The differences aren't really that much between them when you get down to it.
"I know what you're talking about, Hyuuga." This was said one day as they hunted through the forest. "About your family, I mean."
Neji almost didn't register it at first; he had been blanking out Kiba's almost constant chatter since they left the village.
"What?" he replied, managing to sound distaining rather than bewildered.
"Well, I come from a longstanding family too, don't I? I'm even on Hinata-chan's team."
The flicker of pride in Kiba's voice was almost similar to his own, Neji thought.
"Well, the Hyuuga house has established itself..."
His prepared speech was cut short.
"And as long as your Byakugan has been around, so have our nin-dogs, right Akamaru?"
The almost-bear sized dog barked in response.
Although Neji had all the old truths to lean on (No family is as great as the Hyuuga, no one can understand my pain) he didn't use them.
When he caught himself glancing out of the corner of his eye at the other teenager as they ran along, he told himself that he was only looking for any warning signs of enemies.
The golden, almost-feral eyes, the royal purple tattoos, the quick wolfish smile. He wondered, for the first time, what Kiba saw when he looked at him. Just black hair, white eyes, a firm line of a mouth?
They went into a triangle formation when they reached the area of the fight. Two bodies twisted on the ground, unmoving - even the chakra, visible to Neji's eyes. They slowly moved in, silent with studied hand movements.
Finally, when they were sure that they were dead, had killed each other, when they both got close enough to see what was wrong, they spun around to meet the real adversary. He was desperate and ready to die and they were not. Neji shut down his chakra points and Kiba and Akamaru grabbed him by the legs, tearing into the skin with teeth and claws. A kunai ended his pain with a slash to the throat.
Neji stepped out of the way of the initial spray of blood with a practiced ease, but Kiba was somehow dirty and sweaty and bloody just from that little tussle, and still grinning with a feral glee.
They set up camp nearby, roasting some animal that had the misfortune to come across Akamaru over an unsmoking campfire. Neji couldn't seem to get the earlier conversation out of his head as Kiba poked at the fire with a stick.
"Sometimes there are just so many expectations," Neji sighed finally, a little part of him screaming to take advantage of this opportunity of companionship.
"Yeah," Kiba nodded, testing a bit of the meat and frowning before replacing it over the fire. "To become a great ninja and protect the village and your family. But I guess my family isn't as bad as yours."
Neji accepted a limb and hesitantly tasted it before feeling his eyes water and hastily swallowed.
"What the hell did you put on that?!"
"Family spices," Kiba said, grinning at Neji's reaction. "Spicy, but good. I guess you Hyuugas don't get much by way of taste in your foods, eh?"
Neji hesitantly took another bite, coupled with a quick swallow of water from his bottle.
After eating for a while in silence, Neji spoke up again.
"Why would you say that your family isn't as bad as mine?"
Kiba's hand got slobbered on as he absent-mindedly offered Akamaru some scraps in addition to the kibble Kiba had produced out of one of his pockets earlier.
"Well," he said thoughtfully. "My parents wouldn't freak out too much if I decided to start snogging you on a regular basis."
Neji choked, feeling his face grow red with embarrassment. He swallowed the piece of meat in his mouth and took the opportunity to stare at the decidedly fascinating ground.
He certainly would never be able to do such a thing. First of all, his job was to produce heirs to the family name, not follow personal interest.
"I would most likely be exorcised from my family if I were to do such a thing," he replied, almost wistfully.
Kiba must have sensed the tone of his voice and stopped tossing bones in the fire. Glancing at him, Neji nervously brushed some hair out of his face. He couldn't remember ever being in a more awkward position, not knowing what to do.
And before he knew what was happening, Kiba was leaning around the fire and cupping the side of his face, and they were a little chapped and tasting of spice and smoke, pushing him backwards. A sharp canine scraped at his lip and he hissed, but he was kissing back, embarrassingly unknowledgeable, but loving the feeling of hair under his hands and the /wanting/...
And then he was on his back and gasping up at the stars and he realized what was happening. Kiba's weight gave way when he pushed at it and he scrambled to his feet, stumbling away. His hair was falling into his face, out of his ponytail, and his headband was slipping.
"What-?" he gasped, rubbing at his blushing face, resettling his clothes, touching his weapons pouches for reassurance. "What do you think you're doing?!"
His ancestors were watching him. His family would find out. This was not possible. But why was his heart beating so fast, pleading for him to reach out and step closer again?
Kiba looked at him from his seat on the ground, a sad look on his face, and Akamaru gave a little whining bark at the strife. The dog knew what was going on: his master had tried to show affection to this cold, quiet animal, and had been rebuked.
"You kissed me back," he said sulkily. "You wanted me to. What are you doing?"
Neji felt everything break and felt the icy core of his being, the truths his life rested on, threaten to crack.
"I cannot risk my position as a ninja and as part of the Hyuuga clan for some momentary pleasure. I apologize for my lapse and suggest we go to sleep to prepare for the moment. I will take the first watch."
This, he couldn't deal with. He had to get away from here, had to get back home where the rules and restrictions were laid out in a pattern of stone and starch.
And then Kiba was holding his hands against a tree trunk and he didn't know why his resolve flickered long enough to allow it to happen. Kiba roughly ground his hips up against Neji's, setting his stomach on fire and making him bite his lip and close his eyes to keep from admitting what was going on.
"You're going to stop just because you're scared of your family? What a fuckin asshole you are, Hyuuga/-sama/."
The hiss of air across his ear made Neji twitch, but Kiba's strength was profound, pinning not only his body but also his will.
"My family - is more important - than my desires," he gasped and then shuddered as a distinctly wet tongue slid across the outside of his ear.
"Then you'll admit that you want me?"
He bit his lip even harder when Kiba arched against him and felt his resolve waver even further.
"Yes," he got out, feeling a wall inside him shatter and dissolve.
He gave in and it felt /good/. He felt himself melt into that heavier body, arms around Kiba's neck.
"You really shouldn't give a fuck about them," Kiba said quietly, lying on his back on the damp grass as the fire slowly went out.
Neji fingered a few stray hairs as they watched the sky above them.
"How am I supposed to do that? I must serve my clan first and foremost."
"Yes, well, you are supposed to be part of your clan, aren't you?"
Neji turned his head away from the heavens to give Kiba an exasperated glance and Akamaru dropped his head onto Neji's chest lazily.
The next day they returned to the village and went back to their respective teams, families and lives. But when they passed each other in the streets Neji couldn't stop his eyes from catching on the purebred ruffian and feel that desire burn in his stomach.
His family need not know.