Even at his cruelest, he had always kind to her.
"Hey Sakura, isn't that Hyuuga Neji over there?" Ino gestured towards the cream and coffee colored figure walking down the hallway of the sterile hospital halls. Her pink-haired, newly-reinstated best friend peaked over her shoulder, squinting her eyes at the shrinking figure.
"Yeah, I think it is Ino," Sakura replied, "What is he doing here?" she spat, annoyance and disgust evident in her bitter tone, not fogetting what he had done to their friend Hinata only last week during the Chunnin exam preliminaries. The cruel tone of his voice and harsh, superior look in his eye all thorughout the battle shaken her to the core, and she only felt her hatred of him increase as he continued to taunt and demean Hinata during their battle.
"I dunno...He's not injured or anything – d'you think he's here to visit someone?" the incredulousness in Ino's tone was poorly hidden, though Sakura doubted that Ino was trying. She didn't blame her friend – the idea that Hyuuga Neji, in his cold indifference to everything around him, and his utter contempt of anything weak, would actually be concerned enough to visit someone was, well, proposterous.
"D'you really think so?" Sakura asked, "Who could he possibly be here to see? I thought he'd take this time to train for the finals next month like clockwork."
Sakura blinked. "Ino?" Her friend had disappeared. She peered down the hallway, only to see a flash of blond whip around the corner – undoubtly Ino's hair, and hurried hastily to follow her.
"Ino!" she whispered urgently, "What are you thinking!? He'll notice us for sure! If he sees us we'll be the ones in the hospital! Let's go!" She pulled Ino's arm, trying to tug Ino away from following the Hyuuga's back down the hallway.
But Ino refused to listen, slipping her arm out of Sakura's grasp and slipping further along down the hallway. Sakura's worry only heightened, for surely the genius Hyuuga would not fail to overlook Ino's obvious presence. "Ino!"
She came to an abrupt stop, digging her heels into the floor as Ino stopped suddenly in front of her. Ino put a finger to her lips, silently motioning towards the prodigy that had slipped behind a white door. Ino tiptoed forward, coming to a stop beside the door and pressing her ear to the lightly to the thin door. However, there was no need, as even as Neji's voice was low and quiet, there was no one in the deserted hallway and his voice was easily heard in the echoing space.
"How are you feeling? The doctor said that your injuries have already healed. You should be released in a day or two."
"So he is here to visit someone!" Ino exclaimed in her surprised whisper, "I wonder who it is...?"
"Ino! We have to go! Before he catches us!"
She only waved her hand in a shushing motion, "Shhh-- someone's saying something."
"I feel great, Neji. Full recovered! If I'm out tomorrow, we can start perfecting your kaiten right away!"
Sakura froze, her eyes widening in shock at the high-pitch, undoubtly female voice as recognition flashed through her mind. "Is that-- that girl! The kunoichi on his team! The one that got beaten by the Sand girl. What was her name again...?"
"Tenten," Neji replied smoothly, "We have plently of time to perfect kaiten. I don't want to you to strain yourself."
"He's – he's actually worried about her!" They both looked at each other, mirrored shock in both their eyes, as they both raised their heads from their crouched positions to peek into the room through the glass window fitted into the wood.
Hyuuga Neji was seated on the edge of the hospital bed in the corner of the room, one hand entwined with his teammates' as the bun-haired kunoichi sat propped up against the bed's headrest. Her typical hairstyle had been forgone in favour of loose hair, an option not uncommon when one's head was often spent resting on a pillow. A steaming lunch tray was left abandoned on the bedtable beside them. There was a look of softness and gentleness in the Hyuuga's normally cold eyes as he gazed at the kunoichi that both frightened and amazed them.
"But Neji," Tenten protested, "You have to practice! The finals are in less than a month and you've barely been able to train because I've been in the hospital. I'm...I'm really sorry Neji – if I had been stronger, maybe--"
"Tenten." Neji cut her off, the sharp look in his eyes faltering her speech, "Don't be foolish. There's nothing you could have done. You fought well – but fate decided that that battle was not for you too win."
