Final installment. Happy Valentine's Day! When everything calms down with my life, I will for SURE update the rest of my stories. Just...after I get the motivation.
Thank you for all the reviews on the past chapter! I've read all of them, I only wish I could get off my lazy butt and reply to them. You are the best readers, and your support is not unnoticed.
AN: I only own the plot. Naruto and its affiliated characters...yeah, they're not mine.
One year later.
Neji took a deep breath, rubbing his now clammy hands against his pant legs. What was the best way to go around this? He didn't really know.
Sasuke looked at him with a pitying glance, which he returned with a stoic glare of his own: "I don't want your input."
His colleague shrugged his shoulders and took a sip of wine. "You were the one who wanted to rant; I'm just a listening ear here."
Neji sighed. After Sasuke had gotten married he had taken it upon himself to preach the highlights and horrors of a married life. It really had been the wedding of the century...he distinctly remembered Sakura crying during vows, cake cutting, and the after party; but more importantly how excited Tenten had been that she was actually viewing a wedding in first person. And his secretary had, in his vision, looked more beautiful than the bride, cheeks flushed with emotion to contrast against her pale green dress.
But of course, he had been unable to tell her that at the time, too preoccupied with his own feelings—did she like him, or was that night just a fluke? Did she know that he liked her? So he had kept his mouth clamped shut, watching her from the sidelines...
"Oh stop brooding, you're going to turn into a statue if you keep your brows furrowed like that," said Sasuke.
"You don't know what it's like," Neji snapped.
Sasuke raised his eyebrows. "I'm married. I proposed. I went through internal debates, like you're doing right now. How would I not know?"
"Nevermind," Neji grumbled.
The door clicked open, and a head of brown hair popped in. Tenten looked around before sheepishly smiling and stepping in, handing Neji a pile of documents. "These just came in, and they're important; so I decided to deliver them first hand. Take a look at them when possible?"
Neji nodded, taking the time to look her in the eye before taking the documents, "Thanks." She blushed a little, did a tiny bow, and left the two men alone again.
Sasuke let the awkward silence sit for a moment before replying, "You look so infatuated that it makes me sick. I can feel the barf coming up already."
"Keep it up, and I'm terminating the contract."
"Woah. No need to get so harsh...personal matters interfering with your business life now?"
Neji answered that comment with pursed lips and a hard stare. "I loathe you."
"Oh, I know," Sasuke smirked, taking another drink of wine. "But that's why we're friends. Now, I think I've had enough of your negative and atrocious attitude. Goodbye. I'll send someone over with consolation flowers when she rejects you."
His encounter with his uncle wasn't much better.
"You getting a ring on your finger yet?"
"It's getting there."
"Which means you're still too much of a coward to do anything," Hiashi said with a frown, putting down his chopsticks. "I think you should have changed since the last time we met, but you still lack initiative even after Tenten has been with you. I don't even oppose you two getting together. In fact, I would rather like the idea of you two procreating so I may have little tiny nieces and nephews. Goodness knows, you may be the only hope we have left. Hinata has been slow on the uptake. She and that blonde idiot have been together for who knows how long, and I bet they haven't even kissed yet."
"She and that blonde idiot—his name is Naruto, uncle—are getting along fine. As are Tenten and I. Perhaps we will wait a little longer, make sure it is the right thing to do—"
Hiashi slammed a fist on the table. Everyone in the cafe turned around to look at them.
Neji slouched in his seat. There was really no arguing with him.
"If you had it your way, you would wait until both of you were old and infertile."
Neji decided not to mention that men were able to produce sperm even well into old age. Sighing, he rubbed his temples. "On a scale from one to ten, how badly do you want me to be married?"
"Ten," Hiashi said instantly. "The company needs an heir, and I need nieces and nephews. And you, of all people, need someone to be there with you to soak up your loneliness and negativity. Someone who will love you unconditionally...and I'm not talking about golden retrievers. You don't look like the type to like dogs anyways. Just get a damn ring on your finger...I'm sick of looking at how empty they are."
Neji didn't say anything, but he was sick of them looking like that too.
They were going to that little restaurant again. Tenten never got tired of the place: it was now like their own little meeting place outside of work. But more importantly, she was waiting.
She had been waiting for over one year.
Seriously, he was so slow sometimes.
She frowned at her reflection in the mirror. And she didn't change as well...she was still preoccupied with her somewhat lack of physical beauty. She had a date today, and her hair still refused to stay in some semblance of attractiveness.
