For Nokito-chan who has been asking for me to write a NejiTen fic for a while now. Thanks for all your support and help on my other work, hun!
She was laughing at him.
You could always tell when she did, even if it wasn't obvious. Her eyes gave her away first. Those chocolate browns carried slices of amber in them, but, only if you looked close enough; they became brilliantly apparent when she was doing it—laughing at you, that is. Eventually, if she couldn't manage to keep it contained, the corner of her lips curled; white would start to peek from betwixt cherry painted lips; her entire face would light up.
She rarely repressed it; the brown-haired weapon's specialist was the sort of girl that laughed out loud. Smiling came easy to her.
There were a number of times in his life he could recall when she wanted to laugh but couldn't; her eyes always did it; every time during mission briefings, meeting with clients who hired them, and occasionally during Hyuuga formal events he'd invited her to.
She laughed with her eyes first.
He was rarely ever on the brunt of that smile, that explosive grin, that effulgent burst of sound. It wasn't often her sneaky, snarky expression was at his expense.
It was tonight.
Hyuuga Neji sighed as he leaned over his drink; that was when the first chuckle came. "I fail to see what's so humorous about my situation…"
She barely suppressed a sound that could only be described as a 'snark'. "I'm sorry."
She wasn't. "I shouldn't have said anything," he heard himself reply. He placed the edge of his glass to his lips and drank.
Her grin went on for miles as she sat on the bar stool, facing him with her elbow on the wood counter; her cheek was in her palm, resting as she looked at him. "Who sets them up for you anyway?"
"Hinata." He set the glass back on the bar.
"Pouting almost suits you, Hyuuga."
He glared at her; he tried. It did little good to glare at her these days. Being on the same team for well over ten years had apparently worn the badass out of his image when it came to Tenten.
She just grinned at him still, more so if that were possible. "What was wrong with this one? Bad breath? Too quiet? Too slutty?"
He turned his gaze to the back shelf of the bar in front of him. "…She spoke about herself in the third person."
Then it started again. He could see it out of the corner of his eye. Hers danced as she set her jaw and pulled her lips together so tightly they almost weren't visible. Covering it with a cough would have been her next course of action and he just didn't see the point in watching her try.
He shut his eyes as he spoke. "…It won't be out of your system until you do, so go ahead."
She did. She laughed until he could see the pain in her eyes, until she wiped moisture from the corners of them as she clutched her side. If it weren't so loud in the bar already he knew people would have been staring at her.
"Really? Third person?"
She wiped her eyes again and took the shot glass off the bar, downing it. She smacked her lips and shook her head as she tried to ease the burn. The smile was ever present, this time more curious and mischievous. "Why does Hinata keep setting you up with these bogus girls?"
"Because she uses her vast diplomatic network to find them." He took another drink from his glass, this time taking half of it. "She doesn't actually know any of them personally."
"She means well."
"If the process weren't driving me half insane I'd agree with you. Instead, I find I'm spending the majority of my night with them trying to find an easy way to tell them I'm not interested."
Her brows rose. "It's not like you to be a total nice guy to a stranger if you're not happy with the situation. Why not just be an ass and leave the date?"
Because Hinata had asked him to play nice? "I'm trying to be nice."
She motioned for the bar tender and ordered a glass of scotch. "I still can't figure out why you ever agreed to get married anyway. It's not like you have to, right?"
Why, indeed? "I don't have to, no. But, Hinata's determined to see me happy and I'm not totally against it. I thought doing it this way would be easier."
Tenten chuckled, cocking her head at him as she spoke, "In other words, Hyuuga, you thought you'd just meet a couple of girls, fall in love with the right one and live happily ever after?"
As he held his glass he stared at the bottom of it; he rotated it, watching the liquid roll around. "More that I hoped to find someone acceptable, but, yes." He drank the rest.
She shook her head. "You know, this whole process might be a hell of a lot easier if you actually dated on your own instead letting Hinata send four-times-removed clan relations, Hyuuga and otherwise, in your immediate direction.
"And, you might be happier because of it." She blinked. "Actually, why don't you?"
Because he didn't have time? Because he'd spent so much of his life focused on his career and protecting Hinata that it just never occurred to him?
He stared at his empty glass.
He knew how to hit on a woman; he had; all shinobi knew how. He'd just never taken the personal time out to do it for his own happiness, and, when Hinata came to him with her request he hadn't seen the harm in it. People married all the time for reasons outside of love; Hyuugas, other shinobi clansmen, had for over a hundred years. He would be satisfied with friendship from a spouse, if nothing else.
