And there they were. Standing before Lady Tsunade, the fifth Hokage. He just finished assigning an outrageous mission to them. After she finished explaining it, the two were left standing there in shock.
"Tsunade-sama..." Neji's eyebrow twitched.
"Yes?" She responded.
"You're joking right?"
To the right of Neji was his cousin, Hinata, who was also trapped in shock from the explanation.
"Neji, do I seem like a woman who would kid you?"
Hinata played with her long silky hair nervously.
Tsunade cleared her throat. "Anyway, you two don't have a choice. I'm assigning this mission to you, and you will complete it. I know you're very capable, especially when you two are put together. you're the perfect duo."
"Wait so let me run through this one more time..." Neji stopped her. "You want us to travel to the sand village, sneak into the rogue's inn, convince them we're newlyweds, catch them in the act of slave trading, arrest them, and bring them back here?"
"Exactly." She agreed unphased.
"We can do that without having to go undercover! We'll just need back up." Neji retorted.
"Idiot. If we had back up, do you think I'd be asking for your help?"
"Still..! We're cousins. Nonetheless Hyuuga's. It will too be suspicious that we look too much alike and our eyes give it away."
"If any questions are asked, just tell them your family intermarries in order to keep the bloodline pure, and the eyes aren't a problem we've worked everything out. Do you think I'd randomly hand you a mission without thinking everything through?"
"And what would Hiashi-sama say about this?"
"As far as Mr. Hyuuga is concerned he's not your problem. Like I've said, we've got everything under control."
"Neji I will not argue with you any longer. You're going undercover with Hinata whether you like it or not and that's final!" She threw a stack of papers loudly on her desk to shut him up. "Now, you better go home and start packing. You leave tomorrow morning for The Isago Kimu Inn in the Sand Village at dawn."
The two gasped in disbelief. "Tomorrow morning? That only gives us half the day to prepare." Neji objected her.
"How many times must I repeat myself?"
Neji bowed his head. "I'm very sorry Tsunade-sama..."
"Good. Now go home. I had my men send you the supplies you'll need on your journey. Put your leaf headbands on my desk."
The two untie their headbands and place them on her desk.
"Now, I pronounce you, husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Kakitsubata"
The two bow formally. "Thank you very much, 5th Hokage." They take their leave, both obviously reluctant of this mission.
Outside lady tsunade's office, the both of them stand there, being strangled by the awkward atmosphere. Neji cleared his throat. "Come. Let's go back." He walked ahead of Hinata, too troubled to walk beside her.
"Right." She followed behind him, the perfect duo keeping their distance.
"Kakitsubata huh...? She purposely named us after Irises." Neji sighed out.
"I heard that's what they named the mission... Kokuei No Kakitsubata. For, 'An Iris's Silhouette'." Hinata responded, trying to make the conversation less awkward. "A pretty name for a criminal mission, don't you agree?"
"... Yeah." Neji said unpleased.
Hinata could feel the uneasiness between them. She hid in her shoulders, just like she used to three years ago. 'He's still angry about this mission... Is it... Is it because of me?' She thought self consciously.
Back at the Hyuuga household, Hinata finished packing and decided to go over to Neji's room to see how he was doing. She knocked on his door, slightly hesitant. "Neji nii-sama?"
"Come in." He called out to her. Hinata slid the door open and let herself in. "I'm finished packing, and I was hoping after you we're finished we could maybe rehearse..."
"Rehearse?" He was looking through the supplies Lady Tsunade had sent them. Food and water for their trip, vacation yutaka's for the inn, matching sleeping wear, extra clothes for the week, wedding bands, towels, and... Eye contacts. Go figure. there was also a scroll there, giving permission to arrest the rogues once they caught them in action.
"Yeah, like, just in case we meet someone who questions us. Like where we first met, our first date, if we have any children... our first kiss..." She mumbled out.
"Ah-" He froze, then scrambled to put his things down. "-Alright. Take a seat somewhere. After this we should go over the supplies Tsunade-sama sent us."
"R-right... So, what do you want to discuss first?" She sat down in front of him, mentally waving away the awkwardness.
"Uh- Let's start off with the answers first, like you suggested. Where did we first meet?" He still had a hard time registering the fact that they were actually talking about this.
