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[Naruto Fic] The Fall of Icarus 03.a

ironically, this chapter could be called 'The Chapter That Would Not End'.


Previously: 01 02



=========================
The Fall of Icarus
By: Ken
Word Count: 3,141
Began: 09.15.2004
Pairing: Neji x Naruto, Gai x Kakashi
Disclaimer: Naruto is a product of Kishimoto Masashi. If i owned it Gai would have been in the first three episodes. poor Maito Gai -- to be upstaged by Iruka of all characters.
Comments: with Many Thanks to my beta TJ Dragonblade.
=========================


Chapter 03.a: The End of the Line

Neji always wondered why hospitals were stark and sterile. How could an expanse of white walls, white floors, and even white bed sheets speed recovery? If anything it was testament that there wasn’t much out there worth living for; nothing changed. So, it was with great satisfaction that Neji gingerly brought his legs over the side of the bed and slipped his feet into the provided thin house slippers. He clutched his side as the movement jarred half-healed injuries and breathed deeply as he waited for the vertigo to pass.

The only time in his life that he could recall ever feeling so poorly was five years ago when he’d felt the Lock for the first time. It had utterly debilitated him, ruined his coordination, fried his nerves, and vanquished his sight. It was all temporary, yes, but Neji knew from that moment on that he never wanted to warrant the Lock again. When his senses had returned that day his cousin, Ozora, had been tending to him, placing towels soaked in Nadeshiko’s special moon blossom salve on his forehead and eyes to ease the pain. Kuji had been in the corner, sloppily put together as always, tapping a rhythm on the wall. When he’d seen Neji had returned to consciousness he had paused for a moment, morose, sleepy eyes looking him over as he mumbled, “Sorry, nephew.”

There was no one to greet Neji this time. The hospital room was a single, the window was badly placed, and the only visitors he could recall were Lady Tsunade accompanied by Shizune to check on him and a brief conversation with Shikamaru and Kiba. He thought he’d dreamed his teammates, TenTen admonishing Gai and Lee to be quiet as she placed a vase of orange and purple tulips on the bedside table, but as he glanced to the right he confirmed its truth with the existence of the sole splash of color in his room.

Shikamaru had said Chouji was just as badly off as Neji was, or his friend would have visited too and that Naruto had been admitted as well. He’d been told that a hole had been punched through Naruto’s chest, literally as well as figuratively. Neji took another deep breath and slid off the bed. His left arm was taped to his body and cradled in a sling to immobilize it while it healed. He grabbed his IV holder with his good arm and leaned on it as he shuffled toward the door.

Naruto had failed.

Neji sighed.

He would have to speak with the blond. Naruto was surprisingly fragile for someone so strong. Neji had the feeling that nobody was telling him what he needed to hear and if Naruto had seen Sakura already his guilt would be even more profound. That girl making him promise something beyond his control would be the death of Naruto. For a moment, as sweat from his endeavors formed on his upper lip, and pain niggled its way up and down his spine, Neji hated her for not understanding. Naruto had crushed his own heart to allow hers to keep blithely beating. She’d never really seen him; now that Naruto had been unsuccessful he would think that she had been right to overlook him in favor of Sasuke.

He didn’t meet anyone in the hallway even though he’d inverted the last two numbers of the room Shikamaru had said Naruto was assigned. Sweat dripped from his forehead; his teeth gritted with a determination Lee would have appreciated as he cursed his body’s weakness. Leaning against the wall for support he let go of the IV drip stand to knock on the door. Eyes wide with shock, Shikamaru answered.

“Hey, what are you doing up?” he demanded crossly. Neji looked past him to see the blond on the bed, heavily bandaged. “If you make yourself worse it’ll be troublesome. How did you get here anyway without anyone seeing you?” Shikamaru supported Neji as he hobbled into the room scowling the whole time, but as he helped situate Neji into the chair at Naruto’s bedside his calculating dark eyes swiveled from Neji to Naruto and back. “So, Naruto, look who’s here.”

