Commission for Takeo-Kei on dA. She wanted a NaruTen one-shot. Sorry for taking so long! ^^'
I hope you like it! Thank you so much for commissioning me!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto does.
P.S: If I did, the dobe would get a lot of lovin' from me XD
Thud. Thud. Thud.
The noise echoed around the clearing as the kunais lodged themselves into the targets. Trees were covered in weapons, kunais, senbons, shurikens and what not. Up and down the tree bark. Weapons and splinters were littered on the forest floor. More variety was found on the floor. Tantos, katanas and so on.
A brown haired girl, dressed in a red and pink blouse and green pants stood in the middle of all the debris. She was panting. She was bent over, hands on knees, head bent. Her brown hair that was usually tied neatly on the top of her head was coming loose, strands strewn about her face. Her body was covered in perspiration, her clothes damp and sticking to her body because of it. The strands that had come loose were stuck to her face. The hot midday sun shone down on her back and exposed neck mercilessly, but she didn't care.
She slowly straightened and looked around at the mess she had made. It shouldn't bother her. Hell, she always made a mess like this when she trained. She had trashed places more badly than this. She should start cleaning it up. "I better hurry if I want to get back in time for lunch with Lee." She went to gather the tantos and the katanas.
She gathered all the tantos first and set them on one side. She placed all the tantos side by side.. She placed all the weapons in a separate pile, taking care not to pile them over each other. That was not how a weapons mistress took care of her weapons. She made sure that they were sharp, oiled and the broken ones thrown away. Even if a small crack was found, then the weapon was deemed useless. Tenten took good care of her weapons. She gave a wobbly smile at that. She could take care of those, but what about herself? Could she do that?
She walked over to the trees to pull out the smaller weapons lodged into the trees. As she reached out for the first one, her hand stopped in midair.
She stared at the bulls-eye that was placed on the biggest tree. It was big and untouched. Not even one of her weapons had touched it. Her eyes went wide and a small cry escaped her throat.
No, that couldn't be. She must be hallucinating. The heat must have gone to her head. Tenten rubbed her eyes and looked again.
No. It was still there. Untouched.
Tenten's head swam and her body sagged against the tree. The rough bark of the tree, the splinters pressed into her skin. She didn't feel them.
How...how could it be? She was Tenten, known as "ten out of ten." She never missed. Even from a considerable distance she never missed her target. She was the Weapon Mistress of Konoha. Even Gai claimed that Tenten had never known to miss. She looked at the bulls-eye again. It filled her vision, as if taunting her, as if saying "You're slipping."
She thought she was dealing with it. She had always dealt with it. She had always managed to pull through. But now...
They called her illegitimate, though the terms used were vulgar. They never spoke out loud, but those accusing stares and suggestive whispers said it all. They called her "gender-confused." A girl trying hard to act like a boy. True, Tenten dressed like a boy but it was practical and Tenten felt comfortable this way. It was more easier to access her scrolls if the hem wasn't in the way. While running and jumping there was no fear of getting her clothes torn and snagged on a stray branch. Sometimes they called her a slut. Her clothes again. Some said they were molded to her body. She flaunted her assets to the men and boys. She didn't cover herself like most girls did. She didn't wear sleeves or bandages.
Today, in the baths the girls discovered that she didn't wear underwear. It was a disaster.
"OMG!" screamed someone.
"Hm?" Tenten turned around. She had been standing on the far side of the changing room. She had just unbuttoned her pants and had just slid them down past her hips, exposing her ass to the elements.
"Have you no shame?" said the girl staring at her. She had black eyes, silky brown hair and fair skin. She was wearing a towel and looking at Tenten with disdain. Her name was Nezumi and if memory served, Nezumi looked at everyone with disdain.
"Why?" asked Tenten, still not getting it. A few girls were looking over to them and a crowd would form in a matter of seconds.
"You're not wearing any underwear." Nezumi said in that bitch sing songy voice. "Why?"
"I don't wear it because I don't feel the need to." Girls were standing just a few feet behind Nezumi. Most of them looked like her friends. If you could call them that.
"Yeah , right." snorted Nezumi. "Is that decent way of saying that you don't wear underwear because it might get in the way of a quickie?"
