A/N: Wow, I update fast, huh? Is it me, or does no one really want to read this canon anymore? I'm serious. Is everyone sick and tired of Naruto? I have so few hits, it's like all of the readers disappeared! Where have you all gone?
This chapter is dedicated to:
Tenten and Neji are both thirteen in the beginning and this chapter halts when they just shy of fourteen. This is after Naruto leaves for his training with Jiraiya and before the three year time skip. Oh, another thing: they do not date during this time-in-between, ever. Keep that in mind!
Started: Thursday, August 14, 2008
Draft Finished: Saturday, August 16, 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 strives to be at his side, whether he likes it or now. 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.
Acceptance was very hard to find, especially within the Hyuuga compound. The people around us would never cease to remind us the reality that Neji and I cannot be together. Of course, their feeble attempt to drive our friendship apart, the one we have build since childhood, rendered useless. Before I knew it, I found that time can very well be your enemy. Childhood memories, dreams, and wishes came to a halt when you become a shinobi. Years pass, and I realized that we are not children anymore. We have both grown into more mature human beings with high standards, morals, goals, and aspirations. Yet, apart of me would never forget the precious moments of our younger years. Sure, we were ignorant to the world around us, but that didn't make our childhood experience any less worthwhile. No matter how much I wanted, we couldn't go back to ways things were. You'd have to grow up sometime and the present was the best place to start.
Rumors had a tendency to travel far beyond the walls of the Bunke household toward the Souke. Whether it was orally through maids, servants, or idle chatter, Hiashi heard them all. What interested him the most was that all of the rumors revolved around his nephew Neji and a certain servant named Tenten, who happen to be a member of his Genin team. At first, Hiashi merely set the issue aside. It was only natural for comrades to be fond of each other, sometimes overprotective. However, this issue did not leave his mind when he asked Neji to attend a formal dinner in the rejoice in the rebuilding of Konoha. At the invitation, Neji had a request of his own and that was for Tenten to accompany him.
The clan leader did not pass up the opportunity to meet with the young female that had the servants submit to such lowly tactics as to get rid of her. Furthermore, it was his twin brother that adopted the girl to be a servant, a fact he had not known until very late in the dinner that evening.
The dinner was nothing more than a presentation of wealth and power put together by the main household. Special preparations were made so that every detail met the upmost requirement of the Hyuuga elders. Hiashi himself made sure everything was going according to plan from managing the kitchen staff to decorations in the main reception room. Now all they need were the guests.
It wasn't surprising to know that both houses were invited for the light of the event. Every member arrived dressed in their best garments, all excited to attend and celebrate what seemed to be a peaceful gathering without strings attach. Politics were strictly kept out of conversations and Hiashi was firmed about it.
Among the first to arrive were the Hyuuga elders. Then, Neji showed up with his partner by his side. The moment they stepped through the door, the entire room had their full attention on them. Poised with her head held in a highly manner, the auburn female walked in sync with his nephew. Her hand rests calmly on his arm while a small but nervous smile radiate on her sun-kiss face. Dressed in elegant indigo robes, his aged eyes did not miss the golden threads of chrysanthemum flowers that heighten her simple beauty. Indeed, she was a sight among them, possessing large hazel orbs that contrast their own blood limit trademark of pale-colored eyes. The twin of Hizashi didn't have to be psychic to know what everyone was thinking at that time. The two could have easily been marked as a couple by untrained eyes.
"Hiashi-sama." Both Neji and Tenten bowed their heads at the same time, showing their respects to the clan leader. "This is Tenten," the prodigy inclined his head toward the brunette beside him.
"We are honored that have invited us into your home," she said, though he could tell that the words were forced. Her firm grip on Neji's arm, however did raise a few eyebrows, nevertheless his nephew didn't seem to mind.
"My pleasure," Hiashi cleared his throat before the servants showed them to their seats, which they both were more than happy to oblige.
