Unspoken Rules

Chapter 4


Konoha Shinobi (Unspoken) Rule #3: Never touch anything that belongs to Hatake Kakashi (otherwise known as The Copy Nin, Man of a Thousand Jutsu and Sharingan Kakashi).

Konoha Shinobi Rule #14: Never jump to conclusions. Careful observation alone might be misleading. Only believe information given firsthand or based on fact.


Umino Iruka swore as the ridiculous amount of file folders and scrolls in his hands refused to cooperate. He had nearly dropped everything twice in an effort to put it all away in its proper place which was, unfortunately, the top shelf. He wondered why he got to do it when Izumo and Kotetsu were obviously taller than him, but then he remembered the short straw he had pulled beforehand and proceeded to curse his two coworkers that had played hookey and left him on his own in the mission room.

“Excuse me,” a familiar voice greeted and Iruka had to strain his neck to turn and see who it was. He was somewhat relieved to see Hyuuga Neji by the door. Maybe he could rope his former student -- who had also become taller than him, he noted dejectedly -- into helping him somehow.

“Ah, Neji. Hold on a minute,” Iruka said while dramatically trying to heave his load in desperation, grunting for the sake of performance. “Could you help me for a bit here?”

Neji walked over quietly and started to take some of the load from the poor man, placing it on the indicated shelf. Of course, as luck would have it, their quiet collaboration didn’t progress too well.

Some scrolls rolled off onto the floor, so Neji crouched to pick them up. Iruka stepped back for a bit to give the young jounin some space… and promptly stepped on one of the scrolls that had fallen. And chuunin ninja or not, stepping on a cylindrical object when walking backwards was not a healthy thing to do.

Granted, Iruka wasn’t an academy sensei for nothing. He had good enough reflexes to ground his other leg and switch his weight completely on to it to prevent falling. However, crouching in front of him was a jounin, one who was well renowned for his speed and reflexes, therefore probably ten times faster than his academy sensei self.

So before Iruka’s reflexes kicked in, Neji’s faster ones took care of the situation by making him grab whatever part of Iruka was handy to prevent the older man from falling on his ass. Seeing as he was crouching, said ass was exactly the part his hands seized firmly along with Iruka’s hips.

The poor Hyuuga didn’t know what happened, just that he was suddenly trapped in a flurry of claws and teeth, desperately protecting his face with his hands while Iruka panicked.

“Whoa, stop! Down! Heel! Damn it, how- No! Stop! Shit, Neji, just run!”

Neji didn’t need to be told twice.


A few moments later, a wounded and tattered Hyuuga Neji was sitting in a nice, two-bedroom apartment, glaring for all his worth at the laughing occupant of said apartment. The effect of that famous Hyuuga glare was extremely stunted by his half naked state, which was adorned with scratches and bite marks here and there.

“It’s not funny!” he yelled. Shikamaru just laughed harder, cotton wad and bottle of alcohol clutched in each hand. Finally Neji huffed in frustration and made to grab the items from his friend so he could just take care of his wounds on his own. Shikamaru sobered up. Or, at least, he tried to.

“Okay, okay,” chortle, “sorry,” snort, “here, let me-” guffaw. Neji groaned. At this rate, his wounds would probably be infected by the time Shikamaru finished rolling on the floor.


“Ahaha, yeah, heheh, hold on, I’ll get the ones on your back.”

“It’s not that funny,” Neji tried again, lips pursing. If Shikamaru didn’t know better, he’d say the older jounin was pouting.

“Sorry,” the Nara said as he went back to sterilizing his friend’s wounds. Really, he mused, Neji should have waited until he was finished before telling him what happened. It was freaking hilarious. “I just can’t believe that you, the fierce Hyuuga Neji, got chased out by a pack of dogs for groping Iruka-sensei.”

“I didn’t grope him,” Neji growled. “I grabbed his hips.”

“And his ass,” Shikamaru added with another chuckle.

“I didn’t mean to! What, you think I should’ve just let him fall?” Neji retorted. “And could you be a bit gentle back there? It hurts, damn it!”

