Disclaimer: I sadly do not own Naruto; if I did, I'd be rich and loved. Also, I'd give free Naruto episodes to my faithful reviewers. It's a good thing I don't own Naruto, eh, Kishimoto-sama?
Neji bent slightly and placed his hands on his knees, panting heavily. He straightened, then wiped his brow with the back of his hand and took a deep breath. That was enough training for one day. His eyes were sore from using his Byukagan too much. Shreds of the practice dummy lie at his feet, torn to shreds.
The bush behind him rustled, and Neji spun around. He looked at the bush, which was silent, then shook again. His brow creased, and he stepped forward. A cautious hand inched forward, then pushed aside the twigs.
A small bird flopped around frantically, trying to get away from Neji. Its wing was oddly crooked, and its chest feathers were ruffled the wrong way. Wide, frightened eyes reflected Neji. It blinked, its beak open slightly.
"Pity," Neji said. "You're so small, and have no chance of survival out here. It's a vicious place, the forest."
The bird cocked its head. It seemed to have calmed down a bit, though its chest still rose and fell quickly.
Neji's eyes slid to the side. They narrowed slightly at the shining coils under a leafy undergrowth. Yellow, protuberant eyes gleamed at him, waiting for him to go away so it can claim its meal. Neji looked back at the bird.
"Well, it's your lucky day," he said, gently scooping up the creature into his hands. It made a small frightened noise, shrinking back and blinking its eyes. Neji could not help but be reminded of Hinata when she was younger. She would also cringe away from him. One would think she was afraid of everything.
Neji cupped the injured bird and leapt to his house.
Neji knocked agitatedly on Hinata's door. He had only stopped home to take a quick shower, then get the bird a more comfortable environment.
The door opened. Pale eyes like his widened slightly.
Neji scowled. "Hinata-sama, how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?"
"G-gomen," Hinata blushed.
"Nevermind that," Neji said. "Take a look at this," he held out his hands, where the bird lay in a small box. It was shivering, and gave a weak, pitiful cry.
"Oh!" Hinata cried softly. "Poor thing." She opened the door wider and let Neji in.
Neji stepped into her dim house, his eyes quickly adjusting to the dark lighting. Hinata led him to her table, where a half-eaten bowl of ramen resided. She hastily cleaned it off, then brought a small towel, a thin widen stick, and bandages.
Neji gently lowered the bird onto the clean towel while Hinata rummaged around her cupboards and pulled out a small bottle of antiseptic.
"Hold it still please," Hinata said. She dabbed the bird's leg with the corner of the towel, then gently rubbed on the contents of the bottle on it. The bird squirmed.
Neji stared down at it. He could not imagine a living being so helpless and vulnerable, while he and many others have killed ruthlessly, bloodying their hands at a young age. But then again, that was how life was always like. Kill, or be killed.
Hinata quickly splinted the wing, then secured it with a bandage. Her fingers moved quickly and gracefully; she had years of experience. Hinata had found what she was really good at when Tsunade had taken her in as an apprentice.
"All done," Hinata said.
Neji looked at her. "Arigato," he said.
Hinata looked away, lowering her eyes. "It was nothing."
Neji was about to say something, then decided against it, and kept his mouth shut, picking up the bird.
"Those are rare," Hinata murmured.
"That bird you have – it's really rare.
Neji looked down at the bird. Come to thing of it, he had never seen one of these birds before. It had dark markings on its eyes and streaks of dark in its wings.
"Looks like a cousin of the falcon," Neji said. The bird had a small beak, curved for ripping and tearing flesh. The talons weren't that sharp yet, but in a while, they will become dangerously sharp weapons.
Neji turned toward the door, then paused.
"Do you want it?"
Neji heard the swishing of long hair as Hinata shook her head. "I can't," she said. "Sorry."
Neji inclined his head slightly. "I see. Good night, Hinata-sama."
Behind him, Hinata gave a small bow, her face flushed.
Three months later…
"Hurry it up, Neji!" Naruto complained loudly. He ruffled his messy blonde hair agitatedly.
"I'm not wearing it," Neji said flatly.
"Naruto rolled his wide blue eyes. "Every man is wearing one," he said. "See?" Chouji and Shino are wearing them."
