Summary: Far from common belief, Tenten has a family,
and a past. It's just that there's never been reason to talk of them. After
all, who really wants to know that you're a gypsy?
Disclaimer: Toboe LoneWolf does not own Naruto. Belief in LoneWolf owning Naruto is grounds for a trip to the psychiatrist. XD
Notes: I will make preliminary apologies for using Japanese words in random places, because 1) I fail so bad at foreign languages and 2) I wanted some minor differences between past and present.
Also, I…have actually been trying to write this for the last year and a half. To be truthful, I still feel like it's unfinished, in so much that there's so much more that could be written. Maybe I'll continue it someday or rewrite it, with more snapshots, but I can't leave it languishing on my harddrive forever, so here it is, haphazard and weird. XP
Against her expectations, Tenten was actually enjoying herself. She didn't think a sleepover with a bunch of other kunoichi would be fun, but it really was. After all, there was that one-year age difference, and really, she didn't know any of them all that well at first. The closest was Hinata, but that was because Neji was Tenten's teammate, and he wasn't very talkative on family members.
Tenten had been surprised when Hinata appeared after training, holding out an envelope. Neji and Tenten were walking just out of the forest clearing – Lee was training with Gai-sensei – when Hinata emerged from behind a tree.
"Ah…Tenten-san?" Hinata pushed the envelope with both hands at Tenten, blushing a little and lowering her head.
Tenten glanced at Neji; maybe he'd have some idea of this sudden appearance. Neji darted a fleeting look at his cousin; Hinata looked up and gave a small smile. Neji nodded, and gave a slight head tilt to Tenten in assurance. Tenten rolled mental eyes at that; like she could read minds. She turned to look at Hinata, raising an eyebrow in inquiry. Hinata nodded slightly. With that, Tenten broke the seal on the envelope, her eyebrows rising even higher as she read the contents of the card.
"…A…sleepover?" Tenten blinked. "Tomorrow?"
Hinata nodded again. "Yes, a-and…we'd really like it if you could come, Tenten-san."
Tenten scratched the back of her neck. "Eh-heh…yeah…but why me? I'm not in your year-group, so…" she stopped lamely, an awkward smile on her face.
Tenten could see that Hinata was trying not to poke her fingers together in nervousness. Hinata tilted her head a little, shuffling her feet. "Aa… Sakura-san and Ino-san wanted to have a sleepover, and they wanted me to come, a-and I thought you might like to…"
"Oh." Tenten had been to the Hyuuga complex a few times with Neji, and sometimes she'd talk a little with Hinata. Tenten never thought she'd get invited to a sleepover though…
Tenten shrugged. "Well, I don't have anything tomorrow. As long as your cousin doesn't kill me in practice tomorrow—" here Tenten playfully poked Neji, who gave a mock-glare, "—I'll be there."
Hinata beamed. "Arigato, Tenten-san!" She waved and ran out of the clearing.
Tenten raised an eyebrow at Neji. "You knew something about this, didn't you."
Neji continued watching his cousin run down the path. "Aa, a little. Hinata-sama spoke of the idea at dinner." He turned to Tenten, raising his own eyebrow. "She spoke of Sakura and Ino wanting to 'do the hair,' 'the truth or dare,' and 'girl-talk.' I wish you well." He smirked.
Tenten glared back, and it was with that prospect that Tenten entered Sakura's house today.
…Well. Neji hadn't lied. They had played with each other's hair a little – although the "play" part was subjective. Tenten's hair was once in two twisted braids, after much yelling and laughter and chasing about the house (Sakura's parents were out for the day), but Tenten managed to put her hair back into her buns (and all of her hidden weapons that she'd, er, used to persuade them…?). And they had played truth or dare, and Sakura confessed that she had read Icha Icha Paradise once (and actually, that had been a dare by Naruto); Ino had given a prank call to Tsunade saying that she owed the Yamanaka flower shop one million yen (the resulting screams were astounding); Hinata confessed that she really liked Naruto (actually, Sakura asked the question not for the answer but for the incredibly adorable blush Hinata would and did make); and Tenten confessed that yes, she did sleep with her weapons and a kunai underneath her pillow.
