"What!" Sakura exclaimed sharply causing everyone in the small tea house to turn around and glance at them curiously. She didn't even notice their stares as she was to busy staring at Naruto with an open mouth.

"Sakura-chan….it's just….I mean…." Naruto stuttered. He shot looks around him and turned red at all the attention.

"I better not have heard you right Uzumaki. Tell me this is one of your jokes," she demanded, narrowing her green eyes and pinning him with a look fit to chill the hot tea she'd been drinking.

Naruto looked frustrated for a moment then hung his head, rubbing a tired blue eye with his hand. "I wish it were," he whispered; sounding rather defeated.

"Oh my God," Sakura said softly. "You really are having second thoughts." Her mind was reeling; she just couldn't believe that Naruto was actually uncertain about marrying Neji today. She stared at his lowered head for a moment before her intellect kicked in. "All right. Explain why you think this is a bad idea."

"I just…." Naruto paused and heaved a sigh. "What if he really doesn't want to marry me? What if he just said yes because he…..I don't know…..just…..I guess I just can't see why he'd want me," he finished finally. He gripped the cup of tea in front of him tightly and stared into the greenish liquid that was steaming slightly.

The two of them were in a family owned Tea House down the street from Sakura and Itachi's home. Naruto had called Sakura at eight that morning and asked her to meet him as soon as she could and that it was really important. Of course she'd dropped everything and told her husband to watch Mariko, their daughter, while she went to see him. However she'd thought that maybe there was a problem with the plans for the ceremony or maybe the caterer called in sick or something along those lines. Never did it cross her mind that Naruto would get cold feet only hours before the ceremony; Neji maybe but definitely not Naruto.

"Oh Naruto, don't be stupid. Neji loves you and there is so much to love." Sakura took one of his hands in hers. "Do you really think Neji would have said yes if he wasn't sure of his feelings for you? You can't possibly think he'd marry you to spare your feelings," she said dryly. She frowned when he flinched. "Naruto…" Her voice conveyed her confusion.

Naruto took his hand from hers and looked at her. "You don't know him like I do Sakura-chan. He's more sensitive then people think."

"I kinda figured that out when he freaked yesterday and tried to hack off his hair in the shop." She felt bad for the attempt to lighten the mood when he flinched again and stopped looking at her.

"See, that's what I mean! I always say stuff that hurts him. Or I'll do something for him and it backfires. I've known him forever and lived with him for years and I'm still making dumb mistakes; mistakes that hurt him." His face was stricken and Sakura realized that he must have been brooding over this all night.

"Have you talked to him?" she said calmly. It wouldn't do for her to indulge him in his panic.

"How could I tell hi…." Naruto began with a pleading tone.

"Have you talked to him?" Sakura said again slowly. She already knew the answer however. If he'd talked to Neji about this he wouldn't be here talking to her.

Naruto opened and closed his mouth a few times, words dying on his tongue as he looked at Sakura's calm face. "No," he said finally. "I didn't know how. How do I possibl…."

Sakura held up a hand to cut him off. "Go home and talk to him Naruto. But believe me, if he had any doubts about this marriage he would have told you 'no' when you asked him." She gave him a very frank look. "You said it yourself that you know him better then anyone. Now tell me….would he do something if he didn't want to just because someone asked him?"

"No," Naruto said quietly. In his head he finished with 'not unless it was me'. This sentiment wasn't boasting. Naruto just knew that Neji always did things he asked him to do even if he didn't want to. Like the wedding present he'd presented him with yesterday; or going out to large house parties with Naruto's friends that he didn't know well. "But he's not home anyway. Ten Ten, Shino and Shikamaru came over last night and picked him up. They said something about giving him a special gift that was just for him."

"Oh," Sakura said. Her brow furrowed in confusion. "I guess Lee didn't call back about coming did he?"

If possible, Naruto's expression grew grimmer. "No. He called back." That troubled blue gaze was focused steadily on the swirling green tea in his cup now.

When he didn't elaborate Sakura asked, "And…"

"He said he wasn't coming." Naruto's tone made it clear that wasn't all Lee had said.

"What did he say Naruto?" Sakura asked as gently as she could. Naruto stayed silent, shaking his head. "Come on Naruto, you know you can tell me."

Sighing he said, "He told Neji that he would have been overjoyed to come if he'd been marrying a woman. That marriage between two men was a 'mockery of the blessed union of love'." The last part had been said in an imitation of Lee's passionate way of speaking. The way Naruto said it had a bitter edge that didn't often creep into his voice.

"Oh Lee," Sakura sighed. "I never thought he'd be so homophobic. He always seemed so nice and tolerant." Naruto just looked miserable. Sakura's brow furrowed in worry at him; she hated seeing Naruto like this. "You know what Ten Ten thinks?" she asked in a lighter tone, glancing around as if she was going to convey a secret and didn't want anyone else listening in.

"What?" Naruto said dispassionately. He wasn't looking directly at her but he glanced in her direction with a faintly curious expression.

"She thinks he's secretly in love with Neji and had his heart broken when you two hooked up. That's why he can't stand to see the two of you together and moved so far away." She leaned in and whispered it like it was a juicy secret. "I mean come on….as much spandex as he used to wear?" Her eyebrow rose and she smirked at him.

She was rewarded with a startled but true laugh from Naruto. His head shot up in surprise and he chuckled for a good minute, smiling at her. "Thanks Sakura-chan." He didn't have to say what for; she already knew. "What about Sasuke? Did Itachi convince him to come?"

"Yes, he'll be there. Even if I have to tie him up and drag him." Sakura did an impression of a muscle man; flexing the muscles of one arm and mock growling.

That set the both of them off in a fit of giggles as the mental image of a dressed up and seven months pregnant Sakura hauling a trussed up, tuxedo wearing Sasuke behind her flashed through their minds. A waitress came by and refilled their water, smiling at them even though she had no idea what they were laughing about.

"So are you going to talk to him?" Sakura asked.

"Sasuke?" Naruto said, confused.

"No, Neji."

"Oh." Naruto looked down at his hands and the cup in them. He knew he needed to talk to Neji but how could he? This wasn't exactly an easy subject to bring up to the one he was supposed to be marrying in less than seven hours. Sakura's cell phone rang, cutting into his thoughts.

"Hello?" Sakura answered the phone on the forth ring after digging it out of her purse. "Oh hello Neji." Naruto eyes widened. "Yes he's with me. What? Ah ok, hold on." She took the phone from her ear and looked at Naruto. "Naruto turn your phone on. Neji's been trying to call you," she told him. Her tone was exasperated; they where always having to remind Naruto to turn his phone on.

"Oops! I forgot," he said hurriedly. As he dug in his pocket for his phone, Sakura put hers back to her ear.

"He's turning it on now," she said to Neji over the line.

