Notes: This chapter takes place a few years after the first one, since 'Progeny' isn't written in a linear fashion. Later chapters will deal with the pregnancy, babyhood, and so on. This one is semi-focused on Shunrei; I hope I've made the little troublemaker's character more understandable.
Well, I'm a-standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
I'm such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my lord! - in a flatbed Ford
Slowing down to take a look at me…
- the Eagles
Unlike his cousins Hino and Lien, who were for the most part physical copies of their fathers, Uzumaki Shunrei bore the stamp of both his parents' genetic legacies on his person. The most striking manifestation of this was the way Shunrei's hair, as dark as his mother's at the roots, lightened to his father's golden-blond at the tips; the strange, eye-catching result looked nothing at all like the dye-jobs that several females (and a few noteworthy males) had attempted to perform on themselves, Shunrei's coloration being so unique as to be a trend-starter. (Ino, in particular, had used to stare at Shunrei's head so intently, trying to mentally design a way to duplicate the effect, that she had made the then-three-year-old once burst into tears)
Similarly, his height, coloration, and features were all more compromises between Naruto and Hanabi's physical characteristics rather than drawn entirely from one or the other. His eyes, though, were purely his father's: large, almost shockingly blue, framed by long dark lashes and even slit-pupiled like Naruto's eyes had become – and lacking any Byakugan properties whatsoever.
This had never been an issue within his family, however. And his slit-pupiled blue eyes, light-reflective, glowing in the night, were just as strange and wondrous as the Byakugan silvers – more, perhaps, for that only two people in the world possessed them.
In short, Shunrei was a very good-looking boy; almost as good-looking – though not quite as much as, in her humble opinion –as his cousin Lien, and of course they shared enough characteristics to be similar in appearance anyway.
So why was all the female attention in their Academy class centered on Lien, and none at all on Shunrei? Tenten pondered this as she watched her son flee – there was simply no other word for the way he burst into the relative safety of their home – from a large group of besotted-looking girls. The expression on his face so exactly mirrored Neji's when he had been confronted by the same problem that Tenten was forced to muffle a stream of giggles underneath her palm. (Much to Neji's chagrin, she'd had much the same reaction to his suffering – not the reaction he'd wanted from the only girl he'd ever been interested in)
"See you tomorrow, Lien-kun!"
"I LOVE YOU LIEN-KUN!"
The girls called out these loving good-byes with as much affection as if Lien, running for all he was worth away from them, hadn't just slammed the gates in their faces. From Tenten's vantage-point on the Hyuuga rooftops (she liked the open space, and the sunset light it caught, to polish her weapons in) she could see Shunrei strolling along delightedly, hands in his pockets, grinning, whistling - the very picture of unconcern at his cousin's panicked flight. He stepped over the dust-clouding brawl that had erupted when the last girl had yelled her confession of love with nary a change of expression, and simply vaulted over the walls of the compound rather than go through the trouble of opening the gates Lien had so firmly shut behind him. When Shunrei entered the Hyuuga compounds, he made his way over to where Lien was bent over, wheezing for breath after his intense flight. Shunrei pounded Lien's back so hard he almost sent the taller boy sprawling; he then proceeded to offer several smirky observations about his cousin, his cousin's similarity to a mouse who had just spotted a flight of hungry hawks, and the probability that Lien would end up married to one or another of his devoted fanclub.
Lien's response, of course, was an attempt to close Shunrei's tenketsu; but Shunrei, better-winded and highly pleased with himself, merely dodged his cousin's infuriated blows with an insulting ease topped off with a blown raspberry. This soon degenerated into an impromptu game of tag all around, on top of, and through the Hyuuga grounds.
Hanabi and Shunrei would be having dinner at the Hyuugas' that night, Naruto being away at Suna for a meeting with Gaara. Shunrei, still in high fettle from his sparring, regaled his aunt, uncle, mother and grandfather with a hilarious accounting of the day's events – much to Lien's obvious discomfort. Hanabi and Tenten were soon reduced to speechlessness via trying not to burst into hysterical laughter if they opened their mouths; Lien was bright red, which was unfortunately all-too-common among the pale-skinned Hyuugas, and even Hiashi and Neji seemed to be muffling smiles. (Although they were more sympathetic, having been subject to similar persecutions in their youth)
Shunrei, of course, with his father's instinct for mayhem, reveled in it all. He was just finishing off explaining how three of the girls had booby-trapped the bathroom and forced Lien to run outside without his shirt when Lien finally snapped.
"It's not fair!" he burst out, clenching his fists. He glared at Shunrei, his eyes just on the verge of going full Byakugan. "I shouldn't have to deal with all of them; half of them, at least, should be bothering you. If only that stupid Nara girl…not all of us have girlfriends to scare those airheads off, you know."
Everyone else at the table was gaping at Lien, not least Shunrei. "What…what are you talking about?" he finally stammered.
"Oh, don't pretend like you're clueless," Lien sneered in a very good imitation of his father at his haughtiest - which was usually when Neji was trying to cover discomfort or anxiety. "That Nara girl staked her claim on you the first day of classes, and beat up anyone who didn't listen. And you've never said anything to stop her, so of course everyone thinks you're all but engaged! And left me to deal with those silly bimbos all by myself," he finished mournfully, looking very sorry for himself.
"What…what…what…" Shunrei babbled. "I…I…who…? But! But I…how…when…" His eyes were wide and wild, almost rolling like a frightened colt's. "She…but she…"
Their elders were of course convulsed in laughter.
A telling glance between Hanabi and Tenten, however, revealed that the two mothers would be shortly engaged in a little investigation of the females in their sons' year.
This is what happens when you have nothing to do on a transoceanic flight than to write and ponder Nessie-chan's "Daring to Bleed".