A/N: I know I have other stories I have to update, but I couldn't help myself to create another one, especially another NejiTen story. I am still disappointed at the support for this canon ship. So, I decided to do something about it. This is a different appraoch, not really an alternate universe, however it might as well be. Read the summary, you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyways, I would appreciate it if I receive more votes on my poll. Other than that, happy reading!
Souke- Main family
Started: Sunday, August 10, 2008
Draft Finished: Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Disclaimer: The character and names of Naruto characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi-sensei. This story belongs to me.
Summary: When Tenten was found by Hyuuga Hizashi at an early age, she had no recollection who she was except her name. Feeling in debt, Tenten devoted her life to serve the Hyuuga family. In due time, she became the servant of none other than Hyuuga Neji after vowing to watch over him, a promise she made to her savior. However, Tenten gets more than she bargains for when she struggles to understand him. Despite that, she would be by his side. A story of devotion and duty. This is the story about Tenten's life, the reason she why has no family name because she is a servant of the Hyuuga household.
When I was four years old, Hyuuga Hizashi saved me. No one needed to remind me how lucky I was, nevertheless I would never forget how he saved me that day. Cold, tired, hungry I wandered through the streets of Konoha with no memory of who I was except my name. Eventually, I collapsed due to fatigue and found myself warm in bed the moment I awoke. I had no where to go, no money, no family, and out of pity, Hizashi-sama decided that I should remain in the Bunke household where he would watch over me. I made no protest in the matter and on that day, I devoted my life to serve the Hyuuga family. This is where my story began.
Little feet darted across the wooden floors of the Hyuuga manor with experience as the boy tried to be swift. At the age of four, Neji was just as curious as any child. With a clear path of his destination, the young boy ran with grace, being careful to not make any noise. He didn't want to be scold by older members of the Hyuuga household who strictly enforced the "no running within the compound" rule.
Upon hearing his father's return from town, Neji couldn't help but want to greet his father. Sure, he had been gone almost half the day, probably wanting to spar with him afterwards, however that wasn't the only reason he wanted to see his father. He had heard from the other servants that his father brought "someone" home with him and that "someone" was a girl his age. His first instinct was to question the reason why his father would bring a girl home, to the Hyuuga household nonetheless, and his second was to meet her. She must be an extraordinary person if she had caught the interest of Hyuuga Hizashi.
Turning the corner, Neji finally came face to face with the entrance to the room where his father and the mysterious girl reside. Then without warning, the panel slid open. The person who stood in sight was Hizashi, who peered down at his son.
"Neji, there is someone I want you to meet," the younger twin guided his son toward the figure in the room. Sitting with her legs crossed, the girl with auburn locks tied in two neat buns nibbled on a steam white bun. Donned in clothes similar to his own, her face was full of joy and it seemed to radiate off her. The smile on her features mirrored the one on Neji's face.
"Hello," the boy blushed. This was the first time he has ever met a girl beside his cousin, Hinata-sama and Hinabi-sama. The three of them were the only children within the Hyuuga household. Now, there was a new addition.
"Tenten, this is my son Neji," Hizashi introduced. "Tenten will be living in our household from now on."
"But why, Father?" The Branch leader placed his hand on Neji's head, his pearl pupils soften.
"I found her laying on the streets. She doesn't have a family to return to." Neji blinked in surprise. Apart of him was filled with pride that it was his father that saved the lost girl. "I decided to take her in." The boy took a peek at Tenten, feeling sad that her smile is replaced by an upset expression. He didn't like it when girls cry. They were usually loud and he would usually get in trouble. However, he was astound that instead of bawling her eyes out Tenten remain seated with her lips in a thin line. She was quiet, the bun in her hand was ignored.
"Will she live with us, Father?" He felt delighted that he was going to have a playmate, someone who didn't possess the Hyuuga trait.
"No, she will be living in the servant quarters." Even better, she would be around always. Satisfied with that answer, Neji went over to the girl and observed her some more. Her big, round chocolate orbs never left his figure as he walked toward her.
"Can you speak?" Instead of answering with her voice, she nodded. Then, after a moment Tenten stood up. They stood in even height.
