Title: Precious Nothings
Pairing: Hyuuga Neji and Tenten
Summary: From emotionally constipated boyfriends to misunderstood proposals; from braided hair to crazy weddings—from him to her—every moment is inexplicable, delicate, and absolutely nothing and everything at the same time.
Word Count: 2840
Beta: xx. false - deception
Warning: These are loosely chronological, but not entirely. POV may change with each prompt. Brief mentions of sex? Nothing explicit. ;)
01. absent (what do i do when you're not here)
Lee always knows what to say.
Neji's on another mission, and he won't be due to return for at least another week. Akatsuki is on the move, and the bijuu are being caught quicker and quicker. ANBU forces are sent all over the shinobi nations, searching for either the criminals, or the Jinchuuriki that are in danger.
But, when it's something as large-scale as that, and Tenten's sitting in Team Gai's training grounds, she can't fathom that.
She misses the comfortable silence she has with Neji when they take a break from sparring. She misses his presence.
"Tenten, do not worry." She glances over at Lee, who's sitting with her and watching a delicate ladybug crawl up his bandage-clad arm. "He'll be back soon."
She plays with the hem of her shirt. "How can you be so sure?"
The sparkle in his dark eyes doesn't fade, and the weight on her heart seems to lighten up, just the tiniest bit. Her teammate glances up at the sky, and points up at it. "Look. He's sent a messenger to tell you he's alright. And definitely returning."
When she follows his gaze, she finds a hawk circling above them, cawing loudly for all the world to hear.
02. breath; footfall (the only sound in the world)
She's quiet, he's quiet, and the entire house is quiet—
She's sitting on the bed, playing with a kunai, and he's in the bathroom, getting ready for bed—
And somehow, the world doesn't matter and all she can hear is her own heartbeat, the tap turning off in the next room over, and his breathing and the sound of his bare feet on the floorboards and the sudden ringing sound that appears every time her heart speeds up—
She hears the bedsprings squeak a little, and the almost inaudible sound of his fingers brushing her cheek—
And the bed sheets moving and folding when she lays back, and her kunai hitting the floor when he throws it away—
Her heavy breaths accompanying the graze of his lips just below her cheekbone—
It's all so loud, but it's all so quiet, and she can hear it all—
She can hear them.
03. connected (coiled inescapably)
He can't possibly understand what she feels about him.
When she spars with him, she remembers the feeling of their kunai clashing. She catalogues the pain when his fingers close off another tenketsu.
In a way, he causes her so much pain; with every brush of his fingers in the midst of battle, she falls a little more; with every smirk, her confidence deteriorates—and even when they're finished, and she's massaging her sore tenketsu, he'll sit a little ways from her, fixing and polishing his hitai-ate.
But even then, she thinks that they're connected in some way—she knows that he didn't mean hurting her that much; he's just too vain—and he knows that she wants some comfort.
So he'll stand, walk over to her, and offer to massage her sore arms and legs.
Because their lives are intertwined, just like their feelings.
04. create (anyone can destroy, but this is far harder)
He's broken so many things of hers before. Her weapons, her favorite cup—and, at one point, even her heart.
She decides, though, it's okay, as long as he makes up for it.
The first time he kisses her, she feels like she's on top of the world. No, more than on top of the world—beyond that—farther and farther and farther until Konoha doesn't even exist anymore, and there's no one to bother them or coo about how cute they're being.
With just a single kiss, Hyuuga Neji created an entire world.
And that's more than enough to make up for her weapons and her favorite cup.
05. devotion (faith as sweet as a promise, sharp as a knife)
It feels as though his world is going to end.
She's in his arms—his filthy, filthy arms—and he's ready to kill him for even considering touching his woman, and there is no way that he'll let this go, because she belongs to him—
"Neji! I thought you didn't want to take dancing classes? Why are you here?"
06. figment; fragment (is this really all you can be?)
And sometimes, he's so afraid.
He can feel it coming so inevitably. Death is waiting just on the brink of the horizon, watching for the right moment to pounce. Because death can come at any moment with lives like theirs.