"Thank you," Neji told her. "I wondered where he was when I got home and no one was here. I hope he isn't bothering you."

"No, not at all. He's just having cold feet because he can't figure out why anyone would marry him." Sakura could hear Neji suck in a surprised breath over the sudden sputtering Naruto was making next to her. Both men started talking at once; Neji's voice low pitched and calm and Naruto's high pitched and panicked.

"Sakura-chan! Why did you…"

"Please tell me where you are."

"I swear you've been spending too much time with Ino!"

"We're at the Tea House by my house," Sakura told Neji quickly since Naruto was trying to grab the phone out of her hand.

"Thank you." Neji hung up.

"Damn it Sakura-chan! He's going to kill me! Why did you tell him that? I was going to talk to him and now he's going to come here and he'll be mad and he'll call off the ceremony and..." Naruto was babbling fast paced and it was growing increasingly more hysterical by the second.

"Naruto!" Sakura said loudly. She reached over and slapped a hand over his mouth, giving him a stern glare she learned from Itachi. "If I hadn't told him he never would have known because you wouldn't have talked to him about it. Now I am going to go home and take Mariko and myself to get our hair done and you are going to stay here until Neji arrives and talk to him. Understand?" With blue eyes popping out of his head, Naruto nodded silently. "Good. Stay. I'll see you at three to help you get dressed." She took her hand away, labored herself up and pecked him on the cheek before grabbing her purse and walking back home.

Naruto sat dumbfounded at the table. He looked so frightened and lost that the waitress came back by to ask him if something was wrong. It took him a few moments before he was able to turn his eyes away from Sakura's empty chair and mumble to her that he was ok. He wasn't ok. He was scared witless that Neji would show up and be so upset with his insecurity that he'd leave him. Horrible thoughts of rejection swirled around his mind and he laid his forehead on the table with a groan.

Ten minutes later Naruto was a nervous wreck. His foot was bouncing up and down under the table, his fingers tapping on top of it and he was nibbling his bottom lip. When Neji's tall, lithe form came up to the table, Naruto stared at him like a naughty school boy whose parent had just come to talk to the teacher. Neji sat in the chair Sakura had vacated; folding his hands in front of him on the table.

"Naruto, talk to me."

Naruto started. Neji's voice wasn't his normal smooth, even tone but was something husky and thick; like you sound after a good cry. Blue eyes searched his pale face but didn't find any trace of tears. That was good because he didn't think he could live with himself if he'd made Neji cry. Neji crying was like Neji giggling; it happened but very rarely and never in public.

"Neji I…." Naruto began. That tone pulled on his heart; made him respond. "It's nothing Neji. It's just jitters. I don't know why Sakura said that on the phone, really. I'm fine. It's nothing to worry about," he finished weakly.

"You went to her instead of talking to me? You never hesitate to tell me anything; even things I don't want to hear." That should have been funny. Neji was supposed to have said it with a smirk but he didn't. He just looked at Naruto with an eerie calm.

"Neji…" Naruto's voice was a pained whisper.

"Have I not told you I love you enough? Is it that I'm not affectionate enough?" Neji's look became a tad fierce.

"What! No! That's not…" Naruto's face took on color as he realized where this was headed. He leaned over the table in earnest.

"If I haven't made it very clear to you that you're important to me, that I love you and I want to be with you for the rest of my life then…"

"Neji please! I love you too. You've done everything for me! I just…."

"I'll have to show you how important you are to me," Neji finished. For the first time since he sat down his eyes warmed and lips formed that little smirk they held when he was making fun of someone.

"…was having a moment of wea……huh?" Naruto squeaked as he was pulled up short in his tirade. He blinked rapidly at Neji, trying to follow this latest switch of mood.

"I'm going show you just how precious you are to me, Naruto" Neji told him in an imitation of the words Naruto himself had told him months ago on the night he proposed. He leered at him. Yes, leered. But no expression on Neji's face was anything but sexy and confidant. So of course his leer held no lewdness, only sensuality bordering on pure sex. Naruto blushed bright red and snapped his mouth closed with a click of teeth.

Three tables away a lady swooned visibly in her chair from the backlash of sexual tension coming from the table with the handsome men. Her husband shot them a glare, which they were unaware of, and took her outside. Squabbling was heard from behind the counter from three different servers fighting about who would go over and ask if the gorgeous, long haired man needed anything to drink. The owner took care of it by informing them to take themselves off to other tables and leave the couple alone.

Without a word Neji stood, looking only into Naruto's eyes, and held out his hand to him. Transfixed, Naruto took it; allowing Neji his romantic gesture without complaint. As they walked out of the shop Neji put his hand on the small of Naruto's back. He felt pleased when he felt a shudder run down the man's spine. He owed Sakura so much for telling him about Naruto's second thoughts when he called; and even more for telling him everything as he was driving over.

They arrived home surrounded by such a fog of heightened sexual awareness that it was a wonder it wasn't visible to others. Every brush of cloth, every click or thump of things hitting the table or the floor served to make the men's cocks jerk in their pants.

Anticipation is the spice of life.

Finally Neji walked up to Naruto after they'd taken off their shoes and put down the keys and such. He kept walking until he was walking Naruto backwards, staring up into his eyes. Naruto jumped a little when his back hit the wall in shock; he'd been so focused on the opaque eyes in front of him that he hadn't noticed he was even moving. Of course this didn't mean that he was taking his eyes off of Neji's; oh no, he wanted every bit of what he saw in them. Love, commitment, all consuming lust; they simmered in those beautiful depths and Naruto was all too glad to drown in them.

Neji leaned forward, taking Naruto's lips with his in a kiss. His body melted into the other man's, humming with the heat between them. Nothing was better then this; this closeness, this feeling of being complete. Neji pitied those who never found love; the ones that just jumped from partner to partner seeking sex. Or worse, the ones that thought love wasn't worth the trouble. There was nothing like being close to someone, being able to hold them, kiss them, be intimate with them, love them and have them do the same with you.

That was what he wanted Naruto to understand. If it hadn't been for him, Neji would have been one of the lost ones. He'd have told himself that love wasn't worth the trouble of compromising or giving up his precious alone time. Only after he'd started to fall in love with Naruto did he realize what bullshit that was. After Naruto had shown him how wonderful love was, how could he say he didn't know how anyone could love him? How could Neji not love the one person that persisted to knock down his walls and show him love?

Neji broke the kiss and slid his cheek along Naruto's so he could whisper in his ear, "You taught me that love was worth doing anything to achieve it. That's why I love you. You loved me when I thought I loved myself and you kept on loving me when I hated myself. That's why I love you." He rocked his hips into Naruto's, just because he couldn't help it. His arms wove their way around his waist and his hands roamed comfortingly on Naruto's back. Wetness on his cheek informed him that Naruto was crying silently and he smiled.

