This is an idea I received a few days ago, and I've been writing it ever since.
It started out as a one-shot for Vicissitude and kind of . . . came alive and bit me in the face.
So this could go any certain way story-wise. I don't know when I'll be ending it, or even exactly how the plot will develop, but we'll see.
Well, I hope all of you are enjoying what's left of summer.
If you're already back in school (like me) I hope you're having a good time and not getting too stressed about homework. :)
By the way, the title definition: an illicit sexual relationship.
Disclaimer: M. Kishimoto and Shonen Jump own this. I'm just borrowing without telling. :O
Neji had been invited to a meeting of the Elders by way of Hiashi.
And he was wary.
For what reason did they have to invite him?
Unless . . . unless it was him they wanted to talk about.
Neji's eyebrows knitted together, wary.
"Ah, Neji," Hiashi greeted upon his entry.
Neji wearily glanced around, looking at all of the Elders in turn.
"Sit down," instructed Neji's grandfather.
Neji obeyed, carefully lowering himself next to his uncle, looking back at the Elders suspiciously.
"What's all this about?" Neji asked, unable to stay silent anymore.
His grandfather and the other Elders considered him, sizing him up.
"We have some news. . ."
Neji's grandfather's eyes flitted to his son.
"Hiashi, why don't you explain."
Neji heard Hiashi take a big breath.
"Neji, since you turned twenty-one last month, the Elders . . . and I have been discussing your future."
Neji swallowed, growing increasingly nervous.
"And?" Neji prompted, his voice level.
"We've . . . decided that you're ready for . . . for, well, a marriage."
Neji sent his uncle a sharp look, then darted back to his grandfather.
"Pardon?" he stammered.
"We're arranging a marriage for you, Neji," clarified his grandfather, cutting to the chase. "There's been some . . . concern that since you are so skilled in taijutsu that any offspring you produce with a non-Hyuga, they would not be able to receive the same abilities. Byakugan is a dominant trait in the Hyuga DNA. But if you reproduced with anyone but a Hyuga. . . there is a chance that the child will not have Byakugan, which you know is necessary to do the Hyuga taijutsu. We do not wish to take any chances."
"You're saying that you will not be giving me the liberty of choosing my own wife?"
The Elders did not say anything, just stared back at him.
"And that you're doing this because if not, my . . . child will not be a Byakugan user and if that, not even a true Hyuga?"
Again, the staring.
"Neji," Hiashi eventually began, "this is for the good of the clan. You are one of the most skilled Hyugas to ever come out of the clan. It is . . . vital that we take advantage of the situation."
"And me," Neji interjected. "This is not fair to me."
"Life is not fair, Neji," his grandfather reminded. "And you are at our disposal, are you not?"
Neji's nostrils flared in anger.
"You can't do this! You can't do this to me!"
Hiashi put a hand on Neji's shoulder to calm him down.
Neji jerked away, standing in a swift motion.
"I refuse," he boldly told them.
"Then we will subject you to the curse mark we bestowed."
Neji's gaze bore into his uncle and the other Elders.
Someone shifted at the corner of Neji's eye.
But before he could turn to pinpoint who it was, he fell to his knees heavily, his head throbbing agonizingly.(1)
Neji slammed his fist into the tatami mat, crying out from the extreme torment.
To his left, Neji heard a faint shout, angry.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the stabbing pain began to ebb slightly, softening to a migraine.
His vision was fuzzy and he blearily located his grandfather, glaring.
"Neji, please," Hiashi pleaded, eyes reading pity.
Neji flinched at the close noise.
He scanned the Elders, his brain and eyes protesting at the simple movement.
He looked his uncle in the face.
"Who is she?" Neji croaked, cradling his splitting head.
"Neji, is that you?"
Neji sighed, his hand bracing against the wall for support.
"Yes," he called back, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose.
Her footsteps altered, tapping impatiently against the linoleum in the kitchen.
A cabinet opened and some clanging resounded in the small house.
Neji stole another breath before pushing off the wall and treading down the hallway, entering the kitchen.
"TenTen," he murmured softly.
"Hey, so, I decided to make lasagna. And I know you don't like spicy food and all, but I made it this really weird way so hopefully it'll be alright—!"
TenTen turned and glanced at him over her shoulder.
"What?" she asked.
"I have something to tell you," Neji informed soberly.
TenTen suspiciously looked him over before she stopped arranging pots and pans, devoting full attention.
"What is it?" she inquired, watching him carefully.
He swallowed, clenching his fist.
"The Elders have . . . decided that I am old enough now to get married."
TenTen's eyebrows shot up, disappearing behind her bangs.
"Really?" she said, sounding surprised and confused.
TenTen squinted, analyzing.
"Neji, you're only twenty-one. Why are they. . . ?"
"An arranged marriage, TenTen," Neji continued, words coming out in a rush.
TenTen tried hard not to let her face fall, but Neji saw through it.
"Why? Who?" TenTen asked, her voice heavy.
"The Elders are concerned that if I marry someone without the Hyuga DNA, that a child I have will not have Byakugan."
TenTen crossed her arms, holding herself tightly.
