Posted: March 16, 2006

Chapter Five: Silencing Dreams

It was a little less than an hour before dawn when Tenten woke up in her bed to find she was not alone within it. Out of all the nights, Tenten had wished to wake up to find Neji sleeping beside her, last night was not one of them. She slowly tried to slip out of bed, but Neji slightly groan in his sleep as he tightened his hold around her. Tenten cringed as she carefully tried to remove his arm before finally getting out of bed.

She then dressed quickly and instead of her usually twin buns, she simply threw her long brown hair in a ponytail before grabbing her bag out the closet. She cursed at herself, for not packing sooner. She had meant to do it last night, but Neji had decided to come over. Tenten then went into the bathroom to wash up a little before coming back into the room.

She squeaked as she dropped her items to the floor. "Going somewhere?" Neji was sitting up with his legs thrown over the bed as he faced Tenten. She squatted to the floor to gather her things in her arms, before walking over to her side of her bed and placing them in her bag. "I asked you a question." Neji turned to see her actions.

Tenten looked into his eyes. "I thought the answer looked pretty obvious," she replied. "I'm leaving you."

"No," Neji told her.

"No?" she questioned as she closed her back. "I don't think you understand, Neji. I wasn't asking your permission. Beside, we had a deal. He wants me to go with him. Our engagement is over. I've finally found someone who loves me." She then picked up her bag, walked around the bed pass Neji and headed towards the door.

Then as quick as lightening, Neji had grabbed Tenten's arm and turned her to face him. "You can't leave-"

"Like hell I can't," she told him angrily. "Now let go of me."

"No, you have to hear the truth about my clan's tradition. About why I-"

"I don't have to hear anything, Neji. Now let go of me!" she began to struggle against him, which made him have to hold on to her with both hands, which caused her to drop her bag.

"I never meant for you to feel that you weren't loved by me!" he tried to tell her.

"Lies!" she yelled before spitting in his face. "You don't know how to love," she said bitterly. "You're just a cold, heartless bastard." Neji frowned as he wiped the spit off his face. His grip on her grew firmer as he grew angry. "Ow!" Tenten's hand quickly tried to pry his fingers off. "You're hurting-" she stopped as she looked into Neji's eyes. He was looking at her in a way she had never seen before. Her eyes then grew wide as she opened her mouth. . .

. . . and a scream was heard.

OoOoO

Kankuro waited anxiously at Konoha's gate, waiting for Tenten just as they had planned. His family and those from his village who had attended Temari's wedding slowly started to arrive. Temari came out to wish her brothers a safe journey and to complain about Shikamaru, who didn't want to get out of bed and come with her. But Kankuro wasn't really in the mood for his sister's never ending bitching, so his attention drifted back to the crowd as his eyes scanned their surroundings.

"What do you keep looking for?" Gaara asked, not out of curiosity, but annoyance.

"None of your damn business," Kankuro snapped before loosely crossing his arms and beginning to pace back and forth. "Where is she?" Kankuro spoke to himself. "I know I told her dawn."

Temari shook her head as she rolled her eyes, herself wondering, why Gaara always let Kankuro get away with the rude things he always said to him. "Boys," she said under her breath, but now that Gaara had mentioned it, Kankuro did seem a little on edge. She watched him for a moment, as he began biting his nails, something she couldn't remember him doing since they were all little.

"Kankuro?" She made her way to him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to her. "What's wrong, little brother?"

He shook his head from side to side. "She's never going to leave Konoha," he confessed to her his fears. "She's never going to leave him."

"We're leaving," Gaara announced turning his back on his siblings as he began out the gate.

"Shit!" Kankuro cried. "Come on, Tenten."

"Tenten? You mean Hyuuga's fiancée?" Temari asked.

Did everyone know, but me? he asked himself. "Yes," he answered her. "We've been seeing each other for a few years now." Temari gave him a horrified look. "I know. I know." He then waved his hands in front of himself. "I mean, I didn't know," he groaned, feeling like he wanted to pull out his own hair. "Not until the other day. Anyway, she said she would leave him for me. She said she would be here." Temari looked at her brother's crestfallen face, she had never seen him look this way before. "And I believed her."

Temari placed her hand on her little brother's shoulder. She wanted to say something comforting, but Kankuro only shook her off before turning around and falling into place behind Gaara.

Temari waved her hand, sad to see the members of her former village go. "Bye, Gaara," she called. "Bye-"

"KANKURO!" Temari gasped and turned around as she heard her brother's name being yelled loud enough to wake up half of Konoha. "Get your ass back here!" demanded Hyuuga Neji walking towards them, looking as if he had had a rough morning.

