Disclaimer: These characters belong to a man named Masashi Kishimoto. I do not own any of the characters used nor do I gain any profit from writing this story.
WARNING: Rated T (for language)
Chapter 1: Of Driving Lessons and Cute Puppies
It was a beautiful morning, a Sunday to be exact. The sun was slowly peaking out, its rays warming up the start of the day. Birds soared to the azure skies or were heard singing a merry tune as they hopped from one branch to another.
People were slowly beginning to stir and wake up, although most stayed burrowed in their sheets, snoring lightly. Early morning joggers stopped to watch the beautiful sunrise, a small but content smile on their faces despite sweat running down their foreheads and their backs.
Precisely by this time, the Hyuuga family sat quietly, enjoying their breakfast. Only the sound of clinking bowls filled the air, and sometimes, the silence was cut off by when someone flipped the pages of today's newspaper.
Hyuuga Hiashi, the father and head of this family, read the headlines of the paper seriously, his cup of tea forgotten. Then, he coughed, and everyone on the table focused their attention on the Hyuuga patriarch as said man folded the newspaper in his hand and reached for his tea.
He brought the glass close to his nose to inhale the scent of his tea before taking a small sip. And all the while he did this, he was keenly aware of the three pairs of eyes watching him curiously.
The man placed his cup gently on the table before his lavender eyes landed on his eldest daughter. The girl flinched at the attention, but her gaze did not waver as she returned the eye contact.
And then, Hiashi spoke. "Hinata, you are turning twenty this year, correct?"
Hyuuga Hinata meekly answered in affirmation, but her eyes clearly showed that she was confused. This was definitely not the conversation she had anticipated, judging by the seriousness that enveloped the whole dining area and all.
Hiashi nodded and closed his eyes, deep in thought, before he continued. "Then, I believe it is time you learn how to drive, daughter. You are old enough. In fact, I was sixteen when I first learned how to drive. And your cousin, Neji, was sixteen as well when he had his first driving experience."
The look in the Hyuuga patriarch's eye showed no room for arguments, and Hinata had no choice but to mutter her answer, "Of course, Father," softly and obediently.
Nodding in satisfaction, Hiashi opened his mouth to say something else but was interrupted when his youngest daughter, Hyuuga Hanabi, joined in on the conversation.
"Can I come with sister, Father? Perhaps I can learn a thing or two if I observe the driving lessons." Hanabi spoke excitedly, giving her father a cheeky smile. When Hiashi merely nodded his assent, Hanabi cheered loudly, and her apparent glee eased the tension bubbling inside Hinata, who smiled at her sister's excitement.
Hiashi, then, cleared his throat, and his eyes rested on the last person in the dining room who had not yet uttered any word since breakfast.
Hyuuga Neji was the exact replica of Hyuuga Hiashi. From the coffee-colored locks, kept long due to tradition, to the bones underneath his pale skin, Neji was like the exact younger version of the man. And of course, to complement with the physical features, Neji also had a very serious, no nonsense demeanor, which was so very similar to that of Hiashi's, that many people actually believed that he was Hiashi's son.
However, such was not the case, for Neji was the child of Hyuuga Hizashi, the twin brother of Hiashi who had passed away because of cancer. Neji was then only seven at that time. The boy's mother had already died as well because of childbirth, thus leaving Neji an orphan and alone, had it not been for his uncle who immediately adopted him.
Although it took a bit of time for young Neji to warm up to his uncle and his two younger cousins, Neji soon became a part of the tiny family, easily filling the role of being the older brother to Hinata and Hanabi, and a son to Hiashi.
And like any other son, Neji, while naturally a polite and obedient man, has his moments of being proud and difficult. Today was definitely one of those days, as Neji paid no heed to his uncle's given stares.
Instead, the man continued eating his meal, inwardly hoping that his uncle was not going to appoint him as Hinata's driving instructor. He cursed under his breath when his uncle called for his attention.
Neji gradually turned his head toward his uncle, brows raised in feigned innocence. Sadly, his plan of acting like having no clue to whole scenario failed to work on Hiashi, when the man bluntly ordered him to 'teach Hinata to drive.'
"Good. Now if you will all excuse me, I have papers that need to be done."
With a nod, Hiashi simply stood up, missing the way Hinata smiled apologetically at her older cousin, who looked like he was about to explode any second now for being casually ignored. Hanabi snickered at her cousin's reaction and smirked when Neji glared at her.
"Ah, and before I forget. Hanabi, you are to wash the dishes today." Hiashi declared.
Hanabi's smirk instantly morphed into a frown, whereas Neji gave her a mocking smile. Beside Hanabi, Hinata could only shake her head at the karma that befell her little sister.