"Nice to meet you, Neji-sama." With that, tiny arms wrapped themselves around the boy's neck. The abrupt movement made Neji lose his balance and the poor Hyuuga male fell onto his back with Tenten's body on top of him.
"Please get off, Tenten," he gasped from under her. For a girl her size, she was sure heavy. He felt her weight being lifted off him when she rolled to the side, kneeling over his fallen body.
"I'm sorry, Neji-sama." The sound of her voice made him sit up almost immediately. It was so sincere, yet it held a tone of gratitude, admiration almost. It was comforting. "Let's be friends!" Her lips stretched across her face, showing her perfect teeth.
"I will be your friend under one condition," he said, getting up to his feet. "You will address me as just Neji."
"All right. If that's what you wish, Neji." The way his name rolled off her tongue made him grin. She remained kneeling.
"Hizashi-sama," Tenten bowed at the elder Hyuuga. "Thank you."
"Do not worry, Tenten." Hizashi pulled the young girl up. "I am needed elsewhere. In the mean time, the fish in the pond needs to be fed. Neji, would you like to feed them?"
"I will feed them, Father." His hands grabbed the little pouch that contained little pellets for the fish from his father. "May I bring Tenten along?"
"If that's her decision." Inside, Tenten jumped with excitment, but stood still. She didn't want to knock Neji down twice in one day.
"Let's go." Walking side by side, the two children made their way toward the pond in garden that was filled with Koi fish. Once they arrived, Tenten couldn't help but widen her eyes.
"They are really pretty," she marveled. Beside her, Neji took out the little beads of food and placed them in his hand.
"Watch this." As if on cue, the Koi fish swam toward them as Neji dropped them in the water. Amazed at this, Tenten giggled. It was very amusing indeed.
"I want to try," the girl held out her hand. After receiving a few ediable rounds, she threw them gently at a different area in the water and watched as the Koi fish swim rapidly toward the food source. "They are so fast, too!"
Neji smiled in earnest. This girl was sure interesting. It was funny how something so simple as feeding fish is entertaining to the girl. He wondered how she would react if he told her that there were birds within the household, but decided not to. He wouldn't want to be crushed by her again.
His thoughts suddenly went back to her outburst, and right there and then, he decided that he wanted to be her friend too. Why not? She was bright, nice, and cute (though he'll never tell anyone, except his father that is). She would always be here by his side, and for the second time that day, he was glad.
There were not many things a four year old servant could do, but Tenten never gave up finding odd jobs around the Bunke household. Her daily routine usually consists of waking up Neji, watering all the plants in the garden, feeding the Koi fish with her friend, and finally wiping down the entire dojo spotless. Of course, during the time she is there, Hizashi and Neji is there as well, training. Once she even met the Hyuuga Heiress herself. Despite that, she didn't dare approach the timid girl who was always on the constant guard of her father, Hiashi. Other than that, Tenten would help out in the kitchen, washing rice, vegetables, and on occasion, bring tea to Hizashi after a long day.
Recently, the day of Hinata's third year into this world passed. The members of the Branch family went to celebrate the day while she stayed at the household with the other servants. She waited to greet them when they arrived home, however she fell asleep before the moon hid behind the clouds.
The next morning, Tenten woke up early as always and made her way toward Neji's room. After announcing her presence, the girl pulled the panel ajar and went in. Laying down on the futon, Neji was still sleeping. In the morning light, Tenten could see his forehead was wrapped in white cloth. Her first realization is that someone must have hurt him. Nevertheless, she approach his side and gently shook his shoulder.
"Neji, please wake up." Upon hearing his name, the Hyuuga boy opened his eyes. He immediately shut them when his brain registered the pain on his forehead. His friend had a worry expression on her usually happy face. "Are you okay, Neji?" Sitting up, he felt well enough to answer her.
"I'm fine." Before she could asked him the reason behind the injury on his forehead, Tenten felt another presence in the room and turned her head toward the door. It was Hizashi, watching them. She noticed that his eyes were pained.
"Hizashi-sama," she greeted, lowering her head in respect.
"Father," Neji exclaimed, surprised to see his father so early in the morning.
"Does it hurt, my son?" A smile graced on his face. He didn't want his father to think him as a weak little boy.
"No," he shook his head. "It doesn't hurt as much as last night." Hizashi went over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder as well as Tenten's.
