A/N: Happy New Year! Wishing all of you many happy returns. This fic contains some explicit sexual content, sexual assault, explicit language use, and a scene of masturbation. If those make you uncomfortable, I suggest you skip this fic. I'll be including individual warnings at the top of each chapter that contains sensitive scenes, just as a precaution. As always, thank you for reading. - KNO


-collateral damage-

-i-

Neji Hyuga would never understand what led men to strip clubs. They were dark, seedy, unhygienic. . . the list went on and on. When they had arrived at the Kitty Lounge almost an hour earlier, Neji had been completely prepared to abandon the group to their own devices and leave.

However, his promise to his cousin to keep an eye on her fiancé had kept him from following through. Which was why Neji Hyuga was currently sitting in front of a dim, glittery stage, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room.

Neji rubbed his eyes tiredly, glancing over to his companions. He had tried so hard to get out of this ridiculous endeavor. He'd made the excuses and shied away from the plans—and yet, here he sat, at the Kitty Lounge with his "friends", watching women slither sensually up and down the stage.

Naruto, his soon-to-be-cousin-by-marriage-but-more-like-brother-in-law, got to his feet, wide-eyed. He flushed when he met Neji's gaze, smiling apologetically. "Neji, you know this wasn't my idea, right?" Naruto asked, walking over.

Neji gave a single nod, expression unforgiving. With a tone of hesitation, Naruto leaned down to whisper, "You won't tell Hinata, right? She'd kill me."

Neji inhaled deeply, trying to keep his annoyance from showing. He quirked an eyebrow at Naruto. For a brief second, he wondered what Naruto would do if he told him that Hinata knew exactly where he was tonight. But that would be unnecessarily cruel, Neji decided. "Perhaps you should get better friends," he advised coldly.

Naruto laughed nervously. "They're all my old college buddies—still living in the past, I guess."

Neji considered him. "You frequented strip clubs in college?"

Naruto laughed again, distinctly more anxious. "Not a lot," he assured. "Once or twice maybe. When I was drunk."

Finding it difficult to school his features into indifference, Neji got to his feet, brushing by Naruto to head to the bar. He ordered a bourbon, neat, and ran a hand down his face, trying to control his irritation. The bartender set a glass of dark liquid in front of him, and Neji drank evenly.

The bartender grinned mockingly. Neji's foul mood deepened as he sipped from his glass, glancing through his phone for an adequate distraction.

"Business or pleasure?" said a voice at his side.

Neji exhaled and pulled his eyes from his phone, looking over. A woman in a bright white wig was smiling at him, her face reflecting the neon lights. He couldn't tell what color her eyes were—every spot in this damned room was cast into shadow.

"Neither," Neji answered in a clipped tone. He turned away and took another sip of his drink.

The woman leaned on the bar, catching his eye once more. "I only ask because you're wearing an impeccably tailored suit, and yet, you're in a strip club. You're sending a lot of mixed signals."

"I'm sure you see plenty of businessmen come through here," Neji replied crisply. He finished his drink and set it back down, waving over the bartender for another refill, setting his phone facedown.

"I do," the woman admitted, her stare direct, "but none as good-looking as you."

Neji glanced at her, frowning. "What do you want? I'm not going to pay you for anything."

She smiled, tilting her head to the side. "Who says I want your money?" she posed. "Can't a girl have an intelligent conversation every once in a while?"

Neji did not answer, narrowing his eyes. She looked over his shoulder and inclined her head. "Are those your friends?" she asked.

Neji resisted from glancing over at them, accepting his refilled glass from the bartender gratefully. "They aren't my friends," he muttered, gulping down more bourbon.

Her smirk deepened, self-assured. "Ah, are you the groom?"

Neji swallowed past the burn in his throat, glaring. "No, that would be the blonde idiot."

"So, you're the brother, then," she deduced.

"Close enough," Neji said, polishing off the rest of his glass. He held up his hand for another refill, then thought better of it, pushing the glass away.

She opened her mouth to say something else, but Kiba Inuzuka, one of Naruto's friends and the gentleman to whom this evening adventure was for, came up to the bar, throwing his arm chummily over Neji's shoulders. Neji shrugged him off irritably.

"Neji," Kiba said, his voice heavy with lust and alcohol, "isn't this the best?"

Neji sighed. "Enchanting," he answered sardonically.

"You don't like it?" Kiba asked, eyes wide with surprise.

"That doesn't matter; I'm here anyway," Neji spat.

Kiba's gaze drifted past Neji to the woman. A lascivious grin graced his mouth. "Hello there," he said in a tone he clearly believed was sexy.

Neji stepped back from the bar, grasping his phone once more. The woman raised a dark eyebrow in amusement. "Your friend is trashed," she commented, dismissing Kiba's appraising look.

"He's not my friend," Neji responded.

She smiled lightly and walked past him, her bare arm brushing his suit sleeve. Neji caught the scent of her perfume—he was overcome with the smell of sandalwood and jasmine. Neji's throat tightened as he caught himself inhaling it. He swallowed carefully.

"See you around," she called over her shoulder, disappearing past the tables to slip behind a curtain.

Kiba threw his arm over Neji's shoulders again, leading him back to their seats. Neji lightly pushed him off and sat down, checking his watch.

"Next up, Angel," came the announcer's voice through the loudspeaker.

There were some whoops and catcalls as the lights dimmed, and a spotlight beamed onto a pearlescent screen. Backlit behind the screen was a female form, standing sensually, arms thrown out like a dancer's. Someone turned on a smoke machine, and underneath the music, there was a distinct hiss as the machine's fans poured out white vapor.

The form danced behind the screen, shimmying up and down, once, twice, three times. Finally, she emerged, the smoke thick and ethereal.