He was dressed only in a pair of sleeping pants, his lean chiseled chest was stained with something red. His unremarkable well kept hair was a wild mess, and his usual unreadable face was overcome with so many emotions that if you didn't see it for yourself, you would have said it was impossible. Plus there was something else on Neji's face that looked out of place. A red mark, on the right side of his eye, running down from his hairline down to his chin – he had been cut. Not deep enough to really hurt him, but maybe just enough to catch him off guard long enough to give him that black eye that was already starting to show up.

"Where is she!" he asked, pushing past Temari, which caused her to loose her balance and fall on her butt. Neji than grabbed Kankuro by the front of his shirt and yanked him close to his face. "Where's Tenten?" he wanted to know.

Hearing the commotion, Gaara turned around to see his brother being harassed and his sister picking herself up off the ground. Temari's then noticed the cork tugging out of Gaara's gourd, she gasped as her eyes widen and she barely shook her head no. Heeding to his sister, the cork stopped and his attention fell back to Kankuro.

"Don't touch me!" Kankuro pushed Neji off of him. "She chose you, because she isn't here!"

"Bullshit! She left the apartment on her way here. So where is she?" He took another step towards his rival.

"Neji-san!" Temari got his attention. "Kankuro speaks the truth. Tenten is not here."

"That has to be a lie. Where else would she go?" Then from the distance a faint barking could be heard. As it grew stronger, the trees began to rumble, causing the leaves break away from their branches and glide gently towards the ground. "Akamaru," Neji said to himself as the large dog emerged from the surrounding forest went someone riding on their back.

The person's head laid on the back of Akamaru's neck. Blood stained the dog's normally white coat. Neji took a sharp intake of air as he realized it wasn't Kibe, but, "Tenten!" he yelled out and in a moment's notice was by Akamaru's side. Akamaru whimpered as he lowered himself to the ground so Neji could take her off his back. He pulled her to his arms. "What happened?" As several other people, including Kankuro, stood behind him.

Her hair was skewed and her face dirty and coved in blood, her clothes torn, and her breath shallow as she spoke. "Kiba-" she began in pants. "In trouble-" her eyes closed. "Help- he needs- help." She then fainted.

Kankuro stepped forward and lowered himself onto the ground before Neji and Tenten. His hand went out and he stroke her head tenderly. "She's lost a lot of blood," he informed Neji as he looked over Tenten. "She needs a hospital."

"I know that," Neji looked up to glare at him.

Kankuro stood up. "Then get your ass going," he commanded. He then turned to his sister. "Temari go with them," he asked of her. "I'm going after Kiba. It's not like it would be the first time I've had to go after him." He hopped on Akamaru's back for him to take him to Kiba. Kankuro then looked to his brother, who only nodded, indicating he would there if needed.

"You never get tired of people knowing that, do you?" The crowd heard a voice nearby. It was Kiba, looking just as bad, if not worse, as Tenten. "The threat has been neutralized," he informed them, before he too fell over and hit the ground.

OoOoO

She's strong, she'll live, Neji repeated to himself, over and over as he waited outside the surgery room. They had learned, after bringing her to the hospital that she had three cracked ribs, a broken leg, a large stab wound on her lower abdomen, and that she was bleeding internally. Her surgery had gone well, though her conditional was still labeled critical. So it seemed as if it was all up to Tenten now and so Neji patiently waited for her to wake up.

On the other side of him waited Kankuro with his sister, Temari. Gaara and the rest had headed back to their own village. Kankuro's head was on her lap and he faced away from Neji. He was curled up into himself as Temari stroked his brown hair and whispered something comforting to him that caused him to nod his head.

Neji, though he hated to admit it, was a bit jealous of Kankuro at this point. For most part, Tenten was all Neji had. His family, the rest of the Hyuuga clan, would never truly accept him, even if he was genius among them, his mother's blood, that ran through his veins, tainted him long before he ever received his curse seal.

With that thought, his mind wondered to Hinata, who never judge people the way the rest of the clan did. Neji wondered if things had been different, maybe their relationship could have been salvaged and they could have grown up more like brother and sister, instead of him always treating her like a nuisance, but it was too late to be thinking like that now.

Suddenly, the door to Tenten's room opened. Neji looked towards the door and Kankuro sat up and turned his torso and as both awaited the latest update. The medical nin, who had gone to check on her earlier, didn't look at either of them as he came out with his head lowered. "Does the girl have family?" he asked.

