Engagement Trouble

Summary: Neji's in trouble. Shikamaru came to his rescue. And suddenly not all seems in accordance to their plan. NejiShika.

Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine.

A/N: Thank you for the reviews they make me smile so do keep them coming. The chapter's long compared to the recent ones. Yes, yes, I am as eager as all of you to finish this. I'm doing all that I can to reorganize the series of events and add more gravity to the plot. Enjoy.

Chapter 13

"Remind me why we're here again."

"Because you're my beloved fiancée and as your beloved fiancé in return," Neji scowled darkly. "I have to introduce you to my dear family. Isn't that amazing?"

Neji rolled his eyes at the dry tone Shikamaru used. He opened the window to their bedroom and resisted the urge to jump and kill himself. That would be pathetic. He sensed Shikamaru scrambling and puttering around their bedroom. Their bedroom. He almost fainted when Tori ushered them to the lazy nin's parents' bedroom. 'Tradition' called to it that they share a bed. The fiance's parents' bed for that matter. Crisp white sheets were changed and gods, a single red rose in the middle of the wide bed. Neji groaned in despair seeing how the 'wide bed' would accommodate two persons without touching each other. He turned and leaned casually against the window and grabbed Shikamaru's attention with a flick of his fingers. "We cannot share that bed."

"For once I agree with you, my dear fiancée."

"You sleep on the floor, I get the bed."

"For a millionth time, I disagree with you, my dear fiancée."

"Will you stop it?" Neji gritted, scanned the room for anything to hurl at the lazy nin lounging in the bed and took a deep breath seeing nothing to qualify his need. "Nara, I'm your guest here so you better do as I say."


Neji's eyebrows threatened to rocket off their place. He sauntered gracefully towards the bed and stopped short as his knees bumped the edge bed. "No?"

Shikamaru opened one lazy eye as Neji's voice grew closer. "Are you deaf?"

"Maybe I am." Neji drawled and crawled on all fours slowly and enclosed Shikamaru underneath him with his hands and knees. He could definitely see the lazy nin's sluggishness dissipate, his pupils dilating, body stiffening. Look what we've got here? Neji mused. Someone's getting turned on by this. He could bet his new set of customized kunais that his dear beloved fiancé was having an erection already. He lowered his head and placed his mouth on Shikamaru's ear. "So Shikamaru, are you saying that you're willing to share this small bed with me?"

"I-I don't want to sleep on the floor, you bastard." Neji chuckled against Nara's ear making the ninja squirm in discomfort. "Then you have to keep your hands off me. You know why?"

"I don't need to know and get off me."

Neji traced a finger on Shikamaru's clothed chest and stopped when it reached his navel. He knew that Nara's responses were weak enough not even a child would fall for. "You need to know, Shika." Neji almost laughed hearing a suppressed moan beneath him. "I sleep naked."

Shikamaru pushed him off disgracefully and stood up, panting and trying to rearrange his shirt and trousers. Anyone could see that he was a ruddy apple. "Fuck you, Neji."

Neji laughed and drawled seductively against the mattress. "I don't think so, Shika. You see, we're not yet married. I tend to be protective of my… virtue."

Shikamaru grew redder if that's possible and stormed out of the bedroom leaving a Hyuuga triumphantly smirking which soon faded into a mewl of pain as a barrage of throbbing pain assaulted his head, blearing his vision.

He was suddenly thankful that he was reclining and not standing. He gasped as he curled into a small ball. He wished strongly that Shikamaru wouldn't be back for at least an hour or so for the headache to cease.

Shikamaru never returned.


Neji sighed tiredly as he massaged his right hand which has been thoroughly used for the past hour or so greeting new faces and being introduced into the Nara clan. It was a job obviously not suited for him. He should've been reading a book somewhere in a nice, quiet place not trying to socialize in a shindig. Where the fuck was Shikamaru when he needed him? Oh right. The nin hasn't forgiven him yet for the stunt he did this morning. Since then, Nara has been subtly evading him taking only when necessary. Not that Neji had any plaint about it.

Looking at the spacious garden the Naras have Neji hid a small smile recalling the awesome transformation from a regular lawn to a favorable party place. Nara's mother did a nice job of setting up small tables for drinks and chains of multi-colored lights dangling atop them against the moonlight. It was a simple occasion yet Neji knew this bore more warmth and enjoyment than any other Hyuuga soiree.

