Naruto Hiden / Naruto Hiden Vol 4 Chapter 2
Her Everyday Life
KA! KA! KA!
The sounds splitting out with every hit were pleasant to Tenten’s ears. She was at the usual training grounds. Her usual marks. Her usual training method.
Her feelings, however, were just a little bit different from usual.
“Wedding gifts, huh…”
As she muttered hereself, she raised back the kunai in her hands, and smoothly threw it. Another KA! rang out, her kunai lodging right in the middle of her prepared marks. It was marvellous marksmanship.
But then, for someone as well trained in weapons as Tenten, hitting the bullseye of a non-moving target from where she stood was nothing, a piece of cake.
Tenten usually headed out to training before she ate her breakfast.
On days she didn’t have missions, she always preferred to do this. She’d head out to the training grounds in the early morning, practice with kunai and shuriken until her body felt warmed up, and then go and eat breakfast.
She usually ended up eating breakfast on the training grounds, though. Her usual pattern for breakfast was eating the steamed meat buns sold by a nearby shop, and washing it down with green tea.
“What should I do…” Tenten murmured to herself again, and threw out her arm once more.
KA KA KA!
A handful of shuriken were flung from her hand this time, perfectly encircling the kunai that she’d thrown and pierced the bullseye with.
Again, it was a show of skill so easy and simple for her that she could do it with her eyes closed.
But then, it wasn’t something easy for just Tenten alone.
This level of marksmanship in practice was something that anyone who called themselves a shinobi was well-versed and well-practiced in doing.
In fact, it was something students soon learned to master after entering the Ninja Academy. It was also very normal for students who came from renowned shinobi households to have the skill taught to them by a parent or sibling even before entering the Academy.
To put it simply, what Tenten was now practicing was one of the most basic techniques.
If you asked why Tenten was still practicing such a basic skill, the answer would be that she’d been influenced by her teacher, Gai, and his words.
“Anyone who neglects their basics won’t see tomorrow!”
Those were the words Gai had said when she’d first started being taught by him.
His words had made a very big impression on the young Tenten. Lee who was standing next to her, was so deeply affected he started crying, and naturally ruined the moment.
But, Tenten still took Gai’s teachings to heart and continued to diligently practice her basics to this very day.
To begin with, Tenten had never been a ninja with mastery over a wide variety of jutsu.
Ever since the old days, while she did have a talent for space-time jutsu, her chakra control was worse than other ninjas. She’d realised early on that she’d never be the sort of ninja who could pull out large scale or complicated jutsus.
However, just because she had noticed that early on, that didn’t mean Tenten had gone and given up on being a strong and impressive kunoichi. She didn’t have that sort of weak mindset.
In Tenten’s case, it had been a good thing that she had been able to realise what she was suited for and what she was bad at while she was still young. Because as soon as Tenten knew what her limits were, she started to frantically think about what field would be best suited for her as a shinobi. And when she found the answer, she was quickly able to resign herself to that path, and pursue it full-heartedly.
The answer Tenten had found was: Ninja Weaponry.
Handling weapons like shuriken or kunai was the norm for anyone who called themselves a shinobi, but there was no one who specialised in weaponry –let alone someone who mastered it.
That was what Tenten devoted herself to. It went without being said that she aimed to be more skilful than any other shinobi when it came to common weapons, but she also trained herself to fight with weapons that other shinobi rarely ever used, weapons that other shinobi wouldn’t even recognise on sight, weapons of every kind and variety.
Tenten forged herself a unique path to walk on.
When it came down to it, the reason she’d had such thoughts was most likely because of her teacher Gai, and her teammates Lee and Neji. They’d influenced her greatly.
Gai’s name was renowned for being the best Taijutsu user in the village. Lee admired him, and simple-mindedly trained to be just as he was. And Neji had always been called a genius in the jutsu of the Gentle Fist passed down in his renowned family, the Hyuuga.
Tenten had spent time with them, trained with them, occasionally sparred with them and gained a considerable grounding in taijutsu. To begin with, before ninjutsu or genjutsu came into the picture, taijutsu had been the groundwork of shinobi accomplishments.
Tenten learned taijutsu fiercely under Gai’s tutelage, and she did well. However, Lee and Neji were both learning and training along with her, and Tenten eventually came to realise that she was never going to reach their level of stamina or physical strength.
Team Gai had the highest level of taijutsu competency in the entire village, and by training under Gai and sparring with Lee and Neji, Tenten’s level had come to the point where her taijutsu was superior compared to every other shinobi but her teammates.
