He paced nervously throughout the rows of the Konoha's finest jewelry store. He had long since decided life would be a lot easier if they were kunai rather than rings. Neji could definitely imagine slipping the top loop over Sakura's finger long before he could imagine one of these over priced, jewel studded, hoops of precious metal completing the task of engagement. No, tradition was refusing to make this easy for him and apparently, despite his resolve to ignore any such ideas of its existence, neither was fate.
"Neji! What are you doing here?" Admittedly, it could have been worse. For example, it may have been Sakura herself. However this turn out was still less than pleasing for him.
"Ino." The blonde sidled up next to him and stared down at the cabinet he had been previously browsing to get an idea of what he was doing stomping around her favourite jewelry shop.
"Oh...buying rings are we?"
"May I inquire as to the reason?" She broke out into laughter before he could even answer, although, Neji's interpretation of her laughter was more of an evil cackle.
"May I assume from your unrepressed glee that you now require no answer?" She squealed in understanding making it clear the statement he had provided allowed her the evidence she needed to complete her correct assumption.
"I'm...not sure yet."
"WHAT? You have been dating her for almost a year and this is the first time you have begun to even think about marriage?"
"No, I have been considering my options for quite an extended period of time."
"I'm not talking about your options Neji. I'm talking about W.W.W. H. E!"
"Pardon?" It was best to remain as polite as possible; even Ino could cause him damage that may prove unpleasant in future.
"You need help." She answered him bluntly despite his best efforts of kindness.
"Do I really?" He didn't expect Ino to catch onto the sarcasm but he didn't expect her to attempt to take his confusion into her own hands either.
"Get out of this row RIGHT now, Sakura's way better than this, I'm not having you waste your access to the Hyuuga fortune" She needn't have stated her command; she was already pushing him away from the counter.
"What are you talking about? W.F.Y.R.Z?" It sounded like a code name for some sort of weapon.
"W.W.W.H.E! When, where, why, how and expenses. It's called 'WHE' for short."
"This is more like it! You should be picking one of these ones!" She had led him to the 'Exclusive' part of the shop. He could see why it was so named, the prices had more than doubled. Of course, not that he couldn't afford it or wouldn't be willing to spend that much as long as it heightened his chances of success and Sakura was able to take some sort of pleasure from it. A sales clerk made their way over obviously more interested in helping him now he was in the more expensive part of the store. Ino saw her too. "He's looking for an engagement ring."
"Oh, congratulations to both of you." Neji interrupted her.
"It's for someone else. We are not..." Hell no.
"So sorry." Hm, he could almost smell the sincerity from that one. "Well, we will start with her skin tone." She looked at him expectantly. Ino spoke before he could shrug hopelessly.
"Fair to pale with a slight tan undertone." Right, that was what he had been going to say.
He slid the box into his pocket after two hours of listening to discussions of Sakura's hair and eye colour to favourite ice-cream flavour. The ring was described by Ino as 'Perfect white gold studded with the biggest pink diamond she had ever seen'. As for himself, he described it as 'Shiny hoop with a shinier rock that she'd better not lose anytime soon'.
"Thank you for your help Ino."
"What are you talking about, I haven't finished yet." She pointed to a bench. He complied by taking a seat beside her.
"We will start with 'W'."
"When. Well, Neji, when?"
"I'm not sure...this month?"
"NO! You have to be sure of your answer! You have bought the ring, you are ready today."
"Ready? Today? As in now?" He was grateful for her earlier help but she was making him nervous.
"Yes I don't see why not."
"Because I don't want to!"
"You have moved onto the why 'W'"
"You have to know why you want to marry this girl."
"Err..." He looked at her. "I love her?"
"NO!" Damn, he had considered that a smooth answer and it had pained him enough to confess it in public like that. He turned his attention back to his hands. "It's because you want to heighten your relationship to greater meaning and depth." Heighten to greater depths? He was lost. "Got it?"
"Yes." He was glad for a Ninja's talent in lying.
"We skipped a 'W'. Where are you planning on doing this?"
"How does she put up with you? You're hopeless; seriously, if you were any worse I would have to do it for you."
