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[Naruto Fic] The Fall of Icarus 04

- at character limit.

- no Aburame 'Bug on the Wall' this time.

- missed a chapter? Click 'The Fall of Icarus' Tag.



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The Fall of Icarus
By: Ken
Word Count: 3,915
Began: 09.15.2004
Pairing: Neji x Naruto, Gai x Kakashi
Disclaimer: Naruto is a product of Kishimoto Masashi. If i owned it Genma wouldn't [complaint truncated for space]. poor Shiranui Genma -- to be treated like that.
Comments: with Many Thanks to my beta TJ Dragonblade.
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Chapter Four: Thought = Fail

Shiranui Genma was not in the best of moods as he hopped from tree to tree, making good time on his way back to Konohagakure from the Fire Daimyo’s estate. The Daimyo had a large, beautiful, well-guarded castle with huge gardens and man-made lakes to wander around. The Daimyo had excellently trained servants who had taken hospitality to a whole new level during Genma’s overnight stay. But the Daimyo -- in Genma’s very humble opinion -- was a moron and so was his wife.

Madam Shijimi and the Daimyo had five children. It pained Genma to think about the two of them and sex with the same brain cells, but he had to have the story straight before he saw Lady Tsunade. The Fifth didn’t suffer stupidity well and she’d been of a mood lately that no one and no amount of sake could cure. So. Of the five children, only the youngest remained in her parents’ home. Lady Yuina had a penchant for dance and other artistic pursuits and had asked to visit the theatre when a new troupe whose main feature was a musical puppet show had come into town.

Lady Yuina never returned.

And almost two weeks later, the Fire Daimyo and Madam Shijimi had finally noticed.

Genma had been promoted to a genin when he was ten. He could recall finding countless cats for a younger Madam Shijimi. The Lady would be on the doorstep within the hour of her current feline’s departure. She would pace the halls until Dear Kitty-Whatever was found. That her offspring didn’t warrant the same conduct was ridiculous. Of the many ways to lose a child -- diseases, accidents, assassination attempts, poisons, war -- Genma could not think of one more foolish than pure negligence. They hadn’t even summoned a thought for their daughter until a messenger from Wind Country had asked after her health. Lady Yuina was a potential bride -- and peace offering -- for one of the Wind Daimyo’s sons.

Whoever had taken the Daimyo’s daughter hadn’t made any demands so finding her when the trail was already cold was going to be damn near impossible unless a miracle happened . . .

The jounin shook his head to clear it; there was no sense getting riled or pessimistic. He nodded to the Leaf shinobi at a check station as he ran by. The sooner he returned, reported to the Hokage, and was granted some down time -- though he doubted that last one with that ‘Familial Duties’ crap they had in effect -- the better off he would be.

He took a turn at the river that divided Hyuuga land from the rest of the world. It would be quicker to cut through, though technically nobody trespassed on Hyuuga land without express permission. Genma had always wondered why that was so, even as a kid. One of these days he would have to ask the Hyuuga on the reconnaissance team. Maybe over dinner if Tokuma displayed interest in more than his questions --

Something was off. Shiranui Genma stopped mid step and listened. The wind flirted with the leaves; the river calmly gurgled on its course downstream; birds chirped overhead . . .

There was a hoarse shout as water splashed erratically.

The jounin already had chakra concentrated in his feet as he zipped from the shoreline and over the river. He could see the person now, struggling to stay afloat as the deceptively calm current carried them further downstream. Within seconds he had a thin arm in hand before he firmly yanked a woman from the river. He carried her quickly to the banks and set her down, patting her on the back. She spasmed and coughed liquid, disjointedly clawing her way through the moon blossoms on the shore.

“Are you alright?” Genma asked, following her.

“I-I . . .” She sputtered, spat some more water and then continued. “I . . .” She stopped. Genma watched as her doe-shaped white eyes squinted. She groaned as she grabbed her head. The braid that had wrapped around her forehead fell to one side revealing a Seal that he had only seen once before. It glowed with eerie green light as angry veins bulged from it. Staring at it, he could hear Hyuuga Neji’s voice in the back of his mind as the boy explained how simple it was to crush a Bunke member’s brain with one gesture.

