Longish. For a drabble anyway.

Do enjoy.

Oh, you're in my blood, like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling...

Neji thinks Hinata is an alabaster sculpture. Her skin is too flawless to be that of a ninja's; surely she is an ethereal being, too above this world of blood and hate and torture. He's always thought so, anyway.

She isn't soft anymore, if she ever was. She is cool to the touch, and her body is like a map, pressed into his brain and his fingers have memorized every centimeter of her skin, each strand of her flowing hair.

Neji sees her everywhere, but especially when he kills, when life is held in his hands and he crushes it, often without a second thought. It isn't because he's heartless or that he enjoys the powerful sensation, just that each enemy is one that wishes to destroy his way of life, his village; his cousin. This, he would never- could never- allow.

Hinata is the swirling pattens of splattered blood on the ground, the delicate drops of it off the edge of his kunai. She is the wisp of smoke that follows Tenten's explosive tags, the whirl of pumpkin orange as Lee delivers a fatal kick.

He is hers in a way he doesn't even understand himself, and often he wonders if he'll go mad with the fixation of her.

It doesn't matter, though. His life was never his own from the beginning, and he is a Hyuuga, and she is a Hyuuga, and their acts are a sin not only against their titles as shinobi, but against their family. They're fully aware that if their love, their actions, were discovered by Hiashi, Neji would be executed on the spot and Hinata shipped off in marriage to some distant village, though she'd find joining Neji in death far more preferable. Which is the one reason she would never be granted it.

But love is a kind of death anyway, and at the rate they're moving, Neji feels surprise and maybe even some luck to open his eyes each morning and breathe. To breathe Hinata in.


Hinata thinks Neji is a lord, even if his parentage says otherwise. He is regal and sophistication personified, and she is utterly fascinated by even his smallest of movements. The ease and grace at which he's always performed his ninja art is nothing less than breathtaking, and ever she wishes she had even a quarter of his talent.

But she has something better, really. She has his soul, and it's a far better gift than she deserves, she knows, because she risks the most precious thing in the world every time she looks at him, every time she presses her hungry mouth to his. She risks Neji's life, and it's selfish, she knows it's dangerous on a lethal level. She also knows she couldn't stop now even if she wanted to, because she's never been the strong one and that wasn't going to change now.

His heartbeat is the sound dearest to her, and in the black, black night it's the only real thing she has to hold onto. But that's always been that case with Neji. Even in the arena of their battle with each other, Hinata had never felt more alive, had never felt more herself, under his scrupulous glare. Her cousin did things to her, brought things out in her, that she never thought possible.

Hinata knows love is like that. It's revealing and strips you bare before the eyes of the one you need. So it's wrong, maybe, because she's a Hyuuga, and he's a Hyuuga, but blood can be diluted and it's not thicker than passion, not thicker than her longing for him. Sometimes she thinks she can feel their deaths coming, though, a suffocating wall around them, cutting off the oxygen to their brains and lungs.

But love is a kind of death anyway, and at the rate they're moving, Hinata feels surprise and maybe even some luck to open her eyes each morning and breathe. To breathe Neji in.

As ever, feedback is appreciated. Lyrics from A Case Of You by Joni Mitchell.