Never thought I would write a Neji fic, but here you go.
"Dad, can I have a pet bird?" Kyo asked hopefully. He and his father were in Konoha's marketplace. They were among all the bustling shoppers and mayhem, and currently, the two of them were standing in front of a stall that sold birds. Kyo loved birds. He liked their soft feathers and the way they chirped so happily. He had asked time and time again for a pet bird, but his father had always refused.
"No," his father said. Kyo was about to answer back, when a yell distracted both him and his father.
"HYUGA NEJI!" a voice hollered. His father, who happened to be legendary Hyuga Neji himself, sighed and turned towards a certain blonde haired, whisker cheeked individual who had screamed out his name for the world to hear.
"Uzumaki Naruto," Neji said calmly. He focused his pale eyes on the Hokage, who was darting through the crowd like a grasshopper. "What brings you here?"
"Hey Neji," Naruto said cheerfully. Kyo stared, wide eyed, at the Hokage, who then turned to him with a grin on his face.
"H-Hokage-sama," Kyo managed to stutter out, before bowing. Naruto turned to look accusingly at Neji.
"You've already trained your son to be so polite," Naruto said. "So Hyuga-ish." Neji rolled his eyes. Naruto looked back at Kyo.
"Hi kiddo," Naruto said. "What's your name?"
"Hyuga Kyo," Kyo said. Naruto smiled at him.
"Sorry Kyo, but could I talk to your father for a few minutes?" Naruto asked. Kyo glanced at his father, who nodded at him. Kyo then left Neji's side, going over to look at the birds, who were twittering noisily in their cages.
"Kyo has your Hyuga eyes," Naruto commented. "Anyway, how's life?" Neji raised an eyebrow at him.
"Naruto, what are you doing here?" Neji asked.
"Always so cold," Naruto muttered. Neji waited. "Alright, fine, I'm just here to ask you if you want to go on a mission that I picked out for you." Neji sighed, closing his pearly eyes.
"I don't know," Neji said. "Tenten doesn't want me to go on missions until the wound on my shoulder heals. Plus, we have to look after Kyo and Shizuko."
"Shizuko, your daughter, eh?" Naruto said. "How old is she turning this year?"
"Seven," Neji answered. He glanced over to look at his son. "Seven year old and ten year old kids have enormous resources of energy, as you may know." Naruto chuckled.
"Yeah, I get it," Naruto said. "Alright, so you're not taking the mission?"
Neji shook his head. "By the way, Naruto, why are you out here? Shouldn't you be in the Hokage tower… signing paperwork?"
Annoyance crept into Naruto's features. "Oh come on, Neji! Don't remind me!"
Neji allowed himself a small smile as his friend waved goodbye and disappeared.
"What did Hokage-sama want?" Kyo asked, reappearing by his father's side.
"Just asking me about a mission," Neji said. "Don't worry, I'm not going." Kyo was silent for a few seconds. Neji sighed inwardly as he predicted what his son was going to ask him. Unfortunately, he was right.
"Dad, can I have a pet bird?" Kyo asked.
"Mum, can I have a pet bird?" Kyo asked. His mother, the famed Weapons Mistress of Konoha, looked over at him and ruffled the top of his head.
"Kyo, you know what the answer is," Tenten said. She glanced over at her husband, who was sitting by the window, reading a scroll. Kyo pouted.
"Why do you want a bird anyway?" Shizuko asked. Kyo turned over to glare at his sister. Shizuko, unlike Neji, had not obtained the Byakugan eyes. Her eyes were a sparkling brown, just like Tenten's.
"Birds are cool!" Kyo said.
"Birds are not meant to be kept in a cage," Neji said softly. Tenten moved over to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. Kyo frowned at his parents. He didn't understand why he couldn't get a bird. He had already promised that he would take care of it, but his father had stubbornly refused to get one. Even his mother had said quietly that they were not getting a bird.
It's not fair, Kyo complained in his head. He rubbed his forehead, which was marked with the Curse Seal of the Hyuga family. When he was branded, Neji had looked at him with eyes filled with… guilt? Kyo didn't know what the big deal was. It was just a mark. Nonetheless, Kyo kept it covered with a strip of white cloth.
Kyo looked longingly at the sky, which was filled with birds flying, and wished that one of them were his.
Later that month, Kyo made a spur-of-the-moment decision just as he was standing in front of the stall that sold birds.
"Hello, may I please buy that white bird?" Kyo asked. The old man who owned the stall smiled at him.
"I was wondering when you would buy one of my birds. You have standing in front of them for who knows how long," the old man said, reaching into the cage. He withdrew his fist, and within it sat a chirping female. He put her in a cage, and Kyo handed him the money.
That's all my savings, Kyo thought. Now I have to find a place to put her...
Kyo had a secret spot that hardly anyone else knew about. It was inside the Hokage monument. Nobody really went there, so Kyo had that place all to himself. He had found the place when he was playing hide and seek with a couple of his friends. Nobody found him.
That day, Kyo took a trip down to that secret spot along with his bird, which he had decided to call Miyuki.
"Your new home," he whispered when he entered the inside of the Hokage monument. A chirp answered him. He hung Miyuki's cage hung down from the ceiling; he had had to climb all the way up there to fasten the hook onto it. Tendrils of sunlight crept into the space, and Miyuki's cage was hung in the light.
