A Little Rain Your Way

Yugao

Summary: She didn't get why it was always raining.

Author's Note: Yeah, so I actually wrote this while my Literature professor was giving a lecture on Hemingway's A Clean Well-Lighted Place (which, by the way, made no sense to me, so if any of you got it, swing by and send me a PM to explain it please?). It's Nejiten (my perennial boredom-buster) and originally written on a stenographer's notebook a day or two before my Math midterms, so don't expect Pulitzer-quality stuff xD

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.


"I don't get why it's always raining."

You don't look up from what you're doing. What are you doing, anyway? Your inattention, which shouldn't have surprised me, is caused by your rather exaggerated concern over a dull kunai. I roll my eyes. This is typical you, typical Hyuuga Neji. The sky is dark and overcast and torrents of rain fall all around us, but you still don't notice anyone but yourself.

Yes, definitely typical Neji.

I roll my eyes again and swivel my seat at the Ichiraku so I don't have to look at you, or the empty bowl of ramen on the counter. The rain is at least doubly more interesting than either of those.

Yeah, right, Tenten. Keep telling yourself that and maybe someday you'll believe it.

In my boredom I fall to the unerringly female habit of playing with my hair. I touch two fingers to either dark brown, loosely tied bun, and find that both ribbons threaten to fall away. I sigh as I take them down instead, with the intention of redoing them. My dark hair falls a little past my shoulders, and I slowly redo the pair of buns I am perennially wearing.

Your voice is almost drowned out in the sound of the storm. Almost. But you're the one speaking, and I listen, whether this choice is a conscious one or not. "What are you doing?" you ask, and I realize you have been watching me.

I tie the last ribbon onto my hair, denying the fact that I ever let it down. I smirk as I answer, "What does it look like I'm doing, genius?"

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

You look mildly surprised, if only for a split-second. I'm not usually this bitter, or this biting, towards you. But the rain puts me in a bad mood and I have no interest in playing your mind games today.

You look away, back to the kunai, before a flick of your wrist and a quick movement sends it back to your weapons pouch. I pretend not to notice – I won't give you any such satisfaction. You're showing off, and I know that it'll only agitate you more that I remain the same indifferent, distant person I have been the whole afternoon. Somehow annoying you puts meaning into my present.

For a moment the only sound is that of the pouring rain.

"You've been spending a lot of time with Inuzuka lately," you say finally.

Wait, what?

Inuzuka Kiba and I train together every so often, when Neji is away on missions and I can't quite handle Lee's antics. It was, and still is, Kiba's idea. He wants to work on his defense (his teammates, Hinata and Shino, help him develop his offense, and he says he's left wanting in the defense department), and I help him do just that.

So what's your deal, Hyuuga?

I shrug in reply and say, "We spar sometimes."

Your eyebrow goes up in that irritating show of skepticism. "We spar. All the time," you counter matter-of-factly, as if that's supposed to mean anything.

"What's this about, Neji?" I ask you, exasperation dripping from my voice.

You shrug, and say suddenly, "Don't get your hopes up – he's not really one for commitment."

What. The. Fuck.

My eyes only widen as you continue. "I don't understand why you like him anyway. He's loud, arrogant, not particularly bright, and he's not above taking advantage of people – while you'd probably let people walk all over you…"

Gee, thanks. And who steps on me and my poor little pride more than you do, Neji?

"… Because you'd do just about anything for anyone…"

Anyone? Hmm… no, not for anyone. Just for you.

"… And I don't like it."

"I don't like Kiba, Neji," I answer with a short laugh that sounded more sardonic than I would have preferred. I don't understand why he's doing this all of a sudden. Since when did he start caring about what happened to me? Since when did he start caring about anything at all? Thinking on my previous statement, I added, more as an afterthought than anything else, "Not in that way."

You don't seem like you're paying attention, and your next statement affirms that. "I'm just concerned for you, Tenten. Lately it's like you've been so distracted, like you can't concentrate."

And guess who's been distracting me, Neji?

Don't answer that, you might get it right.

I remain silent, and you take this as a cue to say, "Whatever it is… you're going to have to cut it out of you, throw it to the wind. You can't afford it, Tenten. It'll be your weakness."

I smile sadly as I stand up from where I was sitting. I cast my brown eyes out onto the pouring rain for a moment, and I feel your eyes on me. As always. Your calm, meticulous, exacting eyes are searching the casual step I take towards the rain, the tightness in my jaw, the slight down-turn of my lips, for any clue as to what I could be thinking. You want to read me as you have done for years.

I am not going to give you any such satisfaction.

I walk out into the rain, casually, and for a moment the feel of the ice-cold raindrops on my skin makes me shiver. The first step freezes me for a split second, but another split second later I am walking away from you, my hands in my pockets and my rain-drenched clothes stuck to my skin.

"Tenten, what are you doing?" you call out. I didn't expect this, but you run from your seat to where I am, your jacket lifted up above our heads. Any other day I would find this endearing, but right now I cannot manage even the slightest smile. You head me off so that we stand face to face. Your eyes are furious, your jaw heavy-set in that obstinate expression you wear when you let people know you won't be defeated.

This isn't a fight of the usual kind, Neji. You don't scare me.

Or at least I won't let you.

"You're right, Neji," I say, lifting my chin slightly, to match your stubborn expression. "I can't afford it. I can't let you be my weakness." The last line is unplanned but it comes easily out of my mouth as if I have been rehearsing it since this morning. Your jacket does little to shield either of us from the rain, but it does enough. At the moment, though, I prefer the rain.

You can say nothing; I know you're surprised. I step back and quickly turn so that I can leave; I do not want to hear what else you have to say, nor do I want to see another expression on your face. I move as quickly as I could, my own words echoing in my mind.

I can't afford it.

I can't let you be my weakness.

It's too bad you already are.

Author's Note: I know, it's messy – intentionally messy, because I wanted to show how conflicted Tenten was at this point. Any and all criticism is perfectly welcome. You know I love you!