"Alright class, today we will be learning about some of our past Hokages—Hashirama-sama and Tobirama-sama!"
A collective moan rang throughout the classroom, and the smile on Iruka-sensei's face fell.
"What's this I hear? It almost seems like you guys aren't interested in discussing the history of Konoha's past Hokages... I guess that means we're going to have to go over yet another weapon projectile formula. You know, since you guys love them so much..."
The smile on one weapons mistress in particular's face brightened dramatically, but the rest of the class—sans the academy's fourth-time consecutive number one year rookie, Neji Hyuga—were quick to voice their protests.
"That's what I thought. Now, turn to page two hundred and four in your textbooks and we can begin."
This time, the students intelligently held back their groans as they reached underneath their desks, withdrawing their text books. "Let's start by discussing the involvement that our first and second Hokage had in the foundation of the system currently established in our village today. Does anyone know what man was the first to offer—"
"Whoa! This looks just like..."
"Neji and Tenten!"
A number of whispers spread throughout the classroom, and Tenten, having been startled out of her stupor by the sound of her name, scrunched up her nose in distaste. "Does not!" She argued, flipping to find the page in question. "There's no way that I look like Mito U...zu...ma...ki..."
She trailed off, glancing at the picture.
True to form, the woman looked exactly like her.
Identical twin buns framed either side of her head, decorated with various weapons and tags. She wore a loose, lavender robe, expertly hiding the well-endowed figure and weaponry that Tenten knew with practiced ease was there. Even despite the age difference, the weapons' mistress could detect a vague resemblance between herself and the former jinchuriki host.
Beside the woman stood the first Hokage, her husband, Hashirama Senku. His long locks trailed down his back without so much as a hair out of place, his robes loose on his muscled frame. If not for his startling brown eyes, examining his wife with piqued interest, Tenten would have guessed it had been a picture of Neji's own father.
Not that she'd ever even seen Neji's own father...
Actually, now that she thought about it, she couldn't remember ever seeing any of his family at the academy.
Sneaking a peak at the Hyuga genius, Tenten frowned, lost in thought. Why had Neji's father and mother never come by the academy? There were numerous opportunities for it, given the dangers involved with becoming shinobi... It was odd to think that they hadn't been by even once to check on his status, especially when considering what a fine student he was.
Besides, hadn't she heard somewhere that the Hyuga family were supposed to be one of the oldest clans in the village? Wouldn't that make them... closer than others?
"You two know what this means, don't you?"
The Hyuga genius didn't so much as move a muscle, maintaining his frown.
Tenten, however, having not the emotional stability that he had, was not quite so silent. "You guys are a bunch of idiots."
Nevertheless, the weapons mistress couldn't help but shrink a little in her seat when the classroom burst into a collection of taunts and jeers: "Neji and Tenten, sittin' in a tree—no way that looks like Tenten; Mito-sama is way prettier—this doesn't mean anything; Neji Hyuga is mine!—first comes love—no, he's mine!—then comes marriage—no, he's mine!—then comes a baby in the..."
"Enough!" Iruka shouted, frowning. Immediately, the entire class quieted. "I didn't tell you to goof off! All of you, take out a piece of paper; you're going to have a pop quiz on the history of Konoha and twenty extra homework problems." Just as Tenten began to shout her indignation, Iruka turned, glaring. "No exceptions!"
Everyone in the class—sans both number one rookie and Tenten alike—groaned, but wisely remained quiet for the rest of class.
. . .
Outside the walls of the academy, Tenten stood alone at the gate that edged the arena, frowning.
Neji Hyuga stood further down the gate, resting casually in the shade cast by the looming building... and if you glanced down the row about thirty more feet or so, you'd be met with his mass array of fangirls, giggling and sighing and cooing at the mere mention of his name. Tenten rolled her eyes.
Idiots, they all were.
The female student turned, appraising the boy before her. "Hey Gregory-san. What's up?"
"Oh, nothin' much," he disclosed, taking a seat beside her. "I was just comin' over here to ask you about the stuff that happened in class." He paused, fiddling with the leaves that littered the autumn ground. "You know, with Mito-sama and Hashirama-sama..."
