Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Seriously.
Naruto ducked under yet another thrown kunai, spinning out of the way before his assailant could pinpoint his position yet again. The only advantage he had was the sun behind him, but it was slowly going away with each passing minute, bathing the landscape in a bloody red.
A grin spread across his face as he heard the sound of a kunai hitting home in his opponent. The sound of blood dribbling to the ground told him that he'd hit an artery, but it was hard to tell with all of the dust that had been kicked into the air. This was the last opponent that he had to take out, then he was to meet up with Neji so that they could hook up with the main group.
A whirring sound heading his way was the only indication he had that he needed to duck as a huge windmill shuriken came buzzing over his head. Naruto ducked and rolled, dodging again as the shuriken came back, nearly slicing up his back as he pressed himself against the ground. He cursed as a few kunai hit his position, putting him on the defensive as the dust cleared and his opponent was able to pinpoint his position.
Naruto dodged another round of attacks and moved in, kunai drawn and ready to stab under the other ninja's guard. Just as he felt his blade sink home something exploded in his face, stinging his eyes and cheeks as he pulled away, scrambling to clear his eyes.
"You're going to die, little boy."
Naruto managed to dodge the first blow, but the second caught him cleanly in the stomach and sent him flying backwards into the dirt. On instinct Naruto grabbed one of his kunai and angled it upwards even as his opponent came flying at him, aimed for the kill. Just as quickly as he heard the footsteps approaching his form he sat up and leaned forward, the edge of his kunai catching his opponent in the neck as he bent forward and dragging. Naruto grit his teeth as he was hit with a warm spray and rolled out of the way before the body could fall and trap him under its dead weight.
For a moment Naruto sat there, panting and trying to get his breath back from the end of the fight. Calmly he tried to wipe the grit out of his eyes, carefully using his fingers to sweep the grit away and off of his face.
But Naruto's vision wasn't clearing, instead it was worsening as his eyes started to sting, sending Naruto into a panic. His movements turned frantic as he started searching for the canteen attached to his waist. He could feel the cold water splashing into his eyes hard enough to make him tear, but he still couldn't see. By now he didn't care that he was starting to waste the water that was needed to get him home and away from this arid environment.
Neji found his teammate sitting on the ground, weapons strewn around him, splashing water into his face while hyperventilating. Annoyance sparked inside him as he stalked up, ignoring the way the blond's body stiffened and the kunai that was suddenly gripped in Naruto's fist.
"What the hell are you doing?" Neji hissed, stalking up and taking the canteen away from Naruto.
"Neji? Neji!" Naruto's voice was high pitched and panicked, stopping Neji long enough for the Hyuuga to take a good look at the other boy.
"What the hell did you manage to do?" Neji asked, grabbing Naruto by the collar and pulling him to his feet. Naruto's arms flailed as he tried to stay balanced, but he ended up toppling into Neji, much to Neji's annoyance.
"Neji, I can't see. I can't see Neji!" Naruto was still panicking, gripping tightly onto Neji's sleeves as he righted himself.
"Calm down, you idiot," Neji snapped, prying Naruto's clutching hands off of his sleeves. The blond boy floundered for a moment, his hands grasping wildly for a moment until he realized that he wasn't going to get a hold on Neji again.
"Let me see your eyes," Neji commanded, catching Naruto's chin in his hand and forcing the blond boy to look him in the eyes, calming the blond's flailing. Naruto's eyes were irritated and bloodshot, his eyelids puffy and red as tears leaked out the corners of his eyes. Neji activated his Byakugan and looked at the tenketsus around Naruto's eyes, cursing when he saw the damage that the other boy had incurred.
"The tenketsus around your eyes are both blocked and damaged, and your eyes are bloodshot. What the hell did you do to yourself?" Neji asked, releasing Naruto.
The blond boy floundered for a moment, calming himself by taking deep breaths. He looked up at what he thought was Neji's face, which was really nowhere near Neji at all.
"During the fight something exploded in my face, and after that I couldn't see," Naruto said, still fidgeting nervously as he tried not to panic.
Neji sighed and looked at his teammate. Naruto's eyes were as wide as he could open them, panicked and afraid. Suddenly Naruto was helpless, alone in the dark, and the only support he could count on was Neji.
"Naruto, sit down."
Naruto blinked and sat as Neji pulled out his first aid and some bandages to start wrapping Naruto's eyes with. The blond boy stayed uncharacteristically silent as bandages were wound around his head, his hands fisted into the canvas material of his pants. Neji could see the sweat running down the other boy's face and back as he shook with the effort to not panic, to make sure that he didn't just start screaming because he was scared shitless by the loss of his sight.
"Stay here while I collect your equipment."
Naruto complied, sitting where he was as Neji went around and collected what weapons and supplies of Naruto's he could find. He managed to round up most of Naruto's thrown weapons, as well as his canteen and the first aid kit that had fallen out of Naruto's mission pack.
