Disclaimer: Why no, I don't own Naruto. I'm pretty sure I won't be writing a fanfic if I did.
Summary: Tired of all the failed attempts, Naruto uses Lee's beliefs to get the two together. Or sort of. NejiTen all the way!
Pairings: NejiTen of course. ^_^
A/N: Hey there, new ficcie here. This is my offering to everyone who dream of Neji and Tenten together and are dying to see them together in cannon. This is also dedicated to my readers in The Proposition who happened to be NejiTen fans. Inspired by Lee's philosophy during the Chuunin Exam Preliminaries. I hope you enjoy. ^_^
"It's a rule that if you throw a stone to hit an electric pole you miss;
but if you throw to miss it you hit it!"
-Rock Lee (Naruto Chapter 81, Page 17)-
"I don't get it."
It was Naruto who always initiated the topic.
Konoha 11 would group together once in a while in Konoha's famous barbeque restaurant; eight would come early while three members would be late due to afternoon training. They would occupy the farthest room available for privacy reasons. After the hellos, how-did-your-mission-go, and what-happened-to-you-lately, food and drinks would arrive to make the celebration more worth celebrating. While they grill their order, Naruto would blurt out what was bothering him for the week, and the rest, as friends no matter how much they think otherwise, would listen to his problems or offer suggestions.
"Why are they not together?" Naruto pondered as he looked away from the other occupants.
There was a collective sighing at the mention of they.
They meant a certain reality-oriented, dependable, handsome piece of clan taijutsu genius that ever lived and his cute, friendly, perky, female weapon enthusiast of a teammate.
"Naruto." Chouji pointed his chopsticks warningly at the blonde. "We are not discussing them over barbeque. Respect the sanctity of this holy cuisine."
Naruto, not a connoisseur of the culinary arts, went on, "Look, hear me out. They're always together."
"We know," was the exasperated chorus.
"And they have chemistry; we all know it's more than just a branch of science!"
"They communicate! She doesn't need to talk to him to know what he's thinking, and he actually replies when she asks."
"And we have tried every virtual possible way to get them together," he rasped wildly each word, "like when we purposely allowed her to be kidnapped so he could do the rescuing!"
"She had the kidnappers beaten before he could arrive," supplied Hinata.
"Or when we had them trapped inside a Ferris wheel car…"
"It was romantic until they picked the lock," continued Ino.
"Or last Valentine's Day, when we pretended that they sent each other secret lover presents."
"They thought it was the joke." Shino sounded hurt.
"Or when we had the trapped on an isolated island…"
Kiba growled. "I told you that one wouldn't work. They're ninjas. We're all freaking ninjas. We can walk over water."
"Naruto," Sakura cut him off. "There are at least eighty more failed scenarios; it would take all day to list them. Clearly they're emotionally allergic to romance."
"Or emotionally constipated," Shikamaru half-argued, "Either way, we have already come to the conclusion that no amount of our combined efforts could resolve the subject matter."
"What subject matter?" asked a jovial voice. They turned to the newcomer of the scene, Rock Lee who had just finished his five hundredth laps around the village. After listening to his litany of apologies and proclamation of youth and passion, they made room for him to settle down.
"Why are they not together?" Naruto had no intention dropping the subject. Typical.
Lee set his chopsticks down, and gave him a knowing look. "Naruto-kun, every bud is special, exceptional and distinct from the all others. It has its own time to bask in the passion that is the Springtime of Youth. When it does, it glows, it shines, it burns with the flames of youth to be consumed in the kaleidoscopic flurries of love, sunshine and all the things that is wonderful and magnificent. Also, I think our desire of wanting them together had prevented them from being together."
Naruto blinked his eyes rapidly. "Is this one of your philosophies in life?"
"Yes," he replied proudly.
Naruto nodded sagely and the team waited for him to come up with his own brand of interpretation for Lee's words of wisdom. Meanwhile, they waited.
And then, finally, the light bulb lit up as Naruto arrived with a conclusion. "I got it!"
"Share," Kiba drawled.
"It's simple," said Naruto, like the genius he always thought of himself as. "If we have tried every possible way for them to be together and failed, then we should try every way not to have them together, fail, and thus have them together as planned." He spread his hands out as if he had just presented the most obvious solution to every single person's problem.
