Title: 13 Unmentionables

Characters: Hyuuga Neji, Tenten, mention of other characters

Rating: T

Summary: This is not a love story. At least not yet.

Opening Song: "Crazy 8s" by MAE


"You're obsessed with Hinata."

They are fifteen, and both just passed the chunnin exams, along with Lee. The rest of the genins are taking the exam scheduled in six months, opting to train more before trying once again. Still, their little group decided to celebrate Team Gai's success, and they are currently crammed inside a small booth, ten teenagers sitting shoulder to shoulder, relishing in yakiniku strips and hot jasmine tea.

Neji is not sure how the conversation started, but he is sure that if he does not end it soon, the rest of their companions will catch on, and it will put him in a very uncomfortable situation, at the very least.

The idea irritates him, and he cannot help but answer more coldly than he intends to.

"She's my cousin."

Tenten gives him a shrug, and bites into a sesame dumpling. She chews thoughtfully for a while, before whispering nonchalantly once again, low enough so that no one else can hear her voice except for Neji.

"You're obsessed with her. It shows."

Neji closes his eyes in an attempt to remain calm. Kiba is now throwing them curious looks, and even Sakura glances their way. It is only through sheer luck that Ino is sitting the farthest from them. He did not even want to imagine what will happen if the Yamanaka gets wind of their conversation.

He grits his teeth.

"She's my cousin."

He emphasizes on the word, hoping to deter Tenten from pursuing the issue further. Already he can feel a silent clamor in his chest, and he stops himself from glancing where Hinata is seated, sandwiched between Kiba and the silent Aburame.

He tries not to pay attention to the gentle tugging in his heart, the silent whisper in his head that maybe, just maybe, his teammate is right. That he is, in fact, obsessed with his cousin, for reasons that he does not wish to dwell upon.


His attention shifts back to his friend—the only female friend he has then, because he and Hinata are not friends, no matter how drastic the change between their relationship had been since Naruto knocked some sense into him. He regards Tenten with a silent glare, ordering her to stop talking.

But the kunoichi has long been immune to his mood swings.

"But isn't Hyuuga an old-school clan? Don't they allow marriages among relatives?"

He sees Tenten shiver slightly in disgust, and then wrinkle her nose in a manner that will look revolting on anyone else but her.

"Although that's technically incest. You'd probably have mutants for kids."

He feels his patience hanging by a thread, ready to snap any second.

"She's my cousin."

Tenten chuckles and bites into another sesame dumpling.

"That line's getting old pretty fast, Neji."

She chews as she talks, and he knows she does this to further annoy him. Tenten is crass, but her manners are usually impeccable, except when she is purposefully trying to irritate him.

It works.

"Don't talk while your mouth is full, Tenten. It's very unbecoming."

She guffaws, and promptly drops the issue.

But not before hollering at Hinata to sit between her and Neji and share with them how she and her teammates are preparing for the upcoming exams.

Neji silently vows to mutilate Tenten during their next sparring session.

Tenten merely winks conspiratorially before roughly pushing him aside to make room for the Hyuuga heiress.


"You like Lee."

It is months after their little discussion at the yakiniku restaurant, and he still has not gotten back at her for humiliating him like that. The opportunity presents itself as they are going home from a mission, and he sees Tenten staring at Lee's back in an affectionate manner, the same way he sometimes catches himself looking at his cousin.

He puts two and two together, and realizes it is time for a little payback.

Except that he did not get the reaction he had hoped to receive.

"Took you long enough to notice."

Tenten snorts and shifts her eyes to him, long enough to raise her eyebrows mockingly.

"Way to go, genius."

Neji frowns. He had expected, hoped, that Tenten will flush red, or deny the fact vehemently, and he will see her as a blushing teenager not unlike Sakura or Ino—or Hinata, he mentally cringes—as she threatens to keep her secret from their friend.

But Tenten did not appear to have any qualms about him finding out, and he thinks his only leverage is slowly slipping away.