Ino had stopped by the other day to offer some love advice. "Just jump him. Not too difficult."
"I can't do that," she had answered, flushing from head to toe.
"Oh please. Still bound by societal expectations? The guy has to make the first move? Get some spunk in you, dammit. Show him you care. Hell, if he doesn't propose, you might as well go ring shopping with me and propose to him," Ino had scoffed, finishing another layer of nail polish."Now get going, or else you're going to stay in this repetitive circle until you're pruny and can no longer have babies."
So there she was, still feeling mildly insecure. Tenten took a breath. Did he really care? It had been a year already...not counting the time spent together as just boss and secretary...or those seven years prior. And she was getting tired of waiting.
Her phone rang, a cheerful jingle that contrasted starkly against her nervous nature.
She picked up, and Neji's voice came over the line. Instantly, her heart jumped faster, butterflies blowing a storm in her stomach. "Hi," she said breathlessly.
"Hello," he stated, polite as always. "You coming?"
"Yeah, I'll be down right away."
They arrived in minutes, stepping into the place's warm interior that seemed to embrace them each time they came. A haughty looking man looked down at them, glaring under the bridge of his nose. "How may I help you?"
"Like most people who come here, we came to eat," Neji replied dryly.
"As you can see, two."
Neji rolled his eyes, which elicited a small laugh from Tenten as the waiter led them to a small table near the window. As they sat down, Tenten looked outside, where the various lights were brightening the dark of the night. "It's really pretty outside," she commented quietly. "Even more so than usual."
Neji's head followed her gaze. There was a small pause, and from the corner of her eye, Tenten saw a small smile flit over his features. "I suppose it is."
And suddenly, she wasn't looking at the lights anymore, but at Neji. All she could think about was how he was still perfect as always...dressed sharply no matter what fabric graced his body. But an even bigger thought loomed over her, more than those of Neji's body, and face, and smile...(which was saying something).
She took a sip of ice water. How long were they going to keep dating? Not that she was opposed to that—dating was fine. Dating was great. Heck, even the company didn't mind their relationship ("We knew it for a while," Shikamaru had drawled. "We even placed bets. I won"). But was she the only one who wanted...more? Wanted him to whip a ring out of his pocket and declare his love for her, and ask her to stay with him forever? Would she have to hint to him that she wanted him to propose?
Love was complicated.
"Thinking again?" Neji's voice rang against her ears.
She stirred her drink with a fork, perusing the menu with unfocused eyes. "Yeah."
"Care for some advice?"
Should she let him in?
Tenten took a breath, thought for a moment, then spoke again. "Say, hypothetically, that you had a friend. And this friend has been in a relationship for about a year. But the guy she's dating seems a little dense. She wants to—" here, she choked on her words a little, "—uh, prolong their relationship in a certain, more intimate way. But the guy doesn't—hasn't really pointed out that he wants to go there. What would you tell her?"
She looked up at him hopefully. Neji was staring at his laps, eyebrows furrowed in mild concentration. After a while, he said, "I don't really know. I've never experienced something like that..."
It felt as if her bubble of happiness and been violently stabbed with a sword, put back together again, then stabbed again. A wave of disappointment hit her, and she tried to avoid showing on her face. "Oh, I see," she said, voice shaking only slightly. She hoped he wouldn't notice.
"But I would tell her to wait for the guy to get enough guts to do something. And that should be the turning point of their relationship," he finished quietly.
That was new.
So Tenten waited the entire length of the date for Neji to do something, but as always, he surprised her by sending her back to her apartment with a light kiss to her lips.
And that was it.
When she got to her room, she felt like crying. And breaking something...namely Neji's face, for being such a complete snail. Was it too much to ask for a little hint? Just one? Apparently so. And worst of all, she knew she was acting like a spoiled brat. The cliche—oh, best friends to relationship to break up and then relationship again was so reflective of their story, but the guy always asked the girl in the end, and then they lived happily ever after.
And it looked like Neji was not really going to get around to that last part.
Had he screwed up? Oh, yes. Beyond normal proportions. He had screwed up so majorly that even Hinata would give him a pitying glance.
The light velvet box was still pressing against his leg, reminding him of how cowardly and nervous he had been. And hell, he knew he should have done it, and he was absolutely beating himself up over it, because he deserved it.
He took a breath and ran a hand through his hair. He would try again.
