It wasn't until much later that she began to accept the possibility that he desired her as a woman or that she desired him as a man.
She knocked on his door; back from a difficult mission and coming to terms with the lengths to which kunoichi occasionally have to go. If he was surprised to see her standing there he didn't show it. She had come to him to seek his advice on matters concerning her mission and found, instead of the shinobi she knew, a man she didn't. He welcomed her arrival with hands and mouth and palpable desire. Shocked she pushed at him; mind scrambling to untangle the thoughts his kiss had twisted. Stepping back Neji stood silently, arms loosely embracing her, body close enough she could feel the heat of him, waiting.
She knew what he was offering her, had even played those games before when she needed to lose herself in the flesh of another, but she had never expected to receive such an offer of comfort from him. For a moment she stared at him, a wealth of emotion flickering across her face, confusion, desire and wariness. Finally, with a decisive motion, she stepped into him, pressed him back into the room and slid the door shut on fate.
Hinata discovered in his bed a freedom from the constrictions life imposed upon her. Throughout the night, under him and over him, rough and gentle and intense, she found and delighted in his passion for her. He let her lead, let her persuade and cajole. She made him beg and made him bend while she whispered dark, heated words into the shell of his ear. He licked into her, long sinuous fingers taunting and teasing and she shattered apart for him, crying his name out into the darkness.
They spun their passion out across the deepening night, learning one another's body through fingers and mouths and the slick heat of sex. Body flushed and sated she wondered sleepily at their casual acceptance of this thing that had manifest itself so suddenly between them. She was the girl he had nearly killed, had hated for so long, and with whom he had since formed a tenuous peace. To find herself wound around him, hair tangling between them, wasn't someplace she'd ever expected to be.
The next morning dawned bright and full of recriminations. She untangled herself from his sleeping form and fled his room. In her rush Hinata didn't notice Neji's eyes on her, didn't see the uncharacteristic play of emotion across his face. When she ran into him later at the training field, embarrassment flushing her cheeks, she made a show of not behaving any differently, surrounding herself with friends and keeping her distance. She forced herself to ignore him, to pretend that the night meant little other than comfort after a grueling mission. She told herself that she was thankful when Neji followed her lead.
They fell back into the routines that ordered their existence. The intense embarrassment of the day after faded and their interactions slid back into normalcy. The evening spent pleasurably between the sheets with her cousin took on a sort of otherworldly quality in her mind. If she found herself following him more closely with her eyes, well, he was a beautiful, talented man; she was simply now more able to appreciate that fact. Funny how easily the lies came. Days passed, became weeks and then months and time slipped slowly on.
One hot, humid evening Hinata awoke to the sensation of someone slipping silently into her bedroom. For a confused moment she didn't understand what was happening. Byakugan activated she recognized Neji before she was even fully awake, her eyes showing her what the darkened room could not. She could see the damage his body had sustained on this last mission, could almost feel the darkness emanating from him. She knew his team was overdue and it was obvious that they had run into far more trouble than expected. From his demeanor Hinata knew that the mission had failed in some way. Her heart thumped oddly as she finally comprehended his reasons for being there in her bedroom in such a state.
Neji walked slowly towards her, his exhaustion evident in his graceless stride and the curve of his shoulders. He stopped at the edge of the bed and reached out to her, fingers stroking down her cheeks to cup her chin and tilt her head up. The starkness of his gaze riveted her. Neji was an elite ninja, would likely become ANBU within the year, and the truth of it was, the higher you climbed the harder you broke. Hinata had no doubt whatsoever that Neji was breaking. Eyes wide she watched him watch her and once again found herself making a difficult decision that wasn't that difficult after all.
Rising from the bed and Hinata hugged him close before beginning to divest him of his clothing. Once he was undressed she tugged him into her bathroom and into the shower. Neji just stood there, looking shell shocked and distressingly fragile as the water pounded down over him. Hinata poured shampoo into her trembling hands and began washing his hair, the water going dark with dirt and blood. As she rinsed the soap out he seemed to awaken slightly from whatever dark place his mind had taken him to. She suddenly found herself pressed up against him as he clutched her tightly to his chest, her name falling silently from his lips as he just held her. They stood there, embracing until the water began to cool. As he was still lost in his own personal hell, Hinata shut off the shower, toweled him dry, and put him to bed. Climbing in next to him she felt him curl around her as he relaxed into sleep.
Several hours later she awoke to find his lips on her neck as he stroked her to arousal. Shuddering at the feel of his body against her back and at the fingers dancing over sensitive flesh, Hinata whimpered his name as she tumbled into oblivion. She let him lead this time, took what he needed to give her, let herself beg and plead as he purged the psychological poison from his mind. He left marks on her, dark purpling bruises of possession and need, fingers and teeth, and she couldn't find it in herself to care. Assuring herself she was simply returning a favor, Hinata tumbled gladly down into his passion.
Neji was still in her bed the next morning and Hinata found herself unwilling to consider the implications of a second night spent with Neji, regardless of how fantastic it had been. The possible reasons behind their actions were myriad and convoluted and required too much deciphering for her at the moment. Preparing to get up hands snared her before she had fully swung her feet off the bed, tumbling her back into him. Arms circling her he held her tightly; breathe whispering across the nape of her neck. She smiled then, turning in his arms to kiss him thoroughly. He looked better in the morning light, less ragged and more like his usual self. He graced her with a small smile and, after running a calloused hand along her cheek, slid quietly from the room as if he'd never been there.
Once again life resumed its' normal course and Hinata passed the time as she usually did. She tried to think as little as possible about the thing that seemed to be developing between them but it seemed a futile endeavor. His willingness to offer her comfort, even after all the history between them, as well as her easy reciprocation remained a mystery. In the midst of a training session with her old teammates she found her mind wandering, worry over this attraction between them haunting her thoughts. As she blocked a kunai thrown by Kiba she was glad the internal distraction didn't hinder her performance. Trepidation pushed forcibly aside she fought as she was taught to, thankful that training had lent her focus.
A month to the day after he had come to her breaking and broken she awoke to find him once again slipping silently into her bedroom. This time her Byakugan perceived no injury to his person, nor could she sense the heavy weight of depression around him. He walked purposefully to her bedside stopping abruptly when his knees touched the mattress. His hands were already reaching out to her, stroking along her cheek in a manner that was fast becoming a welcomed caress. Looking down at her his eyes asked the question his mouth seemed unable to utter. Smiling wryly at his pride she tugged him down onto her bed, anticipation for the night ahead warming her skin, making her body languid and heavy. The question as to why he was there fluttered briefly at the back of her mind but she pushed it firmly away, worries to be counted another day, instead following him willingly into the night.
After that night he began showing up in her room every few weeks, which shortly became every week, until he was eventually leaving his impression on her mattress almost nightly. Often on the evenings he didn't come to her she found herself treading the hallways to his room. There seemed to be no reason to deny themselves whatever it was they had found together. The questions and doubts that had been terrorizing her the over the last few months suddenly seemed silly and childish when he was curled around her, talking softly, obviously content in her presence.
They talk about nearly everything except the thing between them, Neji apparently no more able than Hinata to explain it. Head on his chest, listening to the rumble of his voice as he described the latest craziness his teammates had been involved in, she marveled at it; how they seemed to know each other, how they fit solidly into one another, how strange that the distance between them had been so easily erased.*
*This line and the title are based off lyrics from Eric's Song by Vienna Teng
AN: this is an edited (hopefully better!) version of what i posted on live journal on the hyuugacest community (under the same name)