Naruto © Kishimoto
A/N : I'm having the hardest time kicking myself out of this writers block, but I promised this story over a month ago so here goes...
- FIREFLIES -
Sitting on a thick branch overlooking the river running just outside the boundaries of the Nara forest, Tenten looked up at the moonless sky as she dangled her bare feet over the shimmering water. Moments earlier the sky had been a beautiful burnt orange, before exploding into a pastel canvas of purples and pinks. The last-day of summer party had finally seemed to be coming to an end as Tenten heard someone down below calling for her to help clean up.
The bun-haired girl jumped down from her perch, smiling happily as she reminisced on what a wonderful day it had been. Spending the entire day with great friends, good food, lots of laughter and fun, it would have been difficult for the day to have been anything other than wonderful. Though at times the day had seemed to drag on for much longer than a day, Tenten wouldn't have traded it for the world; even if at the end there had been a slight hiccup when Sakura asked the bun-haired girl about her relationship with the stoic shinobi of her team. Tenten had been grateful for the interruption provided by Naruto and Kiba's fight, but that had only postponed the question from her mind as she escaped the battlefield that had become their picnic table, to watch the sun set over the horizon. As she sat mesmerized by the colors of the setting sun, Tenten's mind continuously drifted towards the white-eyed prodigy.
Noticing the missing white orb in the sky only made what she already knew that much more obvious... Neji was everything to her. Without him, Tenten's life seemed as empty as the night's sky did without the moon. Sure there were stars that twinkled and helped light the otherwise pitch black sky, but without the moon... they were little more than glitter on black paper.
"Tenten," the familiar somber voice of her sparring partner jarred the girl from her thoughts as she and Hinata finished packing up the baskets they had brought, while most of the boys busied themselves carrying bags of garbage back into the village.
"Huh?" she turned over her shoulder to face him, "Yeah Neji?"
"May I speak with you?"
"Eh?" the girl cocked her head to the side curiously, wondering about how formal he sounded, but almost immediately shrugged it off as just being her self-consciousness with him at the moment. "Sure, just let me finish helping Hinata carry these back-"
"It's okay Tenten-san," the blue-haired heiress quickly chimed in. It wasn't often Hinata cut someone off, but her sweet smiling face assured the weapons mistress it wasn't the young girl trying to please her, as too often got the Hyuga girl taken advantage of, but rather a sincere desire to help. There was something else in the girl's white eyes that hinted at more, but Tenten dismissed it as she turned back to Neji and with a shrug followed him.
As the two teammates walked back towards the river, Tenten turned over her shoulder, briefly wondering if she should have really left Hinata to do all the work herself, when she noticed the fang-faced boy rushing up to the blushing girl's rescue, flexing his muscles as he picked up all of the baskets and offered to carry them himself.
"Heheh," Tenten giggled softly, bringing her hand up to her mouth as she tried to stifle her laughter, thinking it probably unwise to bring to the other Hyuga's attention that his young cousin had seemingly moved on from the blonde-haired would-be hokage and was currently being chased after by the playful Inuzuka.
"Hn," a grunt from the Hyuga alerted Tenten to the fact that she hadn't been the only one to see the not-so subtle flirting behind them. Neji's glare softened, however, when he turned back to the bun-haired girl and seemed to decide he would wait before dealing with the younger shinobi.
It wasn't that Neji didn't get along with Kiba or something. Far from it. Over the years the two had outgrown their animosity towards one another and had developed an, albeit odd, sort of friendship. They yelled and insulted each other a lot, but there was an unmistakable underlying respect that each man held for the other that somehow made their relationship work. Whether that would translate to Neji accepting his beloved cousin's teammate as her boyfriend only time would tell, but given how overprotective he had become of his young cousins, who were more like little sisters to him, it would certainly seem that Kiba would not have an easy time at courting the timid heiress.
"So... what did you want to talk about?" Tenten asked as the two of them reached the river's edge, where moments earlier the bun-haired girl had been watching the sun go down. Now the sky was dark and moonless. She sighed remembering her earlier thoughts. Did Neji really mean that much to her that she could compare his existence to that of the moon? Tenten inwardly nodded, admitting to herself that he really was that important to her.
"You never answered the question," the Hyuga's voice once more pulled Tenten from her thoughts and back to reality.
Shaking her head clear of the lingering loneliness, the weapons mistress turned and stared at him questioningly. "You asked me something?" Tenten couldn't remember Neji asking her anything, so she wasn't quite sure what question, according to him, she had not answered.
For a moment he said nothing. They stood silently; the only sound was the splashing of the water besides them and the whistle of the chilly night's air, heralding in the fall and winter cold that would soon cover the village. And then, after a moment of Neji thinking his next words over, he cleared his throat and straightened himself before calmly continuing. "Haruno's question," he clarified.
"Sakura?" Tenten furrowed her brow wondering what he could possibly be talking about, when suddenly it dawned on her. "Wait, what? You heard that?" Immediately a bright red blush that would rival even those of Hinata, swept across the bun-haired girl's cheeks and she quickly spun on her heels and turned towards the water, away from Neji.
Looking out into the calm water, Tenten tried to steady her rapidly beating heart. She closed her eyes tightly, attempting to come up with something, anything to say. How he had heard Sakura's question in the first place, the bun-haired girl couldn't even imagine. With all the noise from Kiba and Naruto's fight she had been certain that no one would have heard or even remembered once the table became a battlefield.
