A/N: I'm so not sure about this chapter. It didn't turn out as well as I wanted it to at the end. Last chapter was fun. This one will be even more difficult for me, but it is something I've always wanted to do. Hopefully, I can pull it off.
For the record, I love Hiashi. I don't believe a lot of what the fandom does of him. Just so we're clear.
World of Dreams
"Damn it!" TenTen growled as her keys clattered to the floor, slipping out of her hand before she'd successfully gotten them into the lock. Annoying as this was, it was made worse by the fact that her arms were full of bags of groceries, and bending down to reach them would crush her bread. She could bend down at her knees, but would she be able to get the keys without putting the groceries on the floor and opening up a way for a mouse or other foul creature to get into her apartment?
She was trying very hard to get all those things out, complicated by the fact that she wasn't sure whether or not she was supposed to touch chemicals and she was playing on the safe side for now. The last thing she needed was more of the buggers sneaking into her apartment.
Putting more weight on her right leg and trying to balance the groceries on the other as she bent into the best crouch she could manage, and most definitely not thinking about how bad this hurt her back or how this was going to be impossible when she had groceries and two screaming kicking infants, or even when her stomach was swollen a hundred times its usual size, TenTen struggled to grasp her keys.
And she was very surprised when a much larger hand closed around them, pulling them away.
"Hey, what's the big idea? You jerk," brown eyes followed along the worn brown carpet to the hand now lifting her keys, and followed it up to the face behind it. White eyes, dark skin with jet black hair, a face like Neji's but harder, more masculine, more care worn. She had only seen that face a few times, but she knew it immediately, and her mouth fell open in shock. "Hi-hiashi-sama. I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you."
"Obviously." His mouth in a thin line, the Hyuuga clan head flipped through the few keys on her ring, stopping on one and slipping it easily into the lock. "Are you going to invite me in?"
"I…" She wanted to tell him no, and that he had no business being here, but somehow the words just wouldn't come out. His presence demanded only one answer, and she could only nod mutely. Somehow, she knew Neji would have been thrilled to see this. For years she had told him that his uncle was like a teddy bear with teeth and claws—terrifying at first, but cuddly when you look closer.
All the soft edges and half smiles she was used to seeing during her few run ins with the Hyuuga Clan head had vanished, leaving a kind of statue in its place.
Neither of them spoke as she led him inside, putting her groceries down on the counter. Suddenly, she was very aware of the dirty dishes in the sink, her lack of furniture, and the bedding she'd left on the floor after her unsuccessful attempts to sleep the night before.
It was evident from Hiashi's face that he could see it to, and he did not approve.
Forcing back a bit of the panic that was making her stomach knot itself, TenTen busied her hands with putting away her small food supply. "How can I help you today, Hiashi-sama?"
"Neji has informed me of your current situation." It was said with such calmness that the older man could simply have been remarking on a recent streak of bad weather, and TenTen had to clutch the counter momentarily to bite back an angry response.
It had taken more than a week to admit that Neji hadn't been entirely at fault for that incident in the restaurant, and to convince herself that she couldn't blame him for not stopping by either. Not that he shouldn't apologize, because he should, but she was half-hoping that it would keep him away and out of harm. Apparently, that wasn't the case. "I am sure you're disappointed in him, but it wasn't Neji's fault."
She pulled the bread from the bag, and went to put it in the cupboard when Hiashi grabbed her wrist. "I do not think you should put these away until you hear what I have to say."
That was far from boding well, and she swallowed again to try and get the odd taste of terror and curiosity out of her mouth. She couldn't think of any reason why she should wait to put away her groceries, and it was possible that when the Hyuuga Clan head was about to suggest was so awful she couldn't come up with it on her own. She stumbled back, pulling her arm away and trying to get out of the Hiashi's space.
"As you are not from a clan yourself, I doubt that you know much about them." Hiashi paused as he looked around at her apartment, the frown on his face deepening even further. "You and Neji were very foolish indeed."
"Well aware of that, thanks." She probably shouldn't have snapped at him, but she couldn't help it when he was being so obvious in his statements. Understatements, even. Very foolish was probably the word she would have used the morning after when Neji couldn't meet her eyes. At this point, there wasn't a strong enough word for how badly they had messed up.
"Let me make something very clear to you," Hiashi's eyes were stormy as he glared at her. "You are in danger that you cannot possibly comprehend yet, and you have dragged Neji into trouble he did not need."
