"Phew! What a night!" Tenten stretched, scratching her side through her little black dress as she rushed for the the fridge. Her eyes sparkled when she found a box of chicken teriyaki and rice left in a take-out box, glancing over at Neji who was practically dragging himself. He lumbered over to the couch, tripping over a dog toy for the dog they never owned, and flipping over the back to face plant into the seats. He head been despondent ever since the party.
Despite her roommate's lifelessness Tenten was ecstatic with how the events turned out. After she cleaned the Hyuuga up Sakura was with Sasuke the remainder of the night, conversing under their breaths as Hinata helped Naruto dance with his own date, who appeared ready to keel over any minute. The heiress was particularly jovial when Edina had to sit out a couple of slow songs.
Meanwhile, Tenten walked around the enormous portrait Neji painted, admiring it despite not wanting to. That's the skill Neji had, annoying as it was. It's what made him so popular despite being ass.
Though the piece was magnificent it felt like something was missing to Tenten, as if a gaping hole was punched through its spirit to leave only a pretty husk behind. There was no light in Sakura's eyes nor did the smile reach the viewer - her skin too pale and the pink too pink. Tenten scrunched her nose a bit, wondering when she had seen such a thing before.
It slammed into her as Neji came out of the bathroom and put a hand on her shoulder. She had turned to him, surprising the young man as she asked, "Why did you go back?" It was a silly question. Neji should have been lost at what she meant, but he took one look at his own masterpiece and appeared to understand.
He smiled at her. "Because I didn't have my wings this time."
Tenten still wasn't sure what that meant, but then the dancing had begun and she really wanted to dance and thus dragged Neji to the middle of the floor. Of course, he was too tall and had never danced anything cooler than the macarena while she was too short and had to lead his two left feet, but they were still the center of attention as she spun and he followed. It felt so magical at the time, so unexpected, even when Neji's mood began to darken and he left her to sulk by the food table.
Two hours later and she agreed to come back to the dorms with him rather than go "wherever the hell you flew away to" as Neji put it dismissively. Tenten still felt guilty, especially knowing that she will have to borrow money from the Hyuuga for new phone, but every time she tried to begin an apology Neji's grip on the steering wheel would tighten. The car ride was abysmally silent.
Digging around in the silverware drawer Tenten wondered where Lee could be. He was out a lot these past few weekends, as if he was trying to leave her and Neji alone more often.
"Do you know where Lee is?" the brunette woman asked as she set a paper plate of food in the microwave. She saw some rather unidentifiable stains on the sides and ceiling of the interior, hoping Lee had not tried to reheat anything. For a man so good at making curry hot enough to give Neji an anxiety attack he was below average on fixing anything else. "He hasn't left us any sticky notes..." Their fridge, covered in Lee's many magnets and Neji's calendar, was bare of any indication as to where their bowl-haired roommate could be.
Neji lifted his face up to see what she was doing, then immediately placing it back in the gap between the cushions. "Lee can be off in Canada for all I can."
"I don't feel like being not cruel."
Tenten observed the bratty Hyuga, wondering why his mood plummeted. It was not like he wasn't already a constant mood swinger but this time there didn't seem to be any good reason for it. Maybe he was jealous Sasuke swooped off with his date?
The microwave timer dinged.
"Let's watch a movie," Tenten suggested, the other's bad aura rubbing off on her. She refused to let that bastard's pessimism ruin her good mood.
Sitting down on the couch, uncaring if she nearly sat on Neji's face, Tenten put on a romantic comedy and began to devour her meal. After ten minutes Neji extricated himself, having resembled an ostrich with his head in the couch, and sat beside her on the far edge of the furniture. Usually he sat as close as possible since Lee had a habit of bringing his pet turtle to watch with them, but he was awfully distant this time.
Neji stared at the screen, listlessly watching as the female protagonist ran straight into the male love interest and toppled them down a hill within the first fifteen minutes. He was never fond of those cliched antics, harrumphing when Tenten squealed as the male love interest's male best friend found the two in a pile of tangled limbs.
Tenten huffed at his disinterest. "You were happier when we were dancing." The Hyuga shrugged. "C'mon, tell me. Something's really stuck up your ass this time."
