I scuffed my sandals around in the dirt. I was out again, past curfew, past the Konoha boundaries. Sometimes I wanted some space and a little self-pity; now was one of those times.

I walked slowly back towards the village. I hoped no one had come looking for me yet; I wasn't in the mood for lectures and punishment. All I wanted was to sometimes make my own choices. All I wanted was a little freedom to do my own thing…

Shit.

In the darkening evening light, I noticed a figure, watching me. How long has he been there, I thought. Bracing myself for a lecture, I turned to face the person I was sure would be someone out looking for me from the main family.

It was when the figure stepped out from behind the tree and into the dim light, that I realised it wasn't.

It was Uchiha Itachi.

For a moment, I just stood; observed him as he observed me. I had always mused over the idea that if anybody understood my pain, it was him. He was also his clan's prodigy, although on a grander scale than me. I had often wondered what it would be like to talk to him, to regard him as a friend, although we had never spoken a word in reality.

Did he know how I admired him? Caught in the evening light, his beautiful figure stood tall, his jet-black hair caught in a breath of wind that tousled and teased at the loose strands around his face.

"Neji Hyuga." His voice was deep and it cut through the silence as easily as if it were butter; smooth, calm, calculated.

An awkward; "Hello," was all I managed.

"You know it's dangerous out here," he said sternly.

I was going to reply, but he started striding towards me. He stopped just a hairsbreadth too close for my comfort. Raising his hand, he touched my face with cold, cold fingers.

"What are you-"

"Go home," his voice was suddenly harsh, he retreated a few steps.

I blinked and he was gone as if he had melted into the shadows.

Suddenly cold, I began to walk quickly home, trying as best as possible to forget about the strange encounter I'd had with the fascinating Itachi.

The next day at the academy, I was told all about how Itachi had slaughtered his clan.