In Fate's Hands

Chapter Thirteen:
Ten Years Later

Tenten coughed loudly, waving the smoke billowing from the oven away from her face. She squinted, her brown eyes searching the oven for the charred remains of the dinner she had failed in preparing properly. Reaching in, she yanked free a plate of what had once been chicken and sighed unhappily. She still didn't have a good hand at cooking, and she had been forcing her family to eat her horrible meals for fourteen years.

Of course, before she had married Neji he had been her boyfriend for two years – so he had had to endure sixteen years of her horrible cooking. But he always ate her food without ever complaining, and she appreciated that.

He loved her, and that's what lovers did.

Their children, on the other hand, weren't always so nice about it.

"Where's the fire?" a voice called from the hallway. Tenten looked over in time to see Aiko enter the kitchen, her daughter's pale eyes surveying the smoky room as she tossed her shuriken holster on the floor. Putting both hands on her hips and tossing her long wavy hair over her shoulder, Aiko grinned sadly at her mother.

"Again, Mom?"

Tenten tossed the burned mess into the garbage, ignoring her daughter's question. It could be considered rhetorical – Aiko normally asked her the same thing every time Tenten managed to ruin a meal. Aiko shook her head and went to the refrigerator, yanking contents out as she prepared to cook for her family. She was only fourteen years old, but her cooking skills where beyond her mother's.

Tenten was slightly jealous, but if it got her out of ordering take - out then she didn't mind.

"Where are your siblings?" Tenten asked, looking over towards the doorway to her home. Aiko turned too, looking curiously at the path she had just traveled as she sliced vegetables.

"I don't know. They were following me, but I guess they started lagging behind."

"You didn't try to lose them on purpose again, did you?"

Aiko reddened slightly and turned from Tenten's stare. "No, I didn't do that again," she mumbled, suddenly taking interest in hacking apart a carrot. Tenten raised her eyebrows at her daughter, not quite believing her story.

The door swung open somewhere inside, and within a moment Hizashi entered the kitchen. He noticed the smoke and looked at Tenten too, but he showed no significant physical disappoint in the lack of his mother's cooking skills.

His eyes told other emotions entirely.

"I know, I know," Tenten mumbled, waving her hand nonchalantly at her son. Hizashi sighed and slipped off his own holster, and Tenten was glad to be away from his gaze. Hizashi, although only ten, was quiet for his age and his eyes spoke for him in ways that he verbally chose not to – like his father, he best conveyed his thoughts and feelings by not saying anything directly. A glance or two and the right flicker of his gaze told more than the few choice words he ever chose to say.

He was too much like Neji had been at his age – quiet and reserved, with the same long hair that Hizashi tied back in a ponytail and the same quick judgment of everyone else that was not up to the same standards that he was. While Hizashi was not nearly as much of a genius as Neji was, he was quite smart for his age and he was well aware of the fact, which occasionally resulted in him inflating his ego when he felt the need for it.

It was the one bad trait Hizashi had gained from his Hyuuga heritage, but Tenten was glad that that was the only thing wrong with him. It could have been worse.

There was more loud chatter, a few quick shrieks, and then the twins ran into the room, giggling and trying to poke each other. Tenten laughed as her daughter tackled her son and the duo fell into a heap on the floor. Hizashi frowned slightly and moved off towards his older sister, who was also grinning at her youngest siblings with amusement.

"Hi Mommy!" Hanako cried out as she jumped off of Keiji and attacked her mother with a hug. Keiji stood, shaking slightly before he attacked his mother too.

Tenten grabbed the twins in an embrace and kissed each child on their head. "You'll never believe what we did at the academy today, Mommy!" Hanako shrieked, bouncing up and down against Tenten, grinning wildly. "We worked on a substitution jutsu! My sensei said mine was really, really good! One of the best! I was so happy that I kept doing it again and again, but then sensei told me to stop because he was afraid that the other kids would get jealous and get mad at me, but they didn't! They were really, really impressed! It was so much fun!"

Tenten smiled and hugged her exuberant daughter fondly. "That's great, sweetheart!" she said. "You've mastered substitution already! I didn't even know how to do that at your age." Hanako's grin grew impossibly larger and she giggled, her Byakugan eyes wild with excitement. At six years old, Tenten's second daughter was already a social butterfly, ridiculously outgoing and friendly to anyone and everyone.

Hanako slipped away from Tenten, steadying herself slightly before she tore off at Aiko. "Sissy, guess what!" she yelled, attaching herself to Aiko's leg.

