Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor any song lyrics used. Too bad.
Heh, this is my first oneshot, and it's Neji/Hinata, so if you don't like that or you're going to bitch about incest, don't read it. Simple as that. For the rest of you, enjoy.
Some say love is not for sinners
I believe that isn't true
Cause when I was finished sinning love came down and showed me you
It was getting colder out. That was all Neji could seem to think about as he walked slowly throughout the Hyuuga compound in the oncoming darkness. Summer had officially ended and fall was coming on strong. Winter wouldn't be far behind either, bringing bitter winds and white snow. Neji had always enjoyed winter. Plants died, people spent less and less time outside, the whole general mood seemed to deaden. It made everything seem desolate and lonely, and in a strange way that comforted him. Because it felt like the whole world was reflecting how he felt. Sad and alone.
Summer was different. During summer everything was warm and cheerful, people flocked to the streets, the sun shone brightly down. He hated summer, hated how everyone could be so happy when he wasn't. Hated their smiles, their laughs. Because even though it had been getting easier to do the same, he still couldn't do it as easily as them. And it felt like the sun gave that all away, that it shone too brightly for him to hide it. If he really thought about it, he supposed it wasn't really summer itself that he hated but the sun. He hated the sun.
He paused, tilting his head a bit, but not needing to turn to know who was behind him. "Hinata-sama."
The timid, dark-haired girl inched her way up next to him, pushing her fingers together in that annoying way she did whenever nervous. No, it wasn't really the gesture that was annoying, more the fact that she did it whenever around him. It let him know that he made her nervous. A reminder that he still scared her, just in case he ever forgot. "It's very late. You should be in bed."
He watched her bite her bottom lip, cheeks flushing ever so slightly, and she glanced at him without ever making eye contact. "Ano... but... you'reawake too, niisan."
Well, she had him there. He chose not to respond as he continued his leisurely walk, and she followed, just as silent. Her presence didn't really bother him, it never had, but it was... perhaps awkward was accurate. When they were much younger they'd gotten along well, played together often. Then his father had died and he'd been set on hating all members of the main house, including her. At the Chuunin exams he'd let his hatred overtake him and seriously harmed her, regardless of the fact that it was never really her he hated. That had been nearly six months ago.
Since then things had been increasingly awkward between them. He'd never really apologized to her for the fight, even though he truly was sorry. He realized now how misplaced his anger had been. Likewise, she never actually forgave him for it outloud, but he knew she had forgiven him. More than that, she'd been trying to get closer to him, much like she was doing at the moment. She was trying to be his friend again. This made him irrationally angry all over.
Mostly it made him angry because he didn't understand. He'd hurt her, he'd been perfectly willing to kill her, all because she was born into a different house. Why was she so willing to forgive him for that? She should be angry with him, she should hate him. Why couldn't she just hate him? Why didn't she make any sense?
He shut his eyes and tried not to think about how he wanted her to hate him. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't help but resent and, dare he say it, feel jealous towards her because she had been born into the main house and he had not. Because her father was born only minutes before his own. He wanted to be able to hate her for that, but because she was so damn nice all the time, he couldn't. If she would only hate him, that would give him an excuse to hate her... It would also keep him from feeling guilty about what he'd done to her.
And it was because of all this, because she was main house, because she was so nice to him, because she forgave him, because she made him feel guilty whenever he looked at her, that he got angry. If he had really allowed himself to think about it, he would have realized that once again it wasn't her he was truly angry with. But Neji's worst fault was his temper, and he often let it get the best of him.
That's why when all Hinata did was ask if he wanted to train with her sometime the coming week, he snapped, no longer able to contain all his anger. "I have said this before and I will say it again, Hinata, no I do not want to train with you," he hissed, leaving the honorific off her name without even realizing it. He was practically shaking with the rage he'd been holding in for months and he would have been yelling, would it not have woken the whole compound. "Please tell me why you can't just take a fucking hint. There's a reason I always turn you down. You're weak. Training with you would be a complete waste of my time, and even if it wasn't, I still wouldn't be caught dead spending time with you. You are part of the main house, and for the last time, I hate you. When exactly will you get this through your fucking head, because I'm getting damn sick and tired of repeating myself."
