Five years since the attack on Konoha, two geniuses who don't see eye to eye are captured by the Rain during a routine surveillance mission. Under interrogation and torture, without the use of jits...
Ratings will go up by the next chapter for violence and implications of rape. Links to story art will be posted in the next chapter. Shonen-ai ahead, you have been warned! I hold no claim to the Naruto fandom!
Be warned! This is my first Naruto fic in its pure unbeta'ed form. The characters of Neji and Shikamaru have always intrigued me. They're both considered geniuses, but of a different sort from each other.
Special thanks to Faraway4today for helping me with the story and getting into the 'mode' of Shika and Neji'scharacters. I send you lots of strawberry marshmellows of happiness!
Ch. 1 The Mission
Nara Shikamaru yawned lazily when a single drop of rain grazed his cheek, waking him from his morning nap. The once white fluffy clouds had into turned a nasty shade of grey that promised rain. It was to be expected during the rainy season. Pleasant days are far and few, especially when the notoriously lazy shinobi opted to nap on his porch.
"How troublesome," Shikamaru sighed; he would have to move to avoid getting wet. He flirted with the idea of remaining where he was, then a few fat drops on his face convinced him otherwise. With a grumble, the spiky haired shinobi rolled to his feet and trudged into his studio apartment. He had not expected the weather to remain fair anyways.
It had been five years since the Third Hokage died, and three years since the Fifth Hokage Tsunade led Konoha through a triumphant battle against Orochimaru and the village of Sound. Konoha had suffered heavy casualties in the elite shinobi ranks, and now two years later both the Jounin and Anbu ranks were still lacking in members. The battle between the Sound and Leaf did expose the potential of new elite shinobi. Shikamaru himself had been promoted into the jounin status shortly after the war, then into Anbu a year and a half later. His position on the Anbu team consisted of being the strategist, and rarely involved his physical appearance. As a young jounin of seventeen recently admitted into the ranks of Anbu, he was considered a little 'green' by his more experienced peers. Shikamaru could care less what his comrades thought of him.
He had grown taller, and his body was lean though a bit more muscular then it had been a few years ago. Shikamaru knew that he could never be as huge as Asuma-sensei, though for some reason that thought relieved him. I can never stand his smoking anyways.
At the thought of his old teacher, Shikamaru's mind drifted to his former teammates. In the five years past, Shikamaru had been assigned numerous missions in which he had led various teams. As a result, contact with his first team had drifted apart. He still spends time with Chouji at the Barbeque Shop every now and then, or with that ever annoying Ino. Despite his father's reassurance, Shikamaru has yet to understand the appeal of women. They were troublesome, emotional and all around scary individuals.
The phone rang. Shikamaru's hand twitched in hesitation in mid-reach. The young Anbu's mind ticked the probability of the caller's intent: 95 probability work related, 5 chance that it was not.
Shikamaru cursed under his breath and decided to pick up the phone. Avoiding a direct call to duty would result in troublesome consequences in the end. "Yeah?"
"Nara Shikamaru," an overly polite male voice replied briskly. "The Fifth wishes a meeting in light of a surveillance mission."
How troublesome. Shikamaru thought. "I'll be there."
Hyuuga Neji waited patiently outside for the Hokage to finish her meeting with a group of ANBU members. He prided himself of being a patient sort, but in light of the ongoing Anbu meeting discussing his eligibility to become a member, Neji was finding it hard to suppress the urge to fidget.
The young Hyuuga sighed, and closed his pale eyes as he leaned against the wall facing the Hokage's office door in an attempt to relax. At eighteen years, he was nearly as tall as his uncle Hizame-san, though he still retained the lean figure of a youth. Neji was the most powerful member of the Hyuuga family, though his younger cousin Hinata remained in her position as future head. This no longer bothered Neji, for Hinata had proved her mettle during the war in both body and spirit. He was content with his branch family position, as long as he could serve Konoha on his own terms.
And served he did. Neji had been initiated into a Jounin three years ago for his services following the war between the Leaf and the Sound. Many lives were lost during that battle, including that of his teammate Tenten.
