“Tenten. Come on, talk to us... Tenten!” A desperate sounding voice on the other side of the solid oak door called out to the bun-haired kunoichi. Hearing some quiet chatter behind her blond friend, Tenten could only imagine that it meant the rest of their friends were also gathered outside her bedroom door.
How Ino and the rest of them had gotten into her house was a mystery to her. Tenten was certain she had locked and booby trapped all her doors and windows. And as far as she knew, the only ones who could get passed her security system were the members of her team.
“Please Tenten-san, we are worried for you,” the pleading voice of the mini-green beast answered the kunoichi's unasked question.
“Lee...” Tenten moaned into the pillow beneath her, silently admonishing herself for not having suspected him.
Of course he would come. Lee was the type of person who just could not help but care. He was all heart, and often followed his impulses without thinking. Lee would never break into her house, or try to force her to talk, unless he felt the need to. Tenten knew this. And so she could not really feel angry at him. Or at the rest of her friends, whom she knew only had her best interests at heart. But at the moment Tenten really did not want to see anyone.
Her heart was broken.
All she wanted was time to herself, so that she could mend her shattered heart. A heart that felt as if it no longer wished to beat. But it was ridiculous. How could a heart break simply because of an object? Yet an object was exactly the reason why she felt so horribly hollow.
Her mother's bracelet to be exact. A bracelet which had been the first gift Tenten's father had ever given her mother when they started dating. The woman's most prized possession. It was one of the few things Tenten had of her mother; the only thing she had of her father, whom had died before the bun-haired girl was born. It was the only thing that connected the weapons mistress to both of her parents...
And she had lost it...
“I never should have taken it with me,” the bun-haired girl mournfully sighed, staring at the tan lines on her wrist, where the bracelet had covered her skin; made darker by Team Gai's recent escort mission to a small beach resort on the coast of Fire Country.
Ever since her mother died when she was eight, Tenten had never once taken the bracelet off. Her mother had given it to the kunoichi in her final days, as a reminder that even though she would be left an orphan, both of her parents would always live on in her heart.
It was comforting.
Tenten treasured that bracelet with all of her heart. Her mother had once told her that it was a love bracelet. One that would protect her and bring her love. And Tenten had believed her because the bracelet was her connection to her parents; to their love. She had felt safe when she had it on; she felt loved.
But now it was gone.
“Waaaah!” Tenten buried her head into the pillow, crying her heart out as she berated herself for being so careless. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
She hated feeling helpless, but at the moment she couldn't help it. Couldn't help the tears that kept running down her cheeks for the passed five days, since her team's return to the village; since she realized somewhere along the way her bracelet had fallen off.
It had upset her greatly to discover this, but Tenten had tried to move on. Tried to pretend that it was okay. But she could not fool anyone. Her friends immediately noticed something was wrong. Even Gai, who hardly ever gave his team days off from training, sent her home and told her to rest for a while. It was then, when she was left alone in her house, that Tenten finally cracked. A lifetimes worth of tears and loneliness overwhelmed her. For three days she didn't come out of her house. Didn't answer her phone, didn't open the door, didn't do anything.
And that's why her friends were now standing outside her bedroom door, calling out to her in worried agitation.
“Move,” an all-too familiar baritone voice ordered from outside her hallway, quickly sending the kunoichi's heart fluttering.
She didn't want to see him. Or more precisely, didn't want him to see her. For the last few days, as the endless calls and visits came to her, Tenten had been grateful for one thing... that at least Neji hadn't shown up. Though it had also hurt her a little to think he didn't care like her other friends, it had also been a relief. He was the only one whom she felt uneasy showing any weakness to. And though she was aware that showing emotion wasn't a weakness, it still made her apprehensive to have Neji see her crying.
“Tenten,” the Hyuga's voice bellowed from the other side of the door in a commanding tone.
“Please Neji, I just-” Tenten began.
“Open the door,” Neji ordered, cutting her off before she could ask to be left alone.
She was tempted to tell him to go away, but Neji was one of the few people Tenten just couldn't say no to. Slowly, she crept out of bed and made her way to the sturdy oak door; silently contemplating whether it could hold up against Neji's brute strength.
“Probably not,” she mumbled to herself, remembering all the other doors her sparring partner had already destroyed. (1) “Haah.” Tenten exhaled deeply before reaching out to grab hold of the doorknob. “Okay, what is i-” The kunoichi stopped mid-sentence, as she came face to face with a horribly sun-burned Hyuga. “What...” Words failed her as she stared incomprehensibly at the man standing before her.
“Here.” Neji stretched his arm out to her and gently placed his sand-covered fist out for the kunoichi to accept what he held clenched in in his hand.
Slowly reaching out to see what he wanted to give her, Tenten unabashedly continued to stare at the peculiar appearance of her sparring partner before feeling a light-weight metal drop into her extended hand. “Haa!” she gasped. More tears slowly began running down her cheeks as she looked down at her hand. But this time they weren't tears of sorrow and heartbreak, they were tears of joy...
Sitting in the palm of her hand, covered in tiny grains of sand, was her mother's bracelet.