Title: Beating Around The Bush
Word Count: 2523
Type: One-shot (Complete)
Rating: T (Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes)
Summary: For Sakura, Neji doesn't mind going the extra mile. Sakura does not agree. She just wishes that he would get to the point.
Chapter Last Revised on: 30/10/07
Beating Around The Bush
Hyuuga Neji was in deep trouble.
"Sakura, I didn't mean-"
The ANBU captain of Squadron Three ducked quickly as a thick cover book sailed past his head to land with a resounding crash behind him. He winced inwardly and tried once more to calm his furious girlfriend down.
She didn't even let him finish, and Neji had to throw himself to the side this time to avoid the barrage of stationeries and paperweights that hailed down upon his head with deadly accuracy. He cursed softly when a heavy hole puncher winged him, and executed a quick drop-roll when he saw the mug that came after him next.
"Sakura, you are going to hurt somebody if you keep doing this-"
The beautiful pink-haired female glared fiercely at her raven-haired boyfriend then, clearly daring him to finish his statement. Neji recognized that look immediately. It usually meant that he was going to get it no matter what he said. His mouth clicked shut and to his surprise Sakura dropped the pencil holder that she had been prepared to chuck at him next.
"I can't believe you just said that to me, Hyuuga."
Neji grimaced inwardly. He was in trouble alright. Sakura never used his last name unless she was very, very pissed.
"Sakura, you know that wasn't what I meant." He placated the female, all the while eying her warily from the other side of her living room and weighing the odds if she would flambé him alive if he should approach her right now.
Her emerald eyes all but drilled holes into his skull then and he quickly decided to stay put. The woman was certainly scarier than even the most bloodthirsty S-class criminals when she was mad, and he had no intention of riling her even further.
"Not what you meant?!" The pink-haired kunoichi hissed angrily. "You said that I was weak!"
He really wanted to say that he was not wrong. It was the truth after all, most women were physically weaker than men and that was a universal fact. However, even he had to admit that she was certainly not physically weaker than him, having inherited that inhuman strength from the Hokage. He had first hand experience with her prowess before and he had no intention whatsoever to get up close and personal with her powerful fists today. There was something else that he had to accomplish before he left her apartment today and he would certainly like to do it with all limbs intact and no broken bones.
"I did not say that." Ever the diplomat, he tried to divert the topic.
Her bewitching emerald orbs spat fire at him.
"Well, you certainly implied it!"
Neji sighed inwardly. Oh, he finally got what was going on now. This was going to be one of those many arguments that he would never win, no matter how right he was, no matter all the evidences he had on his side to back him up. Somehow she would always emerge the victor and it was at times like this that he wondered how on earth he had fallen in love with this ridiculously temperamental little spitfire.
He must be not quite right in the head to even want to marry her.
"Don't you dare 'Sakura' me!" Neji was immediately alarmed when she looked as if she was about to cry. Dangerous flying projectiles or not, he was instantly by her side. She sensed his presence immediately and tried to shy away from him. Neji frowned. This sudden evading of him he would never allow, and before Sakura could draw the breath to protest his action the gruff Hyuuga had tugged her into his embrace
"Oh no, you don't." He muttered. "You are not going to do this every time you get annoyed with me."
Sakura was not amused. She glared at him through cotton candy bangs and he was secretly relieved that she had her fire back. "Let me go."
She almost knocked herself over with her gasp at his flat refusal.
"Neji! Let me go!"
He did not heed her demand of course, and she let out a small squeak when he suddenly pinned her down with his intense silvery gaze. He would never know, of course, but that pale-eyed look of his always made her knees go weak and the fact that he appeared oblivious to the effect he had on her made her simmer inwardly with the unfairness of it all.
"Don't…don't look at me like that…" She tried to avert her gaze from his, but his hand on her chin easily counteracted her efforts.
She was still trying obstinately to look away from his mesmerizing eyes and so he did the next best thing. The raven-haired male lowered his head and nuzzled the side of her neck almost insistently, demanding her attention in a way she could not resist. She made a small sound of protest in the back of her throat.
