A/N: Dedicated to furryraree. Get well soon, darling. C: (Fluff is a miracle cure, after all. ;D)
Summary: He falls for her - hard. And all it takes is one second and a well-aimed kunai at another boy who makes fun of her professed undying love for Dickens. Neji. Tenten. Fluff.
~by purple phantasms
The Five Second Rule states that it only takes that amount of time to fall in love with someone.
Neji wants to say that he follows this rule when he meets her for the first time, but the truth is that it takes only one second and a well-aimed kunai at another boy who makes fun of her professed undying love for Dickens.
He concludes that she's someone after his own heart, and he falls for her — hard.
When Tenten sees him at the playground that she frequents often, she's in a bad mood: the pale-yellow ribbons her mother had given her — her absolute favourites — had been missing since yesterday.
She stares at the unknown boy in front of her with her doe-like eyes as he wordlessly places her ribbons into her lap and walks off. He goes home and collapses into bed, because his eyes aren't used to so much strain at a young age and searching all over for hair accessories has tired him out.
Tenten doesn't know his name, but she never forgets him or his opalescent eyes.
It's not that she can't; it's just that she won't.
They meet again on their first day at the academy.
The teacher makes everyone introduce themselves at the front of the class, and Tenten tunes out most of the others but is fixated when it's his turn. He mumbles his name quietly and a whole throng of girls sitting at the back complain that they didn't catch it, but she hears it loud and clear.
He returns to his seat, and momentarily, their gazes lock. Silently, she mouths his name to herself again and again.
Somehow, she knows that she'll be seeing him a lot more after this.
Due to some troublemakers in their class, the teacher, Iruka-sensei, rearranges the seating plan. He leaves both Neji and Tenten in the same spot, though, because it just doesn't feel right otherwise.
Iruka will never admit it, but truthfully, their glaring at him when he announced his plan swayed his judgment.
Unfortunately for Neji, he has a club chock-full of admirers, many of whom get out of hand and pester him incessantly. Sometimes he takes action and scares them off (though it does little to help, since they come back in larger numbers than before — a fact that he finds very disturbing); other times, Tenten does it for him, insisting that it's only because they bother her too.
Both are aware that a small part of her is lying, however.
Exams come and go, and soon, it's time for them to graduate. He's ranked first in class and is titled a genius and a prodigy. She's not far behind in second place, but no one praises her much, even though she's extremely skilled with weapons for someone her age.
He thinks that everyone else is a blind idiot and curses them. She only laughs and hugs him in gratitude when he tells her so.
Neji is as stoic as ever when this happens, but he doesn't forget to thank the blind idiots in his mind when the warmth of her embrace encapsulates him for days after.
She's on Neji's team, along with a carbon copy of their overenthusiastic green-spandex wearing teacher. They're basically left to their own devices, since their sensei is too busy with Lee.
Considering that they get to spend time together, neither of them minds at all.
They meet at five 'o clock in the morning on Monday for training. (Later on in life, 'training' will become a term that's interchangeable with 'date'.)
It's their first sparring match, and both get a taste of each other's battle styles.
She has a little habit of hopping on her right foot before she casts a jutsu, and her techniques aren't exactly normal either. In short, Neji finds her a bit unusual; at the very least, more so than him.
Tenten just snorts in response. "So says the person that perpetually pokes people at painful points."
He can't argue with that.
At first, Tenten thinks that the two Green Beasts of Konoha are completely deranged, but they become endearing to her after a while.
When she notifies Neji of this fact, he only looks blankly at her as though she's now stark-raving mad too.
She shrugs, smiling. "But you do like them — and me — anyway, right?"
He vehemently denies the former, albeit he can't help but agree wholeheartedly on the latter.
They first meet their supposed rivals (according to Gai-sensei, at least) during the Chuunin Exams. Tenten's slightly enamoured of the Uchiha boy and thinks he's cute.
She never tells Neji this little nugget of information — or the fact that she thinks he's cuter than the Uchiha by infinity and beyond.
The Forest of Death is no challenge for them, since they're seasoned ninjas, and their team completes the task on the first day itself and makes their way to the designated destination.
It's early in the morning on the next day, and she's leaning against him with her head on his shoulder. She had told him that she was cold and that it was fundamental that they conserve heat, but, really, she only wants stay close to him. They wake up to find their teammate missing and innately know that he's probably off causing a commotion somewhere.
