Author's notes: came to me while I was petting my cat, right in the middle of working on my original super-hero fiction. I'm one of those people who has to get an idea out of her head (especially a one-shot short) before I can keep going on a full-length novel. Oops?
Some references to my other one-shot "Twenty Truths about Team Guy" in here but no, you don't have to read that one to fully get this one, it's okay. ;)
It is a well known fact in Konoha Team Guy has quirks. Lee and Guy alone made up most of the idiosyncrasy ratio what with their proclamations of youth, green spandex, bowl cuts, and enormous eyebrows. Those two are eccentric alone without needing help from Neji and Tenten.
But, Neji and Tenten do help in the oddity ratio.
Everyone in Konoha knew Tenten has a rather strange obsession with weapons. The fixation is so intense she often disregards people who might be injured when she has the chance to see a new weapon. This had been seen when she pushed a man on fire out of her way to talk to Io about Jidanda and his other new weapons.
Everyone also knows Neji has a rather peculiar mannerism when it comes to his hair. The citizen's of Konoha do not blame Neji in this as he has damned good reason to be so possessive of his hair. The long dark chocolate colored locks shimmer around his head in a perfect mass of what would be soft, thick, and simply flawless strands. No one knows for sure how great Neji's hair is as no one has ever been allowed to touch it.
What the people of Konoha, including Team Guy's good friends, didn't know was Neji likes having his hair played with. He is just particular about who did the playing with it. The only people who have the privilege of touching Neji's hair were of course his team. This was only when he asked to borrow a hair elastic from Tenten because he "forgot" one or when he needed Lee to braid it on the hot days.
Anyone who attempted to touch Neji's hair was Gentle Fisted so quickly they barely had time to register Neji had moved before their chakra paths began shutting off. Just like anyone who tried to touch Tenten's weapons without asking normally became a pin cushion shortly after, pierced with more weapons than the person remembered Tenten carrying.
People decided it best not to mess with Neji or Tenten to the point many told Uzumaki Naruto about his friends' odd traits when he returned after being away to train for three years. It came as no surprise to the citizens of Konoha that Uzumaki Naruto made it his mission to touch Hyuuga Neji's hair three days after his arrival.
Naruto's friends (Team Guy being neglected from the people Naruto counted as friends for obvious reasons) had a sinking suspicion this plan of his would end rather horribly for the blond. They did as all friends would in this situation:
They took bets to see how long it would take Naruto to get the crap beaten out of him by one Hyuuga Neji over something as simple as touching Neji's hair.
Neji turned his head to see Naruto coming towards him. Neji inclined his head to the blond before continuing to wash his arm. He sat on one of the wooden stools of the bathhouse, washing before he took a much needed soak. Kiba sat to his right followed by Shikamaru. Shino, Choji, and Lee were all ready soaking.
Neji said nothing as Naruto finished his greetings then took the empty stool to Neji's left. Neji kept washing as conversation started up around him about what Naruto had done during his three years away. Neji listened, interested but not contributing anything, much like Shino.
Neji did keep a barely there smile on his face so Naruto and the others knew he paid attention. Neji picked up the bucket in front of him so he could dump water over his head to rinse but someone's hand skimmed over his ear.
Neji shifted away from the hand, to the right, and threw his bucket into Naruto's face with such force it sent the blond flying off his stool for a few feet before landing on the slick floor and skidding into the wall.
No one spoke.
Neji calmly refilled his bucket, dumped it over his head, and stood. The silence continued as Neji tied his hair into a bun at the top of his head, picked up his towel then sat in the hot water of the soaking tub with Shino, Lee, and Choji.
"What the Hell was that for?" Naruto asked.
His voice bounced off the walls and echoed. Naruto had gotten to his feet and stood completely tense, pointing at Neji with his right hand. His blue eyes were wide and he didn't seem to care he was completely naked with his feet positioned shoulder width apart. Neji raised an eyebrow at the blond then shrugged one shoulder.