Gasps echoed all around the baths. Some of the girls were glaring and staring at Nezumi with shock. Others, mostly Nezumi's followers were looking at her with disgust and accusingly.
They looked at her as if she had committed a scandalous act. Tenten didn't believe in wearing undies, but she did wear a bra. Underwear was so irritating! It stuck to her hips unpleasantly when she practiced and she often ended up with rashes on her thighs.
One girl said to another, "I can't believe how sluttish she is!"
Tenten looked around, her body burning up. Her ears were ringing. Her mind in a turmoil, she looked around. Some refused to meet her gaze and turned away in disgust. Some sneered. The rest regarded her with sympathy.
"That's not true…" Tenten spoke, her voice thick. A lump had appeared in her throat. A prickling sensation in her eyes indicated the beginning of tears.
"Oh really? How come? You know what they say. Like mother, like daughter. Your mother was a slut." Nezumi said, a predatory gleam in her eyes.
Tenten jerked back as if she had been hit. Some other time, she would said something like, "Oh and is that why you're such a bitch?" or something witty. But right now, with her mind spinning and her control about to crack, all she could manage was, "Stop it…"
"Why? We all know why you don't have a last name. That's because your mother couldn't keep track of the men she'd been with!"
Tenten couldn't take it. She had to leave. Now. Or she'd fall apart. She ran out, nearly falling over. She jerked up her pants and ran. Heedless of the cries of the people she ran into. Heedless of the stares. Heedless of everything. So here she was, in this place, far far away from her sensei and team. She didn't want them to see her like this. Weak, tearful...on the verge of breaking.
She hung out with the guys, because girls couldn't take her rough ways. Boys were rough. Tenten saw them as sparring partners, people whom she could fight with without worrying about hurting them. Guys didn't whine about breaking a nail, make up getting smudged or hair getting messed up.
She had always known that her mother had been a single mom. She didn't know who her father was. Her mother had died when Tenten had been three. She didn't remember much. It hurt...Hurt so bad.
But people misunderstood...They always did. Times like these she wished she could go someplace far away...Where no one would find her. She wanted somebody who could understand her. Somebody like..
Yes, the Naruto Uzumaki. The hyperactive, blonde Chuunin with the cheerful blue eyes and that ready smile. His spiky blonde hair, those marks on his cheeks. His orange outfit and his penchant for ramen. Everything about him stood out.
Tenten always wondered why she hadn't thought about him before. Oh, she had noticed him before. With that orange, it was hard not to. What irked her that she had never observed him closely before.
Naruto's childhood hadn't been a pleasant one. She had found that out when she overheard a few Jounin talking about him and the nine-tailed fox known as Kyuubi.
When the Kyuubi had attacked 12 years ago, Minato Namikaze, the fourth Hokage had sealed the Kyuubi to protect his village. He had to sacrifice himself in order to do it. He sealed the Kyuubi in Naruto Uzumaki, who was just a newborn. The Kyuubi had killed many people, people who were brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents and children.
People had looked at Naruto as if he was the spawn of the devil. Tenten herself remembered the mothers telling their children not to go to that boy. People would look at him with disgust and hate. Even Tenten had avoided him at first. She didn't know that he had the Kyuubi in him. She did it because the others were doing it too.
But after overhearing those Jounin, she had decided to go hunt. To gather info. She learnt that Naruto was a guy who did not do well in class i.e he was the class clown. He had failed the Genin exam on the first try. He got called names. Many. But it never got him down. People would push him, knock him down. He would always get back up and go about life with renewed zeal.
She'd never go near him when he was with his squad or sensei. No. That would look suspicious. When he was with Kakashi, Sakura or Sasuke, she'd observe him from afar. Whenever he was alone…
She had observed it herself. On days when she wouldn't be missed or when Gai-sensei set them free after their training sessions, she would go. Look for that boy. She had discovered his secret training place.
It was an abandoned training ground. It used to be put to use by the Jounin. But after the construction of new and better training grounds, people had abandoned it. Nobody even went there. Tenten doubted if people still remembered. She, herself had found it by accident.
Naruto went there on weekends. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Some Jounin would let off their squads for the weekends, like Gai, Asuma and Kurenai. Every Friday around 12, Naruto would show up
So would Tenten. She made sure that Naruto never discovered her. And the boy never did.
