Word Count: 1,386
Disclaimer: Neji and Tenten belong to Misashi Kishimoto.
There it was again.
"You..." Tenten whispered, stepping towards her small Christmas Tree. Bending down, she picked up the white-wrapped gift. It was a lot lighter than it had been in the previous years. Putting the package back down, she looked at the pile of gifts at her feet. It was strange... how she noticed no other but the white one. Sighing, she dropped down to the floor, thinking back to when it had all begun.
She had awoken five years ago, expecting to see her usual pile of gifts, until she noticed a white one placed at the side of all the rest. But the thing that had bugged her the most was that it carried no name. It had gone like that every year, with the gift always looking the same... only its contents differed. Of course, she had tried to search for whoever sent it, but nobody knew. She even suspected Neji, but his cousin explained to Tenten that it wasn't likely because Neji never gave gifts, even on Christmas. And besides, Tenten thought, It's impossible to even imagine him giving gifts.
She chuckled at the thought, and her eyes drifted to a calendar hanging by the side of the tree.
"Oh." It was the 25th.
Well duh. She thought, rolling her eyes at her own stupidity. Presents, remember?
"Well then," she said, opening a round gift that Lee gave her. "Merry Christmas, Tenten." She said aloud, her words echoing in the empty house.
"Hi Neji!" Tenten greeted her teammate as she entered their training grounds.
The Hyuga prodigy looked up to see her, and nodded in response.
Tenten skipped to him, and held out an beautifully wrapped gift. "Merry Christmas!" She said, cheerfully. It felt weird for her, to be giving him a gift so relaxed, when usually she would have been blushing and stuttering. It wasn't that her feelings had gone, no. If anything, they might have even grown deeper. It was just that she had accepted him, and how he was. She had accepted that his first priorities were his goals-and nothing could come before that. She had accepted that there would be nothing more between the two of them, but friendship.
Neji's brow rose, as he stared at the gift. "Another one?"
"Well, of course. It's Christmas, isn't it?" She answered, exasperated.
He smiled briefly, before taking the gift from her. He had no choice but to accept it, anyway. "Thank you." He said, looking directly to her eyes.
"Your welcome." she answered, looking up at her friend. Their eyes met and Tenten was transfixed by the intensity of his gaze. They stayed like that, for what seemed like hours to her. Then, unconsciously, her hand rose up to touch the permanent seal on his forehead. He stiffened at the touch, but did nothing to fend her off. Her eyes softened. She alone knew of the pain he had kept inside, even after he found out about the truth of his father's death. He was alone, though he did his best to hide it. He was alone... just as she was.
Snapping back to her senses, Tenten realized that her fingers had already made its way to Neji's cheek. Mentally cursing herself, she hastily pulled back her hand. "Sorry!" She called out, surprised at what she had done. "I did not know what came over me."
Shaking her head in disbelief, she made her way to her bags. She didn't understand what happened. Usually she could keep in her emotions, and did not go touching her teammate like that. But she was surprised though... she had thought that he would push her away.
Calming herself, she glanced at the Hyuga. He was sitting at his spot again. Comfortably leaning his back on a tree. She was thankful that he didn't delve on what had happened. She was just gazing at him when he talked casually, starting a conversation between them. It was like that every year.
Having no one else to go to, the two always spent Christmas together. In their old training grounds, they would talk... just talk, until the sun would rise up and they would leave to eat lunch. But the two were always content by the end of the day.
"I got the gift again." Tenten said moments later, having nothing else to say to him.
Neji turned to look at her. "The white one?"
She nodded. She had told him about it, for the last five years. She shifted her position, putting her bag on her lap. There were no weapons in it today.
"So, what was inside this year?"
"This." she answered, raising a necklace. It was made from fine silver, with intricate designs all over the think chain. The pendant, meanwhile, was shaped like half of a heart.
"Ah." He said, eyes narrowing at the pendant. "I've seen those before."
"Yup." she said, nodding. "I've seen them, too. And do you know how much these things cost?"
He raised a brow in reply.
"A lot. I just wish I knew who gave it, though." she said, fingering the pendant. "These things are really rare, and their sold by pairs. That's why this is only half of the heart." she explained, stating the obvious. She held up the pendant. "So another can hold the other half." she added, almost in a whisper.
"Figures." Neji replied nonchalantly, going back to staring at the sky.
"The weird thing is..." she continued, speaking more to herself now. "They said that you should give the other pendant to someone you..." she hesitated.
"--love." he finished for her.
"Yes." she answered, staring at him in surprise.
"Figures." he repeated, shrugging his shoulders. Then he smiled. "Then whoever gave you that necklace... loves you."
Tenten sighed. Exactly. It was that thought which frightened her the most. Who in the whole village of Konoha would... love her? She stared back at her teammate, feeling her chest tighten. It hurt her, she suddenly realized... that he seemed not to care at all.
"We better go eat now." Neji said suddenly, standing up.
Tenten nodded, forgetting her thoughts. "Let's go." she said, brushing off the soil from her pants.
Neji walked ahead of her, already half way though the grounds. She was just about to follow, when her eyes picked up a glinting light from where Neji had sat. Taken by curiosity, she approached it.
"Wha-?" Tenten exclaimed in surprise, her heart suddenly beating faster. "This is..." she whispered, bending down on her knees to pick up a necklace very much identical to the one she had just received. Rummaging her bag, she took her own necklace and stuck it to the one she found. They fit.
She turned around, but Neji had his back on her, already a few meters from the clearing.
Tenten smiled, though confused inside. So did it mean that Neji was the one sending her all those gifts?
"Hey Neji!" she called out, running to him. She was going to find out herself.
"Hn?" He turned around.
"I..." she hesitated, then brought up the necklace. "I found this... at your spot."
His eyes widened for the smallest fraction of a second, but Tenten caught it. She also saw his hands unconsciously reach into his pocket.
He closed his eyes, then smiled. "It's about time you knew, I guess." was all he said, finally opening his eyes.
The revelation felt like a boulder dropping on her whole body. "So you...? you?"
He nodded calmly, then walked towards her, closing the space between them. "Did you like it?" he whispered.
It seemed so... impossible to her. But for him, it all seemed so casual. "I..."
Neji then cupped her face in his hands. "When I bought it, they told me to give it to someone I loved, so I did." he said before leaning down to kiss her, surprised that she kissed him back almost as urgently as he. Soon enough, his arms were wrapped tightly around her waist, while hers were entangled with his long black hair.
Finally parting, she leaned her head on his shoulders, breathing heavily.
"Yeah well, I love you too." she said, grinning widely.
Neji smiled against her hair. The ring he had seen would be perfect for next year.