Brown eyes narrowed slightly in annoyance.
"Neji," Tenten said, leaning back into the mountain of pillows behind her, "Are you still going on about that? Not everything is because of fate, Neji. Weaknesses can be overcome, just as destinies can be changed."
"No-" Neji snapped, his mood dark all of a sudden, releasing their hands from their hold on each other, "My destiny has been decided long ago. I will always be a caged bird, tied down to protect the Main branch and all the twisted ideals they uphold."
"But things can change," she started, concern flowing through her eyes, "You can still chang--"
"No!" Neji snapped, his tone harsh and angry, like it had been during the hatred-tainted fight with his cousin; his demeanour had changed completely; his fist clenched and there was a burning hatred in his eyes. "The weak will be weak and fools like Hinata that think they can change will always be incompetant!"
Outside, both Ino and Sakura's fists clenched tightly, fingernails digging into the their palms until they were sure to draw blood.
Neji's eyes softened slightly, as if he had only remembered that he was in a hospital and Tenten was less than a foot away. "I apologize Tenten. I should not have acted to rashly towards you."
The raised his hand and brushed a stray piece of hair from Tenten's face, the pad of his thumb gently carressing her cheek.
"Neji," Tenten whispered slowly, placing hand over his, "Tell me what's wrong. What happened during your fight? Why won't you tell me?"
Neji looked away, but his hand continued to grasp her's tightly. "It was nothing. I fought Hinata-sama. She lost. That was it."
"If you say so." Tenten said relunctantly, disbelieving but not pressing the point.
On the other side of the door, Ino clearly was at her breaking point. "That- that bastard!" she hissed with absolute spite, "How dare he talk about Hinata like she's nothing! She's ten times the ninja he is!"
"Ino!" Sakura said, horrified. "Not so loud-!"
Thankfully, there was no reaction fron inside. Neji's voice spoke once more.
"Tenten, your chakra levels are running low from your last treatment. You'd better get some sleep. I will be here tomorrow for your discharge to take you home."
The rustling of sheetings was all at was heard for moments as the brunette settled in to her bed, but her eyes remained opened. "You baby me too much Neji."
Neji's lips twitched, as if wanting to smile, then said, very softly, "Just sleep Tenten."
Then he leaned over and pressed his lips against her forehead, a soft kiss in a rare display of emotion.
The kunoichi smiled contently up at him from her position on the bed, then yawned. She closed her eyes gently in search of slumber. Neji's left hand came up to stroke her hair in a soft, rythmic motion, lulling her gently to sleep.
After several moments had passed quietly, Ino and Sakura were sure that Tenten had fallen asleep.
"I know you're out there." Hyuuga Neji's voice had reverted back to its usual biting chill, and even through his monotone, it was clear he was not pleased. "It is hardly becoming of Leaf kunoichi to be caught eavesdropping."
Ino stood up, slamming the door open with a resounding crack and she glared at the byakugan user across the doorway, clearly unfearing. "Well I'd hardly say it's becoming of someone to want to kill the cousin they're supposed to protect! And talk to her like she will never amount to anything!"
The look in his eye did not change, his facial expression remained unfazed, and turning, if possible, even colder. Neji turned his glare on the two of them, and instinctively, they both felt a shiver crawl down their backs. "Do not talk about things you do not know."
Ino's fury only heightened at the last statement, as she remembered the look of desperating in Hinata's face; forcing herself to stand, even as her heart slowed and her own blood decorated the stone floor. "I know enough," Ino said, "to know that you're nothing but a cold, heartless bastard who deserves nothing more than hell he has. Hinata gave it everything to fight you, to earn your respect, yet you only stepped all over her like she meant nothing to you! She's your cousin for goodness sake!"
His pearl-like eyes narrowed in comtempt. He pulled his fingers carefully from where they were woven with Tenten's brown locks, making sure not to accidently pull on her hair. He raised himself from the bed, slowly walking towards the two kunoichi. They both took a step back, involuntarily, afraid that he might hurt them.