"Hmm..." Hinata shuffled her shoulders nervously. "Since we're still posing as cousins, I think we should have first met at your family's house. Maybe for an arranged marriage?"
"That's pretty basic. I like the idea."
"Me too." She smiled. "Our first date?"
"Since it's an arranged marriage, I think it would only make sense that we had arranged meetings set up by our parents as well."
Hinata nodded in agreement. "And... Was it love at first sight?" It slipped out. She was thinking it, but she didn't want to actually say it! "Ah-I mean-!"
"C-Change of subject..." He interrupted her. "I was also wondering if we should use our real first names for this mission."
"Change our first names? I guess that would be good too... Well in that case, You can call me, 'Hina-san'." She smiled at him, playing with her fingers again.
"T-that could work... But, we're a married couple.-Or- are going to be one. Would we need to add 'san' after our names?"
"They use formalities in a lot of arranged marriages.. Don't they?"
"Alright. Then, what should my name be?"
"Well... Neji is too short to shorten even more... What if we changed your name to something with the word strong in it...?"
"Strong? Why strong?"
"Cause'... You are...?" Her face converted from white to red.
"Erh- You think so..? Hinata-sama is pretty strong too actually..."
"I dunno about that..." She looked up at him with her beautiful pale eyes.
"Thats' what your name should be. Kenjou-san. For strong fortress. It makes sense doesn't it?"
"Maybe to you." Neji crossed his arms to think about it.
"Oh. Then maybe it isn't a good name." She tilted her head to her knees, feeling even more insecure.
"But I like it. So i'll go with it." He smirked at her confidently. "One thing you have to remember, Hinata-sama, is that you can't be shy around these people. Any self hate towards yourself could screw up the mission."
"R-right..." She nodded. "So, our names are now Kakitsubata Hina, and Kakitsubata Kenjou. What next?"
"... Behavior but; we don't have too..." He scratched the side of his face. He didn't want to make Hinata awkward. Especially with a guy she didn't truly love.
"N-no. I think we should. If we're posing as a couple. We may as well behave like one, right?"
"I agree. We'll have plenty of time to practice while we travel to the Sand Village. And... About sleeping in the same bed... I'll sleep on the floor."
"No, it's okay. I'll sleep on the floor if you're uncomfortable sleeping with me."
"It's not that I'm uncomfortable..!" He put his hand over his face, trying to contain himself. "It's just... Inappropriate."
Hinata couldn't help but think bad things about herself with how he was reacting to their discussion. 'He really doesn't like me. Is it because I'm weak? Is it because he think's I'm sickening? What if we fail this mission because of me?'
Neji blinked at her when he noticed how much she was trying to hide her thoughts. "Hinata-sama?"
"Neji nii-sama... Do you hate me?"
Neji jumped. "W-where'd you get that idea!?"
She sat there in silence, not wanting to respond or give her opinion. She didn't want to make him any angrier at her, even though that wasn't the case.
Neji sighed. "I don't hate you. I just want you to have the proper respect you deserve. We'll sleep in the same bed and act as if we're in love on this mission, but afterwards, you should only do those things with the person you really love. Okay?"
Hinata smiled at him. "Okay. I promise." Then she noticed. Without his leaf headband, his cursed mark is revealed. "Uhm... How are you going to hide that?" She pointed at his forehead.
"Oh. I have that covered as well." He pulled out a black headband with a white rim and tied it around his head. "I'll be wearing this for the majority of the trip. The only time I'll be able to take it off is when we go to sleep."
Hinata nodded in agreement. "Oh-! I also think we should wear our hair up for a change."
"You're really... Into this aren't you?" He gave her an uninspired look.
Neji finished packing up and stood to his feet. "We'll discuss the rest tomorrow. It's getting late, and we need our rest. We leave at dawn."
"Right." Hinata stood up as well, exiting his room. "Goodnight Neji nii-sa- I mean, Goodnight, Kenjou-san."
"You too, Hina-san."
The both part, Hinata returning to the main branch's household. Both barely able to sleep, they lay there, and think about the dawn. And how they are going to handle this clandestine engagement of the Irises. Will they fail? Or will they succeed?