a/n: Ok, this idea came to me a while ago while I was waiting for my piano lesson to begin and I never really wrote it until now. I like it, though Neji's a bit OOC. Well, you'll realize why if you read it and I'll elaborate in the ending author's note.
Think of this as an 'I'm sorry' gift because of my incredibly late updates!
disclaimer: Neji, Tenten and other characters (c) Masashi Kishimoto
Moonlight Sonata: A NejiTen OneShot
Neji leaned casually against the wall, ignoring his cousin's pleas. She had lost her stuttering a long time ago and sometimes he wished she hadn't; it had made refusing her so much easier, thinking that she was below him and didn't deserve his agreement. But he knew that there was no regaining that stammering, not if Naruto was always boosting her self-esteem.
He tilted his head to the side as if in deep thought, simply to humor Hinata. She looked at him, her pale eyes exceedingly hopeful. Hinata had grown extremely outgoing over the last few months, ever since she had resumed her piano lessons after a period of two years. She once again lost herself in the layering melodies and accompanying harmonies, piecing them together like a top chef and a cake, finding comfort and pride in her accomplishments.
Neji, on the other hand, had found it amusing to say nothing at all as Hinata's talents grew with each passing day. She had plenty of admirers, he reasoned. She could get by without his praise. And she did. Hinata never thought once of seeking a flattering word from her cousin.
He preferred to watch from the sidelines, working his way up in the academic ranks. A scholarship had already been offered to him from one of the most prestigious colleges and Neji had accepted, planning on attending the college later that fall. He has potential, they said. He will be the one who revolutionizes the medical field. After a four year college, Neji would be shipped off again to the highest-ranked medical school on the other side of the country, where he would study for another four years. He had already been handed a job at the local hospital eight years from now. Nevertheless, his life was planned out and it was apt to stay that way.
Neji didn't mind; in fact, it assured him how his future was mapped out in front of him. There was no danger of making a wrong decision or veering off the right path. No, all he would have to do was shift his gears to Medical School and he'd sail, straight and true, to the target.
"Neji! Answer me!" Hinata stared sternly into his eyes. "You've been totally ignoring me the whole time! At least say 'no'!"
"No." He blinked.
Hinata frowned and crossed her arms. "And why not?"
"It's a piano recital, Hinata," Neji explained with exaggerated patience.
"Yeah, but it's my piano recital," she countered. "And guess who's going to be there?"
"Surprise me." Neji looked away, bored already.
"Tenten!" Hinata exclaimed.
"What, your tomboy friend who is actually really hot but against dating?" Neji sniffed. It was a waste, really, giving that girl good looks. It wasn't as if she put them to good use.
Hinata hesitated before nodding slowly. "She's amazing at the piano, even better than me! Apparently, scouts from Julliard are coming to watch her and consider giving her a full scholarship! And I know you want another chance with her since she rejected you last time she came over!"
"It was a joke, Hina," Neji sighed exasperatedly.
"Oh, ok…" She looked at him skeptically. "So then you looking like you were about to go insane and demanding to know if there was 'another guy' was just a joke." Hinata smiled, amused.
"Bullshit," Neji hissed.
"Anyway," Hinata continued, ignoring the furious blush that bloomed across Neji's nose, "if you're worried about being lonely, Naruto's coming, too!"
"How cute." He didn't seem to find anything cute about it at all though. "Your loud, hyperactive boyfriend is going to come to a three hour long piano recital that requires the audience to remain quiet for the duration of the time. Are you sure this isn't just so someone will keep Naruto in check?"
Hinata grinned. "Well, now that you mention it…"
Neji threw up his hands in frustration. "Fine. You know what? Fine, I'll come to your stupid piano recital just because I need to make sure that Naruto doesn't get kicked out. And for the record, it is not about Tenten."
He hated that knowing smile plastered across her face. "Whatever you say, Neji…"
Neji walked beside Naruto, keeping an eye on Hinata's restless boyfriend, accepting a program handed to him by Hanabi, who was volunteering as an usher.
