A/N: It's moonsheen's fault, it really is. -_-;; She wrote the ficcy about Hinata needing to get hitched and picking Neji, and then this just wrote itself. Honest.

Besides, the Hyugas have enough angst. I wanted to try something funnier.

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"This Is Not a Love Story"

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Neji was surprised, to put it mildly, when Hinata sat beside him at the restaurant after practice. Gai, Ten Ten, and Lee all welcomed her eagerly- they loved to talk and loved to get a new opinion on their subjects whenever possible. Ten Ten split her entrée with her and Gai offered to buy her a meal, which she accepted politely, if nervously. Gai rather overwhelmed her.

Hinata ordered when the waitress returned and they did the shinobi equivalent of talking about the weather, which is basically things like "there's this great new weapons shop downtown," "we should go train together sometime," and "I need to get married."

. . . no, wait, that wasn't right.

"Excuse me?" Neji stared blankly at Hinata (and nobody does a blank stare like a bemused Hyuga).

"I need to get m-married," Hinata repeated weakly, stirring her soup nervously.

"Wait, need to get as in 'before nine months are up,' or need to get as in 'damn I'm lonely'?" Ten Ten asked with a puzzled frown.

Hinata blushed. "Um, n-need to get as in, 'Father is retiring,'" she said timidly.

Neji nearly fell off his chair. "What?" he demanded in disbelief. "That'd leave you in charge! Has he lost his MIND?"

"Um . . ." Hinata's blush just darkened. "I don't think so?" she tried, although she obviously doubted her own words.

"Neji-kun!" Lee pointed his chopsticks accusingly at his teammate. "You must have faith in your dear cousin's abilities or she will never succeed! Hinata is in the beautiful prime of her precious youth!"

"Oh dear," Hinata said in a small voice, shrinking into her seat. Neji resisted the "kill stupid shinobi" impulse, even though he suspected he'd be doing Lee a favor in getting rid of him now rather than letting him accidentally kill himself fulfilling one of his stupid self-inflicted punishments.

"Why'd you tell us this?" Ten Ten asked curiously, tilting her head a little. "I mean, I know Neji's your cousin, but not exactly in a potato-salad-family-reunion kind of way. Shouldn't you be complaining to Kiba and Shino?"

"O-oh, I'm n-not complaining!" Hinata exclaimed, dropping her spoon. "I-I was expecting it!"

"Then why-?" Ten Ten's eyes suddenly widened slightly. "Oh."

"Um. Yes." Hinata started fiddling with her napkin.

"What? What is it?!" Lee and Neji demanded in unison- Lee in excitement, Neji in dread.

"Heh-heh." Gai chuckled and struck a dramatic pose. "Lee! The lovely lady is obviously a damsel in distress, crying out for the assistance of a good man like yourself to-"

"Neji-oniisan, will you please marry me?!" Hinata blurted.

Silence fell like a lead curtain. Gai and Lee blinked once or twice. Ten Ten looked back and forth from Hyuga to Hyuga. Neji just kind of fell off his chair.

"What the hell?" he said blankly.

"Oh, Neji-kun!" Lee's face suddenly lit up. "How romantic! You're going to marry your childhood sweetheart!"

"Please tell me where 'sweetheart' translates to 'someone I liked to beat on'?" Neji hissed, glaring daggers at the other.

"Well, Sasuke and Naruto have always seemed suspiciously fond of each other-" Lee began.

"That was a rhetorical question!" Neji snapped.

"Well, I think it's romantic too, Neji!" Ten Ten declared stubbornly, clenching her fists.

"I didn't say yes!" he growled.

"So you . . . you w-won't?" Hinata's eyes teared up slightly. "O-oh . . . Oh no, t-then I d-d-don't know what to do . . . F- Father's retiring in j-just a m-month . . ."

Knee-jerk reaction of males everywhere upon making a girl cry: "Oh shit, don't do that," Neji said quickly, grabbing a napkin and patting her cheeks with it ineffectively.

"I'm- I'm sorry!" Hinata whimpered, taking the napkin and burying her face in it. "I j-just t-t-thought that you'd want to be in the main h-house, where you belong!"

" 'Belong'?" Neji froze, empty hand still a few inches from her face.

By this time, Lee had found an actual hanky and was offering it to Hinata. "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find an absolutely perfect man!" he reassured her. "I'll even help you, and if you don't find one, I will die a bachelor!"

Ten Ten smacked him. "Dummy!" she yelled. "If Hinata needs a husband and you HAVE to make one of your goofy promises about it, couldn't you say that you'd marry her yourself?!"

Lee just blinked at her. Obviously that one had skipped past him.

Ten Ten groaned and dropped her head on the table. "Dumbass. You never learn."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Neji was having a minor crisis. For one thing, the desire to say "no" was being overthrown by a set of much-repressed hormones that knew this was about his only chance to get laid in Konoha without paying.

And then there was the way that Hinata had said "belong" so easily . . . as if she really did believe it.

