Note: Written for a challenge at the nejisaku community, given by infiinficio. She requested something to do with a chuunin vest, with additional points if it was NejiSakuShika. So, here it is! (There is a slight NejiSaku slant at the end, but…)
Rated for mild language, drinking, and slight suggestive content. Set at some point in the future, when all of them are old enough to drink, and Sasuke has been beaten into submission by his teammates and dragged back to Konoha.
When Hyuuga Neji wakes up with a splitting headache in the middle of the afternoon in his bed, with his feet on his pillow and his head dangling off the foot of the bed, wearing nothing but a pair of black boxer shorts that are not his and a chuunin vest much too small for him—that is also not his—the first thing he does is utter a very un-masculine squeak of complete and utter shock.
What exactly happened last night?
It was a question that the ANBU captain never imagined that he would be asking himself. So he sits, hunched up under the sheets, using every ounce of his considerable intellect in his struggle to remember how he came to be in this situation.
After about ten minutes of deep thought, he still doesn't know exactly how he has been stripped of his dignity and possibly publicly humiliated.
He, does, however, come to realize who the two culprits of this—this monstrous excuse for a practical joke, must be. When the weight of this realization hits him, he growls aloud and shakes the bedsheets.
As if in response, a small piece of paper flutters out of the sheets. Neji picks it up and begins to read it, and his expression becomes stormier with each passing line.
Dear Almighty Hyuuga-Ness,
If we know you as well as we think we do, you're probably sitting in bed fuming about how, despite your amazing intellect, you just cannot figure out why you just woke up with a massive hangover—and wearing only my chuunin vest and Shika's boxer shorts, too!
Let me help you out a little. Remember there was a party last night, to celebrate Naruto passing his jounin exams with flying colors? Yeah. There was drinking, of course, and you got…a little inebriated.
Don't worry, it was nothing too serious! So, Shika and I decided to take you over to my place, so that you would stop hitting on Sasuke. We dragged you over, but…well, I think Shika was a little unhappy about the you-hitting-on-Sasuke part of the evening. He kind of proposed a drinking game/strip poker type thing when he saw the vodka in my side cabinet, and you kind of agreed. Despite my better judgment, I joined in.
As you have probably figured out by now, you lost. Um…miserably.
(At this point in the letter, the handwriting changes.)
So, Hyuuga, are you missing your ANBU uniform? I don't think you'll be able to report to work until you have it back.
Currently, it's sitting at Sakura's apartment, on her bed. Don't even think about trying to break in and steal it. It's guarded—heavily.
If you ever want to see your uniform again, you are going to have to report to Sakura's apartment tonight at nine o' clock sharp, and you have to have her chuunin vest and my boxers on your person as you do so.
We'll be waiting.
Haruno Sakura and Nara Shikamaru.
Neji stares at the letter, in a temporary state of shock.
Hitting on Sasuke?
Strip poker with Sakura?
He can do without remembering the former, but not remembering Sakura and strip poker…
Neji shakes the thought out of his mind, and tries to return himself to his usual state of asexuality. There is no question in his mind that he has to show himself at Sakura's tonight at nine. He knows that the pink-haired kunoichi is compassionate and that her evil streak is actually quite small. She's sensitive about her uniforms as well, and she won't willingly do anything like paint rainbows and daisies on his ANBU mask.
Shikamaru, on the other hand…
And unfortunately for him, Shikamaru happens to possess excellent persuasion skills, providing he actually wants to stop dozing and persuade somebody to do something. Like dyeing a uniform purple. Or feeding it to a certain perverted Sannin's giant toad.
Neji shakes his head again, as he gets out of bed and unzips Sakura's vest, folding it carefully and setting it on his dresser. Having something of hers in his room gives him a somewhat pleasurable tingle down his spine.
After taking a long, hot shower, making himself look presentable, and drinking a cup of coffee, he makes his way out to the courtyard, where he seats himself under an old oak tree, settling himself into his old meditating position. But he doesn't try to clear his mind. Instead, he plots against the kunoichi and the strategist. He knows that outsmarting them will be difficult.
Then again, he likes a challenge.
