[r]ating: ESRB Rating of T for Teen
[t]heme: 3. White Out
[s]ummary: Tenten had a tendency to avoid looking at her non-Hyuuga students in the eyes. It was something Aburame Shinji couldn't help but notice about his jounin sensei.
[n]otes: Inuzuka-Hyuuga-Aburame dream team "younger clan-relatives" remix. Some ShinoHina because I'm insane like that. No descendants of canon characters involved.
One In a Thousand
"The love of a young man whose sweetheart married an older man for money burns with a sputtering uncertain flame.
And there is a love … one in a thousand … burns clean and is gone leaving a white ash.…
And this is a thought she never explains"
--CARL SANDBURG, "White Ash"
Tenten had a tendency to avoid looking at her non-Hyuuga students in the eyes. It was something Aburame Shinji couldn't help but notice about his jounin sensei.
He watched her. He would have expected the Hyuuga, Hideki, to watch her, but he didn't. And the Inuzuka didn't seem to look at anybody's eyes. Dogs didn't like eye contact, he recalled.
He found his teacher attractive. He wasn't conflicted about it, though he didn't talk about it with anybody. He had no interest in talking about it, even if he wasn't ashamed.
"Why?" The student finally asks the teacher.
The teacher, startled, shifts her grip on her yari, changing her strike. The blow, which at first would have taken his shoulder, rises to mouth-level.
Instinctive reaction, the student knows, to being questioned during battle. If your opponent is dumb enough to think he can get anything out of you, disabuse him of that notion. Emphasis on 'abuse'.
He couldn't seem to stop watching her and watching Hideki. The Hyuuga noticed, he could tell. The Hyuuga saw everything.
Especially other approaching Hyuugas.
"How far away is he?" Tenten asked, rubbing the back of her neck.
She was sensitive to the Byakugan. Shiji had surmised that when she once leaned over and tapped Hideki on the back of the head while looking in a completely opposite direction.
There was no way she could have known that Hideki was using the Byakugan.
At the time, none of them had noticed the way her hand curled into a fist at the nape of her neck. Now, though, it was a sign that she knew she was being watched.
Hideki furrowed his brow. "Four hundred metres and closing."
Already four hundred meters? And the tone in which Hideki said that, either he didn't like the approaching Hyuuga or he didn't like how fast he was moving.
"When did you see him?"
Tenten shook her head. "His maximum distance is sixteen hundred."
"I'm not him."
"There is nothing TO--"
"--Kaze, when did you hear him?"
"Six hundred metres." The only other kunoichi on their team, Kaze, smirked and hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her pants. Although she had normal vision (rather less glamourous than Tenten's 20/16, which was absolute perfect outside of Uchiha or Hyuuga vision, Shinji's own heightened awareness of motion, or Hideki's Hyuuga eyes), she had an amazing sense of smell, and her hearing could pinpoint heartbeats from up to 600 metres. She and Tenten had once taken a hunting trip.
"Shinji, any friends who might be pissed off at him?"
Shinji hid his smirk behind his older cousin Shino's jacket. Oh yes, he had several 'friends' who could be persuaded to dislike the approaching Hyuuga. Several thousand, in fact.
Unfortunately, he didn't exactly have a telepathic link with any of the other insects. His link with what he considered lesser insects was hard to explain. Unique to Aburame, but not telepathic.
"Let's give him a nice surprise." Their instructor smirked and stretched her fingers, tugging on a wire.
"Why what?" The teacher asks, later, after their small battle is over.
"I'm not here for you," the Hyuuga murmured, brushing directly past Hideki to approach their instructor.
Their instructor smirked. "I didn't think you were here for him."
The Hyuuga focused entirely on Tenten.
"Tenten." Something about his voice changed. It wasn't raw, or deeper, or husky. But there was an edge to it, almost a plea.
The student removes his sunglasses. "Why don't you ever make eye contact?"
"Later," she said, deliberately making eye contact with the Hyuuga. "Later."
He said nothing, merely watching her. She didn't say anything either.
They stood, looking at each other, perhaps analysing each other, for several minutes.
And then she closed her eyes.
"I find pupil movement... Kind of gross, actually. Comes from working with Hyuugas for so long." The teacher looks away. "And when I'm dealing with Hyuugas-- I call it a fade. It's sort of like fugue. You make eye-contact, and it's like you're lost."
He never understood that moment until he saw Shino with his team-mate, Hyuuga Hinata.
The Hyuuga woman had been holding an armful of flowers, a tiny smile on her face.
His cousin's hand had found its way to her shoulder, and though the collar of Shino's jounin vest had blocked the lower half of his face, Shinji had been fairly certain that his cousin was smiling.
Hinata had looked up, looked over.
Their gazes had collided through peripheral vision. Shinji was sure of it. And shouldn't the sunglasses have blocked that connexion, whatever it was?
And yet somehow they both went still.
"You see all white," Shino had explained, later. "The internal reaction is exactly like a young kikai when suddenly exposed to bright light."
Shinji mentally chewed on that for a long, long time. Young kikai usually froze in response to sudden bright lights. The telepathic bond had always conveyed a sense of wonder and fear. A sort of, So, so pretty... but what IS it? Will it hurt? kind of reaction.
"I just see white," the teacher says. She instinctively closes her eyes as she imagines it. "It starts like a haze, but as you keep focusing, it just gets brighter and brighter, until it's all white."
Shinji always thought that maybe Neji held his sensei trapped with more than just his talent, with more than the bond they shared as former team-mates, with more than shared song and shared sorrow.
Shinji always thought that maybe Neji held Tenten with his eyes. He captivated her, Shinji decided, every bit as much as she so obviously trapped him.