A/N: My sister and I came up with this the other day, and the more we talked about it, the more it felt like this absolutely HAD to be done. Title comes from the Linda Ronstadt's song "Dreams to Dream", which is a good song for both this story and its sequel.
I believe I'm known for writing 'darker' NejiTen, and I relish that. When I need cute and fluffy, I write LeeHina (you should check out those stories, by the way, if you can stomach the couple). When I want two crazy people who can love each other so deeply but be too stubborn to admit it, I write NejiTen.
Dedication: To my sister atemuzuko, for being my willing role-play partner and idea bouncer, and to innocent-rebel, for beta reading this and making it a hundred times better than it otherwise would have been.
Warnings: Pregnancy, as several of my NejiTen stories do, strong language, and some sexual themes.
Rating: T – M, depending on how strong the language gets.
Summary: Ninja aren't used to thinking about how a mission can affect them after it is over, and Neji and TenTen are about to figure out why that should change. NejiTen, possibly others.
World of Dreams
A trembling hand rested on the handle of the toilet, ready to apply the pressure needed to send the contents of the bowl—formerly, the contents of TenTen's stomach- swirling away. With the other, the kunoichi in question grabbed a square of toilet paper to wipe her mouth one more time.
"Well," TenTen muttered to herself, "that was embarrassing. Probably should have warned them my stomach has been testy lately."
It had become a tradition, as the kunoichi of the Konoha 11 got older, to meet up for lunch at least once a month. It was the only chance most of them had to see each other anymore, and it helped them keep track of each other's lives through the chaos. It wasn't something TenTen had imagined happening growing up, when she hadn't gotten along very well with other girls, but being a kunoichi, she had learned, was vastly different from being a shinobi. No matter how much she wished otherwise. The others understood in a way her boys could not, and reconnecting with them on occasion helped her stay grounded.
This time they had decided to meet up at a little corner shop. She and Sakura had been late, and Ino had ordered for them. As she was Ino, she had decided it would be hilarious to order them both the spiciest curry on the menu, something she knew Sakura hated.
Normally, this would have been fine. Nothing these guys could cook up would ever compare with the stuff Guy-sensei and Lee would eat. The minute she'd caught a whiff of the spice, however, her stomach had revolted violently. TenTen had had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep the mess from spilling out as she'd raced to the bathroom, leaving three confused friends in her wake.
"TenTen?" Sakura's voice echoed in the bathroom as TenTen got up from her knees and flushed. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's just a stomach flu." At least, she thought it was. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt well, actually. It was even cutting into her training, much to her annoyance. Probably, she should have it checked out.
Sakura's skeptical face as she pushed open the stall door wasn't exactly reassuring, either. Though TenTen forced a smile at her, all she got in return was the raising of one thin pink eyebrow.
"You look like Neji when you make that face, you know that?"
"We're really worried about you, TenTen." Never one to be side tracked, Sakura put one hand on her hip, and held up the other like she was counting of reasons. "It's not like you to get queasy at the smell of food, and Hinata says that Neji hasn't seen you in over a month. What's going on?"
At the second mention of Neji, TenTen felt herself flinch automatically. Though she hated thinking about it, Sakura was right. Her usual daily training with Neji had disappeared since the last mission they had gone on together. It did seem a little suspicious, as they had hardly been apart since their Academy days. "I just haven't been feeling well, that's all. If you didn't get your information second hand, you would have known that."
She ignored the jibe with a wave of one gloved hand. "What are your symptoms? Or did you forget that a medic-nin could help you?"
"I told you it's a flu." TenTen knew that wasn't enough, and true to form Sakura's look let her know it. Though she could take Sakura in a long range fight, there wasn't space enough in this small restaurant bathroom. If she wanted out, she'd have to submit to Sakura's exam until the younger kunoichi was satisfied that TenTen was really alright. "Just tired, achy, and nauseous, okay? Some headaches. Mild fever. Nothing to be worried about."
"For over a month? Almost two now?" Sakura shook her head, green eyes looking honestly anxious now. "Are you nauseous all the time? Easily worn out? Achy where?"
