That Stupid Dream
Where in the seven hells was he?
The tall pale-eyed Hyuuga looked around him with an impassive look on his face. He was standing in a white room, a huge white room. How did he end up in here? The last thing he remembered earlier was…
The twenty-one year old started slightly at the throaty feminine purr coming from behind him. He turned around cautiously, and eyes widened imperceptibly at the sight before him.
It was Haruno Sakura.
In a porcelain bathtub filled with bubbles.
Wearing nothing except for a saucy smile for as far as the eye can see, Byakugan not activated of course.
His eyebrows shot up so high that they disappeared under his hitai-ite.
Something was really wrong here.
Sakura's mischievous little grin widened slowly at the ANBU captain's obvious confusion. The pink-haired kunoichi straightened slightly, and the water level dropped dangerously from her collarbone to the gentle swell of her milky-white breasts. She leaned alluringly over the edge of the tub then, the pose emphasizing the slender curve of her neck that her messily bun-up hair now exposed. She giggled softly at the almost frozen look that the Hyuuga was now sporting on his face.
Her laughter was low and husky, and tendrils of…something…whispered down his spine.
That feeling increased dramatically, but the expression on his face did not change.
"Why are you standing so far away? Come closer."
Like hell he would.
For now distance was safety, and the Hyuuga was determined not to move any nearer towards the sexy little medic-nin until he figured out what the hell was going on in here.
"Fine…Have it your way then." Sakura pouted, her succulent pink lips jutting out in the most enticing manner. It didn't last long though, for suddenly her half-lidded emerald eyes gleamed in a most naughty manner that alarmed Neji to no end. He stared at her warily even as his heart started to pound, wondering what the pink-haired vixen was going to do now.
"If you don't want to come to me…then I guess that I would just have to go to you."
Had he been a lesser person, the coffee-haired Jounin swore that his jaw would probably have hit the floor by now. As it was, such actions were below him and so the elite ANBU merely continued staring unblinkingly at the sight before him.
Was she trying to jerk his chain?
There was a soft splash of water, and long slender fingers appeared on the edges of the tub as Sakura started to stand, her startling eyes twinkling with adorable mischief as she did so.
Neji broke out in cold sweat.
She had to be joking.
Arms crossed coquettishly across her chest for modesty, the pink-haired kunoichi stood up slowly and revealed to him that soft flawless skin, slightly flushed only from the hot water that she had been soaking in previously. She smiled shyly at him.
He was trapped.
Helpless to prevent his eyes from wandering, the Hyuuga watched as water and soap suds slide off her lazily like the caress of a lover. The fat cluster of bubbles slithered across slim arms, then slowly past the toned stomach, reaching that little valley in between her-
He fell out of his futon.
Pale-colored eyes snapped open immediately and were quickly greeted by the sight of the familiar wooden rafters of the ceiling. Outside, the skies were pitch-black and everything was quiet.
He was in his bedroom. No white rooms. No bathtubs. No naked Sakuras covered in nothing but soap and bubbles.
The Hyuuga blinked once, then shook his head inwardly to dispel the cardiac-arresting image of a certain pink-haired medic-nin.
He started to frown. This was getting ridiculous. When did someone like him start to develop this type of dreams? And starring Haruno Sakura too? He wasn't exactly in his first bloom of youth, for goodness sake!
Always the type who had to categorize everything in his life neatly, Neji quickly came to the conclusion that his brain must have been too free to be producing this type of dreams tonight, and that it must have randomly selected Sakura 'amuse' him. For the sixth time this month. Whatever it was, Neji was only too thankful that it didn't choose Tenten, whom he saw like a sister, or even worse, the Godaime. That would have been a nightmare.
The coffee-haired male sat up slowly from the floor and glared at the slightly raised platform that his futon rested on. If anyone knew that that he, one of ANBU's top ranking captains, had fallen off the bed while sleeping, he didn't think that he was going to be allowed to live it down. Yet if he hadn't fell off his bed…he wouldn't have woken up at all and the Hyuuga still had no idea if that would have been a blessing or a curse.
After all, he had it on good authority that Haruno looked really good with her smooth milky skin wet and slick with soap…
Neji would have smacked himself repeatedly upside the head had he not been reared to know better.
Slightly furious with his own treacherous thoughts, the powerful shinobi stood up quickly and looked blankly around his bedroom. It was obvious that he was too pumped up to return to sleep now.
So what to do now, in the middle of the night when everyone was still asleep?
The answer came to him immediately.
Sakura was not having a good night.
