A/N: I rediscovered this after having forgotten that I'd written it a while ago. It's a light-hearted and more than slightly absurd Neji x Temari. Some of the jokes are tired but reading this again still made me laugh a couple of times.
Mentions of Kankuro/Tenten interactions are a nod to "Little Green Leaf" by Ninja-Shen, the ultimate crack pairing fic. ("It's like so crack it's canon!" – a nonexistent critic with an aptitude for vacuous, yet pithy, slogans.)
A note on the title, via media is Latin for "middle road," which is rather appropriate, as you will soon discover.
Once upon a time, when feudal lords were at peace and the ninja world was quite happily not wading ankle-deep in blood, a little-used road ran from the windswept deserts of Suna through to the thick forests of Konoha.
It was little-used because any ninja needing to travel from Sand to Leaf or Leaf to Sand preferred the far more cinematographically-impressive travel method of leaping through trees with their arms flapping uselessly behind them but, alas, this story is not about velocity streamlining or the dynamics of canopy-level sprinting, so let us merely reiterate that this road was little-used by the local ninja.
It was occasionally used by traders, farmers and other such civilian types out for a cross-border stroll. Well, 'occasionally' might be too generous – let us say, infrequently, because after all, the good citizens of Leaf didn't willingly go to the godforsaken sun-baked wasteland that was Suna, and the good citizens of Sand didn't willingly go to the godforsaken mosquito-infested bogland that was Konoha.
This road had the peculiar geographical feature of running right along the Sand and Leaf border for a short distance, which meant that if you laid yourself across it – if ever the fancy took you, and you looked both ways before doing it – you could touch the dusty ground of Suna with your fingertips while your toes wiggled in the loam of Konoha on the other side. For some reason this did not become the huge tourist attraction it might have been, possibly because the road was barely paved, dusty, and its crevices were inhabited by scorpions and other equally poisonous creatures like Rosie O'Donnell.
That particular area was also of some interest meteorologically in that it could be pouring rain on the Leaf side while the Sand side, two metres away across the road, remained absolutely dry. On the other hand, there could be a raging sandstorm on the Suna side while on the Konoha side trees swayed slowly in breezy tranquility. An interesting little road, all in all.
Unfortunately our two protagonists, as you will soon find out, this road was the road when it came to official cross-border activities and the Rules and Regulations of both Sand and Leaf stipulated very precisely that there had to be AT ALL TIMES (it was actually written in capitals which is why it was taken so seriously – see Rules and Regulations section A.2.v. 67 carry the three, twice removed) a Jounin-level ninja on patrol at the twin guardhouses which flanked the road.
Rules and Regulations section A.2.v. 67 carry the three, twice removed imposed this military presence on the part of both villages to ensure that anybody stupid enough to try to smuggle anything (hard drugs, cigarettes, best-selling authors, Elvis) by way of the road instead of the far more convenient dark, pathless, unsupervised forest was immediately taken to a mental health clinic for an assessment and a free brochure.
Rules and Regulations section A.2.v. 67 carry the three, twice removed specified also that border duty was to last for the duration of three weeks exactly and not a day more, lest the ninjas on duty went crazy from the sheer boredom of it and voluntarily checked themselves into the mental health clinic clamouring for the free brochure.
Rules and Regulations section A.2.v. 67 carry the three, twice removed was why, on this particularly bright summer morning, a very disgruntled Temari was dragging her fan, her pack and a black cloud of Fuming Wrath towards the bunkhouse on the Sand side of the road.
It was also why, on the same sunny morn, a cool, collected Neji was making his graceful way towards the Leaf bunkhouse carrying an aura of Assured Nonchalance and Immovable Stoicism and a pack full of Armani suits – that is, practical ninja gear.
Though their arrivals were seconds apart and their respective bunkhouses were across the road from each other, both Neji and Temari studiously ignored one another, as was the custom of ninja of strong character who were planning to vie for the title of Most Badass While On Border Duty shortly.
Both pushed open their respective bunkhouse doors open and disappeared.