Unspoken Rules

Chapter 10


Konoha Shinobi (Unspoken) Rule #11: Nobles suck.

Konoha Noble Family Rebel (Unspoken) Rule #1: Being a noble sucks.


Neji walked down the hall warily. He had been summoned by his uncle and he knew what they were going to talk about: His duty to carry on the Hyuuga bloodline through marriage with his distant cousin. The issue had been hanging over his head ever since he turned eighteen a year ago, but his uncle never pushed it. The past couple of weeks, however, were different. Whenever they bumped into each other in the compound, Hiashi would try to bring it up and Neji would tactfully avoid the conversation if not the man altogether. Apparently, the young Hyuuga thought with a sigh, his uncle had had enough and decided to actually summon him now. This was not going to end well.

“Ojiisama,” Neji greeted, legs folded and forehead touching the floor at the doorway.

“Enter,” answered the clan leader tersely. He was sitting on the wooden floor in the middle of the room. Alone. “Close the door.”

Neji did so, keeping his cool exterior intact and hiding his apprehension perfectly. He walked towards his uncle and a sat few feet in front of the older man before bowing again courteously.

“Neji,” Hiashi began once Neji looked at him eye to eye. “No matter how hard I try, you have, and always will, think of me as nothing but a leader you are obligated to obey. You do not think of me, let alone trust me, as your loving uncle. And I do love you, so much so I feel as though you are my own son, wish that you really are my son. I do not blame you for your reluctance to reciprocate that feeling as I, too, still blame myself for… everything, and I can not, will not, stop loving you as a son.”

As per rule of conduct when being summoned, Neji remained quiet until his uncle actually asked him a question. Hiashi continued with a sad smile. “There are many things I want to ask you, Neji. Things any father would ask his son, such as how your lover has been treating you and does he make you happy, or how serious this relationship is.”

Hiashi had to give Neji credit for covering his shock so well. His nephew managed to hold back any expression although there was a little twitch in the corner of his right eye. The clan leader carried on, “But knowing you, knowing that I have yet to earn that privilege from you, I know you will not answer. Therefore, as your clan leader, I will only ask you this: Hyuuga Neji, should it be demanded of you to perform your final duty as a Hyuuga, in which you will marry your distant cousin Hyuuga Hinako and proceed to lengthen the Hyuuga bloodline, will you do it?”

Neji’s mind was whirling. Causes, possibilities, consequences; everything turned into a jumble in his thinking process. And unlike Shikamaru, he wasn’t gifted with the ability to process so much information and come up with tactical decisions in the middle of emotional turmoil and panic. In a fraction of a second, his heart guided his brain to focus on one word and make him say it.


Hiashi looked at Neji for a few moments before he finally took a deep breath. “Well… That answers everything.”

Under the façade of his stoic bearing, Neji was arguing with himself. Why had he said that? He could have answered… well, not ‘yes’, but at least something that would buy him more time.

“So be it then,” his uncle’s voice shook him out of his pondering. “You may not know this, Neji, but our elders have been pressing this matter ever since Hinako turned eighteen a few months ago. I can not hold them back any longer. That answer you have given me, I will relay to them.”

His nephew didn’t react, so Hiashi proceeded, “As indicated by our clan’s commandment, with your refusal to perform your duty as a clan member, you are to face a hearing before the clan elders, the current clan leader and the clan heir.”

Neji kept his calm posture, remaining quiet as he sat there rigidly, listening to his uncle. “The proceeding will take place one hour from now in this very room. You are to stay here until that time arrives.”

With that, Hiashi stood up and was ready to take his leave. He hesitated for a moment before quietly saying, “Perhaps… perhaps you should use this one hour to reconsider your answer.”

The younger Hyuuga remained still, eyes locked forward as his clan leader walked out of the room and closed the door. He could hear Hiashi calling two other clan members to guard the room. As if he would even think of running away, Neji scoffed. He could easily dispose of his two cousins outside, but where would he go? Run to Shikamaru? Right, like that was even an option.