"Thank you for the encouragement..." Ino wasn't even listening anymore.
"You have to think romance Neji! Lakes, rose gardens, restaurants where it costs half of your yearly pay for an entrée...etc etc" she told him counting off on her fingers.
"In question form." He said mockingly.
"You need to think about it. Written in the sky, one knee, hidden in her Ramen..."
"Oh the possibilities." He said with a raised eyebrow. Not surprisingly, she took him seriously.
"Yes." She sighed. "Now, last one, expenses. We have covered that a bit with the ring."
"What else is there to cover?"
"Flowers, chocolates, romantic lighting...all depending on your second 'W'."
"The second 'W'?" she gave him a glare that spoke clearly of her pain brought about by his lack of intelligence.
"The where 'W'."
"When are you going to see her next?"
"Back to the when 'W' are we?" She gave him a look that could have frozen a flame. "After she finishes at the hospital. I'm not exactly sure."
"Then you'd better start preparing." She stood and prepared herself to leave. "Good luck Neji."
He hadn't thought it possible but he was feeling less secure in his planned actions than before. So, it had been a trial speaking to Ino to begin with, but in an attempt to try and organize something of what she had mentioned before, further attacks had been made upon his confidence.
Apparently, Ino had reached the central markets before him and had not hesitated to mention his upcoming declaration to everyone she came across. From that, it seemed that everyone she had come across found it necessary to give him advice. This had been taken to the extreme that he had felt close to tears more than once and he had begun to take notes. The mere thought of the looming proposal was driving the Hyuuga prodigy to hysteria if not insanity.
Tenten had seen him first and smiled happily which was manageable enough. It was only when the remainder of his old team arrived to express their thoughts and give him hints and tips that things started getting...teary, though fortunately not on his own or Tenten's behalf.
To escape he had hidden himself behind a fruit stall where Chouji paused eating their stock for a moment telling him everything he knew about charming women. In exchange he had to purchase him Ramen. Neji had only just sat down when Naruto instantly grabbed the stool beside him. He then went on to expand on exactly how he had managed to make Hinata fall in love with him.
"She always loved you idiot. You didn't do anything." Naruto left quickly after that but Kiba selected his empty seat and explained what it meant for dogs to be on 'heat' and what he could use to his benefit from that knowledge. This time Neji left instead.
He made his way to the Hyuuga Manor assuming it safe only to be forced into an extended walk with his Uncle who told him everything he knew about the complex minds of women. Hanabi chose this moment to interrupt and explain in a less than polite manner to her father that he was entirely wrong and she hoped that if Neji tried any of that Sakura would marry him for money.
If that wasn't disturbing enough, his ego barely had an opportunity to mend as Kakashi caught up to him and gave him some of his personal and well referenced ideas, pointing to his book when he needed assistance with his explanation.
Needless to say he now had a headache and an un-easing sense of apprehension.
However, he should have been feeling better if preparation was the key to success. He was half dragging his pack towards the hospital where he wanted to wait for Sakura to emerge. It was only when he had arrived that he remembered to check for the ring.
"Neji, what are you doing here?" He hadn't even noticed her approach.
"Uh, hello." He smiled broadly remembering what Tenten had told him.
"Are you in pain?" His face fell as she reached out to feel his cheek for signs of a fever.
"No. I...Was wondering if you would like to go out tonight." He had threatened seven people for that table in the exclusive restaurant Ino had told him about.
"Ugh, sorry, Neji, I'm exhausted already."
"No, that's fine really." Damn, he would have to make the central approach here. Sakura began to walk again so he coughed loudly. She turned around.
"Neji? What are you doing?"
"I need to talk to you."
"Can it wait until we get home? It's freezing out here."
"No." Perhaps he should have found a nicer, more tactful way to have put that. Chouji had told him it was best to remain polite and gentlemanly like.
"Oh...Alright then." He strode over to her hurriedly.
"I brought you these." He pulled out a bouquet of slightly crushed roses. Naruto had suggested the roses...Well, at least, roses or Ramen...
"Oh...Wow." She accepted them. "Uh, Neji, are you in trouble?"
