A/N: Hey! I've never written a Naruto fic before, and this is more of an experiment right now . . . I just got the idea after reading chapters of the Naruto manga online. I decided to make Neji the main character, the others will have theirs, because I love him and Tenten together. There's just something incredibly attractive about Neji . . . Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I WISH I owned Naruto & co.
The moment I reentered my body, I knew this was huge mistake. And then I remembered I needed to breathe. As medics rushed around me, my hands fisted the white linen sheet covering the lower half of my body. All I could think now was 'What the hell was I thinking?' making this stupid deal. But, apparently, I wasn't thinking at all when I made a deal with Gai, a.k.a. Death. It's very uncharacteristic of me because normally I'm a very think-it-through type of guy. Maybe I was taken aback by Gai's perkiness. I mean, the guy is supposed to be Death. Gloomy and dark, not happy and yelling about the 'Joys of Youth!' . . .
. . . I'm such a pessimist.
Neji groaned and rolled over onto his stomach. Dammit! His head pounded, like a hundred jack hammers were beating on it, and his arms shook. This had never happened before. Why was he so weak? He couldn't feel his fingers and the numbness running through his arms caused them to give way. Neji, straining, pushed himself onto his back. His eyes took in the cream colored walls of his bedroom and the dark shadows cast against them from the curtains. How had he gotten here?
"Well," a voice suddenly said from the darkness, "you weren't very light." Gai appeared from a corner and gave him a blindingly, white smile. "How're you feeling Neji-kun?"
Inwardly he winced at the breezy tone and the casual way Gai talked. 'Neji-kun'? Not even his family said his name with such familiarity. And what type of stupid question was that? 'How're you feeling Neji-kun?'? How the hell was he supposed to feel after coming back to life? Neji threw his arms across his eyes, shielding them from the overwhelming light coming from Gai's teeth. He shouldn't be so pissed off, after all it was Gai who brought him back to the land of the living.
"I feel like shit." he answered truthfully.
Gai nodded emphatically. "Understandable. You've been sleeping in here for the past few days. Your family has been worried about you."
Neji gazed at him quizzically. "They can see you?"
"Of course not!" he scoffed in response, as if the answer was obvious. Gai shook his head and sighed dramatically. "If everyone could see me then they'd try to avoid me all the time, especially if they knew who I was."
As if they don't already, Neji thought. "I thought you said you brought me here."
"No," Gai waggled his finger in front of Neji's face. "I was only joking." He brushed invisible dust particles from his sleeves and smiled grandly. "Now, about our deal . . ."
Those four, small, little words filled Neji with so much dread. How was he supposed to find true love in six months? Well . . . There was always the internet, and now they had speed dating. What the hell, this would be easy. Find a girl he could reasonably tolerate, date her, then dump her once Gai lost interest in him. Perfect plan . . .
"There are rules to this: No speed dating." Neji visibly winced and Gai grinned. "No 'just picking a random girl you can tolerate and dating her' crap. And finally, the most important rule, it has to be a girl."
A pregnant pause filled the air and Gai's serious face gazed into Neji's passive one.
"'It has to be a girl'? Are you saying Gai," Neji replied coldly, "that you think I'm gay?"
"Of course not!" Gai exclaimed, abashed. "And from now on call me Gai-sensei."
Sensei? He had to be kidding. "I shouldn't have made this deal with you." Neji remarked, his eyes narrowed at the ceiling.
"And why not?" he asked. "You're a strapping young man, quite good looking and I'm sure many ladies would love to go out with you!" Gai raised his fist and his thumb popped up while giving Neji his signature blinding smile. "You'll do fine Neji-kun!"
"I don't believe in love." he said, deadpanned. Neji solemnly gazed around his room and his eyes landed on a picture within a silver frame. A slant of light reflected off it's surface and prevented him from seeing the faces in it, but Neji had memorized them enough to know . . .
The fire in Gai's eyes dimmed slightly and he sighed in defeat. "You're only eighteen and you act like an old man already! Most people your age would've had a few relationships, but not Hyuuga Neji. You should at least try to win," Gai pouted. "Be more sporting. It's not fun for me if you don't try." Neji said nothing and Gai sighed once again. "I'll be checking up on you randomly, so be ready, and by the time six months are over," he smiled and winked. "I'll make a believer out of you."