Strong arms wrapped around Neji's waist and clung there. Naruto swallowed thickly and rested his head on the other man's shoulder but he didn't speak.

"You make me do things that I normally wouldn't do and even though it makes me uncomfortable. That's why I'm marrying you. You're warm, kind, optimistic enough for us both and intelligent….when you're not being stupid." Naruto rumbled a laugh at that one and Neji echoed it. "That's why I'm marrying you." Neji took Naruto's face in his hands, making him look him in the eye. "I don't want you to stop pushing me….or into me," he said with another leer and Naruto smirked in return. "You make me grow." The other man snickered. Neji smiled that heart stopping, sweet smile that had people swooning from yards away and leaned in to bite Naruto's bottom lip gently. "The fact that you're sexy is a nice bonus too."

"A nice bonus huh?" Naruto said with amusement. His heart was light yet it had never felt so full. "I make you…….grow right?" he asked slyly.

Neji laughed softly at his fiancée's playfulness. "Yeah." He reached behind him and took Naruto's hands in his, melding them together for a moment before pulling away; still with Naruto's hands in his. "If we go in here," he motioned to the bedroom to their right. "I can show you just how much I've……grown."

"Ok," Naruto quipped; amused and completely happy once again. It was as if last night's brooding and worrying was just a bad dream……..and Neji was the reality.

It took all of one minute for the two men to enter the bedroom, strip and fall all over each other in the large bed. By unspoken agreement, Neji landed on top and took the lead in his exploration of Naruto's long ago memorized body. Breaking from a particularly heated kiss, he nuzzled into his fiancée's neck.

"I want to spend hours doing this. I want to bring you to your limit again and again until you beg," Neji said into his ear. Naruto groaned at his words and bucked his erection into Neji's own. Chuckling, Neji skillfully got him back under control. "But we have a ceremony to attend in five hours and people to meet in only three."

"Don't care," Naruto pouted. "I want you now."

"You don't care about the ceremony?" Neji asked, pretending to be offended and hurt.

"Ehh! No! I mean yes! I mean…." Naruto shouted as the question really sunk in to his lust fogged mind. He stopped talking abruptly when Neji laughed and blushed. "Neji," he whined pathetically.

"It's fine Naruto, I knew what you meant," Neji said, still chuckling. He could feel Naruto getting harder and start to leak wetness against his stomach. Teasingly, he rubbed his body up and down providing friction to the man's arousal.

Naruto hissed and grabbed Neji's shoulders in a tight grip. "Neji," he whined again.

Neji decided to take pity on him and shifted to lay on his side next to Naruto; taking firm hold of the man's erection and stroking it evenly. Naruto fought not to buck up and turned his head to rest underneath Neji's chin.

"Hey, Neji," he said.

"What?" Neji eyes were on his hand working up and down Naruto's hardness. No it wasn't 'the perfect penis' either. It was about an average length and curved to the right and down a little. But for some reason it was absolutely perfect for smashing into Neji's prostate when they made love. It's as if it were made just for him.

"We can take it slow later………….I just want you to fuck me now."

Naruto grunted in surprise as he was rolled over on his stomach. Then he groaned and shoved his head in a pillow when Neji's mouth trailed kisses and hot swipes of tongue down his spine. Gentle hands stroked down his sides and Naruto gasped, pulling his face out of the pillow and bringing his arms up to prop him on his elbows so he could arch his back in a beautifully seductive line.

"Make noise for me," Neji said in a thick voice. He'd done the side stroking on purpose to make Naruto take his head out of that pillow.

Naruto complied. Not only was Neji an expert kisser, he was also a master at rimming; something only Naruto knew and would always be the only one to know. He knew just how to thrust his tongue in so that it felt like a belly dancer was working her hips inside of him. Just like what he was doing now.

"Oh god Neji….fuck….." he panted breathlessly. His hand searched under the pillow for the lube that was kept there, you know, for emergencies and found it. He grabbed it and, without looking back, handed it to Neji.

As soon as Neji took the bottle he lifted off of Naruto and pumped some of the liquid directly on to the fluttering hole he'd just tasted. He rubbed it around that hole in a circle a few times until Naruto whined low in his throat and called him a tease. Only then did he push a finger in.

"More," Naruto groaned.

"Naruto you haven't bottomed in over a month. You need more stretching or you'll bleed," Neji told him softly, focused on the enticing sight of his pale finger being enveloped by that tan ass.

"I'm fine. Neji….ahhhh!" he yelled suddenly as Neji made a firm stroke over his prostate. How could he possibly have forgotten how good that felt? "Mmmm…" he groaned out as Neji added the application of a slick hand to his hardness, stroking with long and steady movements. He got so caught up with the feelings that he no longer could focus on how long it was taking to stretch him properly. "Haaaaa…….please!" he begged.

Only after Naruto started up a mantra of 'please Neji please' did Neji thoroughly coat himself with the lube and slide into the lust crazed man; not that he wasn't just as lust crazed. He tugged Naruto's hips up and stroked slowly and precisely in to him. Like he told Naruto, he didn't want to hurt him since it'd been awhile since he'd bottomed. But Naruto was just so good that it was hard not to go wild and throw caution to the wind; especially because of the way Naruto was crying out his name with every thrust.

"Yes! Yes Neji…..fuck……faster damn it!" he cried out. He'd gotten his knees under him and was rocking back to meet Neji's thrusts, trying to set the pace he wanted, but Neji reigned him in and kept it steady.

He was going deep now, rocking his hips back fluidly and snapping them forward so that he was fully seated for a moment before doing it again and again; driving Naruto crazy with the frustration of being [i]right there[/i] but not able to push over the edge. Tears gathered in the corner of his eyes as, once again, he was stopped from speeding the pace of their rhythm or even reaching a hand down to fist himself. He stopped pushing back and let Neji move them both.

Neji smiled behind him and sped up. When Naruto groaned and pushed back again he stopped and went back to the slower pace. After three more times of this happening, Naruto finally caught on. He stopped everything he was doing, laid his upper body on the bed and placed his arms behind his back.

"Perfect," Neji breathed out. He took each of Naruto's wrists in a firm grip and pressed them to the bed at his sides. Then he really let loose; giving Naruto just what he'd been wanting all along…..a good hard, fast fuck. "So perfect…..my Naruto….all mine," he said between thrusts.

"All yours! Oh God……….Neji!" Naruto screamed the name, his head thrown back awkwardly. He began to thrash helplessly when Neji let go of his wrists, reached around and took hold of his heavy erection, fisting it quickly. It didn't take long after that to feel himself start to come. "Yes! Uhhhnn Nej…..I'm…….oh God!" he moaned as the orgasm made his mind shut down and his muscles contract. That moan turned into a tight panicked feeling as an iron hand clamped around the base of his cock, cutting him off midway through his orgasm. No!....Neji…..ohhh…….please! Let me cum!" he shouted through his whines and wiggling.

