Trapped

By Yellow Mask

(Part of the Anecdotes: Neji and Tenten series)

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Tenten was not going to laugh. Grin, yes, smirk condescendingly, yes, but not laugh.

Neji glared, an effect that was rather ruined by the fact that he was dangling upside down, his eyes level with Tenten's chin.

"Hey, Neji – did you need something?" she said, as innocently as she could. "My old stuffed rabbit, perhaps?"

She glanced at the toy whose movement triggered the trap – previously balanced precariously on the windowsill, to ensure it was triggered if someone tried to open it – now lying on the floor, one of its button eyes dislodged and hanging by a lone thread.

"I was only curious," Neji defended, trying to sound dignified. Of course, he was currently dangling upside down in a trap triggered by a stuffed rabbit – dignity was a long way off.

"Curious about a stuffed rabbit?"

"Curious about why it was in your room."

There was a short pause while Tenten tried not to giggle and Neji tried to ignore the blood rushing to his head.

"So...why haven't you gotten yourself out yet?" the brunette woman couldn't resist asking.

She noticed an odd noise that sounded rather like Neji was grinding his teeth. "Because I can't. This rope has somehow sealed my chakra."

"Neat, huh? Sakura made a couple – she's dabbling in seals now. I said they sounded like awesome ideas for traps, so she lent me some as long as I promised to tell her how it went, what improvements she needed, that kind of stuff."

She surveyed the dangling jounin. "I think it works pretty well, don't you?"

Neji didn't reply – she had the feeling he was trying to will the rope the break and end this indignity.

Feeling sorry for him, Tenten made the necessary seals to release and re-set the trap, but made no effort to cushion Neji's fall – the humiliation he'd just suffered would probably ensure he wouldn't sneak into her apartment again, but a bruise or two would make sure the lesson stuck.

He may be her teammate, her best friend (and she might, maybe, possibly, have a bit of a crush on him) but no one wandered around her apartment without permission; that was just creepy and stalker-ish.

"Why are you here, anyway?" she asked as Neji stood, dusting down his clothes and obviously doing his best to pretend he hadn't just spent the last few minutes dangling upside down in her snare. "Besides triggering my carefully-placed traps?"

"I'm a jounin now," he informed her.

"Yeah, I know that..." Tenten said slowly. Surely he wasn't stupid enough to try to pull the 'you must treat me with more respect' thing. She'd thought he'd gotten over that...

Neji's face looked almost pained as he went on. "So I'm sent on more solo missions now."

"That's true."

To Tenten's fascination, Neji actually appeared to blushing slightly. "So I don't...see you as often...and I was wondering...if you'd like to go training."

Tenten couldn't contain the grin that split her face – though she did manage to refrain from cooing and patting him on the head like he was a precocious puppy. "Sure."

Neji blinked, and actually looked surprised. "Really?"

"Yeah – why not?" she replied. "Just give me a minute or two to get my weapons and we can go."

Grabbing the scroll that contained her axes and scythes, and searching for the one that contained her maces and flails, she happened to glance at her companion and was surprised to see that Neji's blush remained in full-force on his cheeks. Granted a full-force blush for Neji only looked like someone had sprinkled cherry powder on his cheekbones – far from the florid maroon face Hinata sported – but Tenten had become used to Neji's 'tells'.

"Neji, I understand that these overtures to friendship are uncomfortable for your cool facade and all...but try to relax – from the look of you, anyone would think you'd just asked me out."

When there was no sound – not even a reluctantly amused snort – Tenten looked around. Neji's blush had become more prominent; the obvious flares of colour in his cheeks the darkest she'd ever seen them, and he was staring out the window as though the sky above had commanded his attention.

And Tenten realised. "Oh my god, you did, didn't you? That was your socially retarded attempt to ask me out, wasn't it?"

"Does that mean you're not going to train with me now?" Neji asked, still not looking at her and sounding very close to forlorn.

Tenten sighed. "No, but let me tell you now I expect a more romantic second date."

-xxx-

AN: Thanks, as always, to justcallmefaye