Neji grimaced internally. Nara Shikamaru was too intelligent by far; he would have to speak with him later.

Uzumaki Naruto had averted his eyes at his entry; it perplexed Neji as Shikamaru had been the team leader. It wasn’t as though a Hyuuga Bunke member’s disapproval weighed more than a Nara’s. For Naruto to think so was ludicrous.

Shikamaru cleared his throat. “I’ll uh, just go find someone who can yell at Neji properly. It’ll suck if I have to do it.”

After he left silence reigned. Neji studied Naruto’s battered body, while the other boy clenched his sheets in his bandaged hands, blue eyes surreptitiously gliding to Neji’s face and then back to his lap. Naruto wasn’t meeting his eyes because the other boy was looking at the center of his forehead, Neji realized. He was staring at the Hyuuga Curse Seal. Suddenly self-conscious Neji raised his good hand to his left temple to partition off some strands of hair and drag them across his forehead and perch behind his right ear.

Naruto colored. “Sorry,” he whispered.

“It’s nothing,” Neji replied.

With a grimace, Naruto wiggled his toes and flexed his hands again. “Shikamaru’s right y’know. You don’t heal as fast as I do so you shouldn’t be up.”

Neji offered a half-hearted nod as he agreed. “This isn’t my best decision.”

Blue eyes squeezed shut, Naruto’s chin dropped to his chest and his shoulders quaked with pent up emotion. “You almost died for nothing,” he choked out.

Neji reached up and placed his hand over Naruto’s. The action shocked the blond into finally meeting his gaze and Neji could see the tears lurking, held back only by Naruto’s determination not to cry in front of the brunette. As if my opinion of him matters, Neji thought again but this time he was touched by the notion that Naruto spared him any attention at all. The promise to change the Hyuuga was a long time coming.

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” Neji stated.

You wouldn’t have failed,” Naruto raged quietly. His fingers abandoned the sheet to grasp Neji’s. “You would have brought him back.”

Neji shrugged his good shoulder. “Maybe.”

White eyes dropped to their clasped hands and for a moment he allowed himself to imagine what that would be like under different circumstances. But a world where Naruto was capable of considering him and he was free to reciprocate wouldn’t place them in the hospital after a tragedy, when Neji’s feelings could be misunderstood. So he kept them to himself; allowed the thrill of holding Naruto’s hand to soothe the aches his body had sustained and fill him with the right words to ease the blond’s mind.

He exhaled slowly. “When I found out my father was dead I thought, How could the Souke do that to him? It never crossed my mind that my father would choose to leave me. To find out that he had made me wonder if being dead was more preferable to being Bunke.” He swallowed. “Even though I knew the truth I still wondered if my father thought dying was better than staying with me.”

He blinked. Calloused fingertips slowly stroked the bandaged ones entwined with them. “Just like right now you’re thinking, How could Sasuke leave you? Is what he hopes to accomplish really more important than you?” He saw Naruto nod out of the corner of his eye. The younger boy looked miserable and awkward as he likely realized how shallow he seemed in comparison.

“It took a really long time for me to process that what my father did wasn’t about me.” He squeezed Naruto’s hand encouragingly. “It’s the first time you’ve lost somebody, so, take whatever time you need to understand that Sasuke leaving wasn’t about you.”

“Aren’t you going to tell me to quit chasing after him?” the blue-eyed boy asked, his voice shaking.

Neji shook his head. “I don’t do that anymore -- tell people what they can and can’t do. What do I know, right?” When he looked at Naruto, the blond’s face was bright and open and awed as he stared at Neji. The brunette gently grinned and squeezed the fingers laced with his again. “You may have better eyes than me, but you sure are stupid. Cheer up. So what if you didn’t bring Sasuke back -- since when do you get anything right the first time?”

