A/N: Hi everyone, this is my first (published) fanfic! I actually think it's harder to right fanfiction. For me, the action is much harder to move along, and I worry a lot. So, I hope the characters aren't to OOC. I tried my best. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, or anything related to the rights of Naruto. Although someone did once give me a poster.
"So, Temari, what did you think?" asked Ino, her eyes sly. Sakura giggled, pushing back a swath of pink hair. The kunoichi of Konoha were arranged in a loose circle on the grass, gossiping. Sakura and Ino, the driving force of the topic, had their eyes fixed intently on a bored looking Temari. Hinata sat properly, kneeling, hands folded in her lap. Tenten, not listening, was cross legged, a kunai in one hand and a clean polishing cloth in the other.
"I thought it was stupid," Temari said in an offhand voice. Ino's eyes widened, and Sakura leaned forward. "Well, the writing was bad, and the plot… how on earth was it appealing?" she muttered, lacing her hands together and stretching. Tenten tuned in. What were they talking about, again? A… a book! Yes. But what book?
"Temari! It's not about the writing, or the plot, or the grammar or whatever- it's about Edward!" Sakura said breathlessly. Temari rolled her eyes. Edward? Tenten thought. Who's Edward? I though Sakura was in love with Uchiha.
A voice broke into her thoughts. "…think, Tenten?" The rest of the kunoichi were eyeing her expectantly. Tenten knotted her hands together, breathing the summer air.
"Um… what?" The rest of the kunoichi stared. Ino's whole body tilted, as though she were about to fall into the dirt.
"Were you listening at all? I mean, come on!" Sakura demanded.
It was shy Hinata who came to Tenten's rescue. "We're talking about Twilight, remember?" she prompted gently. Oh. Twilight…. Like right before dusk? No- wait, didn't Sakura or Ino, maybe it was both… oh! That book! The one with the morbid cover. Tenten summoned to mind the image of the fat, dark bound book. Unfortunately, conjuring that memory also conjured the memory of where she'd left it: beneath a pile of weapons catalogues. Whoops.
"Well… I didn't exactly read it." Tenten muttered, staring at the kunai in her hands. It gleamed as a ray of sunlight hit it, almost like a wink. Sakura and Ino seemed to swell, united in their displeasure.
"You didn't read it?" they demanded in unison, their voices combining to have a resonance of pure terror-causing depths.
"Wait a second, guys. I mean, does Tenten really need Twilight? She kinda has her own Edward, right?" Temari said. Her shrewd eyes twinkled.
"Huh?" Tenten said, totally confused. The other kunoichi were nodding sagely, for some reason, even Hinata. "Yeah." "Don't they suit each other?" He really is like Edward," the girls' voices said, blurring together.
"Don't you think, Forehead?" Ino said, turning to Sakura. "I mean, they've both got this cold demeanor, and they fight, and… um… their eyes are distinctive. And stuff," she finished lamely. But Sakura was nodding anyway, her eyes filled with the eerie light of a fangirl.
"Hey… who are you guys talking about?" Tenten asked slowly. Temari rolled her eyes, Hinata blushed. It was Sakura who answered. "Who do you think, Tennie-chan? Neji, of course!" Tenten thought she would fall over. Neji? I mean, I didn't read the book. But still… how is Neji a romantic hero? He's way too standoffish. Even if I do like him. Tenten blushed, fervently hoping no one there had recently developed the gift of reading minds. It would be a waste if her secret was discovered after all her hard work.
But… even as she turned aside, a thought wormed its way into her mind. Well, he's no… vampire, was it? But I could see him being a hero.
"Sorry I'm late!" Tenten shouted reflexively as she entered the clearing where she and the rest of Team Gai trained.
"What are you talking about, my youthful flower?" Lee asked? He seemed to bounce off of the tree he'd been stretching against, shooting towards her like a rubber band. "You're five minutes early! How youthful!" Five minutes early? Since when have I ever been- oh. Huh. Fancy that.
"Heh heh. Sorry, guys. Hi Neji!" Tenten called across the clearing. Neji stood perfectly still, his clear, white eyes gazing off into the distance. He nodded at her, the most acknowledgement she could ever expect, and turned back to his thoughts.
