Ever since the little incident at Hinata's Halloween party, Neji and Tenten had acted like it had never happened. After Neji had fainted that night, he had stayed locked in his room. She hadn't even had time to go busting in his room because everyone had kept her busy with questions about her costume and her little prank on Neji that night. When she had finally gotten away from everyone, it was time to go and at that point she had lost her nerve. I know, she thought. I will just tell him it was only a stupid prank and nothing more tomorrow. I can just blow off the whole incident. But when she went to practice the next morning, he acted as if nothing had happened. If she didn't know better, it was like he had acted even colder towards her than before. Being the chicken she was, Tenten just reverted back to her old self and they both forgot about the whole incident after a few weeks.
Now it was approaching the middle of February and another holiday was coming up. Unlike Halloween, Valentine's Day was her least favorite holiday of the year. It brought back painful memories of when she was young and at the Academy. She had liked a boy named Koichi for a little bit and was planning on confessing to him. She had even saved her money for weeks and bought him a piece of chocolate too. Things went wrong that day when she confessed though. All he did was laugh at her and say that nobody would like a girl that wanted to be a drunken monster like Tsunade. Tenten had run crying from him and never again felt an urge to do anything for anyone on that horrendous day.
Then why do I feel like I want to do SOMETHING for Neji, she argued with herself. We haven't even talked about what happened on Halloween and it's not like he is expecting anything from me! But the little voice in the back of her mind told her that this would be the perfect opportunity to bring it up again and find out what he really thought about her that night. The scared little girl in her was hesitant to do anything, but her stubborn side won the fight. If he asks why I got him anything, I can just tell him I got something for Lee and Gai-sensei too. Tenten silently hoped that it would work, but there was still part of her that felt like it would just backfire terribly.
Neji had never really liked any holiday in particular. After last Halloween though, he knew that it was his new favorite holiday thanks to Tenten, but he would never tell that to anyone. After that night he had stayed in his room all night with images of her in that skin tight dress, pressed against him in his head. He told himself that night that he would act like nothing had happened for the sake of the team. When he had gone to practice the next morning he saw a nervous looking Tenten but just ignored her when she tried to speak up. He had decided to keep his distance from her for a while so that they could both just forget that night had happened.
But I still remember, he mentally slapped himself. I can still feel her pressed against me and I still feel her hot breath on my ear
Neji stopped his train of thought there. He knew Valentine's Day was coming up and he didn't want to bring up any unnecessary feelings for her. Those feelings that he had developed for her over the past few years were off limits. They had to stay at bay for the sake of the team. Still, he couldn't help but hope that she might do something for him for that special day. Don't be stupid Neji. She won't get you anything. When have you ever showed an interest in her? After mentally scolding himself, he went to meet his teammates for their daily training.
Every morning practice leading up to that awful day was so painful. She would silently watch Neji and Lee spar first. Neji still had that lithe grace when he battled and she just sat there in awe of him. Suddenly an image of herself pressed against Neji at Halloween floated into her mind. Blushing, she looked away from the fight taking place. Why would that image float into her head now of all times? Because you know that what you really want is that lithe body pressed against you again, her inner voice told her. She knew her little voice was right. Tenten suddenly felt too hot in the cool outside air.
"Tenten! Are you feeling alright? Your youthful face is all red and you look like you will pass out any second! Do you have a fever?" Tenten planned to look Lee in the face and tell him she was perfectly fine. Instead, when she looked up, her eyes instantly locked onto Neji's face. She saw him studying her intently with his eyes. She felt the blush cover her whole face and even her ears. Deciding not to push her luck any farther, she dragged her gaze off of Neji and ran away, letting the hurt little girl take over her emotions.
Neji had been caught up in the fight when Lee decided to suddenly stop. Lee had proceeded to ask Tenten why she was so red. As Lee pointed this out, Neji only became curious. It was a cool day so there was no reason to be red unless she was feeling ill. Neji was overcome with a feeling that told him to make sure Tenten was safe. He quickly looked to her and saw her raise her head and look straight at him. Lee had been right. Her face was completely red, but it didn't look like she was sick. He began studying her more intently to try and figure out what was wrong with her. As Tenten stared back at him, Neji saw her ears go red too.
