Although he wouldn't show it (at least not in front of public) Hyuuga Hiashi is very much concerned of his daughter Hinata. Contrary to popular belief, Hiashi is not a harsh father. Strict, maybe. But never harsh. After all, he cares for his daughter very much. And that is not only because she is the heiress of the clan.
There are times when he would seem like a self absorbed stick-in-the-mud prick. There are times when people would question his way of raising his two female offsprings. There are times when it looks like Hiashi's sick and tired of training Hinata. But what people don't know is that there are some rare times when this respected figure would show his sensitive side.
Like today, for example.
"Hyuuga Hinata!" Hiashi's firm but subdued voice echoed throughout the Hyuuga compound.
"Y-Yes, Father?" meekly answered Hinata, whose longer hair swayed with her as she turned around to face her father.
Hyuuga Hiashi exhaled sharply as he gestured at the room, littered with envelopes and papers of all shapes and sizes. "How do you explain this mess?" His pearly eyes scrutinized his daughter as she weakly smiled.
"U-Uhm…" Hinata played with her fingers. "T-They're… Love letters…"
Hiashi choked. "Love letters!"
"Y-Yes, Father. You know… W-Written messages containing a message of personal admiration and appreciation…" The Hyuuga heiress supplied, making Hiashi on the verge of hyperventilating. Hinata sweatdropped. What she just said was just a restrained way of describing what a love letter is though.
"About these love letters…" Hiashi finally managed to say as he caught up with his breath. "These are from whom?"
"F-From…" The girl blushed. "F-From people I don't know, Father."
Hiashi absolutely looked homicidal. His eyes burned and his nose flared up in anger as he punched the wall, making a THUD! sound as he did so. His anger rose higher than the magma of an exploding volcano. Even Vesuvius cannot match the raw internal heat coming out of Hiashi.
Thankfully, before anything horrific would happen, Neji entered the room and came to the rescue.
"Hiashi-sama, allow me to clean up this mess and make sure that all of Hinata-sama's suitors get the message that she is not available for any dates or anything of the sort." Neji said quickly, making Hiashi calm down.
"Yes, yes…" The clan leader nodded in approval. "Make sure that this incident doesn't happen again, Hinata."
"Hai!" Hinata replied immediately for fear of making her father mad.
Hiashi was about to leave the room when he noticed a piece of paper stuck on his sandal. He picked it up and because his curiosity got the better of him, he decided to read its contents.
"Dear Hinata, you are like an ice cream that I would like to lick over and over aga- What is this nonsense!" Hiashi picked up another love letter and read it too through gritted teeth. "Sweet Hinata, everything you do is very sexy and I think…" The great leader of the Hyuuga clan furiously picked up some more paper and read them. As he finished the last piece, Hiashi slumped over and after a few seconds, a dark aura surrounded him.
"U-Uhm…" Hinata distanced herself away from her father, seeing that even Neji was doing the same.
Tenten tries to make Neji understand why that "dobe" is the perfect match for his cousin. However, they soon discover that it's not only Naruto and Hinata's lovelife which is blooming. (NejiTen, NaruHina, ONESHOT)
Hanabi walked at the Hyuuga courtyard and sighed as she saw a ninja getting his butt kicked by one Hyuuga Neji. "Another one of my sister's suitors, I suppose?" She watched in amusement as the ninja attempted to fool Neji by making about 5 bunshins, but he easily took them down one by one and made the poor ninja suffer by beating him to a pulp. The younger Hyuuga shook her head. "Tsk, tsk. When would they ever learn?"
Neji didn't respond. He was too busy glaring at the ninja who was already running away from his worst nightmare AKA Hyuuga Neji. Hanabi smirked and went to the training grounds.
It was amazing what 2 1/2 years could do to a growing female adolescent, Hinata specific. It was only natural for the descendants of Adam to ogle at her newfound... ahem, curves. Men seemed to be reduced to pedophiles when around her presence and even though she wears a conservative jacket to cover up her body, this seemed to have no effect in decreasing the number of her admirers (and potential stalkers).
Even Shino and Kiba seemed a bit bothered by this, Neji reflected. Her cousin's teammates saw first-hand how far Hinata's obsessed admirers would go just to touch her. Kiba is naturally overprotective of Hinata because he had a crush on her once. And Shino? Well let's just say that he doesn't have any second thoughts on using his beloved bugs to protect Hinata from any harm.