Neji knew that Shikamaru wasn’t about to just let Neji marry someone else. His lover had tried many times to bring up the subject, but just like with his uncle, Neji kept putting it off tactfully, knowing that the man loved him too damn much to push him into anything, even if it was only a conversation he wouldn’t be comfortable with. He pretended not to notice that Shikamaru had been studying the laws of the Hyuuga clan in his spare time, meticulously dissecting each sentence, word by word, right down to the punctuations, to find a loophole that could help the situation. He didn’t even acknowledge the presence of those Hyuuga-sealed scrolls on that cluttered desk in Shikamaru’s bedroom-cum-office, refusing to see that prominent dark cloud over his newly found heaven.

The young Hyuuga ran a hand through his hair, somewhat regretting the fact that he never let Shikamaru talk to him about this problem. Maybe if he had, even just a little bit, he would know what to do right about now. God knows if anyone could come up with the craziest ideas it would be that brilliant lover of his. Hell, maybe Shikamaru had thought of something. Maybe that was the reason he always tried to bring up the subject. Although, whatever Shikamaru thought of couldn’t be harmless. This is the Hyuuga clan we’re talking about. They wouldn’t just let their prodigy go. In any case, it was too late now. He couldn’t just run off to Shikamaru’s apartment and expect him to take care of the situation.

If he ran to his lover now, with Hyuuga clansmen hot on his tail, Shikamaru would… well, there’s no telling what the young Nara would do. After all, he was just as much a genius in assassination as he was in strategy. Neji shuddered at the thought. No, it wouldn’t come to that. He would not make a bigger mess than how it already was. He would not put anyone in danger, not his cousins, not Shikamaru -- especially not Shikamaru. He would not drag Shikamaru into this.

Neji tried to meditate to calm his nerves. His uncle’s words rang in his head, “…reconsider your answer.”


Even after considering and reconsidering, his answer was still ‘no’.

Saying ‘yes’ would save his ass -- or his brain, to put it literally -- but where would that put his relationship with Shikamaru? What, he should just impregnate the girl while dating Shikamaru secretly on the side? Even if he didn't come to care about his wife and family, which he no doubt would, he couldn’t do that to Shikamaru. He loved the man, damn it! Their relationship was sacred for him. He wouldn’t, couldn’t belittle it in such a way. Besides, Shikamaru wouldn’t want that either. Even now Shikamaru disliked their secrecy. That was also one of the reasons the strategist kept trying to find a solution.

And then there was that other reason. The reason that, even if he never so much as met a man named Nara Shikamaru, had always haunted him. His fate. His god-forsaken fate that would undoubtedly befallen his children. He had stopped wallowing in it, true, but that didn't change the fact that he had a seal on his forehead, ready to be activated and fry his brain if he so much as pick his nose at the dinner table. Thus, his children would also never have a chance to pick their noses at the dinner table.

Right, he chided himself, sarcasm would really do a lot of good. Seriously, it wouldn’t be fair to bring a child in to this world when you knew that the child won’t be able to live their own life, that they won’t be able to fall in love, that they won’t be able to do anything isn’t befitting a damn Hyuuga. What kind of a monster would he be if he even considered such a thing? The kind his parents and all his clansmen are, apparently. Neji groaned. This sort of thinking wouldn’t go anywhere, and it wouldn’t be getting him anywhere either.

With that resolution, Neji decided to really meditate while he waited for his uncle and the clan elders. There was nothing he could do, he knew: nothing but wait and see how it would go. He faltered a bit when Shikamaru flickered into his mind, but he settled right back after inwardly asking for forgiveness. His lover would understand. The man was a genius, after all.

Neji was strangely tranquil now. He didn’t even ponder on what his clan would do to him. They could turn his brain to paste for all he cared. He would accept his fate wholeheartedly. So when the door finally slid open, he calmly bowed while his uncle, his dearest cousin and all of the clan elders took their places in front of him.

“Neji,” Hiashi began and Neji sat straight again. “I have informed our elders regarding your refusal towards performing your duty to the clan. We will now formally discuss the issue.”

Neji waited serenely and quietly for them to continue. One of the elders started, “So, young man, Hiashi-sama does not seem to know the reasoning behind your actions. Have you not told him anything at all as to why you refuse to perform your duty?”

“No, Elder. I have not,” he answered calmly.

“Well now,” said another elder. “Although we could go directly to… convincing you to accept that duty, I must say we are rather curious about this… reluctance of yours.”

Neji didn’t say anything so yet another elder pressed on. “Why do you refuse to marry Hinako? Do you not find her attractive?”

