Putting Baby in the Corner
Summary: Neji didn't realize that babysitting a future prodigy could be so difficult. Neji x Tenten fic for IrisEclipsed and NakoudoByakugan's contest.
AN: This fic was written for IrisEclipsed and NakoudoByakugan's contest. The prompt was 'baby clothes'
The man panted heavily as he rested his hands on his knees, obviously having just overcome a great obstacle as loose tendrils of hair surrounded his face. The place was a war zone- green and red stains clung to the walls and several kunai were littered across the floor. The man staggered, slumping down onto one knee awkwardly as he finally allowed the byakugan the recede, chakra puffed veins smoothing down. He appeared to be doused in a fine white powder and his former byakugan'd eyes were red and watery. A small fire cackled in the corner, and he made an inner note that the situation more than likely needed attending to.
Noticing that his opponent had finally appeared to be weakened, the man let a small smirk crawl up his face, before his quickly removed something from a thigh holster. Using quick, graceful movements, he began to weave his fingers in an intricate dance, as they moved about the area in a style similar to the Hyuuga clan's gentle fist. It was complicated, more complicated than he had ever expected, and a cold bead of sweat rolled down his forehead when finally, the last component snapped into place.
"There," he intoned with finality and the smallest bit of pride, "I've defeated you at last."
Looking up from the changing table, infant Hyuuga Hisoka squirmed a bit in his newly changed diaper before heaving a large portion of pea-green spittle into the face of his esteemed father, Hyuuga Neji.
His eyebrow ticked slightly as the green goop trailed down his cheek, "I see that you've inherited your aim from your mother," he commented dryly.
Hisoka giggled before smiling impishly, colorless eyes trained on the slime as it plopped against the tabletop.
Neji sighed with the slightest bit of annoyance, "…as well as her sense of humor."
With a certain dignified air, Neji quickly wiped away the spittle. Why on earth would Tenten leave him alone with his son? Neji was a highly accomplished shinobi, and a great warrior, but he was just treading the waters of fatherhood and was not yet experienced enough to handle his son one on one without his wife, and more importantly, the best weapons handler in all of Konoha.
He picked Hisoka up before slumping against a rocking chair in the room. As he watched Hisoka drift into slumber, he allowed himself a small mental congradulations. It was finally over. He had won. Exhaustion took over, and Neji's head rolled back to stare at the ceiling and he grumbled some unintelligible curses under his breath.
The entire debacle of an afternoon, like most things involving extensive property damage, was all Rock Lee's fault.
"Neji you could help me out, you know," came a teasing voice earlier that day as his wife sat at their table, dozens of kunai stacked up as well as a large number of rubber stoppers.
"You're being ridiculous," he said calmly, as he watched while Tenten screwed the stoppers onto the ends of the weapons.
She sent him a level glare from over her project, "Hisoka is going to be up and running around soon, you don't want him to get hurt, do you?"
Neji crossed his arms and thought about his beloved son, who was currently in the care of his 'most youthful uncle' and 'most beautiful cherry blossom aunt'. Despite Neji's protests, it had been Tenten's idea to have Lee watch Hisoka while she finished her domestic mission.
"I highly doubt," he winced at the following term, " 'baby-proofing' the kunai is a suitable approach to protecting our son." He looked at his furiously concentrated wife as she continued to put the soft ends over the sharpest point of the blade. "What if there's an intrusion?"
She didn't look up from her self proscribed mission, "We won't need kunai if there's an intrusion." She mumbled absently as she placed the final stopper on.
Neji gave the tinniest snort of derision, "Tenten, you specialize in long-range weapons-"
Tenten rolled her eyes, and to demonstrate, she quickly picked up a pen from the table and threw it. Neji had barely just enough time to duck, and where his head had previously been, there was now a pen halfway embedded into the wall. He stared at his wife with the slightest showing of unease.
She winked at him playfully, "See? We're fine!"
He had picked himself a winner, that was for sure.