But, he wasn't going to tell her that.
"Because with or without Hinata I meet the same end. With Hinata I cut the hassle of looking myself out entirely."
"Well…you never were much of a romantic," she took her glass as the bartender set it down and drank from it. "Too bad matchmaking centers aren't in business anymore. You could just have them evaluate your needs and find yourself a perfectly quiet and obedient little homemaker." She was teasing him; her grin made that apparent.
He glared at her for the second time that night.
She held her hands up in mock surrender as she laughed. "Fine, fine. Got it. Damn you are grumpy about this, Hyuuga."
"You would be after twenty agonizing, uneventful evenings." He tapped his glass and the bartender refilled it for him.
"You know what you need?"
"If you say sex I'm leaving you now—with the bill."
She snorted. "No… but, you could probably use that too," she said the last bit quietly. "Look," she started as he moved to get up; she pulled him back down by his arm and continued, "what your problem here is that inside of thirty minutes you've decided whether it's working with the girl or not, right?" She didn't wait to see if he would respond. "You need to do what my uncle Dai did.
"Get yourself a fake ex-girlfriend."
"Huh?" He pulled his gaze away from the drink in his hand and offered her a questionable look.
"It's simple," she explained, crossing one leg over the other as she leaned into the counter of the bar. "But, I'll just tell you how the scenario works. First," she started, tapping the bar with a finger for emphasis, "say you go out with girl Y, the one you're set up with. You arrive at the restaurant. Then ten minutes later, fake ex-girl comes in—we'll call her girl X—and takes a seat not too far away. If you're happy with the date, girl X doesn't do anything, but," she continued, smirking, "say the evening's sucking. You want out. You signal girl X with some normal, nonchalant move. Then girl X moves in; she disrupts the date by pulling something stupid, something only a desperate ex who doesn't get a clue pulls. Helpless, you try to explain to girl Y it's not your fault. Naturally, she doesn't listen; she's aggravated; maybe she's even thinking you're two timing and leaves.
"And presto, you're crazy third-cousin-twice-removed free." She snapped her fingers with a grin.
He could do nothing at stare at her. "That's…"
She shrugged as she drank. "Hey, uncle Dai was a farmer. What do you want?"
"I can't believe I'm actually considering it."
She chuckled. "Yeah, well, it's a great idea on paper, but, you would still have to find a girl to play Ms. X."
He continued to stare at her, eyes narrowed and contemplative.
She blinked. "What…?" When he didn't say anything she narrowed her eyes, gradually realizing his train of thought. "No."
"And who else would you suggest?"
She took another sip of her drink and licked her lips. "You could hire someone, you know."
"I'll pay you," he replied easily as he held the rim of his glass in his fingertips, turning it in circles on the counter while he watched her.
Tenten rolled her eyes and swiveled to face the bar in her seat. "I wouldn't take your money."
He smiled in that way was purely Neji.
"I'm still not doing it." She gave him a look this time.
"Then it won't happen." He took another drink.
Her eyes narrowed on him. "Are you trying to make me feel guilty about being your self-proclaimed only option?"
"What I'm telling you is that I'm not doing this with someone else."
She grumbled. "You're an ass, you know that? I do hope you know you're paying tonight."
It was his turn to chuckle.
"You owe me."
"Does it meet your expectations, Hyuuga-sama?"
Tenten leaned over the taller, retired head of the Hyuuga and watched as he examined the long wakizashi. His fingers trailed over the ivory-laden hilt partly wrapped in leather; it slid over reflective steel of the blade, admiring the inscription. After a moment or two he slid it back into the scabbard with a decisive snap.
"Admirable, Tenten-san. You are your father's daughter; his technique was not lost on you."
"Thank you, Hyuuga-sama." She smiled and stepped out from over his shoulder and more to his right as he turned his seat to face her.
"I'll have the payment sent over tomorrow."
"I must admit, when your father passed away last year I was worried your mother would retire the forge."
Tenten raised her brows at Hiashi.
He smiled faintly, but, not sadly. "You are a shinobi first, Tenten-san. I more than anyone else understand the demand Konoha places on its ninja."
"Ah," she replied, understanding. She scratched the back of her head, grinning. "I'm not that busy. I just work between missions, Hyuuga-sama. But, my mother and I appreciate you continuing on with us."
"I doubt you're ever out of work."
"Never." She laughed. "There's always a need for more kunai."
"Anyway, Hyuuga-sama, I hope Hinata enjoys the effort I put into putting it back into its prime when she receives it during the induction ceremony."
