A/N: Hello! A new fanfic! This time, this fanfic is mainly NejiTen rather than the SasuSaku relationship I've been focusing on so much. The story is based loosely on the Chinese series Wars Of the In-Laws. It is one of my favorite series. Due to some circumstances to make this story work, this story is set in a semi-Chinese world, thus notice the AU warning I have put on the fiction summary. Anyway, this is my first attempt to write them with these kind of roles. Hope you like it!
Started: Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Draft Finished: December 7, 2005
Disclaimer: The character and names of Naruto characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi-sensei. This story belongs to me. I don't own the company for that makes the movie Wars Of the In-Laws, which belongs to the creators and Hong Kong corporation of TVB television.
Pairings: NejiTen, slight SasuSaku and other pairings
Summary: AU Running away from an attempted robbery, Tenten gets caught up in the middle of an arranged marriage ceremony and takes the chance to hide, posing as the bride. With her friends captured by the Empress Tsunade, Tenten tries to do anything she can to get them out. But only one problem: she's now the wife of Hyuuga Neji. Tempting to leave, she is forced to undergo ridiculous household rules and most of all, adjusting to a well-manner attitude to complete her role as a fitting princess. Can she escape her "husband's" watchful eyes in time to save them, or would her cover be blown before she gets a chance? As the time for her friends' execution draws near, Tenten plans to use her status and cunning knowledge to free them. With that in mind, all she needs to do is be . . .
One Step Ahead
Three figures were crouched down, whispering in hush tones in broad daylight. "Okay, do you two understand the plan?"
Among the group, a male with wild spiky hair and a female with pink hair answered with an exasperated, "yes!" The brunette, the group's leader no doubt, was still unconvinced by their quick response, and gave them a stern stare.
"We went over this a million times already," Kiba stated, rolling his eyes in annoyance. His hearing was perfectly fine and he didn't need to be reminded twice of the plan to their grand scheme.
"I just wanted to make sure," Tenten retorted. "This heist will be difficult to pull off. I don't want any complications to occur." Standing up, she peered over her the wall as she silently survey the area. "Are you all ready?"
"Yeah," Kiba muttered. "Let's get going." His loyal canine companion, Akamaru howled in agreement.
"The show is about to start," Sakura added.
"Okay," said Tenten with wide grin on her face. "If we pull this off, we will be set for life!"
Long strands of the darkest color of hair were gathered together in a steady and gentle motion by two hands, pulling the bundle of the silky locks into a low ponytail at the base his neck. Dressed in fine silk robes, he sat down enjoying his peace. A soft breeze through the open windows gave him a clear view of the courtyard, which was a stark contrast to the red decorations that were currently in his room. He had been up since sunrise and after sitting and waiting for hours, his only wish was for the day to be over. Ceremonies like these tend to start very early in the morning and go on forever.
It was the morning of his wedding, an arranged marriage. His bride was a princess from a distant kingdom, and the only thing he knew was that she is known for her beauty.
At twenty-two years old, Hyuuga Neji had a reputation of his own, known for his noble upbringing and his family's close ties with Empress Tsunade, the ruler of the Fire Country. The Hyuuga prodigy excelled in criminal justice, bringing honor to his family in his own right, relying on his skills over his social status.
A knock on the door interrupted his moment of tranquility as a maid came announced that the ceremony would soon begin. Slowly, he got up and walked out the door, never minding the loud sounds of fireworks from a distance as he walked down the long corridors.
"I thought you said you had to the situation under control!" Sakura exclaimed as she sprinted down the alleyway to dodge the royal guards that were on their tail. Kiba and Sakura made a turn and jumped over the walls to avoid them, and when they stole a glance over their shoulders, they saw the worst thing ever: more guards were joining in the chase.
"Where the hell is Tenten?" Kiba gasped for more breath as he picked his pace.
"I don't know," she replied. "I thought Tenten was with you!"
"She said something about distracting the guards outside. A whole lot of good that did!" He scoffed.
"Let's just focus on the current situation!" Thinking ahead, Kiba and Akamaru were pulling and pushing garbage and junk to block the alleyway to buy some time to escape. "I'm sure she can take care of herself." Sakura ducked her head to avoid the crumpling bricks of the old building they were entering.
