Author's Note: Hi everyone! I heard it was NejiTen month so I decided to post this story that's been circling around in my head. Basically, it'll be a glimpse into all the cannon Konoha 12 wedding receptions and how Neji and Tenten finally get together. While this chapter is just the prologue, each chapter after will probably be a separate wedding (starting with Naruto and Hinata, of course). I'm hoping it'll be a cute progression of how Neji and Tenten finally get together. Drop a review if you want to see more! Enjoy!
"Hinata, don't be afraid of giving Naruto more than just your gentle fist if he ever mistreats you!"
As Ino, Sakura, Hinata and Tenten gathered for their last lunch together as all unmarried women, Sakura was giving Hinata her full permission to smack Naruto if he ever decided to be more of an idiot than he already was.
Hinata gave a nervous laugh and put her hands up in defense, "Aha, Sakura, I'm sure I'd never have to resort to that, really."
As Tenten looked around at some of her closest friends, her heart swelled up with happiness. A couple years ago, on the verge of war, she never would have imagined the scene that was currently taking place right in front of her. Naruto and Hinata's wedding had everyone giddy with excitement—a symbol of true peace that finally truly felt within Konoha's grasp. To Tenten, she noticed that even Neji was acting less stoic than what was normal for a Hyuga.
"Yeah, I'm sure Naruto will have the good sense to keep you happy, but how's your father doing with the thought of him marrying you? Neji told me your father's stress was starting to get to him too," Tenten had a smug look on her face. One of the perks of being best friends with Neji was how she was getting the inside scoop on the wedding preparations.
"Well, he's a little concerned," Hinata giggled, "But certainly not much more than what is to be expected of any father."
As everyone laughed, Tenten couldn't help but feel a little lovey-dovey at how romantic it all felt. Hinata was going to marry her childhood crush!
"Ooh Hinata, you and Naruto are so lucky to have found each other! Must be nice to have someone like that," Tenten gushed as she clasped her hands together and closed her eyes letting herself daydream. Although, a dreadful realization soon hit her, causing her head to drop down to the table. "All I do is train! How can I possibly find someone like that for myself?" Tenten whined.
"Come on, no wallowing! We have to be happy for Hinata!" Ino tried to lift Tenten up from her abrupt state of depression.
"Easy for you to say! I've seen you and Sai go on a few dates! He even visits you at the shop during your working hours. You understand me, don't you, Sakura?" Suddenly Sakura's head had joined Tenten on the table with a sigh of grief—it must have been a while since she had heard anything from Sasuke.
Hinata felt the need to interrupt before her small get-together turned into a grief counseling session, "I'm sure we'll all have our time, really! Sakura, you may be always busy at the hospital, but Sasuke will have to come back eventually. I'll make sure Naruto forces him to visit!" At this, Sakura perked back up and smiled at Hinata in thanks.
Hinata became unusually smug as she turned to her other sad friend, "And Tenten, based on the interactions I see between you and Neji… I'm sure your time is not too far off either."
Tenten felt betrayed by herself as her face grew warm in embarrassment. She flung her head off the table and desperately waved her hands in defense and spoke a little too quickly, "GAah, I don't know what you mean Hinata! We- we're just teammates, after all! Anyways, forget I-"
"Hey now, seems like someone is trying a little too hard to change the subject," Ino smirked as she proceeded to sip her drink. Serves her right for trying to bring up me and Sai, Ino thought with a giggle.
Even Hinata, despite her reserved nature, continued to provide her insight on the topic, "I know my cousin. I can tell he treats you differently, Tenten. Whenever we talk, he tends to find a way to mention you and with very high regard." This was starting to get too much for Tenten, who regretted ever bringing up the topic. She would be lying if she were to say she had never thought of Neji in that way, but back then she figured it was just her teenage musings and the fact that she would spend a lot of time with him while training and on missions. While a small part of her desperately wanted to hear more about what Neji might have said about her, she felt it was better to shut it down before she got her hopes up.
Tenten continued rapidly moving her hands as if trying to shoo away any ridiculous notion about her and Neji, "Oh, I'm sure it's just a teammate thing!" All the girls wanted to retaliate by mentioning the clear fact that there was huge difference between how Neji treated her and how he treated Lee; however, seeing how clearly flustered Tenten was, they decided not to press the topic for now.
