Rating: T (to be safe)
Sun streaked through the open window. It hit the foot of the bed just enough to warm it, but not enough to actually wake the occupants. Despite the early hour, though, one of them was already laying with eyes open.
"Hmmm." Tenten sighed. She snuggled down into the blankets wanting to fall back asleep but finding it impossible.
The arms wrapped around her midsection tightened with the slight movements she had made. Neji's thumb began running smooth circles against her skin as he also began to wake. It was something he always did when the two shinobi lay in a bed together. Tenten knew it was an unconscious habit, but she liked to think he did it to her on purpose.
These types of missions were her favorites. It gave her one-on-one time with Neji that could rarely be found on other more dangerous jobs or even back home in Konoha. Plus the cover of being husband and wife came with the perk of sharing a bed.
She'd never admit it out loud to anyone but she loved waking up in his arms. More than water
more than air
more than her weapons.
"What time is it?" Neji murmured, his mind becoming clearer as sleep grew further away from him.
Blowing her bangs off forehead, Tenten reluctantly pulled away from his warmth and sat up. "Time to get to work." She blew her bangs up again. "We need to get the information and get out before anyone starts to suspect we aren't really
" She shrugged. "
you know, actually married."
He smirked at this. Sitting up on the bed behind her, Neji leaned his chin on her shoulder and followed Tenten's gaze out the window. "Let's get to it then."
The mission was completed with minimal problems. All the details in their briefing had proven useful in obtaining what they came for. An impromptu public kiss was the only thing needed to save a possible disaster of discovered identities.
It was dark before they stopped for some rest on the journey home. Neji didn't have to say anything for Tenten to understand what he was doing when he veered off the path they'd been running on. Between the two of them camp was set up quickly with both a fire and some basic defense traps set. Dinner was cooked just as fast.
"We've got another three quarters of a day run tomorrow." Neji broke the silence.
"Yeah." Tenten had barely heard him. She was off in her own little world, not yet ready to think about home. Home meant an empty apartment.
Staring into the flames, Neji nodded at her vague response. They'd been working together long enough for him to realize something was bothering her but he didn't comment on it. She was just like that on return trips. He couldn't blame her; his own thoughts often had to be reined in when they were alone like this without a mission to think about.
Quiet took over the small clearing with only intermittent crackles from the fire disturbing it.
Tenten's shiver broke the pensive feeling around them. The night was getting cold. "I think it's time for bed." She pulled her sleeping bag from her pack, scooted closer to the heat coming off the fire, and lay down.
The traps would be enough to alert them of any trouble so Neji pulled his out as well. He laid it next to hers. Body heat, even indirect body heat, would help keep them both warmer.
"Goodnight." They said in unison.
Tenten let out a giggle which, in turn, caused Neji to smirk. It made him feel better knowing she was getting back to normal. Her blankets shifted when she rolled over to face him. "Night." She smiled at him.
"Hn." Neji closed his eyes but it was some time before he actually fell asleep to Tenten's soft, even breathing. When they arrived home, he would miss that sound at night.
Neji was the first to awaken the next morning. He was unsurprised to find that he had pulled Tenten, still inside her sleeping bag, to spoon against him. It was happening more and more often on jobs where it was just them. Lingering touches, unnecessary contact, and flushed cheeks were becoming normal for him despite his ever effort to stop.
The sun was low in the sky. If they got started soon they'd get back to Konoha in the early afternoon and maybe have some time to get a bit of training in. Gently he released her body from his and roused her.
Once Tenten got her bearings between her dreams and reality, they packed up and set off at a run.
According to their calculations they'd arrive in the city by about three in the afternoon, but only if they maintained a good speed. Without their other two green teammates it was tempting to slack off on the run. Taking their time meant more time alone together but hurrying meant some time to train before the next mission.
Just before they'd left on this job Tenten and Neji had been working on a new battle strategy which utilized her accuracy and his byakugan in tandem. It would be invaluable if they could get the kinks out, a fact they both understood, so they maintained a vigorous pace.
Their arrival at the gates was met by the watchful eyes of Izumo and Kotetsu. Neji ignored them. Tenten scowled at them. They were too nosy for their own good in her opinion. She disliked the open staring at her and Neji as they said a brief goodbye to each before agreeing to meet in an hour to train. It was a routine the two shinobi always did when they returned home. In Tenten's mind it was a private matter, not something to be gawked at.
