Warning: yaoi, language

Disclaimer: It would be wishful thinking on my part.

A/N: All right. This story represents my first attempt at anything ShikaNejiShika, written in honor of the first anniversary of the ShikaNejiShika community on Livejournal. It's severely AU and not all the details are firm. I suspect this won't last more than ten very short chapters; I don't have the attention span to accommodate more than that. As always, please accept this humble work of fanfiction in the spirit with which it has been written. Oh, and please—constructive criticism is encouraged; I'm new at this, folks.


Twenty-six-year-old Shikamaru Nara raised his head from the case file he'd been staring at to check the time on his laptop's monitor. It was 11: 20 P.M. He'd been reading the file so long the words were beginning to run together.

It was dark in the living room of Shikamaru's apartment, save for the light from the small lamp on his desk. It was quiet, save for the hum of the cold air blowing into the room through wall vents. He sat, hunched over the file, silently wondering when the practice fraud had become so popular?! This must be the fourth case of possible insurance fraud he'd been assigned this year. When did being lazy get elevated to this level? Did he miss a meeting?!

Shikamaru let out a long sigh. He removed his reading glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. His eyes were tired; his body was tired. Unfortunately, his mind seemed to have backup generator power—it never got tired. Without the aid of prescription medication, Shikamaru's mind would not permit his body the rest it required for at least another three hours. It was both a blessing and a curse, this brain of his: it was the reason why he was part of the go-to team of his entire department for these types of cases, but also the reason why he kept a bottle of AmbienCR™ next to the bottle of coconut-scented lube on the nightstand.

Shikamaru closed the file and got up from the desk. He lifted his arms in a long stretch that extended his body up to the ceiling. He wore his usual after-work attire, which consisted of a worn-in heather grey tee-shirt with the words 'special investigator' emblazoned across the front in black letters, a pair of old black sweatpants and simple grey slippers. Oh, and the necklace—his specially-made necklace of a thin brown leather cord with the kanji for 'loyalty' hanging from it in sterling silver.

Shikamaru scratched his back while strolling slowly to the kitchen for something to drink. He opened the refrigerator door and squinted while his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness coming from inside. Shikamaru bent to grab the plastic container of water and then closed the door, running a hand through his thick, shoulder-length, wavy brown locks as he turned to grab his glass from the kitchen counter.

The sound of his cell phone ringing almost made Shikamaru drop his water glass. He looked up. His cell phone sat on the desk near the case file he'd been reading. Shikamaru put the water bottle and glass down on the counter before making his way back to the desk to retrieve his phone. He already knew who was calling him at this hour.

Shikamaru picked up the phone and hit the button with one hand, running the other through his hair again.

"Nara here."

"How's it going?" the very male voice on the other end asked. Shikamaru shuddered slightly. He should have been immune to the sound of that voice during late-night cell phone discussions, especially after all this time; but the reality was it still made him shudder, and not in a negative way. As it was, there was already a better than fifty per cent chance he'd be jacking off to the memory of that voice not long from now, and they'd only been talking for a few seconds. Shikamaru heard himself sighing again.

"I swear if this turns out to be another narcissist prick who faked his death because he thought he was too good to pay his own damn bills, I'm going to find another line of work." Shikamaru made his way back to the kitchen as he talked.

"You're not getting jaded on me, are you?" the male voice responded.

"What if I am?" Shikamaru was pouring water into his glass.

"Well," the male voice replied, "you need to get over it. I haven't any more tolerance for this work than you, and I'll be damned if I'm going to do it alone." At this declaration, Shikamaru chuckled.

"You may be better off doing it without me, Neji." Shikamaru drank cold water, loving the way the coolness felt going down his throat. He leaned his back against his kitchen counter and crossed his feet at the ankles, phone to his ear, glass in his hand—and smiled.

"That is absurd. There is no one better suited to what we do than you, Nara."

"Except you."

"Nonsense", Neji stated plainly. The Nara's ability to uncover fraud and solve crimes was nothing short of a superpower. Neji knew his own abilities, while substantial, did not come close. It was one of the rare areas in his life where he could allow himself to be content while knowing he was only second best.

"Okay, Hyuuga. Let's agree that we are each ideally and equally suited to what we do. Fair enough?"

"For the time being." Neji relented. He didn't really want to argue with the Nara; he called his partner to touch base, to compare notes, to make sure he was all right—and to hear his world-weary voice. Neji had been working with the Nara for two years, and he'd grown more and more dependent on the man as time passed…they were both young, exceptionally intelligent, handsome single childless men married to their work; special investigators, and teammates; their very existences validated each other. The bizarre concept that Neji couldn't go to sleep at night if he hadn't spoken to the Nara on the phone, particularly since he'd been with him the entire day, had become even more bizarre reality. This type of dependency wasn't something Neji experienced in any other area of his life, so he had no idea how to deal with it, much less how to interpret it. He only knew he needed to see the Nara, needed to hear the Nara, and wouldn't work without the Nara. It was absolute.