"Just came back from a mission. Instinct, my apologies," Neji said.
Kiba coughed but Neji knew it was to hide a laugh. Shikamaru snickered and Choji grinned. Even Shino's mouth quirked up on one side but Lee started going on about how Neji's instincts were exceptionally youthful and blah, blah. Neji tuned him out after a moment.
He closed his eyes and shifted until he was completely comfortable in the sauna as Lee continued to prattle on with Naruto arguing every few moments. Finally they stopped shouting. Movement displaced the water and Neji cracked his eyes open to see Kiba, Naruto, and Shikamaru had joined them.
Shikamaru sat near Choji while Kiba had taken up a position to Choji's other side. Despite the ample space in the tub, Naruto had plopped down to Neji's right, so close their shoulders were almost touching. Neji raised an eyebrow at Naruto who grinned and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
"So, Neji, what's it like to be a jonin?"
Neji blinked at the blond but offered a little smirk. He relaxed his shoulders since Naruto wasn't a threat, really, but still shifted a bit so he could half turn out of Naruto's grip.
"Challenging," Neji said. "The missions come a bit more frequently and it is odd not to be training with Lee, Guy-sensei, and Tenten as often."
Naruto snickered at him.
"Still calling him Guy-sensei, huh?" Naruto asked.
Neji chuckled but nodded. Naruto's hand shifted from Neji's shoulder towards his ear. Neji frowned and moved out of Naruto's grip before Naruto's hand could get near Neji's ear or anywhere above the neck.
"What are you doing?" Neji questioned.
Naruto laughed and rubbed the back of his head with one hand while the other began waving through the air.
"You, um, I mean, well, there's this new jutsu I learned and I was trying to see if I could catch you with it, that's all! I mean it, haha," Naruto said.
Shikamaru started chortling. Kiba laughed out loud and Choji beamed. Even Shino had a smile on his face, more than the typical slight raising of the corners of his mouth. At least Lee had the decency to look as confused as Neji felt.
"Well stop it or I'll Gentle Fist you through a wall," Neji said.
Naruto froze in mid-laugh and gulped. He nodded. Neji huffed and shifted to sit beside Lee where it might be loud but it was safe. Conversation started back up again and it became rather normal.
They left from soaking after half an hour and headed to the changing rooms to dry off. Neji walked with his friends outside and they all groaned when they were blasted with a wave of heat. The humidity had become so thick it felt like walking through a fog. Instantly Neji began to sweat and his back heated up because of the freeness of his hair.
"Lee?" Neji questioned.
He held up his hair tie. Everyone else had turned to stare as Lee smiled and nodded. Neji hummed and strode away from the others with Lee in tow to a bench in the bathing house's cafe area.
He said nothing as he sat, facing sideways and Lee settled beside him. Neji let out a little breath upon feeling Lee's fingers running through his hair to detangle it a little more.
"Uh, you guys always do this?" Kiba questioned.
"Ah, when it is exceptionally humid out," Lee answered. "Neji's hair is really thick and long and tends to overheat him if he doesn't braid it back on days like today."
"Lee is good with braids," Neji added.
"Right," Shikamaru muttered.
Shikamaru did look amused as did Kiba and Choji. Neji couldn't tell what Shino thought because his face was mostly covered by hood, coat, and sunglasses. Naruto had sagged forward, gaping, with his arms hanging loosely towards the ground: flabbergasted.
Neji said nothing more as Lee separated Neji's hair into three chunks and smoothed the chunks out, putting two over each shoulder and leaving one in the middle as he did. Neji half closed his eyes as Lee began braiding.
Lee reached the end of the braid without issue, not awkwardly touching anywhere on Neji's neck, back, or ass. It had ended too soon but Neji would not complain in front of their other friends. Lee tied off the braid and Neji thanked him as he got to his feet.