"That doesn't encourage me to spill the beans," he snapped, startling Tenten. Neji looked away, remaining silent for another few moments. Tenten nibbled on her rice, suddenly nervous with being around her roommate.
The movie progressed to the point where the female protagonist's rival was shown, upstaging her with some flashy dress, when Neji groaned and slid a hand through his hair. "Shit, Tenten, I'm- I'm sorry okay?" He appeared heavily displeased. Distress was beginning to color his expression which in turn alarmed the brunette woman. "It was supposed to be like this, this stupid movie, all magical and expected. Everything was going to slide into place but it didn't; it just - it just didn't. And I'm kicking myself for thinking it would."
Neji finished with a defeated sigh. He was slumped over his knees, massaging his forehead as he grumbled a few curse words. Finally he mashed his palm against his closed eyelids, whispering a low, "I'm sorry." He sounded so heartbroken, defeated and tired about himself.
For a while the only sound was the film, the female protagonist making a cheesy attempt to win her love interest back from the rival and failing miserably. Tenten watched it, but all she could hear was her heartbeat echoing off the sides of the room and right back into her head. This was a rather unexpected excursion to her fun night.
She looked down at her plate wondering why she wasn't so hungry anymore. Then, she scrunched her nose as she beheld something new on her hand. Holding it up Tenten wondered if Sasuke had slipped it on her before they entered the party. It sounded pretentious enough for him to do. It was on her left middle finger, something silvery in color and possessing only a single diamond in the middle, the material around it curled into a flowing pattern.
"Hey Neji, has Ino taken me shopping recently?" she asked, still admiring the ring. It felt really nice to have it on, the smooth texture on her skin and the diamond glinting at her under their apartment's lights.
Head still hung the Hyuga answered, "You haven't gone shopping in a year."
"Just checking," Tenten replied as she tried to find out the jewelry's purpose. She squinted at it, humming softly as she moved her hand this way and that. "Say, do I even own any rings?"
"What?" Neji's gaze shot up at the word, hyper-focusing in on the object Tenten had on her hand. He opened his mouth, then closed it, before opening it again sheepishly. "N-no, I don't think so."
Tenten looked at him from the corner of her eye. He was no longer upset but rather nervous, his stutter giving him away.
She shrugged. "Do you think Sasuke gave this to me?"
A growl was her response. "I doubt it," Neji said tersely, glaring slightly before quirking an eyebrow. "Why do you think Uchiha would give you something?" Tenten paused to think about it, unknowing how Neji waited in agony.
She chuckled and shook her head.
"Nah, of course he wouldn't. I've done a lot more to have him hate me than want to date me from the party. That could leave Lee or Shikamaru, but neither were there. So let's see, someone who was at at Sakura's party. Someone who I would know enough to warrant giving me a ring. Someone hopefully male." She listed each qualification on her fingers, clicking her tongue against her teeth. Her eyes widened as she turned to Neji, who went rigid as a board as they locked gazes.
"Tenten, I lo -"
"Was it Naruto?"
"- ve... wait, what? Naruto?"
Both sounded incredibly confused at the blond's name. Tenten burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the idea. Neji fumed and turned back to the movie.
"As if! Naruto wouldn't know a girl's taste even if it licked him!" The bun-haired woman giggled as she leaned back with her arms behind her head. "But really Nej, when were you going to tell me you love me?"
Neji sputtered, surprised that she made the connection.
"I guess now is the part where we realize how much we've loved each other all along and make out?" he inquired dryly, feeling his pride shot to hell.
Tenten responded by snorting and rolling her eyes. "Nah! We're gonna watch another movie and then make out!" She hopped off of the couch, bounding towards the kitchenette. "I'm making popcorn!"
The Hyuga only exhaled in relief as the awkwardness faded, leaning closer to Tenten as she returned with large bowl of fresh popcorn and turned on another romantic comedy.
Then they KISSED
Sakura paced back and forth outside of the dance room. She was allowed inside, of course, but her nerves were not cooperating.
"Just - just tell her," the pink-haired woman reminded herself yet again. She shook her head in frustration before impulsively pushing past the thick oak doors into the studio. Her breath caught as rational thought fled, her eyes landing upon a brunette woman with a strong physique.