"Neji! Fight me!" demanded Lee, darting towards the pensive boy. "Let me show you the power I have gained through hours of training with my diligent youthfulness," he shouted, his bowl-cut blowing back with the wind to reveal heavy eyebrows.
"No," said Neji simply, ignoring Lee's dramatic look of anguish. "Come on, Tenten."
When he says my name… my heart beats faster, Tenten though, blushing. Curse it. I want to be strong, like Tsunade! I shouldn't fall apart like that. Even if it is only when it's Neji.
As the set of their routine went, they took a few brief minutes to prepare, then began to spar. Tenten's weapons were thrown quickly, with deadly accuracy, and Neji's defenses were impenetrable.
The battle underway, Tenten relaxed. This was her element, the battlefield. She had a new technique to practice, too. One that might even be able to get past Neji's defenses. If she could properly infuse chakra into a weapon- starting with simple kunai- and use that to improve their speed even further, they just might be able to cut through the whirlwind of defense Neji created around himself. Tenten knew from experience that such a venture was… unlikely- but how could it hurt to try?
Concentrating hard, Tenten looked around. They'd both fallen into the shadows of trees, a lull in the action. She scanned the area. His chakra trail was a loopy presence that covered the clearing, as new as today and with years-old traces lingering beneath. But close- very, very close- she could sense Neji.
Pearlescent eyes appeared in front of her.
Tenten started, holding back a shriek. Wha? How? He's so close, she thought, and realized her heart was beating so fast, so hard, so loud that surely Neji could hear it. How could he not?
"Tenten?" Neji stared at her with a look of mild concern. "What?" she asked, trying to breathe normally. "Your move."Oh.
Her hand darting to her kunai holder, Tenten felt her hands close upon one thin, cool slice of metal, only as an equally chill hand grabbed her wrist. Neji had one hand on her arm, preventing her from grabbing a weapon or using any form of jutsu, and another near her throat. The Chinese girl felt an inexplicable urge for him to move his hand a few inches higher, to her mouth… no! What the heck am I thinking?
"Ok, your win," Tenten sighed. "As usual," she added in low mutter. He always won, no matter how hard she tried. Well, not always. But more often than not, at any rate. And anyways- her own thundering heart often kept her from her full focus, as it drew her eyes to his coffee hair or his swift hands or the feral grace he attacked with. How could he not be affected the way she was? It was so unfair.
"Hn," Neji replied. His battle-ready posture began to relax. But then, with a suddenness that frightened her, he had turned, his back to her, and his stance grew tense, ready for action.
"N-Neji?" Tenten asked. Then she felt it. Foreign chakras, coming closer.
"Byakugan," Neji muttered, and she knew he could probably see them now, He shifted, still in front of her.
"Hey, Neji? Could you, um, move? I can't fight this way." Tenten said, a little peeved. She was itching for a fight. Was there any better way to relieve the tension that had wound up in her? And it would be so much easier to fight someone who wasn't as… appealing… as Neji. Her hands grabbed weapons as Neji finally drew away from her, just as the enemies entered the clearing.
So many! How on earth had this many nin infiltrated Konoha, Tenten wondered, automatically throwing a kunai as she reached for her scrolls. Then she remembered- their training grounds weren't exactly part of the village. Tsunade's sentries wouldn't pay the nin any mind until they were quite a few kilometers closer. Tenten, her mind working furiously and somewhat independently of her blurring hands, decided the intruders had probably come across Tenten and Neji by chance, and decided to take down a few more Konoha nin while they could.
One, two… three and four down simultaneously. Tenten's hands almost blurred with speed as she launched weapons at the enemy nin. Her movements were fast, sure, effortless. She wasn't Konoha's Weapons Mistress for nothing, after all.
Thump. Tenten felt a body throw itself painfully against her as she prepared to launch herself into the air with a scroll. The man grabbed her arms quickly, way too quickly. Struggling to free herself from the nin's grip, Tenten saw that his forehead protector had no official seal. A rogue, she thought. Someone with no loyalty, and probably no honor.
Across the clearing, Neji was swiftly and efficiently disarming the shadowy black figures, his own face a cold, fierce mask. If Tenten hadn't been so busy trying to get her hands free, she might have swooned at his coolness. But- she was trying to get her hands free, damnit!