Yes, since that one faithful day when Hyuuga Hiashi found out about his daughter's admirers, he had specifically assigned Neji to be Hinata's personal bodyguard and make sure that Hinata stays safe and sound from the clutches of evil. Hiashi also stated that he would only acknowledge someone worthy of his daughter if he can manage to defeat Neji.
And the thought alone of battling with the Hyuuga prodigy extraordinaire slash Sasuke's greatest rival when it comes to shooting deadly glares slash hot, hot, hot shampoo model in his spare time is already suicide by itself.
"N-Neji-oniisan!" Hinata ran towards Neji to greet him. "How did your S-rank mission go?"
"Fine," Neji answered monosyllabically. "We got to accomplish the mission and Naruto-"
At the mention of her inspiration's name, Hinata's pearly eyes widened and her face turned all possible hues of red. "N-N-N-Naruto-kun?"
"Yes. Haven't you heard? He returned to Konoha only recently. I guess he already finished his training with the legendary Sannin Jiraiya." Despite himself, Neji couldn't help but smile. Hinata sure is transparent. It's easy to see if Hinata is happy. Her face would light up, her eyes would have a certain spark in them and she would radiantly glow in excitement.
"S-So he's back already." said Hinata, but it appears as if she is mostly talking to herself rather than with Neji.
"Would you like to see him?" Neji asked, breaking Hinata's trance.
Hinata suddenly raised her arms and waved it wildly in front of her. "N-No! I mean, I don't think I can face him!" When she saw Neji's eyebrows raise quizzically, she added, "Yet."
"All right." With that, Neji left.
Tenten, whose surname is still currently unknown, watched in amusement as her sparring partner and teammate mercilessly and ruthlessly attacked and tortured a training log.
"Hee hee, take it easy, Neji!" Tenten gracefully jumped out of the branch of a nearby tree wherein she was watching her teammate, and landed beside Neji. "Honestly, terrorizing defenseless logs won't be able to raise up your cool points even by a notch."
"Hmp." The bun-haired girl took this as an indication of slight annoyance from Neji's part.
Probably, if there was anyone who knows what Neji is really like outside the Hyuuga clan, it would have to be Tenten. And why not, since she had become his personal sparring partner, helping him improve his combat skills to unreachable heights. Their relationship is mutual- Neji gets to have a spar with a being more tolerable than those green-clad figures (Neji shuddered at the mere thought of it), and Tenten gets to develop her weapon expertise.
She looked at Neji, "Yes?"
"You're a girl right?"
Flowers withered, birds fell but Neji seems blissfully unaware how extremely pissed this question made Tenten. Is Neji that dense as to not notice that fact for the past 4 years? And how dare he question her femininity? Sure she can be tomboyish but that doesn't mean that she's not a girl! Heck, for all she knows, Neji might have been using those freaky eyes of his to… Tenten shook her head. Where did that last part come from?
After a few moments though, Tenten answered edgily, "So what if I am?"
"That's good," Neji looked relieved. "Because I have a problem. And I think that only a girl can help me."
Tenten's mouth formed an "oh" as she wiped a sweat from her brow. For a moment there, she thought that Neji was actually going to follow that "Are you a girl" question with something nasty.
"Hinata-sama… She's acting a little weird lately," Neji started. Tenten only nodded as she wondered what Hinata has got do with Neji's "problem." "Since Naruto came back, she would constantly mumble incoherent sentences more than often and go to the kitchen just to make some ramen."
Tenten chuckled softly. Now she knows where this is going.
"I can't understand her. It's good that since Naruto came back, she would train with endeavor to become a better kunoichi who knows no limits, but there's something about her behavior that is quite perplexing."
The bun-haired girl only "tsked" in return. "Neji, you know how big of a crush Hinata has for Naruto. Why are you even surprised?"
Neji frowned for a few moments, and then he muttered darkly, "But it's just too soon."
"You sound more like a worried, overprotective father than a supportive cousin," teased Tenten. "You should be happy. Naruto motivates Hinata to do her best with great effort, patience and determination. Even without him knowing it, Naruto has already influenced Hinata's life a lot."