Aiko looked down at her younger sister and feigned shock. "What?" she asked, trying to act as though she hadn't already heard the outburst that had just graced her ears several seconds earlier.

As Hanako's melodic voice spoke the story of her academic achievements again, Tenten turned her attention to Keiji. Her son was leaning against her quietly, sucking his thumb. Tenten pulled him close and kissed him gently, smiling at her youngest child affectionately. "And how about you?" she asked him, rubbing his back gently. "How did you do at the academy today?"

Keiji looked away nervously, frowning slightly. He shook his head sadly, keeping his eyes focused to the floor. Tenten cradled him to her, smiling sadly. "It's okay," she whispered to him. "You'll get it eventually. Daddy and I will help you, alright? We'll practice with you and you'll be doing substitution in no time."

Keiji still looked down, but he nodded silently. Tenten held on to her baby boy a little while longer, feeling pity for her son that she felt guilty for feeling. Keiji was perhaps the most special of all her children, and for one reason only – he was born without the Byakugan.

It had shocked Tenten when she had learned that her third pregnancy involved twins – it had shocked Neji more, his fear of something such as the events between his father and his uncle bothering him throughout her entire pregnancy. Luckily, the Hokage banned the curse mark from being used on Hyuuga children, and all four of her babies were spared the mark that permanently graced their father's forehead. Neji had been in a much greater mood following that announcement, no longer fearing the birth of his twins.

However, both Tenten and Neji had panicked when their second son had opened his eyes to reveal blue irises that differed from his sister's pale ones entirely. Tenten had cried for days, fearing that something horrible would happen to her child while Neji dealt with an angered Hiashi. Following Neji's return four years previous to the twins' birth, Neji had worked hard to cement a decent relationship between his uncle and his family. Hiashi had been hard to deal with at first, but he had finally warmed up to both Tenten and his great grand nieces and nephews.

When Hiashi discovered that one of the twins did not have the Byakugan, he had almost shattered all of the relationship that Neji had tried so hard to work for. He had literally gone crazy, yelling that this surely signified the destruction of the Hyuuga clan and that he had been right all along, that marrying outside of the clan produced faulty clan members. He condemned the child, referring to Keiji as some sort of a bastard child that should be ignored and viewed as inhuman by all members of the Hyuuga clan.

Neji refused to speak with his uncle following that, only talking to him again once Hinata convinced her father to apologize. Her relationship wasn't exactly perfect with her father either – he had thrown a rather embarrassing fit when Hinata married Rock Lee, and refused to allow his daughter to take over the position of clan leader if she was married to such "a talent-less freak." He had attempted to make Hanabi clan leader, but his second daughter refused, enjoying life as a member of ANBU too much to care about her clan's well - being anymore.

Hiashi had relented eventually – a long manifestation of guilt, lack of interest for his well – being from both daughters, and the birth of two grandsons had slowly eroded his wall of hatred and he backed down as clan leader, allowing Hinata to assume her rightful position so long as Lee's say in clan matters was minimal to nonexistent. This didn't bother Lee – he had two sons to train and teach his secrets of youth to, not to mention his own squad of Genin from the academy. Meanwhile, Lee worked hard at being a son – in – law that would be acceptable to Hiashi. He wanted desperately to have a good relationship with every member of the Hyuuga clan, theirs being the first real family he had known since he was a small child and since he had come under Gai's mentorship.

Hanabi was the easiest member for Lee to assimilate with – after realizing, much to her horror, that Lee wasn't going anywhere soon, Hanabi tried harder to be nice to him and to put up with his odd behavior and morals. Lee was just as generous with his attitude towards her, and was one of the only people next to her sister, cousin, and Tenten that did not criticize her for still not marrying Konohamaru – although Lee pitied him immensely, because Hanabi had been turning down his marriage proposals for years and he still loved her regardless. Neji saw Lee as a brother, but he would rarely ever admit his fondness for his former teammate. Hiashi only tolerated Lee because he desired visitation with his grandsons and Hinata refused to allow her father near her sons unless he was on good terms with her husband. Hiashi learned to grin and bear it, acting nice to Lee and attempting to make it look like he enjoyed his son – in – law.

Neji quite enjoyed seeing Hiashi squirm – only Tenten knew that fact, but it was rather obvious whenever Neji, Lee, and Hiashi were in the same room. Neji's eyes glowed with satisfaction at his uncle's pain, counting his unintentional torture as repayment for what he had done to his father, himself, and his youngest son.