It was one thing to suspect that for herself. Another thing entirely to hear it said like that, and a chill ran down TenTen's spine. Her hands itched to grab at the weapons she kept hidden around the apartment, but she fought the instinct back. "Are you threatening me, Hiashi-sama?"
"Neji wouldn't have told me if I was the one you had to worry about."
How was she supposed to feel about that? She wasn't sure what she had expected, but to have Neji being the one to tell him felt odd. Like a betrayal. She knew how wary Neji was of his uncle, why would he volunteer something like this?
Hiashi didn't give her time to contemplate it. "There are laws that you should be aware of."
"Laws?" Her stomach was threatening to rebel, but whether from that misnamed thing called morning sickness or the conversation; she didn't really care to contemplate. She clutched the kettle hard as she put it in the sink, filling it with murky water, and trying not to think about how she was holding it so hard to keep Hiashi from knowing that her hands were shaking.
"The single most important thing for this village is that clan secrets be kept safe." Hiashi's face was impassive as he watched her put the kettle on to boil, leaning slightly against the counter as there was nowhere for him to sit. "The Aburame, the Nara, all of them know this."
TenTen nodded absently, pulling a chipped mug down from the cupboard, and starting to dig for the bags of ginger tea.
"The Hyuuga are the most powerful clan in the village, and many have sought our eyes. Neji's father was neither the first nor the last to die to protect them. It is why removing the branch family isn't as simple as our future Hokage would like to think."
The cup shattered as it hit the floor, and TenTen clung to the counter to keep from following after it. The twins were Neji's children. And she'd never thought about it before, but now all she could see when she blinked was Neji's seal. She had only seen it a handful of times, and told Neji countless other times that it didn't matter. That it was only holding him down because he let it.
How naive and foolish she was.
"I have the same goals as Neji, and your friends, but it is much harder to convince others. We have made some progress in our attempts to unite the family, but any more will take time." To TenTen's surprise, Hiashi bent down and started picking up the shards of her cup, putting them carefully in one hand.
She pushed herself up, trying to gather the strength that was slipping away. "That only matters if they are born with Byakugan."
"They will be. There has never yet been a child with Hyuuga blood that did not have the eyes." The pieces of glass were deposited into her garbage can, each with a small ominous clink.
There was no chance they wouldn't have byakugan? She hadn't given it much thought before, and until then it wouldn't have seemed such a big deal. Eyes that could assist them in being powerful ninja didn't seem such a curse without the mark. Without a seal that could rob them of their lives on a simple whim. Could take them from her in a way she was powerless to stop.
No, wait, she wasn't powerless. There were other ways to protect them. "I won't give them to you. I'll raise them myself."
"Here?" Hiashi gestured around them, the graceful arc of his wide loose sleeves just making him seem even more out of place with his surroundings. "Where will you put them? You don't have a table. You don't even have a bed for yourself."
Any response she had was wiped away, leaving her mouth hanging open stupidly. No, she didn't have a bed, a fact that was becoming clearer to her as the weeks went on. A few mats, a blanket, and a pillow were all she had for sleeping.
"Even if you did find a way to provide for them, how would you deal with the blood limit? The byakugan and its power is not a simple thing to explain for a child. Even less so when you don't understand it yourself." He wouldn't let her look away, his eyes following her every move with intensity only a Hyuuga could match. "It is also illegal for you to keep them yourself. The safety of the village depends on the safety of the children from our clans."
It was difficult to breathe, and she closed her eyes just to get away from that look he was giving her. "You would take them away from me?"
"If it comes to that. The clan will claim them, yes." There was no compassion in Hiashi's voice. "What you need to decide is whether or not that is what you want."
Now her eyes snapped open, and she had a scroll in her hand before she could think much about it. "Of course I want them! They're my babies."
"And Neji's." Hiashi walked toward her bedroom, moving the partially open door with his foot. "If you are serious in your conviction, then your only option will be to move into the compound. And I would suggest, for your safety, that it be soon. There are many, inside the village as well as out, that would love to get their hands on a pair of untainted byakugan." Her usual backpack was pushed into her hands, and she clenched it hard. "You will be coming with me."
She looked at her bag, at the hole in the wall she had patched with scrap wood and tape, the dirt and dust, all of it so small and pathetic. From the kitchen, she could hear her tea pot shrieking. "Doesn't seem I have a choice."