The younger observed, mesmerized by how easy the other dancer made her movements flow. Tenten was like liquid steel, appearing heavy with her sturdier build but moving seamlessly as if she were lighter than air. She was also confident about her looks, a strong-headed individual who worked hard to accomplish her goals. It made Sakura envious just thinking about it!
Said person stopped their routine, ending mid-pivot to settle her sights on the Sakura. Steeling her nerves Sakura blurted hurriedly, "I'm really sorry I stole Sasuke from you!"
Though the Haruno had gone over all of the scenarios, all of the consequences and reactions, the one given to her was not one she could have predicted.
Not only did Tenten appear utterly perplexed by her confession but she held no hint at being angry. That made things easier for Sakura, though she was still wary from the outcome. "Sasuke... you know, the one you ate with? And the one you went to my party with?" Tenten nodded, a surprised look still on her face. "I-I didn't mean to talk with him all night. I-if you don't want me butting into your relationship I won't. Sasuke's been my friend for years though, b-but if you think I'm a threat to your boyfriend I promise I'll tone down my interactions with him and -"
Sakura didn't get to finish the speech she had practiced ever since she came back from the party, blaming herself for being so selfish in trying to be the only woman in Sasuke's life. The interruption came from Tenten's lips in the form of laughter, loud and amused as she had to wipe tears from the corner of her eyes. Even more perplexed, and a tad humiliated, Sakura waited until the professional dancer's peals died down before asking, "Di-did I say something?"
"Y-yeah, sorta," Tenten chortled, still shaking. "You're a crazy ass ho, you know that Sakura?"
The other had no idea how to respond to that.
"Ahem, what I mean is, Sasuke and I have no romantic connection at all. In fact, I think he's a bit of a loser."
Sakura's eyes blazed. "He's not a loser! He's smart and kind, a little arrogant, but definitely not a loser!"
To her chagrin that only caused the other to chuckle. "I guess he isn't, at a certain angle. But no way, not even if Naruto becomes the president like he keeps telling people, will Sasuke Uchiha and I ever go out. I already have a boyfriend anyways." She stretched casually, nonchalant as Sakura's jaw fell to the floor.
"Wh-what? Bu-but what about the date? The-the dance? The kiss?"
"Kiss?" Tenten clicked her tongue against her teeth, the epitome of peace while Sakura floundered incredulously. "We've never kissed either. You must've been seeing things."
"It was at the party," Sakura defended, "on the balcony. You and Sasuke were so close! How could I not think there was something between you from back at McNinja's? Sasuke would never lower himself to eating there unless there was a reason!"
Tenten pursed her lips, wondering why she wasn't getting through to the other.
"I don't have time to explain all that. How about this though, we fight. If I win then you have to concede to the fact that Sasuke and I never had any possibility of being an item. If you win then I'll concede that we may or may not have gone spelunking in each other's dirty bits." Tenten smirked as Sakura's face became pinker than her hair, watching as it faded into a heated resolve. Sakura strode up to her, half a head taller than the brunette, and held out her hand.
Ding ding ding!
"Tenten, baby, please. You don't have to do this."
"Sshh, not now Nej. Baby's 'bout to beat a bitch."
"I applaud your use of alliteration but I beg of you, do not pummel someone to prove a point. Remember eight grade? Remember how you sent that high schooler Karashi to the hospital?"
Tenten rolled her eyes. "Karashi was a little punk ass shit. It was good for him."
Neji groaned. "Karashi is a little punk ass shit who is now missing his two permanent front teeth."
"He should never had played that prank on me."
"He tripped you down a hill. Once."
"No one messes with Tenten NoLastName!"
Seeing as how he was getting nowhere with his girlfriend Neji submitted and went back to the bleachers to sit next to Sasuke. Beside them was Naruto, making loud bets with Kiba on who will win. Hinata sat behind them, appearing nervous as she didn't know which she should root for as Ino bellowed out support for both sides indiscriminately. Shikamaru was asleep beside her, earmuffs on his head and tons of eszopiclone in his system.
Naruto growled as he waved a twenty dollar bill around. "Twenty says Sakura wins!"
Kiba, along with Akamaru whom he had somehow smuggled into the gym, barked in unison. "Big woof! Everyone knows Tenten's been in the kickboxing team since middle school!"
