Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
JUST KIDDING! Sorry for all of you who had expected it...two weeks ago. Shows that I really shouldn't set dates for myself...I never follow through. But then againnn, I've been really busy. I've had finals and all that jazz and was experiencing a 'writer's block'...no matter how short I've been writing. Well anyway, I was reading over my previous chapters...and it doesn't seem that...good. And truthfully, I'm not just saying that. sigh I decided that I'm most likely not continuing Of The Proud and Prejudiced...because it's just so cliche' although it has a different plot. But besides that, I'm trying to work on my writing style. :)
This chapter is slightly different since the POV's somewhat change, so it may be a tad bit confusing...but other than that, I liked this chapter...especially towards the end.
To Defy Fate: His Choice
Neji had barely thought those two words before something caught both of their attention. It was only moments after they had finished their conversation, an earsplitting crash was heard throughout the Hyuuga compound. Quickly shifting into an alert, readied stance, Neji eyed Hinata while keeping aware of his surroundings. Seeing her shift towards the balcony, Neji moved with her. He was her protector at all times, he was her guard. Always.
Hinata's loud gasp could be heard throughout the room as she emerged from the balcony, causing a bruised Naruto to glance up and an outwardly upset Hiashi to stare accusingly.
"What is the meaning of this?" Hiashi demanded, glancing between a shocked Hinata and a rather angry blond haired man.
"Why father," Hinabi said casually beside him in an outfit similar to his , "this is Hinata's lover." Gazing haughtily at Hinata's shaking form, Hinabi seemed to be inwardly daring her to deny the statement.
Glaring at Hinabi in refined anger, Hiashi's fists clenched. "Don't be foolish Hinabi."
Hinabi's bowed head and sideways glance told all. All of what she said was true.
"Sh-She is not, f-father," Hinata said quietly, her head also bowing in meek respect. Hands trembling in fear and part hopeful, Hinata clasped her hands in support, straining against herself to do her nervous jabbing. Feeling a slight pressure on her shoulder, she looked up unexpectedly to see a firm, stoic gaze.
"Hinata, get Naruto away from here."
Nodding in understanding at Neji's quiet demand , Hinata obediently beckoned Naruto towards her. Meekly glancing towards Hiashi's furious expression to Hinata's worried one, he quickly complied.
"What is this, Neji?" Hiashi asked accusingly as Hinata guided Naruto away, "A scheme? A conspiracy perhaps?"
Neji shook his head at his uncle's overzealous paranoia as he watched the two leave. Somewhat longingly, somewhat in dread. "No."
"Yes," Neji said firmly without hesitancy.
A skeptic look was seen clearly on Hiashi's face. "Then what is that boy doing there?"
"He has hopes of disrupting Hinata's engagement ceremony," Hinabi answered, her gaze still lingering towards where Hinata and Naruto disappeared.
Neji gave a look of annoyance at Hiashi's question. Why? Why would Naruto do such a thing? He did it for him! He did it for her! He was in love, and so was she. What was there not to get?
Looking at Hinabi to answer her father's question, Neji found her pale knowing gaze directed at him. "Well Neji?" she asked, looking pointedly at him.
Neji blinked. Could she truly not know the answer? Narrowing his eyes, Neji looked at Hinabi with a guarded gaze. "You know as well as I do why has come."
Hinabi gave Neji an even look in return. "Oh, Neji? Why has the boy come? How had he known?"Giving a small smile, Hinabi spread her palms towards him in a covert gesture. "Enlighten us."
"Wh-what did you th-think you were d-doing, N-Naruto!" Hinata managed to admonish before breaking into a sad smile, her pale eyes sorrowful. "Why n-now?"
Naruto chose to remain silent as he squirmed slightly beneath her gaze.
The music had continued to play, but the murmuring crowd almost enveloped the serene song. Hinata sighed. "What are y-you doing h-here, N-Naruto?" she asked again, her tone much calmer.
Naruto glanced away. "I came to stop your engagement." Laughing softly, he turned back towards her with a forced grin. "But maybe I did it a little too wild, huh?" His intention were honest, really. As soon as he heard of Hinata's engagement, he knew he had to convince, or at least try, her out of the arrangement.
Hinata sighed. "Y-you have d-disrupted an important c-ceremony."
