This is supposed to be a chapter fic, with Neji and Tenten as childhood friends. The plot states that they'd need to get rid of two rings that bond them eternally in order to move on, so Neji can marry his fiancee and so that Tenten can finally get rid of her nightmares involving Neji.
Somewhat overrated concept, I know already! Just give me a chance. Maybe I was successful in making up for the slight cliché smack…
Of course, I'm a little reluctant on making it a chapter fic, so I decided to just let everyone have a taste of the fist chapter. If I don't go on with the idea of making it a chapter fic, I'm keeping this a one-shot.
Oh, and I'd like to thank Strawberry Shake for inspiring me a little more than she should've in making this shot/soon-to-be chapter fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
The world was bigger than they first thought. If an attic seemed like a new country, a new dimension, what more would the rest be?
A sneeze erupted from Tenten's tiny nose, making her wipe the back of her hand against her face. Dust has always done that to her. Early years allergies. The doctor says it'll be gone in a few years' time, so she didn't need to worry. An inhaler works, though. As for Neji, he could feel his eyes water terribly, with his cheeks nearly sodden from the invading grime. Having big, beautiful eyes had its drawback…
"I don't like it in here," she honestly told Neji, who was too busy to even feel her tap his shoulder. When she saw that he was too engrossed in finding whatever he was scouring for, she simply shrugged and took note of her surroundings, taking great notice of the unusual atmosphere: Attics didn't have flowers positioned in every corner. Why was it that the Hyugas' attic had handpicked baby's breath even between the floorboards?
Pretty as it seemed, the minute petals hung in the musky darkness of the attic. The windows draped away the sunshine outside with only an air vent slashed with jalousies to permit fresh air to enter the mysterious chamber. Tenten had a feeling Neji was here to play with her. Hearing the creaks of the pull-down stairs descending to the fourth-story corridor, Neji called for Tenten's attention, telling her, "Stay here. I have to find them…"
"Find what?!" Tenten nearly squeaked, hearing Neji's terminology, "Don't tell me you caught a bug!" Truthfully, the sight of a ladybug or a black widow excites Tenten's senses. But to have an insect crawling through her arms in such a venue wasn't her idea of hair-raising fun. After all, she was still a girl. She hated it when bugs entered her shirt. Only Neji was the one who'd pour honey onto his belly button, lie on the lawn and wait for ants to tickle him.
Finally, Neji shut the trunk he was searching in and turned to Tenten, explaining, "No bugs today, Tenten. I have something more important to do with you," Walking towards the skeptical playmate he has always had, Neji held out his clenched hand, taunting her, "Go on. Close your eyes! It's a surprise! You like surprises."
"Not if it's going to hurt me," Tenten argued, pouting and slipping her arms into a fold across her flat chest, "The last time I closed my eyes, you slipped three dog biscuits into my sweater. That wasn't a good surprise for me," She couldn't forget that incident. The three dog biscuits in her sweater didn't hurt, but when Kiba's dogs started chasing them, things got out of hand.
At her stubborn personality, Neji rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Do you think I'd want to hurt you, Ten? Come on! Just close your eyes. Okay, how about one eye? Fair enough?" He smiled weakly at her as she eyed him intently. He groaned when she turned to leave, "Isn't there enough justice in what I just said? Please?"
She stopped in her tracks, rolling her eyes. He was confusing her with those vocabulary words of his again. Only because she gets mediocre education in the public day care… "Alright," she gave in, facing Neji once again and his eagerly closed fist, "What's your surprise? But if you do something nasty again, I'm going home and never going to give you cookies again."
"I swear it's not going to hurt you!" Neji defended, placing his hands on his hips in a manly stance, "If I wanted to hurt you, I'd just push you down the stairs! Now, close your eyes. Or one, at least. So I can already give you the ultimate surprise," The mellow glow in his cheeks made Tenten trust him infinitely for that one moment.
At last, Tenten pressed her eyelids shut, both. For a few seconds, the world was just a black sheet, tasteless and blinding. She heard Neji say something about being "not in the right position" and she also sensed Neji's fingers grasping her wrist, pulling her further into the attic. Through the wooden floor, the two walked slowly, with Tenten anticipating the best and worst. The stench of musk and moss tickled her…
Suddenly, in her closed eyes, she felt a surge of bright light hit her face, fuzzy with warmth. A smile crept from her at the delightful kiss of sunlight. Eventually, she felt Neji's cold, stubby fingers hold hers and he tried to stifle his snickers as he announced, "Tenten, will you marry me? If you don't say yes, I'll punch you and push you off the swing tomorrow afternoon."