Though they've learned to appreciate Lee, both let out deep sighs of frustration inwardly: they'd have liked to stay in that position for just a while longer.
They bicker for the first time while Tenten's in the hospital, having been admitted after her battle with the female Sand nin.
Although Neji is worried sick, he does little to show it; he has never been good with wearing his heart on his sleeve or emoting as a whole. And when he voices out his concern, it comes out like a caustic remark.
She cannot believe her ears when he expresses, "This wouldn't have happened if you were stronger." His arms are crossed over his chest as he continues, "You're too weak."
He means to add that he wants to protect her, but no sound emanates from his lips.
The air is thick with tension as she stares at him with chestnut-brown eyes full of hurt, because that's the one thing that she just cannot bear to hear and to have it come from him just sends a knife right through her heart. Tenten turns onto her left side, facing the wall.
She refuses to see him for a week.
And he never feels as alone as he does then.
It takes a few days for him to swallow his pride and apologize for the first time in his life, but he manages to do it for her.
She still thinks that he's a bit of a prat for saying that, but knows that though he's brilliant in many aspects, he's not exactly phenomenal in the EQ department. And truthfully, she's missed him for the past week or so.
Life is lonely without her genius.
". . . I'm sorry," he tells her quietly.
She forgives him.
His match with Naruto is just around the corner, and she helps him train by throwing barrage after barrage of weapons at him.
As he spins and deflects her offensive attack, she marvels at him; although she was sure that she was out of breath after expending all that energy, it still manages to hitch in her throat.
He looks imploringly at her once he stops, and his eyes ask her what exactly it is that she's staring at.
"Nothing," she says finally, but what she really means is everything.
Neji doesn't win his match, but she knows that he came out of it a winner.
He seems so much more at peace now and even starts talking a bit more, which leaves others gobsmacked because they didn't think that he actually spoke other than to ramble about fate.
It's something that she finds particularly odd, because she always did think that he talked too much.
She sees him off at the gate of the village when he's assigned a mission to bring the Uchiha kid back. An ominous feeling settles in the pit of Tenten's stomach, and she's in ruins on the inside because she knows that there's a chance he won't come back.
"Don't die on me," she manages to choke out before he leaves. He says nothing in return, prompting her to hold out her pinky finger. "Promise?"
It's so childish —
— but he promises anyway.
"Three days from now," she tells him solemnly, "we'll start training. Same time, same place." She adds, "Don't be late."
He's silent once more, but his unspoken words ring through the air.
By two whole days.
She loses a bit of weight although it's only been a couple of days and her eyes are bloodshot; her under-eye bags and dark circles also become increasingly obvious. It's because she's so worried, to the point where she's unable to sleep and spends days feeling like a nervous wreck as she awaits news of his return.
And he does come back, but bruised, battered and broken. She's not one to cry, but she breaks out into sobs when she sees the gaping hole in his chest and God only knows what else as he lies on the brink of death.
Tenten is there throughout his two day-long operation, and it feels like the weight of the world has been taken off her shoulders when the doctor finally tells her that he'll make it.
He's still alive—
— and so is she.
It's a while before he wakes up from his near-comatose state.
The sight that greets him is one of her with her hair out of their customary two buns, tumbling down her shoulders, and her gaunt, tired face.
Neji wonders whether she's been by his side the whole time. The nurse denies it, citing that visiting hours are strict, but he knows better.
When he is finally discharged from the hospital, she is the one to take him home and stay with him for days straight until he feels completely rejuvenated. Tenten is very much aware that Neji is not a man of many words; it's very the reason why she's so startled when he thanks her.
She brushes it off, telling him that it was nothing much and that she'd do the same for the other members of their team, but honestly, she does — and will do — more for him than anyone else.
They grow up, becoming more skilled as time passes and helping each other hone their abilities as they have always done.
It's a sunny day, and the clear sky made up of amalgamating blue hues hangs cheerily above them. She grins at him and states the obvious: "We make a good team."
He concurs wordlessly as he always does when he agrees with her, and ponders on when their partnership will come to include matters of the heart.
As it turns out, it's not soon before long — and it's something that they're both grateful for, because it was getting hard to concentrate on anything else when they just wanted to take each others' hands and go.
The aforementioned turning point of their relationship takes place when her mother introduces Tenten to a 'lovely, young gentleman'. Her mother doesn't say anything more, but her tone heavily implies thoughts of a future romantic relationship between the two.