"No," Neji stood as she answered. "She is the the last of her clan."

"Then I see no reason to wait," the medical nin concluded. "I'm sorry-"

"No!" Kankuro yelled out as he stood.

"-but she will not survive beyond the night," he informed them. "She has woken up though and she wishes to see her fiancé." Both Neji and Kankuro took a step forward and then glowed at each at other. The medical nin looked confused for a moment before he spoke again. "She said his name was-" both turned their heads back towards him, "was Kankuro."

Kankuro hesitated not one moment as he ran passed the medical nin, but stopped at the door to beckon Temari. Who stood up gingerly and then walked passed Neji, who looked stunned in place for a moment before turning his head away from her gaze. Temari then hurried along to be with her brother.

Neji, realizing he had no place here anymore, turned around and walked out. He soon found himself looking up the stairs that led to Tenten's apartment and so he made his way up and back inside. He slowly began to walk down the hall, never before realizing how quiet and still the place was before coming to stop at the doorway into the bedroom. He then rested his hand on the door frame before he lowered his head and closed his eyes. His shoulders began to shake uncontrollably as tears, one-by-one, shattered to the cold floor beneath him.

Overwhelmed by his emotions, Neji fell to his knees, where he began sobbing. This was his family's fault and their stupid traditions that made no sense. As he now saw the engagement tradition for what it really was. It was to instill fear, to obtain a forced loyalty. Making it clear to the spouse, entering into the family, that though all mistreatment came to an end with marriage, that to keep peace among them that she had to obey her husband, and never question him. Always fearing that one wrong move, one wrong word, would set them back into the way things used to be. Forced loyalty.

Neji, never wanted that for he and Tenten, but felt he had no choice seeming as he was already looked down upon in his family. He should have denounced his name, he thought. They should have left Konoha as soon as he learned about the tradition. Maybe then, she wouldn't be spending her last moments with Kankuro. Maybe then, she would have known how much he loved her.

"I never meant for you to feel that you weren't loved by me!" Neji tried to tell her.

"Lies!" she yelled before spitting in his face. "You don't know how to love," she said bitterly. "You're just a cold, heartless bastard." Neji frowned as he wiped the spit off his face. His grip on her grew firmer as he grew angry. "Ow!" Tenten's hand quickly tried to pry his fingers off. "You're hurting-" she stopped as she looked into Neji's eyes. He was looking at her in a way she had never seen before. Her eyes then grew wide as she opened her mouth and a moment later, a Kunai appeared out of nowhere, as it often did when it came to Tenten, and with an upward motion she marred Neji's beautiful face.

Neji screamed, never expecting her to attack him, and so he was really surprised to see her small fist strike with an incredible force, causing him to lose his footing. He hit his head on the edge of the dresser on his way down before he collided with the floor. He groaned as he laid there.

Tenten quickly picked up her bag. Breathing heavily, she clung the bag close to the chest as she took a step back. "We had a deal, Hyuuga. And you're going to keep it, even if I have to force you. Because dammit, I'm going to be happy. Do you hear me? I'm going to be happy." She smiled at the thought. "With Kankuro," she breathed. "Until the day I die, I'm going to be happy with Kankuro, because I need that- No! I deserve that." She then laughed. "I'm going to be happy and I'm going to be loved." She continued to laugh, and it was a laugh full of hope, full of joy, a laugh Neji had never heard escape from her lips before. She then punched him one more time for good measure, before she left him knocked out of the bedroom floor.

As Neji finally tried to compose himself, he tried to stand up, but couldn't as more tears broke through and he fell back to the floor, in the same position Tenten had left him in only two days before. A few minutes later, he heard the impossible, he heard laugher, Tenten's laughter and quickly sat up and got to his feet. He ran out the room and down the hall as he followed the laughter. "Tenten?" he cried out, thinking maybe it had been a dream, but as he reached the living room he knew all that had occurred was real.

Neji stood in the silence and it was dreadfully painful, but as he heard her laugh echoing in the back of his mind, he realized it would be that sweet laugh that would forever haunt him. Her spirited laugh so full of dreams for the future, that somehow, he always knew, never included him. . .

The End


A/N: Alright, I plan on writing a story that intertwines with this one, so don't worry about Kiba. Though the story may be a long way off, I'm going to try to finish up one of my other WIP stories first. Anyway, hoped you enjoyed my story.