The smile Naruto leveled him did more damage than Kidoumaru’s arrows could ever hope to rival. With its sheer magnitude there could be no stealth involved; there was no avoiding it as it punched through Neji’s guard and pierced all his vital organs.

It wasn’t for nothing, Neji deemed as his heart figuratively stopped in his chest. Returning Naruto’s smile is worth --

====~- X -~====


Neji woke to realize that he hadn’t been squeezing Naruto’s hand.

Glancing at the clock he noted that he’d been asleep approximately four hours since coming in from The Aviary. He would have to get up within the next half an hour if he expected to get any training in today. He groaned as his penis pulsed in blatant reminder that he had other business to attend to first.

And while he felt vaguely dirty at the thought that he was essentially jerking off to the image of a twelve year old, he soothed his conscience with the melancholy reminder that his memory was the only picture he had.

This was one of the things he couldn’t do in the Hyuuga compound. To be Hyuuga meant to live in a house with no doors and no one wanted to be caught with their pants down. No one wanted the Souke to see them at their leisure, witness their pleasure.

For the first time in his life Neji didn’t have to spare that a thought; he wasn’t on a mission, he had no teammates at his back, and while he wanted to prolong the novelty, enjoy the rare moments he was allowed to be utterly alone with himself, he had to end it.

Sated, as he struggled to regulate his breathing, he activated his byakugan. The hand still sticky-slick with his semen grasped his balls, in the other he concentrated his chakra to his fingertips and aimed.

He was finally in a world where he was free to do the things he’d dreamed of with Uzumaki Naruto and he wouldn’t allow anyone to take that away from him. He would never return to that prison.

It was the same process as severing Kidoumaru’s chakra infused webbing, Neji thought absently.

His was some of the most coveted seed in all Konoha, and he cheerfully destroyed it.

====~- X -~====


Tsunade, Godaime Hokage of Konohagakure, placed the latest mission request in a growing pile and stretched out in her chair to allow her head to loll upon her neck. It was too early in the morning to have so much paperwork. She hadn’t remembered that aspect of the job from her childhood bouncing on her grandfather’s knee. Worse, she hadn’t even had a sip of sake these past few days, as Shizune had complained about her bad habits leading to the pile of work sitting before her. At least with alcohol in her system paperwork was tolerable.

A glass of something stronger than tea as the day wore on kept Tsunade from dwelling on things she could not change, kept her from worrying about Jiraiya and Naruto on their journey. Her former teammate did well in keeping her informed, Tsunade allowed. Against all expectations, Naruto progressed in his training. That had been a relief to learn as he’d been so dejected at Sasuke’s betrayal. A grin formed as she recalled the short missive written in Naruto’s messy handwriting on the last report: Hi Granny! That had been all, but it had warmed Tsunade’s heart.

Oddly enough, Naruto’s ‘endearment’ was almost accurate, Tsunade mused not for the first time. When she’d met the little boy and he’d shoved the name Uzumaki at her like a badge of honor, she’d been reminded of her own grandmother, Uzumaki Mito. They were probably distantly related so that ‘Granny’ was indeed apt coming from him.

Ah . . . she thought giddily, Such a cute grandson. Her legacy to him as the future Hokage meant that she would have to work harder to ensure proper documentation of policies; Naruto wasn’t the paperwork type. Break time was over.

She’d just managed to force her body to pick up her writing utensil and conform to a properly studious and Hokage-like pose when the village council advisors, Utatane Koharu and Mitokado Homura, barged into her office unannounced.

The pen snapped in half.

Someone was going to die today if she had to listen to these remnants sober on top of everything else. It was too early to deal with them too.

“Tsunade.” The lack of title had the Godaime’s eyes narrowing at Koharu. The old woman ignored it and dropped the documents she’d been holding onto the already overcrowded desk. “The village’s population has been a subject of concern. Upon speaking with the clans’ elders, there are many who would like to invoke the Familial Duties Provision of the village’s doctrine.”

