had dropped onto the floor. "Oops." She looked up at him, and then offered a sheepish grin, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." He chuckled, extending a hand to touch the closest flower to him. "Let me fix it."
"Work your magic." She told him, stepping backwards to give him room.
"No, come forward." He insisted, "I don't need people knowing that I can arrange flowers."
"Why not?" Tenten sounded surprised, but she stepped forward anyway. "I think it's a really nice talent. I mean, most kunoichis don't even know the basics of it, and they are female!"
"Including you?" He challenged, his hands moving quickly through the flowers.
"You really should stop disregarding me." She glared at him, and at his hands. He was fast, a kunai already between his fingers. Snip, snip, snip, some more petals fell down, and she watched the wind carry them away slowly. "I am a woman, you know. One-hundred-percent-ly so."
"Oh, I know that." The Hyuuga prodigy glanced up at her, just quick enough to flash her a smirk, and then went back to work. "I was simply stating the truth, that, well, you can't exactly arrange flowers."
"What, are you suggesting that I should take a course on this?"
"Something like that." He shrugged. "It is necessary for Hyuugas to know their traditions like this, after all."
"What?" The weapons mistress looked bewildered. "Neji, you and I know very well that between the two of us, you are the only Hyuuga here. And you definitely know your tradition. There's no need to put the burden of learning about such traditions on me, thank you very much."
He chuckled again. "No, you're definitely not a Hyuuga." He said, pocketing his kunai, eyeing the flower arrangement. Yep, it looked way better now, with fewer colors and not too many leaves. Straightening up, he glanced at her top-to-toe, and smirked amusedly, "Not yet, anyway."
Tenten blushed, albeit disapprovingly. She turned around, refusing to look at him, and muttered, "Let's hope you're not thinking about strange things, Hyuuga Neji, because we both know that you are fully capable of doing so."
"Oh, I assure you I am not." He said from behind her, and she could almost hear the triumphant smirk in his voice. But as she whirled around, ready to snap at him, he already had his hand extended, his upper body lowered in a bow. "Would you care for a dance?"
"What on earth—" She stopped herself. Why not seize such an opportunity? Most girls would die to be in her place right now, and it was Hyuuga Neji asking her, not the other way around! Why not enjoy it why it lasted? Putting on a perfect, delicate smile on her lips, she bowed a little and placed her hand above his. Her next words came out smoothly and elegantly, just as how a woman would: "I would love to."
And just as she moved into his arms, they were already in sync.
"I swear, Neji, I would kill you if I can."
"Oh? And this, coming from a person—I'm sorry, a woman—who couldn't even walk on her own?"
Tenten glared at him, gripping his arm as tightly as she could. "You were doing it on purpose, weren't you?" She asked accusingly. Never mind the fact that he was doing her a favor by helping her walk home, she was never going to let Hyuuga Neji have it at her.
"Doing what?" His lips were pressed into a thin line, an obvious sign that he was really enjoying this. Enjoying torturing her.
"The dance. For three hours straight." She retorted. "You know very well that I couldn't dance and that my feet are killing me."
Neji looked surprised. "You didn't like dancing with me?"
"I didn't even know you could dance."
He shrugged at this. "It's a part of our tradition."
She rolled her eyes. "Obviously." Oh, Hyuugas and their traditions were just impossible.
"Seriously, though." The Hyuuga looked at her, his eyes intent, "You didn't enjoy it?"
"No. I did enjoy it." She answered truthfully, avoiding his eyes because something about this was just embarrassing. A momentary silence as she thought about her next words, and then she asked, "Why did you ask me, though? It was the opening dance, and you know how bad of a dancer I am." She looked up, a little hopeful.
"Hiashi-sama thought it would be appropriate for me to open the dance." Neji said, his voice almost impassive but not quite. His eyes met hers, and then, "And I wanted to dance with you, anyway."
Tenten's cheeks burned at this, and she had to turn away again to save her from the embarrassment. "How did I do?" She asked, breaking the comfortable silence.
He almost laughed. "You still have a long way to go before you can dance at the same level as I do."
She turned around, cheeks blazing again, but this time because of anger. "You conceited bastard."
"It is true, though."
"That's what you think."
"That's what I know." He corrected her.
She glared at him again. "Arrogant twit."
"A 'twit' that is apparently kind enough to want to walk you home, Tenten, considering the way you look after the dance."
The weapons mistress shook her head and clung even more forcefully to his arm, her other hand rising to touch her hair. One of her buns was tossed around carelessly, the other no longer in shape. Indeed, she must look like a complete mess, remembering how enthusiastically she danced before. Still, she didn't find what he said acceptable. "Are you mocking me?" She asked, "Calling me ugly? Because if you are, Hyuuga Neji, I swear I'm not going to let you get away w—"
All of a sudden he turned around, and their faces were so close, their noses almost touching. The smirk on his face was even clearer than it was before. "I'd never call you ugly, Tenten."
"Why?" She frowned. "Did you suddenly find me beautiful?" Sarcasm. Obviously, heavy sarcasm.
But he decided to take it this time, for once and for all. "Not suddenly." He said, shrugging nonchalantly. "Always had. Always will, if you keep it that way."
Tenten didn't reply as he helped her limp to her apartment. As soon as they were in front of her door, she turned around, and smiled. "This is the part where I say 'thank you for walking me home', isn't it?"
She grinned. "Thank you for walking me home, then."
"You're welcome." Neji replied, and as he looked at her face, he said, "I'll pick you up for breakfast tomorrow morning. Eight o'clock."
Tenten studied his face slowly, a smile threatening to cling to her lips any time now. "Are you asking me out?" She asked finally.
He smirked. "You can say that."
Her smile bloomed. "Then yes. Yes, of course."
Neji didn't say anything as he stepped forward and kissed her. The kiss was short and quick but gentle, and it was after that he touched her cheek very briefly, and then walked away without saying anything else.
That night, Tenten dreamed about cocktails, flowers and weddings.
notes: It's been too long since I last wrote NejiTen, so I'm not sure whether I still write them good, or not. I'm pretty sure that the characterization of the characters, Neji especially, is pretty off, so I'm sorry for that.