Standard disclaimers apply.


By Cassandra's Destiny


For many years, there was nothing about autumn that irked her more than having to rake leaves off of the front yard day in, day out – until the Hokage summoned her that morning.

Tenten walked along the busy streets of Konoha, and it was hard not to notice the leaves changing colors, and the villagers enjoying the crisp wind that carried the promise of winter snow. But, with at least a dozen envelopes in hand, she was consciously oblivious to the wonder that was autumn.

Autumn was supposed to represent change, and Tenten liked change. She embraces change; just not too much change, or not this kind of change, at least.

Exactly a year ago, she, together with Lee and Neji, was second string for the ANBU. This was not because they lacked the abilities or skills, but because they were too young to enter a squad that promises such a short life expectancy for its members. She was willing to wait a year or two, she thought, for if something was as good as this, it was worth the wait.

The change she was hoping for this year was that she will finally be granted the privilege of wearing one of those animal masks that will symbolize her entry into the elite squad.

She wanted to wear a mask, damn it. Not a veil.

Two blocks and a string of curses later, she found herself standing in front of the Hyuuga compound. Taking a deep breath, she marched head on through the opened gates, with the intention of stopping for nothing or no one, saved for her ex-teammate.

She put a lot of thought into the matter, and, all things considered, letting him be the first to know would be best. He was her first love after all.

Her first and only, actually.

She never told him the feelings she has kept all bottled up since their genin days. It would have been awkward, out of place, and definitely embarrassing. But was that really how she felt when Lee told her she spilled her feelings in her sleep?

"I said... what?"

The entire day yesterday, she was dead weight on their camp site. Lee suspected she caught the flu, and it was just unfortunate that she came down with the fever before they got back to Konoha from their mission.

"Tenten, you were sleep talking..." Lee answered, nodding his head a bit as he allowed his voice to trail off. "You didn't say anything too intimate, so don't worry."

Her eyes widened. "You were waiting for something intimate?" She punched his arm with enough force to get her message across. Hyuuga Neji finding out her deepest darkest secret – her feeling for him – was not a laughing matter.

"He didn't laugh or get angry, if that's what you're thinking."

"Then how did he react?" The bigger question was, how did she want him to have reacted?

"Well, Neji was Neji," he began, sensing the confusion in Tenten's stiffed figure. There she was, standing in front of him the morning after she confessed her love for the team's resident genius, in her sleep, nonetheless. Had he been in her position, he was not certain if it were better this way, that at least he was able to get it off his chest, or if keeping his mouth closed all his life would have been a better option. "He stood up and left."

"...he left?"

In an attempt to save her from the heartache, he replied: "Not before reminding me to give you your medicine in an hour!"

She cringed at the memory. In her defense, she was asleep and running a high fever. However, there was no such cold comfort for the embarrassment she felt soon after.

"Whatever," she told herself. "I'm getting married anyway."

If she had made a fool out of herself in that sleep talking slip two months ago, or if she will make a fool out of herself in ten seconds or less, it did not matter anymore. Neji will be the first to know of her marriage agreement, announced to her by the Fifth herself, that was complete with a wedding gown and embellished invitations.


He did not bother looking up from his reading to know who his visitor was. With his back to her, she dawdled to the seat opposite his.

"He stood up and left," Lee's words rang in her ear. Her first and only love confession, and that was all he could do? After that night, the two of them did not speak of her slip. In a way, a part of her was happy he didn't dig deeper because it saved her from further embarrassment. However, the other part of her was disappointed at his reaction, or lack thereof. Not only was she back to square one, but it was also a sign, a non-action screaming he didn't feel the same way.

She took a seat, sliding a small envelope on his desk. "For you."

His eyes went over the envelope before looking at her face. "What is it?"

"It's an invitation." This was it. If he does not react, if his face does not screw up, if the typical Hyuuga cold exterior does not falter even for a moment, it was a sign to abandon all hope. There was no change happening in this man, not even for the season.

"An invitation to what?" His tone was passive, and without the slightest hint of anxiety or care. "If this is for Naruto's attempt at hosting a party, I already said–"

"It's for my wedding." Over the many years they have been working together, she has not made it a habit to interrupt him when he's speaking. However, if he only intended to rub it off in her face that he doesn't love her the way she loves him, there was no reason for her to stay any longer. "I'm getting married."

No answer. He did not even furrow his brows.

"I found out this morning, actually. Tsunade told me about it." When his eyes did not shift to her from his reading, she took it as a sign to continue. "She says since I have no family to deliver the news for me, she took the liberty of doing so. Apparently, all the wedding arrangements have been taken care of, down to the very last detail. I don't know much of it, though."

A pregnant pause followed, and it was only broken when she thought out loud: "I can't believe I'm getting married."

"To whom?"

Tenten's lips formed a thin line. She put a lot of thought into the whole ordeal, but she definitely forgot to check that one detail.

"Some bastard who thinks he can get whatever he wants," she faked the arrogance. Neji will not be witness to her oversight.

"Some lucky bastard, I suppose..." he trailed off, and Tenten was caught by surprise. Was that the sign she was waiting for?

"Well, good luck to you on your marriage with that bastard then." He stood up and prepared to leave, but not before slipping a small envelope on Tenten's hands.

"And see you at the wedding."

After gazing at his disappearing form, she looked down to the envelope in her hands. Oddly enough, it looked like the one she handed him a while ago, and as she opened it, she could only bite her bottom lip.

She was getting married... to a bastard named Hyuuga Neji.