I haven't written something this long in awhile.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
"So…how's your wife?" Tenten shifts awkwardly in her seat, fingers tapping out a rhythm against her mug of coffee. She watches her male companion closely, eyes sweeping over his form to gauge his level of discomfort. She presses her tongue to her cheek when she sets her sights on his face again, taking note that his mask of patient perfection has not slipped.
Neji raises an eyebrow as he takes a sip of his tea (a sign he has acknowledged her question and is in the process of determining whether or not to answer). After setting his cup on the table and clearing his throat, he says, "Sakura's doing fine. Lee is well I presume?"
Tenten rolls her eyes, smoothing her cheerful yellow skirt (a stark contradiction to her mood) and graces him with a forced smile. "We aren't married, Neji. We just share a flat. Rent is high today, especially if you want a view of the waterfront."
"Of course. How's Nara? I haven't seen him in a while."
"He's currently on a second honeymoon. You know what Temari's like. Just nags and nags until she gets what she wants," the female replies, waving her hand in a breezy gesture.
"I knew another woman like that," Neji murmurs quietly.
And it becomes awkward again.
"And now you sleep beside her every night," Tenten mutters under her breath (though she knows he is talking about her), lowering her head and stirring her coffee for the nth time.
"Our marriage was arranged and you know that," the Hyuuga reminds her, though his tone becomes somewhat gentler.
Tenten sighs. It always begins like this. She and Neji had been introduced to each other during their first year of college courtesy of their friend Lee. They had bonded over their love for martial arts and he had been impressed by her knowledge of weaponry. Things had been going well until Christmas break during their senior year. Neji's uncle informed him that he was to be wed to Haruno Sakura, the daughter of a powerful business mogul, after his graduation. Tenten had been angry, so angry that he hadn't fought to stay with her, that she refused to speak to him for the remainder of the year and it was only on graduation day did she break the silence with a quick "congratulations" and a strained smile. Over time the boiling rage she feels at the sight of him has simmered down into bitter resentment. They are still in love, that much is clear to the both of them. However, Neji is too much of a coward to disobey his clan's wishes and she is too tired, has spent too much energy mulling over what might've been, that the fight within her has died.
It was Neji who began instigating these monthly coffee meetings and though Tenten had adamantly refused at first, her heart won in the end and she hates herself for being so weak.
"You should come over for dinner sometime," Neji continues softly, breaking her train of thought. His hand twitches around his mug and for a moment it seems as if he wants to reach out to her, but then his grip tightens and Tenten knows the desire has been effectively squashed.
"Maybe," she tells him, and they both know it means never. Neji's lips twist into a frown.
"Perhaps we could meet up for dinner somewhere, just the two of us," he presses (pleads). The way Tenten's eyes darken at his suggestion makes his tea churn uncomfortably in his stomach. But he has made the mistake of letting her go one too many times and come hell or high water, he is not going to let her slip away again.
"Neji, you're married-"
"And that means we still can't be friends?" he interrupts her, a determined look flashing across his features. He is Neji Hyuuga, he always gets what he wants.
Tenten takes slow measured breaths, feeling a spike of adrenaline in her system as her temper rises. She grabs her purse and stands quickly. Neji is on his feet as well, towering over her. Her hands ball into fists and her lips press into a thin white line.
"One day, Neji, you'll have to choose between me and Sakura. And when you do that and finally get all your shit together, give me a call."
Neji is left with a budding headache, a pained heart, and the bill.
Neji has never really seriously considered the prospect of running away until right now. Seated at an old diner, between his briefcase and a window, watching rain collect on the windowpane, the idea has never seemed so tempting. He taps a finger against his coffee mug, eyes narrowed in thought.
Tenten is right, though he hates to admit it. Unfortunately, she and his family will never be able to peacefully coexist in his life. His uncle does not have anything personal against the brunette, it is just that Neji's union with Sakura would be more beneficial for the Hyuuga empire while marrying Tenten would seem to have no effect at all. And since Neji has been training to become head of the Hyuuga Corporation, a useless marriage (no matter how happy it would make him) will not do.