"What do you want?"
And he can't believe that he's so feeble—so weak as a man, as a Hyuuga—as Neji, and just Neji—that he can't even protect himself, let alone the one he cares the most for. Because, if he's not alive, who's going to be the one protecting her?
"Are you alright?"
He can't fight against fate, and he can't fight against death.
"I'm just fine."
She takes his hand. "It's okay. We'll protect each other. Together."
But he can fight against everything else, with that little fragment of hope she gives him every second—every moment they're together.
07. guide (take it step by step, one foot then the other)
Gai watches two of his students.
He has taught them to spend time together; he has taught them to grow, he has taught them to understand—he has taught them to laugh, to play, to cry, to experience, to anguish—to feel. Because they can only do that when they're young.
He watches them slowly fall in love, and he smiles.
Perhaps, now, it's their turn to teach the rest of them.
08. holy (to bathe in water so pure…)
Neji never goes to the hospital after a mission.
After briefing with Tsunade, he always returns home—home, where Tenten is. As long as he has no severe injuries, he'll go home to where Tenten is.
He'll pull off his ANBU outfit, toss his mask onto the floor, and she'll already be in the bathroom, preparing the tub with warm water. He'll strip down to nothing and step into the bathtub, slowly lowering himself down. He's tired, he's filthy, and he's battered—but he'd take a bath at home that's prepared by Tenten than a bath at the hospital any day.
And then he'll just sit there, watching her with intent, but half-lidded eyes, as she gently washes off all the dirt on his body. He'll ignore the stings when the soap gets in the cuts, because a light brush of her fingers always makes it better.
And, he thinks, he truly is blessed to have her do these things for him.
09. ink (words written on my heart)
Lips to lips, flesh to flesh—she can't count or explain any of the feelings he gives her.
His hands are so cold, but they warm up when they press against her skin. When a shiver runs down her spine from it, she's only pulled closer to him—more lips, more flesh, more inexplicable feelings.
The words are heavy on her tongue, and she's begging to just get them out of her mouth—but another sound resonates in the room instead, and a blush rises steadily to her cheeks.
Fingers are weaving through his soft hair, shy eyes averted somewhere else—anywhere else. Ears hear a soft chuckle, and heightened senses feel the brush of skin; on her neck on her face—her navel, thighs, and—
She forces her lips open, but she can't say it.
His eyes are glazed over as their gazes lock, his bated breaths fanning across her skin. And somehow, it's as if he understands.
She can hear him silently screaming them back to her: those words that are written permanently on both of their hearts in searing ink.
10. joker (you're not very funny)
It's here. The moment that he's been waiting for—preparing for, imagining, and giving up so much just to go through with—
With much struggle, he lets go of his pride for a moment and falls to one knee, a ring in his hand.
She stares at him, and giggles.
"Very funny, Neji."
It's not a joke.
11. late (missed the best part)
Lee is bewildered.
When it comes to love, Neji is absolutely no match for him—and yet, somehow, he has gotten himself a girlfriend before he has.
It has taken the Hyuuga two weeks to ask Tenten out, one month to admit that they're in a relationship, and another week before he allows public displays of affection. Five years before he moves out of the Hyuuga compound into a small comfortable apartment with her, and another year and a half to propose. (Plus three months for him to propose the second time, and for her to say yes.)
He's always too slow, too late, too wrong—but she still accepts him with open arms.
But perhaps that's what love is, diligence or not.
12. morning (even the deepest night gives way)
"Are you afraid?" she asks him as they lay in bed, facing each other. Her fingers trace the mark across his bare forehead.
He doesn't answer for a moment, before he finally says, grudgingly, "At times."
It's quiet, and it's just them right now; no one else exists, and all that matters is their breathing and their voices and their words.
Fate is right there, burnt into his skin. In the moonlight, it almost glows a luminescent green as her sleepy eyes try to memorize the pattern. Even though she whispers it, it still feels as though she's being too loud, disrupting the tranquil silence that's coveting them.
"Are you afraid now?"
This time, he answers immediately; looking at her straight in the eye and without hesitation:
"Never when I'm with you."