"Since when?"

He watches as she stops to rest, massaging her right shoulder before hollering at their two teammates to take a break and then turning to him with a thoughtful expression.

"Who knows? Maybe a little after the first Chunnin Exams. When you abandoned me to train with your uncle, and oh, I don't know, make it up to Hinata?"

It sounds like a question, but Neji knows it is merely Tenten's way to tease him, to turn the tables, so to speak. He should have seen that one coming, he scolds himself, and Tenten flashes him a cheeky grin when he fails to give her a witty or scathing response.

"You left me to suffer the company of Gai-sensei and Lee by myself. I still haven't forgiven you for that, by the way."

Neji opens his mouth to reply, but finds himself at a loss for words. What is there to say anyway? Tenten is right—he did spend less time training with her after that incident with Orochimaru, as his afternoons became more and more filled up with sessions with his uncle and the other clansmen. Never did he think that she had minded; he was too caught up in bliss at being at peace with his clan that he never paused to think that maybe he had abandoned the person who stood by him even during those times when no one else could stand his company for more than half an hour.

Still, he finds it ridiculous that she is blaming him for her infatuation with Lee.

"Are you saying it's my fault?"

Tenten nods, wearing a pretty little frown on her lips as she adjusts the straps of the big scroll on her back.

"Hell yes, Hyuuga Neji. It's your fault that I like Lee, and if he actually ends up with Sakura in the future, I'll blame you for my broken heart."

Then she is gone, running after their sensei and teammate, before he could put in another word.


"Naruto beat you again, I see."

Three years and one world war later, the jinchuuriki finally realized that Hinata had been beside him all those years, and did not waste time telling her of his intention to make up for the lost years he wasted pinning over Sakura and his mission to save Sasuke from darkness.

Everyone is happy for the couple, and Neji knows he should be happy too, but there is a pinching in his chest that would not go away as he watches Hinata smile shyly at her new beau.

It didn't help that Tenten is standing beside him, and because she is well attuned to his moods, after spending years with him in and out of battle, she recognizes the internal turmoil raging in his heart.

"Are you okay, Neji?"

There is no hint of humor in her voice, and Neji does not know what is worse—Tenten teasing him or Tenten taking pity at his pathetic unrequited affection for a woman who will never see him as something more than an older brother.

Before he can attempt to turn and walk away, he feels her left hand grip his right, and when he turns to her in surprise, he finds her smiling at him not with pity nor deviousness, but empathy.

The she turns to look away, and he follows her eyes, and both see Lee standing a few feet away, wiping his eyes over green spandex and sobbing something about the springtime of youthful love, and Sakura-san, won't you go out with me?, and it is then that Neji understands that Tenten is in the same predicament as he is.

He finds himself squeezing her fingers in return.


"You're dating Shikamaru."

Six months later, Neji finds himself interrogating his best friend—he is not sure when they had become best friends, but he is sure of it now—about her unusual relationship with the Nara genius.

He knows it is not his business, but he feels betrayed for some reason—are they not supposed to be in the same boat? Feeling for someone who can never love them the way they want to? Why is she now finding happiness with someone else that is not Lee?

And why did she not consult with him first before she decided to date Shikamaru, of all people?

"I . . . am?"

Tenten feigns innocence, but Neji knows that she is smirking behind a half-frown.

"You went out to dinner with him twice this week."

He does not want to sound accusing—or clingy, damn it—but he notices that his voice drops a couple of degrees colder than usual.

Tenten decides to patronize him, still.

"Yes, but I go out on dinners with you and Lee almost every day for the past five years or so. Doesn't mean I date you both, right?"

His right eye twitches, a sure sign that he is getting annoyed.

"He walked you home."

She grins cheekily.

"Ah, but you or Lee walk me home once in a while too."

And then his voice snaps, and he hears himself almost spitting his next words.

"You let him hold your hand."