"Come on, Naruto, let's get going," Neji said. Naruto looked up at the sound of his voice and Neji sighed before reaching down to grab onto Naruto's upper arm, hauling the blond boy upright.
"You aren't going to leave me, are you?"
Naruto's plaintive question stopped Neji in his tracks. He took a moment to look at the bandaged blond boy, his white eyes cold as always. It hadn't even occurred to him to leave the other boy behind when he most likely would have left anyone else.
"I'm not going to leave you, you idiot," Neji snapped, allowing the blond boy to clutch onto his arm. "I'll stay with you until we fix those damn eyes of yours."
Naruto smiled a brilliant smile up at the other boy, making Neji wonder how the other boy could possibly smile in the situation that he was in. He shook his head and started off, walking slowly so that Naruto could keep up until the other boy caught onto his rhythm.
Neji watched impassively as his cousin gently ran her fingers over Naruto's eyes. The blond boy was sitting still under her attentions, allowing her to move his head from side to side as she examined his eyes with her Byakugan.
"There isn't much I can do, except for open the tenketsus," she said quietly, worry etched into her features as she looked at Neji.
The only reason the rest of the group wasn't crowded around was because Neji had given them one look and they had backed off, clustering off to one side as he allowed Hinata to examine the whiskered blond. They were still days away from home, in the woods, and away from any real medical attention other than what Hinata could do for them.
"Then open them," Neji said. Hinata nodded quickly and opened the blocked tenketsus around Naruto's eyes. Naruto whimpered quietly and fell silent, still keeping his eyes closed.
"We also need to flush his eyes out with water," Hinata said, picking up a canteen. "Open your eyes, Naruto."
Neji's face hardened when he saw the state of Naruto's eyes. They were almost completely caked shut and swollen, and when he did manage to open them they were completely bloodshot, his blue eyes unfocused even as Hinata waved her hand in front of his face. Keeping his eyes opened only sparked more tears, and Naruto whimpered when Hinata flushed his eyes with water, trying as hard as he could to stay still.
"That's all we can do for now," Hinata said with a sigh, releasing Naruto.
When Naruto started to panic Neji stepped forward and caught Naruto's hand, ignoring the looks that were being sent his way.
"Come on, we're going," Neji said, helping Naruto to his feet.
"Thanks Neji," Naruto said quietly, clutching the fabric of Neji's sleeve as he was led to where they were going to sleep for the night.
"You're welcome, baka."
Neji glared at Kiba, Hinata, Tenten, and Lee as they clustered on the other side of the fire. Even Tenten and Lee, who were used to his mood swings were wary. Slowly the tension in the group died down as Neji got Naruto settled down and comfortable for the night.
"What are we going to do?" Tenten asked, looking at Neji who was hovering around Naruto protectively, glaring at anyone who came close, especially Kiba or Lee.
"We're going to head back to the village like we originally planned," Neji said, sitting down next Naruto.
"Even with Naruto?"
"Even with Naruto," Neji growled.
"You can't just leave me behind!" Naruto yelped clutching onto Neji's arm tighter in his panic.
"You idiot, we aren't leaving you behind," Neji snapped, glaring at the rest of the group.
Tsunade sighed as she watched Neji lead Naruto into the hospital room, bandages wrapped around his eyes.
"What happened?" she asked, watching Neji help the blond up onto the bed. The Hyuuga looked frazzled, but not as frazzled as Naruto himself. The blond almost had a panic attack every time Neji would more out of reach for more than a few seconds.
"He was hit in the face by some sort of bomb that exploded and sent powder and grit into his eyes," Neji said.
"Let me see him."
Neji moved out of the way so that Tsunade could unwind the bandages around Naruto's head, moving behind the blond so that Naruto could still keep a grip on his arm. Tsunade gently ran her fingers over Naruto's eyes, making him wince every time she probed an exceptionally sensitive spot.
"Well, it looks like his eyes have already started healing on their own. I can't be sure until I see them, but opening the closed tenketsus helped," Tsunade said to Neji who nodded. "Naruto, open your eyes."
Naruto opened his eyes as wide as he could for her, wincing at Tsunade's hiss.
"Is it bad?" he asked, clutching Neji's arm harder. Neji rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything, just allowed Naruto to hang on to his arm for dear life.
"Its not as bad as I thought. You'll heal, especially if you can keep your eyes covered," Tsunade said, gently closing Naruto's eyes again and wrapping the bandages around his eyes again.
"Isn't there anything you can do?" Naruto asked, squeezing Neji's arm harder.
"There isn't anything I can do. You're just going to have to let your eyes heal on their own," Tsunade said, watching as Naruto's face fell. "Someone will have to keep an eye on you Naruto, at least for a few weeks. I'm going to keep your eyes bandaged for three weeks, so you won't be able to open your eyes during that time."