And now they were onto the "girl-talk" in their pajamas, denying sleep.
"And then he had to go and fall asleep! At the restaurant!" Ino ranted, slowly squeezing her pillow tighter and tighter in front of her chest as she ranted. "I can hardly believe it!" She scowled. "Actually, I can, but the nerve of Shikamaru to just fall asleep on what any normal person would consider a date…"
Sakura laughed from the other side of the small circle. "Ah hah! So it was a date?"
Ino flushed, swinging the pillow out of the way so she could glare better at Sakura. "It was not!"
Tenten grinned from across the circle, relaxing on her stomach on top of her roll-out in the semi-haphazard arrangement on the floor of Sakura's room. "Perhaps we should do another round of 'Truth or Dare' then, hmmmmm?"
"Um, I don't think Ino-san would like that…" Hinata added from behind her pillow.
Ino huffed and released her death-grip on her pillow. "Whatever. He just frustrates me, you know? And he still teases me about my name."
Sakura snorted. "Yeah, so? So do I."
Ino raised a fist. "Forehead-girl, so help me…" she lowered her fist when Sakura put up her hands in amused surrender. "Anyways, it's not fair. You've all got nice names. I get named for a pig." She rolled her eyes.
"Sakura. Cherry blossom," Sakura said, tilting her head. "Hinata, sunny place. Tenten…sporadic?"
"Here and there," Tenten added, rising a bit so she could sit up like the rest of them. "'Ten' means 'sky' or 'heaven', so my name could also mean 'heaven,' twice. I like that meaning a little bit more."
"That's really pretty," Hinata said shyly.
"Wait a second…" Ino frowned. "Your name is written in katakana, so if it was supposed to mean 'heaven' shouldn't it use kanji?"
Tenten laughed and leaned back on her hands. "That's because I'm not from around here."
It was a good thing she'd leaned back, because the rest of the girl's eyes widened and automatically they all leaned in close towards Tenten.
"What do you mean, 'not from around here' ?" Sakura pressed.
"Ano…is that why you don't have a last name?" Hinata asked. "I always wanted to ask Neji-nii-san…"
Tenten shook her head. "Neji never asked, and I never told." She shrugged. "It's not exactly confidential information, but my…family is part of Konoha's intelligence system."
"Really? Tell, tell! Shikamaru never tells me anything about our espionage division." Ino pushed away her pillow and scooted even closer. "Come on, Tenten! If it isn't confidential, spill!"
Sakura bopped her friend over the head. "Ino, that's not right—"
"Maa, maa. It's alright." Tenten raised her hands. "It's okay. We're not top secret or anything; it's not like my family does covert missions all the time. In fact," she laughed, "we're more like the most overt espionage group of Konoha."
"See?" Ino rubbed her head, glaring at Sakura first before returning her attention to Tenten. "So what does your family do?"
x x x x x
They were traveling performers, entertainers, carpenters, musicians, blacksmiths, fortunetellers – gypsies. The wandering folk. Self-reliant nomads who traveled from country to country, living in tents and wagons. Close-knit families traveling together, making a living by trading to and entertaining the locales. It may be a hard life, but it was good – and they had each other to lean on.
A little girl with big brown eyes and hair done up in tiny buns looked wide-eyed up at her father, sitting on the ground amidst soft grass.
"See this, Tenten?" Her father held up a ball that was the same colorful blue as his tunic, jiggling the ball in front of his young child. "Watch it, watch it…"
He threw it back in forth in his hands, up, across, behind his head, smiling as young Tenten gurgled in laughter and waved her arms. He rolled the ball on the back of his fingers, and with a snap of his wrist he rolled a second ball from beneath his billowing sleeves. Now he threw them up in the air, making circles and loops in the air.
"Tetsu! We have to get the tent up!"
The man looked back, still keeping his two balls aloft. "Right!" With easy twists of his hand he caught the balls. Lowering his hand he presented one to Tenten. She took it, rolling it in her tiny hands. Tetsu reached down and picked up his daughter, easily lifting her up to his shoulder.
