The Spring Festival
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Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.
- Albert Einstein
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It was too tight.
It fit like a glove, unlike my other shirts. I gazed down at the menacing dip and shuddered. Thankfully, the plunge was intercepted by a white tank top, keeping it decent. Ino sure had interesting tastes.
I had to admit I did look... well, good. Better then usual, at the very least. The maroon top, while hugging my features a bit too much, had a very sophisticated touch to it. This was partially due to the fact that it was made out of a rich maroon silk.
Surprisingly, Ino hadn't just picked out any fancy shirt. I had to admit, she had my interests at heart when she got it. Like my typical shirt, this blouse's dip twisted slightly, ending with three frog ties near my waist. However, the twist occurred lower than on my other shirts, after it revealed a good portion of breast.
I wondered briefly if Ino would have a heart attack, seeing that I'd slipped on a plain white tank top under the shirt.
For a moment, a memory occurred to me.
"Merry Christmas!" I turned around, nearly dropping the bag of groceries I had in one hand, as a blond kunoichi shoved a bag at me.
"Christmas was three months ago!" I yelped, attempting to balance the large brown bag between my one free arm and my chest.
"Yea, well, I just realized I didn't get you a present." I stared. Ino stared back, a grin on her face, her blue eyes glimmering. What was her deal, appearing out of no where like that? I glanced at the bag she'd handed me.
"As I said, happy birthday, and open it later!" I opened my mouth to argue, but didn't get the chance. The girl had already turned, and was weaving her way through the crowd.
The hell? I'd thought, eying the bag reprovingly.
Inside that mystery bag had been the clothes that I was now wearing.
The skirt wasn't bad either. It was simple and wavy. Quite honestly, it did annoy me since it was so long it swept the floor. I felt... classy. Like, high class, nose in the air, classy. Usually my pants revealed my ankles.
Also, my pants were almost always covered with stains ranging from mud to blood. These new clothes Ino had provided me with were spotless, and didn't look like clothes that should ever bear spots.
The doorbell rang, and I sighed. Running my hands through my hair one last time, I abandoned my station in front of the mirror and made my way to the front door.
As I unlocked the door, Lee twitched impatiently. I could see his large grin through the textured glass of the window.
"Tenten! You look absolutely youthful!" I laughed at his comment, backing up quickly as he went after a hug. He got it, and I patted his back. Sometimes, Lee was like the little brother I never had. He fit the bill pretty well; he was childish and annoying.
"Yea yea, Lee." I responded, trying to pry him off me. "Can we just get this over with?" Eyes wide, Lee took a step back, and stared deep into my soul.
"Tenten. One cannot rush a butterfly emerging from it's cocoon!" He said philosophically, nodding sagely. Rolling my eyes, I grinned.
"Didn't Gai-sensei say that last week?"
"Why, yes he did!" Lee responded enthusiastically, his serious facade gone. "Now, let's us head off!"
With that, I let him drag me out of my house and off we went, towards the festival. A few fireworks were already licking the horizons, most barely visible due to the strong orange glow from the setting sun. The sparkles of light, although difficult to see, were still very beautiful.
Head to the sky, I gazed at the purple clouds above me, watching as one little dragon firework snaked it's way up, before exploding into a billion little orange flakes.
"You should wear your hair down more." Lee's voice snapped me out of my reverie.
"Ah, I dunno." I replied, unconsciously fingering my shoulder length hair. "It's never really been my style." In fact, rarely a day went by that I didn't put my hair up into it's typical buns.
"But it looks so good down!" Lee argued melodramatically, clutching his hands in front of his heart. I rolled my eyes, and turned my gaze back up to the sky.
We walked in silence until we reached the festival.
The Spring festival was just kicking off, with venders already calling out their deals and children dashing about, some adorning animal masks. One ran past, a cheesy looking lion mask strapped to his face, complete with a wig of gold confetti. I couldn't help but chuckle at the sight. Maybe Lee was right; the festivals didn't seem all that bad.
"Come on." Grabbing my hand, Lee started to drag me through the crowd.