Another fit rippled through the Branch House woman before she collapsed; face down in the flowers. Genma instantly knelt beside her, pulling her into his arms as he checked her pulse.

He was taken by complete surprise to find himself upside down and falling though the sky remained the same.

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


Maito Gai gently kissed Kakashi’s forehead before bounding out of bed to the shower.

“Sure you won’t join, Kakashi?” Gai offered magnanimously, suggestive wiggle to his impressive eyebrows. He stood in Pose Number . . . Kakashi never really paid attention to what Gai called them. Though he would never give any indication, he was usually too caught up staring at Gai: tall, muscular, honest black eyes framed by long lashes, a sleek mane, prominent nose, perfect smile, and high cheekbones displayed to the fullest.

His lover was a good-looking man.

Kakashi lazily waved him off before reaching for the book resting on the nightstand. While he admired Gai’s stamina, he was more than content to relax after such dedication to his body’s pleasure -- the Lotus of Konoha could indeed bloom twice. In bed, Gai’s single-minded focus was a dangerous, delightful, and, oftentimes, deliciously overwhelming thing.

It was a relief to have Maito Gai operating at his usual zesty level when this past week he’d been inexplicably subdued -- prone to stillness, dispirited moans as he fretted, and an unhealthy slump to his broad shoulders. Kakashi hadn’t seen Gai in such a state since Rock Lee’s surgery a couple years ago. The Copy Ninja pulled Gai’s pillow close to prop against as he picked up where he left off in the book, the shower sounding like rain in the background.

He managed to read one page before he looked at the closed bathroom door and frowned.

Gai hadn’t reprimanded him for his lack of ‘Youthful Enthusiasm’.

Dammit. Whatever was ailing Gai was worse than he’d thought.

Many people would say he and Gai weren’t right for each other. They were too different on the inside -- Kakashi, cool and mysterious, Gai, hot-blooded and unconventional. From their looks to their fighting styles, they were, undoubtedly, an odd combination on the surface. But at their core, underneath the underneath, they were the same -- Gai, an old-fashioned gentlemen and Kakashi, a closet hopeless romantic.

The water stopped and a minute later the bathroom door opened. Kakashi peeked over the rim of the book in time to see Gai step into his fuzzy green house slippers and wrap the tiniest towel in creation around his hips. The hem barely covered the essentials; it was so unconsciously sexy and indecent that for a moment Kakashi forgot that Gai was in dire straits. That is, until his lover paused in tucking the towel as his thick brows knit together and that now-familiar low moan rumbled in the silence. Then he stalked back into the bathroom to finish his toiletries.

The Copy Ninja dragged his open eye down the page he was currently reading in search of the resolve necessary to confront Gai. Usually, if Maito wanted him to know something he would just say so in his boisterous and demonstrative way. There were no secrets between them. Kakashi nodded to himself at that last thought, looked back the bathroom and opened his mouth --

“Good night, Gai-sensei. Goodnight Gai-sensei’s Special Someone,” a voice recited through the door. It was eerie how that kid did that. If Kakashi didn’t know better he would swear his lover’s protégé waited outside with his ear to the door until movement ended for a significant amount of time. But Kakashi knew it was far more likely Lee listened for the shower and timed it from that.

The last Hatake deflated a little. “I have told that kid he can call me ‘Kakashi’ when we’re at home right?”

Gai peeked his head out from the bathroom, toothbrush in hand. “He’s trying to be respectful. Lee believes you’ll kick me out if he’s not useful -- or don’t you recall what you said the day he moved in?”

Kakashi hid his smile behind the book. He remembered the day well enough. The Lady Godaime had released Lee from the hospital on the condition that he remained under constant supervision to keep him from rushing his recovery. Gai had come to Kakashi wobbly-eyed and begging on his knees for his Precious Student to take up residence with them. Hatake Kakashi could not refuse. Rock Lee had secured Gai’s Way of the Ninja long before Kakashi and Gai were together; to have one meant to have both. So even though he wasn’t opposed to the idea, he had said something vague about Gai paying for Lee’s board in sweat or Gai would be sleeping outside.

To be fair, it wasn’t as weird as Kakashi had thought it would be.