The pair's conversation was interrupted when the door to their home swung open ungracefully, a heavily panting medic nin standing in the doorway as she rested her hands on her knees. Her pink hair fell in a curtain around her as she tried to breath out a message.
"Hyuuga-san, Tenten-san, I'm so sorry," Sakura rasped, as she began to make frantic motions with her hands, "I told him not to do it, but he insisted and-"
Tenten stood up from the table and stared at the one and only Haruno Sakura: highly regarded medical kunoichi, Rock Lee's fiancée, and most importantly, Hisoka's babysitter.
"Sakura-chan, what's wrong?" She asked worriedly, while Neji crossed his arms over his chest and eyed her critically.
She squirmed a bit, obviously a bit uncomfortable under Neji's scrutiny, but she cleared her throat, "Lee…he, well…"
Neji's eyes narrowed, and Sakura laughed nervously, knowing that was a sign of impatience from the stoic Hyuuga prodigy. Tenten's lips pursed, obviously a bit anxious to hear the news as well and looking more than intimidating with a baby-proofed kunai in her hands.
"He decided to…update Hisoka-chan's wardrobe…" she trailed off.
Neji felt his jaw tick and Tenten's eyes widened.
"Oh no," she whispered, as this could only mean one thing.
Sakura lowered her head in apology once again, "I'm really sorry, I tried to stop him, but when Lee gets determined, well, you know…"
Tenten was eerily silent, but Neji noticed that she was discreetly unbaby-proofing the kunai in her hand.
As if deciding to enter at the worst possible moment, Lee then arrived after Sakura, holding the young Hyuuga in his arms and cooing at him.
"Lee!" Growled Tenten, "We've talked about this!" She said in utmost irritation.
Neji only glared as he caught eye of his beloved son in his teammate's and occasional rival's grasp. Hisoka seemed to be giggling, a bit of drool leaking out of his mouth as his wide, pupil less eyes were creased in a smile. His small hands grabbed for Lee's finger tip, making odd gurgling noises while attempting to do so.
But that wasn't what upset Neji.
His only child was wearing a green, spandex onesie.
"My son. Fix him." He ordered bluntly, and it was only then that Lee looked up from his godson for the first time.
"Ah, hello Neji-kun," he greeted warmly while Sakura groaned in embarrassment to his side, "Hisoka-chan and I were just outside on this lovely day enjoying nature with our Sakura-chan!" He grinned and began to make odd faces at Neji and Tenten's son, who squealed in delight.
It should have been an easy assumption, but Rock Lee, feared taijutsu master in all of the shinobi nations, was turned into absolute mush at the sight of a baby.
"Lee, this is the fifth time you've brought him back like this!" Cried Tenten in frustration as she quickly pried Hisoka away from his godfather like a mother bear pulling a cub from a trap. It was apparent that Lee's fashion sense was just as dangerous. "We're running out of outfits!"
Sakura could feel the tension in the air, and wisely kept her mouth shut and took a few steps back. She learned long ago that telling Lee to drop the shovel and step away from the hole only resulted in him being determined to dig the hole even bigger and better.
Neji, a man of few words, let his wife take control of the situation. Allowing the radiating killer intent that clouded his aura speak for him as he restrained from kaiten-ing Lee's green clad tush into the next month.
"But Tenten, Hisoka's youth will more likely expand in this outfit than in any other!" Lee protested, "Those other clothes were vastly inferior in style and in durability!"
Tenten growled, "Those other clothes were fine, Lee!" She exhaled slowly, using her free hand to pinch the bridge of her nose, "Now I have to go out shopping for clothes again. Do you know how hard it is to buy clothes that fit a nine month old perfectly? Well, do you Lee?"
Hisoka giggled, a snot bubble coming out of his nose. Tenten's anger dissolved somewhat as she took the opportunity to playfully poke his nose. He smiled and attempted to clap, but he was somewhat uncoordinated.