As he thinks, a small, evil smile spreads across his face.
Hanabi, Konohamaru, and Moegi happen upon him a little while later, sitting there smiling evilly to himself. Moegi and Konohamaru quail. "What's he thinking about?" Konohamaru whispers.
"He's probably planning to kill someone," Hanabi replies, unperturbed. "Either that, or make them wish they were never born." The three genin continue on their way through the courtyards, with Moegi and Konohamaru occasionally shooting dubious looks back at the older jounin.
At eight that night, Neji looks at the small white pill sitting beside his glass of water with an expression of deep satisfaction on his face.
He has never had much alcohol tolerance. Scratch that—he gets tipsy after only a little bit of wine. Half of a bowl of the Curry of Life is enough to make him keel over into an unconscious stupor. Forget vodka, margaritas, beer, or even some of the stronger cocktails.
Neji's lack of alcohol tolerance is one of the few reasons that his fellow ANBU members have to laugh at him and ruffle his hair whenever he makes some excuse about how he can't go to the bar after a long day at work because of family obligations, or something of that sort.
Neji's lack of alcohol tolerance is also why he routinely ends up slumped over the table only a few rounds into drinking games. Apparently, now his lack of alcohol tolerance is why he has lost his uniform to Sakura and Shikamaru, as well.
Neji has had enough. He has decided to turn the tables on his two companions.
"Tonight, I am going to drink my uniform back," he resolves aloud. And I am going to put Sakura and Shikamaru into some uncomfortable situations, themselves.
Smirking, he swallows the pill and takes a long glass of water, before picking up Sakura's vest and nestling it under his arm. As he makes his way out the compound gates, he almost feels as if he could whistle a merry tune.
Tonight, he definitely isn't going to be the one who passes out after a few shots.
When he rings the doorbell to Sakura's apartment, she answers it very quickly, and gives him a bright, sweet smile. "Come in!"
Neji gives her a deadpan look; obviously unconvinced by the innocent, unassuming expression she is now sporting. "Shika's going to be a little bit late," she explains, seating herself cross-legged on the floor. "He tried to tell me that he ran into a mishap involving…something, I didn't quite catch that part, but it's obviously a lie."
Neji raises an eyebrow at her. "You seem awfully convinced of that."
"You forget the years I spent under the tutelage of Kakashi-sensei," she replies humorously. "I can pick out lies better than most. Especially if they're ridiculous, implausible lies. Anyway…" she drags the word out, leaning back against the sofa.
Before she can complete her sentence, somebody opens the door, before slouching inside. "Yo."
"Shikamaru, that door was locked for a reason."
The tactician stretches and yawns. "I'm a shinobi, Sakura. I can break down simple locks in a matter of moments."
Sakura flings a nearby pencil at him. "It's common courtesy, Shikamaru!" She looks expectantly at the jounin sitting beside her, obviously expecting him to leap to her defense.
Not the case. Neji's attention is too focused on the bags that Shikamaru is carrying. Of course, he can easily see through the wrapping with his Byakugan, but…
"What are those?" he asks, trying his best to sound innocently curious.
Shikamaru smirks. "Wouldn't you like to know, Hyuuga." He seats himself on the opposite side of the coffee table, and places the bags on the table, before carefully unwrapping them.
"Vodka?" Sakura asks incredulously, upon seeing the bottles. A suspicious look flickers across her face. "…Shikamaru…"
"Well, we did exhaust your supply last night," Shikamaru replies defensively. He looks at Neji, who keeps his expression as blank as always. Inwardly, though, he can already taste the sweet feel of victory. Oh, Shikamaru, I know you too well.
"So, are those gifts for me?" Sakura inquires, clasping her hands.
"Whatever's left over can be gifts for you." Shikamaru gets up, trying to find the glasses.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, Sakura, surely you don't think that we're just going to give darling Neji his uniform back without a fight, do you?"
Neji allows himself a small smile. Score one.
"Let me guess," he drawls. "You and Sakura plan to drink against me, with my uniform as the prize."
"Of course." Shikamaru sets three glasses on the table. "You—"
"Shikamaru, we shouldn't," Sakura cuts in. "You know how Neji is when it comes to drinking. Sorry," she adds guiltily, seeing the expression on the Hyuuga's face.