If anything, Neji knew that Tenten hated attention, especially when it was from every other member of the Hyuuga family, both houses included. After sitting on the tiny cushion, Tenten adjusted herself accordingly, releasing the nervous grip on his arm. She was careful, spreading the silk from under her so that they would not wrinkle. Then, out of paranoia and to get her mind off of the fact that people were staring at her, the kunoichi started to arrange Neji's outer layer of robes as well. It was either that or cripple her teammate's arm, which she would rather not do even if he was the very reason why she's in this current predicament.
"Tenten, this is only a formal dinner, not a war conference," the Hyuuga told her when he looked down. Through the silk fabrics, he could see that she had concealed weapons strapped to her thigh. Leave it to Tenten to be prepared.
"Just in case. It's better to be safe than sorry," she gave him a wink and a smug smile. He found it odd she would act so smoothly, a few minutes ago, she was ranting until his ears wanted to bleed. "So, Neji," the tone of her voice was casual as if the whispers around them were mere white noise. "Why did you pick this color for my robes?" Her brow lifted up in amusement. "Is pink too distracting?" Then, she giggled slightly, covering the lower half of her face with her sleeves.
"No," he simply answered her, aware that his ears were heating up. "It was the only color they have in such short notice." The lie came out easily. He had those robe made a week in advance, in which he had chose the colors himself.
"Right," Tenten rolled her eyes. "But you never know, pink might actually look good on you." The servant came over to their table and poured white tea into their porcelain cups. Looking around the room, she saw that many members of the Hyuuga family, especially the males did not falter to keep their eyes off her. Neji, too took notice and sent silent glares across the room. "You know, I'm not the only one they're staring at," she referred to the females around them. Among Hinata and Hanabi, the other female members of the Hyuuga clan stole quick glances at him despite his stoic behavior toward them.
"Not interested," Neji informed his teammate as the food was set on their table.
"Aww, don't be like that," the weapon mistress teased. "I bet they just want to get to know you, with you being a prodigy and all." Her eyes lit up in amusement. "This is like a family reunion." This time, her friend gave her a skeptically look. With the stuffy atmosphere, it was nowhere near the 'family' sense, nor familiarity. "Okay, scratch that," she laughed after checking the temperature of her tea.
"If this is a family reunion, that would mean that you are my wife," the words came out smoothly from his lips.
"What?" Tenten exclaimed half-heartily, accustomed to that word since she had no problem using endearments when they once played "house" in their youth. "As if," she scoffed while memories flooded back. "You'll make a lousy husband, Neji. I remember one time you refused to kiss our children good night." The prodigy's left eye twitched.
"You wanted me to kiss a dirty pinecone that you picked up from the ground," he reminded her. "It was wrapped in dead leaves."
"You could have at least pretended!" Neji ignored her mock anger until she raised her hand and patted him on the shoulder. "You have much to learn, young one," With that, she giggled, slightly recalling his young logic that the husband was always suppose to be older than the wife.
"Hn." He turn his glance away from Tenten and the two were silent while Hiashi presented his speech.
The food was simple, yet arrangement and preparation was beyond comparison. Vegetables were cut in delicate floral shapes and the meat, poultry, and fish were arranged in such a way that it would be rude to ruin it. Nevertheless, Tenten and Neji ate what was on their plate never minding the critical eyes that lingered upon them. Of course, the two have perfect table etiquette. They slurped quietly when eating noodles, chewed with their mouth closed, and never set their elbows on the table.
It didn't take long for Hiashi to notice their mannerism as well as their personality that seemed to balance each other. They were quite fitting. What caught his eye was the way his nephew acted when others showed interest in his partner during the evening. Nevertheless, they were young, their mind have not yet fully matured to realize what the future would hold in store for them. In the time being, Hiashi planned to keep his observations in the dark, knowing that one day Neji would eventually come to his senses. After all, marrying anyone outside of the Hyuuga family was a taboo, especially if that person was a servant.
Her hand brushed through the dark tangled hair and she frowns at its shortness. Brows furrowed, Tenten decided to try a different approach and grabbed another handful of the long locks before setting it down again. She sighed and raked her fingers along the scalp, pulling gently at the strands.
"I don't get it!" She exclaimed. "How can your hair grow that fast?" Neji, who sat down with a mirror in front of him gave her an irritated look. The length of his hair was now a little past his shoulders, the same length as her own.