"I don't care," Neji snapped coldly.
"Lee is wearing one," Naruto said. "And he looks fine."
Neji sighed impatiently. "I'll just not go."
"No, you have to go!" Naruto exclaimed. "It's for Ino and Shikamaru!"
"Would you shut up if I did?" Neji shot.
Neji sighed and snatched the tux from Naruto, muttering, "I hate weddings."
Naruto turned to Sakura. "So one of your best friends is getting married," he said.
Sakura blew a strand of hair from her face as she pinned a large banner to the wall. "Yes – Naruto, can you hand me that tack?"
Naruto handed her the silver tack and placed his hands on his hips. "So?"
"So what?" Sakura asked, climbing off the ladder and stepping back to see if the banner was straight. "Naruto, is the banner even?"
"Yes, yes," Naruto said impatiently. "When are you gonna marry me?"
Sakura laughed and brushed herself off. "I'm engaged, Naruto."
Naruto's spiky hair wilted. "I know, but…"
"Hey, Naruto, can you get these folded?" She handed Naruto a tall stack of lavender paper. "Just fold them in half and put one of these in them," she said, handing him another stack of faint pink paper.
Naruto's wide, hopeful smiled drooped. "Al-alright."
"Thank you so much," Sakura said, tucking a faint pink strand of hair behind her ears. "I have to get dressed-" she flashed Naruto a small smile before hurrying away.
"Fucking bastard," Naruto muttered darkly while casting a dark glare at Sasuke, who was standing in a corner with his hands shoved in his pockets.
Sakura pushed open the double doors and hurried along the long hallway, then turned and pushed open another door, where inside, Ino stood on a stool, her arms spread out. Hinata was rolling up a measuring ribbon.
"Ah, Sakura!" Ino greeted. She dropped her arms and rubbed her sore muscles. Her silk long, blonde hair, lay piled, curled on top of her head. Several curls escaped her messy bun and spiraled down her back.
"Ino, you look beautiful, ne?" Sakura smiled.
"Yes, Hinata did a great job," Ino said, studying herself in a full length mirror. Hinata blushed, and brought a hand in front of her chest.
"No, i-it was nothing," Hinata stuttered. "I still have to fix your dress really quick…"
"What happened to the dress?" Sakura asked, dabbing lipgloss on her lips.
Ino turned her head and craned to see the back of her hair. "I accidentally ripped the corner of it during the rehearsal. She caught Sakura in the mirror. "My god, Sakura, don't use lipgloss! That's so childish, use lipstick. Here-" She grabbed a tube of lipstick and tossed it to Sakura, who caught it.
"What about you, Hinata?" Sakura asked. She wiped the lipgloss off and smoothed on the tube of lip color. "What are you wearing?"
"Um, I'll be wearing that," Hinata said with a pin between her teeth. She motioned behind her, where a simple evening gown lay draped across the chair.
Ino, who had been striking poses in the mirror, turned to look. "Ugh! What the hell is that!"
Hinata blushed and continued sewing. She finished, then tied the knot and cut the thread.
"You can't wear that, Hinata!" Sakura said.
"That's the only thing I have," Hinata said, her eyebrows almost connecting and pink mingling on her cheeks.
"I'll get you something," Sakura said, putting in pearl earrings. "I brought extra, just in case."
"No, it's okay, I'll just-" Hinata squeaked.
"Ah, just borrow Sakura's dress, Hinata!" Ino said.
"Done," Hinata said, just as the door opened and Ten Ten slipped in.
Hinata stood and held up the upper part of the dress for Ino to slip into. She helped Ino into the gorgeous white bridal dress while Sakura paused in her makeup to find a dress of her.
Ino pulled on white silk gloves as Hinata tied the back for her.
"You look great, Ino!" Ten Ten smiled.
"Thank you, thank you," Ino bowed.
Sakura tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, and straightened, pulling a material neither silver or blue out of her bag.
"Here, Hinata," Sakura said. She held a shimmery metallic dress out at arms length. Hinata turned, and her eyes widened at the showy dress.
"Sakura, where'd you get that! I can't wear that!" Hinata cried.
