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Fan Fic / Nightingale

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Nightingale is a very dark Naruto fanfic by riversrunthroughme. It’s an Alternate Universe Fic where Orochimaru kidnaps Hinata and demands Neji in exchange.

Of course, any fan of Naruto would notice right off the bat that thanks to the caged bird seal, this is effectively as practical as trading a working boom box for a dead stereo. It turns out there is a twist that justifies Orochimaru targeting Neji, one that much of the main cast already knows. However, Neji is trying to keep this secret hidden and since everybody knows nobody ever just comes out and explains it directly, instead hinting at the truth in order to mess with Neji's head. The rest of the focus is on Neji’s deteriorating mental state, as he struggles to stay sane and loyal while in Sound.


Nightingale is beautifully written, highly disturbing, and sadly unfinished at sixteen chapters. It plays with the biology of eye-jutsu and the politics of the Hyuuga clan in interesting ways, and puts emphasis on Psychological Horror and psychological torture rather than using brutal violence or Gorn.

Tropes found in Nightingale:

  • Adult Fear: A lot of Neji's issues are relatable to having mental illness and PTSD. It's even implied that Neji has both.
    • Also, being unable to protect the children in your care.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: The genin on Neji’s team are as immature as regular kids their age. It’s implied that the two girls had a Dark and Troubled Past, but they show symptoms of trauma the way many kids their age would.
  • Alliterative Family: Takon, Ukon, and Sakon. Lampshaded.
    There was a mother and father rolling in their unimaginative graves, having given their three sons ridiculously similar names for this very reason.
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  • Always Save the Girl: Saving Hinata is what gets Neji into this mess.
  • And I Must Scream: What having the caged bird seal activated is like for Neji.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: And then Neji was a jonin of Sound. Or a spy for Itachi. It's not very clear.
  • Animal Motifs: The story opens with Neji feeding a bird, and there's a lot of references to "Hyuuga Hawks" and Nightingales.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Part of how Kabuto gets Neji to obey- take this mission, or your team will get a harder mission, and if you reject that they'll get a harder one, and so on and so forth until they're left with only suicide missions.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: In a sense, as The Reveal is never outright stated until the very end of the story (out of what's been finished thus far), but after sixteen chapters the reader has gotten enough hints to figure out the twist.
    • Although averted if you consider The Reveal to be in chapter 13.
  • Anything That Moves: Juri. Unlike most female examples, it makes her deranged and dangerous.
  • Badass Adorable: Minami and Nishi, due to their status as little girls and hair color. Neji even lampshades it.
    She (Nishi) was looking very, very little and… pink. God, she was so pink.
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  • Badass in Distress: The entire story is about a powerful elite ninja being captured and psychologically, mentally and emotionally tortured.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Implied with some of the Sound ninja.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Neji wants to protect Hannabi from the dark secrets of their clan. Orochimaru abuses this trope by giving Neji a genin team, knowing he wouldn’t have any choice but to comply to protect the (moderately) innocent children.
    • On a more disturbing note, Takon wants revenge on Neji not only for the Hyuuga clan’s actions against his clan, but also because he’s the older brother of Sakon and Ukon.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Neji.
  • By the Hair: Happens to Neji more then once, although never in any serious battle if he has a chance of winning. Most notably occurs right before Orochimaru uses his Mind Rape genjutsu.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played with. While the genin team is trained and ready to kill, there are some things so Harmful to Minors Neji has to protect what little innocence they have.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Mostly psychological.
  • Crapsack World: Even more so then in Naruto cannon.
  • Creepy Child: Averted with Neji’s genin team.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Almost every time somebody talks to Neji about why Orochimaru is interested in him, it winds up being one of these. It’s recommended to read the story twice, as the second time around the reader notices countless hints leading up to the twist.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Neji, Takon, Mai…
  • Deconstruction: Of Naruto cannon in general. Special mention goes to the Ninja Brat trope and the Hyuuga clan's branch system.
