Author: rawrchelle PM
Neji/Sakura. Sakura’s eyes are green, he realizes. So green.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Neji H. & Sakura H. - Words: 2,841 - Reviews: 40 - Favs: 125 - Follows: 10 - Published: 02-08-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4849107
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Neon White
Summary: Sakura's eyes are green, he realizes. So green.
Word Count: 2699
Warning: A little angst. But it was completely unintentional. I meant this to be fluffy and cute—epic fail on my part.
Much thanks to xx. false - deception for beta reading. :)
Neji is thirteen. Sakura is twelve.
He observes her the day after Sasuke leaves. Eyes puffy, figure trembling, barely holding herself together. He looks at her, scoffs, and turns away.
As he makes his way towards the training grounds, he crosses paths with Naruto. He's running, expression frantic, shouting loudly, "Sakura-chan!" He stops, and the blonde passes him without a greeting. Turning back, he watches as the pink-haired girl all but collapses into her teammate's arms.
Neji is thirteen. He doesn't believe in fate anymore, but he still believes in the distinct line between strong and weak.
He and Haruno Sakura are very far apart.
One day, as he returns from a mission, he finds her sitting on a bench near the main gates of the village. She has her palms resting beside her on the stone, staring up at the sky. He follows her gaze, only to see just that: the sky.
"Sakura," he says in greeting, nodding once. She shifts her attention towards him, almost reluctantly, and smiles.
"Hi, Neji. Back from a mission?"
"Yes." Somewhere behind him, he hears Gai and Lee cheering. And although he can't sense her, he knows Tenten is there somewhere as well.
"How was it?"
Deciding to wait for his teammates, he moves towards the bench. She shifts over, making room for him with no hesitation. "Successful." Silence lingers between them for a short while, and she looks up at the sky again.
He realizes that cloud-watching might be a game that people other than Shikamaru would like to play, but today, there aren't enough clouds. So he asks, "Is there something interesting up there?"
She shrugs, but doesn't look at him. "Not particularly."
"Then why are you looking?"
Her smile returns. Fainter this time, but there, nevertheless. "It's big. It reminds me of how small I am." She pauses, and he waits. "It reminds me of Sasuke, and how amazing he is—and how, through some miracle, he's still under the same sky as me." She turns to face him, and he thinks he sees a trace of tears. "This is the bench he left me on that night."
It is that day that Neji notices that Sakura's eyes are green. Very green.
Her hands are warm, Neji realizes one day. He sits on his hospital bed, very still, as she treats his wounds. He can hear Lee and Gai shouting something about youth and love and lotuses outside the door.
She smiles, and he watches as his skin is stitched back together flawlessly. "Rather lively, aren't they?" she asks lightly.
He subconsciously stiffens slightly when she brushes his untied hair from his left shoulder, where a bone has shifted. "How do you stand them?"
"I don't," he deadpans. At this, she giggles.
She continues her work in silence, and he daren't bother her. Haruno Sakura is a different person now. She's not the little girl he once saw, who relied utterly and completely on a certain Uchiha. And now, he admits, the line between their power isn't so distinct anymore.
"You may rest, if you like," he offers politely when she stops momentarily to wipe some sweat from her brow. She meets his eyes, her lips curving into that same smile. She's always smiling. He doesn't know how she does it.
"Just for a moment, then." She ruffles the back of her hair.
Pink, he vaguely absorbs. Her hair is pink. A very light, cheerful color. It suits her, he decides.
Well, at least, when she's not angry.
He looks down at his own hair; long, dark, and brown. How does she see him? Is it in a good way or bad?
For a small moment of his life, Neji doesn't know. And it's certainly not a good thing.
Team Kakashi is sparring with Team Gai.
He's interested in fighting Sakura one-on-one. After witnessing her bone-crushing strength and medical skills during battles, he's sure that she will make a fine opponent.
So they ready their positions, and begin.
She doesn't even wait for him to register it—she just attacks. He admires that about her. Someone who knows of his Hyuuga name charges without hesitation, staring head-on at his Byakugan, with her fierce emerald battling his pale lavender is someone to be acknowledged.
And so, with that thought, he fights back.
The line is disappearing. Slowly.
He isn't sure if he likes it or not.
"Neji?" His name is all but croaked, and he turns in the direction of Ichiraku, where he finds Sakura having lunch with Lee. She sounds like she's in pain.
Well, that's where the problem is. She's with Lee.
"Hello, Sakura, Lee," he greets, entering the bar. His lips are tempted to curve into a smirk at his teammate's dampened expression from having his date interrupted. After a brief change of the schedule in his mind, he sits down on the kunoichi's other side and orders himself a bowl of ramen. "How are you?"
