Previously on Chicharong Flower…
At last, the shocking truth about the mysterious haunting spirit of Hyuuga Hiashi was finally revealed: he is one feke! Moreover, Neji finally realized why he still couldn't throw the chicharon vendor out of his mansion (despite her being a complete pain in the neck). Now if only Tenten knew that...
Neji went down the stairs, rubbing his eyes. Gai, Naruto and his cousin had kept him up last night, playing cards. He wasn't supposed to join them; unfortunately, he was bothered by the presence of a certain housemate who was obviously avoiding him.
From the living room, he could hear a marriage of two voices that seemed to come from the depths of the gloomy underworld cabaret.
"Because of my Mother... who's so good in hanging up clothes! Life had more co—(1)"
The young man groaned. How many days have he heard that jingle? The laundry soap's latest gimmick came in a form of "guess the missing word" game, which he thought was particularly inane and insulting of the levels and depths of basic human intelligence.
Or so he thought. For until now, Naruto and Gai are still trying to figure out that missing word. And how many times did he say that "color" is the missing word, but did they listen to him? Of course not!
Naruto said, "That cannot be, cousin so in law! It's too simplified! They will not give one million pesos for something so…so…simplificated!"
And Gai? "I cannot see the connection between color, hanged up clothes, and Mother! It's so….far!"
Neji could only wince when he hears the guessing game following that infuriating commercial.
"Ku…to?" guessed Naruto. "Li-fe had mooooooooore kuuuu…to (2)!"
"Istupeeeed!" Gai knocked the disagreeable lad. "A person can have kuto with or without Serp (3)!"
Of course, Hinata's husband wouldn't just back down. "For your piece of inflammation, when you wash your clothes with Serp, and then hang the clothes under the sun, you will have lice!"
The teacher stopped, deep in thought. "Hmm…you're right… but let's explore the other possibilities, shall we?"
"We shall," agreed Naruto. "Life had more ku…mag(4)?"
"Why kumag?" the Hollywood hair stylist questioned, curious.
"Maybe they eat the Serp powder."
"Hmm…can be…" Gai grinned. "How about ku…#$?"
Neji wanted to bang his head on the wall.
At that instant, Tenten entered the living room. "Hinata's finished cooking breakfast, Naruto, Sir Gai. Let's eat."
"What is our meal all about?" questioned the older man while entering the kitchen.
"Um, chocolate-flavored rice and dried fish." The lady was about to leave when she saw Naruto gesture towards the escalator.
Neji was standing by it, not knowing what to do.
The chicharon vendor was also startled but shrugged it off. She nonchalantly walked into the kitchen, too.
Gai and Naruto looked at each other before glancing towards Neji who looked wounded; then danced. "You're dead, you're dead, you're dead Neji!"
The young man wasn't able to react. He didn't know the woman had such a temper. If he only knew then that this will happen, he should have let her won their tong-its game.
At the dining table, it was obvious that two people weren't in the mood for talking. Tenten was looking down on her bowl of choco rice, taking slow bites. Neji also had his head down, as if counting the rice bits.
Hinata was cutting the fish into smaller pieces for her husband. Gai, of course had to ask why she does that.
Naruto was the one who answered. "If I do it by myself, I only eat the skin part."
"What? You only eat the skin?" Gai was astonished. "Do you know that the skin is oily? Do you want to get skin cancer?"
Tenten coughed, and Neji automatically handed her a glass. The young lady paused, then just stared at him.
Was she touched by my thoughtfulness? Neji wondered, encouraged. A second later, it hit him.
The glass didn't have any water.
The young man took it back, embarrassed.
Hinata seized the chance to make the two talk. After all, they're not the only ones annoyed by the silence reigning inside the Hyuuga mansion.
"Kuya Neji, did you have an argument with Miss Tenten?" Direct approach was what Hinata thought as the best strategy to shock the truth out of these two.
It was Neji's turn to cough. "A-argument? O-Of course not. W-Whatever made you think of that? A-And if ever we did argue, is that wrong? When did arguing defy clan laws? And what do you people care about our business? There's nothing you could do to help!"
Everyone gaped at him.
The young man dropped his head, the last remaining ounce of pride hidden deep inside him destroyed.
"What can you say about that?" Hinata uttered, glancing at the chicharon vendor.
"I got my choco rice mix right," replied Tenten, shrugging.
The clan heiress could only sigh.
"I sense a fraction between you," started Gai, always the advocate of world peace and harmony.
"Friction," Neji corrected.
"He finally admitted it! He and Tenten are fighting!" said Naruto cheerfully.
"I didn't admit anything!" snapped the young Hyuuga.
"You said it yourself! There's friction between you two!"