Neji sighed exasperatedly as Hinata once again mistook the gas pedal for her clutch, therefore making the car, and the people inside, jump abruptly. At the very least, the seatbelts prevented him or his cousin from colliding with the car's headboard.
A slight crash was heard at the back, most presumably Hanabi, because the younger girl refused to wear her seatbelts, even when Neji ordered her to buckle it prior to the lesson.
He would have snapped. Really. But knowing that such an action will only increase Hinata's nervousness and therefore making her more prone to mistakes, Neji wisely chose to stay quiet and instead, labored his breathing to calm himself.
Unfortunately, Hanabi was different.
"Ouch! Damn, that hurt!" Hanabi complained as she rubbed her forehead and winced. She could already feel a bump slowly forming on the soft spot, and she cursed. "You are the worst driver ever, sis!"
"I-I'm so-o s-s-sorry, Ha-Hanabi..." Hinata stuttered, close to tears. "I-I'm really te-terrib-ble at thi-this, ar-aren't I?"
"Damn straight, you suck!"
"Enough!" Neji ordered sternly, successfully quieting both girls. "Hanabi, stop using such foul language and harassing your sister, or so help me, I will drag you out of this car."
Hanabi scoffed but dutifully sunk on her seat at the back. Neji eyed her for a moment using the rear mirror, before his gaze turned to Hinata, who instantly jumped at the attention.
"Hinata, start the car and do what I told you all over again."
Hinata nodded mutely and reached for the ignition. The car immediately roared to life the moment Hinata turned the key, and with a tick, the car's air condition started to work, slowly but surely cooling the inside of the car.
Another sigh escaped Neji's lips as Hinata mumbled to herself the instructions her older cousin had given to her. By the time Hinata gave herself an encouraging nod, the car was already cooled, which Neji was thankful for. The day was just too hot (seeing as it was mid-July) and he was sweating profusely.
Hinata slowly maneuvered the car, her concentration clearly set on the open road. It was Neji's idea to start the lessons in a well-secluded area, where Hinata could concentrate on the road alone, without having anyone to honk at her impatiently or yell at her for being incredibly slow.
"You're doing good," Neji assured, and at the corner of his eyes he saw Hinata's lips curve into a smile despite the tears still flowing on her cheeks. "Keep this up and shift to second gear."
"Yes, big brother." Hinata answered and moved to shift the lever, her actions looking more and more confident as she encountered no more mistakes.
Secretly, Neji was thankful that Hinata did not stutter when she replied, because whenever Hinata stuttered, she was bound to always commit an error or two. And if things go from bad to worse, Hinata would suddenly lose consciousness, and it would take a few minutes for her to wake up and recover.
At the thought, Neji frowned. If he were to think it thoroughly, Hinata was a traffic hazard in the waiting!
He massaged his temple as he wondered why on earth was Hiashi throwing his accident-prone daughter to the road, where dangers lurked and waited for a victim.
Neji thought of convincing his uncle to just drop this whole driving thing and assign a personal driver for Hinata. That would most certainly protect the girl. But one look at his cousin's determined face gave him pause.
Behind him, Hanabi cheered on as Hinata continued to drive, and when the older girl successfully parked the car, Neji concluded that perhaps teaching Hinata to drive was not exactly a bad thing after all.
That was until he ordered Hinata to back up and start all over again. With a nod, Hinata positioned her hands in the proper places. She adjusted the rear mirror and started to back the car. However, just as the vehicle moved backward, the three Hyuugas heard a loud yelp, followed by anguished cries.
Everyone in the car froze, until Hanabi rushed outside to check on what they just hit. Neji silently prayed that it was just a stray animal and the thing had probably scampered off to God-knows-where when the car hit it.
Beside him, Hinata was starting to fidget, her fingers pale and trembling as she tightly grasped the steering wheel. Neji wished Hanabi would hurry up and tell them that she was nothing significant, so they could start the lesson all over again.
"HOLY SHIT!" Hanabi suddenly exclaimed from outside. "WE JUST HIT A PUPPY!"
And Neji cursed as Hinata fainted.
"Oh God, oh God, oh God... Big brother, drive faster! I think he stopped breathing!"
Neji's left eye twitched, but he did as he was told, slamming his foot against the pedal. At the passenger's seat sat Hanabi, with the battered puppy lying on her lap. The poor thing was now covered in a soft, wool-like cloth, most probably a shawl owned by one of the Hyuuga sisters.
Hinata, who was still unconscious, lay at the backseat, dead to the world.
Neji made a sharp turn around the corner as he was just as eager as Hanabi on taking the pup to a veterinarian. He chanced a glance at the puppy and noticed, to his horror, that it indeed looked like it stopped breathing.
But as if reading his mind, the puppy weakly wiggled in its place and whined pitifully again, as if to remind the three Hyuugas that it was hurt badly and it was all their fault.
