Contest entry for the ShinoTen Fanclub on NarutoFan Forums. Link: .?p=26345384#post26345384 Prompt: Winter. I couldn't resist a snowball fight. And I enjoy writing Lee so very much, I just had to turn it into Team 8 vs. Team Gai fic. I want to have a snowball fight with this crew!
In case the switching from point-of-view to point-of-view is unclear: POV switches at the bold onomatopoeias.
Story: Tactics and Snowdrifts
Characters: Shino, Tenten, Lee, Neji, Hinata, Kiba, Akamaru
"Ackshh…! Aaahh…yes, well, amazing accuracy as always, Tenten-san!" Lee reached up to rub the now throbbing lump on the back of his head with his mittened hand, thick snow melting through and soaking the woolen material.
Recovering gracefully with speed imbued from years of conditioning with Gai-sensei, Lee ducked back behind the nearest snow bank to calculate his next move.
Tenten-san was nowhere to be found. Unfortunate! He would need to wait for another opportunity to deliver his swift retribution. Meanwhile, there was Neji-kun, in clear view…not even bothering to hide! A perfect opening!
Lee knew that Neji-kun did not appreciate such winter pastimes as he and Tenten-san. But that did not mean he was no longer a target when a friendly snowball fight broke out.
Gathering a large amount of snow, compacting it into the perfect size, he quickly estimated his path, and jumped into action. A silent dash behind the nearest drift, wind up, aim, and THROW!
Yes…well. The Byakugan were a bit of an unfair advantage in these games. Especially when the user was unwilling to participate! No matter—even if Neji-kun chose to dodge, Lee would succeed in this fight, and if for some reason he was unable, he would run 100 laps around the town carrying as much snow on his back as he could lift!
Then he spotted her, from the corner of his eye—Tenten-san, it appeared, had set up fort behind a large drift near the entrance to the training grounds. And it seemed she had spotted him as well! Speed was to his advantage once again: despite Tenten-san's superior accuracy, the snowball had left his hand before she had finished calculating a trajectory!
Unfortunately, Tenten-san's duck rivaled the speed at which the snowball had left Lee's mittened hand, flying directly over her head, and…
The tall figure wiped the remnants of a now disintegrated ball of frozen water particles from his goggles. This was an unexpected greeting at best.
Kiba was now rolling at his feet, finding something entirely more entertaining than it actually was. Hinata's soft giggles seemed torn between amusement and sympathy. It would seem that Team Gai had already garnered possession of the training grounds…and for a purpose entirely unrelated to…training.
One thing was for certain, had the snowball been compacted more densely, Lee-san's throw would have produced a solid hit. He would make sure to repay him in full.
"AHhahaha! Shino! You should see your face," Kiba commented as he swiped the tears of mirth from his cheeks. "So, whaddya say, Shino? Is payback in order?"
A quirk of an eyebrow was all the answer that was needed. But Shino was not the type to let an open opportunity go to waste.
"AHHH—fffhhh!!" The third teammate of Team Gai had just met his match with a drift of snow falling from above. Not for the first time, Shino truly appreciated the benefits of having an entire army of beetles at his disposal for just these sorts of occasions—apparently they were quite skilled in methods of snow-warfare. He silently watched as Hyuuga Neji emerged from his snow coffin, soaked to the bone, venting his irritation. Ahh…vengeance was sweet.
"Well, damn, Neji! Couldn't have been more of a sitting duck if you were Naruto at Ichiraku with Sasuke's haircut!" The Hyuuga's glare was one to be feared—he knew as such and used it accordingly. He did not seem to notice, however, that it had no affect on Kiba.
The Inuzuka's feral grin was the last thing Shino saw as his teammate ran for cover, be-lining for the Hyuuga.
Hinata glanced up with a small smile at Shino. "So, Akamaru, what do you think? Shall we?" She waited for the dog's bark of confirmation before jumping into action, Akamaru sniffing out Rock Lee with relative ease.
Now for the only remaining target. It seemed she had slipped away to a new hiding space shortly after Team 8's arrival. This was not a problem—she could easily be found.
CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH
Hinata cringed at the sound of her footsteps on the freshly fallen snow. She knew the sounds were a dead give away, but despite her best efforts, she could not avoid them. Akamaru had gotten away from her; he had effortlessly chased down Rock Lee but had become distracted when his ninja companion had demanded backup in his attack on her cousin.
"Byakugan!" She knelt quietly in the snow, scooping some up as she scanned the area for her opponent. There he was! Hiding behind a tree, preparing to defend Neji-nii-san.
Only for a moment, Hinata found herself torn. Defend her cousin? Or support her team? Neji-nii-san would not be pleased if she chose the latter…but…this was just a game, wasn't it? Surely he would be understanding in this case.
Pulling herself up with all the stealth she could muster, she dodged behind the trees, and threw with all her might!
She allowed herself a small smile in celebration of the successful hit. Until she realized the strength of the impact… "Lee-san!" She hadn't intended to injure him! Yet, there he was, sprawled on the ground…not moving. Oh no…what had she done? She quickly ran to where he lay, tentatively kneeling beside him, sighing with relief as he sat up of his own accord.
"Aaaaah… Very nice throw, Hinata-chan. That is twice today I have been caught off guard! I shall have to ensure it does not happen again!" he said, as he dusted the snow out of his hair. "Hinata-chan? Are you…alright?"
Her worry must have been present in her expression… "Ano, Lee-san, I am well. I didn't hurt you did I?" She extended a hand to help him up.
"Hurt me? Do not worry yourself Hinata-chan!" She helped him to stand. "It will take much more than a few snowballs to the head to injure me! Not that your throw was not strong—just the opposite actually..." he said as wavered slightly on his feet. "Quite strong indeed…"
Hinata could not contain her blush of pride.
Glancing off into the clearing, Hinata looked on her honored cousin's current predicament. Lee's attention followed her gaze, "Ah, it seems Neji-kun is caught in an unfair fight! Two on one. What do you say, Hinata-chan? Shall we rescue him with all our youthful battle skills?!"
Hinata's pleasant smile answered in the affirmative. She watched as Lee scooped up another ball of fresh snow, and lobbed it as hard as he could in the direction of Kiba.
"GODDAMNIT, LEE! There was some ice in that one! Hurt like a little bitch…" It had come out of nowhere too...it completely distracted Kiba from the problem at hand. Before he knew it, Neji had disappeared again.
Rubbing his sore shoulder, he turned on the spot, "Don't bother running, Hyuuga! I'm not done with you yet!"
What a great day this had turned into! Shino, being the uptight ass he was, had insisted that "daily training was necessary," and that "snow conditions were a frequent obstacle on missions, but the ability to train in them was rare in Konoha." How's this for training, eh bug breath?
In Kiba's opinion, all out battle was much more entertaining.
"Akamaru, wanna sniff Neji out for me, bud?"
He paused, squinting in the direction of a tree not far away. Had…that knot just moved? Maybe he was going crazy…or maybe Lee's ice-ball had clipped him in the head too…but that knot didn't really look much like a knot. It looked like a…bun.
"Nevermind, boy, new target," he commanded grabbing a large handful of snow off a low-hanging branch. Tenten had managed to escape much of the battle thus far. Not for long!
Snow went flying mere centimeters in front of her nose from the snowball's impact on the tree trunk, snowy debris landing in her eyes. She had known this hiding place wouldn't last long…but how had Kiba found her?
Great…now she couldn't see too. She scrubbed her eyes…who knew snow in the eyes could hurt that much? She had become an easy target and she knew it.
Feeling her way around tentatively, with one watering eye half open, she found a decent recovery spot at the base of a tall pile of fluffy snow. This would do for now.
Tenten was slightly disappointed in herself…she hadn't had an opportunity to land a good hit since she'd bulls-eyed Lee. Utter confusion had broken out when Team 8 had chosen to join the fray, not that she minded—it was like inter-team bonding except much more entertaining.
And the look on Shino's face when Lee's throw connected made all of this chaos sooo worth it.
It wasn't like Tenten to run and hide from a fight…now that her eyes seemed to be working properly again, it was her turn to make some moves happen. And Team 8 was the target.
