Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Chapter 31: Neji waits.

A/N: I'm so glad time zones exist and that it's still December 25 in some parts of the world. This was inspired by my other story, I Promise. Merry Christmas, everyone!

WAITING

Hyuga Neji was sitting perfectly still, even as pedestrians and families walked hurriedly past him. In fact, the only movement one could ever notice of him, if one would look close enough, was the way his eyes constantly flickered to the red clock on the pole opposite of the bench he sat on.

From the way he sat tersed, his back straight, you could tell that he was waiting.

He was always waiting.

It had become a habit of their team. He would arrive early and the others would follow. This applied not only when they agreed to meet together, but also during missions. At first, it had irked him, giving him another reason to hate what he considered were the worst bunch of shinobi in Konoha. But like everything else about their team, he had learned to love—or at least, get used to—a lot of things.

He had learned to get used to the way his teammates constantly trained, always pushing themselves past their limits. He had gotten used to the way they would constantly challenge him, hoping one day, they would surpass him, and in some days, they actually did. He had learned to appreciate the way they always told jokes, no matter how silly and childish. Yes... he had learned to appreciate so many aspects of the team he had grown together with. He had learned to appreciate waiting.

Waiting for her, especially.

He loved the way her eyes lit when she finally realizes she has caught up during missions. He loved the way she would walk to him, that last few moments before she would actually step up to where he was. He loved the way she would grin then, and maybe apologize for the delay. But maybe, and most especially, he just loved being with her, near her again, after moments of separation.

Waiting didn't just mean standing for a while to let her catch up during travels (for of course, even if they were the fastest in the village, she was still slightly behind the speed of the other three males), it also meant waiting outside her room during missions, when it was time to leave (for girls did awfully take a long time to get ready, yes, even one like Tenten. He suspected it was because of her hair); or waiting for her in the morning, before their daily spar. But today...

Well, today was special.

Today's wait was different from all the rest. It was not the kind of wait that irritated him, wishing she would move quicker about things, it was a nerve wrecking wait. It was... scary.

When he asked her the question yesterday, she had reacted the way he expected her to. "I have to think about this, Neji."

Despite her answer then, he had been confident. Almost all the women in their village needed "time" to ultimately think before stepping into a territory of matrimony, household, and even children. But despite all of this debating with themselves, they agreed anyway in the end. And now, only now, as he was sitting on the park bench on Christmas day, did he start to feel what others would call "the jitters." And he couldn't help but feel nervous. She was, after all, the only one for him, but was he the only one for her?

There was a dark figure approaching from the side of the park, getting bigger and bigger. And just like all those times during missions, everything seemed to slow as she came into view.

She walked much more slowly as she neared where he say, and he turned to watch her. She was wearing a black coat, and despite the cold weather, her hair was still up in its usually buns.

Usually, she would smile the biggest smile as she would come to him, but today, she merely quirked her lips upward in a conserved, almost shy, smile.

She plopped down beside him, and even though they weren't directly touching, he could feel the heat radiating from her body.

"Hi," she said.

"Hey," he replied. His heart was beating abnormally fast. Was this really all from the cold?

"Sorry I'm late," she said apologetically. Then, in a more forced yet cheerful tone, "Merry Christmas!"

He smiled. "Merry Christmas, Tenten."

There was silence for a while, neither of them having the courage to speak.

"Neji," she said softly, and she took his hand.

She was holding to him tightly, and he could feel that she was just as nervous as he was. He turned to look at her, so their knees were touching. "I don't know why I said what I said," she explained earnestly. "Time to think," she repeated, as if mocking her own words. "It was stupid, but I was really nervous, and you know how I can get when I become nervous. I just didn't know what to say, although the answer was pretty clear. I think you already know what it is anyway, so I do hope you're not thinking that I—," she stopped, catching her breath.

"Tenten," he said, almost pleading. He couldn't even comprehend any of the words she had said. He just wished she would go straight to it.

"Well," she looked down, breathed deeply, then looked up at his eyes again. She leaned forward and kissed his lips. When she pulled away, she was smiling. "Yes," was all she said, but it was all it took to calm his wildly beating heart.

"I'm sorry you had to wait," she apologized, looking straight to his eyes.

He merely shook his head as he gently touched her cheek. Here was his future wife. He didn't mind the suspense, because Tenten was always worth the wait.

END

I've got a new NejiTen AU fic coming up, stay tuned guys!