Calmly breathing in and out, Tenten opened her eyes once more and stared out into the river again. For a moment she forgot what they were even talking about as the tiny little flashes of fireflies began flickering over the water, shimmering in the darkness of the night. She stared mesmerized at the twinkling lights as they circled around the wripples of the water.
"Ten?" the soft somber voice of her long-time crush once more broke through Tenten's haziness, and she quickly spun back around. She'd felt calmer moments earlier staring into the tranquil waters, but as soon as their eyes met again, all that nervousness from before quickly rushed back to her and everything she'd planned on saying completely vanished from Tenten's mind as she stared helplessly into the Hyuga's moon-like eyes.
"I...it's..." Tenten stumbled, trying to find the words to say as Neji patiently waited for her to reply, taking a step closer as she inched away almost unknowingly. Finally when the silence had been too much for ever her to handle, the bun-haired girl took one more deep breath and then said, "Oh that. That's just Sakura though. I mean Ino too. Well both of them. They're just a couple of busy bodies. Always making things up. It doesn't mean anything really. They used to ask me about Lee before too. As if I'd ever be interested in Lee. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He's a good boy. And he's not bad looking. At least not once you clean him up a little. And he's sweet. Any girl would be lucky... but well it's Lee. He's like a little brother. Plus he's still completely infatuated with Sakura. At least I think he still is-"
"Tenten," Neji again called out to the girl, a small smirk adorned his handsome features as the Hyuga stared calmly at the flustered girl. "You're doing it again," he stated, crossing his arms over his chest, flinching slightly as the coarse fabric of his white shirt rubbed against his sunburnt skin.
She noticed it though. But knowing the Hyuga's pride, Tenten restrained herself from teasing him anymore about it. Plus, she had already done plenty of that earlier. "Doing what?" she asked, feeling a little less self-conscious, and it began to feel more like their normal conversations.
Despite having a massive crush on the guy, which would normally make a girl act pretty much like Hinata had the first few years of her infatuation with Naruto, there was something about Neji that just eased all of her nerves. Sure, Tenten got the occasional butterflies and nervous stammer when he got a little bit too close, or their hands brushed against each other as they reached for the same thing, but over all their silences weren't awkward, and the two of them got along really well. That was probably the reason she loved him so much... Tenten just felt comfortable when she was around Neji.
"You always talk too much when you're nervous," the boy simply stated, letting a small chuckle escape him as he shook his head.
He knew her too well.
"haah!" the bun-haired girl gasped, eyes growing wide as she realized just exactly what that meant. He did know her well. A little too well in fact. And he had just asked her a question. One which Tenten had no intention of answering, especially since she didn't quite know the answer to said question herself. Oh but wait! Neji had just pointed out that she was nervous, and the Hyuga was no idiot. Far from it in fact. Neji was a genius. There was no doubt in Tenten's mind that he must have realized his question was what had made her nervous. And the question was essentially asking what her feelings were towards him. Given her nervousness, it wouldn't take Neji much effort to figure out that she was flustered about the fact that he wanted to know, which meant there was something to know, because if there was nothing to know then she would have just laughed it off and said that she just saw him as a friend and teammate.
Her mind on overdrive, the bun-haired girl again nervously turned away from the white-eyed shinobi and stared into the shivering dark water, illuminated only slightly by the soft glow of the fireflies circling around the river's edge. Oh how she wished they would all just fly away and let the darkness of the night engulf her so she could disappear from the all-seeing Hyuga eyes boring hole into her head and reading her mind. She was a ninja for crying out loud! Deception was part of the job, and yet when it came to Neji... Tenten couldn't hide anything!
"That's part of it," the Hyuga's voice amusedly chuckled behind her again. She didn't need to ask what he meant by part of it though, as Neji calmly walked up behind the kunoichi and placed a hand on her slouched shoulder. "Part of why I like you."
"What?" the girl spun on her heels again; she was doing that a lot. Staring into his eyes, searching for a clue as to what he meant, but found nothing that betrayed his meaning. So again Tenten asked, "What?"
And then he smiled. Neji smiled that impossibly perfect smile of his that was so rarely ever seen, and always had the effect of making her heart melt. Leaning forward as the tender glow of the fireflies began hovering around them, Neji continued to smile sweetly. He took one hand and gently tucked a loose strand of hair that had fallen from one of her buns behind her ear and softly whispered, "I like how you always give it all away with just one look."
His eyes as he said those words, which felt more precious and sincere than any words Tenten had ever heard up until that moment, were filled with so much love and sincerity that the girl quite literally felt the air rush out of her lungs. They told her not only that he liked her, but also that he understood her.
And then without another thought or question, moving almost entirely on instinct and adrenaline, the bun-haired girl wrapped her arms around the Hyuga's neck and pulled him down to her, pressing her lips against his in the most breath-taking, tender, sweetest kiss imaginable. The kiss could not have lasted for more than a few seconds, but to the kunoichi, it felt like the longest, best, most nerve-wrecking few seconds of her life, and she loved every moment of it. When at last the two pulled apart, both with a mirrored expression of disbelief and joy mingled into together, Tenten confidently smiled and said, "Does that answer the question?"
- THE END -
A/N : I'm finished! it took so long. nothing like a 3-month self-imposed Hiatus to start studying again to motivate me to finish this before I disappear again.
Hope you all enjoyed it... even though it's well passed summer now :P