Disclaimer: Still own nothing.
Shades of Pink
Plain pink. That's all Neji saw when he first put his eyes on the girl Lee couldn't stop talking about. She seemed to have some brains, but it was the minimum he expected from any shinobi. Yet he thought she would never be a good kunoichi. With that inconspicuous hair and her lack of strength – he could sense it – she wouldn't make it. It was her fate, and it could not be avoided.
Then the written test came over. He glanced at her and noticed she knew all the answers. Bright pink, he thought, while he copied everything she wrote. Later that day it proved to be useless, but still his test would be flawless.
Inside the Forest of Death, he was looking for his teammate, when he saw an interesting scene. The pink-haired girl – what was her name again? – cut her hair with a kunai. Half pink. Now she was freed from the grasp of the Sound kunoichi.
'So she made it so far?' he asked himself when he saw her team inside the tower. But he was sure she would fall in the preliminary matches. She had to fight before him, so he watched her fight out of boredom. Pathetic pink. Sakura – that was the name showing on the screen – behaved the same way the Sound kunoichi did, leading her opponent to cut her long blonde hair. The blonde, in an intelligent move, trapped the girl into a mind body switch technique. She eventually snapped out of it and both kunoichis were knocked out the same time. Not that they would make any difference in the final matches.
Their team was ready to leave Konoha and retrieve Sasuke, when he heard her voice. She was begging Naruto to bring the Uchiha back. Pitiful pink. She was a ninja, for crying out loud! She should get a grip of herself and stop being annoying and whining. He almost scolded her, but he thought it would do no good to the team's mood.
Lee wouldn't stop babbling about Sakura, who was accepted by no one less than Tsunade-sama as her apprentice. Surprising pink. Or the Godaime saw something he didn't, or she pitied that little fragile lovesick kunoichi. Either way, he didn't care. He had his life to take care of, and a lot of training if he wanted to become ANBU someday.
In their second chuunin exam, she made it to the final matches. Much to his surprise, she won her first match. Fierce pink. She fought bravely, but her skills weren't enough to beat Tenten, her next opponent. In the end, he passed. She didn't. Now, his next goal was the jounin exam.
It was his first mission as a jounin, and he came back to Konoha barely alive. He woke up at the feeling of a soothing chakra on him. And he saw her. Caring pink. He tried to move, but she gently pushed him back, saying that he should rest. His strength wasn't back yet, so he had no choice but comply.
While fighting Sasori, he saw her jumping in front of Chiyo, saving her. Reckless pink. Why would that girl sacrifice herself for an old woman? But in the end, the girl was right. It seemed that she wanted to save everyone, even being so little, yet not weak anymore – he had to give her that.
Every time he ended up at the hospital, she would scold him for not taking care of himself. Annoying pink. What did she think? That he liked to be almost dead? That he liked to suffer all those injuries? He was not a masochist person. He did what he was supposed to do – fight for his country.
She was with him in the hospital when someone came and told her that the Uchiha was back. Hopeful pink. Her eyes widened and he was sure she thought the traitor was back because of her. He could tell she was dying to run after her childhood crush, but she didn't leave until he was fully healed.
All those years as a missing-nin turned Sasuke into an even more anti-social being. He couldn't stand being around people anymore. So, one night, he left again. Abandoned pink. She felt like the worst of the creatures, unworthy of anything, unworthy of his love. Neji wondered since when Sakura thought she had any chance with the Uchiha.
She disappeared for three months. Broken pink. When she finally showed up again, she was skin over bones, her hair was dull and her skin was grayish. She had to be in the hospital for almost a month, recovering from her depression.
Finally she was healthy enough to go back to work. It was not only physically healthy – her heart was stronger. Mending pink. After some time, she was even able to hear Sasuke's name without having an emotional breakdown. Slowly she was recovering her cheerfulness.
Sakura was the first one who told Neji he had made it to ANBU. Proud pink. She hugged him and told him she was so proud of her first ANBU friend. He, of course, didn't hug her back, but didn't push her away either.
On her birthday, Tsunade threw a surprise party for her dear apprentice. Happy pink. With tears in her eyes, she thanked all of her friends for everything they had ever done for her, hugging one by one. This time he did hug her back.
