Hiashi was coming to apologize.

It's been so long, so long since he has properly spoken to his older daughter. She was be 16 now, and he hadn't seen her around much since she had became a genin at the age of 13, and haven't really spoken to her even longer.

Years had passed by without any contact from the two of them. He had spent the time training and grooming his younger daughter to be stronger, more powerful. He had spent the months honing Hanabi's Byakugan so that she may become a more suitable, more acceptable heir than the one that actually carried the title.

But he hadn't really talked to her either. Always it had been more training, more practice, more honing. He hadn't really thought it mattered, how they didn't really interact with each other even when he saw her almost every day. And he hadn't really known until earlier today when his younger daughter, who he then realized he hadn't seen a smile from for a long time, looked down and stayed down after she had fallen, and asked him.

" Do you love me, Father?"

He had been shocked into silence and she hadn't even waited for a reply before she got up and walked away. He hadn't seen her since, but he would admit he hadn't looked for her yet. When he had finally came out of his shock, he had wondered how could she even ask such a question, and then it occurred to him.

If the daughter whom he groomed and trained every day, had to question his love, what about his other daughter? The daughter whom he had pushed aside and did not have a clue what she was doing right then. Had not known for a long time what she had been doing, what her skill level was, and what she was doing with her life.

He tried to remember the last time he saw her, and he remembered it was months ago, at a festival. While he had walked with Hanabi and his wife down the crowded streets as a family, he had spotted her by a stall smiling timidly at someone he had not seen. For he had only glimpsed her for a moment before moving on, not really caring what his older daughter was doing. Then he had remembered how Hanabi had been glancing over her shoulder to look back once in a while, and after that his younger daughter had seemed to be looking to find someone discreetly.

He had dismissed that then, but had she been looking for Hinata? The sister she had not really known, and was not allowed to know? The discarded daughter whom Hiashi and the clan never mentioned but for the failures.

Hiashi had tried to remember when was the last time he had seen her, really seen her, spent time in her company, sat down for a cup of tea maybe, and talked or shared a small silence.

He could not remember. No such incidence in the past few years at least.

How could so much time pass by without him noticing? Years had slipped through his grasp and now his older daughter was a stranger to him at best.

When he went back to his office, he remembered a scroll he had read in the past week but had dismissed. He had pushed papers off his desk a bit frantic and crawled through shelves to find the one he remembered. The small message, written in tiny elegant kanji he had once been so familiar with - his older daughter's handwriting – in a notification letter of move.

Hinata was leaving the Hyuuga House.

She was moving to an apartment, and seeing how she had her own source of income to support herself and that she was no longer a child, she did not need the Head to approve, but simply to let know.

Staring at the scroll in newfound shock and silence, he counted down the days of when he had received this notification to the day she had specified she would be leaving.

Tomorrow morning.

She had written she would be gone, and all traces of her would disappear from the Hyuuga House by tomorrow morning.

Thus Hiashi had found himself walking the halls of the empty house in the middle of the night. Hanabi had been put to bed and his wife was no doubt resting herself. But Hiashi found he had to find her, his older daughter, and speak to her, one last time.

She had not even written her new address. She had been that certain her letter would be overlooked.

And it had. He had barely glanced at it before throwing it in with the rest of the unimportant scrolls to be put away and maybe never opened again. Hiashi picked up his pace a bit. It was late, he knew, but he also knew his older daughter was probably not asleep either.

He walked though the halls and past the garden. He walked the fair distance to the room where they had placed Hinata, a space accommodation away from his room, her mother's room and Hanabi's room. He had known what he had been doing when he had moved her away from the Head House Quarters, and his heart now ached.

He did not know what he hoped to accomplish by reaching her, but he wanted to try.

For corridors along the setting, empty rooms were abundant. Even Branch members were placed closer to the Main Hall. Most of these rooms were saved for when they had an overflow of guests.

His steps slowed and adapted a silent tread as he neared her room. He didn't want to alert her of his coming and scare her away, and he knew what he was doing even as he did it. It shamed him to admit his daughter would not welcome his presence, but it was the truth he had denied for a long time.

At the end of the hallway he saw light from her door, signalling she was still awake, just like he thought she was. When he reached the shoji doors, he was silent and stared at the wooden squares for a moment. He then reached out and pushed the sliding panel open a crack, and then stopped.

" – thing's been packed and sent."

From his view he could seen the majority of the room; there was not a single picture on the wall, no ornament adorning the desk, and everything was a stark white. He could see the foot of the bed, and even the blanket and coverlet was a neutral white - beddings they placed for unused rooms. The only trace that signalled that his daughter was still in her room was the soft whispery voice from the half sentence he heard.

So everything had been packed and sent away, and all that was left was for his older daughter to walk out the looming gateway of the House in the morning. And then, he would lose all contact from her.

His heart hurt and he was filled with regrets.

" So everything is good to go."

Hiashi knew that voice. His eyes widened as he recognized Neji's voice within the room.

Neji was always in consideration whenever the topic of the Heir came up in meetings of the elder Council. They all knew no matter how much Hanabi trained or how much more powerful she got; there was no one in all of the clan who could surpass Neji. He was the pinnacle; no one would be able to surpass him. There were no real talks about naming Neji the Heir, but all the Elders thought it.

Such thick blood in the hands of one who could no lead. Such power from one who was not of the Main House.

