Neji and Sakura: Undoubtedly, one of my all-time favorite Naruto pairings. So…in no particular order or preference, read, review, and enjoy!
Title: Moon Animals
Pairing: Hyuuga Neji/Haruno Sakura
Theme Set: Alpha
Neji's there when Naruto is brought into the hospital—Sakura watches, feeling faint, as Shizune puts him in the critical condition ward—but he isn't really sure about what to do, and finally, he settles with putting one hand on her shoulder, gently.
Their first kiss is an accident; the part of Sakura that's just a tiny bit disappointed in how very anticlimactic it was, soon reasons that they have a lot of time to practice, and the thought of the eventual outcome puts a tiny smile on her face.
Neji hates it that she has to comb his hair (he protests that he could probably do that himself), but Sakura ignores him—technically, he could do it himself, but she likes tending to it. Part of her wants to ask what conditioner he uses to get his hair so soft, but she reckons that Neji could be dangerous, even in a hospital bed, and keeps her mouth shut.
It hurts when she dresses his arm, but pride keeps him from closing his eyes, although he hates seeing the look of pity in her eyes.
Hospital food is terrible, but Neji thinks that even they couldn't have ruined the potatoes; Sakura laughs as he discovers how very wrong he is.
"You could have warned me," he mutters; Sakura smirks and looks out the window, watching the rain blur outside the dark glass.
Hinata sends chocolate (who would ever have guessed that Neji had a secret sweet tooth?), but what surprises her more is that he offers her a piece; she smiles a little shyly as she accepts.
The day Neji is let out of the hospital—after three long months—is the happiest day of his life; the first thing he does is go to the ice cream parlor. To his surprise, he sees Sakura waving at him over the biggest vanilla ice cream cone he's ever seen, and, wondering if there will ever be an escape from this woman, Neji goes over to join her.
Her duties as a medic-nin are technically over, concerning him, but that doesn't stop her from scribbling something down on the corner of a napkin, shoving it over to him—"If your arms give you any more trouble, just call me."
He chases her around town for at least half an hour; "Are you deaf?" he exclaims, when he finally catches up to her, at a café table. "I've only been calling for half an hour—"
Sakura gives him a blank look, watching his lips move angrily, before removing the little speakers from her ears. "Sorry? Were you saying something, Neji?"
The Hyuuga glares.
She calls him Grumpy for the first two weeks she tends to him; Neji is so irritated with the ridiculous name that he is a little politer, and he is thankful when she finally tires of it.
After a long day at work, Neji sits in bed, his eyes closed; Sakura's fingers weave through the hair, quickly and efficiently braiding it for the night—he is tired and achy and should be asleep right now, but he concentrates on the essence of her (citrus perfume, light breath on his neck), and the ANBU captain lets himself forget everything but Sakura.
They've seen companions, comrades, friends, die in battle, but at the end of the day, they have each other, and that knowledge makes things a little bit better.
They are both drunk, the first time, and the next morning, Sakura wakes up in Neji's room, wondering why she's wearing a less-than-conventional nurse outfit.
"You see, Sakura, I like a nurse's touch."
Neji watches Sakura train—she stomps her foot at Sasuke and Naruto's constant bickering; the ground shakes and the two nineteen-year-olds fall over, surprised—and wonders how he could have ever thought of her as weak.
Neji thought Sakura would cry when she walked in on Sasuke and Naruto in that deserted hospital room, but her lips only quivered for a fraction of a moment, before she flung her arms around both of them in sincere congratulations.
Whenever they're on missions together, Neji has to slow down a little to match Sakura's pace, but he doesn't mind as much as he thought he would.
It's cold when they all set up camp in the woods; Kiba and Hinata curl up against Akamaru, Gaara and Temari don't seem to notice the chill, but Sakura and Neji have nothing to keep away the wind except a warm fleece blanket which they share, falling asleep back-to-back.
Neji had envisioned freedom as being a bird that could fly away from it all, but he finds freedom in simply walking down a street hand-in-hand with the pink-haired medic-nin.
Neji never really celebrated his birthdays much; Hinata and his teammates give him small presents that he sets up in his otherwise bare room—the big plush teddy bear that Sakura gives him looks ludicrously out of place, but he keeps it on the shelf, anyway, and sometimes, after a particularly difficult mission, it finds its way onto his bed.
Neji felt a bit odd when she told him that she shared an apartment with Naruto, but the feeling eased somewhat when Sakura assured him that he was like a brother to her.
He pulls away the first time Sakura takes his hand, out of shock; the second time, he's the one who holds hers.
Neji never thought he would try coconut flavored ice cream, but he finds that he doesn't mind it so much after Sakura forces him to take a bite out of her cone.