"Ah yes, well, of that I have no doubt. Her mother would be proud of her."
"It was her weapon of choice, wasn't it?" she inquired, depths glancing at it momentarily.
Hiashi nodded. "Yes… it was." He leaned forward and set it down. "She—."
There came a knock.
"Enter," Hiashi called out.
The door slid open and Neji stepped in.
Neji gave Hiashi and bow that was much similar to Tenten's earlier one. "Actually, uncle, I'm here for Tenten."
"Oh?" He glanced over at the girl and then back to Neji. "Mission?"
Tenten smiled. Mission planning, she mused.
"No. It's not very important if you're busy with her. I—."
"We're done, actually," Tenten interrupted him and looked down at Hiashi. "There isn't anything else is there, Hyuuga-sama?"
"No, but I did want you to mention to your mother about the induction ceremony. Both of you are welcome if Hinata has not already invited you."
The brunette nodded and smiled as she stepped away from the desk. She bowed as she spoke. "I'll tell her. I'm sure she'll be most honored, Hyuuga-sama." Then she and Neji stepped out; she slid the door shut as she was last.
"Were you delivering something?" he asked as they started down the hall back the way Tenten had come. He was glancing over at her.
She nodded as she stuffed her hands in her pockets. "Your aunt's wakizashi. He sent it the forge for restoration. It's for Hinata; a gift during the induction ceremony."
"Ah. Did you have a hard time with it?"
She pursed her lips, eyes narrowing in thought. "Not too much. I think he thought it was worse than it was. I mean… the ivory had some cracks… but I took care of it." She said this as they slipped their shoes on at the door. But the time she was done speaking Neji was opening the door for her and they were stepping out into the autumn wonderland.
They walked side by side across the leaf scattered courtyard that doubled as an outdoor dojo for the clan.
Chocolate orbs glanced up at the branches of a giant oak; she watched as the breeze upset more browning leaves; they danced on the air, spinning wildly. She shivered and rubbed her arms.
"You didn't bring a jacket?"
"It was warmer earlier," she supplied with a sheepish smile.
He rolled his eyes and took off the robe he wore; he slipped it over her shoulders.
"Thanks. I'm not going to be out long anyway. I just came by to drop that off to your uncle and hopefully catch you." She slipped her arms through the sleeves, noting his residual warmth within; she inhaled, appreciating that smell that simply Neji—earthy and clean.
"What are you doing?"
She lifted her head, raising a brow. "Hm?"
"Are you sniffing my robe?"
She frowned, lids lowering a little at him in a way look that said: yeah… why? "What? You smell nice."
"You're unusual." But, he was smiling, faintly.
She gave him grin; her voice was teasing. "Hey now, memories are associated through smell. And you and I have good memories, Hyuuga Neji. So, don't be a stick in the mud and ruin my reverie."
He chose to change the subject, steering the conversation in the direction of why they'd planned this meet-up to begin with; even so, she could see he'd been assumed by her response. "I have a date tonight."
She glanced over at him with raised brows. "Oh, what time?
She thought for a moment.
"Does that interfere with plans you've made?"
She shook her head, causing her bangs to shake. "Nope. I don't have any plans. Well," she chuckled, "I do now. Where are you taking her?"
"Oh, fancy," she with mock awe.
He shrugged. "Do I need to get you something to wear? They have dress requirements."
She gave him a snarky grin. "What do you take me for? I've been to Michiru's."
The response surprised him a little. He refrained from giving her a look that said as much. Michiru's wasn't cheap place to eat. A normal meal for two would easily cost any one shinobi a month's worth of paychecks. Tenten didn't make that kind of money often, even with the shop her family ran; she would have had to have saved for it, or, someone would have had to have taken her. Considering the atmosphere of the restaurant he was inclined to believe she'd been there on a date. "Oh?"
She laughed softly. "Is that so hard to believe? Me on a date with a good guy at a good place?" She gave a look, smiled barely there. "I'm a woman, you know. A beautiful one, I might add. Just because you and the rest of the team usually only see me half drenched in blood, covering your asses when the heat picks up, or, coated in soot while I'm working myself into a sweat over a fire doesn't mean other men don't see me in any other fashion.
"I do date, Hyuuga. Some of us still enjoy the romantic process that is dating." The barb was obvious, and a little teasing in reference to what he'd said the previous night about it being too much work to do it on his own.