"Let's meet back at the temple on the mountain top." Kiba suggested. His legs were getting tired. "Tenten told us not to come back if we get chased, remember?"
"Of course!" Sakura pulled the leaves from her hair and went further down the road.
"All right, let's split up. I'll meet you there before sundown. Hopefully, Tenten's all right."
"She will be!" The girl assured her friend. Kiba heard her, and went on his own way with Akamaru. As for the pink haired girl, she kept running. The soldiers were still in hot pursuit.
"Oh crap!" Tenten threw one of her daggers, hitting the poles that support the canopy above the guards. The large piece covered them as they tried to break it apart with their weapons. The thief saw this opportunity to run, jumping on the rooftops to avoid the hassle of corners and dead ends. She was about to jump onto a steep ledge into a huge open window when she saw an arrow coming right to her. In a swift move, she leaned back and the arrow missed her. She looked below her to find another group of royal guards grabbing ladders to reach her. Adjacent to the wall were the archers, surrounding the whole alleyway in attempt to block any means of escape.
You are probably wondering why the royal guards of the Empress would go after you. Well, if you were holding her important gold seal used to pass on important documents, not to mention the power of the whole country, that might be why. The great work of art was in her bag that hung near her waist. Tenten scanned the whole situation. You didn't have to see fifty soldiers to know that you were in deep trouble. Stealing something this important would land you in a one way trip to hell without the possibility of going for jail for a lifetime.
She cast a glance to calculate the distance from the large window from where she was standing. It was a big gap, but between wanting to be free and facing a bunch of sword swinging idiots, she decided to take her chances.
"Give us the seal," the Chief yelled.
"Or you'll what?" The Chief's face was steaming red, his fat knuckles were clenched in a tight fist.
"We'll attack and you will be a goner." Tenten snorted.
"If you've wanted to attack me, you would be doing that right now instead negotiating with a common thief!"
"We want the seal back, Heaven's Phoenix!" She smiled inwardly. They knew her name. Most important, they know her legendary heists throughout the Fire Country.
"If you know who I am then you must be scared," Tenten spoke through the mask that covered the lower half of her face. Her dark eyes were glowing with pride and enjoyment. She pulled out a few more weapons and threw them at the guards. The sky showered with sharp objects as they all scrambled to cover themselves. As the distraction took place, Tenten went ahead and leaped into the window in a swift move. She was safe.
"Get her! She got away," The Chief shouted from below. Soon, footsteps were scurrying to the front of the building. Tenten panicked. They were on their way up here! So much for being safe. She looked around to find a possible way to escape without being seen. The room was all neat and organized. There is no way she could hide in this room. She went to the closet to find it empty. The thumping footsteps of the soldiers were coming nearer and nearer to her location. Tenten searched frantically and then she saw it. Set near the bed was a pile of clothes, but they were not just a typical pile of clothes. These were ceremonial clothes for a formal wedding. Only someone from a high class in society could afford these. If these were ceremonial clothes for the bride, where was she? The sound of the soldiers were just down the hall. At this moment, she didn't care where the bride-to-be was. Without a second though, Tenten slipped into the silky red dress.
"Where is she? Search the rooms, all of it! Search in the closets, underneath the bed, near the balconies, in the washrooms. Search everywhere! We need to find that seal!" The chief commanded.
One by one, the doors were being slammed open and close. Tenten decided to wait for them, sitting as still as she could on the bed. Her hands were shaking from anticipation and fear. Okay, maybe not fear, but from anxiousness. She breathed in and out to calm her nerves until the door banged open, making her inhale sharply.
"It is time for the ceremony to begin," a feminine voice said. From underneath the head dress and red veil, Tenten gave out a sigh of relief, but before she could celebrate her brilliance, the lady in the room walked up to her and helped her up.
"What is going on out there," Tenten asks politely, in an innocent voice. Well, it was the most innocent voice she had ever done, in her opinion.
"Oh that," she heard the woman grumble. "It's just a raid. A thief was found near here and now the officials are looking for her."
"A 'her'?" She pushed on.
"Yes," the lady answered. "A thief who calls herself 'Heaven's Phoenix'. She is wanted by the Empress for stealing the royal seal. Now, let's not dwell on the bad news. They are gone." Tenten could feel her life coming back to her. "Today is your wedding day, miss. Let's get going. We are running a little late because of those blundering idiots." She laughed inwardly. At least she wasn't the only one who thought the royal guards were a pain in the neck after all.