“No, Clan Elder. I find Hinako-san a truly wonderful woman.”

“Then what is your reason for denying marriage?”

“Forgive my impertinence, Elder,” Neji said firmly, “but my reasons are my own.”

“Now that just will not do,” one elder said, shaking his head. “Hiashi-sama, could you please persuade this young clan member to tell us what is on his mind?”

Hiashi, who had been sitting rigidly as if he was made of stone throughout the conversation, didn’t even spare the elders a glance. He’d be damned if he had to torture his brother’s son only to appease the curiosity of some old men and women. “I do not think that would be necessary. After all, what good would knowing his reasons be?”

“You surprise me, Hiashi-sama. As clan leader, you, of all people, should know that we could learn from them. If we know the cause, we could prevent this from ever happening again.”

“Neji,” Hiashi tried, eyes practically begging his nephew to cooperate. “Would you please tell us why you refuse to perform this particular duty for your clan? Maybe we can discuss those reasons. And hopefully we can make you see that whatever they are, you should not turn your back on your clan for them.”

The young jounin didn’t budge. “Forgive me, Ojiisama, but by stating my reason I will be scorning you, my late father, the clan elders, even our ancestors, if not our clan as a whole.”

Pairs of milky white eyes narrowed at the statement.

“How so?” asked one elder after a moment of apprehensive silence. “Now I truly want to hear this reason.”

“As do I,” said another one. “Please, young Neji. Pray tell.”

The addressed young man stayed quiet. The elders grew impatient. “Hiashi-sama, again, I must ask you to help convince this young man.”

“Neji,” Hiashi called. “Neji, look at me.”

Neji did so and was surprised to see the look on his uncle’s face. It practically begged, ‘Please don’t make me do this.’

The young Hyuuga finally caved. He took off his hitai-ate and said, “This is my reason, Ojiisama.”

Hiashi raised an eyebrow. He wasn’t expecting this. “Your seal?”

“Yes, Ojiisama. My seal,” confirmed his nephew. “A seal that takes but an incantation to activate. A seal that puts my life in the hands of another without my say so. I do not regret having this seal, this mark that means I am nothing but a sentry of the main family members which could easily be disposed of when it is imperative to do so. I do not regret never having free will, nor do I regret never having a life.”

Everyone in the room practically froze and Neji pushed on. “Although I may have in the past, now I do not regret that fate. But also, I will never wish it on someone else. How can I, knowing how much pain it would bring, regardless of the nobility that comes with it? Forgive me, gracious Elders, but I am no monster. I can not bring myself to impose this fate to another person, let alone my own children.”

The elders were starting to get agitated. Hiashi tried to stop him before things get worse. “Neji-”

“Hear me, noble clansmen.” Neji was already on a roll. He was as good as dead anyway. “I can not, will not, bring a child in to this world only so you can place a seal on his forehead when he was four, too young to comprehend that yes, he is suffering immense pain so that his family can place a permanent torture device on him for their convenience. It is inhuman, and my conscience will not allow it.”

The room was filled with a thick silence. It took everything in Hinata to prevent her from running out of the room and search for Shikamaru. It took more in Hiashi to prevent him from whisking his nephew away and hide him somewhere safe, even if he would yell at said nephew for being idiotic all the way to that imaginary hiding place.

“Hyuuga Neji,” one elder growled. “Do you have any idea what you just said?”

“Hiashi-sama,” said another one. “Surely you will not let this- this insult to go unpunished, will you not?”

“Dear Elders, please stay calm.” Hiashi tried, again, to diffuse the situation. “He is young. I am sure he did not mean all those things seriously. Maybe he was just spouting nonsense to cover his real reason. Maybe… maybe he is protecting someone. After all, he had never failed to do his duties as a clan member before. It was not until this particular duty that he rebels.”

Neji had to struggle not to let the glare he had for his uncle came to be. An elder looked at said uncle quizzically. “What are you implying, Hiashi-sama?”

Hiashi discreetly gave Neji an apologetic look. His nephew would hate him even more now. He was sure of it. But any reason was better than considering the ways of your own clan inhuman, and he wasn’t stupid enough to mention any name. “Be truthful, Neji. Why do you refuse to marry Hinako? Is it because you already found someone else outside the clan?”

The elders jumped on it like piranhas. “Hm. I did not think of that.”