The moment the last word left his lips he felt horrible, like someone had just stabbed him the gut. Why? That was supposed to make him feel better, not worse. Why did he feel even more guilty now? Why was she looking at him with that hurt expression? Why wasn't she angry with him? Why?!
"This is exactly what I mean," he railed on. "You don't even defend yourself! Why?! Are you really that weak?!"
She managed to look even sadder at that, but not because he'd called her weak again. "It's not weak to love someone, niisan. Please don't think that."
Something inside his stomach jolted uncomfortably. Love? "Don't fuck with me! You're from the main house! You could never love a branch house member!" And he stormed off before she could respond. Love. Her loving him. What a joke.
A good two months had passed since that night. Despite what Neji had hoped for, Hinata did not give up on her efforts to get close to him. Quite the opposite, if anything she doubled them. Furthermore, her whole attitude towards him had changed. She no longer stuttered or looked nervous in his presence, though he couldn't even begin to imagine what brought this about. Now he could barely set foot inside the compound and she was there, wanting to talk, to do something with him, to just be around him, and she did it all with a newfound confidence he didn't think she could possess.
He tried avoiding this by staying away from home as much as possible, but his efforts proved futile. She'd show up at the training grounds, the ramen stand, wherever he was, and regardless of whether he was alone or not. The worst was when she found him with his team, because then Tenten and Lee would invite her to join whatever they were doing, and he had no choice but to spend time with her. No matter what he did, he couldn't seem to get away.
So naturally he switched tactics. Rather than trying to avoid her he just acted cold towards her whenever she found him. Admittedly he'd been cold to her even before that night, but that was different. Then he would more just ignore her, tried to delicately give her the hint he'd rather be alone. Now he openly glared, spoke to her in highly impersonal tones, sent insults and slurs her way subtly, but no so subtle that she wouldn't notice. And he knew she noticed, he saw the flicker in her eyes every time, knew it hurt her. He also knew that if he just kept it up, she'd leave. She'd leave eventually because no one in their right mind would stick around and endure that; she'd leave because there was no way she could ever really love him, and he would prove it. But she kept coming back regardless.
One evening he was sitting in the garden, enjoying the absolute silence of his surroundings. There was a large festival in town and the compound was practically deserted, everyone, including even Hiashi himself, having flocked there. Neji had never been a fan of festivals, hating large crowds, particularly when they were filled with happy, laughing people. No, his idea of fun was what he was doing right now, sitting on a bench in the barren, snow-covered garden, soaking in the solitude, and reveling in the throes of his favorite season. The setting sun shone weakly in the gray sky and he couldn't help but smirk at how desolate the hated star was. Yes, this was when he felt truly happy... even if it was a bit lonely.
"Good evening, Neji-niisan."
The brunette practically flinched at the sound of her voice. "Hinata-sama." He frowned when she sat down next to him, but couldn't say he was surprised. This had been the general routine as of late.
"Normally when people sit in the garden it's to look at the flowers," she remarked offhandedly, eyeing the dead plants around them. When he chose not to answer she quirked him a small smile and continued, "Would you like to go to the festival with me, niisan?"
Dear Kami, was she serious? "I'd rather gouge my eyes out and never look at the flowers again, Hinata-sama." Heh, that one had been a bit more clever than most of his comebacks. Maybe it would actually stick this time.
Of course, her damnable smile never faltered. "Very well, if that's how you feel. I suppose we'll just have to stay here and take in all this... breathtaking beauty." She once again looked at the empty garden with something akin to amusement.
Neji was far from amused. His hands clenched into fists at his sides and he shut his eyes, trying to control his suddenly violent temper. Why did she keep doing this? "You'd rather sit here and stare at nothing with me than go to the festival with your friends?"
