"He's good," Tenten stated the obvious as they watched the Gentle Fist pose spin and deflect Gai's oncoming attacks. Lee simply took a swig out of his water bottle, never letting his large eyes off of the fight across the field.
"He smiles," Lee added to the commentary between them watching the Hyuga with just as much awe as his female teammate.
"After we sparred, he praised my techniques and gave me pointers without criticism or distain," Tenten added watching the Hyuga's broad shoulders relax in his wide frame as he came out of his family's technique. Gai gave him toothy grin, one that was unforced and unexpected that spread almost without his knowledge across his face. The grey-eyed man returned the camaraderie with his own smile, just as bright and natural as they clasped arms to show their mutual respect for each others' abilities. It had been a good spar and a good workout for both of them. Satisfied and talking jovially with each other, they began to make their way across the training fields to Lee and Tenten.
"He did the same with me yesterday," Lee confirmed as they exchanged glances with each other.
"He's like Neji," she squinted at the Hyuga's figure coming towards them with calculating eyes, "but not, which is better," Tenten stated almost under her breath, but Lee heard and arched an eyebrow at her. He did so in a way that said shame on you and I totally agree, at the same time. Lee would never openly state that his dear comrade and rival would be so easy to replace. He loved his teammate, hell they both did, but it was hard to ignore the fact that this particular Hyuga didn't act like an asshole and was amiable, nice, and a general pleasure to be around.
She may or may not have heard Lee mutter, "Neji 2.0," before the men were in earshot and they could no longer muse to each other at the wonder that was Tokuma.
He was a breath of fresh air and Lee and Tenten and even Gai were all drinking up the affable Hyuga and feeling guilty for even thinking about replacing Neji with the older jounin. None of them would voice this aloud, but they all secretly thought it.
Tenten was too excited to care about Neji's feelings. Neji was still out in Suna or Iwa or where ever the hell he was assigned, and she didn't care if he ever came back. Well, she hoped he didn't die, of course. She just wanted him to be detained permanently and have Tokuma fill their spot on their team indefinitely.
"I always thought that Neji was the only one of the branch members that could perform the Gentle Fist," Lee spoke as they drank in large gulps from their water bottles. Perhaps the question was a bit too personal, but Tokuma didn't seem to mind and only furrowed his brows and tilted his head to the side at the question. Gai, Tenten and Lee waited with bated breath, too curious about the answer to care about formalities.
"Hizashi and my father were good friends. I was actually the one to show Neji how to use the jutsu under the cursed seal." Gai, Lee, and Tenten all gapped at each other.
No, Neji did not inform them of this. Yes, that did leave them speechless for nearly a full minute as they took it all in. Tokuma continued after he realized their initial shock.
"It is still quite a feat that he was able to overcome the seal to perform the jutsu," Tenten thought he sounded like he was trying to defend Neji, "perhaps he thought that he was trying to protect me by not mentioning my name."
Well, that was a big fat hells no, and Team Gai knew it, but wisely remained silent on the subject. To their astonishment, Tokuma casually removed his hitai-ate and wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, sweat dripping from the two bound locks that framed his face.
"You are quite a formidable opponent, Master Gai," Tokuma praised and then replaced the forehead protector, completely unaware of how little their team had been allowed to view Neji's seal over the last decade. Tokuma was not only okay with someone viewing the seal, it was as if it didn't do an emotionally and psychological number on him as it did his distant cousin.
It took Gai a few seconds to respond, and when he did, he did so in a low baritone, instead of the booming call he normally used.
"As are you," he nodded to young man, "Your skills will be quite the asset to our team."
Tokuma bowed respectively at the compliment, "I certainly hope that I will be able to fit seamlessly into your team to achieve our objective." He gave a shy, yet confident smile and sat beside Tenten with a relaxed sinewy grace that was quite Hyuga in nature, but exuded pure masculinity.
"I do believe this is the part of the day where we scream about YOUTH!" Tenten casually reminded her team and lifted a hand to the low sun in the sky. Far be it from her to deter the rituals of her team despite their newest member. Tokuma had just better get used to it if he was going to survive a whole mission with Team Gai.
"How about we take Tokuma out to dinner instead and get to know him better?" Gai suggested to the team.
"I second that motion!" Lee hopped up jubilantly and offered Tenten a hand up off the ground. She bounced up and turned to the Hyuga with a bright smile.
"What do you say, Tokuma?" Tenten asked as she held her hand out to help him up. "Are you Team Gai-ed out? Or can you handle us a bit longer?"
Tokuma only smiled to her blunt questions before adding without a hint of mockery, "The power of YOUTH compels me," as he took her offer of an arm up.
"So please explain the YOUTH! shouting to me; it always confused me when I saw Lee and Neji spar at the compound," Tokuma asked curiously to Tenten who seemed hesitant to answer the question. The night air was slightly chilly as they made their way across town after eating dinner with the other members of Team Gai, minus Neji of course. Gai and Lee had decided to spar late into the evening after dinner, having going a near four hours without doing anything so youthful. They nearly bounded out of the restaurant and left Tokuma and Tenten to find their own ways home. Tenten had rolled her eyes affectionately at the green clad ninjas and had walked with Tokuma on the east end of town to where his clan resided close by her apartment complex.
Tenten shrugged her shoulders at Tokuma's request, "It's really a combination of things. It's kind of complicated."
"So don't make it a simple answer," he stated as if he truly wanted to know what made the non-Hyuga males on her team tick, "I've got time if you do."
Tenten had to smile to this, his charm was totally working on her and she was damn near to the point of begging to know if he had a girlfriend or not.