"Neji, remove the bandages." The young boy did as he was told and Tenten watched while Hizashi explained it to her. "This is a mark members of the Branch family have to receive when the heir is three years old." She saw the green image that is now permanent on her friend's forehead and listened in shock. "We all bear this mark to protect the Souke. It is a matter of duty and security." Then, Tenten witnessed the same marking on Neji on Hizashi's own forehead when he removed the headband with the Leaf insignia. They were exactly the same. "As Neji grows up, he too will protect members of the Souke." Though she didn't realize the edge in his voice directed toward the main Hyuuga family, Tenten knew they didn't have a choice to say otherwise in the matter. "Do you understand, Tenten?"
"Yes," she answered, wondering why he was telling her this.
"I hope that as you grow older, you will watch over Neji for me." Tenten gave a smile and looked over at Neji, who was wrapping the white around his head to cover the mark again. "Of course I will, Hizashi-sama. Neji is my friend. I will protect him no matter what."
"That I will keep in my mind, always. Wouldn't you like that, Neji?" The boy nodded, happy that his friend cared so much about him. No one else ever did, apart from his father.
"I would like that very much, Father. I will watch over you too, Tenten," the boy declared with a small smile.
"We can protect each other," her voice rang with joy. With vows echoing within the room, Hizashi rose to his feet with satisfaction in his heart.
"Let's eat breakfast together." Pulling the door open the elder Hyuuga male watched as the two children went ahead of him. In due time, he trust that Tenten would be true to her word. His son would be in good hands and perhaps, he may eventually find happiness, but it was too early to tell.
With a exhale breath, the twin of Hizashi followed the two children down the corridors of the Hyuuga household, listening to their laughter along the way. It made him smile and his heart a little less heavy knowing that they would protect each other when his time comes. He watched the birds fly overhead, aiming toward the white clouds. They looked happy today.
The death of Hizashi brought sorrow in the Bunke household like none other. When Tenten heard the news, she hurried to find Neji but the boy remained missing. He had already seen the body. Though she is beref herself, Tenten pulled herself together, not forgetting the promise she made to her savior. In search of Neji, the auburn haired girl ran down the halls looking for any signs of him. After fruitless minutes that seem to be hours, Tenten finally found Neji alone in the dojo.
Facing the corner, the young boy released his anger upon a dummy, oblivious to her arrival. Tenten felt her own tears slide down her face as she watched him pounded with the pent up frustration of losing his father, whom he loved so dearly. Instead of interrupting him, the girl sat afar listening to his anger, sadness, and confusion as it echoed in the hollow silent room.
She never left his side. And when his body finally reached its limit, Tenten was there to catch his fallen body and guide him back to his room where she tucked him in and blew out the candle.
When Neji awoke in the morning, Tenten was sleeping in a sitting position a few feet from him. Watching her resting figure, he felt comfort to the fact that she helped him back to his room. He was now alone. His father is dead and he had to take care of himself. The main family murdered his father and he was to going to make them pay.
A small jerked movement made by Tenten made his thoughts drift back to her current position. Just looking at her made him uneasy. How can anyone sleep in that position? With the anger forgotten, Neji got up and pulled Tenten into his bed. She was probably cold and his confirmation was made evident when she sneezed. Pulling the covers over her sleeping form and his own, Neji went back to bed. He had to train when there is light out. Beside him, he didn't mind that Tenten was hogging the blankets because she never left his side, and he drifted into slumber without the need to shed his lonely tears. He knew he wasn't alone anymore.
Tenten noticed a change in Neji the moment he asked her to train with him. Of course, being a friend she didn't refuse. Years have past and they were of age to enter the Leaf Academy, a goal that never left her, not even in sleep or wake. Of course, the two were placed in the same class in which Neji insisted Tenten to sit next to him, not wanting to be bothered by other fangirls that regarded him as "cute". He felt insulted and it irked his Hyuuga pride. Nevertheless, Tenten didn't refuse. She was going to sit next to him anyways. Every student around them were from the village and she had never seen so many in a room before. Sure, she had been in the market, the park, and have seen some children her age, but aside from Neji she wasn't familiar with any of them. Though that didn't stop her from making friends.