Tenten raises an eyebrow at his reaction. Gone is the grin from her face, and she looks like she wants to hurl something sharp and pointy at this direction. For a split second, he considers activating his byakugan as a precaution, but decided against it almost immediately. It will only make the weapons mistress crankier, and a cranky Tenten is something he does not want to deal with at the moment.

"Wait a minute. Why do know all these things? Are you stalking me, Hyuuga?"

There is suspicion in Tenten's voice, and she is not playful anymore. Neji fights the urge to step back. Instead, he answers her in what he supposes is the safest answer, given their situation.

"I am merely looking out for you to ensure your safety."

It is the wrong thing to say, apparently.

"Safety? You think I can't take care of myself?!"

He is dodging kunais and shurikens the next minute.


"Hinata's married now."

Another year passes, and he finds himself downing a flute of wine as he watches his cousin and her new husband talk to the other guests. He tries to ask himself if he is bothered with it—Hinata getting married—if it hurts as he thought it would, but there is no painful hammering in his chest, just a fondness for a woman he felt a misguided affection for during their younger years.

Somehow, he knows that Tenten will find him at the exact moment he decides that he is, in fact, okay with Hinata ending up with Naruto (and not him). He almost expects her to.

"Your genetically deformed mutant babies will never see the light of day."

He tries to stop a smirk from forming, but Tenten notices it anyway. And suddenly she is on a roll.

"Do you want me to assassinate Naruto for you? I'll even give you a discount since we're such good friends."

The smirk blossoms fully on his lips.


He wants to sound exasperated, but he knows Tenten can detect the humor in his voice.

Then suddenly, her face morphs into that of concern.

"Are you okay, Neji?"

It's an echo of her question that fateful day when Naruto and Hinata became official. As before, there is no pity in her voice, just genuine concern.

He finds himself reaching for her hand, not caring that Tenten shoots him a surprised glance before quickly shifting her eyes to her left, where Shikamaru is talking to Chouji beside the buffet table. He offers a small smile, but he knows that it is enough.

"I will be."


"You are no longer dating Shikamaru."

Three months later and he finds her sitting on top of the Hokage mountain, legs dangling dangerously over the edge. He fights the urge to yank her to her feet and scold her for willingly playing with danger that way. Is she not supposed to be most level-headed one in their little group?

"Your methods of gathering intelligence never cease to amuse me."

Her voice does not seem pained; in fact, it is laced with humor and just a little bit of childishness. Neji watches as Tenten turns around, offering him a smile smaller than her usual grin.

"You don't seem too concerned about it."

She chuckles in response.

"About my breakup, or your stalking tendencies?"

". . . both."

Tenten shrugs and looks away, far, far away that for a second Neji panics that he may be losing her, that she is slipping away from him, in a way he has lost Hinata, except that he has never been affectionate with Tenten . . . has he?

"Mmhh. Doesn't bother me, really."

He decides that humoring her is the best course of action.

"Which one?"


He frowns then, and wonders when Tenten became so cold.

"Why not?"

"Well, Shika's Shika, and you're you."

He pauses, his frown deepening.

" . . . that does not make any sense."

And suddenly she is laughing, laughing, and she sways and hovers too dangerously at the edge, and the next second Neji is behind her, gripping her arm tightly and pulling her up, up, away from the cliff. They step back together, his hand still wrapped firmly around Tenten's arm, and the next minute she turns around and offers him an impish grin, before burying her face in his chest, and he feels something like liquid warmth seep into his skin.

Neji holds her close then, allows her to mourn the loss of someone dear to her. He decides he will help her, be her anchor or her leaning wall, just as she has been to him all these years.


"You're engaged."

They are twenty-two, and the Hyuugas deem it just the right time to arrange an alliance between their clan and another powerful family in the Land of Wind. And since Neji did not appear to take a romantic interest on anyone, they think it best that they handle his affairs for him and work for the betterment of their clan at the same time.