In the midst of all her training, part of Tenten couldn’t help but unconsciously compare herself to Lee or Neji, or even Gai.
I’m the most incapable within this team.
That was the thought that nagged Tenten every second of her training.
However, that thought was what had spurred her onto her unique path.
Gai and the rest could break a boulder with their bare fists. Tenten didn’t have the ability to so much as consider doing that with her own hands.
That was why she armed her hands with kunai.
So she could be equals with Lee and Neji. So she could walk alongside them.
In time, Tenten did end up polishing her talent for space-time jutsu, and learned how to summon endless varieties of ninja weapons using scrolls.
By that time, partly due to all her days spent learning about various weapons, Tenten had become completely enraptured by the charm of Ninja Weaponry. She looked twice at the weapons she held in her hands, and marvelled at their beautiful simplicity,.
Back in her Academy days, she’d had female classmates who said that kunai were plain and dull. They didn’t understand a thing. It wasbecause a kunai was plain and dull that it was so charming.
Tenten hadn’t said her thoughts out loud back then, but her current self would. Her current self was continuing to train with the goal of becoming the number one master of Ninja Weaponry, after all. Her thoughts were devoted to Ninja Weaponry more than anyone else’s.
Even the crudest blade had a beautiful side to it.
Ninjutsu and Genjutsu, and even Taijutsu, none of them could win against the beauty of Ninja Weaponry.
Of course, while she would say her thoughts out loud if she wanted, that didn’t mean Tenten went around unnecessarily lecturing people about them.
She expressed her thoughts with her actions, not her words. The sight of her kunai smoothly slicing through a target, for example, was far better than any worded explanation. That was how Tenten thought.
But she had to make sure her aim was superb, or there would be no point. That’s why Tenten didn’t skip a single day of practicing the basics. Every day, she silently polished her weapons, readied them for practice, and hit her targets.
Lee and Neji…Tenten watched their hardwork and talent more close than anyone, and they were why she put every effort into her training. Because no matter how strong those two got, they never neglected their basics either.
All of that was why…
Even though these basic skills were things that anyone could do, that anyone could manage to do well as long as they had good instincts, even if they didn’t practice much, even so Tenten still practiced tens and thousands of times, repeating the motions again and again.
Her body, her arms, even her very fingertips, she was going to practice and practice, and instil instinct into every inch of her.
In actual combat, the mark wasn’t going to just kindly stay still for you. She wouldn’t have the luxury of aiming from a standstill either. If you stand still, you’re going to die.
But Tenten still always started out practicing by throwing kunai into the middle of still targets.
She eventually ends up throwing the kunai hundreds and hundreds of times, repeating the motions over and over again, and then eventually…
Eventually, even when her targets are moving in complex patters, for a single instant, she can feel like they’re still. Be it kunai or shuriken, they fly from her hands and sink into the targets like the mark is calling for them.
To constantly practice a basic skill that anyone can do, every single day, without skipping it once, repeating it over and over again…that dedication was something not just anyone could do. The world had to be able to see that.
And so her dedicated training eventually bore fruit. Her skill increased to the point that if you now asked any of her comrades who the best weapon user was, their answer would be immediately be “Obviously, it’s Tenten.”
It was a natural result of her hard work, but it was something that made her extremely happy. Of course, she felt proud about it too. But today, devoting all her thoughts to Ninja Weaponry was something that was causing her a bit of trouble.
“Argh- this- I can’t think of anything!”
Several loud thuds of ZUGAGAGAGA accompanied Tenten’s annoyed voice, and a bunch of shuriken thudded into their targets, the loud noises echoing across the empty training grounds. She was surrounded by targets that were covered with kunai and shuriken. Of course, not a single one was off-mark.
When Tenten had first heard about the wedding gift business, she’d immediately thought to herself, ‘Alright, I’ll give them some custom-made kunai!’
She had made her decision, was satisfied with it, and the whole thing should have been over with right then.
However, that night…
Tenten had been lying down in her futon, looking listlessly up at her ceiling. She was almost on the verge of sleep when a single thought broke into her mind:
Other than a kunai, I wonder what sort of a gift would be good?
Tenten was shocked when she couldn’t immediately think of anything. She ended up spending the rest of the night growing more and more agitated when she couldn’t find the answer.
Thanks to that, she hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.
Stifling a yawn, Tenten moved forward to collect her shuriken and kunai from where they had been embedded on the many targets.