He closed his eyes and let out a sigh. "Yeah, yeah…" He stuffed his hands into his pockets. How had he never known she dated? Why wouldn't she tell him? The thought was a little disconcerting; he thought he knew everything about her. "I didn't know. You never talk about it."
"Eh… it's more a girl thing to talk about the men you date. Plus," she let out a sigh almost as bad as his previous and closed her eyes in irritation, "if you haven't noticed we have two other very… nosey teammates; if they ever got word I was on a date I would never hear the end of love this, youth that. If they could manage to sit in on the date, hidden somewhere while it went on, they would… so, yeah." She reopened her eyes and glanced at him. "That's probably why you haven't heard. But, I do. I have for a couple of years now.
"It would be kind of ridiculous if I didn't."
Tell me about it, he wanted to say, but, didn't. She teased him enough on a regular basis; there was really no need for her to know he'd never done the same. "I suppose it makes sense; I wouldn't tell Gai or Lee either." Definitely not.
"So," she began again as they came to a stop in front of the gate around her house. "I'll be ready and there before six. When you go in with her I'll follow ten minutes after and take a seat nearby. Sounds good?"
He nodded and scratched the back of his head. "What signal should I use?"
"Anything will do, but, it can't be something you do a lot or might do without thinking."
He nodded again, placed his hands on his hips and thought. What wouldn't he be likely to do at a meal, but, would also seem natural? It had to be something he would do only consciously… He snapped his fingers.
"I'll turn my plate clockwise. I never do that; a lot of people do when they want to eat something on the other side of their plate."
She smiled. "Perfect. I'll see you at six-ten. If all goes well for you then you might not need me at all, though."
He chuckled. "I doubt that… but, I'll see you later." He waved as he walked off.
She waved back and turned to go through the gate and then into her home. She'd never done what she was about to do tonight, but, it would definitely be interesting. She couldn't help but chuckle on the way up the stairs to her room to start planning her look.
Yes, definitely interesting.
Lanterns hung down the center above the street, illuminating the cobblestone road just big enough for smaller carts and people to walk. Dusk had long settled in; stars were starting to fleck across the canvas of the night.
Twin pools of copper-brown narrowed from across the street and settled on one person. The gray kimono suited him nicely; the white paper cranes stitched into it were set off by the white with silver inlay obi her wore about his waist. She gave a soft smile and waited, pulling her jacket more firmly about her.
He held his hands behind his back, relaxing as he waited just to the left of double door entrance to Michiru's. His long strands hung just below the center of his back, tied in traditional clan fashion.
His face was impassive and his eyes searching idly. He glanced over at the clock on a nearby building face. It was a minute to six; would she be late?
The women Hinata set up for him generally fell into two categories: punctual or late. Punctual because time was important to them; their family expected them to give a good first impression, they tended towards being the introverted type with little to nothing else to keep them from being late, or, they were overly obsessed with time. The late ones were a little more complex; some of them just didn't want to bother meeting him and thought leaving a bad impression would shake another suitor, others thought showing up late made them look better or harder to catch, and others still just thought they were beyond manners because of their family's stature.
As he glanced up the clock again he noted she was going to be one of the late ones; not that those two minutes after really constituted as late… but still.
Neji gave a sigh, closing his eyes as he did so.
He opened them and looked over to his right. "Saiko Sora-san, I presume."
She smiled and bowed politely, hands in front of her.
Neji mirrored her actions. When he stood back up he took a moment to appraise her; first and foremost, while he did have a string of bad luck on these little events, his goal was to eventually find someone suitable. And this was just another part of the process.
Her long strands were pulled up into a complex, but, not overly elaborate style. Some of it draped just past her shoulders, lying out across the dull pastel pink of her kimono. The stitched pattern work that fell across the lower hem and across the opposite shoulder was simple, as well as, a shade darker than the material.
She wasn't tall, nor was she short, coming to stand just under his eye level. Her eyes were a bright violet; her cheeks cut and pronounced to give her an aristocratic air. Her make-up was nice and well done, but, in his opinion too much for her.
He turned, offering up his arm to her. "Shall we?"
"Yes, thank you," she said softly, smiling as she took his arm.
They stepped in together as a well-dressed employee held the door open for them. Neji confirmed the reservation at the front desk and shortly thereafter the both of them were led off to their table. Neji held the chair out for her before sitting and taking his offered menu.
They looked them over in silence.
"Drinks?" the waiter asked.
Neji kept his eyes on his menu as he murmured the name of a bottle of wine.
"Very good. And for the lady?" he asked next.
"I'll have the same, thank you."