"For the eleventh time, Tenten. I don't know. Perhaps-"
"You are a mutant," she accused him, pointing a finger toward his nose as if the dramatic gesture would make him confess. Neji glared at her.
"Can you just wash my hair like you are suppose to?" He would do it himself but he couldn't afford to get his bandages wet. If Tsunade found that he was disobeying her orders, there was hell to pay. The Hyuuga was under strict orders to keep his bandages dry for at least three days after being dismissed from the hospital. It was either that, or stay in the hospital for another week, which he was sick of considering he was bedridden for two straight weeks.
"Fine, Neji-sama," the kunoichi gave up torturing him and proceeded to lather his head with good smelling shampoo. After rising, conditioning, and drying it the pair returned to Tenten's room where she happily push him down onto his seat. "Now, sit." Turning around to find the necessary items, Tenten didn't waste time to grab what she needed. Neji, on the other hand, looked like he was going to jump out the window. How did he ever agree to this? Oh yeah, because he was a 'nice person', according to his childhood friend. "This is not going to hurt, trust me." In a few moments, Neji's hair was tied into two buns just like her own. With her hands on her hips, she examined her work and broke into a laughing fit. "You look so girly!"
"All right, time's up," he reached up to grab the rubber bands out of his hair when Tenten stopped him.
"NO! I didn't get a picture of you yet!" Picture? When did he- "Say cheese!" A flash appeared before his eyes and he had to blink to adjust his blurred vision.
"Tenten, give me that camera," he growled dangerously.
"Make me!" The girl hid the camera behind her.
"Tenten," he sounded angry, or tried to.
"Come on, this is the first time I've seen your hair like this!"
"It will be the last, I assure you." Once again, his hands went up to his head. Without thinking, Tenten went over to him and slapped his hands away from ruining her handiwork until Neji grabbed her wrist. The next moment, Tenten was pinned to the ground with Neji on top of her.
"Hey, a deal's a deal."
"We didn't have a deal."
"Yes, we did," she protested. "The deal was that if I wash your hair, you'll let me put your hair in buns."
"You didn't specify how long." The weapon mistress cursed under her breath.
"At least let me keep the photo," Tenten pouted.
"No," reaching up, Neji ripped the camera from her tight grip. He thought he was going to get away when his friend suddenly brought her knee to his stomach.
"Oops," she mocked before pulling weapons from nearby to pin him to the wall. They were in her room after all. The spar between them didn't last that long until she came up with different plan of action. "How about you be a good gentleman and give me the camera, in return I won't," the mischievous glint was in her eyes, "develop this film," she up the roll in victory.
"Why do you want the camera when you already have the film," Neji questioned her logic. For all he know, she could run out the door now. He thought for a bit before responding. His reputation (or what was left of it) was on the line. "Fine. We meet in the middle," he negotiated. The pair moved slowly toward the center of the large room, keeping eye contact with each other the whole time. "On the count of three." Steady hands reach toward middle, one holding a weapon and the other a camera. With lightening quick reflexes, Neji pushed the camera into Tenten's hand and at the same time hooked the back of her leg, causing her to lose her balance. The kunoichi landed on her back, arms immobile above. But as quick as he, Tenten had a plan of her own. The second Neji was close enough, she pushed forward and pressed her lips against him. In his shock, she slid from under him, grabbing the camera with her.
"I win!" Tenten cheered. Neji, on the other hand realized that his friend had tricked him, and above all, she kissed him! Why would she- And another flash blinded him. "I think I'm going to call this one, 'Neji, after the kiss'." Her hands moved in midair as if the words would project to him. "You look so adorable!" Then, it was too late. Interrupting her moment of gloating, Neji reached his senses and tackled his sparring partner to the ground. This time, he showed no mercy. Without warning, he slammed his lips onto her own. Tenten's body froze from under him.
"I think I'll call this, 'Just Tenten'." He smirked, and he dove down to claim her lips once again. The film and camera was left forgotten on the floor.
