A/N: Yes, I'm starting another NejiTen long story. Like I don't have enough works in progress. But this idea seized my brain the other day while role playing with my sister after watching Shrek 2 and it would not let go. So, this is partly inspired by Shrek 2 and my favorite KakaIru story ever 'Blood of the Wolf' by Tampopsensei. If you like KakaIru at all, I highly recommend that one. Seriously, my favorite ever.
Special thanks to SumiHatake and Innocent-Rebel for reading over this for me. It wouldn't be nearly as good for you guys if it wasn't.
Warnings: Right now, nothing really, but this has the potential to get dark and graphic. I will let you know chapter by chapter.
Last Moon Rising
It was the kind of afternoon that she would have been happier to spend training than cleaning, but somebody had to do it eventually. And, she knew, that Neji would have been just as happy to let the dust pile up for months if given the chance, as such things didn't seem to bother him. Not like it did her. It was one of those things TenTen sometimes wished that she'd known before she and Neji were married. It wouldn't have changed anything, but it might have spared her more than a few days of frustration.
After their first fight about it, he had explained that he hadn't spent much time at home before they were married and so he'd learned to just expect dust to be there. She understood that, on some level, but he wasn't trying overly hard to change it either. She had tried to ignore it until he did something about it, but it would always get to her first and she would end up cleaning.
TenTen sighed and pushed the bandana, that was keeping her hair out of her face, back up. This was her regular cleaning outfit—a pair of baggy blue shorts and one of Neji's tank tops that had the bottom tied in a knot just below her chest. Her usual neat hair buns were loose, as she was too lazy to tie them tight for something like this, and that allowed strands of auburn hair to fall every which way. Topping this off was a polka dotted bandana, tied where her forehead protector usually went, to keep at least her short choppy bangs out of her face.
She could feel moisture running down the side of her face. Could have been soap though, as the sponge was still in her hand against her forehead, but it was more likely sweat, as she had finished all the floors in the house in half the time it usually took her.
Quite an accomplishment, too, if she did say so herself. The house she and Neji had been given was traditional in style. Cleaning the floors involved carefully sweeping and wiping each tatami mat after she moved around the few pieces of furniture. All the rooms that didn't have tatami were plain light wood, and each of these had to be scrubbed clean. She had also cleaned and polished all the furniture, and put their futon out to dry on the line. It would have to come in soon, but the bright sunshine wouldn't really hurt it. Probably.
All her hard work would soon be undone if she left the sliding shoji doors open to the bright sunlight filtering through the cherry blossom tree outside. The white blossoms had fallen off a few weeks before, leaving pale green leaves behind that did little to stop the sunlight from reaching the floor of the entry way she had just finished scrubbing.
Too nice a day to close it, though; her favorite kind of day. A little emerald dove caught her eyes as he flittered around the higher branches, impatiently waiting his turn at the popular feeder. Neji kept it well stocked, despite teasing from TenTen and his cousins about his bird obsession. It was, sort of ironically, the only thing her husband ever cleaned up without constant reminders.
The chirping birds simply added to the laid-back feeling in the air, and TenTen didn't bother resisting the temptation to lie down now that all her work was finished. Sliding down to lay on her belly, she moved her arms so that her hands lay under her chin and closed her eyes, soaking up the sunlight that played on her bare arms and back as the warm wood relaxed her abs. She let her feet swing back and forth in the air to the soft 'hoo-hoo' of the birds in the tree. Days didn't get much better than this in the Hyuuga compound.
She had been Mrs. Neji Hyuuga for ten months now, and she was finally starting to get the compound's routine. The sound of young children training in the yard from sun up until sun down, and the chatter of the servants as they scrubbed the main house roof to floor had become so much a part of her life that she didn't notice them anymore. Sometimes she wished those same industrious servants would come over and do their house as well. That would never happen, though. The division of the main house and the branch family was pretty literal.
The Hyuuga compound actually consisted of one large house surrounded by gardens and many smaller houses like the one she and Neji had been given as their wedding gift from the clan—usually a single story with two or three bedrooms and its own small garden. Members of the main branch and unmarried members of the cadet branch all lived communally in the large house in small apartments. Once the marriage took place cadet branch males were given one of the small outlying houses, and the girls could either continue living with their husband in the main house or with his clan, depending on the man and his status.
