Disclaimer: *weeps in her new MinatoKushina corner*

Pairing: Hiashi/Tsume

Summary Notes: I figured I'd better get my act together and put stuff like this up before I disappear for an indeterminate amount of months. This was initially a companion piece/sequel to Fickle Formalities, but it could possibly be a stand-alone. Also my first lemony thing, Jesus.

When the war is over

Got to get away

Pack my bags to no place

In no time, no day

You and I

We used each other's shoulder

Still so young but somehow so much older

"When this is all over, woman, I'm going to marry you."

He remembers the day he spoke those words. So sure, so certain, so final. Or so it seemed.

So young and stupid.

Back in those days, nothing had mattered but them. Team Hyuuga - Inuzuka - Aburame. He supposes that is the way it is with every genin cell; they train together, grow together, share together, laugh, cry and bicker together. In those days of youth, nothing else mattered but each other and the war they were fighting, and the hope that they would see the end of it.

The foolish hopes of the youthful and the untried, so fickle. Yet back then, so strong. They had to be strong, pretend they were invincible, or they wouldn't survive. To falter was to invite death on yourself and your comrades. No matter what horror you saw or darkness was unleashed upon you, you needed to keep that hope burning. For you, for your comrades, for your home. For your village.

But ultimately, that youthful hope led to your downfall. Not literally, but the sudden realisation that life was now what you wanted it to be, and likely never would be...it was a harsh blow, crueller than any punch that could be dealt with the Gentle Fist.

They'd learnt that the hard way. And the ironic thing was that it had not been the loss of comrades or the witnessing of horrors that had brought them down - that had merely aged them, made them experienced. No, it had been something as seemingly insignificant as politics. Family and politics.

Reflecting back on those days, he acknowledges that he was indeed a fool of the grandest kind. If he'd not been, he would never have said those words, would never have dreamed them to come true. He would have acknowledged what the brutal truth was once the war was over, and left well enough alone.

But it was. And she was boisterous and wild and free and so different from what he had grown up in. She was simply her.

Age has hardened him. But he's still a fool.

Because he never did learn to leave well enough alone.

He blinks and looks up, starting slightly when he realises that sometime while he was lost in the midst of his thoughts and memories, she has accosted him. Not that he is unwilling; he would happily instigate what he had started earlier that night once more, and he lets his hands drift to her hips.

She anticipates him mid-grab, though, and he's left blinking rather dumbly for someone of his intellect when she scoots out of reach (oh god, if she just scooted back a little more...horrible, feral woman) and grabs his hands, pinning them above his head. After a moment, he sighs and rolls his eyes, arching a haughty eyebrow at her in a silent demand for explanation.

"You're thinking," she states, "It's depressing me."

He smirks. She narrows her eyes, her grip tightening on his wrists, though they both know if he tried hard enough, he could break her grip. She is so terribly small in his eyes, not the prettiest or the daintiest in Konoha - too many lean angles - but still, every now and again, he catches her in moments where he is reminded of her warmth and fragility underneath that feral persona.

"Well, the current alternative isn't exactly stimulating me to distraction from my thoughts..."

Oh, that annoyed her, and this time, the smirk widens into a smug grin. A small one, but on him, it is indecently rare, and only she and Shibi have ever borne witness to it. It has the intended effect, though, and he finds his mouth being assaulted viciously in revenge, sharp canines nipping his bottom lip hard enough to break skin, but not too bleed. Still, it'll be interesting to explain when he returns to his home in the morning...if anybody has the gall to ask him where he got it from.

And then she settles back against him, and she is not only against him, but around him, with him, in him. He groans and closes his eyes, allowing the shudders of delight to wrack his form as she arches into his hips. He hears the equally guttural sounds of bliss escape her lips, and it spurs his own desire and passion to greater heights again. He would open his eyes, if he could, but he cannot, for he knows that to meet her gaze at this moment would be exquisite agony for both of them. It is far easier, after all, to go about your daily life when you are not haunted by images of eyes upon you, dark with lust and passion and delight, and that other emotion that you dare not speak of.

She has long since released his hands in favour of splaying her hands over the expanse of his chest, but he cannot find it in him to move his hands from above his head just yet. Until that moment, when passion overtakes them and peaks, and then his hands are around her waist, long fingers digging into her lean hips almost desperately just as she leans down to hungrily devour his mouth with her own, muffling both of their cries as they fall into that sweet oblivion.

Later, when their passion and lust for one another is finally sated, he watches her sleep. He watches her sleep, and in those moments (those moments he secretly reminisces on after a long, hard day), he feels that unfamiliar well of emotions bubble up in him, brewing and nipping at his chest in such a way that he feels it might burst.

It's what keeps him awake long after her, those brewing emotions. Because they are not what he should feel, ever, and certainly not for the wild demi-goddess nestled beside him. He is Hyuuga, after all, and clan leader, and Hyuuga and leaders do not allow such volatile feelings to take hold. To do so is weakness.

And yet he still finds himself watching her sleep, his pale eyes surprisingly soft and pensive as they trace every contour of her lean body, every dip and line and curve that, while it not the most beautiful of artworks, is certainly enough to entrance him. He allows himself that vulnerability, that odd tenderness as his gaze roves over her angular face, so deceptively sweet and delicate in slumber.

Once again, it hits him. This woman...this wild, feral, boisterous creation of the gods, is surprisingly easy to love.
She is wild, yes, and feral, and drives half of Konoha up the wall with her rambunctious exploits and inquisitive nature, yet she is still so terribly easy to love. To fall in love with. To want to love. She is the timeless phrase of the book behind the cover, so easy to judge on first impression, yet one would be a fool to judge her on such account.

He stiffens again when she stirs, fearing she has somehow heard his thoughts, worrying that she will open her eyes and see the vulnerability and tenderness normally so carefully disguised, and realise it is her that evokes it.
But she merely sighs and shuffles close to him, her face nestling into the sleek black hair mussed upon his shoulder.

"Chill out, Hyuuga," she mumbles sleepily, "You'll never get to sleep if you're stiff as a board of wood, and I sure as hell ain't got the energy left to de-stiffen the board."

If he was a lesser man, he'd have laughed at her ability to toss in deliberate innuendo even when semi-conscious, but he muffles it, though she can surely feel his chest shaking slightly with the effort. He manages to quash it, however, though his lips twitch, arm tightening around her almost affectionately.

And despite the less than savoury word play, he finds himself falling prey to that strange tenderness and affection he holds for her. It seizes his heart up and controls his tongue, and before he can control it, his mouth is open and his quiet voice is forming words.

"Tsume, I..."

A clawed finger reaches up to press his lips closed, and he feels her sigh almost gently against his skin. She silences him with a single touch, forestalling the words that would land them both in even hotter water than they already are simply by being together, and putting themselves through this. Because despite what they may want, what they want can never be. There is too much in the way.

That is why they can never truly be.

Not in this world. In this life.

So he simply holds her closer, slender hand stroking the warmth of her back absently, playing over smooth skin and rough scars. His cheek finds the spiky softness of her hair, and he allows himself to press the lightest of kisses to it before closing his eyes. He doesn't expect a verbal response from her, though by now, he should know better.

Yet though the words she finally speaks seem meaningless to others, to each other, they carry the weight and wealth of the entire world, for they replace what can never truly be said.

"I know, Hiashi, I know."