"Well," Tenten began almost shyly, something that came over her under the Hyuga's encompassing gaze. He had settled his hands to clasp behind his back and patiently waited with his undivided attention on her for her to continue. "It's more of a theory. It has to do with Gai teaching Lee how to open gates. I don't know personally," she emphasized for good measure, "but I am pretty sure that the Death Gate is what triggers the crazy rampages about YOUTH! It balances out the gravity of their auras. It reminds them to live life to the fullest, that the Death God they visit when they brush up against his path isn't coming for them."
She expected Tokuma to look at her like she was as big of a nut-job as the other members of her team, but instead she found him looking at her contemplatively. "There is more than just that though, isn't there?" He prodded her to proceed.
She nodded, a little reluctant to continue. "I think it helps Neji keep things in perspective as well. I think they harp on it to try to counteract his view of Fate and how it controls his life. Like a pep talk, but less personal so he doesn't think it's specifically for him. Gai is constantly worried about his fragile ego and emotional capacity. I think he thinks the best way to reach Neji is to show him just how awesome Lee and Gai are by just being themselves. Then he can come to the conclusion that just living, whatever that might mean for him, will be enough."
"That is complicated," Tokuma agreed.
"Gai and Lee want what's best for our team. They are pretty amazing like that," Tenten allowed herself to brag on her boys.
"I quite agree, they are pretty amazing," Tokuma commented fondly of the two bushy-eye-browed teammates. Then shook his head sourly, "I honestly thought that I had gotten through to him. All that talk about Fate and circumstances." He gave a wry look, and kept his eyes downcast as if berating himself for the epic failure to bring Neji out of his arrogant tedium.
"Hey, if Team Gai can't beat it out of you, then it's got to be the work of Naruto to pull him out. He got better after his fight with the Uzimaki, he just still has that giant stick wedged up his ass. We've all tried to help him. He just has to want it for himself." Tenten explained and Tokuma smiled half-heartedly at her attempt to cheer him up.
"I suppose the rift between us is my fault," he sighed, and Tenten could tell from his proximity that he had suddenly become nervous. Tokuma, who had remained the epitome of cool, collected and calm, had suddenly spiked in anxiety. Tenten nudged his shoulder affectionately with her elbow, trying to lighten the mood.
"Don't beat yourself up; Neji keeps everyone at arm's length." Tenten tried to pacify him, but the touch seemed to only add to rankle the man further. She hadn't noticed that they were literally right outside her apartment complex. She normally took a different route, preferring rooftops and alleyways to well-lit scenic roads and streets.
Tenten suddenly remembered Anko like a life-line to her little does-he-have-a-girlfriend issue. Anko and Tokuma were not only teammates, but really good friends. She just hadn't seen her lately because a certain copy nin was always hanging around, or more literally, hanging on her. That made seeing her friend a bit difficult between missions. Looking back at the times she did spend with her, Anko had a lot to say about Tokuma.
She talked frequently about her missions with him. She recalled the story of why Tokuma wore a bandana over his head. As it turns out it had to do with Anko getting nauseated to the point of puking so often that Tokuma preferred to just wash his bandana than to constantly wipe bits of vomit off of his shoes. At least that is what he explained when he did it. Anko thinks he did it just so she wouldn't have to change her clothes so often and worry about washing them while still being sick. Tenten could picture it now, as he came into the street lamps full light, how strange and gentlemanly that suited him. He probably didn't want her to catch on that he was trying to help her out, she was so proud. Anko had figured it out anyways, and liked to tease him by clutching her stomach just to watch him rip his bandana off and shove it in her direction so as to mess up the precious Hyuga-hair.
She contrasted Neji with Tokuma in that small time that she could see him properly. Nice long frame like any Hyuga male, perhaps taller than her teammate, it was hard to tell. He had broader shoulders; that was for sure. He had the perfect to-die-for-hair, as all of his clan was famed for, besides their amazing jutsu, but didn't look so damn vain about it all the time. He was far from conceited or arrogant. He was pleasant and charming and smokin' hot.
And man, did she really never, ever think that she would be calling a Hyuga that at any point in time.
"I'm really glad you've joined our team, even if it is for a short while." Too short, no matter how long, in her opinion.
He gave a small low chuckle, "I have actually grown quite fond of them already, does that sound strange?" She knew he was referring to Lee and Gai.
"Only coming from a Hyuga; I can't see why everyone doesn't see them as endearing. They keep things in perspective. Life as a shinobi is short enough as it is without a constant reminder that some things in life suck." Neji always had a way of swooping when he smelled a little fun.
"Are you always this logically optimistic?" he mused as they reached her front door. She shrugged her answer.
"It makes things easier when you see it my way," she winked and Tokuma took a step towards her, as if wanting to touch her before he instantaneously backed off as quickly as he had advanced.
He bowed humbly, whether to hide his embarrassment at his near action or to find himself, it was uncertain. He left quickly afterwards with either a muttered apology or an evening greeting. Either way it left Tenten confused and seeking the council of Anko the next morning.
A/N: So if you are reading this, my guess is that it was not because you wanted to read a story about Tokuma. I believe there is only one? story about him so far on FF. So, that being said, the stuff I wrote about him teaching Neji how to get past the seal is all made-up and not true. I also don't think he can perform the Gentle Fist justu. The one fact that I know about him is that he supposedly has the best eyes of all the Hyuga's.
I hope you all enjoyed your crack! today. I know that there is basically not a lot of love for non-cannon pairings, and yet if you are reading this, it means that you might be a fan of my work. For that I am humbly honored and want you to know that I appreciate all of your reviews and favorites to my stories-as crazy and as non-cannon as they are.
Thank you. I am truly grateful for your support.