… A Naruto fan fiction
Underneath it All © SilverDragon
Naruto © Kishimoto Masashi
This was it.
Hyuuga Neji lay on the dirt paved ground. Comically enough, the ground was soft and welcoming at the same time, despite feeling just a little cold. The Hyuuga let out a soft sigh and merely stared blankly up into the sky. Funny, he had never noticed that the sky was so blue before.
It had also never occurred to him that his destiny was for him to end this way.
But then again, who was he to bring up destiny? Uzumaki Naruto had clearly pointed out that destiny was to be taken into your own hands. He had pointed that out very clearly, in fact – with his fists. Neji let out a low chuckle, "... Stubborn idiot." he muttered. Immediately, a series of coughs started, splattering bright red blood to his left side. He groaned, “… should not have done that.” He curled up around his middle – an attempt to slow down the already-slowing spasms.
Naruto and the others were probably long gone by now. How long had his fight taken anyway? And how long had he been lying there?
‘Are they doing all right, I wonder?’ He thought absently. They… his group.
The rookie genius ninja of their generation – Shikamaru.
The rookie scent-hunter of their generation – Kiba.
And of course; the rookie idiot ninja of their generation – Naruto.
“How did things end up this way?” He wondered aloud. His hand unconsciously drifted up towards his forehead, where a familiar mark scarred it.
The mark. The seal. The seal that he himself had believed… had sealed his fate.
But he was proven wrong.
In a way, he suppose he was able to choose his own destiny.
Letting his hand drop to the ground, his pale eyes roamed his surroundings. His opponent - the weird spider maniac, lay a good couple of meters away, unmoving. Neji hoped that the guy was as good as dead, because if he wasn’t, Neji didn’t know how he was going to beat his ass again. With telekinesis, maybe.
“So I wasn’t strong enough…” Neji mused. So being a genius had nothing to do with it. Would it have turned out differently, if Naruto had stayed behind? Or Kiba? Or Shikamaru? Or… if Lee had been able to come and fought this guy instead? ‘Would they have done better than I had? Would they have walked away from this? More over, is anyone even coming for us?’ Surely Godaime had sent another team as soon as she was able to.
Of course, it was too late for him. ‘How was Chouji, by the way?’ Neji thought dazedly, ‘Did he win? Did he end up like me?’
Neji knew that he was dying. Blood coated his white top and the ground around him. Dark blood... blood that was still spilling from his wound at an alarming rate. This was expected, seeing as he fought his all against the spider-maniac.
But it felt strange. Particularly the part where it didn't hurt. Wasn't it suppose to hurt when you were dying? That was the point, right? So... why wasn't it hurting? Neji had always thought death was an unpleasant thing - except for the fact that it would bring him out of the fate of the Hyuuga clan.... but this felt... Rather pleasant.
His vision was a bit hazy, making his surroundings seemingly dim and distant. But it wasn't a negative effect; it felt wonderful - peaceful even. His eyes drifted halfway shut.
His thoughts shot back to Konoha, where all the people he knew was probably still living ignorantly away. Oh... what he wouldn't give to just have a few last words with them. It was amazing how he had always thought that everyone was so annoying, when in reality he actually wanted to see them before he died. See them once more before he left this plane. But then again… you only seem to remember the good points when you remember someone. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Had Naruto been there, Neji would have told the blonde just how much that one fight during the Chuunin exams had changed him. How the blonde had amazing insight, how the blonde had so much strength... How the blonde would make a great Rokudaime one day.
Neji would have told him to ignore the looks the villagers gave him - yes, Neji saw them. He didn't have Hyuuga eyes for nothing, you know. However, the reason why they looked at the blonde that way was unknown... But Neji could see how the blonde disliked those looks.
Had Shikamaru been there, Neji would've told him to get off his lazy ass and do something about that tense relationship between him and that blonde, Ino. He would tell Shikamaru just how jealous he had been when he had been elected as a Chuunin where the genius Hyuuga prodigy had not been. Yes, Hyuuga Neji was jealous, so what? He had a tendency to dislike those who got what he wanted.
But that was the way life worked.
This reminded him...
Had Ino been there, Neji would've told her to stop trying to seduce young men with her looks. Neji chuckled as he remembered the day in the Forest of Death. Now that was a memory to be remembered. Had Neji not been in a good mood that day, Ino would've most likely made it back to the tower... in pieces.