Neji's eyes blinked in memory as he recalled Tenten's determined face moments before she was cut down by a Sound shinobi. Neji was severely wounded at the time and could do little else but watch Tenten defending him to the death. The young Hyuuga could remember little else after witnessing Tenten receiving the final blow, but from what was left of the area he must have gone berserk. Tenten died saving Neji's life, he had failed her as a comrade. It was a failure Neji vowed to never repeat.
Neji's mind clicked back to reality as the Hokage's doors opened, signaling the end of the Anbu meeting. Neji stood to attention as several Anbu members filed out. Tsunade remained at her desk and waved him in.
"Hokage-sama." Neji bowed his head.
Tsunade rifled through a few loose papers before addressing the young jounin. "Hyuuga Neji, we have finished discussing your eligibility to join the ranks of ANBU." Tsunade paused, looking over the jounin.
Neji stiffened as he waited for an answer.
"Denied. I'm sorry."
"What?" Neji blinked, unsure that he heard right.
Tsunade folded her hands as she studied the young Hyuuga. "You possess all the qualities and more that are required for the rank of jounin, but for high stake missions you need more field experience."
"But-" Neji gritted his teeth before continuing. "Why don't I qualify? There is hardly a mission that I did not complete!"
The Fifth Hokage sighed. "The ANBU council has noted your excellent record and high mission success rate. However, we have decided that you need more experience before you qualify to join the ANBU ranks."
Neji scowled at the Hokage. "There are others who have less field experience than I that have been initiated into ANBU."
Tsunade tapped her finger in impatience, she knew who Neji was referring to. "It was not mere field experience which qualified Nara Shikamaru; His skills as a strategist are valuable in high priority missions; though his lack of experience holds him back from some."
The young Hyuuga's eyes flashed in defiance. "He has less experience than me, though he's in the ANBU ranks?"
Tsunade had heard enough. She fixed Neji a hard stare to silence him from further comments. "Your interest in ANBU has been noted however, and you will be accompanying an ANBU member on a surveillance mission on the borders of the Rain country. Consider it as the first of a series of ANBU tests." Tsunade glanced at the door, sensing a person behind it. "Come in."
The door opened to reveal a sleepy looking Shikamaru who sauntered in wearing his grey and black ANBU garb.
"Yo Neji." He nodded towards the Hyuuga.
"Nara." Neji replied.
"Ah yes Shikamaru." Tsunade smiled. "Hyuuga Neji will join you in your surveillance mission of the Rain border." Tsunade smiled sweetly, causing Neji's left eye to twitch, he was beginning to see the irony in the situation. She continued. "Even though we are currently at peace with the Rain country, be on your guard. Travel light, use the underground bases for supplies. You know where they are Shikamaru."
The said ANBU nodded and yawned. Neji watched him with a scowl.
"I will expect your return in two weeks." Tsunade finished. "And a full report. Dismissed!"
The two Leaf shinobi left later that afternoon. The rain that had woken Shikamaru earlier that morning continued its onslaught of pouring on Konoha. Neither shinobi saw the need for idle conversation, so they instead concentrated on traveling the slippery branches of the trees, all the while keeping an eye out for any unusual activity. They would stop every so often to study broken branches or scuffed tracks. Traveling in the rain was cold, tiresome and tedious work. It was enough to make anyone irritable after a few hours.
Shikamaru pulled at a loose twig stuck in his hair and tossed it over the branch he perched upon. He decided against bringing his deer mask, for it was too much of a bother to wear. The spiky haired ANBU bent over to scowl at a set of footprints barely visible through thick moss. "This is over a day old. I'm surprised its still here with all this rain."
Neji leaned against a tree and watched his breath evaporate into the cold air. "Any chance that it belongs to our village?"
Shikamaru shook his head, still studying the tracks. "We would have been informed of any missions that were sent out in this area. There's a high chance that it belongs to a foreign shinobi."
"Then we'll track him." Neji poised to leave.
"Neji." Shikamaru stood up from the tracks to fix the older boy a hard look. "From now on I want you to inform me of everything unusual. I've noticed that you have been neglecting to inform me of minor details that you should be able to see with your Byakugan, am I right?"
Neji was slightly unnerved. It was true that he had neglected reporting some scuffles that were obviously animal tracks or damage from the rain, he had not expected Shikamaru to be so thorough. "Yes" he frowned.