He nodded and left.
"Are you usually this quiet?" she asked Neji.
He glanced up from his menu, opaque-violet hues meeting hers. "Sometimes. You?" His elbows moved to rest on the table, fingers interlinking.
"Most of the time, I think so, yes." She smiled demurely.
He nodded and went back to reading his menu.
"Your drinks, Hyuuga-sama." The waiter was back. He took the bottle and popped the cork, pouring them both two glasses.
"You may leave the bottle."
The waiter nodded and took their orders for the meal. "I should be back with your meal in twenty minutes, Hyuuga-sama."
Neji nodded and handed over his menu. "Thank you."
He was gone.
"So, you're a shinobi?" she asked.
He nodded. "Yes, I have been since I was twelve. Nearly every member of my family is or was. Are you?"
She shook her head. "No, that kind of work is too bloody for me, I'm afraid. However, most of my family is as well; my father is."
Her personal opinion didn't bother him; it was not entirely uncommon for some people in a clan to feel that way.
"Personally, I don't think women should ever see the battlefield."
That got a blink out of him.
She frowned and reached for her drink, taking a sip. "Don't get me wrong; it's not that I don't think women are capable of doing well. I just don't think we're suited for it..." she trailed off, stopping.
He narrowed his eyes one her. "You do realize you live in a shinobi village where the Hokage is female?"
"Just because I live here doesn't mean I have to like the politics." The frown remained as she held her wine glass. "Point is, women shouldn't be out there. It's compromising."
"How?" Now he was curious. His food hadn't arrived yet and it was becoming vastly entertaining to listen to her. Did she realize his cousins were shinobi? Some of his female friends were?
She glanced around and bit her lower lip. Then she turned back to him, leaning forward and speaking softly. "Well, you know about those missions." She gave another frown. "It's just not right… I mean, those poor girls are considered by some to be no better than… well…" She didn't want to say it; he could see that.
"Whores?" he felt no remorse in supplying the word at a normal tone.
She sighed. "I wouldn't have quite used that word… but, yes. That is what people say; that kunoichi are just ….whores with a kunai."
"Your food, Hyuuga-sama."
Neji sat back as his plate and hers were set down before them. "Thank you."
Sora smiled brightly at him. "You must have been very hungry, Hyuuga-san. You sound enthusiastic."
"You have no idea."
For a woman who was use to hiding in the shadows for a living, whether literally or hiding in an open crowd, this was something of a cinch. She crossed one leg over the other, inadvertently highlighting her calf. She rested right forearm on the top of the stained bar, half swiveling still in the stool. She brought her right hand, tips of her manicured fingers, to rest on her temple; her thumb pad pressed gently into her jaw line. She blinked softly, long dark lashes kissing her sculpted features.
She was more than aware of the number of looks she was getting. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last.
The red little number, laced through with a series of inconsequential sequins hugged her hips like a second skin; it tied behind her neck and left her shoulders bare. It dropped low on her back and her chest, revealing more cleavage than she ever considered on duty.
The bottoms of her feet arched in the four inch heels strapped about her ankles with leather much the same red as her flowing, short dress. The small, attached, glass gems sparkled in the dim lighting.
She reached up, turning slightly towards her drink on the bar, and brushed her wavy hair out of her eyes. It tumbled down her back with finesse; it was amazing what a curling iron and little patience could do for a girl. She picked up her drink and eyed herself in the reflection of her glass, squinting as she inspected the cosmetics inked there. Her lipstick, a darker shade than her dress, was still just right; all was well. Satisfied, she took a sip of her drink and eyed Neji and the girl out of the corner of her chocolate browns.
She gave a little smirk.
"Ma… she's pretty…" she whispered quietly. Still, a girl like Tenten knew looks weren't everything. Men could be just as bad as women, in her own personal experience. Neji was one of the few exceptions.
She glanced up at the clock face above the shelves along the back wall. So far he'd been at it for about fifteen minutes; well, since they ordered. That was about the same time she'd come in and sat down.
She tapped her chin, watching them now through the reflection of the mirror on the back wall of the bar between the shelves.
There was no telling how long it would take Neji to figure this out. There was always the chance that the girl would be perfectly suitable and he'd not need her at all. But, by his estimate if it wasn't working it almost always happened inside of a half hour from the time he sat down with them.
She was pretty though. When she smiled it was soft and serene. Her hair, her face and her eye color were the picture of want, if Jiraiya's novels were any indication; her curves helped too. Her kimono accented her ivory doll-like skin; the soft pink brought out the blush in her complexion.
