Neji x Ino

cut open the skies

It was Satsu's first day in the academy. Daddy offered to bring her there.

"Honey, you don't have to," Mommy said, staring at Daddy almost pleadingly.

"It's her first day," Daddy replied, "I'll be back quickly,"

Mommy stared at the small bundle of cloth in her arms. There was a pale white face peeking out underneath it. That was Satsu's little sister. "I need someone to take care of Hikari while I cook. Satsu's old enough to go, right, Satsu?"

Satsu nodded, not because it was true. It was because she felt that Mommy was always upset with her, and she wanted Mommy to like her so badly.

"If she wants company so badly, she can go with Hinata," Mommy suggested. Then she turned to Satsu, "Auntie Hina's bringing her son to the academy today, too. Would you like to go with them, Satsu?"

Satsu nodded. She wanted to go with Daddy, but she nodded.

But Daddy would have none of it, "Why do we have to burden Hinata when I can bring her there myself?"

"But I'm—"

"I'll be back," Daddy interrupted gently, "I won't be long,"

After a few seconds, Mommy finally gave him a hesitant nod before stepping forward to kiss his cheek. Then Daddy took Satsu's hand and gently steered her towards the door. Satsu lowered her eyes to the ground as they walked, not wanting to look into Mommy's disappointed eyes.

Aunty Hina always visits their house during weekends.

"I hope you are doing well, Neji-nii-san," She would say politely as soon as she sat down.

"Thank you for the concern," Daddy would reply, sitting on the space in front of her. Then Mommy would come in the room with a tray full of porcelain cups.

"Thank you," Aunty Hina would say before sipping her tea.

Aunty was just like Daddy in many ways. She was quiet, polite, and Satsu knew she was also one of the most powerful members of the Hyuga clan. Aunty and Daddy both had dark hair and white eyes. In fact, everyone in the Hyuga looked very similar to each other. Even Mommy looked a lot like Daddy.

Satsu would sometimes hear Aunty praising her beauty to Daddy.

"She's going to be a beauty when she grows up," Aunty would say, and Daddy would nod with a smile.

But Aunty says things that bother her, too. She sometimes tells Daddy that Satsu looks a lot like Mommy, but Satsu knows this is not true. Satsu would then spend hours staring at the mirror, trying to find Mommy's image in her. But all she sees are Daddy's dark brown hair (not Mommy's pure black), a contoured face (not like Mommy's curvy face), and a tall, thin build (not petite like Mommy).

But Satsu doesn't see Daddy's or Mommy's plain white eyes, either. Instead, when she looks at the mirror, the colour of the sky reflects from her eyes.

They are blue.

Every January 8, the whole family would go to the cemetery to visit Grandpa's grave. Mommy would dress both Satsu and Hikari in light-coloured kimonos and bring candles and flowers.

Satsu was twelve years old when Mommy told her to rush to a nearby flower shop to buy some flowers for Grandpa's grave. Bunching the long skirts of her light-green kimono in one hand, Satsu rushed out into the streets, enjoying the feel of the early morning breeze and sunlight on her face.

She stopped in front of the first flower shop she passed was a sign in front of the door.

Yamanaka Flowers

Mommy never buys flowers in this particular shop, but at that time, Satsu was in a hurry so she went in.

The shop was spacious and well-lit, and filled to the brim with multi-coloured blooms that flooded her eyes with colours and filled her nose with wondrous smells.

She hurried and picked up the familiar white lilies that she knew Grandpa liked and brought them to the counter.

"I'd like to buy these, please,"

The man taking care of the counter was old, probably around as old as Grandpa would be if he were still alive. He had pale blond hair and a kind face. And when she looked into his eyes, they mirrored her own.

They were blue.

"Hyuga Satsu, I presume?" He asked, smiling kindly at her.

Satsu was surprised, "Yes, sir. How did you know?"

He didn't reply. Instead, he gently pushed the coins she dropped on the counter towards her. "You're giving those flowers to your father's old man, right? Then it's on the house, little girl. No need to pay,"

Satsu blinked at him, "Really, Sir?"

"Yes, really," He patted her head, almost affectionately, "Now run along,"

And she did. She gave him a wave before exiting the shop, running as fast as she could in her wooden sandals and kimono. When she arrived home, she handed the coins back to Mommy, who stared at her quizzically.

"I got these for free, Mommy," Satsu replied, gesturing to the white lilies. "The old man from the Yamanakas' flower shop gave them to me for free,"

Instead of smiling or looking surprised like Satsu had thought, Mommy gave her a blank, almost distant look. Just as she was going to apologize, Daddy came and took the flowers from her, smiling at her and thanking her for getting them.

Satsu held Daddy's right hand as they walked towards the cemetery, and on his left, he held the white lilies tightly. When he placed them on Grandpa's grave, he knelt down and whispered so quietly,

"It's from her and Satsu,"

Satsu's chakra control wasn't one of her strong points. She already lacked the Byakugan, and she was afraid that Daddy would scold her for her lack of abilities. But he remained as patient as ever, telling her that sometimes, not everyone in the Hyuga gets a Byakugan, and that it's fine.