It had been a week since Gai visited him last and Neji really wish he'd stayed dead. He tied back his long black hair, but let a few strands come down to frame his pale face. The family had been extremely relieved when they were reassured he was alive and recovering from the accident. The memories of it were fuzzy, but Neji remembered the important details. He'd been walking back to the house when a crazy driver smashed his car into him. Neji touched his forehead gingerly, the bandages soft under his fingers. Now he had a constant reminder of the accident cut into him.
Neji sighed and pulled at a strand of loose hair. Since he was healed, what was he going to do?
A knock sounded at the door and Neji opened it, raising an elegant eyebrow as Hinata shuffled her feet while looking at the ground. He could tell she was nervous and did nothing to mollify her feelings. They may be cousins, but they were as different as night and day. He was confident and cold, from what people said, and Hinata was shy, awkward and warm. Hinata was more approachable than he was, and so she could easily move through different groups of people with apparent grace. Despite her being fidgety, he had to admire her.
"What is it Hinata?" he asked coolly, folding his arms across his chest.
She flinched and laced her fingers together. "H-Hiashi sent me to come get you. He says he needs to talk to you."
Neji nodded while shutting the door to his bedroom. "Let's go."
Hinata hesitantly knocked on the wooden door, waiting for the answering voice of her father. Neji looked calm and collected as always, and, as usual, she was a nervous wreck. How could her cousin face Hiashi so calmly? Hell, he was her father but she'd never looked at him without fear and reverence. When the voice on the other side said 'Come in' Hinata pushed open the door quickly and walked in, flanked by Neji.
"Ah," Hiashi said. "Neji, you're here."
"You requested my presence?" he answered formally.
"How are you feeling? It was a terrible accident, are you well enough?"
Neji took a minute to catalog his pains, but there were few. "I'm fine."
Hiashi nodded and said, "Good. Do you think you're well enough to attend school again? I promised your father I'd take care of you and I don't want you becoming lax in your studies."
He nodded in compliance. "I understand."
"A-Are you sure Neji . . ." Hinata seemed to want to add something else to her question but she lapsed into silence.
"It's fine. Don't worry." Neji responded confidently. Not everything was fine, but he'd find a girl to get Gai-sensei off his back. No worries . . . Right?
"Hey," Chouji ate another potato chip and quickly swallowed to continue. "I heard Neji might be coming back tomorrow." He licked salt from his fingers and gazed at Shikamaru, his best friend of ten years, for conformation, but it was Ino who answered.
"Yeah." she murmured while brushing her blonde hair serenely. "It was surprising to hear he was hit by that driver. Usually, Neji's really careful and aware." Yamanaka Ino smiled at her reflection and then handed the brush to her friend Haruno Sakura. The bubble-gum pink haired girl took it and began brushing her own tresses, which were considerably shorter.
Naruto's eyes widened and his mouth fell open. "Neji was hit by a car? Hyuuga Neji?"
"Yeah." Ino replied, slightly irritated. "Didn't you hear?"
"No." Naruto hadn't heard anything about this! No wonder the Hyuuga hadn't been in school for the past few weeks. Maybe that was the reason why Hinata had been looking so sad in class . . . Even Sakura had commented on it a few days ago . . . How could he have missed the signs!?
"Figures an idiot like you wouldn't know," a stoic voice said from behind.
"Sasuke . . ." Naruto snarled.
The Uchiha, who was currently leaning against a wall, opened an eye and lazily removed his headphones. "What?"
"Don't call me an idiot, asshole."
"I'll call you any name that fits, you shit head." he answered, his voice growing cold.
Naruto pushed the sleeves of his jacket up and clenched his fists. "I'm gonna kill you . . ."
"Enough you two." Sakura sighed. "Honestly, stop acting like little kids. We're in high school now." She frowned at the reflection of the two in the mirror, telling them she meant business. They'd been friends for a long time, the three of them, and there was a bitter rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke time wouldn't let die. After five years of being together, they still couldn't stand in the same room for more than a minute before trading vocal barbs. "Do you think we should get Neji a gift or something?"
"No," Ino said, a knowing smile upon her face. "I think Tenten said she'd do something for him." A hint of suggestion was laced on her words and Sakura also smiled, understanding the meaning behind them.
"What?" Naruto asked, slightly confused. "What are you talking about?"