He felt a strange chakra getting into his system. Opening his eyes, he saw a red head. Red head? Who was that doctor healing him? Then the doors were kick-opened. Jealous pink. She not so softly told the red-haired doctor to go and find someone else to heal. Neji smirked and asked if she was jealous. Her answer shocked him. Sakura said, with a 'isn't it obvious' look, that she was jealous indeed, for no one other than herself was to touch her favorite patient.
One day he woke up in the middle of the night. He sensed her chakra nearby. Peaceful pink. She was sleeping in the chair beside him, with her head on his bed. Her hands had some blood – his blood – stains and her face showed some tiredness signs. Yet her presence relaxed him. He went back to sleep, trying to not wake her up.
They were out on a mission, only the two of them. Since they were on their way back to Konoha, she thought it was safe to spend some chakra to heal his fractured leg. But they were ambushed. Even with little chakra left, she beat five enemy shinobi, but she couldn't avoid being hit. Bloody pink. Her head was bleeding and he knew he should get her to a doctor in no time. He picked her up and ran faster than never. Tsunade would kill him if something happened to that girl.
For some unknown reason, she was different that day. She seemed happier, and all he could see was… Beautiful pink. Her green eyes were shining like jewels. Even her obnoxiously colored hair was looking good. She was flashing smiles to everyone, from patients to doctors and even people she didn't like. When she smiled at him, he pretended her smile lasted longer than the others.
After a week of glowing happiness, he finally told her how beautiful she was when happy. Blushing pink. He noticed her cheeks getting slightly red. She said she never expected such a compliment from him, and this time he was sure her smile lasted a little more. That smile… He realized he couldn't get tired of it. Then he asked why she was so happy, and her smile got even wider. The answer? She was in love.
That morning, Neji noticed she was more than happy. Beaming pink. Before he could even ask, she put her left hand in front of his face. Squealing, she told him that her boyfriend proposed to her, and they would get married before the end of the year. He (and all her guy friends) thought that this fiancé was stealing Sakura from him (and them). Would she still be sweet to everyone even with a jealous possessive – or so they assumed – husband?
She was a mix of goddess, fairy and woman in her wedding kimono. Her groom – Takeo, Tadatoshi, Teruo, he didn't quite remember the name – was a lucky bastard. Neji felt something on his ribs. Shikamaru was elbowing him. He said that the white-eyed man could be in the groom's place. At the questioning look he got, the shadow nin told that Sakura liked him for a long time, but eventually gave up because he was a dead end. She… liked him? How did he never notice? He looked at the pink-haired bride and couldn't help but imagine being beside her instead of that Tetsuo-whatever. However, he quickly stopped that train of thought. Now she was a married woman… Forbidden pink.
The door of his hospital room opened, making him wake up. There she was, with a clipboard in her hands, above a six-months-pregnancy-big stomach. He always thought pregnant woman looked weird, and she was no exception. Nevertheless, he asked if he could caress the baby. She complied, but as soon as his hand traveled along her stomach, she started sobbing. Tormented pink. At first he thought it was because of her unruly hormones, but he knew her better than that. Something was wrong. He made her tell him what was going on. She said that her husband had never been that affectionate with the baby. Neji barely touched her, so he assumed the husband was being cold towards her. And there was more, she said; she found out he was cheating on her, and the baby was the only reason she was still with him. He told her to kick the bastard out of her life. She couldn't; the man was the father of her child, and even being a jerk she still loved him. She cried her eyes off, and all he could do was be there for her until she was a little better.
Two months later, he was walking through the park when he saw her pink head. He approached her and said hello, but got no answer. When he looked at her face, she looked like a lifeless doll. Lethargic pink. She finally noticed him there, and in a weak voice told him that her husband left her. The child would be born within a month, and that damned bastard left her. She didn't know what she was going to do. He said that, if she needed, he would back her up. She gave him a weak smile and thanked him for being there for her.
Everyone wanted to see Sakura and her newly born son Yukio. Courteous as always, Neji let everyone go before him. When he entered her room, the little one was sleeping in her arms. Motherly pink. Now she was more beautiful than never. She smiled widely at the coffee-haired man, motioning him to get closer to her. He noticed that the baby didn't have his mother's facial features, but when Yukio opened his eyes, Neji saw they were jade green.
Sakura decided to raise her child by herself. Brave pink. Neji told her a million times that she didn't have to do it alone, but she assured him that if she needed something, anything, she would let him know. And so she did, many, many times. True to his word, he was always there for them.