Sakura saw an opportunity, and took it quickly, "Tenten-san, I'd more than happily offer to buy Hisoka new clothes, it's the least I can do-"
Lee turned on her, eyes wide, "But Sakura, it is more than obvious that Hisoka needs this outfit! It's what made my training as a ninja so effective."
Sakura smiled awkwardly at Lee, "Yes, but Hisoka's a baby and he's not your son, Lee."
Lee looked ready to protest, but Tenten cut him off, "That's very nice of you, Sakura-chan, it's just that…well…"
"She's picky," Neji said bluntly, finally deciding to contribute to the conversation. His eyes kept being drawn back to the horrible monstrosity on his heir.
Tenten frowned, "I am not picky."
Neji was too dignified to roll his eyes, so instead he settled for a slight snort. Tenten pouted and stuck a hip out.
Sakura quickly intervened, "Well, why don't you pick them out Tenten-san, and I'll pay for them?"
She paused, contemplating this, "It sounds good, but, who will watch Hisoka?"
Lee's crestfallen mood brightened considerably at the notion, before-
"No!" Came Tenten, Neji, and Sakura all at the same time.
Lee lowered his head, seeming absolutely crushed.
Neji wordlessly crossed over to stand next to his wife, gently taking Hisoka away from her, "I'll watch him." He said tonelessly.
Tenten eyed Neji with concern, "Are you sure? You've never watched him by yourself," she said warily.
He seemed to stare at her with slight impatience, "Of course I'm sure. I'm his father."
Tenten's stare went from the happy, peaceful looking boy to his stoic, determined looking father. Sighing, she scratched the back of her neck, "If you're certain…"
"I'm entirely certain," Neji said with his usual placid tone before allowing a more gentler note to creep in, one reserved solely for Tenten, "You need a break anyways. Go, and enjoy yourself."
She chewed on her lower lip as her gaze went back and forth between son and father, before she finally sighed, "Okay, okay. But only for a few hours." She bent down and placed a kiss on Hisoka's head before standing up and placing one on Neji's cheek, who, by the way, did not under any circumstances blush. "Just make sure he doesn't get hurt."
Neji frowned, "I am more than capable of watching after our son-"
She smiled cheekily, "I was talking to Hisoka."
Tenten laughed before waving, "I'll be back soon."
With that, the two kunoichi went off to purchase more clothes for Hisoka, dragging a very reluctant Lee behind them.
Neji stared down at his son. They were on their own for the very first time.
Neji eyed his son with a bit of smug amusement as he began to crawl around in his playpen. This wasn't nearly as difficult as Tenten made it out to be, so far Hisoka had been living up to his namesake. He was content to simply sit and throw blocks at the corners of the area. The playpen had been Tenten's idea, as Hisoka was a large fan of crawling around and throwing things. Neji already envisioned the future proudly- his son, a weapons master with the byakugan. He'd be unstoppable.
Neji's little fatherly introspection was cut short when a toy block managed to clock him in the side of the head. Hissing, his hand went up to soothe the ache and he looked down at Hisoka. He grinned at him and reared back to throw another block at his father who just wasn't paying enough attention to him. Neji sighed, and tried not to think about how the trajectory zone of the block was a mere two degrees off, before he stood above the playpen.
"I take it you want out," he drawled slowly. Hisoka squealed and lifted his pudgy baby arms up. Neji allowed a rare smile to cross his face as he picked up his son.
Hisoka seemed content for all of three seconds in his father's arms before he started to squirm. Neji held the baby out to look him in the eye.
"What's wrong?" He inquired seriously and Hisoka's face was scrunched up uncomfortably. The young Hyuuga continued to writhe and make odd pitchy noises, and Neji felt horror dawn upon him when he started to scream.
Hisoka lifted his head back and opened his mouth wide, loud, unnatural howls emitting from him. Neji paled, and quickly did the default, anti-baby crying maneuver. He patted Hisoka's back with no idea of what he was doing.