The young Nara sighed and massaged the bridge of his nose as if he were addressing a young genin. "In an ANBU surveillance mission, all details are to be reported to the leading rank. It is necessary to inform me of any and all details. I thought you were aware of that."
Neji's scowl deepened, he did not like tone Shikamaru was using. He glared at the back of the young ANBU's head before continuing to follow.
Evening had descended by the time they reached the border of their destination. The fall of the rain had increased from a steady drizzle to a downpour. It took Shikamaru a few minutes to locate the secret tunnel that lead to the underground base beneath an old growth tree. Once the base was discovered, the young ANBU member leapt to the trees to set alarm traps on the outskirts of the clearing, leaving Neji to secure the hidden base.
Shikamaru busied himself setting the traps and alarms. Neji's cold attitude had not gone unnoticed, and it was wearing on his nerves. What a troublesome guy. The young Anbu grumbled inwardly to himself. For someone so intent on joining the ANBU ranks, he neglects the basic guidelines to report all that he sees. Hmph, that guys is so full of himself. He scowled at a small falcon perched above his head taking shelter from the pounding rain. It noticed Shikamaru and cocked its head at him as if in question. Shikamaru groaned. ANBU missions are so troublesome.
Once the traps were set, Shikamaru made his way back to base. The falcon waited a few heartbeats before taking flight to follow the young shinobi.
The falcon's yellow eyes blinked at all the seals and trip wires that littered the area surrounding the underground base. A second pair of yellow eyes blinked behind the falcon's. Only two leaf shinobi, one an Anbu. Both young and with significant chakra. This will be interesting.
The base itself was sparse except for the essentials needed for traveling shinobi: preserved rations, medical supplies and basic weapons. A web of wires strung with tiny bells hung overhead, which served as the alarm system if intruders wandered too close. Excessive use of electrical energy is subject to become a beacon to unfriendly intruders, and so was not provided. Candles were the main source of light, but only one was needed in the space that provided enough room to hold four full grown people.
Neji watched the small candle, which reflected its flame in his pale eyes. He sniffed the wet moisture in the air, disliking the early autumn weather that penetrated the into his clothes to give him goose bumps, but not enough to make him shiver.
Neji scowled at the room around him. It was not in his nature to feel disdain for his current position, but he did. He had dedicated the last two years of his life to obtain the position of Anbu; Neji had exerted himself to the limit and struggled beyond, knowing that his bloodline abilities now far surpassed Hizame-san's. In the end, he was rejected on the basis for lack of field experience. Neji's fists clenched in frustration. No matter what Tsunade or the Anbu think, he will prove that he is qualified to join the ranks of Anbu. Nothing can be achieved without the determination to succeed. Dedication. Motivation; Those were concepts that he had learned to grasp from his strange former Gai-sensei and the equally optimistic Rock Lee.
He had taken Tenten's death very hard. Lee did not openly express his emotions like he normally did, and instead remained silent upon discovering Neji and her body, and during the Konoha funerals. Neji had never seen him so stoic. I let both him and Tenten down. Hmph, I'm no genius. That's all the Anbu seem to want. Tsunade's words came back to haunt him. His skills as a strategist are valuable in high priority missions." It was Shikamaru's intellect that bought him into the ANBU ranks; Without it, he never would have become an ANBU, or a successful shinobi for that matter.
Anger filled the young Hyuuga as he thought of Shikamaru: A shinobi that barely lifted a finger to better himself and lacking in self discipline wormed his way into the elite shinobi ranks, all due to his skills at strategy. He has no motivation, no drive to fully dedicate himself. Its all just a game of strategy to him.
The said spiky haired shinobi made his silent entrance into the base. Neji composed himself as Shikamaru walked into the dim firelight, bending over the small flame in an attempt to warm his hands. "The traps are set."
"Hm." Neji nodded in reply.
The young Nara clicked his tongue in thought. "We'll set out before dawn breaks. You wanna take first watch?"
Neji scowled. "Why? Are you so eager for your precious sleep?"
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "If you put it that way, I am."
"Hmph. It's a wonder why the council initiated you into ANBU."
Shikamaru slowly stood up to fix his companion with a glare. "What you are you trying to imply, Hyuuga?"