"Who is it?" she gruffly queried, brown eyes wide and sad.
"She's a third cousin."
"You're marrying your cousin?! Neji, that's incest, for Kami's sakes!"
"TenTen," Neji said with a sigh, his tone begging. "Please."
Bristling, TenTen turned away from him, shaking her head.
Silently, Neji came up behind her, grasping her shoulders to turn her around.
Fast tears dropped from TenTen's eyes, her face otherwise emotionless.
"I never wanted this for us. You know that," Neji muttered, smoothing down her hair.
TenTen lightly bit her lip and reached up, her hand resting on Neji's shoulder as she fingered strands of his hair.
Neji caught her eye.
"It's not your fault, Neji. . ."
Neji frowned and leaned forward, putting his face in her hair.
"I'm sorry," he said again.
TenTen soundlessly hugged him, her chin on his shoulder.
She loved him, that much was obvious.
But apparently, that wasn't enough.
TenTen blinked away anymore tears.
- 13 years later -
TenTen pursed her lips, impatient.
If they would just hurry up and complete the damn exercise, they could be eating lunch.
TenTen's brown eyes flitted over her students.
Only to see one of them cheating.
"Hayato!" shouted TenTen, hands on her hips as she strode over to the three.(2)
The twelve-year-old's face crumpled in guilt as he shot a look at his sensei.
"Sorry," he glumly apologized.
"But in my defense, you made it too hard for us, sensei! No one could beat that thing!"
"I could," TenTen shot back, raising a dark eyebrow in his direction.
Hayato threw her a baleful look.
"Didn't I tell you before?" she prompted, taking in all three of them. "This is an exercise where you need to work together, not individually."
TenTen earned a glance from Noriko, who looked skeptical.(3)
"Trust me," TenTen assured. "You can do this. Now try again."
Grudgingly, her proteges moved back into their stances.
TenTen's gaze strayed to her last pupil, his Byakugan eyes activated.
It was easy to see the relation between him and his father.
The long hair. . . the eyes. . . even the personality, somewhat.
At least Kohaku's more lighthearted, TenTen thought, a small smile appearing.(4)
TenTen ran a hand through her hair, tired.
She'd gotten little sleep last night. . . not that she'd minded. . .
TenTen's head snapped to see all three of her students, panting and past the exercise she'd set up for them.
Hayato boldly grinned, his face sweaty.
TenTen smiled a little.
"Alright. Go have lunch . . . and you know what, I'll give you the rest of the day off too."
Hayato cheered at the opportunity, already taking off.
He threw a glance over his shoulder, locating his teammates.
"Hey! Come on, you two! Ichiraku awaits!"
"Hey, Sensei! You can come too!"
TenTen met Hayato's cheerful eyes.
"No, thanks. I have some errands and things to run."
"Ah, come on, Sensei! You could treat us!"
TenTen smiled again, but shook her head to decline once more.
"Alright then. Hurry up, Kohaku, Noriko! I'm hungry!"
Noriko slightly quickened her stride, grumbling.
Kohaku was more hesitant and careful, always cautious.
TenTen was packing up her things when she realized Kohaku was still there, silent as ever.
"Go on, Kohaku," she encouraged.
Kohaku ignored her words, thoughtfully considering her.
"Sensei," he began, "why didn't you ever get married? My father got married. . . The Sixth and Shikamaru-sensei. But not you."
TenTen felt taken aback by the simple question, her eyes widening.
It was almost comical, if she wanted to consider it, but . . . in such a simple context, TenTen was afraid that she felt victimized.
Had his mother put him up to this?
TenTen met Kohaku's eyes and realized that no, it was merely a simple question.
And she felt obligated to give an answer.
"I suppose I never found the right person," she whispered, tears almost coming to her eyes.
Piteously, Kohaku looked his sensei over before treating her to a small smile.
TenTen smiled back.
But the world could see that her heart was not in it.
"Your son asked me an interesting question today."
Curious, Neji ran his thumb along the perimeter of her wrist.
"What was it?"
TenTen bit the inside of her cheek.
"He asked me. . . He asked me why I'd never gotten married."
Neji was quiet and it made TenTen uneasy.
She twisted around to look at him.
His eyes revealed nothing, leaving TenTen with lacking information.
She turned back, away from him.
"It just surprised me, is all," she murmured.
She blinked, growing lethargic.
After several moments, just as she was about to fall asleep, Neji spoke, his deep tone resonating through her.
Absently, TenTen found his hand, tracing the familiar skin.
"It's all right, Neji. I've long since grown used to it anyway."
Her words resounded in his mind ages after she'd fallen asleep.
(1) Guys, when the curse mark is activated on branch members, it's killing some of their brain cells. . . So yeah, that's what's happening to Neji.
(2) Hayato means "falcon" and "person".
(3) Noriko means "law, rule" or "code, ceremony" combined with "child".
(4) Kohaku means "amber". I wanted to use the pattern of a sun-oriented theme like with most Hyugas, but I just liked this particular name too much. :D
Dramatic first chapter. . .
Eh. I don't know. . . I hate the ending bit for sure. Feels like I was trying too hard. . . Hm.
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