The bangs at the sides of Neji's face hadn't been included in the braid but Neji didn't mind. Kiba shook his head at them as they began to walk off. Neji said nothing but did pull his braid over his right shoulder so his neck was exposed to the air. Ah, much better.
They didn't bother to walk far but Neji did have mercy on them. He invited them to the Hyuuga Compound where there was an air conditioner set up in the main rooms of both the Branch House and Main House. Neji had bought a window unit for his bedroom as well but he led them to one of the Branch House lounging areas instead.
"Man, this is awesome," Kiba said.
Akamaru barked in agreement. Kiba had flopped onto one of the gray couches in the middle of it, arms spread across the top to either side, butt almost falling off the edge, and legs spread open.
Shino sat quietly to Kiba's right. Shikamaru lay out in fully, taking up a second couch while Choji settled beside Kiba on his other side. Neji and Lee went to the third couch. Naruto beat them to it and took the middle, forcing Neji to sit to one of either side. Neji huffed but sat on Naruto's right.
"No wonder Hinata always wants to use the Hyuuga training fields in the summer. You guys have air conditioning," Kiba said.
"It took you this long to figure that out?" Shikamaru asked.
Kiba gave him the finger. Neji smirked. Choji opened a bag of chips and conversation about missions, the female members of their teams, and other gossip started up. Neji left to get everyone drinks and Lee followed him.
"Neji," Lee said once they were alone.
"I think Naruto has a crush on you,"
Neji stared at Lee who looked serious for once. Neji snorted and gathered up the bottles of water and juice he intended to bring back to the sitting area. He pushed the bottles into Lee's arms so he could grab some snacks.
"I am not joking, Neji," Lee said.
Neji sighed and rolled his eyes. He raised an eyebrow at Lee.
"He keeps trying to touch you, sits near you every chance he gets, and wraps his arm around your shoulders all the time. Naruto-kun is touchy with all of us but not to this extent. I think his youthful passions have led to you," Lee said.
Neji shook his head and found a bag of chips which hadn't been opened yet. He dumped them into a bowl and grabbed another bottle of water. Lee opened his mouth but Neji shook his head.
"He cannot be stupid enough to notice Tenten and I are together," Neji said.
Lee nodded furiously then gave him a grin. He would have given Neji a Nice Guy pose but Lee's arms were full of water bottles and juice containers.
"I will tell him so his heart does not break from being rejected by the object of his desires," Lee said.
Neji let out a breath and narrowed his eyes slightly.
"Thanks," Neji said flatly.
Lee smiled at him, teeth pinging, and Neji snorted before leading Lee back out of the common kitchen in the Branch House. Naruto had a crush on Sakura, not him. Neji smirked to himself. At least it would be an amusing story to tell Tenten later.
A few weeks went by and Neji forgot about Lee's words about Naruto. Missions came and went and one day Neji settled on a stool at Ichiraku Ramen to have a hot meal before returning home where he would have a warm shower. He would go to Yamanaka Flowers and pick something up for Tenten before meeting her for tea and snacks later.
Neji ordered his ramen and was served moments later. He gave thanks but before he could dig in, someone wrapped their arm around his shoulders and stood close to him. Neji's eyes shifted to his left, where the arm originated from, and blinked.
"Hey-ya Neji," Naruto greeted.
"Hello Naruto," Neji returned.
Naruto beamed at him and took his seat. Neji noticed Naruto had moved the stool so it was closer to Neji but said nothing about it. Naruto began joking with Teuchi and Ayame about something or another and Neji went back to his ramen.
He stopped when Naruto's hand landed on his shoulder. Neji turned to face Naruto but Naruto's hand had migrated towards the back of Neji's neck. Neji reacted before he could fully process his thoughts. The chopsticks he had been using to enjoy his ramen rammed into Naruto's arm which made the blond yelp and fall backwards out of his chair.
