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tentsuke in narukorp

Aftermath [Nejiko, Tentsuke]

[ooc: takes place immediately after this log but again "before all the dramaz with Asuka"™]

He suggested the walk afterward. He would have suggested it anyway but the mood that hung around her when she exited the room just changed the location. He didn't want to stay here or go home where pets would demand attention. So he chose a path to a park in town that neither of them frequented much. Whatever was wrong, it couldn't be good and he didn't want to chose some place familiar that would then be tainted in their memories if she was about to deliver bad news.

It was almost nice out today. When he found a bench in the shade, he sat down and linked his hands on top of his bent knees. The cicades were singing in the background and the soft breeze brought relief from the heat but he couldn't get rid of the feeling in his stomach that something was wrong. The walk over had provided enough time to run through the entire discussion with Nejiko's aunt several times but he just couldn't see anything blatant that he had done wrong.

It was clear he never would. So as he sat down, he couldn't help but frown a bit. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know what I did but.. I'll try to fix it, whatever I need to do."

For all that she was trying to maintain her composure, to keep everything in, a mixture of agitation and the sensation of being gutted quite cleanly still managed to leak around the facade. She hadn't done anything except nod curtly when he suggested the walk. Getting away from the compound, to any place other than within the walls, was more than preferable. It was necessary. He hadn't tried to speak while they walked, and neither had she.

"You didn't do anything," she answered quietly. "She was... actually a little impressed with you, I would think."

Her hands were folded in her lap, fingers laced, and gripping each other so hard her normally pale skin was bone-white. Different facial muscles ticked at random as she replayed Hiashiko-sama's words in her mind, over and over. The words themselves were hard enough, but the emotions spurred by same were worse.

It should have been a relief but it wasn't at all. So he nodded once to at least acknowledge that he had heard her. He saw her hands grip tight but he didn't reach over. Instead, he relaxed his hands a bit and tried to calm down in the hopes it would help her. He also used the time to try to muster up the courage to ask what it was. Because if it had been anything to do with him, he could have fixed it, somehow.

"Then," he started. "What did she say to you?"

Anger flashed through her eyes, showed on her face in the way her nostrils flared and her lips curled in a faint but definite sneer. "As I anticipated, the topic of the potentiality of marriage came up." A pause to separate that statement from the next. "Also discussed was the consideration--her consideration, excuse me, that I might choose to end our relationship." She pressed her lips into a flat line while her eyes focused on something in the distance. Far beneath the surface, disgust began to mix with fury.

She realized her hands were aching, and looked down to her lap to see her fingers had cramped up and though she tried to unbend them, they were locked tight and didn't respond to her mental commands.

"I--" She exhaled loudly, her shoulders falling as if under an immense weight before they tightened in frustration. The sudden, unfamiliar burning sensation in her eyes didn't help, either. "Could you help me with my hands? They won't let go."

She asked so he got over the block that had kept him from doing so in the first place. It took just one of his to cover hers and then a bit of work to slowly pry the fingers free. "Hey," he said, seeing the emotion play out across her face. "Remember what I said, it'll be okay, no matter what."

He didn't make promises he couldn't keep and this was one of the more important ones he had ever made. He had been ready to do whatever was necessary to make this work, he had told her that as well. He couldn't fathom what could have possibly upset her this much so he just waited for her to start talking again.

(Now free of each other, her hands decided to latch onto his.)

"She... reminded me..." The words came slowly, almost laboriously as she forced her mouth to shape the sounds pushed from her lungs. "...that if I married within the Branch or outside the clan, any children I had would... be Branch." If she was struggling before to respond, she was doubly so now. "She also said... she's long felt that should I marry into the Main, she would... keep my children un-unmarked."

She turned her head away then, to hide the traitorous liquid that slid down that side of her nose. Her hands held on tighter.

The first part wasn't exactly a surprise. Hyuuga politics confused most people but everyone knew how the Main/Branch split worked. The second part... He managed to get one of his hands free (trying not to cringe at the impression of her own hand that had been embedded into it) and used a thumb to get rid of the tears.

If he had been able of more complex plotting, Tentsuke might have wondered if this hadn't been the aunt's plan all along. The perfect way of getting the strongest clan member back into Main. "That's..." he started, forcing his voice to be steady, "good though, right? It's almost like being let back into Main."

She flinched a little when he wiped her face (she was Hyuuga, she was not supposed to exhibit such flagrant shows of emotion because it implied a lack of control). Then stilled when he spoke.