He would be so wrapped up in his training that he would lose track of the time. Tenten had once watched him until it was around 11 at night. It was…a treat for her.
She'd observed that he talked to himself when he trained. If he would fail at something numerous times, he would stand up at once and say things like, "I can do it!", "I'm gonna master this technique if its going to take all night.", or "I will become Hokage, believe it!". Naruto was the type who favored fighting, techniques of physical nature and other jutsus. She'd watch him kick the shit out of the training dummies and punch bags. She'd watch him do cloning jutsus. The amount of clones he could produce was overwhelming. He would do push-ups, crunches, leg ups. He would run laps. Shirtless.
Tenten had been shocked senseless the first time Naruto had taken it off. It had been a day or two after she had discovered him training. It had been a hot day and most of Konoha had gone to the river to cool off. Gai had given the team a day off…only after a lot of whining on her and Lee's part. Lee had done most of the work though. She had gently turned down Lee's offer of going for a dip and run off. She made herself comfortable in a spot in her favorite tree, where she could get a clear and unhindered view of Naruto, without getting discovered. She would bring her own lunch with her, because she had found out that Naruto stayed for long periods.
He entered and started off with the laps. He kept his jacket on until the laps were done. But then, he had stopped and taken off his jacket and shirt.
For her, it was like watching a strip ease in slow motion. She watched as his long and tanned fingers took hold of the zipper and slid it down. Her gaze traveled up towards his face. It had the faraway look of someone who was thinking about what to do next. His brows were lightly furrowed and his lips were curled up in a way that indicated that a person was deep in thought. Naruto slipped off the jacket and threw it carelessly to the ground, fully revealing a tight fishnet shirt that showed glimpses of a strong and tanned chest. The shirt was damp from sweat and outlined the lines of his muscles clearly. Tenten's mouth went dry and the sandwich she had been about to take a bite of, slipped from her fingers.
Naruto ran a hand through his blonde spikes making them stick up in different directions. He then grabbed the hem of his shirt and made to pull it off. It went up, inch by inch revealing his upper half.
"Oh Kami-sama…" thought Tenten. Naruto sure had grown. He had muscles now. Naruto was lean, tanned and his body gleamed with sweat. His muscles looked hard and Tenten had a sudden impulse to touch them.
"I have to leave…"she thought. She immediately got up and left.
That was when her feelings for the boy…intensified. She found herself thinking about him most of the time. At first she would think about him when she was alone. But then…she found Naruto on her mind most of the time.
Eating, training, cleaning or taking a bath. Naruto was on her mind most of the time. It was kind of embarrassing and terrifying. Especially during training, she would space out and start daydreaming about him. She would be brought back to Earth by Lee or Gai shaking her or Neji barking at her.
Naruto was…an escape. When she was alone, she would have nothing to occupy her thoughts except the taunts about her tomboyishness, her legitimacy and other unpleasant thoughts. Usually it had been Neji she day dreamed about before. But Neji didn't make her feel like Naruto did.
But…did Naruto feel the same way about her? That thought was too much for her and warm rivulets coursed down her cheeks.
Naruto frowned and flopped down on the bench. It was after noon. Many people were taking a break from their work. Jounins from their jobs, Genin and Chuunin from their training, little kids going home after academy all happy and eager to go home.
Naruto had been free for over an hour. Kakashi had been feeling charitable today and let them off early. Sakura had run off to go to the showers, Sasuke had disappeared to heavens knew where. Naruto had taken a shower and gone to Ichiraku's to eat. He was done and bored now.
There was no one around to talk to. Even Kiba had gone off somewhere. "Probably having some man time with that dog." thought Naruto.
He looked around. Where was she? He couldn't see her. She always passed by here. Naruto stood up on the bench and looked around for a glimpse of two buns. Tenten.
That girl…was something else. She was fierce…(scary fierce like Sakura), smart, confident and despite her clothing, managed to look like a woman. She had beautiful, brown skin and those eyes…full of confidence and mischief. Naruto often found himself thinking about her. It had puzzled him at first. He was supposed to be in about Sakura, not a girl he hadn't even talked to!