Trying again was a lot harder than he thought it would be. Over the next month, their schedules barely matched up at all. The most they would get to see each other was at work, and that was really no consolation since he couldn't touch her. Finally, a spot opened up for both of them, and they agreed to go somewhere different to change the pace a bit. Besides, he wanted to get it right this time. Neji thoughtfully chose a place a bit farther away than they were used to—an hour's drive on a Friday night.
There was a storm forecast that day, but he wasn't too worried. Since when was the weatherman right?
It was midway through their dinner when the rain suddenly came down in torrents, hitting the windows so loudly that Neji swore they would leave dents. The roof, though sturdy and well-made, creaked slightly. Tenten's face held a little concern, but Neji reassured her.
"It's just a bit of rain. Nothing too big."
She laughed. "It's a good thing we have your car. Otherwise, imagine how horrible it would be to walk to this lovely restaurant, then freeze your butt off on your way back home."
Neji's hand was slipping into his pocket, fingers cold and clammy. Minutes ticked by, and he still didn't take out the ring.
I'll do it at 7:30, he promised himself.
7:30 arrived, and he missed it by a few seconds. He'd make it 7:45.
Then 7:45 came and gone, and Neji knew his chances were done.
No, they weren't, he insisted, gripping the velvet box tight in his hand. He would just drop her off at her place, she would invite him in for a drink or so, and then he'd drop down on one knee in the privacy of her own home. Yes, that was the way to go.
It was 8:00. Neji let out a light cough and waved his hand. The tiny waiter scurried for the bill.
Lightning sent a crack down the sky.
Tenten cringed. "It's terrible outside. I can't wait till we get back."
"Agreed," said Neji, so they packed up their things and left after paying for their meal.
And then their night went downhill.
They laughed at first, getting drenched on the way to the car. Well, more of Tenten laughing and Neji scowling on the outside but laughing on the inside. Heck, Tenten was happy. That was all he needed. And besides, she would be his fiancee soon. At least, that's what he hoped.
Neji unlocked the car doors, and they stepped in, soaking the seats with water droplets. Tenten's well-made hairstyle was now dripping in rat-tails around her neck. Neji's suit was cold, wet, and sticking very uncomfortably to his body. He started the engine, waiting for the heat of the car.
Except, it didn't come, because the engine didn't start. He scowled and tried again. There was a faint rumble, but no roar. He groaned and his head thumped back against his seat. "You have got to be kidding me."
"Try again," Tenten insisted, "And press the gas at the same time. That usually works."
He tried five more times before giving up. "Fuck," he swore under his breath. Just his luck. The one time he actually knew what the hell he was going to do, his car engine had to die out on him. "Well, we can't stay in a car for the rest of the night. I'll call to get it towed, and we'll find a place to stay."
"Can't we just take a taxi back?" she asked, teeth beginning to chatter in the cold.
Neji shook his head."I don't even want to spend any time waiting outside. It's dangerous, and we could get very, very sick. Plus, do you think anyone would want to drive in this weather?"
"Then what do you suggest we do?"
Her lips were turning blue.
"There's a motel not too far from here. We'll walk there and spend the night, and when the weather clears up, we'll take a taxi back." He reached for the spare umbrella in the back and handed it to her, smiling. "Hope you won't mind sharing."
She laughed and pushed the car door open. Rain sloshed in, hitting the car so it sounded like maraca beats. The umbrella didn't do much to prevent the cold wind and water from steeping into their very bones, Neji's hands were so freezing that they felt numb. Tenten wasn't much better off—each step she took shook. The motel, as crummy as it was, never looked more inviting, and when the shelter finally enveloped them, all they could do was sigh in relief at its warmth.
Neji nervously patted his pocket, just to make sure the ring was still there. Then he went to check in, and the acne-faced youth at the table eyed Tenten in a way that made him want to punch him. The douche-bag handed him a pair or rusty keys, then pointed to his right. The exchange happened without a word.
Neji nodded to Tenten. "This way."
He sent a glare back at the receptionist-man, hoping it would deter him from even thinking about Tenten. The man looked away quickly, whispering angrily under his breath—
That was right. The little man was not even allowed to make eye contact with her, lest Neji go after him and rip his gizzard out.
Tenten didn't seem to notice Neji's evil eye, and instead prodded him with her cold fingers. "You going to move?"
Neji rolled his eyes, distracted slightly by her cold frame and the clothes that stuck to her body in a very attractive manner. "Of course. Always straightforward, aren't you?"
She sent back the grin that he loved so much. "You know me so well."
She followed him like a wet kitten, shivering but never saying a word of complaint, collapsing on the bed (probably infested with cockroaches) with a sigh.