"See you in an hour." Tenten said. Neji nodded and took off toward the Hyuuga compound. "Would you two stop staring!" She spun on the guards. They merely returned to their post laughing as they went. Tenten stood for a moment glowering before she too turned to go home.
"Do you think they'll ever figure it out?" Kotetsu asked.
Izumo shook his head. "She already knows. He'll be the one to break, though."
Several days passed. Each of them found Neji and Tenten training hard in their clearing. The new combination was beginning to work nicely and would soon be usable to battle.
"Hey, Neji," Tenten called out from her perch in a nearby tree. "Why don't we try it a couple more times before we go grab dinner?"
Tenten got back into her opening stance and started the movements. Neji followed suit to be her counterbalance. Part of the sequence required her to be up in the air. Just as she was about to release her weapons, a shout startled her. "NEJI! NEJI!" Ino screamed out at the companions from across the way. From her position in the air Tenten could see her friend running toward them. "NEJI!"
The distraction caused the duo's pattern to be broken and Tenten fell to the ground with a graceless thud. Neji ignored the new presence in order to see to Tenten as she lay in the grass dazed. "You okay?" He asked as he pulled her up to sit against him.
"Yeah. I'm fine." She responded. "What did you need Ino?" By now her other friend was at their side.
"Sorry about that." Ino scratched her head sheepishly. "I didn't mean to interrupt, but Lady Tsunade just set an undercover mission for me and Neji. The two of us leave later tonight."
"Hn." It wasn't that he disliked Ino; he just preferred working with his regular partner. She didn't try so hard to prove to everyone that they were really married. Thinking about this, he unconsciously pulled Tenten closer to his body, something which did not escape the louder kunoichi's attention.
She pouted at him. "You never hold me like that, Neji."
"Maybe it's because you're too busy glomping people all the time." Neji deadpanned as he stood up, tugging Tenten with him.
Ino laughed. "I guess that's true. I'll meet you by the gates in three hours?"
Following a quick dinner Neji left to prepare for his mission.
Tenten went home to her apartment. It wasn't until the middle of the night, after hours of tossing and turning in a restless sleep, that Ino's words actually hit her.
What did Neji do when he had to pretend Ino or Sakura or any other kunoichi was his wife for a mission? Did he hold them like he held her? Did they know what it felt like to wake up in his arms? Did he kiss them? Tenten had never really thought about it before.
It hurt her heart thinking about all the possibilities of where he was or what he was doing with the others. She wanted Neji all for herself. She wanted him to only hold her; to only touch her.
A sigh escaped her lips. Until Neji returned to the village, Tenten knew sleeping would not be easy.
Neji and Ino's mission went smoothly.
They were in and out of the target village in less than two days. The return trip is what gave Neji his headache. He had commented to Ino that he wanted to get home before nightfall so he could sleep in a bed again.
She had loudly responded it was his own fault; he could have shared the hotel bed with her. "But no. You chose to sleep on the floor instead. Don't complain to me. What would it have looked like if a pair of newlyweds got a room with separate beds?"
He knew she was right, of course, but it never sat well with him to share a bed with anyone besides Tenten. "Hn. Let's just get home."
"After you, leader," she said before taking off at a run in front of him.
Things were back to normal for the two shinobi after Neji returned. Tenten met him the next day for training. They worked some more on the tandem strategy before working through the regular target practice and kaiten exercises.
A few more weeks passed with sporadic missions with Gai-sensei and Lee mixed in with training days. It was the pattern of their lives. Nothing being the same and yet being alike at the same time.
It was during a short break one afternoon that Neji learned about one of Tenten's upcoming missions. "We leave in a couple of days. It's going to be kind of weird, though." She contemplated out loud.
I've never pretended to be married to anyone besides you. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do." She laughed. "With you it's just comfortable. I'm just myself. With Shino? I don't know." Her shoulders shrugged.
Neji averted his eyes from her when he responded. "Just be you. You'll be fine."
Although he wasn't so sure himself. It was his job to be her pretend husband. He didn't want to think about someone else stepping into the role. Someone else having to hold her, touch her, in ways that may be necessary to maintain cover. It didn't sit well with him.