“Yes. That is logical. We have had this problem before, have we not?”

“Too true. I wonder who this person is though.”

“Hinata-sama, do you have any inkling as to who is the person that has caused this predicament? Your fellow kunoichi, perhaps?”

Hinata jumped. “Eh? No, I do not-”

“Does it even matter? We never let our clan members fornicate with outsiders, whoever that outsider may be. It is a matter of our bloodline limit.”

“Well then, Neji, is it true? Is this someone the reason you are turning your back on your clan?”

Neji gritted his teeth before answering tersely, “No.”

Hiashi had to stop himself from groaning. “No?”

“No, Ojiisama. While it is true that I have found someone, our relationship has nothing to do with my decision to decline the arranged marriage. I have made that decision on my own since I was twelve, with the reasoning I have thoroughly explained.”

The clan leader nearly ripped his hair out in frustration. He had no way of protecting the boy now. Hinata was holding back her tears.

“So, Hyuuga Neji,” an elder started again. “Is it by your own conscious thought that you scorn your own traditions, stating that our ways are inhuman and therefore implying that all of Hyuuga clan members are just as such?”

Neji brought up his chin proudly. “Yes, Clan Elder.”

Hinata couldn’t hold back anymore. “Neji-niisan, please reconsider-”

“Hiashi-sama,” another elder cut her off. “I must insist that you make this young man see the error of his ways!”

Hiashi was torn. “Neji, I will give you one more chance to take back those words.”


Neji bowed lightly to his uncle. “I thank you for your kindness, Ojiisama, but I am a Hyuuga. I will not take back what I have spoken.”

“Enough! This insolence is unacceptable. Hiashi-sama, it appears that words alone will not dissuade him. You must use another method to make him take back his words and accept his duty to carry on the Hyuuga bloodline.”

Hiashi looked at his nephew intently, and what he saw strengthen his resolve as much as it saddened him. There was no fear in Neji at all. There was nothing but determination and pride, the brave readiness to face the consequence of standing up for what he believed in. Before him kneeled the perfect picture of a true Hyuuga, and he was forced to break it. The clan leader finally nodded at his nephew in understanding. “So be it.”

Two fingers brought up in a simple form of hand-seal. Quiet chanting.

Neji felt like his brain was being squished from all sides with hot, spiky plates. Light and darkness flashed back and forth behind his eyes. The pain was excruciating, torturing his every being. But he refused to give them the pleasure of hearing him scream or even utter a sound, so he gritted his teeth and remained quiet. He didn’t even realize he was curling into a ball on the floor, hands gripping his head as wave after wave of agonizing pain assaulted him and he held on.

The pain grew with every second.

Ten seconds. Fifteen seconds.

The pain stopped.

“Well?” asked Hiashi.


Pain. Fifteen seconds. Twenty seconds. Stop.

“Take back those words and accept your duty,” Hiashi implored, “and this will stop.”


Pain. Twenty seconds. Thirty seconds. Stop.

“All you have to do is say ‘yes’,” Hiashi offered. “Just one simple word.”


Pain. Thirty seconds. Thirty-five seconds. Stop.

“Neji, you must relent.” Hiashi couldn’t hold back his worried look. “If this goes on for too long, your brain may be damaged permanently.”

“Th- then… so- ngh… so be it.”

“You heard him, Hiashi-sama,” an elder chimed in. “There is no reason to keep stopping anymore. If he dies before he breaks down and say ‘yes’, then so be it. He has brought this upon himself.”

Hiashi tried to deter his nephew's stubbornness again. “Neji…”

Not to his surprise, the currently pale, sweating and heaving young Hyuuga merely smirk. “You heard them. Give me all you got.”

Hiashi nodded appreciatively, somehow feeling deep respect towards the young man slumped on the floor in front of him, before chanting anew.

Pain. Thirty-five seconds. Forty seconds. Fifty seconds. Sixty seconds-

Neji screamed.


Who made you God to say
“I’ll take your life from you!”
Flash before my eyes
Now it’s time to die
Burning in my brain
I can feel the flames

--- “Ride the Lightning” by Metallica


Hanabi ran.

She ran and jumped as fast as she could on the rooftops of Konoha.

Her destination was well within sight now, an apartment building not too far from the offices and the Hokage tower. She must hurry and find a man called Nara Shikamaru.

