A/N: This story was previously called "Neji's the Heir; who's the Heiress?" but it'll be undergoing a complete rewrite because (to be honest) it didn't have much of a plot before and it was poorly written but I'll try to re-incorporate some of what existed of the previous plot.
Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto aren't mine...at all. *sigh*
: Ultimatum :
The sky was restless.
It relentlessly released its burden on the land; eroding it and carrying it away to mold the relief to its liking. 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, burrowing further beneath the cocoon of his sheets and covering his ears with one of his many pillows.
Knock, knock, knock.
That tree branch had been tapping against his window for most of the night, robbing him of his well needed sleep. His team had barely arrived in Konoha from their mission before the storm started; they'd made an attempt to make it back home before evening upon discerning the sky's obvious promise of rain.
Knock, knock, knock.
It was pure torture. During every rainstorm, it was the tree's tendency to lean over and knock on his window, as if ushering him outside. Many a times, he'd been tempted to hack it to pieces but, as aggravating as the redbud was, it was planted and nurtured by his mother so Neji considered it a keepsake. Though it annoyed the living hell out of him during storms, it was a loyal companion during the summer when its leaves provided shade from the sun and kept the blistering breezes at bay.
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 that would have been produced if the surface being hit was 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 to 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."
Hiashi's study always perturbed Neji. It was by far the most intimidating room on the compound and, if Neji knew Hiashi as well as he thought that 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 were forced to face. No doubt, that particular section of the room helped Hiashi to land most of his contracts.
His uncle skimmed through some official documents while Neji sat before him feigning patience.
"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, 11 S-rank." Closing the document, Hiashi finally regarded his nephew. "Evidently, you have exceedingly performed 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 Neji also served as the liaison of the clan, acting as a mediator for the Main House and the Branch House charged with highlighting and relating the concerns of each. Lately, he'd been up to his elbows in work, trying to pacify what were the makings of a civil war within the clan with support from Tsunade and Naruto whilst executing life threatening missions that he'd been assigned to months in advance. If it were anyone else, they would have probably been crushed under the pressure by now. Was his uncle utterly oblivious to his attempts to balance his duty to his clan with his obligations to his village?
"In what way?" Neji asked through slightly clenched jaws.
Hiashi rested his elbows on the table, entwining his fingers together. "Even though you are not a member of the Main House our Kekkei Genkai has found its purest form in you and I am determined to have it passed on."
His nephew's eyes enlarged to the size of saucers as a frown etched itself across his face. 'Passed on…to my children?'
Children were a blessing; Neji didn't doubt that. He wanted to have a child of his own one day, a little creature containing his genetic material that 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 still quite short-lived. Hence it had always been an aspiration of his to share a more prolonged relationship with his child (if fate was so merciful). Nevertheless, he wasn't planning on adding a few more toddlers to Konoha's population anytime soon.
"And considering that you continue to undertake increasingly dangerous missions, it would be most ideal if they are passed on sooner rather than later. But...you are remarkably career-oriented and undoubtedly the most in-control young man I've ever seen so if I leave you to fulfill that task in your own time, chances are, pigs will be flying through my office like butterflies 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?"
He blinked. What bizarre joke was his uncle playing; had he called him out at the most ungodly hours of the night just to mess with him?
"No uncle." Surprise stood detained in his quicksilver depths as 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," Hiashi muttered, almost nonchalantly. "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." The beginnings of a smile nudged Hiashi's lips.
To say that the proposal had surprised Neji would be an understatement. Unbidden shock adorned his face in place of his customary expressionless mask. His uncle couldn't be serious?
One hard look at the genuine expression gracing Hiashi's features told him that he was.
He tried to take slow, deep breaths to calm his nerves and still his racing heart while his mind wound circles around itself in a spell of disbelief and confusion. Hiashi was giving him the opportunity to ensure that 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 that 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. As ridiculous as it was, living with his lovesick parents while they were around 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 the 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.
"Just 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 don't think even you would find that too challenging." Hiashi grinned, his gaze was teasing. Neji scowled in response, dignifying Hiashi 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 with an expression that manifested sincerity and a tinge of desperation.
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? ^_^