So, I've become a sucky updater with this Fic. XD Don't kill me. I'm sorry.

I counted the other day how many fics I'm working on that are active on this site: Eight.

Count 'em. Eight freaking stories. I wonder how I keep up with them. *rolls eyes*

Yes, that's my apology. I'm too tired to try this week. ;)

StrawberrySmoothie99: If you're DEFENDING YOURSELF???? :O That's terrible. Well, in Alabama, I can punch someone at school and they'll be like, "What the crap, dude?!" and not get (too) mad. French? You lucky you. :P

Jojo: Oh, sheesh. You really think so? *sour face* That's interesting. . . Thank you. :D

SnowCharms: TWIN DRAGONS ISN'T REAL!!!!!! Ha! The anime has deceived you, my friend. :)

mysterious-bluerose: TenTen is fourteen and Lee and Neji are thirteen. Neji's birthday is next. Joy. XD Thank you for your input, dearie.

e1nav57: I have low self confidence. XD Thank you though. Hehe. Mk, thanks!

FrozenDragon: In the manga and anime, there is an infamous picture of TenTen going "starry-eyed" at someone/something. People usually link it to a TenTen/Lee pairing. I . . . tried, is all I can say. Sorry if you don't like it. :( No! Don't hate Neji!!!!

Disclaimer: Ugh. It's getting to feel like summer here. . . 90 frickin' degrees. . . XD I don't own this.


29.

"TenTen!"

I flinched at the loud sound of Neji's voice, but did not cease my work.

"Open the door!" he yelled from the other side.

I grimaced and paused, looking at the front door thoughtfully.

"Open the damn door!" shouted Neji again, the anger in his voice unmistakable.

I faltered and put down the pliers.

My bare feet padded down the hall hollowly until I skidded in front of the door and twisted the knob.

Neji stood before me, livid.

"Hi there," I said in a small voice.

"What the hell took you so long?!" he snapped.

"Um. I was just going to skip training today. I'm working on something."

Neji pushed past me into my house, charging down the hall.

I sighed and shut the door.

"Come on in then," I murmured half-heartedly.

Neji had already disappeared into the depths of my small house, but I was sure he'd entered the living room, where I was doing my experiments.

I walked into the room, seeing Neji looking over my projects.

I examined him, my forehead wrinkling with a question.

"Did you get taller?" I asked him, confused.

Neji turned to look at me, appearing equally bemused.

"Uh. . . Sure?" he offered, unsure of how to answer.

I quirked my mouth into a pensive frown.

"What are you working on, exactly?" inquired Neji, stooping down to examine the objects a little more closely.

"Explosives," I answered, not a little proud.

Neji threw me a furtive glance over his shoulder before placing his full attention on the weapons and explosives in front of him.

I moved to stand beside him, peering over his shoulder.

Neji fingered some explosive notes and a spiked metal ball.

His worn hands strayed over boxes of black powder and welding utensils, along with various metals.

Scrolls were littered everywhere else, lying unattended but fresh with new seals.

I pulled a contorted face.

I really needed to start cleaning up after myself.

Finally, after a long while, Neji spoke.

"I'm not experienced with explosives."

"That's okay. I'm learning as I go, anyway."

Neji stood to full height, somehow looming over me.

I stared up at him, still at a loss to explain how he'd gotten so tall.

"Neji, did you experience a growth spurt? Because I swear you've gotten taller . . ."

He glanced down at me.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, TenTen," he replied, shaking his head.

I shrugged.

"Fine. But anyway, I wasn't going to go train today. I really want to complete this formula."

I pointed a finger to a page of formulas containing information and experiments with explosive powder and it's effectiveness.

Neji sighed grumpily.

"Do what you want," he responded, not pleased about it. "Do you need any help?"

"Actually. . ."


Neji wasn't a very good test subject.

He kept deflecting the attacks, not allowing me to hit him.

"Neji! For the fifth time, stop hitting it away!"

Neji glared at me.

"Surprisingly, it's really hard not to deflect an explosive flying right at you."

I stared at him and crossed my arms.

"Please try a little bit harder. I need to see if it works right."

Neji rolled his eyes but nodded once for me to go ahead.

I swung the mace a little, testing its weight once more.

I flicked my wrist and the metal ball hurtled toward Neji, its lethal spikes spinning excessively.