After spending what looked like a good portion of the evening patching up a team of Jounin who had barely made it back from an S-rank mission, the pink-haired medic-nin was exhausted, overstrained and would like nothing more than to go home to collapse facedown onto her bed in peace. It was just too bad that it was only four in the morning, and that her shift would only end at six.
"Haruno-sempai!!" A nurse called after the genius kunoichi as she was coming out of a patient's room. "There's a walk-in at the Emergency Unit. It's Hyuuga Neji."
Sakura groaned inwardly when she heard that name.
"What has he done to himself now?" The twenty-year old asked the nurse trotting briskly after her as she quickly made her way to the room that the nurse had put the Hyuuga in. "Broken ribs? Massive internal hemorrhage? Fractured skull? Concussion?"
The Hyuuga has always have to do everything in style, and it was no secret among all in the Konohagakure hospital that whenever the ANBU captain gets checked in, it is almost always a certainty that he's either hanging onto his life by a thread, or that the medic-nin in charge was going to have to do some really fast and tricky operation in order to make sure that he doesn't get that way.
Either way, Sakura could see that her ending work on time today was going to be nothing but a distant dream.
Sakura strode into the ward, fully expecting to see a lot of blood and gore. All she saw was a cantankerous-looking Hyuuga sitting on the bed, frowning something fierce and generally exuding a dark and dangerous aura that was frightening away almost everyone within his radar.
"You." His pale-colored eyes narrowed upon her figure immediately.
Sakura was inwardly surprised to see the Byakugan-user awake and apparently healthy enough to be hissing at her. She quickly pasted a cheerful look on her face, knowing that it irritated the powerful male to no end. Unbeknownst to her, the fatigue that she had been experiencing earlier fell away like a cloak at his unexpected appearance.
"Well, well." She sauntered into the room slowly, her lips twitching into a little smirk. "What has my favorite patient done to himself this time?"
The almost lazy way that she was advancing towards him and the little look of amusement on her face quickly reminded him of his little dream earlier, and his frown intensified.
"Nothing." Neji muttered brusquely. "I'm leaving."
He only succeeded in lowering his legs to the side of the bed before she reached his side and nudged him with a deceptive flick of her hand. She used the superhuman strength that the Godaime had imparted onto her and unprepared he sank back onto the bed with a grunt.
Neji glared daggers at the impertinent woman and was about to open his mouth to sarcastically enquire if that's the way she treats all her patients when she rolled her eyes at him. "You are so petty sometimes that I wonder if you are actually a girl in disguise." Then she became serious. "Tell me where you are hurt."
Petty!! How dare she- the nerve of her-
"Neji!" Sakura warned. "Quit sulking and tell me already!"
Neji told himself that it was because he wanted to get away from her as soon as possible and Not because of how nice his name sounded coming from her that he had relented.
"My left calf." Hyuuga answered reluctantly at last. "I think I fractured it."
Sakura knelt down before the ANBU immediately and focused her attention on the aforementioned limb. True enough, there was a most ugly purplish swell at his calf and Sakura tsked softly in sympathy. She laid a cool hand on Neji's calf; so intent was she in determining the full extent of the injury that she missed completely the way her patient stiffened slightly at her gentle touch.
Emerald eyes quickly going vague, the medic-nin started to infuse a bit of her chakra into his system, probing gently at his injury. She resurfaced back to the real world in a matter of seconds.
"Yup, you fractured your tibia alright." Sakura glanced up at the ANBU. "Did you come in yourself?"
A curt nod, and immediately Sakura's head was inundated with images of a cross and extremely pissed off one-legged Neji hopping all the way to the entrance of the hospital. Her eyes started to gleam with amusement, and Neji scowled at her. The handsome pale-eyed male decided that he did not want to know what the daft woman was thinking about now.
"Haruno, you have about five seconds to wipe that smirk off your face." The irritated male muttered. Before I nibble it off myself.
He was so startled by his own thoughts that he stilled. Where the heck did that come from? Hyuuga Neji does not go about thinking about nibbling people, of all things!
But you gotta admit that set of luscious pink lips looks oh so edible...
If he didn't think that it would make Sakura refer him to the psychiatric ward Neji would have dug out the bedpan from under the bed to hit his treacherous head with, all the while screaming, "I do not like Haruno Sakura!!"
Ho, so we are finally admitting that we have feelings for her?
Great, either he got hit by a genjutsu in his last mission, or he's really going mental and there's a voice residing inside his head. He wondered what his medic-nin would say if he remarked about that to her.
