Author's Notes: ...Ew. D: At first, I thought, "Oh hey, this is a cool idea." but now I don't like it. Oh well.

Hyuugacest. Not for those who think they have authority over love.

I don't own crap.

Better Off Dead

To Neji, it was not exactly the perfect day for a funeral. But, he realized at the same time, funeral days were never perfect.

He stepped onto the grass outside his door that morning, after dressing in black garments. Immediately he breathed in the air that was heavy with humidity and made the first layers of his hair cling to his scalp. As if it's already hard enough to breathe in without this humid air…he thought to himself. He ran his fingers through the back of his head and closed his eyes. Whether in irritation or in grief, even he did not know.

"Ah, Neji-san. I see you are ready."

Neji's ears pricked up at the voice and turned around to see one of the Hyūga Elders standing with his hands behind his back. The man's expressionless face was meant to intimidate Neji, being the branch member, but his efforts went unnoticed. Neji returned the Elder's scowl before bowing to him.

"I am, Elder."

The old man's face did not change. He merely gave a small nod of approval before adding, "Well, then. Let us be on our way. A sad day awaits before us." He waited for Neji to get back up on his feet before turning around and making his way over toward the Hyūga graveyard, without bothering to check and see if Neji was following him.

The eulogy was held outside; where a few hundred people were gathered in a large circle around one large black ebony casket encrusted with gold around the edges. Neji went up toward the group and found his place in the gap of people closest to the casket. The Husband's Spot. He shook off a few apologies that were made by various people here and there, and turned his attention toward the middle-aged Hyūga standing before him. The man suddenly raised both hands, requesting silence. Immediately, the group hushed.

"Today, we are here to say our final goodbyes to one of the most unique woman to ever lead this house. We are here to pay our final respects to Hyūga Hinata."

Unique? You mean the fact that she was not bloodthirsty, confident, stuck-up, and as cruel as every other Hyūga there was? You mean the fact that she was weak, and you people abused her for it?

"Lady Hinata was a wonderful person, to say in the least. Honest, caring, and kind to all her peers."

Don't make me laugh, you old fool. Hinata being kind and caring was one of the very reasons you Elders began to treat her harshly. You all told her that she would never make a good House Head, if she always trusted everyone. You told her that she was breaking the very roots of tradition in this clan by being nice to the members of the Branch House. You were shattering all of the self-confidence she had built up over all those years.

"And it was that kindness that drove her forward in her beliefs. Another of one of her many good qualities, Lady Hinata felt very strongly about the treatment of living things, yet still attempted to adapt that quality into her life as a ninja, and as the head of our clan."

Hinata did not feel strongly about the treatment of any old living thing, she felt strongly about the treatment of me. Me, and the rest of the Branch House. And it was you people who had problems with it and gave her such a hard time.

"It was also this belief that led her to fall in love with the strong and brave man you see standing beside me now." The old man cast a glance toward Neji before continuing. "During the last few months of Lady Hinata's life, she had felt that she could change some…aspects of the Hyūga family for the better. It was…most unfortunate that she could not live to complete her goal."

And it was because of the fact that we fell in love that you people wanted to shut her up. You people could not bear to think that the leader of the Hyūga would be with a Branch member…her protector. Unreasonable. Unthinkable. Undoable. When we were found out, she had no choice but to announce that she wanted to merge the two houses together as one. You Elders could not accept that. Refused to accept it. You tried to betroth her to another Main House member, but she repudiated it. Then you made her attend several secret meetings… I don't know what you people said to her while I was not around…but whatever they were, your little plan worked, and she lost the will to live. Now…now she's dead.

As the Elder continued his little speech, Neji noticed that several people around him had succumbed to the grief and began to silently tear up. His gaze went down and caught Hanabi's, who was wiping her eyes with the back of her hand at that moment. She looked up at him and tried pathetically to give him a comforting smile. Instead it only made her face more contorted and scrunched. Neji knew that later Hanabi would try punishing herself for expressing her emotions during such a time.

He leaned down to her height and patted her back. "You shouldn't try too hard to keep everything bottled up forever. Shinobi or not, you're still human, and it will only just eat you up inside." He murmured.

Hanabi looked at him quizzically. He didn't put any mind to it, though. Neji knew what she was thinking. Neji…telling me that I shouldn't hide things? Why would he do something like that…

As if reading her mind, Neji glanced back at Hanabi before breathing, "That was what Hinata-sama tried to do…before she died."

Hanabi's eyes widened for a second before blinking them back. She knew that it would be rude if she continued talking to Neji, so she gave a small nod and returned to paying attention to the Elder, who had then began to step down and allow another Main House member to recall the special memories of Lady Hinata.

Neji called nee-san "Hinata-sama"…he hasn't done that in forever…I wonder if he will be ok.

"…Lady Hinata was truly a wonderful person…there will never be another Hyūga Head like Lady Hinata." The second person concluded.

No, there will always be Hyūga members who will be corrupted by this cursed clan. There will always be Hyūga members who will die like her. There will always be a Hyūga Head just like Hinata-sama. Always…

The eulogy ended after two more Main House members spoke of Hinata, and slowly a line was formed in front of the black casket. Neji only then realized that it was an open casket funeral.