"Wear it!" Sakura said. It's your size! You'll look stunning."
"I can't-" Hinata began.
"Oh yes you can!" Ino said loudly, hopping off the stool and taking the dress from Sakura.
"It's very pretty, Hinata! Try it on!" Ten Ten urged.
"But – but-"
"No buts," Ino said. "You are always wearing something that covers your whole body – live a little! If you keep doing that, you'll be single forever, and nobody wants that, eh? Come on, if you don't at least try it on, I'm forcing you into it!"
Ino took Hinata by the arm and marched her into the changing room.
"Ino!" Hinata protested. "Please!"
"We're all girls, Hinata, no worries!" Ino said, closing the door behind them.
Sakura, who had finished doing her own makeup, and had already slipped into a pretty pink dress, began to do Ten Ten's long, dark brown hair. They chuckled at Hinata's frantic protests.
"Oo la la!" came Ino's voice. "Hinata's got nice panties! I wish I had those!"
"Ino!" Hinata pleaded. "I had nothing else to wear – ittai!"
There was some thudding and Sakura and Ten Ten exchanged glances.
"Hinata! Stay still!" Ino commanded loudly.
"Please-" Hinata said. Her voice was extremely muffled.
Sakura raised an eyebrow, forgetting about the curling iron idle in her hands.
"Itte!" Ten Ten suddenly exclaimed.
Sakura jerked to attention and took the iron from Ten Ten's skin. It had grazed a small spot on the curve of her neck.
"Oh! Sorry, sorry, sorry!" Sakura exclaimed.
"D-daijoubu, Sakura. It just surprised me." Ten Ten said.
"Sorry," Sakura said again, biting her bottom lip.
"It's alright," Ten Ten assured with a smile. They both looked up, surprised by Hinata's sudden cry.
"Ino, I can't wear this!" Hinata cried, her voice strangely high.
"Yes you can!" Ino said forcefully. Sakura and Ten Ten looked the other way as Naruto burst through the door, closely followed by Neji.
"What's going on?" Naruto asked, his eyes roaming the room. Neither Sakura or Ten Ten had time to reply because the changing room's door clicked open.
Four pairs of eyes flicked to the bare legs emerging from the room, then the silvery material that hugged the wearer's hips, with a mildly curved cutoff across the stomach, then the sleeveless top and the high turtleneck-like collar. The same material that made the dress crisscrossed her arms and hooked on her middle finger.
"We just need to add a few touchups," Ino said. Hinata, who was staring determinedly at the ground, peeked up and took a step back. "N-Neji-niisan! Naruto-kun!" she exclaimed, hiding herself behind Ino. Her face blushed scarlet.
Sakura looked from Hinata's blushing face to the men standing dumbfounded in front of the door.
"Uh…Naruto? Neji-san? Please, if you'd give us some time?" Sakura requested politely.
Naruto, whose eyes who had been wide, and his mouth slightly open, snapped to attention. Neji left without a word, and Naruto followed, looking back at Hinata before closing the door behind him.
"That wasn't bad," Ten Ten said, smiling.
"Yeah," Sakura agreed.
"I – I don't" Hinata began timidly.
"You look sexy!" Ino grinned. "All the guys of Konoha will fall for you! You'll thank me in the future," she said sagely.
Hinata looked taken aback. "No, no- "
"Wear it to the wedding!" Ten Ten said.
"Yes, wear it! We guarantee that you will be the most beautiful of us all," Sakura smiled.
"Except for me," Ino grinned, pointing at herself.
Hinata fiddled with her fingers. "Al-alright."
After doing the final touchups, three giggling females and one fidgeting one made their way down the hall, then left Ino behind and found their seats.
Shikamaru stared sullenly at the ground in the front, his posture slouched. "I wanted a woman that is neither pretty nor ugly, and three children. What was I thinking? How troublesome…" he muttered to himself.
Everybody, who was murmuring amongst themselves, quieted and looked up as the music started. Ino strode down the isle to the music, a smile plastered on her face that didn't quite reach her eyes. Her cerulean eyes roamed around nervously. Her father's arm was hooked onto hers, and he stared ahead at Shikamaru, who was still slouched and hands shoved in his pockets, but looking at Ino from the side of his eyes,
Ino reached Shikamaru, and her father kissed her on the cheek before taking a seat next to his wife.