It was all far more confusing and political than TenTen liked, and she would have avoided it completely if she loved Neji any less than she did.
Though the house had been a gift, everything associated with it was not. They were expected to keep the house and yard clean, in case any important officials ever came to visit the compound. If they were lax in this, they would be fined the cost of the man power to clean it plus some. Not to mention the cost of replacing the tatami every few years, of food and repairs on the house when doors or windows were damaged that had to be done immediately.
Before Naruto became the Hokage, this would have required a lot of missions to keep up, but right now missions were scarce.
Which was why Neji had taken a job at the Academy as a teacher for the young protégés that started school early. It was a rather comforting thought when she was stuck inside cleaning on days like today. She could have the door open and enjoy the lovely day, while Neji was stuck inside with a bunch of children who's maturity hadn't caught up to their intelligence yet.
In a way, TenTen mused to herself as she rolled onto her back and stretched, this is probably good for him. Should increase his patience at least.
"Well," a smooth baritone voice broke into her thoughts. TenTen opened her eyes slowly to see Neji standing over her, one hand on his hip while the other held the strap of the backpack he always carried, and a half smile on his face, "what would I need to do to come home to this every day?"
"Control the weather for one," she laughed, remaining in her stretched out position, twisted in a nearly crescent-moon shape with her arms over her head and knees bent but back flat on the floor.
The bag of games and puzzles Neji always took with him dropped by her head, and her husband sat down on the edge of the porch. "If I could do that, I'd never get any work done. I let them go early today because they couldn't focus."
"Softy." She couldn't resist winking at him. What was she gonna do with him? "It's lucky that Naruto needs you so badly, or you might find yourself without a job."
A shrug from her husband as he kicked off his shoes. "He understands this about as well as I do. We don't need more ninja right now. We don't have enough missions as is. He really won't have a problem with them missing a half day of school."
"Well, I won't say no to a half-day of Neji time either." Sliding over on her back before rolling over and looping her arms around his waist. Burying her face in the shoulder part of his vest, she muttered softly, "you know, you're the only guy that can make this teacher outfit look sexy."
She felt more than heard Neji's chuckle. "Kakashi-sensei would disagree with you strongly."
"Yeah, well, since when has anyone said he had taste?" TenTen raised her head, kissing behind his ear in the way she knew he liked. It was much easier to be annoyed with him when he wasn't sitting right there, somehow making that puffy green vest look nearly human.
"Certainly never you." Neji's hair tickled her face as he turned his head, meeting her eyes without turning his body. "You look pretty nice yourself."
This was what she loved. Neji was only like this with her. Around everyone else he was guarded, saying little, but he didn't do that with her. Never had. "These are cleaning clothes. They're grungy, and they're meant to be grungy."
"Maybe I like grungy." He tured, and poked the little bit of skin that was showing above her shorts.
"I think sunshine just makes you flirty." Or maybe how little they got to see each other anymore. Before the war, before they were seriously dating even, they had spent almost every waking moment together training. It had segued so naturally into dating afterward, and they had continued to spend time together because they liked it. Now, Neji was working most days, and she either spent her time running around the village doing errands, training with Lee, or at the house being the good little wife she'd never expected to be. By the end of the day they were both exhausted, and spent the evenings reading silently before going to bed. It certainly wasn't the full time romance she had expected.
"You're thinking too much." Suddenly Neji was in her face, his nose brushing hers as her grinned at her, one hand snaking up to undo her bandana. "I should fix that."
TenTen would have been lying if she said her heart didn't flutter just a little at that. "You should take days off more often."
Leaning forward, Neji caught her slightly parted lips in a kiss. His lips were chapped, the rough skin catching the natural grooves of her lips and giving an edge to the otherwise soft meeting of lips.
How long had it been? She couldn't even want to try and remember. She didn't really care enough to ask what had sparked it; only enjoy the feel of his mouth against hers as her hair fell loose and one of his hands pushed her gently to the floor.
He barely pulled away to whisper against her lips, a free hand playing with her hair. "What happened to losing my job for this?"