Neji sighs and rubs his aching temples. His paperwork has long been forgotten, pushed under a plate where the remnants of his dinner remain (Sakura is taking a girls' night out). The turkey sandwich has left a strange taste in his mouth and his coffee has gone cold. He lifts his head hoping to catch the attention of the waiter, but instead, his eyes land on Tenten.
She is sitting with Lee, animatedly talking away, flashing a smile he hasn't seen since their college days. She used to smile like that for him, now it seems as if she has an endless reserve of frowns waiting to be unleashed at the mere mention of his name. Neji's fists clench as he watches her. He and Lee are still good friends, but the subject of the Hyuuga's failed romance with the brunette female is a taboo topic. It does not pain him too much to see the two of them together, but when another man approaches the table and proceeds to take the unoccupied chair next to Tenten, and then has the nerve to put his arm around her, Neji is up and striding across the room before he has taken time to consider the consequences. Tenten is no longer his, but there is something animalistic inside of him that is hell bent on making sure she isn't anyone else's either.
Lee sees him coming and grins, about to shout for him to join them when he notices the storm brewing in his features. The invitation subsequently dies on his lips and he casts a worried glance at his female companion.
'Tenten," Neji's tone is icy and his eyes have darkened to a lilac color.
She watches him warily, but there is a storm brewing inside of her as well. "What?"
Neji is slight taken aback at the annoyance in her voice. Though he is aware of her resentment towards him, she has always been polite to him in the company of others. Lee's face is growing more panicked as the seconds tick by. The other man at the table who, irritatingly enough, still has not unwound his arm from around Tenten's shoulders, watches the scene unfold with cool black eyes. His onyx hair is spiked up near the back of his head and he is outfitted in dark washed jeans and a t-shirt.
"Really? Not even a proper hello. Won't you introduce me to your new friend?" Neji retorts, his glare intensifying when he locks eyes with the man.
"This is Sasuke. He's my boyfriend."
Neji will not have it. This idiot thing touching his girl makes his blood boils in his veins in a manner he has not felt since he was informed of his arranged marriage nearly two years ago. Realization dawns on him very quickly that he can live with being removed from the line of heirs to the Hyuuga Corporation, but he absolutely cannot live without Tenten. His eyes first shift to Lee who has been staring at him as if he is about to be eaten alive, then to Sasuke, that worthless scum, then to Tenten, and his heart constricts with yearning.
"I have decided, Tenten," he says calmly, though his aura is poisoned with murderous intent. She raises her eyebrows at the statement.
"You. I choose you."
"I don't care what my family will think of me for this, I don't care if they refuse to allow me to become head of the Hyuuga Corporations, and I don't even care if this is what you want me to do. I want this." He is Neji Hyuuga, and he always gets what he wants.
Tenten blinks, her mind racing a mile a minute. This is exactly what she has been waiting for, for two years. She should be happy, yet an unpleasant weight settles in her gut. She swallows hard and chews on her lower lip. "Are-are you sure?" And suddenly she knows why she isn't happy. This is such a momentous decision for Neji, he is practically throwing away his life's work for her. She loves him, loves him enough to let him go for the sake of his happiness and his dreams.
As if he realizes what she is thinking, he takes a step forwards. He reaches for her hand without hesitance and squeezes her fingers. "I am sure."
Suddenly Tenten is rising from the table, Sasuke's arm carelessly shrugged from her shoulders, and she is pulling him to her with tears in her big brown eyes. She presses her cheek against his and her eyelashes brush his skin, leaving tingles in their wake. Lee is smiling broadly now and where Sasuke has disappeared to Neji does not care.
She pulls back to give him a smile. It seems as if her reserve of frowns has finally dwindled.
"Now what was it you were pestering me about? Something about a dinner date?"
He presses his forehead to hers, an amused smirk ghosting his lips. He marvels in the fact that it does not feel as if they are falling in love all over again.
The love has always been there.
A/N: Where did this monster come from? This has been sitting unfinished in my folder for nearly two years I think. Then I got home today and BAM! In the course of an hour I typed nearly three pages. O_O
Thank you for reading and please review!