"You know that I cannot let you go." An utmost gentle nudge against her pulse point had her hitching her breath with surprise, and she relaxed reluctantly in his arms.
Sakura would not deny it; Neji's proclamations always had her heart beating faster than ever and made her fall even more in love with him each and every time. It wasn't only the possessive tone in his voice that gave her the thrills; it was the calm, matter-of-fact manner in which he said the words that told her without a doubt that he meant everything that he had said, and that never failed to reassure her of his affections like it was doing now.
She emitted a gusty sigh. She could never stay mad at him for long, and she hoped that he would never find out.
"You are still not off the hook yet, I hope you know."
He trailed his lips down the length of her jawbone in an almost apologetic gesture before lifting his head to look into her exasperated gaze.
"You mistake my words, Sakura." Before she could open her mouth to say otherwise he continued smoothly. "Contrary to what you think, I was never under the impression that you were weak or useless." An arrogant look flittered past his eyes. "I wouldn't have given you the time of day if I thought so lowly of you."
Sakura was immediately outraged for an entirely different reason.
"Are you trying to imply that you chose me as your girlfriend just because of my abilities?" The pink-haired kunoichi was starting to get riled up again. "If that is the case-"
She sputtered to a stop when he narrowed his silvery eyes at her and gave her a small warning squeeze around the waist for interrupting his explanation. She glared grudgingly at him but held her tongue, and he relaxed his hold on her.
"It was your strength and healing abilities that had brought my attention to you at first."
The Hyuuga spoke neutrally but his hands shifted affectionately up and down the side of her waist in an utterly absentminded manner that told Sakura without words how relaxed the normally edgy ANBU was around her. His unspoken trust in her thrilled her, and she quickly found that she could not even maintain the slightest modicum of irritation towards him anymore. The pink-haired kunoichi relaxed her entire body against her boyfriend's, getting comfortable in his embrace as she waited patiently for him to continue.
"Your personality was what continued to snare my attention. You are a powerful kunoichi, Sakura, but your character is unlike any of the female ninjas that I have ever encountered. Brash, violent, loud, irritatingly cheerful, foolishly headstrong, I can go on and on, but you are getting a little too tensed for my comfort." Silvery eyes gleamed with amusement at the disgruntled expression of the little female.
Try as she might, Sakura could not help but feel a little hurt by Neji's frank words. Well, she knew that she wasn't exactly like most females but she certainly hadn't expected for her own boyfriend to point out all her imperfections to her so insensitively. Starting to feel annoyed now, she lowered her lashes quickly before Neji could detect her hurt gaze. She would be damned if he had to tack on 'emotionally weak' to her seemingly unending list of flaws.
Once again, she shifted unhappily in his arms, as if looking for a way to break free from his touch. "If my character is so dissatisfying to you-"
"It is not."
Her eyes flew up to his as she gaped openly at him. The ANBU looked thoughtful as he contemplated about what to say next.
"You were certainly…annoying at first, but I have to admit that you have grown on me."
Sakura felt her hurt disappear almost magically. Oh, Neji had this gift for turning her depression into some much more…destructive. She narrowed her eyes at the arrogant Hyuuga's reluctant admission. Oooh, he's so unbelievable!!
"Hyuuga Neji!! I have grown on you?" The pink-haired female sputtered. This was not the way one should treat his girlfriend!! "What am I? Mould? How dare you-"
"Yes," Neji cut through her grievous mutterings firmly before they could escalate into something bigger. He normally found her disgruntled behavior entertaining, but now was simply not the time. "You have grown on me, as impossible as it should have been."
Sakura glared at him, but Neji continued on blithely as if he had never seen her look of outrage.
"Therefore I have come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial for both of us to stay together and that you should marry me."
Sakura could only gawk at the impassive male nary a feet away from her. Had he just…proposed to her? She had thought that he must have been in some mood to cause her more grief than usual today, but was this what this entire conversation had been about?
Neji narrowed his silvery eyes minutely at Sakura's utterly shocked look. Did she have to appear so stunned by his words?