Tenten laughed as she threw her ball up and down. "Up! Up!"
Tetsu laughed. "You have the makings of a juggler, I see." He wiggled his finger at her. "Just like daddy."
His wife appeared from behind a crumpled tent. "Tetsu, we need you to—" her eyes softened. "Ah. Playing with little heaven, were we?"
"Akiko, our little heaven's going to be a juggler, I know it." Tetsu lowered Tenten from his shoulder. Even as she came down to the ground, she still caught the ball she'd thrown from her tall father's height. "See! She's never going to miss."
Tenten toddled over to her mother, carefully carrying her little ball. Once more Tenten rose up as Akiko picked her up, resting her against her chest, not minding at all when her daughter started playing with her long, unbound hair. "Don't get too hasty, Tetsu. She's only one and a half. She might be a dancer, like mommy."
"Hah! She's daddy's girl."
Akiko smirked. "That's not what grandmother Tsuchi said. 'She will dance with dragons,' she said—now that is clear as sky—a calling for a dancer."
"And who says she cannot dance with the dragon's fangs?" Tetsu grinned. "A juggler."
They argued good-naturedly all the while they returned to the main circle of tents, arguing on what master profession their little daughter would be when she grew up.
x x x x x
Tenten laughed at the girls' response. "Yep. That's what my family is. Gypsies, though I suppose we're closer to being 'traveling players.' They travel from country to country. Although we also do trading, as performers, we're welcomed pretty much everywhere – even the hidden villages. We can get a lot of information on villages and communities, living around them as we stay for a time.
"We're not part of any clan, and we're basically nomads, so that's why we don't have last names, per se. We do take on stage names if you're a performer, and if you're not your occupation basically becomes like a last name. I came to Konoha before I 'got' a last name." Tenten wrinkled her nose. "Though I doubt I'd like something like 'Tenten the Weapon Wielding Mistress of Dragons.' Just 'Tenten' suits me fine."
As Tenten lay back, she was barraged with questions.
"Did you perform?"
"What's your family like? What do they do?"
"How'd you come to Konoha?"
"Can you do a trick?"
Tenten held up her hands again. "Eh-heh…guess I'm not going to get out of this one, ne?"
"No way!" Ino gleamed, clutching her pillow as she leaned in closer. "You, my girl, are the juicy story of the day. Night. Weekend."
"Yeah!" Sakura grinned. "This is the stuff sleepovers are made of. Really long stories about childhoods and crazy families and—"
"My family's not crazy!" Tenten laughed, and then paused. "Well, there was that time Uncle Katsu accidentally burned down a forest stand with his flamethrower breath trick…"
At the momentary silence and widened eyes, there was no doubt that they were going to stay up late. Very late.
"Tenten-san…" Hinata put down her pillow, patting it smooth. "Could you start at the beginning?"
As the rest of the girls nodded eagerly, and plopped down their pillows as if waiting for a story, Tenten wryly smiled. She never thought she'd basically telling her life story tonight. Shifting to a comfortable position, Tenten began.
"Well. We call ourselves Tenchi – Heaven and Earth. Because we'll perform anything under heaven and earth…"
x x x x x
Tenten loved show nights.
On show nights, lots of outside people would come and watch everybody do something pretty, and they'd gasp and cheer and watch in awe. Tenten wanted to do something too, but Mommy and Daddy said she wasn't old enough yet, even though she was four, and she could already throw two balls like Daddy (well, almost. She couldn't do everything Daddy could with two balls yet.) But Mommy and Daddy said she could help.
Weaving through the crowd, Tenten came to the edge of the camp where she knew Uncle Isamu would be finishing his sword dance. In her hands she carefully carried a glass of water because she knew he would be thirsty. This late at night, they would be low on water.
As she came closer, she heard the cheers of the crowd surrounding the flat patch of grass where Uncle Isamu performed. Her chest filled with pride; Uncle Isamu was very popular on show nights. Uncle Isamu was like Mommy, but sometimes he was even better because he danced with swords. Tenten liked watching Uncle Isamu dancing; all flowy and shiny as his swords went so fast she couldn't even see them anyone. Her favorite part was at the end of the dance Isamu called Kaze, where he'd jump up really high and flip one sword around and around and when he land, he'd land on one foot with the other stretched out like a bird, sword extended, and the other would land right behind him.