There had been comments to take the title away from the current Heir, but to whom it would then be bestowed upon, Hanabi or Neji, it was never mentioned. But they all knew someone would soon make the suggestion of the thought they had all lingered on for so long.

When Neji had wanted to leave the Hyuuga House a couple of year back, there had been some difficulties. The Council did not want to let him leave their reach, and Hiashi had much the same sentiments. They had not wanted to let him go, but his mother had backed him up and there was no reason they could tell him to detain him inside the Clan Walls. With his potential, none of the clan really wished for him to remove himself, but he had not asked them to help him find a place nor had he asked for funding. Also he had been very soon to coming of age. It had been a silent battle of wills and in the end Neji had won. He left the house he had lived in for all his life and moved out to quarters of his own choice.

There was silence from inside the room, and he moved so he could peer into the room from the small inch thick parting he had made. More white wall and empty spaces greeted him and he felt a sharp pang to his heart. He searched the room until he saw them and froze.

The small single bed was pushed up against a corner in the other end of the room. The beddings were a complete white and there was no pillowcase on the pillow. Everything in the room was bare. But on the bed tucked up against the corner where two walls met, Neji sat in a pair of dark blue pants and white t-shirt with his legs up, spread apart while his elbows rest on his knees. The seal glared from its place on Neji's forehead and off to the side, on the floor by the bed, was a hitai-ai laid next to a small black carry bag. Hinata wore a pair of purple shorts and a flimsy white shirt that was too big for her as she sat, curled up in-between Neji's legs and locked behind his arms.

" Is it really okay?' Hinata asked in a pensive unsure voice as she placed her hands gently on her cousin's arms.

Hiashi watched as his nephew closed his hold on his daughter and pulled the small form of Hinata closer to himself.

" Everything will be fine." Neji soothed.

Hinata turned in her cousin's arms and softly buried her face into his chest. Her hands gently closed in a light fist and held onto small parts of his shirt. There was a look of absolute tenderness on her face and a shining light in her eyes. Her lips were placed in a smile of happiness as she turned her head to look up at the man, which held her in his arms.

Hiashi's breath caught. In the expression on her face he could see the echo of the young toddler who used to look up at like he was her world and she couldn't be happier. But he hadn't seen her happy face or shining eyes ever since then, and in the region of his heart, knives pierced him as he asked silently whose fault it was.

His intake of breath was overlooked by his daughter, but his nephew looked at him sharply from the place of the bed. Hiashi remained still as he did not know what to do now that he was caught, and stared into Neji's eyes as they grew clouded and he tightened his hold on Hinata. Hinata was oblivious as she tucked her face in the hollow of her cousin's neck and relax his embrace.

Neji had became Hinata's protector ever since after the first Chuunin exams. Hiashi did not know what went on, but after the fight with Umazaki Naruto in which he lost, and he had found out about the true circumstances of Hizashi's death, things changed. He would escort her to training every morning and pick her up before dark every night.

They hadn't thought much of it, except it was quite the shame. How the most powerful was stuck looking after the weakest. But Neji reconciled with the Clan and his hatred vanished - mostly, so there wasn't much else they could ask. He became very protective of his younger, overlooked; fragile cousin and often they would be seen together.

Hinata became a bit more confident as she trained with Neji. Her steps more sure and her movements were more powerful. Her stance grew more solid, and her hands had trembled less and connected harder.

Everyone had known the two had been getting closer, but even he had not guessed they been this close. Most people would have felt awkward in such an embrace by anyone other than their partners or the most precious people in their lives. The proof of their relationship was in front of him, and he could not deny that Neji was probably one of the most important people in Hinata's life.

Being held by like so in Neji was as natural as her father was ignoring her. Hiashi felt his heart constrict as he thought about how his older daughter often flinched as he reached towards her, or how she would often shy away from his touch on the rare occasions he saw her.

Hiashi was brought back to the present as Neji looked away from him and down to the young woman he held in his arms. Hiashi watched as Neji ran a hand gently through the strands of Hinata's hair. Hinata responded by sighing and relaxing in Neji's hold. There was silence as Hinata remained oblivious to her father's presence, and Hiashi waited for Neji 's reaction. But Neji did nothing but continue holding his daughter and run his hand through the silky strands.

" Neji..." Hinata whisperingly began, but then stopped.

Silence, as unknowingly two pairs of white orbs stared at the current Hyuuga Heir.

" Is this really okay?" If possible, the trembling question was asked in a more vulnerable voice than normal.

His nephew stared down with hard eyes as her voice cracked at the end. The hand that had been running through the soft strands paused and moved to cup the back of her head. Somehow, he felt as if Neji had forgotten about his presence, yet at the same knew he still there and that his words were directed to him.

" Of course. There is nothing wrong."

He watched as Neji lifted Hinata's face up from his chest and force her to stare into his eyes. The gaze in his nephew's eyes broke no argument and pushed away all dispute. There was no wavering in those eyes.

" Everything will be fine. No one can stop us."

As his daughter's eyes shone with an inner light he had never seen before, and a timid smile broke out on her face, he gently reached out and closed the door. He stood still for a moment before slowly turning and began to walk away as silent as he had approached. Hiashi knows he has just lost one of the most important things in his life. He's not sure what it is exactly yet, but he knows he will never get it back.

. : Ende : .

Kaorien from Hyugacest was kind enough to draw a fanart for this fics.
Can be seen here:www. livejournal. com/community /hyugacest/ 117610. html#cutid4