Hinata woke up, only to faint once more as soon as she heard the puppy's cries, leaving Neji to silently hope that she did not hit her head the moment she passed out.
By now, Hanabi was on the verge of crying, and Neji gripped the steering wheel tightly as he focused on the road.
He finally reached the clinic, and once he had parked the car, Hanabi hastily leapt from her seat, the wounded animal held tightly against her chest. A slight ringing of the bell was heard when Hanabi swiftly entered the veterinarian's clinic.
As for Neji, he decided to stay in the car to take deep, even breaths. He needed to calm himself; plus, he could not possible leave Hinata in the car, by herself, now could he? With a sigh, Neji moved to pinch the bridge of his nose. A headache was beginning to show, and it looked like it would not end any time soon.
By the time Hinata had finally woken up, the vet was no longer around.
"She's at the operating room, stitching the puppy up," Hanabi answered when Neji gave her an inquisitive stare. The girl fiddled with what looked like a small belt, and as Neji's questioning glance never wavered, Hanabi shrugged.
"The little guy has an owner."
"Ah," Neji replied, taking a seat at Hanabi's left. Wordlessly, Hinata took the seat at her younger sister's right. Neji then held his palm up, silently asking for the dog tag. Hanabi was quick to give it to him.
Examining the tag, Neji scowled as the only information engraved on the dog's license was the name, "Tobi", followed by a series of numbers that was most likely the owner's cellphone number.
"Have you made the phone call already?" Neji asked, earning a scandalized stare from his cousin.
"Are you mad?!" Hanabi screeched, making Hinata flinch. "What am I going to tell them, big brother? That my sister ran over their dog and now we're waiting to see if he'll live or not? Nuh-uh, I don't think so!"
Hinata whimpered in her seat, and to avoid another fainting incident again, Neji stood in his seat and growled.
"Fine. I'll do it."
Whipping his phone out of his pocket, Neji distanced himself from his two cousins before dialling the number in the tag. He heard the rings as he waited for someone to pick it up. By the third tone, a click was heard, and someone from the other side spoke.
"Sarutobi Konohamaru here. Who are you and what the hell do you want?"
The voice clearly sounded high-pitched and childish that Neji had to bite back a groan. This was trickier than he had expected, and he was beginning to feel his migraine coming back with a vengeance. Sighing, Neji began to explain.
The headache was inevitable. Neji thought as he sat heavily on the sofa.
The owner – Konohamaru, was it? – lashed on and on about how irresponsible Neji was for hitting a cute puppy as Tobi. And then, the boy went on a vicious tirade, saying that he was marching to the clinic right away and that Neji better pay up for everything because it was all his fault, damn it!
For his part, Neji remained quiet, knowing fully well that Konohamaru had a point – they were the ones at fault here. And so, like the proper gentleman his uncle had raised him to be, Neji took all the insults and answered in affirmation regarding the bills and whatnot.
Konohamaru's reply was a snort, followed by a click then a series of dial tones. The boy had hung up on him! Neji rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to throw his phone at Konohamaru, the moment the boy showed up.
Instead, he welcomed the blissful silence as he sat between his cousins. He knew, for sure, that once the loud owner arrived and be as obnoxiously loud as he was on the phone, the silence would be but a distant memory and a well-needed luxury.
A few minutes later, the ring of a bell jolted Neji out of his musings, and someone, a brown-haired boy about Hanabi's age, entered the room in haste. He swiftly moved to the counter and noticed that the doctor was not around.
Brown eyes scanned the room before landing on Neji and his cousins. The eldest Hyuuga moved to stand up and introduce himself, but he was surprised when Hanabi immediately sprung up from her seat and pointed a finger at the new arrival.
She screamed, her voice mixing with the boy's, as he too had the same reaction as hers.
Hinata watched the pair curiously, lavender eyes gazing at her sister and then to the boy and then vice versa. Neji clenched his fist so hard that something cracked in his hold.
Startled, he glanced at his hand and noticed, to his dismay, that he had forgotten to pocket his phone back, and now, the tiny piece of technology in his hand had cracked into an even tinier piece.
This was, definitely, not his day.
And this was most probably the last time he'd indulge in his uncle's weird orders.
-Edited a bit. Thanks to Guest for pointing that out!-
It's been more than a year since I wrote a NejiTen-related story. So here, hope you like! Also, NejiTen will be a given, of course; however, you can also suggest a pairing if you'd like, and I'll be more than willing to insert said pairing here.
Oh, and lastly, I'm not good at driving, so if I committed mistakes, feel free to point them out. I'd also love some helpful comments, but flames shall be used to make cake because I need some cake in my system.
Anyways, Fruity out!