She pursed her lips and tapped her chin a few more times.
"Need a refill?"
She shook her head. "Thank you, though." She smiled brightly at the bar tender as he wandered off down the line.
She glanced back up at the clock. It had almost been thirty minutes. Maybe he wouldn't—.
She stilled as Neji's plate was set before him and he turned it.
She grinned and hopped of her stool, sliding a few bills under her glass. She slid her purse over her shoulder and began to saunter over, red heels clicking under her on the wood floor. She smirked.
"The fish is good. Did you try it yet?" he heard her ask.
Neji nodded. "They have the best chef in Fire country; he once worked for the feudal lord."
"Really?" Sora's brows rose.
He could faintly hear her voice; he could see her lips moving out of the corner of his eyes. His attention refocused on a woman in red walking towards them; his eyes traveled up the long curve of her legs as she stepped gracefully in the heels housing delicate feet in a sensual arch; they moved up towards the sway of her hip and the muscular core of her waist; he watched her breasts, bountiful and full as they bounced every so often in the confines of the top that tied about her neck. As he finally made his way up to her face, recognition hitting him—hard—all he could only manage to think was: she'd never shown that much cleavage around him before.
He watched as she took a chair from an empty table and moved it next to him, taking a seat. She was smiling, smirking almost as she set her right arm to rest on the table, angling her body towards him.
"So it this why you stood me up last Saturday, Neji-kun?" His name sounded like silk running past her lips. She chuckled and touched his arm, running her thumb over the bare skin just below his wrist. "We had plans," she whispered as she drew in closer to his ear, tickling the flesh there with her hot breath; her breasts pressed into his bicep. "You know that little black number you like to peel—."
"Excuse me, who are you?"
Neji released a breath he wasn't even aware he'd been holding onto.
Tenten looked towards her, raising a brow, lips curving into a smile. "Oh? He didn't tell you?" She paused and glanced over at Neji. "I'm his…" she let it hang on that and chuckled softly, eyes on his.
Sora frowned. She turned her glare to Neji. "Is this true, Hyuuga Neji-san? Are you with this girl?"
"I—," he began.
"It's it obvious, Barbie?" Tenten addressed her again, cutting him off. "I mean, we're on the same team, you know. That tends to require sleeping in the same tent most of the time… especially on those cold, rainy nights all—."
"Neji-san?" Sora bit off, looking at him, features hard. "Are you sleeping with this—this—."
"What?" Tenten asked lazily, looking amused.
"Trollop!" She was really glaring at her now, ears red and cheeks puffing. "All of you kunoichi are the same. No manners. Whoring yourselves out for money."
At this the brunette raised a brow. She looked her up and down. "Well, you seem to live rather comfortably off of the protection my profession provides."
"Neji-san?" she ignored Tenten now, looking for an answer.
Neji blinking, finding his voice again somehow. He coughed, clearing his throat. "Actually, no, I… we…" He turned to Tenten, eyes narrowing in scrutiny as he recalled what he'd practiced. "I told you we were done with this. What are you doing here?"
"It's true then!" Sora bit off, standing. The noise that escaped her throat was something between a huff and a squeak. "I can't believe you! Sleeping with a kunoichi!" She grabbed her glass of wine and tossed its contents across the table at him; the red splashed across his face and all over his kimono.
Tenten's mouth went wide as some of it sprayed on her. She tried to look upset; it wouldn't do well to start laughing no matter how funny she found it to be.
"Don't call on me. Ever," she snapped as she stomped out of the restaurant.
Tenten waited a moment longer; she closed her mouth and puffed her cheeks as she stared at him, looking at the stains and wet mess all over him.
Neji sighed, smiled faintly and closed his eyes and he placed his face in his palm. "Go ahead…"
She laughed, but, kindly handed him a cloth napkin off the table to wipe his face and clothing with.
"Thank you," he muttered before he went about cleaning his face. "I wasn't exactly expecting that."
She was still chuckling as she stood up and grabbed his arm. "Come on, Hyuuga. Let's get out of here."
He wasn't inclined to argue, not once he realized several patrons and employees were staring at them. He sighed again as he let her loop her arm through his and guide him towards the front desk. She was quiet while he paid, but, she was still grinning like an idiot at him; her laugher was hard to suppress.
"You ok, playboy?" she asked him as they stepped out, her arm still neatly tucked into his own.
"Yeah… I'm not fond getting wine thrown in my face, but, it was a lot better than the alternative."
"Oh?" she inquired cutely, slanting a look at him.
