Doves

A NejiHina One-Shot

I always call my cousin because we're so close. We're almost like siblings, and we're also close because our dads are brothers.
--anonymous (supposedly from Britney Spears)


Neji's POV

My feet padded along the polished floor boards. It was pretty silent and calm in the Hyuuga estate… for now. Hiashi-sama's voice was like a cyclone when he's angry, even at Hinata-sama in particular.

I had no mission for today and my teammates and sensei were busy training. What is there for me to do?

I don't feel like reading. I've been doing that a lot lately with the Hyuuga juuken scrolls and such. Too much knowledge can certainly make one's brain hurt. Yes, even geniuses can have a headache one time or another. I'm not hungry and it's late afternoon.

I stopped to glance at the glistening sun basking the garden Hinata-sama takes care of with warm sunlight. The flowers that are blooming lately are doing its justice. I'm not fascinated of plants much, but the slender hands that help grow and nourish the plants with of water bring out the life of the flowers.

I sometimes stop by to smell the pleasant fragrances of some of the flowers. I can tell Hinata-sama pours her heart out into these flowers the clan doesn't even bother to grow. Without such a garden, the clan would look even more serious and withered as compared to our generations of bitter tradition weighing down the clan inside out.

Before I would proceed down the open corridor to leave the estate, I noticed a slim figure near the bird cage where it houses the elegant but trapped doves. I smiled faintly at Hinata-sama who opened the cage a bit to take out a dove, closing it again to pet the beautiful white bird in her hands.

She could not see me, for she stood sideways and all her undivided attention was soaking up to that dove. Hinata-sama's eyes glowed in content, and she finally grew her hair out to the point it blanketed her mid back and shoulders. Her long hair's sheen looked lovely against the brilliant sunlight.

A long time ago, I would've thought such things to be sickeningly sweet and frivolous. Back then, I was killing myself inside; rotting away in the very façade of hatred I've possessed against Hinata-sama when it was primarily for the main branch.

Hinata… had nothing to do with it. The clan is what I still abhor to this day, but… I think due to Hinata-sama's help and tender compassion; I've released a layer of my troubles and let it float away. Everything feels slightly different now and I appreciate the break.

I cherish the times I spend with my cousin, although not often since we're both busy as it is. Me with my missions as a Jounin, and Hinata-sama with her training as the heiress. Sometimes I personally train her and she shows more improvement with me than with her father himself.

Hinata-sama relaxes in my presence, and it leaves her to be more composed during her training. Sometimes I smirk in pride from earning such an honor her father will never achieve.

She respects me and cares for me more than she ever could near her father. He's too Goddamn intimidating. Like a rock. A huge rock mountain towering over you. If chosen to ever climb the rock mountain, you can't help but feel nervous when nature ever decides to be cruel and let you fall.

"Neji-niisan?" Snapping out my reverie from the sound of her lyrical, but soft voice, I glanced at Hinata-sama staring curiously at me.

"Kon-nichiwa gozaimasu." Bowing slightly in greeting, I stepped along the luscious green grass to approach the heiress I am proud to protect. I noticed the content smile on her lips as she stroked the bird, and it crooned in pleasure.

"You're n-not on a mission?" she inquired, though I could pick up a hint of hope.

"Iie, I'm free for the day. No training today?"

"T-thankfully, yes. I-I have no training." Though her infamous stutter in the academy and genin days was a terrible habit of hers, which sprouted from her shy and timid nature, Hinata-sama finally took a step further into earning confidence by losing most of it, but not the entire stutter.

"That's good. Lately you've been training too much and I rarely see you nowadays." I smirked lightly at Hinata's faint blush as I opened the cage ajar to gingerly pull a dove out. I didn't bother closing the cage.

"G-gomen. I-I'll try t-to reason with f-f-father… and m-maybe take s-some hours off of t-training…"

"No worries, Hinata-sama. I do not want to ask too much of you." We fell silent as I petted the dove, staring at it absentmindedly. She stuttered again. Hinata-sama always stutters when concerning her father. He never lets up to give Hinata-sama some peace.

