Itachi shrugged at her, still smirking.

"Are you not afraid of me?" He asked quietly, eyes burning into her own. She smirked back.

"Oh, I'm far beyond afraid. I'm terrified." He traced a pale finger along her jaw-line.

"Really? You have an odd way of showing it." He continued, letting his finger ghost her mouth. She shrugged a little.

"Fear is a challenge, and I never back down." She answered in an equally low voice, leaving her lips slightly parted. Itachi let his finger sweep along her lips, nearly entering them.

"Is that so." He whispered, leaning in over her. She felt her knees go weak.

"I... Yes." His smirk got wider.

"I didn't shower yet. Come." He turned away from her, still not letting his towel fall down. "If you dare." Tenten started to pull her sweater off, and Itachi turned around to throw her a glance. "You are not very feminine." He stated, as she pulled her t-shirt off. Tenten shrugged.

"Wish I could say the same." Itachi froze, and then opened the glass-door to the shower. Tenten grinned to herself. It was just too easy sometimes. Then she heard the water starting to run, and quickly pulled her hair out of her buns, letting it hang down her back. And so, the show was getting started...

---

Neji woke up early that morning, like all other mornings. He didn't sleep in. Ever. No Hyuugas did. The fact that he had slept at all that night surprised him. He gave a mental shrug. Staying awake would not bring Tenten back. Unfortunately.

He got out of his bed and quickly dressed, then went out of his room and into the long corridor towards the kitchen. Everything was quiet. Everything was always quiet at the Hyuuga mansion. Everything was always the same. But Neji was not. He had lost a friend, and was not allowed to go look for her. He cursed inwardly for the thousandth time. It wasn't right. None of all of this was. Why was she gone? Damn Akatsuki. And damned h-

"Neji?" He heard a soft voice behind him. He hadn't heard her come in; he'd been so caught up in his own thoughts. Off guard. Damn it.

"Yes?" He answered coolly, not turning around. Hinata. The chakra told him so, even if the voice sounded strangely different.

"Here." He turned his head slightly, and accepted the cup of tea from the hand stretched out towards him. Tea. How could people think of tea in a time like this?

"Thank you." He answered politely, taking a sip. Then he realized that if he thought of anything than his tea at the moment he would probably go insane. He relaxed a little, and felt calm sweep over him as the tea poured down his throat. Hinata had probably known about it. He often saw her drink tea when she was worried. He'd never understood why until now. "I needed it." He said with a slightly softer tone to his voice, sitting down by the table. But Hinata was quiet as ever.

---

Tenten stepped into the shower and closed the glass-door behind her. She had a fluffy, white towel wrapped around her, just big enough to cover her. Akatsuki had fluffy towels. Who'd have thought? Itachi looked at her, towel still around his waist. Tenten smiled at him.

"So?" She asked, moving up close to him. Itachi ran a hand through her hair.

"It's long." He said simply, closing the space between them. Tenten turned her face towards his.

"As is yours." She said, not moving. She couldn't if she'd even wanted to. It was like he'd jinxed her.

"Hm..." He hummed, reaching for something behind her, and very soon, pleasantly warm water started cascading over them. Tenten closed her eyes, enjoying every second of it. Then she opened her eyes again, and found him looking at her. Pitch black eyes. Beautiful. Terrifying. She really hadn't lied about that part.

He leaned in and kissed her, a few drops of water slipping in through their lips. He tasted so strange. Then, he was, so it suited him just fine. Tenten closed her eyes again. His eyes were too intense for her right now.

She felt him untie her wet towel, letting it fall to the floor. His kisses reminded her a lot of Hidans somehow, just as soft, and still, not quite the same. Perhaps all Akatsuki were badasses, but as far as she knew, they might as well be pussies in bed. At least they kissed like it. Hopeless men.

She felt his hands travel down her sides and back, up over her wet hair and down towards her back again. His hands were really smooth for being a killer machine. She'd expected them to be much rougher. Perhaps he used hand-cream? Now wouldn't that be a laugh. Why was she thinking of that in a situation like this anyways? Oh yeah, she thought. He's touching me.

He moved her backwards, pinning her gently against the wall. She felt a second towel drop, and the flow of the water got weaker, though it was still there. Then he was there, skin to skin against her. She could feel his hard member pressed to her thigh, and opened her eyes to look up at him. He was smirking down at her, moving in even closer, kissing her neck, grazing his teeth against her skin. Did he know the effect he was having on her? She figured, him being who he was, that yes, probably so.

"Tenten..." He hummed against her neck. "I take back what I said earlier." Tenten ran a hand through his hair, nodding slightly to herself.

"So do I..." She breathed, feeling him move down towards her chest. She felt him smirk against her skin, but he said no more.

---

Neji decided on taking a walk. After all, the weather was beautiful, he had all the time in the world, and he needed to think a little. Okay, so he needed to think a lot. How would all of this end? Would Tenten come back, and when, and if she did, what would he say to her? He strongly doubted things would be the same again, he wasn't that naive. Things had started to crumble between them even before they left. He knew it was his own fault. One could not be best friends and fuck on missions and expect things to be the same afterwards. Though he had. Or at least wished that they would be. Were they still best friends? Were they even friends anymore?

