Disclaimer: Naruto would win every beauty pageant, because he too wants "world peace." Which is why I don't own him. I prefer chaos and destruction.
"It is a custom from a distant land," Tenten had emerged from her research with yet another obscure trivia to share with them. "On the fourteenth day of the second month of each year, the God of Love flies around shooting people with arrows of love or hate. Whoever gets hit by the arrow of gold will fall in love with the very first person they see. It will be hate if they're shot with an arrow of lead."
"Would they not be-- too injured to be feeling anything besides pain?" Lee's eyes were round (well, rounder than usual).
She rolled her eyes at his naivety. "Love is pain," she explained patiently, "That's a common belief in all cultures."
"Hate is pain too."
"So what is the difference?"
"Lovers are masochists. They like the pain."
Neji turned away discreetly from the conversation to suppress a bout of coughing that didn't really sound like coughing at all.
"Ah," Lee did not understand, but Tenten was a girl, who presumably knew about such things, and she had promised to give him love advice about the girl he liked. "Should we shoot an arrow at my beloved Sakura during this special day of love as you described?"
"Do I look like a goddess of love to you?" Tenten shrugged, "It won't work here. I just thought it was interesting to mention."
They fell into a thoughtful silence which, the other two were unaware, was Neji's secret self-training as a Hyuuga to resist smiling at any cost.
"However," Tenten perked up, "What is Gai-sensei's 3rd Rule of Motivation?"
"You will never know until you try!!" Lee shouted. "Well-said, Tenten!"
"Actually, you were the one who said it," Tenten said too smoothly, and only Neji suspected the entire exchange may or may not have been a situation especially calculated to bring Lee completely under her thrall. "Anyway, here's my idea on how to go about it..."
"Tenten, I do not think--"
"Precisely, Lee. Do not think, only do. Now giddap!" she dug her heels into his flanks and he yelped, springing away. Soon they were lost to sight.
Gai looked very much like he wanted to scratch his head, only barely transforming the gesture into a Pose of Youth for the benefit of his remaining student. He heard the most peculiar sound coming from the Hyuuga though, and turned to Neji in curiosity.
"Gwahahahah!" Neji dropped to the ground, unable to suppress his laughter.
Tenten strung an arrow to her bow and effortlessly let it fly while Lee took a ninja leap.
"Hinata loves you, you jerk!" Tenten called out for good measure as Naruto hopped around trying to extract the Monkey Moon arrowhead from his butt.
"Ah, excellent shot Tenten, executed no less while traveling a high speed!" Lee praised as he accelerated. A certain irate blonde ninja who starred in his own TV series had begun hot pursuit.
"Thank you Lee, you respond well to control even with only the briefest nudges from my legs," Tenten counter-praised her faithful steed as she shielded her eyes from the glare of the sun to stare into the distance, allowing Lee to handle evading Naruto. "I think... over there next."
Astride a beautiful green beast galloping at breakneck speed, the villagers of Konoha did not know what to make of the bun-haired archer leaving a trail of pierced and punctured hearts (and bodies) in her wake. Her eyes flashed in almost unholy glee as she brought her bow up and drew the bunch of blunt arrows past her ear before letting them fly with a deep shout of "Ino loves you, you moron!!".
"Wow Tenten, multiple hits with one shot!"
"I'm surprised that impressed you," Tenten grumbled. "I do that everyday with kunai and senbon don't I? The thirteen were to distract Chouji, because he was sure to block them from hitting Shikamaru. We got him with the fourteenth one though." She counted her arrows. "Just a few more targets Lee."
"Ah, Tenten," Lee slowed so Kiba and Akamaru overshot them, howling obscenities. He changed direction fifty times almost instantaneously, easily blurring out of sight in order to lose the large crowd of injured angry ninja in the dust. Tenten was used to it by now, and rather beginning to enjoy the ride. Lee continued, "while I applaud your attention to detail in customizing each arrow for the person it is intended for, I do not know if my beloved Sakura will appreciate being shot with a barbed projectile no matter how delicately the arrowhead has been pierced and decorated to resemble a cherry blossom."