"Take a hot shower," he ordered, immediately stripping himself of his wet clothes. He caught the way her eyes lingered on his naked torso, and felt a rush of excitement. She looked away just as quickly. "Sure," she said, stepping into the small bathroom, wringing out her wet hair on the way.
Her clothes were sticking to her body.
Neji gulped and turned his gaze to look at the mustard colored walls.
Not good at all.
He took off most of his clothes (wet clothing was only good for catching hypothermia) and snuggled deep into his blanket, breathing deeply. He hadn't touched her for a month. How was he supposed to last when they were alone together in a cruddy hotel? Sure the choice of location wasn't ideal, but...
Moments later, Tenten stepped out with only a towel around her, looking sheepishly around. Neji swallowed some spit that had found its way into his mouth. "Can you turn the heat up a little? There are no bathrobes in a place like this, so...uh...I dried myself off as much as possible. Don't want to be walking around naked," she said with a little laugh.
No. That was a really good idea.
He really needed to stop listening to his lower half.
Neji coughed. "There's a dryer a bit further down the hall...put something over yourself for a while, just so you won't be only wearing a towel when you wait for our clothes to dry. I'll take a shower in the meantime. If you don't have enough change, I've got quite a few quarters in my pocket."
"Okay," she agreed, grabbing some spare sheets and bundling them up around herself. He left for the bathroom, content that she had put something over her exposed skin. He didn't want to tell her it was mostly for his own sanity. He stripped himself of his underwear and stepped into the perfectly steaming hot water that smelled oddly of sulfur.
The water around him echoed in the perpetual rainstorm outside.
He just wanted to propose. Was that too much to ask?
And then, after washing his hair with the puny amount of shampoo the motel provided, a terrible thought came to mind.
Tenten had been the worst distraction possible. The moment she stepped out of the steaming bathroom, his mind had strayed to her, and possibly some indecent things they would do later.
But he had forgotten a very important, very small object in the pocket of his pants that she was now going to dry.
So, Neji was in the shower.
Sure, Tenten had seen him naked before, but the thought of water trickling down every dip and curve on his body still sent a tingle down her spine.
She groaned and mentally slapped herself. She was allowed to think these thoughts, but if she told him he would probably just look at her oddly.
Because she still needed that little shred of dignity that was left, right?
The sheets were warm around her body. She bent down to pick up the cold, wet clothing that had been beaten to death by the rain. Seriously, how bad was their luck? They would laugh about it later, but right now she was just pissed. Not pissed at Neji, nor his car, or even the fact that she was just wearing a towel and sheets. She was upset because...well, who wouldn't be if a perfectly good date went so awry?
She grabbed the keys off the hook on the wall and trudged down the hall in her bare feet, carrying the clothes in her arms. It had been a long time since she had used a dryer that required money.
She dropped the clothes on a nearby shelf and set the settings for the dryer. Then, she perused pockets for any stuff that might be in them. She had learned her lesson—last time, she made the mistake of leaving a pen in her pocket when she washed her white suit. So when she pulled it out, it looked like it had been tie-dyed.
Searching pockets was necessary. And besides, Neji's pockets had change. That was reason enough.
She began fishing in her pockets first, pulling out hair ties and lip-gloss. She set them on the floor haphazardly. She would deal with them later, when they weren't in some fishy motel in the middle of the rainstorm.
Then came his pockets.
The first was empty, since his wallet and keys were back in the room.
And then she dug into his other pocket, and her fingers met something that was not change.
From the touch, it was a soggy, velvet box.
Her heart jumped so fast she thought it would explode. The shock sent a rush of adrenaline that pounded in her ears, loud and clear, harsh and unrelenting. She nearly dropped the thing back into his pocket.
Half of her wanted to deny its existence. Maybe she was...catching a cold. Yes, a really bad cold, and was now hallucinating some very real fantasies that had been haunting her for an incredibly long time.
Because it just wasn't possible.
With a shaking breath, she followed her guts and took it out. And then, she nearly dropped it again, but out of awe. It was dark blue with intricate silver stitching on the sides. The hinge was gold. She marveled at how well it fit in her cupped hand, rotating it, looking at it, wanting to embed it in her memory forever.
She crouched down, noticing how the box looked so beautiful like she had always dreamed such a box would look when the moment came.
She had to control her breathing.
She hadn't even opened it and she already felt like she was going to cry.
And then Tenten wanted to do something daring.
If it really was what she thought it was...
