CAPT. M. 'Wouldn't be in your shoes for anything that Asia has to
offer.

CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) That just shows your hideous
blackness of soul - your dense stupidity - your brutal
narrow-mindedness. There's only one fault about you. You're the
best of good fellows, and I don't know what I should have done
without you, but-you aren't married. (Wags his head gravely.)
Take a wife, Jack.

CAPT. M. (With a face like a wall.) Ye-essss. Whose for choice?

- The Story of the Gadsbys, Rudyard Kipling


Passion of any sort - but particularly of the sort that affects men and women when they think they need to find a mate - was either the greatest joke of the gods, or the biggest inconvenience they laid in the path of men, or both. This was Hyuuga Neji's opinion, and twenty-three years of life, most of them as a shinobi of Konoha, had done nothing to sway him from it. He allowed that love could be a pleasant thing - he even admitted to feeling it himself, for family and for friends - but that disgraceful state that was called 'being in love' was a fate that, please the gods, he would never have the misfortune to endure.

"It's as if someone had found a tenketsu that shut off rational thinking, and hit it over and over again," Neji would have said if anyone could have convinced him to elaborate. He might have cited the behavior of his peers - Lee and Naruto for Sakura, she and Yamanaka for the Uchiha, his own cousin Hinata for Naruto - for further evidence; and he might have capped it all with a disdainful "hn."

He never did, because no one could quite find the courage to ask him his opinion on the subject; but nonetheless everyone had a fair idea of it.

He placed a much higher value on steadier, less arbitrary virtues such as loyalty, courage, friendship. Love faded and passion burned out - it was much better, and more practical, he said, to base one's relationships on mutual respect, rational admiration, and - if at all possible - experience of each other.

All this - mutual respect, a calm, admiring knowledge of habits and ways, loyalty, courage, friendship and a certain ability to read her expressions - he found in his habitual sparring-partner, Tenten. So when the Hyuuga council of elders began to make noises about his 'eligible age and status' and 'very nice girls they knew', it seemed a very good idea to him that he get married to her.


AN

Hallo all! Here's my latest offering to the altar of Nejiten. Chapters will be probably quite short, but in return I hope to update frequently. And thanks for everyone who's expressed concern about my passport situation - it's resolved but in return I think I lost my PSP over it. I sort of careen from one bit of bad luck to another, I guess. :P