A/N: This story was previously called "Neji's the Heir; who's the Heiress?" It'll undergo a complete rewrite, because it didn't have much of a plot before and it was poorly written. I'll try to re-incorporate some of what existed of the previous plot.
Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto aren't mine...at all.
: Ultimatum :
The sky was restless.
Rain fell in torrents, thumping droplets on the earth like a drum. The wind whistled its own musical accompaniment as if trying to best the rain's legato with its own staccato. It rattled the rooftops and rustled the leaves, conducting an orchestra outside Neji's room window. He sighed as he shifted in bed, burrowed further beneath his sheet cocoon, and covered his ears with one of his many pillows.
Knock, knock, knock.
After discerning the sky's obvious promise of rain, his team resolved to get home before evening. Luckily they beat the storm.
Knock, knock, knock.
It was pure torture. That tree branch had been tapping against his window for most of the night. During every rainstorm, it was the tree's tendency to lean over and knock on his window as if ushering him outside. Many times, Neji contemplated hacking it to pieces. But his mother had planted and nurtured the redbud, so Neji cherished the memento. Though it annoyed the living hell out of him during storms, its leaves provided shade and kept the blistering breezes at bay during the summer.
Knock, knock, knock.
There was something different about that tapping. It had a lower pitch which settled into a steady bass, unlike the high-pitched tapping of a branch against the glass. Was that someone at the door?
Knock, knock, knock.
Getting up and crossing the room in measured strides, Neji opened the door to see who dared bother him at such an hour. It was a maid. She bowed as soon as she saw his tall frame between the door jams.
"Goodnight, Neji-san. Hyuga Hiashi-sama requests your presence in his study."
His brows furrowed before he replied. "Tell him I'll be there shortly."
Neji sat before his uncle feigning patience while Hiashi skimmed through some official documents. Hiashi's study always perturbed Neji. It was the most intimidating room in the compound. And, if Neji knew Hiashi as well as he thought he did, it was most likely designed to impart that feeling of coercion. It wasn't much different from the typical study, save for the deadly weapons that decorated the wall behind Hiashi's desk (which his invitees faced). No doubt, that particular section of the room helped Hiashi land most of his contracts.
"It says here that you have completed a total of 130 official missions: 26 D-rank, 20 C-rank, 25 B-rank, 48 A-rank, and 11 S-rank." Closing the document, Hiashi finally regarded his nephew. "Evidently, you have satisfied your duties to the village…yet you have neglected your duties to your clan."
Neji's eyes narrowed at the comment. He thought he had been doing an adequate job, considering the workload that both loyalties provided. Despite his status as ANBU Captain, he also served as a liaison within the clan who highlighted and reconciled the concerns of the Main and Branch House. Lately, he'd been up to his elbows in work, pacifying disgruntled clansmen while executing life-threatening missions that he'd been assigned to months in advance. If it were anyone else, they would have been crushed under the pressure by now. Was his uncle oblivious to his attempts to balance his duty to his clan with his obligations to his village?
"In what way?" Neji demanded.
Hiashi rested entwined fingers elbows on the table. "Although you are not a member of the Main House, our Kekkei Genkai has found its purest form in you. I am determined to have it passed on."
His nephew's eyes enlarged to the size of saucers. 'Passed on…to my children?'
Neji frowned. Children were a blessing; he didn't doubt that. He wanted to have a child of his own one day. A little creature containing his genetic material, who he'd love perpetually and who'd love him in return simply because he was his tou-san. The time that Neji had spent with his father, as precious and worthwhile as it was, was quite short-lived. Hence, he always aspired to share a more prolonged relationship with his child (if fate was so merciful). He wasn't planning on adding a few more toddlers to Konoha's population anytime soon though.
"Since you continue to undertake increasingly dangerous missions, I'd prefer they be passed on sooner rather than later. You are too career-oriented and, possibly, the most in-control young man I've ever met. If I leave you to fulfill that task in your own time, chances are, pigs will be flying through my study before that happens." Hiashi made no attempts to hide the derision in his tone.
Neji tried not to take that as an insult.
"Since it's not a choice that I can force you into, I decided to make you an offer that you can't refuse." The young man held his breath in anticipation. "Do you have a girlfriend, Neji?"
Surprise stood detained in Neji's quicksilver depths. He blinked it away. What bizarre joke was his uncle playing? Had he called him out at the most ungodly hours of the night to mess with him?
"No uncle." Hiashi had never delved so deeply into his private affairs before.
"I didn't think so," Hiashi sighed with a solemn bow of his head.
Again, Neji tried not to take that as an insult.
"According to your files, you'll be off on another S-rank mission within six weeks. For the sake of preserving the Kekkei Genkai that you have inherited, I'm willing to offer you your children's freedom… If you find a suitable partner and marry her within six weeks (before you leave for your mission), I vow that none of your children will have the Cursed Seal placed on them. They will be raised as members of the Main House…and I'd be quite ecstatic to play the role of their adoring granduncle." A smile accompanied Hiashi's declaration.
To say that the proposal surprised Neji would be an understatement; unbidden shock replaced his customary expressionless mask. His mind wound circles around itself in a spell of disbelief and confusion. His uncle couldn't be serious?
One hard look at the genuine expression gracing Hiashi's features told him that he was.
Neji tried to take slow, deep breaths to calm his nerves and still his racing heart. Hiashi was giving him the opportunity to ensure his children never lived the life that he had downright despised in the past. By simply agreeing, he could protect them from a mark that could rid them of their lives on another's whim. He could provide them with the freedom they deserved.
So, why hadn't he agreed yet?
Well, for one, the conditions were as absurd as the incentive was enticing. Giving him a little over a month to find a wife was hardly reasonable. To make matters worse, he was rather picky and he'd never intended to have to settle for anyone. Living with his lovesick parents had engraved a stereotypical image of a family into his mind. The one with a husband and wife who were infatuated with each other and a perfect kid who loved them just as much. But Neji knew that, in spite of his charm and good looks, not even he could find such a lady in the space of a few weeks. So, the real question boiled down to what was more important: his silly dreams or the future of his children?
It wasn't a difficult choice to make. "To clarify...what you're saying is that if I marry within six weeks, you'll give me your word that my children won't be subjected to the clan's Juinjutsu?"
"Well, you'd also be required to impregnate your wife within a year of marriage for the oath to remain valid. But, I doubt even you would find that too challenging." Hiashi grinned; his gaze was teasing. Neji scowled in response, dignifying him with his most fearsome glare.
How could he not consider that quip an insult?
"So, do we have a deal?" his uncle probed as he extended his hand. Hiashi's expression was sincerity and desperation personified.
Seeing no reason to decline such an offer, Neji held his hand and shook it – setting the agreement in stone.
A/N: Since you read it, why not review? ^_^