"Trouble?" He was genuinely worried. Had she seen through this already? Was that a rejection?
"You know, trouble with the law, under threats from a prominent gang in Konoha, debts...Oh, I doubt that one but still..." He allowed himself to breath again. "Neji, what's going on with you? Are you trying to bribe me?"
"Bribe you?" She brandished the flowers.
"Yes, bribe me!" Damn, he didn't need anyone to tell him that pissing her off wasn't going to help his cause.
"No! Yes! In a way..."
"In a way?" She was beginning to talk in the dangerously quiet voice she used before she hit something.
"I mean..." He coughed "Sakura, you are by far the most beautiful and youthful of Konoha's bloom. Your light radiates high into the heavens like a beacon of charm and grace."
"Neji I...Have you been in the medicine cupboard?" she was speaking to him very slowly with her eyes narrowed.
"No! Forget that! I wish to forever run free with you like wolves on a Tundra!" Oh, he was so desperate he was actually taking advice from Kiba. He needed an idea...He had spoken to Hiashi. Hiashi had married, his advice may prove useful. "I...Err...Want to father your children..."
"…" She didn't even grace him with an answer. Instead she began to back away.
"Wait!" He was completely lost for a plan. The only suggestion he had left that may fit the situation before him was that of Kakashi and just thinking about that made him blush.
"I don't know how to say this nicely Neji so I'm not going to. I. THINK. YOU. HAVE. CRACKED. I really love you but you're starting to scare me." She turned around and began to stride purposefully away from him. He dug in his pocket and made a grab for her shoulder. Sakura spun around trying to remove herself from his grasp but he snatched her wrist and yanked her back towards him shoving the ring forcefully onto her finger.
"Damn it Sakura, just marry me already!" She took a step back still staring at him then raised her hand to eye level. That had not been smart, first he had hurt her feelings, then he had pissed her off, next he had been able to convince her he had fallen into the depths of complete insanity and just at that moment he had been close to physically attacking her. He had only one option left. "Please?" Her eyes flicked up from the ring to look at him as he stared back knowing that he looked about as pathetic as was possible of a Hyuuga.
She flew forward and had her arms around his neck in a matter of seconds.
"Why didn't you just ask me?" She was mumbling into his shoulder.
"I did, several times." Sakura leaned back to look at him directly.
"You mean that 'Shining light on the children of the Tundra' stuff?" At least his embarrassment was lessened slightly by the fact that she couldn't even remember what he had spurted earlier.
"Something like that."
"You're really hopeless."
"Hm." Women. "Sakura?"
"Err…You haven't answered me yet."
"Hm, if I say yes do I have to be your blossom, bitch and icon of fertility?"
"No, just my wife." She smiled at him before moulding her face into a thoughtful expression.
"Yes." He leant down to her pressing their lips together in a chaste kiss. As he released her she slid one of her hands into his own. He smiled again. "Don't smirk just after you have asked me to marry you!"
"I'm not smirking I'm smiling."
"No you're smirking and ruining the moment again!"
"Alright!" They began to walk in silence enjoying each others company. "Sakura?"
"We are not inviting Ino to the wedding."
A/N: Hello readers /wave/ Thanks you for making it this far! Now, this fic may require a little explanation. Firstly it was a kind of challenge fic featuring the quote "I...Err...Want to father your children..." said by Neji and a NejiSaku pairing. Then I mentioned having it in a proposal…and I was stuck with that too /shakes fist/
/coughcough/ Speaking of NejiSaku not to mention shameless self promotion…'lilmisssushi' and I have recently started a C2 dedicated to quality fics starring those two! For more information check out either of our profiles.
As for the main character of this story (i.e. the ring) I wasn't going to go into much detail but 'lilmisssushi' made me! So appreciate the effort. It was mainly us trying to work out what would be most expensive….
Oh, I have almost forgotten the entire point of this fic. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEJI! A bit late but it's the thought that counts.
Hope you enjoyed it and please review :) Oh and if you would like, you can see this as a follow up to 'Short Cuts' as their relationship isn't exactly developed in this one XD