Summary: -AU- How flighty little Yuan Tiang Tiang became Tenten Young the Concert Cellist. (Neji tells Rock Lee that fate has made him a sub-par bass player. Tenten tells Neji he can take his fate and shove it up somewhere that will require a prostate examination to remove it.)
Notes: Written for the LJ community nejiten's Night of Sevens, which is in turn part of nejiten's Festival (of what, I'm not entirely sure—of Awesome?). So three guesses on who the pairing is, eh?
Anyway, the prompt was using the seven major themes from a Chinese myth—those themes being desire, chance, reason, habit, nature, compulsion, and passion, as outlined by my man Aristotle—in any way, shape, or form that also supported the Neji/Tenten dynamic. So me, being, you know, me, went all "Yay, here's my opportunity to once again kind-of sort-of not-really follow a prompt!" So while each of the little vignettes that follow are based on the themes I just listed . . . they may not be the most obvious of creatures. Er. Yeah.
So this basically went from Neji/Tenten SQUEE to Hmm, maybe I could make this a deep/introspective piece to Character study . . . oops, have to throw in Neji/Tenten at the end.
Disclaimer: Now ownage in this corner.
When Tiang Tiang is three years old, she wants to be a ninja. Her parents rather indulgently buy her little rubber kunai and watch as she and neighboring children play at fencing with chopsticks. They are fairly certain Tiang Tiang will grow out of this phase. They are right.
When Tiang Tiang is five years old, she finds her mother's dusty cello in the attic, and she sits beside it for hours, hitting the strings and watching them reverberate like light waves through the musty air.
(All Tiang Tiang needs is this instrument, the noises it makes, the way it bends the air and springs back in a sort of joyful, triumphant shout that makes her ears all but burst.)
Her parents cannot pretend to be delighted when she demands lessons.
(The first time Tiang Tiang plays the cello for real, on a chair, with a bow, making sounds like a dying chicken in the studio of her new teacher, she almost dies from pure excitement.)
They indulge her, but they are fairly certain Tiang Tiang will grow out of this phase.
Everyone exclaims about how Tiang Tiang's father's boss is so kind and understanding, how wonderful it is that the agency needs someone overseas anyway, and thank god that Tiang Tiang's father minored in English when he was at Tai Da. They pat Tiang Tiang on the head and tell her to thank her parents every day in America for fueling her dreams.
The boss isn't particularly kind or understanding, but Tiang Tiang father had threatened to throw a scene, and he didn't have much choice in the matter.
The agency needs someone overseas because the last two men to hold the position of Undersecretary to the Minister have both died under tragic—but purportedly accidental—circumstances.
Tiang Tiang's father did not minor in English. He did not attend Tai Da. He studied music abroad, actually. (His family has a select memory.) But that is a story for a later time.
Everyone exclaims that all of this is a case of the stars aligning, that chance is lighting their path to America, but little ten-year-old Tiang Tiang knows it's more than that. It's fate.
Tiang Tiang is an American citizen for two days.
On the third day, the parents of Yuan Tiang Tiang die in a car crash that is never directly or indirectly linked to international debacle no one wants to talk about. In the resulting fray, someone tells somebody else to make sure the little girl gets home. For the first—and last—time in her short life, Tiang Tiang must be coldly reasonable.
With so much shuffling about, Tenten Young finds it quite easy to convince her temporary guardian to enroll her (permanently) in Shizune's Orphanage for Children, an off-shoot of the Konoha Academy for the Fine and Performing Arts. Yuan Tiang Tiang might have been insipid and flighty, but Tenten Young and reason become fast friends.
(From the day she becomes Tenten onward, she refuses to believe in fate.)
Every morning, Tenten sneaks out of her dorm room at five o'clock to steal the best practice room in Konoha's music wing. Although the orphanage is part of the academy on paper, only five students from every year are allowed entrance, and only hard work and musical perfection guarantee that they stay.
Tenten is practicing Tchaikovsky to the metronome in her head when she first hears it. The melody, twining through the practice room, jars her from herself and back into the world. It is the most frighteningly beautiful violin she has ever heard in her fourteen years.
She starts sneaking out at four o'clock, so she still has two hours to practice. For that last hour, she sits and she listens, and occasionally she has to leave. (But mostly, Tenten feels.)
Eventually, she meets the violinist. His name is Neji Hyuuga.
When Tenten and Neji are put in the same practice group, the reaction that follows is akin to mountains colliding. They cannot agree on anything; Neji is a firm believer in strict interpretations of the music, Tenten in more liberal improvisation. Neji likes Bach and Mozart. Tenten likes Vivaldi and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Neji likes practicing in the morning but prefers practicing at night. Tenten refuses to practice after dinner.
(Neji tells Rock Lee, the third member of their practice group, that fate has made him a sub-par bass player. Tenten tells Neji he can take his fate and shove it up somewhere that will require a prostate examination to remove it.)
Lee puts in a request for a senior tutor in the hope for divine intervention, and they get Maito Gai.
(The only thing Tenten and Neji agree on—Maito Gai is batshit insane.)
At the six-month check-in, when Maito is asked how the two more volatile members of his practice group are getting along, he replies with a slightly smirking, "The fires of their youth are complementary but burn brightest when in confrontation," which no one quite understands but gives a sort of half-nod of vague comprehension to anyway.
Neji and Tenten's first (and, they insist, last) collaboration is the composition of their graduation piece. Lee, always willing to be agreeable, hands them the blank sheet music and steps out of the way.
To everyone's surprise, most of all their own, Tenten and Neji compose very well together. What Tenten lacks in technical expertise she makes up for by bending a few of the rules that Neji is too rigid to do himself, and something strangely akin to contentedness drifts back into Practice Room 13.
(When Temari Sabuko over in Drawing and Comp makes the mistake of calling Tenten an illiterate immigrant, she finds her jars of oil paints full of violin resin. But that is neither here nor there.)
When Neji and Tenten present Gai and Lee with copies of their final draft, it is agreed overall that Tenten and Neji have some kind of minor genius when it comes to composition. Having written a great many pieces separately already, Tenten and Neji are already somewhat aware of this. They just hadn't realized the need to constantly keep each other in check would reflect so nicely on the page.
The piece, called Compulsions, is played to a thundering ovation at the graduation concert.
(Afterwards, Neji introduces her to his uncle, and when the uncle says, "Tenten," in an emotionless voice but nevertheless keeps eye contact as he firmly shakes her hand, Tenten kind of sort of maybe knows where this is going.)
When Neji and Tenten play Compulsions at Madison Square Garden ten years later as the final stop on their nation-wide tour, the reviewer from The New York Times becomes infamous amongst the Konoha Academy graduates for declaring, in print, that they "displayed a passion that not only bordered sexual but quite clearly crossed over into the realm of physical lust and thus managed to underscore the buried longing that Compulsions only hints at as notes on the page."
Lee quotes the passage at their wedding reception, all the while loudly insisting that he knew from his first day as a member of practice group 13 that Neji and Tenten were secretly pining for each other.
(Tenten Hyuuga grins into her champagne glass and doesn't contradict him.)
I'm starting to think I am physically incapable of writing anything other than AU for Naruto. I really am.
At any rate--thoughts?