Hm. I churned this out approximately three minutes ago. Some people thought it wasn't a oneshot, sooo...
LOL this monstrosity turned up. But yes, the story will end here. I will let your minds think of what will come next.
AN: I don't own Naruto. Or saltine crackers.
Oh, he was an odd one all right. He took tests like no other. She laughed about it when she knew he wasn't looking. Maybe they took them for different reasons (really! Her parents didn't have anything else to do?), but she always saw him, sitting in the classroom, taking those tests she hated so much.
She nearly always chose a seat close to him, simply so she could observe him every now and then. He always did the same thing—check the clock approximately five minutes before the exam ended. He would furrow his brows on a tough question and bite his lip when punching in numbers on his calculator. She almost burst out laughing when his pristine exterior broke and he swore under his breath. He had dropped his eraser and knocked his funny bone against the desk.
He was odd.
But somehow, he made it more bearable.
It was like she had…
You know, even if they hadn't said anything to each other.
Yet, Tenten reminded herself. The time would come when he would make the first move, and she would just follow along, and then they would become friends, and if she played along…
She sighed and set her pencil down.
She really should say something.
Most of the time, he was there before her, reading up on the material, sharpening pencils with methodical turns.
Most of the time, she just ate her saltine crackers. They were good. Why not? And maybe if the myth was right, her IQ would go up a few points.
With each crunch, a bit of the crumbs would litter the desk and she would absentmindedly brush them to the floor.
Tenten never liked the exams.
The mechanical pencil rule was utter blasphemy. The bathroom breaks were too short for her liking. And she hated it when the schools didn't have any signs (she had been late far too many times because she got lost).
He never seemed to have any bladder or directional or pencil problems.
Did he even know she was there?
She could only naively hope that their eyes just conveniently missed each other. Heck, she never even made eye contact with him. How could she possibly hold a conversation?
What did his voice sound like?
Tenten wanted so badly to smile at him or something.
Tomorrow, she promised herself. I will say something tomorrow.
There was an exam—it was highly likely the guy would be there.
She was tired of waiting for him to make the first move.
If he didn't say something by tomorrow, she would take matters into her own hands.
That morning, she brought the largest pack of crackers yet for good luck. This wasn't just a normal test day. It was the day when she would finally get to say something to him.
Preferably without humiliating herself.
She arrived in the classroom early—one of the few times it ever happened. To her surprise, she was the first one. Looking around carefully, Tenten chose a seat near the window and began taking out her pencils. Out of nervousness, the pack of saltines was on her desk. She hastily opened it and ate a cracker. The salt calmed her nerves.
A creak of the door drew her attention, and her eyes followed the source of the noise. Tenten's eyes brightened. Good. He came.
The odd boy chose his seat near hers. The room was so quiet she could hear him exhale. He shifted his head slightly, eyes almost meeting hers. She saw his mouth open slightly.
And then he turned around again.
She let out a huff of disappointment.
It looked like he was going to say something.
Maybe she would have to wait a little more.
He was hunched over his desk, long hair covering his face. The books and pencils and calculator were out again, and his eyebrows were furrowed
Hm. Tough problem.
Tenten tried not to laugh. Did he ever stop studying?
Break time finally rolled around, concluding the first half of the exam. Tenten stretched her limbs which had grown stiff. Her back cracked a little. Then, she reached under her desk for the crackers stored there. She got up and went out into the hallway, stuffing the snacks into her mouth.
"I see you always have that as a snack."
The crackers almost fell out of her mouth. She looked up, and he was standing there, looking slightly flustered. Tenten was tongue tied.
Holy…never mind. His voice was too perfect to be described in words.
But even better—he had said something.
The guy's eyes averted to the ground. Tenten hastily swallowed. Right. An answer about now would be good.
"I do. They taste really good."
Oh, why…why did her wit have to fail her at a time like this? She nearly slapped herself. Could she have sounded anymore patheti—
"Really? May I have one?"
He wanted one of her saltines. Her hand was already reaching for the bag to give him one when her mind stopped it. She couldn't give him something that had already been opened. Her germs—right. He wouldn't like that. Tenten looked in his eyes for confirmation.
He stared back, not blinking.
Oh. Wow. He had some really nice eyes…
It was so quiet; she could hear the plastic of the saltine bag crinkling. Her face was heating up.
She needed get away.
So, with a loud laugh, she packed up her crackers and ran, nearly laughing harder when she saw his stunned face.
Not a good first impression.