The rooms of his family home were full of energy when they were once oozing despair. The kitchen was in constant use as Gai mixed health concoctions. The training grounds, once again, were trampled as Gai and Lee practiced.

When he watched them, Kakashi often speculated that Lee’s parents had been Samurai. Samurai molded chakra differently and as a result wouldn’t necessarily excel at ninjutsu. It would have been easier to tell Lee to find another profession in life; that the definition of a ninja could not be changed. But there was Gai perfecting Rock Lee’s taijutsu while teaching him kindness, loyalty, chivalry, and hardwork; they were living proof that the best of a shinobi could not be found in bloodline limits or natural talent. Gai could not have made a better son if he’d tried.

“He wasn’t useful when he got here and he still stayed,” Kakashi pointed out.

“Yes, but now that he’s better, he feels he must make up for His Great Imposition.” Gai shook his head. “Already, his Riv --” But there were no more words, just that moping groan to fill the silence as Gai shoved his toothbrush into this mouth and retreated to the bathroom sink.

Kakashi gnashed his teeth in irritation. He did not like The Sigh of Deep Manly Thoughts -- dammit. Now he was naming it. It had to go.

“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?”

“Uhhmmm,” issued from Gai’s throat as he brooded. He banged around in the bathroom for a moment before coming out and leaning against the dresser. He met Kakashi’s expectant eyes as he stated, “I think I failed.”

A white eyebrow raised in inquiry. “Oh?”

“When we went to give Neji a housewarming, I found --” Gai’s face crumpled. When he continued, a fist shook in righteous grief. “I found that My Precious Student had gone and unmanned himself.”

Kakashi’s legs jerked involuntarily at the news as it felt like his own man-parts had retreated into his body in fear of the same. The other eyebrow joined the first. “He did it himself?” Kakashi wondered, morbidly fascinated.

Gai gravely nodded.

Another sympathetic twitch from below the covers had Kakashi fiddling with the pages of his book as he waited for the queasy feeling in his stomach to pass. “I don’t know, Gai,” he mused. “I think that may be the epitome of manliness.”

Gai shot an accusing look Kakashi’s way. “What’s with that cool reaction when I’m Serious!”

The Copy Ninja sighed, noted the page in his book before he closed it and placed it on the nightstand. He could give all his attention to Gai this time as it wasn’t one of Jiraiya’s Icha Icha Series, and the romance to intrigue ratio was slightly off for his liking. He had never considered himself a literary snob, but quality shouldn’t be optional just because of the genre. He snagged his robe from the floor and slipped it on as he padded across to the room to his lover and joined him in leaning against the bureau. He threw an arm around Gai’s waist and bid Konoha’s Beautiful Blue Beast come closer and draw comfort from their proximity. Gai in distress was an unpleasant notion that twisted Kakashi’s insides worse than bad plot. It would be better for the both of them to get it out of the way.

“Have you ever met a group of the Hyuuga Bunke members in the Hyuuga compound?” Gai asked quietly.

Kakashi couldn’t say that he had. He’d been teamed with one or two in the past for missions, but aside from being relatively reserved and more than competent he hadn’t formed too much of an opinion on any of them. The Hyuuga were notoriously private; rarely did anyone not of their clan go near their home. “No,” he answered, because Gai was looking at him with that woebegone expression that demanded actual participation in the conversation.

“I have,” Gai replied, dark eyes unfocused and swept to their corners as he remembered. “When Neji was first assigned to my team I had to speak with Hyuuga Hiashi. There were a few around then, their foreheads all covered.” Gai frowned. “They were all quiet -- sullen and terrified without an ounce of Youth between them.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest and dropped his chin. “And there was Neji, praised as the Number One Rookie, but he was the same as them. I believed there was no reason for someone so talented to be that way. I should have realized there was more Underneath.

“But I didn’t. I thought to inject some normalcy into Neji’s life since he was around such gloom all the time. I encouraged Lee to make a Rival of him and thought Neji was deliberately cruel when he’d completely dominate in a sparring match. It never occurred to me that Neji didn’t want to fight. Didn’t need a Rival. Just needed a friend who understood what he was going through even if they couldn’t change it. In that, your Naruto has done more for Neji in four minutes than I have been able to do in four years.

