"Hello pharaoh boy, mind if I sit here? No? Good?" Temari let her tray slam onto table so she sat directly across from Neji.

TenTen grinned at the sight of Neji's googly eyes. No, she thought, he certainly doesn't mind.

Neji couldn't think at all. That is until Kankuro sat down next to him. And kicked his shin.

Neji glared at him.

He glared back. "Stop checking out my sister, Hyuuga." Kankuro hissed.

Neji smirked. He didn't like the thought of him and Temari? Too bad. Neji really hadn't planned to do much more than ogle the blond, but perhaps he could up the ante.

"So, Temari. Are you seeing anyone?" he asked casually, earning another kick.

"Hm. Well, literally speaking I see you. Like, with my eyes. Your eyes are rather creepy, has anyone ever told you that?" Temari responded.

Neji blinked. "No. They are?"

"Hell yeah Hyuuga. They're like, dead. I honestly thought you were blind when I met you." Kankuro answered for Temari.

Neji remembered that. They were in third grade, and somehow Kankuro had confused blindness with deafness and had shouted at him for the remainder of elementary school. What's worse is then the entire school thought he was even more deaf as he'd started ignoring Kankuro's yells. His ears still rang as he recalled forth grade.

This time, he kicked Kankuro.

Who yelped loudly.

"Kankuro, stop playing footsie with Neji," Temari scolded, "Ignore Kankuro, he's going through a sexuality crisis."

"Hey! I am not!"

"Oh, you finally realized you're gay?"

And as Temari continued to tease Kankuro, Neji decided he really really liked Temari.

oOoOo

Since she found out Ino and Sakura thought she was gay, Hinata very purposely avoided making eye contact with them. It was rather difficult, seeing as they sat directly across from each other at the lunch table. To avoid their stares she settled for looking between Gaara and Shikamaru who seemed locked in a silent battle of wits. Or Gaara was anyways. Shikamaru just looked sleepy.

She'd invited Gaara too eat lunch with them, as they had one chair left open at their table. Of course Gaara agreed and of course Gaara wanted to sit next to her. Unfortunately, Hinata had sat down in her usual spot next to Chouji and Shikamaru plopped down right next to her, leaving the only seat open between Chouji and Sakura.

The only thing Gaara liked about this was the fact that Shikamaru sat directly across from him, making glaring just that much easier.

A few minutes passed in awkward silence. Ino and Sakura stared at Hinata, who looked at Gaara, who glared at Shikamaru. Chouji ate.

"Who's your friend Hisoka?" Sakura asked diplomatically.

"I'm Gaara." His eyes never moved from Shikamaru.

Silence once again prevailed. It wasn't long before everyone had finished eating. Ino nudged Sakura and tilted her head towards Hinata. Sakura nodded.

"Hey, Hisoka, do you want to come to the library with me?" Sakura asked, "Great! I'll show you where it is." Sakura proceeded to drag her away without waiting for an answer.

Once they'd reached the library Hinata looked around. There really were some interesting books here. She was surprised she didn't see Gaara though, maybe Ino had distracted him so Sakura could get her alone.

"Okay Hisoka, Ino and I know you're… you know… gay."

Hinata blushed, despite expecting it. "Um, a-actually I'm n-not," Hinata corrected.

"And that you have a crush on Naruto," Sakura continued without regard to Hinata's words.

"I, I don't—"

"But we really don't think Naruto is your best option!"

"I, I r-really don't have a-any feel—"

"I mean for one, he's about as straight as men get," Sakura reasoned.

Hinata decided she wouldn't even try to correct her there.

"And you could do a million times better! I mean, you're really smart and all and Naruto… he…" Sakura struggled to come up with the right word, "…isn't," she finished.

"So we decided we'd find you a better boytoy, and get you guys together, kay?" Ino chirped from behind Hinata, effectively startling her enough to make her fall flat on her face. And on her bruised arm.