'Your' medic-nin? Your? You cannot imagine how gleeful I am now. Hah!
It was a good thing that Sakura was still probing gently at the swell and did not notice that odd look on the Hyuuga's face. "Wow. Five seconds this time, Neji?" The pink-haired kunoichi teased lightly; attention still focused wholly on the injury. "You must really like me, huh?"
Can you feel the loooovvvveeeee tonight...!!
It really was a good thing that Sakura had pressed lightly on his leg then, for the way he stiffened at her words merely gave her the impression that he, the Prince of All-Things-Stoic-And-More was actually afraid of a mere twinge of pain. She started to murmur soft words of sympathy then, whereas he merely closed his eyes and tried to pretend he wasn't there. Honestly, he didn't know what would have been more mortifying; that she would know of the voice in his head that was insisting on his affections for her, or her thinking that he was so weak that he could not handle a little pain.
Neji decided that it was a blessing that he really didn't have to know.
"Well, it's a clean break and a closed fracture so we do not need to worry about infections. I can start healing you now, but it will twinge a little."
Neji's eye twitched at the lightly veiled reference to his misunderstood flinch. He kept stoically silent and Sakura shook her head slightly at that, mouth slightly quirked in a little lopsided smile.
Once again, Neji felt the soothing presence of her chakra as she slowly pumped them into his body. He relaxed minutely, and felt his own chakra gather around hers as if trying to absorb the warmth of her energy into himself. She started her healing then, and Neji kept still as the slight jarring pain registered itself on his senses. Honed by years of meditation, the ANBU captain let his mind drift away from the mild discomfort and into a state of peaceful emptiness.
It didn't take long for Sakura to set the bone right and to mend it completely, though it left her slightly winded after the entire process. He sensed her fatigue immediately when her chakra left his system abruptly to rush back to her body, and leveled sharp pearly orbs at her. Her face was paler than usual, her deep emerald eyes wide and unfocused, and the hand that she had laid upon him was ice cold. He started to frown at the obvious symptoms, and before Sakura could react she found herself being quickly hauled up to sit on the bed with one annoyed-looking Hyuuga towering menacingly over her. She put a hand on her head to steady herself against the lightheaded sensation that swept past her.
"Haruno." Neji's voice was soft but insistent. "When was the last time since you ate something?"
Sakura closed her eyes as she started to recall everything that she had done today. It took her a little while to remember all the suddenly fuzzy details of her day.
"…this morning, I think."
He stared down at her with an air thick with disbelief, and immediately she realized how reckless she must have appeared to him at that moment.
"I was fully intending to have a hearty dinner, but then those Jounins came in with ruptured organs and severe third-degree burns and I…" Sakura mumbled halfheartedly, eyes still closed to battle the mild dizziness that she was experiencing. Neji's eyes narrowed.
"Excuses. You should know better, medic."
The slight sarcasm did not go unnoticed, and utterly indignant despite of her wretched state, Sakura's eyes burst open. "Hey, it's not that I was purposely-"
She moved too suddenly and nearly pitched forward and off the bed due to the sudden sense of vertigo. The tall ANBU grabbed her in time, pulling her back easily with a firm hand wrapped around her smaller wrist.
Sakura was mortified. She hadn't realized that she had expanded so much energy today that she could not even sit up properly unaided. A workaholic by nature, she was usually so immersed in her hospital duties that it wasn't uncommon for her to neglect some of her own needs. The pink-haired kunoichi hung her head in embarrassment. As much as she wanted to defend herself from the obnoxious 'I-Am-Always-Correct' Hyuuga, it was obvious that what he said was correct. She should know better.
"Erm…can you please get one of the nurses outside? They should be able to give me something to last me till the end of my shift."
He frowned at her.
No wonder that she was his medic-nin nearly every time he got admitted; it was now clear to him that the pink-haired kunoichi was ridiculously devoted to her occupation.
Not unlike him actually.
Sakura pulled herself out of her head throbbing misery to gape at him in shock.
The Hyuuga merely looked down at her with a totally impassive look on his face.
"I believe you were the one who were lecturing me about the dangerous perils of occupation burnout?"
Sakura's opened her mouth. "Yes but-"
"I remember that you even threatened to report me to the Godaime if I do not follow your orders to rest and recuperate?"
Sakura's mouth clicked shut at his pointed and not so veiled threat. She closed her eyes tiredly before opening them again. As much as she hated to admit it, the notion of being able to snuggle into her soft bed right now felt like heaven to her. Besides, her migraine seemed to be getting worse and all in all she wasn't exactly in the right condition to argue with the Konoha prodigy.
