By Sadie DragonFire
Disclaimer: Naruto and all associated characters belong to Kishimoto-sensei and other people who aren't me. They make the money and they can keep it.
Warning: Same as the previous. Don't step in the plot holes.
Comments, criticism, and over-ripe fruit thrown at high volocities always appreciated.
"How is it that every time I'm trying to do something, you happen to be right in my way?"
Shikamaru cracked open one eye, squinting against the late afternoon light from the window. "Pure talent."
Neji closed his eyes in weary suffering and hefted the bucket he was carrying. Shikamaru quickly rolled to the side as soapy water dribbled onto the piece of floor he'd been napping on.
"Hey," he started to protest, only to be stopped by the not-entirely sweet smelling rag that was dropped over his face.
"You've been lounging around all day," Neji said with an edge of irritation to his voice, "Why don't you be useful and scrub the floor with something other than your back." He put down the bucket with enough force to slosh water over the sides and stalked to the kitchen to get another rag.
Barring an unforeseen emergency, Shikamaru was on leave from the Anbu for the next three weeks. Which meant that instead of a boyfriend who was home sometimes to eat, sleep, and have sex between missions that could last for days, Neji now had a boyfriend who was home all the time to eat and have sex between sleeping. If Neji were off too this would have been good---while he didn't share Shikamaru's perchance for marathon napping, he'd be perfectly happy to sit in the sun with a good book and his lover's head in his lap---but no such luck. He had to spend his days escorting incompetent genin through the most boring missions known to mankind, while Shikamaru did nothing more strenuous then scoot over every time the sun moved.
Yanking open a storage closet, Neji grabbed more cleaning supplies and returned to the living room.
Shikamaru was on his knees, rag held limply in one hand. "You just got home," he said with a hint of concern showing through his surly expression, "Keep this up and you'll pass out. Then I'll have to drag your unconscious ass to bed."
Neji shook his head, plunging his rag into the hot water. "Its long overdue and I want to get it done with before I take my bath." He gave Shikamaru a frown. "If you aren't going to help, go away."
"Damn, I keep forgetting you're such a neat freak," Shikamaru groused, soaking his own cloth and slopping it down on the wood.
"I spend enough time surrounded by dirt in the field, thank you," Neji retorted primly, hiding a wince as the act of scrubbing strained his already sore muscles. "Not all of us enjoy wallowing in it."
"Laying on the grass watching clouds does not constitute 'wallowing'." Shikamaru flicked wet fingers in Neji's direction before putting an acceptable amount of effort into wiping the floor. Luckily there was nothing seriously ingrained into the wood so the chore wasn't that difficult.
"It does when you bring half the meadow back home with you."
"That's nothing; just imagine dating Kiba. I'm sure his girlfriend was real happy with him after that incident in the swamp."
"I remember that," Neji said, relaxing under the easy and familiar banter. It wasn't hard to stay mad at Shikamaru, but it wasn't as much fun either. "Him and that entire class of academy students where covered from head to toe in mud. The other teachers had to wash them down with hoses."
They covered the room in methodical sweeps, moving around each other with the practiced familiarity of people who'd worked together for years. Neji knew they should take care of the bedroom and toilet while they were at it, but by the time living room and kitchen were done, his aching arms and shoulders were seriously hindering his sense of cleanliness.
Shikamaru splashed water at him. "This sucks. Lets go to the bathhouse and then out for dinner."
Neji made a face at the water darkening the front of his shirt. "We aren't done yet," he said, more for the sake of arguing than any desire to continue scrubbing.
Shikamaru splashed him again, this time soaking his hair with dingy suds. The other man smirked roguishly in response to Neji's furious scowl.
Ah, a challenge then.
Neji's hands twitched.
They both went for the bucket at the same time.
"Neji-sensei has a lover?" Heigan demanded in surprise, lifting up his blindfold to stare at Saiko with dark blue eyes.
"Stop peeking!" came an indignant yell from the other end of the field.
Saiko nodded so hard her pigtails waved like dog-ears. "That's what one of the jounin said. Or at least, he was saying that Neji-sensei had 'opened his heart to the youthful and passionate flames of love'," she added, getting on odd look on her face, "Which I think is the same thing."
"Huh," said Heigan, appearing to contemplate the idea. Another yell came from across the training ground. "Okay, okay!" He tugged the blindfold back into place and took a throwing stance, shuriken held easily between two fingers.