Now that Keiji was older and his blue eyes had darkened into the same dark brown eyes that belonged to his mother, Hiashi finally stopped ostracizing the young boy. While his normal skills as a ninja were faulty, Keiji was able to master many Hyuuga battle stances and jutsu. He was able to perform Rotation, even without being able to see chakra points – because he somehow knew where the chakra points were anyway. He was also strong at Gentle Fist, something that surprised all the members of his family. Being in good control of Hyuuga abilities without the Hyuuga kekkai genkai impressed Hiashi to the point that he allowed Neji to teach the boy more exclusive Hyuuga techniques.

But Keiji still doubted himself and his abilities often, and his negative attitude always resulted in lack of improvement of his skills as an academy student.

Tenten held Keiji closer just a little bit longer before letting her little boy go. He sprang up, some of the sadness washing off of his face as he ran over to where Hizashi was and began to yank hard on his brother's sleeve. Hizashi sighed heavily and turned his attention from whatever his sisters were talking about and focused on his younger brother, who had suddenly started babbling incoherently.

"So you do like him?"

Tenten looked at her daughters, having just heard the question that Hanako shrieked mischievously at her older sister. Aiko turned a dark red and mumbled something quietly, looking even more embarrassed when she realized that her mother was listening in on their conversation.

"What's going on?" Tenten asked, smiling despite her attempts at being serious and ignorant.

Hanako ran to her mother, jumping with glee. "Aiko has a crush on a boy!" she sang, pointing at her older sister. "A boy! A boy! A boy!"

"Stop it!" Aiko moaned halfheartedly, hanging her reddened face in defeat.

"Alright Hanako, that's enough," Tenten said to her daughter, and the little girl stopped her singing and pouted. Tenten turned her full attention to her eldest, curious as to whom the mystery boy might be. "Anyone we know?" she asked, thinking of all of her friends who had children around Aiko's age.

Which was none – so that meant that whomever Aiko liked was the offspring of someone older.

Aiko turned a dark red, but she nodded. "Are you going to tell me?" Tenten asked, and her daughter remained silent.

"It's Sakumo!" Hanako responded for her, and she laughed loudly at the name as Aiko covered her face with her hands.

"Who?" Tenten was confused. She hadn't remembered ever having taught someone with that name at the academy.

"Sakumo Hatake, the Copy – Ninja's son," Hizashi announced, giving his mother a look which clearly stated he wasn't too fond of his sister's crush.

"Kakashi's boy?" Tenten murmured after a moment. She had forgotten he had children. Both his son and his older daughter, a girl called Rin, had never been registered at the academy. It was a joint decision by both the infamous ninja and the children's mother, Anko Mitarshi. They both felt that their children were too talented to attend the academy and would be better off learning from their parents – because, Kakashi being a Jonin and Anko being a Special Jonin, they believed that their overall skills would be better than anything the lesser ranked shinobi from the academy could possibly offer.

Tenten could have done the same thing. Sure, she was still a Chunin, but Neji was a Jonin, and she could have very easily boasted that the children of the Hyuuga prodigy were too good for the academy. But she didn't, because Tenten, and to a lesser extent Neji, weren't arrogant in that way.

"Isn't he a little too…arrogant for you?" Tenten began, trying to find a way to go about discussing this with her daughter nicely. "I don't know the boy personally, but I've heard things about him. He's supposed to think very highly of himself and he supposedly berates anybody that he thinks isn't better than him – which is everyone, apparently."

"He's not that bad," Aiko muttered, still gazing at the floor. "And besides, he's the one who seems interested in me. Ever since we tied during our match in the Chunin Exams last year he's been following me around and watching me and demanding that we have a rematch and than sometimes he randomly talks to me and I think it's all really weird and confusing." She paused, inhaled, and than continued. "And I know he's kind of arrogant but when no one else is around he's actually kind of sweet and he's really hot and…" she trailed off, still flushed.

Hizashi was starring at his sister like he thought she was crazy. "Kind of arrogant?" he repeated in complete shock. "You're not being serious, are you?" Aiko looked at her brother and smiled sadly, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet nervously. "You are?" Hizashi continued, still looking aghast. He rolled his eyes and looked at his mother. "I'll watch him for you and Dad," he said.

"No, you're not!" Aiko cried out. "You'll embarrass me on purpose just to get him to leave me alone!" She turned to her mother and pointed an accusing finger at Hizashi. "He's capable of treacherous things, Mom! Everyone thinks he's just being quiet because he's smart but it's because he's plotting!"

