Disclaimer: I disclaim you.
Pairing: Shikamaru x Neji, extra subtle/implied Sasuke x Naruto
Capture the King!
It was a warm and lazy summer day in Konoha Gakure that day. It was the seventh month of the year, and summer was at its peak. The villagers were going about busily with more energy than ever. A sense of cheerfulness was about in the air, and peacefulness grazed the village. It seemed like a perfect day in the village that day.
While his teammates and the others at his age were running about outside and engaging in whatever summer activities they did, Nara Shikamaru was inside his somewhat over-heated apartment playing shougi by himself. Ino had already stopped by in a storm of irritability and exclaimed there was an "important event" that demanded their presence, but Shikamaru had simply shrugged it off and dismissed her without a second thought. On such a hot summer day, it was too troublesome to go out and do anything, Shikamaru thought to himself.
Despite how Shikamaru knew he would never get tired of shougi, somehow he still felt restless sitting on the ground alone, staring at the wall blankly as random people popped in his window every five minutes or so asking if he had seen Neji. Indeed, the excitement never stopped. Shikamaru frowned as he heard rustling by his window again. Naruto was on his third round about the village with Sasuke muttering insults at his heels and even Rock Lee had come by once as well. Who could it be this time?
Turn towards the window with a disgruntled expression, Shikamaru called out with slight irritation, "For the last time, I haven't—…"
There was a girl in his window. A girl. A really rather good-looking girl with long black hair, dressed in a traditional, elaborately flowered kimono was in the tree outside of his window. Shikamaru felt his eye twitch as the girl's head slowly turned towards him. He had no idea how to deal with girls. Ino was already a nightmare, another one had to be nothing but…
Shikamaru paused and blinked. Slowly, he called out doubtfully in recognition, "…Neji?"
The gi—no, the person in the window flinched. Rising on the branch with as much dignity as possible, the person turned and indeed Hyuuga Neji was now glaring at him. His cheeks were faintly red and his eyes began to shift away from the other boy's utterly shocked expression. Folding his arms, Neji scoffed, "What?"
"What," Shikamaru began slowly, folding his arms as well and raising an eyebrow at the other boy, "may I ask, are you doing in my window. And…why are you dressed like that?"
Just before Neji had a chance to respond, the older boy suddenly snapped his head to the side and cursed under his breath. Without explanation, he dived into the open window and hid directly beneath the sill. Eyes still sharp, he shot Shikamaru a somewhat threatening, somewhat pleading look.
"Hi, Shikamaru!" TenTen called out cheerfully from the branch Neji had been standing on just moments before. Smiling, she asked, "By any chance have you seen Neji around?"
Shikamaru slowly glanced at the older boy with a raised eyebrow. Shrugging when he saw Neji's death glare, Shikamaru announced to the older girl just outside his window. "No," he said bluntly, "I haven't seen anyone I've recognized to look anything like him."
Neji's glare intensified.
Looking slightly confused for a moment, TenTen blinked at the younger boy. Giving up, she smiled sheepishly and offered a nod in apology. "Sorry to bother you then. Let me know if you see him, ok?"
Once the girl was a safe distance away again, Neji let out a brief sigh in relief. Clearly annoyed, he covered his face with his hand and let out another sigh.
"Well then," Shikamaru began again, tossing a shougi piece up in the air and catching again, "are you going to explain your lovely appearance?"
Gruffly in embarrassment, Neji muttered something into his palm.
Shikamaru strained his ears to hear. "What was that?"
Neji repeated his muffled whisper.
"I said," Neji scowled, face flushed, "Hanabi-sama dressed me up this way because…"
"What?" Shikamaru asked, slightly annoyed with himself for being so nosy.
"…it's my birthday," Neji finished in a soft, irritated, and utterly embarrassed whisper. He frowned deeply before dropping his head in an undignified manner into his hands. "Lee and TenTen have been spreading the word and now they want to throw some ridiculous party."
