Maurice: Hiashi (Very OOC, be warned)
Armoire the wardrobe: Temari
Mrs Potts: Gai Sensei
Chip: Rock Lee
Sasuke is in this story! Fear not, emo fans!
Neji heaved a sigh that ruffled his bangs and pretended not to notice the lecherous stares of that old pervert Orochimaru. He continued to read his book, concentrating on the story rather than the feeling of his skin trying to crawl away from that man. Any day now he expected a proposal, and he was currently trying to find a way to reject him without offending him. It was going to be hard; Orochimaru took offence to everything.
He was reading as he walked, as he usually did. He was on his way to the library to return several books he had already finished. He had only taken them out a few days ago, and the librarian Tsunade never tired of remarking that it wouldn't be long before he had read every book from the vast collection. She didn't understand his passion for reading, no one did. He didn't read to learn, he read because he enjoyed it. He relished turning the page to discover a new twist in the tale, or else attempting to unravel the mystery before the protaganist did. At this, he was rather good.
He stopped at the fountain and decided that it would be less time consuming if he finished his novel now and returned it to the library with the others. He was nearly finished, anyway, and the library didn't close for two hours. He had plenty of time.
Sitting himself down on cool marble, he dropped his satchel by his feet and continued reading. The fountain was playing gently in the background, relaxing him despite the inane chatter of the townsfolk walking past and the soft whinnying of the horses as they brought their respective carts to a halt.
He jumped when a hand landed on his shoulder and leapt up, nearly dropping his book in the water. His eyes narrowed. Everybody knew that he had a thing about personal space. The only one rude enough- and gutsy enough- to ignore this and actually touch him was...
"Orochimaru-san," Neji said coldly, trying to suppress his revulsion. Long greasy hair that likely hadn't been washed in a decade framed his sunken, snake-like face, his skin waxy and the colour of curdled milk. Most disturbing of all was the yellow eyes with their vertical pupils and the abnormally long tongue currently sneaking out to trace his thin lips.
"Neji-kun," Orochimaru said silkily. Neji had to force himself not to run away screaming "Rape!" The man was able to make you feel violated just by looking at you normally, never mind with the unwholesome greed in his eyes Neji felt every time they came into contact.
"How are you?" Neji asked politely, forcing himself to maintain civil conversation. He was disconcerted by the way that smile widened until it was distinctly predatorial. Instinctively, he took and involuntary step back. He was certain Orochimaru had noticed, but the man ignored it.
"Oh, I'm fine," was the reply, "Though I could be better,"
"Oh? How so?" Neji asked, raising an eyebrow. He felt a little brutal as thoughts of fatal illnesses and dancing on graves came to mind.
"You're not by my side," Orochimaru said, long white fingers reaching towards Neji, who felt as though somebody had just poured a bucket of ice into the pit of his stomach. This was it, he knew. The moment he had been dreading.
"Orochimaru-san-" Neji began in a warning tone, pausing when the man began to talk over the beginning of his protests.
"Please, call me Orochimaru," he said, waving his hand so that the rich purple sleeve of his expensive clothes flapped in the air. It was a strong contrast with the plain shirt and trousers Neji wore.
"I'm afraid that would be quite inappropriate, Orochimaru-san," Neji said, careful to keep the hostility out of his voice. He didn't want to risk offending a man with so much money, "I'm but the poor nephew of a tailor. I don't even have parents! Whereas you are of a high-class upbringing, and are rich and powerful. I will do as my position in society dictates and refer to you politely. You are my superior, after all,"
By the time Neji finished, he felt like scrubbing his mouth out with soap. Isn't that what you were supposed to do when you swore or told a lie? Though he hadn't technically lied, his sickly-sweet flattery of the man to protect his family from Orochimaru's brutality made it feel as though he was deceiving him somehow.
"Ah, but you won't be in a position beneath me if you accept my hand in marriage," he paused and smiled wider.
"Well, you will, but not in the sense we're referring to," he continued, laughing at his own crass comment. Neji felt his cheeks heat up in a combination of mortification and disgust.
"Orochimaru-san, I don't think that's entirely appropriate!" he said hotly. Orochimaru ignored his comment and reached out to touch Neji's face. He had not been expecting the sudden move, though he managed to slap the hand away as soon as his skin came into contact with Neji's face. It felt like a rotting corpse's, moist and cold and above all else filthy. Orochimaru's eyes flashed angrily and he leaned closer until they were nose to nose. Neji refused to be the one to back away.
"I don't think you understand-," he began, but Neji spoke over him.
"I understand perfectly, Orochimaru-san," he all but whispered, all illusions of politeness gone, "I refuse to become your little trophy. Even if I did marry you, our relationship would not be a monogamous one. You would continue to frequent those filthy brothels and you would hire me out to all your friends. I won't become another Kimimaro,"
Orochimaru's face became thunderous. He clenched his fists, looking as though he was about to punch Neji.
"Don't- talk- about- him!" the man spat, looking positively deranged in his fury.