"Who are you to think that you can make these judgements? Why should she be special just because of familial bonds? The only relation between us is blood. Just because she is my cousin, does not mean I must be kind to her. In the world of shinobi, only the strong survive. Destinies are predetermined, and from birth, your path has already been set. Hinata is weak. She is unworthy. And judging from the extent of your capabilities, I you are hardly any better."
"Oh yeah?" Ino challenged, "Then I supposed that that she isn't worth much either, considering her utter defeat." She sneered at Tenten from her position near the door.
"Ino," said Sakura from behind her, tugging on her friend's arm, "That was out of line. You should apologize."
The Hyuuga's eyes flashed; an unspoken threat hung in his angry orbs.
Ino gulped, but refused to relinquish her ground. "Be - be quiet Sakura."
Neji wasn't quite so forgiving. His eyes now turned into dangerous slits that were nothing but pure hatred. The very air between them seemed to be charged with electricity; burning. "Do not talk about Tenten like that. Ever. Or I will make you regret the day you were born."
"Why?" Ino snapped, "Worried about her? Insulted? You bastard. How can you be so nice to her when you treat the rest of the world like crap?! What has she ever done to deserve your respect, huh?" She raised her hand quickly, then brought her arm down, clearly intent on slapping the Hyuuga prodigy.
A bandaged hand swung upwards in the same instant, two chakra-charged fingers ready to strike.
Ino shot back in surpise when a hand reached out grabbed her, effectively halting the motion. Ino swiveled her head around. "Asuma-sensei!"
"Ino," her mentor said gravely, "This is a hospital. What do you think you're doing, raising all this ruckus?"
"But-" Ino protested, "He said--"
"I know what he said," Asuma interrupted, "but it's hardly any of your business. Let them deal with it themselves. You're only asking for trouble."
"Ino." The jounin's tone was firm, clearly indicating she was in no position to argue against him.
Ino lowered her arm, resigned, but did not retract her glare at the equally furious prodigy. "Come on, Sakura. Let's go."
Sakura nodded, eager to remove herself from the mounting tension, and quickly followed her friend out the door.
Asuma looked over at the young man still standing in the room, his pale eyes boring into him, as if daring him to make a move; his arms were raised in defense – or attack – his face clearly on edge. The way he stood in front of his teammates' body, shielding it, did not go unnoticed to the older shinobi, who sighed and turned away.
"Relax, kid. No one is going to touch her."
"Why are you still here?" There was no humility in his tone, no shame in his previous actions, only cold statements and grudging respect to someone who was senior.
"To stop my student from doing someone she'll regret." Asuma replied seriously, "I've got to go now too. I look forward to watching you in the finals."
With that, Asuma, too, left, in a hazy screen of smoke.
Neji stood quietly in the room, with only the sound of Tenten's quiet breathing falling on his ears. He turned, once again, to face her. She was frowning, the crease in her forehead tightening her features. His fingers instinctively traced the outline of her face, as if they could not bare to see her so wound up, and gradually, her features smoothed.
"Neji," she sighed, and turned her head and leaned towards his touch.
He smiled. It was small, unseen to them both, but, as it had been for a while now, only for her.
The shy heiress turned around in surprise, smiling slightly at the sight of her friends heading towards her.
"Sakura-chan, Ino-chan," Hinata greeted, "It's nice to see you."
As they drew closer, she could see that someone had clearly agitated them, as Ino was stomping down the hallway with the ferocity of a bull and Sakura trailed behind her, a worried expression etched upon her face.
"Ano..." Hinata started, worried, "What's wrong?"
Ino stomped to a halt in front of her, her eyes burning with indignation. "We ran into that bastard of a cousin of yours at the hospital today."
"More like you followed him," Sakura mumbled from behind her. Ino ignored her.
Hinata felt a shiver shoot up her back, a reaction long associated with any mention of her prodigy cousin. "Nii-- you saw nii-san? Why was he at the hospital?"