The other boy has stormy, grey eyes and copper-brown hair; he's also considered to be gorgeous by the female population.
The boy holds out his hand in greeting and annunciates, "Nice to meet you."
Neji can't say the same.
He finds out that the other boy has a name, and it's one that he considers stupid because which sane parent would name their son Kurosawa Ryuu?
It's just one more factor that convinces Neji that they're meant to be, because in all honesty, Hyuuga Tenten has a much nicer ring to it.
It's about an hour before Ryuu and Tenten's first date when Neji storms up to her front door and notifies her that he's sort of-kind of-almost-completely-definitely in love with her.
She beams and cancels the date instantly, while her mother smirks knowingly in the kitchen.
The plan worked out, after all.
The two of them go to great lengths to keep their relationship a secret; it's something that the rest of the village doesn't fathom, because they knew that romance was imminent for the two of them.
Konoha's population only wonders what took so darn long.
The worst is when their (dense) teammate finally figures out that they're dating, having stumbled upon them while they were training in a more romantic sense. The lunatic starts screaming about the Springtime of Youth, and soon, their sensei joins in with tears streaming down his face.
They both creep away silently to enjoy their Springtime of Youth elsewhere.
Tenten's very much aware that Neji's never been good at romantic gestures, and his proposal a few years later only cements this statement.
He attaches the ring to the end of a kunai that's engraved with her name and sends it whizzing by, narrowly missing her head in the process, thanks to his terrible aim.
She appreciates the effort, but muses on why he couldn't ask her to marry him without trying to kill her.
He proposes to her again, because even though she's not bothered by his (terrible) first attempt, others are disgruntled and nag at him to do it right. So he drops onto one knee with a bouquet of chrysanthemums — her favourite — in his hand and a faint blush colouring his ears.
Neji's obviously embarrassed, but Tenten finds it completely adorable and touching that he's blushing because of her.
She says yes for the second time (and for many more times after that), and when he's not looking, she takes a picture of him for memories — and future blackmail.
Their friends come out in droves for their wedding which is a cause célèbre. Though she complains that she can't breathe in her dress and he's quaking in his boots on the inside, it all goes off without a hitch.
The priest utters the words "'til death do us part", and they happily repeat after him.
They both know, however, that their story is one that will last long after that.
When she gives birth to their first child, the boy looks a lot like his father.
Neji is beyond pleased and happily mutters, "He's so handsome."
Tenten's still in a bit of pain, but she has enough strength left in her to roll her eyes at her husband. With any luck, the new addition to their family won't be as egotistical as his daddy. Honestly, though, she knows that it'll never happen and makes plans to order more mirrors for their home.
But she doesn't really want it any other way.
Their daughter comes five years later and she's the spitting image of her mother. Tenten gushes at the thought of having her own mini me, but Neji isn't too happy and gripes a little every time people mention how beautiful his daughter is.
It appears that his years of chasing away the male admirers of his loved ones weren't quite over yet.
They grow old together, acquiring countless memories through it all.
He ceased saying a particular word often years ago, because in his opinion, their relationship is the only thing that warrants its usage.
There is no other way to describe them.
They are fate.
They are well into their twilight years when kismet decrees that she'll be the first one of them to go.
Neji doesn't want to sound like a complete sop but he really doesn't have a clue on how life will go on after her passing. He tells her so as he sits by her side, their fingers interlocked.
She states softly, "You'll learn." A knowing smile graces her tired face. "You're my genius, remember?"
They don't believe in the Isles of Blest or reincarnation or what-have-you, but somehow, they know perfectly well that they will meet again.
And when she dies in his arms hours later, she tells him confidently that she'll be waiting for him. He holds out his little finger to make her swear on it.
She laughs, because it's so childish —
— but she does it anyway.
Neji joins her after what feels like eons, although it has only been three years at most.
And when he sees her for the first time again, it does not take one second or a well-aimed kunai at a boy who made fun of her professed love for Dickens to make him fall in love with her.
The truth is that it takes nothing at all.
Because when he fell for her — hard — so long ago, it was for forever and always.
A/N: This started out when I wrote the first prompt, but quickly snowballed into this huge pile of fluff after that.
I usually don't ask, but I'd like to know what you guys think, since this is my first Naruto fic in almost a year or so, if I'm not mistaken. So, review, please? :)