Green flashed past my eyes as i flew through the forrest feeling gravity tug at my body, i slammed into the ground with a thump a little louder then i would have liked, as i rolled away i heard the tell tale whiz of kunai overhead which sent my pulse into hyperdrive as it always did. Instict told me to run, get away from this dangerous place but my heart had other idea's, i had to finish this fight. I would not let my team down.
I bounced up and dodged to the right as another kunai flew by, my own hand clasping my shuriken pouch, ready to dip inside and pull one out at a moments notice, sweat dripped down my face, i wiped it away harshly as i listened. The forrest was silent.
I jumped as a bird flew from the foliage next to me, its wings beating heavily and ruffiling my hair which tickled my eyes on its way down, i ignored it and listened my ears straining to hear something, In the distance was a snap of a twig, the rustle if leaves, the splashing of water from the creek but where was-
A weight hit my shoulder hard, i fell to the ground smacking my chin on a rock half pertruding from the ground, my teeth chattered together and despite the situation i ran my tongue over them to check they were still in place. The weight bore down on me and panic flitted through my mind, i rolled and bucked but to no evail, a hand grabbed my hair yanking my neck up, straining the tendons. I heard my own heart beating and time seemed to slow, water filled my eyes as strand by strand my hair pulled under the pressure.
"You could never defeat me" a male voice grumbled near my ear
I stayed quiet glancing left and right towards the bushes, The weight shifted yanking me up onto my knees so i was face to face with... a crotch.
Oh great, not only have your team left you, your gonna be molested in the forrest by this dobe.
"You were naive to come here alone" the man said leaning down, breath hitting my fringe and making it tickle against more forehead
i caught a green movement to my left, and another to my right, so fast you could mistake it for the leaves rustling.
They're here!, your saved! Come on keep him occupied dont let him see them!
"I.. i didnt..." I stumbled making my voice shake
"You didnt what?" The man sneered into my face
"i didnt come alone" I smirked
The mans eyes widened as Lee flew from the bushes kicking the man in the head, he flew across the ground, Gai jumped from a tree and hit him with a punch to the face in midair, i smiled as the two of them high fived and hugged but i couldnt help my eyes wandering over the landscape searching for my third team member.
I stood and walked over to Gai and Lee who were just finishing their nice guy poses to each other.
"Well done my beautiful flower, you were an amazing decoy" Gai gushed
"Best i've ever seen Tenten" Lee smiled
"Thanks" i mumbled
The high from the fight was wearing off and i found myself feeling weak and lathargic.
What did you expect?, you wanted him to hang around to save your butt when your only half a day from the village?, Lee and Gai could easily have handled it on their own, Neji would have gone home.
My thoughts wandered to my team mate, Some people may think i liked him, i didnt, not in that way anyway, he is a good friend of mine and most of all a good shinobi, he is strong and funny, and i respect him both as a friend and a team mate.
Not to mention that his body is perfect...
I shook my head clearing it and took a deep breath willing my thoughts to drift elsewhere, they wouldnt, they always went back to him.
I jumped, my head whipped around and there he was, my heart flew into my mouth and i looked down again quickly feeling guilty as thoughts raced through my head as fast as my racing heart was beating.
"N-neji-kun.. what are you doing here?" I babbled cursing myself for sounding so spastic
He raised an eyebrow at me, i had to look away for a second.
"Uum, the mission... we've been on it for around 2 weeks now" He said slowley
"I mean, you could have started back towards the village, Gai and Lee had it under control" I said
Neji looked over at them pointedly, they were challenging each other to a 100m sprint on their hands.
"I wouldnt trust them to save you without back-up, i stayed just to be safe" Neji said
I knew it was just him being logical as usual but i still felt a flutter when he admitted he stayed to save me.
Get a grip girl!, he stayed as back-up, not because of you!
I nodded and looked away as disappointment filled me, i felt a finger on my arm and my skin goose pimpled where Neji had touched it, i felt the warmth from his body as he came closer, for a second i was consumed by him, gazing dopily at him as he moved closer.
"You should get Gai to look at your chin" Neji said blandly leaning in for a better look
I snapped out of it fast, i nodded and quickly jumped up and walked towards my sensei as humiliation threatened to rip me limb from limb, Gai made a fuss as always proclaiming me as couragous as a lion for taking one for the team, Lee agreed ofcourse and both set about looking for plasters and antiseptic as i sat there staring off into the distance, Gai came back a few seconds later armed with plasters off all sizes and atiseptic cream and spray, he told Lee to re-pack the bags as he sprayed my chin with an unnecassarily huge squirt of antiseptic. My fists clenched as the sting hit, the fumes rising to my eyes and making them water, Gai mistook my tears, jumping to a conclusion as he ususally did.
