Tenten was loud, and he loved it. She had always been such a quiet girl, and it had never occurred to him that she could be any other way. She was loud when she cooked breakfast, seeming unable to touch a pan without banging it into three others. While her voice was still soft, there was a stream of words that came from her lips near constantly when it was just them. Never having felt as comfortable with another person, their relationship had seemed to open a floodgate in her. Gai was finding that the girl he could never get to open up was now a woman that he regularly had to kiss just to shut her up. Of course that usually led from one thing to another, and when she was loud then, he didn't mind one bit.
It was awkward and uncomfortable. Tenten had already turned bright red even before she pulled away, realizing what she had done. Gai seemed stunned, so much so that he didn't even try to follow her when she fled. At least that's what she thought until she dashed up the stairs of her apartment, only to find her back to her front door. This time she couldn't pull away, and even though it was still awkward, Gai made sure it definitely wasn't uncomfortable.
She spent six years sleeping near him, but it wasn't until she lay curled up in his arms that she finally appreciated it.
She is so nervous that she is sick. She can tell that he is nervous too, but he hides it with a huge smile and a thumbs up. She doesn't know that the two weeks she spends out in the field as part of her ANBU trial is two of the worst in his life. He doesn't tell her that he lost one of his teammates years ago the same way, not wanting to scare her. So when she shows up in the middle of the night, bloody and exhausted with a damp new tattoo on her arm, she doesn't understand why he drags her to their bedroom and won't let her go until well into the next day.
Despite the fact that she is a jonin now, and she has studied under others since she was sixteen, he still feels a stab in his gut that this is wrong. Then her eyes flutter back and she moans softly, arms wrapping around him tightly as he slides deeper inside her, and he wonders how it can be wrong to love someone this much.
Kakashi is glaring at him, and for once Gai doesn't turn his friend's disapproval into a chance at a contest. Instead he steps closer and whispers something in Kakashi's ear that no one else can hear, and it makes the silver haired man go very still. Kakashi watches silently as Gai puts his arm around Tenten and leads her away. Sakura doesn't understand why Kakashi sensei won't look directly at her for the next two weeks, and thinks that maybe she did something to upset him.
There it was. I love you. Out in the open for all the world to hear, and when she said all, she meant all. The whole freaking bar seemed to have gone completely silent just a moment before her announcement. And he was staring at her in shock, but not the kind of shock that she had expected. That's when it hit her: Gai already knew. She looked around at the faces of her friends and her former sensei's friends. Interest, sympathy, understanding… And here she had thought she had been suffering so alone and stoically. Tenten's face went from pale to dark red with embarrassment. Gai opened his mouth to say something, probably the wrong thing, so she made it a point to disappear in a flurry of leaves before her humiliation became complete.
Those sweatpants were dangerous. They hung too low, the rock hard muscles of his abdomen laying a fascinating trail down his torso. She could almost feel the line of his hips beneath her fingers, even from across the room. The open shirt wasn't helping… Oh why, for once, could he have just worn the dang spandex? Stop chuckling at me, sensei.
His lips are moving, but the only thing she hears is the soft music he put on in the background. Tenten knows he's speaking, Gai has a very hard time not speaking, but every word he says is between him and her skin alone. His silent words of love are burning fiery trails all over her body. She moans and arches beneath him as he reaches a particularly poignant expression, and she can't help but gasp as he repeats it several times. He pauses, as if for breath, and she pants as she clings to his muscled form. Then his eyes meet hers and he smiles the soft boyish smile that he only gives to her, no good guy poses here. His rough hands cradle her ribcage, delicate and small beneath him, and he works his way back to her mouth. And in a silence that he only has here with her, her lover pours out his heart, knowing she hears every word.
It was ridiculous to mourn the loss of something you never wanted, something you never even knew you had before it was gone. But even knowing that, she still stayed curled up in bed all day, the covers pulled up to her chin as she stared at the wall with pained eyes. To his credit he never pushed her to talk about it, and he turned away even Lee without explanation, who had showed up wondering why his former sensei had never arrived for sparring. It wasn't until he lay down beside her, fingers unconsciously straying from her hip to her stomach, that she realized he was mourning this too.
"More?" he panted, beads of sweat rolling down his neck as he braced his arm against the wall. Her long legs were wrapped securely around his waist, her slim weight supported by his other arm beneath her hips. The young woman only managed to let out a moan and bit his shoulder to try and muffle her cries as he pressed himself deeper inside her. She loved it like this, in a position where he had all the control and she had no choice but to acquiesce to his needs. But he knew he was big, and damn she was always so tight, so he always asked first before he took.
"Tenten, are you sure?" Gai questioned her, chuckling at the way she glared at him and how her legs tightened about him.