"Plotting what?"

Tenten turned around, her heart beating wildly in her chest as she smiled with pure happiness. Neji was standing in the doorframe, a small smile on his face as he looked at his family with curiosity. He had been on a mission for the last three weeks and he had been due home in two more days – but he was early, and Tenten couldn't have been happier.

"You're back," she whispered, still smiling. Tenten still worried about him – all the time, no matter where he was going or what he was doing. She never wanted to relive the pain she had experienced when she was pregnant with Hizashi ten years ago. Almost losing Neji back than had literally ruined her as a person, but Tenten had managed to hold herself up well – and he came back, like she always knew he would.

"Of course," Neji replied softly, taking one of Tenten's hands and pulling her into a warm embrace. Tenten nuzzled her head into his chest as she wrapped her arms securely around his waist, basking in the moment. Neji kissed her on the top of her head as he cradled her close – words couldn't even describe how he had missed her. Tenten looked up and smiled softly, and Neji smiled softly back and leaned down and kissed her on the lips.

The twins looked at their parents with curious eyes.

Hizashi made a face. "No one else's parents do that," Hizashi mumbled, looking disgusted. Aiko whacked him gently on the back of the head.

"Yes they do," she scolded him quietly so she wouldn't disrupt her parents. "Besides, our parents are a lot younger than everyone else's. And they've been through a lot in their lives. You wouldn't understand."

Hizashi frowned at her, rubbing the back of his head. Aiko sighed, hugged him as a sign of apology, and than smiled softly at her parents. She was right – Hizashi and the twins would never understand the bond between their mother and father. Aiko understood it because she remembered it – all of the secret meetings, the strained gazes of love and whispered words that she wasn't supposed to comprehend but always ended up understanding, the pain of a time when she was four years old and her mother cried constantly and her father had been gone. It was clear in her mind and she knew she'd never forget it – and she could appreciate their love for each other more because she knew what they'd been through, and Aiko loved the little things they did for each other and how gentle they were in their actions and words when it came to one another. She found it all terribly romantic – Hizashi found it disgusting, but he was a ten year old boy after all.

Neji had pulled away and was stroking Tenten's cheek with his thumb. They were gazing at each other, their eyes speaking for them in ways that words could not. Aiko recognized the look in their eyes – she had seen it several times in her lifetime and she had a feeling that she'd continue seeing it as long as her parents were together. Flushing slightly, Aiko coughed conspicuously and turned to her siblings.

"I think we should go outside," she suggested. Hizashi gave her a look. "Fine, how about we visit Aunt Hinata and Lee instead?" He continued to stare at her. "Look, we need to get out of the house before something very awkward happens." Hizashi looked over Aiko's shoulder at his parents and scrunched up his nose with disgust.

"Not that again," he moaned, rolling his eyes.

Aiko gave him a look. "Don't interrupt them!" she warned Hizashi, who shook his head sadly.

"No one else's parents…" he began, but stopped when his sister made a motion to grab to his arm. Backing away, he raised his hands in surrender. "I understand," he grumbled. "Our parents have a different relationship. Fine, we'll go visit our cousins."

Aiko smiled at him. "You know, there was a time when you used to love me so much that anything I wanted to do made you happy," she pointed out, referring to their early childhood. "Now whenever I suggest doing something you always disagree with me. I don't get you. You're so moody."

"Hey, Mom told me my moodiness comes from Dad, so go complain to him," Hizashi retorted as he began to head out of the kitchen. He paused, and his normally stern gaze softened. "And I do still love you, even if you're annoying sometimes and have pointless crushes on arrogant boys. I'm just older than I used to be, that's all."

"It's not a pointless crush!" Aiko cried out, following Hizashi with the twins.

Neji looked away from Tenten towards the entrance once he heard the front door close. He smirked slightly. "Well, that took them longer than usual," he remarked, pulling Tenten closer to him.

Tenten adjusted her grip around his waist and sighed. "Remember when they were small?" she asked as Neji rocked her back and forth. "All we had to do was put them in bed. It was that easy. Now they're all older and they all stay up later. It just makes things more difficult."

Neji nodded, kissing her on the top of her head. He paused for a moment, lost in thought. Tenten peered up at him, confused. "What's wrong?" she asked.

Neji smirked again and laughed lightly. "Perhaps we should give Lee and Hinata some warning that the children are heading to their house," he said, his pale eyes shinning slightly. "But I fear we're too late for that."

Tenten was still confused. "Why would we give them warning? The kids go over there all the time and no one's ever complained."