Neji's face at that moment was so hard that it could have cut glass. He stared down at Naruto's frantic form with utter possessiveness. "Say it again," he demanded.

"Ahhhh….let…..let me cum Neji! Please!" Naruto barely got the words out. It always caught him off guard when Neji's 'master' side came out. But it made him happy that Neji was able to open up so completely that he could be himself with Naruto; when he wasn't cursing his sadistic tendencies, that is.

When Neji let go it was when he himself was ready to come as well. This made the whole thing bigger, hotter and more intense then if they came at different times. Neji couldn't even thrust as his orgasm hit him with hurricane force. He simply shut his eyes and clung to Naruto's shaking body. It took a while for them to catch their breath after they'd collapsed in a sweaty heap.

Neji looked down at the man lying on his chest. Naruto was flushed with his blue eyes closed and his chest was still rising fast. No one would see this face but Neji.

He allowed them enough time to get their breathing back to normal before rousing Naruto and ushering them to the shower to clean up. More then once he had to slap Naruto's hand away from his groin as they washed up; though he did have to let Naruto come again since he got hard as Neji was cleaning the mess out of his ass.

By the time they'd cleaned up, dried off (amid more groping from Naruto), got dressed (Neji had to dress in the living room to avoid more groping) and put all their clothing for the ceremony in the car, they had less then a hour to make it to the hotel to meet the girls.

"Aww man, Sakura-chan's going to kill me if we're late!" Naruto whined as they were driving.

"She won't kill you," Neji told him, keeping his eyes on the road. "The blood would be too hard to get out of her dress."

Naruto laughed at the joke. "How come Ten Ten and Hinata don't threaten you and I always get beat down? It's not fair." He pouted at Neji.

"That would be because I try not to piss them off with bad jokes at every opportunity."

"That's 'cause you never tell any jokes around them," Naruto countered.

"I tell jokes," Neji said and glanced over at the other man. He changed lanes and turned at the corner. The hotel was less then three minutes away now.

"You've told a grand total of two jokes around Ino and Sakura." When Neji looked at him with a raised eyebrow he said, "I counted." He laughed at the disgruntled look on Neji's handsome face.

Neji pulled up in front of the hotel and let one of the attendants valet the car. An enthusiastic bell hop rolled out a cart and placed all the bags and their clothes in the car on it.

"Follow me sir, your party is waiting for you," he said quickly. The young man seemed harried and the two men exchanged a confused glance as they had to nearly run to keep up with him.

Soon enough they figured out just why the young man was in such a hurry.

"Udon! Are they here yet?" Ino's voice rang out from down the hall off to their left.

"Yes Ino-san, they're right here," he said in a voice that sounded like he was answering a drill instructor.

Neji and Naruto looked at each other, puzzled, as Ino came rushing towards them out of a door; already dressed in the forest green gown with her pale blonde hair done up in a complicated style with lots of ringlets framing her, currently highly annoyed, face. "It's about time! You should have been here ten minutes ago," she fussed at them; which made Neji's eyebrow rise in surprise. Normally Ino and Sakura directed all their scolding towards Naruto if the two men were together. She turned her wrath to the bell boy. "Take their things to the room and we'll divide them up there."

"Yes Ino-san." He looked so relived that Naruto laughed. Taking off, Udon rolled the cart quickly down the hall and disappeared in the door Ino'd come out of.

Naruto drew breath to talk but Ino cut him off. Grabbing both of the men's arms she fussed at them as she dragged them in the bell boy's wake. "We have two rooms for you. They're connected but don't think you can just go over to the other room or anything." She shot a glare at Naruto and he grinned disarmingly at her, scratching the back of his head. "Neji, you'll go with Ten Ten and Hinata. They're waiting for you. Naruto, you're with me and Sakura." Naruto whined and she popped him on the side of the head with her hand.

As they entered the suite, Sakura waved a greeting from her spot next to the mirrored vanity and Ino pushed Neji towards the door connecting the two rooms with a hand on the middle of his back. He looked back at Naruto with a raised eyebrow and the other man grinned at him and mouthed 'welcome to the family' before laughing.

~*~*~*~

"Ow! Sakura-chan you're going to pull my hair out if you keep brushing so hard!" Naruto screeched. He moaned in pain when Sakura bopped him on the top of the head with the brush she was using to comb some semblance of order to his unruly blonde locks. He made a pathetic, pouting face at her in the mirror he was facing and she rolled her made-up eyes at him.

"Stop being such a baby, Naruto." She attacked a stubborn spike of blonde hair with the brush and a slathering of gel. She made a disgusted sound and blew a strand of glossy, straight hair out of her flashing green eyes. "This isn't working," she sighed. "Ino, we're going to have to go get the maximum strength hairspray from the car. I was hoping this would be enough but it's not," she said in a tone directed at Naruto as if it was his fault.

"All right, I left a package in the car anyway," Ino said. She turned to Naruto and fixed him with a glare. "Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back; and don't get that tux dirty." Following Sakura's green clad, slightly waddling form, she grabbed the keys off the night stand. "Oh and don't even [i]think[/i] of going into the next room," she threw over her shoulder at him.

Naruto cursed since that's just what he'd been thinking of doing. The two women left; chatting to each other and holding the long skirts of their green and white dresses up so as not to step on them. Ino laughed as Sakura had to go through the door sideways to accommodate her belly and she grumbled at her to shut up.

It'd been over an hour since he'd split with Neji to get ready. He couldn't understand how putting on a tux could take so long. He sighed and slumped in the hard backed chair, leaning his chin on his hands, arms propped on the vanity top. At the sound of the door opening, he looked up and saw Sasuke standing in the doorway. The man's charcoal gray suit, no tie, made him look as though he'd just come from the office; which he probably had knowing Sasuke. He'd done something to his blue-black hair that made it straight as a board and hanging in a choppy, modern style to a little past his shoulders. Naruto grinned at him warmly.

"Hey Sasuke! I see Sakura dragged you here like she said she would," he teased. Laughing at Sasuke's scowl, Naruto stood up from the chair. "So what's up? I haven't seen you in months." He motioned Sasuke closer and sat on the little couch across from the bed; leaving Sasuke to either stay standing or sit next to him, on the bed or on the chair.

Sasuke chose to sit on the edge of bed; his posture rigid. Dark eyes darted from his lap to Naruto's face. "I've been out of town," he said, his voice quieter then Naruto's warm, jovial one.

