It took until the next evening for what really happened to sink into my skin, like a stick floating to the bottom of a river. My escapades with Mister Hyuuga had begun at 6:00 on a Monday morning that winter. And when spring rounded the corner, with its damp bite of rusty air and sunlight peeking through the tall cascades of silver buildings in an hour I wasn't accustomed to…it all ended.

I have always had a belligerence about myself that favored my fate greatly. I was a fighter, down to my flesh and bone. But the actions that I'd flung ourselves into, the flight we'd taken together, came to a crashing halt.

I knew there wouldn't be an indemnity on our relationship's term. I wasn't even aware what our status was at that point. All I knew was that I'd ruined it.

So the next day, after working in dreadfully lonesome hours, as Kin didn't show up and Hinata was too busy to speak, I had a completely opposite opinion than what I'd concluded the day I met Mister Hyuuga; I decided I wasn't worth even a casual side glance.

But at the end of the day, something unexpected happened. Because when, by chance, he entered the elevator mere moments after I did, he unexpectedly, unexplainably, and somewhat beautifully, smiled in my direction.

Oh, I was in Hell.

…by mara

I was shocked by the smile, I'll admit. It wasn't that I was expecting a sort of incivility from him, even after yesterday's coffee incident. But nonetheless, I wasn't waiting for this sudden, warm compassion that was sweeping from his demeanor.

For him to look so cheerful, while I felt so exhausted and upset, was not only strange to me, but a bit of a heart breaker.

So I turned my head away, unable to smile back even if I wanted to.

But he wasn't intent on ending the connection right there, it seemed. For he asked, with genuine concern in his voice, "Are you alright?"

I couldn't bring myself to talk, feeling so tired it was as if my lips were numb. So I simply shrugged, feeling that was ambiguous enough a symbol to express to him not only his answer, but the message that I didn't want to speak.

And then, I heard what sounded like music. My heart swooped slightly when I realized it was Neji's voice, laughing. He sounded happy. Serene. Beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous.

My eyes burned and I blinked them heavily three times, trying to keep the stinging tears at bay, and as I did so Neji said, "It's not like you to be so silent."

I didn't reply, only stared down at the tips of my shoes, though I could feel his gaze on me, staring at me. "You're not looking at me," he observed unnecessarily, his tone lowering slightly.

He heaved a sigh, and I heard him shifting his feet next to me. "That reminds me," he said almost nostalgically. "I was like that too when we first met. The truth is, and this is an honesty which I'll admit I have been blatantly and foolishly hiding from you: I was just afraid to look at you. You had such a personality, and next to you I was worried I'd just be bland and colorless. But you gave me life, you see." Yet again he laughed his beautiful, musical laugh, and said calmly, "I guess you have enough personality for the both of us."

Listening to him speak hurt and healed at the same time. I could barely register the words, but the sound of his voice made me feel numb. And it terrified me.

So when the elevator shuddered to a halt, I grasped my bags to myself tightly and made for the door…

But Neji was there, standing in the way. The door jerked forward and shut again impatiently, but he ignored it, holding his hand against it, making sure it wouldn't close. I felt flustered, unsure of what to do. Unable to look him in the eyes. "Tenten…" he said slowly.

"Let me out, please, Mister Hyuuga," was all I said.

"This isn't your floor."

"I want to leave." I couldn't look at him, my voice was tiny and so unlike myself.

Neji took a step forward, but the doors slid shut behind him, barring my exit, and the elevator continued on its journey upward. I inhaled and exhaled sharply, impatiently, and said dryly, "What do you want from me?"

"May I simply ask you a question, Tenten?"

I glanced at him, briefly enough to let his eyes linger in my gaze as I turned away shortly, debating my answer. He frowned and said, "You don't have to answer it. I'd just like to know. I'll leave you alone afterwards if you'd like, you have my word. Just let me ask this one thing."

I heaved a sigh. My floor was approaching. I had time enough to answer his question, but only that, and then I'd have the relief of leaving. "Fine," I said shortly.

"What is something you've always wanted all your life, more than anything, the only thing that can make you happy?"

I blinked, and finally turned my head to look directly at him. He was gazing at me, unblinking, his gaze absolutely ferocious. A fire was there that wasn't there before…

…before he met me…

My lips opened, and I spoke without thinking: "You."

As the elevator halted once more, he smiled. "Well that's easy." I was so enchanted by that smile, that I barely noticed him taking my hand. "I can give that to you."

And the elevator doors opened with a small Ding! as he kissed my hand, then looked up into my eyes with a gleaming smile as he said, making my heart turn and my lips twist into a grin, and my life burn with a warmth that I'd missed forever:

"Good Evening, Missis Hyuuga."

And it began once again.

The End

Dear Anonymous Reviewer naash: I'm a woman. And I'm guessing you've never heard of a lesbian before. Welcome to the 21'st century.

Dear Anonymous Reviewer ficcrazy: I update when I want to, not when you want me to. If you'd bother to read the notes, you'd find that I have things that get in the way of this story that are far more important. In other words, your impatience does not matter to me. If you can't handle that, go fap on a toilet seat.

I give my thanks to all reviewers, I'm very glad you've enjoyed the story, and I hope you're content with its conclusion, of course even if you're not, I don't care. ;) Have a good Thanksgiving, and be safe.