a/n: Ah, this inspiration just came to me literally half and hour ago. It hit me like bam and I knew that I had to write it before I ran out of steam. So I reluctantly took a break from editing Chapter 18 of WWL (which will be up soon, I promise!) and wrote this out. It's a SongFic, although I didn't intend for it to be in the beginning. My inspiration was from 'Where the Story Ends' by The Fray and since the content paralleled the lyrics so much, I combined them. :)

I guess you can consider this an early reverse birthday present! *laughs* My birthday's on the eleventh of July but instead of you giving me gifts, I'll be giving you a gift! :D


disclaimer: Neji and Tenten (c) Masashi Kishimoto, Lyrics (c) The Fray



Trying not to lose my head

"I don't think it's going to work out."

But I've never been this scared before

She said it simply and quietly but he knew she had rehearsed what she was going to say, mentally writing out the script of their last good-bye. He knew that it must have taken her great pains to go through the moment over and over again, editing and revising until she at last emerged with a version that would create the least grief. So he allowed her to go on.

Tell you what I'll do instead

"The past few months have been amazing – I'll never forget them – but everything needs to end at some point. Damn fate for what it is. Fate's a bitch, isn't it?"

He didn't think so. Fate had led him to her, after all. But he didn't contradict her. He didn't interrupt her. He didn't tell her that fate sometimes had a funny habit of contradicting itself. Instead, he let her finish her lines.

Lay my body down on the floor

"Life throws you curveballs and sometimes you strike out. But there's always the next inning, until you reach the ninth. Your last shot, your last chance to win. Some games you win; others you don't. It all depends who your opponent is and whether you're hardy enough to defeat it. Neji, I lost this time."

"I understand, Tenten." But he didn't. He only answered because the libretto called for it.

Silhouette until the good lord come

Tenten continued as if he hadn't said anything, too intent on her part to realize that she was straying from her neatly planned-out vision. "At the beginning, I thought this was forever. I thought it would go on and on and on until eternity ended but those are the delusions of a sappy sixteen year old. We've been dating for two years…"

"Two years, one month, and twenty-seven days," Neji said quietly, his eyes speaking louder than his voice. He couldn't help but count the days. It was one way to ensure that it was real, like pinching yourself when you suspected you were dreaming.

Trying not to lose your own

She fumbled, grasping for words for a minute. "We…we've been dating for two years and it's been…unreal. I couldn't have been happier. But I think now's the time to move on."

He pinched himself. Am I dreaming? He didn't feel anything. His nails dug deeper into his skin until a faint signal of pain reached his brain. He rationalized that he had an unusually high tolerance for pain. That would help in this situation.

Boxing up everything you've got

"Don't take it personally. I don't want you to. This has nothing to do with you, but with me. It's me, not you."

That was bullshit, classic lines that were recycled over and over again, used so many times that the colors were faded and worn. It didn't cushion the blow like it was intended to. In fact, it just made it worse. But Neji was tough. He didn't need sugarcoated niceness and pillows to land on.

And I began to feel the ground

She looked uncomfortable and awkwardly tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, eyes darting around like an actress who had forgotten the most important lines. His heart went out to her. He still loved her, no matter what she was doing, was saying. And he'd love her for a long time before finally letting go.

To forget what I've done

"We laughed, we talked, we hung out, we loved each other-"

Past tense. It stung.

"-but we can still be friends. There's no need to drift apart. We won't drift apart."

All we know is distance

But they would. Neji knew that they'd never be the same again. Their long talks and frequent house visits would dwindle down to a 'How do you do?' when they passed each other on the street, only stopping to talk for a socially acceptable amount of time before going their separate ways, eager to escape the other's presence. There was no going back once you walked away from it. Life had no rewind button.

You wonder where did the years go

"Tenten…" He forced himself not to add the suffix, "it's not going to be the same. I know that. And so do you."

She bit her lip and dropped her gaze to the floor. "Probably not…but a dream is better than nothing."

Neji sighed, not because he was exasperated with her but because he just loved her so much it hurt. "You have to wake up sometimes." His eyes changed and they softened.

Or have we just begun?

"Then this is the wake-up call I've been looking for." Her determinedness paralleled his. "No matter how much it hurts now, I have to carry on or it'll just be worse later."

"I commend you for that."

All you ever knew of home

The script was reaching its last word quickly. The pages ruffled from an unfelt gust of wind as the papers were knocked out of their hands and swept to the wings of the stage. Lines forgotten, improvising was a forgetful actor's most valuable tool.


She noticed the lack of '-chan' and there was a tug at her heart. "Y-yes?"

"Can I ask why?"

"Why…why I'm breaking up with you?"

He didn't answer but she assumed that she was correct.

She sighed heavily before answering. He deserved to know.

You're scared, scared to see

"It's not another man. It's not a loss of love. It's not an escape from a responsibility. It's just…I'm going to college this fall and you and I both know that it's on the other side of the world. Thousands upon thousands of miles…that's what will separate us if we aren't separated already."

"Long-distance relationship…" Neji muttered.

All we know is distance

"I'm not going to be able to take the desires that go unquenched for months; the static voices on the other end of the phone that rings only sparingly; the difficulty to meet…I don't like it. I'll never like it."

"But in four years," he prompted but he wasn't hopeful.

"…I'll be getting my Master's Degree and you'll be on your way to Medical School. And by that time, you'll have found someone else. There'll be no need for me."

We're close and then we run

He didn't want to let go, to forget, to move on, but he knew he had to. Her logic was persuasive and he couldn't deny it. "Do you love me?" His voice was strong and steady and he already knew her answer was going to be 'no'.

So he was surprised when she replied.

"Yes, I love you, Neji." Her eyes echoed the feeling. "And I always will. But it'll be the love a sister gives to her brother, an obligated familial love."

"An obligation is all I deserve?" The corners of his mouth twitched into a wry smile. "I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with that. You won't offer me any more, will you?"

The violins make no sound

His heart pounded loudly as she inched closer, rising onto her toes. He felt her cool lips graze the surface of his cheek for less than a second before pulling away reluctantly. "Consider that your present. I don't expect anything in return."

He reached out involuntarily, as she waited with bated breath, and touched her cheek tenderly, his eyes saying everything. "As much as I hate to say it," he paused mainly for dramatic effect, "Good-bye."

Kiss away the distance

She turned and walked away, her head bowed. Her shoulders would tremble slightly as if she were trying to contain a heart-wrenching sob. He watched her go and as he did, the stage-lights dimmed until only a solitary ray of light encircled him, protecting him from the darkness. The scatter papers from the script rustled by as he looked out to the theatre.

It was empty.

He was alone.

And then, as if on cue, the curtains dropped.

But this is where the story ends

a/n: Oh this was short but I liked it nonetheless. What with the breaking up and dreaded long-distance relationships and farewells, not the happiest of stories but not the happiest of songs. They go well together, hand in hand. :P And I always considered fairy-tale endings boring and cliche. Meh.

The play metaphor was never initially planned like that but it works (I think). And yes, the lyrics are out of order. ;)

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy your early reverse birthday present!