Neji remembers the pet bird Iruka-sensei had in the class. Sitting in its little cage, being fed regularly by excited students. It didn't move, didn't even try to fly, only hop from bar to bar and eat contentedly in the corner.
On the last day of school, he stared at it longer than usual. When Iruka-sensei came to collect the cage to take home for the night, he offered Neji to let it go.
"It's really cruel to keep an animal somewhere where it doesn't want to be." He said, opening the cage door and letting the bird take its sweet time exploring the outside world. Eventually it flew out of the window and Neji went home.
It is when he is a Genin, handing in a report from Gai-sensei about their latest mission, that he notices the bird in the cage Iruka-sensei keeps on the windowsill of the administration office. For a moment it looks familiar, and he thinks of his tattoo and Hinata-sama.
Iruka-sensei notices his stare.
"It came back a few weeks after we let it go. Pets often do that, because they are comfortable being taken care of." He smiles, and Neji tries to keep the horrified expression off his face and succeeds, because his former teacher goes back to work and he goes back to his own cage.
Neji wonders, for the first time, where he will go without that familiar place to return to.