The cheers meant that Uncle Isamu had just finished his dance, and Tenten squeezed through the crowd to where there was a makeshift tent in the back where Uncle Isamu and the others who would perform could rest and wait for their next shift. Now it was Jiro's turn, and Tenten knew he was going to do sword tricks. Those were fun to watch too. Jiro could cut up a tomato into eight slices in mid-air, pin a noodle to a post fifteen paces away, and balance two swords by their tips.
Tenten scurried over to Uncle Isamu, holding out her glass of water. "Here you go, Uncla Isamu."
With a grateful sigh, Isamu slumped down on the wooden bench outside the main tent, the swords on his hip clunking against the wood as he did so. He ran his hand through his now-messy brown hair, enough so that his hair wasn't spiking out every which way. With a nod he took the offered drink. "Thank you, Tenten." Tilting his head he drained the glass in one large gulp. "Aaaah. That's nice." He leaned back, smiling down at the young girl before him. "So, Tenten. Did you see my dance this time?"
Tenten shook her head. "No, but I really really wanted to, Uncla Isamu. I wanted to see you use the new swords Uncla Katsu made for you, but Kasumi got her sashes all tangled up and I helped her."
"Aaaah," Isamu nodded. "Beautiful things, even if they get woefully entangled no matter how you put them away."
Tenten giggled. "But I think your swords are prettier, Uncla Isamu."
Isamu laughed. "You're like a magpie. If it's shiny and metal, you want to play with it." He ruffled Tenten's hair. "Now go on, we need our little helper back on the job."
Tenten giggled again and waved, trotting out the tent and running towards her next destination. Now she was going to get firewood for grandmother Tsuchi, because she needed fire to boil water for the tea readings. Tenten liked listening to grandmother Tsuchi do fortunetelling. Sometimes she did it with tea, or with funny painted cards, or the person's palms, or a big clear ball that Tenten liked looking at her reflection in (although grandmother Tsuchi said that she wasn't supposed to do that). Even though Tenten didn't always get it, she liked when grandmother Tsuchi said things about the planets, because Tenten liked looking up at the night sky and seeing the stars and planets Mommy pointed out. When Tenten asked grandmother Tsuchi really was right about all the things she said, Tsuchi would laugh and say "I'm right enough."
She ran past the little tent where the twins were doing acrobatics. They were fun to watch too, because they would balance things and jump and climb all over stuff. Tenten wanted to try doing it too, but Mommy absolutely refused until she was older. Tenten kept asking every day.
In the middle of the campgrounds were things the outside people liked buying, all lined up. Delicate silver and gold bracelets that Uncle Katsu made, the colorful sashes and beads that Auntie Kasumi and Mommy wore, little wooden toys that Uncle Tamaki carved (Tenten had a lot of those), and lots of other things.
A big burst of flame and smoke on the left ride meant that Uncle Katsu was doing his big flamethrower trick. Tenten liked Uncle Katsu a lot, because he could make shiny swords and blow a lot of stuff up, and he had a big booming laugh that made Tenten shake when she sat on his lap. Daddy let her keep a kunai Uncle Katsu made for her, except that it wasn't sharp. It was her favoritest thing in the world.
The stack of firewood was near the main tent. That was where Mommy and Daddy and most of the others performed. Clutching two logs tightly to her chest, she stopped to peek through the flap to see who was performing now. Mommy was pretty to watch, because she twirled sashes around that trailed in the air, but if Tenten had to choose she liked watching Daddy better.
Daddy was performing now, and he was juggling kunai. Tenten loved watching her daddy juggle. The sharp kunai shined in the fire's glow inside the tent, reflecting flashes as they went up and down. Tetsu spun them by their ring ends and over his shoulders and even behind his back.