Naruto looked at him a little puzzled. "Sasuke…why are you acting so weird?" he asked. Years of living with Neji, the genius of reading people and psychologist, had sharpened his own skills of the craft. He didn't like that Sasuke wasn't looking at him like he usually did. He hadn't even made a retort at the jab about Sakura.

"I'm not acting weird," Sasuke said but still wouldn't look the other man in the eyes. He shifted on the bed and ran a hand through his blacker than black hair.

"Yes you are. You're not even looking at me!" Naruto made a movement as if he was going to reach over and grab Sasuke to make him look up.

Sasuke's head snapped up and he glared into Naruto's eyes making the man startle a bit at the abrupt movement. What he saw in those dark depths before Sasuke hid his emotions surprised him. The man was upset, troubled and now that Naruto had seen that, there was no way to completely hide it from him again as he had been.

"Well if you're so upset at being here why don't you just leave?" Naruto asked with some heat to his voice. It hurt a little that Sasuke didn't want to be there with him but he didn't want him here if he was going to be a jerk through the whole ceremony.

"That's not it." Sasuke's voice was cutting and had more heat to it then Naruto's had.

"Then what is it?" Naruto bit out.

Sasuke flushed pink with anger and stood quickly. In two steps he was across the space separating them and sitting next to Naruto. Before he could lose his nerve (or Naruto could push him away) he'd grabbed Naruto's face in his hands and was kissing him hard. He pulled back from the kiss just as abruptly as he'd gone for it and gripped Naruto's shoulders.

"You don't belong with him. You belong with me," he said harshly. With every hissed word he shook Naruto, who was looking at him speechless with a shocked expression.

In the other room, Neji had been relaxing on the couch next to the door connecting the two rooms having finished dressing already and was listening to Naruto complain about what was being done to his hair with amusement. When he heard Naruto say hello to Sasuke, he frowned. Ten Ten looked up from where she was putting the last few little white flowers in Hinata's loose hair at him and tilted her head to the side in question. Neji just shook his head and closed his eyes so he could focus on what was being said in the other room.

"Sasuke…why are you acting so weird?" Naruto's voice came through the door clearly but Sasuke's reply was to low to be heard. Neji tensed; a chill of forewarning flowing up his spine.

"Yes you are. You won't even look at me!" Naruto shouted. This time Hinata and Ten Ten both turned towards the door with questioning glances.

"Neji, who's Naruto talking to?" Hinata said quietly. She grew worried as Neji's hand tightened on the arm of the couch.

"Sasuke," Neji answered, not opening his eyes, still focused on the room beyond.

"You don't belong with him. You belong with me." Sasuke's voice came through the door this time, low and hissing, but clear.

The girls threw nervous glances at each other then stood quickly when Neji shot up from the couch. When he didn't move but just stood still facing the door, they relaxed a little. Ten Ten came over and put a hand on Neji's shoulder. His muscles were tense and coiled underneath the white cloth of the tux he wore and she spoke to him in a calm voice.

"Neji, it's ok. This is Naruto. He'll know how to deal with Sasuke. You know he loves you. He gave up Sasuke the moment you went out with him. Trust him," she said. The shoulder under her hand relaxed and he turned to her with a small smile.

You're right. I do trust him. It's Sasuke I don't tr…" Neji was interrupted by sudden chaos next door.

"Fuck Sasuke! Get the hell off me!"

Hinata put a hand to her mouth and her eyes went wide. Neji and Ten Ten's heads whipped to stare at the door. No one spoke.

"What the hell! You know you love me. You know you should be with me. Neji was just a replacement when I refused to go out with you."

Ouch. Neji flinched at Sasuke's words since they held a grain of truth. Ten Ten looked at him worriedly.

"You….you…" Naruto was sputtering in anger. Suddenly he emitted a half strangled, frustrated noise. "Gahhh! You conceited [i]asshole[/i]!" he finally screamed. Then the sound of flesh hitting flesh was heard.

"You hit me? I can't believe you fucking hit me!" Sasuke was yelling now.

Hinata let out a giggle and Neji turned to see her stuffing her fist into her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. He half smiled at her and she winked back.

Ten Ten whispered in his ear, "I know you taught him that word but it sure fits perfectly. It's about time someone told him off."

Neji was going to answer when the yelling started back up in the other room. He was vaguely glad that none of the hotel staff was running to investigate.

"You're damn right I hit you! I'll fucking hit you again if you ever say something bad about Neji! And let me tell you this, you arrogant fuck, [i]I never loved you[/i]. Whatever I felt for you all those years ago was nothing but infatuation."

Silence was loud in both rooms. Three sets of eyes bored holes in the door as their owners stood there waiting with a shocked anticipation for a response. After a moment Sasuke spoke.

"You feel nothing for me?" Sasuke's voice was stunned and rather confused. Neji wished he could see the look on the man's face right now.

"You're my friend Sasuke. Unless you keep doing shit like this you'll always be my friend."

"A friend? Just a friend?" Sasuke sounded incredulous. "After all those years that you chased me, now you tell me I'm just a friend?"

"That was almost ten years ago Sasuke! I've been with Neji for eight years. And in case you've forgotten, we're getting married today. I think that pretty much says how I feel about him."

There was another silent moment and the trio in the other room glanced around at each other. Ten Ten was grinning ear to ear, Hinata was stifling giggles and Neji was so proud he could burst. Hinata came over to stand by him in front of the door and nudged his arm with her shoulder.

"Naruto….It's just that…I know I never told you but I lo.."

"Don't." Naruto's voice had steel in it.

"But Naruto..."

"No. You know how I feel so don't." His voice was gentler this time.

"Fine. I won't say it." Sasuke voice was deep with an edge of something that sounded a lot like sex. Neji was instantly on edge.

"Sasuke I swear to God if you try and kiss me again I'll kick your ass!"

Ten Ten and Hinata grabbed Neji's arms as he launched himself at the door, intent on getting his hands around Sasuke's thin, pale neck and choking him to death. The women succeeded in pulling him back a ways from the door despite the long dresses they where wearing. Their silent struggle was mirrored by a louder one in the other room.

"Get off me damn it!"

"I'll prove that you love me, Naruto."

"Damn it Sasuke! You're messing up my clothes." There was the sound of a brief struggle; cloth rustling. "Get your hand out of there!" Naruto squeaked.

Neji dragged the girls across the carpet and had his hand on the door when a heavy weight fell on it from the other side with a crash, making the wood vibrate. The force of it made Neji step back.

"I. Said. No." Naruto's dead serious voice was right on the other side of the door; quiet and menacing.

The weight left the door and the rustling of cloth was heard followed by hard footsteps on carpet. Then the door leading to the hallway opened and slammed close. Ten Ten ran to their door and looked out the little peephole to the hallway. She whistled and turned back around.

"He's looks like shit," she said.

A knock sounded on the connecting door and Naruto's voice called out, "Neji?"