News spread fast in their little village, and soon he finds himself flanked left and right with congratulations from everyone, even those that he is sure he does not know on a personal basis.

And suddenly Tenten is there, when everyone else has left, and he is able to escape to the oasis that is their old training grounds. He realizes he fears her reaction the most, and at the same time, he anticipates it more than anyone else's.

"Are you okay, Neji?"

He thinks it is the inflection of her voice, that tone that quietly asks if he is sure of what he is doing, if this is what will make him happy—because it is all so stupid, marrying someone you barely know—that makes him realize something, something that has been lurking in the fringes of his mind for a while now, something he refuses to acknowledge.

He feels for Tenten.


"You're still not over Lee."

One week later, and Neji finds himself in another group dinner with the rest of their comrades, with Tenten sitting to his right, the ever faithful right man—or woman—and Lee sitting right across them, dreamy eyes at the pink-haired kunoichi who is engaged in an intense conversation with the Yamanaka heiress.

He finds it a little funny that their roles are reversed now; and then a familiar pinching in his chest appears, stopping the smirk that threatens to escape his mouth.

Tenten snorts to his right, and he turns to look at her full in the face.

"What, you can read minds now?"

"I don't have to. It's obvious."

She chuckles, and then she is standing, grabbing his wrist and pulling him up with her. They leave their table, only to stand in front of the bar, their backs against their little group of friends. Only when they have settled down did Tenten deem it proper to respond to him.

"You're not allowed throw back my lines at me. Have a little originality, Neji."

And he studies Tenten's face, the way the light reflects against her hazelnut brown eyes, how they lack their usual shine, and suddenly he feels the urge to pummel Lee to the ground. Instead, he reaches out and places a hand on hers, brushing his thumb on the back of her hand.

"Are you okay, Tenten?"

Tenten rolls her eyes, but flips her hand so that they are palm against palm, and she curls her fingers around his.

"Right, because of course I haven't used that line before."


"You're getting married tomorrow."

He regards her with pale gray eyes and drinks in her appearance, three months after their last group dinner where he found out that she is still in love with their other teammate. Tenten is in her house clothes—a loose pink T-shirt and cotton shorts—barefoot, with her hair tied in a loose ponytail, far from her usual buns. She is holding a bottle of water in her right hand, her right still on the doorknob, as she eyes him suspiciously from outside her small apartment door.

"Why are you here at eleven in the evening?"

"May I come in?"

They are never subtle with each other, and so she rolls her eyes and turns her back on him, but she does not close the door and he follows, shutting it silently behind him. They walk to her small living room before she turns to face him again, left hand fisting at her hip.


She is asking him what he is doing at her place when he should be resting—preparing—for his wedding eleven hours from then. He tries to recall what his reasons are, but at that moment all he could think of is how beautiful Tenten looks, and why has he not noticed it before?

Then fingers are snapping in front of his face, and he snaps back to reality, Tenten hovering inches away from him, frowning a little frown that makes her look completely adorable.

"Hello, Neji? Are you even listening to me?"

And then he is reaching out, holding the back of Tenten's head and pulling her close, so that their lips meet and he is drinking her scent in—the smell of steel and the slightest whiff of cinnamon—and it is wonderful and he wants to do this again and again and again.

Except that he realizes, seven seconds after he pulled her close, that Tenten is not kissing him back.

He jerks away suddenly, and he sees her with eyes open, looking at him with an expression he cannot read. His hand falls to his side and he takes a step back, embarrassed.

"I—I didn't mean to . . ."

Tenten raises an eyebrow and he stops talking before he says something entirely stupid that will further damage his friendship with the only member of the female population who could stand him—except for his cousins, of course.

"Getting cold feet, Hyuuga?"

There is no venom in Tenten's voice, but no humor either. The question is asked clinically, as if she is a mere store clerk asking him if he prefers dried or preserved plums.

"I'm sorry."

