Summary: Neji never gets used to his team. OneShot- Team Gai and the things that form bonds.
Major warning: First attempt at a solely Team-Gai-based story.
Disclaimer: Standards apply.
Requested by Kari-Kateora.
Neji gets to know his new team mates when he is twelve years old and he never gets used to them.
There is Lee, the enthusiastic, exuberant guy who never seems to sit still and always seems to emit a whole spectrum of joy and energy. He never stops talking. Never stops boasting, too, and Neji hates the way he is too loud and too energetic. Too exuberant. Too joyous. Neji likes calm and peace, time to train on his own and to perfect his own techniques, likes to watch quietly and to try to copy the demonstrations and form them into his own style. Lee is a taijutsu expert, he soon learns, has no hand for genjutsu and absolutely none for ninjutsu. Actually, Lee cannot even use ninjutsu. In Neji's eyes, taijutsu and genjutsu are parts of ninjutsu and, as such, serve to perfect the latter. Without the one, the other cannot exist. Lee, as a taijutsu expert, has barely even climbed the first step on a ladder that leads to perfection and acceptance and, since he is unable to ever climb it fully, never will be anything like a good shinobi. He, actually, is pretty pitiful if Neji ever would think in those terms. He does not. In his opinion, Lee is a hindrance. An obstacle on Neji's path to perfection. He will have to carry Lee along, will have to drag him along the road to chuunin first and possibly even to jounin, will have to make sure the boy masters the exams, wins the finals and does not stop Neji from achieving his own goal. He will have to ensure Lee excels because without him there won't be a way to reach what Neji has vowed to reach: perfection.
And then, there is Tenten.
First of all, she is a girl. Neji grew up watching his cousin Hinata from the shadows: she is the girl he is supposed to protect and whom he hates because she had the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on the point of view) fate to be born into the main branch of the Clan. Hinata is weak, soft and shy. Neji never expects her to be anything else and the same way he treats his younger cousin, he treats every girl he gets to know. Not that he does get to know many. But Tenten… Tenten is different. Too loud. Too nosy. Too… Just like Lee, she is too much of everything. Her view, let alone her presence, rubs Neji the wrong way, makes him feel angry and bristle like a porcupine. The fact that she is good in taijutsu only reinforces his opinion that she is a looser, too, since Lee is good in taijutsu as well and that means nothing. She is a girl so she will, at one point, break down and annoy them all. It is only natural that she isn't as strong as he is, as boys are. She won't be able to follow him on his way, Neji knows, will hinder him in the same way Lee will. She will cry. She will give up. Or she will be distracted, talk nonsense, annoy him with endless tales on flowers and animals and boys. Her genjutsu are quite skilled but her ninjutsu are boring and basic and nothing above average. The only thing she can do is throw sharp weapons. And Neji is sure she will rather hit him in his blind spot when they fight alongside each other than manage to take out even one enemy.
They are so difficult, so different. So… strange.
Neji never gets used to his team.
The first day they meet as a team Lee is so happy he proclaims he will cross the entire village on his hands. He does so. Tenten surprises Neji by cheering Lee on loudly. When Neji presses his lips closed, refusing to say anything, Tenten throws him a challenging look and asks: "What's the matter? Are you afraid the people will think we're crazy?" But of course, Neji's not afraid. And of course he does not care what people think about him.
The first time they leave Konoha for a mission for more than a day they stroll through the huge city they have come to. Lee marvels at the high buildings, even higher than Konoha's. Tenten watches the people, fascinated. Neji watches his team mates and wonders if he will ever understand them.
The first time they fight for their lives they kill three of their five attackers. Lee goes down with a serious injury and Tenten is knocked unconscious and only Gai's swift appearance saves Neji from being buried alive. Lee is more worried about Tenten than about himself and Neji is more concerned about their mission than about them. Lee punches him. Neji goes down, because he is too exhausted to maintain his Byakugan, and Lee drops like a dead tree because he has lost so much blood. Tenten regains consciousness and gives them a piece of her mind about childish behavior, boys and unnecessary arguments.
The first time they take up missions separately Lee blows up a house, Tenten makes five men and a woman fall in love with her and Neji is forced to smile.
The first time…
They are so terribly mismatched.
They don't fit each other, can't work together at first and even later still clash in a million different ways. Their characters are so different it feels like there are worlds in between them: exuberant, split, calm. Nothing they are and then do matches each other, their beliefs barely agree, their goals lay in three entirely opposed directions. Why the teachers decided to put them on a team is beyond Neji. Even years later he has no idea what they saw in them, in those three children they once were and still are, sometimes. Or: some of them still are.
For that reason he honestly cannot say how it happened that he wakes up one day and would rather denounce his claim to the leadership of the Hyuuga Clan than lose one of his team mates. There is no reason why his mind should have changed that radically, no reason why a long-lived belief should suddenly have turned into the exact opposite. But one day Neji finds himself following Tenten into a house he knows is full of lethal traps because she wants to rescue a child everyone believes already is dead. Nothing, neither custom nor practice, explains why he throws himself into the path of twenty kunai that come flying at Lee after he has entirely exploited himself in order to draw the enemy out and takes three of them to his back and one to the arm he uses to push Lee aside. Nothing, simply nothing, explains why Neji looks at those two people and sees something entirely different now.
Sees neither the too-exuberant, tiring, restraining boy nor the too-caring, worrying, annoying girl.
Instead, Neji looks at Lee and Tenten one day and sees simultaneously his team, his family and his best friends in the world. And even though nothing could ever prepare him for this revelation – and even though he would never, ever admit it loud or even share the thought with someone – he feels only mild surprise.
Naruto, after all, told him long ago he needed to use something else than his eyes to see.
A/N: Prompt was "self-destruction". Ahaha. Didn't work out so well, did it... Well, in my mind this is the word you find underneath the picture of a Hyuuga Neji in an encyclopedia, anyway. And... less angst that way!^^