Shikamaru had to sympathize with the older boy. Understandingly, he nodded his head and stated dully, "It's not so easy being such a popular jounin now is it?"
The older boy shot him a dark look.
Ignoring him, Shikamaru went on, "Parties are overrated and troublesome. But," he restarted with a brief pause, "your friends want to celebrate your seventeenth birthday with you. Shouldn't you be happy?"
Neji was silent for a long moment before sighing and closing his eyes. "Of course I'm happy," he admitted with a bit of trouble. Eyes re-opening and returning to their sharp manner, he declared firmly, "Doesn't mean I can let them see me like this though. This is a kimono. For girls."
Shrugging, Shikamaru turned back towards the shougi board. As he reset all the pieces back to their original spaces to restart the game, he stated simply, "I thought you looked rather nice."
Flushing slightly, Neji directed his gaze away and stared hard at the wall. Clearing his throat, he muttered, "Maybe if it's you, it's all right, but if the others like TenTen saw…" He shuddered slightly unconsciously, eye twitching slightly. "I'll never hear the end of it."
"Women are annoying and nagging a good portion of the time," Shikamaru commented offhandedly, placing the king into place on the board. "They make good companions, but sometimes…well, I'm sure you know Ino."
At that comment, Neji could not help but smirk slightly. Finally turning, he glanced over at Shikamaru. His eyes scanned the board before the other boy and without thought, he asked, "Shougi?"
Shikamaru nodded briefly, continuing to put the pieces back. Suddenly, he paused with realization. Muttering, he asked, "Everyone calls you a genius, don't they?"
"What's that have to do with anything?" Neji asked rather darkly.
"You're probably a pretty good shougi player aren't you?" Shikamaru asked, smirk tilting upward slightly. "Let's make a deal. I'll hide you from the others if you play a game of shougi with me."
After a moment's pause, Neji slowly made his way towards the board. Sitting across from Shikamaru, he commented with a slight huff, "Just because you're hiding me, doesn't mean I'll go easy on you."
"Just don't be too upset if you lose," Shikamaru replied with a smirk as he separated the pieces into different piles. He grinned slightly at the sight of Neji's slightly flustered face. Breezily, he went on, "Well, as long as you play a good game, I won't be complaining."
"Same to you," Neji muttered with slight embarrassment that seemed misplaced. Sweeping some long bangs away from his eyes, he reached over to place his pieces in their proper places before they could start.
Shikamaru watched in silence as Neji quickly swept his fingers across the board, placing the pieces into their original spaces. Somehow, his eyes became transfixed on those thin, smooth, agile fingers. Frown settling on his face, he shook his head vigorously. Yes, it was definitely Neji's getup that was getting to him. Although, Shikamaru thought to himself grimly, girls normally would not affect him anyway.
"Is something wrong?" Neji asked, folding his arms and raising his eyebrow a bit. He smirked slightly when Shikamaru blinked. "Maybe," he drawled with a grin, "you're afraid of losing?"
"When it comes to shougi, I won't lose," Shikamaru stated bluntly with determination, his fighting spirit growing. "Sorry, Neji, but I don't plan on losing."
Amusement shining in his eyes, Neji picked up his first piece. "Then, I'll be going first."
It only took a few turns for Shikamaru to realize that indeed Neji was an excellent opponent. He had spent forever looking for someone who could evenly match him in shougi. To think that he had been so close to someone so great frustrated him greatly. He miserably wondered why he had never asked Neji to play before.
After making his turn, Shikamaru glanced up a bit to examine Neji's expression. He was unsure whether it was the girlish clothes or what, but Shikamaru began to feel slightly awkward. He twitched every time Neji swept his long bangs out of his eyes or brought his slim fingers up to his chin in thoughtfulness. Shikamaru really hated to admit it, but Neji was incredibly cute this way. Cuter than Ino, at least. Somehow, that frustrated Shikamaru even more. A boy wearing female clothing should not be cuter than an actual girl.