Neji winced as Naruto's nails dug into his arm, "I'll keep an eye on him."
Tsunade blinked at the Hyuuga boy, then smiled, "Then you won't mind staying with Naruto?"
"I'll stay with him."
"Good," Tsunade said, smiling at the brilliant grin that Naruto was sending up at Neji, and the tolerant look that Neji was wearing around Naruto.
"You never said anything about living in an apartment this small," Neji said as he pushed the door open to Naruto's small apartment.
"You never asked," Naruto said, keeping a grip on Neji's elbow as the other boy led him into the apartment. "Besides, it isn't like I want to spread around the knowledge that I live in a crappy little apartment."
"Ah," Neji said, leading Naruto to the ratty couch against the stable living room wall.
"Are you really going to stay with me for three weeks?" Naruto asked from the couch as Neji wandered around the apartment, checking out Naruto's living quarters.
"Yes, Naruto, I'm staying for three weeks," Neji said, giving the blond an irritated look that he obviously couldn't see.
"I don't want to be a burden or anything," Naruto continued, hanging his head a little.
"You idiot, I wouldn't bother to stay if you were a burden, so stop being stupid," Neji snapped, shaking his head.
"Okay," Naruto said meekly.
"I'm going to cook dinner, wait there," Neji commanded. Naruto nodded meekly and leaned over until he was lying down on the couch.
Naruto was asleep by the time Neji came back. The Hyuuga looked at the blond boy for a moment before shrugging and placing Naruto's portion in the fridge.
Living with Naruto was certainly a new experience for Neji. He had been used to the blond boy bouncing around with an insane level of energy and driving him nuts, not Naruto being calm and nervous. It probably had something to do with Naruto's lack of sight.
Neji had actually been able to take Naruto out of his apartment and into the village. It had been kind of annoying at first, with the blond boy practically gluing himself to Neji's side even worse than Tenten used to do. But he had gotten used to when he had convinced Naruto to hold onto his elbow instead of his whole arm.
Training would have been out of the question for those three weeks as well if Naruto hadn't come up with the idea to train by having Neji throw things like rocks at him to see if he could dodge by just listening for the projectile. In the beginning Naruto got hit more than he dodged, but he finally managed to get the hang of listening and dodging at the right time.
It had also been an eye opener for Naruto, who had never been forced to rely on someone for any extended period of time. He hadn't expected Neji to actually stay with him for the duration of the journey home, let alone the three weeks that Naruto wasn't allowed to keep his eyes unwrapped. He depended on Neji for almost everything outside of the apartment, and for things like cooking inside the apartment.
Naruto was back on the hospital bed, this time much calmer as Tsunade unwound the bandages that were keeping light away from his eyes. Neji leaned against the wall behind Naruto, keeping and eye on the proceedings as Tsunade calmly inspected the blond's eyes. Quietly he snorted when he saw the pale stripe that was in the middle of Naruto's face from where the bandages had been, making the blond boy look somewhat like a raccoon, but not in the creepy Gaara way.
"Am I going to be able to see?" Naruto asked, fidgeting nervously with the sheets under his hands.
"We'll have to see. Now, Naruto, open your eyes slowly," Tsunade said. She had dimmed the lights earlier so that Naruto wouldn't be overwhelmed by light sensitivity.
Naruto opened his eyes slowly, cracking open first one eye then the other, still squinting because of the light in the room. It took him a few minutes to adjust to the lighting, his eyes blinking rapidly for a few minutes until he could see clearly.
Neji watched as a look of wonder crossed Naruto's face as the blond looked around the room slowly. He scowled and looked at the floor, deciding that it was time to leave before Naruto glomped him out of pure joy. He got enough of that from Lee on a much too regular occasion.
"Hey, Neji," Naruto's voice stopped the Hyuuga prodigy at the door. Neji turned around, one hand on the door. Naruto smiled brightly, "Thanks."
Neji watched the blond for a moment before he nodded and walked out the door. Naruto smiled brightly until Neji was out of sight, then smiled up at Tsunade as she explained what he was to do to for his eyes until light didn't bother them anymore.
When Naruto was free to go, equipped with a pair of darkly tinted sunglasses, he found Neji leaning against the wall, glaring at the floor. Naruto watched him for a moment before smiling and walking up to the Hyuuga.
"Are you ready to go back home?" Naruto asked, watching Neji nervously as the Hyuuga glanced over at him.
"Well, Tsunade did say that I need to be careful, and you did say that you didn't particularly like the Hyuuga compound."
Neji sighed when Naruto looked at the ground, scratching the back of his head, still trying to take in everything that he had been missing. It was amazing that in the three weeks alone with Naruto had done for Neji's social skills. Neji shook his head as the blond smiled up at him warmly, sighing in defeat.
"Fine, but only until you're fully healed."