A/N: All right, this one is for I-Heart-Hatake-Kakashi. She's an amazing author whom I couldn't see FF without.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
There was an empty glass on her bedside table and a hand of cold air pressed against her back. She blinked with bleariness and slowly, after a minute the world came into focus. Sunlight streamed through her window, and her curtains, meant to keep out the winter cold, scattered the light about her empty room.
Mornings such as these were a rarity. Often, she'd barely have been aroused from slumber and seldom have one leg out of bed, before someone would be knocking on her door. She knew she'd missed her rental payment for her apartment last month, she knew they'd shut off her water any day now since she hadn't paid that bill either, and she was quite aware that Neji would be upset if she were late to training one more time. In her opinion, the latest was of the most importance to her.
Pushing herself up, the mattress beneath her creaking and groaning as she shifted her weight, she slipped out from under the covers and trudged to the bathroom. As she examined her face in the mirror, wiping the small residue building at the corner of her mouth with the back of her hand, she grimaced. Her eyes were underlined with heavy bags, her hair was in a terrible state of disarray, and her complexion as a whole was deathly pale. Neji had been working her to the bone lately, ruthlessly pounding her into the ground day in and day out to ensure she'd pass her jonin examination with flying colors. It was more assurance to him though, she thought, than it was to her.
Dressing quickly, her movements fluent and graceful despite her haggard appearance, she stuffed half an energy bar in her mouth before heaving her bag on her back and setting out.
When she arrived at the training grounds, Neji was leaning against a tree trunk waiting for her. He caught her bag with ease, setting it down by his feet before he strode into the middle of the clearing to meet her. "You're late," he stated, his eyes filled with anger and a foreign emotion Tenten could not pinpoint. The female instead focused her attention on forming a proper response, deciding everything else could wait for the moment.
"I'm sorry," she finally said, unable to some up with an excuse of some sort (not that the Hyuuga would except it anyway). Neji carefully examined her, his eyes raking over her form a good too may times for Tenten to feel comfortable. After conjuring his own conclusion, he placed a finger under her chin, his touch purposeful, and forced her to meet his gaze,
"You are not feeling well." His observation the truth Tenten had been trying to keep from him.
"I am a shinobi, Neji. Illness won't slow me down," she insisted, glaring at him with the ferocity only she seemed to possess. The Hyuuga grunted, knowing she would not cease to be difficult until he proved his point. He moved a few paces away and settled into his battle stance. Tenten stretched her arms before following his lead. She drew out a kunai, and without a thought of the consequences of such a risky move (especially when she was not in the best of health) she lunged forward.
Neji evaded her futile attacks with ease, keeping his Byakugan activated just to preserve her dignity. Not once had he fought against her without it, and though he saw no point in using it now, he did anyway. Eventually, however, he understood their spar would not help further develop her skills, but worsen her condition. He caught her fists, holding them and tightening his grip until she stopped struggling against his strength hung her head low, and admitted defeat. But instead of releasing her, he pulled her closer, so that her forehead was pressed against his, and her hazy eyes were close enough for him to see into her soul.
"You should rest," he murmured, moving to kiss her head, his lips a whisper of love against her hairline. Even on the verge of unconsciousness, she refused.
"I'm fine," she told him, stubbornness dripping from every word said. He brought his eyes back to her level again, letting her lose herself in his, and letting himself be swallowed by hers.
"I do not think you are weak," he promised, pronouncing the sentence slowly, so there was no room left for misinterpretation. "I want you to rest. I refuse to train with you until you have fully recovered." Tenten's lips twisted as she thought on how to receive such a declaration. Neji noted her uncertainty and to relieve her jumbled mind, he made her decision for her.
"Go home," he commanded, adding an extra dose of authority to his voice, daring her to disobey. He dropped her hands and remarked the boundaries of his personal space, watching her until she turned away. But she didn't move, she simply stood with her back to him, and her face to the sun.
"I don't want to," she said, accepting his challenge before heading off in any direction, but the one he wanted. Neji watched her before she disappeared from his field of vision. Shaking his head with disproval, he sought out Lee, hoping to engage in productive combat until Tenten obeyed him.
Tenten was seated atop the Hokage Mountain, her knees tucked into her chest and her arms wrapped about her legs as she hugged them. It was evening, the sky beginning to fade into a dreary shade of black. Neji, to her dismay, had yet to come looking for her. She'd wait all night for him she decided, for in all truth, pride put aside, no one, but him could heal her the way he did. She had strayed off onto an unfamiliar path, letting the most nonsensical things get the better of her. She needed to talk; she needed him.
"There is much on your mind," Neji said, settling beside her a half hour later, her position easy to locate with his Byakugan.
Tenten glanced at him, her eyes tracing his jaw and the motion of his hair in the warm breeze. She shrugged, returning her gaze to the village below. "I want to help you deal with whatever problem you have encountered. I want you to be healthy the way you were before. Happy the way you were before," Neji told her, catching her eye. Of course, he had left many things unsaid, and he was sure his female counterpart had an equivalent amount left to share, but all that he believed, in due time, would be revealed. As for now, his mind was overridden with concern to focus on anything that wasn't Tenten.
His teammate's heart ached with an all too familiar longing, and she inhaled deeply. A minute later, she was broken, her walls crumbling, and her frustrations described in choppy, nearly incoherent sentences. She babbled on everything from her money woes, to her unruly hair, to the barren state of her home. Neji sat silently, listening with the utmost attention given by one hopelessly in love. He wasn't absolutely sure how to console her on these matters, his hair always being perfectly kept, his money orders in line, and his home perfectly furnished, but he'd try.
For her, he'd try.
He carried her home that night, after her energy had drained and she had all but collapsed against him. Not having the heart to leave her alone in her darkened bedroom, he fell asleep in the space beside her, letting her curl against him until they'd melted together.
When she awoke in the morning, there were roses on her bedside table, and a beating heart against her back.
A/N: I literally typed that in half an hour. I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading and please review!