He leaned comfortably against a small Sakura tree when a man sauntered towards him with a plastic cup extended to him. The man smiled. "Hi, I'm Setsuma Maki, Shika's cousin from his mom's side."

He accepted the cup and extended a hand in return, "I'm – "

"Hyuuga Neji." Maki accepted the hand. "Your eyes stand out among us."


Maki stood beside him. "Shika's lucky that he's getting married you know. At least Aunt Tori would stop getting her knickers in a twist."

Neji didn't have the grace to answer.

"Honestly, I don't think Shikamaru has any idea how to date and yet," Maki look appreciatively at Neji, "he bagged a first prize. His other cousins and I have been trying to set him up for the past years with women… and men, too."

Neji coughed into his cup and saw Maki with an amused grin. "Sorry."

"We did that to make sure he knows what to pick, in case he's having identity problems at his age. He's a good lad, Neji. I'm sorry if he's lazy and sometimes too pigheaded for you. But I'm sure you could still contain your wrath until you get married. After that, we won't care if one day you get to decapitate him with a chopstick. He can really be annoying at times."

"You have no idea." Neji uttered under his breathe and downed the rest of his punch. What's with the Nara clan giving him nothing more lethal than a mere punch? He wasn't delicate porcelain for Heaven's sake! He can finish a vodka bottle, too!

"Shikamaru ordered us in case you're annoyed." Maki snickered and continued at Neji's confusion. "I meant the drinks. He ordered us not to give you more than a punch in case your headache surfaces."

Neji blushed in response which weakened the glare he sent Maki for laughing out loud.

"Now there's a reaction I've been waiting for."

"What, a glare?"

"No, a blush." Maki took a sip again to hide his smile. "Never saw a male Hyuuga do something other than gnarl and scowl. I consider it a rare phenomenon to see you do something more human-like."

Neji felt mildly insulted at the statement though he knew that it was the truth. More Bunkes work as ninjas and most of them bear the same expression of stringency with an added standoffish manner. The Soukes couldn't be bothered to do something plebeian; Hinata's an exception with her larger than life insecurity complex.

"Cheer up, beautiful." Neji blushed again to Maki's covert delight. Fuck Nara and his clan for making him act like a schoolgirl. "Aunt Tori would think the party's not enough for our dear new family member. Or I would begin to suspect that my dear cousin did something earlier to ruin your mood."

"I'm just a little tired. I think my headache's returning. No, no need to be alarmed. Just a minor one, maybe it's the punch." What he said was partially correct and if Maki noticed how he bristled on the topic of his and Shikamaru's obvious argument, he didn't say a word about it.

The Hyuuga mulled over what would be more entertaining for the Nara clan: his inclusion into their brood over a faux engagement or his execution upon their knowing. He decided to cut off the thought before another frown appears on his face.

"I think it's perfect." Neji said softly amidst the blaring music and conversations floating around the place. "A Hyuuga soiree complete with hors d' oeuvres and four-course meals pale in comparison with this simple get-together. You should be grateful that you were born to be a simple citizen."

Maki laughed again and Neji started to think the man was making fun of him. "Oh I wouldn't be happier to be one. It's a good life I'm not willing to trade."

"Envy you." Neji said without much enthusiasm. He couldn't say such under what he's been through for the past years of his life.

"Ah don't be!" Maki patted him on the back. "You're one of us now. Sooner you're going to say the same, too. I hope."

"Maki." Shikamaru greeted. Neji was surprised not to feel his presence; he must've been too engrossed in his conversation with Maki. He offered a nod in return to his fiancé. They haven't spoken for the last two hours or so and Neji gritted his teeth realizing that Shikamaru didn't acknowledge him.

"Shika, hey." Maki gave his cousin a quick hug. "Neji and I were just talking."


"Yeah. You're lucky enough that he's got brains and looks. In case you're not inter— "

"No." Shikamaru glared at his cousin in return.

"I'm right here, you know." Neji rolled his eyes at the two. "Discuss your bargain when I'm five meters away. Excuse me." He walked towards the other side of the garden towards the indoor when Shikamaru's hand stopped him.

"Wait, Neji." Shikamaru gave Maki the finger and left his cousin with an amused smile. "Some of my cousins just got here. They're insistent on meeting you."

"I can do that myself." Neji tried to unhook his arm from Shikamaru but the latter only tightened the grip.