Smiling, Tenten waved her hand. "Oh, it's no trouble; you don't have to apologize."
Still, she did appreciate the offer. It wasn't every day that someone went out of their way to offer an apology.
Especially not a boy.
"Oh, I'm not apologizing," Gregory answered, grinning, "I just came over here to get your size for your wedding dress. You know, for whenever you and the Hyuga get hitched up. I figured it'd be an extra large, but the other guys wanted me to get your input anyway." He smiled cheekily. "So, extra large, then?"
Tenten's face fell.
In three seconds flat, she had him pinned to the ground, fist extended. "What'd you say, birdbrain?"
"Nothing much, ugly. Just that you—"
"If you were intelligent," a voice began to their right, "you would not repeat your former statement."
Shocked by her assailant, Tenten turned to be met with the ice cold stare of none other than Hyuga Neji. Just as quickly, her gaze flitted to the even more impressive crowd of females that stood behind him, all of which were currently boring into her with their own vindictive glares.
"Yeah, well, what do you know?" Gregory argued, frowning. "You're always sittin' in a corner by yourself! It's not like you even got any friends!"
Neji shrugged, unaffected by the comment. "In the world of shinobi, friends are nothing more than a hindrance. It is either you, or them." He paused, gaze flitting from the boy to Tenten. To this very day, she swore it felt like his next words were directed solely toward her: "I know where both of our destinies lie, and by the time I have ascended in rank, I will have witnessed your death."
And with that, he turned, beginning his short walk back toward the cool shade of the building.
Gregory, wide-eyed and stuttering, could only shake his head in indignation. "Y-Yeah... well, you're a freak. You hear that, a... a freak! You don't got any friends and you're all by yourself all the time 'cause you can't make any. You talk about wantin' to be a shinobi, but you're not even that good. You're... you're just jealous of me. You're a whiny, no good, lonely bastard that don't got no parents and you think that makes you special, but it doesn—"
And that's when Tenten punched.
. . .
"But he started it!"
"I don't care who started it, Tenten," Iruka returned, frowning. He had kept her after class to discuss the situation that had taken place during recreational time, and thus far, he had made no progress with getting her to realize the error of her ways. "It doesn't change the fact that you punched Gregory in the face and impaled him with a kunai."
Tenten scoffed, waving her hand. "He was over-exaggerating; I barely scratched him."
"That's not the point," Iruka reprimanded, frowning. "Gregory is, for all intents and purposes, your teammate. You wouldn't punch your teammate just because he said something wrong, now would you?"
Slowly, Tenten shook her head.
"Exactly." Iruka sighed, scratching his chin. "Tenten, we've been over this multiple times; I don't know what more I can do to get you to see what you're doing wrong. As a shinobi of the hidden leaf village, it is your duty to understand the bonds of comradeship. You can't go around beating up anyone who doesn't agree with you. "
"But it wasn't me this time, Iruka-sensei, honest! I was sticking up for someone else!"
"I will have no more of your excuses, Tenten," he interrupted, shaking his finger. "It's about time you learn how to behave in a group setting. The graduation exam is tomorrow, and this isn't the first time we've had problems with your temper. I'd hate to have to eliminate you from the preliminary round due to today's behavior, but if you keep this up..."
The expression on Tenten's face was enough to keep even a snake at bay. "I promise I won't ever do it again, just don't take me out of the examination! Please, Iruka-sensei. I've worked my entire life for this!" To be removed when she was so close to becoming a ninja... it would kill her.
What about her dream? Her life? All of it would be shattered... gone.
After a few seconds of silence, Iruka shook his head, sighing. "Fine," he agreed, rolling his eyes, "but I don't want any more of this, Tenten. Once more and you're out of the examination. No excuses."
"Thank you, Iruka-sensei," Tenten grinned, sprinting to retrieve her books from her desk, "I promise, I won't ever do it again. I'll make you proud!"
And with that, she ducked out of the classroom, a swinging door signaling her exit.
. . .
To say she was surprised to be met with the Hyuga genius just outside the academy doors (and consequently almost run into him, toppling them both) would be more than an understatement.
"Neji-san," she greeted casually, nodding.
The boy in question nodded his return, but said nothing.