But he did. Over and over. He couldn't help it. He hadn't even known about her, kind of surprising as she was famous for her aim. Naruto had one day, out of curiosity gone looking for her. To see if she was actually as good as they said.
He had been…stumped. He had expected to find some brute of a woman with big boobs and a mean attitude. How wrong had he been…
The title "Weapon Mistress of Konaha," suited her perfectly. Weapons he had only seen and never touched. Weapons he hadn't even heard of. The girl had them all and she was a whiz with them all.
Her hair was always tied up. Her eyes would narrow in concentration when she trained. She threw like…a strong and lethal man would. She didn't miss. Not even once. She wore clothes that a man would wear, pants and shirt. Though she had thrown in pink which gave her a tomboyish look Despite that, she looked frail...and delicate. No man in their right mind would've used that word for her. People would've laughed in his face for saying that. But Naruto saw...it in her eyes.
Her eyes said it all. He wondered how people missed it. Her eyes...they were a myriad of emotions. Excitement, happiness, amusement, anger, pain, fear, and loneliness. The last three were all he saw in her eyes...Had been seeing for the past few days.
But now, he couldn't see her. Anywhere. Where was she? He had to go look for her Just as Naruto jumped down from the bench, Lee appeared out of nowhere. "Naruto-kun! Naruto-kun!"
"Huh?" Naruto turned and saw a worried looking Lee standing before him. "Have you seen Tenten-san? She was supposed to have lunch with me an hour ago, but she hasn't shown up. It isn't like her."
"You sure? I mean, she might've forgotten."
"No, no." replied Lee, shaking his head making his hair fly around. "We met this morning. She asked me to have lunch with her."
"Doesn't Neji know? Or Gai-sensei?" Lee shook his head. The poor boy looked pretty troubled. That feuled Naruto's worry. Was she all right?
"I've checked her place, the academy, the training grounds. I can't find her." Lee said. The boy looked on the verge of fainting.
Naruto frowned. "Okay, calm down now. We'll go look for her together."
Lee nodded. "Let's go."
They both checked out the places she was usually found at. The ones that Lee had checked. Nope, she wasn't there. One girl told them that they she had seen her leave for the baths. They went there and found nothing. However, Naruto noticed that some girls were uncomfortable when Lee asked them about Tenten. He frowned. But before he could debate about that, Lee dragged him away. They searched for over 2 hours. Still, no Tenten.
"I knew something was up with Tenten-san." Lee moaned.
Naruto looked at him sharply. They both were sitting on the bench. In Lee's case, slumped as if defeated. In his, almost the same. "What do you mean?" asked the blonde.
Lee looked up at the sky. "She's been...acting strange lately. She isn't...like she was."
Naruto straightened. "Explain."
"She doesn't talk much. She doesn't even eat much. Tenten-san was the most cheerful of us all. She was always...energetic. Happy, always laughing. Now...its like she's not even there. She's quiet. Even when she's training...her heart's not in it. She doesn't even talk to Neji!"
Naruto's brows went up. It was rumored that Tenten had a crush on the Hyuuga Prodigy. It even showed. Naruto had always felt jealous and made whenever he saw her with that Neji. That Hyuuga. He didn't even care! He was all high and mighty, with those remarks of his. True, Neji had looks and talent. But what else? Surely, a woman wanted more than that in a man?
"I don't know what to do Naruto-kun..." Lee said. Naruto stared at him. The poor boy looked utterly defeated and worrisome.
"Hey don't worry. We'll find her. Believe it!" Naruto said, placing a hand on Lee's shoulder. "Come on. Get your ass up. We'll split up. That way we can cover more ground. You go this way. I go that way."
Lee instantly shot up. "Yes sir, Naruto sir!" He saluted so fast that he nearly brained himself. Naruto sweatdropped.
"Yeah..." Naruto took off. He was going to do some searching of his own.
Tenten took a deep, shuddering breath, aware of the hot tears that were streaming down her face mixing with her sweat. She didn't care. She looked up, her view blurred by her own tears. She got up and nearly fell over. Her body ached from all the strenous activity she had done all afternoon.
"Ow..." she gasped when she tried to stand up right. She was going to feel a lot worse when she got home.
