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Meeting Her Mother [Hizashiko, Nejiko, Yuugao] [log]

He could have waited for Nejiko to come to Headquarters, but he much preferred the chance to see her again. With things still so strained - especially with the Hyuuga issues that everyone was trying not to comment on - Yuugao had been hesitant to try another social call. But with the new year - and this business-related visit - he was willing to take a chance. At least it was a legitimate reason, right? And small steps of getting comfortable around each other would be progress.

Having changed into civilian clothes, Yuugao took a deep breath before coming into view of the two female Hyuuga guards at the gate. He put on a smile even as the double glares fell on him. They let him through easily enough and he remembered enough of the directions to find Nejiko's room with only one hesitation at a turn. When he found her room unoccupied - he waited a full minute before peeking inside. And the guilt he felt was awful, too. He forced back the blush and after feeling composed, Yuugao asked the first Hyuuga he spotted where Nejiko might be found. The Hyuuga man stared at him in what Yuugao recognized as hidden surprise for a moment before suggesting the training area.

After finding only empty rooms or other Hyuuga, Yuugao finally paused at the doorway to a room reminiscent of a dojo, complete with sweat-smoothed wooden floors and Hyuuga insignia marking the walls. He smiled at the sight of Nejiko going through the very kenjutsu kata that he'd taught her. He waited for her to notice him and couldn't keep back all of his smile as he leaned against the doorway.



Now that her cleaning punishment was over, as well as the holidays, things were starting to feel a bit more normal. Even moreso now that she had a clear bill of health - that pleased her the most. In a way of celebration, she decided to work on the kenjutsu kata. Smooth, flowing motions as the honed edge slit the air and all her focus was on the weapon and the movements synced with it and planned around it. Perhaps she might have used a wooden bokken, but after the dream of Tentsuke where she hadn't even been able to see his face she'd rather have something physical she could see and hold. Also, this weapon was her primary now, and she couldn't afford for sentimentality to affect her usage. It was a fantastic weapon, strong and sharp and special-made for her so she could conduct chakra through the metal for added cutting power to make up for her physical lack, but it was still only a tool. On a mission she hadn't the luxury of pretending it was anything else. It was better she reminded herself of that now.

She had noted Yuugao's presence the moment he stepped into the room's entryway, but when he smiled and remained there she judged his reasoning to be there not dire and therefore she could finish the kata. A moment's uncomfortable irritation flashed before she shed it like water, returning easily to the meditation of her form. She didn't end it in the way he had shown her, choosing to flow seamlessly into something else Tentsuke had taught her, wanting the bit of extra time. The sword spun and flashed even in the non-direct lighting, sliding around her almost like a translucent metallic kaiten of sorts as she went through a series of blocks and parries, smoothly transitioning from one-handed to two- and back again, her bare feet making no sound on a wooden floor polished to a dull but silken sheen by many such feet over the course of many generations.

The awkwardness between them she found more annoying than anything else. They had had a very good teacher-student relationship despite his admitted crush. And before her...illness there had even been talk that they might be paired for missions, hence a better part of their training. She hadn't heard anything of it since, and she didn't know whether to be grateful or not. Grateful in that she wouldn't be sure how a mission would go, outside the mission itself. They were both professionals, but there was still that human factor...

The defensive moves became offensive. Cuts, lunges, counters, all strung together in an intricate dance, and she felt herself relaxing more into the familiar motions. All of it circular, just like the defensive kata, all of it about redirecting the opponent's energy away from her while conserving her own for a more lethal counter. Same as before, she made no sound with her feet. In fact the only things to be heard in the still room were her own breathing and the faint hiss-woosh of the sword itself.

And she had delayed long enough. Whatever problems, he was still a superior officer. She finished and bowed to her invisible opponent, then went to where the scabbard lay so she could sheathe her blade and set it down. Only then did she stand again and face her visitor. "Yuugao-san, good afternoon," she greeted him. "Is there something I can do for you?"



Huh. He really should see about sparring with her again - with all of her progress he had no doubt about her keeping him sharp. Different kenjutsu styles would be a great catalyst to get him back into a more proper lifestyle. Yes, he'd gotten better about eating and sleeping, but he still wasn't completely himself. And even if he couldn't get Nejiko to see him as a potential...lover...then perhaps they could at least be good teammates and associates again.

Yuugao bowed his head at her greeting and stayed where he was. He didn't want to ruin any of the wooden floor with his scuffed shoes and so instead he held out the mission notice to her. "I thought I'd hand deliver this." He gestured his head towards the room. "You looked good. Sorry for eavesdropping."



Not entirely certain how to respond, she simply nodded in acknowledgement and walked over to him to take the folded paper he held out. An eyebrow lifted faintly, not just at the mission itself ('infiltrate an illegal fight club'?) but at the fact it would be the two of them only on this.

She had, apparently, forgotten that Fate had an incredibly nasty sense of humor. How she had, she didn't know, what with all the reminders about.