Naruto shrugged meekly. "At least I disrupted it in a 'Naruto-kind-of-way' right?" He asked jokingly, looking towards her pale eyes in silent forgiveness.
Bowing her head to cover a small smile, she nodded faintly. Feeling tension quietly mounting, she chose to remain quite. For now. Anger and frustration though, was merely a hop, skip, and a jump away at his unseemly inconvenient timing.
"But the question is," Naruto said softly as she remained quiet, "have I come to late?"
Silence enveloped them as Hinata looked down in conflicting anguish. "Why?" she murmured after a moment, unspoken anger seeping stealthily through her veins. "Why now, N-Naruto?"
"Because I have been an idiot," Naruto said in an almost confessing manner, "for all these years, I had thought that you would wait for me."
Hinata's eyes narrowed slightly. "Wait?"
Naruto sighed. "I thought that when I became Hokage, your father would think more highly of me." A pause hovered between them as both were faced with an unspoken question. But what of now?
Hinata sighed as she knew the answer. Naruto had been too brash, too wild for Hiashi to see anything worthy for Naruto to be deemed of now. "Although," he continued with another forced grin, "I don't think that should really bother me now."
Hinata stifled a sigh. "Naruto…"
"I only want to be with you," Naruto stated bluntly.
A raised voice which spoke of anger coming from within the Hyuuga compound was the base of her answer. "It is t-too l-late," Hinata said, her voice trembling slightly.
A slight pause resounded the area as Naruto's face tightened in resolution. "I don't care," was Naruto's firm reply.
Your question is pointless, Hinabi," Neji said, his voice masked as he glanced towards the area where the two had left, "you know as well as I do why."
Hiashi's eyebrow lifted in warning. "Neji."
Neji's eyes narrowed in slight irritation, his voice answering in disdain. "Yes, Lord Hiashi?"
"Answer Hinabi's question."
"Which question?" Neji replied almost mockingly. Perhaps if he bought them enough time…they would be able to do what was best. But what was best? Neji wondered silently.
"Why has he come?" Hiashi asked, his voice rising.
"To stop Hinata's engagement," Neji answered automatically.
"How had he known?"
Neji's pale eyes glinted in confusion before he masked it with indifference. "I don't know."
"H-how did you f-find out?" Hinata asked, her voice slightly quivering.
Eyes glinting in slight skepticism, Naruto gave a slight shrug. "Does that matter?"
Yes! Hinata's mind screamed, wishing she could voice it aloud. "W-we told n-no one."
"N-not even N-Neji knew," Hinata babbled, contemplating whether someone had overheard them or not.
Naruto blinked in confusion. "Why is that so bad?"
"No one was supposed to know!" the Hyuuga heir cried. Dark hair clung to her tear stained face as she finally looked at Naruto. Pale eyes filled with anger and sorrow, Naruto flinched slightly at he piercing gaze but did not falter.
"Why not?" Naruto asked softly.
Hinata's gaze lowered. "I did not need a reason to be upset at my clan."
Eyes softening beneath golden lashes, Naruto stepped towards Hinata slowly. Pulling her quivering form towards him, his voice rang with certain firmness. "I'm glad I stopped you."
Giving her a boyish grin, Naruto tilted his head glancing towards the night sky. "Let's go Hinata."
"I did it."
Staring at each other for a moment before turning their lavender eyes towards Hinabi, Hiashi and Neji exchanged a glance of uncertainty.
"I told him," Hinabi stated coldly at their blank expressions.
"Why?" Hiashi asked, a look of disbelief clearly shown on his face.
"Why?" Hinabi mimicked, "It was because I knew he wouldn't be foolish." Turning her knowing eyes towards Neji, she spoke directly towards him. "I knew that if he had the chance, he wouldn't give it up so easily."
Neji swallowed, willing himself to remain calm. "You don't understand."
Hiashi glanced between his daughter and his nephew as they conversed. This issue was something much more than a silly, hope-filled boy interrupting an engagement ceremony. Glancing around his compound, his eyes widened slightly at the fact that his daughter's chakra was slowly disappearing. Blinking in confusion, his head whipped towards the balcony.
"This is completely different," Neji seethed, "do not bring Tenten into this."
Hinabi smiled. "Ah, so that is her name."