"So? Sakura was on the football team for two seasons! She was the quarterback and the offense!"
Shino piped up, "She has a mean right hook."
Kiba snarled at his roommate's treason. "Tenten has a mean everything!"
In the far back, clutching his archaic reptile, Lee rained down waterfalls and snot as he waved two flags, one pink and the other red, in each fist. He wailed at the top of his abnormally large lungs, "I cannot chose who I pledge my faith in! Sakura is a radiant goddess while Tenten is an absolute hero! My darling Sakura is as delicate as a hummingbird on ice skates yet savage as a stampeding gorilla! On the other hand, Tenten has been my best friend with the grace of an eagle wearing spandex and prowess of a mountain lion that has eaten Master Gai's delicious curry delux! The decision is tearing me apaaaaarrt!"
Neji scoffed, waving around his Go-Tenten flag lackadaisically, hoping it would be over soon so he can get back to his Doctor Who, still paused with David Tenant's mouth opened mid-sentence.
His girlfriend was about to engage in a boxing match with his ex-model, which sounded funny since both were dancers. Here, in the ring, it made no difference what the reasons were or what was on the line, all that mattered was who would walk out the single victor. It seemed to fit the two determined, fiery women.
From painting Sakura and talking with her family Neji had to admit he was shedding a new light on the person he had believed to be too clingy, frail, and annoying. She grew up privileged, yes, but she worked very hard to get into the positions she held. Her parents failed to see eye-to-eye with her on what she wanted to do, and she had a high standard for her own work. Most of the time she bemoaned her inferiority even as she secured herself under the tutelage of Lady Tsunade.
He refused to ever say it aloud but Sakura was a bit like himself. They both had overbearing relatives and had trouble doing anything that might bring them joy because what they liked doing turned out to be against what everyone else wanted except for a fair few.
As the match began Neji contented himself with this knowledge, accepting it in himself as he saw Sakura embrace it in the ring. She let her fists do the talking, which suited Tenten just fine as the two females were equally matched. Sakura obviously had the strength advantage but Tenten's agility and technique made up for it.
Looking over at Sasuke the Hyuuga wondered how his role in Sakura's life would play. He was important to her, but would he really become what she wanted him to?
It wasn't Neji's concern to decide that, he deduced. His life was with Tenten, hopefully until death do they part and then some. A secret smile rested on his lips as he thought about it, the promise ring he had given the brunette held securely between his fingers so she wouldn't lose it in the fight.
From inside his cuffs he pulled out a second, more gorgeous ring made of sterling silver. Several diamonds were woven around the band with a large one sitting in the middle, encircled by a miniature phoenix and dragon.
Life was so unfair Neji mused as he witnessed Sakura deck his girlfriend across the face, only for Tenten to reel back and clock Sakura upside the head. He grinned despite the circumstances, unable to contain the peace he was experiencing as havoc raged around him.
Closing his eyes he decided that life was completely devoted to screwing him over, but if his heaven was there by his side then he really didn't mind at all.
(1) Karashi is the long-haired loser from that filler arc of the Curry of Life. He is probably the biggest loser of Naruto history.
(2) Eszopiclone is a drug, more popularly known as Lunesta and is supposed to help with insomnia.
(3) I have never watched Doctor Who but over the summer I plan to begin. Don't you dare spoil it for me.
(4) I remained ambiguous on the potential SasuSaku, InoShikaTema, and NaruHina because I am neutral on each couple. NejiTen is the only pairing I'm in full support of so I'd prefer to keep other pairings uncertain for reader's sake, though it probably does appear pretty solid on who goes with who. I have stopped reading the manga (only know of Neji's death) since Pain razed Konoha so if anything becomes canon I probably wouldn't know.
Much thanks for anyone who bothered reviewing this horrible fanfic. I have been gone and I have no excuse. Writing isn't my biggest passion but it sure is fun to do from time to time. I was really worried about finishing since I had actually planned to not finish it and just move onto something else. But I'm glad I did, even if I feel I swept some tings under the rug to get it done. My thinking is, everyone's in college anyways so it's not like their happy ending is coming anytime soon. Save that for the funeral.
Anyways thanks for reading. I am now free to move onto other projects. It was very fun while it lasted and I appreciate all the reviews, favorites, and story alerts I have gotten.