graychalk: (Kakashi - grave)
[personal profile] graychalk posting in [community profile] inkcanvas
Fandom: Naruto
Characters: Hyuuga Neji, Hyuuga Hiashi, Hyuuga Hinata
Genre: Tragedy, Family
Rating/Status: PG-13 / 724 words, complete
Summary: The old are supposed to protect the young. A rewrite of chapter 614.

Author's Note: Spoilers for the most recent manga chapter, 614. Written because it isn't so hard picturing this happening instead of that thing Kishimoto gave us.

Applicable prompts: [livejournal.com profile] 500themes, #426 - A tale rewritten.


A Tale Rewritten


A loud sickening splurch rang through the air, muting, for a moment, the sounds of ongoing battle all around them. Specks of blood splattered across his cheeks, and thick wooden spikes jutted out from the gaps framing his body. One had sliced across the side of his right thigh, but Neji hardly noticed it.

His arms were still splayed, frozen in mid-air, from his attempt to shield his cousin. In front of him, Hinata began to turn her head - a slow, pained motion, as though she were afraid of what she would find.

Neji could only stare back at her as she looked, first at him, and then over his shoulder with an expression of shock that reflected his own. The veins around his Byakugan eyes faded, and the world bled normal once more. He didn't have to turn around to know what he would find.

"N- no..." Tears spilled over and slid down the side of Hinata's face as her voice broke. "Father."

It was one of those moments that slowed and sped up all at once. He shouted for a medical team even as his uncle feebly coughed out the words that told them what his own eyes already knew.

There was no coming back from something like this.

Pieces of sharp wood protruded at awkward angles from the older man's body - too many and much too large.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

"Neji..." Something in his face must have revealed his thoughts, because his uncle shook his head faintly. "This is the way it should be. I—"

A sudden, violent cough erupted, and blood gurgled from his uncle's lips. Neji quickly shifted his body to better support the man's weight with his own. "Hiashi-sama," he urged quietly, "please don't try to talk right now."

Beside him, Hinata reached for her father's chin with trembling hands, sobbing as she tried in vain to wipe all the blood away, but Hiashi only smiled. It was such a rare sight that Neji couldn't recall if he had ever seen the stern lines of his uncle's features soften like this.

"Thank you, Neji," he said, his voice barely audible, "for trying to save my Hinata."

"Why—" Fists clenched, Neji looked at the ground.

I am but a branch member, he wanted to say. It is my duty.

The words were all there, but they refused to come.

There was a time when Neji would have thought this was justice served. But he was no longer that boy, and now he found this wasn't what he wanted at all. He had been prepared, more than willing, to die for his friends. Not because he was a Hyuuga branch member, not because it was his duty, but because he wanted to protect them.

"It should have been me," he finally said, though the words sounded much too inadequate. "You're too important, Hiashi-sama. The Hyuuga—"

"As a shinobi... I, too, am happy that I can pass away before my children," Hiashi replied before he could finish, and Neji's eyes widened at hearing the words he himself had spoken just a short while ago. "Hizashi... he would've..." His uncle's gaze grew distant, almost wistful. "I am glad... that I was able to do this in his place."

Neji's breath went in sharp, and he had to will himself not to look away. "Oji-sama..."

It was the first time, since his father passed away, that Neji had called the man in front of him anything other than Hiashi-sama. But right then, he couldn't think of this man — a mirror image and a constant reminder of his own father — as anything other than family.

His family, and the one his father loved enough to die for.

"The Hyuuga clan will be fine," his uncle said. Then he reached out and closed his fingers around one of Hinata's hands. "I entrust it to the both of you."

His cousin hunched in on herself as tears continued to slide down her cheeks, seemingly unable to speak at all.

"I know you will both do me proud... as you already... have."

Pale eyes slid shut, and it was with a smile that Hyuuga Hiashi passed on to the afterlife.

Not as the head of Hyuuga, but as a father, an uncle, and a shinobi of the Leaf.


/end


A/N: I've been mulling over this since the chapter came out, feeling as though something like this was more along the lines of what I'd expect from Kishimoto. And it isn't that I'd prefer Hiashi to die instead of Neji or anything like that. But Hiashi's role in it (or lack of one) just didn't match up, especially since it was actually perfectly set up for him to do something.

We were shown a shot of him noticing the attack and how Hinata and Neji wouldn't make it. And then we were shown Hiashi's shock at Neji taking the hit for Hinata... and that's it? He just stood there watching the two of them try to protect Naruto without doing a single thing? And then he just stood there watching Neji die for his daughter? Without even going over to check on his nephew?

At this rate, fandom portrayal of Hiashi being a heartless bastard wouldn't be too far off.

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