Home...she thought. Do I really have a home? Home is where the heart is, right? Where is my heart?
Tenten looked over to the river. People seldom came to this spot because it was dangerous. For Tenten? Heck, she thrived on danger..or she liked to think so. She followed the flow of the river over to the end where the waterfall started. Ah yes. Another reason she liked it. The waterfall blocked out all the other sounds.
She looked at the point where the waterfall started. A big boulder sat there. Tenten, ignoring her tears walked towards it and climbed it. She balanced herself on the top easily and looked down.
"What a long, long way to fall." could be the only way to describe it. She looked down as if hypnotized. The water looked more like white foam from the top. White foam bubbling furiously, as if waiting for something to fall in and get dissolved. Washed away. Fade away. The large, misshapen spots indicated the rocks. Considering the speed at which the body would hit it, the body would shatter. Broken. Unwanted.
Who would hear her screams when she went under?
Naruto frowned, as he pushed another tree branch out of his line of vision. Damn, where could a girl go? At this hour? The sun was setting and it would get dark soon. Tenten would be out in the dark, all alone. He shivered. He had to find her and fast.
He pushed the last branch out of the way and emerged into a clearing.
"Damn, I thought they would never stop..." Naruto trailed off, when he saw the sight before him. Weapons were strewn about everywhere. Kunais, shurikens, tantos...Some had been arranged into a neat pile. Targets were placed on trees, indicating that they had been practised on. He looked around, his eyes widening as each second passed.
Naruto looked up and what he saw made his heart stop. Tenten was standing on a rock...and she looked like she was about to jump.
Naruto acted without thinking. He ran at her and jumped. In mid-jump he grabbed her arms roughly and brought her down onto the ground.
Tenten gasped as she felt something jerk her back. She felt herself being turned and she slammed into a hard wall. A minute later...SLAM!
Tenten's head swam. She couldn't comprehend what had happened. One second, she was ready to jump and the next...
"What are you, crazy?" yelled a voice. Tenten felt herself being roughly straightened and she found herself looking into furious, sapphire orbs.
"What were you thinking? Did you have any idea about what you were going to do?" Naruto yelled.
Tenten looked at the person. His face was tanned, his hair blonde and spiky, his eyes...those eyes. The intense emotions in those eyes...She couldn't take it. She shattered.
Naruto gasped as the girl flung herself at him and broke down. She started crying. Not the silent, soft sobs. What she was doing tore at him, pricked at his heart like shards of glass.
She was crying with abandon. She was taking huge, gulping breaths and his chest was soon soaked. Her arms were wrapped around his neck like steel bands. Her lithe and toned frame shook with huge, racking sobs. She was babbling in broken, jumbled sentences.
Naruto didn't know how to react at first. He just looked at the crying girl who was holding onto him for dear life. Her heart-wrenching sobs were the only sound apart from the waterfall. His heart hurt for the girl and he wrapped his arms around her petite form. He didn't say a word. Just waited for her to let it all out.
Neither had any idea, how long they sat there. Naruto had no idea how long he sat there, holding the kunoichi in her arms, listening to her cries and her jumbled sentences. Tenten had no idea, how long she cried her heart out on Naruto's shoulder.
Tenten's sobs were starting to recede. The brunette was coming to her senses and she was starting to realize her position. She froze when she realized she had been crying on someone's shoulder. And to her horror, she discovered that it was the object of her obsession, Naruto Uzumaki. That orange shirt..Now wet with her tears..."And snot." she thought miserably.
"You all right?" asked the heavy voice. Tenten couldn't bring herself to look at him. She managed a jerky nod. And jumped out of his lap in the process.
Naruto blinked. And looked at the girl. One second she was in his lap and the next, she wasn't. She had stopped crying and she refused to look up at him. Was she scared? Embarrassed? Naruto didn't know. All he knew that he couldn't stand to see her cry anymore.
"Oy..." Naruto said gently. Tenten stiffened. "Hey its all right..." Naruto said, leaning forward and placing his hand on her shoulder. Tenten glanced askance at his hand.
"How's about we wash up, huh?" he spoke nonchalantly. Or tried to. Tenten nodded and made to get up. Naruto didn't know why, but he took her hand. If Tenten was surprised, she didn't show it.