"Dare I to hope you'll get a decent night's sleep tonight, Nara?" Shikamaru put his glass back on the counter and pinched the bridge of his nose again, closing his eyes.

"Not this again."

"Nara, you need to go to sleep. The case will keep until tomorrow, they always do."

"If it were that simple, I'd have been asleep when you called, Neji."

"Why don't you take your medication?"

"Come on, Neji, you know why. This is like a damaged record already." Shikamaru sighed again.

"I'm sorry that I'm repeating myself, but I am concerned for your health. I told you, I won't do this work if you're not my partner, Shikamaru Nara." Shikamaru shuddered again. Hearing Neji say his full name did it to him every time. Somewhere in the back of Shikamaru's mind he suspected that Neji knew this. Please do it again, Shikamaru silently begged. Say my name like that one more time.

Shikamaru thought he was dreaming the first time he'd laid eyes on Neji all those years ago. They'd both become special investigators at the same time. Shikamaru remembered seeing a tall vision of pale skin and eyes on a beautiful, angelic face shrouded by a sharp contrast of long, shiny dark brown hair. The vision's handshake told Shikamaru he was physically powerful. Then the vision spoke, and Shikamaru shuddered all the way down his spine.

Until that day Shikamaru had not been attracted to men. He told himself that Neji was unique. Funny thing was it turned out to be true. Shikamaru hadn't encountered a man since that had so powerful an effect on him. And he wanted Neji--there was no doubt in Shikamaru's mind about that. He wanted to taste him, to run his fingers through that glossy mane, to hear him talk dirty. Shikamaru wanted to affect Neji the way Neji affected Shikamaru.

But it would all be for nothing if Shikamaru lost his partner. The risk of that crushing blow to Shikamaru's life kept him silent about his feelings.

I could come and tuck you in, Neji thought to himself. It was the Hyuuga's idea of heaven, tucking in the Nara, and then taking watch to ensure he'd get a peaceful night's rest. He imagined how beautiful the Nara would look in his sleep, and it made the Hyuuga smile.

Gods.

"Wow." Neji blinked, drawn from his daydream by that sound.

"What?"

"What what, Hyuuga? Was that an offer, or a threat?" Neji was confused.

"Was what an offer or a threat, Nara?"

"You suggested coming and tucking me in just now. Was that an offer, or a threat?" Neji, already pale, paled even more. Gods on a ship, did I just say that out loud?

"Nara, I—er, that is I'm just—" Gods, Shikamaru thought to himself. In all the time he'd known the Hyuuga he'd never heard him say anything even remotely suggestive to anyone, not even in the line of duty—and he'd never heard him this flustered before. He had only been teasing the Hyuuga! Shikamaru was delighted. A flustered Neji was an adorable thing, even over a cell phone.

"Neji, relax. It's okay. I was only teasing." But now the Hyuuga couldn't help but wonder what the Nara's answer would have been had he, in fact, been making an offer?

Neji and Shikamaru both realized their conversation was navigating untread waters; it was time to end it.

"Listen, Nara—"

"Listen, Hyuuga—" they both spoke at the same time. It was really time to end it.

"We're both tired," Neji continued in as calm a voice as he could muster under the circumstances, "I'm going to bed. Please try to get some sleep, Nara."

"Piece of cake, Hyuuga. I'll see you in the morning."

"Right." The sound of the connection being broken was heard in Shikamaru's ear before he hung up his cell phone.

It was a full five seconds before Shikamaru realized he was fully erect. As he walked from his kitchen to his bedroom rubbing his cell phone against his clothed erection, he wondered what kind of person would it take to satisfy a man like Neji Hyuuga—mind, body and spirit?

Shikamaru walked into his bedroom and closed the door. In light of the conversation he'd had with his partner, tonight's masturbation session would be particularly intense.

Neji closed his cell phone and contemplated tossing the thing across the room. Instead he plugged it into his charger and made himself comfortable on his bed. Whatever possessed him to utter those words aloud? And what must the Nara be thinking? If Neji knew Shikamaru, then he knew the Nara suspected nothing. Theirs had been a solid working relationship the whole of the past two years. A successful working relationship. Neji had been extra careful not to allow his need for the Nara to disrupt it, even though he'd wondered often if the Nara had a need for him that was tantamount to his own need for the Nara. Shikamaru was so laid back it was disconcerting at times; beyond his work and the occasional dango, who knew what that man needed?

Thoughts of a sleeping Nara resurfaced in Neji's mind, except this time, the Nara wasn't tucked in to bed. This time, he was sprawled across it on his stomach, wearing nothing but a pair of black sleeping pants. His tanned back was nude, his well-defined laterals on display for Neji's eyes only. He hugged a pillow as though it were a lover. And his hair—Gods, his hair was down, lying against the nape of his neck, beckoning Neji's hands to weave themselves into it…

The unexpected taste of copper in Neji's mouth alerted him to the fact that he'd been fantasizing about the Nara again. Gods on a ship! Where did those sexy images come from?! Neji licked the blood from his lip, and then looked down at the sizable tent in his shorts. Well, this is new, he thought to himself.

He could still taste blood.