8. Love

It had been an hour since Neji and Lee had finished sparring. Gai's protégé had once again lost and deemed Neji a worthy opponent and now he must go and make himself stronger with the power of YOUTH! or something with the same effect.

In other words, Tenten and Neji were alone again.

Neji turned to face her, looking over his shoulder in a way that made Tenten wish she had a camera on hand. "Would you like to spar?"

Tenten sighed. "Sure, Neji. Just let me get ready." There had been a lot of close calls and a lot of embarrassing situations involving her…infatuation with Neji's perfection, but she had managed to crawl herself out of it. Ever since she had admitted to herself that she sort of liked Hyuuga Neji, she accepted it, told herself it would never happen, allowed herself to enjoy little moments then reminded herself again that it just wouldn't fucking happen.

But a girl can dream, right?

As Tenten tucked her weapons to her person, she recalled their teacher's lecture about falling in love back in the academy.

He had described it as something destructive, something crippling and something that cannot be applied to life if one wanted to become a ninja. Such 'luxuries' should be better left to those mindless civilians. She had been a child and absorbed his words like sacred mantra.

Tenten secured a scroll on her back. She allowed herself a smile. She hadn't been a very good girl. She had done some very sinful things in her life, and she had told herself that what the heck, she might as well do another. At least love was something that pushed her to try harder, to try again and again and again, if only just to keep up with the man she loved and be able to at least be someone he needed, someone he wanted beside him, even platonically.

"Ready?" Neji called our, ready to mold into his stance at her signal.


And the fight began.


Neji's style was beautiful yet brutal.

Tenten could already feel the bruises before he even hit her and she winced as he made a solid blow on her right shoulder.

Twisting and flipping her body upside-down, she almost managed to kick his chin but Neji pulled away at the last second and retreated back to the ground as she flitted among the branches.

He gave her a mocking smirk as he hopped over a branch and caught her by her wrist, his other hand pressing deeply on a chakra point just above his earlier hit.

Tenten hissed.

Catching a higher branch, she leaned and then pushed herself away and unto Neji. He received her full weight and they began to fall to the ground.


Tenten's heart stopped as she felt Neji's arms surround her and then a moment later, they were back on the grass and he was backing away and setting her on her feet.

"That was a stupid thing to do." He scolded and the slight euphoria Tenten felt from the body contact easily vanished, replaced by self-righteous anger.


"That was foolish." Neji repeated for her benefit. He withdrew his arms from her person and crossed them over his chest. "What if it had been a real fight?"

"But it wasn't a real fight."

"You could've been killed." Neji pressed.

"That's just ridiculous, Neji."

"Is it?"

Tenten seethed, knowing she had lost. "Fine. I apologize. Is that enough?"

"No." Tenten's head snapped up at the snobbish reply.

"What???" she found herself saying again.

"An apology isn't enough." He said it as if he was talking to an academy kid. "We're adding three hours to our training."

Three fucking hours???

"Oh no, we don't. Nuh-uh." Tenten shook her head vehemently. "I'm already spending eighty percent of every non-mission day on training. I'm not cutting out any more time on my goddamn sleep."

"You should've taught of that before making foolish counterattacks."

"For Pete's sake, Hyuuga Neji!!!"


"It's still a no."

"As far as I'm concerned, you have no say in the matter."

"What???" Seriously, this is becoming a habit.

"I've had enough of repeating myself, Tenten."

Asshole. "Hyuuga Neji." Tenten pulled an exasperated hand over her face as she tried to reason with him. Her look came between murderous and pleading. Neji almost asked how she managed it. "You DO fucking know that I am a girl, right?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

If there was something positive about Neji, he wasn't sexist like half the shinobi population. But sometimes, she really just wanted to hit him. Tenten continued. "Being the only girl sorted out in the same team as training-obsessed" she spat out the word. "men doesn't really do well for a girl's mental state. Wonders for physical and emotional though, I think."

Tenten stopped mid-rant when she realized she had been going nowhere with her explanation. Neji didn't even seem close to understanding her point. He hasn't moved a single millimeter. All thoughts of needing at least five hours of sleep flew out the window when she realized just how attractive he looked when he was giving her his undivided attention.

Neji blinked at the sudden look she was giving him. "What is it, Tenten?"

He looked uncomfortable, as far as the Hyuugas could look uncomfortable, and Tenten suddenly thought this would be a good time as any to tell him that she liked him, even if he was a bit… a LOT annoying.

"You really shouldn't be shocked, Neji." Tenten steered the conversation to her desired road a bit roughly.

Neji's brow creased. "What are you talking about, Tenten?" He briefly contemplated taking her to the hospital. She seemed a bit out of it for the past few hours.

"You're hot," the eyebrow rose higher. "talented, smart, strong and you're basically the only guy I've bonded with even marginally close to being called normal." Tenten frowned a bit. "Actually scratch that. You're the only guy I've bonded with that doesn't wear spandex." She grinned. "Much better."

Neji felt something twitch. "Tenten, I hope you're not saying what I think you're saying."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Honestly, for a prodigy, you could be so dense."

Neji bristled at the insult and she almost laughed at him, if she wasn't so irritated.

"Basically, Neji, I think I love you." She threw a shuriken at him. Easily dodged. Gah. "And you don't even deserve it."

A/N: Finished! Use your imagination for what happened next. Haha! Review?