Step by step, she was guided to the front door until she reached the carriage. Once she was inside, she let out a sigh of relieve. She was off the hook, for now. Then, realization hit her, she was going to a wedding and she was the bride! Tenten flapped the silky red veil over her head dress and peeked through the window of the palanquin hauled by four men. The beads on the head dress clattered in front of her face, making clicking noises that were starting to annoy her. But what annoyed her the most were the people standing outside watching her pass. How can she escape with all of these people standing on the sides of the streets?
'Great', she thought. 'What have I got into this time?' Before she could think of an escape plan, the palanquin came to a halt and she was lowered down. The lady, who had helped her earlier, announced her arrival. She was about to get up when a loud commotion outside stopped her. Then, someone kicked the wooden panels of the palaquin. The next thing she knew, she was being carried on piggyback. Everything was happening so fast, she was getting a bit dizzy. Judging from the softness of the body she was leaning against, it was the same lady. The walk was short and finally, she was set down. Though she couldn't see anything, Tenten felt a presence next to her. It was probably the groom.
"We are gathered here today to witness the birth and unity of the-" Someone spoke.
'Oh my gosh,' Tenten thought.
". . .will bring honor the family and-"
'If I get out of this, I swear I would not steal anything from the Empress again,' she silently vowed. But it was no use. A silky ribbon was thrust into her hands and she held onto it tightly. The other end was held by the person next to her. The speaker was, unfortunately, still yapping away about unity and that it was for the good for the country.
"-although there are some misguided people who were stupid enough to try and steal the Empress's official seal, which by the way have been returned by the chief." Tenten stiffened. Her hand slowly reached down to see if she had it, but it was truly gone. She must have forgotten it when she was changing into the wedding garment. Inwardly, she cursed a string of the most colorful words she could think of.
"-and the accomplices have been captured. Heaven's Phoenix whereabouts are still unknown, but we will have her in custody." Her hands clutched tightly together. She could feel her own nails piercing through her skin in the palm of her hands. "As for the captives, they will be executed-" That was the last straw. As if on impulse, her hand reached up to the red veil and flipped it upward, revealing her frighten face.
"NO!" She shouted. The whole room was silent. Tenten could feel a hundred pairs of eyes looking right at her at that very moment. It took her a second to realize that she had their full attention. She opened her mouth to speak. "I. . .I mean, maybe you shouldn't kill them yet. This wedding is suppose to be a joyous event," she cast her eyes onto the floor to the avoid the astonished faces. "And it would be bad luck if blood is spilled because of a silly affair. It would be wise to postpone their execution. I'm sure the Empress would understand." Tenten could feel her hands shaking, but she refused to look up. That, she thought was probably the most brilliant speech she had ever given.
The man in front of her cleared his throat. "The bride is right. Let's postpone the execution. Now, let's begin the ceremony." The red veil was then pulled down. Not by her, of course, but by the helpful lady who stood behind her. Instructions were being dictated and she did nothing but obeyed them. With three bows, she was married to heavens know who. Night came and she was left alone in the room, where she sat stiffly on a big bed. The guests of the wedding were still at the banquet taken place somewhere within the household. They were probably a hundred feet away, but she could still hear the chattering and laughs from drunk men. Men, they disgusted her.
She stayed like that for about an hour, but her ears perked up when she heard noise outside her door. A crowd emerged from the shadows and a few laughs and low chuckles were heard. The next thing she knew, the door creaked open. The person in the room slowly advanced toward her as she drew back a little. Tenten cursed herself for not carrying extra weapons to protect herself. A hand laid on her head dress and the veil was lifted from her face. Once she adjusted to the light in the room, Tenten found herself looking at a young man. His silver eyes bore into hers and she felt like the world stopped spinning. Frustrated and most of all, angry, she let out an ear-piercing scream.
"Be quiet," was all he said. Tenten immediately stopped. She opened one of her eyes to see that he still had his eyes fully on her. His long hair was tied back, away from his masculine face. She could help but stare. The moonlight through the window cast a shadow on his face, making him look almost angelic. He looked a little feminine, she thought. Who can blame her? With long hair, you can slap him in a dress and call him a woman. But judging from his intense gaze, Tenten didn't even want to touch him. She want her limbs to be attached to her body, not popped out of their sockets.