“Okay, okay. Sheesh, don’t take it out on me. I didn’t sic a pack of nin-dogs on you.”

“Yeah, well, you might as well have,” Neji grumbled. “And seriously, what kind of a maniac would put a trap jutsu, a summoning trap jutsu, on somebody’s person?”

“That would be me,” a voice suddenly chimed in. Kakashi was perched comfortably on a window, an orange book titled Icha Icha Combat in one hand, staring at Neji.

Neji was about to say something when suddenly a Nara symbol blocked his view as Shikamaru stood between him and the window. The tension was so thick, Neji could cut it with a kunai. What the hell?

Then a knock came from the door.

After a few seconds of silence, another knock came with Iruka’s voice asking, “Shikamaru? Is Neji there with you?”

There was another few seconds of silence before Iruka decided to let himself in.

“Ah, there you are. Are you alright?” Iruka saw Kakashi at the window. “Kakashi! Good, you’re here already. Well? Have you apologized yet?”

Just like that, the tension was gone. Shikamaru went to the kitchen quietly, probably getting his impromptu guests some refreshments, Kakashi jumped in with a disgruntled look and Iruka stepped further inside to check on poor Neji.

“I’m fine, Iruka-sensei. They’re all minor,” said the young Hyuuga, swiftly scooting aside on the couch before Iruka could touch him. If accidentally touching Iruka resulted in injuries, who knows what could happen when the man touches you while you’re half naked?

Iruka settled with a cursory look over the young jounin and proceeded to glare at Kakashi, arms folded and one foot tapping impatiently. Shikamaru, waltzing in with drinks in his hands, thought Iruka looked everything like an angry wife but wisely kept his comments to himself.

“Well, Kakashi?” Iruka was still glaring expectantly at Kakashi. The older man just stood there, obviously not wanting to do what Iruka had told him to while Shikamaru puttered around setting drinks on the table before sitting down on the couch armrest and lighting up a cigarette.

Neji decided to try and wrap up the whole thing. “It’s okay, really, I-”

“No, it’s not okay,” Iruka cut him off with an infuriated sigh. “I’ve told Kakashi many times that the trap is dangerous.”

“Well it wouldn’t have been activated if he’d touched you anywhere innocent,” Kakashi grumped in a useless attempt to justify himself.

“He was only trying to help!”

“He grabbed your ass!”

Smoke came out in random puffs from Shikamaru’s mouth as he guffawed without a sound, one hand covering his eyes. Neji pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. This was getting ridiculous.

“Kakashi!” Iruka roared.

“What?!” Kakashi snarled back, which he regretted as soon as he saw the look on Iruka’s face. It clearly said, ‘You will apologize or you can forget about anything even remotely sexual for the next two weeks.’

“Fine,” sighed the Copy Nin finally. He turned to Neji and lackadaisically said, “I apologize,” before turning back to Iruka with a huff. “There. Happy?”

Iruka shook his head in dismay. The young man was nearly mangled to death for nothing but trying to do a good deed, he deserved more than a half-assed apology, damn it! He turned to Neji with a pleading look. “Neji, I am so sorry.”

The young Hyuuga nodded. “It’s alright, Sensei. I understand.”

“No, I have to make it up to you somehow.”

Neji would rather go jump in a lake than deal with this much longer. “No, no. It’s okay. Seriously. I’m fine. You don't have to-”

“Yes, we do,” the teacher ground with a meaningful glance at Kakashi, who was innocently drinking from his glass, comfortably seated on a beanbag, face somehow unseen. “We should at least buy you dinner or something- Oh, right! We’re having dinner tonight at my place with Genma and Raidou. You should join us.”

“Thank you, Sensei, but I really don’t think-”

“No. Please. I feel really bad about this, I have to do something.”

While Neji and Iruka countered each other back and forth, Shikamaru’s brain was automatically computing the possibilities of the near future, meticulously adding the ‘Genma’ factor into each equation. Of the whole two hundred, one possibility stood out as the most dreadful. And with his luck, his brain calculated, that one possibility was about to happen right about…

“-in fact, Shikamaru should also join us.”

