A/N: NejiLee, and a little NejiHina. Set several years down the way and a sort of moment-in-the-life piece- so not quite a story with an ending, just one that is.

Written because we make our choices for reasons. And that's all, really.



"The Chosen"



Neji's hair is white with snow today. White like his eyes. He appears in Lee's apartment at midnight, breathing heavily and carrying an armful of bath supplies. Lee lets him in without asking why.

When Neji comes over like this, obviously just recently aborting some odd errand or another, Lee never asks him anything. He doesn't know how many times he's ended up with the other's groceries or laundry forgotten in his kitchen. Frankly, he suspects that Neji has more of his things here than he does at his own home. How many mornings has Neji shown up in his pajamas to recover his forgotten clothes or to eat the food he'd left behind the other day?

Lee doesn't know why Neji does this. It just happens once or twice a week- usually in the afternoon, occasionally in the morning. It's just a part of their odd little sort-of rivalry.

Lee had thought very carefully before he chose his rival. Neji was not picked because of convenience or dislike. He was not chosen because he was a genius of a famous family or because Lee felt he needed taken down a peg.

He was chosen because he is Neji. No other reason.

Because he is Neji, and Neji is the only person Lee feels this way about/with/because of. Even when he's wrong or trying to do something bad.

Lee remembers the sight of Hinata as she collapsed. The small smirk Neji wore then.

They don't talk about that time. Because frankly, Lee doesn't blame him as much as he should.

Neji makes the darkness come closer than Lee wants it too, but at the same time, he knows he couldn't believe in any of the light without that shadow.

Besides, the light always comes back. And even though the darkness also returns, it is the light that he believes in. That he wants Neji to believe in also.

Lee takes the bathing supplies from Neji and puts them away. How many years have they done this for now? With the supplies gone, he can see the slight trembling of Neji's hands.

"Hinata-sama is in love with Naruto," he says in a strange voice. "She's . . . very much in love with Naruto."

"I know," Lee replies with a shrug.

Neji doesn't answer. He just goes to the kitchen and pulls out the milk without asking. It's not one of the ones he bought, but frankly he fits here. He is comfortable and belongs, like one of the chairs or the sofa or Lee himself.

He pours them both a glass. "Good for your bones," he remarks. Lee doesn't miss the fact that the glass Neji hands him is the fuller one. A subtle reminder of past injuries and the fact that they do not hate each other.

"Just stay," he says finally.

Neji's fingers tighten on the carton. "You sure?" he asks, voice quiet.

"Do I ever say anything that I don't mean?" Lee gives him an exasperated look. Neji has to admit that he has a point.

"I could stay," Neji decides dispassionately. As if he hasn't been waiting for this ever since the first day that he was in the middle of doing the wash at the Laundromat and suddenly needed to see Lee more than anything else. How many times has that happened since? Distracted, thinking of nothing really, and then suddenly wanting, needing that person more than his next breath.

"Of course you can!" Lee declares. "You are my beloved teammate from my precious youth!"

" 'Beloved'?" Neji raises an eyebrow.

"Beloved," Lee repeats easily, firmly.

He does not kiss him. That would be unfair right now, when Neji is thinking of a different person, and Lee is not the sort to do such a thing. But he does smile at him in a way that makes Neji feel a hell of a lot better.

"Okay, then," he says with a small smile of his own. "I can handle that, then."

It is not a beginning, exactly. But it is another step down the road that they have been traveling towards each other.



* finite *



. : you are the one that i have chosen : .