The most interesting person, or should she say least interesting is Rock Lee, a student who cannot use any ninjutsu or genjutsu even if his live depended on it. Tenten felt sorry for the boy and on occasion would talk to him. He was always the first person on the training grounds and the last person to leave. Neji, however didn't see Lee worth his time and went to the library, leaving Tenten alone while she perfected her accuracy on weapons.
"Why would you even bother helping a loser such as him, Tenten?" The Hyuuga male inquired. It was mid-afternoon and they were walking home together. A servant remained a few yards behind them, acting as a guardian.
"Lee is not a loser, Neji. He actually works really hard. He just needs to practice more on his techniques." Her good nature to connect with people didn't faze him. Tenten is the only person he knows that hold the most compassion toward strangers. "Besides, he's such a goof ball. Someone has to shake some sense into him," she giggled while her mind returned to the memory of Lee chocking down food as fast as he could, wanting to return to training in a hurry. Her friend gave her a scoff, slightly jealous that she would be wasting her time with Lee. "Don't be like that Neji. Tell you what," she skipped ahead of him; gliding backwards, she faced him. They walked in sync. "How about I make dumplings for dinner tonight?" Neji grunted in approval and closed his eyes.
"You better not burn them like last time," he warned while she stuck out her tongue. The boy sent her a smirk. Tenten always made the best dumplings (they were her favorite food) and she would offer to make them occasionally. Once, he ate nothing but her dumplings for a whole week until she got frustrated and vowed never to make them unless there is something to celebrate or when she feels up to it. When he asked her why she would do such a thing, she explained that all of the filling and folding annoyed her especially since she had to do everything herself, three times a day for every single day of the week.
Now, she was offering some to him out of apology, knowing that he already forgive her. Yet, Neji didn't mind eating something is cooked by Tenten, or anything for the matter. Whatever she puts in front of him, Neji would eat it all up without complaint unless it was necessary.
Walking through the village, Neji couldn't wait to get back to the Hyuuga compound. After spending countless hours at the library researching, he was ready to go home and meditate. And besides, he was looking forward to dinner. Maybe he could talk Tenten into making some sesame dango. He knew those were her favorite, too.
Graduating from the academy, Tenten was relieved. After receiving her own Leaf headband, the teacher placed them all on three-man teams. Neji didn't bother with wishful thinking. Instead, he was silent as their instructor read off the names of each team.
"Isn't this exciting, Neji?" The brunette waited patiently beside her friend, listening for her name. It wasn't hard to miss, just two syllables. Upon registration for the academy, she was tempted to put down a surname in the blank box, but decided not to. She had no idea what it is and to put something down otherwise would be lying. Leaving it blank is the best thing to do.
After spending as much time in the library as Neji, Tenten grew fond of reading about shinobi life. The person who caught her interest was Tsunade-hime, the only female of the Legendary Sannin. Although Tsunade is granddaughter of the first Hokage of the village, she is addressed as just Tsunade in many texts which credit her for reinventing three-man teams into four, with the addition member who is a medic nin. It was then, Tenten idolized Tsunade, a strong female shinobi who is able to save and protect her comrades, even on the verge of death. Tsunade is someone who Tenten would one day want to become. She had real goals, dreams, and she doesn't even need a surname.
After hearing countless names being rattled off (she wasn't paying attention), the room was final empty as the other graduates left the room to lunch and to find their rendevous of their assigned Jounin teacher. It wasn't until the last moments, their names were finally called.
". . .team will be Hyuuga Neji, Rock Lee, and Tenten." The pair looked over to the boy with the bowl haircut. Lee was jumping up and down in excitement before coming over to them.
"The loser will only slow us down," Neji glanced at his new teammate, unamused by his antics.
"Neji," Tenten chided softly. "He's just happy. Besides, he graduated that means he has potential."
"Whatever,' he told her, returning to his silence. But inside, Neji was glad that Tenten is on his team. Each team consist of at least one female person. It would be an annoyance if one of the his fangirls were to be his team. He had enough people bothering him. By far, he would still choose Tenten. She didn't drool over him like some lovesick puppy (she doesn't even drool in her sleep). Tenten was different. Perhaps, it was Fate that made it possible for her to be on his team. After all, they've been through a lot together. Now, he had to deal with Lee, who in comparison with the fangirls make no difference. He was chivalrous and annoying, nevertheless at least Tenten would be able to keep him in check.