"Can you believe it?" Sakura cut in, "He was visiting his teammate!"
"Tenten-san?" Hinata questioned, then shook her head. Of course it would be his female teammate – the Hyuga doubted that Neji would take time from training to visit Lee.
They both nodded. "He was just so...nice to her! He was insulting all of us like second nature, and didn't give a damn about anything, but the moment we said anything about his teammate-"
"You -you insulted Tenten-san?" Hinata's eyes widened considerably. "You must never do that! Ni- Nii-san always takes great offense for her sake." She did not speak from experience, but rather from observation at very few others that had dared to do such a thing.
"No kidding," Sakura raked her fingers through her short locks, incredulousness still evident in her tone. "He threatened to make us regret the day we were born if we ever even so much as breathed wrongly in her direction."
"Nii-san has always be very kind towards Tenten-san." Hinata stuttered, blushing deeply as she remembered an incident not too long ago when she had accidently walked in on Neji holding Tenten in a loving embrace. She, in her shock, had squeaked and fled immediately as Neji turned his all-seeing stare on her. "There are very few things he would ever deny her."
"Why is he so nice to her, Hinata?" Ino asked, "Why does he treat her like royalty when everyone else is forsaken as less than trash? What has Tenten ever done to deserve such...kindness from him?"
Hinata was silent for a moment, deep in thought as she recalled the moments in time that had led Neji to become as he did. For as long as she could remember, Neji had always been with Tenten, rarely ever leaving her side. "Neji-nii-san has cared for Tenten-san for as long as I can remember. She has always been there for him, as a symbol of stability in times of need. But as for why...I do not know."
Ino and Sakura stared at her, mouths agape. "Times of need? Neji?"
"Wh-When he watched her defeat in the exams, he was irrationally angry," Hinata continued timidly, stuttering as she recalled his mood when he returned to the compound at the end of that day, "That he could not protect her like he always had, and that Fate, as he said, very nearly took her away from him."
"He's in love with her," Ino said softly, and despite disbelief carved into her features, there was no real surprise.
"Yes," Hinata nodded, her voice slightly envious, for she had never known the feeling of being loved, "He loves her very much – so much so that he would give up the entire world if it would protect her."
"It's kind of sweet," Sakura said wistfully, looking up and remembering that she, too, suffered from unrequainted affections, "In it's own twisted sort of way. How much he loves her. It's every girls' dream you know, to be in love like that, and to have a guy care about her so much that the whole world means nothing in comparison."
"Congratulations, Neji, Lee, Tenten. You're all now chunnin."
The three members of Team Gai all simutaneously bowed before the robed figure of their Hokage, accepting their chunnin vests with the utmost sombreness. "We are most honoured, Tsunade-sama."
All seriousness aside, the female Sanin removed her curtained hat and smiled at them, her brown eyes filled with approval. "I know you will serve Konoha well, as you have always done so in the past."
As they exited the Hokage tower, along with several other members of the Rookie 9 that had been promoted with them, the satisfaction of their achievements still heavily instilled in their moods. Tenten slipped her hand into Neji's, smiling slightly when she felt him squeeze her fingers in reply. Lee swiveled around in his step, the tears of happiness in his eyes overflowing as he ran off, no doubt to inform Gai-sensei of this most youthful occurence.
A moment later Sakura and Ino dragged the rest of the rookies down to Ichiraku's to celebrate, leaving Neji and Tenten alone in the quiet hallway.
The two of the continued forward down the deserted corridor, Tenten walking a little closer to the Hyuuga and resting her head on his shoulder. His pearly gaze landed on the woman beside him fondly, and he let the barest semblance of a smile escape his stoic facade.
"It's a big step forward," Tenten said, her brown orbs staring up at him with a sparkle in them, "from genin to chunin. D'you think we'll be able to do it?"
Neji pulled his hand from her grasp, instead taking that arm and wrapping it gently around her waist and drawing her closer to him. He brushed his lips over her cheekbone then smirked at her blushing face. "Of course, as long as we're together."