"What are you looking at?" She huffed. A red tint appeared on her face. His gaze trailed down from her face to her body, which she covered it with her arms protectively. "What do you want?" She asked, trying to maintain her temper in check. The show was just starting and she was getting madder and madder by the second.
"What is your name?" He spoke in a calm and even tone. Tenten blinked and checked herself. What is with this guy? Barging in unannounced was bad enough, now he was interrogating her? How rude.
'Take a deep breath. Act innocent and you'll be fine,' she thought. Somehow, her voice was speaking on its own and she prayed to the heavens to have mercy.
"Excuse me?" He repeated the question, but this time he said it with less agitation. "I'm-" She thought about it for a moment. The only people who knows her name were Sakura and Kiba, no one else. Should she take a risk and give him her real name? He is, after all, her husband. It's not like she was going to stay. The way he was looking at her with his stoic expression made Tenten on edge. He would probably see through her lie. There's no point of lying. After tonight she would be gone. "Tenten," she answered him.
"Today, you are Hyuuga Tenten." She nearly choked. 'Hyuuga?' Her mind almost went to shut down mode. "My name is Neji. Hyuuga Neji, your husband, and you are my wife." Her body moved away from the man in front of her. With his hands at his side, Neji was standing over her, watching her like a glass doll that was on sale for three gold pieces. She said nothing, but looked away. Neji knew that she wasn't interested in being here. Hell, he didn't even want to be here. But he was here, and so was she. He sat down on the bed beside her. Instinctively, she moved away.
Neji looked at his wife. She didn't look like a goddess, but she was acceptable. High cheek bones, a slender neck, beautiful hair, and full lips, she was very much like a doll. Seeing her now, frighten and moving away from him like he had the plague, Neji decided that this was not the best time to discuss the reason why he had chosen a wife. He studied her closely and realized that she did not have a drop of make-up on her but only a small hint of red lipstick on her lips.
"Please," she stuttered. Damn, her acting skills were not half bad. Inwardly, she smirked. "Don't come any closer." Her plead didn't stop him from moving. His hands reached out to pull the beads covering her face. His hands glided down her cheek. She flinched at the contact. Never had a man touch her face like that. Tenten clenched her hands into fists, ready to pound him, but stopped as he pulled away, along with her head dress. Immediately, her head felt pounds lighter.
Neji set it aside, but remained on the bed with her. Both of them didn't say anything. They were a few inches apart, just sitting in silence. A reminder popped into her head. She needed to get out of here. Her friends were captured and she had to get them out. The only problem was her 'husband'. There's a chance he won't leave her alone . He was still staring at her like a priceless piece of art. Her eyes scanned around and found a huge container on top of the table. She knew without doubt that it was rice wine. Great, all she needed to do is get him drunk enough she could get out of here. Her eyes glowed with mischief.
"I-" she began. "Would you like a drink?" Her husband follow her gesture and saw the flask on the table. He already had several, but it was tradition to have a drink with his wife. Wordlessly, he went over to the table and sat down. Tenten followed and took a seat across from him. She delicately started to pour the heavy container of rice wine into the pair of cups. Tenten didn't make a move to lift the drink and waited for him take the initiative. Silently, he picked up the cup and consumed it in one gulp. "Lovely night isn't it?" Using the chance to distract him, she poured more wine into his cup.
"Yes," he replied as he set the cup down. Tenten pushed on.
"When I was little, I would always watch the full moon." That was a downright lie. On the night of full moons, she would go into towns and robbed greedy nobles for their money's worth. Neji took a swing of the cup, drinking all of its contents, and she poured some more.
"Oh?" Neji asked in a bored tone.
"You don't have to call me 'sir'. I am your husband." Tenten tried to hold back a flinch. He sounded angry for a second.
"Yes, of course," She muttered and looked down at the cups. Not a drop was in it. She smiled. "What should I call you?"