“I’d asked him to make a Warm Promise with me not to lose his head over the Head and Branch family situation and he had agreed. But now I know he did so only because he couldn’t trust me to take his side. To find out he’d been swallowing his pain all these years because of that -- I could only hold him in a Loving Embrace.” Gai shook his head, chagrined. “You genius types are surprisingly fragile.”

Hatake Kakashi released a small sigh. Now he understood. His lover was beating himself up for not understanding that Hyuuga Neji was essentially a slave in his own clan. It couldn’t be fixed with any amount of hard work or luck. Its existence was a direct contradiction to everything Gai believed in.

Hold him?” Kakashi slyly queried. He bumped his elbow into Gai’s side. “Should I be worried?”

The completely aghast shriek sounded more like the lively Maito Gai that he preferred. “Kakashi! Don’t imply such things about My Cute Student.”

“Saying it like that just makes it worse.”

Kakashi’s sleepy eye surveyed his partner as he blustered and declared his intentions had been absolutely pure. When the brunet quieted down and they stood together, side by side, in the silence the Copy Ninja knew that he had to act before Maito relapsed. Gai wasn’t the kind of man who could live with his beliefs shattered.

“Look, not all geniuses are the same. Neji’s operating off a different set of circumstances.” Kakashi jiggled his shoulders to keep them from hunching defensively. It was weird when he had to console Gai of all people. Gai was the proverbial unstoppable force and unmovable object; it was those traits that attracted Kakashi in the first place.

“If I tell you this, you don’t get all mushy.” He hazarded a glance at his lover.

The besotted glimmer in Gai’s eyes let Kakashi know it was already too late to abort the maudlin, but he trudged forward anyhow.

“Back then -- When I finally came home to find you at the gate ready to challenge me like nothing had changed --”

Kakashi had been as disheartened as he’d been determined in those days, plagued by regret, despondent toward his own life, and apprehensive about his return. But Maito Gai -- clad in the most hideous green outfit Kakashi had ever seen -- paced the entrance to the village like a diligent sentry, pausing to look down the road every so often as though he were expecting someone. And when Gai had spotted him he had --

Kakashi wiggled his toes and smiled. Gai always said or did the right thing at the right time. “I thought, you just may be a genius . . . ”

That last part was mumbled but it didn’t seem to make a difference. Sobbing, Gai scooped him up into capable arms and strode toward their bed, too-tiny towel fluttering to the floor in his haste. Big, manly, tears sprinkled Kakashi’s torso where the robe didn’t cover as Konoha’s Beautiful Blue Beast wept his relief and happiness.

But that was alright; the Copy Ninja had always found Gai’s sensitivity to be one of his greatest strengths. Maito Gai, the gallant, was one of the main reasons why Kakashi had started reading trashy romance novels in the first place. There was something appealing about a man barreling in, flashing a smile, and promising to end your troubles or die trying. He had to laugh at himself for that thought, run his fingers through damp, black strands as Gai’s wide mouth hungrily descended on his.

Gai had challenged him, courted him, found every piece of his broken heart and determinedly glued it back together. And when it was complete Kakashi had told him to hold on to it. Because Gai could be depended on to keep it safe.

Gai was exactly what a person needed when they needed it, and if that wasn’t a talent then nothing was.

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


Naruto forced himself to wakefulness with a loud yawn and life affirming stretch to his shoulders only to feel the surface he laid upon move too. Long, shaggy white hair fell into his face and the boy batted it aside as it tickled his nose.

“Oh. Have a good nap there, Naruto?” Jiraiya asked, looking over his shoulder at his charge.

Sitting forward, Naruto shot a grin at his mentor, who held a pen and a notebook, faithfully recording whatever dirty thoughts swam in his mind. It was a pose Naruto had awoken to find the Old Pervert in many times after he had collapsed from training.

The blond wiped at the drool stain on the side of his mouth as he surveyed the peaceful countryside, entranced by the mid-afternoon sun dancing off the flora. “Eh. I guess so.”

The Ero Sennin paused in packing up his supplies to bestow his full attention upon his charge; a twisted smirk to his lips. “Finally dreaming about girls then?”

Naruto shot to his feet and pointed an accusing finger as his teacher. “Only you dream about something like that!”