The room was silent except for the sizzling of grilled beef over the broiler.
"It might actually work," Shikamaru said absent-mindedly. "So, what's your plan, genius?"
Phase A: Frosty the Snowman
Their targets, Neji and Tenten, sweaty and jolly over the course of their training, arrived just thirty minutes after Lee did, and sat next to their teammate. They ate silently, and tried to maintain a sense of normalcy in their conversations. When their meat was running low, they bade Neji to order at the counter, bribing him that since he was late, he should pay. Deeming it as his responsibility, he did as he was told and left.
It was time to execute their plan.
Tenten diverted her attention from the meat she was broiling to Kiba. "Yes?"
"You shouldn't like Neji," he said flat-out.
Her brows drew together in a frown. "Okay…"
"He has a personality of an ice block," Naruto pointed out.
"True but we tolerate him despite that fact."
"He tried to kill Hinata when we were younger because of his hidden vendetta against the Hyuuga Main House," Shino recalled. Beside him, Hinata nodded shyly and avoided meeting her eyes.
She flipped her meat and spread more sauce on that side. "Yeah, he could be an emotional waste bucket sometimes."
"He slaves you in the training grounds." Lee patted her sympathetically on the back.
"He's also a fangirl magnet," Sakura continued.
"He doesn't seem to be the type who'd sweep you off your feet," Ino mentioned.
"He meditates for a hobby," Chouji announced.
"He's troublesome," Shikamaru added.
"Amen on all of those."
"You should tell him," Naruto offered, staring deep in her eyes for an argument.
"Okay," Tenten agreed and offered none.
It was then that Neji returned. "They're bringing the food in three minutes," he told them as he took his place. The eight held their breaths, and silently encouraged Tenten.
When Tenten had finished with her meat, she glanced at Neji. "Neji?"
"I shouldn't like you," she spoke in an even way, as if she had been saying it every day of her life. "You have the personality of an ice block. You tried to kill Hinata when we were younger because of your hidden vendetta against the Hyuuga Main House, you slave me in the training grounds, you're a fangirl magnet, you don't seem to be the type who'd sweep me off my feet, you meditate for a hobby, and you're troublesome."
Tenten then smiled brightly. "Wanna spar tomorrow?"
Neji's shoulder moved in an eloquent shrug. It was a yes.
Silence ruled afterwards.
Phase B: Sledgehammer Lady
When Tenten briefly excused herself for the bathroom, it was time to move onto the next part of the plan.
He peered over his stammering cousin and waited for her to tell him whatever it was that was bothering her.
Hinata's eyes were focused on her fumbling fingers. "Tenten-san… She's not very inclined to her feminine side, isn't she?"
"No, she's not." He turned his attention back on his meat, saying nothing more.
Sakura grew impatient. "You shouldn't like her." Neji looked up, waiting for her to elaborate. "She likes you for a spar."
"She doesn't stand out that much," Ino pressed on.
"She likes research," Kiba highlighted every word like a curse.
"She has a habit of chucking sharp pointy objects out of nowhere," Shino went on.
"She's as tactful as a sledgehammer," Chouji stated.
"Need I say more?" asked Lee good-naturedly. Neji shook his head and looked at Naruto, expecting him to deliver the final remark.
Naruto stared back sheepishly. "You shouldn't like her."
Neji stared him, then at them, absorbing every word they have all said. "Noted," he said, and resumed flipping meat over hot grill.
When Tenten came back, the room was once again on tether hooks. She ignored it, taking her seat between her teammates.
"I shouldn't like you," he said as he placed a couple of barbeque pieces on her plate. "So, what do you say we start tomorrow at around seven in the morning?"
"Well, I still need to polish my weapons and there's also…"
No one dared to comment.
Phase C: Split them apart, NOW!
As the conversation of training rituals evolved into various discussions of mutilation, explosives and dismemberment that the two would like to paraphrase into acceptable terms with healthy mentions of supervised training regimen and Hokage-mandated precautionary actions, the seven threw Lee hefty warnings of immediate intervention.
Doing what he had to do for his friends, he put his chopsticks forcefully down the table that it shook with the force. Tenten and Neji stopped talking and waited for Lee's speech.