The barrage of questions surprised her, and TenTen found herself answering almost automatically. "No, not all the time. Just every once in a while, mostly in the morning. Usually it fades in the afternoon. I am more easily tired than usual, yeah, but I haven't been training as much, so that's not all that unexpected." She hesitated, not really willing to talk to Sakura about where she hurt. Medical-ninja and a girl or not, TenTen was used to being surrounded by boys, and soreness in your breasts and back wasn't something you ever brought up with them. "What was the last question?"
Wheels were obviously clicking into place in Sakura's head, as she was nodding solemnly to herself. "How often do you urinate? A lot? Very little?"
"What?" Now TenTen's cheeks flamed, and she glanced away. This is why she hated going to the doctor. They were always asking these questions like it was their business or something. "A little more than usual, I guess."
"Were you late because you had to stop in a bathroom on the way here?"
TenTen's eyes widened and she swallowed back an angry yelp. "Well, yeah, but I'm trying to keep hydrated. How did you know that?"
No answer as Sakura nodded; like that answer was exactly what she'd expected. "Last question. When was your last menstrual cycle?"
She'd always hated the term menstrual cycle. Why couldn't Sakura just say feminine time or something like Guy-sensei did? It sounded so much more natural to her. Far less direct about something so terrible. TenTen shook her head, pausing a minute to think about her answer. "I guess…almost three months ago, now?" Seeing Sakura's eyes widen, TenTen felt the need to explain. "That's not unusual for me, though. They're never all that regular. I've gone longer without before."
"Maybe, but with all these other symptoms, I think it might be more than that." Sakura bit her lip, and TenTen felt her stomach sink. When your doctor looked that worried, it couldn't possibly end well. "I'm going to ask you a personal question now."
"Oh, yeah, because all of that stuff isn't personal at all."
She was ignored once again as Sakura put her business face back on. "When was the last time you had sex?"
TenTen couldn't explain why, but she gagged at the direct question. Yes, that was a more personal question than the others. By far. Sakura was close to the Hokage, so she knew that TenTen was on the list for those special undercover missions that required a kunoichi. The ones that were responsible for the separation between kunoichi and their male counterparts that she could not change or surmount. Missions that required subtlety and seduction. More than once, Sakura had been the one to give her the pill she had to take when she got back, as a precaution against accidental pregnancy from one of those missions.
Usually, she ignored that part of her life. It was easy to pretend it was another person going through that, almost like a movie. Sakura knew that she didn't have a boyfriend, and there was zero chance she'd experience that outside of a mission. Having her bring it up like that stung just a little.
"I haven't." It had been over a year since her last mission of that sort. Not since Naruto had all but taken over being Hokage, and was trying harder than ever to find another way. Missions at all had become scarce, really, and except for the one with Neji she hadn't…
Her hand fell to the counter to steady herself. To say she'd forgotten would have been a lie. It was more that she had desperately wanted to forget, to ignore the event like it had never happened.
It had been the most important mission they'd had in a while. The fire nation daimyo's daughter had snuck out with some of her friends to a party, and been raped. Understandably, the lord had been furious, and wanted the man who had defiled her found. He had threatened to extract his justice on Konoha if the true guilty party was not found. Failing the mission would have meant civil war.
Despite Team Guy's reputation for their lack of subtlety, TenTen knew she and Neji had been the best choice. Sneaking around wasn't their strong point; they were brilliant actors. Having someone that could see three hundred and sixty degrees, through walls, through people, was also extremely helpful, and there was no one more skilled with their byakugan than Neji.
On the surface, it had been simple. Neji would act as an aloof playboy from a rich family, a role that should have endeared him to most of the people that were at the party. TenTen, on the other hand, would comb the underside of the city, to see if anyone had seen or heard anything. Slipping in as one of the many prostitutes had seemed the best choice and it made meeting up with Neji all too easy. They could compare notes almost every night, when he would pick her up henged as some new girl.
Everything had been going so well that she really should have expected what happened next.
It had been during one of those meetings that one of the men Neji was trying to befriend for information had stumbled in. Two weeks into the mission, with things going so well, TenTen had gotten careless and forgotten to lock the door. That alone would have been bad enough, but it was, naturally, the worst possible, most suspicious person they were trying convince that Neji really was one of them. All they could do was blink stupidly as he stared at the two of them.