"They've never gone to their home this late without us," Neji stated, nodding towards the kitchen clock. "You know as well as I do that Lee and Hinata are far worse then we are. I'd hate to think what sight they could possibly interrupt showing up this late."

Tenten giggled. "Ugh, mental images!" she exclaimed suddenly, playfully punching Neji in the chest. "I don't want to think about that! Our poor nephews!"

"Poor Hinata," Neji murmured, frowning.

Neji fell quiet as Tenten continued to giggle, trying to clear her mind of any horrifying thoughts about her best friend and cousin – in – law that shouldn't have been pictured in the first place; but it was hard. She had unintentionally overheard Lee speaking on several occasions to a horrified Neji about the power of sexual youth – and then some. She didn't want to know how that would affect her poor nephews when they were older – already it was painfully obvious that they were unsure whether or not they should be taking after their mother or their father in actions and beliefs. And the youngest one had Lee's eyebrows. It was tragic and oddly touching at the same time, her in – laws' twisted little family life.

Tenten only hoped that she and Neji and their children made a much better impression upon society. Not that she wished ill will to Lee and Hinata and their sons – but she heard people at the academy talking behind their backs, and she was waiting for the day that one of the boys would begin to get teased. Her children were respected, but only because they were the children of Neji Hyuuga, The Prodigy. If it were Tenten and Someone – That – Was – Not – Neji – Hyuuga (Tenten smiled slightly at the thought – it would never have happened, completely impossible)…well, then things might be slightly different.

"You're upset."

Neji's voice gently tugged Tenten ought of her maze of twisting and overlapping thoughts. She smiled at up at him, trying to reassure him that everything was alright, although Neji didn't seem to be buying it. But everything was alright, for the most part. Some things in her life would never be alright – Tenten had realized that awhile ago, and she had come to accept it. Her children were her biggest concern, along with Neji. As long as they were fine, she would be fine too – no matter what.

Neji titled her head back slightly and kissed her slowly and softly. Tenten felt slightly dizzy and weak in the knees as a warm and happy feeling spread throughout her entire body. He pulled away, placing gentle kisses against her cheek and forehead as Tenten sighed in complete ecstasy.

"Feeling better?" he whispered into her ear a few seconds later.

Tenten nodded. "Much," she responded.

Neji kissed her quickly on the lips one more time before pulling away. He checked the time on the clock and turned off the oven, removing whatever Aiko had been cooking before he had returned. Fire hazard aside, he began to head upstairs. He stopped suddenly, looking over his shoulder at Tenten. She was still standing where she had been, hands on her hips and a playful gleam in her dark eyes.

"Aren't you coming?" he asked, mentally attempting to guess as to what was keeping her rooted to the floor.

"Not unless you carry me," Tenten teased him playfully, smirking back.

Neji stared at her in disbelief. "I haven't carried you in years," he muttered. "Not since…"

"The twins, I know," she cut in, still smirking. Neji was still starring at her, his pale eyes still confused. Tenten was purposely playing around with him – she enjoyed it immensely.

When Neji hadn't moved an inch, Tenten sighed and began to turn around. "Oh well," she began as she turned her back to him. "I guess I'll go wait inside for the kids to come home…"

Neji scooped her up into his arms before she had even finished what she was saying. Tenten gasped in surprise – she hadn't expected him to, and apparently Neji hadn't expected himself to either. His face suddenly turned a dark shade of red and his pale eyes refused to meet her dark ones, their gaze penetrating the floor.

Tenten laughed joyously. "I knew it!" she giggled. "I knew you couldn't resist me!"

Neji looked at her with confusion and amusement at the same time. "What has gotten into you?" he asked her, the red having dimmed down to a pale pink.

Tenten calmed herself down. "Nothing," she murmured quietly, reaching out to run her fingers through his dark brown hair. "I just missed you these last three weeks, that's all. I get lonely without you. I love you so much."

Neji smiled at her, and Tenten knew it was his way of agreeing. He kissed her once more, and she could tell it was his way of emphasizing that he loved her without words.

Then Neji, holding Tenten tightly in his arms, proceeded upstairs quickly so they could have time together before the kids came home.


(End of Chapter Thirteen)

A/N: Welcome to the end of the story! This chapter took me a long time to write because I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish the story. I thought a glimpse into Neji and Tenten's future would be good - with all four of their children and themselves. I hope it was enjoyable and a big thank you to all those who stuck with me since the beginning!

Thank you for reading and please review!