Tsunade gritted her teeth. On top of their militant ways, blatant disregard for closed doors and of all their other loathsome, odious habits, that bit of rudeness of going behind the Hokage’s back to push their agendas -- good intentioned or not -- was probably their worst trait to Tsunade. She hated to be treated like she was still a toddler in swaddling incapable of making an intelligent decision concerning her village.

“Ninja have never had the privilege of long life. That so many have not provided progeny as they should have long before now --”

Tsunade snorted contemptuously. That logic was dubious. Weren’t these two old cronies proof that ninja were living too long?

“For instance, the son of the White Fang --”

As Hokage, Tsunade knew she probably should be listening but Koharu had a talent for pissing her off. Konoha was peaceful in comparison to other countries, but that peace was hard fought and harder won. The world that relics like Koharu and Homura had created did not favor children. Those young ones who’d had to live during that time period of constant war and death carried scars carved deeper than their skin. She’d seen what Tsukuyomi had evoked in the son of the White Fang; that a ninja like Kakashi still got up every day to perform his duties was a miracle in itself. And if he found solace in Gai’s arms every night instead of sleeping on the memorial centograph, she wouldn’t fault him for that. Not everyone needed nor wanted children.

The simple facts were that demilitarization had halved their fighting force. Insult to injury was the fact that the village’s population had never recovered from the Uchiha massacre, and the Sound and Sand coup d’état had set Konoha back even further. To ask the younger shinobi, who -- she hated to admit -- were already behind the other nations in strength and skill to take time out to create the generation after them was an act of senility. Tsunade was not that far gone.

Missions already had a set amount of downtime allotted upon completion depending on length, difficulty, and any injuries sustained. Asking for a few extra hours off every so often for ‘bedroom duty’ was the right of every clan. She scowled down at the paperwork, annoyed that the requests were written in perfect, legible order so that she couldn’t even deny it based on improper protocol. Among the petitioners was the Sarutobi Clan, but that made sense as Sarutobi Asuma and Yuuhi Kurenai were rumored to be enjoying each other’s company lately. There were three other forms; one from Hijiri, Mimura, and lastly Hyuuga. She sighed internally. Hyuuga. It never ceased to amaze her how that clan could make sex a punishment.

“-- Even you the last of the Senju clan wasted your fertile years drinking and gambling.” That was from Homura. The fact that Koharu nodded approvingly only angered Tsunade more.

Her fist clenched. She was allowed to destroy them for that. How dare they scold her for mourning her little brother and the love of her life? She’d just worked herself into a proper rage, fist concentrating an obscene amount of chakra, when there was a single knock to the door before Shizune burst in carrying a tray of tea and dango.

“Lady Tsunade I happened to find -- oh, I wasn’t aware you were in a meeting.” She shot an apologetic wince Tsunade’s way which was acknowledged with the slightest incline of her head. One could describe the gesture as a twitch.

“Ah. We were just leaving,” Koharu stated as a trickle of sweat meandered down her temple. Homura had already taken a step toward the exit. The door closed quietly after their departure.

The Hokage managed to disperse the chakra gathered in her hands before they slammed down on her desk as she stood. Those pitiful old fools deserved whatever bad end came to them. While Tsunade would love to be the one who delivered their death, she didn’t have the time and it was too early in the morning for the kind of mayhem she wanted to unleash. Her adorably naïve grandson was counting her to be a person worthy of the name Hokage. He wouldn’t approve. Tsunade took a few breaths to clear the bloodlust and brought a hand to her temple to ward away a headache with a few circles from her thumb.

“Shizune,” she said when she felt suitably calm. “That tea had better be spiked with sake.”

Her assistant emitted a terrified noise from low in her gut and gripped the tray in white knuckled tension. “I’ll go get some,” she promised.

Tsunade took another calming breath and then asked, “Where’s Sakura?”

Shizune settled the tea tray on an uncovered corner of the desk. “Uh. You sent her to work at the hospital this morning,” she answered warily.