Seeing that Neji is trying to take in what she had just said, she continued, "Besides, weren't you the one who specifically said that out of all the males here in Konoha, the one you want to be Hinata's boyfriend is Naruto? Come on, don't tell me that you are taking back what you said!"
"I am not," It's the Hyuuga genius's turn to speak now. "However, Hinata-sama is very fragile, someone who should be taken care of and kept protected. What I said back then was just my way of expressing my respect for Naruto."
"Meaning that beating me is one thing but taking the heart of Hinata-sama is another. Remember, I am Hinata-sama's assigned bodyguard. I would do whatever it takes to look after her well-being." Neji narrowed his lavender-colored orbs as he clenched his fist. "I would take great pains just to make sure that Naruto's motives are pure and are by no means immoral."
Making the kunoichi laugh noisily, bending down just to contain her laughter.
"What is so funny, Tenten?" Neji asked sharply, clearly not amused.
Tenten wiped a tear from her eye as she spoke, "It's just that your use of words… It's as if you are making Naruto some kind of rapist or something!"
Neji crossed his arms. "And?"
"Poor Neji, you just can't seem to get the picture, can you?" Tenten smiled wanly, still incredulous of how Neji views the Hokage-wannabe. "Naruto is as dense as they come! He wouldn't do dare anything that your overactive imagination is suggesting!"
Neji automatically choked at these words, his mind telling him that what Tenten had just said has a very hidden meaning. Tenten carried on with her little speech, "Why are you so damn rigid, Hyuuga Neji? Can't you see that Naruto and Hinata are made for each other? No one else can make Hinata smile like the way she does when she's with Naruto. You should be glad for Hinata."
"I told you, it's not yet time," said Neji as he massaged his aching temple. This conversation is making his head throb.
"Then when will it be time?" Tenten pressed on. "Until you are already married?"
Neji did a double take. Is this the same Tenten who spars with him and doesn't care if she gets a lot of bruises form relentlessly training and doing ninja missions? Surely, he doesn't remember his teammate being very philosophical when it comes to the matters of the heart.
He blinked when she suddenly lowered her head, "Ah… Sorry, I'm just caught up in the moment. I just can't believe that your mind is resolute about this whole thing with Hinata."
It took a few seconds before Neji could respond, "It's okay."
Pensive silence followed for a moment before the weapon mistress spoke again, "You know, I envy Hinata so much."
"I don't know. I mean, you seem to care a lot about her." The weapon mistress answered, shrugging.
Neji frowned for the nth time this day. His teammate keeps on saying a lot of weird things lately, "I don't know if you should feel envious about that. When someone is important for you, you'll do your best to keep them happy, even if it means that your own personal interests would be sacrificed."
For some unexplainable reason, Tenten turned her back on Neji.
"What?" He asked, clearly confused.
"Neji, I have a question for you." Tenten said suddenly. "Please answer this honestly, okay?"
"Alright," Neji's head was filled with unanswered questions about his teammate's baffling behavior today.
"Let's say a boat is sinking and Hinata, you and me are on board. If you were given the chance to save only one of us, who would you choose? Hinata or me?"
Neji is now even more confused. Why is Tenten asking this? This must be one of the pointless logic questions Gai gave them once. Yeah, that must be it.
"Why so silent, Neji?" He heard Tenten speak again, though her voice seems to be shaking. "It's just a simple question."
"T-This must be one of the hardest questions someone posed on me," What Neji said was true. It was amazing how this straightforward question could make him think so deeply, so intensely. He could've sworn that a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is easily less troublesome than this.
Damn, now he's beginning to sound like Shikamaru.
"Well, of course I am going to pick Hinata-sama," Neji answered confidently, though he found himself not really that self-assured that he said the right answer. "You understand, right?"
A moment of silence.
"Tenten?" Neji approached his teammate with caution. "Are you alright?"
"Y-Yeah…" For a moment there, he thought that Tenten was actually crying. However, he cannot confirm his suspicions because she still had her back turned to him. "Hinata-chan. Of course you would pick her over me. She's your responsibility after all. And besides that, there's this certain concern I see from you when it come s to your cousin. How stupid of me to think that you would pick me over her. Even if I ask this question a thousand times, the answer will always be the same."