"Yeah," was all Tenten could reply.
They'd continued on training until the day she was leaving. Their new attack was ready to be used in battle. They were absolutely in sync. In fact, they'd hardly left each other's sides in order to perfect it.
Neji walked with her to the gates where she was to meet up with Shino. It felt odd having her leave with someone else. He knew she'd been on missions without him before, but not with just one other person
a male person at that.
Once Shino and Tenten were out of sight he decided to go train on his own for a while rather than return home. In turning toward the clearing his eyes caught the sight of Kotetsu and Izumo whispering to each other while staring in his direction. As soon as they realized Neji saw them they stopped talking and smirked at him.
"Haven't figured it out yet, huh?" Kotetsu teased.
" Neji had no idea what he was going on about.
"It's nothing." Izumo said.
Until someone else sweeps her off her feet of course!" Kotetsu broke in. "You better get with the program Hyuuga. You can never tell what other guys are trying to do with her."
" Neji still had no clue what was happening, but he was tired of dealing with the two guards. He turned and headed off without another glance.
The kaiten practice went flawlessly, but when Neji got to his meditation time something was off. His mind could not focus. It kept drifting off to different things.
What had Kotetsu meant? What were other guys trying to do to Tenten?
And suddenly it clicked. Izumo and Kotetsu thought he was in love with her.
He smiled at the thought and got up to leave the clearing. There was no way he was in love with Tenten. She was his best friend and teammate, nothing more. Neji continued with some more kaiten practice until it grew dark. Then he headed back to the Hyuuga compound for the night.
It wasn't until he lay in bed that he realized that the something he had felt was off earlier came back.
His white eyes were open and staring at the far side of his bed. Although Tenten had never been next to him in it he knew that was the off sensation. Despite his own denial of it, Neji wanted her. He wanted her next to him, wanted to be the one touching her. Not Shino.
Neji sat bolt upright.
Tenten was currently in some other village sharing a bed with Shino. She was pretending to be his wife and he her husband. Was she laying there next to him in some hotel bed? He had told her to just be herself. Would she willingly crawl into the bed of another man, pure intentions or not?
His feet hit the cold floor. He was dressed and out the door running before his mind could fully process what he was doing. As he reached the main gate, both guards stirred.
"Would you look at that?" Izumo laughed.
Kotetsu was leaning against his shoulder to keep from falling over in amusement. "Guess he finally figured it out!" He called out after Neji's rapidly disappearing form. "And you were right. He did break first."
The door slamming open startled Tenten awake with a small shriek. On the floor next to the bed she was in Shino sat up awake as well. They both grabbed a nearby weapon and prepared to strike their attacker only to drop the weapons in pure shock.
Standing there, byakugan activated, was Neji.
Tenten jumped up from the bed and pulled him inside. "What are you doing here? You're going to blow our cover."
He stumbled forward. Taking in his surroundings, he noticed Shino sitting on the floor, blankets scattered around. Tenten sat back down on the messy bed. Neji audibly sighed. "Stupid Kotetsu. Stupid Izumo." He leaned against the wall behind him, banging his head, and slid to sit on the floor exhausted after his run.
The mission partners were more confused than ever.
" Shino wasn't sure where to begin.
Tenten did, though. "What are you taking about? What do those two have to do with you barging in here in the middle of the night?"
When he was finally able to catch his breath Neji stood back up. Moving toward Tenten he reached out and grabbed her arm, tugging her to him. He wrapped himself around her burying his face in her neck. "I didn't want someone else pretending to be your husband." He whispered in her ear.
"How does that have anything to
"They got me paranoid enough to realize Shino might be holding you in his arms, that you'd be sharing a bed with someone else. I didn't like it." His eyes closed when he leaned his forehead against hers. "I want to be the only one you do those things with."
Tenten's arms embraced him. "You never had to worry." She leaned up and kissed his cheek.
Neji's sudden epiphany and subsequent freak out had caused the cover to be blown. And because of this, it was him that Lady Tsunade was chewing out. Shino and Tenten had been scolded, too, but Neji got the brunt of the assault.
Once they were dismissed, Neji grabbed Tenten's hand and directed her toward the door. Just as they passed the threshold, Neji's ears picked up the start of Lady Tsunade and Shizune's conversation.
"I told you he'd be the one to break first."