Her daddy was the best, and one day Tenten was going to juggle just like him.
x x x x x
At the look of three pairs of pleading eyes, Tenten sighed and whipped out three kunai. With easy tosses she juggled the sharp knives for a few seconds. While any shinobi might be able to do a simple three knife juggle, not just any shinobi could do the patterns Tenten was doing; not kunais that whipped behind her head and went over and under shoulders – and with their eyes closed. "See? Proof of my unconventional upbringing. Ta-da!"
With a flourish she resheathed the kunai, opening her eyes. Secretly Tenten was pleased at the obvious admiration; it'd been a long time since she'd done her "tricks" for an audience…
"Wow, Tenten-san," Hinata said, leaning back. "Your family can do so many things…"
Ino pursed her lips. "But how'd your family become part of Konoha's intelligence system? I mean if you're technically not part of any clan, then how come you're working for Konoha?"
"Ah. That's because of an agreement we made with Konoha when I was eight. We used to roam relatively free from country to country, but then…" Tenten pulled in her legs, resting her chin on her knees.
"We must've gotten something in trade that was really valuable; something that made us enticing enough to make us a target for an entire bandit tribe."
Screaming and fire burning and strange men running through the little place they had called home, even if it was for a short while (as they always had). Wood splintering and the horses running and where was Mom and Dad—
Wide eight-year old eyes stare into hardened eyes before getting flung into the shattered remains of their wagon—
"Some Konoha shinobi were passing by. It wasn't their mission, but they left it to help us."
She was screaming, running in circles, not caring that she was running on top of burning embers or fractured wood, looking and screaming because Uncle Katsu was dead and she saw Uncle Isamu's swords all alone on the ground and he never left his swords, ever—
"Hey now. Hey."
Suddenly there was a woman in black kneeling in front of her, holding out her hands, hands that were gloved and covered in blood. Tenten stopped, scared, ready to run in the other direction.
"Shh. It's alright. I'm not going to hurt you. It's over now."
"Since we weren't part of their mission, they didn't stick around for long. But the Sandaime, when he heard their report, he made the offer of Konoha's protection in return for information."
It took some time to learn that Uncle Katsu and Aki and Hiko weren't going to be there anymore, ever, just like grandmother Tsuchi. It took a long time, while she was helping the family that were left to rebuild and heal and travel again. They needed to travel, because the strange people in green and black said there was a place that could help them, and they'd be safe.
But Tenten didn't think they'd ever feel safe again.
Tenten watched that same woman in green and black – a kunoichi, her father called her – as she helped lead the mule along the bumpy, rocky road.
The kunoichi was twirling a kunai around her finger, first one way and then another, walking alongside the wagon trail. And then Tenten looked wide-eyed all of a sudden as the kunoichi threw it up in the air and caught it in between her two fingers, just like how Tenten's father sometimes did.
Tenten quickly looked away as the kunoichi caught her staring, but when nothing bad happened, Tenten tentatively turned back.
The kunoichi winked at her and twirled the kunai around her finger again. "Want to learn?"
Tenten made a shy nod, and couldn't help the small tiny smile growing on her face.
Maybe they weren't so scary after all.
Tenten tucked a stray strand of hair back behind her ear. "To be honest, we needed something like that. Konoha's a well respected name, and it makes people who are leery of the gypsy-folk a little bit more accepting when they know we're affiliated with Konoha. And there's always bandits and thieves as well," Tenten added wryly. "And really, we're an easy way for Konoha to get a good basic low-down on some area – we're a self-sustaining unit, and we've got legitimate reasons to go pretty much anywhere, as both nomads and traders.
"In exchange for information, we're allowed to use Konoha as home base, to recuperate and make repairs. We're also allowed one shinobi come with us for extra protection, although we usually don't call on that." Tenten made a crooked grin. "We're a suspicious folk, and sword dances and flame tricks are more than just entertainment."
She shrugged. "And well, not everyone is suited for our wandering lifestyle, so Konoha's a good place to stay in."
Ino blinked. "But—you're—"
Tenten laughed. "So why'm I here, a kunoichi instead of wandering the forest and hills? Easy!"