She shrugged just a bit. "Pretty much."
He couldn't take it anymore. He'd been set on waiting her out, waiting for her to leave on her own, but he just couldn't do it anymore. He'd reached his limit. "Why won't you just leave me the fuck alone?"
Her eyes met his suddenly very serious, all traces of cheer gone. "You know why."
His fist slammed down on the bench between them and he leaned in so his face was less than an inch from hers, lips curled back in a snarl. "I told you before not to fuck with me! Don't you dare start spouting that bullshit again!"
"It's not bullshit."
"It is and you know it! You're just--"
"I said it's not!"
Instantly he froze. She had just yelled at him. She had risen her voice to him. Admittedly he'd been yelling too, but he never expected her...
A third presence suddenly made itself known directly behind them, and both teenagers jerked away from each other, looking up in surprise. One of the head elders, a pompous old man in his fifties with sharp little eyes, stared down at them menacingly. Neji just glared at him, too angry to do anything else, while Hinata looked embarrassed at being caught in the middle of an argument. Neither, however, realized the severity of the situation until the elder spoke.
"Just what did you think you were doing?" It was directed at Neji. The boy stared for a moment before he and Hinata both became abruptly aware of what exactly he had been doing. He, a branch house member, had been screaming and swearing right in the face of the main house heiress. Shit.
"A-ano," Hinata started, her timid demeanor suddenly back in place, "it wasn't n-n-niisan's fault. I-I-I--"
The man held up a hand to silence her without even bothering to spare her a glance, and her mouth snapped audibly shut. He directed his full piercing gaze on Neji before saying in a dangerous tone, "I asked you a question, boy. What. Did you think. You were doing?"
If Neji hadn't been such a prideful person he might have allowed his fear to show on his face. As it was, he kept his neutral scowl intact and looked the elder square in the eye. "I was having a discussion with Hinata-sama." Kami help him, he was in serious trouble this time.
The man's eyebrow quirked a bit. "A discussion? Where exactly do you get off thinking you have the right to 'discuss' with the main house in that manor?"
Neji didn't answer. He really didn't know how.
"P-p-please, it was r-really m-my fault. N-n-neji-niisan only--"
"It's time you learn your place, branch house."
Everything after that felt like it went in slow motion. Neji watched the elder make the signs to activate his curse seal. He heard Hinata yell, "Stop!" just as the first waves of heat hit his forehead. His eyes slid shut as the warmth turned into a burning that spread from the seal out into the rest of his skull. The burning got worse, escalated into true searing pain, and he clutched his head gritting his teeth against it. He waited for it to get even worse, knew it wasn't anywhere near over yet... but something wasn't right. It should be getting hotter, not cooling down. The pain should become unbearable, not relax into a dull throbbing. What was going on?
He blinked his eyes open slowly, and after his vision swam for a moment, he focused his gaze on the horrified face of his cousin. He blinked a few more times, thinking his mind was playing tricks on him. Why did she look about ready to cry?
"N-n-niisan, I'm s-s-s-so s-s-sorry, I sh-sh-should have s-s-stopped him r-right aw-w-way, I sh-shouldn't have l-l-let h-him activ-vate it at a-a-a-all, I'm s-s-sorry..."
His eyes widened as her words actually registered in his mind. 'Stopped him'? She didn't... He wearily turned his head to the side and thought his heart just might stop. The elder was laying there, unconscious. Kami... oh, Kami... oh, fucking Kami... "Hinata-sama," he croaked, voice hoarse and quiet, "do you realize what you've just done?"
"I'm s-s-sorry I d-didn't s-s-stop him r-right away, niisan, I--"
"Hinata-sama! Do you have any idea how much trouble you're going to be in? You attacked an elder! Even you can't get away with this! The elders... your father!"
She stared at him for a moment before a small, relieved smile crossed her face. "It's okay, niisan, that's not important."