"I bet you can't make me scream, Gai," Tenten taunted with an evil grin, knowing he could even as he set a rhythm with practiced ease. With a smirk, her lover accepted the challenge.
That night, the whole neighborhood heard who won.
She wasn't going to win this fight.
She knew it, they knew it… and yet the hope of Konoha rested on her shoulders. Funny, she had always thought it would be on Naruto's instead. Gai's mind is racing, his eyes flicking rapidly over the Kages and the hundreds of gathered shinobi, and he's trying to find some way around this, some way to save her. But there isn't a way out, and she won't take it even if there is. She is a shinobi and she will face her opponent bravely; this is her ninja way. The crowds part, not for Neji, not for Sasuke or Naruto… they part for her and she looks upon the face of her death. The other weapons master smirks at her, knowing as well as she does how good he is. But the smirk slides from his face as she starts to chuckle, the tiny noise turning into a full out laugh. They all stare at her in confusion, wondering if she's lost her mind, all except for her team that is. They know what the laughter means, and for the first time in the last two days Gai's muscles start to loosen. Even Neji starts to smile.
Tenten wasn't going to win this fight. She was going to own it.
"Don't leave," she asks him in a tiny voice, and he turns around at the sound. She seems so small, curled up in a ball sitting on her couch. Their eyes lock before she flushes and glances away. But he understands what she hasn't said, understands her need to not be alone right now. He never asks her what happens on these missions, but the way she hugs her pillow tells him all he needs to know. Internally it sends him into irrational fits of rage and jealousy, and being Gai he doesn't understand how to cope with these emotions when they are connected to his only female student. The fact that she is not technically his student now makes it even worse, because the line that separated things so clearly for him was no longer there. For the first time he was allowed to feel these things… even though he didn't know if he wanted to.
"It's okay," she blushes, embarrassed at her weakness. "Forget I said that. Thank you for coming over, Gai sempai."
Gai walks back over and sits on the couch next to her. Three years ago he would have taken her hand. Tonight he resists that and so much more.
"I'm not going anywhere, Tenten," he tells her brightly, but the enthusiasm fades to an abnormal quietness as she smiles in relief. She closes her eyes and rests her head against his shoulder. She is exhausted and it makes her far more open than she should be, than she normally is.
"Sometimes I get tired of feeling strangers on my skin…" she whispers softly. "Sometimes I wonder if that's all there is to look forward to as a kunoichi."
His first instinct is to tell her something upbeat and positive, involving her youth and wonderfulness and all the while keeping his hands firmly away from her. But the truth is not that upbeat, and it is possible that this will be all there is for her. So of course he finds himself with her gathered up in his arms, silent tears leaking down the face that's buried in his chest. And as he holds her well after she has fallen asleep, safely cocooned in his arms, he decides that this is getting quite out of hand.
She finished her kata, dropping down into a crouch as sweat rolled down her dirty and weary limbs. Tenten saw him hurrying towards her and smiled shyly, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her face, inadvertently smearing blood from a cut across her forehead.
"Hmmm, you have been training hard, I see!" Gai declared proudly, one hand on his hip and one behind his back. Tenten chuckled wearily.
"Not as hard as I used to," she said with a shrug. "Even Neji's wary of sparring with me these days; he says that it's pointless if I always make it through his blind spot and Sakura's tired of patching him up all the time."
"Then I will train with you," Gai decided, nodding his head vigorously.
"Gai, you haven't sparred with me since this all began. Do you really want to have me looked upon as still your student?" Tenten pursed her lips worriedly. "It bothered you so much before…"
"It would bother me more if you came to harm from lack of proper training," Gai told her firmly, leaning down and kissing her softly, his fingers moving to lightly touch her hair as he did.
It was the best workout she'd had in a long time. There was something to be said for sparring with someone who not only knew your fighting style, but who had taught most of the moves to you themself. Hours later, when she lay filthy and exhaustedly content in his arms, the training grounds utterly destroyed, it occurred to her that he had slipped a white flower into her hair. Funny, that even though it was as battle worn as she was, his gift still made her feel beautiful.
Gai had always had a way of doing that to her.
It is not his desire for her that breaks his resolve. It is not his pressing need to feel her presence at his side, or the overwhelming jealousy that consumes him when she is near another man. It is not the fact that in his entire life he has never met someone that has made his heart ache so badly, nor has he ever spent so many sleepless nights trying to drive the image of a woman out of his mind by sheer force. No. It is the way she is looking at him now, like his refusal of her love for him will crush her nineteen year old heart and shatter her entire world. So he breaks because for every single thing that he has convinced himself, every way that it was just wrong, Gai can't stand to see her hurting and vows to never be the one to do it to her. His eternal rival will tell him later that he knew Gai was a goner the moment Tenten first turned the force of those puppy dog eyes on him. Gai likes his story better… it makes him feel like he at least tried to put up a fight.