"Neji, put me down!" The kunoichi ordered, pounding her fists on her teammate. Her efforts were in vain as the Hyuuga male ignored her and advanced forward through the forest. "I can walk on my own! It's just a sprained ankle!"
"This is for your own good, Tenten." With her weight barely weighing him down, Neji went ahead and increased his speed. Over the clearing, he could see signs ahead. "There is a village nearby." His companion grunted in frustration and defeat, slumping her body onto his back and shoulders while she hung her arms loosely around his neck. "We can rest here a while if you want."
"Fine," she grumbled. Anything was better than having your comrade carry you all the way home. She wasn't some weak girl who cannot manage to walk home after hurting her ankle from dodging an attack made by an assassin. Their mission was to retrieve a secret scroll, which at the moment was being taken back to Konoha by Lee and Gai. From the start of the mission, they tried to go undercover, but in the end targets were sent to collect the highly priced scroll as well. As a result, combat broke out until Neji finished the job.
Setting Tenten down on a stool, Neji gestured the waiter to take their order. They were in a noodle shop. Looking over the menu, chocolate orbs quickly skimmed down the restaurant's tasteful but fast food items.
"I'll have a large bowl of sui gow mein and a large wanton mein with thick noodles and fish balls, an order of fried tofu, gai-lan in oyster sauce, sliced barbeque pork, cha siu bau, and dan tat!" The brunette declared when she set down the menu. The waiter looked at her with disbelief while Neji shook his head. Tenten had always been passionate about Chinese food.
"A-are you sure?" The poor boy stood writing down the names of her order.
"Oh, a two glasses of dong lai cha, please!" A big smile erupted on her face. Noticing the look the waiter was giving her, she assured him that all the food was for Neji and herself. Apparently, she had forgotten her embarrassment of Neji giving her a piggy back ride.
"Why order so much?" The prodigy inquired when he read the contents of the menu which his friend barely looked at before ordering.
"Because," Tenten reached over and grabbed a pair of chopsticks, rubbing them against the napkins that were on the table. "I suffered a whole week without my Chinese food, plus I'm injured! I just want to enjoy some nice, homemade, authentic, Chinese food!" She passed a pair to Neji, setting it down beside him. The waiter came back and present them with the dong lai cha, which was cold milk tea. Immediately, the auburn haired girl took a big long sip. "Drink up!" Neji tried his drink and before long, he emptied it. "Another two glasses!" She waved over at the poor waiter, who came toward them in a rush.
After a few moments of waiting, their food came steaming hot. A bowl of sui gow mein was set in front of Tenten. Sui gow were dumplings filled with pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, and fungi. The wanton mein, a bowl filled with thick noodles and dumplings with pork filling, shrimp, and fungi was placed in front of Neji. Each bowl also had plump white fish balls floating in the broth. Along with them, gai-lan, known as Chinese kale was topped off by brown oyster sauce and minced garlic, thinly sliced barbeque pork, cha siu bau (white buns filled with the same pork), and dan tat, which were egg custard tarts crowded their table.
Placing a teaspoon of chili sauce in her broth, Tenten lifted the food into her mouth. Beside him, Neji stiffened when he heard her moan. The food must be good. Then, digging in, the Hyuuga plucked the dumpling into his mouth. It was delicious. Soon, their bowls were empty and they polished off the side dishes and finished with dessert.
"That was so good, I don't care if I don't ever walk again!" Tenten exclaimed while she stretched only to find that her body isn't ready to move yet. Neji looked over and examined her. Then, without thinking, he touched the corner of her lip to remove a flake of the egg custard tart that was stuck on there. "Thanks Neji." He only grunted in response before holding a napkin to her face.
"Are you ready to leave, now?" He almost chuckled at the expression she gave him.
"Hello! Full stomach," she pointed at her adominal that was slightly risen. "Let's just sit here and enjoy ourselves, ne?" The waiter came to their table with their check, which Neji pass back without even bothering to look at before handing the boy more than enough.
"There is no need to return the change," the Byakugan wielder told him. Tenten rolled her eyes and rested her chin upon her open palms. Coming from a privilege family, Neji was far from spoiled. He always work hard for his earnings and did not fail to reward people for their well-mannered services.