"Neji! You're a jounin now!" She threw her arms around him with so much force she nearly toppled him backwards out into the hallway of her apartment, burying her face in the crook of his neck and inhaling his scent. The newly-instated jounin snaked his arms around her slim waist, enjoying the feel of her warm body enveloped securely in his arms.
Tenten raised her eyes to meet his, her mouth grinning so widely that Neji was sure he could count each and every one of her pearly white teeth. Her eyes, too, shone with joy for his sake, but there was also something in them he couldn't place, something he didn't like. He narrowed his eyes slightly – had someone hurt her? If they did, Neji silently vowed to himself he would hunt them down and destroy them until even their soul would not be spared.
"You look great in these new Hyuuga robes of yours either. A gift from your uncle?" At his nod, she smiled, knowing that Neji's relation with the Main household had improved dramatically over the years. "They suit you," she gently fingered the long sleeve of his outer robe, "They're very...Neji-like."
Neji moved his face to hers so closely that their noses brushed and she could feel the wind of his breath on her suspiciously dry lips. Tenten's breath caught in her throat, entranced by the milky orbs that stared at her passionately, tinted lavender with an intensity that only she had ever known. "Thanks," Neji breathed. "You don't look so bad yourself." He motioned towards the thin nightgown and silk robe she had hastily slid on, amused.
Tenten flushed, pulling the robe tightly so as to close it a bit more. "Pervert." she muttered.
"So," Neji continued, smirk still etched in his unmarred face, "Are you going to invite me in? People are beinging to wonder." Sure enough, the other residents of her building had begun to stop and stare as they passed by them in the hall. Tenten elevated to an even darker shade of red, and without ado, dragged him into her apartment and slammed the door closed.
Breathing heavily, both in embrassment and adrenaline, Tenten attempt to recompose herself somewhat, and stood up straight to look at Neji. He stared right back – but the look in his eye had changed. It was not his usual cruel stare – no, he had never used that look with her; but it was stern and blank and clearly showed that he knew she was hiding something from him.
"Ummm..." Tenten said awkwardly, staring down at the carpeted floor, hoping to avoid unwanted discussion. "I'll go make some tea." She quickly walked past the silent shinobi, silently hoping he wouldn't see the nervous twitch in her step. But then, he had always noticed everything.
A hand shot out to grab her wrist and effectively halt her movements. "Tenten," Neji said, his voice stern, "Something is bothering you."
She gave a forced laugh, turning to face him but not quite meeting his eyes. "It's nothing Neji, really."
Byakugan eyes narrowed. Something was clearly on her mind. "Tenten, you have never been able to hide anything from me. So tell me what's bothering you."
"It's nothing Neji – really --"
"Tenten." There was something about the tone of his voice that made Tenten want to melt; the way he said her name, how it rolled so smoothly off his tongue, like an intimate carress. She flushed red, again.
"Tenten," Neji repeated, the sharp edge now gone, instead replaced by a soft, concerned tone as he titled her chin up so her brown orbs could look at him in the eyes. "Tell me what's wrong. I don't like seeing you like this. Did someone hurt you?"
An angry glint sparked in his eye at the thought and a possessive urge immediately clawed it's way up in his stomach. Tenten shivered slightly at the predetory look.
"No – no," the brunette reassured hastily, remembering the last time someone had 'hurt' her. "No one's done anything."
"Then what's wrong?"
"It's just..." she bit her lip anxiously, her eyes darted around the room, looking anywhere but at him. "I'm scared." she confessed. "It's so stupid, I know," she said to his probing stare, "but now that you're a jounin, you'll be given more solo missions, and..." she choked on her breath slightly, "...you might leave the team...and me."
Byakugan eyes softened at the bun-haired girl in front of him. He brushed his hand across her cheek, softly turning her face towards him. He frowned slightly at the crystal layer glazed across her honey-tinted irises, and leaned down, kissing away her sadness as well as her tears.
