A/N: I had written a draft of this story before (which, mind you, was only half way complete) when I came down with the notorious "writer's block". It was crappy anyway so I rewrote it and the final version is just a tiny scroll of the screen away!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Tenten stared glumly at the pouring rain with a distant look in her eye. It was Monday, oh so lovely Monday, with an hour left before she could go home and devour whatever fattening dessert she had left in her fridge. She tugged uncomfortably at her apron, upon which in large bold lettering read "Windy City Hairdressers". She had worked at this salon for about a year now, her first day being only a week or so after she had settled into an apartment in Chicago. It was her part-time job until she earned her medical degree.
During her twelve months of cutting, styling, and washing hair, she had developed a sort of infatuation for a particular customer. To her, it seemed as if her affection was only one-sided. After all, how could the nephew of Chicago's most prestigious company ever fall for her? He'd probably develop eyes for his secretary before he even considered the brunette. He won't come.
Tenten pushed the thought aside. Neji always came, rain or shine, on the first Monday of the month to have his locks trimmed. He'd trudged through knee-deep snow with nothing to keep out the cold save for a sweater, to have her cut his hair. A little bad weather would not slow him down.
Tenten's belt of tools was slowly sliding from her waist, and with a tug, she adjusted it and pulled out her scissors to clean for the fifteenth time (she'd already swept every nook and cranny of the salon at least five times before she got tired of standing and took up her current perch at the register). He won't come.
Tenten shook her head, blaming her growing headache for messing with her brain. Of course he would, he always did. And even if he didn't, it wasn't a big deal, right? It's not like her happiness depended on it. Okay so it kinda does, but I'll live. I mean, better to get over it now, than later, right? Having said this, the female still could not find justification for her words. He absolutely has to come.
To keep herself occupied (and ignore the annoying ticking of the clock), she glanced around her workplace humming whatever song came to mind. In the background, the radio droned on and on. It was a rather cozy salon, situated between a sandwich eatery (from which Tenten procured her lunch everyday) and a wedding dress boutique. The interior consisted of white tiled flooring, baby pink walls, and comfortable leather chairs facing mirrors and tables laden with every hair product imaginable.
Tenten let out a small chuckle as a memory from her first day on the job surfaced in her mind. It had been a sunny, Monday morning and she had just finished styling the hair of her first customer, Ino Yamanaka, a local florist. She had been on the verge of putting on the finishing touches when she encountered her first mishap: the hair spray bottle did not appear to be working. Frustrated and growing nervous, she brought the nozzle closer to her face, testing it again. In the end, she was clutching her eye in the employee lounge for the remainder of the morning muttering about how she just had to squirt it right in her pupil.
It was that evening she had met Neji.
With a start, Tenten snapped out of her reverie and glanced up at the clock. It was a half hour till closing time and still no sight of the Hyuuga. Tenten frowned. She had been looking forward to hearing all his office gossip while providing input on whatever disasters had taken place at the salon that month. He's not coming.
This time she believed it and was about to get off her stool when the door chimed. "You weren't leaving without seeing me first, were you?" a deep masculine voice asked.
Tenten nearly fell over in delight. There was Neji in all his sopping wet glory. Her feet carried her at their own accord across the room and it wasn't until she was half a foot away from him, that she realized her arms were spread out in anticipation for a hug.
Awkwardly, she lowered her limbs, a blush marring her features, though her mouth was still parted in a grin. "Err… hi," she offered feebly.
Neji looked at her with an amused expression. "Guess not," he answered his own question and slowly spread his arms. Tenten blinked. He was letting her hug him. Neji wanted her to hug him. With her self-restraint intact, she laid her head on his shoulders and encircled her own arms around his waist.
"Boring day," the Hyuuga murmured in her ear, his cool breath tickling her skin. She grinned into his jacket.
"You have no idea. "
With deep regret, she pulled away. "Well, c'mon. Hair won't cut itself. "
Neji's lips formed a smirk. "Of course." He shrugged off his coat and set down his briefcase before settling himself in a chair.
"Same trim?" Tenten asked as she spread a smock over his body and secured it at the nape of his neck. The Hyuuga nodded, unusually quiet as he watched her reflection. "So, how has work been treating you?"
Composing himself with a clearing of the throat, he replied, " Same old, same old. My uncle fired the head of the legal department over something about an affair with his daughter. Though I find that highly unlikely. We all know, save for him that is, that Hinata only has eyes for that idiot blonde-what was his name? -Naruto?"