She'd undergone a quick transformation in the minutes that she'd left Neji at the bar. She'd abandoned her shorts and mesh top for a silky white negligee. Her white wig brushed her shoulders as she sashayed across the stage, showing off her assets. When she passed by Neji, she smiled at him, her eyes pinning him to his seat.

She flounced over to the pole and expertly swung herself onto it. Neji tried to pull his eyes away from the way she moved, but her act was alluring. Her strength was evident as she turned, her legs twined around the pole. Her eyes met Neji's at each bend, her mouth turned upward in a smirk.

Neji felt his mouth go dry, his heart beating fast as he wondered if she was dancing solely for him. He shook his head to clear his fogginess.

She slowed as she wound down from the pole, landing solidly on her feet. She walked the stage once more, before heading to the back of the platform. She struck a pose, her arms held above her head in some semblance of heavenly appeal.

The music faded, and the smoke machine was switched off. As patrons clapped and hooted, throwing cash onto the stage, her gaze stayed on Neji, unwavering.

He barely registered opening his wallet and tossing a few spare bills onto the stage, but he did, dazed. She smiled at him one last time and slipped away, back into the darkness of backstage.

"Hot," Kiba declared next to him.

Neji felt himself nod once, absolutely mystified.

After another hour, he was able to convince everyone to leave, directing them into waiting cabs. Naruto settled into the passenger seat of Neji's car, clearly drunk, his forehead pressed against the window.

"Thanks, Neji," he muttered. "I owe you one."

Neji buckled his seatbelt and sighed, looking over to him. "Naruto, you owe me a thousand favors after tonight."

Naruto's only answer was a loud snore.

-x-

A few hours later, Tenten waited at the bar for her cut of the night's tips. She chewed absently on a fingernail, watching the bartender clean up his station. Noticing her gaze, he sent her a toothy grin.

Tenten rolled her eyes and looked away, her fingers closing around her phone, nestled inside her purse. She held it for a moment before letting go, clasping her hands tightly in her lap to keep from fidgeting.

"Good work tonight," said the manager as he strolled past, setting down a bulging envelope. "You should come by more often."

Tenten thanked him and grabbed the packet, headed for the door. The bartender called after her, "Hey, wait up! I'll walk you out!"

She grimaced before waving a dismissive hand over her shoulder. "No, thanks," she called back. "I'm good."

"But—"

Tenten burst out of the club and into the early morning, wincing from the humidity. She walked quickly, stuffing her tips into her bag as she headed for the nearest bus stop. She didn't have to wait long. A nondescript black car pulled up less than five minutes later, and Tenten clambered inside. The car pulled smoothly away from the curb. Tenten shivered from the cool interior; the AC was on full blast.

"Did you get it?"

Tenten peered at her handler. Her amber eyes looked back at Tenten, face flat. Wordlessly, Tenten pulled out her phone and handed it over.

She watched as the woman thumbed through the contents for a moment, before inserting a cord in the USB port. Tenten waited in silence as the software finished downloading. When she was done, she dropped it back into Tenten's palm.

"How did he seem to you?" her handler asked.

"Normal. Annoyed. He wasn't happy about being dragged to a strip club," Tenten said, shrugging.

"Did he seem close to the others?"

"Not particularly," Tenten responded. "He wasn't pleased to be there. Though he personally drove his brother-in-law-to-be home. The others he put into cabs."

The woman mulled this over, her hand coming up to brush back a lock of hair. Her ring flashed for a moment. "It would be ideal to ingratiate yourself with the family," she finally said, glancing at Tenten. "To be privy to personal information."

"I know."

The woman pursed her lips, her features devoid of emotion. She said, a little stern, "No mistakes this time, Tenten."

Tenten nodded, her fist clenching. "Yes, I know."

The car stopped and Tenten slid out without a goodbye. She watched as the car continued down the street, not moving towards her walk-up until it was gone from her sight.

-x-

It wasn't until she slipped into her apartment and locked the door behind her that Tenten felt the night's tension leave her shoulders. She sighed, dumping her things on the floor by the front door. She wandered deeper inside her one-room apartment clutching her phone and charger, feeling more tired with every step.

She went to the bathroom and stripped down, leaning her body against the cool shower tiles as the water got hot. She slowly shampooed her hair, relishing the feeling of sticky sweat sliding off her body. She dried off and brushed her teeth, pushing her wet hair out of her face. Switching off the lights, Tenten dove onto her futon and closed her eyes for a moment, feeling the darkness settle around her. She breathed deeply and reached for her phone.

After a moment of summoning her strength, Tenten opened her eyes and scrolled through the hacked data, eyes searching lazily for anything of use. She tapped through the photos, only mildly disappointed to see most of the pictures were of construction sites and development plans, or screenshots of emails.

"Boring," she muttered to herself, switching to text messages.

These were significantly more exciting, but not by much. She skimmed the group chat that led them to the strip club earlier, unsurprised to see that he had given largely one-word, clearly agitated answers.

His text chain with his cousin was an improvement. She had given him strict instructions to accompany her fiancé to a meeting about tuxedos—that could be something, though Tenten doubted she could work it in quickly enough; it was the following weekend.

Yawning, Tenten flipped onto her stomach, glancing over a short exchange he had with his uncle. It was painfully cordial, almost cold, and it contained no talk of business, only short statements to equally short, generic questions.

Tenten sighed and dropped her phone onto the floor. She scrambled underneath her duvet, her head buzzing with plans. A few seconds later, her hand snaked back out and grasped her phone again, disappearing underneath the covers. Blinking slowly, she searched his name for the hundredth time. His corporate picture was always the first to appear, next to his company profile and net worth.

Tenten studied his features, attempting once more to crack the man behind the cool expression. She chuckled to herself and put her phone back on the nightstand. He'd been much more interesting in person.