"Eh? Lee?" I asked, resisting slightly. What's wrong with browsing through the nearby stalls? "Where are we going?" Turning around for a moment, Lee gave me a thumbs up.
"You'll see!" I frowned as he continued to tug me mercilessly through the crowd. Colors and sights of all kinds flew by us and I tried my best to take it all in. As we passed Sakura and Sai, I attempted to stop and talk, but Lee simply dragged me away. Which, by the way, I couldn't help but find extremely odd, as he made no secret of his crush on the pink haired girl.
"Lee..." I growled, getting tired of his antics.
"We're here!" He announced, stopping so suddenly that I nearly bumped into him.
"Where here?" I asked, looking around. It looked like another part of the festival. Here looked suspiciously identical to all the other parts I'd been pulled past. I glared at the back of Lee's head as he stood there, grinning stupidly at one of the restaurants.
"Oh, Lee-kun! Tenten-chan!" A cordial, soft voice came from the restaurant Lee was grinning at. I tipped my head to the side, gazing past Lee at the place. Sure enough, a pair of white eyes met my gaze. I blinked as Lee commenced in attempting to pull my arm from it's socket.
Flailing like a fish out of water, I was jolted forward to the table where several Hyuuga members were sitting, eating barbecue. Regaining my balance, I tore my hand away from Lees, sending him a momentary glare. Eyes returning forward, I grinned slightly, recognizing the back of Neji's head. The genius wasn't even bothering to look up from his food as me and Lee arrived at the table.
"Hinata! It's glorious to see you again!" Lee yelled, causing a few of the Hyuuga members to scowl at him. The boy didn't mind, and only continued, "You look absolutely stunning today!" The girl blushed her typical blush, before mumbling her thanks.
"Lee, go the hell away." Neji growled; I had to bite back a laugh at the heavily disgruntled scowl adorning his face.
"Neji!" Lee sounded devastated, "How could you say that to your favorite teammate!"
"You," Neji responded, still not looking at us, "are not my favorite teammate, are not my favorite anything, and never will be."
"Ouch, harsh." I laughed, as Lee gaped, looking as though he may burst out in tears at any moment. Neji twitched, before turning around.
"Tenten." He sounded mildly surprised, and I smiled at him. His white eyes swept over me and he quickly turned away. "You don't usually come to festivals." He said softly, his angry demeanor gone.
"Lee dragged me here." I told him, glancing at the hyper active green-clad ninja. Lee saluted at me, already over his temporary depression.
"And if you do not have a good time, I shall run a thousand laps around Konoha!" Again, I laughed.
"We'll see." Lee grinned ear too ear, before turning on heel, to face one of the older Hyuugas. I blinked, surprised at his chutzpa, as he addressed Hyuuga Hiashi.
"Sir, I think it would be only proper for Neji to join his team in celebration of today's festival!" Neji let out a heavy sigh, rubbing one of his temples. Hiashi, on the other hand, let out a small chuckle.
"I think that would only be proper. Wouldn't you agree, Neji?"
"Yes, Hiashi-sama." Neji growled, before pushing himself to his feet. "It would only be proper." Turning, the byakugan user glared daggers at Lee. Lee was oblivious, however; he threw both hands into the air in celebration.
"Alright! Team Gai, it's party time!" I winced at this while Neji pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing. Together, we tromped after our overly energetic partner.
Neji looked ready to kill somebody. Or more specifically, Lee.
"Oh, cheer up." I laughed, giving Neji's shoulder a light push. His eyes shot to me, looking unamused. "Hanging out with us won't be that bad."
"On my list of least favorite things to do," He said slowly, his light lilac eyes sliding back forward, watching as Lee leaned over a stall with ornate jewelry, "spending time with Lee is number two."
"Oh really? What's number one?" The corner of his mouth tipped up.
"Spending time with Lee and Gai at the same time." Laughter escaped me. He was right; Lee was bad, but when you added Gai to the mix, you made things twice as bad, if not worse.
"Shh," I hissed, "you'll jinx us." The last thing I wanted was for Gai to show up. Although, I had to wonder whether he'd be wearing his typical green jumpsuit. I wasn't surprised that Lee would wear his to the festival, but Gai was different. Sometimes, he proved to be more mature.