"Shikamaru, it's your turn," Neji called, looking up from the board to meet the younger boy's eyes. He blinked and frowned slightly when he realized Shikamaru was staring at him again. Irritably, he demanded, "What?"
Neji was irritated. It was obvious, and it was not due to the game. Sighing, Shikamaru scratched the back of his head before redirecting his eyes down to the board. He would just have to avoid looking up at Neji now. That shouldn't be too hard, right?
"Ah! Shikamaru! When'd you get a girlfriend!"
Neji flinched visibly.
Somehow, they had been so engaged in the game that they had forgotten to keep watch. That had to explain how Naruto managed to sneak up on them. Definitely. It was Naruto, after all.
"That's mean, Shikamaru," Naruto went on to complain, frowning from the branch he sat on outside of the other boy's window. "We're all out looking for Neji and you're sitting here playing with a girl."
The situation was going bad, Shikamaru felt it. The hairs on the back of his neck were tingling. He shot Neji a look, but the older boy had already turned his head to the side to avoid showing his face. It seemed that Naruto was yet to realize who Shikamaru's "girlfriend" actually was.
"You're a slacker too, Usuratonkachi."
Shikamaru flinched again. The situation just got ten times worse. Sasuke had come to perch on the same branch Naruto stood on. Miserably, he shot another helpless look at Neji, who still had his head ducked. The most he could do know was to think of some way out of this mess.
Quickly, Shikamaru made his next move on the shougi board before stating loudly with a twitching eye, "It's your turn, honey."
Neji's eyes widened. He turned around rapidly to glare at Shikamaru with a slightly reddened face. He opened his mouth but shut it again instantly, given the situation. Even though Naruto and Sasuke may not have realized who he was by looking, they definitely would be able to tell if he said something.
Outside, Naruto was mesmerized. Frowning slightly, he leaned over and muttered to Sasuke, "Shikamaru just called someone 'honey.' This could be serious."
Sasuke was suspicious. As far as they knew, Shikamaru had never been very interested in girls. He also had the sinking feeling that the person they were looking for was in fact very close. He shrugged inwardly. He was not exactly for big parties anyway. Even if that was in fact Hyuuga Neji sitting there dressed as a girl, he wouldn't be the one to blab to the others. He decided to give Shikamaru a break. Turning, he called over his shoulder, "Leave him alone, Naruto. Let's go."
"Wait, wait," Naruto called with interest, swinging his leg over the windowsill, making Shikamaru and Neji stiffen yet again. Cheerfully, the blond made his way over to the pair sitting on the floor, completely ignoring Sasuke's impatient calls. "I want to see what Shikamaru's girlfriend looks like!"
Although he was grateful for Sasuke's attempt to save them, Shikamaru was a bit annoyed. This was quite possibly the most interesting game of shougi he had ever played against someone, and it was being interrupted. He sighed inwardly. He hated when things got too complicated.
"Just leave the girl alone," Sasuke snapped, climbing in through the window to retrieve Naruto.
"I just want one glance," the blond protested. He was persistent enough. He twisted and turned around the person he had yet to discover was in fact Neji, hoping to get a glance at his face.
Shikamaru covered his face with his palm. Even his brain was not prepared to solve a problem like this. In this situation, it could only get worse. Clearing his throat, he decided to try anyway lest Neji kill him later. "Naruto, please. She's…uh, really shy."
Somehow, he managed to see.
The other three boys in the room were instantly silenced, waiting breathlessly to see how this would turn out.
Naruto turned slowly, a frown on his face. Facing Shikamaru fully, he declared loudly, "Shikamaru! Where'd you find such a cute girl! And those eyes! She's a Hyuuga, isn't she? That's not Hinata, is it? Or her distant cousin or something?"