Neji's head whipped around to the door in front of him. "I'm here," he said.

"Can I talk to you?" Naruto's voice was small.

Neji's answer was to open the door and go into the room. As the door closed behind him, the girls looked at each other.

"We should go find Sakura and Ino," Ten Ten said. The men needed some privacy right now.

Hinata nodded her head and preceded the other girl out of the room. As they neared the lobby they could hear Sakura's voice talking to someone.

"He's going to be so happy you could make it Gaara."

"I rescheduled some things," Gaara's calm voice said.

Temari was the first to notice the two girls as they walked across the lobby to where the others were standing in a little knot. She and Ten Ten smirked at each other over Hinata's head; their rivalry rearing its head. Both of the women owned their own acupuncture clinics and were said to be the best. They constantly bickered on just who deserved the title.

"Well, well look who's here," Temari said. "If it isn't needle girl."

At her statement the others looked around. Ino's pale blue eyes lit up as she saw Hinata.

"Hinata! I knew those flowers would look perfect in your hair. I'm a fashion genius," Ino exclaimed delightedly. Sakura snorted unladylike beside her and she rounded on her. "Oh shut up," she bit out.

Jade green eyes surveyed the scene that was escalating rapidly before them in an instant. Temari and Ten Ten were smirking at each other and about to start in on the snide, biting comments that they always indulged in when they got together and Ino and Sakura where nearly chin to chin name calling like they'd never progressed beyond grade school. Hinata stood uncomfortably between the two groups still blushing from Ino's comment. Sighing, Gaara decided he was going to have to be the one to defuse everyone and get them back to the present.

"Where shall I put these bags?" Gaara said, cutting into Ino and Sakura's spat first as they were the loudest and indicated the overnight bags in his hand. He'd come straight to the hotel from the airport and hadn't had time to drop off his bags at the hotel they'd actually be staying at.

"Oh! Right this way Gaara, Temari. We can put them in the room where the reception's going to be," Sakura said brightly, snapping instantly from her fight with Ino as if it'd never happened.

Ino looked a little lost for a split second when Sakura abruptly turned away from her, that is, until she looked down at the shopping bag in her hand and remembered that they were supposed to be helping Naruto get ready.

"Shit! No time forehead girl. We have to get back to Naruto and I just bet he'd messed up his tux already," Ino said.

That pulled Ten Ten's attention away from Temari and she looked pointedly at Hinata.

"I'll show Gaara-san and Temari-san to the room," Hinata said. Ino nodded distractedly at her and grabbed Sakura's arm to drag her away even as the other woman was making apologies to Gaara. Ten Ten hurried before them to warn Neji out of Naruto's room before they could get an earful from the high strung women. "Please follow me. The reception room isn't far," she said to Gaara and Temari.

Ten Ten just barely darted through the door to Neji's suite and into the other room to drag him out before Ino and Sakura burst into the front door of Naruto's suite. Neji looked calm and his usual self so she assumed Naruto was fine after his little run in with Sasuke. He gave her a small smile of thanks at her worried once over to assure her that he was fine. The squawk of an indignant Naruto being scolded wafted through the connecting door, making Neji laugh quietly and Ten Ten grin at him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto whined as, once again, she attacked his hair with a brush.

"Quiet, this is your fault for messing up what I did earlier," Sakura told him and sprayed the hair spray she'd gone to get. Finally the errant spike did what she wanted it to and she leaned back to look at him critically in the mirror. "Ino?"

Ino glanced over at Naruto and he stuck his tongue out at her in the mirror. "It looks as good as it's going to get," she said just to spite him. The two women laughed as Naruto huffed at them.

"Hey Ino, did you bring that bag I gave you yesterday?" Naruto asked suddenly, his face transforming from the childish pout to something more excited and mischievous.

"Yes but you know Neji's going to kill you right?" Ino told him as she handed over the bag she'd retrieved from the car.

Sakura looked confused as Naruto took the pink and white shopping bag from Ino with an unholy grin. "What is that?" she asked finally, curiosity getting the better of her.

Naruto turned the grin to her and patted the bag affectionately. "You'll see," he said happily.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sakura allowed herself a moment of pride as she gazed out on the ceremony taking place. She stood with Ino, and Kiba on the side that Naruto was to stand waiting for the last of the guests to settle themselves so that the ceremony could start. Ten Ten, Hinata and Shino stood opposite them on Neji's side. The actual ceremony would be very short, consisting simply of Naruto and Neji saying their vows to one another and asking the guests present to be witness to them. The reception was the big event and would follow right after.

They were in one of the smaller banquet rooms of the hotel; one that only fit about 50 people. Currently, it was holding 38 guests besides the 'wedding party' itself. This was actually more then they'd counting on coming and the hotel staff had to scramble to find more chairs at the last minute. She noticed the last guest sitting down and nodded to Shikamaru subtly.

Soft music started playing from the stereo system as Shikamaru turned it on, indicating the ceremony was starting. The room became still and charged at the same time as everyone quieted and turned to look at Mariko walking down the center of the aisle the chairs made with her little basket of white and red rose petals. She had a look of concentration on her delicate face; making her look older then her four years as she scattered the petals at her feet. There were some twitters from the guests and comments of 'oh isn't she adorable?' that made Sakura smile warmly.

The ice green dress Mariko wore made her, nearly knee length, hair look truly garnet, darker then the brighter red it was. Sakura was struck by just how much she looked like her Uncle Sasuke as she came closer with that serious expression on her face. It was as if someone took a young Sasuke, gave him dark red hair and an even more delicate face, and then put him in a dress.

The last of the petals gone, Mariko tilted her head to the side as she gazed contemplatively at her empty basket. She looked around a bit and caught her father's eye, who just happen to be sitting in the seat along the aisle where she was stopped. He nodded slightly and discreetly pointed to Sakura. Dark eyes snapped up to Sakura and the woman smiled and motioned her over. Everyone laughed as Mariko promptly dropped the serious air she'd had, smiled and ran the rest of the way to latch on to her mother's dress.

Sakura grinned down at her and whispered what a good job she did before turning her attention back to the doors. She had to forcefully stop herself from groaning out loud. There, standing next to a exquisitely elegant Neji in his black tux and loose dark brown hair was Naruto, dressed in a white tux with the ice blue tie he'd insisted on wearing…………and an elaborate white net veil on top of the blonde hair she'd spent all that time and energy on. The veil trailed down his back to end just past his waist while the front masked his (grinning she was sure) face from the shocked guests. Beside him Neji was shaking his head; whether in embarrassment, amusement or exasperation she couldn't tell.

The couple stood there for a moment then made their way side by side but not touching down the aisle. Everyone's attention was riveted on them and as they passed by, faces turned to follow them like flowers following the sunlight.