It is a mere whisper, but it is sincere. Because he is sorry—sorry that it took him seven years to realize that he wants Tenten, perhaps more that he did Hinata back then, sorry that he was not able to steal her heart from Lee or Shikamaru, sorry that he probably ruined his friendship with her for good because of a rash action.

"Are you now?"

And he looks up, and Tenten is still looking at him, but there is at least a hint of playfulness in her eyes. His heart leaps a little, but quickly sinks back when he hears her next words.

"You're getting married tomorrow, Neji. And you haven't answered my question. What are you doing here at eleven in the evening?"

Neji closes his eyes and tries to compose himself, his feelings, because it would not do to give half-baked confessions to his best friend. Tenten deserves so much more than that.

"I'm not getting married tomorrow."

He hears her snort, and he opens his eyes, only to find that Tenten has covered her mouth with a fist, as if to keep her laughter in. He frowns in response, and then Tenten is laughing, guffawing as loudly as she did back when they were still chunnin and she discovered his secret obsession with his cousin.

"And you decided this when?"

There is still humor in her voice, and bubbles of laughter escape her lips as she tries to sober up.

It irritates him.

"I don't see how this is a laughing matter."

Tenten rolls her eyes and waves a hand in an offish manner.

"Oh come on, Neji. Don't tell me you're going to cancel your wedding because you suddenly realized you're in love with me."

And then there is deadly silence, and Tenten gasps when she realizes that he has not answered. Gone is the humor in her voice, in her eyes, and she takes a step back instinctively, as if protecting herself from an unknown assailant.

"You cannot be serious."

Neji takes a step forward; Tenten takes a step back.

"Please tell me you're just messing with me."

There is desperation in Tenten's plea, but Neji finds himself not caring anymore.

"And why would I do that?"

He takes another step, and Tenten jumps back three feet.

"Neji! Have you gone completely bonkers? You cannot fall in love with me, idiot!"

He pauses in midstep and eyes her suspiciously.

"Why not?"


She is starting to sound frustrated, and Neji is not sure if this is a good sign or not. Still, he presses on, because he wants this over, damn it, he needs to know how things stand between them, if there will still be a them after this whole episode.


"Because I'm not in love with you!"

And he freezes, because he has been rejected, and he feels his heart convulse in his ribcage, fast and painful. Tenten has both palms pressed against her mouth, her eyes wide, as if she is as surprised as he is with her words. And then she is the one reaching out, trying to get a hold on him, but he is moving toward the exit, to get away from her, from them, to get married the next day to a woman he does not even know.

A kunai zips past him as he reaches for the doorknob, and he spins, rage barely concealed, just in time to find Tenten lunging at him, so that his head cracks against the wood, and they tumble down her cold wooden floor.

"I'm sorry Neji! Kami, I'm so sorry."

Tenten is hysterical—she is never hysterical—and she wraps her arms around his waist and buries her face in the crook of his neck, locking him in place down the floor as she sobs and sobs, and Neji finds himself with no more strength to move.

They lie on the floor for minutes, silent aside from Tenten's quiet sobs, until finally Neji thinks he can risk movement once again. Tentatively, he places a hand on the small of Tenten's back, and he feels her freeze on top of him, but the next moment he feels her sniff against his neck, and then she is pushing herself up, just enough so that they can look each other in the eye again.

"I am not getting married tomorrow."

He hates repeating himself, but for Tenten he is willing to make an exception.

Tenten nods, and the fear, the apology, the endearment, Neji sees them all in her eyes. But try as he may, he cannot detect the kind of affection he saw her give Lee back when they were still fifteen.

She is being honest. She is not in love with him.

"I'm going to kiss you back now, okay, Neji?"

Her words surprise him so much his heart forgets to break in his chest.


He did not want Tenten kissing him out of pity, damn it.

But then her hand is stroking his cheek gently, and a small, sad smile is on her lips, and Neji suddenly realizes he does not care. He just wants to kiss Tenten again and again and again.