"Haaaah… Ooow," she moaned, then concentrated on lowering her voice again to protest. "N-no I really don't n-nee—"

"Nonsense! You don't have to be shy around us! So what do you think of Chouji? No, he'd crush a tiny thing like you…"

"You can't have Sasuke, he's mine, and he's straight. Sai maybe?"

"Nah, he's gay but I don't think Hisoka's his type."

"What about your friend Gaara?" Sakura asked.

Ino shook her head. "Too creepy. Who else do we know…" They continued to ponder that.

Hinata took this brief silence as a chance to say something. "I r-really don't need hel—"

"SHIKAMARU!" the two exclaimed simultaneously.

"He's perfect! He's got to be gay what with the way he always says women are 'too troublesome'," Ino said

"Yeah! And you two are both really smart and all, it'll be perfect chemistry!" Sakura chimed in.

Surely intelligence isn't her only factor in romance… right?

"Not to mention you two would be so CUTE!!" Ino squealed.

"Don't worry Hisoka, we'll have you two dating in no time, leave it all up to us!"

"No need to thank us!" Ino called back as they exited the library, already discussing plots to get Shikamaru interested. "Maybe if we taped him to a chess board…"

"Or what if we got one of those sky writers!"

Hinata still stood in the library when the bell rang, eyes frozen wide in shock.

What. Just. Happened?

Hinata whimpered, then collapsed into a puddle on the floor, terrified of Sakura and Ino's matchmaking schemes.

oOoOo

"Hanabi, didn't I ask you to clean your room an hour ago?" Hiashi asked.

"Oh, did you? I must have forgotten." Hanabi remarked scathingly.

Hiashi winced. It had been almost two weeks since the ice cream incident and Hanabi still hadn't forgiven him. He knew he deserved it, but still. What's more, Hiashi felt particularly guilty because no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't figure out a way to blame this all on Neji.

There was a knock on the door. "I'll get it!" Hanabi exclaimed eagerly, scrambling to the door. Today Inari agreed to take her out on their first official date, a movie. She stopped, fixed her hair, smiled and opened the door. "Hi—" Hanabi looked at the person in the doorway, "not-Inari. Who are you?"

"I'm Shikamaru. Is Hisoka here? I need to give him some notes."

"Yeah. Just a sec," Hanabi said. She closed the door and took a nice, long, deep breath. She took out her minature timer and pressed start.

"HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKKKKAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Shikamaru, on the other side of the door had to cover his ears. Hanabi's shout lasted for 46.2 seconds. Exactly. She timed it. It wasn't a record breaker, but then again, she hadn't had much practice lately.

"Do you really need me or are you just practicing?" Hinata asked as she walked down the stairs.

"There's a boy here for you." Hanabi gestured to the door.

Hinata looked puzzled. Gaara never said he was coming over today. Neither did Kiba or Shino. She opened the door to the sight of Shikamaru nursing his ears.

"Hey Hisoka. You forgot to grab your biology notes." He handed her a stack of papers. "Oh. And here." He pulled out a card. "Ino wanted me to give it to you. I'unno what it is."

Hinata opened it. "It's… It's a-an invitation." She looked up. "To your birthday party."

Shikamaru was genuinely surprised. "I have a birthday party? When is it?"

"Saturday."

"Huh. Maybe I'll show up. Where is it?"

"Y-your house."

"Oh. I guess I'll be there. See you Hisoka!" Shikamaru gave a halfhearted wave and walked off.

"Who was that?" Hiashi asked. Hinata sighed. She knew this was coming.

"He's my friend. Shikamaru. He's taking notes for me because my arm is hurt."

"Hm. How does he know where we live?"

Hinata shrugged. "I don't know. He probably asked Kiba or someone."

"Or maybe he's a stalker."

"Father!"

"You don't know these things Hinata, you've only known him for a few weeks! He could be a serial arsonist! Or a mass murderer! Or an alien! What have always told you?"

