Description: They lost. Weak after Madara, faced with numbers and technology, Konoha had actually LOST to some nation called "America." Now, they're all being separated and it's all TenTen can do to stay strong…
Yeah, not my first fic, period. But still a fun one for me (because I enjoy misery), with my recurring OC and a perfunctory disclaimer stating that I do not own Naruto or anything affiliated with it besides a bit of merchandise, nor am I anti-American. But in case you're curious while reading,
[Translation into English]
'Communication besides speaking'
Another scene (note that I skipped twice)
On with the nonsense!
Chapter 1, "Without a Reason"
["LET ME GO!"] Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs. They could all feel the fox struggling against the chakra seals, red glinting in the sunlight. ["DAMMIT, LET ME GO!!!"] His captor, finally fed up, spun him around and glared him down. His brilliant green eyes misted over into black, and any will slowly left Naruto's eyes.
"NA-NARUTO!" Hinata called, pulling against her bonds for the first time.
["Calm down, Hinata,"] Shikamaru whispered fiercely. ["It's only a genjutsu. Don't lose your cool."]
Hinata's struggles spiraled into shaking as the twelve of them were marched forward yet again. TenTen's eyes met Neji's, two sets of grim determination. Konoha had fallen, there were chakra seals tattooed over their hearts, and they were being scattered into exile in the country responsible. All the same, none of them were truly beaten, not yet. They told each other not ever.
They were shoved apart, and TenTen forced the panic of separation out of her eyes. Neji saw it anyway, and gave her one of his "keep it together" looks. TenTen nodded slightly, moving with the three kunoichi a year her junior. Her dark eyes scanned each in turn.
Sakura looked furious, but was still forcing herself to be calm.
Ino looked about the same, but seemed closer to tears.
Hinata looked terrified, sending concerned glances at a far-too-quiet Naruto.
TenTen set her jaw, meeting the eyes of each in turn and nodding.
["No communication,"] Sakura's captor ordered.
All four glared, but made no move. With a last look at the guys, TenTen went with the others into a building and a plain white room. There were no windows, a low table, and four bundles.
["Change clothes,"] Ino's captor ordered. ["Yours will stand out too much."]
All four kunoichi were released, and they instantly spun around toward their captors and the door. All four Americans held guns. The kunoichi of Konoha didn't even have kunai. Not even TenTen.
["Don't even try,"] one soldier smirked. ["Just get dressed, before we're late."]
["Get out and we will,"] Ino replied.
["Why? We're all girls here."]
TenTen blinked. They were? Yep, they were. And so, unarmed and miserable, they all had to wear...
TenTen hated skirts. And this one was higher than her knees. And the top was a ridiculous white thing with a ridiculously-shaped collar and not enough buttons to open the shirt all the way. The only way the outfit could have possibly resembled her own was the color scheme.
TenTen hadn't even bothered to take them off to change. ["You're kidding, right?"]
["Do I look like--?"]
"KONOHA DAI SENPU!!!" Something outside crashed.
TenTen blinked again. Lee?!
["Stay here,"] one warned, taking another with her and leaving two armed guards.
The sounds of a full fight erupted outside, and TenTen heard explosions. New ones to her ears, gunshots.
["YOU WILL HAVE TO BE FASTER THAN THAT!"] Lee shouted.
["Someone get over to the girls!"]
["GIMME YOUR BEST SHOT!"]
"Shoot!" an enemy shouted. "SHOOT!"
A mix of shouts, many familiar voices. TenTen was listening carefully, easing slowly toward the door. Ino suddenly swiped low, knocking over the guards as the kunoichi ran forward. More gunshots, and they froze at the sight before them: all eight males from their group, sprawled out on the ground, unmoving. The green-eyed genjutsu user spotted them before they could blink.
"Secure them," he ordered quickly. The two from inside quickly joined with others to seal them off, leveling their barrels with the kunoichi's necks. TenTen's eyes darted toward her comrades as the genjutsu user pulled Neji up to his knees. The red fuzz of a dart glowed from his neck, but his eyes were still alert and resilient.
