Notes: Happy Valentine's Day! - GB


"No. Absolutely not."

Imaginary hearts broke to pieces in the air, clouds covered the sun, flowers wilted and Rock Lee's lower lip trembled. Tenten felt a chill move down her spine and she quickly averted her eyes so she wouldn't have to see the overly-dramatic tears filling Lee's.

"But, Tenten, this is a mission for youthful love everywhere! If Sakura doesn't receive my valentine, how will she understand the depths of our glowing romance? What if she begins to think that our flame of love has dimmed and I have left her cold and alone and abandoned on this, the most sacred of holidays?"

The willpower it took not to roll her eyes was epic. Really. She deserved an award. "Then you give it to her, Lee. It's your valentine, it'll mean more coming from you." Not to mention there was a Top Shotmarathon on that evening and she had a pint of extra cookie dough ice cream waiting for her. She appreciated the thought of Valentine's Day but she wasn't the kind of girl to get overly sentimental about it. Unlike the dewy-eyed idiot wibbling before her.

"I would but I think...I think..." Lee paused and Tenten glanced at him, surprised to find him looking rather contemplative, as if something was weighing on his mind. "I think it would be best coming from a friend. I know that Sakura still thinks of Sasuke so..." He smiled weakly. "I just want her to know I care."

Tenten's heart gave a twinge. She sighed. As if she could say 'no' to that. Besides, positive reinforcement of mature behavior when it came to the Green Beasts was essential. The other day she'd given Gai-sensei a batch of cookies when he'd actually used his indoor voice during a demonstration at the Academy. She'd stopped short of patting him on the head.

"Fine, I'll take it to her."

The sun came out, flowers bloomed, birds sang and hearts pinged in the air as Rock Lee threw his octopus arms around her and hugged her until her ribs creaked.

"Thank you, Tenten! I could trust only you with this mission! I know you will not fail as my messenger of loooooooooove~!"

Heaven help her.

With it being late in the afternoon, Sakura was most likely at the hospital so Tenten slowly made her way there, navigating the streets of Konoha with Lee's huge, tightly-folded paper heart under her arm. She didn't know what he had written on it and she wasn't about to look - she had a sneaking suspicion that it involved glitter as she had somehow gotten it all over hands. Besides, Lee's feelings were his own and she respected that, even if she thought the romance was doomed to end one-sided.

Strolling down the street, enjoying the breeze as the sun hovered over the horizon, sinking, she supposed the errand she was on wasn't so bad. The weather was nice and clear and she saw several people hurrying in and out of the local gift shops, heart-red packages tucked under their arms as they scurried for last minute gifts. She stopped once to hold a store-front door for a little elderly man with a giant stuffed bear about twice his size. He smiled and thanked her and she felt her heart warm a little as she moved on.

In past years, she had always been slightly bothered by not having a special someone on Valentine's Day, until she'd realized that none of her shinobi friends usually did either. It came with the territory, she supposed. While still in training, they had little time to cultivate romantic relationships and, as she'd grown, she'd come to understand that Valentine's Day was a holiday for those that could afford to love. That was not to say that, as a ninja, she'd never find love, just that it would always come second to her duty. Only a fellow ninja could really understand that.

"Oi, Tenten! Hey, hey, hey!"

Her eyebrow twitched as Naruto came windmilling to a stop next to her, falling into step at her side. He was out of breath and holding a big box of chocolates that smelled heavenly. She thought sorrowfully of her chocolaty ice cream at home, all alone in her freezer, uneaten.

"Hey, whatcha got there? A valentine?" Naruto's eyebrows waggled and his face got all sneaky. "Who's it for, huh?"

She looked him at sideways. "It's not mine. I'm delivering it for Lee. It's for Sakura."

"WHAT?" The screeching, rock concert decibel of Naruto's voice gave her an instant headache. She thought her ears might be bleeding. "What does Fuzzy Eyebrows think he's doing, giving Sakura a valentine?"

Was this a trick question? "Uhm, he's giving her... a valentine."

"I can't believe it!" The sneaky slid into Naruto's features again. "Sakura is going to get myvalentine. Lemme see it!" And he plucked the folded paper heart out of her arms and ran like hell, a dust trail rising in his wake.

For a moment, she stood there in complete shock, so confounded she felt her jaw drop open, and then she burst into a run after him.

"Naruto! Give that back! What do you think you're doing?"

He glanced back over his shoulder at her, correctly reading the murderous thoughts she was having, and yelped in terror, increasing his speed. He shouldered his way between couples heading out for dinner, barely keeping from running over a group of school children playing in the street. She followed, gritting her teeth, already feeling her shoes start to hurt her feet. She was wearing a pair of wooden sandals Ino had given her for the ceremony they'd both attended that morning at the Academy and they had not been made for a marathon sprint across the village. The sandals clacked against the sidewalk with every step and her dress - a pretty floral print also borrowed from Ino, fluttered around her knees. She was sure she looked like a valentine-crazed girl chasing down a man on the streets.

She was going to killNaruto. After punching him in the face and breaking his nose in a satisfactory manner.

She was just giving this gleeful thought the mental consideration it deserved when her sandal caught on an uneven crack in the sidewalk and down she went.

No, she was going to murderhim.

With a huff that ruffled the wild tendrils of hair escaping from her twin buns, she sat there for a moment, taking stock. She'd scraped her left knee and ripped a small hole in the hem of Ino's dress. Not to mention her butt felt fairly bruised. Lovely.

"Tenten, a..are you all right?"

She glanced up to find Hinata making her way towards her from across the street, a concerned look on her face as she neared. The young Hyuuga had a small box clutched in one hand, her other reaching out to hesitantly touch Tenten's shoulder.

