I know it's not a long last chapter, but I'm very pleased with it.
Thanks cannot be given enough to all of the readers and reviewers who have given this fic attention. I have wrestled with this fic a lot, and I'm really grateful to all of those who lent their support in the process of writing it. It means a lot to me. :) So, thank you, guys, for always spurring me on.
Disclaimer: Masashi Kishimoto owns all characters. The plot and words are my own.
It is with great sadness that I leave your services.
You were right about everything, and I confessed to Neji. We've decided to elope to Japan.
I'm sorry for not telling you before I left. What with Neji's strained familial situation, we thought it best to not tell anyone until we had wed, but I thought it would be alright to leave a letter telling my news.
Sakura, you have been my dearest friend since my father passed. I am in debt to your kindness for a lifetime. If you ever require anything of me, I beg of you, do not hesitate to ask.
I am so happy, Sakura. I cannot even describe the peace and elation I feel at this moment.
Thank you for your advice. I'm certain that if I hadn't spoken to you, I would have let Neji return to Japan without speaking a word to him. You showed me the way to happiness, and that is the greatest gift you have given me.
Thank you, my friend, for everything.
P.S. – I've been thinking about my replacement and wanted to make a suggestion: Chao is more than capable, even though he lacks my work ethic.
Sakura smiled down at the letter and let several blissful tears escape down her cheeks.
~ . ~
TenTen inhaled the salty air deeply and felt her stomach churn queasily.
"A little," she responded weakly.
Neji sidled up next to her, smiling a little.
"Who knew such a fearless woman could be debilitated by sea travel?"
"There goes my ruse to fool you into thinking I'm invincible," she joked.
Neji soothingly rubbed his hand across her back, feeling a thrill when she leaned into him.
"How did Hinata take the news?"
"She didn't say much, but she's not pleased. Too late now, though," Neji said with some satisfaction.
TenTen raised her eyebrows.
"Not really. She could always have me thrown overboard."
Neji rolled his eyes.
TenTen turned to Neji suddenly.
"Your parents would have liked me, wouldn't they?"
Neji smiled softly, wistful.
"They would have thought you were different, but yes. You would have . . . enchanted them."
This seemed to cheer TenTen a little.
"My father would have thought you were insane for wanting to marry me."
"Maybe I am," Neji murmured, bending down to kiss her temple.
"It wouldn't be the first time I've been called crazy," TenTen stated, shrugging.
They stood at the bow of the ship for a long while, listening to the waves as they made contact with the hull.
After a while, TenTen's eyes focused on some bright lights in the distance.
They neared and more lights appeared, grouped together.
"Yes. That's Japan."
As the lights grew brighter, TenTen felt tears spring to her eyes. She felt she had just passed a milestone and she was only now realizing it.
"It's beautiful," she heard herself say.
Neji slid his arm around her waist and interpreted what she felt.
"The sakura blossoms should be blooming soon."
TenTen smiled through her tears. This small sentence was enough to encourage her.
"Thank you," she said to her future husband.
Neji leaned down and kissed her mouth, brushing away the lingering tears with his thumb.
Japan twinkled and glittered in the distance to welcome them home.
You guys have no idea how long I've wanted to type that. ;)