"As in hearing how all kunoichi are village prostitutes with a kunai."
"Is that what that outburst was about?" she chuckled and brought her other hand up to cover her mouth. "Oh, poor girl. She must be a civilian." She shook her head, more amused by her naïveté than anything else.
"Actually, she lives in a shinobi family. I don't know who's idea it was to send her out on a date with me, because, quite frankly more than half of the Hyuuga are shinobi. She'd have been offended just visiting the compound.
"Hiashi would have been offended by her presence alone."
"No," he deadpanned, "I'm not."
She was laughing again as they continued their stroll down the busy road laden with the evening crowd. "I'm starting to think someone's playing a joke on you with these setups."
"No kidding…" he muttered.
"Ah well," she said as she let out a long breath of air at the same time, "I'll just keep being your Ms. X until you find the right one."
He looked over at her as she stared forward. He must have been looking at her for a while because she looked up at him and said, "What? Is something on my face?" She stopped walking and reached up to check.
"No, nothing at all…" he murmured, scrutinizing her with narrowed opaque-violet orbs. "I'm just realizing I didn't even know you owned a dress that like that."
She smiled at him and took a step towards him; her proximity was a little off-putting for reasons he was only just starting to fathom. "You like what you see, Neji-kun ?"
Was she serious or just teasing him again, he wondered as her dark orbs stared up into his paler ones. His lips parted, as if to reply to her. The hood of his eyes lowered slightly as twin pools traveled down to her painted lips. Something stirred in his gut, dancing around as it moved up to his chest; it simmered there as he tried to ignore the heat crawling up his neck—not out of embarrassment, but, something else.
Was she flirting with him? Or was this just apart of what she'd done earlier in the restaurant to scare off Sora? Was this just some extended play of her role meant to give them both a good laugh? Should he play along?
Her laughter broke through his train of thought and hyper-focus on her lips.
"You look like you need a drink. A real one."
He blinked, refocusing his gaze on her eyes as she took his arm again.
She tugged at him, smiling. "Let's go, Hyuuga. My treat this time. I think you've earned it after tonight's traumatizing effects."
She wasn't kidding.
And so it went from there; for a month he went on each date Hinata had lined up for him, met with each girl and put on a good show when Tenten showed up to 'get her man back.' He discovered that scored women almost all had a habit of throwing their drinks at their date.
He'd learned very quickly to quit wearing his best clothes.
Tenten was also very good at looking like the moderately jealous ex-girlfriend. She always dressed the part; rarely ever did she wear the same dress twice. Her hair was almost always down and she never wore too much makeup.
Had her father ever seen her leave the house in any of that when he was alive?
It was becoming increasingly hard to keep any focus on his dates; the minute he sat down his opaque-violet hues were traveling across the room as he only half listened to the given woman; he did so without thinking about it. He actually waited with a masked, antsy disposition for his food to show up just so he could have her come in and ruin for him; he did it for a chance to feel her warm hands on his arm, his thigh, her breath of his cheek and his name wrapped around her tongue in a low hum.
Was he losing it?
He had to be. No man in his position purposefully screwed up just to have their best friend cop a feel. He was starting to get sick with himself and his disgusting little addiction. He couldn't stop himself.
The thought did occur to him to just end it all; to ask her out on date. He just wasn't sure if he was ready for that; he wasn't sure if she even wanted him as he wanted her. On one side it might ruin their friendship, their team. On another, he didn't know if he could quite handle her, someone he cared about deeply, rejecting him if she didn't feel the same way about him. Caught in the middle, he just kept dating and using her like his own personal cocaine.
"Neji-san, who is this?" the girl across from the table, Kaede, asked him as Tenten pressed herself up against him, her breasts plastered against his bicep once again.
He closed his eyes and exhaled a shallow breath as her torturous hand made circles on his thigh, close his stiffening member.
"Yes, Neji-san, who am I?" Tenten nudged playfully as she used that voice again, the one that made liquid heat settle between his thighs every time; she was moving her hand close, brushing the swollen shaft through material of his pants.
A sharp breath came through his nose; he hid it as well as he could.
Did she know? Did she hear him? Could she see the way his jaw flexed every time her thumb edged closer once again? The strain was becoming too much and yet he didn't want her to stop; he was caught between pushing her hand away and pressing it closer, completely, along the hardening confines of his pants.
"Neji-san!" Kaede snapped.
He coughed, trying to sit up better as he blinked. "I ah—."