Tenten nearly jumped out of her pants when he took her hand. But she forced herself to calm down and stop acting like an ass. She allowed him to lead her to the river bank. She liked the feel of his hand. Warm and calloused. She didn't want to let go, but she had to if she wanted to wash her face. She let go, reluctantly. She was still trying to grasp that Naruto had stopped her from killing herself and he was here. With her. Helping her.
Tenten bent down and put her hands in the cool river water.
Naruto didn't want her to let go of his hand. Her hand felt soft and warm. Surprisingly, there were no calluses. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye and saw that she was washing her face.
He shrugged and took off his shoes. He put his legs in the cool water and leaned back balancing himself on his arms.
He turned his neck around and ran his eyes over the mess Tenten had made. From the looks of it, she had been training hard. But was it to get better or was that an outlet for her pain?
Tenten washed her face properly, making sure to remove signs of the fact that she had been crying her ass off.
"You should really let your hair down, man." Naruto spoke.
Tenten's hand went to her hair.
"You should really learn to relax. Too much stress isn't good for you. Iruka-sensei says…" Naruto trailed off as he turned to look at Tenten. What made him stop was the sight of her.
Tenten had opened her hair. Yes, her hair. The brown buns were undone and Tenten was fluffing it out. Her hair was long. It cascaded down her back and stopped in the middle. Her hair was wavy. Rays of sun fell over the soft, luxuriant mass. Naruto suddenly itched to touch it.
"Wow…" was all the blonde could say. Tenten felt her cheeks grow warm. The bold, confident Tenten was blushing. Just because a guy was gaping at her hair.
"He's not any guy…" she thought.
"Um…is this all right?" she asked him. Naruto could only nod.
She looked down, her hair falling around her face. It felt kind of strange to open her hair, here in the outdoors. She usually opened her hair before bedtime, before giving it a good brush and then braiding it.
To Tenten, her hair was the only beautiful thing about her. She didn't have Hinata's cuteness, she didn't have Ino's blonde looks. She didn't have Sakura's skin or her unique hair color. She didn't use all those cosmetics. She didn't own any. She didn't have feminine articles of clothing. She had never needed them, deeming them unpractical and useless. But now…
"I don't know how to act like a girl. All that girl stuff." Tenten said.
Naruto blinked and looked at her. He made to process the meaning of her sentence and when he did, he felt anger and irritation. From what he had been able to gather from her, she had been treated badly by the girls and people now treated her as if she was…worthless.
"No, you only know how to act like yourself." Naruto spoke fiercely.
Tenten's head jerked up in surprise. She looked at Naruto, his blue eyes blazing with passion and anger. There was a fir
"You act like that because that's how you are. I think you're a fearless, confident girl and you know it. You're not helpless. You're not like those girls whose only aim is to find a hot guy, marry him and have kids. True, you might want to have kids when you're older, but you have another aim as well. You want to be a Shinobi. You want to show people that girls are tough too."
Tenten looked at Naruto, her mouth open. Naruto Uzumaki, who was said to be the biggest idiot in the village, was boosting her confidence? His eyes were boring into her and his lips had formed into that fierce scowl that dared her to contradict him.
"But…I have dark skin." She said dumbly, still trying to digest the fact that Naruto thought that about her.
"I think you have a great tan."
"I don't have make-up."
"You don't need it anyway."
"I wear men's clothes."
"You wanna fight a guy wearing a skirt?"
Tenten smiled and Naruto grinned. Suddenly, Tenten felt much better.
They made quiet a picture. Two teens with tans, one a male blonde and the other a pretty brunette, sitting by the riverside, talking and laughing.
Quiet some time later they got up. Tenten went to pick up her stuff. When she was almost done, he spoke.
"Yeah?" she said, looking at him over her shoulder.
"Promise me…that you won't ever do that again."
Tenten stood up and looked at him, full in the face. His face was solemn, those eyes serious.
"If I promise, will you stick by me?"
There was silence for a long time. Tenten began to fear the worst. But then, Naruto spoke.
"I hope you know what you're getting yourself into."
A glomp was what Naruto got in reply.
There! Done! I'm so happy!
I tried a different writing style. Let me know what you think.
Bashers, move on!