"What, Kura, you actually talk to your toys now?" The man had sneered, lifting his lip in a way that contorted his otherwise handsome face horribly. He was taller than Neji, broader, and even from this distance TenTen could smell the alcohol on him. That, and not her screw up, was why she choked at his words.
Neji, as usual, managed to keep his head, and turned cool eyes to the intruder without so much as glancing at TenTen. "Perhaps no one has ever told you this, but for women pillow talk can be foreplay. I like them to go back bragging about me."
The handgun had appeared from somewhere inside that fancy suit and TenTen was glad that the automatic gasp was in character. She'd heard rumors of these small, deadly, weapons, but never actually seen one. They were rare, and only available to the extremely rich. It was said that the contained as much explosive power as any tag she knew how to make, and could rip a man in two.
When she'd first heard about it, she'd tried to come up with a way to counter it. The chances of viewing on had seemed so slim, safe at a home, that she had eventually given up. Now she wished she had tried harder.
The man smirked at her, aiming the open end of the weapon at her head. "Betcha never seen one of these before. I've found it's the best way to get whores to do what I want. Even stubborn ones." Again, his lips pulled back, revealing teeth that were nearly too white in the dark light. "Even got the daimyo's daughter to behave like the good little slut she is. Bet I could do the same to a pretty little bitch like you."
"Leave her out of this." Neji's voice was low and deadly, and he half turned towards the man, only stopping because TenTen hung onto his shirt.
There was a loud bang that echoed around the room, and splinters of wood hit TenTen's face. She wasn't sure whether her small scream was faked, and she jerked up into Neji's chest on a reflex. The smell of smoke clung to her hair, and turning her head ever so slightly, TenTen could see where the small weapon had torn a chunk out of the wall behind her head.
If it could do that to the wood, what could it do to their much softer flesh?
"Sentimental talk gets guys killed." The gun was pointed at evenly at the side of Neji's lower chest. "Makes people think they're spies."
"You really are determined to think the worst of me." Neji's smile was only slightly strained, and she alone knew how difficult it had been for him to close his eyes in a smile when facing an obviously unpredictable enemy. "I just like my girls to enjoy themselves, is all."
"Talk to all those other bitches too, you dumbass?" The gun made a small clicking noise as he pulled back a small lever, and TenTen felt Neji's hands tighten on her bare shoulders. The man was stepping slowly, easily blocking their path to the door. "You're paying for your pleasure, not hers."
"There's no need to get angry…"
Another bang, and Neji pulled back, visibly startled. There was a small trail of blood on one cheek, and TenTen could only assume the projectile had grazed his face. Her fists clenched further into his shirt, to hold him back, or hold herself up on shaking knees, she wasn't sure.
"I want to see you fuck her." It was a growl, and even in the dim light she could see his hands twitching. "I want to see you fuck her brains out, until she's screaming for more. Without any of your talking. Else the three I've got left will go through you and I'll do it myself. Wouldn't want your money to be wasted."
Neji's fingered ghosted her bare skin, writing the short hand characters they had learned as children. 'He's drunk, and dangerous. We can't let him escape. I don't know if we could fight him without blowing cover.'
'Or getting blown up ourselves.' She thought, swallowing heavily. It took all her will power to control her trembling hands as she looped her arms around Neji's neck and ground her hips up into his. Neji gave a great little gasp at that, timed perfectly. "He's right, Kura-kun," she had purred, twisting her fingers up into his hair. Her voice shook slightly, but it was only in character. "I think you've waited long enough."
Neji's eyes had clearly said 'I'm sorry' as he slipped his hands up the thin, silky, red top she had been wearing. And she had responded with a one finger tap of on his elbow. 'Do it'.
"Focus on me," Neji had whispered in her ear before kissing her neck and sucking on it hard. "Forget about him."
It hadn't been exactly easy to do, as the man had smacked his lips and moaned nearly the whole time, but the feel of Neji all around her, on her, in her, had been so different from everything before. For once, she didn't feel dirty. She didn't feel used, objectified, and worthless. For the first time TenTen hadn't been able to separate herself from the act. This time, it had felt real.