A moment of thought and the weapon was released, flying through the air with deadly precision to slice the apple that had been sitting on Katsutori's head in half. Each neatly cut piece fell into his outstretched hands as the shuriken thudded into the tree at his back.
"How cool," Saiko breathed, yanking open a bag of chips.
"Great shot, Heigan," Katsutori shouted, turning around to work the shuriken free of the tree, "But peeking is still cheating; I say we do it again!"
"Does he have a death wish?" Heigan asked Saiko incredulously, removing the blindfold and tucking it in his back pocket.
"He has a great deal of faith in your abilities, Heigan-kun," Saiko said warmly. He looked like he'd rather it was the death wish.
"Not a chance, give me my book back," Heigan yelled at their teammate.
"Aw, come on~~"
Heigan's face went blank as he made his way across the field, rolling up his sleeves meaningfully.
Fifteen minutes later Heigan was sitting cross-legged under the tree, nose deep in his recently recovered book while Katsutori limped away with grass in his hair and a dirty look on his face.
"Damn bookworm," he grumbled, "Here, it's roughed up but still edible." He tossed the slightly bruised apple half at Saiko. She caught it with a happy squeak and bit eagerly into the sweet flesh.
"What were you two saying about Neji-sensei?" Katsutori asked after taking a healthy bite of his own chunk.
Saiko wiped juice off her chin and told him about Neji-sensei's 'youthful and passionate love'.
"Wow," Katsutori said, wide-eyed, "Where do you hear this stuff?"
"I used to run errands for teacher before I became a genin," Saiko explained, "Passing messages to other shinobi and things like that. I still go back to help sometimes if I'm free."
"Hmmm..." Katsutori swallowed down the rest of his apple and let his mouth spread into a mischievous grin, "So, Saiko-kun, do you think its true?"
"Maybe," she said, blushing with the sudden realization that they were quite casually discussing an adult's personal business, "I mean, I've never seen him with anyone, but Neji-sensei doesn't seem like the kind of person to be open about such private affairs."
"I think we should go find out," Katsutori said, an enthusiastic gleam in his gray eyes, "I think we should case out his apartment and see if he has some woman living with him. It can be like a mission; we'll take turns spying on him and gathering information."
Saiko looked torn between extreme embarrassment and irresistible curiosity. "Kastutori-kun, that's really inappropriate..."
"Well, maybe kind of," Katsutori admitted, pulling himself up on the low stonewall next to Saiko. His voice took on the persuasive quality of a world-wise eleven year old. "But don't you want to know? He is our teacher after all; we should know these things about him."
"Perhaps we should just ask him straight out," Saiko offered hopefully, loathe to admit that she really *was* curious if Neji-sensei had a secret love affair.
Neji-sensei was such a handsome and strong man, but he seemed so sad and brooding sometimes. She was positively sure that any secret love of his would be heartbreakingly romantic; all moonlight walks and private confessions and secret love notes----
Katsutori scooted away slightly when Saiko's eyes started to sparkle disturbingly.
"All right!" she cried excitedly, stuffing her now empty chip bag into one of the many pockets in her oversized jacket, "Lets go discover the secret of Neji-sensei's love-love relationship!"
"Ow! You bastard," Shikamaru growled, his chin banging painfully on the sopping wet floor. Neji scoffed, hiking up Shikamaru's damp shirt to cup his hand over the warm flank.
"Not my fault you can't catch yourself," Neji muttered. He fit himself against the silken curve of Shikamaru's back and buttocks, nuzzling the still dry skin at the nap of his neck. Shikamaru shivered, trying to find enough purchase on the slippery floor to lever himself up. Both of them were absolutely dripping with water, puddles and streams of it splattering the walls and doing horrible things to the hardwood.
"You're the one who pushed—hmmm." Shikamaru let his head drop as Neji ran light fingers along the curve of his hip. He jerked forward to encourage the hand to move down further.
"Excuses, excuses." Obliging the silent request, Neji slid his fingers inward to the soft trail of dark hair leading down Shikamaru's lower belly. The hitched breath his touch inspired made him smirk smugly. He moved his head to nibble the expanse of tanned skin left exposed by Shikamaru's wide collared shirt, only to spit at the taste of soap on his tongue. Bleh. Well, that's what they got for playing with dirty water.
"Tease," Shikamaru said lowly, squirming in response to the small circles Neji continued to trace right above the place he wanted attention the most. A chuckle answered him, long fingers creeping under the waistband of loosely tied pants.