It should be a crime to prevent Hinata-sama to have some peace for herself.

Hinata's POV

I wonder if I upset Neji-niisan somehow. It's not that I don't want to spend time with Neji-niisan but father has kept me in a tight schedule and I barely have time for myself. Besides, Neji-niisan has so many missions and it's only rare he has a free day.

I stroked the dove's feathers while avoiding eye contact with Neji-niisan. I sound as if I can't even spare time for my precious cousin. A frown marred my face as I thought of how to make him feel better.

I mustered up any courage that I still had in this moment to look up at him. Surprisingly, Neji-niisan was too deep in thought to have noticed I looked at him. He kinda looks… funny. It's odd to see his hair splayed all over his shoulders when it usually was held back in a low ponytail. I couldn't help but smile at the relaxed look in his eyes.

Usually when I see him by himself thinking, he has those wrinkles on his forehead and he looks like he's frowning, glaring at no one in particular. Makes him look like he's angry at something or someone, but it's a nice change to see him so undisturbed.

Attentively, I scooted closer to him and smiled small. "Neji-niisan." I like it when I call him that. It's a childish name, and it suits him.

"Hai, Hinata-sama?" He acts like a robot. Though he looks more human when I snapped him out of his train of thought. I blushed under his patient gaze as I resisted the urge to tap my fingers together. His lavender eyes, which are identical to mine, are pretty big and full. Compared to my small ones. Trying to compose myself, I cleared my throat… and directly looked him in the eye.

On the inside, butterflies were fluttering crazy in my stomach.

He raised an eyebrow from my behavior. "Do you want to have tea with me?" Pink tinted my cheeks as I smiled politely. Father always tells me to act lady-like and polite no matter whom you address and/or talk with. Then, Neji-niisan nodded. It may not look it, but Neji-niisan pulled off an invisible smile.

"I'll be more than glad to do so." Putting the dove back in the cage, Neji-niisan waited for me to put mine in also before I shook my head. I giggled at his questioning look.

"T-This is my f-favorite dove. I'll t-take i-it with me." Sighing inwardly from my petty reasoning, Neji-niisan didn't object as he closed the cage.

"Let's go then."

"Hai." Neji-niisan obviously took the lead since he always walk in wide strides. So, I had to jog slightly to walk beside him. I'd rather walk at his side than walk behind him like I used to. That way, I could actually talk to him side by side as if we were equals.

I'm not from the Main house and he's not from the Branch house. We're just cousins.

The walk was pleasant so far. Comfortably quiet. It was a companionable silence. It's not as if we can't say anything. It's just there's no need to speak.

The dove long left my hands to perch itself on my shoulder. I smiled faintly from its pleasant crooning.

Although, something has been nagging me at the corner of my mind.

"Ano… Neji-niisan?"

"Hai?"

"W-When you took the d-dove out from the c-cage, why d-didn't you close it?"

"…Well, I thought if I left it open, the other doves would fly out."

"Oh." I still question why he thought they would fly out though.

"I don't understand. Birds don't like to be caged, yet the doves had an opportunity to escape, but they didn't. They just loitered inside." Neji-niisan looks vexed, I can tell from the slight narrow of his eyes. And the wrinkles and the glare, you can't forget about those either.

"W-Well, I guess t-they didn't want t-to. Even though t-they are caged d-doesn't mean they are u-unhappy." I nodded in self-understanding, unaware of Neji-niisan peering at me.

"How so?"

"Well, even though they are 'trapped,' as you say, it doesn't mean they are alone," I said contently, lost in thought to my own philosophy. "Maybe it is lonely and isolating to be caged but… When you're with someone or people you care about and they're alone, too… Then you wouldn't feel so caged."

I hadn't noticed I stopped talking. I was unaware of how Neji-niisan would react from my choice of words because I accidentally lost myself in my own world right now.

Yes… as long as caged birds have each other, the pain of constraint can lessen and become more bearable.

"I respect you, Hinata-sama."

"Ohuh?" Dubiously surprised, I turned to meet Neji-niisan's soft eyes. Did I move him that much?

