cry baby bunting
daddy's gone a-hunting
gone to fetch a rabbit-skin
to wrap his baby bunting in
Neji Hyuga, not quite yet a year old, thought of his world (which was, of course, the only world that mattered) in very simple terms.
There was 'me', himself, and there was 'me-and-Tenten', his almost-constant companion, the only other person in the world the same size and shape and design as he was. He had been a bit slow to realize that Tenten was her own existence and not just a part of his own.
Then there were the parents (though of course he didn't yet know that word) - four big people who provided warmth, security and food. The biggest one, with the silver eyes like his, and the one with the dark-red head, were his especially - his papa and his mama, while the two amber-eyed ones belonged to Tenten, but Neji knew that he could rely on them for food/warmth/blankies/pony-rides/cuddles almost as well as he could on his own - and the same for Tenten.
Then there was 'everybody else' - big people who smiled and cooed at him, picked him up and tickled him, picked Tenten up and tickled her - mostly annoyances interrupting the smooth flow of his days, though Tenten seemed to like them well enough. Sometimes they brought toys and other presents.
But 'everybody else' were only momentary interruptions, for the most part. Some of them he even - tolerated. Like the tall quiet lady who looked a little like papa, and who never tickled him. And, of course, not-papa.
Not-papa didn't quite fall in one category or the other. He was NOT papa, but he was very like papa. He looked the same. He smelled the same. His voice was the same, especially the same when papa was speaking soft and low and trying not to wake Neji. And he had the same silver eyes. Not-papa was always very quiet when he came to visit, which endeared him to Neji immediately. He liked to crawl to not-papa and be picked up, and to snuggle into crisp shirt-fronts that smelled like air-conditioned coolness added to papa's usual scent. Sometimes he got confused and called not-papa 'papa' and sometimes he called him what he heard papa call him -"Yashi" transforming itself into "Ya'hee" in his lispy baby voice.
Neji regarded not-papa with the same proprietary air with which he regarded all four of the parents. And so he was quite displeased when not-papa stayed away for much longer than had become his habit; and he was positively incensed the day not-papa came back with a tiny, squirming, pale bundle of blankets that was referred to as "Hinata".
The twin brothers faced each other, each with their firstborn cradled in their arms. Hiashi, who did have copious amounts of baby-sitting experience, still seemed much the more awkward - holding a wriggly, curious baby nephew was somehow much different than holding a brand-new infant baby daughter. Also, he now recalled, he hadn't held baby Neji much until he was about four months old. He had been operating, it seemed, in a state of terror from the moment the nurse had placed the small, soft-voiced human being with miniature versions of his eyes into his arms. He wondered if Hizashi suffered this way.
He wondered if he would stop being afraid he'd break her.
Hizashi watched his brother, standing in front of him with an itty-bitty baby in his arms - surely Neji had never been that small? Nor Tenten, even? - and gave into the urge to grin. Hiashi looked scared and messed up and rather confused - it made him look younger than he was, and more - approachable. (Not, he remembered, that he'd ever really been scared to approach him. Angry and bitter and resentful, yes - but he'd never been scared of his twin.)
Neji made a small, questioning noise, and Hizashi planted a soft kiss in his son's sweet-smelling hair. It was really Neji who was responsible for the reconciliation between him and his one-hour-older twin brother - Neji with his innocent curiousity, with his never-ending fascination with his "Ya-hee" - when usually anyone outside his parents and the Changs were treated with wide-eyed babyish solemnity - who had somehow stolen Hiashi's heart and reminded Hizashi his brother had one, who had given the twins a common point of interest to bond over again.
He grinned at Hiashi over Neji's head. He had a wife, a son, and his twin brother back again. And now he had a baby niece...
As if sensing his brother's curiosity, Hiashi smiled shyly - he'd always been the shyer of the two, and unfortunately he'd covered up his shyness with a facade of arrogance and aloofness - and carefully, very carefully - tilted his hold so Hizashi and Neji could gaze upon the sleeping infant.
Neji took one look at her and began to wail loudly.