"Get- off- of- me!" she groaned, trying vainly to maneuver a kunai into her hand. Just one stroke of luck, that's all she needed.
"I don't think so," the man said, and she saw malice in his narrow eyes. "You're kind of pretty, ain'tcha?" Tenten tried to swallow with a throat suddenly dry as bone.
Um, Neji? I could use some help over here! She thought at him. If only telepathy had been taught in kunoichi school…
Thwack. Tenten's was slammed against a tree, hard enough that the breath went out of her and leaves showered down. The nin was close, way too close. She could smell his breath. It had an unpleasant odor of stale sake, fish, and some pungent herb she didn't know. Neji? Like, now?
Then the nin's breath mingled with the sound of fighting in Tenten's ears. Her wrists, caught now in just one of his large hands, were forced over her head. "While your little friend's busy, ne?" the man muttered, and his free hand grabbed her chin, his lips growing closer and closer to her own. No!
Except that the weight was suddenly gone, her wrists were free, the air around her was clean and forest-fresh again. Tenten's knees gave out and she sagged to the ground, looking up at… Neji. Neji, with eyes colder than she'd ever seen. Oh great, he's mad now. I shouldn't have been so weak.
The dark-haired youth turned away from Tenten again, facing the nin who'd been thrown clear across the clearing, sagging now against an old and pitted tree. Tenten watched in shock as Neji attacked, noting that the ground was littered with fallen nin- her attacker was the only one left. All that? Neji got rid of all of them so quickly?
Neji was punching the nin hard, again, and again, and again. Tenten's jaw felt loose. Why was Neji being so brutal? He was normally… businesslike in his dealings. The passion was more about fighting and less about wounding, but now- it frightened her. She'd never seen him like this before.
Finally, Neji drew back, pulling away and walking towards Tenten. His breathing was hard, and Tenten saw something new in his eyes, an emotion brighter and more fiery than anything she'd seen in his clear irises before.
"Tenten?" Neji asked, almost softly. "Are you okay?" Tenten nodded. It was only as she opened her mouth to speak that she tasted the salt and realized she'd been crying. How embarrassing, ugh!
He pulled her to her feet, supporting her with an arm. Tenten could hear the sounds of battle coming from Gai and Lee's training area, too, but as her ears tuned in the last clash of metal rang out and died, drowned out by Lee's cheers. So that was that, then.
"Thanks, Neji. Thank you." Tenten murmured, willing her trembling to stop. She'd been honestly afraid for a moment there, and was relieved to feel the old fire returning, chasing away the tearful ache.
"They're gone," Neji muttered, looking at the ground. Tenten realized that his cheeks were… almost pink? Was he trying to comfort her? It's so, I don't know, cute?
"Thanks," she said again, and then threw her arms around him. Neji stiffened, as though he were unused to being touched. But form relaxed, and Tenten felt the warm strength of his arms surrounding her.
Neji had a hand on Tenten's shoulder now, and another by the small of her back. They were closer, Tenten realized, than ever before. "N-Neji?" And then his lips were on hers, hard but gentle, cool but not uncomfortably cold. Tenten's blood soared, her cheeks flamed. She felt delirious and dizzy and fevered all at once. The world spun a little bit before she closed her eyes, leaning into the kiss.
"Hey, Tenten. Don't do that again," Neji said softly, drawing back. She put her head on his shoulder. Since when did the world feel so pink and fuzzy? Even the blood on the ninjas looks cute! What's happening?
"I won't," she mumbled into his neck. "I was scared. You- you saved me. Hey, Neji? Next time, it's my turn," she declared.
"I guess Ino and Sakura were right, after all," she said softly, almost to herself. Hero. I like that. Except that Neji's about a hundred times cooler than Edward. Maybe. Probably I should read the book and then decide.
"What?" asked Neji, but Tenten merely shook her head and smiled… and leant up for another kiss.
A/N: Me again. So um... I'd be so happy if you reviewed. Just maybe say if you liked it or not, and what I could do better. I like criticism, so it's okay! Thanks for reading!!! *cries tears of joy*
-Mira, ever grateful.