Talked Into Self-Sacrifice

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

"Hizashi, a moment of your time," one of the various Hyuuga elders called out.

Hizashi groaned inwardly. Speaking with the elders was never pleasant, especially as they had a tendency to activate the seal if they suspected the listener wasn't exactly paying attention. As no one really paid much attention, it tended to cause problems. "Yes, elder?" he asked politely.

"You are aware of the situation with Kumo, yes?" the elder asked, foregoing the usual pleasantries.

"Yes, I did," Hizashi confirmed idly. "Dreadful business, really, but at least Hinata-sama's is safe."

"Your sincerity is touching," the elder said wryly.

"I live to serve," Hizashi said neutrally.

Eyeing the leaf headband covering Hizashi's seal, the elder replied, "And don't you forget it."

"No chance of that happening…" Hizashi murmured.

"You know what they were after, don't you? When they went after our heiress?" the elder demanded.

"I can only assume the ambassador wished to adopt a child and there was simply too much paperwork to do it legally," Hizashi deadpanned.

"Don't be stupid," the elder snapped. "They were obviously after the Byakugan. Although how they thought that kidnapping our heiress, of all people, would go unaddressed…"

"I try not to jump to conclusions," Hizashi explained. "In fact, I'm not even convinced he was trying to kidnap Hinata-sama."

"He came unannounced in the dead of the night wearing a mask and was attempting to remove Hinata from the premise!" the elder cried.

"He could have been planning on taking her skiing," Hizashi suggested.

"At night? With no snow?" the elder asked skeptically.

"We often find foreign cultures strange and alarming and they no doubt feel the same way about us," Hizashi said wisely. "It is a human failing and a lamentable one."

"We're not handing Hiashi over," the elder said frankly.

"Because heaven forbid a man branch member take responsibility for their own actions," Hizashi said, barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

"We are all charged to protect the secrets of the Byakugan," the elder said sternly. "If the ambassador had gotten little Hinata back to Kumo, the very best she could hope for would be to become a Kumo Kunoichi and be expected to bear plenty of children…more likely her eyes would be stolen from her and either dissected or implanted and she would be used as a virtual Byakugan factory."

Hizashi did look concerned at this. "I'm not saying he should not have been stopped," he said slowly. "He had to have been. But considering that the alliance treaty was signed that very day and there is no proof he was doing anything illicit except my brother's word, it makes sense they would try to use this."

"Yes, your brother…" the elder trailed off, looking thoughtful. "He is a good clan head, is he not?"

"I suppose so," Hizashi agreed cautiously.

"Just the same he could be an incompetent buffoon and would still be preferable to a three-year-old girl," the elder continued.

"You and some of the other elders couldn't lead by proxy until she was old enough to assume the responsibilities herself?" Hizashi inquired.

"We could, but the position of clan head typically demands a strong, decisive leader. We have never had a group of advisors rule before and that would inevitably take power away from the clan head and even if all goes well and Hinata becomes a proper head when she becomes of age, she would inevitably remain too easily influenced and we simply cannot have that. The clan needs someone strong and dynamic like Hiashi," the elder declared.

"The clan needs Konoha not to get involved and force you to hand him over or – God forbid – go to war over this," Hizashi countered. "If nothing else, think about the political and social repercussions the Hokage overruling the clan head in clan affairs or of another was so soon after the last one and everyone knowing it was entirely because of our stubbornness."

"I agree that we need to give in to Kumo's demands," the elder assured him.

"Okay," Hizashi said, wondering what the point of the previous conversation had just been. "My brother seems willing, so-"

"You misunderstand me: I have no intention of handing Hiashi over," the elder said firmly.

"But…" Hizashi began, feeling a bit lost. "You just said-"

Again, he was interrupted. "They want Hiashi's corpse then they shall have it."

"Are you bipolar or something?" Hizashi demanded. "Because you keep switching sides every other sentence!"

"You are identical to your brother," the elder stated, ignoring the accusation.

"Twins often are," Hizashi replied dryly.

"We can hand you over," the elder said bluntly.

"I suppose you could," Hizashi said resentfully. "I'm not sure how that would help anything as Kumo demanded my brother, but you could."

"It is your duty as a branch member to make such a sacrifice," the elder informed him.

"But they don't want me," Hizashi pointed out.

"You look exactly the same," the elder said again.

"But wouldn't they notice that he wasn't dead when he, oh, I don't know, continued to lead the clan?" Hizashi asked. "Or do you plan on keeping his continued existence a secret?"

"That would make a trade pointless," the elder scoffed. "And even beyond Hiashi's capabilities as clan head, Hinata's inability to assume the position properly at present, and the lack of wisdom in decentralizing the position of head by giving it to advisors-"

"From the highly centralized main house," Hizashi muttered.

"Kumo CANNOT have the Byakugan. Even if they could not use it to reproduce like if Hinata had been taken, they could still figure out the secrets of our Kekkei genkai and how to counter or even replicate it," the elder continued as if he hadn't been interrupted.

"You could remove his eyes," Hizashi suggested. "The way they worded their demands makes it seem like this incident is an insult to them and a breach of trust and they just want to see him dead. Unless they're admitting to something so gauche as attempted bloodline theft, they can't complain."

"They have no right to and they shouldn't, but they probably would anyway," the elder replied.

"Or here's an idea: you think it would be better for me to go because my seal prevents them from accessing the Byakugan after my death so why not just give one before sending him off to his death?"

"He's clan head!" the elder protested, scandalized. "We can't do that!"

"Going off to die would probably involve him relinquishing his position," Hizashi pointed out matter-of-factly.

"You don't have to sound so eager to send your only brother off to his death, you know," the elder sniffed.

"I'm not," insisted Hizashi, "but you want me to die in his place. Accident or not, my brother did cause an international incident."

"Oh, so you're not bitter that he was born only minutes before you and yet he's clan head while you and little Neji are consigned to the branch house?" the elder asked innocently.

"I may be slightly bitter about him activating my seal in front of Neji," Hizashi conceded. "Who knows what kind of effect psychological trauma like that may cause to a four-year-old?"

"I'm sure he'll be fine," the elder said confidently.

"And if I end up dying for the main house's sake, he may NEVER get over it…" Hizashi continued.

"I can't force you to do this," the elder confided. "Mostly because your brother would never stand for it. But this is a choice, right here, right now. Live and be a branch member serving a small child younger than your son for the rest of your life or die here, now for…whatever reason you, Hyuuga Hizashi choose."

"To save my brother?" Hizashi offered.

"Excellent reason!" the elder beamed.

"And to tell fate to go to hell?"

The elder made a disapproving noise. "Slightly less excellent, but since you're going to die anyway, why not?"

"I didn't agree, you know," Hizashi felt obliged to point out.

"Are you going to agree?" the elder asked seriously. "We have to decide this now."

Hizashi closed his eyes tightly, thinking it over. "Can I at least punch my brother for putting me in this position?"

"I suppose so," the elder agreed. "God knows I wanted to do that when I found out about the ambassador. Would it have been that hard to incapacitate the man?"

"I'm feeling a lot more certain of my decision, in light of that," Hizashi decided.

"Just don't tell him I gave you permission; find a way to work it into the conversation when he inevitably objects," the elder instructed.

Hizashi nodded absently. "I just hope Neji will be okay…"

"He'll be fine," the elder assured him. "I mean, it's not like he's going to go off on a ten-year anti-main house vendetta, right?"

"I'm confident he'd see reason after nine," Hizashi agreed.

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