Speaking of dress attire, I glanced at Neji's. It looked like his normal wear, except instead of normal pants, he wore a white skirt like thing, similar to the one Hiashi always wore. Also, his gray man-skirt was gone. Fondly, I recalled when he first wore it.
There was a silence. I stared at Neji. He stared back.
"Nice skirt." I finally said, my grin erupting without warning. Creases appeared on Neji's face as he glowered at me.
"It is not a skirt." He growled out, his hands clenched. "It's called a thigh guard."
"Bull." I laughed loudly, pushing myself up off the ground. Nearby, Lee inspected Neji somberly.
"It does look like a skirt." The taijutsu user agreed, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. For a moment, I thought Neji might jyuuken him.
"It is not a skirt." Neji repeated, his eyes returning to me and narrowing as I approached. Once I reached him, I extended a hand and I fingered his not-a-skirt, giggling.
"Gee, I don't know, Neji. I mean, I think I have one of these at home, and-" I was interrupted as he grabbed my chin, and forced me to look up at him.
Took me a few moments to remember how to breathe.
"Not a skirt." He repeated stiffly, his eyes looking straight into mine.
"Uh huh." I responded blankly, my mind erased, and my heart beating faster then it needed it. Dropping his hand back to his side, Neji walked around me. His hypnosis started to wear off, and I gave my head a shake. The effect he had on me was uncanny.
"Yea," Recovering, I made a final stab at his new outfit, "It's not a skirt. Clearly it's a man-skirt."
During practice, Neji targeted me much more then he did Lee.
"What's so funny?" I looked up at Neji, and laughed harder.
"Oh, nothing." He didn't seem to believe me and he probably would have investigated further, if Lee hadn't bounced back into the picture.
"Comrades!" Lee shouted happily, "I, after recently receiving inspiration from Team Asuma, decided to buy us all matching jewelery!" I froze, instantly horrified. Lee wasn't known for his taste in fashion. His clothes, his hair, - heck, just about everything of his - broadcasted that. Neji looked equally as horrified.
"Oh, um... really, Lee?" I said slowly, leaning to the side as I tried to see just what Lee held behind his back.
Insert drum roll.
"TEAM GAI BRACELETS!" I stepped back swiftly, my shoulder bumping into Neji's, who, at the outburst, ran a hand through his hair in aggravation. People passing by glanced over at us, probably wondering why the silly looking boy clothed in green spandex was waving a set of golden bracelets wildly in the air.
"Volume, Lee, volume!" I snapped at him, flushing as I quickly took a step away from Neji. I mentally slapped myself for the light blush that colored my cheeks. Hell, I'd only bumped into him. That shouldn't incur any sort of embarrassment.
A moment later, Lee had grabbed my hand, and snapped a thick golden bracelet onto it. I stared at it with distaste. It was heavy and round, with an odd feather like design carved into it.
Atrocious didn't quite cover it, but it was a nice start.
"You shouldn't have." I said, meaning it.
"Really shouldn't have." I glanced over, raising a brow as Neji gazed disdainfully at the identical bracelet Lee had just snapped onto his wrist.
"Team power!" Lee cried out, pumping his fist into the air, his own bracelet sliding down his wrist. Once again, he instigating a round of odd looks from the people about us.
And so, me and Neji found ourselves tramping through the festival in the wake of our over active friend with two horrendous bracelets ornamenting our wrists. Lee seemed to want to see every stand and didn't give us the chance to stop and look at anything. The stupid bowl-cut boy even dragged me away from a stand with beautiful kunai!
"They had a three pronged kunai!" I whined to Neji, as we followed Lee. "I never even anything like those before!" Neji only laughed quietly at me, his eyes dancing as he watched me complain. "But no, we have to keep moving! The best stalls are ahead," I mocked Lee's voice, crossing my arms in front of me as I spoke, "why, the best stalls are always where we're not!"
"Shall I take it that you're not having a good time?" Neji inquired, and I sighed.