There were lots of posts sticking out on the training grounds that Tenten frequented. Some of them were as tall as a normal person. Other users usually used the stakes for when they were training in taijutsu, for kicking and punching. Tenten, on the other hand, used the stakes to mount the targets that she brought along.
She approached those targets, firmly and quickly pulling out the embedded kunai and shuriken in each one. For a while, she repeated the motion with each target, wracking her brain with thought the whole time.
She was no longer thinking about buying weapons as a gift, kunai or otherwise. Her train of thought had long left that option behind.
The thing was that, if you asked Tenten, a gift of any Ninja Weaponry was something she’d happily receive.
So naturally, everyone would expect that her gift to the couple would be a Ninja Weapon as well. There was nothing strange about it.
But, see, wait! Wouldn’t that just be too predictable and ordinary?
Ever since last night, for some reason or another, thoughts like that kept circling around her head. Something was nagging at her.
What was bothering her? The truth was, she already knew the answer.
“Marriage, huh…well it’s a nice thing…”
Tenten exhaled, leaning against one of the stakes. Her hands silently played with one of the kunai she’d collected.
This was what had been bothering her. Naruto and Hinata were getting married. It was a happy occasion.
Tenten herself had always been getting caught up in thinking about shuriken or kunai or flying guillotines, so she’d never had a boyfriend. She lived her life without any thoughts for romance or femininity. Hearing about someone close to her getting married suddenly made one disturbing thought fly into Tenten’s mind and refuse to leave:
Was it really okay for her to be like this?
From morning until night, it was always NinjaWeaponry, Ninja Weaponry, Ninja Weaponry… Was it really okay for a young woman to be like that?
On that note, the most recent feeling of ‘love at first sight’ for Tenten had been for the flying guillotine. She only had to hear the weapon’s name before deciding she liked it, and then gone and bought it. But well, how could she not?
And her latest favourite fashion was definitely wrist accessories. There was a device you could wrap around your wrist, and with one single pull, roll out a scroll for summoning weapons in an instant. The convenience was brilliant. You could carry out an assassination anywhere, any time. It was the latest in cutting edge technology.
But…was it really okay for her to be like that?
She’d collected a large and varied enough collection of Ninja Weaponry to open her own store if she wanted to, but she somehow always ended up buying new kunai before she even realised what she was doing.
Kunai really were the basics of Ninja Weaponry. Tenten had strong feelings about them. She had collected both common and rare weapons, but at the end of the day, kunai were always the best. She collected both common and rare types of kunai.
Well, that was fine, wasn’t it? You could never have too many kunai.
First there were those rare kunai with engravings on it. She couldn’t carry those on missions. They were a work of art. It would be best to keep them on display at home. But then, because of those kunai being at home, she needed to buy a few more kunai for mission supplies. And if those ended up running out too quickly, she’d be in trouble, so she had to buy a lot of spares as well. And then, well, since she was out shopping for kunai anyway, it was best to buy a lot of different varieties at once to save time, right…?
That was how Tenten ended up unconsciously covering an entire wall in her house with her kunai collection.
She was incredibly pleased with it. She’d gaze at it in satisfaction and think ‘alright, on tomorrow’s mission I’ll be able to smoothly hit all my targets’.
But… Was it really okay…for her to be like that?
…It wasn’t a good idea.
If she went on like this and, for example, gave those custom-made kunai as a present, then it was doubtless that everyone would say this:
“Well, it’s Tenten…”
“Tenten’s always all about kunai…”
The images of everyone saying that popped into Tenten’s mind.
It vexed her.
I’m not just some kunai woman. I have a flying guillotine too, you know. You’re wrong. That’s not all I am.
Tenten started sharpening another kunai as she brooded.
If she could find a wedding gift other than a custom-made kunai, something suitable and elegant, then…
“So you weren’t just all about kunai…!”
“Wow, as expected of Tenten!”
“You know, Tenten is someone with a great sense of aesthetic beauty!”
Those reactions would be good. What kind of a wedding present would get those kinds of reactions?
The wedding was coming up soon, so she had to go absolutely everywhere to try and find a good gift. From shops she’d already been to before to smart-looking general stores, she thought she should go and have a good look.
“Ughh, but my funds are limited…”
The flying guillotine had been expensive. But it had been one of a kind – she couldn’t not buy it.
‘If you’re wavering, buy it.’ That was Tenten’s rule that had gotten her to make such a large weapon collection.
