Woahhhh a new story? Yes :)
To celebrate the start of school! YAY
Please give this story lots of love, care, and attachment.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Sorry.
Being out of milk on a day when he had an extremely packed schedule—emphasis on extremely—was not a good start to Neji Hyuuga's morning. And seeing as he had fired his last maid for sexual harassment (somehow, they all ended up being that way), he was only left with one reliable person in his household. Unfortunately, this person was over sixty, and already handling several other jobs around the home.
Well, Neji really couldn't be blamed for firing all the other maids. Almost being raped when catching up on well-deserved sleep was enough to end anyone's job.
But at the time, the main issue was the fact there was no longer milk in the fridge. He couldn't push another job on his already busy butler, Watson—and he was just wasting time pondering the dilemma. There were things to do, people to see, and simply not enough time to do them all. He would have to take matters into his own hands.
For the first time in years, he would have to get the necessary item himself. He was famous, he shouldn't have to lift his little finger for anything—especially getting milk. But no, this was a necessary piece to his daily routine. And his schedule was waiting.
He would have to go out in public.
And take a public bus.
And walk down a public street to a public store and buy public milk.
And walk back.
Life was truly difficult for the rich, influential, and powerful. Not being able to walk down a street without being recognized was a feat in itself.
Avoiding the paparazzi was one thing. Avoiding die-hard fans was a completely separate problem.
Fishing around in a drawer near his coat rack, Neji successfully discovered a pair of shades. They were large enough to cover most of his significant features. He pulled his hair up and clipped back his bangs, hiding his well-known locks underneath a hat. He donned his plainest shirt and pants, and wore the most normal shoes he could find.
Neji slouched his shoulders on purpose and walked out his front door, hoping he could find his way to the nearest grocery store and get back home safely with a jug of milk.
Time: 6:43 am.
The slouching-shoulder thing didn't work as well as he hoped. The moment he stepped foot on the public streets which were already bustling in the morning air, people looked up at his tall stature. And then came the curious thought that bubbled within each of their minds: what face did this guy have? Was he handsome, like his figure suggested? Or was he unfortunate enough to have a great body, but terrible features? This resulted in many bystanders craning for a look at his face, which was partially hidden by the shades.
But that didn't stop the school girls from finding him attractive.
He could see them gathering friends and "secretly" taking pictures of him. It wasn't a new feeling, so he kept walking, going as far as to change his gait to make himself even less recognizable.
Neji made it to the bus stop (he wasn't that far gone yet as to forget how to use public transportation), looking at the map and charts to find out the bus he would need to take. The 6:55 one would take him to the mart he needed. Quickly, he checked his pockets for the money he needed, and fished out enough for a round trip. He only needed to wait a few minutes until the public vehicle came, and he was mercilessly shoved on with the other hordes of people.
He decided to ride standing up, finding it a much more relaxing position. The air conditioning was very welcome in the humid morning. Girls on the bus were starting to take notice of his presence, and began nudging other riders to stand closer to him. From behind his shades, Neji rated them on attractiveness.
With a haughty breath from his nose, he concluded none of them were above a six.
The driver called his stop and he got off, eyes immediately spotting the mart on the corner of the street. Sighing with relief, he stepped inside to get his well deserved milk.
"Oh, doesn't that guy look a lot like Ran?" said a girl loudly, unashamed at totally ogling him from head to toe. Her friend looked on too, eyebrows rising in contemplation.
"Now that you mention it, they do look pretty similar."
"Well, whoever he is, he's really hot."
"I know, right?"
"Yeah. But why is he wearing so much clothing?"
"I know, right? It's so hot outside."
"Just like him…"
Neji rushed away before he could listen to any more of the ridiculous conversation. Wasn't there anyone in Japan who didn't know his face? Being famous was certainly a hassle—he couldn't even find a decent maid without putting his body at risk.
He picked up the milk and paid for it, already sick of his excursion outside. He needed a break. He needed to get back to work, back to his exhausting yet strangely fulfilling job. Milk was not worth all the effort he put in.