Had Sasuke been there.. well.. Neji would've most likely dragged his battered body up and attempted to beat the shit out of the Uchiha. And the stupid part of it was that Neji probably couldn't even lift his little finger at the moment. It was because of him that they had been sent out here.
After that, he would've dropped him over towards Naruto to let the blonde finish the job.
Heh. He could only imagine what Naruto would do to his teammate.
Had Lee been there, Neji would've told his teammate he had acknowledged him a long time ago. Lee had proven himself worthy. Neji would've told him that hard work does get you places. Neji would've apologized and then would've tried to avoid that bone-crushing hug that would follow - not that his bones weren't crushed already.
Had Gai-sensei been there, Neji would've told him how much he appreciated his hard work in trying to train him. He would've told him that he had extraordinary ways of teaching, and sometimes they even managed to draw a smile from him - not that it was noticeable to those around him.
He would've told his instructor just how much that green suit complimented his figure. Then Neji would've had to dodge yet another bone-crushing hug before politely declining when Gai-sensei would ask if he would like his burial outfit to be like his outfit. As an excuse, Neji would then say that it only looked good on Gai-sensei himself.
Then Neji would have to face a never-ending pool of tears.
Had Hinata been there, Neji would've told her how sorry he was that fateful day he had injured her heart immensely. He would tell her how grateful he was that she never used that cursed seal technique on him. Tell her how grateful he was when she would make-up excuses for him when a bad topic arose.
Had Tenten been there...
Well, he was, in a way, glad that she wasn't there. If Tenten were there, Neji wouldn't be able to say anything to her. Nothing. Nothing at all. Out of everyone he knew, Tenten was the one that understood him the most. The one that he understood the most, as well. But he didn't have anything to say to her. Well... there was one thing he could say to her. Those three little words. But the day he said those words would be the day he died - oh wait, he was dying.
The one who sparred with him.
The one who perfected his techniques with him.
The one who saved him, countless times, from the twin 'Konoha Green Beasts.'
If she were there... Neji would've probably blurted out how he really felt about her. Where Hinata needed help in the department of telling Naruto how she felt, Neji needed help in the department of telling Tenten how he felt.
Life just wasn't fun without her around. Life was... dull. Life seemed to have to meaning to it.
Yes, you've probably figured it out by now.
Hyuuga Neji had a crush on Tenten.
With a crush.
But yet, here it was, lying right of front of your eyes! Read 'em and weep! Who would've known?
Neji let out an ironic snort.
Had Tenten been there, Neji would've apologized for the countless number of times he had been downright cold to her, and had ignored her. He still remembered times he would spot the hurt expression in her eyes when he turned her down when she asked him if he wanted to get something to eat.
Geez, it was just something to eat, right? Not like it was going to kill him..
But yet, Neji couldn’t bring himself to say that one little word. The one little word; 'Yes.'
"Yes." Neji whispered. Heh. Well, he could say it now, couldn't he? Why couldn't he say it before?
If Tenten had been there, he would've apologized for being so stupid. Apologized for being an idiot for every single time he had said or done something thoughtless to hurt or upset her. He would tell her... tell her just how much he cared for her. Just how much he wanted her to be by his side.
... Even if it was at the very end. Like... like now.
Neji hoped that she knew just how much he cared for her. Just how much he loved her. He hoped that she knew.
He let out a deep sigh.
How could she know? Know something like that? He was more stoic than that Uchiha, for God sakes! How on earth would she know? She doesn't read minds... she can't tell if someone is lying or telling the truth.
She doesn't know.
She'll never know.
It became darker around him and his surroundings began to wash out completely. Heh, it was already time, was it? About time. That seemed so long... such a long time to think...
"Well..." Neji muttered, "This is it...." his vision zapped out, his limbs became immobile... "Good-bye..." His mind began to shut down, "... Ten...ten.."
And Hyuuga Neji saw no more.
Where was he?
What the heck?
Whispering... talking... pushing... movement…
What was going on?
Pale eyes opened slowly and Hyuuga Neji was startled to see brown eyes staring back at him. What the-?!
He bolted upright, pale eyes wide.
He was in a bed.
In a white room.