The chopsticks didn't go through Naruto's arm as they were made of fairly cheap wood but they still hurt and Neji wasn't a jonin for nothing. They chopsticks broke and one piece whapped Naruto in the nose as he fell.
Their closeness meant Neji's chair was knocked over and Neji's other hand, resting on his ramen bowl, tossed the delicious meal into the air. The bowl and Neji's hot ramen landed on Naruto's head. Neji landed on his ass, head whapping off the stool next to his and blinked.
Naruto was on his feet, yelping, and shifting from foot to foot with his knees bent, hands waving in the air, in some kind of awkward dance.
"What the Hell?" Teuchi asked.
Neji opened his mouth then closed it. He got to his feet, brushed off the seat of his pants then deposited easily five times the amount of his ramen onto the counter.
"My apologies," Neji said and bowed low to the ramen house owner.
Teuchi blinked but nodded. Neji turned to Naruto who had stopped dancing and half-knelt on the ground with his chin on the counter of the ramen stand.
"Mission, instincts, we have had this discussion. Again, my apologies. Here, for your meal," Neji said.
He put down a hefty amount of ryo and walked away before Naruto could regain some semblance of thought. He would get take-out to enjoy with Tenten. This was a much better plan.
Neji sighed as he walked with a giggling Tenten towards the training field the next morning. He held her hand in his right hand, tightly, but did not appreciate her apparent humor in the "Naruto Situation."
"Oh come on, Neji! That's hilarious," Tenten said.
Neji frowned as Tenten rolled her eyes at him. She did lean closer to him, close enough she could rest her head on his shoulder. Neji tried to keep down the smile wanting to come out as he did have a reputation to uphold but he failed. She chuckled again.
"You're becoming like me you know. Using any weapon available to fend someone off," Tenten said.
"Well, you do rub off on me," Neji told her.
She swatted him with her free hand for it but the grin on her face made the comment worth it. Neji gave her a wink and she grinned before kissing his cheek.
"Anyway, when you are using chopsticks, especially those cheap wooden ones, you should aim for the eyes. Even cheap wooden chopsticks can gouge an eye out," Tenten said.
Trust his Tenten to lecture him on the proper use of an unconventional weapon. He shook his head at her but kept the grin on his face.
"I was not trying to gouge an eye out. This is Naruto we are talking about," Neji said.
She gave him a look. Neji cleared his throat and flushed.
"But I will keep your tip in mind in case I am down to nothing but chopsticks," Neji said.
She winked at him and stopped him to kiss the tip of his nose. Neji grinned and they started moving again.
"My youthful teammates! Come train with me so we can bask in our glorious youth together!"
Neji looked up to see Lee waving at him and Tenten, a huge grin on his face, and his bowl cut glimmering in the hardly risen sun.
"We have got to get him to stop eating solider pills for breakfast," Tenten muttered.
Neji raised an eyebrow when Lee pointed. Lee's jaw had dropped and his large eyes had gone wider. Lee pointed to him and Tenten, arm trembling and legs shoulder width apart.
"Why are you holding hands?" Lee asked.
Neji blinked. Tenten burst out laughing.
"Since you smashed our faces together and told us to enjoy our youth last year," Tenten said.
Lee stared for several more moments then started laughing, hands on his hips. Neji frowned. Suspicious.
"Ahaha! Of course! I was joking," Lee said.
"Right," Tenten said with a roll of her eyes.
She was amused at least. Neji let out a little breath and refrained from pouting when she left go of his hand. She stepped away from him and they both stopped moving when Lee pointed to Neji.
"Neji! Let us spar," Lee said.
Neji hummed but nodded. A little smile came to his face. Suspicious or not, sparring with Lee always tended to give him a great workout.
"But first! Would you like me to braid your hair?" Lee asked.
Tenten had her head tilted (cutely) to one side and her nose (adorably) scrunched up in a confused look. Neji tore his eyes away from his girlfriend before staring at Lee who had given him a Nice Guy pose.
"Why?" Neji questioned.