The girls from the store stalked him all the way to the bus stop, giggling and whispering. He knew it was not his business, they didn't even recognize him (thank god), but the fact that they followed good looking men around was creepy. Turning around, he announced, "Aren't you supposed to be in school by now?"
They squealed, as if he had fulfilled all their desires with one word. "You sound just like him!" They laughed and clapped their hands happily (fangirlishly) and ran away, likely to spread the new found piece of gossip to everyone in their school.
Neji knew who he sounded like, and made the wise decision to leave immediately lest someone else recognize the uncanny appearance between him and celebrity star Kishito Ran.
"Welcome home, Hyuuga-san. I was wondering where you went."
"Just went to grab milk," Neji grunted, hauling his precious jug to the table and pouring himself a bowl. Who knew that getting a simple carton of milk could take so much trouble and put his life in so much risk? Neji vowed silently never to attempt the feat again. It had been slightly better when he was a newcomer in the entertainment industry, but now he was a hotshot. Things were different. If he didn't disguise himself properly, fans would rip his clothes to shreds. He had gone against bodyguards simply because he didn't like the feeling of being watched and protected. His aura was enough for anyone to keep their distance, so there was never such an issue with that. Even the fans, though wanting to touch him, refrained from doing so and were happy enough to tag behind him. Well, when he was with Watson anyways. If Neji was alone...circumstances would be different.
Hence the disguises.
Watson, though sixty four, graying, and wrinkly, was Neji's most loyal butler. Having watched his young charge rise in popularity, he was almost like a father. And because of this, he raised a surprised eyebrow, totally caught off guard. "You went by yourself?"
"Yeah," Neji replied, secretly feeling proud of his accomplishment, "And the best part is, I'm still intact and haven't lost anything."
"Good job, Hyuuga-san." The compliment was well received. Then, like the dedicated man he was, Watson began the day's schedule with haste. "Now, we must be on our way: there are several meetings we have to make, the first of which includes promotions in China—your soundtrack in Mandarin has become quite popular. Next are the interviews, and finally the appearance on the variety show. Lunch is packed, you'll be eating as we drive to the third interview. We'll be staying in China for today and tomorrow, then coming back in time to make the modeling meeting in place the next day. The translator will be meeting us later on."
A typical schedule.
"Sounds good," said Neji calmly, finishing his cereal. "Let's go."
Time: 7:55 am.
Tenten woke up to some very bad news. The moment she opened her eyes to a brand new day, her parents were peering over her.
"Honey, we gambled on the wrong stocks!" said her mother cheerily, like it was normal to watch her daughter until she woke. Gambling on the wrong stocks was normal-it was alright to drop a couple of points. But her parents had the uncanny ability to choose all the worst possible choices, and lose all their money in one go. However, Tenten had a feeling her mother's words precluded something even more terrible.
"Time to sell our house to pay for our debts!"
Worst news possible...her guts hadn't been wrong yet, but secretly, Tenten hoped this time would be the exception. She always knew her parents would meet the end of their luck with stocks one day, but she wasn't expecting it to come so soon. They had gotten rich through sheer effort alone, and now all their work was for naught due to a stupid mistake. Shocked to the near point of disbelief, Tenten chose her words carefully. "You mean…we're poor?"
Her father laughed and clapped her on the back. "Close! We're middle class now! We still have enough money for a good life, but we'll need to cut down on certain expenses. It'll take a while, but we'll soon have enough from our jobs to be rich again!"
Tenten gulped, the shock still affecting her. "How soon is…a while?"
"Oh sweetheart, only a few years."
Years? YEARS? Her mind was reeling. This couldn't be happening. For her entire life, she had lived in the lap of luxury—middle class was unfathomable. No new clothes every two weeks? She would have to be even more frugal than she already was? Sure, she was an expert on deals…organization…the like…but a small house? She would have to associate with normal, non-influential people?
She was hoping it was all a dream.
"Get up Tenten!" cried her mother, opening the blinds so the light poured into the room. "Time to start packing! We're moving in a month!"