"You, despite what your father and the clan have done to criticize you harshly of your flaws, are still pure. Makes me feel envious, in a way." Now he laughed briefly in what seemed to be self-pity. I don't want Neji-niisan to feel this way. He has every right to feel at peace like everyone else. I am no different.

"D-don't feel like t-that, Neji-niisan!" I exclaimed, surprising the both of us with the volume of my voice. Ignoring the nervous feeling in my stomach, I fixed a determined gaze with his appalled eyes. "I-I mean, Neji is N-Neji and I a-am me! Naruto i-is N-Naruto and… um… er, uh… Sa-Sasuke is Sasuke! We a-are all o-our o-own p-person!

"P-please don't t-t-think you're dif-different from a-anyone e-e-else!"

I was already getting too flustered and I paused abruptly to breathe in some oxygen. It may seem pathetic and sensitive of me, but it was hard to fight back a sob. I hate it when Neji-niisan degrades himself like this.

"I-it's j-just…" I hiccoughed as I harshly wiped my eyes so he wouldn't see. "Y-you are—."

"Say no more, Hinata-sama." Neji-niisan wrapped his arm around my slender shoulders in a way to comfort me. "I… I understand what you are trying to say." I sucked in air and steadily regained my bearings, his deep voice already calming my nerves.

It's not so easy to express and fight back emotions. It's like a battle against myself I'm scared to show. I feel… ashamed.

"H-hai… Let's go. T-tea always c-calms me." I produced a weak smile for Neji-niisan and his lips curved hesitantly in reassurance. Lightly pushing me with his hand on my back, we made our way to the compound.

When it comes to Neji-niisan's troubles, I can't help but feel emotional about it.

Neji's POV

It was not a happy sight to see Hinata-sama sober after her display of kind smiles for me. I was just glad I brought her out of it.

Now it was hard to tell if she even cried at all. Her face looks dry, but on the other hand, she's used to hiding her tears.

We finally entered the tea room and I sat down with my legs tucked under me. It would've been uncomfortable to sit like this if it wasn't for the training in mannerisms since I was five.

Hinata-sama left only for a moment to come back with a metal pot containing hot, steaming tea.

She placed two cups on the table, one for me and one for her. Ever so carefully, she poured the tea in poise as the fluids filled the ceramic cups. I couldn't help notice some hair strands spill on her slightly bare shoulders. And her face is so concentrated, she looks… pretty in her lavender kimono.

A minute later, after she placed the teapot down, Hinata-sama sat next to me and slowly blew at her drink to sip it.

"Arigatou, Hinata-sama." I lifted the cup to drink it, but paused when I noticed Hinata-sama smiling softly at me. Lowering the cup, I stared at her inquisitively.

"Is something wrong, Hinata-sama?" Her cheeks colored as she shook her head, resuming to drinking her tea.

"It's nothing. I just wonder sometimes when w-was the last time w-we drank tea together l-like this…." I sighed, silently gazing at my drink before I scoffed.

"I know. It's peaceful, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is." It was comfortably silent again as we both occasionally sipped from our tea.

We did not sit far away from each other. On the contrary, our arms were close enough to brush against each other.

As her cousin, I respect the distance she needs for her self-esteem. Besides, she sees me as someone close and she's always calm around me. I like that.

It just aggravates the hell out of me whenever Naruto is ten feet away from her, and Hinata-sama gets embarrassed the moment she sees him. How can she like that idiot when she's constantly blushing around the guy?

Hinata-sama has strange taste in men.

"Mm, Neji-niisan?"

"…Hai?"

"How are y-you doing lately w-with your team a-and missions?"

"Other than having Lee continuingly shout the words of youth with Gai-sensei and Ten-ten trying to shut them up by throwing kunais at them, everything is fine." I stated sarcastically. In other words, they've been annoying me day and night. "Though I wouldn't mind if Tenten succeeds to decapitate them one day…"

No one is sane in that team other than me. Well, if they don't stop their insane antics soon, I might go insane as well.

Hinata-sama giggled.

"What?" I snapped almost defensively. She didn't seem bothered by my sudden change in mood.

"It seems e-everything is going w-well, then."