He didn't think his eyes could possibly get any bigger, but they somehow found a way. Okay? What was okay about this? She knew the elders wouldn't forgive her for this, which in turn meant her father wouldn't. And he knew that, despite what she said, her father terrified her. "Your father is going to go mad when he hears about this. None of this is--"
"Really, niisan, it's okay." She smoothed a lock of sweat-damp hair away from his face, her smile turning tender. "As long as you're all right, everything's fine."
A hard lump formed in his throat and it felt like someone sat on his chest. She'd protected him. She'd protected him, and now she was going to be in serious trouble. Yet still the only thing she thought of was him. Why?
"Is your head okay?"
He felt her small hands start to untie his head band and a flash of panic shot through him. "Stop," he murmured, pleaded practically. He reached weakly to grab her wrists and stop her, but it was still hard to move and she pulled away from his grip easily. He felt the cold, winter air hit his hot forehead and would have been glad his head band was gone, had it not left him exposed to her eyes. He shut his own eyes in shame, wishing she would look away. He didn't want anyone staring at that ugly mark... especially not her.
She saw his reaction and frowned sadly, wishing she could take all his pain away. "Niisan..."
"Please leave me alone, Hinata-sama." He couldn't face her, not right now. Not when he was so weak, not when she'd just saved him at her own expense, not when he felt so guilty it was hard to breathe... not when he felt so lost...
He felt her shift above him, and the next thing he knew his whole world came crashing down around him. His eyes flew open as her soft lips pressed gently against the mark on his forehead, soothingly, lovingly. His breath caught painfully in his throat. Why?!
"Hinata..." Much like that night two months ago, he unconsciously left the honorific off of her name, but now it was for a very different reason. He felt tears prick the back of his eyes, though everyone knew Hyuuga Neji didn't cry, and he tried desperately to swallow as his mouth went dry.
"It's okay, Neji, everything will be fine. Please don't worry anymore."
Something inside the Hyuuga prodigy burst. The tears he'd been denying existed flowed out full force and his breaths came harsh and uncontrolled. Why was she doing this for him? He didn't deserve it. He didn't understand.
Hinata started at the sight of his tears. "N-niisan? Are you hurt?"
He shut his eyes again, and something akin to a laugh forced it's way from his throat. "I'm sorry, Hinata." He moved to sit, but his weakened arms refused to support him yet. She tried to catch him as he collapsed, the result being him landing half in her lap. Another choked laugh came out, and he wrapped his arms tight around her waist, burying his face in her stomach so he wouldn't start sobbing pathetically. "I'm so sorry."
Gentle hands started stroking through his hair, running their fingers through it, pushing it away from his face. "It's okay, niisan."
He shook his head violently, willing her to stop saying that. "It's not okay. I was horrible to you. I purposely tried to hurt you. But you were still always there. Why? Why would you do this for me after the way I treated you?"
She just smiled down at him. "Baka," she chided gently. "That's what you do for someone you love."
For a moment if felt like everything froze before he slowly lifted his head to look her in the eyes. Love. She loved him. She, from the main house, loved him, from the branch house. She, the sweetest, most caring person in the world, loved him, an arrogant, selfish prick. It wasn't possible... But he knew she wasn't lying. She loved him.
Neji had always hated the sun because he felt like it exposed him to the world, let everyone see things he didn't want them to see. But now, as the girl above him leaned down and shyly pressed her lips against his, he was forced to rethink everything he knew. Because maybe the sun wasn't so bad after all. Maybe, he thought as his hand grabbed the back of her head to still her retreat, he could get used to it. And when he allowed her to finally pull away, he smiled, genuinely, for the first time in years. Maybe he already had.
In case anyone's confused by the ending, the name 'Hinata' means 'sunflower' or 'facing the sun.' Make sense now?
Yay, like I said before, this is my first oneshot, so let me know how I did! Reviews make me happy!