"You mean a lot to me, Hyuuga Neji. As a teammate, a friend…. As one of the few people I could truly trust. At first, I thought of you as an unfeeling person. But slowly, I came to realize that there is a side of you that you do not show often. I don't know why, but I found myself slowly welcoming you as part of my life. To gain your approval, I would persistently train harder every single day. I'll have to keep up with you, even if you are growing stronger and stronger with every passing moment. You don't know how much I've tried to improve and reach your combat skills. The only way you can see me after all is when I am giving you a difficult time when sparring."
Neji looked away; there was some truth in her words.
She sniffed, continuing, "Seriously, I cannot elicit anything more from you except pure boredom or disinterest. All I know is that I want to see you everyday, to be with you, to talk to you… Geez, now I'm sounding like a stalker." Tenten's voice broke.. "Why am I even bothering saying all of this to you? You're Hyuuga Neji. Knowing you, you'll just tell me that I must be imagining things and go on with life. But I just can't help it…."
Tenten faced him, and Neji realized that his suspicions were right all along when he saw the crystal tears forming on her eyes.
She sighed. It was better to get this over with now. "I…I want you to know that I feel for you…" She laughed hollowly. "I-I mean…you know, romantically."
"Romantically," Neji muttered.
"A-Ah," Tenten nodded sadly. It was breaking her heart, seeing the love of her life trying to understand what she had just said. She then looked away, "Well, I better get going now… I really should…."
'Wait!" Neji said suddenly. He grabbed Tenten's wrist, surprising the bun-haired girl. "Don't go yet."
"N-Neji? What's this? Trying to give me a heart-to-heart talk because you pity me?" Tenten shook her head. "Thanks, but no need."
He smirked. "What are you talking about? My answer to your question is still incomplete. Let me speak up first."
"Without a doubt, I'll save Hinata-sama. It is my job, as her protector and most importantly, her family." Tenten's face fell. Nothing changed… "But after that, I'll jump into the angry waters again."
"W-Why?" Tenten found herself asking before she could stop herself. 'You can only save one of us, remember?"
Neji smirked, "I know that. That's why I'll jump. So I can die with you."
She exhaled the breath she had been holding for quite some time, oh-so-slowly. Her eyes locked with Neji's as a bead of sweat that had been gathering on her temple slid down her cheek, down her jawline and finally, dropped towards the ground.
"Why so silent?" Neji asked.
Tenten couldn't bear it anymore. Her eyes became cloudy while her cheeks flushed a deep red. It's because you are only saying this because you feel sorry for me, that's why!
"I thought you like me… Romantically," Neji cautiously stepped towards her. "What you said earlier enlightened me."
"N-Neji?" she managed to squeak when she saw that familiar mischievous twinkle in his eye. One she would often see when he was about to pull a fast verbal trick on Uchiha Sasuke, or when he was going to make Lee suffer his wrath after the latter did something stupid.
"You know what?" Neji smirked at the female before him. "I just made the second biggest decision in my life, next only to stop harboring hatred on the Main Family- and that is giving away my biggest, darkest secret. That I am capable of loving too."
Brown eyes widened at the sudden revelation.
"Stay still and close your eyes," Neji murmured, voice getting huskier.
Tenten obeyed Neji. Isn't this the moment she was waiting for all her life? She knows that when men start to say that, it would mean they were planning to…
Neji's eyes flew open and he turned his gaze to the noise. There Lee was, running idiotically on the other side of their training grounds. Tenten, meanwhile, looked shocked and quite disappointed at the sudden interruption of their other teammate.
"Neji! Tenten! You won't believe what just happened!" Lee announced happily. "Gai-sensei gave me the new Green Spandex of Youth 3000! I can now personally experience the enthrallment of this remarkable fashion breakthrough for ninjas!"
Neji still looked quite annoyed. "That's good." Now get out!
"To celebrate this happy, happy day, I shall run 500 laps around Konoha wearing my new Green Spandex of Youth 3000!" Lee's eyes blazed. "What about you two? Would you like to join me?"
'I think there is no need," Tenten answered for the two of them. "With your new Green Spandex of Youth, you will just outrun us to the point that we can't keep up with you. Don't you agree, Neji?"