“Hm. I forgot that.” Tsunade’s hand abandoned her temple to allow her to nibble at a fingernail. She glanced at the pile of simple missions she’d been working on before the advisors had interrupted. She needed to fill them before the day was out. “There’s a Hyuuga of at least chuunin level off-duty right now isn’t there?”

Shizune took a moment to search her memory. “Yes. Um. Hyuuga Neji, a jounin,” she offered.

“Send for him then.”

“Right away.”

====~- X -~====




Aburame Shino's 'Bug on the Wall' Corner:

Shino: This work of fiction is called 'The Fall of Icarus'.

Why?

Because Naruto is often described as bright, cheerful, and of a 'sunny' disposition.

And.

Hyuuga means 'towards the sun'.

While.

Neji means 'screw' -- though a looser translation could be 'spiral'.

So.

When you put Hyuuga Neji all together you get 'Spiral Toward the Sun', which is equivalent to Neji's spiral toward Naruto.

In other words:

The Fall of Icarus.

End.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
entitys
Apr. 13th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
thank you so much! sorry 'bout the wait but this chapter gave me . . . issues. i'll try posting 03.b later in the week after a few more tweaks.
loke_21
Apr. 13th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
I totally love it! And I like the meaning behind the title. I can't wait for Neji and Naruto to see each other again. LOVE IT!
entitys
Apr. 13th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
thanks! i can't wait for the reunion either.
wiccachic2000
Apr. 13th, 2011 08:42 am (UTC)
Glad to see this still on-going (not abandoned by the wayside) ^_^.
entitys
Apr. 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
yeah. sorry. that was an unexpected hiatus. this chapter was like 'grr' for awhile there, but i'm over it now. 03.b should be out soon. hopefully. thanks for the encouragement!
tj_dragonblade
Apr. 14th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
Oh, Neji.  The snippage still makes me cringe in sympathy.  ^_^;
 
I have to wonder, with all these old people insisting that the most talented shinobi must reproduce asap, if they really value the perpetuation of a bloodline over the well-being of the child.  I mean, someone with no interest in having children who's reproducing simply for the sake of passing on their genes is not going to be the best parent.  Maybe they figure the clan will be raising the child in any case, so it doesn't matter.  -_-  But what then of Kakashi, who's sort of the end of his line (afaik, anyway, please correct me if I'm wrong)?  Casting aside the whole matter of whether or not he wants offspring, do they really expect him to raise a child and pass on all he knows while still being one of the top ninjas sent out on missions and such?  Are they willing to shelve one of the village's most valuable assets for the duration of his child-rearing years?  Or do they expect his anonymous baby-mama to be able to do all that even though it's his talent they're worried about passing down the line?
 
Suddenly, I can see Kakashi packing the baby along on an S-ranked mission.  *facepalm*
 
*sigh*  Stupid narrow-minded set-in-their-ways outdated non-sense-making old people. 
 
*laughing at disclaimer again*  Alas, poor Gai.  T_T  Totally looking forward to what you come up with for ch 4 disclaimer.
 
Love Shino's Corner, too.  Gives the poor underappreciated boy something interesting to do, at any rate, in addition to being informative. 
entitys
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
snippage . . . *dies*

from the Naruto'verse this is what i've pieced together (with examples, of course):

the old fogies grew up when it was more important to be a useful 'tool' than a human being. and they've tried to pass that mindset on. if a tool cannot be used then it must be destroyed i.e the Uchiha massacre. so it's not just about bloodlines. its about your clan's loyalty. if you're not making loyals that strengthen the village then there's not much point.

doesn't really matter if children are wanted, your duty is to your village. i don't think they considered a bunch of little crazy Gaara's running around hating the world as a bad thing so long as they were useful, which, ultimately, even in his psychotic state, Gaara was.

in this verse getting pregnant at 17 isn't weird i.e. Tsume (Kiba's mom). of known parentage, most of the K9 were born on or before their parents' 23rd bday. exceptions being Hinata/Neji (Hiashi/Hizashi were 29/28)

most of the time if Gene Pool (we'll call him) has a child then the Pool clan or a godfather will take care of it while he's gone on a mission. i.e. Chiyo raising Sasori, Jiraiya caring for Naruto like he promised Minato.