He was fine until about four seconds before the mace hit him.

Then he did his Hakkeshou Kaiten and the ball deflected, whizzing back to me.

"Shit!" I shouted, dropping to the ground flatly, covering my head with my hands.

Neji's shoes appeared in front of my face.

I looked up at him, my face drawn into anger.

"Sorry," he apologized meekly. "It's a reflex."

I sighed grumpily and sat up, my legs laid out in front of me.

I glanced over them, noting the multiple scrapes and the dirt surrounding them.

"Sorry," Neji said again.

I huffed out another breath and stuck out my hand for him to pull me up.

Neji obliged, effortlessly righting me to my feet.

He shortly walked over to where the mace had landed and picked it up gingerly.

"Maybe if you didn't use it on a human target," he suggested. "Unless you really want to blow me up."

I smiled.

"Nope. Well, not now, at least."

Neji smirked at me.

"But you should throw it at a tree or something."

He handed me the mace.

The chain I'd attached to it was a little rusty, not something I used for my expensive weapons.

"Fine. Stand back."

Neji obediently did so, moving out of range.

I swung the ball until it gained speed and enough momentum. Then, I let my hand slip from the chain and allowed it lunged towards a nearby group of trees.

I backed up, wary of an explosion.

The mace struck a wide tree, it's spikes lodging into the bark.

We waited for a good solid few minutes before deciding it was safe to encroach the spot in front of the tree.

Neji pulled the spiked ball out of the tree in one clean move and examined it.

He turned it over carefully in his hands and eventually whipped a kunai out of his pouch containing other kunai and shuriken.

It took him a moment to crack it open, but when he did, Neji pushed around some of the black powder inside, testing its durability.(1)

"Oh," he said, realizing something.

He pointed to the wires I'd connected to the paper bomb inside so it would ignite the powder.

"They became disconnected from the paper bomb."

I nodded, leaning over it along with him.

Neji successfully reattached the wires to the paper bomb, sticking the other end of the wires deep in the black powder.

Wide-eyed, I glimpsed Neji's face.

The last remnants of his grin had slipped from his face, his normal impassive face reappearing.

I quickly swatted the mace away and grabbed Neji's shirt sleeve, desperately tugging him to some sort of shelter.

"Oh, shit!" he exclaimed, comprehension finally dawning on him at what he'd done.

"Yeah," I scolded, running now.

Neji was at my heels, putting more distance between me and the bomb he'd created by accident.

I heard a rumble and ran faster, ducking behind a thick stump.

Neji dove on top of me, shielding me, pushing my head and body down further.

I waited, breathing hard, for my body to be blown into nonexistence while I burned alive at the ripe age of fourteen.

The sounds I received were muffled, due to Neji, but I detected more resonant grumbles, like how my stomach sounded at lunchtime.

I inhaled, the smell of smoke filling my nostrils.

Neji eventually sat back on his heels, releasing me from his protection.

I looked around to see charred remains of trees and limbs, some completely blown out of the ground.

"Well," started Neji ironically, "at least you know it works now."

I stood up just to kick him in the leg.

"You idiot!" I shouted, my hands on my hips in frustration. "You could've killed us!"

Neji exhaled a breath slowly.

"That's not completely fair," he began to argue. "You're the one who put so much black powder in there."

"But you're the one who ignorantly connected it to the paper bomb! You didn't think!"

Neji glared at me.

"Neither did you," he shot back. "Who in the world uses a live human subject to try it on?"

His quip made my throat burn in anger.

"I apologized, so there," Neji gritted his teeth, standing.

I crossed my arms and turned away from him, biting back a reply.

"TenTen, come on," murmured Neji seconds later, reaching out to me. "Let's go have Ichiraku or something. My treat."

My brow furrowed.

Since when did he offer to pay for anything?

I moved, making my way out of the clearing.

"I can pay for my own food, thanks," I called over my shoulder. "I won't be made your charity case."

"I never made you one," replied Neji faintly.

I wasn't sure what to make of that one.


(1) I don't know how to make explosives. Sorry if it's wrong. Which it is. It has to be. XD

This was mediocre at best. Man, I've gotta get out of this rut.

I'm thinking of spanning timelines. . . Seriously.

Well, enjoy the weather kids. :D

Have a nice Tuesday, tomorrow.

Review!