"Can't say it's great..." I paused, tracing the edge of my shirt with my eyes. "But at least your here." I was aware how sappy that sounded. But, I was talking to Neji! It's not he would care. He didn't immediately respond. I glanced over at him, once again falling to the traitorous blush as I found his eyes watching me carefully.
"You're welcome." He said softly, causing me to lose my breathe. My brain went into over drive and I admired his beautiful lilac eyes, his silky hair, his lips...
"Let's get ice cream!" At Lee's shout, I took a quick step back, surprised at how close I'd ended up to Neji. In fact, by some odd universal happening, our faces had ended up only a few inches apart.
My face felt like it was on fire and my heart was going crazy. Surprisingly enough, Neji looked just as winded, his cheeks glowing a soft pink.
But that wasn't possible.
I mean, we're talking about Hyuuga Neji.
Hyuuga Neji doesn't blush.
"Tenten?" I nearly jumped out of my skin when Lee poked my shoulder. He regarded me curiously. "Are you okay?"
"I'm... fine." I said breathlessly, rubbing the back of my head. Beside me, Neji let out a 'hmph' before shoving past me and Lee. Lee glanced at Neji's retreating back, then turned back towards me.
"Did I miss something?"
"Oh, no, nothing." I laughed nervously. It wasn't like we were about to kiss or anything. I mean, this is Hyuuga Neji we're talking about. Hyuuga Neji doesn't just kiss girls.
A minute later, Neji reemerged, holding three ice cream cones. Lee looked like he might faint from excitement.
"Neji, my rival! Your blossoming care for your teammates is cause for celebration!" Neji let out a grunt, shoving one of the cones at Lee. The hyper active ninja took it happily, assailing it with his tongue in an very undignified manner.
"Here." I took the ice cream cone from Neji, doing my best not to look at him. I was still blushing; I could feel it. I wasn't sure if I could handle his scrutiny.
We walked through the festival, the three of us, admiring the stands. Lee finished is ice cream first, screaming out 'I win!' as soon as he ate the last of the cone. Me and Neji finished slower, doing our best to ignore our teammate, who attempted to goad us on by commenting on our eating speed.
He failed, due to the fact that after four years, we were skilled in ignoring him. Being attention deprived, he wandered off, promising to be back in a minute. I made sure to enjoy the minute of peace. My eyes swept the street, taking in all the sights, smells, sounds...
"Hinata-chan, you're blushing again." A recognizable voice said teasingly and, to my astonishment, I turned to view a pair of teenagers making their way down the crowded street. Neji saw them too, and his eyes narrowed.
The girl only laughed lightly at the boy's comment, her hand going up and rubbing the back of her head, before sliding slowly down through her black locks, pulling a few over her shoulder. I rolled my eyes, smirking; the girl was very good at unconsciously being cute. For a moment, Hinata struggled with a response, her shyness catching the better of her, eyes locked to the ground.
"Y-yea..." The shy girl mumbled, giggling a little.
"Uzumaki, what the hell are you doing with my cousin?" Neji growled, approaching the pair. Rolling my eyes, I followed him and stood at his shoulder, raising an eyebrow at Hinata.
"Eh?" Tearing his eyes off Hinata, who's cheeks were glowing a strong pink, the blond haired boy blinked at Neji.
"Ah, N-neji-kun..." Hinata stuttered, her lilac eyes snapping up from the ground, and focusing on her cousin with horror. I felt like laughing at the pure demonic look Neji was sending Naruto. Even though he used to claim to loathe the main branch, Neji was fiercely protective of his younger cousin. Naruto let out a loud snort at Neji, before answering cockily.
"Well, clearly, I'm about to rape her."
It seemed like Naruto was trying to get Hinata to faint.
So far, he was succeeding. The poor girl looked like she was about to die from embarrassment. Neji, on the other hand, looked like he was ready to skin Naruto alive. As a precaution, I quickly wrapped my arms around his arm, ready to hold him back if needed.