"Dinner!" Tenten placed down the tray containing two bowls of rice, stir-fried beef and vegetables along with some miso soup, fried fish and her trademark dumplings. Coming out of his mediative state, his bare feet made their way across the dojo floors toward his friend. "Time to eat, Neji-sama," she mocked him. Countless times, she would do this out of amusement. It was their inside joke, almost. Except, Neji didn't find anything funny about having a higher status to his supposed-servant friend. He like things to remain just as their first meeting. Simple, yet pleasant. Besides, it's not like she would listen to him anyways. Tenten had always done things without his permission such as decorate his room with flowers from the garden, organize his closet (he couldn't find his favorite jacket for weeks), rearrange the books on his shelf, and even place wall scrolls on his blank room. They still remain in his room to this very day.
"Tenten," his tone was slightly curt, as if he was scolding at her. The brunette rolled her eyes and proceeded to pass her friend his bowl of rice and a pair of chopsticks.
"Eat up, okay." As always, the two ate dinner while Tenten chattered about her training. "My accuracy is better than any one on our team, even better than yours," she said in triumph, finally beating Neji at something. Being a prodigy, he always beat her at most things and Tenten didn't like losing.
"You never miss a target," he commented her, although he expressed it in a 'I already knew that' kind of tone. She ignored it and gave him a smile, but it slowly formed a thin line.
"Ne, Neji." Her voice whispered. Had he not stop eating, he would have completely miss it. "I was wondering, how long can I stay here? I mean, I am not a Hyuuga and the other servants-"
"Are the other servants harassing you?" He cut her off before she could go on.
"No!" She assures him. "It's just other people think . . ." her voice trailed off. "The servants think that I get special treatment because I'm never scolded, or even punished for not listening to you. You never yell at me and I can wander around the compound as I please. The things they would say-" Her eyes shut in rememberance. "They hurt."
"I will have a word with them-"
"No! You can't! They'll know that I've listened to their conversation about me! I didn't mean to, but every time-"
"Tenten, stop." That shut her up, and turned silent. "You can stay here as long as you like. If it's your decision to leave, then I will not hold you to it." Ever since Hizashi was alive, the former Branch leader created an account for Tenten, saving her earnings as a servant in the household and gathering interest. By now, the amount was enough for Tenten to buy herself an apartment. Tenten knew of this, but she refuses to touch the money in that account unless she needed to buy necessary things such as clothing, weapons, scrolls, and food.
"I don't want to leave here, Neji. This is my home." Neji gave her a nod, and understood her meaning. Ever since she had arrived in Konoha, she considered this village and this compound as her home. Living here, Tenten felt this was the only place she can call home. "I guess I should try being a better servant, ne?"
"Do as you please, Tenten." The Hyuuga male frowned. He never thought of her as a servant, but as a friend. He hated how others make her feel inferior. After dinner, he was going to have a stern talk with the other servants, of course he would keep that to himself. Tenten would be angry at him if he meddled into her affairs. Drawing the conversation into a close, Neji captured the dumpling in his chopticks and placed it in her bowl. "Eat up, we have a mission tomorrow."
"I almost forgot," the kunoichi plucked the dumpling in her bowl and took a small bite. "Hey Neji."
"Yes?" He looked over at her sparkling amber eyes.
"Happy Birthday." A smirk rose to his lips as he shook his head in utter disbelief. "Now we're both thirteen!" Her laughter rang in the big room. The Hyuuga male didn't comment. He knew that Tenten was older than him, though in the past he made a big deal out of it. Boys should always be older than girls. This was the logic his five year old self believed when they were playing "house," especially when they are "married".
Sitting here, Neji didn't protest about age. Having Tenten to cook for him every night, he already felt that they were husband and wife. However, he knew that it was unrealistic. His Fate prevented him from marrying anyone else that was approved by the Hyuuga family. But for now, he ignored that facts, even if it's only pretend.
"Thank you, Tenten." She'd always remember how to make him happy, and that would remain with him for the rest of his life.