The recital was held in an old but breathtakingly beautiful church. The steeple rose high above the roof, intricate figurines and scenes carved into all four sides. The inside was illuminated with a rainbow of colors, the result of light filtering through the stained glass windows. Rows upon rows of church pews stretched from the great double doors in the back, all the way to the raised alter and stage that held a white grand piano.
As Hinata hurried to the front two pews where the recital participants were seated and Naruto plopped down in the pew directly behind hers, dragging Neji along, Neji focused his gaze on the girl who was currently seated at the piano.
She was dressed in a simple pleated white dress with a black sash that encircled her waist, accentuating her delicate curves. Her hair was piled up into a curly mess that was supposedly a 'bun', a solitary, glittering hair clip nestled among the waves of dark chocolate. On her feet were a pair of flimsy gladiators that sported some silver embellishment and a two-centimeter heel. Her cheeks were powdered with a light rose blush, a deeper shade slapped onto her eyelid.
She was playing a song, pure joy overtaking her features. Her fingers flew over the keys, nimble and graceful, hitting each note with striking precision. Her body bent and flowed with the melody, performing a sort of dance in her seat. The melody was upbeat and fast, composed of numerous scales and eighth-note chords, but she seemed to be playing it with exaggerated ease.
In the middle of a particularly difficult melody consisting of repetitive harmonic octaves, a thin woman with her hair pulled into a strict bun at the base of her neck approached Tenten. She had the demeanor of one who was once beautiful and graceful but had shrunken into a body whose skin didn't quite fit. Tenten paused, her fingers hovering over the keys. The woman whispered in her ear, causing her to blush and nod sheepishly. No doubt the woman was telling to take her seat as the recital would begin soon.
Tenten smoothed her skirt and took dainty steps off of the stage, her hair bouncing in rhythm to her steps. She was beautiful, really, with rosy cheeks and glittering eyes that rivaled the stars. Taking a seat beside Hinata – much to Neji's not-so-obvious delight – her dress puffed around her and slowly settled on her legs. He chanced a glance at the scouts – a man and a woman – who looked deeply impressed. As Neji looked around, he saw that many of the other young men were smitten also and his eyes narrowed in anger as he noted a few hints of lust as well.
But of course he had no right to be protective, or cautious, or wary, or maybe even jealous. Tenten wasn't his. She wasn't his girlfriend, his lover, and probably not even his friend; she had rejected his advances, after all. To everyone else, Tenten was simply Neji's cousin's friend.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Neji was brought back to earth when Naruto elbowed him in the ribs. "Are you ok?" Naruto asked in a low voice.
"Of course," Neji hissed back, hoping his friend hadn't seen him staring at Tenten. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Naruto didn't answer right away, instead watching as Neji grew careless and let his gaze rest on the back of Tenten's head. He smirked. "Well, ever since we walked in here, you've been eying Tenten as if you hadn't eaten in days and she was a feast."
"I have not," Neji protested, struggling to keep the blush from prevailing. "I just haven't seen her in a long time."
"Oh, ok." Neji hated the knowing look on Naruto's face. "If I remember correctly, the last time you saw her was when you asked her out on a date and she declined?"
Neji was spared answering the interrogation as the previously noted woman walked up onto the stage, carrying a microphone. "Friends, family, participants, guests," she nodded to the scouts, "My name is Mrs. Shiro and welcome to the fifth annual Konoha Recital. For twenty years, I've worked along hundreds of students…"
Neji tuned out the woman's incessant drabbles and let his mind wander. He scolded himself for being so happy, so ecstatic, that Tenten sitting mere inches away from him, so close that all he needed to do was reach out a little until he could touch the base of her neck, tangle his fingers into her hair, or just look into those captivating chocolate eyes until eternity ended. But he couldn't be thinking such thoughts, especially not in a church. Neji hadn't been brought up in a religious family but he was sure that fantasizing about such dirty things, inside a holy place of worship no less, was enough to guarantee him a VIP spot in hell.