"Be quiet," he instructed awkwardly, but Hisoka continued to screech. Neji almost cringed, and his child's cries seemed to increase. His mind quickly raked over what Tenten did whenever Hisoka started to cry and he inwardly apologized to his pride as he started to sing horribly off-key. "Hush little baby, don't you cry, momma's going to get you some new kunai…" his song then turned into incoherent mumblings as he forgot the words and brutalized the harmony.
Hisoka halted his wailing for a moment and seemed to stare at Neji as if he were embarrassed for him, before he continued even louder.
Neji frowned and realized that a new strategy was in order. His mind quickly drew up a mental list of what activities babies performed: eat, sleep, play, cry, and…excrete. With the professionalism of his career, Neji decided to systematically tackle each proponent.
"Food," he whispered out loud, carrying the screeching baby into the kitchen. With precaution, like someone handling a particularly sensitive explosive tag, Neji set Hisoka into his high chair, and began to scour the refrigerator for baby food. His eyes narrowed in on a tin of some sort of pea/unidentifiable mush hybrid and he slowly drew it out from the shelve. Becoming focused on his task, Neji failed to notice that the sound of an infant crying drew to a close as he tried to scrape the food out of the jar and heat it on the stove.
"There," Neji said finally as the food was finished being warmed up, and after pouring it into a small bowl he turned around to face the high chair, "Now, then-" he voice fell short and his eyes widened as he noticed that the occupant had escaped from his infantile prison.
There was some pride to that too, of course, as this was obviously the sign of a future shinobi that excelled in evasion, but there was the more prevalent feeling of panic in his chest. Not only for that of Hisoka, but for himself when his wife came home and discovered that Neji had lost their son.
"Hisoka," he said with reproach, "You are behaving unreasonably," he muttered, eyes searching for him. But his son was well gifted in hiding, and Neji decided to even out the odds as his fingers flew together in rapid hand seals. "Byakugan!" He muttered as the veins around his eyes puffed out with chakra.
Needless to say, locating his son was easy after he scoured the area with his almost x-ray vision. He found Hisoka by the table, toying with a baby-proof kunai that Neji now sourly admitted was a very good idea indeed. Quickly, Neji took the sharp weapon away from Hisoka and picked him up. At having his new favorite toy taken away, Hisoka began to cry again, fingers flexing for the weapon.
Neji was silent as he placed Hisoka back into his high chair and set the bowl of pea mush down in front of him on the small tray, "Eat." He ordered flatly, scooping some of the goo into a spoon and hovering it over Hisoka's mouth.
Hisoka decided then to pick up on his father's stubborn streak, as his mouth clamped shut.
Neji frowned again, "It's good," he argued with the least amount of enthusiasm ever.
Hisoka's mouth remained shut.
He sighed before trying to think of Tenten's method of getting Hisoka to eat, "Here comes the," he grimaced at his own false sugary tone, "flying senbon."
Hisoka did not look amused.
Well, that was that. Neji thought, setting the spoon down with grim finality. It was futile to try and convince him, and Neji knew he was outmatched.
As if satisfied with seeing his father's inner defeat, Hisoka smiled and then opened his mouth wide. Neji glared at him for the insolent behavior, but then shoveled a few spoonfuls of the mush into his mouth.
Hisoka swallowed, grimaced, and almost automatically began to cry again.
Neji had to reject the impulse to slam his forehead against the table in dignified frustration, and instead decided to tackle the next obstacle on the agenda. It was obvious that Hisoka's hunger was not the source of his crying, then it must be one of the other options. He ran through the mental list again. Sleep was out of the question, as Hisoka continued to wail and Hyuuga Neji would not resort to singing a lullaby again, as was entertaining the baby. Neji had witnessed Hisoka playing and the baby was downright dangerous with some of his toys. That only left…
Experimentally, Neji sniffed the air around his son. The consequent frown on his face made it apparent which option was the source of Hisoka's discomfort.