They had a few days' preparation, so she had time to let those who needed to know, know, beforehand. "When is the briefing?" she asked when she finished reading.



"1100 hours on Thursday," Yuugao put his hands into his pockets. "Though...I do have a special request of you." He hesitated a moment and then realized he probably was making himself look foolish by being so timid. He lifted his gaze and took on a more confident tone of voice.

"I could use a good taijutsu spar, if you'd be up for one. The requirement to use nothing specific to shinobi and not using any chakra has me feeling a little rusty." He smiled softly. "I'd owe you one for it."



The taijutsu-only necessity would be difficult for him, yes. However, right now was not a good time as she was planning on taking her lunch with Hizashiko. And hopefully coaxing her mother at least into doing forms to get her to be slightly more active. If they really were as alike as her family had alluded to while Nejiko was growing up, then simply moving in familiar kata would help the restlessness and frustration of not being able to do much to help Hiashiko. Also it would help her physical recovery, help her muscles to gently regain their former strength. Most importantly, it might make her happy (or happier), and that's what really mattered.

"After my nightshift, then?" Return to duty meant return to Asuka's old sentry shift. "Wear the same sort of clothing you have on now," she added, giving him a swift onceover of his jeans, sneakers, t-shirt and jacket. If they were to not be shinobi and he was feeling rusty, better he practice in the type of clothing they would have to wear for the mission itself. She, too, would need to wear the same clothing, which since she honestly didn't own any outside a single pair of jeans and leaf-symbol t-shirt, meant requisitions from supply as she certainly wasn't going to purchase raiment she'd never wear outside the mission.



"Sounds great. Our usual place then?" He had been confused for a moment about why he'd wear civilian clothing, but after remembering who he was supposed to be in the mission. Yuugao glanced down at his jeans, moving one leg farther to the side and frowning. The loose fit was comfortable, but certainly wouldn't do much for his flexibility and kicks. "I appreciate your help on such short notice," he lifted his gaze to Nejiko and pushed back the momentary worry about what Nejiko might think about him looking down at his pelvis.



She had nodded confirmation at his question of where they would meet, and didn't think anything of his groundward-glance except as another sign of his nervousness. "It is not a problem, taichou. If I can help in this, I will."



"Thanks," he smiled. And then found silence looming after only a few seconds. He could do... casual conversation. Right. He would do just a little and that would would smooth things out. Too much small talk would annoy her and he'd feel stupid for doing it.

"How have things been for you?" That would be safe. Just a general inquiry.



"Busy," she answered after a moment's pause. For there were many a thing in regards to clan life he needn't know. "But improved." In some areas. She had been a right mess the last time she had seen him; he could know that things were better, if only somewhat.



"That's good," he nodded. "I've been taking better care of myself since you last saw me." Yuugao smiled and resisted the urge to pat his stomach to show that he'd gotten less scrawny. "I've been taking on what I guess you could call a side job. It's been good to have something to occupy myself. Plus the extra money hasn't hurt."



She nodded. The fact it showed that he was taking care of himself was good. Hokage-sama had only recently had her returned to duty. She did not want to imagine the fit he would have if a captain went out on medical leave because self-inflicted malnourishment. "I'm happy for you, taichou." And she was. "However, I do have an appointment in a few minutes. I will see you around 0700, the usual place, for sparring?"



An appointment. Right. Of course she'd be busy when he wanted to actually try and talk to her. "Of course, sorry for delaying you." Yuugao stepped to the side and gestured past himself. "I should get home anyway. It was good to see you, though. It's been too long." He bowed his head in a nod.



She dipped her head. "I'm actually meeting her here, taichou," she explained when he gestured. "Be ready to work tomorrow."



"Oh," Yuugao blinked and then took a step back. "I'll see you then." He ducked his head again, smiling nervously for a moment before nodding and starting back towards the exit.



"I'll see you then," she replied.



With one more smile, he turned the corner and slowed his pace down from the slightly-too-rapid pace he had been walking at. Yuugao lightly scanned for chakra signatures and was glad to find none nearby. He let out a slow breath and after turning the next corner laid eyes on a sight he hadn't thought possible.

A Hyuuga woman that looked identical to Hisashiko-sama - minus the lost weight and scars - was walking towards him. That left only one option -- Hyuuga Hizashiko was right there.

"Hyuuga Hizashiko-san," Yuugao bowed his head deeply and forced his body to loosen out of the automatic tension that had settled in. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he lifted his face and smiled softly. "I'm Uzuki Yuugao."



Readjustment to what was, essentially, a civilian life had been very hard for Hizashiko. At least when she had been in captivity, she had been told what to do and knew what to expect. She had thought that there would be relief from that once she left, but instead she oftentimes felt a little lost on what to do. Having all that free time, and now no job to do and no part of the clan to run, made it slightly... boring almost. Luckily, her daughter was there to keep her company, readjust her to regular life, and help keep her busy when she felt lost as to what to do.