"Alright," Sakura replies lightly, flashing him a smile. He knows it's just her normal smile, but it makes him feel warm inside. He doesn't know why.
"Neji!" Lee's loud voice is like a rock thrown into a pond; disrupting the flow and creating ripples throughout. "You must have finished your training with Gai-sensei and came to a youthful epiphany, have you not?"
He rolls his eyes. "Hardly."
When their meal is finished, Sakura offers to pay. He suddenly feels inclined to say otherwise, and treat her instead. Well, her and Lee.
Technically, Lee can pay for himself. He doesn't care much about him.
And so, after a short banter, he finally pays the bill, having agreed that he will allow her to treat him to dinner some other time. He's somewhat surprised with himself, because normally, he wouldn't do so.
But Sakura is a friend. She's a nice person. He decides that she deserves to be allowed to treat Hyuuga Neji to a meal.
Two months later, he finally gets his dinner.
It isn't as if he has no time in the world. But he has been busy the other times she had asked him out, and he certainly isn't going to change his schedule for her. Between training with his uncle and his team, missions, meditation, and family matters, a relaxing dinner is hard to find.
However, when he arrives at their appointed restaurant, surprisingly later than her, he sees a sight that's even rarer to find.
Neji has not seen Haruno Sakura falling apart since he was thirteen. But somehow, this time, even with the puffy eyes, mussed hair, and slightly trembling hands, he sees her differently.
She is not weak. She has grown to the point where she stands on the same ground as him. Even as an emotional wreck, she is not weak.
And he wonders why he sees her this way.
"Is something the matter?" he asks immediately, taking his seat across from her. It's obvious that something's the matter, but it would be impolite to say otherwise.
Her lips press together tightly for a brief moment, and he doesn't miss it. "I heard from Shishou just now," she says quietly, voice hoarse. "Sasuke killed Itachi." She swallows.
He doesn't speak for a long moment, assessing the situation. Finally, he asks, "Is that a good thing or bad?"
Her smile is faint. Broken. He doesn't understand why she still holds on to that Uchiha, even after all of these years. He doesn't understand her feelings. Although a prodigy, there are still things that he cannot comprehend. "Well, it's supposed to be a good thing."
He waits for her to continue, quiet and thoughtful.
"But he's not coming back." At this, he sees tears slipping down her cheeks. "He fulfilled his goal as an avenger, but he isn't coming back."
Again, he remains silent, but this time, it's because he has no idea what to say. Neji isn't one for consoling; it was a well-known fact. And yet, she still tells him about her problems. She doesn't blink away the tears, or apologize for her lack of manners. He isn't sure how to take it.
"Perhaps," he responds, just as quietly, "he isn't supposed to come back." He doesn't know what he means by this, but it's the first thing that pops into his mind, so he says it.
Her eyes are wide, confused. Just as confused as he is. "But…he belongs here." Her voice cracks, tone desperate. He feels something inside of him break a little, too.
It is then that the waiter arrives and asks for their orders. They only ask for drinks, and he leaves again.
He raises his hand a centimeter off the table and reaches out to her, before stopping. He doesn't do these kinds of things. And with that thought, it returns to the surface of the table.
Sakura needs no more prompting, though. Her own hand reaches out, and her fingers touch his. He stiffens.
"Your hands are cold," she says, as if trying to fill their silence with something a little more cheerful. His hands are always cold. "Are you hungry?" He merely shakes his head minutely, eyes glued to their fingers in a paranoid manner. He prefers to avoid physical contact whenever unnecessary.
But somehow, he realizes as he relaxes somewhat, that this little skin to skin isn't so bad.
"Sakura, you are small," he tells her, recalling the conversation they had on the bench so long ago. "I do not mean this offensively. You are small, meaning that you're more suited for a set lifestyle, in a certain place, with certain people. Sasuke is big. To you, Sasuke is amazing. Sasuke cannot live in Konoha without going mad." He pauses. "But despite all this, he's still under the same sky as you."
And, suddenly, she looks as though she's going to cry. He wonders if he had said something wrong. Her fingers retreat from his, leaving his skin tingling.
"Do something about it!" Lee shouts at him one day; a violent outburst in the quiet training grounds.
Neji quirks an eyebrow. "About what?"
His teammate looks infuriated. "Sakura-san! If you're pursuing her, Neji, be more serious about it! I cannot call someone like you my love rival when you're only putting half of your effort into it!"
He's surprised by this comment. Pursuing Sakura? What gives Lee that impression?