"Erm, what are you..." she paused, reconsidering, "I mean, what are you still doing here? Did you leave something...?"
Yet again, he shook his head, offering nothing.
Sighing, Tenten shrugged, continuing on what she deemed to be the endless hike toward her apartment. "Well, I'm not into guessing games." She very nearly retorted that she wasn't one of his fangirls and as such would not hang onto his every word, but bit her tongue at the last second. After all, it wasn't his fault that the girls her age were so stupid. "I'll see you tomorrow. Oh, and good luck on your exam."
Not that you'll need it...
"Your assistance was unnecessary."
Tenten paused mid-step. She turned back toward him, cocking her head. "Excuse me?"
"Your intervention was irrational and unwelcome," he continued without missing a beat, stepping forward. "I could have handled him without you, should the situation have come to such a point." His tone hinted that the notion of a fight between the two was laughable, nonetheless plausible. "It was not your place to become involved."
"Not my place?" Tenten repeated, astounded. "I think you're forgetting that he insulted me. If anyone was out of place, it was you."
Neji shook his head, disagreeing. "The matter of our marriage involves more than one party, Tenten. It was perfectly acceptable for me to have become involved."
"Our marriage?" The kunoichi answered, incredulous. "Our marriage?"
Neji's expression was bland, at best. "I was under the impression that you thought yourself more intelligent then other kunoichi. Evidently not..."
Tenten had stopped listening after the marriage comment, uselessly trying to organize the mess of thoughts running ramped throughout her mind. "I do, I am," she corrected, smiling. "I just... I thought you were being serious for a second there." She laughed brightly, resting a hand on her waist. "Really, you've thrown me for a loop. I never thought you the type of have a sense of humor... me and you get married... now that's a good one."
Neji did not laugh with her, and she trailed into an uncomfortable silence.
"I jest not," he responded after a few moments, frowning. "Our union has been predetermined."
Thus, Tenten's thoughts crashed into an abrupt and unforeseen wall appropriately labeled now-what-the-fuck-did-he-say?
"Wait a second. You think that you," she pointed to him, "and I," then herself, "are going to get... married?"
She shriveled at the mere thought of marrying someone so... so... like him. He wasn't right for her; she'd always envisioned that, if she ever did marry anybody (which she more than likely wouldn't), it would be someone who could make her laugh. It would be someone who shared her avid fascination for sharp, pointy, (preferably metal) objects. It would be someone who understood her techniques and didn't criticize others for their faults.
It would be someone not at all like Hyuga Neji.
"Yes," Neji answered with a sigh. He had not expected it to take his future-wife this long to grasp the concept of their union. It had taken him only a matter of seconds. "I detest the idea to the same extent that you do, Tenten. Perhaps even moreso... But the hands of fate cannot be changed. We are chained to our futures, just as the bird is resigned to its cage."
Tenten noticed his left hand make a move toward his head, but then stop midway. He immediately lowered his arm, as if nothing had transpired.
"That's... that's insane, Neji!" She shouted, for lack of a better phrase. "It doesn't even make sense!"
The Hyuga shrugged. "Call it what you will. Thus is the course of fate."
"I... it doesn't... how could... why... you..."
For the first time in years, Tenten found that she had nothing to say: no curt comments, no scathing retorts...
"I must be returning home. My intention was not to inform you of our union, but to warn you." His glare was cold as he examined her. "I do not nor will I ever think of you as my wife. Fate has dealt us a hand we may not trade, but I refuse to lower myself to such a standard. As my future wife, I expect nothing more than cursory remarks and indifference."
And with that, he turned, nodding once. "Have a nice night."
. . .
Five minutes later, frozen to her spot, Tenten could only recognize one thought pounding throughout her entire being...
What in the hell was wrong with that kid?
AN: Neji's interpretation of the entire thing is probably so off base, but I wanted to write a fic like this for two reasons. One, because there aren't enough stories out there where Neji starts off with the crush, you know? Two, because it seems fun :3
Anyway, this will be done on a year by year basis (disregarding next chapter). In other words, chapter three will be one year following this, chapter four one year following that, et cetera. I hope you guys enjoy; advice/ideas are appreciated along with reviews -insert notsosubtle hint here-