…now. The tactical genius took a deep, deep drag of his cigarette.

Neji, blind to the one hundred or so possibilities in Shikamaru’s brain that would have made him run to the furthest corner of the earth if he’d seen them, decided to agree if only to shut Iruka up and be done with it. “Fine, fine. We’ll come to dinner.”

“Good. Come over at seven,” Iruka concluded with a bright smile before turning to his lover. “Come on, Kakashi.”

And just like that, the two older shinobi were out from Shikamaru’s apartment and well on their way to their own shared one. Meanwhile, the two young jounin left shared a look where it was somehow pointed out that Shikamaru didn’t like his new dinner plan.

“Stop looking at me like that, Nara,” Neji grumped. “It was either that or declining the invitation in more ways than I could ever imagine for the next hour.”

Shikamaru huffed, smoke bursting out of his mouth. “Why did you have to drag me along? You could’ve just said ‘yes’ from the beginning.”

The older jounin scowled. “I don’t do dinners.”

His friend raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean? You have dinner with your family all the time.”

“Yes, but dinner with my family is… different,” Neji paused. “Formal… somehow. There’s little or no conversation, and the atmosphere is always strained. I always feel awkward at friendly dinners- Which is why I almost never go to one.”

“Hn,” Shikamaru grunted. “And you think bringing me along will make things better?”

“They’re your friends. At least with you there I can just eat quietly while you joke around with them like you usually do.”

“What do you mean they’re my friends? You know them as well as I do.”

“Yes, but I don’t drink with Kakashi-san and/or Genma-san as often, and even then it was always with you and I was never exactly an active participant in your imprudent discourse.”

Shikamaru nearly snorted at the words ‘imprudent discourse’, suddenly reminded that his best friend came from a noble family, but he sensibly kept quiet as Neji went on, “And while the conversations are more fulfilling, I don’t have lunch or tea or chat in the Hokage building with Iruka-sensei and/or Raidou-san if I wasn’t with you.”

The younger jounin didn’t like where this was going. Listening to a Hyuuga feeling sorry for himself was just too surreal. “That doesn’t mean they’re not your friends.”

Neji chuckled. “I know. It’s what I wanted. While you let people approach you, I prefer to be left alone. And it's not like I complain about it.”

“Well, whatever floats your boat,” settled Shikamaru while putting out his cigarette in an ashtray and starting to clean up.

Neji wasn’t satisfied. “Hey, what about you? You’re about as enthusiastic about this dinner thing as I am. What’s your excuse?”

Shikamaru sighed on his way to the kitchen, empty glasses in his hands. “They’re couples. What do you think my excuse is?”

Neji laughed as he followed his friend. “So you’ve had dinner with them before?”

Shikamaru rolled his eyes. “Let me see,” he said while starting to wash a glass. “The first time I came alone and even though they always include me in their conversation, I still felt like a fifth wheel all night.”

The older jounin snorted and Shikamaru continued, “The second time I came with this girl I was dating and she dumped me the next day.”

Neji laughed so hard he nearly fell from the stool he was sitting on.

“The third time I came with a guy I was dating and he kept bugging Kakashi with maniacal worship, even after Kakashi finally gave him an autograph, so I dumped him the next day.”

This time Neji did fall. Shikamaru just shook his head at the recollection as he put away the clean glasses.

“Ahaha, wait, hold on,” Neji said as he tried to get up. “Which guy was this?”

“It was that blonde chuunin who asked me out in the mission room.”

“Oh, I remember him,” Neji laughed again. “So that’s why you dumped him.”

“Yeah,” Shikamaru sighed. “I just don’t get why they keep inviting me. I know Kakashi’s been watching over me on the sly ever since Asuma died, which means so is Iruka. I can’t figure out the other two though, other than the fact that I get partnered with Genma most of the time. I don’t know, maybe those guys are a package deal or something.”