"Neji, Tenten!" Lee appeared on the other side of Neji, a turtle mask in one hand. Stopping, he raised his thick eyebrows at the pair in front of us. "Well, well! What do we have here?" He giggled suddenly, grinning like a maniac at Hinata and Naruto, "Taking a little stroll together, hmmmm?" It was really creepy how Lee managed to move his eyebrows separately. He continued his suggestive act for several long seconds, causing Hinata to redden more (if that was possible), until Neji whacked the back of his head.
Lee fell ungracefully onto his face.
"Ow!" The fallen ninja wailed, pushing himself up and into a sitting position. "That was completely uncalled for!" Lee yelped, putting his hands onto his knees comically and glaring up at Neji, bottom lip extended outward in a pout. Neji only glared at our teammate.
"Neji, your treatment of your teammate saddens me!"
I pirouetted around and found myself facing no one other then Gai-sensei.
I didn't even know they made kimonos embroidered with turtles. At least not in men's sizes.
"Great." Neji hissed, also turning to face Gai.
"Gai-sensei!" Lee yelled excitedly, hopping to his feet and saluting to his idol. "Yush!"
"Lee." I sighed, as Gai's voice took a dark, serious tone.
"Yes, sir?" Lee's eyes looked like they might pop out of his head. I looked behind myself fleetingly; sure enough, Naruto and Hinata had grasped their chance to escape unnoticed.
"I am very disappointed in you!" Gai shouted out, pointing at his student dramatically. Lee let out a yelp, hopping back.
"No!" Shouted Lee.
Suddenly, Neji started to move. I glanced up at him, before realizing I was still clinging to his arm. Great, the heat was returning fast to my face. Without saying anything, the byakugan user turned and, with me in tow, starting to walk away from Lee and Gai.
"Yes! You were taken down by a single blow! One thousand push ups, now!" The more time I spent around the two of them, the more I became convinced that Gai and Lee were the definition of drama queen and the definition of workaholic.
"YES SIR!" I winced again at Lee's scream. Those two were simply farcical sometimes (read: always).
A minute later, me and Neji had successfully removed ourselves from the company of Gai and Lee. We were wandering pointlessly, or so I realized after began to have déjà vu when passing some stalls. I peered up at Neji curiously; his eyes were nervously glancing around.
I was still clinging to his arm. Letting go of him, I considered, wouldn't be all that bad of an idea. In fact, I was pretty sure that doing that would solve my erratic heart beat, but... well, his arm was just so... cling-able.
"So, are you two on a date?" I nearly jumped out of my skin for the second time that day. Releasing Neji's arm, I took a quick bashful step back. My grumpy teammate scowled, not even bothering to answer the question.
"Do you always wear that stupid mask?" Kakashi laughed at Neji's question, scratching his cheek awkwardly.
"Think of it more as fashion statement." I gawked at the copy ninja. Along with a fancy white kimono, the thirty year old ninja was wearing his usual black mask, which covered the bottom half of his face. He'd gone through the trouble of replacing his headband with a white cloth to cover his sharingan eye, but he hadn't bothered to change his mask.
"It looks idiotic." I commented, placing my hands on my hips and frowning. "Seriously, Kaka-sensei. I'd have thought you'd have better tastes." The ex-ANBU captain only hummed in reply, turning a page in his book idly.
"So, are you on a date?" I stiffened, and attempted to fight the blush that ravished my cheeks.
"No." I responded swiftly, "We're just hanging out." I looked over at Neji, hoping for some back up, but he seemed disinterested, his eyes gazing off into the crowd. Was he blushing again? Kakashi chuckled, his one eye watching Neji.
"I see." Neji turned to look at Kakashi, his brow creased.
"It's none of your business." The boy snapped, causing Kakashi to laugh again.
"Perhaps. Any which way, I wouldn't want to disrupt your date." As he made a few hand signs, I tried to get the final word.
"We're not on a d-" I didn't finish, as the copy ninja disappeared in a small cloud of smoke before I finished speaking.
Cheeks warm, I stared at the spot where he'd been. Kakashi was sorta right. Me and him were wandering around together like a couple might. In a way, it was as close to a date as we were going to get. I suddenly felt a little shy, almost wishing that we hadn't ditched Lee.