"NEJI!" TenTen called, fighting the shoving enemy. ["NEJI, stand up!"]
His eye just caught hers from the side. He couldn't move his head, let alone stand up. The man holding him by his shirt collar shook him and caught his eyes again. TenTen watched her teammate glue his eyes shut, even as the enemy shoved him yet again.
She saw the electricity crackle from the enemy's hands and across Neji's frame, saw the pain, saw his eyes shoot open, saw a pair of green eyes darken. "NEJI! NEJI!" Her voice caught, and they finally shoved the last kunoichi inside as the enemy moved on to Sai. ["Dammit..."]
All four were made to sit against the wall, staring down the barrels of guns. TenTen forced herself to, to ignore the pit that had just been opened into her heart. She hadn't wanted to see that, to see them lose, to see this happen, to see the will leave Neji's eyes. But she had, and she would now have to live with that.
Sakura was watching her, TenTen met her concerned stare. She nodded, steeling herself. The four kunoichi locked gazes in mutual agreement: they would not get themselves caught in that spell, too. Not if they were to look after the guys now, not if they wanted a chance.
TenTen sat in her chair miserably, moving her fingers back and forth. On her left sat Lee, not hyper and not looking at anything. On her right sat Neji, brows not knotted together in concentration and not his usual focused self. Whatever genjutsu that man had cast, it wasn't slackening. It was like sitting between two perfectly constructed dolls. And she wasn't the only one in this position.
TenTen glanced past an unmoving Lee at the small window, where she could see the tops of clouds. How this thing could fly was beyond her, and the first shock of a dropping stomach at take-off was still working its way out of her system. There had been so much shock recently...
The defeat of Madara and Eagle, the former a nightmare and the latter incredibly painful. An attempt to rebuild the damage to not just Konoha but every one of the five great nations, the sudden onslaught of a new enemy using guns to compensate for a lack of relative skill. The conqueror and his air of superiority, a total newcomer and yet the victor. His wife, who had looked upon them as children, understanding nothing of soldiers.
TenTen pulled her mind from the nightmare yet again, focusing on her current predicament. She wrung her hands yet again, balling her left into a fist in her lap and lifting her right. She slowly reached over and squeezed Neji's hand tightly, drawing his vacant gaze. She strained to reach him through her eyes, but there was nothing there to reach. Blank. He just didn't see her any more than Lee. It didn't register, she didn't register, and he went back to looking at his lap. She tried all manner of secret signals with her hands—['Hey!'] ['An enemy!'] ['Read me?'] ['Gai-senseii scares me sometimes.'] ['Lee's drunk.'] ['Hey, you.'] ['Neji!']
He didn't even blink. Instead, his gaze shifted to the ugly magazine nobody wanted to read. He didn't really see it, either. Or the hand waving inches from his face, or the pain on his teammate's, or the amusement on the enemy's.
TenTen did, and she glared with the Will of Fire before snapping her fingers in front of Lee's face. And smacking him on the forehead, and shaking him on the shoulder. And missing all of his usual responses as he remained blank. She missed his annoying enthusiasm as much as she missed Neji's reminder that Lee would keep being like that and that it was no use at all, and the way that he'd fit all that into four or five words as Lee would spout a cacophony of youthful nonsense.
Once again, her efforts sank back into fidgeting between her two hands and struggling not to cry.
["Would you like me to release them?"] a cool voice mocked. Four pairs of eyes trained on the raven-haired monster across the aisle from TenTen, perhaps the biggest cause of their current predicament. He was looking at TenTen, who was looking at his smirk. No dojutsu for her, thank you very much. She slowly nodded, expecting a trap with every muscle contraction.
["What's the magic word?"]
You had to be kidding, right?!
["P-please,"] Hinata stuttered bravely.
From her peripheral, she saw Neji blink, once, slowly, eyes barely opening halfway before he slipped to the side. Something plopped onto each of TenTen's shoulders, and cries from behind told her she wasn't alone. Her eyes confirmed that, yes, Lee and Neji were completely unconscious, and leaning on her big time. TenTen didn't have to see the other three to know that she wasn't the only one glaring flustered, bloody murder at the man TenTen officially dubbed "Mr. Annoying."
