I am reasonably happy with this. Written for the naruto100 drabble challenge community (Live Journal) -- Challenge: Abandonment. Disclaimer: Saddy, I do not own Naruto. Naruto characters and un...
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Once upon a time he'd been safe, warm and cherished. He'd been too young when it was lost to ever consciously remember having it. But he knew. He knew when Neji held him loosely at night. Knew the soothing rhythm of a steady heartbeat beneath his ear. Knew the cool caress of long fingers tracing idle patterns across his shoulders and down his spine. Knew in the instant of dread when he woke panicked, cold and alone.
Cerulean blue eyes snapped open, breath shallow and gasping, heart racing a staccato rhythm. His tiny apartment was empty, utterly devoid of human warmth and cool sharp chakra. Naruto was out of bed and moving before he was fully awake. He wasn't aware of tugging on orange pants anymore than he was observant of the direction in which he moved. He wasn't cognizant of his own intentions till his fingers closed vice-like around a muscled bicep and he slammed the ebon-haired ANBU back against the nearest tree, patter of rain soaked leaves falling around them.
"Don't." A great gulp of air burned his lungs as Naruto fought to still the panicked clamor of blood in his veins so that he could hear his own thoughts. Moon bright eyes gazed at him from beneath the impassive porcelain mask and the Jinchuriki wondered if there was surprise etched onto the features it hid.
"Don't do that." He gasped it out, voice a breathy growl - half menacing command, half plea.
"Don't just leave... without saying good bye." Sanity was slowly returning, and he was beginning to feel foolish. The owl faÃ§ade merely blinked, and Neji cocked his head slightly to the side, pale eyes studying - seeing far too much; far more than Naruto had willingly let anyone see in a very long time.
"I didn't want to wake you," Neji said quietly - voice carefully inflectionless, closely guarded and thus revealing far more than it concealed.
"Don't." Naruto's voice was vehement - heated and desperate. "I don't care how tired or injured you think I am, or how urgent your mission. Don't just disappear... without saying good-bye. Wake me first. At the very least leave me a note...." His voice trailed off beneath the silent weight of Neji's gaze, hypnotized by his own fears reflecting in opalescent orbs.
Naruto didn't know from whence his sudden vulnerability had come. Didn't know when or how Neji had slipped so completely through his defenses - emotional walls he'd spent years constructing suddenly transparent. It was terrifying. It was exhilarating. It was liberating.
And he knew. Because everyone he'd ever loved had abandoned him. The parents he didn't remember. Sandaime. Sasuke. Ero-sennin. Even Kakashi & Sakura in finding each other.
Neji merely nodded once, in his solemn manner, and said softly, "On one condition... promise the same to me."
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Iri - fin 8 June 2007