"Stop acting like a bitch, Neji."

"Then stop acting like a fucking bastard, Nara. It's our party if you remember correctly." Neji sneered.

Shikamaru's retort was cut off by an imperious drawl familiar to both men for different reasons.

"It's nice to see you again, Neji." Neji almost covered the surprise in his eyes upon seeing the tall handsome ninja with a sexy smirk he could not forget in a thousand years. Rei still tied his shoulder black hair tightly, his eyes soft brown making him look affable right before a cocky smirk grazes his red lips.

"Soma Rei." Neji suppressed his dumbfounded air with a furtive smile. He could feel Shikamaru's surprise and Neji grasped the extended hand from the said man. "Likewise."

"I guess an introduction wasn't necessary." Shikamaru eyed the two suspiciously.

"It wasn't your fault, dear cousin. I'm sure Neji didn't expect it, too." Soma Rei gave his cousin a pat and a smile before dropping his gaze back to the Hyuuga.

"True." Neji agreed. How long has it been? A year or so since they saw each other. 'Saw' defined as more than meeting and planning strategies. He once was part of Neji's strategic team for a long-term mission. Seeing that five ninjas all camped together for several weeks investigating different countries under the impression of being tourists, one would see the inconvenience to that. Neji maybe a strict leader but he wasn't an avid fan of celibacy. Rei offered a proposal and who was he to deny such? He was lonely and Rei needed company—they both had gained something from that. By the time their mission was finished, he and Rei already cut off their 'relationship.'

"Hi, I'm Soma Rensui. Reisui's twin." Another man which looked too similar like Rei except the leer and a longer mane extended a friendly hand to Neji

"Hello Ren. Rei's been talking about you before." Neji sensed Shikamaru's annoyance getting worse and he basked in that. He returned his gaze towards Rei who was blatantly checking him out in his dark denim and tight grey turtleneck which emphasized his eyes even in the dark. "How's your work with in the Rain Country?"

Rei shrugged, oblivious to Shikamaru's glare and his twin's reproachful look. "The usual. Nothing seems to bother them even if their security system is as rotten as hell. Of course the mission hadn't been that fun since some things had changed."

Neji took a step back towards Shikamaru as Rei advanced on him. His message plus Shikamaru's forn behind him seemed to get through Rei's flirting.

Rei raised a questioning brow in return but backed off. "So I've heard that you're engaged to our Shikamaru. Congratulations."


Rei looked at the couple and produced a small challenging smile. "How did you manage to grab a Hyuuga, Shika? Surely it was as difficult as traversing the countryside?"

"Actually no, it was as easy as catching a pretty sight in the middle of the market." That earned the lazy nin an elbow jab on his abdomen. It brought a knowing smile to both men which didn't go unnoticed by the twins. Rei narrowed his eyes.

"Shika! Come here for a moment! Bring Ren with you!" A voice shouted from the garden.

"I'll be back." He whispered to Neji's as he grabbed Ren who was watching the interaction with a strange gaze.

"Take your time." Neji replied in his fiance's wake though he pinned Rei with his grey eyes.



"So." Neji gave Rei a smirk before sipping another cup of punch. Gods, he was getting sick of the drink but he knew he'd never hear the end of the story from Shikamaru if he tried a stronger drink.

"Tell me," Rei said seriously as they veer towards the lesser used part of the garden, blocking Neji's path between a wall and his body. "Is he good in bed?"

"Compared to you?" Neji asked innocently which he knew would piss Rei. He got the desired reaction. "I can't say. It's been what? A year and half since we've seen each other? Surely you got a lot better than before."

"Are you offering?" Rei stepped into Neji's personal space and the Hyuuga quickly recognized the same perfume from Rei since then. Some things never change, he mused.

"There are no spaces to be read between the lines, Rei." Neji drawled. "Stop assuming, that may kill you someday."

"I'll risk it, then." Rei growled and kissed an unimpressed Neji. Before he could dart his tongue inside Neji's mouth a fist hit him in the jaw.

"What the— " Rei managed to utter before another blow hit him, this time right in the face.


"Fuck you, Soma!" Shikamaru growled as he straddled his cousin and continued pounding punches on any surface of Rei. "He's my fucking fiancé you bastard! Don't you dare touch him! You heard me?"

"Shika, stop it!"