  • Deconstruction Fic: Of the trope most commonly found in bad and/or over-powered Naruto fanfic that has one character become extremely powerful by learning that he/she was born with two different strains of Superpowerful Genetics. Neji is physically unstable for this very reason, and it's never made clear how much of Neji's madness and clinical instability is because of the cage bird seal and how much is because of outbreeding depression.
    • Also, a lot of Naruto fanfic has a political sub-plot where some powerful political force works to push down the protagonist because he/she is destined or likely to become extremely powerful and the political force worries he/she may become uncontrollable or a threat to themselves. Nightingale has said political force causing a lot of emotional and physical damage to said protagonist through these attempts, with lasting consequences and several major villains taking advantage of their actions.
  • Does Not Like Men: Minami. And quite vocal about it, though she warms up to her teammate and teacher.
  • Droit du Seigneur: Many corrupt members of the main branch use this as an excuse for raping lower branch members.
  • Foreshadowing: In spades, just look at the Cryptic Conversation entry.
  • For the Evulz: The main difference between insane-violent characters like Takon and Mai and insane-rational characters like Orochimaru and Kabuto is that the latter will avoid this trope and always has a purpose behind their cruelty, while the former occasionally indulges in this.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted with Neji, despite how fucked-up the main branch is. Since Hinata is one of the few White Sheep of the head family, Neji attacking her during the Chunin Exams isn't excused and he even has nightmares about what he did.
  • Got Volunteered: Shown to occur commonly with Branch Hyuugas. Even when ordered to do something they want to do, the mere nature of the orders makes it uncomfortable.
    Ahh, yes, but they did order you, didn’t they? That’s the rub. They assumed you needed ordering, they didn’t suppose to ask you if you’d be willing to make such a sacrifice. They just pulled rank. As usual. As always.
  • Grew a Spine: Hanabi towards her grandmother.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Neji spends a full month in this.
  • Hybrid Power: With very strange results. At first it looks like this trope is averted, as only the dominant genetics are shown. However, it turns out that the recessive genes manifest later in life and alter the dominant genes. It helps that the Caged Bird Seal prevented any non-Hyuuga bloodline from developing.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Having his Byakugan turned on permanently is part of what drives Neji insane.
    Mai: He's looking at us.
    Kabuto: Don't be so vain. Of course he's looking at us. I imagine he couldn't stop looking at us, the ceiling, the walls, the floor, even if he wanted to.
  • I Have Your Daughter: Orochimaru ransoms Hinata for Neji.
  • Incest Is Relative: See Droit du Seigneur above.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with the room filled with dead victims of Orochimaru's experiments.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Takon, whenever his Mask of Sanity is let slip. There are no descriptions of what he does in that state, but the few seconds the audience gets to see of his true persona is terrifying enough.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Subverted by Takon, since he knows the damage already done is so traumatic the target won’t be affected by anything he could do to them.
  • Kind Restraints: Although Kabuto is anything but kind, he does use these when helping Neji recover from the cursed branch seal breaking.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Surprisingly enough, no. A common theme throughout the story is how alone Neji feels, even though he's surrounded by people, thanks to all the Mind Screw that's happening he's emotionally isolated. He starts analyzing the personalities and flaws of those around him, and realizing that everyone is messed up the same way. Despite being forced to face the horrors of Konoha and the reason why everything sucks, Neji never caves in to hatred. What happens instead isn’t that much better…
  • Mask of Sanity: Takon has one, and when he drops it...
  • Mental Story: A good portion of the plot. Since insanity is a running theme, this is actually rather helpful.
  • Mind Rape: The genjutsu Orochimaru used on Sasuke and Sakura in the forest of death is a common tactic of Orochimaru’s, and it's such a blatant example this trope gets mentioned by name. The most graphic part of the story is a description of a genjustsu Orochimaru uses, as almost all other examples of torture are either very vaguely described or purely psychological.
  • Mind Screw: Most of the psychological torture that isn’t quite Mind Rape.
  • Moral Myopia: A good number of characters, namely Takon and Mai. It’s Lampshaded with Nishi.
