Okay guys, it's me again. Lol. Um, okay all I'm gonna ask is that you please be kind...please? I wrote this at like two o'clock on the morning, craving some serious Neji/Hinata action but my limewire was having total issues getting those two damn episodes so I was a little desperate. Please don't judge too harshly...but if it's TOTALLY terrible, tell me NICELY and I'll take it off the site. Sigh.

Thanks alot. Much love.

P.S.-This story is dedicated to my friend. This story is for you Devil, since you don't believe in the Neji/Hinata-ness. Lol.

"It was Neji…" ….By: erena g.t. rose.

The sunlight filtered through the tall blossom-trees, the dancing golden rays highlighting the little silk-like flower petals that clung so passionately at the end of every branch. The sky was a brilliant, boundless blue…the same blue as the clearest aquamarine. The breeze was soft and cool, refreshing in the overly-warm noon hours of the day.

The thin cut grass, modeled artistically and rounded in a sort of meditative action, waved in the wind; the coy pond rippled with the subtle movements of its inhabitants, their world a carefree place of little concerns. The flowers waved gently, beckoning to the small form of a girl who sat just beyond them, her eyes closed in meditation, her hands resting lightly in her lap. Her once short hair was pulled back now, hanging loosely just below her shoulders; her skin, both unnaturally milky and beautiful was exposed in small increments by the relaxed cut of her training clothing. She wore no shoes and no make-up; she simply was.

He stood inconspicuously beyond the small grassy area that formed this private garden hideaway. His gray-blue gaze, the infamous Byakugan eyes watched her in something like awed rapture. Once, the years of hatred and anger had exploded from him…and once, he'd almost killed her. Almost killed her, this fragile creature of innocence and beauty. Almost destroyed the woman he loved.

And he did love her. Neji had no doubt about this. He had always been her protector, but only rarely had he been her friend. More often then not, he'd been her collar, the stone tied to her ankles that pulled her down beyond the surface into the murky depths of despair. He berated her instead of encouraged her; tried to kill her rather than face the uncomfortable truth that he'd been so wrong about. He tried to kill Hinata once…and he had spent every day since praying hourly for the blessings of the gods, that he might be forgiven for such a terrible mistake.

And by some miracle, he was. Hinata, his beautiful cousin, his charge…his true love, had forgiven him for her near-death at his hands. She kissed him softly on the cheek and turned away, her eyes the same as his own, only more pearlescent and an ethereal lavender color that fitted her so well. She forgave him. He had a chance at redemption.

From that moment on, he'd declared her his only focus…had devoted himself to her in every way. To her went his fighting skills, to her went his prowess and honed instincts. To her protection went every shuriken, kunai and jutsu if need be; to her went his every flare of chakra. She was his purpose, and he owed her everything. He only then realized what a fool he'd been. With eyes such as his, it was still possible to be blind to reality.

Hinata was a beautiful girl, with a kind heart and a healer's soul. She had seen the darkness in him and reached out so many times in an attempt to make contact, only to have him slap her back and call her worthless. And yet, she didn't hate him and never held a grudge. She was an angel. His angel.

He almost killed her once and it was at that time, as he watched the blood seep from between her lips, that he realized that he could feel again…actually feel. He could remember Hinata for who she was, not what part of the family she hailed from. He remembered the shy child who was left to her own devices, never properly loved; he remembered that her own family despised her and she was alone in their compound as surely as he was. He opened his eyes and realized how cruel he'd been. But she never hated and with every drop of her blood that hit that stone floor…with every labored breath and tear-glazed gaze, she was slowly dragging him back from the darkness and into light-filled consciousness once more.

And so they had begun again, as protector and charge…and as friends. The family was tearing itself apart again, as it had once done so long ago. The elders had declared Hinata unfit to be heir and pushed for Hanabi's appointment…but the young girl wanted that no more than Hinata wanted to give up. And so Neji also became her teacher, her partner…and in time, the healer of the wounds that no medic had been able to see. He healed her shattered confidence, helped her rebuild herself as she grew stronger and more skilled. He watched her blossom and it was a time of brilliance and beauty that would never be forgotten.

And when Hinata took her place as heir, Neji smiled because she finally showed everyone that she wasn't weak. She was strong. When Hanabi took a husband outside the family and the elders wanted to disown her, he watched Hinata overrule them with patient, strict authority. She moved Hanabi into the Main Branch housing and welcomed her husband as well. Neji saw this and smiled. New rules, new ways…because Hinata was strong.

When Hinata began to search hours upon hours in the Main Branch library, it was Neji who stood beside her. It was Neji who sought her out so that she wouldn't skip meals in her fervor…and it was Neji who would come and retrieve her each evening after she had exhaustedly passed out on the research table.

It was Neji who undressed her with infinite care, something that was both forbidden and indescribably right. He cherished every caress and curve and the delicate scent of herbal soaps that rose from her skin. It was he who laid her beneath the covers and pulled them up to her chin. And it was he who took the servants room attached to her own, so that he might better watch over her.

When Hinata finally discovered the counterseal for the Branch curse-seal, it was Neji who was freed first. And when he looked up at her in wondrous astonishment, it was Neji she kissed softly, a tender, intimate embrace in which she conveyed her every feeling and her immense relief.

And after she had revoked all the curse-seals, it was Neji who carried her unconscious, chakra-drained body up the stairs to her room, wondering all the time at this selfless, giving creature who had turned his world, the clan and all he'd ever known upside down.

It was Neji who stood at her side when she held the official blood-ceremony that reunited the once separated clan, binding them all together as one family. It was Neji who saw how the honest smile on her lips was echoed by the joyous glitter of tears in her beautiful eyes.

And it was then that Neji realized that he loved his Hinata.

When the War came and they were forced to fight, it was Neji who became Hinata's shadow…her partner on the field and on missions and in the deadliest of battles. And when the war was over, it was Neji she turned to; in his arms, she cried. And when she woke with nightmares months after the fighting had stopped, it was Neji who climbed into the bed beside her and tucked her long hair behind her ears with a loving touch. It was he who smiled down at her and waited until the tears had stopped coming and exhaustion took over.

And when it was finally time for Hinata herself to take a husband, without a doubt, it was Neji she chose. It was Neji she trusted, Neji she desired, and Neji she loved. There had never been any other for her, not truly. Neji was her everything.

And when, at the wedding, they drank from the ceremonial cup and bound themselves with a length of silken gauze, it was Neji who smiled down at her in quiet bemusement, his eyes dancing with barely leashed sensuality.

That night, it was Neji who brought her pleasure…it was Neji who made her body quiver with need…and it was he who made her scream her release as he came inside her, his body and hers forever joined.

And years later, watching their pearl-eyed children play peacefully in that same secret garden, it was Neji she smiled at…and Neji she loved.

Just as he loved her.

They were in love. And of course, it was fitting. Hinata smiled up at the beautiful sky and thank the Gods above…because once, she had prayed for a protector, a lover, someone to understand her. She'd begged and she was glad now for that answered prayer…because as it was now, it had always been.

It was always Neji.

…The End…

Okay, like I said before, if it was totally terrible, tell me nicely and I'll just remove it...though I'm the kinda person that takes flames to heart and they kinda hurt so please...please...please, keep it nice. If you really hate it THAT much, enough to flame me, I'd just prefer if you didn't review it. As a favor from writer to another. Thanx.

Anyway, for those who might like it, just click the little monographic button that says 'review'. Lol. Bye for now...

-erena g.t. rose