"You can call me Neji," the Hyuuga took another swig. His body was all warm from the wine. As he swayed, loose strands of his hair fell over his shoulders. Tenten wanted to brush it away but kept her hands in her lap. Her own hair is long, but she would always tie it up so it wouldn't get in her way when she was on the run. Long hair was too much of a hassle.
"Okay, Neji." As soon as his name escaped her lips, he turned to study her again. She looked out of place. Her eyes were focused on the window, examining the bright full moon. Bits of her dark hair were sticking out, but was still pulled back in two buns. The crimson dress outlined her figure nicely, accenting the slenderness of her arms contrasting the long pale fingers folded in her lap. She was definitely out of place.
"Could you not stare at me, Neji?" She asked in a small whisper. A strand of hair fell down her face and she blew it softly to get it out of the way.
"Why not?" He watched her fidget with her hands nervously.
"Because," she thought up of lie. "I can't stand it when people stare at me like a piece of meat." She nearly choked herself trying to to hold in her laughter. Okay, lying may seem to be her second nature, but it really isn't. It's a white lie. It wouldn't hurt anyone. Besides, he didn't even know her.
"You are my wife," Neji said sternly. Again, she tried not to flinch. She looked at him and saw that his hand was inching near hers.
'Pervert!' her mind screamed.
"I. . .oh, look!" Tenten tried to change the subject. "Your cup is empty. Let me fill your cup." The container was lighter now, almost one-third empty. His hand inched back as she pour more wine into his cup.
They were silent for a while. Actually, it was a long while. Only the occasional clicking of the glass cup dropping onto the table and the sound of pouring liquid echoed in the room. The wax on the candle was almost gone and Tenten was running out of time. Tenten eyed her husband. He was drinking the wine like tea!
"Are you not tired?" she asked. He looked at her with a hint of annoyance on his flawless face.
"Do you normally ask this many questions?" Tenten wanted to snort but stopped herself in time.
"Yes, sir," she said with a smile.
"It's Neji, not sir." He corrected. She wanted to roll her eyes. Nobles, they always want things to be perfect. Even people. "And no, I am not ready to retire yet."
"Damn," she swore under her breath.
"What was that?" She winced and gave a sweet forceful smile. He didn't even break into a grin.
"Oh, nothing. I just thought you might be tired and all. You had a lot to drink." Tenten answered sweetly. She pointed to the drink in his hand. "Since the gentlest voice she could muster without sacrificing her sense of dignity. She held the container to him and he drank it all in one gulp. By now, his cheeks were red. The girl tried to hold in the excitement. He was getting drunk. Well, at least, she thought he was.
Neji set the glass container down and closed his eyes. Tenten watched as her 'husband' remained still. He didn't move, not a single millimeter. She waved her hand in front of him and snapped her fingers to make sure he was asleep. She even gave loud clap and he still didn't budge. She tried a few times to get his attention, but sat as still as a statue. Tenten smiled at her devious job and stood up to head out the door.
'Let's get going!' She proclaimed inwardly. Quietly, she crept one step at a time, being careful to not make any noise. She took no more than three steps before she felt a hand encircling her wrist. The grip was hard and it made Tenten's body stiffen. She was caught. Her head turned to find Neji right next to her, eyes open and fully awake. He tugged her closely to his body, pulling her away from the door. She could feel the warmth of his body against hers. His warm breath brushed on her face as he spoke.
"Where do you think you're going?" He asked in a low voice. His silver eyes stared directly into her widen chocolate orbs, demanding for an answer. Tenten gave a nervous smile, trying to think up of lie, but her mind was as blank as a sheet of paper. She bit her bottom lip to stop herself from frowning. Her wrist felt like it was going to snap off any second. Tenten got the feeling that he wasn't going to let go any time soon. She was stuck there in that position and unable to escape.
'Damn,' she thought. 'This was not apart of the plan!'
A/N: So, should I continue or just delete this story? I know it's kind of dull. Yeah, I noticed too. I can't figure much of her character since she plays such a minor part in the Naruto series and those filler episodes don't do much. I've gone through the manga and I know Tenten can pull this off. She's tough enough. Okay, now it is up to you readers. I'm not sure if I want to continue or not, so I need your input! Please excuse my grammar and spelling mistakes. Review with any thoughts you might have about my writing. Constructive criticism is welcomed as long as it's in an intelligent matter.
Thank you for reading!