Because in the morning, he puts his hitai-ate on with pride, and fate is hidden and pushed away, and does not exist for either of them.
13. noise; scene (make doves scatter)
Neji has imagined his wedding day to be quick, quiet, and civilized.
Well, it isn't.
When Tenten finishes with "I do," and the priest proclaims, "You may now kiss the bride," Naruto wolf-whistles in the crowd of bewildered Hyuugas, Sakura punches the air and yells in congratulations, and Lee and Gai scream in joy about youth, love, and lotuses.
His wife just surveys the crowd of people, looks up at him, and laughs.
And he decides that, maybe, a long, loud, and absolutely insane wedding isn't very bad either.
14. poison (corrupted from the inside out)
Slowly, but surely, he has destroyed her.
Her blood stains her white clothes, her breathing heavy and uneven. Her eyes are screwed shut in agony; Sakura is currently working on her, healing a lung that has been pierced by one of her three broken ribs.
"N-Neji…" Her hand is so cold. Her hold on his fingers so weak.
Fear grips his heart. He can prevent everything in the world—her dancing partner from touching her again, her taking his proposal as a joke—but he can't prevent fate or death.
He can't control the things he wants to control the most.
"You're all pale." Her dry, cracked lips curve into a feeble smile. "Are you scared I'm going to die?"
He can't speak. The words are choking him.
His heart is beating so quickly—if only he can share his heartbeat with her; give her life, blood, a new lung—his heart, even, if that's what's going to keep her alive—but he can't do it; Sakura's ignoring him and concentrating on her work, and he can't find it in him to speak—
He sits up, a muted scream shaped on his lips.
It's quiet. Looking to his side, he finds Tenten lying there under the covers, face buried into her pillow. Cold sweat dots his bare forehead—fate is prowling, death is inevitable—and he's afraid—but for the moment, he's just so, so relieved.
He sleeps the rest of the night with her in his arms.
15. renewal; reset (not everyone gets a second chance)
Neji scowls. "She is the one who started it."
Sakura rolls her eyes. "Stop being so childish. You're already really lucky that Tenten loves someone as emotionally constipated as you." His eyes narrow at her language. "Seriously. It doesn't matter who started it—just apologize. Everyone makes mistakes."
He's about the retort and tell her that, no, he isn't going to apologize for what he didn't do, but the medic's eyes glaze over in what seems to be tears and memories.
Her words are forever engraved in his mind. "Take all of the chances you're given—because not everyone gets a second one."
16. loyalty (smothered by luxury)
He can be on a mission with Yamanaka Ino for three weeks straight, and not say a single word to her unless it's for work.
He can ignore every single one of his fangirls from the moment he steps out of the Hyuuga compound to the moment he steps back in. He can resist every female who smiles at him—even the ones who play hard-to-get. Even the ones who strip down to almost nothing for him.
However, he can't ignore, nor can he resist the one who asks if she can braid his hair on a normal basis.
He grudgingly sits down and grunts, waiting for her fingers to undo the tie and run her hands through his hair.
17. truth (an honest answer isn't always a kind one)
"Tenten…" He breathes in deeply. "I would advise you to keep your hair in their buns whenever possible."
18. violence (does it make you stronger?)
He's doing it Lee's way, and punching a tree.
He doesn't even know why he's angry—it's these feelings that are bubbling up in his stomach every time she appears in his mind. It's the way it feels like his heart is burning. The way he can't think clearly. The way he feels completely vulnerable.
He only notices that she's there when his fist connects to her jaw.
She's glaring at him, blood trickling out of the corner of her mouth. "What are you doing?" she demands, eyes flashing dangerously.
Subconsciously, he straightens himself up and eyes the crimson against her skin. "Training."
Gently, she takes one of his hands, and his senses go haywire; his thoughts are wiped clean from his mind, and his heart begins beating like there's no tomorrow. She inspects his bloody knuckles, and frowns.
"Does this way of dealing with your emotions work?" She hit spot on. Her aim is always flawless, both literally and figuratively. She knows him too well.