"Never trust boys," Hinata recited. "So what about Neji?" she asked.

"Never ever trust Neji. This is all his fault anyways…" Hiashi grumbled.

"What is?" Hinata asked.

"Oh, everything."

oOoOo

Shikamaru sighed. Why was it necessary to celebrate his birth? It wasn't like he was that great anyway. And birthday parties were so loud. At least the ones planned by Ino were.

Ino and Sakura had arrived earlier that day to remodel his house for the party. Amazingly enough, his mother had no objection. Although Shikamaru suspected she was still trying to set him up with Ino, as they were childhood friends. "How many people did you invite?" Shikamaru shouted over the heavy bass. Sakura apparently had a state-of-the-art portable stereo system, which they'd hooked an iPod up to instead of renting a DJ.

They'd also cleared his living room of all furniture except the couch Shikamaru currently lounged on to create a makeshift dance floor and covered the room in black lights, strobe lights, multicolored lights, disco balls, and other shiny decorations. A large banner stretched across the wall across from him that read "HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY!". Shikamaru assumed Ino had gotten it last minute, as it was pink. Or, at least he hoped so.

"We invited anyone who said yes," Ino replied, "Where's Hisoka? You did remember to give him the invite, right?"

Shikamaru nodded. He hadn't seen Hisoka either, and couldn't help wondering when he'd come.

Chouji sat down next to him.

"Nice snacks," he said, gesturing to his plate of hot dogs and chips.

"Thank Sakura and Ino. It's more their party than mine. Why did they throw me a party anyway?"

Chouji shrugged. "Have you moved from that spot since the party began?" he asked.

"Nope."

"You know Ino's going to make you dance, right?"

"I'm currently planning an escape for when she tries that. What do you think my chances of getting out the window are?"

"Before Ino realizes? Zip."

oOoOo

Hinata stood outside Shikamaru's house. As it turned out they lived fairly close to each other, so she'd walked to the party. She'd actually heard it before she'd seen it, and now she was almost afraid to go in. There was simply so much noise and chaos.

Okay, she thought, deep breath…

The second she opened the door, Hinata was caught in a web of dancers. Does Shikamaru even know any of these people? she thought as she struggled to get out from the middle of the dancing mob.

"HISOKA! Over here!" Hinata turned to see Sakura gesturing excitedly. After a few minutes Hinata was able to successfully navigate her way across the room. Sakura took her present for Shikamaru and led her into the dining room, where it was much quieter as people moved about and ate.

"Glad you could come. Sorry about the living room, you looked terrified on the dance floor. Just stay in here, we're making Shika blow out candles in a bit," Sakura said.

As if on command, Shikamaru trudged in, Ino grinning happily behind him.

"HISOKAAAA! You made it!" Ino exclaimed.

"Hey." Shikamaru barely raised his hand in a low-energy wave.

"We'll get the cake!" Sakura and Ino said in unison, leaving the Hisoka and Shikamaru alone.

"Happy birthday."

Shikamaru smiled. "Thanks. This party is troublesome though."

Hinata nodded, agreeing whole-heartedly. It just didn't seem right for Shikamaru to have such a ridiculously big party.

"Happy birthday too you…" Ino began, holding a cake with sixteen lit candles. The rest of the guests joined in the out of tune rendition of the birthday song. Hinata cringed, especially at Naruto and Kiba, who were singing in (very bad) falsetto.

"To yoooooouuuuu!!" Naruto finished holding the last note about three octaves higher and twelve beats longer than necessary. "Make a wish Shikamaru!"

"I wish Ino and Sakura would leave me alone," he deadpanned, ducking their fists.

He blew at the candles, and all but one went out.