“Well…then to sum it up…” Tenten closed her eyes, and tried to go over all the details in her mind.
Realistically speaking, she had to think of her budget first. She had to properly manage her finances if she wanted to buy a gift. Next, since she wanted to think of a gift that wasn’t a custom-made kunai, she had to think about the features of a custom-made kunai, and think of gifts that were the complete opposite. That way, Tenten concluded, she’d think of something good.
Then, in that case, that limited her options for a wedding gift to…
Tenten calmly opened her eyes.
“Something that I can afford with my limited budget. Something that gives off the feelings of a young woman. Something that doesn’t kill people…”
That would be…!
“I have no idea what that is!”
It was no good. Her head was a mess. She didn’t even understand what she was trying to say anymore.
The kunai she’d been unconsciously sharpening in her hand was now dull but shiny. She hadn’t been paying attention and done a bad job.
The thought of having to admit she was a woman with no merit besides Ninja Weaponry made Tenten feel awful. If she didn’t do something, she was going to have to…
There had to be something, something else, wasn’t there anything…?
And, at that moment–
She heard someone’s voice calling her name from a distance. The person sounded like they were getting slowly getting closer. She knew who it was even before they came into her field of sight. The only person who’d be running around with such a loud voice this early in the morning was Lee.
But when Lee’s figure finally approach theed training grounds, Tenten’s eyes grew wide at the state of him.
“Tenteeee!” Lee waved enthusiastically as he ran towards her with a smile. “Have you already decided on the wedding gift?”
“Lee?!” Tenten burst out. “What on earth are you doing?!”
Lee was unmistakably dressed like a woman.
A housewife, in fact. He’d even gone as far as to wear an apron over the dress. He looked like a middle aged housewife coming home from shopping.
Was that make up he’d tried to put on his face? He’d overdone the powder– his whole face looked unnaturally pale. And was that red smear on his mouth lipstick? He’d even made his eyebrows larger –no, on second thought, the eyebrows looked about the same.
Either way, it was a sudden and unexpected appearance that Tenten absolutely didn’t understand.
There wasn’t anything strange about being surprised by the way Lee looked. If it hadn’t been Tenten, but someone who didn’t know Lee, they probably would’ve screamed at the sight of him.
On top of everything else, for some reason Lee was carrying a dumbbell in one of his hands.
It was beyond understanding. At this point, it wasn’t so much confusing as it was frightening.
“Wh-what is this?! Why in the world are you-”
“I got it for the bride, and Gai-sense got it for the groom!” Lee gushingly answered, practically shaking in excitement. “And my clothes had gotten dirty from running so I thought I should listen to Gai-sensei’s teachings and think more about the feelings of a bride! So I dressed up like this! And after doing this I really am extra sure that dumbbells were definitely the right choice!”
“You gave me an explanation but I didn’t understand a single thing!” Tenten retorted.
As a matter of fact, she was only more confused.
Why the cross dressing?
It was all incredibly strange.
Lee lifted up the dumbbell and cheerfully declared:
“Gai-sensei and I have decided to give dumbbells as wedding gifts! Tenten, what are you going to give them?”
In that instant, something inside Tenten cleared away.
She didn’t understand, and yet she did understand. She didn’t comprehend how Lee had ended up wearing a housewife’s clothes, but she did understand that he and Gai both seemed to intend to bring dumbbells as gifts to the wedding.
And in that moment, all the things she’d been worried about suddenly seemed insignificant. The inside of her head suddenly felt clear, like a mist had disappeared.
“I came to make sure our idea wasn’t the same as yours,” Lee explained, smiling through his lipstick smeared mouth.
“No, it isn’t the same at all…” Tenten tried to keep a straight face.
“Ah, is that so? I’m glad! Well then, I’ll be continuing with my training!”
“With that get up?!”
Tenten failed to keep a straight face. When it came to Lee and Gai’s antics, it was barely possible.
She watched Lee run out of the training grounds with the same energy he’d run in with.
Tenten stretched, and let out a groan.
And, with that…
“Custom-made kunai it is!”
She didn’t have any more doubts. Tenten was very confident.
Why in the world had she been worried? Compared to dumbbells, her gift was excellent.
She felt relieved.
She was fine just the way she was, after all.
“Alright then, back to training, training~”
The pleasing sounds of weapons hitting their targets started to ring out again.
The usual training grounds. The usual targets. The usual training method.
And her usual feelings.
This was Tenten’s everyday life.