"If you should say that."

"And y-you're a Jounin, right? H-how are the missions?"

"Nothing too challenging." Truth be told, I'm kind of disappointed in the lack of strong shinobis these days. Of course, with my byakugan being a valuable asset to the missions, every mission I was assigned under was always a complete success, more or less.

I filled my cup with more of Hinata-sama's delicious oolong tea. It's strange how my mouth grows starch sometimes.

What if one day a mission I attended would go terribly wrong and it may cost me my life? Who would care or cry if I'm dead?

Maybe Hinata-sama would… It would be nice if she did tell me to stay here for her and avoid life-threatening missions. Then we could—

"How about y-your lovelife?" The tea I was currently sipping immediately squirted out of my mouth.

"Lovelife?" I repeated, already in the act of composing myself while I stifled my coughs. Thank Kami she interrupted my thoughts.

"Yes. Did I cross o-on a sensitive i-issue?" Hinata-sama seemed shocked from my sudden reaction. Hastily, she began to rub the table clean of the tea with a towel as I tried to think of something else to say.

"No, you haven't, but…" Wiping the tea off my mouth, I stared at Hinata-sama's oblivious form still trying to clean the mess I've made.

This feels vaguely familiar…

"I… I'm not interested in settling down with someone because I have you—." I noticed her face rapidly gaining color. "To protect, I mean." I quickly corrected myself. She seemed relieved, too as she finished wiping the table dry. But the pink tacking her cheeks didn't go away, except only lessen.

I made a mess because of what had temporarily disturbed me, and Hinata-sama was there to clean it.

It seems I'm always the uncertain one. And for some reason, Hinata-sama heals me.

"Eto… um… you f-forgive me, right?" Her voice was so meek and hesitant; I shifted slightly to face her. Lowering the half-empty cup down, I noticed the dove that was perched on her shoulder fly away somewhere.

"Forgive you for what?" Hinata-sama stared expectantly at me with wide eyes, almost looking like a guilty child desperate for forgiveness. My lips curved as I chuckled. And then it hit me. "You think it's your fault?"

She flushed in embarrassment. I noticed how… cute Hinata-sama looks with her cheeks colored in a rosy red flush.

I had to say cute, didn't I?!

"Neji-niisan! Don't be a meanie!" Due to her flustered state, she had to retort something childish.

"Gomen." I shifted closer as I caressed her cheek lightly, earning her to smile and flush darker under my simple touch. "Now I apologized. Doesn't that make you feel better?" She turned away slightly, mocking a pout as she did so.

"Maybe." I smirked from her childish demeanor. So that's how she wants to play.

"Why you little—."

"N-Neji-niisan!! S-s-s-stop, p-p-p-please! I-I b-b-beg o-of y-you!"

Fits of uncontrollable laughter encased Hinata-sama as I pulled her into my arms and tickled her relentlessly. She's highly sensitive to being ticklish (if that makes any sense), and her weakest spot is her stomach and sides.

I was so unguarded at this point. Ninja's are not supposed to show any trace of emotion like I am doing right now. A smile wouldn't leave my lips as I continued my onslaught of tickling Hinata-sama as her melodically ringing laughter resounded in this quiet compound.

It was so easy to forget.

In this moment, I forgot I was supposed to be an impassive ninja always straining to keep his emotions hidden.

I forgot Hinata-sama was the heiress and I was her servant, her protector.

I forgot what I suffered in my previous years; scorning Hinata-sama, scorning her father, scorning this clan, scorning my very existence, scorning practically everything around me.

I forgot what tradition meant, what our roles played in this life.

And I forgot all the bridges and gaps existing between me, Hinata-sama, and the world.

I only focused on who we were, that we were cousins, we were close like siblings, and she was more than my friend.

She is Hinata, and Hinata sees me as Neji.

Nothing more, nothing less.

"N-N-Neji! M-m-mercy!!"

"Well, why didn't you say so?" I surrendered tickling her for now as I didn't waste a moment to lift her in my arms. I laughed at her flustered protests to put her down and release her.