Neji had been as gentle as the situation allowed for, and she couldn't help wondering if this was his first time. If he'd been forced to give up his virginity for a mission, just as she had. She had wanted to ask him, the next day, but there wasn't a time that had seemed right. Instead, she had told him what he needed to hear to get that apologetic look out of his eyes—"You don't have to say anything about last night, I know it was just business. I am a shinobi too, you know."—even though she had a hard time not thinking about how, for the first time, the act of sex had felt right.
It had been simply a nice bonus when they drugged and delivered that same man to the daimyo to face his wrath.
Sakura's hand came to rest lightly on her shoulder, offering some support. "I think we should get you a pregnancy test. Alone, those symptoms don't mean anything, but it's possible…"
TenTen clutched the sink, trying to control her again queasy stomach as her mind raced. Spelled out like that, it was impossible not to see where Sakura had been going. "Oh God," it was more of a prayer than anything, as she continued to hold the sink for support. "Oh god, oh god."
"Hey, are you two alright in here?" She heard the door push open as Ino's voice filled the bathroom.
"We'll be out in a minute, Ino, be patient!"
The older kunoichi felt her lips twitch into a small wry smile. It was a good thing Sakura and Ino still fought like cats, or else someone might notice some the tension in Sakura's voice. As it was, Ino probably suspected something as she left without comment.
With trembling hands, TenTen turned on the water and took a few sips to rinse her mouth. She let the drops roll off her lip and down her chin freely, addressing Sakura's reflection in the mirror. "You're a medic nin, can't you just tell me?"
Sakura snorted, wetting her hand also and running it through her hair. "If it was an injury, sure, but I'm not exactly a family doctor. I can recommend a few to you, though, if it comes out positive." Her hands paused, and she used the mirror to meet TenTen's eyes instead of speaking to her directly. "I also know a few good doctors who could help you…you know… terminate."
It didn't matter how much water she had just swallowed, at that her mouth went dry again and her stomach twisted. She'd never hesitated to take that pill, but this time there were two things very different. First, the pill was just a precaution. Usually she took it the next day or, the few times she ran out it was within the week. If, on the off chance, something had happened, that was hardly time for it to develop into something.
But now, it had been two months. Almost three. She didn't know much about babies or pregnancy, but she did know that it only took nine months, and three was a good chunk of that. It wouldn't be a little bundle of unformed cells anymore. It might have a heartbeat, or eyes, or fingernails. Now it was a person, and she didn't think she could go through with ending that life.
Her second reason was that this wasn't just her baby. She couldn't think of a single other man she had ever slept with that was still living. This wasn't a faceless mark sentenced to death the minute she got what she needed from him. This was Neji. Her best friend from their days in the Academy, her teammate, and training partner. Before this mission, they used to spend almost every waking minute together. Nobody knew Neji like she did. Not even Hinata knew as much. And this child, whether he knew it or not, was part of him.
She couldn't just throw it away. Not without at least talking to him.
Too much to process and take in all at once. She needed a chance to breathe and think, but there wasn't time. Because if she and Sakura ended up being right, there was a million things they needed to do. Including talking with Neji.
She hadn't been avoiding him. Not really. Stuff just kept coming up. She hadn't been feeling well enough to train, or do much of anything at all. She'd only come out today because she knew the girls would come looking.
Neji hadn't even tried. After the first two days, he'd stopped dropping by to see if she wanted to train. After a week, he hadn't sent Lee. After three weeks, he'd stopped sending messages at all. It was as if he didn't really want to see her.
And she couldn't blame him. Not really. Neji could read her like a book, so he must have known that it had been different. Known that she had enjoyed it, no matter what she said to him later. He probably thought she was a slut now. Was probably disgusted. And, like it or not, that hurt her. Because they were friends, and having him think so little of her was something she didn't really want to contemplate. It was why she hadn't bothered to talk to him, even on the days she was feeling better.
There was no choice now, and she swallowed back the lump in her throat. She didn't need Neji. She would just tell him, just so he knew, and then come up with something. How she was going to manage it, she didn't know, but she would. There wasn't really a choice, was there?
"Okay. Let's get that test."