Neji could see Shikamaru's left eye twitch slightly in the firelight, he had seemed to hit a nerve. During the five years since Neji last worked with him, the lazy shinobi's temper had apparently been shortened by a few hairs.
"I don't need you to tell me how to be a shinobi." Shikamaru's voice held a note of a growl. "You're too troublesome to work with."
Neji stood up to be at eye level with Shikamaru. His pale eyes reflected the dancing firelight as he stared into Shikamaru's narrowed dark brown eyes.
"I have pride in myself as a shinobi." Detest laced the young Hyuuga's words. "And in the people I vow to protect."
Both stared at each other for a several heartbeats, the tension hung as heavy as the moisture in the air. The single flame flickered in the tiny room as the young shinobi stared at one another in challenge. It was broken by the shrill sound of an alarm bell above their heads.
"W-what?" Neji gaped at the ringing bell, recognizing its tone. "They're close!" Without another word, both Leaf shinobi shot out of the underground base and into the sheltering wet trees above.
"Shit, were all my traps disarmed?" Shikamaru hissed. Neji meanwhile engaged his Byakugan eyesight. The dark forest became illuminated by enhanced vision, his pale eyes quickly located the perpetrators through rain and branches.
"There's two armed shinobi. They're located in the southwestern side of the clearing."
The corner of Shikamaru's mouth twitched. "I've set enough traps to warn us from intruders. If they went through the trouble to disarm them all they must have been planning to ambush us; which means they're serious."
Neji gestured to Shikamaru. "One is moving out to the clearing."
"He's staying put a good 50 meters from his companion."
Shikamaru watched a darkly clad shinobi walk out into the middle of the clearing. He paused then faced the direction where Shikamaru and Neji hid, and seemed to wait for them to make a move.
Shikamaru contemplated the foreign shinobi's actions. "He must be confident to approach us by himself. The other guy must be up to something." He turned to Neji. "Is he performing any seals?"
"No." Neji shook his head.
The young Anbu frowned. "Then its best if we stay together. You cover me with your Byakugan."
Both Shikamaru and Neji leapt down from the tree and cautiously approached the clearing, stopping a fair distance away from the stranger.
Shikamaru eyed the shinobi suspiciously. "What do you want?"
The shinobi chuckled dryly. He had a youthful face with wavy light blue hair framing cheerful bright eyes. Shikamaru could see that his forehead protector revealed him belonging to the Village of Rain.
"We want information concerning Tsunade's Legacy."
Shikamaru had no idea what 'legacy' the Rain shinobi was talking about, but remained neutral in his reply. "Why don't you ask the Hokage yourself?"
The blue haired shinobi's eyes seemed to smile. "Your Hokage would never speak to the likes of us. We know that she is conspiring with the Grass to create a weapon that will destroy one of the Rain's head families. There's no use denying it."
Shikamaru slowly pulled a kunai from his pouch, sensing that Neji was taking an offensive stance; he had a feeling that things were about to get troublesome. "What gave you that idea?"
"Don't play dumb. If you agree to come quietly we will make sure the questioning will go gently for both you and your friend."
That was Neji's cue. Without any hesitation, he sped towards the rain shinobi with his hands splayed out to reach the chakra points. "Juukenhou, Hakke Rokujuu Yonshou!" Moments before he reached his target, Neji caught a blur of motion in the corner of one eye and then a sudden punch to his gut sent him flying through the air.
The other Shinobi? Shikamaru thought wildly. How can he move so fa- A kunai was pressed against his throat before he could finish the thought. The blue haired shinobi shot three needles into Neji's back before the Hyuuga had a chance to recuperate from the blow. Shikamaru could only watch in horror as Neji's body collapsed into a heap at his attacker's feet.
Yellow eyes peeked from behind Shikamaru's shoulder. "Is this really an ANBU?" the shinobi sneered in a nasal voice.
Shikamaru daren't struggle against the kunai biting into his neck. He groped for any wisps of inspiration that might help him, and found his mind to be a blank slate. Is this it?
The yellow eyed shinobi dealt a quick hit to the back of Shikamaru's head, and then the young Anbu fell into darkness.
Neji's a bit egotistical to what makes a shinobi, eh?
R/R if you dare! I likes them good.