Sakura opened her eyes and glared at the powerful brunette in token resistance. His knowing pearl-colored eyes gleamed down at her with a muted victorious light that made her grit her teeth with annoyance.
"Fine, Hyuuga. You win."
Sakura tugged her wrist free from his grip and started to hop off the bed. She would have fallen flat on her face for all her attempts at a graceful exit but thankfully Neji caught hold of her once again, preventing what would have been a painful, let alone undignified sprawl on the cold and hard hospital floor.
"Calm down." His voice was steady and she detected no traces of gloating or whatsoever from his tone. "You are not in the position to make any sudden movements."
The pink-haired kunoichi flushed with embarrassment at the male's slightly admonishing tone. It was downright shameful that she, one of Konoha's best healers, had to be reduced to being lectured by one of her own patients.
"…sorry..." Sakura mumbled at last, lifting her head to stare into Neji's pale gaze. "It was very rude of me to snap at you thusly when you are only trying to help, Hyuuga-san."
Neji's brow lifted slightly at the stilted way she was addressing him, and tried to ignore the fact that she was still pressed lightly against him, her subtle scent of apples tantalizing his nose. Inwardly alarmed, he released her and stepped back, making sure that she was able to stand on her own two feet before he did so.
The pink-haired kunoichi weaved a little where she stood but otherwise stood firmly. She shook her head slightly as if trying to dispel the insistent throbbing in her head but to no avail.
"Erm…I'm going to have to tell the nurses to take over for the rest of this shift, then-"
"I will see you home."
The soft words that escaped from the Hyyuga's mouth were not a request, but a statement. Not for the first time that night, Sakura stared at him with disbelief. In all her years spent as the prodigy's acquaintance, not once had she seen him this…voluntary.
This new side of the ANBU unsettled her, and Sakura did not know what to think of the entire situation. It was downright weird, and the medic-nin blurted out the first thing that came to her mind.
"Why are you suddenly so nice to me?"
Sakura started to turn pink right after the words shot out of her mouth. She sounded so paranoid!
Neji did not falter in his answer, nor did he pause to make it up.
"You have healed and patch me up many a time, Haruno." The powerful shinobi started calmly. "Take this as a return favor."
The finality behind his tone made it clear that he didn't want her to bring up the topic again, and so Sakura did not mention that healing him was her job, and that she was paid to do so anyways. She merely nodded in acceptance of his logical answer, deciding to take his words at face value. He kinda owed her if she thought of it that way; she probably spent more of her chakra on him than anyone else in Konohagakure.
"Thank you." She whispered once again and he nodded in recognition of her gratitude. Then the tall Hyuuga moved to her side silently and effortlessly, his earlier injured limb now fully healed and more than ready to serve its owner once more.
The journey back to her apartment was made in silence, but surprisingly there were no hints of the awkward vibes that were normally present between two almost strangers, not to mention the need to fill the empty silence with some semblance of small talk. Maybe they were used to each other that way; it was probably very hard to feel guarded around someone of whom you had often shared a patient/doctor relationship with.
The dark night skies were painted with splashes of reds and orange by the time they reached her home, and as uncomfortable as Sakura felt at that moment she could not help but stop to admire the arrival of the new dawn. Her expressive emerald orbs reflected the beautiful kaleidoscope of colors with stunning awe, and the Hyuuga beside her realized belatedly that the sunrise looked so much more beautiful through her eyes.
Are you really sure that you don't like her at all?
Neji shook his head inwardly to free himself from the sly voice that had resided itself in his mind. Now was simply not the time for him to think of such thoughts.
Sakura refocused reluctantly to the male before her.
"Sakura." She answered him eventually, lips quirking slightly in a tired, but obviously playful smile as she did so. "Hey, I bet I have seen you shirtless more times than anyone else had ever had and still you call me by my surname? That's very sad, you know?"
Her innocent words referred to all the time that she had painstakingly patched him up after his many dangerous missions, of course, but he pretended to mistake her meaning for something else.
She knew she had just put her foot in her mouth again when he stared at her intently with those pale eyes of his. She could barely keep herself still when he took a step towards her, and did not understand at all the sharp sense of excitement that suddenly inundated her exhausted body at that one inscrutable look from him.
"Sakura." The Hyuuga prodigy spoke at last, her name a soft, low purr from his lips. Sakura froze, then started to turn a furious red from the unbelievable way the stoic shinobi could make her name sound like liquid sin.