Neji's eyes narrowed. "What are you thinking, Hinabi."
Hinabi laughed in reply. "I think it quite endearing when a male of such obstinate thinking lowers himself to the state that you are in over a simple weapons mistress."
His veins tightened within his eyes and his throat released a threatening growl before he realized and Neji was suddenly thrown into an amass of indescribable, abrupt pain.
"Killer intent," Hiashi seethed, watching as Neji withered in pain. Narrowing his eyes in disgust at his shaking nephew, Hiashi gave a warning glance towards Hinabi. "Father like son."
Hating to feel controlled and powerless to the effect of the cursed seal, Neji fought in vain with the mind-numbing pain. This, he thought inwardly between the throbbing, this is what I have to deal with. What I have to live for…
"Stop it," Hinabi said, her voice ringing clear, "I aggravated him."
"It does not matter," Hiashi replied, his voice cold as he sneered at Neji, "He has no right."
Staring at him with a scrutinizing gaze, she nodded slowly. "Father," Hinabi said quietly, "is it only our birth-right that allows us to treat him so?"
"H-Hinata," Neji said through clenched teeth. Sensing both chakras fading, he gave slight sigh in relief. Gasping as his mind was seemingly being pounded, he clutched his head and gave a shout in agony.
Glancing once again towards Neji's pitiful position, Hiashi glanced towards Hinabi solemnly. "No." Releasing his hold against Neji, he watched distantly as Neji sat up. Slowly regaining his consciousness, Neji stood slowly and met Hiashi's eyes with a blank stare.
Shivering slightly at Neji's restraint, Hiashi nodded. "You could have been killed for disrespect, thank Hinabi for her kindness and mercy."
"Father," Hinabi interrupted before Neji's pride could become any less damaged, "that is irrelevant. Hinata is gone."
Eyes clouding in rage, Hiashi pointed towards Neji. "Retrieve her."
"She is not a thing, Lord Hiashi," Neji managed respectfully, "she will not easily return."
"Why would she leave?" Hiashi asked quietly, "She had all she ever needed. She had everything, lacking nothing!"
Hinabi's gaze lowered. "Except happiness."
"Because her love was stronger," Neji answered softly. "It was stronger than her duty. She was not meant to lead the clan."
"Nonsense," Hiashi said coldly, "bring her back."
"And if she is gone?"
Hiashi sighed heavily. "Then we shall discuss that later."
Leaping swiftly through the darkened forest, he caught them before they left the outer limits of the Hyuuga estate.
"Hinata," Neji said as he appeared before them.
Looking slightly dazed and wary, she regarded him with a guarded gaze. Neji looked exhausted. Surely, a run from the Hyuuga compound to the outer borders should not tire him. "Neji?" Weariness and alarm shook her system as he took slightly longer to answer. "Has my f-father sent y-you h-here?"
Nodding a curt 'yes', Neji interrupted before an argument or fist fight could ensue. "But I won't bring you back by physical restraint."
Hearing a feral growl from beside Hinata, Neji narrowed his eyes at Naruto. "I'm not here to fight."
"Then why," Naruto said, his eyes narrowed.
Neji's pale orbs turned towards Hinata. "Why are you doing this?"
Hinata blinked. "Why d-do I chose N-Naruto?"
Neji nodded his head slowly. "Why are you abandoning your duty? Why are you trying to defy…" And with this, he trailed off. Everyone did it. Everyone tried.
Hinata's voice was quiet as she shook her head. "I-I though of a-all people, y-you would kn-know, N-Neji."
Nodding an abrupt nod, Neji vanished before anything else was said. He knew the answer.
Watching two faint shadows disappear from the final barriers leading towards outside of Konoha, Neji returned towards the house.
"She is gone," he answered stoically, his face revealing nothing as he turned towards Hiashi and an awaiting Hinabi.
"With who?" Hiashi demanded, his voice slightly rising.
Meeting Hiashi's gaze coldly, Neji bowed respectfully. "With the Kyuubi boy."
"She was not fit," Hinabi said, her voice soft, yet sensible.
Hiashi glanced down at his youngest daughter, now to be Hyuuga heir. "Not fit?"
"Not fit to head of clan," Hinabi stated offhandedly.
"And why is that?" Hiashi asked, an eyebrow raised.