"Well, let's see," Lee began, whipping out his ever-present notebook. "Let's make a list to start! There's Neji-kun, but he's being indecisive, and then there's Naruto-kun- he's a bit flaky but I bet he'd be a great dad, you know how over-achieving most orphans end up- and Sasuke-kun . . . uh, let's not go there."

The other four took a moment to imagine what kind of husband Sasuke Uchiha would be and then, simultaneously, shuddered and pretended they never had.

"Right . . ." Lee said slowly, banishing a vision of candy cane- eyed toddlers with trust issues and terminal stammers from his mind to return to the list. "Kiba-kun- but your dad would have a heart attack and die before he could enjoy his retirement . . . Chouji-kun, but I think he kind of likes Ino . . . and Shikamaru-kun is still pretending to hate girls and not be hung up on that Sand kunochi from the chuunin exam. Maybe Shino- kun?" He scratched the tip of his nose with his pen thoughtfully. "Or would the bugs bother you too much?"

"I-I don't really m-mind the b-b-bugs," Hinata replied, pressing her fingers together. "B-But he h-has an arranged m-m-marriage already . . ."

"Oh yeah, somebody mentioned that last week," Ten Ten remembered, frowning slightly in thought. "I think his parents were trying to set him up with Kiba's older sister, weren't they?"

"Uh-huh," Hinata confirmed with a nod and a pleased smile. "They've k-kind of been flirting for the p-p-past couple of years a-anyway . . . Kiba-kun's sister s-said I could be a b- bridesmaid," she added with a smile. "And Kiba-kun is g-going to be the b-b-best man."

"Ooo, I wanna go!" Ten Ten squealed, her eyes lighting up happily. "They'll be so cute together!"

"Y-you can c-come with m-m-me if you w-want to," Hinata offered. "Kiba-kun's s-sister wants a r-really big wedding, so she said I sh-should invite as m-m-many people as I c-could."

"Hell yeah, let's go!" the other girl cheered, thrusting a fist in the air. "It'll be so cool!"

"Meanwhile, I think we're going to die spinsters, Hinata-san," Lee said glumly, ripping a much scribbled-upon piece of paper out of his notebook and balling it up. "About the only single males in the right age group who wouldn't cause a national incident are those examiners Izumo and Koteshi- and I think they might be gay anyway."

"They are," Ten Ten said with a very pleased "cat-who-saw-the- canaries-making-out" look on her face.

"So that leaves Naruto-kun, then!" Lee declared, tossing the list into the nearest trashcan and brightening up immediately. "Well! That's settled. Let's go tell him that we've decided the rest of his life for him. How many children would you like?"

"You are NOT getting my cousin to marry that hyperactive maverick," Neji said flatly.

Gai smiled from the other side of the table. "Got a better suggestion?" he asked in a voice that was very noticeably lacking any kind of suggestion.

Neji glared at him. "Mine," he snapped possessively, and yanked Hinata right off her chair and into his lap.

"O-oh!" she squeaked in surprise, throwing her arms around his neck to keep her balance. "N-Neji-oniisan!"

"True love shows through!" Gai and Lee both declared in ecstatic unison, tears of joy running down their faces.

"Are you going to call him 'oniisan' in bed, too?" Ten Ten asked doubtfully. "'Cause, I mean, mostly it's cute, but at that point in the relationship I think it would be creepy."

"Ten Ten!" Lee cried. "That is a personal choice for two consenting adults- er, young adults- to make! To pass judgment on other people's bedroom kinks is unfair unless you have tried it yourself!"

"Okay, Lee-oniisan," Ten Ten said dubiously. That was the only warning he got before she dragged him over the tabletop and their lips collided violently.

"Eep," Lee managed when she let go. His face was the darkest shade of red that it had been since he fought Gaara in the prelims.

"Now, we try it with just regular Lee!" Ten Ten announced with no apparent embarrassment, yanking him down again. All of Lee's taijutsu speed failed him in his escape attempts (not that he was really trying that hard, it was just a sort of panicked flight instinct).

"Ganbatte, Lee!" Gai cheered, jumping up to stand on his chair. "Hurrah for the precious beauty of youth!"

Neji just sighed in mild exasperation. They were his teammates, but that didn't mean he had to think they were sane.

He was distracted from the spectacle (and the vaguely terrified audience that made up the rest of the patrons) by the feeling of a small, uncertain hand pressing its fingers to his jaw.

"S-so N-Neji-oniisan will really marry me?" Hinata asked quietly as she turned his head to face her.

"Yes," he replied simply. Why get complicated about it?

It wasn't a love story. Love stories are usually a lot more weepy and angsty and just generally drag on for years.

But it was a life story, which is much more efficient. Because in twenty years, no one really remembers every anniversary or every romantic thing done or any of that. They just remember the question, whether they asked it or were asked it, and the moment they decided that spending the rest of their life with the person next to them might not completely suck.

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* finished *

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. : might be a happy ending : .