"Did I cash you out for the entire week?" Neji shook his head. "Good, because I would feel bad if I did, Neji-sama." The girl in buns stuck out her tongue childishly, ignoring the glare from her teammate. "Thanks for the food though!"
"No problem." Tenten took a look around the restaurant filled with regular customers and happy couples. How she envied their interaction. Living in the Hyuuga household, she was constantly being judged. Outside of the walls, the only companionship she had was her teammate Lee and her teacher. Occasionally, she would bump into the rookies in the market, other than that, Neji remains to be her closest friend. "What are you thinking?" Amber orbs met his gaze.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just wondering what it would be like to be normal," she gestured at the family eating noodles. The little girl opened her mouth as the mother fed her with a spoonful of broth and dumplings. Neji observed the scene that unfold before her. Automatically, he asked her a question.
"Would you like to have children one day?" Tenten tilted her head to the side.
"Of course," she beamed, clasping her hands together. "I want a little boy and a girl. I would spoil them with clothes, dress them up in little cute outfits, booties, and everything!" The brunette remembered one time when they had to babysit a client. Though that kid was totally spoiled, she kept her cool when inside, she wanted more than anything to strangle the brat. Despite that, it didn't stop her from wanting to be a mother. "I'll teach them how to be good human beings and if they want, I will train them."
"What about the father?" Neji crocked an eyebrow.
"He can train them too," she waved it off as if she would do a better job. "Besides, I have to find him first! What about you, Neji?"
"Eventually, I will have children when the time is right."
"How many do you want?" She asked so innocently, he didn't have the heart to narrow his eyes at her in suspicion.
"A boy, naturally."
"Just one?" Tenten held up a finger to emphasize her friend's calculation. "Why not two?"
"If it's necessary," he said. The weapon mistress cringed. Obviously he wants an heir.
"Well, I think it's better to have two so that the older sibling will have someone to play with!" Instead of answering her, Neji turned his head to the side. "I bet you are going come to your senses when your wife nags you for another child," she teased him. Her teammate threw her a smirk.
"Is that so?" Crossing his arms, the look on his face convey that she was challenging him to something.
"Yeah!" Slamming her hands on the table, she towered over him. "I will make you regret the day you deny your wife of another child," she declared. Suddenly, it was quiet. When Tenten turned around to see what caused this, she found the entire restaurant of people staring at her. Straight at her, frozen on the spot. Women covered the ears of their children as if what just came out of her mouth was taboo. Tenten choked out a laugh and apologize for disturbing their dinner, fuming in her seat when she sat down. Did she just announce to the entire roomful of people that wanted Neji to get her pregnant? She banged her head against the table and looked up at Neji with hatred in her eyes. "This is your fault!"
"It's not my fault you decided to shout-"
"I didn't shout!" Once again, the attention were on these two until someone yelled out, 'Get a room!' It made Tenten's cheeks even more red, adding to the flush tint from her embarrassment.
"Let's go home," Neji suggested, holding out his hand. Being stubborn, Tenten refused him and walked ahead, her ankle fully healed.
"I'm going to make sure your household is filled with loud, crying, babies, more than enough to drive you crazy!" She huffed.
"Is that a promise?" The door slammed shut behind him.
"Yes!" Following his teammate, Tenten had no idea how much she amused him. The idea of having children didn't occur to him since he was so focused on training and surpassing ranks to achieve the best in life. Yet, part of him wished that all of what they had discuss today could become true. He wouldn't mind becoming a father, protecting his offspring from the ugly world. However, before he can even think of having children, he had to get pass an obstacle first, and that was not to find the mother of his children but to escape the Hyuuga household. For her, he would do anything to make her dreams come true, even if everything seem to go against him.
A/N: Just reading the last story made me feel hungry. Naturally, sui gow mein is my favorite whenever I eat noodles. You can probably guess what kind of Asian I am. LoL. What is your favorite Chinese food? If you answer any Americanized "Chinese food" like General Zhao's Chicken, Beef and Broccoli stir-fry, Orange Chicken, then I might forgive you (if you review)!
Thank you for reading!