If he wasn't the one and only Hyuuga Neji, she would have thought that he was flirting with her. But as it was, the pink-haired kunoichi somehow managed to convince herself that there was no way the elite ANBU captain would have tried anything like that with her, of all people.
"Erm, yeah." Sakura muttered quickly, suddenly feeling very awkward for even thinking of Neji in that way. "So, er…thanks for making sure that I get home safely. I am going to-"
"Sakura." Neji repeated patiently again, his face dispassionate but his eyes revealing a faint glint of masculine amusement. Sakura could not help but shiver slightly at the delightfully husky sound of her name coming from his lips once more.
"Yes?" It was all Sakura could do to squeak out that one-word reply, her heart pounding with a strange sort of anticipation as she did so. What did he want of her-
"Go in and rest."
The Hyuuga's blank, matter-of-fact reply was like a splash of cold water to the face, and Sakura broke out of the sensual spell that he had wove around her unwittingly. She was immediately mortified at her own reactions towards the handsome male and her embarrassment grew at the shrewd look in Neji's pearl-colored eyes.
In typical Sakura fashion, that awful feeling of shame was quickly converted to something a lot more productive. Something that would make Sakura act even more recklessly and daringly than the sweet-tempered medic-nin would normally do.
How dare he play with her emotions like that!
Sakura was fully convinced that it was due to her current state of weakness (and not anything else!) that had made her mind hallucinate and see Neji as something he was clearly not. That hadn't meant that the prodigy could toy with her for his own amusement!
Despite still feeling the effects of the headache, Sakura was determined to make one last play to get back at Neji before retreating into the sanctuary of her cozy home. Her emerald eyes lit up with challenge.
Neji was inwardly alarmed when she shot him that familiar little smile that he had seen her wield at him with deadly accuracy in his dreams. That sexy little tilt at the corner of her lips was purely meant for seduction, and it made him suddenly wary of what the kunoichi before him might attempt to do next. If anything, his years with his teammate Tenten had taught him not to underestimate the devious nature inherent to all women, and he would definitely be a fool to do so before someone as powerful as the Godaime's disciple.
Neji had already anticipated that Sakura was going to play dirty, but he had never expected the female to be so daring in her offensive.
"Yes, Neji-kun." The pink-haired ninja answered in a little breathy purr of her own, moving so close to the Hyuuga that there was nary an inch between them. Her long pale lashes fluttered down to cover half her eyes and she tiptoed up to look at him at face-level. "But first, I should thank you for helping me, don't you think, Neji-kun?"
He stilled completely when she laid small hands on his chest and those pink lips of hers widened into a saucy and utterly sexy grin. Once again her intoxicating scent of apples and innocence flirted with his acute senses, and Neji was aware that somehow, the little female had succeeded in getting him to where she wanted him to be.
The question now would be; what was she going to do now that she had him?
Sakura's heavily lashed orbs widened when the stolid male place his hands confidently on her waist, the facial features on his face still aloof as ever but the faint, almost undetectable traces of reluctant interest in his eyes indicating otherwise. Her breath caught when he leaned down towards her, so near that their noses touched and their breaths mingled.
"And just how, are you planning to…thank me, Sakura?"
Neji's tone wasn't that of playful flirtatiousness, but more of expectant curiosity and there and then Sakura knew that her plan to unnerve the ANBU had backfired on her miserably. Belatedly it occurred to the pink-haired kunoichi that he had probably known what she was planning to do from the start, and was probably playing along to see if she would really dare carry it as far as she had. Her resolve to get back at the male was quick to deflate into awkwardness, not to mention shyness at being at such close contact to said male.
"Erm…" Sakura started to rack her mind desperately for a way to gracefully extract herself from Neji's person.
"I have a suggestion, Sakura."
Sakura's nose wrinkled slightly at the way he seemed to be calling her by name every chance he got. Had she known that he would use that particular tone of his to address her as such she would never have given him the permission to do so. In fact, she was going to take it all back. Thus decided, Sakura opened her mouth to demand he stop saying her name in that low, extremely arousing voice when she looked up into his eyes and-
Sakura felt her heart rate speed up even more, and her breath came in quick, shallow inhalations.
For that split second, his impassive eyes revealed the most erotic message that any male had ever shown to her.
Those detached pearly eyes were darkened with desire for her, and Sakura almost forgot to breathe at the heart stopping, and at the same time, sobering sight.
Playtime was over, and he definitely meant business now.
He closed that last inch between them, and claimed her lips with his own.