"I'm sorry I'm not in love with you, Neji. But I will kiss you back, and I will let you love me if that is what will make you happy."

And she lowers her lips on his, and Neji feels his mind reel from the sensation of Tenten against him, and all half-hearted protests dies in his throat.

There are no more words between them after that.


"You're going out with Shikamaru again."

Three months after his cancelled wedding, he finds himself confronting Tenten on their training ground, while she is in the middle of a stretch, left leg hooked around the back of her neck, toes pointed out. She looks up and tilts her head to the side, her face unreadable.

"I . . . am?"

He is out of patience, and he snaps at her immediately.

"Don't take me for a fool, Tenten."

Tenten frowns, stands and dusts off her pants. She eyes him warily, as if she knows that he will strike any second.

"What are you getting so worked up for?"

"Why do you keep on doing this?"

"Doing what?"


Tenten opens her mouth to speak, and promptly snaps it shut. Tilting her head to the other side, she stares at him for a few seconds before turning her back at him.

"It doesn't really concern you, you know."

Her voice is a bare whisper, but he hears every word. It does nothing to cool his temper.

"Of course it does!"

She jerks back and glares at him.

"What the hell are you getting so angry for anyway? Are you jealous of Shikamaru, Neji?"

There is a pause, and Tenten blinks dumbly at him.


More blinking ensues.

"Oh come on. There is nothing going on between us! Just because I slept with you that one time doesn't mean I'm going to marry you!"

He flinches inwardly, but Tenten is not finished yet.

"Hell, I've slept with Shika countless times and you don't see me calling myself Nara Tenten!"

His reaction is twofold. One, his heart drops to his stomach as reality crashes over him, like one of Gai and Lee's waves-on-sunset, that he is not Tenten's first. Two, he thinks he hates Shikamaru's surname attached to hers, and he promises himself it will never come to that—ever. Tenten recognizes a different kind of anger in his eyes, and she mellows down a bit.

"I thought you knew."

"Knew what? That you've been sleeping with Shikamaru all this time?"

There is accusation in his voice, and Tenten is on the defensive once again.

"What? You expect me to save myself for marriage or something? Look around you, Neji! How many kunoichis my age are married anyway? How many kunoichis my age are still alive, huh?"

Tenten rubs her palms against her eyes and sighs loudly. They stay silent for a while, Tenten's hands pressed against her eyes, Neji's fists clenched at his sides.

"For the record, Shikamaru and I weren't together when it happened between us."

Neji is not sure how that makes things better, but somehow, it does.

"Do you love him?"

Defeat laces his voice, and he watches as Tenten drops her hands down and looks at him, her eyes watery with unshed tears.

"Shikamaru, he's like a drug. I know he's bad for me, but, well, you know. I can't help it."

A pause.

"Besides, I don't think I have it. The ability."

"To what?"

Tenten smiles at him, but her eyes are so very sad.

"To love."


"I am not in love with you."

Four days later and Neji finds himself on Tenten's bed, his right arm pillowing her head, the back of his left palm pressed against his cursed seal. Tenten's right arm is wrapped loosely around his bare waist, and her breath tickles his neck.

"I know."

They are silent for a while, Tenten quietly drawing small circles on his chest, making him feel all sorts of funny in his stomach.

"I broke up with Shika."

He does not respond, simply removes his hand from his forehead to hold hers and keep her still.

"But of course you already know that, since you've been stalking me since we're eighteen."

He fights off a smirk, but does not contradict her statement. She chuckles and plants a kiss on his shoulder.

"Whatever am I going to do with you, Neji?"

He turns to look in her eyes, and he lets her read the sincerity behind them. He thinks it is what she needs most.

"Whatever you want."

She smiles sadly at him.

"I will never get over Lee, and Shikamaru already took whatever space is left. There's simply no more room for you, Neji. Just like there's really no room for me in you, because we both know Hinata's still in there."