“Or maybe they just like you,” Neji said with a smirk.

Shikamaru snorted. “Can’t see what’s so likable about me,” he said while grabbing a drink from the refrigerator. “Anyway, finally I just asked them to count me out if they’re having dinner together and they did. Although they did say I’m welcome to join them anytime I feel like it, especially now that we live in the same building.”

“Well then, that just proves the point that it’ll be better with you there instead of just me.”



Meanwhile, in the apartment just next door, another conversation had also ensued. It involved a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing Genma, a wheezing Raidou, a glaring Iruka and an unhappy Kakashi. How Genma and Raidou had gotten there so fast was no mystery, seeing as they lived just across the hall.

Yes, dear readers, this happened to be the most notorious apartment building in Konoha where no delivery service would… well, service. It just wasn’t worth the psychiatric bills they had to keep reimbursing to their traumatized employees.

“I can’t believe you actually put a trap-” Genma had to pause as laughter burst out of him again, “-on Iruka’s ass!”

“I did not.” Kakashi was indignant. “I also put it on his groin.”

Genma and Raidou guffawed even louder. Iruka became even more infuriated.

“Nin-dogs!” Raidou whimpered between his chortles. “It summons his nin-dogs when activated! Ahahaha- haha- ahaha-”

“Stop it! All of you!” the sensei admonished menacingly. “Raidou! Genma! I didn’t drag you two from across the hall just so you could laugh! And you! Kakashi! I'm not done with you. After this mess is sorted out and we apologize to Neji properly, we will talk.”

The famous Sharingan Kakashi looked the other way and… sulked.

“Okay then,” Raidou offered while wiping his tears. “Why did you drag us here?”

“We have two additional guests tonight,” answered Iruka. “I need more supplies from your refrigerator.”

“Oh? Who’s coming?” Genma asked. “It’d better not be Anko, Gai or Ebisu. I swear-”

“No,” Iruka huffed as if offended that he would even entertain such idea. “It’s Shikamaru and Neji. Dinner is the least I can offer as an apology to them.”

“Alright!” Genma beamed happily.

Raidou smiled at his lover’s gusto. After many ANBU away missions with Shikamaru, Genma had really took a liking to the young strategist, particularly his laidback manner and open-minded attitude. It had come to the extent where Genma truly cared about Shikamaru’s wellbeing and personal life, especially since even when he was thirteen, he was already the deadliest, most efficient ANBU Reserve Genma had ever seen. That was just not normal, and Genma took it upon himself to make sure Shikamaru was kept sane.

Kakashi was a different matter. Asuma and Kurenai were also their close friends before Asuma had died. Since then, Kakashi had taken it upon himself to watch over Asuma’s former students. Then he saw Shikamaru in action first hand, and witnessed the burden Tsunade had put on the young genius’ shoulder by making him Konoha’s War Leader, and well, let’s just say that Shikamaru became first priority alongside his own three former students. Besides, Shikamaru was the only one with wits sharp enough to match his. Not that he ever told Shikamaru any of this.

However, while Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Chouji and Ino remained kids they needed to protect and care for in their minds, Shikamaru had somehow become an equal along the road. They unconsciously considered him a buddy. A much younger buddy, but a buddy nonetheless.

Alas, the young Nara turned out to be a closet introvert. Shikamaru could drink and talk with them all night, even playing the active part in their banter, without divulging any deeper or more personal information about himself. Inviting Shikamaru to join their somewhat-routine-but-not-really dinners hadn’t really worked out either. Needless to say, Genma and Kakashi were not only curious; they were also unable to stop worrying about their young friend. And when somebody became important enough for Genma and Kakashi to make them worry, that somebody became important for Raidou and Iruka too.

Hell, they were the ones who convinced Shikamaru to take the apartment next to Kakashi and Iruka’s once they heard the young enigma was thinking about moving out of his parents’ house permanently and that his tiny bachelor pad won’t do. The former occupant of said apartment wasn’t even dead a week, but who cared about such details anyway?