Sakura turned around, narrowing her eyes at him. "Have you been blind for the last five years? Didn't you see the signs?" she snapped. "Don't you get it?"
"He doesn't." Shikamaru answered. "I think that's why he asked. Personally, I don't either." He massaged the back of his neck and glanced at Sasuke. "Do you?" The Uchiha turned away sharply and gazed at the ceiling; obviously he didn't either.
She sighed and flicked her wrist. "Forget it." Sakura thought Sasuke would understand, he was very astute, but her faith in him still didn't help his very stupid male mind.
In the end he was as ignorant as the others . . .
Morning light streamed through the window and Neji was about to throw on a random shirt, but there was someone at his door. Deciding to make the person wait, he absently went to his window and opened it. The cold chill in the air caused his bare skin to break out in goose bumps. Another knock, this time not so gentle as the first and a little more insistent.
Neji opened the door and outside stood a slightly pissed off Tenten. His best friend. "Morning." he said while stepping out of the way so she could enter his room. He couldn't remember exactly when the routine started, Neji just knew he enjoyed it. They'd been friends for almost five years and every morning Tenten would come to his house, have breakfast if they had time, and they'd walk to school together. Of course Naruto and Kiba read more into their relationship, making fun of their closeness, and kept saying they were 'going out' . . . But he and Tenten weren't like that.
Tenten frowned and entered the 'Neji zone' as she affectionately called it, mainly because it was Neji's room and because his scent permeated the area. It was a mixture of detergent, some sort of cologne and . . . Air. She didn't know how to explain it, but sometimes she'd go home at night and his smell would be on her clothes. She casually sat upon his unmade bed, a bad habit of his, and began bouncing up and down slightly. Neji glared at her and Tenten smiled; she knew it pissed him off.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, concern evident in her voice.
Neji gave her a smile, one he'd designated as the 'especially for Tenten' smile, and answered, "I'm fine. Everyone keeps asking me that and it's getting annoying."
"Yeah, well," She cast him a sideways glance as his head disappeared for a second underneath the shirt. Tenten still couldn't help but stare at her best friend's wonderfully toned body; he was fit from all the physical activities he did. "We're worried about you." She quickly moved her eyes to his face once it appeared again. If Neji knew she stared at his body, and thought he was hot, he'd never let it die.
"You're worried about me?" Neji asked skeptically.
"Yeah." Tenten answered automatically. Her eyes connected with Neji's white ones, and they had an awkward moment. He turned away and went into his adjoining bathroom, presumably to brush his hair. Tenten ran her finger down a seam of Neji's blanket. They'd been having more of those 'awkward' moments lately, even before his accident occurred. Sometimes she just didn't know how to act around him anymore, whatever she wanted to say died on her lips and she found it hard to swallow. At least she could see Neji seemed to be having a similar problem.
Tenten refused to believe Ino and Sakura's words, but they kept ringing in her ears:
'You like him don't you?' Ino smirked and flicked back her blonde bangs.
Tenten scowled at her friend. 'Neji and I are just friends, we have been for years.'
'Love is just a more intimate version of friendship.'
She rose and walked over to Neji's closet mirror. Tenten scrutinized her red shirt, the neckline dropped drastically but she had on a lacy white tank top underneath to cover her breasts, the black jeans that adorned her slim legs and the black sneakers that covered her feet. A white studded belt was slipped around her waist and she wondered if Neji thought she looked nice . . . Tenten shook her head vigorously and scowled at her reflection. Since when did she care so much about her appearance? Especially what Neji thought?
A glint of light caught her eyes and they were drawn to the silver bracelet she wore. Tenten smiled at the slim silver and the black pearl resting in the center, remembering when Neji gave it to her for her sixteenth birthday. It was the only time he hadn't seemed completely in-control and cool, and the night was still fresh in her mind. She'd expected him to kiss her that night, he'd been so close and they were alone, but Neji kept his distance. Tenten sighed. These weren't just 'friendly' feelings . . .
"We'd better get going," Tenten whipped around and Neji stared at her expectantly, his bag already in hand.
After she got her wits back she replied softly, "Yeah."
"Neji," Sasuke said his name, a little subdued, and nodded in acknowledgement.
He returned it and turned around swiftly to face Naruto's pout and outstretched fist.
"I was about to punch you in the shoulder," Naruto murmured.
"I kno-" WHAM! Insert cursing here.