He was getting a serious headache.

Neji looked up at the sky. He knew what he needed to do. Just be friends with her, if she'd have him. He loved her, but he wasn't in love with her. Not anymore, if he ever had been. And it felt terrible, for reasons he'd rather not admit. Then his thoughts were broken by the sound of walking in front of him, or rather, towards him. His heart jumped a little, and he couldn't help but to hope for just a second, that perhaps it was Tenten coming home? But it wasn't. Instead it was...

"Kazekage-Sama?" Neji said, overtaken by surprise. The red-head in front of him nodded back at him.

"Neji-San." He said with his deep voice. "I have just received messages from my scouts, and they know not where she is yet. The Akatsuki HQ has been deserted, as we thought." And all of a sudden, Nejis chest felt a thousand times heavier. Stupid spark of hope...

"I see. Thank you Gaara-Sama." He said with a small bow. Gaara studied him for a few moments, before looking away.

"I will see to that she gets home. You need not worry Neji-san." Neji turned his gaze to the sky again. A perfect blue. The skies were mocking him. The world was mocking him. Stupid world.

"I never doubted that, Kazekage-Sama." He answered, voice low. Gaara turned his head to look at him again.

"You know, you can just call me Gaara." He said, trying not to sound strange. Neji looked at him, but Gaara continued speaking. "And I mean it. We will get her home. No matter the voodoo involved. After you all saving me, it's really the least I can do." He kept his eyes on Neji, who just sighed in response. Gaara shook his head at him. "You of all people should know that she will be fine." He took a step closer to the Hyuuga. Neji stared blankly in front of him.

"I know. It's not that." He looked up at the sky again. "It's personal." He stated simply, not offensively. Gaara nodded.

"I see." Gaara said, understanding far too well what Neji meant. Then he heard Neji sigh again, rubbing his temples.

"Walk with me please, uh, Gaara." Gaara looked at him. He looked just as broken as the Kazekage felt, though the signs were small. And it hurt him to see Neji like this.

"Do you remember when we had to go and save Shino?" Neji said finally, keeping his eyes straight ahead of him. Gaara nodded, and Neji continued: "Well, you know how Kiba came to realize, well, you know." Gaara just nodded again. Why was Neji talking about this? "Well, I have done it all wrong." Neji said, glancing at the sky. Gaara was holding his breath unconsciously.

"What do you mean?" He asked, glancing at the trees around them. Neji shrugged slightly.

"Well... See, I've come to realize I'm not in love with Tenten anymore. I mean, I love her, but not in the same way anymore. I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm even talking to you about this. I'm sorry I just..." He stopped walking. "I'm sorry." Gaara stopped and looked at him.

"Don't be." He said in a voice that sounded strange to himself. "I've heard much stranger things. Believe it." Neji looked at him sadly. "You can talk to me." Neji just shrugged again.

"Well then. I need to talk to someone." He sighed, rubbing his temples. "Tenten and I have been sleeping together for a couple of months, and I thought I was in love with her, but deep down inside I know I never was. I just needed an excuse to sleep with her. Though, as I said, I really do love her." Gaara looked strangely at him.

"You needed an excuse?" He asked before he could stop himself. Neji looked up at him, smiling even more sadly.

"Yes. So that I could prove to myself that I wasn't, well..." He looked away. "You know..." Neji got a bitter expression on his face. "Gay." Gaara gasped.

"Gay?" Neji looked up at him again.

"Yes. And I hurt Tenten because of it. I've been so selfish I can hardly believe it myself. I hurt her, what if she's staying away because of me? I think I'd kill myself." Neji started rubbing his temples frantically. "It's my entire fault. One of the few people I really care for." He stared down at the ground. "And now I'm telling you. Brilliant. I'm sorry..." Gaara just sighed and went over to Neji, laying a hand on his shoulder.

"It's fine, really." Neji looked up at him.

"I guess nothing surprises you then." Neji muttered bitterly. Gaara shrugged.

"I've seen it before."

---

Tenten ran a brush through her long hair. Deidaras brush. A normal brush without any jutsu cast over it or hidden stiletto or senbon or anything. Just a brush. For some reason she could not quite explain Tenten found this fact very amusing.

She'd missed lunch because of Itachi, though really, it was a fact she didn't care too much about. Now it was soon dinner. She smirked to herself when she thought of how, hm, fast time went around here. Then there came a knock on the door, someone opened it, and Deidaras head popped up from behind the door.

"Hn, Tenten-chan." He started. Tenten couldn't help but to notice a special glow about him. "Dinner's done." He smiled at her, and she smiled back.

"'Kay." She answered, getting up from her chair. Deidaras eyes widened as he saw her step properly into the light in the hallway out of her dimly lit room. She was wearing a blood-red Kimono with silver cranes and black sun feathers on it.

"Tenten-chan…" He started, but was interrupted by a high-pitched shriek from behind him.

"Tenten-chan! You look beautiful! Deidara-sempai, does this mean Tenten-chan is staying?!" Said blond gave Tenten a questioning look, and she nodded, smiling at him.

"I am."