She's embarrassed, he realized with a shock. Neji knew that the only time her ears got red was when she was really embarrassed about something. He couldn't figure out why she was feeling like that now though. It was just the three of them out here training like always. Before Neji could look at her any more, she stood up and ran away from Lee and himself. All he could do was stare in shock as he watched her run. Part of him wanted to run after her but he knew better. Somewhere in the back of his mind he heard something telling him to run after her. "Leave her be Lee. She obviously needs time alone right now." With that, he and Lee sparred for the remainder of their practice time, but Tenten was in the back of Neji's mind the whole time.
Part of Tenten wanted to be alone. Another half wanted Neji to somehow come running after her even though she knew that would never happen. The last part of her was fed up with all this confusion. She just wanted someone to talk to; someone who understood her situation even better than she did. Tenten had never been one to hang out with the other kunoichi her age but she really needed someone right then and there. An image of a certain blonde girl came into her mind. Ino Yamanaka wasn't her favorite person to hang out with, but right now she needed someone to help her sort through this. Tenten knew that Ino could be brutally honest when necessary and that was exactly what she needed. She sprinted to Ino's house hoping that she hadn't left for the day yet.
Soon enough she saw the familiar flower shop come into view and slowed her sprint down to a slight jog. As soon as she entered the shop she saw Ino smiling, humming, and putting flowers on display for the day. The blonde looked up when she heard the bell ring as the door opened. Tenten knew the shop wasn't technically open yet, but at that point she really didn't care.
"Hi Ino. I was wondering if you could help me with something." Tenten couldn't even look at Ino as she said this. It was embarrassing enough to ask for help, but her tears took it to a different level. Ino looked at her knowingly. "Why don't you just come upstairs and we can talk about it, ok?" Ino put away the last of the flowers in her hands and led Tenten upstairs and into her room. "Now tell me why you are crying at seven in the morning and why you chose to ask me of all people to help you Tenten."
Tenten took a shaky breath and started from the beginning. She told Ino about the whole Halloween incident and what she had planned for that night. Then she went on to explain how her and Neji just avoided the topic over the next few weeks. Then she got to the hard part. "I hate Valentine's Day Ino, but I feel like I need to do something this year for him. All of the feelings that I've kept bottled inside are coming up now and I don't know how much longer they are going to stay put." It felt good to finally get everything off of her chest. She looked up shyly at Ino, afraid of what the honest girl might say. What Tenten saw honestly scared her. Ino had gone from smiling to looking like a demon.
"God, the two of you drive me nuts sometimes! Here you are coming to me of all people and crying, when what you should be doing is punching that damn Hyuuga in the face! I mean, you and Neji are so stupid. Everyone else can see it Tenten. Why can't you?!" Ino looked like she was about to rip a pillow apart with her bare hands.
"See what Ino? You can't possibly be saying that Neji has-"
"That's EXACTLY what I'm saying you dumb girl! You were on the right track at Halloween but then you lost all the backbone you had and turned into a stupid jellyfish! I bet you anything that if you put a little more heat on that Hyuuga brat, he would be the one turning into a jellyfish! If you want my honest opinion, go out there on Valentine's Day and do something he can't ignore. Now get out of here before I lose my voice. I still have to yell at Shikamaru and Choji today too."
Tenten looked up at Ino in awe. It was like she was seeing the whole situation for the first time. She realized just how silly all these stupid games between her and Neji were. For the first time since Halloween, Tenten felt that switch inside of her turn on. "Thanks Ino. I knew you were the right person to talk to." With that, the girls said their goodbyes and Tenten walked out of the flower shop a new person. She decided that she would finally finish what she started on Halloween and this time she would win.
Neji had been in his room all day, trying to meditate, but the images of Tenten kept floating into his head. He would see her running away from him this morning and then he would see her in that sinful dress from Halloween. He could feel his body get excited as his mind saw her push against him and put those lips next to his ear. Before his mind could go any further, a knock came to his door, pulling him out of his trance. He opened the door to see Hinata standing there with a letter in her hands. "Hinata, if it is just an early Valentine, you know I don't want it."
"Oh no Neji! This isn't a Valentine at all. It's a letter that just got delivered for you. The person who brought it told me that it was very important that you read it now."
With that, his cousin simply gave him the letter and walked away smiling a strange smile. Neji turned the envelope over in his hands as he closed his door. He opened the letter and was surprised to find a familiar handwriting.
You presence is required tonight at my home at 7:00 sharp. You are required to wear your formal attire as well. If you aren't here then I will come over to the compound and get you myself. Trust me; you don't want me to come and get you.