"I don't know about you Tenten, but I could DEFINITELY keep up wi- AW!" Tenten had just elbowed Neji in the ribs. "I mean, you run along now because Tenten and I have no chance in hell of keeping up with your crazy speed now that you've got your…um, new jumpsuit."
These words seemed to fan the flames of determination coming from Lee, "REALLY? Now I know without a doubt that I am already a step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming as great as Gai-sensei! And because you, my rival Hyuuga Neji, had already admitted your incapability of exceeding my speed, strength and stamina, I have become more confident of my abilities as a Taijutsu specialist!" He turned to the two. "Farewell for now, my friends! I shall now continue on my path to greatness by completing 500, no, 1000 laps around Konoha!"
And with that, Lee sped off at the speed of light.
"Lee sure is… interesting." Tenten turned to Neji. "Right, Ne- Hmp!"
Without prelude, he suddenly cupped her face with his hands and kissed her suddenly. She was taken by surprise at first, but his gentle, teasing way of delighting her made her respond. It seemed like sweet, sweet eternity when he held her like this, touched her like this.
This… This feels so right, Tenten finally concluded.
EPILOGUE: The Ichiraku Ramen Restaurant, 1 year Later
"Naruto, stop eyeing my cousin like that. Or else," Hyuuga Neji growled as he glared menacingly at the No. 1 Loudmouth of Konoha.
"Eyeing Hinata like what?" Naruto shot back. "Like this?" He turned to the pearly-eyed female who was eating a steamy bowl of pork ramen beside him, and grinned.
Neji leaped out at Naruto, ready to attack him. Thankfully, Tenten was there to hold back Neji, whose thoughts revolve around mutilating Naruto into a thousand pieces and throwing them to the deepest parts of an ocean right now. She then laughed. "Cool down, will ya? You know, you can't always act like a chaperone whenever Naruto and Hinata-chan would have their dates."
"That's right, that's right!" Naruto agreed, pounding his fist on the table. "Listen to your girlfriend Neji! What she said makes a lot of sense. How can Hinata-chan and I enjoy our privacy with you guarding us 7/24?"
"It's 24/7, N-Naruto-kun." Hinata meekly corrected.
Naruto scratched his head. "Uh, yeah! Right, Hinata-chan!" He then pinched her cheek affectionately. "You're as smart as always."
"GAAGH! If you lay just one finger on her, I swear I will- "
"A finger? What about the whole hand? Two hands?"
"Neji, calm down, we are in a public place!"
Sasuke eyed the scene that beheld him; Neji trying to hit Naruto with his deadly Gentle Fist techniques as Tenten struggled to stop Neji from destroying Naruto and ultimately, the entire Ichiraku Ramen Restaurant. His eyes saw the Hyuuga heiress watching worriedly. His only reaction to this is… frowning.
"Pft. And they say we have a lot of drama." Sasuke said out loud to the pink-haired girl who was walking beside him.
Sakura looked at Sasuke in confusion, "Did you say anything, Sasuke-kun?"
SARAFU-CHAN: So… Sleepy… (sees the readers) Oh, hello there! I hope you enjoyed my story!
CHIBIKAKASHI: Which is obviously as stupid as the other ones.
SARAFU-CHAN: Shut up! Anyway, I apologize if I have some grammatical mistakes or improper use of English words. I finished this fic in three and a half hours I think and by that time, it was only the coffee I was drinking that kept me awake enough to finish this one. And I'm too lazy to reread this whole thing. Weh. Oh yeah! And for those who are curious as to why I am not updating I Wanna Be A Supermodel, please go to my profile page for more info.
CHIBIKAKASHI: Like most writers, SARAFU-CHAN wants to say something really witty at the end but unfortunately, her brain has farted.
SARAFU-CHAN: One more smartass comment from you and I will do something you really, really wouldn't like.
CHIBIKAKASHI: Like what?
SARAFU-CHAN: Like burn your comic books and burn them and… uh, burn them! TO ASHES!
CHIBIKAKASHI: (kinda afraid now) Uhm, then I'll just say the "please review thing" okay?
SARAFU-CHAN: You just said it.
SARAFU-CHAN and CHIBIKAKASHI: Please review-HEY! That's my line!