Happy Hour

By: firefly

Note: Total crack, people…and slight Neji/Hina.

Happy Hour

"Lee, are you sure he'll be able to handle one more?" Tenten asked, sounding half-amused and half-concerned.

The beautiful green beast of Konoha flashed her a confident grin, slipping a shot of vodka into Neji's non-alcoholic Bloody Mary. "He'll be fine. This is the last one, I promise!"

"Neji-niisan…?" Hinata said hesitantly, gently prodding the Hyuuga prodigy's shoulder. "A-Are you okay?"

Neji made a series of incomprehensible sounds, his voice muffled against his forearm. His arms were draped listlessly over the counter's edge, his flushed face pressing into the cool, linoleum surface of the counter.

"Here, Neji," Lee said happily, as the Hyuuga raised his splotchy face, staring tiredly with foggy eyes.

Hinata watched in dismay as Neji accepted the alcohol-tainted tomato juice, sipping it and slopping it over his collar. He set the glass down, then turned to look at his amused teammates and concerned cousin.

"You guys…" Neji mumbled, blinking slowly. "I think I'm drunk."

"Yes!" Lee and Tenten chorused, slapping each other a high-five as Neji continued to stare at them in confusion.

"Come, Neji-niisan," Hinata said in concern, pulling on her jacket. "I'll take you home."

"Aw, come on Hinata!" Tenten said, yanking the girl back into her seat. "Live a little! It's not often we get to see Neji here make an ass out of himself."

Hinata sighed, giving in and casting another worried glance at her stoned cousin.

"So Neji," Lee said casually, stirring his drink inconspicuously. "How do you feel?"

"I feel…" he said slowly, a grin gradually appearing on his face. "I feel funny…like, I want to tell you something. I think I feel like talking to you guys."

Hinata looked alarmed at her cousin's frightful change in behaviour, but his two teammates watched him attentively, eager to hear what he had to say.

"I just made ANBU, you know," Neji said, sounding remarkably sober for a second. "They made me captain…and they gave me this crazy mask to wear. Look at it…"

He pulled the white mask out of his bag, brandishing it proudly before them. "Look at it…what the hell is that? Like, it looks like, some kinda fucked up lizard…"

Lee burst into laughter and Hinata sweat-dropped.

"Neji, it's a hawk," Tenten said between giggles.

"Hawk?" Neji echoed, looking slightly put out as he shook his head. "I'm no hawk…no, I'll tell you what I am. You wanna know what I am…? What I think—I think…you all are?"

"What, Neji?" Tenten asked, smiling in amusement.

Neji looked at them seriously before answering, sounding solemn in his drunkenness.

"I'm representing…those birds which are caged, you know? Like me…yeah, I'm representing penguins," he declared.

Lee had to hold onto the counter to keep from falling to the floor, Tenten burst into a fit of hysterical giggles, and even Hinata cracked a smile.

"Penguins?" Lee was beside himself with laughter, which seemed to offend Neji as he stared stonily at him.

"Yeah, penguins!" Neji snapped.

"But…what about something practical, Neji?" Lee said between laughs. "Like a chicken?"

Neji looked disgusted with his teammate. "Lee…chickens suck."

"Okay, but wait a sec, Neji," Tenten said, giving him a sly smile. "Aren't you a caged bird? And aren't penguins just flightless birds?"

Neji waved his hand dismissively at her before taking another sip of his drink. "Same difference, Tenten."

"So which animal do I remind you of?" Lee asked, grinning despite feeling a slight sense of trepidation.

"A turtle," Neji mumbled, sticking the end of his garnishing umbrella in his mouth. "…because you're so green. But—but then that doesn't make any sense, because you're so effing fast. So that must mean you're a ninja turtle."

"What about Tenten?" Lee asked, jerking his thumb towards her. Neji stared at her, squinting before his face broke into a grin of triumph.

"A mouse," he declared, and Tenten raised an eyebrow. "Because…because, she's so insi…insigni…shit, help me out here…"

"Insignificant?" Hinata offered timidly.

"Yes! In-sig-nif-ic-ent."

Tenten gave him a dirty look.

"And because," Neji said with a straight face, putting his fingers behind his head and wiggling them. "Your hair looks mousey."

Tenten self-consciously touched one of her buns, and Lee snorted into his drink, nearly inhaling his garnishing umbrella.

"What about me?" Hinata suddenly asked tentatively, her voice meek.

Neji stared at her for a long time, and Hinata had to look away to keep her face from turning red.

"You…" Neji said slowly, sounding remarkably sober again. "Hinata-sama, you're…"

"What?" Hinata squeaked.

"You're like…a tiny little koala, hiding up in its tree." Hinata blinked in surprise, and Tenten and Lee looked impressed with their teammate.

"Wow, Neji. That was more insightful than I thought you could ever be," Tenten said, raising her eyebrows.

"And koalas are soft and fuzzy," Neji said softly, tenderly petting the fur trim of Hinata's jacket as she stared at him, wide-eyed.

Lee sighed. "Forget what you just said about being insightful, Tenten…"

"I like koalas," Neji continued, petting the fur trim. "Can I call you Koala, Hinata-sama?"

"Uh…I…" Hinata stammered, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. "S-Sure, Neji-niisan…"

"Stop it, Neji," Tenten scolded, sounding half-amused and half-concerned again. "If you come onto her anymore, you'll give her a panic attack."

Neji looked like he didn't hear her, and continued to gaze intently at his fidgeting cousin.

"You've been too good to me," he mumbled to Hinata, looking unusually subdued. "I feel very close to you right now…"

Hinata made a choking sort of sound in her throat, which vaguely resembled an "Oh". Lee did inhale his umbrella this time around, when Neji reached for her with both arms out-stretched, a smile of drunk contentment on his face.

"Come, Koala, give Neji-niisan a hug."

Tenten distractedly slapped Lee on the back as she watched Neji and Hinata, smiling when she saw Hinata's eyes darting between Neji and the exit frantically.

"Just do it, Hinata," Tenten said, looking amused. "Make the idiot happy."

Hinata bit her lip, looking torn as Neji watched her expectantly with his arms still out-stretched. For some reason, all that guilt she felt for Neji's troubles from the past came rushing back at that moment, and she decided that a little hug wouldn't hurt, compared to all that the Main House had put him through.

She gave him a shy, tentative smile and hesitantly reached out with both arms.

Neji made a small noise of contentment in his throat when she wrapped her arms around his middle, nestling her chin in the crook of his shoulder.

Her face turned blood red as Tenten and Lee's hysterical laughter reached her ears, and Neji completed the heartfelt embrace by clasping his arms around her tightly, making muffled, giggling sort of noises in his throat.

Hinata waited ten seconds before saying something.

"N-Neji-niisan…I c-can't breathe…"

"Mmm-hm-hm…mm? What?"

"Please let go, Neji-niisan…" her voice was strangely high-pitched.

"…you smell good, Hinata-sama…" he murmured placidly, burying his face in her hair, and then his grip went slack as he passed out.

"Lee!" Hinata squeaked, folding under the dead weight of Neji in her arms. "H-Help!"

"Damn, he couldn't take it," Tenten said, shaking her head in dismay, as Lee went over and relieved Hinata of Neji's unconscious body.

"Well, at least we know that every one of us can out-drink Neji…"