He breathed in hard, a whimper catching in the back of his throat and hips bucking as Neji got a solid hold on him. Neji sighed in pleasure, exploring the familiar shape with a knowing touch and moved himself against Shikamaru's firm backside in languid pushes.
"You'll have to clean the floor again," Shikamaru groaned, letting out a stuttered breath. Neji huffed a laugh, a silent gust of warmth over the tender skin below Shikamaru's ear.
"I'll hire someone," he said thickly and twisted his hand a certain way.
Further conversation was given up for lost.
"Maybe we should knock on the door?" Saiko asked uncertainly, standing a safe distance across the street from the three-story apartment complex her teacher lived in. "This is a bad idea." Katsutori grabbed her arm and pulled her back to the mailbox he was half-hidden behind.
"No, no, we have to see if we can see anything first," Katsutori said, trying and more or less succeeding to be inconspicuous. Any ordinary person looking out from the windows wouldn't have noticed either of them.
However, their quarry was no ordinary person.
Saiko sighed. Her excitement for this little venture had faded somewhat when they tried to convince Heigan to come with them and he just stared at them like they were completely insane. Not sure what else to do, she began searching her pockets for a snack.
Katsutori was muttering to himself. "We could sneek up using those bushes over there...that window is of the perfect height...now we just have to go in from that angle..."
Saiko shook her head and munched on a cookie. Maybe Heigan was right. Maybe they were insane. Swallowing to clear her mouth, she stepped around the mailbox and started across the street.
"Hey, hey!" Katsutori protested, waving franticly to get her to stop. She was halfway to the front door when he gave up hiding and dashed after her, fisting both hands in her jacket and trying to pull her into the bushes on the side of the building. The effort was futile; no one can play dead weight like a stubborn Akimichi.
"Come on," he pleaded in a whisper, making his eyes as wide and imploring as possible, "Lets just take one little peek in the window. Just to see."
It was a horrible thing to spy on adults, Saiko knew this, but it was also part of what made it so thrilling. The chance to catch their imposing, powerful sensei unaware was far too tempting (especially since they hadn't managed to do it yet). Already her heart was beating faster than it ever did during their dull daily missions.
"Okay," she said after a minute of internal debate and stopped resisting his pull. They scurried quickly into the lush foliage flanking the east side of the building and approached the window on their hands and knees.
Katsutori pressed his shoulder against the wood siding, catching Saiko's eye and biting his lower lip an added effort to keep quiet. The window above them was closed, so there was no way of telling if there was even anyone inside. Saiko's eyes were wide with nervous tension.
Nodding once in determined unison, they slowly and silently eased themselves up the wall until they could peek over the windowsill.
The sight that greeted them stunned them both to silence.
Neither so much as twitched for the next several minutes. Finally, Saiko leaned closer to Katsutori and whispered, "Are they supposed to do it backwards like that?"
"It's all in the technique," someone drawled dryly from directly behind them. The two genin nearly jumped out of their skins, spinning around to confront the enemy that caught them entirely unaware. Their hearts froze in their chests at the white and black Anbu mask that leered down at them.
"Well, well," the ninja said, the sun glaring off his fringe of bright yellow hair as he loomed over them menacingly, "Aren't we a curious pair?"
They were so dead.
A low, muffled cry echoed out into the apartment as Neji surged forward once more, body strung tight with tension. He held the position for a few heartbeats, then relaxed all at once, hips continuing to thrust slightly as he sagged bonelessly onto Shikamaru. He turned his head sideways, resting his cheek on Shikamaru's shoulder blades while he tired to catch his breath.
"Someone's outside," Shikamaru said softly, playing with the length of dark hair that tumbled over his shoulders to puddle on the floor. Neji nodded, feeling the gentle tugs on his scalp.
"I sensed them too," he said, still panting. Not that he'd been in any position to chase them off, even without the death grip Shikamaru kept on his wrist incase he'd had any inclinations to stop. It wasn't anyone dangerous or they would have attacked before the...completion. Probably just some neighbor looking for their cat or something in the bushes.
Shikamaru moved under him, pulling up his arms to fold them under his head. Neji rose up, seeing Shikamaru's mouth curve up into a small, pleased smile; sweat and water glistening on the flushed line of his cheek. Neji shifted his weight to the side, freeing up his hand to run calloused fingertips along on the soft swell of that full bottom lip. Shikamaru's eyelid lowered, inky black eye glittering in the golden light. Neji bent his head to taste that tender mouth.
The doorbell rang.