Time flew by; it was already Yukio's first birthday. Sakura loved him more than anything else; that's why she decided to stop going on missions. Instead, she would work only in the hospital. Prudent pink. She couldn't stand the thought of leaving her son without a mother, since he didn't have a father. Her ex-husband never showed up, and Neji couldn't help but feel relieved he didn't. It would only cause Sakura more pain.
Even not going on missions anymore, she still needed some exercise. He volunteered to spar with her. Fighting pink. She was a mother in her mid twenties and a healer, but it didn't mean her inhuman strength was gone at all. She was still able to shatter the ground and pulverize poor innocent trees and boulders.
After a particularly harsh sparring session, she asked him why he was still single. Prying pink. He shrugged and said that the woman he loved wouldn't marry him. She thought for a second, and then nodded in agreement. They were both thinking about the same person and they knew it.
The next day, he was having lunch when she sat by his side. They stayed quiet for a while, but eventually the silence was broken. She said that even if the woman he loved wouldn't marry him, it didn't necessarily mean that she wanted him far away from her. Oh, mischievous pink. Now he wouldn't be able to sleep that night, because that information fed his love and it was burning inside him. He was sure she did it on purpose, just for the kicks.
He wasn't hurt or ill. So what was he doing at the hospital? That's what she asked him, pointing out that he hated that place. He said nothing, but all of a sudden engulfed her in a tight embrace. Confused pink. He then said that he was leaving for a very long dangerous mission. He would be away for at least two years and wanted to say goodbye, for he didn't know when and if he would be back. They looked at each other and she saw the pleading look in his eyes, although he said nothing. She silently nodded, complying with his unspoken wish.
Two years, five months and nineteen days later, Neji was finally back. Surprisingly enough, he wasn't in a critical condition. But he was still in a bad shape, so he headed straight to the hospital, hoping that a certain pink-haired doctor would be there. He had barely entered the building when something bumped into his legs. He looked down and saw a little dark-haired white-eyed girl, undoubtedly a Hyuuga child. All the Hyuugas had very similar faces, so it was hard to tell who was the mother or father of that girl. For all he knew, she could be the daughter of any of his uncountable cousins. He crouched, so his eyes were in her level. She didn't seem scared – after all, Hyuugas were known by their mental strength, and she seemed to acknowledge him as family, due to his unmistakable eyes. He smiled and softly patted her head. It was when he heard the sound of glass shattering on the ground. Shocked pink. There she was, looking at him wide-eyed, whatever she was carrying now scattered all over the floor. The next second, she was throwing herself on his neck, hugging him like there was no tomorrow. She told him she was afraid he would never come back again, and that they missed him badly. While she was hugging him, she scanned his body for injuries. She let go of him and made him move to a room, so she could properly heal him. The little Hyuuga girl was still there, and she quickly grabbed Sakura's hand, following them to the room. He asked if she knew that girl. Of course she knew, she answered, because Aiko-chan was her daughter. His eyes were as big as saucers, and they widened even more when she told him that the girl would be turning two in less than four months. She patiently waited for realization to hit him.
For the millionth time, he apologized for not being around when she needed him the most. Patient pink. For the millionth time, she smiled and said it wasn't his fault because he had no idea. It wasn't like he had abandoned her and her baby, as her now forgotten ex-husband did. Still, he said, it wasn't only her child. It was their child, so he had real responsibilities. She held his hands and told him he was there now, and it was what mattered. Besides, she had support from the Hyuuga family. Hiashi had Aiko as his own granddaughter, and even Yukio as his grandson. Even without the father figure, Sakura assured Neji they were a happy family. And she told him that, if he still loved the woman he used to, maybe she would have a different opinion about marriage.
In their third anniversary, Neji smiled as he saw his wife trying to quiet the children down. Yukio was now seven and already showed his mother's perfect chakra control. Aiko was five, and she was smart as Sakura and prodigious as Neji – her Byakugan had already a 200 feet range and counting, which was impressive even for an adult Hyuuga. Hiroshi was only eight months old, and his Byakugan was the first in the family history to be activated. Neji was very proud of his three children (because Yukio was his son no matter what), and thought he was so lucky in having such a wonderful family. He looked lovingly at Sakura, marveled at the innumerous shades of pink he saw in her. Perfect pink. Loved pink. His pink. She blew him a kiss and went inside to change Hiroshi's diaper, while he played a tag game with their other two children.