"I refuse to allow you to train tomorrow. With Neji."
"Why?" She cocked her head on one side.
"Because you'll be training with me," he said, eyes burning with passion and determination. "Neji had drained your youthfulness and it is my task to renew with once more. I cannot stand idly by as my beloved teammate's flame of youth ebbs into nothingness!"
A hush enveloped the room.
It was Neji who broke it. "You do know that you could always train with us, Lee."
"Really?" Lee almost squealed the question. "Wait… We could ask Guy-sensei to join."
Tenten brightened at the suggestion. "That's a good idea! We could work on our synchronization like before…"
They had forgotten that these three were training freaks. Together, they were a training fan club.
Phase D: Diversion: Girl Stuff
"Neji-san, what conditioner do you use?" Ino inquired, trailing a hand through those silken dark locks.
Neji calmly switched places with Lee.
Phase E: Diversion: Date
Tenten paused on her speech on the Effectiveness of Tightrope Walking versus Water Walking for Chakra Control to notice Naruto waving at her. "Yes?"
Naruto pulled Kiba to his side and grinned. "You should date this guy."
She raised an eyebrow; Naruto wasn't sure if it meant she was flattered or confused. Betting on the latter, he explained further, "You like throwing things; he likes to catch things. It's a match made in heaven."
"Really…" She let the word linger in the air before joining into their nonsense. "Do you like catching kunai-bombs or a fifty-seven pound morning star, by chance, Kiba-kun?"
Kiba paled visibly. "I'm actually interested in the results of your study. I think it's a breakthrough in the ninja research dibs thingy… Whatever… More barbeque anyone?"
Phase F: His Gender Issues
Somehow, Sakura managed to convince Tenten to go to the restroom with her. The Weapon's Mistress blamed it on feminine allegiance; Tenten was never the one to deny it.
"So, Neji," Sakura began talking, rinsing her hands under the faucet. Tenten waited for her to continue. "I think he's gay."
Sakura considered it for a moment, before shaking her head. "No, I think he's hot."
Phase G: Her Gender Issues
"So Tenten," Shikamaru muttered, inwardly cursing Naruto for making it his turn. "I think she's not into guys."
Neji smirked. "She had a crush on you."
"No, it's true," affirmed Lee. "It was the day of your fight with Temari-san. She was amazed by your genius prowess."
Shikamaru wisely said nothing more.
"Guys, our plan's not working."
"You just figured?"
"I told you we should have used Hinata's Main House powers!"
"… You don't get it, do you, Naruto?"
Much later, when the not so merry group had dissipated to their homes—Naruto vowing to think of other ways to not pair them up—Neji opted to take Tenten home as Shino and Kiba had promised to ensure that Hinata goes home in one piece.
On their way they could not help but converse their friends' latest plot to get them together.
"It was splitting us up, this time." Tenten could barely control a smile from forming.
Neji said in a voice only audible to the both of them, "And what made you say so: the absurd comments, the obvious attempts to inspire jealousy, or the conniving glances they did not bother to hide?"
Tenten looked thoughtful, but her eyes betrayed the mirth bubbling inside her. "I think it was when Kiba was suddenly interested on my research projects," she mused.
"Three guesses on who pioneered this plan."
"Naruto," she answered right away. "I swear he comes up with the strangest ideas ever." She giggled. Oh, the lengths their friends had gone through of them… All thoughts of friendship though were banished from her mind as her companion reached for her hand and clasped it with his.
They were in an overcrowded street. Some people might notice that they were walking closer than usual, or that their fingers were laced together in a silent gesture of love, wanting and possession. At time like these, she just liked to think that he was an amorous beau with his lady love.
Perhaps, if the landlady and the neighbors were sound asleep she would give him a kiss goodnight.
"Do you think," he said in a whisper that was only audible to her ears, squeezing her hand in emphasis, "that it's time we cut them the trouble and confess the state of our relationship?"
"The one that happened long before they thought it's possibility?" She gave the impression of contemplating intently on it, before destroying the image in a carefree chuckle. "Naw. I like torturing them."
His smug expression was in place. "Me too."
A/N: This has been made from 11 pm til 4:30 am of the next day. Mistakes would be duly noted. Comment if you enjoyed, or if you didn't! ^_^