"Hah! It only comes true if all the candles go out. You're stuck with us Shika!" Ino proclaimed.

oOoOo

Over the next few months Ino proved herself right. Everywhere he went it seemed he would be joined by the two girls who for some reason kept steering him towards Hisoka. It was obvious something was up, though he wasn't sure what. I just hope it's not some troublesome matchmaking attempt or something. Of course, the longer this went on, the more certain he became that that's what it was.

On Halloween, for example, they stuffed Shikamaru in a prince outfit and tried (and failed) to get Hisoka into a princess costume.

And throughout November they'd suggest going on walks together, then mysteriously get lost, leaving him alone with Hisoka. Every time.

Not to mention that as soon as December 1st hit, mistletoe had started appearing everywhere he went, especially around classes he and Hisoka shared.

Thankfully his family dragged him on vacation over Christmas break. Somewhere nice and sunny, where he didn't have to do anything for a whole two weeks. He'd even gotten a tan, as Naruto noticed their first day back in art.

"Shika! I can't believe it! Not only did you have to go outside to get that tan, but you actually got on a plane to go somewhere warm! You did something on vacation!" Naruto flailed his arms in excitement.

Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "Hold still please." Their first project back was to paint a partner. Unfortunately, Anko had chosen the partners, and of course he had gotten the one kid who couldn't sit still to save his life. So he hadn't started painting yet. Maybe he could convince Anko his blank canvas was an illustration of the blond's thought process.

"Shikamaru! Stop making Naruto squirm and just paint him already!" Anko called from the back of the room. Crap, she noticed. Shikamaru sighed and picked up his brush to start painting the boy. After getting his general shape down Shikamaru began looking for details to add to the painting when one detail in particular caught his eye.

"Naruto… Why do you have a hickey?" As far as he knew, Naruto didn't have a girlfriend.

The tips of Naruto's ears burnt red as his hand went immediately to cover his neck. "Eheheh. I don't know what you're talking about Shika."

Man, Naruto's a terrible liar, Shikamaru thought. "I'm talking about the red spot on your neck Naruto, don't be an idiot.

"Oh, um. So you see, I was vacuuming and then there was this spider web in the corner so I got out the little tube thing so I could suck it up but, um, but… a spider! Yeah, a spider attacked so I dropped the tube thing and I fell on the floor and it attached to my neck and now it looks like a hickey. But it isn't."

"…Uh huh."

Naruto decided that lying wasn't working, and chose to take a more indirect method of avoiding the question: avoiding the topic.

"Are you trying out for the play?" Naruto asked out of the blue.

"No."

"Are you suuure? It's Shakespeare! You're smart, so you like Shakespeare, right?"

"It's Romeo and Juliet. I have no desire to be in a love story."

"Aw, you're so unromantic. It'd be fun!"

"No. It'd be troublesome."

"You're such a party pooper. You at least have to see the show, alright?"

Shikamaru let out a resigned sigh. Across the room, Ino was having a similar conversation with Hinata.

"You really should try out! It never hurts. And it's lots of fun! I could totally see you as Benvolio or Friar Lawrence."

"N-no thanks Ino. I don't like public speaking."

"Well you'll have to go see it then, a bunch of us are trying out, at least some of us will get in. I personally am certain I'll be Juliet!"

"No you won't pig! I'm Juliet!" Sakura called as she posed for Sai, who was disgruntled at the fact that he couldn't paint Ino. She noticed a small tub of paint balanced precariously on top of Ino's canvas and was about to warn her when Ino responded.

"Pfft. I don't remember Shakespeare ever saying Juliet had a three mile wide forehead!" Ino called back.

Maybe Ino didn't need warnings after all.

"Yeah, well, Shakespeare didn't mention Juliet being covered in purple paint either."

"Huh?"

Sakura giggled as the paint that had been on the verge of tipping over finally fell on her friend.

oOoOo

"Oh, Neji! What a wonderfully joyous springtime day this is! To be young and in LOVE!" Lee gushed. After months of Neji and Temari flirting, Lee had finally noticed it.

"Shut up." Neji's face was burning. "I'm not in love."