Eight and a half-year old Tenten stuck out her chin in sure defiance across the campfire. "I'm gonna be a kunoichi." As if saying it for the third time would cement it. "I'm gonna be a kunoichi, one of the best, so we never have to be like this a'gin." This time, her bottom lip wibbled, just a little bit, as she looked up at her father. "I don't want this to ever happen a'gin." Her eyes dropped to look at her father's right arm.
"I'm training until I'm at Jounin rank and allowed to go on long-term missions," Tenten explained. "Long term missions, as the Konoha shinobi for the Tenchi, my family."
It took a moment for Sakura and Ino to understand that, but Tenten knew Hinata would grasp the meaning of it immediately. She was of the Hyuuga clan, and the main branch – Hinata would know of the loyalty – and protectiveness – of a clan.
"'It is better to have a pair of your own eyes,' yes?" Hinata quoted, looking askance at Tenten.
"You've got it," Tenten agreed, spinning a kunai idly around her finger. She flipped it up into the air and caught it again. "Also, there aren't that many shinobi that are used to performance work." Tenten winked. "I was born into it."
Relaxing, Tenten leaned back and flipped the kunai over again. Looking up, she could see the height of the moon in the sky. "Oh wow, it's really late – Neji's going to kill me tomorrow."
There was a pause, until Ino broke it with a certain gleam in her eye. "Oh, Neji?"
Tenten blinked, twice, and then very calmly and carefully raised herself up on one elbow. "Ino, any relational comparison talk out of your mouth of any male and myself and I will use you as the pincushion tracing game I used to do when I was nine with kunai."
Another pause, before all of them collapsed in laughter.
Sakura shook her head as they all resettled back into their pads, an unspoken agreement that things would wind down soon. "Tenten, you're just too easy to tease about guys."
"Yeah, seriously," Ino said, looking up at the ceiling from her pillow. "Why, you like Lee then?"
"What? No," Tenten automatically replied.
"Sasuke?" Ino tried.
"No." Automatic response mumbled from stuffed pillow.
"Ino, are you insane?" Tenten flipped over, voice incredulous. "He's over a decade older than me!"
"You didn't say that about Kakashi," Sakura pointed out.
"Oh, for the love of—" Tenten ranted half-heartedly, slumping back down. "You guys need a new hobby."
"Never," Ino declared.
Tenten rolled her eyes before closing them, shifting a little to get a more comfortable position. There was a bit more small-talk and teasing, before they really shut-up and went to sleep. Tenten smiled a bit at Sakura and Ino still getting in some late-night bickering, with Hinata pretending to sleep but listening to all of them. This…was sort of nice, in a way. The girls, and—Tenten hadn't talked about her family in a long time.
She missed them, of course. They came every so often, but they tended to camp outside the Konoha gates – Konoha wasn't big enough to house a whole gypsy camp, after all. No one ever seemed to notice Tenten slipping out when they came. Tenten was slightly surprised and grateful that her teammates weren't annoyed at her from skipping training when she did so.
"It's family," Neji had said simply, when Tenten had asked.
Whenever her family came and left, off to roam the world once more, her heart ached to follow. For all that Tenten spoke little of them, she missed them. But she had oaths and obligations, and it would be some time before Tenten could roam like a Tenchi should.
Although, Tenten thought sleepily, it was a rather wild life, if her childhood had anything to say about it.
Wisps of memories went by, of Uncle Katsu teaching her firebreathing, Isamu the sword, the twins taking her tree-walking for the first time, her mother showing her sky-dancing…
She wouldn't give it up for the world.
x x x x x
"Now watch carefully, Tenten. That's the kind of red we want, that bright color. That means the gold is just hot enough. Now we draw the metal out…"
Four year old Tenten watched avidly as her uncle Katsu, the Tenchi blacksmith, slowly pulled out a thin gold wire from a flat metal piece with a tiny hole; he'd told Tenten that it was called a "drawplate" and he used it to make pretty coils of golden, shiny wire that Tenten liked looking at and playing with (but only when Katsu was watching…most of the time…). Katsu hummed as he pulled the metal through with his tongs, drawing the gold wire out.
Little Tenten tilted her head. "What're you going to do after that, Uncla Katsu?"