His stomach tried to flip itself but he suppressed the feeling before anyone took notice. Seeing Hinata's body for the last time…Neji wondered how long it would be until he would join with her. He didn't know whether to hope for it to be sooner or later.

When he took his spot in the line, Hinata's casket seemed to be hundreds of miles away. People before and after him were chatting away about the grief of losing her, but no one dared to speak to Neji.

"Neji-san. If it is all right, we will need to borrow you for a few minutes."

It was two hours after the funeral, and Neji was back inside the Hyūga House, getting ready to step inside his room to change out of his black garments. He recognized the voice, and did not hesitate to turn around and reply.

He turned around to look at who was speaking to him. It was the Chief Elder, accompanied by a few others. Neji did not have to think too much to guess what they wanted him for.

"…I see." He closed his eyes and inwardly sighed. So the time had come when his presumptions would prove to be correct, then. "Yes, Elder." He made sure to bow before addressing them. As he raised himself back up, Neji attempted to tell if the Elders were feeling relieved, that a major crisis would be over for the family, or resentful, that in order to accomplish it, a sacrifice had to be made.

But the Elders' faces remained flat, and so did Neji's.

"Follow us."

The Elders turned away (Neji counted six of them) and began making their way toward the far point of the Hyūga Manor. When they were ten feet ahead of him, Neji began to follow. Main members and Branch members alike moved out of their paths without faltering (followed with bows from the Branch members). The only noises that could be heard was the soft ruffling of their black garments on the floors as they steadily made their way toward a section in the Main House that Neji had never visited. The architecture was just the same as the rest of the house, but it seemed like it was less taken care of than the others. The walls were cracked, paint was curling up, the wooden flooring was not polished…nothing was attended to.

The Elders picked the room on the very end of the section, and beckoned Neji to come into the room with them.

"Sit down." The Chief Elder motioned toward a moth-eaten chair in the middle of the room.

Despite going against Neji's natural reactions toward an order from a Main House Elder, he stood his ground and refused to move.

Seeing this, the Elder sighed.

"So, you have figured out why we brought you here."

Neji did not move, staring at the group of Elders with a blank expression.

"What will you accomplish if you ignore us like this? Defying the Main House, is that the last thing you plan to do before you die? Such a feeble attempt…it won't get you anywhere. So why don't you sit down and listen to our reasons…?"

Neji forced himself not to laugh. "Reasons? Why would you be bothered with explaining to me why I should die?"

"You were not given permission to ask questions. Now sit down." The Elder repeated. His voice showed a slight hint in irritation, but Neji ignored it.

"Besides, Chief Elder…I can guess the reasons on my own. When you first discovered that Hinata and I were together, she automatically announced to you that she wanted to merge the two houses together and cease the usage of the curse mark. But of course, the Elders felt strongly against it. Having the Branch House kept the Hyūga family stabilized, right? Without it, the clan would fall apart."

"Stop talking and sit down." The Elder hissed through his teeth. Once again his order went unanswered.

"It was after that you betrothed her and began having restricted meetings with Hinata…my guess is that you threatened my death if she continued to perceive her dream. It would have been easy, and she wouldn't have been able to stop it, right? All you had to do was activate the seal…"

"I SAID SIT DOWN!" the Chief Elder bellowed before dashing over to Neji and striking him hard in the chest, forcing him to stagger into the chair.

"You think that you can have your bit of revenge here just by disobeying us and giving us a monologue? We did not kill Lady Hyūga, she withered away on her own!" spit flew from his mouth onto Neji's forehead protector. In his lost temper, the Elder placed his hands around Neji's neck and threatened to constrict. "Do you have any idea what would have happened if we let the Houses know what the late Hinata wanted to do to this clan? If they got the same ideas? Heresy! We would be torn into pieces! Secrets of the Byakugan would be let out! Dare I say, it would lead into war!" he gripped on the flesh harder. "KNOW YOUR PLACE!"

"Ch-Chief Elder!" the other Elders were stunned at his loss of temper and began clasping their hands on his shoulders. "Chief Elder, please let go…" Neji's face had begun to discolor.

As though suddenly waking up from a shocking dream, the man's eyes widened for a second and hastily withdrew his hands from Neji, who then began rubbing the front of his neck.

After a few moments of awkward silence, one of the other men stepped out from the group and quietly said, "Well, I am sure you get the point…of what we are being forced to do to you."

As he said that, another Elder slowly raised his right hand to the front of his face and formed the curse seal jutsu.

Neji had always thought that he would be frightened out of his mind when he would die, but instead he felt slight humored at how things came to be.

"Is something funny, Neji-san?" the Elder with the hand formations asked. He did not need to see Neji openly laughing in order to tell that he was inwardly chuckling.

In response, Neji shook his head and took a last look toward his superiors. "No…it's just that I have always wondered what my funeral would be like. Will it be filled with the same lies, just like this morning?"

The Elder stirred slightly, then answered. "No. You have no father, or a lover anymore. There is no one to attend your funeral."

He did not waste another moment to allow Neji to ask more questions before activating the curse seal.

The End

Author's Notes: And they lived happily ever after. lolsarcasm. I hate myself. D: