Authors' Note: See that little s' at the end of Authors'? Yes, this is another joint venture. Our second one, to be exact. We've had this little idea in our heads for quite a while now, but because we were still working on other stories at the time, it got shunted off to the side and put on our CRYSTHUR AND ARTHEPH STORY IDEAS list. But YAY! we finally got started on it. Please, enjoy.
Neji shrugged uncomfortably as Tenten fussed over him. She had been going at it for about ten minutes now, looking him over from top to bottom and frantically smoothing out wrinkles. Neji had grown extremely bored and was looking for anything to distract him from this tedious process. As his eyes roamed the room, they lit upon Tenten's face. She was biting her bottom lip as she inspected his attire, a habit that Neji found absolutely adorable. He continued to watch her as she stepped back and surveyed him critically. Tenten had redone his tie at least six times, and as she reached up to fix it for the seventh time, Neji had to intervene. He gently took her by the wrists to stop her.
"Tenten, it's fine. You're getting obsessive. Why are you so nervous anyways?" Neji asked suspiciously.
"You're going to meet my family tonight for the first time, Neji..." she replied in a distracted way.
"Exactly. I am going to meet your parents tonight. I should be the one worrying. You have no reason to."
His eyes narrowed as he noticed how uncomfortable she was. Something was going on...
"Tenten, what's going on?"
"Nothing's going on... I just... want you to make a good impression... that's all."
"Tch. We've been going out for almost for almost two years now, Tenten. I've known you for even longer. Even without using my awesome BYAKUGAN to read your body language and make a deep, psychological analysis of you, I can tell that you're lying. Don't insult me. What's REALLY going on?"
Tenten's resolute face crumpled into one of shining misery. She sighed and said in a small voice,
"It's just... my family isn't what you would call... normal... Especially my parents... and I... I'm just scared that you won't... won't want me anymore after you meet them..."
For a couple of seconds, there was dead silence. Then...
Tenten looked up in shock. Was Neji... laughing??? Was Neji laughing... VOLUNTARILY?!?!? GASP!!! Yes, Neji was laughing voluntarily. In fact, he was laughing so hard tears were leaking out of his eyes. He clutched his side and attempted to stop. It took him two whole minutes before he could look at Tenten without bursting out in a new fit of laughter, much less actually talk to her. Tenten was befuddled. She had been expecting Neji to scoff at her for being weak and showing feelings. She had been ready for that. She had not, however, been ready for this outburst. This irritated her to no end. Her shining misery was soon replaced with a simmering anger as Neji continued to laugh. Her simmering anger gradually rose and just as she felt vein begin to pulse in her temple, Neji calmed himself down. Wiping the tears out of his eyes, he cleared his throat a couple of times and said incredulously,
"Tenten, have you forgotten who you are talking to? It's me, Neji. As in, Hyuuga Neji. Half of my family ENSLAVED the other half of the family and made perpetual servants out of them. I grew up in the KING OF ALL DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES. Trust me, no matter how weird you think your family is, it's nothing I can't handle. Now come on. We're going to be late."
With that, he spun around in all his spiffiness and strode out of the room.
Tenten lived in what could be called the suburban area of the village. White picket fences, tricycles discarded carelessly on the driveway, you know, those sorts of things. Tenten stopped in front of an extremely average-looking house. As Neji looked around, he noticed that the entire yard seemed a little... odd. Something was off about it. It took him a couple of seconds before he realized what was irking him so. Everything was perfect. Too perfect. The bushes were trimmed into perfect spheres, not a leaf sticking out. With his observant eyes, he... observed that the tree branches were all the same length. Heck, even the grass seemed to be growing abnormally straight and orderly. Neji pondered all of this as he walked up the pathway to the door. He turned to tell Tenten about his astute observations when he noticed that she had fallen behind.
Neji looked at her questioningly, his hand poised over the doorbell. She gulped.
"Okay... are you sure you can handle this?"
"What did I tell you before? I can deal with anything." he said with a smug smile on his face. He rang the doorbell.
Tenten only shook her head sighed. That haughty attitude of his was infuriating. As they heard the locks of the door being opened, Tenten closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"Well... here goes nothing. Don't say I didn't warn you, Neji."
A young girl about five years old opened the door. She was the spitting image of a miniature Tenten. Not just her features, oh no. She was wearing the exact same thing as Tenten, except her shirt was yellow instead of pink. She even had her hair in two buns, just like Tenten. Neji was a little taken aback. But of course, being Neji, he didn't show it.
"YOU MUST BE NEJI!!!" she said excitedly.
"Err... yeah." For a few seconds, there was silence. Neji wasn't very good at making small talk. Or talking to little kids for that matter. Just before the silence became awkward, he asked,
"And uh... what's your name?"
But before the girl could answer, Tenten hurriedly pushed him into the house.
"Come on, let's go! There'll be plenty of time for introductions at dinner."
"EAT!" a motherly voice called out from nowhere.
A great stomping could be heard as a crowd of girls all wearing the same thing but in different colors and all with their hair in two buns filed into the dining room from various parts of the house.
"Wow... who are all these people?" Neji whispered to Tenten.
She took a couple of deep breaths and whispered back, "Meet the family." She led him into the room.