And as each participant in the recital took their turn, Neji began an inner battle with himself, debating whether to tap Tenten on the shoulder and say 'hey' or not. No matter how much he just wanted to look at her, he didn't want to seem like an overeager idiot; he had always managed to keep a straight, indifferent face whenever she was around and he didn't want that mask to be removed.
And yet, it was as if she could read his mind and was subsequently teasing him. Tenten would periodically, flip her hair over her shoulder, presenting Neji with a better view of her luscious neck and it took all the self-control he had to keep himself from pressing his lips to it. She would occasionally rearrange the string-thin straps that were purely for show rather than anything else and Neji would find himself envisioning how it would feel to slip the dress all the way off. And one time, one painful time, Tenten turned around to whisper into Hinata's ear, causing them both to burst into giggles and Neji's heart to delightedly skip a beat.
Yes, whether it was accidental or not, Tenten was taunting him, daring him to make a move.
When it reached Hinata's turn, she curtsied in front of the piano and began at once to flowing melody, starting out slow and graceful and soon escalating to an upbeat refrain and once again dwindling to a quiet harmony.
"Can I see your program?" Naruto whispered as Hinata began the cycle once again. "The program to the recital…you know, so I can see which song Hinata's playing," he added when Neji gave him a funny look.
Wordlessly, Neji handed it to him and looked away, attempting to keep his focus on Hinata's fingers rather than Tenten's head.
Hinata finished with a flourish of her hand and curtsied modestly at the applause, flouncing and taking her seat next to Tenten, who proceeded to gush about how well she did and assuring her that she didn't make any noticeable mistakes.
A few people later, Mrs. Shiro stood up and walked over to the microphone. "And to close our recital, I'd like you all to give a hearty applause to my star pupil – she's been my student for twelve years, ever since she was five – who will be playing us a piece by Chopin, Tenten!" As Mrs. Shiro strode off of the stage, she gave the scouts a meaningful look and they flipped through their clipboards, straightened their jackets and stared intently at Tenten as she ascended onto the platform.
The applause was thunderous, consisting of a few loud-pitched whistles and a couple exclamations of 'You're hot!' from a group of young men at the back. (Neji, of course, did not look too pleased.) Tenten waited, smiling serenely, for the applause to simmer down before taking hold of the microphone.
"Actually, Mrs. Shiro," Tenten began much to everyone's surprise, "I believe there is a mistake in the program. Instead of Chopin's Nocturne No. 2, I'll be playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata." She smiled once more, her eyes challenging everyone, daring them to tell her that that was not so. When no objection arose, she took her seat at the piano bench and began to play.
That was what Neji loved about Tenten. She was outgoing and outspoken, questioning life fearlessly and able to repel any hardships that the universe threw at her. She was confident and graceful, aware of her many achievements but never smug about them. Her sense of humor paralleled Naruto's; her intelligence could only be compared to Shikamaru's; and her overall attractiveness rivaled Neji's and Sasuke's.
She was extremely independent and would as soon hit you then look at you if you said a foul word about females. Believing fiercely in equal genders, Tenten wouldn't hesitate to let you know what she was thinking if someone had made a rude remark about women. Neji knew from observation that Tenten often got away with such occurrences simply because either others were intimidated by her or those in charge were impressed with her self-sufficiency.
But Tenten always kept her cool, talking in calm voice while spitting out words that would have had other jumping out of their skin. And, once in a while, she would add an extra smile, much like Sai's, just to annoy the shit out of those who irked her.
Yes, Tenten was exceptionally attractive to Neji.
A slow harmony began to flow from her fingertips as the song began, interlacing with a soothing melody. Neji closed his eyes and could picture the nighttime with the moon hung above him, like a pool of light in the middle of a sea of darkness. His thoughts broadened and Tenten appeared, dressed in white and engulfed in an aura of silver. And then…events ensued, events that would've caused even Jiraiya to blush had he found out what Neji was thinking.
Neji was most definitely getting a warm welcome in hell.
When she was finished, Tenten curtsied modestly to the positively roaring applause and catcalls, thanks to the same group of boys in the back. As she sauntered back to her seat, Tenten caught Neji looking at her, even thought he tried to turn away, and smiled.