Hatake/Inuzuka Clan share a common ancestor (Kakashi mentioned that in the Sasuke arc) i.e Hyuuga/Uchiha kinship. so his particular genes aren't really that rare. besides which, as talented as Kakashi is the thing that really allows him to showcase what he does is the sharingan and Uchiha women are dead so that's not gonna pop up again.

Baby-mama: demilitarization allowed a lot of women who wanted to stay home to do so i.e. Mikoto (Sasuke's mom - she was a jounin) or Yoshino (Shikamaru's mom - chuunin). Clan members or whenever 'Dad' had a day off he trained the kids in jutsu. i.e. Sasuke's dad/Itachi.

don't agree with the oldies but *shrug*

*snickers* Kakashi carrying Baby Hatake into battle...
tj_dragonblade
Apr. 16th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much the way it seems re: how the old folks ran things back in their day.  The new generation has a somewhat different viewpoint on it, I suspect.
 
in this verse getting pregnant at 17 isn't weird
 
True, true, which is why I'm totally fine writing Sai & sex even though he's underage according to the standards of the community in which I live.  Shinobi grow up faster than modern civilians.
 
Still giggling over Gene Pool, btw.
 
so his particular genes aren't really that rare. besides which, as talented as Kakashi is the thing that really allows him to showcase what he does is the sharingan and Uchiha women are dead so that's not gonna pop up again
 
Someone should point that out to Koharu/Homura next time they complain that he's shirking his baby-making duties.  ^_^  Except that, like you said, even if his kid's not a prodigy s/he's still another loyal Konoha shinobi to fight/die for/support the village, so they probably wouldn't care anyway.
 
entitys
Apr. 18th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
Shinobi grow up faster than modern civilians.

i would say so, yes. when your life expectancy isn't so long it's easier to put things into perspective. which is what kills me that Konoha doesn't allow drinking, or nudie pics before twenty. what!?

Someone should point that out to Koharu/Homura next time they complain

i would love to. "Oh btw, Koharu, Homura, yeah, Kakashi's naturally talented 'n' all, but you do realize you had his best match for breeding purposes exterminated already, right?"
tj_dragonblade
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
which is what kills me that Konoha doesn't allow drinking, or nudie pics before twenty. what!?

Indeed. I mean, I imagine that Konoha is probably abiding by the over-arching civilian law of the Land of Fire, or whatever, but I would hope there's a certain under-the-table leniency granted to the shinobi population. To quote Yamato (in a line which will probably still make it into the final version of the Giant Porn Fic): "If you're old enough to fight and die for your village, or anyone else's, you're certainly old enough to drink a little in celebration."

but you do realize you had his best match for breeding purposes exterminated already, right?

XD
e313
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Naruto is not back yet, then? but if they're 16 then we're getting there: can't wait to see what Neji will think upon meeting him again.
also, Homura and Koharu; i'm all cheering for Tsunade to beat the hell out of them! *growl*
entitys
Apr. 14th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
Naruto is not back yet, then?

no, not yet. i'm sorry i'm so slow at setting up, it's just a few plot pieces must be in place for when he gets back. i'm anxious for the reunion too.

i've been wanting to push Koharu and Homura off the Hokage monument for a while now, so i can relate.
(Deleted comment)
entitys
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
hello long time lurker, pleasure to make your acquaintance. i am the author who appreciates any and all interest in this little fic. so thank you so much for the comment.

"The Fall of Icarus" by Pieter Bruegel is my favorite painting and what i draw parallels to when i'm writing chapters. it works out well most of the time because of the known facts presented in the Naruto'verse. anyhow, glad you like it.

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )