Hinata stood breathing heavily. She couldn't stand it when Shino kun and Kiba kun both had to go on missions at the same time. Training with them was always better than training by herself. She collapsed in the clearing and lay there staring at the clouds. She now knew why Skiamaru kun liked this particular past time. Wouldn't it be nice to be so free?

Free. Neji nii-san wasn't free. Was it wrong for her to wish he could be bound to the mainhouse forever? Bound to her forever... She flushed bright pink. Horrified at where her thoughts had wandered. She respected Naruto kun. She liked Naruto kun. She loved...

She closed her eyes as though it would shut her from herself. It was this that made her wish her teammates were here. Either one of them would prevent her thoughts going down a very dangerous route. And she couldn't force herself to train anymore.

"It's very good to see how hard you train, Hinata sama." The dry voice made her sit up suddenly, searching for the source of that low voice. How was it that only his voice would speed up her heart rate like that? It couldn't be healthy. It wasn't right.

Neji stood there, leaning against the trunk of the tree the branch that he was standing on was connected to. He studied his cousin quietly. He hadn't expected to see Hinata sama here. He hadn't expected to see anyone. He had only wanted to escape that house to somewhere, unpopulated. Somewhere where what he had experienced won't follow him. The mission had been horrendous and one of the ANBU members with him had died slowly. It was the duty of all ninja's but it was still something he had yet to come to terms with. He and the other two survived with her sacrifice, and strangely it made him think of Hinata sama. Maybe because she was so giving.

"Well. Seeing as you're busy. I'll find some other place to trai-"

"No..."

He turned around at her small whisper. Half convinced she didn't actually say anything. Hinata sama sat, eyes downcast struggling to find the right words to say. Her fingers pressing together in that tiny gesture of uncertainty. And her blush that never disappears deepened.

"I mean... Would you train with me, Neji nii-san? Onegai?"

He paused. Vaguely uncertain. It wasn't like Hinata to take the initiative. But then again, it wasn't like Neji to hesitate. He smirked to himself. This wasn't a great day.

He leapt down in front of her, inwardly amused by her startled eyes. Perhaps she hadn't really expected him to accept the offer.

-I don't even know why I accepted her offer, maybe I just didn't really wanted to be alone today.-

She smiled shyly when he reached out a hand to help her up. She didn't pause when she took his hand. It pleased him in a strange way. It pleased him that she wasn't still frightened of him.

"How shall we train Hinata sama?"

-Perhaps she would want to train her genjutsu? Or ninjutsu? He could help her with that. Taijutsu would probably remind her of the chunnin exams so that was out-

"Gentle Fist."

She said it calmly and firmly. Neji blinked and allowed himself a smile. It wasn't dry or bitter. It was a satisfied smile. Yes, she's definatly grown.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Again she didn't even pause. His smile widened into a grin. Wordlessly he settled into his stance. His expression now serious. Even though it was Hinata sama. He won't hold back. He wanted to know how far she's come. Hinata took up place in front of him and slid into her own stance that mirrored Neji's.

"Ready? Hinata sama?"

"Hai."

There was a lull as both of them closed their eyes. The deadly silence before the storm.

"BYAKUGAN!"

His fingers entered the space that until a millisecond ago was occupied by the heir of the Hyuuga clan. He spun around to face her rapids attacks aimed at his kidneys. Only just quick enough to defend her attacks.

-She's become faster...-

Their feet slid over grass in furious bursts, pale eyes locked with pale eyes as their hands danced to a frightening music. Defending, attacking before spinning around to avoid another flurry of attacks. Each wave bringing them closer, throwing them apart before bringing them so close they seemed to meld into each other's bodies for a second before another attack forced them into motion.

It was too fast for any planned out thought of action. It was completedy instinct. Action and reaction. A dance of killing responses. It was as though they knew each other intimately, knew each other enough to perceive each other's reactions. Learned about each other in one fight that neither could have known from a years of observation. Knew each other's next move before the person did. Time seemed meaningless, each absorbed in the moment, in each other...

Hinata's eyes widened with realization and she spun away immediately. Her feelings were going out of control. For a long moment she was not thinking. It was a blissful numbness that transcended into a moment of pure joy at just being with Neji. It was this simple thought that drove her away from the fight. Taken completely by surprise, Neji released his Byakugan and stared at her panting form that staggered away, leaning heavily against a tree.

"Hinata sama?"

She raised a quivering hand to ineffectually ward him off. She said quietly but clearly, "Don't come any closer."

He reacted as though struck. His concern replaced with hurt pride. What right had she to reject his worry out of hand? To wound him so with that cold manner? What had he done that deserved that tone which oozed pitiful pain? She was the one who wanted to train with him.

His voice became deadly, "I'd like to know what's wrong Hinata sama."

He stepped towards her, making her flush and straighten up looking desperately around for an escape. Noting that searching gaze he sped up his pace, making that pale face snap up in fright. In seconds she was pressed up against the tree to avoid touching his body and both Neji's hands landing on either side of her head, caging her in.

His voice was tinged with anger.

"Why would you reject me? Is it because I am a branch member? Is it?"

He lowered his head staring into her wide eyes.

"Or is it something else? I am a Jounin who for his country, for his CLAN, have shed so much blood. I am a man who cannot sleep for the horrors that await to claim him. And it all started with THIS!"

He grabbed her hand pressing it against his forehead protector which covered his seal earning him a quiet cry of surprise.

"Which all started with the main house family..."

A pale hand held his head, stopping his tirade that he didn't know was in him until a tiny gesture spilled it. And then he stopped thinking altogether when soft lips pressed against his. He was expecting... He didn't know what he was expecting but this definatly wasn't. Her other hand slid out of his loosened grip and cupped his face. He closed his wide and staring eyes and just deflated. He just held her close. The comfort pouring out of her body was just what he needed.

They never spoke about what happened. But sometimes after a difficult mission, Neji asks Hinata to train with him. It doesn't make everything go away but it made the world seem slightly better. Brighter.