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konoha_fifth in narukorp

Marriage? What Marriage? [Tsurude, Nejiko]

[[backdated to immediately after Waiting for the Storm]]

Thus far, Tsurude thought, he'd had a very productive day. No emergencies - not even of the running-out-of-coffee type - no meetings with the council (not even random encounters in the hall), and even in the few meetings he had had scheduled, they were casual affairs that weren't stressful or really even all that important. (He should talk with the minister of commerce more often; man knew his alcohol.)

This meant that, by Tsurude's standards of 'productive', he had had six cups of coffee, three cups of tea, ramen for lunch, eight saucers of sake (just to test if the minister could really name alcohol by taste alone), signed twelve documents, read four, and had two naps. His inbox had increased by twenty-three documents and four petitions, but that was just the nature of the beast. It only grew, never diminished.

So when his secretary nosed in and claimed Hyuuga Nejiko was there on clan business, it kind of soured his mood. Not that Hyuuga Nejiko was there to see him, but rather that they couldn't talk about pleasant things, like the next mission he wanted her to go on. No, if she was here on clan business then it was only going to be about unpleasant things. Well, at least it wasn't Hiashiko and her jailers.

"No," he told her when she entered the office. "Does that about cover everything?"

While there was a part of her that would have loved to turn right around and take his answer back to the council, Nejiko knew she couldn't do that as it simply wasn't how she was. "Unfortunately, Hokage-sama, you need to be aware of what it is you're saying 'no' to, lest any of the Elder Council choose to visit you in person." She dropped the wax-sealed envelope on his desk, and with obvious disgust. "That is the clan's petition for you to allow me, as a member of the Hyuuga clan, to be allowed as long a leave of absence from shinobi duties as deemed necessary in order to enter into an arranged marriage and produce a child." She paused a beat, the loathing she felt showing (however muted) in her eyes. "Yes, I took the liberty of reading it, and giving you the translation."

While the expression on his face didn't give much away, in his head the Hokage was doing the equivalent of a double take. They wanted to what? ... well, it probably wasn't all that surprising, but damn. The council hadn't taken long after putting a leash on Hiashiko, had they? Putting Nejiko through the whole ball and chain thing seemed a little on the bizarre side what with their whole Branch and Main thing, but hey, who was he to try and figure out what went on in their crazy inbred skulls, right?

After a long heartbeat of silence, Tsurude plucked the petition up off his desk, breaking the seal (not needing to ask how Nejiko had 'read' it) and going over it himself. Not that he doubted the girl's word, but.

And we hereby request that blah blah blah blah for the time necessary to blah blah conceive and produce an heir to blah blah blah.

"Well," he said after another long moment, especially after seeing all the signatures at the bottom. "They really want to get you in the sack, don't they."

Nejiko permitted herself a snort as she crossed her arms over her chest. "They want to make sure that one, I don't get killed before I produce an heir, and two, that the strength of my blood returns to the Main family. Hinaji's... lack of strength is an embarrassment to the Main, and my own prowess deepens the shame. The Elder Council have selected five candidates from the Main family, and have told me that should I refuse to pick one, the choice of my 'future husband' will be presented to my mother." No need to comment further in regards to Hizashiko on the matter. This meeting with Tsurude was to hopefully prevent it even reaching that.

"I do not want to be a part of any of this," she stated with quiet vehemence.

From her entrance alone, he could easily judge that she wanted nothing to do with this. Not that he was particularly surprised; the girl had obviously never taken too well to being a trained guard dog, essentially, and being forced into a breeding program wouldn't exactly sweeten her disposition towards her handlers.

All the same, with the Hyuuga it still paid to tread lightly. There were certain pacts and agreements that had to be upheld due to their assistance in the formation of Konohagakure, and no matter how much he enjoyed pulling on their collective tail, there were some niceties that still had to be observed. It had been easier when Hiashiko was still the de facto head, and not just a puppet - or at least, less of a puppet than she was now - because over the years he'd established an understanding with her. Of sorts. At any rate, it was years easier tweaking her than the Hyuuga council en masse, and he really didn't feel like stepping in anything deep just today.

"And why," he said after a very long, drawn-out moment, "do they think they need to ask my permission?" Not, he thought privately, that they'd given him that much courtesy in many matters in the past.

"Because I told them that their request--" said with the tone of how it was not a request, but a command, "--would interfere with my duties as a shinobi and an ANBU, and that in order to comply with my call to clan duty, your permission was needed." Nejiko hoped fervently that he wouldn't give it. ...and then the thought occurred to her that perhaps in this instance, she should ask his aid. She couldn't ignore the sting to her pride--not completely--but sometimes, just sometimes, pride needed to be set aside. "Please, Hokage-sama. Help me with this."

... he supposed he could give her that on the ANBU side of the conversation. Members of ANBU did have a higher calling than that of normal shinobi, even jounin, something the clan might have forgotten when agreeing to allow Nejiko into that elite group. On basis of being a shinobi, he really didn't have enough say to prevent them from calling her back home - but as an ANBU, he had a little more slack to play with.

And to have her actually ask him to help her... clearly she was willing to do just about anything to keep from getting forced into this. Interesting indeed.

The Hokage tossed the petition back onto his desk, leaning back into his chair and stroking his chin with not entirely mock deliberation. "I'm surprised they took you at your word," he said honestly. "Just because Branch are often shinobi does not mean I have more jurisdiction over them. Unlike non-clan shinobi." All part of the ridiculous stack of pacts and agreements his grand-mother and -aunt had signed just to get the Hyuuga to agree to become founding members of Konoha.

"However, as ANBU, that is a little different." As far he recalled the organization didn't exist when Konoha was founded, and so no agreements would have been written concerning them (ANBU technically didn't qualify as 'shinobi', specifically, in the grand scheme of things). He'd have to go back over those ancient documents to be sure. "I can't speak for anything in the long run, however..." He leaned forward and pulled a mission scroll from the midst of the precariously balanced pile of papers on his desk. "... I'm afraid I already had a mission lined up for you before you even showed up. That'll have to come before I can address any petitions the Hyuuga clan may have."

Tsurude held out the paper, raising his brows. "I'm certain you'll give them my condolences."

She closed her eyes as the relief wholly encompassed her. Any delay was welcome, and if she happened to have back-to-back missions, well, that was how it worked. The Elder Council would only then be able to sit and fume. "Thank you, Hokage-sama," she replied as she took the paper from him, folding it carefully without looking at it. She would read it in headquarters.