["What? I released them. Now they're just unconscious. I understand that the plane is cold, and you're all in short sleeves--"]
["And whose fault is that?"] Ino and Sakura snapped.
["Not mine. But since you're stuck in them, I thought that you could use some extra warmth."]
Must... strangle... GRR!!!
["And besides, we all go our separate ways when we land, so you probably want as much contact with them now, while it's still available."]
["C-could we just talk to them instead?"] Hinata asked. It was a reasonable question.
["Nope. Now I suggest being quiet before I drop you four off to dreamland as well."]
Not an option. The girls shut up. TenTen went back to fidgeting, with two extra weights. Soon, she was finally done fidgeting to the point that she could spare her guys a glance. Lee was both a snorer and a drooler, and he had not yet failed to disappoint. Neji was always a quiet sleeper, breathing barely audible and coming as whisper-soft sighs even so close to her ear.
And getting closer. Her unconscious teammate nuzzled gently into the curve of her neck, sending up a blush and gulp from the battle-hardened kunoichi. Why?! Why?! Why?!
But it was warm. And her thoughts were slowly growing more lethargic, her breath more even. Shadows began to darken her vision, and soon she was slipping into sleep alongside the others.
The slight murmur slowly called TenTen back into consciousness, and she became aware of something warm and soft against her cheek. It was a dark brown color and somewhat glossy, and when she straightened she realized that she had been resting her head on Neji's. There was a weight in her lap, but she ignored it. She knew whose voice had woken her.
If she hadn't been watching, she would have missed seeing Neji's eyes drift open. He blinked slowly, not quite sure where he was and still mostly asleep. His eyes slowly followed the line of what he was leaning against, stopping when his eyes met TenTen's. She could practically see the mental fog left by the genjutsu, but he saw her this time.
"TenTen..." he said slowly. "What..?"
Recent events returned to his eyes, along with tension to his body. He straightened quickly, looking about the long, narrow room lined with high-backed chairs in rows of two and three. The enemy across from them chuckled, earning glares from all conscious Konoha ninja. He simply shrugged, returning his attention to his book.
TenTen and Neji exchanged a look of distaste before Neji noticed TenTen's lap. More specifically, the weight on TenTen's lap:
A drooling, still unconscious Rock Lee. Sometime, most likely when TenTen had slumped toward and onto Neji, Lee had slipped from her shoulder and into her lap.
Shaking her head and careful of what was concealed in her hands, TenTen moved Lee back into his own chair. Where he promptly slipped back onto her shoulder and resumed snoring. TenTen shrugged hopelessly and looked back to Neji.
Who looked mildly surprised, which probably meant that he was probably mildly shocked. She followed his gaze past Lee and out the window, where the clouds continued to drift by below.
Below. He'd thought that they were on a boat or something, not... Were they actually..?
TenTen slowly nodded, answering the unasked question. She then shrugged at his next one. His mask began to slide back up, but froze and fumbled as she smoothed out her drool-spotted, red, pleated skirt. Red, pleated skirt. Skirt. TenTen was wearing a skirt.
"TenTen," he whispered, "why are you wearing a skirt?"
She gave him her first, wry, smile of the day (possibly the week). "Same reason you're not in the Hyuuga clan robes."
He blinked, seeing the weird white shirt like hers-a polo- and gray pants-jeans- for the first time. The guys had changed under the effects of genjutsu, so it was understandable. He shook his head as those memories flickered back as well. He then led her eyes to his lap, where his hands began to flick sign language at her.
'You spent too much time trying to get through to us.'
'I was a little bored.'
'At least you stayed conscious.'
'Mostly. That genjutsu-'
TenTen paused, momentarily thrown. Had she read wrong?
He repeated the signs. 'It's not genjutsu.'
'Not sure. But it's not genjutsu; not an illusion.'