He frowns—why does it always come back to Hinata? He has not even thought of Hinata that way since her wedding with Naruto seven, eight years ago.

"She's my cousin."

And Tenten guffaws, the way she did back in that little yakiniku shop when they were still fifteen, and Neji wonders how they survived each other that long.

Maybe it is fate, he tells himself as Tenten curls her fingers against his and leans in for a kiss.


"You love me back."

One month later, he wakes up in the hospital, his left leg in a cast, his right arm bandaged, and there are nasty cuts and bruises all over his body. He has been in a coma for two weeks and three days, and the first person he sees when he opens bleary eyes is Tenten, sitting on a chair beside his bed, reading a manual about weaponry. She looks the same outwardly, but Neji sees the dark circles under her eyes, a testament to many a sleepless nights that she kept vigil over his broken form.

Tenten drops the book and starts to launch at him, but she catches herself the last second and jerks back.

"You idiot!"

She yells, shrilly, and points an angry finger at him.

"What were you thinking, getting beaten up like that? I had to endure Gai-sensei and Lee's cries of despair over your unyouthful state for the past seventeen days!"

He wants to laugh, but he thinks his ribs are broken, so it really hurts to breathe, let alone chuckle.

"Shikamaru got beaten up too. Why are you here and not in his room?"

Tenten glares at him, and Neji wonders if he can duck to avoid any weapon she chucks his way.

"He can die for all I care! It's his stupid plan that got you comatosed in the first place! Seriously, did you tell him I slept with you before I got back together with him? You're the only one in your team who suffered internal hemorrhage!"

He does not answer, but the twinkle in his eyes is a dead giveaway.

"Are you crazy?!"


She eyes him angrily for two more seconds, before flopping down hard on his bed, missing his injured arm by a hair's width.

"I ought to send you back to a coma, you dumbass."

"But you won't."

Tenten nods absentmindedly, reaching out to twirl strands of his hair around her index finger.

"I do not love you back."

Neji smirks.

"Of course you don't."


"I guess I do."

Two months later, and Tenten tells him, out of the blue, as they are walking back to Konoha after a mission. Lee and Gai are a few feet ahead, out of earshot, and they are walking in silence when she suddenly says the four words.

Neji turns to her, not really understanding what she means.

"You what?"

Tenten is looking ahead, but Neji sees the corner of her lip tug upward in a small smile.

"You cannot make me say it again, Hyuuga."

And suddenly he understands, and his heart threatens to do cartwheels in his chest. He takes her hand and wills her to stop walking, not caring when she glares at him, as if telling him that he better not do anything stupid while Gai and Lee are so near.


She shakes her head, the glare disappearing.


She whispers, as if unsure, and he shakes his head, his eyes telling her that no, Hinata will never be a problem, can Tenten not see that it is her, just her?


Tenten grins, and for a second Neji fears that maybe she is not over Lee after all, that maybe she just learned to accept the fact that Lee will never be hers, so she decided to settle for him instead.

"Of course not, idiot."

He smiles and leans in, uncaring if Gai or Lee sees them—it's better if they do, he thinks smugly—and presses his lips against her.

And when he feels Tenten smile in his mouth, he decides that he is, finally, okay.

Ending Song: "Over Thinking" by Relient K

Meh, I should be working right now, but this muse has been bugging me for a week, and I really need to get it out of my system because I couldn't concentrate with my editing project! Arrrgh!

I guess I just wanted to deal with the whole issue of "Neji being obsessed with Hinata" and "Tenten being in love with Lee" in one go. And yeah, that ShikaTen bit there? Couldn't help myself, sorry. Tee hee.

Anyway, to those who are reading my series "Scars and Stitches," don't shoot! I will post something before next week ends, okay? I just, uh, need to type it out, but I have the next chapter written in my head. So we're good, right, right?

Can I bribe you guys with marshmallows for reviews?