"You heard me?" Shikamaru screamed at Rei's bloodied face, panting and looming with anger. He realized his whole body was shaking with anger and he couldn't stop it. He wouldn't. It's been so long since he'd felt alive as this. He thought about the wonders of an S-class mission and longingly wished for one that moment.

"Yeah, I heard you cousin." Rei managed to still drawl amidst a broken lip. "Though I think your precious fiancée isn't that crazy on tying the knot with you."

"I'll fucking kill you!" Shikamaru hauled a kunai and almost stabbed the fucking irritating, leering face when strong arms hauled him away from his cousin.

He saw Ren rushing towards his brother; he smirked and dislodged his dad's arms from himself. He should've killed his fucking cousin.

"Stop it, son."

"Shut up, dad." Neji grabbed his arm and yanked him away from the scene and towards the indoor.

"What do you think you're doing? You're making a scene!"

"And you're not?" Shikamaru laughed mirthlessly at the smaller man's stunned face. "God Neji! Everybody was asking for you and where were you, huh? Down in the dark, trying to get inside my cousin's pants! I don't fucking care who goes in and out of your bed, Hyuuga but try to be decent for one night. Didn't your Bunke manners taught you something? Now who's forgetting what this party all about is?"

"We were having a conversation, Nara and I'm not trying to flirt with your cousin," Neji clenched his fists. "It's something that puny brain of yours wouldn't understand."

"Oh I understand, Neji. I'm not that blind." Shikamaru almost spat it in that pretty face contorted with same degree of anger as his. "You fucked him before, right? And don't try to put the innocent look; it wouldn't work in me. What are you, trying to give him another reason to kiss you!"

"Did I deny that we fucked? That's your cock not your brain speaking for you, Nara! Yes, we fucked each other senseless! Do you want the details? No, I think you want it since that illogical reasoning of yours is starting to sound like jealousy!"

"Shut up, Neji! This is my family and here you are, came hopping towards me like I'm your dream man you're ready to marry! If you want this game to keep going we have to play by our rules. Not only yours nor mine. Ours. And no, I don't have to know what you and Rei were up to!"

"Oh come on, Nara! You almost ripped Rei's face for kissing me!"

"And you wanted it!"

"Jesus! Are you blind? He lunged for me! I was about to react when your jealousy leapt faster than my fist!"

"I don't think you were about to punch him with that fist of yours."

Neji sneered. "How are you to know? You don't even know the mechanics of fucking."

That came as a very sound slap for Shikamaru and Neji almost looked apologetic but it was too late. Shikamaru grabbed Neji by the arm and dragged him upstairs.

"What do you think your doing?" Neji pushed Shikamaru away but the pissed nin wouldn't budge and continued his flight towards their room, not minding if Neji gets a fracture from all the pulling and pushing they're doing. "If you think I'm all about knowing you— "

"Shut up!" Shikamaru screamed and pushed a struggling Hyuuga inside their bedroom and pushed him against the closed door. Neji tried to land a punch or even a knee jab but Shikamaru pinned him with his own body. The taller man knew that Neji wouldn't be able to use the Byakugan on him. Not when he's still weak and the curse would inhibit any formation and would render a painful Byakugan useless. "You can't use it, Neji. Too bad isn't it?"

Neji cursed under his breath as he continued to free himself from Shikamaru's body. "Finally, a correct answer from you. Now get off me."

"No." Shikamaru hissed and tightened his grip on Neji's arms. "You want to know the difference between Rei and me? Fine."

Neji gasped as Shikamaru plundered his mouth, his tongue invading him and he couldn't even move a joint. He turned his head away and saw Shikamaru's red face.

"Fuck you." Neji paused for, looked and measured their situation and dumped it to hell. Neji jeered and attacked Shikamaru's mouth. This time, his tongue doing the exploration; across teeth, another slick tongue, smooth palate. He managed to produce a moan from Nara which loosened the hold from his body. He pushed the taller man into the bed and straddled him. "You know what? Soma Rei is better than you."

"Whore." Shikamaru muttered and reversed their positions, trapping the smaller man underneath his body. He ravaged Neji's neck, feeling for the beating pulse and licked, sucked and nipped at it until Neji arched against him producing moans that could make any woman substandard in their profession.