Hinata poked Ten Ten in the back wordlessly. When she turned around with a questioning look, Hinata nodded her head in the direction of the back of the room. Ten Ten furrowed her brows in confusion and looked in to the gathered crowd still gazing at the couple who was now half way down the aisle. Her brown eyes landed on Sasuke and she couldn't help but frown and shake her head a little. The man was the picture of sulking jealousy. He was slumped in his chair at Itachi's side, alternately glaring death at Neji and looking away as if not interested in the proceedings at all.

Again Hinata poked her, shaking her head and jerking it a little more forcefully towards the back of the room. Ten Ten searched again for just what had caught the others attention and finally saw it; or rather, him. It was Lee. Dressed in a white dress shirt and starched jeans, he stood, arms crossed, behind the camera guy to the left of the door. He must have slipped in behind the couple.

Ten Ten's eyes widened and she shared a shocked, slightly anxious look with Hinata. What on earth was he doing here? They had to snap their attention back in front of them, however, since Neji and Naruto had made it to where they all were standing. Light laughter could be heard from the guests as Sakura very visibly made her opinion on the veil known by smacking Naruto in the shoulder with a disgusted look on her face. The music stopped and Naruto turned to the room.

"Hey everyone!" he began, voice bubbling with laughter.

Sakura groaned inaudibly behind him and Neji rubbed his forehead with a pale hand.

"Naruto!" Ino hissed urgently.

The guests laughed again as Naruto went to scratch the back of his head in embarrassment and got hung up by the voluminous veil. Finally he reached up and un-pinned the thing from his head. He solved the problem of where to put it by plopping on top of Mariko's head with a whispered, "Take care of this for me." The little girl grinned in an uncanny resemblance to the man in front of her and nodded emphatically, almost making the veil fall off. Sakura sighed, defeated, and clipped it more securely into her daughter's hair. Hoping she wouldn't have to do so again for a long time.

Naruto straightened and looked at Neji. They shared a moment of silent communication; waves of it flowed between them making all who watched feel like outsiders. It was barely a few seconds but in that time each person was reminded that this was what they were craving in life. Not money, power, fame or any material commodity. No. What every person wanted was someone who understood them so well, so completely, that no words were needed to convey their feelings. No words were needed to show the love they felt to others. When Naruto spoke, it was in a quiet voice, but one that reached to the back of the room.

"Welcome. Neji and I are very glad that you could come and share this day with us. Today we will vow to commit to each other always."

"We wish that you hear our vows and be witness to them, that they have your blessings as our friends and family and that this union too, has your blessings." Neji continued the welcome speech with a flawlessness that was expected of him.

"Will you witness our commitment?" they said together, looking over the guests assembled; inviting them to respond.

"Yes!" came the immediate response, causing Naruto to grin and Neji to nod graciously at them.

They bowed to everyone, and then each man turned to the ones standing behind them. Sakura looked startled as did Ino with Kiba looking confused as hell. Across the way, Ten Ten was mirroring Sakura's expression, Hinata was smiling at Neji and Shino merely raised an eyebrow.

"My friends," Neji began, looking at each of them in turn. "You stand beside me now as you have stood beside me always in my life. Hinata, I have watched you grow from a baby and I now ask that you watch me as I grow in my relationship with Naruto."

There was a snicker from Naruto barely audible enough to be heard.

Hinata nodded, smiling gently as she answered, "Of course Cousin."

"Ten Ten, we have been friends since grade school. I ask that you stay friends with me no matter what may befall in the new life I am embarking on with Naruto."

Ten Ten blinked rapidly and nodded answering, "Yes, I will," even as she dabbed at her eyes. Neji smiled at her a little before turning his gaze to Shino.

"Shino, you and I are very similar and you too, are my friend. We may not share many words, but I know that when I need advice I can come to you and you are there for me. I ask that you be there for me when I need intelligent advice should I need it in the life I am building with Naruto."

Shino nodded sagely and said, "Anytime."

Neji bowed to them lowly. "Thank you."

Naruto grinned at the trio in front of him all through Neji's speech. Sakura managed a tremulous smile at him while Ino just shook her head in amazement. Kiba gave him a 'you better not make this embarrassing' glare. As Neji finished, Naruto stood straighter.

"My friends, you stand beside me now as you have stood beside me always in my life," Naruto started with the same words Neji'd used. "Sakura, you've put up with me the longest and I'm happy you stayed my friend so long. You're like a sister to me and I count you as family. I want you to promise me that you'll think of Neji as a brother and let him be a part of our family. Oh and keep putting up with me even when I spoil my god-kids and send them home hyped on sugar," he finished with a grin and a wink at Mariko.

Sakura actually snorted with a kind of choked sob of laughter and nodded her head while the guests erupted with laughter as well.

"Ino, I know you hated me when we first met." At this Ino snorted. "But you still ended up my friend. No matter what stupid thing I did you still stayed by my side to kick my ass for it. I want you to keep kicking my ass when I do dumb stuff and kick Neji's too this time 'cause I'm not the only one who does them!" Naruto shot a look over his shoulder and stuck his tongue out at Neji, who shook his head.

"No problem," Ino said clearly and cracked her knuckles dramatically earning more laughter from the guests.

"Kiba, man, we've had some fun times. I'll never forget you sticking up for me all through school when everyone thought I was an idiot." This time it was Kiba's turn to snort. "You gave me the courage to keep asking Neji out even when he turned me down again and again and again and again…" Naruto would have kept going but Sakura stepped on his foot and he yelped. "Heh heh….anyway, I'mma need you there for me when I want a boost. Or if I need a place to crash when I piss Neji off."

Everyone present was laughing now, even Neji, though his laughter was more of an amused chuckle.

"No problem man, I got you," Kiba told him with a grin.

Naruto smiled at them and bowed before turning back to Neji. This time the two of them linked hands in front of themselves. The lingering laughter faded to silence.

"I, Naruto Uzumaki, commit to you, Neji Hyuuga." Naruto started his vows in a strong, serious voice. Something that shocked most present since he'd just been so full of laughter. "I vow from this day forward to be there with you, through all hardships, until my death. I will be faithful. I will be loving. And I will put your needs ahead of my own." He took a deep breath. "But your still not making me eat tofu," he said in a more lighthearted tone.

Little chuckles filled the room and Neji quirked the corner of his mouth in amusement.

"I, Neji Hyuuga, commit to you, Naruto Uzumaki." Neji's voice was smooth and unhurried. "I vow from this day forward to be there with you, through all hardships, until my death." He paused a bit and squeezed Naruto's hand in his as a look of fear flitted across the man's face briefly. "I will be faithful. I will be loving. And I will put your needs above my own." He finished with one final squeeze to Naruto's hand and a gentle smile.

