A little something for Neji, because I love him to death and back. Not so good, but it was written in the middle of the night, so bear with me


Neji Hyuuga had always believed, in fact grew up believing, that fate was predetermined, and that there was no escaping it. He believed that, once you were born, as if by magic, your entire life was mapped out before your very eyes, you just couldn't see it. All you could do, was walk along the path you were meant to follow. He hated, detested, loathed, the cursed seal on his forehead. To him, it was only a symbol of a life he could never have. A freedom he could never enjoy. A seal of a caged bird. Of a prisoner. And in truth, Neji Hyuuga did feel like a prisoner, a simple pebble unable to go against the raging tides of life. Fighting Naruto Uzumaki was like taking a deep breath of fresh air. His blows, not matched, but his determination, almost surpassed. Each time he knocked him down, all he did was grin and get right back up.

It seemed, to Neji, that instead of Naruto trying to thwart fate, fate was trying to thwart Naruto. No matter what he did, what he said, every blow he inflicted only seemed to spur the boy on more. Farther. He told his story, bitter till the end, and Naruto, as he does, took it in stride. He saw Neji's point of view, he had his own point of view, he saw the world's point of view. They rolled around each other in the most dangerous of dances; battle. It seemed to Neji, that as soon as he'd gotten Uzumaki as an opponent, the boy's fate had been determined, mapped out, and sealed. Finalized. There was no escape. But Naruto, somehow, managed to dodge his blows, land his own, almost, nearly, stay a step ahead. Until the very end, when Naruto was more than just a step ahead.

That last blow rendered Neji unable to move, and as he listened to Naruto talk, it was startling and unexpected to finally hear him so serious, he looked deep within himself. He saw that, as a branch member of the Hyuuga clan, there would most likely be certain things that he would never be able to do. But he also saw that, as a person, as Neji Hyuuga, he had grown, and surpassed any and every expectation set for him. He had, in a way, managed to avoid and change his own small piece of destiny. There was still a ways to go, and work to do, but Neji was slowly starting to see that maybe things weren't always set in stone. And as the sun shone down on his battered body, making his eyes squint, his vision already blurry, he almost smiled.

Because there, right before his eyes, was a bird, not caged, soaring high above, in the sky. And it almost felt like it was just for him. Remembering Naruto say he would change the Hyuuga clan, for him, made his almost smile turn into a grin. An actual grin. And as Naruto Uzumaki was declared winner of their battle and he finally got his well deserved roar of applause, though no one but a few could see, he really did smile, full and bright. His vision dimmed to nothing, and the world faded away as he was swept into unconsciousness, but in his mind's eye, he still saw the sun, and that bird, and in a way, he knew that he, Neji Hyuuga, was free.