    Against the enemy, all horrors and all manner of martial force were necessary and morally unquestionable, but crimes against her own- unspeakable.
  • More Than Mind Control: Part of how Kabuto gets Neji to follow orders- they stick him in an environment where he feels isolated and trapped but also responsible for his team, so that he feels the only option is to obey.
  • Mouthy Kid: Minami.
  • Mysterious Past: The entire Hyuuga clan, and Takon’s clan. Takon knows more of it then Neji does, and he keeps taunting him with information Neji doesn’t know.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Neji apparently prevented Hiashi from raping a girl from the branch.
    • Invoked by Takon to prove how broken Neji is after Orochimaru’s (non-sexual) Mind Rape- the threat barely phases him.
  • Never Trust a Synopsis: The summary falsely makes it sound like Sasuke will play a big role in the story. While thus may have been true in the original plan, what’s been written thus far doesn’t fit the bill.
  • No Medication for Me: Averted, although it's unclear how much the medication helped, since ultimately surgery was necessary anyways.
  • Not So Different: When Neji’s trying to confirm that Orochimaru knows his secret, Orochimaru instead makes this argument.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Inverted and Averted. The marriage in question wasn’t arranged, but had the potential to help bring two clans closer together anyways. When it ended, the whole thing helped drive the two clans even farther apart then before.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Nishi and Minami. Both are implied to have personalities that were strongly effected by traumatic pasts that they’ve learned to cope in completely different ways.
  • Power Limiter: In addition to it’s regular use, the caged bird seal was used by the main branch to keep Neji from ever accessing his mother’s legacy.
  • Power Tattoo: Averted. Though Neji gets a cursed seal from Orochimaru, it doesn’t give him superpowers. We're not actually clear on what it does, or why he has it.
  • Prodigal Hero: Neji, as per cannon. This gets deconstructed, by showing that a prodigy Ninja Brat would get put on more violent and dangerous missions, contributing to Neji’s issues.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Any time the subject is brought up or implied, the readers should understand that the perpetrator is not someone you want around.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Neji.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Mai gets revenge on the Hyuuga clan for destroying her own clan by torturing Neji. This is also the case for Takon, but in addition to his fallen clan he also wants revenge for the death of his little brothers, Sakon and Ukon.
  • Sadistic Choice: Several are given with failure as the only option as psychological torture.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lampshaded about Kabuto- apparently they aren’t just shiny in the anime.
  • Servant Race: Deconstructed with the Branch Hyuugas.
    By people, of course, the entirety of the Hyuuga branch must be excluded, as their grievances have never counted for anything much in Konoha.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Several. One of the side effects of being a Ninja Brat is that you're exposed to extreme violence at a young age.
  • Shown Their Work: Medical terminology is used frequently, both in internal monologues and in conversation.
  • Slave Brand: Curse seals of any kind are used as this. Played for horror.
    Neji was covered in chakra ink and bandages, people’s branded claims on every inch of him until he was anything and everything but belonging to himself.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Neji tries to invoke this by acting uninterested in topics of importance. Unfortunately, the people he tries it against know better, and they usually call him out on this.
  • Surrealism: Especially since the work is unfinished, many unanswered questions are left open to be interpreted by the reader.
  • Teach Him Anger: Part of Neji’s training under Itachi.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Discussed Trope. Neji leads Nishi to believe that this is the case with him being the only branch Hyuuga to defect from the clan and survive.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Done rather artfully, as the text is still understandable but there's clear signs of more then one psychological issue with the POV character.
  • Turn Out Like His Mother: The Hyuuga clan was afraid of Neji doing this.
  • Uniqueness Value: Neji.
  • White Sheep: Hinata and Hanabi.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Zigzagged. It's not the power itself that's driving Neji mad, it's the fact that the power is being restrained and developing wrong. Removing the restraints allows him to recover.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The twins in the genin team have pink hair, apparently the same shade as Sakura’s.

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