Both almost tore each other's shirt as they stumbled away from the clothes and Shikamaru dove for that hot mouth again, Neji's lips pliant and demanding against his. He bit Neji's shoulder as Neji's nails dug on his back, leaving trails across it. He couldn't stop touching Neji's hot, smooth skin and he thoughtfully swore to kill Rei if he so much as touches Neji again. A moan sounded out and Shikamaru didn't care if it was from him or Neji.

"You're mine, Hyuuga Neji." Shikamaru growled as he bit an earlobe. "I'll fucking kill Rei if he do that again." Neji wrapped a slender leg on his waist and pushed a knowing palm against Shikamaru's erection bulging on his trousers.

"Oh fuck." Shikamaru groaned and rocked his hips towards the unwavering hand doing wonders. He rained kisses and bites on Neji's chest, lapping on the long-haired nin's hard nipples, taking his time until Neji moaned and arched for more, his other leg joining the other against Shikamaru's waist.

"Harder, Nara… fuck!" Neji was beyond the border of reason. He didn't care if he sounded worse than a whore but gods, it's been so long. At that moment, any body would suffice already.

Shikamaru started unbuttoning Neji's jeans when hands left his crotch making him yearn with a moan. "No, stop." He heard Neji's breathy voice and muffled further sentences as he kissed the Hyuuga fervently again.

Neji kissed back willingly but no sooner were his hands pushing against Shikamaru's sweaty chest. "No! I said stop it, Nara!" He pushed harder until Shikamaru landed heavily beside him on the bed, panting and annoyed for the interruption.

Neji sat up all too quickly and wiped his lips with the back of his hand. "Fucker."

"You also wanted it, asshole." Shikamaru tried to even his breathing and wondered irritably where he could wank and finish what Neji couldn't in the goddamn house full of guests and nosy cousins. Fuck it.

"I didn't say I didn't want it." Neji said through heavy breathing. He was about to stand when Shikamaru stopped him.

"No, you stay here." Shikamaru stood and picked his discarded shirt from the floor. "There's the bathroom. Get some rest, I'll see to it what happened downstairs." He exited the room without looking back.


Shikamaru forced himself to sit in one of the laid out empty chairs in the lawn. The party was ruined, no doubt about that seeing three quarters of the guests were off somewhere—possibly in the uptown part of Konoha continuing the foiled shindig. He grumbled to himself and pushed back a loosened hair when he hissed. He overlooked that he had bruises on his knuckles. It was a satisfying reminder of the punches that landed on his cousin.

His mom managed to control herself from haranguing him for such behavior. Even his dad kept his mouth shut knowing that he was still incensed on what happened. To Rei. And Neji. God, this time he ignored the pain from his knuckles and rearranged his hair. He could not erase the images from his mind. Neji's hot mouth, talented hands and willing body. Fuck. He shouldn't have stared at the flushed skin and the breathless form of a Hyuuga Neji. Who knew a man so cold could possess such flair for bedroom deeds. Another erection threatened his exhausted body and he forced it away with little strength he could muster.

"You know that could get infected if you keep on prodding it."

Shikamaru looked up from his staring contest with his feet. Ren sat beside him and took the bloodied knuckles, checking it before producing a med-kit from nowhere.

"Ren I— "

"I'm not."

The lazy nin blinked. "What?"

Ren placed some salve on his cousin's knuckles not so gently and started bandaging it before looking up with a tired sigh. "I said I'm not sorry for you beating the shit out of my brother, Shika. I was kind of waiting for it to happen these past few months already considering his bratty attitude."

Shikamaru opened then shut his mouth, unable to formulate words. He exhaled the outbreath of a convicted man and tried a small smile. Ren returned it with ease. "How is he?"

"At my flat and unfortunately for you, he's still breathing. And yes, some part of his anatomy never ceased to raise some indignation."

Ren smirked as Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "I didn't have to know the latter, you know. I might kill him in his sleep for that." The lazy nin quickly sobered the humorous air. "I'm not sorry for hitting Rei, too. He can be such a bastard at times. And to think this party's… mom's going to belt it out once the coast is clear. I'm pretty sure of it. Hey, do you think you can give me some medicines before the tragedy happens? Just some form of prevention."

Ren laughed and shook his head. "No, I'll have to witness Aunt Tori's wrath. It's been awhile since—hey!" Both men chuckled though Ren recovered faster. "If it becomes too severe, I'll save your ass."

"Yeah? Thanks."