"I was merely correcting Gai!"
"Whatever!" A huge grin plastered on Uzumaki Naruto's face.
"I DID NOT ADMIT ANYTHING!"
"K-Kuya Neji, would you please sit down," Hinata immediately intervened, sweatdropping. She noticed the death grip of her cousin on his fork ready to target-shot her husband.
"You don't need to worry, Sir Gai."
Everybody was silenced when the chicharon vendor spoke up. Tenten continued. "If there's anything wrong, it will end today."
She's finally going to forgive me? Neji wondered, renewed hope flickered in his eyes.
It was ignored by the young lady. "I'll be leaving this place later."
"It doesn't matter how long you sulk there, Kuya Neji. You can't do anything about it," Hinata explained. Earlier, she had found her cousin in the corner of the garden catching dragonflies, and decided it was a good time as any to start discussing his love quandary. "It was Miss Tenten's decision."
The lad sighed. "You're too noisy. The one I was about to catch got away."
"Kuya Neji, I know you don't want her to leave," Hinata began. "Please do something to change her mind."
"I don't know."
He glared at her.
And she smiled back at him. "Kuya Neji, last time you looked at me like that, I was twelve. That was when you first found out that I was the daughter of your uncle who's not at so at peace with my uncle who's your daddy. Can you still remember that?"
He remembered punching her over and over until she almost died if he wasn't stopped by the elders. "Oh, that. I'm not that bothered about your father. I-I just thought… you were laughing at my Barbie. I wasn't the only boy who plays with Barbie dolls… according to Father."
"I know." Hinata patted him. "If you were able to do that for your doll, why couldn't you do the same for the person who's more valuable than a hundred Barbie dolls in the world? She's one-of-a-kind, she's priceless…why would you want to let her go?"
"It's not that I wanted to let her go. B-but…" He crossed his arms musingly.
"If you would let your fear dominate you, you'll be living a life of what-ifs. What-ifs are more painful than regrets, Kuya Neji," she said softly.
The lad was about to speak when Naruto popped out from behind. "She's right, cousin so in-law! You know that life is short! Give it your best shoot! Er, shot! Uh…shooting? Shootable? Shootification?"
"She doesn't even acknowledge my presence," Neji complained. "Just because she lost a game of tong-its…"
"Maybe it's because you haven't fulfilled your part in the bargain," replied Hinata. "I do remember that you wagered the pigs in exchange for her finding you someone to act as your fiancée."
The young man's eyes grew wide. "You're kidding, right? If I do that then she would really leave!"
"It does not matter. She's leaving anyway," Gai revealed, uncovering himself from the nearby shrub where he was hiding.
Neji was stunned. "She's leaving right now?"
"Damn!" The young man was about to run off when he was stopped by Naruto.
"Brother-in-law, slow down! If you will attack the battlefield without a weapon, you will not live long!" Naruto pulled him back to them. "Here. Let me give you pieces of advice regarding this situation…"
Tenten was watching a local music channel in the living room, sympathizing with Akon's Mr. Lonely when Neji trudged in, his body covered with sweat. She arched an eyebrow at him.
"I'LL GIVE YOU THE PIGS!" he announced frantically, still catching his breath.
She turned the TV off. "Relax, you sound like you just declared a revolution against revolutions. What is your problem?"
He paused. "I'll give you the pigs?"
"Will you still leave?" he asked uncertainly.
"T-then… then… I'LL GIVE YOU ALL MY CHICKENS!" he proposed, "along with all their unborn children and eggs!"
"N-Neji, are you okay?" She was not accustomed to this sudden outburst from the usual stoic Hyuga.
"Why do you have to leave?" he asked, finally, the question that has been bothering him.
She grimaced. "W-well, I couldn't stay here forever, right? I told you before, if I feel I could already make it on my own, I'll leave."
"What could I do to make you stay?" he asked. "Would you like me to sing? Dance?"
"I already saw that, Neji," she said, shaking her head.
"I would purposely lose in tong-its everyday, if that's the problem," he said desperately.
"If you don't cheat, that's definitely what will happen," she smiled wanly.
"Is that why you're upset?"
"Can't you forgive me?" he asked quietly.
Her heart skipped a beat at that. She quickly forced her excitement out of the way. "You don't have to worry, it's not about that." She finally released a smile. "But thanks anyway, Neji."
"Then what did I do?" he asked miserably.
"You're wrong." She sighed. "You're supposed to ask, 'what did I do'."
"You only repeated what I just asked."
She groaned. "Noo! I meant, what did I do?" She pointed towards herself repeatedly. "It's me, okay? Me!"
"So, what did you do?" returned Neji.
"It's a secret."