Thus, Tenten finally succeeded in her efforts to change the subject, "Haha anyway, I'm sure the guys aren't sitting around gossiping about girls so let's move on to something else!"
"I'm telling you Naruto, this time in two years tops, I'll be married too. We'll have to discuss her cats but it's nothing Akamaru and I wouldn't be able to handle," Kiba exclaimed before taking a huge swig of his drink.
"Kiba, that seems highly unlikely. The reason is because you just met—"
A bellowed laugh from Naruto interrupted the beginnings of Shino's soliloquy. Similar to how Hinata was having a last girls-get-together, Kiba, Shino, Lee, Neji, Shikamaru, Choji and Sai were all gathered at Ichiraku's to give Naruto a proper send-off into married life.
"Well I'm looking forward to it. You guys can't let me be the only married one. And I'm specifically looking at you, Neji! You'll make Hinata worry!"
Neji choked on his drink.
The guys started to laugh as they all clearly saw where Naruto was driving the conversation. Very few people in Konoha failed to notice how particularly worried a certain bun-haired girl was the whole time Neji was in the hospital after the war. Before Neji could recompose himself, Naruto loudly continued, "Hinata tells me how you look at Tenten!" He put a hand on a chin and pretended to be in deep thought, "Hmm, yeah something about the way you… look at her," Naruto mock whispered while wiggling his eyebrows.
At this clear violation of his privacy, Neji finally found his words again, "Don't be ridiculous! We're on the same team. I look at her the same way I do with anyone of my teammates." He would have to find the time after the wedding to have a talk with Hinata.
At this, Lee perked up and felt the need to counter Neji's protest, "But Neji! That is so strange! I never seem to get the same looks you share with Tenten!"
Stifling a laugh, Shikamaru whistled. "Betrayed by his own comrade. Checkmate, buddy."
Neji scowled as another round of laughs followed. With Hinata getting married before him, his uncle Hiashi had already took it upon himself to discuss the importance of settling down and passing on his talents to a new generation of Hyugas. Now this? This was far too much. He was quite sure that whatever he may or may not feel towards Tenten was a private matter. "I think that's quite enough."
"Ah relax, Neji. You can't be like that! Not with me at least, I'm getting married tomorrow! I guess what I want to say is that sometimes, it's nice to have like a…hmmm. Oh! I know. It's nice to have a life teammate, not just one for missions, ya know?" Naruto gave his signature big grin.
At his response, Neji's scowl faded into a small smile. It was obvious Naruto was speaking based on the experience of what he felt towards Hinata. As much of an idiot Naruto was at times, Neji knew he would always try to make Hinata happy (although he was secretly sure that every Hyuga was ready with their trigram palms if there were to ever to be even one misstep on Naruto's end).
Noticing an opportunity to change the subject, Neji's smile turned smug, "So just as Shikamaru might have already met his lifetime Shogi partner?"
"Hey, woah, when did this turn about me? I don't know what you're going on about. This conversation is turning into such a drag." Although Shikamaru was trying to hide it, his friends noticed how unusually flustered he had turned.
"It's true, it's true! I saw him sending a letter to Suna. And I doubt it was for diplomatic reasons," Choji roared, causing Shikamaru to stray even farther than his typical nonchalant, lazy demeanor. With how loud they were all being, either a cigarette or even a kunai to the chest sounded like a good option right about now.
Desperate to change the subject before all of Konoha got a glimpse into his love life, Shikamaru decided to turn the spotlight onto someone else, "Well hey, I've seen Sai spending a highly suspicious amount of time at the Yamanaka Flower Shop. Just saying."
As Sai tried to give some sheepish excuse about how he was getting inspiration for a new floral painting, Naruto looked around and laughed at the commotion they were causing at his favorite ramen shop.
Naruto swung both his arms around Neji and Shikamaru who were seated closest to him. If someone would have told him a few years ago that he would be surrounded by his closest friends about to get married to a girl who had always loved him, he probably would have gotten mad at the person for spouting such cruel lies. Thankfully though, it was all true and Naruto's heart felt full.
"It's okay guys, if something doesn't work out, maybe you'll all meet someone at the wedding reception! Good ol' Naruto Uzumaki will set you guys up! Just count on me."