Posted: March 11, 2006

Chapter Two: Silencing Fear

Tenten closed her eyes and sighed as the door closed shut behind Kankuro. She then turned to face Neji. He hadn't moved, not one inch. He just sat there, staring at her. She wrapped her arms herself, all of sudden feeling cold. Compared to now, she couldn't believe she once thought the silence between them was comforting. She couldn't believe she once used to like when he looked at her, but that felt so long ago, back when they were children. Both had difficult childhoods and were drawn together because of that reason, but things did not let up and it had driven Neji to be. . . she hated to say it, but cruel and an almost unforgiving man.

They were twenty-four now, grown, and unfortunately engaged. There was no arrangement as one may think, they had actually been in love at one point. But even in that love, Neji never really expressed himself, which often left Tenten to wonder why he had asked her for her hand in the first place. She still remembered that day though, they were fifteen and it wasn't the most romantic thing in her life, as all girls dream when being proposal to. Neji simply stated the reasons she would be a good wife for him and asked her to accept and so she did.

One may not have been able to tell, but Tenten had always been a little low on the self-esteem back then. She never really thought of herself as pretty, a plain Jane, she remembered always calling herself when she looked into a mirror. So she was surprised by Neji's gesture, for he was nothing less than handsome, and the top rookie of their year. He could have anyone, but he had chosen her. She would have been foolish not to say yes, because she was quite certain, she would never be asked again.

Love then blossom between them, or what Tenten would like to remember as love. He used to walk her home, every night after training and greet her in the morning, outside her front door. He was also so considerate her. Whenever he had a mission without her, when it was completed, her place would be his first stop, even before checking in with the Hokage, just to tell her that he was home in one piece, but he had stop doing that years ago. It was partly the reason, she had been so surprise to see him tonight. "I didn't expect you back for another week," she stated calmly. "It must have gone well."

Neji then stood, finally dropping his gaze from her. "I'm going to take a shower," he informed her. "Then I'm going to bed," he began as he walked off towards the bathroom. "I expect you in it."

"Is that all you have to say?" Tenten huffed loudly. "Don't you even care that I'm cheating on you!" she yelled out of frustration. "Don't you care at all?"

Neji turned his head back towards her and did the last thing she ever expected of him, he laughed. And it was a stale, detached laugh, distant in a way. It was the first time, in all the years she had know him, that she had ever heard him laugh. It frightened her. "Cheating? Are you talking about with that Sand ninja?" he asked. "He is no threat to me," he made clear before adding, "and neither is anyone in this village, for no male would dare approach you without my permission." Tenten frowned at his words. "And that Sand ninja, will most likely be going home in a matter of days and you will remain here, as you always have, as you always will, by my side."

"His name is Kankuro and it would be wise for you to remember it, because unlike you, he loves me," Neji only cocked an eyebrow. "And for your information I could leave you, you know," she threatened. "Only my word bounds me to you. One you still have no desire to make official."

A harsh smile littered Neji's face. "So you want to be my wife?" he asked. "Or you'll leave me?" He gave it thought. "Then leave," he stated.

"What?" Tenten looked at him in disbelief.

"Leave," he repeated. "Ask to go with him, see if he'll take you. If he does, consider yourself free of me. If he doesn't, I will finally make you my wife." He then walked off, without another word, down the hall.

Tenten blinked in disbelief. What just happened here? she asked herself. Not really believing he was giving her the chance to be with someone else. She sighed as she took off her shoes and headed towards the bedroom to wait for Neji.

She was lying in bed, faced towards the window, when Neji finally made his way in. She felt his weight as he lowered himself beside her. His finger tips brushed the length of her arm. He said nothing, it was a silent request, and so she turned to face him. She jumped as his hand came up to her face. He gripped her chin with precision, hard enough so she couldn't move, but loose enough so not to bruise her . . . he was always careful not to leave bruises. "I've tolerated your infidelity, but when," he emphasized, "you become my wife, if you allow another man to touch you, I'll kill him and I'll make you watch," he threaten.

Tenten said nothing in response as his hand released her chin and caressed her neck before trailing down her body. Neji then leaned in and kissed her gently, which was a moment later returned by Tenten. He always did this; he would treat her like she was nothing more than a second class citizen, but then he would turn around and make love to her as she was the most precious thing in his life.

She wished their first time had been like this, but it was a painful event she never really cared to remember. He had been rough with her, excessively so, to the point where she cried out for him to stop. He had, of course, once seeing the tears stream down her cheeks. He then murmured something to himself, that to Tenten sounded a lot like, "I can't go through with this," before rolling off of her. Then as she wiped the tears from her face, Neji whispered to her, "Know now, that I apologize for all that I do. And hope that-" he then stopped himself. Tenten had looked to him curiously, him not being one to not complete a thought, but he didn't continue, all he did was get out of bed before dressing and returning to the Hyuuga manor.

"Neji?" Tenten whispered in the middle of the night. It wasn't often that he actually stayed and slept beside her. She called his name again before concluding he was asleep. "If I had one wish," she began softly. "I wish you never gave me reason to want to leave you," she told him before she too fell to the land of dreams.

To Be Continued. . .

A/N: Yep, the story will be five chapters.