“Sure thing,” Raidou said to Iruka. “What do you need?”

“Well,” Iruka pondered. “More sake, that’s fore sure. I could use more vegetables if you have them- but no eggs though, I think. Shikamaru hates boiled eggs, right Kakashi?”

There was no answer.


The man in question remained quiet, apparently still too busy sulking. Iruka sighed while rubbing his temple as he felt a headache coming. Genma and Raidou snickered.

Finally Raidou took pity on the chuunin and said, “Okay then, just make a list and we’ll go get whatever we can scrounge for you.”

“Yeah,” Iruka said tiredly. “I’ll go do that.”

“You know,” Genma said with a grin. “I can’t wait to see how they interact. I mean, Shikamaru never told us anything about his relationship with that boring Hyuuga kid and they never act like a couple, ever.”

“That’s because they’re not,” a voice suddenly piped in. Three people snapped their attention to Kakashi -- who was still not facing them, by the way.

“Hey, you’re supposed to be sulking!” Genma pointed out. Everyone just ignored him.

“What do you mean, they’re not? You were the one who told us about how Shikamaru’s couch smelled like sex when you visited after Hyuuga Neji had just left.” Raidou proffered.

“They’re just friends with benefits,” rebuffed the Copy-Nin, still refusing to face them.

Iruka rolled his eyes. “Oh, please. It’s really obvious. Especially after today.”

“Aha!” Genma exclaimed dramatically. “Enlighten us if you will, Sensei.”

Iruka snorted. “Neji, the Hyuuga ‘I’m so superior I don’t need anybody’s help’ Neji, went directly to Shikamaru’s apartment. What does that say to you?”

“That it was either his best-friend-slash-fuck-buddy’s place or the hospital?” Kakashi answered calmly and finally turned around. “Or worse, the Hyuuga compound?”

Raidou chuckled. “Good point.”

“Okay, I’ll give you that one.” Iruka smirked. “But I saw the way Shikamaru stood between you and Neji. He had ‘touch him and I kill you’ written all over him! That’s not something you usually see on Shikamaru.”

Kakashi’s one visible eye arched as he smiled. “Funny, I thought it was ‘spill blood on my new carpet and I kill you’, and that’s exactly something you’d see on Shikamaru after the last three months.”

All three tokubetsu jounin and one chuunin shuddered at the memories that statement had evoked. When Shikamaru had moved in three months ago, the carpeting was adorned here and there by what he described as ‘troublesome suspicious stains’ which he never failed to complain about everyday to everyone until he managed to change the carpeting two days ago.

The look on Kakashi’s face turned smug upon seeing the reaction. “I rest my case.”

“I still think they’re a couple,” Iruka pressed on. “They’ve been close for years. It’s only natural for them to take that step once they acknowledge their feelings for one another.”

Genma laughed. “Okay, I’m no romantic like our Sensei here, but I agree with him. The amount of time they spend together is just too much, even for both shougi and sex. There has to be something else.”

Iruka glared at him, but Raidou spoke before Iruka could say anything. “Shikamaru hasn’t been dating at all this past year. Even before that he only dated occasionally, and none grew into a real relationship. I think he’s already been dating Hyuuga Neji for a year now, which means the relationship is serious.”

“You guys are just making too much of things,” Kakashi grumped petulantly.

“No, he has a point.” Genma became contemplative. “Those few occasional lovers he’d had were known to us. He told us about them, and sometimes even let us meet them. This stuck-up Hyuuga though, Shikamaru never said anything about him or their relationship. Not a thing. Shit, this is serious.”

“No, it’s not!” Kakashi disapproved heatedly. This, naturally, made his lover and two friends stared at him like he had grown a second head.

“Kakashi,” Iruka instigated carefully. “Why are you so upset about this?”

“I’m not,” he answered with a huff. “You guys are wrong, that’s all.”