Jiraiya exhaled mightily and resumed packing. “I’m starting to think boys who create sexy ninjutsu have no real interest in women at all,” Naruto heard him mumble in that forlorn tone he used whenever the blond told him his writing was boring.

The problem was he wanted to refute that claim -- extol on the many virtues and beauty of Haruno Sakura -- but knew it for the lie it was. It had been months since he’d spared Sakura a thought besides reminding himself of his promise to her whenever the Old Pervert was teaching him something he couldn’t quite grasp. He couldn’t go back on his word just because something was a little difficult. But aside from that, nothing. Not one dirty thought. Not a desire to see how she had grown. Not a query into the deep on the length of her strawberry blonde hair. Naruto’s face scrunched as he thought. That last one was especially damning, as he’d been the one to start that rumor about Sasuke liking girls with long hair when they were younger.

“Why are we leaving anyway when you’re the one who said we would camp here tonight?” Naruto demanded. He reached out to grab his own backpack as the Perverted Hermit stood and stretched.

“Mah, I need to do some research --”

“You just want to go peeping again!” Naruto interrupted with an annoyed growl.

“And you need the practice in stealth,” Jiraiya returned with a glare of his own. “Che. Kids these days have no respect for . . .” the Old Pervert grumbled as he meandered through the tall grass back to the path that led to civilization.

Naruto followed in sullen silence. He didn’t need to peek at any more women. His latest creation in perverted jutsu would put anything Konohamaru had come up with to shame. It was already a pathetic thought to know someone as powerful as his teacher would fall for something so basic.

From an artistic perspective Naruto could appreciate the female form. With the right proportions, in the right pose, with a proper come hither expression, any woman could be sexy. But that kind of thinking applied to men too. Worse, he didn’t even seem to notice --

The blond scrubbed his fingers through his spiky hair as though he could dislodge that traitorous image and fling it into the atmosphere. Jiraiya had been half right when he’d guessed Naruto was dreaming about someone. Lately, in his idle moments, sleeping or awake, all he could seem to fantasize about was Hyuuga Neji, embarrassed as he pushed long brown tresses behind his ear.

A wistful sigh escaped him. Neji had really pretty hair.

“Ahem!”

Naruto startled at the sound of Jiraiya’s voice to find his mouth in the cheesiest smile it had ever formed as he stared up at the clouds. His teacher was thirty paces ahead of him, watching him with a knowing smirk.

“She must be something, eh Naruto?”

The teen jogged to catch up. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he stated stubbornly. He threw his hands behind his neck and stuck his chin in the air angled away from Jiraiya in a patent pout.

“Mm-hmm.” His teacher glanced down at him from the corner of his eye as they continued toward the town. “Just don’t hurt yourself thinking about it.”

Naruto swallowed the retort he had ready only because The Old Pervert was right. Thinking wasn’t something he excelled at. He didn’t really understand if the Neji in his head -- gently encouraging as they held hands -- was more than a figment his imagination had created after so long or not. The feeling he got whenever he thought of Neji was confusing. Naruto wouldn’t know what to make of it until he saw him again.

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

Comments

entitys
Apr. 30th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
i will take 'or something' with much gratitude. ^_^

side characters: i only have four at the moment who i really like, so they'll probably pop up every so often. and wow. i didn't know Genma was made pervy until recently so i'm kind of in shock. Genma struck me as the 'calm, cool, collected, mind my own business' type, so i'm with you on not understanding that. he is definitely invested in this story.

Gai with Kakashi: has always resonated. i didn't like pairing Kakashi with anyone before Gai showed up. as for Gai and Lee under the same roof, at first, i could see Kakashi overwhelmed, but he would still take it in stride. *grin*. if i have the time i may do a sidefic or two about them. i think it would be fun.

Gai and Lee are a set; to like one is to like both . . . and Lee gets plenty attention. he's got his own (fan)comic, he's appeared in more of the movies than any other Rookie and Team Gai was heavily featured in the filler episodes from what i've heard.

because Neji didn't appear at all in this chapter i had to add Naruto. T_T. getting them to meet up again is becoming kind of annoyingly far away for being so close.

thank you so much for reading, and always leaving insightful comments.