"Well, it will be hot today," Lee said.
Neji made a non committal sound. Odd Lee was asking to braid Neji's hair. Lee never asked. It was sort of an unspoken rule in their team Neji did not want to admit to enjoy his hair being played with. The incident outside of the bathhouse a few weeks ago had been purely circumstantial.
"Where's Guy-sensei?" Tenten questioned.
The doubt had been barely hidden in her voice. At least he knew he was not being paranoid about Lee acting different than normal.
"Mission," Lee said quickly.
Too quickly and without all the flowery language about youth and wishing he could have gone with Guy-sensei. Stranger still Lee had come to train so early. Yes, Neji had been slowed down as he had stayed at Tenten's last night but even so, he and Tenten had arrived half an hour before Lee and Guy-sensei usually made an appearance.
"So, would you like me to braid your hair before we get started so you don't over heat, my youthful teammate?" Lee enquired.
Neji frowned in the silence which followed. The silence was broken when Tenten took up senbon in her hands, one between each finger like claws. Lee gaped. Neji narrowed his eyes.
"Tenten, my youthful teammate, what is the matter?" Lee asked.
Tenten grinned, the smile she reserved for the seconds before she made someone a human pin cushion.
"Lee never asks to braid Neji's hair. It's kind of an unspoken rule," Tenten said.
Lee started sputtering then yelped in a un-Lee-like fashion as Tenten flung her senbon. A puff of smoke later and Naruto sat in front of them where Lee had once been with senbon around his feet. Tenten had deliberately missed all but one to the right shoulder on a tenketsu point.
"Ahaha," Naruto said, rubbing the back of his skull.
He had a silly grin on his face and his eyes were closed in embarrassment. He also had sweat gathering under his hitai-ate. Tenten stomped a foot and clenched her hands into fists at her sides.
"What is your obsession with my boyfriend?" Tenten asked.
She didn't allow Naruto to get a word in. Neji watched with one eyebrow raised in amusement as Tenten stomped over to Naruto and hoisted him up by the shirt collar so he had no choice but to stare at her.
Naruto's eyes widened as did his mouth and he started waving his hands around as if wanting to explain. Tenten didn't give him a chance:
"Seriously? What is with you and Neji? Lee tells me you keep sitting awfully close to him, wrapping your arm around his shoulders, and keep trying to touch him to the point he's attacking you all wrong with chopsticks! Neji's with me! We've had sex, awesome sex, multiple times! He might have really great long hair and wear that weird apron-skirt thing but he's not into guys! He likes me, get it? Me!"
Neji opened his mouth then closed it. He did not know what part of her speech he wanted to tackle first: the attacking wrong with chopsticks, the admitting to having (amazing) sex, or the insult to his Hyuuga robes.
Neji ignored the heat on his cheeks and decided the best course of action would be not to distract Tenten while she was busy setting Naruto straight. Neji happened to like all his body parts attached and not filled with holes, thank you very much.
"Hair, picky, soft, touch?" Naruto got out.
Tenten blinked at him and Neji met her eyes. She had the cute confused look on her face again. Neji lifted one shoulder in a sad attempt at a shrug. She huffed and turned back to Naruto.
"You want to touch Neji's hair because he's so picky about it and you think it's soft?" Tenten asked.
It would never cease to amaze Neji how much Tenten understood people even when they spoke so few words. Perhaps it was why she understood him so well. Neji smiled at the thought.
"Yes," Naruto shouted.
Tenten let out a breath. Neji knew if he could see her face, her right eyebrow would be twitching. He took a few steps back and tensed, prepared to run if it came to it. He ran when Tenten tossed Naruto to the ground and unraveled a massive scroll:
"He's mine and mine alone to touch!"
Neji tried not to think of the familiarity of his current position as he ate his ramen. He had even sat on the same stool. Teuchi kept smirking at him but Neji decided it best to say nothing. Neji kept the course of action when Naruto sat beside him on the left.