They both groaned in protest.
"Ignore it," Shikamaru said, trying to lift his head up enough to catch the retreating kiss.
A boisterous and all too familiar voice started yelling loud enough be heard through the wall, "Hey, hey! Anyone decent in there? I got a message from the old hag~!"
Shikamaru swore creatively. Neji scowled murderously at the door and the person on the other side of it. Gratitude for past deeds aside, there were days he really hated that man.
"Not only that, but I've got a duo of little voyeurs out here---"
Neji had his pants up and was at the door before Shikamaru had the chance to do more then yelp at the sudden separation. He opened the door so hard it almost came off the hinges, a snarl on his lips and ready to lash out the interrupters on his doorstep.
Katsutori and Saiko stared up at him with matching expressions of stark terror, the only thing preventing them from either running away or melting into quivering puddles of fear was the black clad hands clasped quite firmly to their collars.
And Neji stopped like a duck that just received a shuriken to the head.
Oh dear god, it was over now. He would never get their respect ever again. He was just going to have to drown the lot of them and start over with a new team.
"These two seemed quite interested in your business, Neji," their Anbu captor was saying with an annoying amount of cheerfulness, "Are you being mysterious again?"
Neji blinked and shifted his mortification to a better outlet. "Why haven't I killed you yet?"
His student's gasps were hidden under the other man's doubting snort. "I'd like to see you try. Here, you deal with the kiddies. I've got to talk to the boss."
Neji looked over his shoulder. Much like himself, Shikamaru was damp and messy, tendrils of wet hair escaping from his tie to straggle over his face. He also looked like he'd swallow a whole bag of lemons, but he'd gotten his pants up and his shirt down, so at least all the essentials were covered.
"Come in," Neji said, stepping back to allow them access. Though in reality he'd much rather slam the door shut and go hide under the sink for the next week.
The genin dug their heels in but that didn't stop them from being pushed irresistibly forward. Soon as they were far enough in, the Anbu soldier kicked the door closed and stepped around them to go speak with Shikamaru. Katsutori and Saiko stood like statues, trying to look anywhere but at their sensei.
Some of Neji's embarrassment gave way to anger. He folded his arms and said a low voice, "Did you enjoy your show?"
They both flinched. "Ah, I---we're so, so---sorry, Neji-sensei," Katsutori said desperately, laughing sickly under the intense scrutiny.
"Oh really? Sorry for spying on me in my own home, or sorry you got caught?"
Saiko stared at the ground and mumbled, cheeks flaming bright red and hands moving restlessly in search of a pocket to hide in. Katsutori looked like he was going to burst into flames. It was obvious that whatever they'd been expecting, it certainly wasn't what they got.
"We were wrong, we won't ever do it again," Katsutori promised fervently, "We swear!" He elbowed Saiko who nodded wildly in agreement, still too stricken to look anyone in the face.
"No you won't," Neji continued in the same dark voice, manfully restraining the part of himself that wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die. This couldn't have been more embarrassing if his Uncle had caught him the act.
Or maybe not; at least the children could be cowed.
"Your behavior here was completely unacceptable. You have shamed me and yourselves, not to mention my partner and the shinobi who discovered you. Spying on your superior is *not* the honorable actions of a ninja."
The two got smaller as he continued to chew them out. Neji felt something inside of himself relax as he realized that they were far to frightened to know the delicate position they had him in. The village discovering that his students had caught him in the middle of sex could have done hell to his reputation. He would have *never* lived it down.
"Hey, ease up Neji," a jovial voice insisted from behind him, "I think they're sorry enough. Right guys?"
Neji slanted a sideways look over his shoulder. "You stay out of this."
How the hell could someone look like they were grinning maniacally with a mask on? "Want me to take them home? I got nothing else to do."
"If you wish," Neji said, hiding his relief at not having to deal with this further. At least until tomorrow. Oh hell. "And you keep your mouth shut, too," he added in undertone.
The somewhat wicked giggle wasn't very reassuring.
The Anbu led Saiko and Katsutori out of the apartment with final, barely heard but honest apologies. Just before Neji closed the door behind them, he could hear "Hey, who wants some ramen?"
He snapped the lock into place and began beating his head on the door. He really didn't believe in fate anymore, but sometimes he couldn't shake the feeling that it was sitting around somewhere, giving him the finger.
"Well, that was different," Shikamaru noted sardonically, padding over to him. "What do you do for a repeat performance?"
Neji moaned in despair.