After a long speech of vows and promises, Shikamaru slipped a beautiful ring onto Ino's ring finger and they said their 'I do's'. Then, they kissed. People clapped, and Sakura and Ten Ten whistled. Lee sobbed on his former sensei's shoulder, and Naruto and Kiba hooted. Akamaru gave a few barks.
Hinata smiled. It's a happy beginning of a new family for Ino.
Hinata sat in the smallest corner table she could find. She could not stand wearing the dress anymore; she had received many staring eyes, for what, she did not know. She just wanted to take it off.
Of course, she thought the dress itself was pretty, but not with her in it. Several people wanted to dance with her; Sakura, Ten Ten, and Ino had almost pulled Hinata onto the dance floor, but several Konoha guys asked them do dance, thus saving Hinata. She did not know how to dance.
Naruto plopped down next to Neji, exhausted.
"Whew!" Naruto panted. "That was fun!"
Neji raised an eyebrow.
"C'mon, Neji, find yourself a girl and get dancing!"
"Eat some stuff."
"Drink some sake with me."
"You're just saying 'no' to everything I say."
"No, I'm not."
"You find me annoying and you want to kill me."
Naruto grinned. "Almost gotcha."
Neji suppressed the urge to sock Naruto in the face, then dump him into the punch bowl.
Naruto turned around, then looked at Neji. "Hinata's sitting alone," he said.
Neji didn't bother to turn around. He focused his chakra into his eyes, then closed them. Neji stood up.
"Take a sake with you," Naruto suggested.
Neji frowned. "I doubt she drinks."
"Sake is good luck," Naruto said, grinning wider.
Neji paused, then grabbed a bottle of sake and two cups, and strode off.
Hinata glanced up as the chair beside her was pulled back.
"May I?" came her cousin's voice.
Hinata looked to the side of the room, away from Neji. "H-hai."
Neji sat down and leaned back, observing the crowd of dancing people. Lights flickered on and off across the floor, and many people were laughing and dancing. A few people sat out, but most of them were just tired. They'd go back in as soon as they had caught their breath. Hinata and Neji had the corner all to themselves.
"Ino must be really happy," Neji said.
Hinata looked at the dancing kunoichi. "Yeah…"
They sat in silence for a while.
"Hinata-sama?" Neji said.
"Thank you, for the bird. It's doing much better."
Hinata smiled shyly. "It was nothing," she said.
Neji frowned a little. "It's not nothing, Hinata-sama. You have an immense talent within you."
Hinata blushed and stared hard at her lap, which was half-exposed. "Th-thank you," she stuttered.
"And you look beautiful today," Neji said quietly.
Hinata blushed harder, if it was possible. "No, no-" she began.
"You are," Neji said. "The dress suits you. It matches your hair and your eyes."
Hinata looked past her lap and onto the floor. Her long hair reached the middle of her back now, and a few glossy locks of hair spiraled down her front.
"I didn't want to," Hinata mumbled. "They forced me into it."
Neji laughed softly, which surprised Hinata. She peeked up at him, almost unbelievingly.
"I know," he said. "I heard you all the way from the main building."
Hinata laughed nervously.
Both were interrupted, much to the relief of Hinata, when a small noise made from the clinking of drinking glasses and silverware washed around the room. All heads turned to Ino and Shikamaru, who blushed, and slightly reluctant, kissed.
Everyone raised their sake cups, except for Lee, Neji, and Hinata. A few of them were giggling.
"To the new couple," some murmured. Lee raised a glass of punch.
Hinata and Neji looked at each other, then Neji hastily poured each of them a cup, and gave one to Hinata.
They all drained it in a gulp, though several women sipped.
Neji watched out of the corner of his eyes as Hinata drank all of it, then made a face.
"Sake is good luck," Neji said, setting his delicate cup down.
Hinata nodded, then let go of her breath.
"But I'll never get used to the taste…" she sat in silence for a while, then looked up. "…Anou…are you…feeling warm, Neji-niisan?"
"Hmm?" Neji asked, frowning. He was, now he thought of it. Hinata looked flushed to him.