Shikamaru and Neji simultaneously let out a sigh of relief. Behind them, Sasuke rolled his eyes and scoffed slightly. Well, it seemed they had gotten away this time. It was too close though.
"Anyway," Naruto went on, backing away from Neji, much to the older boy's relief. "Bring your girlfriend with you and come help us look for Neji. At this rate, we won't make it in time for his party."
"Uh," Shikamaru began slowly, his mind rapidly processing what to say. After a moment's thought, he stated awkwardly, "Well, you see. I don't get to see my…my girlfriend very often. Let us finish our game, will you?"
Neji was mortified. His embarrassment was radiating so heavily off of him that it was beginning to infect Shikamaru. The younger boy sighed and tugged awkwardly at his collar a bit while Naruto frowned.
And then, the worst thing that could happen for them happened.
"We'll wait then," Naruto announced, going to sit in the corner of the room.
"Don't make decisions by yourself, Usuratonkachi," Sasuke called irritably, marching over to hit the blond's head lightly.
While Sasuke and Naruto bickered in the corner, Neji leaned over the board to the extremely exasperated Shikamaru. Miserably, the older boy muttered, "What now?"
"Sasuke's on our side," Shikamaru explained, rubbing his temples. "We may as well finish our game. If we take a long time, Naruto may get bored and leave. He doesn't recognize you anyway," he added with a bit of a smirk despite the situation. "He did call you cute after all."
Neji emitted a sound that was seemed to be the fusion of scoffing and sputtering. It was so amusing that Shikamaru could not help but let a quick laugh escape his lips. Noticing that both Naruto and Sasuke were staring at him, he regained himself and called to the pair, "I guess you two can stay, but we'll be finishing up our game first."
It only took a moment for Sasuke to understand their meaning. They were trying to make Naruto bored. He ducked his head slightly to hide his smirk. They really did know the blond well. He could barely sit for a few minutes without moving in some way or the other. He was feeling generous today. Perhaps that was why he said it.
"Naruto," he called, surprising the other three teens in the room. "Let's play a game too."
Shikamaru and Neji exchanged glances as Naruto obediently sat down across from Sasuke. Silently, Shikamaru and Neji were betting on who would win. Without a second thought, both muttered under their breath at the same time, "Sasuke."
For a few minutes, it was quiet. So quiet that Shikamaru had almost forgotten about Naruto and Sasuke's presence. The game with Neji was too engaging. Of course, the silence only lasted a short while. Within ten minutes, Naruto let out a noise of frustration, rubbing his head vigorously. That was his first of many losses.
After a while, Shikamaru and Neji had grown used to fazing out Naruto's outbursts of loss. They would definitely have to thank Sasuke for this one. Once they were able to properly block out the blond's exclamations, they were actually able to continue their game in a certain degree of enjoyment. In fact, before he realized, Shikamaru was grinning as he gazed down at the board.
"You're good," Neji muttered as he carefully examined the board. He mused silently as he swept away another long strand of hair that had come to block his vision. "I should have expected as much."
"Same to you," Shikamaru replied quietly just as Naruto jumped up in the corner after losing for the fifth time.
"I can't take it anymore," Naruto sighed aloud, bring his hand up to his forehead. "I'm just not made for shougi. Besides, our games are too short, Sasuke!"
"That's because you suck," the dark-haired boy stated frankly, rising to his feet. Crossing his arms, he asked, "Are you finally ready to leave those two alone for a while?"
Naruto still looked reluctant, but he finally sighed in acceptance. Grinning mischievously, he marched over and took hold of Sasuke's arm. "Fine, Sasuke," he began slyly. "But you'll have to keep me company instead!"
As he was pulled out the window, Sasuke shot a glare at the grateful-looking Shikamaru and Neji. His silent gaze clearly stated that they owed him for this one.
"You think he'll be alright?" Neji asked grimly as Sasuke was pulled out of sight.
