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weighted_wings in narukorp

Chocolate Pudding [Nejiko, Yuugao]

Nejiko felt so very glad to be home. She still needed to adhere to the same rules as when she was in the hospital, but at home on her own futon where she would not freeze. Being home also meant that Yuugao was much less likely to drop in unannounced. That, too, she counted as a blessing. After his dreaming back at the hospital, she in truth did not want reminders. It might have been better to have refused the offer of him to come by, but... But she was pretending ignorance of what happened, and while it had staved off embarrassment then she had successfully made things more difficult now. But was the discomfiture any worse than the mortification of actually admitting to not only having heard him, but (she shivered unpleasantly as she thought) watched him until she understood the sounds he was making? His own embarrassment was clear enough, and after what he had already gone through with a comrade going rogue, tacking that on in addition to his obvious distress was cruel, even for her. He was a friend and comrade, and she did care about him. He just...

He just made her extremely uncomfortable now.

Which was stupid. Aside from the dreaming, nothing had changed between them. It was not like she was unaware he had feelings for her - he had come right out and said it, after all - and yet... Something had changed in their friendship and whatever it was, she didn't like it.

She hugged herself and continued looking out her bedroom window. She missed Tentsuke. She needed him right now, to help her sort through the muddled and murky mess slowly growing in her mind, but he wasn't here.

And that was THE problem, wasn't it?

Absently she brushed a stray tear away. While she hadn't broken down again like she had when Yuugao had visited her the first time, she did have a chance to talk to Gaia-sensei, who had told her in a moment of absolute seriousness that if she needed to cry she should let herself do so as soon as she would allow herself to. Sensei understood that Nejiko's pride and conditioning wouldn't let her be so expressive where others would see or hear. And Sensei had cared enough to eschew the usual flowery metaphors the Green Beauty usually employed because she knew Nejiko only tolerated them at the best of times, and here at the worst...

(If anyone had ever been a true mother-figure to Nejiko, it had been Sensei. For all her exceedingly loud voice and espousing of the youthful ideals with an incredible grasp of purple prose that really had to be heard to be believed, Sensei had genuinely and deeply cared for each of her students as individuals as well as subordinates.)

Nejiko took Sensei's advice to heart. She had the privacy of her room, which she appreciated greatly for times like this.

Now she just had to face Yuugao. This would not be easy or pleasurable.


The sheets had been snuck back, his uniform had been cleaned, and he had done enough mantras and intensive workouts that hopefully his mind and body were completely purged of what he...didn't even want to admit to. Not that he even really remembered what had happened. Yes, he had evidence enough of what had likely gone on - the strange relief in his body, the mess... Yes, he had no doubt what had happened. But he didn't know how it had happened or what had been observed by Nejiko. He sincerely hoped she had slept through it all - oblivious to it all. The back of his mind thought not, though.

He had inquired after Nejiko instinctively, not thinking about how things had been awkward between them after his last visit to the hospital. (Again, with his mind piping up and saying she easily could have heard...) Yuugao breathed in deeply and approached the Hyuuga compound with a confident stride and posture, but his facade would not work once he was past the gates. He was far too anxious to just loosen up and think that all was well between them. Besides, he might have gotten her in trouble with her clan. ...and if not then, perhaps with this visit he would. He had worked with Hyuuga Maruko years ago and just a few of the things he remembered about her comments on the compound gave him basis to believe that he would have to be far, far more careful here.

Yuugao felt a little foolish holding the small tupperware with his homemade chocolate pudding, especially when two sets of Hyuuga eyes met him with more intensity than he was used to. Maruko had done her fair share of glares, but...this was something else. It was harsher and doubled. He only hesitated for a step and then put on a gentle smile.

"I'm here to see Nejiko-san. I was told she could accept guests."