"Tenten…I have the right to know," he said.
"Oh? Why so?"
"That's the only thing I could hang on to so you wouldn't go."
The chicharon vendor was silenced.
"If you don't want to tell me, the least you can do for me is to say yes."
"Yes? To which survey? FHM's again?"
"To my marriage proposal."
She froze in front of him. "S-say w-what?"
"Marriage. Wedding, nuptial, the union of two hearts."
"F-For what?" she asked, nervously laughing. "Don't tell me, there's another Sir Gai who would instantly pop out and—"
"I'm the one who wanted this." He smiled tenderly at her. "I've fallen in love with the chicharon vendor who drives me crazy."
She stared at him, wide-eyed.
"I want… I want you to be by my side always," he continued, "because there's no other person who makes me as happy as you do."
Valiantly fighting the tears filling up her eyes, she kidded, "E-Eh…you should have proposed to someone from the carnival. They'll make you happier."
"I certainly cannot love them as much as I love you."
Love? She fell speechless…again.
"Don't you want me?" asked Neji, cold sweat trailing his figure. "I-I can be really quite good-looking, according to Mother. A-And I could cook for you and do your laundry. I'm also healthy, with good genes, a real palahian (5) material.
"I'm a one-woman man, unlike you, who upon seeing Drew Arellano and Carlos Lorenzo together in one screen, can get confused on who to fangirl. But when you really think about the aesthetic spectrum of things, I'm actually better-looking than both of them."
She was starting to tremble. Are all these true? Did he really love her?
"And I will eat any kind of chicharon you make… chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, water buffalo, goat, lamb…""
"Why are you telling me all these things?" Her voice was barely audible.
"I'm only stating what I can do as your mate, the discerning woman that you are. And that's just the start." He smiled coyly. "To show that I also have affinity to the cultural arts that you women seem to be so damn fond of, I also have an intermission number." Softly, he sang. "There are three bears in a house …"
The young woman broke into peals of laughter. "Neji!"
"… Papa Bear is very strong… Mama Bear is very beautiful…" He started including some choreography into his number.
"Neji, please! You're too disgraceful to look at! What if someone sees this and starts shooting this, and then puts it out on sale along with other celebrity scandal videos?"
"…Baby Bear is very lively…"
"Neji! Dammit, what is this, a representation of the horror-erotica genre?"
"Look at them, look at them…"
"Neji, you're on a high yet again! You sniffed some glue again, didn't you?"
The Hyuuga stopped, looking miffed. "You didn't like that? Fine, I'll demo my other abilities." He cupped her face, and before she could react, he had kissed her already.
She didn't have time to react when he suddenly let go, grinning.
"Eh, what was that?" she suddenly uttered.
"He smirked. "Sorry. Evaluation license expired. If you want that everyday, you have to marry me."
She cocked an eyebrow. "Jelly fish jutsu?"
"Why can't you just admit that you have developed an inclination towards the jelly fish, Tenten?"
She sighed. "Fine."
He looked satisfied, but then his forehead creased. "Wait, what was that thing you said you did wrong?"
She shrugged. "Nothing much. Only that I had this silly little notion to make you the husband and father of my future family, but which I thought earlier was next to impossible."
He grinned. "You know what Adidas has to say about that, yes?"
"Um, say no to Athlete's Foot?"
It's true that life is magical.
Sometimes you feel that you already know where your life's heading for, then something you didn't expect will come by and change everything. It's called fate.
But if that something you didn't expect to happen, in fact didn't happen, and nothing changed, means only one thing. Your life is boring.
Anyhow, I, Tenecita Teneciente Da Sarapen-Hyuuga have no business with that. I live a different life. A life, wherein I am no longer alone. Fate might have introduced it to me in a weird way, but it's aaaaaall so good to me.
…except when he joins his cousin's husband singing their national anthem.
"There are three bears in a house …"
1 =from a radio commercial involving laundry soaps and mothers, and how the soap made our lives more colorful. (scratches cheek) Yeah, I know. Anyway, there was a contest held based on this jingle wherein there is a missing word and if you guess it right, you'll win one million pesos.
2 = kuto, or in English, lice. The commercial's missing word here starts with ku. It has been speculated that the missing word is actually kulay, or color.
3 = Serp is my play upon the laundry soap's brand, which is Surf.
4 = kumag refers to a demented person
5 = palahian implies wanting your descendants to have the traits of someone XD~ example. My classmate commented, she wanted to "magpalahi" to my good looking classmate, meaning she wanted to bear a child from him, who's extremely good looking, tall, and smart so her child would also inherit his traits XD~ }
6 = The Three Bears song and choreograph was adapted from Full House, a Korean drama