They set out one autumn afternoon to the Hokage Tower, where an old friend of Daddy is working.

"She is an expert in chakra control," Daddy told her, "And she has already agreed to be your mentor,"

Satsu's new mentor worked in the Medical Facilities of the Hokage Tower. At the moment, she was busy doing an autopsy on a fallen enemy ninja. When she went out of the room, she reeked of blood and antiseptic, but her vibrant green eyes were kind and welcoming. She had bubbly pink hair and fair skin. Very pretty.

"Hello, Neji-san," She greeted, removing her gloves carefully.

As she got closer, the strong smell of cherry blossoms overpowered the stench of blood.

"This is Satsu," Daddy said, pushing Satsu gently forward. "And Satsu, this is Sakura Haruno,"

Sakura-sensei knelt down until she was eye level with Satsu, and to her surprise, sensei hugged her tightly. Sensei suddenly started to shake, and Satsu realized she was crying.

Satsu was getting good at chakra control. Both Daddy and Sensei were proud of her. Daddy doesn't talk to Mommy about Satsu's improvement, but Mommy knew anyway, and she gave Satsu a stiff smile. Satsu stays at Sensei's house more often than in hers. Sensei's husband is the Hokage, and he's nice to Satsu and sometimes even buys her small gifts.

There are six framed photographs on the side table of Sensei's living room. One of them is the Hokage's picture back when he was much younger. His arm was slung around a much younger Sensei, and they were both laughing.

The second one was a picture of the Hokage and Sensei's team. Satsu recognized the white-haired man Hatake Kakashi, but she didn't recognize the fourth member, a sullen looking boy with black hair and onyx eyes.

The third one was a picture of a happy looking man who looked a lot like the Hokage. He was sitting on a sofa between a big, white-haired man (who was holding a small novel in one hand) and a beautiful woman with flowing red hair.

The fourth one was a picture of Sensei's family. Her father had brown hair and green eyes and her mother had pink hair and brown eyes. The woman was holding an infant (that was probably Sensei) in her arms.

The fifth one was a picture of Sensei's new family. Sensei was sitting on a chair in the Hokage's office, and the Hokage was standing beside her with his trademark grin. On Sensei's other side stood their son, Toushiro, a boy with spiky blond hair and bright green eyes. He was handsome and Satsu often avoided his eyes whenever she stayed in Sensei's house.

The last one was a picture of a young woman. She was standing in front of a large, cherry blossom tree, with a big smile on her face. She was clutching her stomach with one hand. She was pregnant.

Satsu's vision went blurry. She wiped away her tears to see the framed picture more clearly.

The woman's eyes,

They were blue.

The last time Satsu held Daddy's hand was when she was thirteen.

But as they walked silently towards the cemetery, she found herself holding his hand again. They stopped at the very end of the cemetery, right in front of a white grave surrounded with dozens of blooming flowers.

"There were always flowers wherever she was," Daddy said. "It's like they grow on a will whenever she's around,"

"What happened to her?" Satsu asked, staring at the grave. Her mother's final resting spot.

"Died on an S-class mission around almost a year after you were born," Daddy sighed, and Satsu could hear the cracks and damages in his voice, "We weren't allowed to marry. As a Hyuga, it was against the rules. At first, I thought she died on purpose because she couldn't take it, but then I decided that she wouldn't do that. She knew you were still around. She would have been strong enough to walk away gracefully, chin still held up high, and carry on with her life,"

Daddy smiled at her, "She was graceful and strong and unique. She said, 'I'll bet she'll grow up to be more like me,' and it turned out to be true,"

Satsu never has been good with words. She doesn't know what to say.

She looked up at the sky, at the tufts of white clouds swimming across a blanket of blue. "I think that's why I used to like looking at the sky so much," She mused thoughtfully, "The clouds are white, like your eyes, and the sky is blue, like Mommy's eyes,"

The wind carried their laughter across the silent graveyard, like flower petals flowing in the breeze.

When Satsu married Sensei's son, Toushiro, Daddy was there to shoot warning looks at Toushiro's direction. But he got Aunty Hanabi to bend the rules for them, and for the first time in history, a member of the Hyuga was allowed to wed someone from a different clan.

It was raining very hard the day Daddy died. Hikari and her Mother were sobbing quietly at a corner, but Satsu was only sitting beside Daddy's bed, holding his hand quietly.

"I'm going to be alright," He said. Others would think he meant that he was going to stay alive, but Satsu knew what it really meant. He had been waiting patiently, and now it's finally time for him to reunite with the other half of his soul. When Daddy exhaled his last breath, the rain and thunder slowly dissipated. The gray clouds started to part, revealing the sky underneath.

It was blue.


A/N: I gave in to stress and made a NejixIno fic. It's a bit crappy, but I enjoyed writing it xD I have no idea how to portray Neji and Ino as a couple xD