TenTen frowned, looking at Neji's own frowning face. She glanced back down at her hand, glancing back up to make sure he had followed. 'Plan?'
'Not yet. You?'
'Nothing that doesn't get us all caught in not-genjutsu.'
"We shall go forth in a flurry of guts and youth," Lee said.
Both whirled their heads around to look at their third teammate when had he woken up?! No sooner did they do so than he slipped from TenTen's shoulder and into her lap, where he resumed his snoring.
They stared, Mr. Annoying actually laughed, and they glared at him. Neji even more than TenTen, given what had been done to him. Lee mumbled something incoherent about Neji and a curling iron and the flower of youth, earning himself dual glances of WTF.
TenTen flashed Neji a hopeless smile, and he merely raised an eyebrow. Things, for that instant, felt almost happy and normal, and then she got a cold feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something told her the last thing she wanted to accept: that their team really was being broken up, and that they really would be separated.
As always, Neji read her thoughts in her eyes. Unused as he was to giving comfort, he placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. Startled, TenTen looked back into his eyes and lost her fear on the spot. They'd get out of this, one way or another, together. They were Konoha shinobi, and Team Gai.
"The power of youth shall always prevail," Lee mumbled. He then continued into her lap about her, Neji, a magical fridge, and a mushroom. Neji felt her shoulder shake with muffled laughter, and was mildly surprised to find himself in the same predicament. TenTen shook her head in hopelessness, and he felt his own body sag slightly.
"Lee, what are we going to do with you?" TenTen sighed, moving him against the wall and smoothing the too-short skirt, again. Neji wasn't used to her showing that much leg.
"Whatever you do with him," Mr. Annoying remarked, "you may want to do it soon. We land in five hours, and then you'll all go your separate ways. …Ooh, best glare yet, by the way."
TenTen and Neji silently resolved to kill Mr. Annoying.
One by one and two by two, all of the guys came out of the not-genjutsu. The enemy seemed quite easygoing about letting them all talk freely, so sure in their victory.
"Remember during that ridiculously troublesome mission?" Shikamaru asked.
Even Shikamaru wasn't sleeping through this, then.
"Yes, actually," Neji smirked. "Remind me how we won that one?"
Neji needing reminding? Duh.
"Sure. First that guy who won by a fart and TenTen's cheering section came and attacked without warning."
"I remember that first one," Kiba smirked. "He hadn't seemed too bright 'till then."
"Well he ran with you as a kid, so what'd you expect?" Naruto smirked.
"Watch it, fox face."
"Uhh, I'd actually like to hear the end of the story," Ino told them.
"Fiiine," both pouted.
"So then Madame Rope-hair and that chick with the giant forehead came in as backup, and that left the guy casting illusions."
"Was that when the wild man came and pounded his face into the ground?" Kiba smirked.
"No, the wild man was busy terrorizing the enemy transport with… What was his name, the one who was such a late-comer to the squads?"
"I'm not sure," Sai smiled, "but I know who you're talking about."
"Yeah, um-um…" Kiba scratched his head. "Crap, now I've forgotten, too."
"So we all know who it was," Sakura interrupted. "Continue."
"But back to that last-standing enemy," Shikamaru said. "Mr. Gloom-and-Doom Destiny and that chick with the love of metal came in out of nowhere. The guy didn't know what hit him."
TenTen and Neji exchanged a glance and shook their heads, as if remembering some long-gone nonsense.
"And in all that, that guy… Damn, I suck at names, today."
"It's understandable." Ino glared at Mr. Annoying, who barely glanced up from his book.
"Who was it?" Naruto pressed.
"The one who won in the Chunin prelims with a pre-match forfeit…"
Frowning, Shikamaru tapped his forehead as if to prod some memory out of its hole.
"You mean the one who Naruto took forever to recognize after his training?" Shino prompted.
"Yeah, I guess…" Shikamaru kept scratching his head. "Anyway, in all that he'd managed to neutralize the enemy armory."
Kiba whistled. "Nice. All alone?"
"Not really," Shino replied.
"Wh-who was he with?" Hinata asked.