Neji never really thought he could be really devoted to anything except his work, but she proved him wrong, as she almost always did.
Sakura laughs at him so hard that she's doubled up, clutching her aching ribs; utterly impervious to Neji's deadly glare, she tells him that she is never, ever going to forget this.
The sight of blood never really disturbed him much, except when it was gushing from a cut (from shoulder to wrist, how could she be so stupid?) on her arm, and she staggers before falling to her knees, instructing him, sounding choked, to get the bandages from the bag she carries on her back.
Hinata notices the symptoms in him for almost a year, and tries to keep herself quiet—he would kill her if anybody knew. But sometimes, at night, she and Kiba laugh over the fact that Hyuuga Neji, of all people, is completely and totally lovesick.
Sakura's room has a little music box where she keeps her little trinkets; Neji sits on her bed, feeling a little out of place, as he watches her get a golden necklace out of the box, and listens to the irritatingly cute melody that she seems to find so wonderful.
Sakura stargazes at night, when she's supposed to be resting for a mission; at midnight, Neji decides that it is enough, and has to drag her down from the tree and fairly tie her beside him to make her go to sleep.
"So, this is your home?" she asks, looking around the apartment. "It's very…green."
"You forget who my roommate is," he deadpans.
"Don't worry. I like it."
Neji has a surprising fondness for words with double meanings; sometimes, talking to him makes Sakura feel as perverted as Jiraiya and more than a little confused.
One of the few things they have in common is that Neji hates spiders as well, but since he's the one in the hospital bed, she has to swallow her fear, pick up a newspaper, and hunt around the room for the eight-legged monster.
Neji actually likes lightning and thunder; he finds them oddly fascinating, even though Sakura curls up under the covers at the first distant echo of sound.
Bondage had never been anything that Neji would even remotely consider, but there were always compromises to be made in any relationship; besides, he found that he didn't mind the blue silk ropes as much as he thought he would.
Sakura runs into Neji at the market, and gives the several bags he's carrying a skeptical glance ("need some help with that?"), and he's too proud to say anything, but she takes the heavier ones anyway, and they walk to his apartment together, in silence.
When Neji discovers her eyelash curler, he fiddles with it for an hour, believing it to be some sort of odd weapon; when Sakura tells him what it is, he drops it, glares, and doesn't speak to her until the next day.
Neji gives Sakura a gift for her birthday; it's a glass-blown cherry blossom and a gift certificate for the ice cream parlor—she thinks they're both lovely, but she likes the one for the ice cream place better…after all, she has an excuse to drag him along whenever she goes.
Sakura wonders why Neji doesn't smile too often—it's a nice smile, after all, and she tells him he should show it off to the world; he rolls his eyes, but gives her a little smirk all the same.
Sakura always had been excellent at playing innocent; Neji is dismayed to learn that their children have inherited the same ability.
He's the one who gives her the certificate that comes with attaining the rank of Jounin—Sakura is surprised; she thought it would be Kakashi, after all, he was her teacher—but as she takes it from him, her fingers brushing his cool ones, she gives him a big smile, even though they don't know each other that well; Neji almost returns it, and she exhales, feeling a sense of completion.
Sakura thinks that one cloud looks like an octopus on a log; Neji remarks that it looks more like a shuriken cutting open an arm, and Sakura gives him a disdainful look.
Looking at the sky fills Sakura with a sense of peace, the same way looking into Neji's eyes does.
They're walking past a pound when Neji says, suddenly, that his puppy had drowned when he was four years old; Sakura is startled, but she tells him that all dogs go to heaven.
The first time she meets Neji's uncle is awkward, at best, and as she suffers through the dinner, Sakura thinks ruefully that walking around on a beach in hell would be almost preferable, compared to this.
They watch the sun set in silence, in a blazing glory of red on the waves.
Sakura tells their children stories of moon animals; Neji leans against the door and doesn't know whether he should stop her—after all, she doesn't know that they get out of bed at night, climb onto the roof, and gaze at the sky, looking for traveling moon frogs.
They are in the Wave Country on a mission, but when it's nighttime and there's nothing more to be done, Sakura drags him to the beach and they sit on the white sand, feeling the warm waves lap at their ankles.
Pink is dominant over brown in the bedroom, yes, but Neji thanks the gods a thousand times when their first child is born with chocolate-colored hair.
Neji asks her to marry him at a New Year's party; Sakura blinks up at him, shocked, and the fireworks pause, leaving the rooftop dark. When the next one ignites in a blaze of gold and green, she flings her arms around him and they kiss, lit by the celestial lights.