Neji takes a deep breath. "No matter, Sakura. I welcome the idea, as a matter of fact."
Sakura couldn't have looked more thunderstruck if Uchiha Itachi had just dropped into the middle of the apartment, struck a dramatic pose, and vanished. "Neji…are you sure?" She places a hand to his forehead. "You're not ill, are you?"
"No, Sakura," he says patiently.
On a normal day, Shikamaru would be more than a little suspicious of this sudden change in his friend's nature. But secretly, he is still a little put out about Neji's antics involving Sasuke the previous night, and that emotion makes him careless. "You heard him, Sakura." He passes out the glasses. "Besides, his beloved Sasuke-kun isn't here to distract him with those mesmerizing Sharingan eyes, is he?"
Neji closes his eyes and thinks about how pleasant it would be to close up a few of Shikamaru's tenketsu points. "Let's just play, shall we?" he grits out. A distinctly menacing smile spreads across his face. "The same thing we did last night."
Sakura sighs, unearthing the cards from under the sofa cushion. She begins to shuffle them. Shikamaru places both hands behind his head and leans back against the corner of the armchair. "It's your funeral, Hyuuga."
One hour later, Shikamaru is slumped over the coffee table, shirtless, with his hair down, and with a big pink daisy drawn on his pants in permanent marker. The pair of boxers that he had 'given' Neji the previous night has been carefully arranged on his head like a hat.
Neji stares at the sight for a moment, before laughing in a way that makes the hairs on the back of Sakura's neck stand up. Blearily, she wonders how on earth he has developed such strong alcohol tolerance in one day.
Of course, this is "I'll-kill-you-with-one-poke" Hyuuga Neji we're talking about, she notes, staring at him wonderingly. "You're so very impressive," she says aloud, her speech slurring slightly.
Neji smirks. "Aren't I?"
"As a matter of fact," she purrs drunkenly, stroking his cheek. "I want to be just like you when I grow up."
"Indeed," he replies, satisfied, and inwardly makes a note to never let her be drunk around Uchiha Sasuke or Jiraiya.
"Okay," Sakura says, nestling herself up to him. "Let's do this."
Neji distances himself from her slightly, as he deals the cards. When they both flip their cards over, Neji has to stifle a triumphant smirk when he comes out on top. He gives the kunoichi an once-over. Her hair is down; her shoes are off…hmm.
"Lose the top, Sakura."
Sakura blushes a little, but she begins to unbutton her vest. As Neji watches her struggle with the third button, he sighs.
"Sakura, are you sure you want to continue this?"
She gives him a puzzled look. "We have to. Can you help me with this button, right here?"
Blushing in a very un-Hyuuga like fashion, he leans in and undoes the fastening, trying not to let his fingers touch any part of her anatomy that can be considered improper. "One more round," he tells her firmly, as he draws back and watches her fumble with her shirt, and he closes his eyes momentarily as she shrugs it off. "Just one more round."
Sometimes, he really hates his conscience.
The next morning, Sakura wakes up lying on the couch, with a horrible hangover, wearing nothing but her skirt and her underclothes.
She groans aloud upon catching sight of Shikamaru, who is still in the state he had been on the previous night.
There is a note fastened to the top of her breast bindings, and she struggles to sit up and read it.
As you can see, you seem to have lost our little match of strip poker last night. Miserably, in fact.
(Sakura imagines the smirk he must have worn while writing this.)
Of course, I decided to be a gentleman, and I didn't continue the game after you had to give up your shirt. Very considerate of me, don't you think?
I have reclaimed my uniform, thankfully.
While I was in possession of your chuunin vest, I realized that I rather liked having something of yours in my room. As a result, your top is now washed, ironed, folded, and nestled comfortably among my training clothes.
If you have any desire to reclaim it, you will present yourself at the Hyuuga compound at seven forty-five this evening for dinner. Formal attire. You may also want to make plans to stay later.
I'll be waiting.
Oooh, Neji's got plans for our dear Sakura...XD. I'm neither confirming or denying a sequel, for now.