Her long, skilled fingers trailed over each bulging vein, completely disregarding the pair of white eyes scrutinizing her movement. Tenten furrowed her brows, mind wandering on the mechanics of such an impressive and powerful kekkei genkai.
"Tenten." Neji said firmly, a warning. Tenten did not waver, simply looked him in the eye for a solid ten seconds and rested her palms over his.
Neji sent her an ominous glare through his Byakugan. He knew she was trying to uncover his secrets, their secrets. She's treading on very dangerous waters. If even one Hyuuga so much as caught a glimpse of them, they were both doomed.
Suddenly, Neji once again felt cold, flexible fingers run over the sensitive skin of his temple. A chilling shiver ran up his spine, as he sighed. Tenten, too immersed in studying the workings of his inheritance, didn't notice how he shook, just the tiniest bit, at her touch.
"Tenten." He repeated, slightly pleadingly, and it catches Tenten's attention.
He grabbed her hand, all four fingers wrapped tightly in his, and placed a hand at her nape. With a harsh pull, he shoved their lips together. The kiss was quick and awkward and stiff, but it made Neji's heart flutter nonetheless.
When they pulled away, Neji kept their foreheads connected, holding her in place by her nape. "I trust you, Tenten." He said in a tone too professional. "That is why I'm letting you do this."
Tenten nodded weakly, eyes closed and heart pounding and head spinning. Her fingers fumbled with the hem of a shirt- whose shirt, she didn't know. "I know." She whispered.
"What we're doing, it merits grave consequences when found out by the elders."
He furrowed his brows. She was doing it again. She was acting exactly how the clan did, exactly how the clan wanted everyone to act. She was speaking in monosyllabic words, agreeing with everything he said. She wasn't supposed to do that- the Tenten he knew would never do that. "Stop that." He said, earning him a surprised look.
He didn't respond. She already knew. He knew she knew.
After what seemed like a long enough silence, Neji spoke. "The clan does not determine who you are."
"They determine who you marry."
"They don't." His voice was harsh, offensive and for a moment, he regret speaking to her like that. His heart broke at her wince. "I'm sorry. I just don't want you to think you need to change yourself for them." He cupped her cheek, caressing the space beneath her eye with a thumb. "I fell in love with you because you were free, unlike most of us. I want you to stay free."
She chuckled, despite the heavy tension, and he was quickly reminded why he loved her. "Well, if I'm gonna marry you, then I guess I won't be staying free for long, huh?"
He smiled a rare, genuine smile. "You're so sure we're going to get married." He said challengingly, like a question.
"Of course." She placed a palm over the hand cupping her cheek. "I don't love anybody else. You?"
He shook his head. "No one else. Just you."
She smiled brightly, touching his temple. With a quick clench and unclench of his eyes, Neji activated the Byakugan and let her fingers roam over the pulsing veins.
He loves her. He trusts her. He's going to marry her someday. And no clan is going to stand in the way of that.