Kyo stood in front of the cage, grinning at his bird, and then he put a hand inside and Miyuki hopped onto it. He lifted her gently out, feeling her weight on his finger. He played with her for a while, before putting her back in her cage, deciding to head back home.
Neji was staring up at the clouds, when he felt Kyo sit down next to him. Tenten and Shizuko were out shopping, so it was just father and son alone in the house. It was a quiet, warm day.
"Hn." Neji still hadn't let go of his habit of replying with one-worded sentences.
"Why don't you want to get a bird?"
Neji glanced over at Kyo, surprise evident on his face. He had been expecting the "Can I have a bird?" question. Kyo was looking at his father steadily in the face, and Neji met his gaze head on.
"Birds… are supposed to fly free," Neji said. Kyo continued to stare at him, and Neji sighed. "Do you know what it's like to be kept in a cage? To be unable to do the thing you want most?"
Kyo shook his head. His father looked like he was reliving an old nightmare.
"When I was little… I felt as though I was stuck in a cage," Neji said quietly. "I felt like a trapped bird, that's why every time I see a bird in a cage, I know exactly how it feels."
"That's why you don't want a pet bird, because then it would be all cooped up," Kyo said. Neji nodded.
"I'm sorry, Kyo. I know that you really do like birds, but it's because I can't let go of the memories that you don't have one." Kyo was silent, and Neji watched him carefully. He cocked his head when Kyo left his side and walked out of the house, going out to the middle of the garden, apparently thinking hard.
"Let's go," Kyo said. He was visiting Miyuki again inside the Hokage monument, the day after he had talked with his father. Kyo cupped her gently in his hands and walked outside into the glaring light. He made his way to the top of the Hokage monument, and surveyed the village of Konoha for a few minutes, letting Miyuki's head poke out of his hands as well.
"Alright," Kyo said, smiling fondly down at the little bird, "time for you to fly free again." He stroked the bird's head for the last time, and then opened his hands. Miyuki looked up at him with black, intelligent eyes, and flapped her wings experimentally. With a final chirp, she launched out of his hands and into the blue Konoha sky.
Kyo watched her go, a little sorry, but also happy that she was no longer caged up. He then decided to sit there for a while and watch the clouds.
"You know, I'm glad that she's gone. The inside of the Hokage monument was starting to smell like bird shit," said a voice behind Kyo. He yelped and twisted around, spotting the Hokage himself grinning down at him.
"Hokage-sama!" Kyo said, jumping up and bowing. Naruto laughed.
"Neji taught you well," Naruto said. He sat down next to Kyo, and after a second, Kyo decided to sit back down as well.
"Um… how long have you known about the bird?" Kyo asked cautiously.
"Since the day you brought her here," Naruto replied. "But don't worry; I haven't said anything to your parents."
"Thanks," Kyo said.
"So why did you let her go?" Naruto asked. "Don't you like birds anymore?"
"I still like birds, but I think they look nicer flying around in the sky," Kyo said. Naruto smiled. Silence bloomed between them for a while.
"Hey, did you know that your father used to be a dick?" Naruto asked. Kyo blinked at him.
"When Neji was little, he used to be this arrogant son of a –"
"You want to finish that sentence, Naruto?" said an all too familiar voice. Naruto cringed, and then turned around.
"Hey Neji," Naruto said meekly. Neji was standing behind the pair, fixing Naruto with his famous Hyuga glare. Tenten was beside him, her lips twitching in a smile. Shizuko clung to her mother's pants, peering down the Hokage monument. She was afraid of heights.
"We saw you two sitting up here, so we decided to join you," Tenten said.
"OH! IS THIS A YOUTHFUL GATHERING I SEE?"
"Uh oh," sighed three voices simultaneously. All Kyo saw was a blur of green, and then both he and Shizuko were crushed into bone-cracking hugs.
"THE FLAMES OF YOUTH LIVE ON!" Lee cried, tears pouring down his face.
"Uncle Lee… it hurts," Shizuko whispered as she tried to breathe.
"Lee, let go of my son and daughter," Neji said.
"H-hi, Uncle Lee," Kyo gasped out when Lee released him. The spandex-wearing ninja hadn't changed much. He still babbled on about youth and had his bowl-cut hairstyle.
"Do you guys want to come over for lunch?" Tenten asked, "Or are you too busy?"
"Nah, I have time," Naruto said.
"You just don't want to do your paperwork," Neji muttered. Naruto pretended that he didn't hear him.
"Let's have some youthful lunch at Neji and Tenten's youthful house!" Lee said. Neji, Tenten, Lee, Shizuko and Naruto moved off, and Kyo took one last glance at the sky before going to join them.
"Dad," Kyo said, running over to Neji. Neji glanced down at him.
"What is it?" Neji asked. Kyo grinned up at him.
"The birds are flying freely today," Kyo said, "they look so happy."
Neji's eyes widened in surprise as his son said the words that had run through Neji's mind when he had spoken to his father so many years ago at the Chunin exams, right after Naruto had beaten him and he had learnt the truth about Hizashi's death. Then, Neji smiled down at his son as well.
"Yes," Neji said quietly, looking up at the sky as well. He spotted a flock of birds swooping over the trees, and his heart lifted. "They do look happy."
Wow, I've never written a fic like this before. This idea just came into my head last night as I was watching Reign of Assassins. This dude had a pet bird in a cage, and then this little plot just flashed into my mind XP