"No, it's just an adorable schoolyard crush isn't it Neji?" TenTen chirped.

"Not helping," Neji hissed.

"A crush! Alas, my dear friend! You suffer from unrequited love!" Tears gushed like rivers down Lee's face. "Worry not! I shall make the beauteous Temari fall for you a hundred times, or I will run around KHS two hundred times!"

"What are you, practicing for the play?" Neji asked.

"Lee's actually got a point there. You've been flirting since September and it's already January. It's about time you actually started getting somewhere, don't you think?"

He sighed. "I would already be somewhere, if it weren't for her brother."

The two were fighting a secret war. About a week after the sand trio arrived, pictures of Neji in his pharaoh costume mysteriously found themselves all over the school bulletin boards. Not long after, Kankuro's puppet show had become incredibly popular on YouTube.

Of course, this backfired on Neji, because apparently Kankuro was such a good puppeteer he was hired by the local community theatre. Neji had received three tickets for his show in the mail, which were promptly torn up. He felt guilty though after finding out they were sent by Gaara. Hinata and Hanabi had wanted to see it, and Hanabi had planned on bringing Inari. They still got to go, but Neji had to buy the tickets.

Neji encouraged Lee to get Kankuro to assist him in French demonstrations.

Kankuro told Gai Neji didn't always understand what he meant in French, causing Gai to "help" Neji in ten one-on-one sessions.

Neji stole Kankuro's face paint.

Kankuro cut an inch off of Neji's hair.

Neji's eye twitched. That had been going too far. You could ruin his dignity, you could make him spend money, you could even lock him with Gai. But god help you if you cut his hair.

"Right. Kankuro. What are you going to do to get back at him?" TenTen asked.

Neji grinned. "What I should've done in the first place. Date Temari."

oOoOo

Some things, as it turned out, were easier said than done. Neji spotted her in the library, reading Romeo and Juliet.

"You like Shakespeare?" Neji asked as he sat next to her.

"Nah. Not really. Romeo and Juliet is the exception. I heard it was going to be the winter play and thought I'd reread it again." Temari responded without taking her eyes off the page.

"Are you trying out?"

"Yeah, of course. I've always wanted to be Juliet. Are you?"

"Nah, acting isn't really my thing." He took a breath to compose himself. This was the moment. "Hey, Temari, I was wondering if you'd like to go ou—"

"No."

Neji's jaw dropped. "W-why?"

Temari set down the book. "Look Neji, you're cute, and I know you like me, but you aren't what I'm looking for in a guy. You're cool and all, but I'm more into the passionate type. Like him." She pointed to the portrait of Romeo on the cover of her book.

Neji couldn't believe it. Did I just lose to a fictional character? He was about to give up. As wonderful as Temari was, he really wouldn't liken himself to Romeo. Well. Kankuro would be happy.

Kankuro.

The thought of Kankuro's smug face at knowing he'd been rejected.

Neji's determination returned in full force. He grabbed a copy of Romeo and Juliet. She wanted Romeo? He'd be Romeo. When are those damn play tryouts? he thought.

oOoOo

AN: Okay. I have good news and bad news. Let's start with the bad news first.

BAD NEWS: I'm going on vacation. How is that bad? It isn't really, not for me anyway. But we're going camping. Which means no electricity, no computers, no internet, and, most importantly, NO UPDATES. For about a week. Sorry, working on the next chapter is my first project once I get home, I promise.

GOOD NEWS: I'm currently plotting out and writing two new stories. :D Yeah, not that exciting, but I'm happy. One is an idea I've had for almost a year and yes Adell, the other is that KabuxHina I promised you. I've put up breif summaries on my profile. Feel free to tell me what you think. I'm really looking forwards to writing them, but don't worry, this is my first fanfic and therefore my first priority until it is done! After vacation of course.

I absolutely love all of your reviews, thank you! See you all in a week!