A/N: Don't own Naruto. Or Neji. Or Hiashi. Or Hiazashi. Or...Never mind, I don't think you want me to list all of the Naruto characters.
Hiashi felt as much guilt as was humanly possible after the death of his brother. His twin. The twin that had died because he had made the choice to defend his brother. He had been still mourning himself when he was forced to formally offer his condolences to his brother's wife and only son. In all honesty, Hiashi detested his brother's wife. It had been an arranged marriage, and Hiazashi and his bride had never connected. His brother's son, however...
He stood tall, his focus on his nephew, Neji, as the boy and his mother bowed. Neji looked up at him with broken eyes. He couldn't meet Hiashi's gaze, and Hiashi heard him whisper something that sounded distinctly like 'Father' before he broke down sobbing. Hiashi felt distinctly nauseous at this. Hiashi and Hiazashi had been identical twins. Even as they grew up, people had often mistaken one for the other, until Hiashi had become the clan head. His bare forehead set him apart from his twin. Hiazashi had died for his resemblance to Hiashi. And now Neji couldn't even look at him for the fear of seeing his father. Neji's mother immediately grabbed her son and hissed something to him. Hiashi's training as a ninja enabled him to hear what she was saying.
"Enough, Neji! This is the head of the clan, and you will stop this immediately!" Neji nodded silently and rubbed his eyes, turning back to Hiashi. He didn't meet Hiashi's gaze for the rest of the meeting.
The next time that Hiashi saw his nephew, he was training Hinata, and the boy was watching from a distance. It took every ounce of Hiashi's self-control not to immediately activate Neji's curse seal at the hatred and killer intent that emanated from the boy. He had to force himself to remember that this was a child that had just lost his father and believed that his father hadn't had any choice in the matter. In reality, it really was quite the opposite, but Neji was most certainly not ready to hear the truth yet. Neji stayed at a distance and watched Hiashi and Hinata for a few hours before suddenly getting up and leaving. Hiashi didn't know what had prompted his nephew's sudden departure, but it was probably a good thing that he had left. He really couldn't tell how much longer he would have been able to restrain himself from using the curse seal.
Hiashi saw Neji again late that night. There was a raging thunderstorm outside, and the thunder had woken him. Most ninja were woken during storms. It was their enhanced senses that allowed them to survive on missions. Hiashi had activated his Byakugan to check on Hinata to make sure that she was still asleep. She was. Out of curiousity, and no little amount of concern, he looked over in the direction of Neji's house. His mother's chakra wasn't in the house. She must have been on a mission. Neji, on the other hand, was curled up into a tiny ball on his bed. The boy's chakra was at the low level and activity that indicated that he was asleep, but it was beginning to spike and flare. Not enough chakra to suggest that he was waking up, but it wasn't calm enough to show that he was sleeping normally. Hiashi wondered for a while what was wrong with his nephew, but when a clap of thunder coincided with a large flare of chakra, he realized what it was. The boy was having a nightmare...probably caused by the storm. Hiashi remembered that one of the few times that Hiazashi and he had talked after Neji was born, his brother had mentioned that Neji was absolutely terrified of storms.
He hesitated for a few minutes, and then slid out of bed and down the hall. Since Neji was so closely related to the Main Family (his father was the clan head's twin, what more needed to be said?), he and his mother lived in a smaller area that was connected to the Main Family's house. Hiashi silently walked down the hallway, wondering what on earth he was doing. Neji wouldn't even look at him, much less say a word. How would he react if he saw Hiashi in his room at about one in the morning? Hiashi's guess was, 'not well'. Hiashi paused outside Neji's bedroom. He heard the sound of a small body tossing and turning, and a few quiet sobs. The thunder rumbled again, and the sobs grew slightly louder. Hiashi activated his Byakugan to try and gauge the state of things before he went inside. Neji's chakra was much more active. He was awake, then.
When Hiashi carefully stepped into the room, he could make out the shape of a small ball huddled under the covers. He moved closer to the bed, feeling slightly sickened by the terrified sobs that echoed through the room. The boy's mother hadn't even arranged for him to stay with anyone else while she was gone. Hiashi gently tugged the blankets away from his nephew's body. The boy looked up at him with teary eyes and promptly attached himself to Hiashi's chest, sobbing loudly. He heard some garbled words that Neji managed to gasp out though his tears. 'Father'. 'Scared'. 'Stay'. Hiashi felt something in his chest rip itself in two. Neji thought that Hiashi was his father. He was too tired and scared to think anything else. He stayed with Neji until the boy fell asleep, and then he tucked the blankets around him and left.
Eight years later, when Hiashi heard about the near death of his older daughter, he came unimaginably close to activating Neji's curse seal until the boy lost his Byakugan forever. All that stopped him were memories. Remembering the look of horror in Neji's eyes as he watched his father writhe on the ground, curse seal blazing. How Neji couldn't even look at him after his father died. The night of the thunderstorm, where Neji had actually mistaken Hiashi for his father. Every anniversary of Hiazashi's death, when Neji would vanish for the entire day and return silent and puffy eyed. The few times that Hiashi had seen Neji with his team and his nephew had been smirking (Because Neji didn't smile. Hadn't smiled since his father had died.) at the girl as she sighed at their teacher and teammate.
Neji almost wasn't home at all for the next month. Hiashi knew he was training, although he hadn't known the result of the training until his nephew's fight with Naruto. No one outside the Main Family was supposed to know the Kaiten, but Neji had learned it himself with no instruction. Admittedly, he would have needed someone to help him train it. Hiashi had the feeling that the weapon mistress on his team had been that someone, especially upon noticing the satisfied grin on her face at Neji's display. To everyone's astonishment, Neji actually lost the match to Naruto, but not before he had told the other boy what had happened. Or what he thought had happened. Hiashi ignored his younger daughter, Hanabi's questions and focused on Neji. Hanabi had never been told what had happened, or why Neji was so bitter. She had simply assumed that it was just the way he was.
After the match, Hiashi had gone to find Neji. He was sitting alone in the med room, staring at the floor. Hiashi gave Neji the scroll that Hiazashi had given him to give to Neji. And then he had bowed. It only seemed right, after everything that Neji had been through, that someone, anyone, show some deference to him. And Hiashi felt guilty about never having told Neji what had happened. Neji had given him such an odd look at this that Hiashi almost laughed out loud. His nephew was like Hiazashi in more ways than he would ever know. And one of Hiazashi's best tendencies had been his ability to forgive if given proper reason (And it had to be a good reason. A really good reason. Otherwise Hiazashi could hold a grudge until the end of time.) It was possible that Neji would forgive the Main Family. Eventually. Possibly. And Hiashi intendd to be there the day that he did.
A/N: This a random thing that popped into my head one evening...following a long and complicated train of thought involving almost every other Naruto character that I know...nn I don't really remember the train of thought now...but I know it lasted almost an hour. Anywho, please review! For mini-Neji!