It still felt like he was being looked at in the buff - those white eyes on people other than Nejiko were starting to creep him out - but after a quick visual examination, the two women let him pass. He was glad of their directions, too, as the compound was larger and more complicated than he had expected. And the random gardens and open space was really quite nice. The Hyuuga certainly had more than their fair share of land for the compound. It was strange, he had been living in Konoha his entire life and been in ANBU so many years...and yet, he'd never been inside the Hyuuga compound.

A few more twists and turns and he stood before the thin-sliding door that led to Nejiko's room. He took in one more slow breath in the hope of staying calm before lightly knocked on the wood beside the door and waited for her to answer.

And...if she was asleep, well, he'd just leave the pudding here and go home. It wouldn't be worth it to wake her up.
Her head snapped to the right to look at the door at the knock, but whether it was because of training or simply being startled from her musings she wouldn't say. Instead she rose from her seat, instinctively smoothing away any wrinkles the pale pewter kimono she wore. The robe was for casual dress, made of lightweight silk that was excellent for Konoha's humid summers, and the headscarf she wore to cover her seal matched it perfectly. Pure white was a color reserved for the main family only, and her usual wardrobe of black felt too much like mourning clothes. She told herself she was over the worst of it, and while her heart agreed it maintained the process was still far from over.

She was still filling out, but her continued improvement and weight gain were noticeable. Tsurude-sama's list had benchmarks she had yet to reach, but she was getting there albeit at a slower rate than in the hospital. Not because she wasn't following his instructions exactly, but because as time progressed the greater the plateaus before the next advancement. She couldn't perform even kata yet (or wasn't allowed to, yet), but she had been taking short walks with plenty of rests so could enjoy the fresh air and the birdsong. Granted, someone was usually watching her when she made this minor excursions to ensure she didn't push herself as she had shown herself to do habitually, but otherwise she was left alone.

A moment of hesitation to affix her features into a neutral expression before she slid the door open. The correct choice, she thought as she saw Yuugao standing there, tupperware in hand. He had dressed, she noted, in a manner less casual than the movie night at the hospital.

"Yuugao-san, good afternoon," she said politely.
"Good afternoon, Nejiko-san," he bowed his head and waited for her to gesture for him to enter before he dared to move forward. She had said that Hyuuga were not allowed to use the Byakugan inside the compound, but he still felt self-conscious. Even if they couldn't see him through the walls with their jutsu...perhaps they could still hear him. It wasn't as if the walls were very thick.

Once she had gestured, he bowed his head again and stepped inside, sinking into a cross-legged pose and setting down the tupperware between them.

"You look better," he said, doing his best to not stare at her room. Sure, going to her hospital room was one thing, but visiting her bedroom was quite another. ...and he really needed to stop embarrassing himself or else he'd start blushing or something even worse.
She demurred away the compliment. "As do you," she said truthfully as she knelt on a flat cushion. Yuugao awake and aware (and a little nervous; good, that meant equal footing) was much preferable to him half-dead, even less aware, and fully armed.

Inviting him in was a risk of a different sort. It was no secret that she had been training with Yuugao. Why should it have been? She was gaining valuable knowledge from an experienced shinobi. No one batted an eye that he was outclan and male. She was also confirmed as "unavailable" as she had made her relationship with Tentsuke public and the drunken episode aside her kin knew she maintained a high sense of decorum and propriety. Add in that her teammates were frequent visitors and the prospect of allowing a mentor into her room as a guest would not be considered improper.

No matter how twitchy it made her inside, being as this was her quite personal space.

Her muted inner turmoil was in fact the reason she didn't suggest they have the visit somewhere more public. Yuugao might not see it, but if any of her cousins saw they would get curious. And Fate help her--and Yuugao--if those cousins happened to be Isamu and/or Osamu. Unlike most everyone else, those two almost never knew when to stop in their teasings. Worse, they would be able to see her discomfort. While they would choose to intervene if she appeared distressed enough, they would also eventually worm enough of the truth from her to get the picture. They had with her in regards to Tentsuke, after all.

No, better her in a small environment she could control and where they were both safe from unwanted scrutiny.