Naruto's entire outfit was coated in minute scratches from sharp objects barely missing him. There were bandages on both cheeks, covering both hands up to his mid-forearm and some around his right calf. A chunk of hair was missing on the left side of his head and even one ear had a scratch on it. The metal part of his hitai-ate had been dinged as well and the ends of it were frayed, one end shorter than the other by six inches.
"Hey Neji," Naruto said.
Naruto tried to smile but it obviously hurt his face so he stopped. Neji inclined his head to Naruto's greeting. Teuchi whistled low, impressed by the beating Naruto had taken but didn't ask. He simply went ahead and began to make Naruto's order.
"So, Tenten tells me you're really picky about who touches your hair because one of your cousins, not Hinata, tried to cut if off when you were younger," Naruto said.
"Hn," Neji said.
Naruto began waving his hands around as he spoke.
"And she tells me only her, Guy-sensei, and Lee are allowed to touch it but you do like having your hair played with,"
"And they only got to touch it because after the first chunin exams you tried to connect with them so you guys played twenty questions then Lee asked about your hair and then to touch it and you said no so they chased you around the training field until Tenten lassoed you then they all petted your hair for hours,"
"But she tells me it's really, really, soft and super-thick, and shiny, and um, a lot of other words I can't remember right now cuz she hit me over the head with her Bo a few times,"
Naruto rubbed the back of his head and Neji tried not to chuckle. He coughed. Naruto didn't notice. Naruto's ramen came and he gave thanks before starting to dig in.
"She said if I ask nice and promise not to have anything sharp on me then you might let me touch it," Naruto said.
He had ramen noodles in his mouth and hanging out of it as he spoke but Neji had been around Naruto enough before he took off to understand. Neji considered Naruto's words then nodded, once. Naruto finished the noodles in his mouth and held up his hands to show Neji he held nothing sharp. Regardless, Neji tensed when Naruto slowly moved one hand towards Neji's head.
Naruto stopped his hand a few inches from Neji's head, almost out of sight and flushed.
"Can I touch your hair?" Naruto asked as if to be sure.
Neji gave him another small nod. Naruto beamed and Neji held back his wince (barely) when Naruto placed a hand atop Neji's head. Neji said nothing as Naruto gently, so, so softly ran his hand from the top of Neji's head down to halfway down his hair then back up again.
"Wow, it really is soft," Naruto proclaimed.
Neji smirked. Naruto kept petting his head, all thoughts of ramen forgotten. This was an accomplishment in Neji's mind. Naruto never ignored his ramen for anything.
"It's like petting a really fluffy puppy or something," Naruto said, amazed.
Neji snorted but ducked under Naruto's hand. Naruto pouted but grinned when Neji went back to his ramen. Naruto began eating at a rapid pace and Neji kept his smile back. He jolted when Naruto started laughing.
"I guess Shikamaru wins the bet," Naruto said.
"What bet?" Neji asked.
"The others bet on how long it would take me to touch your hair or if you'd Gentle Fist me through a wall first," Naruto said.
Neji blinked. He raised an eyebrow.
"Hn, too bad you did not give me knowledge of that," Neji said.
Naruto blinked at him and tilted his head to a side in confusion. His confused face was nowhere near as cute as Tenten's.
"Huh?" Naruto asked.
"Then we could have won all their money and you could have bought ramen for weeks,"
Neji smirked when Naruto groaned and whapped his head off the counter. Neji chuckled as Naruto began to complain. Naruto blinked then grinned when Neji patted Naruto on the back:
"Welcome back, Naruto. We all missed you,"
So, reading back over this I keep thinking of Neji as a cat. You know the ones that are anti-social unless they're in the mood to be petted but happen to be so freaking soft you can't help but try to pet them? No? Just mine? Darn.
It's not really that much of a stretch since I was petting Miss Anti-social when this story hit me. Hmm...