Disclaimer: Naruto and it's characters were created and belong to Masashi Kishimoto. No copyright infringement intended.

TITLE: REGRET

AUTHOR: SHINEJSHI

WARNING: Character death. Unbeta'd-all mistakes are my own.

Rating: k+

Series: Naruto

Pairing: Shikamaru/Neji

Authors Note: Please forgive this melodramatic attempt. I just want to give something back to all the wonderful and talented Shika/Neji/Shika writers whose work I've enjoyed so much.

REGRET

BY: SHINEJSHI

I lay here watching clouds. What I see reminds me of you: A shinobi with a kunai to his throat, a vague pineapple shape,

and shadows. Shadows falling from the clouds to mock me as they slide across my face.

I never realized what you meant to me until you were gone. I didn't see that I had come to rely on your companionship,

your dry sense of humor, just your very presence. I didn't look closely enough at my own motives to realize I wanted more.

Did you know?

After your death it became clear that others knew. Being the innately stoic Hyuga I was born to be, all the condolences

and concern I garnered from our peers puzzled me. We're shinobi. Death happens.

Their sympathy and offered comfort forced me to take a deeper look at myself. That's something most shinobi avoid at all

costs. Don't look too closely at your own actions. Don't question your motives. Rules to live by. To question makes so

much of what we do impossible to live with.

I'm left with a nauseating emptiness from which there is no escape. And guilt. Guilt from having taken you for granted,

for not wondering about your needs, for not bothering to face myself so I could acknowledge all you were to me and all we

could have been to each other. Enlightened too late...just too damn late.

So now I watch the clouds, while craving so much more. Trying to get closer to you even though you're gone. Trying to

understand...just what you saw.