NaruNejiHina 3ring. Short, more of a relationship sketch--how they fit together, paralells between their teams, etc; a tiny pinch of NaruSasuSaku at the end. Some angst. Post time-jump.
It is a fact that Hyuuga Neji and Hyuuga Hinata, for all practical purposes, had the same father. Hiashi and Hizashi were genetically identical, regardless of personality or birth order.
So they are as good as half-siblings in a family that is largely in-bred; they are of like age; and, nestled between them with only the moonlight to filter in through the window and highlight patches of smooth, porcelain skin and dark night-blue hair (spilling into pools around their beautiful faces, thick and shining with a feathery almost-heaviness that makes him ache)-Naruto has to squint, occasionally, to tell them apart.
Hinata has grown her hair out these past three years; they are mirrors of each other. But other parts have grown as well, and the way the blankets fold over her curves is terribly alluring and his fingers itch to reach out and splay over them possessively. She murmurs something softly and curls closer and his heart skips.
Neji's hand slides over the sheets and sinks into the hollow of Naruto's hip with iron intent; there is a soft moan that he can't quite suppress, and above his head (he can feel the pressure in his hair and exhales softly as their fingers tangle together) they are holding hands, soft Hinata and her stern cousin-that-should-be-her-brother, and she breathes against Naruto's neck.
Sleeping, Neji is an altogether different creature than when he is awake. Sleeping, Neji reaches out in ways that he never would outside of this shared bed of theirs. Some nights he is in the middle, with Hinata twined carefully into his arms and her lips on his shoulder or her hand on his cheek. And Naruto would slip in behind him, a leg through the legs of the silent Hyuuga, and arm each around his slender waist and his thin ribs, and his fingers would play over the muscles there with his nose buried in the pale nape of his neck beneath the dusky hair.
Though she tries not to be, Hinata is often in the middle-more often than not. They see her as weak, as though they need to protect her, though this is a pretense; she is stronger when she is here-they give her strength, these men that she loves more than her life, and when she is in the middle it is with her arms around them, a blanket of affection that closes out the monsters in their minds; figuratively, of course, but for Kyuubi. And Naruto's relationship with the demon is almost symbiotic; Neji's monsters kill him every day with regret. Hinata makes sure that he will never regret anything again, and with one hand she is reaching around his shoulders to smooth the curse seal of the head that rests against her chest, and with the other she ruffles Naruto's hair, and he is on her stomach looking up at Neji, whose eyes are closed-but can see him anyway. It is an odd feeling that the blue-eyed ninja can't escape, doesn't ever want to escape-the way Neji looks at him with his eyes closed. So he leans up and kisses him softly, in the way he usually reserves for Hinata because sometimes Neji, too, needs soft kisses. They both tighten around her and she slides fingers down the lengths of their spines, gasps softly as they press into her hips as they press into each other.
It is for the most part unspoken, but implicitly understood; there is love between them, a love that has been left unattended so long that it has festered, it has grown hot and feverish, and now they are all connected by the sickness of loving someone more than they hate themselves.
For Hinata, it is the odd mission where Shino actually manages to get himself hurt; he is stoic about it, soundless, and she she has to cut the "nn" from the tip of her tongue before she calls out her cousin's (her brother's her lover's the-other third-that-makes-her-whole's) name and opens up the secret that lives between them. It does not help, Kiba's own roughness around the edges, his corner-of-the-eye haze that makes her look twice, even if the color is off, and see him standing there instead of Naruto. Instead of butterflies it is nausea in her stomach, these hit-and-miss glances.
Neji has composure. He is not so sentimental when he is not half asleep. Tenten does not remind him of Hinata and Lee does not remind him of Naruto. There is nothing brokenly beautiful about his lady teammate, nothing at all in her that he can see in himself; once he caught her with her hair down, from the back, and even if his breath hitched, it did so silently; there was not the same sheen of black to it as there is to Hinata. Just like the rare day when Lee quoted Naruto, because he is a fan; to him, the idealism of self-belief is a godlike quality, and Naruto will never give up until he dies. Lee says this and Neji slides his eyes over, sizes him up, sees black and green in place of orange and yellow, hears the same words in the strong voice of a taijutsu practitioner instead of the soft grass-and-gravel of Naruto. He looks to th sky again and there are two birds, side by side, and he hates being away on missions for any length of time.
The hardest part, Naruto knows by now, is when he is awake. It is only harder than being asleep because, asleep, there is Sakura. There is Sasuke, brooding but honest, with his first and middle fingers hooked around the first and middle fingers of Naruto's hand, between them. Sakura would laugh in a soft, almost-silent way that is practically a sob because there is a bond between them that will never break, and can never, and wayward Sasuke is here and loves her, too. But even asleep, part of Naruto knows this isn't real, and he wakes up to Hinata and Neji, close, warm. Half of him wonders if he is simply a mutual link, a reason for the two of them to exist together; but then Hinata will snuggle close to him and whisper "Naruto-/kun/", and Neji will half-smile at her words and kiss his shoulder, and his heart breaks anyway because he wasn't dreaming of them.
He thinks it would be easier if they were using him to get to each other. He wouldn't feel so guilty, seeing Sasuke in place of Neji, seeing Sakura in place of Hinata. Not while they are awake, of course-never when they are awake, but he can't control the shape his desires take in his dreams; what he wishes for, even though he cares so much for what he has.
And team seven has broken him, anyway.