Once she gathered her skirts around her, Tenten turned around as Mrs. Shiro took up her place at the podium, thanking everyone for their 'support and attendance at this wonderfully enlightening congregation where one can find peace and illumination.'
"Did you enjoy yourself at the recital?" Tenten asked, kneeling on the church pew, grasping the back of the seat with both hands. Judging by the arbitrariness, Neji realized that Tenten had planned it all out but he wasn't complaining.
"Hn, not really," Neji admitted, putting on an impassive face.
She smiled and a crack appeared in his resolve. "I can't believe you came if you didn't have fun." Tenten narrowed her eyes slyly. "Did you, perhaps, want another chance with me?"
"Sorry to disappoint you but no, that's not the case," Neji replied evenly.
Tenten pouted, her glossy lower lip gleaming deliciously under the sunlight. "Who said I would be disappointed?"
"You're pouting, aren't you?" Neji countered, smirking.
"Because I'm insulted that you'd think I'd be heartbroken over you," she argued.
"Well, last time I saw you, it appeared to me that you were trying very hard not to throw yourself on me and kiss me." Neji took pleasure in watching her cheeks turn an even more appetizing shade of rouge.
Tenten stuck her nose up; much like a child would when told that they had 'chubby cheeks'. "You must have misread the signs."
"Oh, I don't think so," Neji answered coyly. "And that song you played…very fitting. Shame on you for thinking such naughty thoughts."
"You're terrible," Tenten hissed. "It was a song about the moonlight!"
"Picture it, Ten-chan," Neji teased, glad that Tenten had dropped her gaze to hide a small smile at the nickname, "it's nighttime, a full moon, the song floating in through the open window, carried by the breeze, into a bedroom…" He paused suggestively.
"You have a way with words," Tenten remarked. "I imagine you've made well use of them. No doubt you're very experienced in that sort of…ah…expertise, what with all your admirers."
"Surprisingly, no," Neji responded with another smirk. "But I'm not the only one with admirers. The applause you received when you were done with your piece? I went temporarily deaf. You clearly are very popular." He glanced at the group of boys who were slowly making their way to where he and Tenten sat.
"When you two are done flirting!"
Tenten and Neji looked up suddenly at Naruto and Hinata who were towering over them, looking amused. Neji shot up quickly and threw a look at Hinata, hoping to stifle her giggles, but she continued to laugh, perhaps even harder.
"It wasn't flirting," Tenten objected. "It was idle, friendly chat."
Naruto raised his eyebrows but said nothing.
"Well then, continue your 'chat'. Me and Naruto will be outside in the lobby. They have refreshments." Hinata winked and strolled away with Naruto, leaving Tenten and Neji alone.
"Ah, the nerve of those two," Tenten groaned, patting down her bangs distractedly, "especially Hinata's 'knowing looks'…" She made quotation marks.
"She was giving me a lecture about you just this morning," Neji commented.
Tenten's eyes brightened and she looked at him eagerly. "Really? What did she say about me?"
"Actually, she was trying to convince me to attend this recital and used you as blackmail." Neji shook his head. "Despicable, right?"
"I don't know about that." Tenten shifted in her spot and stared into his eyes. "You're here, aren't you? Which must have meant that she succeeded in using me as persuasion…consequently, you wanted to see me…?"
Tenten smiled and reached down to pat him on the knee, sending pleasant electric currents to race up his spine. "Don't worry, I can keep a secret." She winked and Neji returned it with a slight smile.
Neji looked at her hair, noticing how her silver adornment at slipped in its place when she leaned over. In a swift movement, he plucked it out of her tresses and marveled it in the sunlight. It was a delicate thing, a ribbon of sparkling diamonds coiling and winding on top of a fragile comb. Noiselessly, Neji placed it back in her hair, straighter and truer than before, aware of Tenten's eyes on him.
When he had removed his hand, she smiled shyly up at him, touching the ornament gingerly. "Thank you," Tenten murmured.