"I see," he mumbled, and picked the crying Hisoka up from his high chair.
As the two Hyuuga men exited the room, Neji failed to notice that he had left the stove on after warming Hisoka's meal.
Neji set Hisoka down on the changing table carefully, then began to pull out the necessities for diaper changing. Powder, wipes, a new cloth, all of the essential components. Hisoka's cries were beginning to diminish, as if he recognized the fact that his father was about to remove the stinky away from his butt.
Neji was no stranger to diaper changing, it was the one role that he excelled at in baby maintenance as Tenten had insisted that it was his job. This was routine, and Neji was quite comfortable with routine.
However, he failed to notice that the cap on the baby powder was slightly loose…
Focused on his task, Neji quickly (very quickly) removed Hisoka from the green spandex contraption and began to dispose of the dirty diaper, cleaning as he went along. He tossed the used diaper haphazardly over his shoulder, where it rode the rim of the waste bin before plopping down on the floor next to it. Hisoka made a face of discomfort for a moment, but his crying had been reduced to a mere sniffling. Finally, Neji prepared to use the baby powder, patting the back of it to send it out of the container.
Needless to say, the cap flew off and Neji gave a startled noise as the powder flew into the air, completely dousing him in white. Hissing with pain, he quickly tried to wipe the substance away from his eyes, which were beginning to water uncomfortably. There was the sound of a giggle, and then he heard the pitter-patter of a baby's hands and knees crawling across the floor.
"No." He muttered, blinking away the powder and realizing that there was now a stark naked Hyuuga traversing all over his house. "Hisoka!" He declared with what he thought was proper authority, but his son paid him no mind as he seemed intent on reaching the table that held the kunai.
Growling under his breath in frustration, the chalk-white byakugan wielder went after his son, but since his mind was a bit frazzled, his normally keen reflexes failed to pick up on the fact that there was a poopy diaper underneath his foot. Startled, Neji slipped and landed flat on his back, a miniature 'poof!' of white smoke from the powder flying over him as he connected with the floor.
Meanwhile, Hisoka had found his way to the table, where he pulled on the table cloth until a wave of kunai fell down. From his position on the ground, Neji felt his heart stop for a split second, before he remembered that his vastly intelligent and not at all overreacting wife had placed stoppers on all of them. Absolutely delighted, Hisoka smiled and began to try and pick them up.
Quickly, Neji sprung to his feet and crossed the house to get to his son. Hisoka seemed to sense that his father was going to interrupt his fun, so he crawled away again, finding himself at the foot of his high chair where the green mush had fallen to the floor.
"Hisoka!" Neji declared with calm concern- not worry, he didn't worry- as he made it to the kitchen. Only his shinobi instincts saved him as he ducked his head, a handful of baby food goo sailing passed to splatter on the wall behind him. Hisoka giggled again, thinking this was a new sort of game, as he prepared another handful to launch at his father.
Quickly, with the grace that his clan was renowned for, Neji scooped up Hisoka, panting heavily as he brought him back to the changing table.
"Thanks for helping me buy Hisoka some new clothes," Tenten said earnestly to Sakura, who was carrying two shopping bags along with Tenten.
Sakura smiled, "It was no problem, it's really my fault that he's running out of them to being with," she said. "Lee tends to get carried away with these things."
The aforementioned shinobi had left the pair of kunoichi a few minutes prior, as he had a training session with his beloved Gai-sensei. The two women were slowly approaching the Hyuuga household, and Tenten let out a breath of relief that she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"What is it?" Sakura asked, noticing that Tenten seemed to finally relax at the sight of her house.
Tenten grinned, "Knowing Hisoka, and Neji, I was half expecting the place to be collapsed when I came home."
Sakura laughed, "I know the feeling. Lee once invited his genin cell to our apartment for 'team bonding'." Her eyes widened, "Oh no, team bonding!"
Tenten raised an eyebrow at the pink haired medic, "What is it?"