Neji didn't like this whole 'marriage proposal' business. The success of this whole process depended entirely on Sakura's answer and goddamn it, he hated this feeling of vulnerability more than anything else in the world. Well, that and the appalling possibility that this delightful thorn in his side might not want to share her life with him as he evidently wanted to with her.
That thought scared him more than he cared to admit.
"You know," Sakura mused quietly at last, distracting him from his worrying thoughts. "A simple 'Will you marry me' would have sufficed. I never figured for you to be the nervously 'beating around the bush' type when you are feeling uncertain about something."
He frowned immediately. That was definitely not true, and he did not like the way that she was evading the main question at hand. "I am not-"
"Ask me again properly." Sakura interrupted his displeasure quickly. Her voice was gentle and the soft look in her doe-like verdant eyes quickly relaxed his tensed form. It was amazing how one look from her could make him feel both ten feet tall and two inch high at the same time, and equally alarming. He had not been aware of the power that he had allowed her to hold over his head, and even more terrifying was the fact that he didn't seem to mind it the least.
"Neji. Ask me again." An odd look shifted past her eyes but he was too preoccupied with trying to decipher what was really behind her words to pay attention to it. "Ask me if I will marry you."
His eyes narrowed imperceptibly. He will not lose her.
"Yes?" The little kunoichi looked earnestly into his eyes, emerald depths shining.
His detached gaze softened.
"You will marry me."
She blinked with surprise at his arrogant words. Then she furrowed her brows slightly. But Neji was not done yet.
"Do you know why?" He asked huskily, eyes trained intently on hers. Sakura found that she had lost the ability to speak. She could only shake her head wordlessly.
"Because you love me."
Sakura stiffened at his calm answer, but he tightened his hold on her and refused to let her go. "Do you dare deny the truth, Sakura?"
"Answer me." He demanded softly when she continued to keep quiet.
Sakura closed her eyes for a long moment before opening them again. She looked at him with a clear emerald gaze. "No, I won't deny the truth."
Satisfaction flared within eyes of molten silver, and had Sakura been observant enough she too would have seen the glimpse of relief that had accompanied it.
"Say it, Sakura. I want to hear the words."
Sakura could only gaze at Neji with confusion in her eyes. He had never been this open in demanding reassurances of affections from her, and she wondered bewilderedly what was going on in that genius mind of his. "Why are you-"
"Sakura." His lips were suddenly against the sensitive skin behind her ear, his warm breath brushing against her earlobe in a delightfully intimate manner. She gasped softly, and felt her knees go weak. How could she even summon the will to deny her stoic boyfriend when he's suddenly this…affectionate?
Her shy admission nearly left him undone. His arms tightened convulsively around her. Those words had sealed her fate. He was never going to let her go now.
"Good," The tall male buried his face in the crook of her neck, nuzzling the side of her throat with his lips. "because I love you too. So damned much."
Sakura could only gawk at his stark reply, her heart pounding fiercely in her ears and a warmth unlike any she had ever experienced filling her body in the most comforting manner.
He lifted his head and shot her a slightly irritated look. "Do you doubt my word, Sakura?"
The pink-haired medic shook her head quickly. "No, that's not it! It's just that I'm in shock. I kinda suspected, but you never said anything like this before…" She mock-glared at him. "You could have just told me that you love me; you didn't have to browbeat me into admitting it first, you know."
"Hmmph." Then he looked derisively at her. "Well?"
She cocked her head inquisitively at him, happiness bubbling within her like she had just downed an entire bottle of champagne. "Well what?"
Neji looked at her incredulously. How could she have forgotten so quickly? "The proposal."
Sakura had the grace to look abashed. "Oh, that."
She was immediately gifted with a dry look from her beloved. "Yes, that." Silver eyes sharpened. "Your answer, Sakura."
She looked at him, and he was immediately in awe of this beautiful little kunoichi who was his. Her eyes shone with all the love she had for him and that little smile of hers was filled with the brilliance of a thousand suns. He was never going to forget that look on her face for as long as he lived.
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