Write fluffy ship fic, of course. XP
Entry for the monthly challenge!
Title: Falling Flight
Summary: When Tenten falls, she falls hard. And right now, she's falling hard…for him.
When Tenten falls, she falls hard.
To rise up and fall down is part of her life; something she's been doing ever since she could breathe. No one more than she knows the danger and glee and wonder of falling.
She's been falling ever since she was a month old and her father threw her up into the air and she squealed in laughter.
She's been falling ever since she was five and her parents taught her how to sky-dance.
She's been falling ever since the twins taught her how to tree-walk.
She's been falling ever since she decided she was going to fly.
After all, what goes up…must come down. And in her case, she goes down hard. She's had some spectacular crashes.
That goes for her heart, too.
And she can't stop it. Her heart is too much entangled in flight, in wind and air and clouds and freedom, that she can't stop herself – or her heart – from defying gravity forever. Flight doesn't last forever. Sometimes it's just gotta come down.
Sometimes it lands safely, softly. Sometimes she's able to slow down, prepare for impact, and land with two solid feet. Sometimes there's someone there to catch her. Like when she messed up the Kazeryou dance when she was six, and her father caught her before she landed in a tree. Like when grandmother Tsuchi died, and everybody cried, but everybody also knew she was part of the sky, now. Like the time she knew that she was going to be a shinobi. It's easier to get back up.
And then sometimes she crash-lands, burns, and leaves a twenty furlong rut to remember it by. Quick and hard and fast, and it takes awhile before Tenten can pick up all the pieces, put them back together and fly again.
But she does, because she is wholly bound up in flight and sky and heaven, so no matter what, she'll get back up there.
It was like that when a raid decimated her family group, burned down their tents and broke their wagons and killed Uncle Katsu and Aki and Hiko. She was only eight. But she's a Tenchi, after all – and there's nothing that's going to keep a Tenchi down. She rose up again and decided that she was going to be a kunoichi, one of the best, so that her family would never be left like this again. So she entered the Konoha academy, even though she was three years behind – and through sheer stubbornness and Tenchi-trained skill she graduated with the rest of her year-group.
It was like that when she failed and failed and failed to get Soshoryou right, and the Hyuuga genius kept smirking at her, above her as she's fallen again, because couldn't she learn that people just did not fly? (No, she couldn't – because Tenchi fly) But she did, even if it took a hundred bruises and a broken arm, and Tenten had brief satisfaction of being above Hyuuga Neji for a brief glorious moment with her beloved weapons around her and proving the genius wrong.
It was like that with her first crush. She's not going to say who, though, 'cause that's dead and buried twenty furlongs deep. She made sure of it. The guy doesn't know it but Tenten learned how to make her heart extra emotional-crash-landing proof from that experience.
But right now, she's not sure if it's thick enough.
She's falling, falling hard. It isn't the first time, or the last, but she's knows the feeling like she's felt a thousand times – the sweat, the lack of oxygen, the headiness and giggle-thought that ohmywordI'mfallingsofast, and the wonder if this time she's gonna land safely or crash spectacularly.
She's been flying long enough to know that this is the highest she's ever gone. She's a bit scared – okay, she's scared witless – because when you're falling, there's little you can do except brace for impact. 'Cause gravity's got a hold on you now and it's one of those rules you can't break – you're coming down.
If she's lucky, there's going to be someone there to catch her.
If she isn't, she's fairly certain it's not going to be a twenty-furlong rut this time – it's going to be a hole straight to the center of the earth. It's going to be a heck of a job putting the pieces of her heart back together if that happens. She could do it; she's fairly certain she can, but she definitely doesn't want to break her heart into a thousand little itty-bitty pieces.
And so she waits, breathless, as everything is crashing down around her and stars exploding up there in the night sky and she sums it up with two words:
Her falling, falling, falling heart adds two more:
x x x x x
Neji's been grounded all his life. Stuck, branded, fated, pounded – he's quite intimate with the constancy of earth. He's gotten almost used to the fact that he cannot fly, that he will never be able to do so, and so he's become the best grounded person he knows. No silly thing like flying for him anyways. He's stuck, just like everybody – he's just more stuck than most, and he knows it, unlike a lot of other people that keep fooling themselves.
Then came this girl that said that she was going to fly. Could fly. Can fly; she just needed to practice a bit – she's been flying all her life, actually, it was just the physical manifestation she needed to accomplish.
Neji thought she was just stupid and liked falling too much.
And then she did.
Neji can still see the Dragon in his memories.
…And he's stuck here, on the ground, and suddenly he's seeing everyone flying about except him.
Especially her. She really could fly, has always been, and Neji didn't know how he missed it with these eyes of his – didn't know how he could miss just how high she always seemed to be. She seemed even more out of touch than the birds, even.
So when she says she's falling, he doesn't quite get it at first. That's she's been falling for a long time, he doesn't understand. She flies; she can't fall.
And so he's standing there dumbstruck, because she's telling him she's falling.
He doesn't say anything as the stars are falling in the sky. It's a meteor shower tonight, and the sight they were going to watch tonight pales before the sight revealing right in front of them.
He stands there, on the ground, as the girl he thought could never fall is falling right for him.
x x x x x
He can't say anything to the girl. The girl can't say anything more.
She's up in the air, and he's down on the ground, and now it's all gravity.
There's this rule about gravity. There's the one everyone knows – that what goes up, must come down. But there's this other rule, the rule that keeps the planets spinning around in orbit and makes the moon go around the earth and the reason why the sun is the center of the solar system – the rule that states that any two objects in the universe exert gravitational attraction on each other.
Slowly, they draw close to each other. Eye to eye. Hearts pounding and mouths dry and tingling skin.
"Falling?" He says.
Her hands tighten around herself. "Yes."
–I'm falling, Neji.
I'm falling fast.
Fast and hard and certain. Falling straight for you.
–You're falling, Tenten.
And I never noticed.
I'm learning now. I'm moving, straight for you.
To catch you…
Suddenly he pulls her close and hugs her, his hands cupping around her back gently. She's pressed against his chest, and his hair slips down and brushes against her cheek as he whispers into her ear.
"Don't worry then. I'll catch you."
She lands safely in his embrace, encircled in protective arms. Like a bird finally coming down to its nest after a long day's flight. She smiles, and leans in, resting against him. Their cheeks brush together.
He tilts his head and catches her lips in a soft kiss.
And now they're both falling.
After all, they're one and the same.