When he pulled back, he brought her body close, one hand threaded through silky strands of vanilla scented hair, the other circled firmly around her waist. "Tenten," his voice was husky as lips grazed her ear.
She shivered slightly in her thin nightgown, then leaned closer into his warm embrace.
"They could offer me the entire world, and I'd never leave your side."
"Did you hear? Neji-san is fighting with the Elders!"
"Of course! Neji-san brings her over to the compound often. She's very nice."
"You know how's he's completely in love with her?"
"Yeah," a dreamy look accompanied the blissful look on the young girl's face. "It's so sweet, how he always holds her hand, and glares at any guy that gets near her, and looks at her like she's the only one in his world..."
"Well," the other female continued angrily, "those bastard Elders refused to let him marry her, and when he asked why, they sprouted all this crap about how she was unworthy and a disgrace and started insulting her really badly. Got him really mad. Pretty much blew up right there – I heard he threatened to estrange himself from the clan if they didn't take it back."
"What?" A shocked look permeated her regal Hyuuga features. "There's no way! Did they punish him with the curse seal?"
Her cousin lowered her voice. "That's the thing – they can't. Only the current clan head can authorize the use of the seal, and Hiashi-sama refused to use it on his nephew. Both him and Hinata-sama are completely in support of his relationship with his girlfriend."
"So what's going to happen now? Surely he won't leave the Hyuuga clan."
"Hiashi-sama overrode the Elders and convinced them that she was a strong a reliable kunoichi, and that having Neji-san leave the clan, especially with his skill, wasn't worth it by a long shot."
She sighed. "Thank goodness. So he's going to propose?"
Her cousin nodded enthusiastically. "Yup, he's taking her out to dinner tonight at The Lotus."
"Aww..." her pearl eyes clouded over in her daydreams. "That's the most upscale restaurant in Konoha. He's really going all out! Who knew cold, insufferable Neji-san would have such a soft side for the woman he loved..."
"And he's so young too..."
"Oh yeah," she paused in thought, "Isn't Neji-san only seventeen? That's a bit young, even for Hyuuga standards."
"Well, they won't be married until his eighteenth birthday, when they're both legal, so it's not too early to get engaged." She snorted. "And it's not like he's ever going to like anyone else. She's always been his entire world – and Neji-san knows that. They're destined to be together anyway, so why wait?"
"That's very true."
"What's true, Harumi-san?" A cheerful voice asked from behind the Hyuuga cousins. They both swiveled around to see the girl of their cousin's affections looking curiously at them, breathtaking in a stunning kimono of red and gold silk, diamonds sparkling in her ears.
"Tenten-san!" The two of them gasped, wondering how she managed to sneak up on them. Then again, they thought wryly, spending almost every waking moment with Hyuuga Neji meant his habits tended to rub off on you.
"Harumi-san, Hitomi-san," Tenten inclined her head towards them, then broke into a wide smile. "So, what's very true?" She tilted her head in questioning, her eyes catch the rays of fading evening sunlight, making them shine like amber jewels.
"Noth-nothing," Harumi hastened, not wanting to spoil the surprise the bun-haired kunoichi no doubt was in for.
"Tenten." A smooth baritone voice said behind them, resulting in another shock for the two Hyuuga girls. They swiveled in shock for the second time that day to see their prodigy of a cousin standing regally in the hall, clad in traditional formal dress, his eyes drinking in the sight of his glowing girlfriend.
"Neji!" Tenten said, a look of utter happines gracing her soft features, gliding smoothy despite being bound tightly with silk, into his waiting arms. He held her close for a second, before leaning in to claim her lips.
Hitomi and Harumi took it as their cue to give the couple some privacy, and slipped from the hallway with the airless silence the Hyuuga had long perfected.
"You look beautiful, Tenten." Neji said in a rare compliment, offering his arm to the brunette. "The color suits you."
A pink flush painted her skin as she placed her hand in the crook of his elbow, a bright smile quickly spreading on her painted lips.