Tenten rolled her eyes. "You're not getting it, are you? We're a thing, sweetie. He's just a little confused." She shifted closer to him as she said this, her face turned to the crook of his neck; her hot breath was on his neck, his ear.
He pushed down a shudder, but couldn't stop himself from closing his eyes. Was that her mouth on his ear?
His hand tightened into a fist next to his thigh, the one she wasn't running her fingers up and down the inside of; the one she wasn't squeezing the knee of before gently dragging her digits up the along the underside before her thumb came curving down very… very…very close again.
He bit the inside of his cheek as she nipped playfully at his ear.
Kaede glared indignantly at her. "This is ridiculous." She looked over at Neji. "Why would you bother inviting me here if you wanted to be with her?"
"Because, like I said. He's a little confused," Tenten said again. "Do you need a demonstration?" Her smile was cat-like.
"What…?" Kaede blinked from across the table.
Neji looked over at the brunette; at the sudden mention of the word demonstration his blood raced, both in fear and anticipation. He opened his mouth to speak. Whatever she had planned—.
Her mouth slanted across his open one, slow and heavy—warm; she was warm. Her tongue curled across his, caressed. She nipped at his lower lip, dragging it out and sucking gently before she pressed her lips into his again. Her hand held his cheek, his chin and she kept him there, willing prisoner of her ministrations.
He exhaled raggedly across her lips, closing his eyes. He was again caught between pushing her away and pulling her closer.
There was a distinct bite on his thigh; her nails.
He inhaled sharply, haggardly. The sound of his breath in his ears was hoarse, strained. His whole body felt like a coiled spring that she was pulling tighter and tighter with each little nip, caress, suckle and scratch; with every increasing rise and fall of his chest he felt his control slipping.
She'd been doing it that all month long; touching, teasing, and puling tighter and tighter on what sanity he had left. How did she know what strings to tug, to drag her digits across to get him to respond in just the right way? He felt like a samisen, reacting each time she strummed, plucked and tuned him for her liking.
"Te…" he breathed outward, choking on his words as her hand slid under his shirt and drug down, cutting into his flesh.
He drug her across his lap, ignoring and both relishing the small sound of protest she made in the back of her throat as he took hold of her hips and thrust upward. He growled into her mouth as she gasped, as the roll of her wet center sent a flood of heat cross his already straining shaft. He bit into her neck; she arched against him, pressing her breasts into his chest. Her nails dug into his shoulder, leaving trails offended flesh.
Then she thrust back and he groaned, hiding the noise in the bare valley of her breasts. Her hands curled up his neck and dug into his hair, his scalp, urging him.
"Neji," she breathed his name, an ache across her lips.
His hands slid lower along her thighs towards the hem of her dress; they caressed upward along warm flesh and under the silken material. It was a slow, painful drag of his digits. He listened to the heartbeat in his ears; his or hers, he couldn't be sure.
"Ne…" he heard her start, softly, slowly as he inched towards the hem of her underwear.
Opaque drew up and towards his right. Neji's eyes met with the face of a rather perturbed waiter. He swallowed and looked back at the position he was in. Tenten was looking anywhere but him.
"I think it would be best if you left, sir. Both of you."
His head was reeling, spinning; somewhere between point A and B he'd dropped his common sense. His eyes drew towards the rest of the room, realizing quite a number of people were staring their direction, and, Kaede was gone.
"Sir?" he prompted again. "If I need to call someone to remove—."
"No, no," he muttered. "We're leaving." Slowly, he slid out from under her and got out of the booth. He pulled a handful of cash out of his wallet and placed it on the table before reaching for her.
He didn't acknowledge her protest as he helped adjust her dress and fix her hair. She was looking at him with deafeningly quiet orbs. He caught her gaze only a moment before he led her out of the restaurant and into the night.
He kept walking for a while, holding her hand and taking her along with him. She moved in pace with him.
What had he been thinking? Why had he done that? He drug his free hand through his hair, closing his eyes; he took in a deep, slow, evasive breath. Maybe the oxygen would help bring it all back down to earth for him.
This was all going too far.
He had to stop; stop before someone got hurt.
"Neji." She jerked on his arm and he stopped, looking back towards her. She wasn't frowning, but, the smile she offered him wasn't… hers. She released his hand. "I'm going to go home, alright? I don't think I'm up for drinks tonight."
He nodded mutely.
"Bye, Neji…" She gave him a little wave before fading into the night.
AN :: Let me know what you think of this two part one shot. Part two will be up in a few days, if you're curious. Thanks for reading/review—as always.