She scrutinizes him for a moment. "No, Neji. It doesn't."
He hates it when she's right.
19. waiting (learned helplessness)
"Neji, will you kiss me?"
She knows slight desperation is laced into her voice, but she doesn't care. He's leaving for a mission tomorrow morning, and she knows—they all know—that the survival rate is under fifty percent.
With a pained expression, he takes her face into his hands and kisses her, long and hard.
"I'll wait for you," she breathes against his lips, the adrenaline coursing through her veins. Because waiting is all she can do, when she dreams of his eyes and his hands and his voice and his embrace. "I'll always wait for you."
He presses his forehead against hers. "You're so useless on your own."
The smile on her lips is soft. "Who do you think made me that way?"
20. year (faces that stay with you forever)
"It's not even that hard!" He can tell that her smile is forced. "Just an infiltration mission—really, I'll be back in no time—" She's choking on her tears.
"Hokage-sama said that it might take years." He feels as though he has to grab hold of her and hold on tight, because she's just like a thin sheet of paper; she could fly away with the lightest breeze, and she'll never return.
"Years pass by in a blink of an eye. I mean, look at us." She sweeps an arm out. "Can you believe we've been married for four years already?"
He frowns. "Time passes by one hundred times slower when you're not with me."
Her smile is genuine this time. "Aw, that's sweet. It's okay—just think of me, and everything will return to its usual pace." She pauses for dramatic effect. It works. "I'll be thinking of you. Your face, every single day. Your kisses…" Her lips brush his. "Your touch…" Her fingers lace with his. "Your scent…" Her nose presses against his cheek. "Everything. Even if it takes decades. I'll remember." She pulls away, and looks at him earnestly with chestnut eyes. "Will you?"
He breathes in deeply, knowing that if he says those words, he'll be agreeing to let her go for however long this mission is going to take.
A/N: It's been a while since I felt so charged. I was like, "Whoa, I feel like a total romantic right now…let's write NejiTen romance!" It was really random. (In a way, though, I don't think I've caught their personalities…)
If anyone's interested, I stole the prompts from 20_heartbeats on LJ, even though it was specifically for Kingdom Hearts. XP I thought they were nice and interpretable—just the way a writer likes them. ;)
(As if there weren't enough…Here are some bonus prompts. Because I couldn't end that on a sad note.)
21. simple (an innocent wish to be with you)
He sighs tiresomely. "Tenten, will you stop bothering me?"
She knows she's bothering him, and she knows that he doesn't want to be bothered. But if she doesn't bother him, it means that he's going to concentrate on his scrolls.
And when he concentrates on his scrolls, it means that he's not thinking of her.
She doesn't like it when he doesn't think of her.
She pokes him again.
22. sanctuary (to lay down hopes and dreams with you)
"I want to be the most famous weapons kunoichi in the world. I want to beat enemies up and protect all of my friends, so I can be happy with them." She looks at him. "What are you goals?"
"To aid Hinata-sama, the designated heiress, and join the main and branch families, so there will be no more conflict."
She smiles. "Those are nice goals."
"As are yours."
23. passion (searching for you from within the twilight)
She doesn't believe in fate, but she's gotten used to using it often in her everyday conversations because of Neji.
He'll always be there. Asleep or awake, near or far, alive or dead—he'll always be there. It can be bright, or it can be pitch black, but she can still feel him there, just waiting for her to reach him and let him hold her hand tightly.
And she'll always find him. No matter what obstacles that lay in her way, she'll always get to him—because that's how strongly she feels for him.
She'll get to him, and wait for him to show her more precious nothings that mean so much more than everything.
I was also planning to change my penname. I've had this one for nearly a year. My name's Rachelle, so I wanted something based off of that. Suggestions? Sort of simple, and as short as "Rachelle" can get. XD Yeah, I'm giving my name out over the internet (:O), but I feel that that way, I'll be closer to my readers. :3 (I liked Annie Sparklecakes old penname: annieberry. It was sweet and simple. I want something like that?)
And I made a poll. Go vote please. :) (God, this A/N is so long. D:)