She sighed, running a hand through her pink hair, "I just remembered that I was supposed to show around my new apprentice at the hospital today. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go," she said, handing Tenten the bags full of baby clothes.
Tenten smiled, "No problem, thank you again Sakura!"
She nodded, "You're welcome Tenten-san." With that, the medic began to sprint quickly towards the hospital.
Tenten shook her head slowly and repressed silent laughter as she pushed open the door.
The first thing that caught her attention was the strong smell of smoke, and she quickly noticed that there was a small, but growing, inferno in her kitchen where the stove had once been. Springing into action, Tenten dropped the shopping bags and quickly used a water-based jutsu to douse the flames. Turning around, her brown eyes widened when she noticed that the floor was littered with her kunai, several globs of baby food, and white, chalky footsteps. She tensed, drawing out a few shuriken from her side as she surveyed the area. It looked as if an intense scuffle had occurred, and she wasn't going to take any chances with there being an intruder in her house. Worry flittered in her heart as she grew concerned for Neji and Hisoka- had they been attacked?
Following the footsteps with stealth, Tenten tracked them back towards the nursery, and the sight she saw there made her drop her shuriken to the ground.
Neji was sprawled against the rocking chair, Hisoka cradled into his chest, and the pair of them both appeared to be snoring. Neji was covered head to toe in the chalky substance, which Tenten now deducted was baby powder, and Hisoka was drooling blissfully on Neji's white shirt. Their expressions matched exactly, and Hisoka's small fist had collected some of Neji's clothes. She felt the tinniest bit of water collect in her eyes and she had to physically restrain herself from cooing. It was just so…so cute!
Subconsciously sensing his wife's chakra signature, Neji hesitantly crept open an eyelid, "Tenten?" He groaned drowsily.
"I'm home from shopping," she greeted, taking a few steps over towards the men in her life.
"Thank Kami," muttered Neji tiredly, and Tenten couldn't help the giggle that came from her mouth.
"You two look like you've had an eventful afternoon," she jibbed, "Want to explain to me why part of the house was on fire?"
"I'll take that as a no then," she said cheerfully, picking up Hisoka in her arms. She absently cradled him back and forth, smiling with matronly love.
Neji hesitantly stood up, stiff from sleeping in such an odd position. If he noticed the large drool spot, he made no comment and stood next to Tenten, wrapping an arm around her waist. "We need to baby proof the rest of the kunai." He said levelly.
Tenten looked up from her son to meet her husband's stare, a small smirk crawling on her face, "What brought about the change of mind?"
Neji's eyes narrowed, silently informing her that she would rather not know, "He takes after you." Was all he said flatly.
She mock pouted, "Mou, you say that like it's a bad thing!"
Neji fell silent for a moment, before his gaze rested on the slumbering infant, "It's a good thing. Or it will be, eventually. When he learns that his father does not appreciate being a moving target."
She laughed at the mental imagery, and she felt Neji lay a warm kiss on her temple. She too, became quiet, before she finally declared, "Let's have another one."
The arm on her waist fell slack, "No."
She frowned, "Why not?"
"I can't handle two."
"Oh, come on, Neji, it will be fun," she said, now just teasing him.
She smirked, "But Sakura insisted on buying me some girl baby clothes too…"
"Sakura is insane." He declared bluntly.
Tenten laughed at his expression before pulling away, setting Hisoka down in his crib, "You're such a spoilsport, Neji." She chastised.
Neji was silent, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched his wife tuck his son in. A brief feeling of contentment came to him as he exhaled peacefully. "We're fine the way we are."
Tenten smiled and stood in front of him, wrapping her arms around his waist like had previously done to her, "Of course we are, but we could be more than fine."
Neji almost smirked, "We'll see." Was all he said, noncommittally, lowering his head down to meet hers.
Tenten was about to kiss him when she slowly pulled her head back, sniffing the air gingerly, "Neji, can you smell that?"
He frowned at being interrupted, "Smell what?"
"It smells like poo."