Lowering her eyes in respect, Hinabi calmly answered. "Hinata is but only human."
Narrowing his eyes in disdain, Hiashi's words were callous. "And that is her reason for defying my authority?"
"No father, but she is foolish."
"She is but a girl," Neji interjected, his eyes challenging both his leader and his cousin.
"A foolish girl," was Hiashi's scornful reply
"A girl who is in love," Hinabi said, voicing her opinion.
Hiashi glanced quickly towards Hinabi. "In…love?"
"She is in love," Neji said distantly, "with the Kyuubi boy, Naruto Uzumaki."
"But she had said…" Hiashi trailed off, giving Neji a sideways look. "She had said she had no lover."
"And yet because she says she does not," Neji answered, "does not necessarily mean she was telling the truth."
"Oh?" Hiashi asked, "A lie?"
Neji's pale eyes flickered with conflict as he remembered their conversation in the forest. Hinata knew he knew the answer. And he did. "A choice."
"A choice? That is the cause?"
"Perhaps a foolish thought?" Hinabi asked pointedly, looking towards Neji.
"Perhaps," Neji answered slowly, seemingly choosing his words, "but a choice and a thought are completely different."
"Oh?" Hinabi asked, a small smile lighting her face, "What is the difference?"
"The choice," Neji replied, his words deliberate yet clear, "would be between two definite options and knowingly choosing only one. A thought would be dwelled on, yet one would never attain a certain answer, only thinking of the possibilities. It is the difference between a matter of doing and thinking."
"A matter of doing and thinking?" Hinabi asked, tilting her head slightly. "And what if you choose to do the wrong thing?"
"It is a matter of choice," Neji said firmly, "and that choice cannot be persuaded."
Hinabi looked at Neji closely, her pale eyes piercing his. "Oh?"
Neji glanced away at her scrutinizing gaze before answering, "Yes."
Moving quickly through the branches of the aged trees with the moonlight as his guide, Neji was careful as to hardly make a sound much more than a fleeting squirrel or bird. Landing softly on the balcony of the opened window, Neji stared through the opening in wariness. Perhaps she wouldn't want to see him…
Moving stealthily through the opening towards her bedside, Neji gazed down at an injured Tenten. Tracing his fingers gently across her bruises and skimming across her cuts, Neji's eyes filled with remorse. He had pushed her so hard.
Turning his gaze upon her marred face, his frown deepened slightly. He had done this. Watching as she shifted in her bed in an uncomfortable manner, she settled down after a moment with a sigh. Grasping her hand softly, he gently lifted it towards his lips as he returned her unconscious call. "Tenten."
Kissing her calloused hand lightly, Neji gave a small smile. Feeling her shift slightly once more in her oblivious state, he watched as she continued to breathe softly. Watching the steady rise and fall of her chest, Neji curled his fingers around hers tightly slowly nodding off in satisfaction.
She was alive.
As the clock struck midnight and neither Hinata nor Neji showed up, Hiashi and Hinabi glanced discreetly at each other.
Hinabi lowered her eyes respectfully, her response perceptive. "Ah, father, Neji is but only human."
Hiashi glanced out towards the balcony where the boy had taken left silently before answering. "Why yes, Hinabi," he said slowly, "you are right. Neji is only human after all."
"And he is a boy," Hinabi added as an afterthought, glancing up towards her father, "a boy who could be in love."
A moment of silence reigned between the two as they compared her statement with Neji's actions. Hiashi shook his head before gazing into Hinabi's pale knowing eyes, "No, Hinabi, he is a man who is in love."
Hinabi gave a small smile in reply, "Ah, father, you are correct."
Alright, it's done! Okie dokie, I would like to thank:
Everlastingxwish, Swaying Mercury, Everlasting Memories, Clearsunrise, AmazinGSensatiOn, Ryotsu-chan, FormerAurora, Audre, Wildcatt, Kili, Iron Butterfly of Kinzan, Agent-doo, Diana, BloodHeron, If To See The World, Vampirewitch, BlooVeggieStix, Ennariel, Nitouryuu, Animesweetie, Ladyaymie, Sakran, xx.faith, Achillea, Hyuuga's Winged Guardian, Sesshy Freak, DarlingKittystar, Kamilog, andSnowhearte
Thanks to all of you for taking time to read this story!