Neji smiled slightly as he took in her embrassed reaction, taking pleasure in the fact, that hopefully after tonight, he would be able to see the smile he loved so every day for the rest of his life.
It was a beautiful wedding. After the Sound invasion and the devastating war that ensued nearly a year ago, it was the knowledge that this sort of beauty still existed that kept the shinobi of the Leaf working to reach that brighter future.
The brighter future that, twelve months ago, had seemed so distant and unattainable.
It was a spring wedding, when the petals from the sakura blossoms floated carelessly in the soft breeze, and a tranquil ambiance hung in the air.
The Hyuuga gardens had been adorned from marble pillars to oaken pews with long widths of opalescent mother-of-pearl silk, arranged beautifully at regular intervals to form elaborate floral imitations; silver pins held them carefully in place. Delicate arrangements of crimson roses dotted with baby's breath sat in crystal vases scattered evenly across the sea of white tables, where porcelain and shining silverware glittered in the golden sunlight.
The stunning monument of confectionary that was the wedding cake was raised on a silk covered podium, resting on a silver platter, five layers of painstakingly baked perfection, coated in delicately shaped icing bunched sporadically in elaborate patterns.
But none of this was in anyone's mind at the moment, for the crowd of carefully dressed guests – including shinobi, civilian, and foreign ambassadors alike – all had their attention was stolen in the single second when the bride emerged from behind a set of similarly embellished doors.
Radient in her pearl-white shiromuku robes (that had the same subtle silvery tint as her soon-to-be-husband's eyes, she had noticed upon first sight of the garment), Tenten smiled serenly as she glided down the aisle with the elegance worthy of aristocracy, her eyes set firmly at the sight before them.
White eyes – hardened by death and war, but still kind in their gaze for those who knew them – stared unabashedly back, softening as Neji gazed at her with the perpetual love that she had been blessed enough to experience.
"Tenten, we've been together for a long time."
He reached out to hold her hand in his, leading his bride up the marble steps and under the decorative alter until they stood side by side. Her hands remained firmly clasped in his much larger ones.
"From the beginning, I have never had any doubt, that you are everything to me. There is nothing I would ever deny you, if only it made you smile."
The priest started to speak, a long, flowery sermon that would have made their Gai-sensei proud, and cling to Lee in their mutual happiness, tears tracing rivers down their faces; Lee surreptitiously wiped a watery eye.
The bride and groom gazed at each other, white eyes locked with brown, the priest's voice distant in their secluded, two-person world.
"We have relied on each other, through times of sorrow as well as joy. You have always been, and still are, the very center of my world."
Small bowls of sake were presented to them on a lacquer tray. Three sips, one from each bowl. Their gazes never separated.
"You have always stood by my side, and I by yours."
Rice showered them from both sides, pelting them as the joyus guests around them wished them happiness and luck and all the success in their marriage in the form of staple nutrition. All of them, of course, had no doubts from the beginning that the union was destined right from the start.
"So now, I ask of you a chance to remain like this – by my side – forever."
Sparkling diamonds and bands of gold were exchanged, slipped onto slender fingers with an almost intimate carress.
He swung her in by the waist, holding her closely to his chest, against his beating heart. Arm snaked around her bound waist, stared into her sparkling orbs, silent love and adoration pouring unguarded through them.
"Will you become my wife? And be mine forever?"
Then, he leaned in, and with all the unexpressed emotion that the world had never seen in the stoic man, he cupped her cheek and pressed his lips to his new bride's in a fiery, zealous kiss for all the world to see.
"I've always been yours, right from the very start."
But then again, the world had always known.
A/N: So. So. It was cheesy. It was lame. It was completely idealistic and probably will never happen in two million years.
But...plot bunnies are evil and refuse to leave you alone until you write them. And I've been on a NejiTen high for the past few days...so...this was the result (that, and, some fanart that will probably raise a couple eyebrows from those who know me). The ending...isn't exactly what I imagined, but the first ending I had (which I liked better), I lost because I forgot to save before I shut down the computer...-mopes-