A/N: Set a few years down the road- say, late teens for Gai's team. Spoilers for the chuunin exam. NejiLee and done in one sitting.

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"A Moment of Silence"

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Neji had never understood why girls spent so much time brushing each other's hair.

Until about five minutes ago, anyway.

He sighed faintly in the back of his throat, tilting his head back against the side of the bed as the contentedly humming Lee sitting above him continued running his fingers through it. Nice. Sooo nice.

Not that he would admit to that.

"You are such a pain," Neji complained with a snort. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"It's either you sit through this or lose the hair," Lee countered, untangling a burr from the other boy's hair.

"I don't CARE about the hair," Neji half-lied.

"But if you cut it, people will bother you by asking why or complimenting it or-" Lee began.

"Never mind," Neji sighed, waving him off. "I get the point."

"Good." Neji could SENSE the smirk in Lee's voice- not that he needed to, with his range of vision.

It was not the absolute worst thing he'd ever had to sit through. Lee's fingers were quick and delicate- though the left hand's were just a hair less so. It would have taken a genius to notice. That, or someone who already knew. And Neji was both of those, so to him it was painfully obvious.

Lee was his teammate. He should have been able to protect him "that day."

Lee's fingers, unbalanced though they are, were a comfort.

Neji wished he could be the same for Lee.

Even now . . .

"You're going to need to wash the blood out yourself," Lee told him.

"Make me," Neji replied dispassionately. Lee grinned behind him.

"Maybe I will," he said lightly, twisting a lock of Neji's blood and dirt-encrusted hair around his finger.

Neji thought of old wounds and old insults. Of the way they'd been as genin, as chuunin, as anbu and jounin and as they were now.

The genius of a bloodline. The genius of hard work. The one who could not forget his father and the one who could not forget his promise.

The two who, somehow, had become alike. Who somehow had become teammates, partners, friends. Best student, worst student: the number one rookie and the number one failure of their year. And Ten Ten between them, sometimes a buffer and sometimes incitement.

But always, always, there was Neji and there was Lee and the way they fought together and against each other.

Neji's white eyes and black heart.

Lee's black eyes and white heart.

Neji reached up and pulled Lee's hand into his own.

"Help me?" he murmured.

"Every time," Lee agreed easily.

They both knew that they weren't just talking about hair anymore. Neither of them minded.

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* fin *

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. : your hair, it's everywhere/ screaming infidelities/ and taking its wear : .