"Don't worry about him," Shikamaru replied, returning his full attention to the board. "He knows how to handle Naruto. Besides, you can't tell by looking, but they actually have a good relationship."
"I'm almost envious," Neji admitted, making Shikamaru look up. Slightly embarrassed, he went on, "I'm…not really close to my teammates."
"At least you know they care about you," Shikamaru stated, picking up a piece and placing it in a new spot. Grinning, he commented off-handedly, "Besides, honey, you have me now, don't you?"
Neji glared before bringing a hand up to cover his face in humiliation. Sighing, he voiced his thoughts, "That was humiliating."
"At least he didn't recognize you," Shikamaru reasoned, still quite amused by the situation. It was strange for him to be so cheerful, he realized. He wondered when the last time he smiled this much was. Neji seemed to have strange effects on him.
"Looks like this game's going to be ending soon," Neji commented as he made his next move. Frowning, he went on, "I hate to admit it, but I'm running out of moves. You really are impressive."
"You too," Shikamaru replied sincerely, scanning the board. "You're the closest opponent I've ever had."
Frown lifting from his face, Neji could not help but smile slightly. He let his gaze connect to the younger teen once he finished his next move. Suddenly, he felt awkward again, but his gaze could not be torn away. Slowly, he muttered, "We should definitely…"
Shikamaru leaned forward slowly as Neji felt his eyelids grow heavy.
"…play again sometime. Next time I'll capture your king for sure…"
"I guess she really was Shikamaru's girlfriend," Naruto commented from the window as he observed the two.
"Oh my god," Ino exclaimed, her eyes growing large. Unable to contain her excitement, she squealed while shaking a wide-eyed Chouji, "Shikamaru's kissing someone!"
"We were looking to capture our king for his birthday, but it looks like we saw something else interesting," Kiba commented with a smirk.
"I'm pretty sure they've noticed we're here by now," Sasuke commented dryly, folding his arms as TenTen and the other girls peered into the window. It was a miracle the tree supported so many people up by Shikamaru's window.
Inside, Shikamaru had just pulled his lips again. Pulling back slightly, he let out an audible groan. "Everyone's being troublesome today."
"What a cute girl," TenTen commented from outside, blushing slightly. "I'm completely jealous."
At this point, Neji was fully aware of his comrades peeking in from the window. The daze that had passed him from the first kiss had passed. It was irritating, but he was completely unsatisfied. Rising to his feet suddenly, he marched over to the window and sharply drew the curtains closed before marching back to a surprised Shikamaru. Sitting down on the floor in front of the younger boy again, he muttered in embarrassment, "Well…while they don't know it's me…"
Shikamaru grinned and took hold of the top part of Neji's kimono. Pulling the older boy close again, he commented fondly, "As expected of a genius."
"Shut up," Neji growled, cheeks still faintly flushed as he dived forward again, knocking them both to the ground. As he stared down with embarrassment at Shikamaru's amused face, he muttered, "Just so you know, this is the kimono's fault."
Slow grin crossing his face, Shikamaru asked in amusement, "Really? Need help taking it off?"
Neji glared, contrasting with his reddening face. Inwardly, he gave up. After all, Shikamaru did beat him this time.
Outside, the others were stunned.
Confused, Lee asked while scratching his head, "Does Neji have a long-lost sister that we don't know about?"
"Uhm," Hinata piped up timidly, making the others turn to face her. Embarrassed expression on her face, she explained, "That…"
"You know her?" Ino asked with interest. "Those are definitely Hyuuga eyes after all."
Smiling sheepishly, Hinata admitted, "That wasn't a distant relative. That was Neji-niisan."
First, there was silence. Then everyone, minus Sasuke of course, fell out of the tree in disbelief.
--- --- ---
A/N: I wouldn't mind Neji dressed up in a kimono. Really, I wouldn't. 8D Muaha. I love this pairing. It makes almost no sense, but I love it anyway, hush.
Thanks for reading. :D