Ren watched his cousin and raised a brow seeing a reddish mark on his neck. He poked it and Shikamaru jumped five meters away, covering the said mark but unable to stop the flush form his face. "Ah, so make-up sex does make the world go round. I'm starting to think that my brother is the next Nostradamus. His tenets can be… quite paradoxical, don't you think Shika?"

"Oh fuck you, Ren." Shikamaru never took his hand away from his neck. He doesn't think he could in the next week or so. And he has to avoid the communal showers at the Anbu Headquarters at all costs. All. Costs. "And this isn't what you're thinking about, you pervert. We… Neji and I just fought okay? You know how Hyuugas act, they think with their fists."

"Says the man who almost crushed my dear brother's jaw in a single blow."

Ren could see Shikamaru's reddened face coloring more. "It wasn't that hard!" Ren gave him a who's-the-doctor-here look. "Okay! Okay, I think it was quite hard but he was kissing Neji! What am I supposed to do?"

"Try a threesome?"

"Oh for— "

Ren was laughing hard and Shikamaru fought all thoughts of gratitude in exchange for a quick spar. In his current condition he wouldn't even touch a hair out of place from Ren. "Oh shut the fuck up, Ren. This isn't funny, you know."

"I know, Shika." Ren controlled his mirth with an irregular cough. Shikamaru shot him a withering look. "Jealousy and money is man's DNA."

Shikamaru stopped the notion of constraint and hit him in the arm. 'I'm in no mood to jot down your maxims and— " He was stopped by Ren in his serious tone.

"Does Shou know?"

"Know what?"

"You. Neji. Do I have to elaborate?" Ren watched as a series of flickering emotions passed through his cousin's eyes. Weighing the circumstances if it were more apt to fib or sing the truth. Shikamaru sighed and Ren knew he chose the latter so he continued, "Be careful, Shika. I don't think you and Neji convey the same feelings. You might get hurt."

Shikamaru glared at him. "I'm not a ten-year old boy who needs coddling, Ren. And I know what I'm doing."

"Do you?"

Ren almost expressed his pity at his cousin's defeated form. He could see Shikamaru calculating, analyzing what kind of situation he was in. he finally answered in a small voice. "Yeah, I know."

Ren stood and stared ahead with a blank face. "That's all I need to know."

Shikamaru was about to stand when Ren pushed him back in his seat and stared at him directly. "But if Neji does anything more bastardic than this, no you listen to me first Shika, he'll have to rely better than his Byakugan. I'm not the only one's who's going to run after him."

Shikamaru snorted. "You and the family are so protective it's troublesome. Do you think I'm that stupid to be swayed by Neji's charms? What are you taking me for? I have a higher rank in Anbu than you."

"That's because responsibility and I don't run in the same sentence." Ren said airily as he crossed his arms. "And yes, we're overprotective because," he leaned down and whispered with a casual snicker, "your virtue is considered as a let's just say, a family treasure, hmm?"

"Hey!" Shikamaru shot from his seat and his infuriation tripled seeing Ren giggling. He raised his hands in mock surrender and grunted, "Fine! I'll come running towards your apron if Nej breaks my heart!"

Ren watched with amusement as his cousin walked off towards the house.


Shikamaru woke up with the damp air of morning causing goose bumps on his skin. He knew before he opened his eyes. Neji was gone. He didn't want to sleep with him in the same room but what can he do? He had to. Neji was right there on one side of the wide bed as if granting Shikamaru a grateful space for him to rest on. He slept on it.

He wished Neji was awake, he could probably use a small talk or two but he knew by the soft breathings echoing in the room, he was deeply asleep.

Later in the day while walking towards the Anbu Headquarters he mulled upon the worried lines grazing his mother's face. Neji was fetched by a Hyuuga in the middle of the goddamn morning, Tori answered Shikamaru's silent and subconscious query. He didn't care. It was all but a cruel joke he certainly didn't deserve.

His fello Anbu-mates greeted him in jovial moods, far too irritating for his musings. What good would it do? Several of his teammates were eager for details on the brawl with his cousin. He would have to remember to thank Ren for restraining his bastard of a brother who has a more than talented tongue.

Piles and piles of paperwork around his desk didn't ease his sour disposition. He had snapped and then riled those who added some subtle yet derisive remarks about his temperament. He noted from a fellow captain that Neji didn't go to work today. Fine with him. He needed to walk several papers and recommendations around the headquarters; he wouldn't know what to do if he and Neji were to meet in a corridor. He didn't need that now.