It was not a dream.
It was hell.
Time: 8:25 am.
She simply would not accept it. Not a bit. This was torture.
Her mother's last words still rang in her head. "Oh, and we're cutting you out of that expensive private school—we almost can't even afford the taxes here anymore! Have fun without your friends while we straighten things out with the real estate people."
Almost eighteen, and already suffering a midlife crisis.
Tenten could already feel herself tearing up. Looking at her closet full of expensive clothes, she sighed, knowing she would have to give them up to pay off the debts. She gently selected a few of her favorite pieces to savor. The fabric brushed by her fingers, almost tenderly.
Would she really have to endure this kind of suffering?
She drew out her suitcase and began packing the essentials, taking her phone out and notifying everyone she knew of her dilemma. She was instantly whelmed with text messages and phone calls from concerned classmates and friends—wondering why she was moving, when, and offering sympathy. The tears were pouring now as she began hiccuping and texting back, calling those she could without sounding like a miserable mess. It finally became so unbearable that she collapsed on her bed and cried for a full hour. Sure, it was...mildly embarrassing to a certain extent. Huddled with her knees drawn up to her chest, Tenten was an inconsolable wreck. It was the sum of her sudden loss in stature and leaving her friends behind that drove her to cry the longest she had in years. Finally, after her hiccups subsided, she blew her nose thoroughly and wiped all the tear stains off her cheeks. Her eyes were puffy, and she knew she looked like crud.
No use dwelling on the past, no matter how opposed she was to the notion of being "poor."
And then an idea struck.
It was perfect. It was the sure fire way out of her dilemma-if she couldn't stand being middle-class with her family, why would she need to stay in China? She jumped off the bed, mind whirring furiously with her new found plan, and the more she thought about it, the more appealing it sounded. It could work...no, it would work. She would find her own way out. And the key to her idea was a populous island off the coast of Asia.
Really, her parents shouldn't have paid for her to learn Japanese as her second language.
Tenten began packing much more vigorously, taking the Japanese workbooks and pocket handbook with her from her private tutor, enough clothes for a month's worth of outfits, and other essentials. There was no way she was staying to be middle class. She was gone. And chances were, her parents would end up getting more in debt, relying on her as financial aid by setting her up for marriage with some rich old guy. She wasn't going to stay to find out.
It was time to put her organization skills to use. She drew up a schedule for things to do the next day. Buy a ticket. Pack more. Withdraw all her money from the saving's account. Try not to get caught.
It wouldn't be too difficult.
She called her cell phone company and changed her number so she couldn't be reached, then walked downstairs as if nothing had happened. Her parents were busy discussing what to do with the house, and their faces brightened when they saw her. "Tenten! Are you feeling alright now? I know it's hard for you to grasp—but I really hope you'll understand. We're all trying our best, and we should be grateful that we're all here to go through this together," cooed her mother.
Tenten felt slightly guilty about leaving them, but in the end, it would be easier. They wouldn't have a third mouth to feed, and could focus on getting their lives back in shape. They would be okay without her, at least for a few months. "Of course mom," she answered with a smile. "I really do understand."
Her mother instantly burst into tears. "Oh sweetie, I knew you would! Let's go out to eat for lunch, shall we? One last commemoration of our life as upper-class citizens."
"I think it's a wonderful idea," commented her father. "Perfect, in fact. Because after this, we're going to be cooking at home! Buying vegetables from the street vendors and everything!" Somehow, he seemed strangely excited to be a normal person. But Tenten wasn't too keen on the idea. "Your mother and I were exceptionally good at cooking back in the day," he said proudly. "But whether or not we can do it for a few years…"
"We can eat out occasionally," said her mother with a frown. "We're not poor, you know, just average. Now come on, we have stuff to organize."
Tenten cringed. Average. Her least favorite word.
But where she was going, no one would know.
Time: 10:15 am.
Hm, can you see where this is headed? Kudos to those that figure it out first~
May be a little slow on the update, crossing my fingers for awesome reviews!
R&R dear readers :)