Unspoken Rules

Chapter 7


Konoha Shinobi (Unspoken) Rule #12: If an enemy of your enemy is a friend, then a friend of your love interest is an even better friend.


It was a quiet night at the Akimichi compound, particularly in the room of Akimichi Chouji, who was currently cleaning his weapons while not munching on chips. Will wonders ever cease?

The fleshy clan heir had to stop when a knock came from his window. His eyes widened upon seeing Hyuuga Neji perched outside. He quickly flipped the window open and let the older shinobi in.

"Neji?" Chouji asked with a worried look. After all, it's not everyday a Hyuuga would come knocking on the window in the middle of the night. "Did something happen?"

"You can say that," Neji sighed.

"Sit down," Chouji ordered while grabbing a bag of chips from his desk. "This doesn't look good. Is it Shikamaru?"

Neji gave him a questioning look. "How did you know?"

The chubby shinobi opened his bag of chips and snorted, "What else would you need my help with? I know I'm not as smart as you two but that doesn't mean I'm stupid."

"I know that," Neji said with a small smile.

"So, what gives?" asked Chouji, already chewing his chips.

Neji swept back his hair in a frustrated gesture. "I can't find him."

Chouji waited for more, looking at the Hyuuga intently. When nothing else came he decided to do some urging. "And you have to find him because...?"

"I need to apologize," Neji said succinctly, unwilling to disclose what had happened. "And don't say his apartment. He's not there."

"What did you do that would make it this urgent? You do realize it's late, don't you?"

"Look," Neji sighed, rubbing his face with both hands. "Let's just say I screwed up really, really bad, okay? Even if I can't talk to him, I need to know if he's alright."

"And why wouldn't he be?" Chouji asked with a critical look. That was when he noticed the bruise on Neji's throat. "What happened to your neck?"

"This has nothing to do with it," Neji blurted as he covered his throat abruptly. Chouji was still looking at him skeptically, so the jounin tried to move the conversation along. "Chouji, can you please just tell me where Shikamaru would go when he has something on his mind? I've checked all of his cloud-gazing spots but he's not in any of them."

Chouji gave up on trying to find out what had happened and started thinking. Finally he asked, "Are you sure you've covered every one of them?"


"Have you tried the Hokage building roof?"


"That small clearing in-"

"Yes! I've checked all of them!"

Chouji sighed as Neji mumbled an apology for his outburst. The large shinobi knew of a place Neji most likely hadn't checked, but he wasn't sure if he should divulge the information. He was more Shikamaru's friend than Neji's. Hell, if it wasn't because of Shikamaru, he wouldn't have been friends with Neji in the first place. Whatever it was that had happened, it was clear that Shikamaru didn't want to be found so Chouji wasn't really inclined to help the Hyuuga.

However, Chouji was renowned for his caring nature. Let it never be said that Akimichi Chouji did nothing for a friend in need. But first of all, he needed to know if his help wouldn't result in disaster. In this case, at least one thing must be clear.

"Um, Neji," he said slowly. "You... uh, that is... you didn't... jump him... did you?"

Neji looked like he just ate his own balls. "I'm sorry?"

Chouji decided to throw tact out the proverbial window. "I said, you didn't jump him, did you? As in, you know, sexually?"

The young Hyuuga was not only at lost for words. He also lost whatever composure he had left and could do nothing but opening and closing his mouth slowly without a sound, looking very much like a gold fish. Chouji wished he had a camera with him because the view would probably be worth a million ryou. He glanced discreetly at a pencil and paper on his desk. Maybe he could just draw it?

Finally, Neji snapped out of his shocked state and blared, "Jump him? Jump him?! What the hell makes you think I would even do such a thing? Are you fucking insane?!"

"Hey, calm down," Chouji said with a placating gesture. "I'm sorry. It's just that Shikamaru would never hurt a friend, but that bruise on your throat suggested that something physical happened. I know you have feelings for him, if not outright head-over-heels in love, so what else was I suppose to think?"

Neji sputtered in indignation before something suddenly clicked in his head. "Wait, what did you say?"

"Uh... Shikamaru would never-"

"No, not that. After that. About me having... feelings? Wha- How...?"

Chouji had to swallow some chips before he casually said, "What? How did I know? It was obvious. Well, not exactly, at least not to anyone who wasn't paying attention."

Well, shit, Neji thought. The night just got better and better. It seemed that he was the only one who wasn't paying attention, if what Kakashi, Iruka, Genma, and Raidou thought of him and Shikamaru was any indication. The young Hyuuga covered his face and groaned in utter exasperation.

"You don't need to be embarrassed," Chouji tried to soothe his friend. "It's really not that obvious. Nobody else seems to notice, not even Ino, so don't worry."

"Wanna bet?" Neji muttered weakly.


"No, nothing. Forget it," Neji sighed as he revealed his face. "I just... I don't understand how... Fuck, if other people saw it then why didn't I see it?"

Chouji stopped chewing. "Wait, you mean you just realized this?"


"Oh," Chouji murmured thoughtfully. "What made it happen then?"