Neji had to read the letter a few more times to fully process it. Not only was it rude, it was ridiculous. She hadn't even signed it. But, even though it was rude and abrasive, Neji still found himself looking at the clock to see that it was already 6:30. He found himself getting dressed in his suit quickly and rushing to get out of the door. He ignored the stares he got as he rushed out of the compound in his suit. By running as fast he could, he luckily found himself in front of her door at 6:59. He gently knocked on the door, not knowing what to expect.
The door opened slowly in front of him to reveal what had to be something straight from his forbidden daydreams. All he could manage to spit out of his dry mouth was "Ten
" There she was, standing in her doorway, wearing the same red dress she had worn on Halloween with her hair tied up with red ribbons. Neji couldn't control his eyes. He let them wander over her form in the tight dress he had thought he would only dream about for the rest of his life. When his eyes finally came back up to rest on her face, she had a look on her face he couldn't read for once in his life.
"How long are you going to keep me waiting Neji?" she purred as she grabbed his tie.
If this doesn't get his attention then I don't know what will. Tenten heard the door knock from downstairs. For a split second, she was terrified. No, her inner voice screamed. Tonight you finish this Tenten. She ran down the stairs to get the door, slowly opening it to see Neji in his suit. She was shocked that Neji had followed all of her instructions at all. She had expected him to blow her off and not come at all. Instead, here he was simply looking at her and whispering only her name.
"How long are you going to keep me waiting Neji?" Tenten just decided to let her body take over. She grabbed his tie and dragged him into her living room. She saw all the emotions running through his eyes and licked her lips. Just as she was about to put him against the wall, she felt him take her by the waist and pin her to the wall instead. When she looked up at him, his eyes were back to being emotionless pools.
"Why are you doing this Tenten? This is absolutely ridiculous."
Instead of being hurt by his words, she decided to call his bluff. Tenten took her hands and spun them around so that Neji was the one pinned with her hands on his chest. She could feel his erratic heartbeat and that only fueled her on. "I'm just finishing what I started on Halloween Neji. And don't tell me that you don't feel something for me because I remember exactly how you looked at me that night." Then she decided to play dirty. She slowly put her face closer to his, only to put her lips to his ear at the last second. "I also remember that you liked me whispering to you so much that you fainted." Tenten felt Neji hold a groan back. "Does any of that ring a bell Neji?"
After she finished asking her question, Tenten pulled back to look at Neji with a serious face. She let him go from the wall and looked him straight in the eyes. "I'm tired of playing these stupid games with you Neji. We both know how we feel so why haven't we done anything about it? Why did we just ignore Halloween like it was nothing?"
"This isn't good for our tea-"
"That's bullshit Neji!" As Tenten yelled at him, she moved forward and pressed her lips violently onto Neji's.
Neji had tried the best he could to keep his mask on. He had tried so hard to not lose control with her. He thought he had done a pretty good job of hiding his growing feelings over the years. But now, all that control and hiding had been thrown out of Neji's mind. When he felt Tenten push him up against the wall with her hands on his chest, Neji almost had to sit down. Then, when Tenten started to whisper seductively into his ear about Halloween night, he had to suppress a groan.
But now, Neji's fantasy was finally becoming a reality. Tenten is actually kissing me. And in that dress no less
Neji lost control of his body and did something he had always wanted to do. Some guys may have wanted to touch Tenten's chest or butt, but the one thing Neji had always dreamed of doing late at night to Tenten was to untie her hair and run his fingers through it. And now he was getting what he had always wanted.
Neji never wanted this kiss to end either. He couldn't get enough of how she tasted. She's so sweet and soft, Neji thought to himself. Why didn't I do this sooner? Just as he was about to pull her closer and deepen the kiss, Neji felt something wet on his cheeks. He reluctantly pulled back to look at Tenten, only to see that she was crying. As he wiped the tears from her eyes, her head fell onto his chest.
"Why do you have to make things so complicated you stupid Hyuuga? How can love be such a bad thing Neji?" As Tenten muttered these words into Neji's chest, he realized just how selfish he had been over the last few years. He realized that he had slowly been breaking her heart.
At first the kiss started out angry. Tenten wanted to get back at him for how much hurt he had put her through and it felt like this was the only way she could do it. After a few seconds, she went weak from the realization that he was actually kissing her back. She then felt Neji untie her ribbons and weave his fingers in her hair. Her knees went weak as she felt his long fingers gently ran through her hair. But she felt angry at Neji for giving her these mixed signals. Tenten tried to show Neji how she felt through her kiss. She didn't even realize she was crying until Neji pulled her face back from his and wiped at her tears.