"Neji!" Kiba exclaimed in delight and smiled, exposing sharp canines. "You're back!"
Neji glared at the Inuzuka and rubbed his shoulder blade. "Hey, nice to see you too." he replied sarcastically, but unfortunately, the dog lover didn't catch it. Neji glanced at Tenten, who had a murderous glint in her brown eyes, and watched as the girl stalked up behind Kiba and smacked him upside the head. A screaming match ensued and Kiba cowered against Tenten's fury. The others, especially the guys, couldn't help laughing and Naruto laughed loudest of all. He and Sasuke were the only ones who just watched.
Ino frowned at Kiba and turned to Neji. "I hope he didn't hurt you."
"It's fine." he replied nonchalantly. Neji really didn't feel like talking right now. It wasn't a personal thing, though Ino, and Sakura an a few occasions, tried his patience. Their perkiness grated on his nerves sometimes, and the way they were . . . Neji couldn't describe it, he only found it irritating. The only females he could really have a conversation with were Hinata (when she didn't cower from him), Temari (when she wasn't trying to get with Shikamaru), and Tenten. Neji's white eyes surveyed the area and he frowned. "Where's Lee? He's supposed to give me the work I missed . . ."
"Neji!" A green blur was coming towards him at an incredible speed and Neji side-stepped just in time to avoid being flattened by it. Lee tripped and stumbled, falling onto his back.
Neji, his blank eyes narrowed down at Lee, crossed his arms. "You're late Lee . . ." He trailed off and Neji's eyes widened a bit, though no one really noticed.
He didn't know what to say.
Lee had changed, dramatically, during the week he was out and once Neji laid eyes on him, the only thought going through his head was: It's mini-Gai. Indeed, Lee looked incredibly like Gai-sensei now. The bowl haircut, the thick eyebrows, that stupid smile plastered on his face . . . Neji inwardly cringed.
The 'Green Beast', as everyone called him, mainly because of his obsession with the color green, picked himself off the ground and dusted the dirt from the back of his pants. "Sorry Neji. I was just talking with our new teacher." Suddenly, Lee's eyes were lit up by an invisible spark and he grasped Neji's hand. "You have to come meet him!"
"Oh god." Tenten smacked the heel of her hand against her forehead. "Lee! Neji'll meet him later during class!"
Lee whipped around to face Tenten and held a clenched fist in the air. "He must come meet him now! Neji!" So called boy warily gazed at his friend. "He's the most brilliant teacher alive and his teaching methods are miraculous!"
"More like insane . . ." Tenten muttered.
"Don't talk about him like that!" Lee hissed. "Come on Neji. Your work is in the classroom."
Suddenly, Neji found himself being forcefully dragged towards the building and he calmly, masking his desperation, groped for something he could hold onto so Lee wouldn't drag him inside. But . . . Unfortunately the first thing his fingers met was the cotton of Tenten's red shirt, his fingers wrapped around it in a vice grip, and so she also found herself heading towards the building.
Tenten clawed at Neji's hand and tried twisting the material of her shirt from his incredibly strong grip. "Let . . ." She hissed at him as they passed through the double doors leading into the school. Tenten could hear their friends' laughter over Lee's long-winded speech on how much Neji missed last week. "Go! Neji you ass, let go!" She was going to murder him if the lower half of her shirt was stretched.
"No." he hissed back. "If I've got to go, you're coming with me." Neji, though he didn't want to admit it, was slightly afraid. If he was going down, he might as well bring Tenten along with him to share his misery.
An icy look crossed Tenten's face and Neji found himself standing still. They'd stopped and Lee was politely holding open the door to a classroom. Tenten calmly smoothed her shirt, which was slightly rumpled from his death-grip upon it, and entered the classroom with a bright smile on her face. Since she didn't seem to be getting attacked or mauled, Neji followed.
He didn't know what he was expecting, perhaps he'd figured that this was going to happen all along and that was the main reason why he didn't want to come. The figure turned around and Neji recognized the stupid haircut, the stupid, freakish eyebrows . . . That . . . Perky smile . . . It was a nightmare come true . . .
"Neji!" Lee exclaimed proudly. "Meet Gai-sensei! Our new math teacher!"
Kill me now. Kill me now. KILL ME NOW.
A/N: How was it? Good? Bad? Did it just plain suck? Review and tell me please!