Following the flower petals that yield to the sky, when I meet you I can tell you now that I longed for you.


Lee's anguished scream rises even above the clamour of battle as he cradles Neji's motionless body. He is almost bent double, sobs tearing out of him as his tears drip one by one on the bloodied jounin jacket.

Tenten's chest feels hollow as she remembers the quiet pride on Neji's face when he finally earned that jounin status. Her mind is blank, there are no roiling emotions or poignant flashbacks to happier times, of which there are many.

Instead, every sense and every emotion is dulled—a lingering disbelief, a wavering sadness, an undercurrent of anger, but most of all horror. Somehow the broken off branches still embedded grotesquely in Neji's body disturb her most strongly, and all she can do is stand there and stare at them.

No tears come. Tenten was never one for weeping, and it is still too hard to believe that Neji is dead. No longer with them. Gone. Passed away. It was over so quickly, the attack, a blur of white, and within a few more moments Neji had breathed his last. She didn't even get to touch him, or say goodbye.

Or I love you.

"Lee…" Her throat closes up and tears threaten to well up, but she resolutely blinks them away. She won't cry, and she wants Lee to stop too, because the more he cries the less likely it is Neji will return. Her anger rises then and she desperately wants to push Lee away and perhaps give Neji a hard slap so he'll wake up. But a part of her also wants to sink to the ground beside him and grieve for her friend and teammate.

She wants Lee to bring the body away, so she can pretend that Neji is still alive, fighting his battles valiantly just out of her sight, his hair whipping around his face and his eyes flashing.

It is no consolation that Neji died heroically, that he fell defending his beloved cousin and the boy who would probably save them all. She doesn't want Naruto and Gai's pretentious advice on keeping Neji in her heart or mind or anywhere. She wants Neji here in front of her, healthy and whole and alive.

Her heart hurts, a throbbing pain, but agonising all the same, as if the space her brave, handsome teammate once occupied is now empty.

She desperately wants him back so, so badly, but she won't show it through her tears or tantrums. Neji was always stoic and strong and barely tolerant of hysterics, and she will make him proud today.

I miss you.

A/N: Eh, I don't hold with the whole 'Tenten didn't cry therefore Nejiten isn't real and they're a crack pairing' rubbish. Not everyone cries when they're sad. Rest in peace, Neji ;v;