"If you don't know, it's too long a story to explain," Shino replied.
"Mr. Mysterious strikes again," Naruto said sarcastically.
"So what happened next on this supposedly troublesome mission?" Ino smirked.
"Well, the guy who always brings stuff to the picnic and our favorite slacker wound up as backup with this chick who looked like she had no spine whatsoever."
"She couldn't have been that bad," Naruto retorted with a roll of his eyes.
"She wasn't, at all."
"Told ya so!"
"But seriously, that mission was such a pain. Everything had to be perfectly timed, hinging on one specific cue."
"You forgot, didn't you?" Ino teased.
"It was a troublesome mission," Shikamaru protested.
"You remembered plenty of other stuff," Naruto protested back.
"Leave me alone," Shikamaru groaned.
"You couldn't even remember anyone's names," Sakura teased.
"You sound like my girlfriend," Shikamaru groaned. Then he realized what he'd said and his face read, Oh, shiiit!
"You have a girlfriend?" Naruto and Kiba's eyes were huuuge.
"What's her name?" Sakura prompted.
"It's Temari," Ino said, almost bored.
"TEMARI?! FROM THE SAND VILLAGE?!"
"How the heck did you know?!" Shikamaru exclaimed. Once he looked ahead to everyone else, his face did another round of Oh, shiiit!
Naruto's smile turned wicked. His wasn't the only one.
As the fun continued, Sai took notes.
TenTen actually laughed as Lee went to question Shikamaru on a fulfilled springtime of love, and was a little surprised when she heard a chuckle on her right. She looked over at Neji, and he quickly buried the lapse in seriousness.
"The good mood really is infectious, huh?" she asked, smiling and stretching. Neji "hmphed" and crossed his arms, giving her the "don't be ridiculous" look. TenTen gave him her usual giggle, and snuggled back into her seat while turning to face him fully. Everything that the Konoha shinobi did in the next half hour proved that the enemy was underestimating them.
Funny stories, good times, and Naruto's obsession with Ichiraku Ramen (seconded by Choji) passed the time away, a perfectly faked farewell that the enemy bought with egos huger than that of the whole Uchiha clan. Even Neji was laughing as Lee ran down the aisle with Naruto on his back, mimicking their sensei's departure from Sunagakure.
"Hey, Naruto," Shikamaru said lazily. The enemy barely glanced at him. "I just remembered that cue word, from that mission with fart boy."
"Huh? What was it?" Naruto asked.
TenTen stretched her arms over the seat before her, raising a brow in unison with Neji.
Naruto, Lee, Sakura, Ino, Skikamaru, Choji, and Hinata leaped from their seats, attacking the enemy sitting in such convenient rows. Before Mr. Annoying could jump, TenTen and Neji had him pinned in the aisle. The enemy clicked their guns uselessly, telltale Kikaichou crawling along the barrels. Sai soon had the cockpit door swinging harmlessly, allowing Kiba to waltz right in and persuade the crew to turn this thing around.
TenTen smirked, and bent low in Mr. Annoying's ear. "Little word of advice: never underestimate shinobi, especially shinobi of Konoha." Mr. Annoying growled in frustrated disbelief as Neji pressed a point or two to render him paralyzed. She and Neji smirked to each other, knowing not to relax until they were off of this thing.
So then why was it suddenly so hard to stay awake..? TenTen's head swam, and the suddenly slowing fight was far off in her ears. "Neji, I…" She slipped, dropping onto the enemy below. She couldn't make her lead arms move; felt something fall across her back, something heavy to her right, and something tightening against and over her left-hand side. The last of her energy found her tilting her head to her right.
Her eyes found Neji's, both sets drooping steadily closed. The rest of him was close enough to kiss, and she realized that it was his arm that had fallen across her back. Her fingertips brushed his on her side, and she thought, as her mind slipped off into darkness, that she heard someone whisper her name.
Somehow, they had failed.
And so concludes the first, and perhaps longest, chapter of this fic (not that the others'll be a paragraph long, or anything…) If you like it, or don't, please review.