"What?!" came the shocked voice of the girl toddler as she flipped her eyes open. And she didn't regret opening her eyes once again. Before her, the sight was amazing in many ways she could not describe…
The drapes were drawn, allowing the light to shed itself onto every shadow in the attic. Purple, wool curtains were tucked behind the smeared windowpanes. And the baby's breath, once lifeless, seemed to yawn in a lion's grace. To her awe, Tenten saw for the first time the blankets laid all over the attic floor, made of lace and fine silk. Beneath her feet were cloths worth a thousand ryo.
Her friend, rubbing his eyes from all the entering light, then brought out one his rare sincere smiles and held his tiny hand out. "So, what? Are you going to tell me off even before I put this in your finger?" he murmured, cocking a brow as Tenten continued to gawk all around. She had realized a little too late that Neji held before her two, silver, gem-studded rings strung together with pink ribbon. He gave the rings a look before he added, "Don't you like them?"
"P-Pretty…" Tenten could only stutter as she picked one of the rings up to her face, "Are these yours?"
Neji shook his head in an innocent attempt to conceal his mischievous adventure for the rings. "I saw them on my dad's dresser. I asked him what they were for and I even said he wasn't supposed to wear jewelry because he was a man," Tenten laughed wholeheartedly at his comment, "But then, he showed me this real old tape of him and my mom during their… er… porpoisal…"
"Proposal?" Tenten suggested, holding a finger up as she examined the ring. A perfect fit!
"Yeah, that," Neji absently told her, nodding as he played with the ribbon, "And after that, I also watched them get married. Oh, and the video they took right before they left for their… uh, I think it was sugar moon or honey sun—"
"Honeymoon," Tenten corrected, giggling at Neji's clueless drama, despite his enthusiasm.
Neji tossed her a suspicious stare, "You know this, too? I didn't know about it till yesterday!"
A soft chuckle resonated within the attic, coming from Tenten. Neji blushed an irritated fuse of pink and red as he told her to quit laughing. She settled down and shared, "A lot of girls know about it, Neji. We're experts in these things, you can say," She grinned, pointing at Neji, "But I can't believe you! Why did you just do that, giving me this ring and wanting to marry me?" She held a finger near her supple lip, shyly mentioning, "Don't you think we're a little young?"
"Ever heard of pretend?" Neji said, sensing Tenten's girlish desires coming to life, "I just wanted to play it out with you. I thought you'd like to."
"And why's that?" she replied, making an amused face at him. She was wondering, though, why Neji would think she'd want to portray love in a child's game. Perhaps it was because he liked it, too.
At this, Neji flashed a nervous, but wide, beam at her, telling her with an embarrassed but pure shine, "I don't know. When I watched the video my dad showed me, they looked happy. Really happy, Tenten! You should've seen it, too. They were hugging each other, crying while smiling. I didn't even know you could smile and cry all at the same time. They just seemed so glad, like they'd just remain in that frame still forever…
…I was hoping to feel that same kind of happiness with you today."
All Tenten could ever say was stuck in her throat. Her legs "turned into gummy that one couldn't eat" and her hands just melted with the ring she had on. "Do I ever!" Tenten shrieked, hopping in her place, "Oh, really, Neji? We'll get married here? In your attic with all these beautiful flowers and this lovely sunshine? Will we?"
"You bet we are!" Neji agreed, hopping with her and empathizing with her glee, "I'm sorry we couldn't get married in the park, where there are roses and those butterflies you like. My dad said outdoor weddings aren't very ideal, especially since it could rain," He scratched his head, hoping she'd forgive him for the awkward venue of his attic…
Luckily for him, she shook her head and told him, "This place is wonderful with what you've done with it. Did you do it all by yourself?"
"I sure did," Neji proudly boasted, holding his head high, "And," he added, briskly walking towards one of the other chests within the vicinity, "I also picked this out for you all by myself, too." He shoved open the chest and expelled more dust than before. As Tenten sneezed behind him, he dug frantically, hoping what he had reserved for her wasn't gone.
Tenten's eyes nearly outshined the rays of sun from the windows when she saw what Neji had for her. "Is that… my wedding dress?!" she screamed, throwing her hands into the air and running towards Neji and the flower girl summer dress he had in his arms. He slightly irked the flowery pattern of the frock. It hardly suited Tenten, in his opinion. Her wedding dress should be decorated with scissors…
"I think it was my mom's sister's uncle's cousin," Neji guessed, shrugging, "I know you're not such a fan of flowers, but I was guessing you liked this better than the one with unicorns or the one with scary purple dinosaur faces all over it." He gave her a hand on shoving the dress over her head, on top of her overalls and stained, pink shirt. She only twirled around, making magnolia shapes in the wind.
"So how do we get married?!" she asked him, still hopping feverishly, "What do I say? What do we do? When do I kiss you?"