Yes, it seems time doesn't seem to exist. We are here… by ourselves… enjoying each other's presence.

Finally, just to let her have some peace, I decided to let her sit on the floor beside me since she looks uncomfortable in my arms. I was wrong though. Hinata wasn't uncomfortable about our close proximity.

She was just overreacting from this new bond we formed at this moment.

"Eto… Neji-niisan?"

"Hm, yes?"

"Can I… ano…" She bit on her lower lip nervously as she brought her finger to her mouth, staring at something above my eyes.

"What?"

"Y-your forehead… can I-I see?" I narrowed an eyebrow in suspicion, but mostly from confusion.

"See wha—." Oh. The mark. My cursed seal.

I don't know why I'm hesitating. I trust Hinata-sama. It's only right to comply to her wish no matter how it may unease me.

"Okay." Hesitantly, Hinata-sama scooted closer to me as she timidly lifted her hands to clutch at my forehead protector before pulling it off. Carefully placing my scratched headband down on the floor, she lifted her curious lavender eyes to gaze at the green scar on my forehead.

I tensed as she raised her hand to touch the mark. The moment her soft fingers trailed tenderly along the skin, I relaxed considerably. She traced the outline of the line patterns, stroking the center of the mark.

I stared at her and she looked transfixed at the scar I have loathed and hated since the incident happened when I learned my father had sacrificed his life for my Uncle, Hinata-sama's father.

I've never seen Hinata-sama so awed before at such a simple thing. Though this green scar was far from simple. The whole reason it's on my forehead is complex.

I noticed Hinata-sama shifted closer to lean on my lap as she took a closer look at my scar, which forever marked me as a branch member.

I noticed as she leaned a bit higher, I had a good view of her… developed breasts peeking out just barely from her kimono's low collar. I guess… she's a woman now despite being sixteen.

Her touch is so soothing… and she's so close…

A quiet gasp escaped her mouth as I wrapped my arms around her slim body. I pulled her closer in doing so and her chest was a nice pillow for my head.

I feel lethargic today. Without having the role of protecting Hinata-sama as being a branch member and her cousin… if I didn't possess the role of being a ninja… what would my purpose be?

Hinata-sama did not pull away nor did her body go rigid from my intimate action.

I think she understands what I needed.

Comfort. Her body was comforting against my own, and warm. I like this feeling.

Moments later still in this position, I felt a hand brush through my long locks of dark brown hair. Hinata-sama would always comment it looks like a blanket of chocolate.

How childish. But that's what's pure about her. Hinata is a child at heart.

A companion I need.

When my eyes landed to the window cracked open, I noticed Hinata-sama's favorite dove perched on the windowsill. The dove gazed at me with those beady eyes before it suddenly flew out the window and into the great outdoors.

My lips curved. It had its chance and the dove took the freedom.

Maybe we could do that, too. Fly out together and soar carelessly within the vast blue sky.

A dove symbolizes peace, love, innocence, and purity.

Daisuki, Hinata. You are my favorite dove.


Geez, I can't believe I actually wrote this.

I mainly wrote it for this one-shot contest in Quizilla, but... I had half a mind to write this particular one-shot for awhile.

Please excuse this slight fluffiness if you didn't like it. I didn't want to write a short story with this pairing where they started in the brink of negativity or that they were close as lovers already. I don't mind Hyuugacest, but I'm not one who likes to indulge in romance.

Besides, I have a thing for incest couples and stuff. I support incest! (however sick this is for most people)

Just think about it. If you erase the fact that you are blood-related, and your siblings or cousins, then you wouldn't find an explicit excuse to not love the person more than friends.

The barrier that stands between the person you really love and what society disgusted at, is that you are related.

If you and your siblings met under circumstances, alot would feel different.

Just knowing you are siblings or cousins kinds of ruins it, huh?

Anyway, I hoped you like the story. I guess I did. I finished the rest of this one-shot while I was half-asleep (tired), and I'm always sensitive when I'm exhausted. That, and the song I was listening to that was performed by Explosions in the sky. It was so soothing... The song helped me finish the one-shot.

Your Hand in Mine... I love that song. -smiles-