"It's my masterpiece!" Tenten was aghast at the slightest hint of criticism from her slave-mount. "The Sakura Flesh Terror arrowhead is the beauty among my patterned arrows!"
"Well," if he had not been supporting her he would have scratched his head, "You have targeted only the men so far, Tenten. Perhaps I am the one who should endure, or shall I say, suffer, I mean, have the honor bestowed upon me of being a recipient of the arrow meant for Sakura."
"But you're not the one who needs to be shot. You Already Know you love her," Tenten said with infinite patience. He had lugged her around cheerfully without complaint the entire day, after all, she could afford to be generous. "She just needs a little poke in the right direction."
"But Tenten, are your arrows even tipped with gold?"
"See how the metal glints scarlet?" Tenten asked testily, holding an arrow in front of her team mate's face. He nodded. "I beat the thinnest gold leaf into each unit in order not to interfere with the weight. Gold strongly reflects yellow and red, so there's your proof."
"But I wonder how introducing either gold or lead into a bloodstream by violent means would even affect…"
She forestalled any further protest, "It's worked, hasn't it?"
"Hinata and Ino did tend to the wounds of Naruto and Shikamaru immediately after they saw what happened," Lee mused. "Those were very tender scenes, indeed. By the way, I think I heard Hinata shout something at you, like 'Fight to the death' or some other sort of threat."
"Nah, she's much too meek to say something like that," Tenten said positively, "And even if she was yelling, it would be like 'Thanks for making him see the light, oh wonderful goddess!'"
"You two really are something." A familiar low voice caused both of them to look in surprise at the person running beside them, matching Lee's grueling pace with ease. Haughty white eyes met their gazes.
Tenten grinned. Crouching to press close to her green pseudo-stallion's back and streamline their form, she ordered, ""Evasive action!"
Before she was even done speaking, Lee had flashed sideways with a "Yosh! A Youthful Challenge!"
Neji gave chase. He wasn't really sure why he had sought them out, when watching from a distance while training his Byakugan had made for a most entertaining day for him. That should have been enough. He had an image to maintain, after all. Despite mellowing down after his fight with Naruto, he was still Konoha's #2 title holder of the Angst Award, second only to the younger Uchiha. He even forgot his younger cousin Hanabi's name on principle. Mustn't let on that he craved the close ties of family and friendship that his team and now his clan extended to him.
Still, there was something that made him want to be part of what was happening despite the urge to remain aloof. It just looked… fun.
"Tenten, when I give the signal," Lee instructed in a whisper and heard an affirmative "um!" from his female team mate above his head. In a moment, he streaked by a copse of trees and Tenten jumped off his back and used a smoke bomb to disappear among the thick branches. Lee faded into the foliage as well. Neji now had two targets to hunt.
Tenten noticed instantly that her quiver had lightened even if Lee had been moving too fast for her to see him take an arrow from it. She had wanted to hiss at him and demand what he thought he was doing, but needed to stay hidden so held her tongue.
Hiding was normally an almost useless exercise in the face of the Byakugan, but both members of Team Gai knew Neji's blind spot and Lee could move fast enough to remain out of sight as the Hyuuga searched. Tenten was not as quick, but she could stay much farther out of reach. She fastened her bow behind her.
And fell out of the tree. Gasping, she flung out a hand, a knee, anything, molding chakra to stick to the trunk, then realized too late Neji had somehow channeled his own chakra from the ground through the tree to neutralize her hold. She launched off to distance herself but he was suddenly behind her and with a swift strike of the Gentle Fist threw her to the forest floor.
Ack. The chakra pathways on her left side were closed. Tenten gritted her teeth, running through her options in the seconds it took to fall. The motto of Team Gai was Never Say Die! (Actually, it was Youth, Youth and More Youth, but Tenten preferred her version.)