Training with Neji was different from anything else. Tenten realized this when he developed a fighting technique from scratch. The secret technique called "Hakkeshou Kaiten" was the ultimate defense. Not even her weapons, no matter how many she threw at him leave a mark on his skin. Sure, Gai-sensei offered his secrets of power to them, but Lee ws the only one who took that offer. For Neji and Tenten, they relied on their own skills and develop them on their own.
A typical training session would consist of a warm up, spar, and finally meditation. Neji really loves his mediation. Tenten, on the other hand loves her weapons more than anything else. This fact remains true when she knocked Neji over in excitment when he gave her a new set of weapons in apology for ruining her old ones. Swords, ranging from dao to tonfa-style swords, axes, scyths, maces, katanas, kunai, shurikens, senbons, it was all there just for her. Tenten loves them so much, she would always carry them, all of them inside the scrolls within her pack. They were never released unless it was for training for she hated to recollect all of them after they are scattered by Neji's chakra.
Today, training was different. After the warm up, Neji would test Tenten on her Taijutsu, a skill she lacked most confidence in. This time, however Neji told her to watch him as he walked over to the open area.
"Tenten, I am going to teach you something very important today." The girl tilted her head to the side, not understanding what he meant.
"I'm going to show you my blind spot." Her eyes widen in surprise. WIthout hesitation, Tenten knew why he was doing this. With an ultimate defense, there was always a glitch. Neji trusted her enough so that she would be able to hide it when that time called for it. They were a team and they would help each other out. The kunoichi did waiver when faced with difficult times and taking up this big responsibility made her feel empowered.
"Let's begin," he said, pulling her back to reality.
"Okay." Neji hid his emotions well. Ever since the death of his father, Neji held up his guard, not letting anyone in. Though she had known him the longest, there was more to his character then he lets on. Tenten kept this in mind as she finally penetrate the wall of chakra, the senbon whistling thickly into his backside. She had found it. For an instant, he stopped and she ran over to him, pulling the senbon out as rapidly as she could. "I'm sorry. Did that hurt?" Observing the bleeding spot, Tenten was relieved to find that Neji moved enough to avoid any vital organs.
"No," his voice strained just a bit. He was going to need a lot of meditation after this. "Good job, Tenten." With that, the girl's beamed in pride after helping her friend rest under the forest of trees.
"No problem," her humor lingered. "Of course, now I know how to beat you!" Tenten giggled, realizing that they both shared secret. "Don't worry, Neji. Your secret is safe with me," she gave him a wink. For moment Neji looked everywhere but her face. He felt heat raise up to his cheeks and turned away, ignoring her sudden affection. Was she trying to flirt with him? "Aww, lighten up, Neji." She punched him on his shoulder. No, she probably had something in her eye. "Let's continue to train, ne?" He was happy to oblige, anything to keep those thoughts of entering his mind.
As the two trained until sun down, Neji had a secret of his own and buried it deep inside his heart. Although love outside the Hyuuga family was unrealistic, it never left his side and she was proof of that. This was his little secret he kept from her. His only secret.
"Hey, did you hear?" They were all on the training ground. Dummies constructed in straw covered with targets. All were maimed with kunai in deadly accurracy. "For the first time in five years, there are going to be rookies this Chuunin Exam." Lee leaned down to stretch his arm muscles. A few feet away, Tenten playfully twirl a sharp kunai.
"No way! It's probably some stubborn Jounins in competition or something," she said. Last year, Gai sensei prevent them from entering the Chuunin exams, knowing fully well how dangerous they were.
"No, the story is that three of them are the students of Kakashi," Lee assured her.
"That sounds interesting." The Hyuuga prodigy opened his eyes, but didn't move from his position.
"But in the end," the kunai in her hand landed a few meters above Neji's head. "You have to feel sorry for them." Her teammates silently agreed before returning to train. The Chuunin Exam was tomorrow and they wanted to be more than ready.
A/N: How do you like my title? I'll give you a cookie if you want to decipher it. This is my version of Neji and Tenten, behind the scenes of the Naruto universe. Seeing how she is always beside Neji (even at the Godaime's Welcome Ceremony), I couldn't help myself. This chapter is long and somewhat boring, but serves only as a prologue. The next one will be better! So, the question is, do you want me to post up the next chapter? Tell me in your review!
Thank you for reading!