[r]ating: ESRB rating of Teen < language, plot complexity, adult situations >
[s]ummary: There is more to Hyuuga Neji than many know. Unfortunately, when part of his hidden life goes wrong, he's going to have to keep everyone in his 'normal' life from finding out just how much more there is. AU.
[n]otes: this is only a portion of the prologue. Also, this has a very, VERY British voice.
7 October, Year 11 Tsunade
The room-- normally dust-free, with bedcovers folded perfectly (complete with hospital corners) and not a book, paper, or article of clothing out of place-- was awash in words, numbers, and symbols. Cream white walls that no-one had bothered to paint or personalize now suffered under mounds of paper tacked on, taped on, or otherwise affixed. Light pencil marks, smeared blue ink, and runny calligraphy almost entirely blotted out the blank space on the paper. The result looked not unlike what might have happened had an obsessed psychopath with a journaling fixation been given writing utensils, blank wallpaper, and full leave to redecorate the room.
The writing desk, a western-style affair, normally contained only a single stack of books, with a small stack of thin spiral notepads right beside it. The room's owner did not often stack or place papers on the desk's surface. Instead, with the tidiness, precision, and terrifying consistency of a well-organized madman, he sorted and filed each paper into a collection of manila folders. These he stored within the bottom left drawer of his desk, which appeared very large (nearly cavernous, in fact) at first glance, and was actually much larger than most who saw it thought.
Today, however, was not a normal day. In fact, Hyuuga Neji had not had a normal day since the seventh of September. Considering that it was now the seventh of October, one might go so far as to say that Neji had not had a normal month.
The accumulation of thirty abnormal days left the desk covered in paper. Frankly, it looked like a senile Shinto priest, a mad carpenter (or perhaps a geometry geek with an unhealthy attachment to spheres, trigonometry, calculus, and mathematical cryptography), and a crazed college student had each emptied out every single paper they owned onto the poor desk. Graph paper covered in approximations of various I Ching configurations, the parchment used by priests covered in tentative kotodama printed on in blue ballpoint, sheaves and sheaves of blank white stationery with tiny, evenly-spaced scribbles and various other scraps of paper very nearly hid the desk from sight.
And, unfortunately for the obviously abused desk, whatever loose-leaf paper hadn't conquered, books had eaten. Neji had piled on all sorts of books. Old books, new books, books with large print, books with lots of long words and very tiny lettering, books with tough leather binding, books that were coming apart at the spine. There were thin books, thick books (lots of these, actually, and they had tiny print), dusty books, clean books, books with food-stains or writing in the margins or bright pink highlighting. Books in Latin, books in Japanese, books in Simplified Chinese, books in Traditional Chinese, and German and English and French and there was even a book written in something Neji was fairly certain was either an Enochian tongue or Swahili. That one was useless as Neji spoke neither Swahili nor any of the Enochian tongues. He'd only kept it around for the depiction of a woman he was fairly certain was Gong De Tian giving over a young girl to a man he was equally certain was Bishamon.
Had a complete stranger-- or even someone he knew from work-- walked into his room, they would have assumed he was a madman. He certainly looked the part, scribbling in a notebook and mentally tallying the occultic significance of the numbers ten, twenty, and two.
His current state, however, would not have surprised a Hyuuga. After all, they had a greater calling. The only children the Hyuuga did not train in the Sight and proceed to place in careers that would benefit the House had a purely physical Byakugan. Those who Saw (and almost all Hyuuga Saw; it was part of being Hyuuga) went on to become shinobi or civilian as the House saw fit.
Those who Saw well chose their own paths. Or so they claimed, but the House's private martial art style focused on circular motion for a reason. The House's history possessed certain cycles. Those who merely Saw revolved around the House, caught up in its gravity without realising. But those who Saw well had just enough awareness to know that the House revolved around something, just enough significance to propel themselves out of the House's epicycle-- and orbit the House's calling.
That calling was, put simply, to Call. And that calling drew all the greater ones in, slowly but inexorably, until they began to work on the Final Summoning. The idea had existed for years, something they all whispered about late at night, after too many cups of tea and too much late-night posturing. The intelligentsia all got involved in the debate at least once a year, and every truly great Seer became involved in the search for the Final Summoning at least once.
It was a temporary fixation. A phase. But while it lasted, it was intense. Intense enough that some Seers forgot to bathe, sleep, or eat; others took care of themselves but had to be held captive from their 'normal' lives in order to preserve appearances. Nothing screamed "raving madman" or "secretly a genius occult scholar" louder than somebody chattering nonstop about the I Ching, Bishamon, Shinto rituals, geometry, numerology, Gong De Tian, the Kaiten, and whether or not the Dan Xi configuration was in fact better than the King Wen.
Somebody slid a shoji door open. The paper rustled, and Neji's head jerked up.
A teenaged girl with hair a similar colour to Neji's own red-black stepped into the room. She wore the dark green and black fuku of Konoha's shinobi academy, and her pale eyes had widened with wonder.
"Are you anywhere close?"