Peaking just above the top of the drift, she spotted Hinata scooping up some snow, clearly not paying any attention to what was behind her. That'll do.
She threw. Right on target! Or…it would have been. How did that snowball come to a complete stop in midair?
"UMFF!" She opened her eyes to find herself face-first, sinking into the drift of snow behind which she had been hiding.
"You are wondering how you got here. You should pay closer attention to your surroundings, Tenten-san."
"SHINO? What…how…? Where…" She was flabbergasted. Now whether that was because she was ashamed not to notice him sneaking up behind her, or whether it was because he had tackled her into the snow drift was beyond her.
"Where did I come from? The answer is obvious. From behind you."
"Clearly!" Twisting her body around as much as she could under his weight to look him in the face, "but that doesn't explain the tackling! This is a snowball fight, not all-out warfare!"
"You left an opening. I…took advantage of it. I was under the impression that this was a 'no holds barred' event. A snowball to the back of the head seemed insufficient retribution for a blindsided hit to the face."
She was sure her exasperation had spread to her face. "'Retribution?' In case you didn't notice, I had nothing to do with you getting hit in the face. That was Lee."
"You ducked. It was a well-aimed throw. Had you not moved, it would have hit you and not me. Therefore, it is your fault."
It was amazing how his expression didn't change the slightest. It was…intimidating. Well…maybe part of it was the fact that she was still pinned in the middle of a very large snow drift, and it was his fault. That was slightly intimidating too.
"Besides," he continued, "Lee will be taken care of."
Her incredulous expression only deepened at the sound of swarming kikkai quickly disappearing from their general vicinity…
How had he gotten into this? He had wanted nothing to do with it…Lee was well aware of it. Yet he just had to go and start things. But beyond that, now he just HAD to step out of the way as a snowball (clearly directed from the Aburame, if the beetles were any clue) fell…only to have it hit Neji himself.
He was already soaked to the bone, thanks to Lee getting Team 8 involved…and thanks to the Aburame (he would pay. Dearly.). But just to add insult to injury, those bugs had to position themselves right in his blind spot. This was not his day.
And everyone was going to pay.
Lee, at least, had the decency to look apologetic as Neji perfected his strangle-hold, rubbing snow into his hair and face. "This is all your fault, you know that!? I won't fall for this again, Lee. 'Neji! Let us train in the snowy conditions!' Tenten fed that excuse to you, didn't she?"
Neji had stopped paying attention to Lee's peals of desperation ("I am sorry, Neji-kun! I did not think it would come to this! Please stop dunking my head in the snow! I cannot breathe down there!") the moment he noticed the kikkai returning to a large drift of snow on the opposite side of the clearing.
He didn't think much of it until he saw what was IN the snowdrift.
"Ah, Neji-kun, thank you for your mercy! I humbly apologi-- Neji-kun? What is the matter?"
Neji must have not woken up this morning. Yes. This was a dream. A terrible nightmare. Nothing had happened, he was warm and dry at home in his bed. His mind had not been subjected to the vision it was taking in right now.
It was the only explanation.
"Neji-kun? Can you hear me?" Lee's gaze followed Neji's own, soon to be followed by the stares of Kiba and Hinata.
"What's the problem? It's just a snowbank…" Kiba 'astutely' observed.
Silence reigned until Hinata gasped…
He wasn't dreaming. Hinata could see it too.
Where had all the sanity in this world gone?
"What is it Hinata-chan?" Lee inquired.
"Wait, they're in THERE? In the SNOW? DAMN, Shino! I didn't know you had it in ya!"
Soon a pair of chocolate brown buns peaked ever so slightly over the top of the snow bank. "HAHA, it IS Tenten!" Kiba exclaimed, taking his final snowball and lobbing it haphazardly at the bank.
Neji decided…it was going to take weeks to recover from this single afternoon. Maybe months…
The impact of the snow on snow above her head quickly brought Tenten back to her senses. Shino was taking advantage of an opening, huh? Well. Two could play at that game.
