Illusion of the Mind

Disclaimer and A.N. I've always wanted to attempt a cracktastic pairing. It's going to be a short one – three or four chapters at the most. And I don't own Naruto.

All the girls in Konoha seem to be in love with him.

The majority of them have no chance. Hyuuga Neji dismisses his fangirls with a finesse achieved through years of being brought up in a clan based upon ancient notions of subordination and courtesy.

He refuses those who shyly ask for a date, but they leave feeling attractive and worthy of any other male except for him, whom they secretly think deserved only perfection.

The silly ones who giggle and approach with a group for moral support are dealt with more impatiently; he would rather do something worthy of his time - such as training. Of course, this only serves to add to his reputation as a skilled and dedicated shinobi.

Those who dare mention how he, and not Uzumaki Naruto had deserved to win their fight during the Chuunin exams leave feeling oddly tearful, more from the hard expression in his pale eyes than the polite verbal refusal.

The kunoichi of the Rookies however, feel that they have a better chance.

As his teammate, Tenten tries not to let her gaze linger for too long, nor to praise him too extensively, lest he believe she was like all those irritating females, and refuse to train with her for long extended sessions. She knows that every word of praise from him is sincere, and she secretly thinks of them as new weapons to add to her arsenal. She is one of the few privileged enough to see his rare smiles.

Sakura somehow manages to be the medic in charge of his healing and recuperation whenever he is injured. Another medic (a mere trainee) got to him first once, and Sakura almost has heart failure when Neji coolly states that he would only trust Haruno Sakura to deal competently with his Byakugan. Of course, she pretends that she never heard a thing.

Even Hinata looks at her cousin with a respect and awe that borders on a slight crush (of his abilities only of course). Even though she uses Byakugan and observes him from a distance, he is able to detect her presence, and spends the whole afternoon teaching her to spy on private activities without being caught (including by him). He is impressed at how quickly she masters the ability.

Ino bats her eyelashes at him, shamelessly teasing him about both Tenten and Sakura. Her outrageous flirting and verbal barbs are usually enough to make a rock flare up in self-defense (or in heat), but when he responds only with his traditional aloofness, she smiles and walks away.

At least he responds, she thinks to herself. Sakura has more of a chance this time. And god, if she could make it happen, she would. Her friend deserves that much, after all the anguish she has been through. Ino still shudders when she thinks of how their friendship was torn apart when they were younger, all over a boy who was too self-absorbed and intent upon his revenge to value anything or anyone else around him.

She is surprised therefore, to feel Neji's eyes boring into her back when she saunters away one day, following a cheeky jibe about Sakura's 'treatments' in the hospital. Unable to stop herself, she turns to him and casually lifts an eyebrow. She sees the flicker of surprise in his normally impassive eyes, which are surrounded by the veins indicating use of the Byakugan.

"I specialize in genjutsu and reconnaissance", she informs him, mildly amused. Her family are the master spies of Konoha. She has been trained from an early age to detect all forms of attention centred on herself (vital when one needs to escape), and to analyse the most fleeting of emotions and feelings.

"Not unlike your skills, eh Hyuuga?" she asks lightly, remembering the fateful fight between the young genius and Hyuuga Hinata in the preliminary fights all those years ago.

He scoffs, but Ino doesn't miss the flash of interest in his pale eyes.

"Your ability take too much time and effort", he declares, undoubtedly referring to her (1) shintenshin jutsu. "If your enemy moves faster than you, you would be dead before you have a chance to think. That makes you a liability. The weakest link of your team".

He doesn't realize that he has touched a nerve, because hasn't Shikamaru constantly warned her about that very vulnerability? Either way, the next thing Neji knows is that he doesn't know what the hell happened. One minute he's sitting in front of her, and the next, he's traversed at least ten metres to a lake, and is standing on the water. Her withdrawal from his mind unsteadies his balance and chakra however, and he splashes ungracefully down into the icy depths.

Ino's delighted laughter rings in his ears all night.

A.N. I know Neji/Ino is a weird pairing, so please review!

(1) Shintenshin is Ino's mind-transfer jutsu. For more detail, refer to