This story is loosely (very loosely) based on Taylor Swift's song 'Speak Now', and was written as a fun little multi-chap while I mull over some of my bigger projects. It's NejixTenten and really quite cheesy/cliché in my opinion, but sometimes it's good relax the creative muscle with a bit of pure, unadulterated fluff now and then. Enjoy, and the next chapter will be making it's way to you soon (so please, no pointless reviews asking for updates – they really annoy me).
She wasn't naïve.
At least, she didn't like to think so.
Tenten had known all along, since the very beginning, that someone as beautiful and talented and elegant and... and just plain amazing as Hyuuga Neji, could never be meant for her. She was too ordinary. A run-of-the-mill kunoichi at best. She was skilled, yes – she wouldn't sell herself short – but not in a particularly remarkable way. Not in a way that made her anything close to Neji's equal.
Unlike Hyuuga Kaminari – his gorgeous bride-to-be.
Kaminari, a Lady of the Hyuuga's main branch, was everything Tenten wished she could be and more; a young woman so superior that even the most confident girls were driven to tears by their own mediocrity. Compared to such a flawless creature, what chance did someone as plain as Tenten stand? For her to even dream she could hold a candle to the magnificence that was Kaminari was insolence of the highest order (something the Lady had been so kind as to point out – on several consecutive occasions).
So why? Tenten asked herself despairingly. She watched silently as guests of varying social status passed by her hiding spot with nary a sideways glance, talking to each other in excited 'wedding' voices about things that made her sick to dwell on. Why am I here? Why am I torturing myself like this?
Were she so inclined, she could tell herself it was because Neji had invited her. Whatever her personal feelings on the matter, he was – and always would be – her team mate first and foremost. It was only right she was there, she reasoned. They'd been friends for a long time; it was only right for her to support him on his big day...
Even if Little-Miss-Perfect had retracted the invitation behind his back.
But deep in her heart, buried beneath years of ingrained honour and propriety, Tenten knew this wasn't true. She couldn't support Neji in this, no matter how desperately she wanted to – and she did want to, more than anything. Tenten wanted to be the best friend he needed; the best friend he deserved. But she couldn't. She just couldn't. It was too hard. He was going to pledge himself to another girl, the wrong girl, and it was too excruciating to watch. Tenten was a lot of things – not all of them things she was proud of – but a masochist wasn't one of them.
She had to see him. She had to tell him everything. There were so many things Tenten wanted him to know, things she might have told him sooner if not for fear of destroying the friendship they shared. Now that she faced losing him anyway, it seemed that revealing her secret was the only other option.
The question was, would it make any difference? Would her revelation be enough to drive him to defy his uncle and clan leader? It was obvious Neji wasn't happy with the arranged marriage Hiashi had put forth, but he was very much a man of obligation. Unless extremely extenuating circumstances presented themselves, Neji would likely do whatever he was told regardless of his own feelings on the matter.
She jumped at hearing her name called, the familiar voice full of loathsome pity. Reluctantly, she raised her head.
Lee, her long-time friend and team mate, stared back at her, open smile in place albeit tinged with some sadness. Looking unusually suave dressed in his formal tuxedo, he was flanked on either side by a group of their comrades, each kitted out in similarly smart attire, all wearing matching looks of sympathy which made Tenten's sense of pride chafe. But none of those commiserative expressions cut as deeply as that of the shy Hinata – notwithstanding the flowing lilac dress and the hand twinned tightly with Naruto's, she reminded Tenten so much of her older cousin.
"Lee!" she greeted, plastering a fake smile on her lips and nodding pleasantly to the others. "Guys. How's everyone doing?"
There was a chorus of muttered 'fine's and 'okay's, but Tenten could tell their answers were forced.
"I am glad you decided to come, Tenten. This is an important day for Neji," Lee nodded sagely, his words gentle and heartfelt, as though offering her encouragement. He had no idea the reason she was here – had no clue that her presence could very well ruin the wedding they'd all come to see.
Tenten's fake grin cracked a little. "I know." she agreed seriously. One way or another, this will be an important day for him. For me too.
Now Lee wasn't the most perceptive of people, but the knowing look he gave her then could not be mistaken. It was probably only because he'd known her so long – the idea of him suddenly becoming observant was laughable – but in a sudden flash of absolute clarity, Tenten realised that Lee did know what she was going to do. And for the first time she understood that she and Neji weren't the only ones who'd be affected by the possible consequences of her actions this day.
"I was just going to see him actually," she said quietly, by way of excusing herself from the group, internally cringing when she saw the glint of sorrow in Lee's eyes. "To... to wish him luck. Save me a seat, would you Lee?"
And without waiting for a reply – for any reply she received would only make things worse – she spun and stalked in the direction she knew the groom's quarters to be in. Had she glanced back she would have seen Sakura, one of the more sensitive members of their little group, try to follow after her – to call some sort of warning. She would have also seen Lee bar her way with his arm and shake his head sadly. And since she was out of earshot, Tenten didn't hear his words to the pinkette as she rounded the corner in the distance.
"Let her go. This is something she must do."
But for all those details she missed, she could feel their heavy stares on her back, full of suffocating, intolerable pity. And she knew without a doubt that this... this whatever it was, had to end today. She could no longer stand the shame.