Tenten let out a chuckle. "He's not that bad. But he's awfully loud. He wouldn't sit still long enough for me to cut his hair last week. I debated whether I should just shave his head off in your name."
"Oh please do next time you see him. He's a nuisance alongside that Inuzuka man. I heard he tried to smuggle his dog into his cubicle. He was nearly fired too," Neji said. "Shikamaru got engaged by the way. "
Tenten raised her eyebrows. "Pineapple head? He buys every hair gel we have in stock. Incredibly lazy too. When he came in last Friday, he just asked me to cut his hair in the waiting room. Said he was too tired to walk about twenty feet. Didn't know he had it in him to get married."
"Same. It was quite a surprise. Though I don't applaud his choice in women. That Temari lady is nearly as bad as Naruto. Can't keep her mouth shut," the male complained, adjusting his head so Tenten wouldn't snip off his ear in her excitement at this news.
"Temari?" she shrieked. "She never told me she had a boyfriend! When she comes in again, I'm going to cut off one of her pigtails for good measure! Some friend she turned out to be."
"Make that two, one for saying yes to pineapple head, one for not telling you. Shikamaru insists on bringing her in three times a week. It's got me going gray," the Hyuuga said, closing his eyes as Tenten misted his hair. The brunet female smacked his arm.
"You have the most gorgeous hair I've ever seen! You'll be ninety and not have one discolored strand," Tenten scolded, wishing to take back her words the moment they left her mouth. Oh God. What have I turned into? I will not fawn over him like some half-wit! Pull yourself together!
It was Neji's turn to raise his eyebrows. "The most gorgeous hair you've ever seen?" he quoted, lips twitching into his trademark smirk. "Really?"
If I stab his neck and hide the body in the backroom, and then high tail it to Mexico, I'll never have to be reminded of this again. I wonder how much I'd get penalized for murder if caught. Tenten reprimanded herself for such thoughts. You're not going to kill him no matter how mortified-
"Well I think you have the most gorgeous hair I've ever seen," Neji interrupted her thoughts, looking thoroughly surprised with himself. Tenten's face shifted through a dozen shades of red.
"T-thank you," she squeaked, staring at his head with such intensity it could have burst into flames. Neji did not respond, still going over his words. The silence stretched out between them, both a little too embarrassed to speak.
"U-uh, so… nice weather we're having," the brunette female finally commented some ten minutes later.
"It's… lovely," the Hyuuga replied, carefully planning the sentence out. "Like you." This second slip of the tongue caused Tenten to choke on her own saliva, her scissors slipping from her fingers and clattering to the floor.
"E-excuse me?" she said, recovering from her coughing fit.
Neji grunted, "Don't make me repeat myself." Tenten was instantly reminded of the first time she cut his hair. He had been practically breathing down her neck, nearly causing the mirror to crack under his glare. She thought harder than she ever had before cutting off a single piece. He had been so intimidating. But over time, he had become so warm and sweet.
"I lo-" Tenten clamped a hand over her mouth, dropping her scissors again. Her eyes were as wide as saucers. What has gotten into you?
Neji's gaze was smoldering. "Pardon?" Why did his voice sound so husky all of a sudden?
"Nothing. Umm… you're finished. Trim is on the house. Okay bye." Tenten turned to run and lock herself in the employee lounge and never emerge when the Hyuuga caught her wrist. Slowly he stood up, his eyes never straying from hers. He pressed a piece of paper into her hand, maintaining contact for as long as possible. "W-what's this?"
Neji cracked one of his rare smiles, " A confession." He leaned down and brushed his lips to her cheek. "See you tomorrow at six. I'll pick you up." With a wink, he turned to leave. He paused at the door. "By the way, " he said, looking at her over his shoulder, "I love you too woman." And then he disappeared into the rain.
Tenten stood gaping. Almost afraid, she looked at the scrap of paper in her hand.
I've been trying to tell you this for a while, but I think you're probably the only girl who has ever really appealed to me as more than a friend. You really brighten my day and though you may say it's not true, I think about you all the time. I've been trying to figure out how to ask you on a date for nearly three months. I love you.
P.S. You probably didn't finish cutting my hair so I'll be back in the morning.
P.P.S The wedding boutique next door is having a sale. I saw a dress in the window that I think would suit you perfectly. I'd buy it. You may need it in a few months time.
Tenten grinned. Perhaps her affection wasn't only one-sided after all.
A/N: Oh God, wasn't that cheesy? Especially that letter. I am such a sap. Oh well, I was having one of my fantasies again. If I could get Neji to feed me, and let me cut his hair, man, that'd be the life.
Thank you for reading and please review!