"Your looking forward to getting back arent you?" Gai smiled smoothing the plaster on my chin
"Uh, yeah, ofcourse" I lied
"How about when we get back to the village i take you for an ice cream?" He said
I glanced around to check if anyone had heard him, Neji was scouting the perimeter and Lee was busy packing madly, i nodded discreetly and Gai beamed at me, he slapped me on the back and declared me fit enough to move on.
I grabbed my bags and scrolls and fastened them to my body, my shoulder ached as my bag weighed heavily on it, Neji took my back pack from me and carried it himself, sensing my unease. I smiled my thanks and he nodded. The forrest was pleasantly quiet as we made our way back to the village, unconcious man in tow being carried by Gai in a position that looked strangely like a piggy back. The sun sparkled off puddles in the ground that had probably formed last night, i focused on the puddles and the trees not the shinobi walking next to me, so close on this narrow trail we were almost touching.
"Looking forward to getting home?" Neji asked politely
My breath caught before i could say yes so i simply nodded and plastered on a smile, He nodded and continued to walk, He meant well but the mention of 'home' made my mood plummet as i thought of what home really was.
You see i dont actually have a home, My mother died when i was no more then 2 years old and my father was a raging alcoholic, soon after my 3rd birthday i was moved from my home and my real dad was put into a prison somewhere for child abuse and driving under the influence, i went from childrens home to childrens home until on my 5th birthday i was adopted officially... by Gai sensei.
It was fluke really that i was appointed to his team when i graduated the academy, at first it had been fine, getting extra training at home and having a place to live, i am very grateful to Gai sensei for that but... it gets too much sometimes, having Gai around all the time its crazy.
He tries, god knows he tries, but its just not the same as having a real home, a real family and i think sometimes Gai knows that which is why he tries to smooth things over with training and ice cream trips and walks in the park, but i just want to be alone sometimes.
My foot caught on a tree root and i fell forwards my hands flying out to break my fall to save my chin from another bashing, my eyes shut automatically as the ground came up to meet me, Strong hands grabbed my arm stopping my fall, i re-gained my balance and brushed my shirt down before looking up into Neji's warm eyes.
"Sorry, i wasnt looking" I said
He nodded and continued on leaving me to my thoughts once again.
wow, your officially the worlds clumsiest kunoichi, congrats!
I shook away my thoughts and walked the rest of the way looking at the scenery and trying not to think of what was waiting for me when i got back to the village, it didnt work.
Gai was very secretive about our arrangement, none of my team knew i lived with him, it would be too weird for them to understand im sure, nobody asked really, they all assumed i was like the others, living happily with a family member in a house or apartment, living a normal life with a normal family.
I looked at Gai in his green lycra and greasy bowl cut and felt ashamed, immediantely following that i felt guilty, guilty that i would be so judging to Gai sensei when he tries his best to protect me and care for me.
I shut my brain down before i could further dampen my mood, when i looked up i could see the gate to Konoha in the distance and i perked up a little at the thought of seeing my friends after so long. The teams pace quickened as we approached the village and within 10 minutes we were passing through the gate.
We were finally back.
"Sakura chan!" Lee yelled waving theatrically
I peered over and caught sight of Sakura's pink hair in the crowde, she made her way over and ran at me ignoring Lee who had somehow gotten a boquet of flowers from the nearby flower shop.
"Tenten!, how are you?" Sakura asked as she pulled me into a hug
I returned the hug warmly and assured her we were all fine, She nodded at Neji who smiled back at her, Gai came over and slapped her on the back laughing as Lee stumbled over to say hi.
Lee tried to hug Sakura but she backed away, he exploded into a sobbing wreck on the floor, Gai sensei leaned down to give him a pep talk, Sakura watched apologetically as Lee regained composure and came back over to apologise, i took advantage of the diversion to slip away unnoticed.
I walked up towards the Hokage building my stomach rumbling as i passed the bakery and caught the smell of fresh dango and mochi, i licked my lips and reached for my bag to check how much money i had, my hand went through thin air. I stopped remembering that Neji had taken my back pack. Oh great.
"Looking for this?" Neji stepped around the corner holding up my bag
I smiled "Yeah, thanks"
"I see i wasnt the only one who snuck away at the first chance" Neji remarked
"Yeah well you know.." I said lamely
He grinned at my lack of vocabulary
"You hungry?" he asked me
My stomach growled verociously, i turned a shade of crimson, he tried to hide a smile.
" Yeah a bit.." i said nochalantly
"Right..." He said trying not to smile " you wanna get some ramen?"
"W-with you?" i asked quickly
"If you want but.." He peeled off into silence
"I was gonna make some... you know to save money" He said
"Oh, Okay sure"
Typical logical Neji... make the Ramen to save on expenses.
I walked with him down the street where we took a right, then we cut down a side street and crossed a road, took a left, another left and we were in the Hyuuga gardens, we walked through the gardens in silence but it wasnt uncomfortable, it was nice.