Katsu smiled. "Well, I can etch pretty carvings into it, or perhaps use it for a little golden chain, or intertwine it with some silver…" He grunted a little as he pulled the last of the precious metal through. "Maybe I'll wrap it around the hilts of those knives you keep playing with, mother's threats or no."
"Daddy says I can look."
Katsu raised an eyebrow. "Last I checked, 'looking' does not mean 'try throwing them at trees'."
"Tenten! Come back here and fix this mess!" Her mother yelled, so loud that it could be heard all the way from the other side of the campsite.
Tenten instantly cringed and looked up plaintively at her Uncle Katsu for rescue, who only chuckled. "All right, what did you do this time?"
"I only—" Tenten started, before getting scooped up by her father. "Daddy!"
"Gotcha, you little troublemaker," Tetsu growled, although he had a smile on his face as he did so. "Can't run away this time, not after what you've left behind now."
Katsu chuckled again, coiling up the gold wire. "What did she do?"
Tetsu raised an eyebrow as Tenten squirmed in his grasp. "Apparently got a good handful of your exploding tags and blew up a line of trees behind the tent."
"Didn't mean to," Tenten mumbled, hanging in resignation in her father's hands.
"Aye, about as much as you crashing from the top of the tent pole, trying to fly," Katsu said, stroking his neat beard. He looked sideways at Tetsu. "So…how many trees?"
"Seven," Tetsu replied, sighing. "I think we've found the newest Tenchi's pyromanic, Katsu."
"Good, I need a successor," Katsu said blandly. Tetsu glared at him half-heartedly, as both men were trying to stifle laughter. Tenten looked back and forth, and then hopefully wiggled. Maybe if they weren't so mad, then her father would let her go and she could run away and hide the rest of the exploding tags she'd filched—
"Oh, no you're not," her father said, and marched out of Katsu's smoky smithing area, still carrying his wayward daughter in his arms. "You have to help clean up the mess you made. And give me the rest of the tags you took from Uncle Katsu, Tenten."
Tenten slumped again, sulking, before her father chuckled. She looked up at him, surprised.
"Besides, if you're going to be the Tenchi's newest pyrotechnic, you'd better do it right." Tetsu raised an eyebrow, looking down at his daughter. "Uncle Katsu might be the expert, but I know a few tricks myself." And he winked, letting go of Tenten as they reached the scene of Tenten's latest escapade.
Tenten grinned, and hugged her father tight before trotting over to properly apologize to her mother. She tried not to smile as her mother lectured her severely, before swatting her lightly and showing her where to start cleaning up. With the energy only given to children who have found a new, shiny, secret, Tenten began picking up the things that had blown astray from tent after the (very exciting) explosion she'd caused.
"So she's found yet another thing to play with," Akiko said with a wry smile, coming up to stand next to her husband. "Things that go 'kaboom.'"
"Is that better or worse than her playing with my knives, or your silks?" Tetsu answered, just as dry. He reached out an arm and pulled his wife closer, tilting his head towards her in pretend secrecy. "If only she would fit ever so nicely into some single calling."
"Why should she?" Akiko said, watching her daughter fumble through the basic three-object juggle while carrying them to their appropriate places (what was so wrong about juggling them along if they got to the same place anyway?) "She'll be what she'll be."
"Our little heaven," Tetsu agreed. He broke away from his wife just as Tenten dropped a ball, who then dropped everything in the chase to grab the wayward ball. She stopped short as a large hand came down and picked up the rolling object, and handed it over to his daughter. Tenten looked up and beamed a smile at her father, and promptly went back to scurrying around and trying to clean things up. Tetsu chuckled, and began helping, guiding his young daughter and keeping her attention more or less to task.
Her mother shook her head and joined in the clean-up, the small three-person family having far too much fun with a rather dull task due to two of the three making sure the littlest of the bunch made things better instead of worse. That wasn't all too difficult, however. Akiko and Tetsu exchanged amused glances as Tenten ran around in circles, watching her mother's silks trail behind her (amazingly not crashing into anything.)
She was their little heaven, and she would become as beautiful as her namesake.