Two months. God. He wasted two months on pure drivel; he couldn't be more ashamed for bearing a captain pin on his Anbu vest. This was what matters of the heart can do to war-torn ninjas. He skipped his work because Neji pleaded to, at least in an elusive manner. He danced to Neji's tune because… because what? He got caught up in the drama and there was nothing he could do about it. He even had to introduce him to his family and spoiled the play downright to the very core. It was pathetic. He was pathetic. And he still wanted to see that ingrate's pale face, nicely scented hair and cloud-colored eyes. He must be crazy. He needed some break.

His break didn't last for some three hours when Hinata almost threw herself at Shikamaru's feet. Lucky for the two's apparent embarrassment Shikamaru was wallowing on the Headquarter's rooftop. He suddenly wanted to form a habit of smoking; his hands needed something solid to hold on to.

"Please Shikamaru-kun," Hinata gasped for some breath. Where did she start running? From their house? "You need to come with me."

Ah, and now everybody thought that he could be easily beguiled by pretty people with favors to ask for. He was the new Santa Claus of the town. Ask for one and I give you everything, for free! He deigned a glance as Hinata—hunched on her back taking big gulps of air. He sat from his prone position. "Sorry Hinata, I don't have time for this. I have too many paper works it would make Mt. Everest a shameful beauty."

"No, it's-it's Neji-niisan." Shikamaru paused, his back on another Hyuuga. He tried to sputter a biting remark like 'so, what happened to the Hyuuga clan's Cinderella? Lost his stiletto?' but decided against it. Considerable enough Hinata didn't push them into this nor did she dissuade him from it. But of course, no one knew it was all but a hoax. He opted for a neutral tone. "What happened?"

Hinata spun around him her face the very etch of determination that could stupefy a lady bug. This was not worth it but he held still. "Neji-niisan was called at the Hyuuga Mansion this morning. You have to help him, Shikamaru-kun I know that you and Nii-san aren't in good terms right now," You could say better than that. "But, but… don't let anything happen to him."

"He was called for what?" A traitorous thought continued creeping towards his brain and it wasn't good. It was never good.

"A trial."

Shikamaru paused before asking, now out of curiosity instead of care. "What about it?"

Hinata seemed reluctant to open her mouth but she quickly dispelled it. "Neji-niisan was accused of treason. No, not because of your relationship with him." Shikamaru tried not to flinch at the word. "But it could be a supplementary detail." Hinata took a serious look then asked, " What do you know about the rebels of North Rain country?"

Brows furrowed but the Hyuuga encouraged him. "Little. I heard they were the remains of an ancient clan of Hanosamaki that once resided along the northern shores of Rain country." He tried to forage for some hidden facts. "They were ostracized for some unknown reasons which the Rain government was unwilling to disclose, even for security reasons. I think many ninja-based countries recently found some foreign activities in the same isolated area; some reports showed that there were indeed successors of the long-lost clan." He stopped talking. "Why are you asking me about it?"

Hinata clamped her hands together so tight her knuckles were starting to turn blue. "Neji-niisan is part of-of the White Anbu."

"What?" He sat up straighter. Well fuck. He—most of the Anbus—thought it was pure myth and it already bit him in the ass for it. Where does he think myths came about? A great Anbu captain once said, everything is always tainted by the truth. You just have to wipe away the dirt to see it. He was sure Neji would be proud by the sudden composure he'd regained and continued. "So it was true then. Right. Neji's a White Anbu more infamously known as the Hokage's secret set of kunais. Carte blance is imposed. Top secret missions all that Anbus dreamed about." Put two and two together, Shikamaru and you have your answer. "What did Neji do about the Hanosamaki?"

"The Hyuugas and the Hanosamakis are blood related albeit distantly. He… Neji-niisan and his team were assigned to investigate about the activities on-going in the Hidden Shore. Some hypotheses suggested of inbred experimenting. Yes, inbreeding is highly common among old families and Nii-san and his team thought that was it but… Shikamaru-kun please let's just keep it between us."

"Finish your story first Hinata then I will decide."

"But Neji-ni— "

Shikamaru gave him a leveled look. "Hinata, this is top security investigation we're passing about. This spreading out like wild fire will likely get us decapitated and no, the Hokage does not pardon felons to such confidential matters. Even your bloodline could not save you."