That thing about not humiliating herself? Terrible foresight.
The next time she saw him was before finals. She had brought him a bag of saltines. When she saw him, she tried to make eye contact, but he turned away, giving her the cold shoulder.
Tenten sighed. Men. So sensitive.
Well, sure, she had laughed—but it wasn't at him by any means. Couldn't she try to explain her behavior? She attempted to make eye contact again, but he refused to meet her gaze.
She sat down, and gave a little cough to gain his attention.
His back stayed stiff.
Tenten tried again. "Aghrmff."
He was still ignoring her.
What did it take to start a conversation? With a deep breath, she decided to cough in the most obnoxious way possible, full of retching and hacking and choking sounds.
His voice finally greeted her ears. "You should get some water or something."
He thought she was sick. Tenten wanted to laugh again. That was cute. "So you finally talked again!"
He didn't respond as he finally looked at her, face tense.
Oh. He was probably still mad.
Well, now would probably be a good time to defend her actions. She reached into her bag and brought out his container of saltines. He was watching intently.
Tenten cleared her throat. "Um, so we've seen each other a lot."
Real smooth there. Fiddling with her hand out of nervousness, she opened the saltines for him. "And you know, last time you asked if you could have a cracker. But I didn't want to contaminate you with my germs or anything, so I got you a pack too."
She glanced up at him.
Would it be enough?
He still wasn't saying anything.
Good job, Tenten. What a great way to embarrass yourself.
Giving an awkward laugh in the silence, she held up the bag. "I hope you haven't changed your mind…you haven't said much."
"I…I uh…Yeah, I'd really like some. Thanks for the uh…crackers," he muttered, looking at her shyly.
So he didn't hate her. Smiling in relief, she slipped the bag into his hands. She observed him as she always did when he took out the first snack. He brought the cracker daintily to his lips, and took a bite.
Tenten held her breath. Would he like it as much as she did?
He chewed intently, contemplatively. Then, to her utter happiness, he reached for another one. "That was really…tasty."
"They are pretty good, right?" she said, quickly grabbing her own crackers so that they could eat together. "I eat them all the time. I know they might be bad for you in the long run, but I just can't help myself."
Somehow, the crackers tasted so much better this time around. "So, what brings you to the testing center? I mean, my parents are just sticklers for grades, so I'm forced to take these dumb tests all the time."
"I take these tests so I can see y—see my scores improve."
How did that not surprise her? Tenten finally let her laugh out. "Nerd."
"I am not. I just wish to get into a good school. Grades are important."
"There is no 'buts' to the truth of that statement."
"Well, actually, I beg to differ."
They had finally made contact. And he was charming. And intriguing. Tenten couldn't help talking to him throughout the remainder of the test time, never so engaged. They chatted through break until it was time to leave, still munching on the crackers she had brought.
It was finally time to part, and Tenten had never felt so upset at leaving a conversation.
"Well, I'll see you later then," she said, waving to the no-longer-a-stranger.
"Yes, I'll see you soon," he said quietly.
She turned on her heel and walked away, frowning. There was something she was forgetting. Something important.
His voice cut through the winter air.
"What's your name?"
That's what it was. It was like he had read her mind. She quickly turned around and yelled back, "I'm Tenten! And you?"
"I'm Neji," he called back.
Neji. That was a nice name. She took a breath of the chilled air to yell back her thoughts. "That's a nice name!"
And then her mother pulled up in her car, and their talk was rudely interrupted. Tenten crawled into the seat, buckling her seat belt and pouting.
"Why the long face?" her mother asked.
Tenten watched him disappear into the distance before she turned back to face her. "Nothing."
That night, Tenten had her phone by her side, checking it every few moments. Would he find it? That number that she had daringly written moments before she left home to take that test?
More importantly, would he take the initiative and use it?
She didn't know if she had the courage to breathe.
A buzz of her phone sent her heart jumping. Leaping on it, she checked the message with shaking hands. It wasn't from any number she had previously recorded. So that meant…
Hello, this is Neji. I'll bring the drinks next time.
Her squeal echoed through the room. Her fingers typed out the first message that came to mind. Would he mind a smiley-face or two? Too excited to care, she sent it.
I'm looking forward to it!
And so their second conversation began and lasted past midnight.
Tenten crawled into her covers, nerves jittery. She knew the saltines couldn't calm them down this time.
Life had never been more perfect.
And END. Thanks for reading Saltines!
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Love, Ms. S