"I'm fine," Tenten replied wryly, "or I will be after I get my hands on Naruto." She rose, wincing at the pull on her knee. She slipped off her sandals and bent down to pick them up, slipping two fingers through them. It wasn't much farther to the hospital, she could go barefoot.


"Yes, he took off with Lee's..." Tenten paused, suddenly eyeing Hinata closely. Knowing the younger girl, the small box she was clutching was probably a valentine for Naruto. Tenten changed what she had been about to say. "Are you looking for him too?" she guessed.

"Urm...well..." Hinata's face resembled an over-ripe tomato.

Tenten smiled. "Perfect. Would you like to walk with me?" Hinata's fashionable volcanic-red look faded a bit and she smiled shyly.


They walked slowly, Tenten swinging her sandals as they headed towards the hospital. She was sure that was where Naruto had been heading since that's where Sakura was most likely to be. If she planned it right...

"Is that a valentine for Naruto?" she asked lightly, glancing at the perfectly wrapped box. Hinata's face turned that alarming shade of red again. Tenten took that as a 'yes'. "He's very lucky to have someone that cares about him."

Hinata's pale eyes peeked over at her. " think so?"

Definitely, since Tenten was about to break several of his bones. He'd need someone willing to clean up after.

"Of course," she answered, bumping her shoulder gently against the other girl's. "You're a lovely girl, Hinata. He's very lucky indeed."

Hinata blushed again but she was smiling and she looked over at Tenten with a straight-forward gaze. "You're lovely too, Tenten."

Tenten laughed kindly. "You're sweet to say so." She held one of the hospital doors open for the Hyuuga heir and stepped in after her, the soles of her feet turning cold against the smooth tiles.

Haruno Sakura looked up from the clip board she was holding and blinked at the two of them. "Tenten, Hinata...are you two okay?"

"Thank goodness," Tenten breathed out. "Sakura, have you seen Naruto?"

The pink-haired medic shook her head. "No, but I just got out of-"


Naruto came sailing up the hallway from the rear of the hospital. He was still holding on to Lee's paper heart as well as his own box of chocolates but the moment he saw Tenten, he came to a screeching halt, watching her as if she were some sort of predator that was going to eat him alive right there in front of witnesses.

Which she might.

"Naruto," she said pleasantly, "there you are. Thank you for offering to deliver Lee's valentine to Sakura. That was really nice of you." Naruto's mouth dropped open, Sakura blinked again, but Hinata smiled and Tenten knew she was doing the right thing. Tenten tilted her head towards the younger girl. "Hinata has something to give you too."

Naruto's gaze shifted to Hinata who was bordering on code red again and, crazily enough, he handed Sakura Lee's paper heart without a word. He seemed stunned. "Hinata?"

Hinata shuffled forward as if every inch was costing her years off her life. "Ha..Happy Valentine's Day, Naruto." She offered him the small, neatly wrapped box and he took it, big, clumsy fingers brushing Hinata's.

"Thanks," he said, still sounding as if he wasn't getting enough air. Maybe she wouldn't break his nose after all.

Hinata smiled shyly at him and Naruto just continued to stare at her as if he'd never seen her before until Tenten finally cleared her throat. The sound made him jump and when he looked over at her, she lifted her eyebrows and meaningfully glanced at the chocolates he was still holding. She knew he had probably meant them for Sakura, but if he not totally an idiot he would-

"Hinata, here," he said, handing her the box. "These are for you." And wonder of wonders, Naruto was looking a little flushed himself, his eyes sparkling. "Happy Valentine's Day."

And he leaned forward and gave Hinata a quick kiss on the cheek.

Mount Hinata finally erupted under the weight of so much attention. Tenten had now officially seen everything. She left Naruto to deal with the puddle of goo that was now the Hyuuga heir and crossed over to the reception desk where Sakura was standing, a perplexed look on her face. She held up Lee's gigantic cut-out heart.

"Is this supposed to be a squirrel?"

Both girls tilted their heads to look at it better.

"I don't know," Tenten said finally, "it's hard to tell under all that glitter."

After making sure Hinata was in no danger of spontaneously combusting and that Naruto had properly begged for forgiveness, his forehead to the floor, Tenten started home again, still barefoot and scraped up. She'd have to break out the sewing kit when she got home and see if she could fix Ino's dress. Maybe she'd even be able to catch part of that marathon too...


She looked up, startled from her thoughts to find Neji walking towards her, his eyes immediately cataloguing her state of being, drawn instantly to her bloody knee.

"Neji," she said, surprised, coming to a stop in front of him. "What are you doing here?"

"Lee said you'd gone to the hospital to see Sakura." He frowned. "What happened?"

She swallowed, suddenly feeling embarrassed about her disarray. She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Oh, Lee asked me to deliver his valentine to Sakura. I... tripped, among other things." She focused on him more clearly. "Were you looking for me?"

She started forward again and he fell into step beside her, shortening his stride to match hers. Some strange feeling curled into her chest when she realized it.

"Yes, I thought you might want to go to dinner."

Just like that. So smooth it took her a full minute to realize what he'd said. For a moment, she was sure she was wearing the stunned-goldfish look she'd see on Naruto not long ago. Luckily, she was awesome and pulled herself together.

"I would love to," she answered softly, meeting his pearl-white gaze, "but-" She made a motion at her dress and banged up knee. "I don't think I look..." She cleared her throat, heart hammering in her chest. "Would you want to eat in instead?"

Something softened in his face and his hand reached out to take hers, their fingers tangling together as they walked.

"Happy Valentine's Day," he said quietly. She squeezed his hand.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Neji."

She'd wait until they got to her apartment before telling him she forgotten to get groceries that morning and they would have to order out.

At least she had ice cream.