"It was crooked," Neji said coolly with a shrug.
"OCD much?" Tenten teased.
"And I also wanted to see what it was," Neji lied, knowing that his real intentions were to simply touch Tenten, to make contact with her.
Tenten traced the band of diamonds with one finger. "A treble clef; it's a treble clef, Neji."
The way she said his name…it took Neji all the self-restraint he had not to just pounce on her then and there.
"Sorry, don't know what that is," he admitted instead.
She reached under the pew and produced her music book, flipping through the pages, finally stopping on a sheet of music that had notes marching up and down the staff like ants lined up in a row. "That's a treble clef," Tenten told him, pointing at the symbol in the book. "It basically tells you which side of the middle C to play on. If there is a treble clef, you read the notes based on the right side."
"I was never one for music so I hope you'll excuse me if I don't catch on." Neji gave a chuckle.
Tenten laughed also, a ringing sound like bells…wedding bells. "You're forgiven. I wouldn't expect a doctor to understand."
"How'd you know I wanted to be a doctor?" Neji asked, intrigued.
"Hinata's mentioned you a few times, always telling me 'what a cute couple we'd make' or 'many things we have in common'." Tenten smiled. "She's determined to get us together by the end of the year."
Neji studied her out of the corner of his eye. "Do you think she'll succeed?"
Tenten noticeably looked away, scanning the now-empty church; everyone else was in the lobby. She shrugged. "I don't know."
"Hn," was Neji's answer, deciding not to push it.
The door to the church opened and Mrs. Shiro ran in, struggling to keep her composure. Neji and Tenten stood up quickly, lest anyone think something 'romantic' was going on. Mrs. Shiro skidded to a halt beside Tenten, taking her hands into her own excitedly.
"Ten-chan," she began, "I think you know why I'm here…"
"I…" Tenten glanced at Neji, who smiled encouragingly, and back to her teacher, her eyes sparkling elatedly.
"Julliard is prepared to offer you a full scholarship, Tenten," Mrs. Shiro said, the words spilling quickly from her mouth. "They were deeply impressed by both your dedication and skill and, I quote, 'would be delighted to have Tenten attend Julliard, thereby adding yet another talented musician to our already endowed group of students'."
"That's…" Tenten felt her heart fluttering with excitement.
"I must let everyone know!" Mrs. Shiro exclaimed. And with that, she power walked out of the church and into the lobby, her bun letting loose quite a few strands of gray hair.
Neji appeared in her place, smiling. "Congratulations…"
In heartbeat, before she realized what she had done, Tenten instinctively threw herself at Neji, wrapping and bringing him closer into a heated embrace. Neji felt himself hug her back and for the longest time they stood like that until Tenten blushed and pulled away, her eyes searching his for any signs of irritation. But of course, she found none.
"You can consider that your gift for your achievement," Neji told her, still able to feel her arms around him.
"Let's go tell Hinata and Naruto!" Tenten exclaimed, reaching for his hand but stopping herself just in time. Neji noticed and took up her hand, leading her out into the lobby, thanking God for this wonderful turn of events.
"That's amazing!" Hinata gasped, clasping her hands together when Tenten had told her the good news.
"Nice going, Tenten!" Naruto yelped, launching himself at her and giving her a bear hug.
He didn't see Neji twitch.
Tenten laughed weakly as she ducked out from under Naruto's arm. "Thanks, guys!"
Soon, the air was filled with 'congratulations' and 'good for you's and 'well done's, Mrs. Shiro effectively spreading the word about Tenten's success. Neji, Hinata and Naruto soon found themselves shunted aside as Tenten's well-wishers swarmed about her, determined to get a praising word in before another one of her admirers were able to squish past them.
Neji frowned conspicuously every time a male counterpart stepped too near Tenten and seemed to be conversing too familiarly, showing obvious distaste as the crude group of boys horded around her, expressing their flattery in loud, unnecessary clauses.