"Whats your favourite flavour?" Neji asked
"W-what?" I gasped
"Your favourite flavour... of ramen?" He asked innocently
I blushed and mumbled whatever as we drifted back into silence, i mentally slapped myself for being so stupid.
We reached Neji's house and took our shoes off before entering the main parlour of the house, I've always loved Neji's house its big and airy with history seemingly sown into the woodwork, a beautiful house for a legendary clan.
There was a creak of wood as someone descended the stairs, Neji tensed but relaxed as his cousin came into view.
"Hello Hinata" Neji said warmly
"Neji-kun!, Tenten-san, how was the mission?" Hinata asked
"It was... fun" i said smiling
"G-good to hear" Hinata smiled a blush peppering her cheeks
"We were gonna have some Ramen... would you like some?" Neji asked
"No thank you, i am going out to meet Naruto for a training session" Hinata said
"Oh.. Okay, have fun" Neji smiled but it seemed strained
"Goodbye Neji, goodbye Tenten" Hinata said as she bowed and left
I waved and Neji nodded, we continued through the house until we reached the kitchen which was huge!. Never in my life have i seen a kitchen quite so big in my entire life, Neji looked around almost self conciously before he lead me over to a hob that held 12 spots for saucers to lay on. He put some water on to boil and searched the cupboards for ramen noodles, he found some and added them to the pot when the water was hot enough, he then routed through the cupboards and found 2 large bowls, he reached into a high cupboard and i couldnt stop my eyes from wandering down to his stomach, muscular and taut, i heard a rustle and diverted my attention to a large sachet he was holding.
"Yes, i know what your thinking, but its the fastest way" Neji smiled as he poured the Ramen broth mix into the bowls equally.
"Cheater" i teased boldly
He mock scowled and my insides fluttered and churned.
He looked at the clock quickly before turning the hob up and mixing the broth together, he stirred the ramen noodles before walking to the otherside of the vast kitchen to make some saki tea for us.
"Is there anything i can do?" I asked quietly
"umm, can you check the time for me?" Neji asked
"Sure, its 4:56pm"
He nodded and put two teabags into a large tea holder, he then walked back over to the noodles and tested one, he made a face and turned the hob up a little more, he added some hot water to the broth and stirred again before straining the ramen and adding them to the broth, he stirred it all together with a ladel spoon and walked to the fridge, he pulled out a container and dumped some shredded beef into the bowls and added some soy sauce.
The smell of the ramen was delightful and my stomach ached for it, he carried the two bowls into the dining room on a tray with two sets of chopsticks accompanying the bowls, he set the table and put down two napkins for each of us, i went to sit and Neji quickly pulled out my chair for me. I smiled and sat down.
"I hope you enjoy it" Neji said handing me my bowl and chopsticks
I waited until he had taken a bite of his before i started mine which took all of my restraint as the smell wafted to my nose.
The ramen was superb cooked perfectly with so many contrasing flavours it was like a mouth orgasm, i finished it quickly and drank the broth at the bottom loving the warm feeling as the ramen travelled into my stomach making me feel full.
I looked over to see Neji with still over half a bowl left, i looked down at my own empty bowl before glancing at the clock: 5:15pm
Oh Kami you ate that inhumanly fast!, you need to shape up girl!, no mans gonna want to date a girl who has a bigger appetite then him!
I sipped at my tea slowley trying to prolongue the illusion of eating something so Neji wouldnt realise i was finished, fifteen minutes later Neji finished and i gulped the rest of my tea.
"Thank you very much Neji-kun. that was delicious" I smiled
"Your welcome" He smiled before gathering the bowls and cups back onto the tray and taking them into the kitchen again, he washed them all and put them back into their allocated places.
"You sure you dont want any help?" I asked
"No im fine" Neji said as he wiped the sides down.
I felt guilty just watching him work but i also loved it, watching how he moved, his clothes rubbing against his muscles, the way his hair shines when the lights hit it, his eyes gleaming.
Yeah, he's just a friend isnt he..
I was shocked when i realised i was right, he was so much more then just a friend. I liked Neji.
Neji looked up when i thought this and for one terrifying second i was sure he had somehow read my mind, he cocked his head slightly before walking out the room, he entered again holding my phone, it was vibrating telling me i had an incoming call.
i answered it
"Tenten, my beautiful flower, where are you?" Gai asked
"Im.. at a friends" i said glancing at Neji
"well dont be out too late, we have ice cream to get my little lion!" Gai chortled
"Oh, okay, i'll come back now then" i said
"Okey dokey, see you in 5!" Gai smiled
I tucked my phone into my pocket
"I have to go" i said to Neji
"Okay, see you tomorrow for training?" He asked
"Yes, uh 1 oclock?"
"Sure 1 it is"
He walked me to the door and handed me my backpack, i took it and said goodbye, he waved and i left, heading back to Gai for our ice cream trip.
Wow, what fun.. you lucky girl!
As i walked my mind diverted to one thing, I liked Neji Hyuuga.