The guests sighed happily. Some of the ladies had tears in their eyes and Itachi was glancing at a very thoughtful looking Sasuke. In the back, Lee straightened and walked out of the room. Temari was looking at Shikamaru and the other was staring everywhere else but at her. Her head whipped around when she heard a shocked gasp just in time to see Naruto grab Neji, bend him back and plant a heated kiss on him. Cheers erupted as they kissed and a male voice hollered, "Go for it Naruto!" which set off a round of laughter.

"What happened mother?" Mariko asked, trying to pull the veil away from her eyes so she could see what everyone was laughing at.

"Nothing sweetie," Sakura told her, glad for the thing hiding her daughters eyes.

When Naruto finally let Neji up for air, the man was rumbled. His hair was sticking up a bit on one side from where Naruto'd run his hand through it, his tux was wrinkled around the shoulders and his face was full of color. Then, to the shock of all except Hinata, Ten Ten and Shino, he grabbed Naruto's grinning face and kissed him back. Hard. With tongue. If possible the hoots and cheers got louder. They broke apart for the second time and Naruto was smiling so wide his eyes looked closed. Neji had a self satisfied look on his face as he turned to the crowd behind him.

Hinata and Ten Ten giggled madly at the expression on Neji's face and then laughed so hard they had to hold on to each other as they caught the ones on Ino and Sakura's. The girls were absolutely flabbergasted. Kiba, well, he just looked a little uncomfortable. But then he never was a public display of affection kind of guy.

Shino looked over at Shikamaru and gestured to him to play the music that would signal that the ceremony was over and the other man hit the play button gratefully. Of course, the music was barely heard over the loud chatter and enthusiastic congratulations of the guests as everyone was herded by the wedding party, sans the couple, out of the doors and down the hall to where the reception was to be held.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The reception was in full swing. Everyone was talking amongst themselves having already given the couple their blessings. Freed from the crowd of well wishers, Naruto and Neji were currently finishing their meal at the head table and gazing out over the organized chaos around them. The girls had really done well with the decorations; taking Neji's advice to keep it simple and elegant with the traditional red and white colors. Long white tapered candles sparkled on every table, casting a beautiful glow that reflected off the shining glassware and made the red tablecloths radiate warmth.

Brightly wrapped gifts of money were being carefully packed away for the newlyweds to go through at their leisure by Hinata over in the corner by the door. She was placing the last package into the special bag Ino'd given her when someone cleared their throat at her elbow, startling her and causing her to jump. Spinning on her heels, she came face to face with Lee. Her pale eyes widened and she flushed pink.

"I'm sorry Hinata. I did not mean to startle you," Lee said quietly, bowing his head a little. He stayed in the doorway, almost as if he was afraid to come too far into the room.

"Lee-san!" Hinata gasped. "Oh, no…you didn't…I mean….it's so nice to see you. Why don't you come and sit down? I'm sure Neji…." She trailed off at the look on Lee's face. It was so….distant.

"I would ask a favor Hinata. Would you please ask Neji to come out to the sitting area just outside? I would like to speak with him alone."

"Oh…umm…sure Lee-san." Hinata's pale, gentle eyes suddenly hardened. "Lee-san, do not hurt my cousin today. Your phone call upset him very much."

A flash of surprise passed in Lee's dark eyes and he bowed a little deeper to her. "It is not my intention to hurt him. Please."

Hinata looked at him a moment more, then began walking across the room to the head table. Lee turned and walked out of the room.

Naruto watched with a little crease of confusion gracing his blonde brows as Hinata leaned in to whisper something to his new husband. The woman caught his frown and smiled at him as Neji turned and told him that he was going to be right back. He nodded that it was fine, even though he was burning with curiosity to know what was going on. Hinata winked at him and he smiled; reassured that whatever it was, it wasn't something to be alarmed about.

Neji stood and made his way through the tables, stopping now and again to be greeted and congratulated. The whole way he wondered just who was waiting to talk to him. The only thing his cousin had told him was that he had a visitor that wanted to speak with him and that the person was waiting outside the room. Finally, he made it to the door and walked out; turning left and heading to the small sitting area down the hall.

Lee addressed a very surprised Neji as the other walked passed him, not seeing the man standing behind one of the large potted plants aligning the corridors of the hotel.

"Neji," Lee called out as he saw the other.

"Lee?" Neji said, eyes wide with shock. "You told me you weren't coming."

"I changed my mind," he said; his tone unreadable, even for Neji.

"Oh." Neji looked him over. Lee had changed drastically since the last time he'd seen the man nearly seven years ago. His black hair was still short, however, it was in a shaggy, natural style that suited him much better then the bowl cut he used to wear ever did. Not a stitch of green was to be seen on either the blue jeans or the button up white shirt he wore. The clothes showed off the impressive muscle that he'd developed. The two biggest changes were the non-fuzzy eyebrows and the calm, almost cold, attitude the man had.

"Neji," Lee said; shaking Neji out of his perusal of the man. "I love you." His voice was the same as it had been the whole time; tightly controlled.

"Excuse me?" Neji's voice was high and his eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

"I know it's a surprise and I know that now is not the time to tell you but I felt that I should." He held up a hand when Neji opened his mouth to speak, cutting him off. "I am not looking for a love confession back; that would be impossible. You love Naruto and that is obvious. I only let you know because if I hadn't I would always regret it."

Neji stared at him. He loved him? Is that why….. "Lee, is that why you left?" he asked tentatively.

"Yes. Seeing you with Naruto…..you were happy. Who was I to take that happiness away?" Lee's voice was warmer now; his face less controlled.

"Why didn't you tell me? You didn't have to leave. I missed you." Neji found himself saying.

"You missed me?" Lee's cold demeanor cracked and Neji was relieved to hear emotion in his old friend's voice.

"Of course I did. You're my friend Lee." Neji smiled.

Lee's heart clenched. "Thank you. I must go back tonight though. There are meetings I must attend tomorrow. But…..I will visit, if that is ok?" He gave Neji a watered down version of his old smile but it was better then nothing.

"I would be more then happy to entertain you when you do."

Lee nodded his head once then said, "I want you to be happy Neji. You are beautiful when you are happy." He let out a heartfelt chuckle when Neji blushed at the complement. "I will be in touch."

"Yes. I will look for your call. Thank you," Neji told him.

Lee watched Neji turn and walk back to the reception that was taking place. His and Naruto's reception. Then he turned around to leave and came face to face with a pair of green eyes. Those eyes pierced into his own, reading them and the thoughts and feelings kept tightly locked behind them all in an instant.

"Gaara?"

"Lee, it's been a long time."

I didn't abandon this fic……….I just ran out of inspiration in the middle of it. I'm sorry it took so long. I'm not planning on writing any more to this but who knows. Sometimes I'll go back and read some of my things and want to add more to it.