"I'm not pursuing her," he says flatly.
At this, Lee's eyebrows furrow. "Well, it seems that she might've developed an interest in you. I will not allow that!"
This particular statement catches him off guard. Not that he particularly cares about the feelings of a certain pink-haired kunoichi who cannot even stand strong under her emotions for Uchiha Sasuke, but it interests him. After all, he isn't known for his love life—or, really, lack thereof. Experience in this area will make him a better-rounded person.
And, so, from that day onwards, Neji begins exploring the art of pursuing women.
"Are you alright, Neji?" Sakura asks him one day when he sees her in the hospital one day, coming to visit Tenten. "You've been acting kind of strange lately."
His shoulders rise and fall, just barely; his version of a shrug. "I'm fine," he says, eyeing her carefully.
She raises an eyebrow in question, before an amused smile makes its way to her lips. "If you say so," she says in a singsong voice. She takes the clipboard out from under her arm. "Tenten is in room two-seventeen."
He nods once and murmurs, "Thank you," before making his way past her. Their shoulders brush, and he swears, his stomach feels as though it's going to burst.
Perhaps he should get a checkup.
He isn't quite sure why she's here. He isn't quite sure why she's standing in front of him right now. At two-thirty in the morning, the streets of Konoha completely quiet and empty—save for the two of them and their steady breathing.
"Tell me," he says suddenly before he's quite able to register it. "Why do you love Sasuke?"
The expression on her face tells him immediately that he has said something wrong.
"I apologize," he quickly amends. "You don't have to talk about it, if you wouldn't like to." It had slipped out of his mouth, as if the moment had called for it. He wonders why it would have felt that way.
She shakes her head; once, twice. Her hair sways a little, the way his wouldn't, because his is too long. "No, I'm fine. You just caught me off guard." She smiles softly. "You normally wouldn't ask something like that."
After a moment of thinking, he agrees. The subtle changes in him ever since he began accepting Sakura are astonishing.
Her hand rises up to her hair, twirling a lock around her finger. "I don't know why, actually." She's looking up at the sky again, and he looks up as well. It's dark and clear, and the little twinkles of light tells him that the stars are out, watching them, listening to them. "Maybe I never loved him in the first place."
Neji isn't good with sentiments, so he sounds awkward. "How so?"
"When I look back on it…" She laughs lightly at herself. "I can't think of a single good thing about him. He treated me badly, he ignored me, brought me down…" He feels something inside him breaking from looking at her shattered expression. "But I still hung on like a stupid little girl."
"You are not stupid," he says immediately, with a sense of bluntness. He looks at her, hands behind her back and staring upwards. His eyes meet the stars again, and suddenly, he's the one who feels small.
Sakura is an amazing person, he finally realizes. Sakura has been stronger than him, when he was thirteen and she was twelve. Even now, when he is twenty, and she is nineteen.
"If you saw how I clung onto him," her voice sounds remorseful, "then maybe, you'd think otherwise."
There's a long moment of silence, but it isn't uncomfortable. Finally, their gazes meet; emerald and opalescent. And he walks straight over to her, keeping his arms politely at his side, kissing her.
To his surprise, she bends into his touch. "You're very bad at pursuing women, Neji," she murmurs, and he can feel her hair tickling his cheeks, her breath fanning across his lips, and above all, his own heart beating rapidly at a pace he would have never thought possible. He wonders if she's feeling the same way, too.
"I'm learning," he tells her, and he feels her smile against his mouth lightly before he straightens up.
"I'm stupid," she says as-a-matter-of-factly, "because after all of this time that I've held onto Sasuke, I'm beginning to let go. I'm stupid because I wasted so much time."
He watches her for a long moment. Her figure is trembling again, eyes beginning to redden from the incoming tears, and he sees her fall apart, piece by piece, all over again. But this time, he doesn't scoff and turn away.
"Will you miss him?" he asks, feeling his heart clench.
Her eyes, so brilliant and green, look sad. "Yes."
Because he can see her bending down, picking up those pieces with shaking hands, and slowly putting them back together.
He nods, once. "Good."
It's that night that he decides that Haruno Sakura is the strongest person he knows.
A/N: This is my first NejiSaku, so I would like some opinions. I've never read anything with the pairing, either, so I'm not quite sure how their relationship works. I just took Neji's element, Sakura's element, and kind of…squished them together. This is the end result.
Reviews and constructed criticism is appreciated.
02-25-10: Edited. Removed a lot of the awkward commas, reworded some things, and deleted the last couple of paragraphs. Hopefully it's a big easier on the eyes, now. :)