Neji flinched at the mention of the ceremonial kiss. He did see that in the video. He was hoping Tenten didn't know enough about weddings to have an idea of the kiss. How would he make it out alive now? "Here," Neji decided to give a head start, handing Tenten a handful of baby's breath to hold as her bouquet, "I start: Tenten, I will always be your married friend, even if you run out of muffins to give me and even if you don't go to my birthday."
When Tenten resisted a laugh, Neji only gave her a persuading glare before she decided to say her part, "Neji, I will always be your married friend, even if you stuff ants into my lunchbox and even if you vomit all over my bed again," As Neji chuckled quietly, Tenten held her finger out and objected, "Okay, maybe if you throw up all over my bed again, I don't want to be your married friend anymore—"
"No!" Neji exclaimed, shaking his head as if he were to die soon, "It doesn't work that way, Tenten! We have to make a really important promise! One that we'd keep forever and ever and ever and whatever comes after that! No matter what, we have to be married friends!" He halted in his words, thinking, "What is it that they say again during weddings? Till… Till…"
Tenten thought, too, for a moment. Until she snapped her fingers and said, "Till death do us part!"
"Agh!" Neji yelped, nearly jumping back from her, "I don't want to die yet, Tenten! How could you?"
She clipped her tongue and explained, "It doesn't mean we're going to die! I asked my mom what it meant. She said it means that only death can take away our married friends. You know, like when Shino loses one of his bugs because it dies? There. If one of us dies, we lose each other. I think that's what it means. But dying is scary… I think…"
"Then, I don't like this fancy phrase, then. This… Death pop tart." Neji mumbled through tripping lips, "You know what I say? Even if we die, we're still married friends. You like that, Tenten?" He watched her stare blankly into his vast eyes, like it was an ocean horizon at sunrise, "Coz I like that, Tenten. You'll always be my married friend."
A fit of laughter blurt from Tenten. "Of course, Neji! I wouldn't want anyone else!" She threw a hug around his lanky figure, making him nearly fall. She bawled things about always remembering this moment all her life and she'd always tell her children about it, about her marriage with her good, old playmate. Neji only complained about her weight and less-than proportioned butt.
"Can I kiss you?" Tenten questioned, her eyes sparkling with excitement, "I know how! I kiss my mom all the time!"
"No kisses!" Neji rejected, shoving her a little away from him, "I don't know how and I don't want to! Can we just have a wedding hug? A wedding handshake? Anything but a kiss, Tenten! I'll get cooties!" But, Tenten continued to purse her lips before him until he suggested on the spur of the moment, "A wedding pink swear! That beats anything!"
Tenten only giggled. "Oh, fine. I don't want to get your cooties, anyway." She held up her pinky finger, waiting for Neji to cooperate.
He did, raising his finger to meet hers. The two stumpy pinkies entwined as they both said, "You're my married friend, forever…"
Neji added, "And ever."
At the addition, Tenten smirked and continued, "And ever!"
Finally, they both blurt out simultaneously, with cheeks aching with happiness they couldn't even understand, "And ever! Even after we die!"
The laughter from their hearts trembled the attic, the downstairs sofa, too. Their fingers stayed gripped together, seemingly never going to let go of the other. The baby's breath remained elegant with their chortles, the sunshine intricately shrouding their wedding scene. The rings twinkled against their skins, still chained to each other with the delicate satin ribbon Neji had fixed it with.
"Now what?" Tenten asked Neji, somewhat lost in their merry celebration, "We have a party, right? An after-wedding party? Whatchamacallits?"
At her remark, Neji nodded and motioned towards a turntable nearby, behind a few dismembered dolls his father had hidden. He has been told they thought they'd have a baby girl, till after the ultrasound. Almost painstakingly, Neji prepared it with a record and hoped it would suffice. "I couldn't find any of our favorite songs," Neji told Tenten, who cringed at the sound of Mozart, "But my father used to play this for me at night, before I sleep. And I always end up dreaming of nice things."
He went to her and held her hand, running inside a circle with their hands joined tightly and snugly. More bursts of laughter and satisfied statements came from their direction as their feet tapped against the floor, in their dance. Tenten, not minding the disgusting dress she had on, closed her eyes and squealed at the winding feeling growing in her chest. This is the best wedding ever!
Outside, anyone could watch the show, past the open window. The hum of Adagio sang through the streets, through the homes. And the sight of the two, dancing to their own song, was something one would not see everyday. At least, not in a lifetime like this. And, as much as Neji and Tenten did, those who'd accidentally see would wish such moments, such moments of what seems like a beautiful fairytale, would always be alive…
It was a bond they had made that will last past words, past reality, past… whatever's beyond forever.
Neji raised his voice over the music, "Next time," he said, "On the next time we play pretend wedding, I want to be the bride."
That last line just made me go WTF at my sick mind…