Fresh anger flooded her. "Except I have never been a part of the Main to begin with," she responded with sharp enunciation. "I am Branch." Using her free hand, she reached up to pull the hitae-ate down so he could see the raised scarring on her forehead that proclaimed that fact to all. "Always have been. Always will be. I accepted that a long time ago. Whatever else, I accepted it." Hated it, reviled it, dearly wished to be free of it, but accepted it all the same.

It still wasn't fair. In fact, it was decidedly cruel, in her mind, to offer such. She dropped her gaze and squeezed her eyes shut tight. And she wondered, bitterly, if the only reason it had been made in the first place was because she was Hizashiko's daughter.

He didn't say anything for a while as he tried to think things through. He had gotten sent to Konoha because he was the best fighter of his age group, not because he was the smartest or politically motivated. He just happened to have a knack picking up anything his family made and mastering it quickly. Sometimes, he figured that by being so good in one thing, it meant a lot of other things just wouldn't fit in his head. And he was okay with that. He might get hit on the had a lot by assorted spoons for not catching the intricacy of protocol or politics but it never seemed to be that much a detriment.

Until now. He tried to understand but just couldn't. And it wasn't just frustrating, it was disheartening that he didn't know how to fix things.

He gently pushed a few strand of hair back over her forehead because the park was public after all and he knew how she felt about things like that. His brow scrunched and he tried again. "Okay, then... what's at issue?" he asked. "Did she say you had to marry into Main?"

"No." The smile that graced her face was small and vicious. "She wished me to keep it in mind as a factor in considering any relationship I might have. She's left the choice up to me." And wasn't that the biggest irony. It was one thing to rail against the choice being taken from you, or not to be presented one at all, but when decision was yours...

She wished--it didn't matter what she wished. What was fact, was fact.

She rubbed her forehead, both to futilely try and rid herself of the headache as well as to actually feel the seal. Because she always kept it covered in one way or another, the skin was sensitive there, and the pressure and feel of her fingers was odd. Yet again she silently flung curses at Fate, but more with tired resignation than hot disdain. She was worn out, plain and simple.

He went the silent route again as he ran the conversation through his mind. Okay, no order to marry into Main house, that was good. She was just supposed to keep it in mind, fine. And she left the choice up Nejiko... wasn't that the best possible outcome? He shifted back into the bench and stretched out his legs, using his free hand to push some hair out of his face.

"So the choice is up to you," he repeated, making sure that that was the most important point. "And it's not like you have to make a choice right away. I'm not going anywhere."

A mute nod. He tried, she knew, but some things couldn't be understood unless you had lived with it.

The hand in his loosened but didn't leave. "My problem is... Why must this even come up now?" To elaborate more would be a feat indeed. Amazing the difference between knowing something in your head (means to an end) and in your heart (marriage?). She ran her other hand through her hair, unconsciously pushing the thin covering of her bangs away from the seal. "Why can't things ever be simple..."

"Eh," he said with a soft smile, "if everything was simple, then the rewards for getting through them wouldn't mean nearly as much." He squeezed her hand a bit. "Not much point in over thinking it. Why not just..." He stopped and tried to think about how to best phrase this. Some part of him was afraid that he might appear to be belittling her anxiety. But as he had said many times before, not only didn't he understand but having decided to pursue this, he had no doubt that things would work out.

As for bring up the prospect of marriage, well hell that hadn't been fun but also not wholly unexpected considering she had already almost been married once. And he was insulted that she seemed so opposed to the idea. If after one date she had made up her mind... okay, not even he was that good.

"Why not just try things out for a while," he continued. "I don't think anyone is demanding you make a final decision right now."

"That's all I want to do. Try things out." She glanced up at him through the hair that had fallen back over her face. "I liked the date we had. I enjoyed myself, and I want to do something like that again. Can you understand that, at least?"

Proof that she could, indeed, spell something out in simple terms.

He smiled a bit and puffed out his chest with a smile. "Yeah, well that was pretty much a given," he stated confidently. "Like you'd be able to resist my charm especially after that perfect first date." That 'planned over the course of several years' first date but... he could wing the next one. Maybe... CRAP. He never really thought past the first date because well... he never expected the first date to actually happen.

Not that he let any of that show. Brimming with confidence and all that.

"Hn." Smiling faintly, she pushed the hair from her face so she could replace her hitae-ate over her forehead. Having the mark covered again helped her feel a little more herself. Tentsuke smiling like he generally did contributed also. "Thank you."

He put a hand to the back of his head sheepishly, not entirely sure why he was being thanked but happy about it none the less. At least it seemed she was feeling better. One less thing to stress about in his world, important with the jounin exams coming up.

"Anytime," he settled on, deciding it was a safe enough response.

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