"I warned him," Neji continued, "I warned him not to let your false words take hold. But he had been starved of affection for so long, and any attention was like a ray of sunshine on a stormy day to him. He gave you everything. His heart, his virginity, his loyalty. And he met his end at the hands of your friends, raped by ten man and mutilated. Left for dead in the gutter,"
Neji paused and swallowed, fighting to force away memories of the state his friend's body had been found in.
"Because he trusted you," Neji said acidly, resuming his monologue, "I refuse to make the same mistake,"
He glared into Orochimaru's eyes for as long as he could, trying to communicate his intense, burning, corrosive hatred for the other man through that one look.
"I will have you," Orochimaru hissed, sounding more like snake than ever. Neji half expected retractable fangs to sprout from his jaws. But they didn't, and the man whirled around in a flurry of purple and black velvet before stalking off into the crowd. They parted to let him though, muttering among themselves about the spectacle they had just witnessed and speculating what could have caused it.
Neji had stood there for so long, silently seething, that the library had closed and it was getting dark by the time he came to his senses. Gloomily, he slung his sachel over his shoulder and made the long trek home, lamenting the fact that he now had no books to read tomorrow. He lived on the outskirts of a little town called Konohagakure in a small but cosy cottage with his uncle and cousins. His uncle was an inventor, though he wasn't a very good one. What he made usually didn't work, and those things that did work usually didn't have a function. Still, it kept his Uncle happy and it wasn't doing anyone any harm, so he didn't complain. It was just a hobby anyway, albeit one that took up more time that work did.
Hiashi was a tailor by trade, but an expensive one. Consequently, only the rich were able to afford his goods. In some ways, Neji resented the extravagant prices and his Uncle's unrivalled skill. Had Hiashi been less brilliant, perhaps Neji wouldn't have met Orochimaru when he came into the shop for some new shirts in the first place. But, in his heart, Neji knew that they would have met somehow anyway. His looks had earned him a fan club of sorts within the town, and everybody with sense knew that Orochimaru took a liking to pretty boys.
Neji frowned and pushed thoughts of Orochimaru out of his had for now. He was nearing the cottage, and the light was on. That meant that his Uncle was still awake. Probably tinkering around with some new invention, no doubt. He walked up the garden path and knocked on the door lightly. Hiashi opened the door enthusiastically, waxing eloquent out his latest project and how it just needed a bit of fine tuning. He was covered in oil, a spanner jammed behind an ear. He lead Neji into the kitchen, talking all the while, even as he served Neji's dinner. Neji had to eat by the stove because his Uncle's...thing was sitting in the middle of the table. Waving away Hiashi's apologies, Neji dunked his bread into his soup and began to eat while his Uncle went back to his latest invention.
"I just need to tighten this knut here and...But where's my spanner?" Hiashi said, sounding confused. He had just reached for the aforementioned tool, only to find it absent.
"Behind your ear," Neji said, "Where you always put it,"
Hiashi nodded and laughed.
"What would I do without you?" he said affectionately. Neji allowed a tiny smile to grace his face.
"I'm sure you'd do fine," he replied, watching as Hiashi tightened something with his tongue sticking out from between his teeth. His uncle grunted in response.
"Why haven't you returned those books?" he asked, wiping his brow with a greasy cloth. His forehead was now smeared with black, and it made for quite a funny sight. However, the reminder of his run-in with Orochimaru stopped him from expressing any amusement.
"I met Orochimaru," he said curtly, concentrating on his dinner. He felt his Uncle's concern and felt a little better, knowing that Hiashi would be there for him.
"What did he do?"
Neji refused to answer at first and caved only due to the pressuring nagging.
"In a sideways way, he asked me to marry him," Neji confessed eventually, pushing his half full bowl away. He didn't much feel like eating anymore, "He told me that he wanted me at his side. It somehow ended with an argument aver Kimimaro, and we created quiet a scene. Then, he said "I will have you" and walked off. He was rather angry," He finished worriedly. Hiashi looked worried for a moment too, then brightened up as he was wont to do.
"Don't allow him to bother you, Neji," he said sagely, returning to his invention, "I don't treat him with reverence and obedience, and I'm not dead yet,"
Despite Hiashi's assurances, Neji was not convinced and slept fitfully that night, his dreams full of Kimimaro's tortured body and Orochimaru's leering face.
The next day dawned bright and cold. There was a light film of frost on every puddle and the grass crunched as Neji helped his Uncle haul the invention into the back of the cart. The horse was already saddled and pawed the ground impatiently, rearing to go. With one last grunt, Neji and his Uncle hauled the contraption into the back of the trailer. It made a rattling sound, and Neji glanced at it worriedly.
"Don't worry, it's nothing I won't be able to fix!" Hiashi said airily, clambering onto his horse as Neji strapped his invention to the cart. He didn't want it to fall out and break.
Hiashi was attending an invention competition in a nearby town called Iwagakure. Well, Neji classed it as nearby, at any rate, even if it did take a full day to get there on horse back. It was the closest town to Konohagakure, anyway. Neji had been there only once, and he hadn't liked it. There was no lush greenery or forests, not even a single blade of grass. Everything was composed of red rock, including the buildings. Worst of all, they didn't even have a public library. The officials maintained that this was due to a lack of funds, and most people couldn't read anyway, so what was the point? Neji had taken one look at their fine clothes and their expensive jewellery and knew instantly why the town lacked the funds to build one. He knew that these upper class people probably had private libraries of their own, and considered it a waste to spend money on books for these so-called dregs of society. He had felt like telling them that maybe if they invested in schools, people would be able to read and a library wouldn't have been a waste of time then.
