AN: After forever, here's the next chapter. I'm on an updating spree today it seems. Three stories got updates! O.o Within an hour! It's freaking amazing.

Bridal Deception – Chapter Five
Written by Clow Angel

None of the Konoha shinobi were stupid; that was a known fact. However, it didn't mean they were all at the same level of brightness. Naruto himself was a brilliant captain of the ANBU, however that was when he was on duty. His brilliance as a shinobi was unmatched in his generation. His growth from the upstart, loudmouthed, bright-colored, brat to a serious, tactical leader capable of holding his own against an entire squadron on his own was, to say the least, astounding. Outside of his duties to his village, he was…less observant than most. And everyone knew that as a fact as well. Therefore, it was no surprise Naruto didn't understand why his new boyfriend was suddenly so stressed out and even paranoid.

Neji was more rational than most, and so he didn't blame his boyfriend for not understanding. He didn't take it out on Naruto. He treated the other man as he usually would. He, however, also didn't explain to his confused blonde boyfriend why it was he was tense and irritable. The brunette was unsure how Naruto would take the news. "Your best friend is behaving like he had his favorite toy taken away from him," likely wouldn't go over too well. It wouldn't instigate a fight with the blonde, but the same couldn't be said for the Uchiha who was watching his every move like a hawk. And it could bring up some possibly awkward conversations between himself and Naruto.

And so Neji bore with it - for one month, three days, six hours and 43 seconds, but who was counting?

But even for a man with as bountiful a supply of patience as Neji had could run out, and his virtue meter labeled 'Patience' was hitting the red.

So it was no surprise to anyone but Naruto when Neji snapped and lunged at the Uchiha one afternoon during a Rookie Nine outing which happened to be a picnic. There were various reasons why he had chosen to attack the Uchiha now. For example, Sasuke had shoved himself between the couple the second they took their seats. The dirty looks he was being given didn't help either. The list could go on, but why bother? Neji had snapped, and Naruto could only sit and gape for the first few moments of the fight before he zoned back in to hear…

"Twenty on Neji," Kiba said cockily, throwing some money onto the middle of the blanket.

Naruto's neck nearly snapped with the speed he turned his head, to stare at his friends aghast. His jaw quite literally dropped at the growing pile of money on the blanket, and he stood abruptly when he noticed the entire group gathering in a circle placing bets while Ino took note of them all in a small purple notebook. He shoved the Inuzuka aside and glowered when he noticed even Shikamaru was taking part in it. He gave Shikamaru a confused and disbelieving look. He only received a lazy shrug in return.

"What the hell's going on?" He demanded and ignored the loud crash behind him. Naruto didn't want to know who went flying and didn't have to worry because not seconds later there were the sounds of whipping clothes and fists hitting flesh again. The occasional clashing of weapons rang in the distance as well, but for the time being he was ignoring the violence behind him in favor of focusing his entire attention on the…gathering before him.

Sakura and Ino exchanged glances out of the corners of their eyes before Ino smiled victoriously, and Sakura huffed, obviously annoyed before throwing a few wads of cash at the platinum blonde who happily pocketed them with a cheer - not before counting them of course.

"Oka-ay, would someone explain to me what the hell's going on?" The ANBU captain crossed his arms and tapped a finger against an elbow irritated. "Now preferably," he added when it seemed like no one was forthcoming with any answers.

"Naruto-kun," Hinata said, smiling shyly and looking nervously over at Kiba for some reassurance.

"I can't believe you're in this too Hinata-chan," Naruto whined.

The Hyuuga heiress giggled demurely before going on to explain the situation and the betting pool that had been going on since Sasuke's return from his recon mission.

Naruto dropped onto the blanket like a rock in water. "So you're saying everyone's been betting on when Neji was gonna snap and attack Sasuke because the teme's been acting like a possessive asshole?"

"That's one of the bets, but pretty much," Shikamaru said with an unusually large smile on his lips. "And I just won myself a month's worth of salary."

"I can't believe you guys," Naruto groaned, and slapped a hand over his eyes.

It took Naruto, Shikamaru, Ino, and TenTen to stop the fight. The pair had moved some distance away and were both scaring and awing the civilians with their violent display. And so the four friends hurried to stop it before they could destroy anymore property. Naruto glanced mournfully at a large cherry tree lying on its side, broken in half, and with a large chunk of bark missing thanks to a stray Chidori.

Naruto had both arms wrapped tightly around the now calmer Hyuuga male and was quickly trying to put some distance between the two scowling men. Sasuke was currently being held in place by Shikamaru's Kagemane while Sakura performed a sleeping Jutsu on him.

"Neji, are you calm now?"

"Somewhat," was the cool reply.

It amazed Naruto how Neji's voice could remain unchanged with how tense his entire body was.

"You know you're mine right now, right?" Naruto asked, placing a kiss at the nape of Neji's neck.

"Hn."

Despite the less-than-ideal answer, Naruto smirked against pale skin. He could feel the paler man's shoulders loosen and his muscles slacken in his hold.

"Although with my track record," the blonde continued jokingly, "I can't promise you I'll be yours forever, but I'm yours for now. I won't ever cheat on you either. Uzumaki Naruto doesn't do the whole cheating thing." He was serious, and they both knew it. He really liked Neji right now, but there was no guarantee the attraction they had for each other would remain indefinitely. Being a shinobi, he knew how time could change someone and just the same, how quickly someone could change in the blink of an eye.

"I know."

Finally two words.

"But," Neji sighed, leaning against the blonde behind him, "I'm selfishly hoping you'll be mine forever."

Naruto chuckled. "Same," he replied because it was true now. He wanted Neji now, tomorrow, the day after, and for however long he could. But once again, that was now. Tomorrow, he could be having the hots for Shikamaru or something. He laughed out loud at the thought.

Neji twisted his head slightly to take a good look at his blonde boyfriend, wondering what the hell had exactly set him off now.

"Sorry, I was just thinking, 'What if I suddenly had the hots for Shika tomorrow?'"

Neji sighed, more exasperated than anything else. He had just gotten into a fist fight with the Uchiha over Naruto, and the idiot was now saying something about being attracted to the Nara? "You choose the strangest times for your outbursts. You're lucky I'm the one you're dating or you would've gotten decked."

Naruto shrugged good-naturedly and tightened his hold on Neji. "I was joking."

"Of course you were."

The picnic now ruined, the group split.

Neji and Naruto quietly made their way to Naruto's house. The blonde had every intention of interrogating the older man for his sudden fit of violence towards his best friend. He just didn't understand. An hour later, after having sat down with the Hyuuga and shooting off question after question, he finally understood. And he positively cooed, tackling Neji and enveloping him in a tight hug.

"You're so cute!" Naruto exclaimed, grinning widely.

Baffled, the brunette stared into blonde locks with cocked brows. "I just attacked your best friend out of annoyance and jealousy and you call me cute?"

"Yep! You're adorable," the blonde confirmed, rubbing his head against Neji's shoulder like a kitten.

Neji's eyes looked toward the heavens, wondering and wondering again why it was he had fallen for someone like Naruto.

Well, at least problems were solved. And the couple fell back into their daily routines, forgetting the brawl that had taken place at the park and the betting pool.

Did I say problems solved? Oops, because they certainly weren't.

If anyone knew Uchiha Sasuke—hell, even if one didn't know him—they would know he was one possessive bastard who didn't give up easily. He also hated losing. So when Naruto found Sasuke at his doorstep one afternoon looking like a demon had possessed him, he wasn't the least bit surprised. Instead, he sighed long and loud.

"Teme, are you here to piss off Neji again? Your timing's off. He's at the academy."

Sasuke snorted in contempt and pushed his way into his best friend's house. He stalked over to the couch and sank into the cushioned seats, folding his hands beneath his chin in his classic Uchiha brooding pose.

"Great, you want to talk."

And talk they did, for the first half hour anyway. As usual, with this unusual pair of best friends, it soon escalated into a scuffle. It was this scene that Neji walked in on.

The pair rolling around on the floor exchanging blows looked up when the front door opened, watching with somewhat wide eyes at the amused expression adorning Neji's face. The Uchiha had one hand around the blonde's throat and the other raised to deliver a punch. Naruto had one hand wrapped firmly around the raven's left arm and the other hand open and ready to catch the oncoming fist. Both had their mouths open in mid-shout.

"I'm not even going to ask," the brunette said with a shake of his head before making his way to the kitchen. He was positively starving. Taking over for Iruka was insane… How that man could handle two dozen kids high on sugar was beyond him. And they were kids who were learning how to throw sharp pointy objects. He had gained a newfound respect for the man.

"Iruka-sensei says hi," Neji called from the kitchen, remembering the message. "And he asked for you to stop by later for some ramen," he added.

The two best friends broke apart, embarrassed and confused.

Seeing the 'Piss off Hyuuga' tactic wasn't quite working, Uchiha Sasuke left in a puff of smoke leaving behind a bemused couple.