"Seeing Shikamaru in... I don't know, I guess you can call it 'ANBU-mode'."

Chouji paled abruptly. "Shit."

"Have you..." Neji trailed off before managing to continue. "Have you ever seen Shikamaru in ANBU-mode?"

"No," Chouji answered with a stricken look on his face. "But I've seen Shikaku-jiisan in ANBU-mode. I was what? Four? Yeah, four. It was... I don't know. And now you say Shikamaru's... Ah, hell. I never even dare to imagine him like- like that. Ever. Not Shikamaru. Nu-uh. Not in a million years." He threw a chip on to Neji's head. "Thanks for the mental image, by the way."

Neji just rubbed his eyes tiredly as the chip bounced off his head. Contrary to popular belief, Hyuuga Neji was not fussy about his hair. The amazing way it shone and cascaded down his back was purely genetic, not hair-care related in any way.

"How did it happen anyway? Did you see him when he just got back from a mission? That's what happened when I saw Shikaku-jiisan."

"Ah... no."

Chouji looked at him, waiting for an explanation. Neji finally caved. "We... had an argument. I was angry at something and somehow I took it out on him. Then he said the wrong thing at the wrong time and I snapped. I lashed out and he reacted, hence..." Neji gestured to his throat. Chouji nodded in a 'yeah, and?' way.

"It was... kinda bad. Luckily, Ino was at Yamato-san's so I was okay, but Shikamaru was so upset about it that he... you know."

"Damn," the young Akimichi garbled, furiously chewing chips. "Then what?"

"He apologized for losing control, even though I was the one who messed things up in the first place, and then he left."

Chouji's eyes widened and Neji sighed, "Yeah, I know. If you think seeing Shikamaru like that was bad, hearing him-"

"No, no, that's not it," Chouji very nearly spat out the half-crunched chips in his mouth. "You said he apologized for losing control. Geez, no wonder he was so upset."

Neji was baffled. "What are you talking about?"

The large chuunin swallowed again before explaining. "Control is everything to him. Shikamaru never told me why, but control is actually what makes a Nara a Nara."

The older shinobi still looked confused, so Chouji tried another angle. "Let me put it this way. Each clan has their own- I don't know, code, or way of ninja, right? Uchiha is all about order and justice. Your clan is all about strength and honor. As for Nara, it's always about control. All Naras, especially the males, are control freaks. They plan out anything. It just goes unnoticed because of their casual attitude."

"Control, huh?" Neji contemplated. It made sense once he thought about it. When you condition your children to have killer reflex you must also condition complete control over said reflex. Not to mention the fact that, aside from deer meat, the Nara clan was also Konoha's supplier of medicine and medicinal breakthroughs. Such things must be controlled entirely, from the materials to the members working on them to their information traffic. Hell, even their blood limit, the Kagemane, was said to require a great amount of focus and chakra control. Chouji wasn't kidding. The Nara is all about control.

"Yeah," Chouji confirmed, oblivious to the thinking process in Neji's head. "That means Shikamaru isn't mad at you. He's mad at himself."

The jounin glared. "Even so, I still have to apologize. Besides, I'm...."

"You're...?" Chouji prodded mischievously.

A short contest of Hyuuga glare vs. Akimichi happy face resulted in complete victory for the happy face and Neji heaved, "I'm worried about him, alright? Now will you help me or not?"

"Okay, okay," the Akimichi chuckled. "I don't know if he's there or not, but there's a small clearing in the forest where the Nara's deer roam, the ones whose antlers are used instead of meat- Wait, do you even know where that is?"

Neji shook his head. Chouji sighed, "It's beyond the hill behind the Nara's laboratory. I don't know where the clearing is, but I don't think you'll have any problem finding it with Byakugan. Oh, and it's a restricted area. Only some members of the Nara clan can enter, so be careful."

"Thanks," Neji said concisely before jumping out the window. Chouji just shook his head, amused by his friends' antics.

As the young Hyuuga jounin traveled as fast as he could on the rooftops of Konoha, his mind kept processing the things he had heard tonight. He hoped, prayed, that Genma was off the mark; that what had traumatized Shikamaru enough to go automaton was losing control, not those devastating things the senbon-chewing asshole had told him. At least, if that was the case, Neji might still have a chance to speak to Shikamaru. Even if the man wouldn't talk back, Neji could still talk away and try to convince him that it wasn't his fault, that his control was perfect, that his best friend was still alive was proof of that.

Okay, Neji admitted inwardly, there was a part in Genma's reproach that he wished was true. He wouldn't mind being to Shikamaru what Raidou was to Genma. Of course, there would be complications, such as his clan and... other things. Too bad if that was true then the other things Genma said would be true as well. Neji shuddered in recollection.

That's not important right now, Neji's mind scolded as he reached the forest. Right now, he had to find Shikamaru and fix the situation. He didn't care if he wasn't supposed to enter, he thought as he zipped in to the forest. He didn't care if it took him all night to find the clearing, he thought as he activated his Byakugan. He didn't care if... there.



Chapter 6 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Shikamaru/Neji ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 8



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