Not only is this total cracky what-if, it's also evil crack. Brainbreaky whee!


When he was fourteen, Neji's hate died. Neji's hope was born.

Neji's hope was a boy. It killed his hate, killed his despair, offered him the sky. Gave him peace. Gave him glue, and pieces of his family back. It didn't fit the way it had, before, or even the way it should, but in the way he pieced it all back together at least he could see his imprint. It wasn't smooth and it wasn't perfect and it was far from finished, but it was his.


When he was eighteen, Neji's hope died.

Neji's hope died chasing its own dream, died broken and alone. And then came despair, and then came the realization that all his promises, his endless strength -- they had been lies. Neji had grown stronger. But not enough to do it on his own. Never enough.

The pieces of his family would never, ever fit. They weren't a puzzle; they were broken glass at the top of a wall. He would only cut himself to the bone.

When he was eighteen, Neji's hope died, and his hate was born anew.

Neji's hate was a man, and he didn't make promises -- he offered nothing. He said: here is the truth -- that Neji already knew -- and here are your choices -- that he'd always pretended not to see.

He left Neji his choices and the possibility to make his own mistake; he didn't judge. He didn't care.

That was true freedom, and it was terrifying.


"Are you done?" Itachi whispers, stepping out of the shadows.

Neji is standing in the middle of the courtyard. The moonlight makes the white of his skin glow in the dark, makes the blood on his hands and his clothes and the drops on his face even blacker than his hair. He has a kunai in hand; it doesn't even shine, it gleams wetly instead, just barely.

Itachi is waiting at the gate; he doesn't move. Neji's eyes are as white as the moon, as empty as his own.

"Yes," Neji says, "I'm done;" and walks out of the silent Hyuuga compound without looking back.