"I know that!" Hinata snapped though a little less daunting when she quickly sobered up and apologize. "I know what's going to happen, I'm a Jounin. But I'm relaying this because Neji-niisan is in trouble." Her panic started to rise realizing the wasted time their playing with. "The Hanosamakis are using Dark Techniques to clone people. Yes! Clone them against all ninja ethics they are. Shikamaru-kun, Nii-san knew the Hyuugas are partially responsible for it."

"Why would your clan do that?" Because I know how bitchy feuds can be.

"Power. Fealty in exchange for the aid. It's a quid pro quo. Everyone gains something."

"But why's Neji's the only one targeted by your clan?"

"Neji-niisan came back there a week after for a conclusive report. No action was to be taken, that was the Hokage's order. But Neji saw several scrolls and medicinal jars bearing our crest and… and… "

It started to dawn that it was an emergency situation. Did the White Anbus know this too? Perhaps. And they are going to do nothing about it. The code of silence. A person's fault is his own. They'll let Neji be killed; if they have to sell him then they will. He grabbed Hinata by the arm. "And what Hinata?"

Hinata steadied her look as well as voice but it came as a harsh whisper: "Hyuuga Aya."

Aya? The name sounded familiar? When did he hear it? Hinat filled in the blanks for him. "He's our cousin and he's in love with Neji-niisan." Suddenly Shikamaru wanted to let this conversation come to pass. Jealousy made him clench his fists and grit his teeth. Neji already has a prince charming. How… splendid. And yet he still hauled me into his problem.

"No! No, you're wrong Shikamaru-kun." Hinata urged and his cheeks turned pink indicating his mortification. "They haven't seen each other for almost a decade though they sometimes communicate through letters but mostly business-indicated ones.

"Aya-kun's part of another branch of the White Anbus but when Neji-niisan saw him that night, I think it was out of pure coincidence. It made the suspicion more factual and credible seeing Aya-kun there and Neji still passed the report. Some say that the Hokage called another group of White Anbus to investigate again and they've excluded Neji from it."

"Because Hyuuga Aya's a high-ranking Anbu and Neji's blood relative. That makes sense." Shikamaru murmured.

"No. He's Himena-sama's son."

And Shikamaru thought: what better way to start your day with full of surprises? If he were a weaker man he would've fainted ten minutes ago hearing all of these. "Fuck."

Hinata only nodded in concurrence. "Himens-sama and the remaining Five Heads was the one who ordered for a covert trial. Shikamaru-kun! Even if Nii-san defends himself he will still be punished for it. And I don't even think Neji-niisan's going to save himself."

Anger suddenly stirred around Shikamaru's belly. Help. Hinata wanted him to help her cousin. Why turn to me? Where's your uncle who's all out for support? No. A simple punishment won't tarnish Neji's pride. It would hardly scratch the surface so why all the help?"

"Oto-sama can't help Nii-san," Hinata offered. "He's out of the country for some business trip. Please, Shikamaru-kun."

"Neji can handle it, Hinata. He's one of the best ninjas in Konoha. He knows his skills and limitations and he— "

"But how can you use it when you cannot even think straight? He could die." Hinata asked with a stern look in her eyes. Shikamaru silently congratulated Kiba for having such a nice girl. "You know he's not fully recovered."

"He once got over Himena's assault. Look Hinata, have faith in him." It was a stupid thing to say when you don't have one. "He'll be back by afternoon. I'm busy right now." He turned to walk towards the stairs.

"You love him Shikamaru-kun." Hinata softly said. "What's stopping you?"

Shikamaru remained still and he silently thanked himself for not facing Hinata or she might've slapped him. And he deserved that, but he wasn't going to claim her assumption. "Shikamaru-kun, Neji-niisan thought you could save him."

The day back when he saw Neji crouching over his father's tomb suddenly flashed back. And those uttered words to the winds… Neji. You could've just asked for it. No one's going to deny you that so why mask the hurting?

Hinata ambled towards the stairs when Shikamaru stopped her. She didn't look back. "One last stake for him Hinata and it's all over."

"You'd say that now." Hinata turned an indifferent gaze which so much reminds him of Neji it hurt. It would always hurt.

"Tell me where Neji is."


A/N: Tell me what you think; I'd love to read them. I haven't started a word for the next chapter so I doubt if I can update by next month.I'm also finishing my practicum soI apologize in advance. Thank you for reading and possible reviewing.