Neji had attended school from the age of four until the age of sixteen. His school had been a grammar school, filled with rich kids. The only reason he was allowed in was because he had won a scholarship. It made his smirk to remember the way he had outshone all these know-it-alls at both academic and sport related activities, also stealing away the attention of the girls. The snobs had obviously thought that he would be dim-witted troll because of his Uncle's profession and the fact that Hiashi was considered something of and oddity around the town for his strange inventions. The rich boys, jealous and spitting in fury like rabid wolverines, had shunned him. Only one boy, in the year below him, had ignored the rest of his peers and became Neji's friend. Uchiha Sasuke knew what it was to be like to be hated for his image of perfection, and they had formed a close bond. Now nineteen and twenty, the two were inseparable.
Sasuke was going to be coming over while Hiashi was away. He was rebelling against his mother's wishes by remaining friends with somebody who was so "low class", aided and abetted by his older brother Itachi, who also abhorred his mother's shallow views. He hoped Sasuke would bring some new books around for them to read. He had intended to get some when he gone into town yesterday, but circumstances- or, rather, Orochimaru- had prevented that. He scowled darkly as thoughts of his tormenter came to mind.
With Hiashi saddled up and his lunch strapped firmly to back, he set off with a wave in the direction of his nephew and his daughters. Hinata waved solemnly, sad to see her father go. Hanabi waved enthusiactically, counting down the minutes until Sasuke would be here. Neji wasn't stupid, he knew she had a crush on him. He had warned her that nothing would come of it, but she had just accused him of being cynical. So he left her to it. She was strong, she would mend her heart in no time.
They re-entered their little cottage and Neji made their breakfast. After they had finished eating (Hanabi licking her plate, much to Neji's mingled exaperation and amusement), Neji left for his Uncle's shop. He specifically stated that Hinata was in charge until he returned at lunch time, and that the house had better not be demolished when he got back. The last part was directed towards Hanabi, who huffed. She soon brightened up when Neji reminded her that Sasuke would be coming home with him at lunch.
It took him barely fifteen minutes to get to his Uncle's shop and open up. The new breeches for Jiraiya-san were waiting on the counter for him to arrive and pick them up. Neji liked Jiraiya, despite the man's tendency to get slapped at least eight times a day by offended women. It was generally because they found him peaking up their skirts, or else caught him pinching their backsides. It made Jiraiya seem like he wasn't a very nice person, when in reality he was. He was sympathetic to Neji's plight with Orochimaru and often offered to "kicked his scawny ass". Though Neji found his language vulgar, he respected the sentiment.
The bell above the door rang and Neji looked up, expecting Jiraiya. The sight of Orochimaru standing there didn't exactly make his day. Neji composed his face into what he hoped was a neutral expression and faced Orochimaru. He would prove that he didn't fear the snake-like man.
"Good morning, Orochimaru-san," he said curteously, "How may I help you?"
He tried to ignore the way the man's expression turned from vague interest into outright hunger.
"I have come here for a fitting," he said, his eyes raking over Neji's body. Neji suddenly felt naked, even if he was clad for colder climates.
"Oh?" he asked, "I was under the impression that you had already had a fitting with my Uncle not long ago,"
"Yes, I did," Orochimaru replied, slowly, as though he was trying to divine a way out of that corner, "But I seem to have forgotten my measurements. If you would be so kind...?"
He gestured at the footstool positioned by the mirror where customers were usually measured, leaving the question hanging. Neji cursed inwardly and picked up his tape measure. He made his way over at a snail's pace, reluctant to come any closer to Orochimaru than neccesary.
With more force than was reasonable, he wrapped the tape measure around Orochimaru's chest and yanked it tight.
"Tell me if it becomes uncomfortable," he said, experiencing a savage burst of pleasure at the thought of hurting this man. He heard Orochimaru grunt in pain and loosened it a little.
"Oh, I apologise, Orochimaru-san," he said, sounding extremely contrite, even if he wasn't really, "There. Is that satisfactory?"
"Oh, yes," Orochimaru hissed in a way that made Neji want to hide behind the counter like a scared little girl. In seconds, Orochimaru whirled around and slammed Neji up against the wall, the mirror rattling dangerously. Neji couldn't prevent the gasp of shock leaving his mouth.
"What do you think you are-?"
"I told you," Orochimaru hissed, his lips inches from Neji's. He turned his head to the side to escape the man's rancid breath and creeping tongue, "I told you I would make you mine!"
I hope it wasn't too bad. I came across Corvin's Cindersand a few days ago, and I started thinking about GaaNeji fairytales. I debated The Little Mermaid, but then The Beauty And The Beast came to mind and it just fit so well. Hence, I wrote this!
Gaara will probably be introduced soon, but for now I'm having fun letting Orochimaru harrass Neji.
Ja ne, all!