With her head on his chest, she weakly punched him. "Why do you have to make things so complicated you stupid Hyuuga? How can love be such a bad thing Neji?" Tenten looked up at him with tears streaming down her face. All she saw in his face was a look of guilt and realization. Why did I even bother doing this? She thought. This will just end up being the same as Halloween. I put myself out here and all I'll get is nothing in return. Tenten couldn't take it anymore. Her heart was in too much pain. Without giving Neji a chance to speak, she ran up the stairs and into her room.
She didn't know how long she cried into her pillow. Long ago, she had decided that she would never cry over boys and now here she was breaking that promise. But Tenten didn't care. She was finally letting out all the sorrow and frustration from years of being with Neji. She was letting out years of confusion and heartbreak he gave her.
When the tears finally stopped flowing from her eyes, she felt ashamed of herself. Not only had she lost it in front of Neji, but she had also betrayed herself. Tenten sighed into her pillow and decided to just go to sleep. She had no energy left in her to put silly things, like pajamas, on. Just as she was about to close her eyes, Tenten felt two hands grip her shoulders and slowly turn her onto her back. Instead of resisting him, Tenten let Neji help her sit up and face him.
Neji had felt the weak punches on his chest from Tenten. He saw the tears in her eyes and knew that it was all because of him. He slowly began to realize just how much pain he had put his team mate through. He had been selfish in thinking that he couldn't be with her all these years. He hadn't been pushing her away for the sake of the team. It had been because he had been scared. He didn't want Tenten to get hurt because of him, but because of his selfishness, he ended up doing just that.
Neji watched as Tenten ran away without a word to him and up to her room. After standing there in shock, he quietly followed the sound of her sobs. When he got to her room, he saw Tenten sobbing into her pillow. He slowly walked over and sat down on the corner of her bed, watching and waiting in silence. I have to fix this, he thought. I hurt Tenten for no reason and she deserves better than me. Neji didn't know how long he waited. All he knew was that each sob that echoed through the small room broke his calm reserve even more. When Tenten finally stopped crying, she simply closed her eyes, oblivious to Neji's presence. He took the opportunity to gently grab her, turn her over, and sit her up.
"Tenten please let me explain." Neji waited for her to say something. When he realized that she wasn't going to respond, he just kept talking. "I never intended to hurt you. I kept telling myself that the only reason I kept pushing you away was for the sake of our team." Tenten looked away from Neji with a frustrated look on her face. Using his hand, he gently cupped her face and turned it back to face him. "But I finally realized something Tenten. I realized how selfish I've been, especially since Halloween. You put yourself in front of me Tenten and all I did was push you away. But I didn't push you away because I don't want you. I pushed you away because I was too scared to want you." Neji watched as Tenten's face of frustration was replaced with a look of sad understanding.
"Neji I - "
"I told myself I would never hurt you. And I see that by pushing you away, I did the one thing I swore I would never do. You really don't deserve me Tenten." Neji stood up off of her bed and looked at Tenten one last time. "I'm sorry." And with that, Neji kissed Tenten's forehead and walked out of her room.
Tenten sat through Neji's entire monologue in shock. How could I not understand? And here I thought that I was so good at reading him. After hearing Neji's speech, she felt him kiss her forehead. It was the sweetest thing Tenten had ever felt. Then, she watched as Neji silently walked out of her room. She sat there for three seconds before it hit her. "He wants me
" she whispered to herself. Tenten could hear Neji opening her door to leave.
"NEJI!" Tenten screamed his name as she rushed out of her room. She stopped at the top of the staircase. "Tell me something." Neji closed the half open door and looked up at Tenten. "Are you truly sorry?" She watched as regret and sorrow flickered over his face for a split second before looking back at her.
"Yes. I know I'll never be able to make it up to you."
"And do you really want me the same way that I want you?" While waiting for his reply, she walked down the stairs and stopped in front of him, her eyes never leaving his face.
"Yes. More than you know." Tenten saw the smoldering look in his eyes when he said this and it made her shiver.
"Then I know how you can start making it up to me, you stupid Hyuuga," she whispered. Tenten wrapped her arms around Neji's neck and brought her face right up to his, waiting for him to kiss her. Right before he kissed her, she heard him whisper, "Happy Valentine's Day Tenten." And with that, she felt Neji kiss her and she hoped it would last forever.