Although their curiosity kept them in place instead of away from the room like any civilized friends should be in this kind of situation, Genma and Raidou remained quiet. Meanwhile, something just clicked in Iruka’s head.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” he asked with wonder. “It’s not about Neji activating your trap, and it’s not about having to apologize either. It’s about those things I saw, which now I’m sure you saw too. You’re upset about his relationship with Shikamaru.”

“No, I’m not. There’s no relationship to be upset about in the first place.”

“And denial is a river in Egypt,” snorted Genma. Raidou elbowed him.

“Kakashi,” Iruka tried again with a worried look. “Why?”

Umino Iruka’s version of a worried look should’ve been patented. It had the ability to bring even the most hardened shinobi and kunoichi to their knees. In fact, it was known to be the most effective weapon against the rage of a certain nine-tailed monster currently inhabiting a young jounin named Uzumaki Naruto. As it was, it only took all of three seconds to make the famous Hatake Kakashi cave and blab his insecurities.

“Hyuuga Neji is a good person, a superb shinobi, and possibly the only one that can fully understand Shikamaru,” he began wearily. “But you three dismissed the fact that he’s Hyuuga Neji. You know, Hyuuga? As in, the strongest noble clan in Konoha? The one that arranges marriages between its members to preserve their bloodline? The one that prohibits romantic relationships outside the clan?”

Iruka’s eyes widened while Raidou rubbed his chin in thought saying, “You’re right. I forgot about that.”

“Yeah, all of you forgot one other thing though.” Genma smiled smugly. “You don’t actually think Shikamaru hadn’t thought of all those things Kakashi just said, do you? I may not know the guy’s psyche that well, but I do know he’s no romantic fool. I bet you one hundred ryou he’d already thought of more than ten countermeasures for this.”

“Double or nothing he won’t ask for help if anything happens,” Kakashi said in a bored tone, obviously already aware of the facts Genma had just stated. “Which is why I don’t particularly like this in the first place,” he glanced at Genma, “moron.”

“He~y,” Genma whined.

“Shut up, Genma. The man has a point,” Raidou scolded.

Kakashi continued, “So far Shikamaru had handled anything and everything thrown at him superbly. But what’s to say he’ll handle this just as well? We never managed to know his emotional boundaries. Besides, I know what it’s like to have things bigger than you on your shoulders at a young age. Soap opera politics are the last thing he needs right now.”

Genma scoffed. “You know, that’s exactly the problem with you geniuses. You think way too far ahead, and you end up making a big deal out of everything.”

“Better than being an idiot and not thinking at all,” Kakashi retorted casually.

“Did you just call me an idiot?”

Kakashi just gave him an ‘isn’t it obvious?’ look while Raidou calmly said, “I get what you’re saying, Kakashi. But it doesn’t change the fact that until Shikamaru decides otherwise, it has nothing to do with us.”

Genma was still miffed about being called an idiot. He glared at Kakashi and grumped, “Hmph, at least I didn’t plunge in to denial, which was just plain stupid if you ask me.”

“Well if you ask me, I’d say you’re both idiots,” Raidou stated coolly.

“Raidou~” Genma whined -- again -- while Kakashi promptly looked at Raidou.

“Alright, alright, enough about this already!” Iruka was too tired to think anymore, and he had dinner to prepare. “Look, we’ve concluded that they are indeed a couple. Whatever can happen probably will happen. Shikamaru has made it clear that it’s none of our business. Can we please just be happy for them and move on now?!”

The three jounins went quiet.

“Thank you!”


Meanwhile, in the -- newly carpeted -- apartment next door, two younger jounin kept sneezing; they began to suspect a flu outbreak in Konoha.

Sneeze. “Shit, you shouldn’t be running around when you have a cold, you idiot. Now you’ve contaminated my apartment.”

“I was fine until I came here, you jerk.” Sneeze. “Could you get me some tissue?”

“You go get them.” Sneeze. “And get some for me while you’re at it.”

“It’s your apartment.”

“Yeah, but you’re closer,” a pause as his friend finally stood up grumbling. “And be careful with your wounds. I don’t want any blood stain on the carpet.”





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