"Hinata wouldn't let us starve." Reaching her hands up to trace her fingers along his neck, she smiled at him cheekily. It never failed to amuse her that the blind spot she was in charge of protecting was also a sensitive spot that drove her husband crazy and she shamelessly exploited it, ghosting her finger tips over it just enough to let him know they were there.
"That's true." Neji's voice was husky. "What about your beautiful floor?"
TenTen felt her skin tingle with excitement. "I'll just have to wash it again anyway. Might as well enjoy messing it up."
A chuckle against her neck as Neji bent to kiss it, soft lips promising passion and closeness they hadn't had in months now. Not since they were dating had they had a moment of just spontaneous romance, and she had half forgotten how wonderful it felt. TenTen closed her eyes, preparing to just enjoy the feeling of being in Neji's strong arms, protected and wanted.
"I am sorry, is this a bad time?"
Neji's head snapped up and TenTen followed his gaze to where Lee was standing sheepishly on the steps.
At twenty-three, Lee was taller and broader, his hair choppier, than it had been when they were growing up, but he was still the same old Lee and still just as unhappy to walk in on them like this as he had ever been.
"You had really better have a good reason for this, Lee." Neji's voice was almost a growl, and TenTen couldn't stop a small laugh.
"I do not want to impose, but I was sent here on an urgent errand." Lee shrugged helplessly, looking between them with eyes that clearly said he hoped Neji would get off of her and quickly.
"You can tell Naruto that letting my preschoolers out early is hardly urgent."
"No, this is for TenTen." Clearly giving up any chance of their disentangling themselves, Lee flopped down on the porch just outside the door and half turned to them. "There is someone from Mist demanding to see you. Or, someone that we assume is you."
The moment was officially past, and she gave Neji a small push up so she could at least sit up on her elbows. "Someone that you assume is me?"
"He says the girl he is looking for is named Moushigo, but he describes her as looking like you. Naruto-kun…sama…thinks he may be using your real name."
"My real name?" Her heart was pounding for a different reason altogether.
She had always questioned what her name had been before the Kyuubi attack. She certainly didn't know, she had only been a year old at the time. All she knew was what she had been told—that she had been found wandering around after the attack and no one had had any idea who she was or where she had come from. To combat the idea that most people soon gathered, that she was a bad omen in some way associated with the attack, she had been called TenTen and put in the orphanage until she was old enough to care for herself.
Could it be possible that this man, whoever he was, knew her past? Knew where she had come from, where she belonged?
She jumped up, knocking Neji to the ground in her haste and dashed to grab her shoes. "Come on, we have to go talk to him."
"TenTen," Neji was walking toward her, she could hear him no matter how muted his footsteps, "don't get too excited about this. It wouldn't be difficult for this to be a mistake."
"But what if it isn't?" She didn't dare look at him. Neji had this way of seeming so sure of himself that she knew if she simply turned her head she would see things exactly how he wanted her to. "He really might know everything. Don't you think it's at least worth checking out?" For one crazy second at least someone in the world knew that she hadn't appeared as a result of the Kyuubi, that she had some place to call home. Even if it wasn't true, she wanted to pretend for at least a few moments longer.
"We've been over this." Neji stopped beside her, knelt, and slid his hands over the ones struggling to pull her shoes on with his own. "What difference does it make now what your name was before? Who you were when you were barely old enough to toddle? You are TenTen, and finding this out won't change anything."
"Not anything." Finally, she managed to work her foot into the sandal and pull it tight. "But it just might change everything."
Neji sighed, and she smiled to herself. One of those things she loved about Neji—he knew when to let her go. "Alright, we all go see this man and you can ask him any questions you like."
She slid her hands out from under his with a grin. It was easy, at this angle, to throw her arms around his neck and hug him close, trying to make him understand what the words alone couldn't convey. "Thank you."
"There is something else I should tell you." Lee's voice quivered ever so slightly, and that alone was enough to make them both glance up at him in surprise.
Lee shuffled his feet and swallowed before speaking again. "If he's right, TenTen, he knows more than who you are. He also…uh…says that he is your intended. You are engaged to him."