"Hate to break it to you, but that yell didn't sound much like Lee." She smiled sweetly at his unchanged expression.
"Clearly. As Lee does not scream like a girl."
Tenten couldn't help the laugh that escaped her lips, and immediately tried to ignore the tug of shame she felt in herself for enjoying a moment at Neji's expense. "Shino, that's horrible!" she squeaked between giggles.
"Yet you seem to find enjoyment in it."
"Are you calling me horrible?" she gasped, eying him with false skepticism. "I thought you knew better."
"I do not know what you mean. I am merely stating fact."
"Fact. Like how you enjoy catching me off guard, and then rubbing it in my face is fact?"
He answered with silence.
"Or how you disguised your motive to spend a private moment with me as a tactical maneuver in a snowball fight. Or how your teammates will now have finally solved the mystery of who you've been seeing lately." She dislodged a trapped arm to fiddle with his goggles, "or…how I'm the only one you let remove these," he batted her hand away, "even if it isn't often."
"That is not fact. You have never removed them," he stated, as he slowly pulled his goggles off.
She sighed, "Ok, true." Smiling coyly she leaned forward until their foreheads touched, "but I have seen behind them. That's more than most can say."
"That is fact," he admitted as she closed the distance.
This certainly wasn't the first time they'd shared a kiss on these training grounds. And it wouldn't be the last if Tenten had anything to say about it (which, she was proud to say, she did). But, she couldn't resist when an opportunity presented itself like a holiday feast on a banquet table, with only her to enjoy it.
And besides, she was a competitive spirit! Lee would be ashamed of her if she didn't take down at least one member of Team 8.
It was surprising how difficult it was to grab a fistful of snow without the ever observant Shino catching on to her plan. She knew she was going to have to execute this quickly if it was going to work.
With snow in hand, surreptitiously poised to strike, and Shino otherwise distracted, she made her move.
He felt the ice-cold water dripping down his neck before he had even registered what had happened. He would berate himself later over his lack of awareness. He should have noticed the obvious opening he was leaving for her.
"Gotcha." Her smile was absurdly impish. And far more endearing than Shino would ever admit. He responded with a properly accusatory look.
"What? I was just, what's the phrase? 'Taking advantage of an opening," she grinned knowingly.
He affixed her with a glare of exasperation.
Tenten was certainly full of surprises. And, while most people would think it was very much unlike Shino to think so, it was one of the things he admired most about her.
She giggled. "Oh frown all you like. I'm a bit surprised you didn't 'take advantage' of the situation sooner."
He quirked an eyebrow. Leaning forward until his breath brushed her ear, he whispered, "Who said that I wasn't?"
He allowed himself the smallest grin of triumph at her surprised squeak when he lightly nipped the skin of her neck.
He took her exasperated sigh as admitting defeat. And an invitation for him to continue.
She lay her head back in the snow and said, "How do you always do that?"
"What?" He pulled back.
He found he could not help the smile awakening on his face as he leaned in to share another kiss.
"Ah, Neji-kun? Could you perhaps…release me?"
Neji's scowl deepened.
"Neji-kun? Ack! I…believe you may be…ung…over…overreacting?"
It was true that in normal circumstances, Neji would allow himself to hide on the sidelines and cast a disapproving eye on his teammates. But considering all that had taken place in a mere hour…
"You think this is overreacting? I will show you how wrong you are."
Releasing his charge, Lee sprinted away with a seething Neji in pursuit.
"Neji-nii-san! Ah, let…let Lee-kun…be…" Hinata called after her cousin.
"Heh. You only say that because you wish it were YOU in Neji's place, chasing that nut-job around."
"Ah! Ano…Kiba-kun…what…? What c-could you mean?!"
"Ha! Stop hiding it, Hinata, I smell him on you." He casually draped an arm around her, "And Hinata…the nose?" He poked his nose as if to emphasize his point, "It doesn't lie."
"K-Kiba-kun!!" She pushed him away with surprising strength, and dashed away, pulling her hood further down over her face-.
Kiba laughed maniacally as he overbalanced and fell into the snow next to Akamaru.
"Ahhhh…. Best. Day. Ever."