She attempted to land on her right foot and considered pushing off to escape again but it was impossible to outrun him in this condition and she watched with a familiar sense of fatality as Neji batted away with an almost negligent hand the few dozen shuriken she threw, a bo staff, a mallet, her sandal, (which gave him pause) and distracted him but not enough that he wasn't able to deflect with a burst of expelled chakra the kunai with exploding tags. What paltry few weapons she could summon with one hand. She finally threw the bow at him in disgust. He smirked and she tried to back away.
"Kya!" of all the mortification, she actually emitted a girly shriek as her working foot snagged on a root and she fell on her back. Good thing the undergrowth of the forest was rather springy this time of the year. Only her dignity was bruised.
Apparently, the Hyuuga was practicing his looming. He stalked right up to her and blocked her view of the canopy, and LOOMED over her. His eyes, white enough in her opinion, held an even shinier glint now, and made it only a matter of time before he started dressing like a bat and fighting crime.
"Neji?" Tenten's eyes widened as he raised a hand in classic Gentle Fist style. "Hey, what are you— KYAAAhahahah!" He proceeded to jab her ribs lightly, but with absolutely no use of chakra.
"You idiot! Stop it! Stop it!" she writhed, looking vaguely like a dying worm as she squirmed in laughter while the left side of her body lay entirely inert. He had been too stuck up to deliberately engage in tickle fights when they were younger, but it had been an unavoidable occurrence when he had been trying to master the Gentle Fist with Tenten. He'd completely run out of chakra, and end up tickling her to death while she lay limp as a rag doll. Which she very much minded at the time. It was pathetic. It was no different now, except that Neji knew what he was doing.
This was the opening Lee had been waiting for. LOOMING even larger over Neji and Tenten, glowing so green that it was only a matter of time before he started asking riddles to a man dressed as a bat, he pricked the tip of an arrow into Neji's neck, right behind his blind spot.
"OW!" Neji clapped a hand to his neck and whirled around, chakra flaring, perfectly controlled so it wouldn't hurt Tenten but would cause a world of pain to the prick-assailant (yeah, made that word up, lame attempt at double entendre).
"No! Don't look at me!" Lee wailed, covering his face, "Watch Tenten! Look at her!"
"What are you talking about?" Neji growled. It was not a sexy growl, but it could be, depending on your perspective. Tenten decided she had a good view of her team mate's butt from where she lay, and that Neji's growl could indeed be sexy, but that still didn't mean she wasn't digressing from the story.
"Who did you see first?" Lee demanded, responding to the growl (which he correctly interpreted as threatening, and not sexy, although he thought there might be the possibility it could be considered sexy, after all Neji could growl any way he wanted to if he put his mind to it and believed in the power of youth, but again we digress), and stood earnestly awaiting Neji's response.
"I saw both of you. At the same time. With my Byakugan." Neji found it strange that his team mates would sometimes completely misapprehend what he could and could not do with his bloodline limit. There was that time, for example, Lee and Gai had shown up for training stark naked because they reasoned Neji could see through their clothes anyway and it was time Tenten learned the details of the male anatomy… He still didn't know how to feel about that day.
Tenten had nearly died numerous times over the course of the years, more from laughing at her team than anything else. This was yet another of those times. And she would probably die later again at the hands of a number of people who had not realized what a service she had done for them by goring them with gold-tipped arrows. She locked gazes with Lee, who was at first confused, then delighted. On cue, they rushed their clueless team mate.
Tenten was closer so she got to him first. Neji realized how it felt to be a horse as she clung to him like she had with Lee. Neji could only watch in frozen horror as Lee came at him too.
Lee tripped and ended up scratching himself with the arrow still in his hand. He took a look at his team mates, one laughing while her left arm and leg flopped about uselessly, the other annoyed but not making much of an effort to detangle himself from the laughing girl's strangle hold, and decided that there was something to Tenten's love-is-pain theory. He tackled them both into a youthful hug.
"We love you too Neji!!!"
"But my heart continues to belong to Sakura," Lee added as Neji gasped for air.