Oh... he was in a hospital. Well, that explains a lot. So... He wasn't dead? Well, that was a surprise. He had thought that he was a goner for sure. Well, wonders never cease.
Wait a second.
Let's run through those facts once again..
He was in a hospital.
He was in a white room.
He was in a bed...
... with Tenten basically sprawled in his lap.
Years of practiced ease prevented the slight blush from showing on his cheeks, and he stared at his chestnut haired teammate, "..." She abruptly scrambled off his lap.
"Neji!" Tenten gaped in surprise, "You're awake!!"
Neji grunted, not answering. Back to silent Neji it was.
That was when the door burst open, revealing his other two 'comrades.'
"Neji, my student!" Maito Gai stood there, tears streaming down his face, "You've come back to the land of the living!"
"Neji!" Lee stood beside him, "I knew you would come back!" Neji was assaulted with two identical grins, both shining with white teeth. Lee gave him a 'nice-guy pose.' "The fountain of youth wasn't ready to give you up just yet! You were bound to come back to us!"
Neji's nonexistent pupils' rolled to the right, where a window accompanied a vase with a red rose. He blinked. A red rose? Who had placed it there?
His gaze drifted back to Tenten, who was shyly avoiding his gaze. He blinked again. And they call this guy a genius? Slow, isn't he?
Their gazes met. Silence reigned.
Neji found himself sinking into those dark brown depths. He couldn't pull his gaze from hers. Could he tell her? He could tell her now... just how he really felt. Who knew when he would die next, and he would be regretting not telling her...
And then the door slid open again.
Trance broken, Neji finally managed to pull his gaze from hers. Both glanced away from each other.
That was when Neji noticed that his sensei was right beside him. His pale face paled even more - if possible. And what were his thoughts on Gai before he died? Was he about to compliment him about his suit? Forget that...
His gazed drifted towards the open door.
In walked a silver haired Jounin. Neji's eyes narrowed slightly. That was Hatake Kakashi. Team 7's Jounin sensei. The sensei of Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke, and Haruno Sakura.
"Ma, I see that you're awake now. Once you're up to it, the Hokage will see you about your recent mission,"
That's right... mission…
Neji's eyes narrowed as an eye curved. How had it gone? Did his team succeed? Did they bring back the Uchiha? Only time would tell.
"Aha! Kakashi, my eternal rival! Just the person I was looking for! In celebration for Neji’s awakening, I shall challenge you to a dual! This time I will not lose! I will win and I dedicate this win to Hyuuga Neji!"
Neji inched further away from the man, unintentionally edging close to Tenten. Right. Unintentionally. Believe what you will.
"I challenge you to a best dressed contest!!"
No one spoke.
"Ma, ma, is that really necessary?"
"It is! Come, my eternal rival! We shall have the villagers as judges!" In a poof, the Jounin was gone. The silver haired man left in the room sighed loudly, rubbing the back of his neck, "... Eh... hope you feel better soon," Then he too, was gone.
Lee grinned, "I shall be one of the judges! I know that Gai-sensei will win!" his eyes shimmered, "Now that Neji is awake again, the Gods must be smiling down at us! Gai-sensei will win! He is using one of his full body suits!!" With that said, Lee disappeared out the door. Neji shuddered at the thought.
'Definitely not complimenting on his clothing anymore...' Neji thought.
"Ano... Neji?" Tenten spoke softly, "Are you sure you're feeling okay?" Neji realized with a start, she hadn't added the suffix, 'kun' to the ending. She usually didn't... but as of late, before he went on this mission, she had started saying it..
"Hn," Neji muttered. And there he was again, back to his regular self.
Suddenly he found himself engulfed in a hug. Letting out a small hiss of pain, he found himself being squeezed to death by Tenten. Not Lee... or even Gai-sensei. Blinking in surprise, he then found Tenten a meter away. Mmmf. When... how did she move so fast? Or was that just a figment of his imagination?
Neji said nothing and sat there, deeply confused, although not showing it. Offering a small smile, his teammate left the room. Neji sat there, and leaned against the headboard, not noticing how uncomfortable it was to his back.
He decided he wouldn't tell her.
She probably wouldn't appreciate it. Tenten wasn't the kind of person who hid her feelings - that was Neji's department.
Besides, Neji could deal with it.
After all, he had done it for so long already.
Owari (End, Fini)
Revised February 28, 2008