Nejiko had asked her to meet her in one of the training rooms, for lunch, and she was more than happy to oblige; Hizashiko... felt that maybe things could be a little more normal when her daughter asked to do things with her. She was dressed plainly in what really was just training clothes, just long enough hair pulled back into a small ponytail at the base of her neck, and walking briskly towards where Nejiko wanted to meet her. She was no longer skeletal and she enjoyed being able to walk at this pace without being winded at the end. She wasn't expecting, however, to see a man at the end of the hall, let alone one who knew her name and was speaking to her.

It didn't sit well with her.

Knowing there was only two outsiders common inside clan walls (Inuzuka Kiba, and Suzumo-sensei) this instantly made her wary. Sharp eyes took in the young man, lips pulled into a thin line and she simply nodded after a long moment. "Uzuki-san. What can I do for you?"



What could she do for him? He...hadn't really thought about that. So he continued to smile and straightened his posture. "I only wished to make your acquaintance. Nejiko-san hasn't spoken much about you, but... things have been strained lately." Yuugao glanced downward for only a moment. "I'm one of her teammates, if you haven't heard. It is an honor to serve with your daughter, she is very accomplished."

At least she could still get away if she felt uncomfortable with the conversation. Yuugao wasn't so blind as to not see that Hizashiko was on her guard. Then again, with what she must have been through to be gone so long and look so wasted away...well, that was more than understandable. He hadn't been able to find much information about what had become of her - the dearth rather bothered him, actually - but there was plenty to be inferred. And Yuugao was no fool.



There were reasons that little was said about where Hizashiko had been and how she had come back- certain things needed to be kept private. Hizashiko herself was very certain that large chunks of her shinobi file were bare of any words except to those that knew the words to unlock it. And quite frankly, she liked to keep it that way. There were a variety of reasons, the protection of her sister being one of them, but mostly she was a very private person and she wanted her privacy kept.

White eyes took in the young man before her, narrowing slightly at his strange words. True, teammates oftentimes became good friends (example, Hinaji and Kiba) but the way he said it, the way he reacted to it, spoke of much much more. Really, she didn't think Nejiko spoke about her at all outside of the compound but she assumed there was a little, and Hiashiko HAD announced her return to other members of the clan; it was entirely possible the outside village knew of her return by now. And if this man was a teammate, he was ANBU then, and privileged to information like a long dead Hyuuga was back. Still... there was something about this young man that he was trying to hide and not doing too well.

Then again, no one could hide much from Hizashiko.

"I had not heard," she said neutrally, still watching him with sharp white eyes. "But there has not been much time to talk about such things either. I'm sorry things have been strained lately, my return home has been slightly difficult."



"I'm one of her superiors and have gone on a few missions with her. She has been nothing but exceptional; she's even greatly improved my taijutsu, while I have shared what I know of kenjutsu with her." Yuugao smiled and pushed back the awkward feelings making themselves all too noticeable. What should he do or say now? He was starting to feel more awkward by the moment and obviously the woman had better things to do than make small talk with him. Right?

"I should take my leave, I suppose." He sidestepped so he was parallel with the walls, bowing his head a little with the movement. "I likely interrupted your schedule. It was still a pleasure to meet you, Hyuuga-san. Until we meet again?"

Yuugao kept his expression softer than normal and stayed where his was, leaving plenty of room for Hizashiko to pass. Of course, he also kept his posture as non-threatening as possible. He couldn't be sure, but her appearance made him quite sure she'd been through her share of torture. And moving too closely into her personal space could have negative consequences - if only on her impression of him.



There was something about this boy (man) that she just didn't like, and Hizashiko could not put her finger on it. And for an ANBU, he was terribly transparent. Well, then again, ANBU were only required to be non-transparent when working, she supposed. How they were in their personal life was probably different. But still, his obvious interest in her daughter, as much as he tried to hide it was, well.... obvious. And Hizashiko had heard a little about her poor daughter's loss of her love, for him to be so obvious when he knew about it...

It was not her business.

"Be well, Uzuki-san, it was an honor to meet you," Hizashiko bowed slightly back, striving not to be irritated at how he treated her like she would suddenly stab him if he moved suddenly; as much as it irritated her, it was probably a very fair assumption. "Until we meet again."



With another nod, Yuugao made his way past Hizashiko and kept his body - in all the ways he knew how - calm. Of course, there was still a nervous buzz of confusion and anxiety in his mind, but that would have to wait. To let himself show any more weakness inside the Hyuuga compound would mean even more knowing stares and uncomfortable situations. Ones that he would much rather avoid.

The Hyuuga within the compound still gave him surreptitious glance and he felt himself subconsciously straighten his posture and sedate his expression in response. He only just resisted the urge to glare at a particularly grumpy old woman.

He and the punching bag at home would get to be really good friends tonight.

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