Tenten, of course, accepted all this obsequiousness humbly, smiling modestly and replying in a level tone that didn't carry even a hint of pride. And Neji was extremely pleased when she declined the boys' offer to go out for a drink with a wave of her hand and strode through the crowd, using her elbows as weed-whackers. Tenten pushed through two extremely exuberant admirers, dressed in green spandex and sporting identical pudding-bowl haircuts, and emerged beside Neji, Hinata, and Naruto.
"It's a bit crowded in here, don't you think?" Tenten addressed this at Neji, raising her eyebrows suggestively.
"Slightly…" Neji smirked, enjoying this subtle game he and Tenten were competing in. "Shall we go back into the church?"
Sharing delighted smiles, Hinata and Naruto offered to stand watch outside the double doors as Neji and Tenten walked in.
Tenten sighed happily, gratefully taking in all the silence. "Much better…"
"Does that happen to you a lot?" Neji asked. "Overenthusiastic fans and high-spirited friends…?"
"Basically," Tenten confessed, taking slow steps up to the front of the church, where the white grand piano still stood, its glossy overcoat reflecting the dying sun. Weak rays stretched through the stained glass, illuminating the swirling dust, giving the place a fantastical appearance. "But I'm used to it; my parents were famous musicians, much better than me."
Neji nodded slowly, absorbing it. If that were true, then it would explain how relaxed Tenten was around hording fans. "What do they play?"
"My mother is pianist, like me," Tenten murmured, sitting on the edge of the stage, gesturing for him to sit beside her. "My father plays the cello."
"I remember taking a cello lesson once," Neji mused. "If my memory serves, it ended with two snapped strings and a broken bridge."
"Were you turning the pegs?" she asked, hiding her giggle adorably with one hand.
Neji surveyed her vaguely. "Perhaps…"
"Classic rookie mistake," Tenten told him reassuringly.
"So, uh, why aren't your parents here? Surely they want to be at the recital that determines their daughter's musical career," Neji added.
"Oh, they're on tour," Tenten answered brightly, "travelling with a group of infamous group of actors as their 'background music.'
He nodded and cleared his throat before asking his next question. "So, uh, how did your parents meet?"
"My mother had a concert one day and his cousin was her friend. It was Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the piece I played today. When she finished, she ran over to her friend and caught his eye. She smiled and they talked and he kissed her." Tenten blushed, noticing the obvious similarities.
Neji decided not to mention them. "And then they got married?"
She nodded sheepishly. "Coincidentally enough, it was in this very church, at this very spot, that they exchanged their vows." Tenten looked around happily. "I think this is a beautiful place to get married, don't you?"
Neji did not answer, instead cupping Tenten's chin tenderly, tracing slow, hypnotic circles on her cheek with his thumb. He smirked, delighted that she had turned a beautiful shade of red, and closed the gap between their lips.
Ah, shit, they were kissing passionately, making out hungrily, in a holy place. Neji was sure he'd pay for this in the afterlife but that was ok, as long as now was now and stretched out as long as possible. Maybe Tenten could even have a cell next to his when they died. It didn't really matter as long as they were together.
A lifetime later, they broke apart and panted, relying on each other to keep themselves from toppling over. Neji brought Tenten closer to him, holding her head against his chest, feeling the heated blush radiating from her. Positioning his lips right next to her ear, he whispered two words.
a/n: So, there you have it, folks; my first OneShot! I'd love it if you guys would review and let me know what I failed or succeeded at!
Anyway, with all those lust-filled, hungry thoughts, Neji still remains cool and calm, like he is in the manga. I don't know. Maybe he actually does think about these things whenever he sees Tenten and Masashi just hasnt made that known yet! ;)
Also, I hope you all got the sort of hidden message in there. When Tenten was talking about marriage and her parent's meeting's scenarios that so paralleled her own situation and Neji's little utterance at the end. A bit of a hint that they get married later...Haha I dont know how well that worked out!
Ahh... and if any of you were wondering, Julliard is a pretigious music school in NYC, I believe. Also, dont ask me why Neji's a docter. Nothing else seemed to fit, except for ninja and rider but I've already used them! *laughs*