Hinata looked at her cup. "I h-haven't had so much sake at once in a long time….I guess I sh-shouldn't have drank the s-sake, ne, Neji-niisan?" A silly smile played on her lips.
"This is my first time," Neji replied. "Hinata, are you feeling alright?"
Hinata peeked at him under her bangs, then blushed and jerked into another position on her chair. She looked embarrassed.
"Hey, how are you two doing?" Naruto said happily, swinging by. (literally)
Neji made a noise in the back of his throat.
Naruto swung by again, then let go of his partner. "So she does drink," he said, looking at Hinata.
"Naruto-kun," Hinata greeted shyly.
"Ano-sa, ano-sa, does it taste good, Hinata?"
Hinata made a face. "No."
Naruto laughed. "You'll get used to it. Drink more! That's how I did it."
Hinata gazed at her cup. When will she get another chance? Besides, it was a special occasion. Might as well…
She poured herself another cup and drained it. Naruto chuckled at her face, and Neji raised an eyebrow.
"You too, Neji!" Naruto urged.
"No thank you," he said. He shouldn't have drank the sake. He was beginning to feel ditzy himself.
"C'mon, Neji! I already drank a bottle with Chouji! And almost Lee, but Fuzzy Eyebrows Senior stopped me…I dunno why…..but that's not the point! Be a man!"
"Drinking sake does not make you a man, Naruto," Neji said impatiently.
"Yes it does, now drink!"
"I won't leave until you drink it."
"See if I care."
"Drink it," Naruto urged again.
Hinata looked at one to another.
"Drink it, or I'll tell Hinata what you said to me on that mission to get Sasuke back."
Neji hesitated, then said, "no."
Naruto grinned. "Hinata, you know when we went to get Sasuke back? Well, Neji said to me that-"
Neji kicked Naruto from under the table, drained the whole bottle, then chucked it at the blonde. Naruto gave a mischievous grin and disappeared into the crowd.
Neji stared after Naruto for a while, then looked back at Hinata. "Sorry about that," he murmured.
Hinata blinked, then smiled. "It's alright," she said sweetly.
Neji's vision blurred slightly. "Hinata? Are you sure you're feeling alright?"
Hinata nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, I'm fine, Neji-k-kun." She leaned forward, and the right strap of her dress slipped off onto her arm.
Neji felt really hot. Why was it so hot? Somebody needed to open a door or something.
Hinata's eyes unfocused, then she fess forward onto Neji. "H-Hinata?" Neji said uncertainly.
"What…are you feeling well?"
"I'm fine…just wanna stay here fir a bit…"
Neji swallowed. He looked down at Hinata's head, her hair streaming down both their bodies in curls and spirals. He picked a lock up. It was glossy and soft…before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and smelled Hinata's fragrant hair, his hand sliding down her arm.
"Mmm…that feels nice, Neji-niisan…"
Neji slowly pushed her off him, then held her at arms' length, arms slightly bent.
Her eyes were half-closed, and she was breathing shallowly. A blush crept from her cheeks to her neck, then onto her chest. How far did it go…?
Neji brought her back in.
"You know what else feels nice, Hinata?"
Hinata shook her head.
"I haven't done it before, but I think it'll feel nice.
Hinata looked into his eyes. "What is it?"
Something inside Neji stirred. He shouldn't be doing this.
Neji tilted Hinata's face up and pressed his lips onto hers. Hinata made a small noise, then kissed back.
Neji's hand reached up and loosely grabbed a handful of her hair, then ran his fingers through it. It slipped down to her collarbone, then onto the gentle swell of her breasts.
Both were oblivious to a pair of cerulean eyes that fowled their every move. They curved into a mischievous smile, and watched as Neji pulled away and grabbed Hinata's hand. He led her to the door, and both slipped out unnoticed.
Ino smirked. "Ah, Hinata, little Hinata."
That was it for the first chapter! The beginning was boring, eh? Well, I promise the rest of teh story will be more dramatic than that...it plays a small part in this fiction. I seem to like drama a lot more now, eh? Heh heh heh...you'll see in the next and future chapters. (evil gleam in eyes) please review and tell me what you think!