Unspoken Rules

Chapter 1


Konoha Shinobi (Unspoken) Rule #7: If you were outside of the Fire Country and you saw ANBU, you were either wrong or delusional. They weren't even there. Persistence in saying otherwise is suicide.


The mission was accomplished. The scroll he had stolen was safely tucked inside a large holster tied to his back. Danger was still imminent though. They had been running from their pursuers for three days now, him carrying his partner and taking care of her at every short stop he had taken when he had deigned it was safe enough. They were far from the border still, being hunted behind enemy lines.

Faulty information had led to a miscalculation in timing and predicting their enemy's security. The escape route they had decided to take after acquiring the scroll turned out to be swarming with guards. They had taken down more than twenty ninjas as they escaped, his partner heavily wounded.

Neji didn't need his Byakugan to know they were still being followed. With both his half-conscious partner and the scroll on his hands he hadn't been able to cover his tracks well enough. He was currently banking more on his speed and ability to see clearly within fifty meter radius than his finesse, hoping he'd save his chakra that way. He had had a good start ahead. If they did catch up to him, he would see them.

The young jounin from Konoha stopped with relief as he reached a river, knowing that they were now only half a day away from the border. His wounded partner wouldn't be able to manipulate chakra to cross the river even with him supporting her, so he opted to carry her in his arms instead. Half-aware, she murmured an apology. He just grunted.

He managed to take them across the river safely and decided to put his partner on the ground for a few seconds while he loosened the muscles in his arms for a bit. He gently set her down against a rock a few steps from the river. Stretching his arms and rolling his shoulder, he then went back to the water to wash his face. It was heavenly refreshing.

Then he saw them, seven chuunin level enemy ninjas closing in slowly from the other side of the river. They were still fifty meters away, but his colorless eyes had picked them up. Neji hurriedly stood up and made for his partner, but one of the enemies, a person with some strange goggles covering his eyes, had formed a seal.

Lightning crashed. Neji dodged it just in time, glad for the fact that it was a jutsu designed for long distance accuracy, very small in terms of damage. The blast on the ground was so small, not even the shockwave hit his partner. Neji's mind didn't miss the fact that his enemy had deliberately chosen to attack from such a distance, meaning they knew about his Byakugan. Of course. He hadn't had enough time to destroy the bodies. Most of them were killed by his Kaiten. His clan was the most famous in and out of Konoha.

Neji swore inwardly as he dodged more and more lightning bolts, mind whirling to come up with a semblance of tactical advantage. Then he realized he was now more than thirty feet away from his partner. The enemies were much too close. The young Hyuuga cursed his ignorance. That was their plan from the beginning, and he had fallen for it.

The seven ninjas reached the river and crossed to his side, one moving while shooting lightning bolts, keeping Neji from reaching his wounded partner if not making him even further away. True to his prediction, while he was still dodging lightning bolts, they had reached his side of the river and seized his partner. He was now fifty feet away.

Six ninjas stood between him and his partner while one held her in a chokehold, ready to snap her delicate neck once it was deemed necessary. The other six didn't come near enough for him to use Kaiten, and the few elemental jutsus he owned dealt too great a damage for him to use without injuring his partner behind them. Neji stood quietly, cold eyes scanning everything.

"Move a finger and I'll break her neck," the one holding his partner said.

Neji nodded without thinking. He knew the protocol. He knew he should just blast them all away along with his partner and finish the mission. She wouldn't blame him. She was older than him, a chuunin with infiltration skills. She knew the risks. But still... he couldn't. Neji snorted in his mind. Some genius jounin; couldn't even make the right decision. He didn't give up though. There must be something that could help their situation, something...

There. Something his Byakugan saw and none of his enemies did. Two ninjas. Traveling towards their position at high speed. Even with his Byakugan they were only shadows to him, flying gracefully from tree limb to tree limb. They came from the direction of the border. Konoha shinobis? Back up?

One of his enemies threw a kunai to sever the strap holding the scroll, slicing his shoulder quite deeply along with it. Neji didn't even flinch. The weight of the scroll left him as it fell to the ground, and the young jounin cursed his weakness even more.

The two traveling shinobis had stopped, remained hidden behind the tree line as they watched and assessed the situation before them. Byakugan could make out their features clearly now. Swords, light armor... animal masks. ANBU. One about as tall as him, a distinctly familiar ponytail on the top of his head; the other exceedingly taller with long, slender limbs.

Neji tried to calculate the odds. There was a slim probability, very slim, that Konoha had found out about the faulty intel and sent them to help. However, it was most likely that these two had nothing to do with his mission and just happened to pass that way on their own mission. If that were the case, they would be of no help. Indeed, they would probably annihilate every nin on that riverbank, Neji and his partner included.

Another one of his opponents stepped forward watchfully, probably to get the scroll behind him and move it a safe distance before his teammates blasted him to dust from where they stood. Neji's hands twitched, and the chokehold on his partner tightened. Fuck.

Then his superior sight caught a moving black line on the ground behind his enemies, a very thin thread surging forward with inconceivable speed. The next five seconds passed in a blur. The line on the ground connected with his partner's captor's shadow and Neji moved. Six enemy shinobis fell dead, chakra paths shattered. The young Hyuuga was ten times faster than them after all. And as their slaughterer reached the last one, the target was already on the ground, eyes rolled back and tongue lolled out, an unrecognizable strangulation mark on his neck.

Neji took a deep breath, relieved when his Byakugan saw nothing else within its large vision perimeter. He crouched down to check on his pale, half-conscious partner. There was no additional damage other than the wounds and effect of blood loss that had beset her from before. Two shadows seemingly flurried across the river and something flew towards him. The tired jounin caught it effortlessly as the two shadows disappeared in to the forest on the other side.

Standard issue med-pack. How... uncharacteristic of them. But of course, knowing the one who had breached protocol and helped him, one particular chuunin who was widely known as a lazy bum yet willing to do anything to help fellow Konoha shinobis, Neji supposed it wasn't all that shocking. He still had enough to redress his partner's wounds one more time before reaching Konoha, but he was grateful for the offering nonetheless. He now had more than enough to also tend to his shoulder.

Bodies destroyed with standard procedure, scroll re-strapped to his back and partner supported by his good shoulder, Hyuuga Neji continued his journey home. This mission was full of surprises, and he wasn't thinking about the faulty intel or the fact that he had nearly failed. The biggest surprise was finding out that not only was one of Konoha's urban legends was really a fact; one of his peers was actually a part of it.

Konoha doesn't send ANBU on away missions. After all, sending your most elite ninja force to another country is an act of war, especially since said elite force wasn't built for trade in the first place. They guard both their hidden village and country in ways no other shinobis are trained for, espionage and the like. They have regular operatives and reserve ones, people who function as regular chuunin or jounin and only don their ANBU uniform when called for.

The rumors, however, were entirely different. Legend had it ANBU Reserve was only the official term. Unofficially, they were the ANBU Away Team, operatives sent on highly classified, highly sensitive missions. Missions that both the client and Konoha couldn't afford to be associated with. Missions that, officially, never existed. Apparently, to Neji's astonishment, those rumors weren't rumors at all. Not that he would tell anyone.

His report would simply say he had neutralized all enemy attempts of retrieving the scroll. There was no hostage situation and, most importantly, no ANBU. Being the strict, unemotionally candid jounin that he was, Neji couldn't help but smirk ironically at the necessity of such deception and his own willingness to do it.


                 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Shikamaru/Neji ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 2



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