And before she knew it, her fingers were prying the box open. The hinge snapped open at the right moment, and coupled with black felt was a ring of white gold. It sparkled even in the fluorescent blue lighting of the motel hallway, the delicately wrought designs holding in aquamarines and diamonds. Shaking fingers she saw to be her own reached out and touched it, confirming its existence.
It was real.
Her legs couldn't take it anymore, and she slumped to the ground, heart pounding and face smiling so widely that it was contagious. She buried her face in her hands, wiping away tears that decided they didn't want to stop flowing out with the side of her palms.
It was a ring. A ring for her.
He loved her. He wanted to marry her.
A little sob came out of her throat. She was incredulous, but also so very, very relieved and it felt like the world was suddenly ten times brighter than before and she loved it. Tenten couldn't quite place the exact feeling...it was excitement, a bit of apprehension of what would come ahead (but she was sure they would overcome it somehow), and an insane amount of love.
She never pegged herself as the emotional type, but the surprise was...well, a surprise beyond proportions, and it was finally hitting her full force. Tenten began to choke up sobs, then tilted her head back as if it could send the tears back where they came from. All she could taste was tears, and she quickly planted her face into the sheets, hoping it would soak them up and muffle her unattractive gasping crying noises. A few seconds lapsed, and all that remained of her embarrassing cry-fest were red rimmed eyes and a crimson colored nose. Not the best, but better than having boogers and water dripping down her face.
Tenten sighed happily, biting her lip that refused to stop smiling.
She still couldn't believe it. But more important than the ring was the person who thought of such a lovely, beautiful thing.
She got up quickly, wanting to tell Neji how much she loved it and how much she loved him.
Then she stopped.
No, he couldn't find out that she knew. It wasn't for her to receive right then and there. She might be ruining months of planning or something that he had set up. So she hastily stuck the box back into the pocket. But as she was about to set the pants into the dryer, her heart wrenched. How could such a perfect thing be subject to the rough and tumble of a dryer? She didn't have the guts to ruin the box.
Yet, Tenten wanted to see Neji's face flustered and embarrassed, getting the strength to finally propose to her.
Maybe she would put it back.
She didn't want him to know.
He was too late.
The moment he realized, Neji had shot out of the shower, drying his hair hastily and wrapping a bunch of sheets around him as Tenten had done. Then he rushed down the hallway, looking like a complete idiot, hoping to catch her before she discovered anything—
But of course, everything just had to be ruined.
She was sitting on the floor, examining the box, with the other clothes safely tucked into the now rotating dryer. Her eyes were puffy and she was sniffling, and the first thought that came to his mind was that she hated it and that she was disappointed, because hell, if he was in her position, he probably would have despised it too.
But she found it.
His heart stopped in his chest.
This was not supposed to be part of the plan.
"I didn't want you to find out like this."
He had voiced his thoughts.
That wasn't part of the plan either.
Her face snapped to meet him. It was filled with so much love and happiness, completely contrasting his initial thoughts on her condition. Before he could get in another word, she began hiccuping, before finally choking out: "What are you talking about?" She abandoned the laundry and ran to meet him, leaping an extra two feet to wrap her arms around him and pull him into a kiss.
How could she be so content?
They broke apart after a gentle push from Neji. He needed to acknowledge something. He was...alright with the fact that she was happy, but then again, she was Tenten. She didn't know what a true, really romantic, perfect proposal's guidelines and standards were.
And if it were for a grade, his proposal would have flunked into the deep end.
"I messed up," he said quietly. "You were supposed to get the best proposal in the world. Better than Sasuke's, for one. You weren't supposed to find the ring in my pocket after a damn night in a rainstorm in some crappy motel down the street. I wanted it to be...special."
She kissed him again, to his surprise. "It is special."
Why was she so...accepting? So happy? Didn't she want—
"It's you, Neji," she said with a smile. "I don't need something too fancy. You know me."
He gulped. Simply because it was him, she was willing to take something less than perfect?
He was so glad she was his girlfriend.
There was a pause.
"And besides," she said with a joking tone, resting her wet hair on his sheet-covered chest, "You've won. You should be happier about it."
"What is it I have won, exactly?" he asked dryly. "Humiliation?"
"No," she answered, rolling her eyes. "The bet. You've won the bet."
"Would you like to bet on that?"
"Would. You. Like. To. Bet. On. What. You. Just. Said. In other words, if you can handle, and I quote, 'any shit I can pull out' as my secretary, I will give you something in return. And if you fail, you will give me something in return. That's how bets work. Or did you not know what they were in the countryside?"