The thirteen-year-old genin didn’t know much. Her older sister had suddenly ordered her to find this Nara-san, whom she knew was Konoha’s War Leader and a friend of her Neji-niisan. The order had come in a rush and jumbled with furious jabbering about not knowing what was going on until the last minute, but the message was clear: Find Nara Shikamaru and tell him that Neji-niisan was in trouble.

The words ‘Neji-niisan’ and ‘in trouble’ was enough to make Hanabi run to hell and back, so Hanabi ran. She ran to find this Nara-san and relay Hinata-neesama’s message. She ran as fast as she could so this Nara-san would have enough time to get Neji-niisan out of trouble.

She ran and she jumped and she ran some more, until she finally reached her destination. She pounded the door Hinata-neesama had indicated to her, only to find that no one would answer her. Nara-san wasn’t home.

Hanabi didn’t panic. She was a kunoichi. She was a Hyuuga. She was smart. She would never panic. She pounded the door next to Nara-san’s, and nearly gasped as the door opened. The man was tall and pale with silvery hair. He was wearing a mask and his hitai-ate covered one of his eyes. Wait a minute. She knew this shinobi. He was a very famous jounin. He was the Sharingan Kakashi!

The famous jounin asked what was going on, but Hanabi was clever. She didn’t just trust anybody. All she said was she needed to find Nara-san and that this was an emergency. To her surprise, the man looked at her with his one eye and asked if anything had happened to Neji-niisan. How did he know? But there wasn’t much time so Hanabi just nodded.

The man quickly performed a summoning jutsu and the hallway was suddenly filled with dogs. He ordered the dogs to find Nara-san and he told Hanabi not to worry because Nara-san wasn’t on any mission, his nin-dogs would find him very quickly. The Copy-Nin smiled at her, or at least, she thought he smiled. All she had to go by was the way his one visible eye arched.

Suddenly a long howl could be heard. Hanabi was about to run to where the howl had came from, but Hatake-san grabbed her. He said it was clear that the howl came from the Hokage tower and that it would be faster if he teleport both of them there. Hanabi agreed.

It took a couple of blinks for the young girl to realize where she was. She saw Godaime-sama sitting behind her desk, which was cluttered with maps, papers and scrolls. Her aide Shizune-san stood behind her, right next to that scary big man Hanabi recognized as Godaime-sama’s bodyguard. Then she saw a young jounin sitting across from Godaime-sama. His hair was pulled in to a ponytail on the top of his head, he was smoking, and he was looking at her with a raised eyebrow.

Before Hanabi could say anything, Hatake-san apologized to everyone for dropping in like that and told the smoking jounin -- which turned out to be Nara-san -- that Hanabi was looking for him because something happened to Neji-niisan. Everyone in the room turned their attention to her, particularly Nara-san who promptly asked her what happened.

So she told them everything she knew. Otousama and Hinata-neesama are having an abrupt meeting with all the clan elders and Neji-niisan. Before attending, Hinata-neesama had ordered her to find Nara-san as fast as she could and tell him that Neji-niisan was in trouble. She didn’t know what was going on, but she was sure that it was bad because Hinata-neesama was upset.

Hanabi frowned when Nara-san said nothing and merely inhaled deeply from his cigarette, looking like he was bored. She thought he was Neji-niisan’s friend. Wasn’t he going to help? She berated the strategist with those exact two sentences when he nodded at Hatake-san and told him to get her home. She refused to go home. Neji-niisan was in trouble! Nara-san must help or she would destroy all his chakra paths!

Nara-san smiled at her, saying that her glare was so scary Neji-niisan should take lessons from her. Then he promised to take care of everything and make sure that Neji-niisan was alright, but Hanabi must go home so there wouldn’t be even more trouble. He said it would be easier for him to take care of things if he was sure that she was safe at home. He asked her to trust him.

Hanabi was doubtful because Nara-san didn’t seem upset at all about the situation, but there wasn’t much time and if Hinata-neesama trusted this man then so would she. After making Nara-san promised one more time with another intense glare, she nodded and went home with Hatake-san. Hanabi was taught that one should never take back their words or break their promise, and Nara-san had promised her that he would take care of Neji-niisan.

Nara-san must take care of Neji-niisan.

He promised.




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