At the same, guiltily, I was loving the fact that we had ditched Lee. I was loving the fact that it was just me and him.A girl's gotta have her romance, even if it's all in her head.
"Come on." Neji's hand folded over my own. I was turning into Hinata, as feel of his hand on mine caused me to catch my breathe. No way was I near fainting, but my face seemed had adopted an all but permanent heat.
And Neji, being Neji, was sure to notice. That only made it worse. I refused to look up at him, my eyes glued to where our hands were clasped together. He lead the way as we walked through town, not saying another word.
Then, the festival ended.
Well, to clarify, we reached the end of the stalls. Behind us, the celebration roared on, glowing against the night sky. Neji kept walking, as did I, through the darker, silenter parts of town. The noise from the festival started to fad and I glanced up at Neji curiously.
"Where are we going?" I'd never really seen Neji act flustered before; his eyes dashed around the street, looking anywhere but at me.
"Away from the noise." He responded after a few moments. I went with it.
We stopped at the edge of the town. Letting go of his hand, I went over to a nearby bench and plopped down with a happy sigh. Mentally, I did grieve the loss of his palm against mine. I'd enjoyed it. Neji sat down on the bench beside me. And, I mean, beside me. Shockingly, his shoulder rubbed up against mine Usually, Neji got as far as humanly possible from other people, if he had the choice. Since there was another good two feet of bench for him to sit down on, he definitely had that option.
Not that I was complaining. It was kind of nice, sitting there, shoulders pressed together. Neji exhaled slowly, rolling his head back.
"Too many people." I let out a short laugh. Typical Neji. He never was one for being social. In fact, he was happiest when he was in the forest, meditating, with no one to bug him.
Well, excluding me. Or so he'd told me, once. I had been about to leave him so he could be more at peace, but he'd asked me to stay.
"Mm." I closed my eyes, unconsciously leaning into Neji. A content sigh escaped my lips.
"So, does Lee have to run a thousand miles?"
"Huh?" I pulled my head off his shoulder, where it had fell, and blinked at him. At first, the sudden question made no sense.
"Did you have a good time?"
"Oh right." I murmured, remembering Lee promising me that. I pressed a finger to my lips. "Hm... well, it could have been worse." Neji chuckled and I grinned up at him.
The distance between us shortened.
"How could have it been worse?" He asked softly, his eyes hypnotizing me. Closer, closer.
"You could have not been there."
His lips pressed softly into mine and I closed my eyes. The kiss lasted only a moment, but in that moment, I was in heaven. His lips were soft, his hand touching my cheek gently, and his silky hair intertwined with my fingers.
He pulled away, and I gazed down at his chest, heart beating like the wings of a hummingbird. A soft smile played upon my lips.
"I'm glad I was there, then." He said breathlessly.
Thirty minutes later, we were making out in front of the Hyuuga compound. I had meant to simply say good bye to him before heading off towards my own house.
But, well, we got distracted.
Neji was a pretty good kisser and, heck, it seemed such a waste not to be kissing him.
We didn't even hear him when he cleared his throat.
"Neji." The boy in question immediately pushed off from where he'd been pinning me to the wall that surrounded the compound. Neji twirled around and together we stared, wide-eyed, at an amused Hiashi.
"Ah, um, Hiashi-sama-" Neji stuttered, looking aghast. "I was just... um." If it hadn't been for the look of absolute horror on Neji's face, I probably would have broke out laughing at the situation. Strangely, Hiashi really didn't look like he minded. In fact, he was smirking at us, brows raised.
"I'm glad, Neji."
Neji stared at his uncle, dumbstruck.
"Now I don't have to arrange a marriage for you." Without saying more, Hiashi walked past us, into the compound.
I started laughing like madman, using the wall behind me for support.
Yes, I decided, as Neji approached me again, I'll definitely like my in-laws.
My thoughts were all effectively stolen away when he reclaimed my lips.
I really should attend more festivals.
x – x – x – x – x
a.u. (feb 2010)
This is a really old story of mine, but it still gets a good deal of attention. That's why I've finally went and edited it, cutting out the vast majority of grammatical and spelling errors.
Leave me a review or suggestion, please? (=