"I know what a bet is."
"I'm glad. So do you accept?"
"If I didn't take the opportunity to completely humiliate you and rub your face into the dirt, I would be an idiot."
That bet? From the beginning of their unique relationship?
"Since you see, I really can't handle this," she said sheepishly. Her eyes were downcast, as if she was trying to stop something from coming out of them. She sniffed—whether it was from crying or the cold he couldn't tell.
She couldn't handle it?
"You mean...you don't want the ring?" Neji asked quietly, waiting for her answer. She still hadn't said what he wanted her to.
"I may come from the countryside, but I am clearly not as dumb as you are," Tenten said, punching him lightly on the arm. "Ask me for real."
"Here? In a motel?"
She scowled impatiently. "Do you know me? I don't care about location! I don't care about anything except for you. Now ask me, dammit, before I change my mind."
And because he panicked, he went on his instinct, doing what he had spent hours practicing for in front of his mirror.
Yes, he had practiced, perhaps for as long as Tenten had been waiting for him. And now, it was finally the time to show off what he planned.
Neji slid down so one knee contacted the floor, drew her hand towards him and pressed it to his lips.
The look on her face was one that he wanted to capture forever.
"We've been through a lot together," he began softly. "That first meeting we had when we were young...I can't believe it would evolve into a relationship that has made me rethink all of my morals on business and personal life. You are the one that has changed me. We've had our ups and downs, our good times and bad times, but despite it all, I'd rather be with you than anyone else."
And, because it was so characteristic of her, Tenten's previous confidence melted from her face in an instant. The moment he got down, he could see the changes in her face and posture and how her hand flew to her mouth in a clenched fist, as it if would protect her from what he was about to say.
She had asked for it, didn't she?
And hell, he was going to work with whatever shitty situation he was in to make it the best shitty situation proposal she would ever get.
Neji gulped, somehow unable to look her straight in the eye without getting a tingling feeling in his tear ducts. Tears were going down her face. But unlike many times before, they were not...bad tears, tears of anguish or hurt or anger. They were tears of relief and acceptance and pure and utter...
"We're supposed to be together. Otherwise, how would we have ever gotten back together like this?"
She choked back a sob, nodding her head slightly, hand clenching against his.
And then the words came out that he had been meaning to say for a very, very long time. They lifted a weight off his shoulders, and in that moment, Neji felt more free than he had ever been. "Let us be happy together, angry together, sad together until old age—teach me more, change me more, let me into your heart more. You are more than just a girl, and a friend. I want you to be my wife. So mar—"
He was cut off by a kiss, so forceful and full of love that he couldn't resist kissing her back. It wasn't sexual, or chaste, but it was the best lip-to-lip contact he had ever had.
"Yes, yes, yes," she was muttering, tears staining the bedsheets on his shoulders. "Don't say it again, or my heart will really burst...I've been waiting—oh God, how I've been waiting!"
Neji took the box from her trembling fingers and placed the ring on her finger, kissing it gently. She laughed and hugged him tightly. "I'll be getting you a ring soon too, so then your uncle won't be complaining about naked fingers all the time."
"Looking forward to it," he said, still hardly believing that he was now engaged.
And she had said yes.
There was the most interesting, uplifting feeling in his stomach, as if a rage of helium balloons was throwing a celebratory festivity, and the euphoria that was spreading through his veins made him feel warmer than he had ever been. Together, they leaned back against the peeling yellow walls of the motel, next to drying laundry which was tumbling with gentle thumps.
Her damp head found its way into the crook of his shoulder. He rested his cheek against Tenten. A smirk wove its way up to his face. "...So, I've won, right? What are you giving me in return?"
She looked up indignantly. "What more do you want?"
Ah, always the same.
"Give me something. Anything."
Tenten pondered it for a moment. "Business proposals." She saw the look on his face and laughed. "I'm joking, just joking! Lighten up a bit."
She paused, smiling softly. "Here's something cheesy for you. I owe you my heart."
Neji grimaced. "That is cheesy," me muttered, earning him a bright grin of apology. But, he brought out an arm to encircle her waist, drawing her body up closer against his. Smiling now became a little more natural for him, and he realized he was doing it while talking to her. He closed his eyes, heart settling to a peaceful stream of thought that only happened when he was around Tenten. "It's cheesy," he whispered, "But I'll take it."
Thanks for sticking around for this entire story; it was planned out which is a first for me.
And fortunately, it followed the plan! Five chapters total, and all long and beautiful.
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