Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. This is a work of fiction, and is in no way making money.Seasons
NejiNaru told through a series of one-shots.Mid-Summer
'I wish you would look at me. I wish you would pay attention. I wish that you would just act like I'm more than just a companion. I just wish…oh hell, I don't know.'
"Do you need something?"
Naruto flushed at Neji's cool tone, snapping his eyes away from the back of the other's head.
"Nothing, Neji," Naruto squeaked quickly, bursting into a small flurry of agitated motions to cover the fact that he had, actually, been staring at the other for the past few minutes. For the past half-hour. Okay, since they started this mission.
Neji raised an eyebrow, but let the subject drop. Naruto had been acting oddly even for him; but then again, this was Naruto, who always acted oddly.
Shikamaru watched the exchange with his normal bland look, eyes carefully moving between the two. He, unlike Neji, could tell exactly what was bothering the blond, but then again, everyone but Neji could tell. The shadow user sighed as Naruto went back to sneaking looks at the back of the Hyuuga's head.
They traveled through the canopy of the forest in silence for the next few hours, using hand signals to relay information as they moved from limb to limb in the dappled summer sunlight. As the sun started to sink, bathing the horizon in red, they stopped at Neji's command, dropping through the thick forest growth to set up camp at the base of the trees.
Naruto took his assigned tasks meekly, disappearing into the forest and returning with firewood, then three fat rabbits for dinner. Neji accepted the rabbits from Naruto and in a few moments they had three skewers roasting over the low fire. Shikamaru had set up camp while Naruto had fetched firewood and hunted, leaving Neji to scout the immediate area and set traps.
"We'll start moving again at dawn. I'll take first shift. Naruto, you take third, and Shikamaru, you take second."
Shikamaru and Naruto both nodded at Neji's orders, and settled into their bedrolls to wait for the rabbits to finish cooking. As they waited Naruto continued to watch Neji covertly, or as covertly as Naruto could, which was just short of glaringly obvious. Shikamaru would occasionally look up from his book to watch the interaction between the blond and their meditating teammate, raising one eyebrow as Naruto dissolved into nervous spasms every time Neji looked at the blond in a questioning way.
Soon the rabbits were done cooking, and the small campsite was filled with the sounds of chewing as the hungry shinobi dug in. Once finished they buried the rabbit carcasses a few meters from their camp and banked the fire as night fell over the forest, deepening the natural shadows until everything was bathed in warm summer darkness.
Naruto and Shikamaru both settled into their bedrolls partially hidden amidst the roots of different trees, turning their backs to the low flames for warmth. Neji waited until they had stopped moving to leap up into the lower branches of the tree above his bedroll. He settled with his back against the thick trunk and quieted himself, listening to the leaves and fire as they rustled and cracked with the cooling night breeze. Summer was warm in the forests surrounding Konoha, but nights had a tendency to be cool.
Naruto snuggled into his bedroll, but sleep eluded him as thoughts chased themselves in circles around his head. Despite the mission he couldn't get the Hyuuga boy out of his head, couldn't concentrate like he was supposed to as long as the long-haired boy was in front of him.
'I'm pretty sure Shikamaru has figured everything out, he's been sending me annoyed looks and rolling his eyes, but then again, he is a genius. Shit, why did it have to be Neji?' Naruto moaned in his mind. 'Too bad I can't just blurt everything out to him. At least then he could reject me and this would be over with. Aww, man. This sucks, why does this have to be so hard? It's bad enough that he keeps catching me watching him, damn bloodline ability, but blurting everything out would just make it worse. Why couldn't I just fall for a girl? At least I could blurt it out then.'
"Naruto, I can hear your mind going in circles from here."
Naruto stiffened in his bedroll as Neji's voice floated down to him. Tentatively he looked up, only to meet seemingly blank white eyes as Neji watched him from his position in the lower branches of the tree.
"Go to sleep, you have third watch."
Naruto sighed and squirmed himself deeper into his bedroll, covering himself until only his bright hair stuck out. He stayed like that for a while; feigning sleep and keeping himself as still as possible until he heard Neji sigh above him.
"What's bothering you?"
"Nothing," Naruto replied sulkily, a little upset about being caught brooding.
"Get up here so that Shikamaru doesn't wake up."
Naruto got out of his bedroll silently and joined Neji off the ground, casually crouching on a nearby branch. Neji watched him, actually turned to look at him instead of wasting chakra on the Byakugan. Naruto blinked, then looked down, avoiding Neji's scrutiny as he watched some leaves flutter in the small breeze.
"What's bothering you?"
Naruto winced minutely, but repeated his previous answer, "Nothing."
Neji was silent for a moment before he snorted and looked away, "You are the worst liar ever."
Naruto smiled ruefully, but kept his silence, relaxing slowly as Neji scanned the area, taking his penetrating gaze off of the blond.
"Naruto," the blond looked up at his name, "I'm not blind. Either tell me what's wrong, or stop watching me."
The fox-boy winced, keeping his gaze on the ground rather than looking at his teammate who had turned his luminous gaze back onto the blond. Neji's face was still carefully blank as he watched the other boy's face contort into something that resembled pain before smoothing into a blank mask that left only Naruto's blue eyes open.
"Gomen, Neji, I'll try to go to sleep," Naruto whispered, getting ready to drop quietly to the ground, only to be stopped by Neji's hand quickly grasping his arm.
"Naruto," Neji sighed with agitation as his friend continued to look anywhere but at him. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, Neji. Nothing is going on," Naruto whispered, fidgeting nervously under Neji's grasp.
"Naruto," Neji's voice held that warning tone that the blond knew not to mess with.
Naruto wilted in Neji's grip and allowed himself to be pulled to a branch closer to Neji's as the Hyuuga gave him an expectant look.
"Don't hate me after I say this, I don't want to disrupt our mission," Naruto babbled quickly and nervously, still fidgeting as he looked for a way to escape this conversation.
"Fine. I like you, okay?" Naruto blurted out, looking at Neji nervously, almost cowering away from the taller boy. "I shouldn't like you like this, because boys shouldn't be attracted to other boys, but I do. So if you hate me, fine. But it isn't as if I chose this, it just happened. I didn't want to make anythi-"
Naruto was cut off as Neji's mouth met his, pressing briefly then pulling away, leaving Naruto staring wide-eyed in shock. After a moment Neji leaned forward again a small smirk on his face, this time pressing his lips harder against Naruto's as the smaller boy leaned into the embrace.
"I'm glad that's sorted out. I was getting tired of watching Naruto go into nervous spasms." Shikamaru's voice floated into the trees, making Naruto and Neji break apart with blushes.
"Shut up, Shikamaru," Naruto snapped, his blush completely ruining his threatening posture.
Shikamaru smirked and rolled back over, leaving the two in the tree somewhat alone in an embarrassed silence.
"I didn't want to tell you because I thought you would hate me," Naruto whispered, sitting shyly next to the pale boy with his feet curled under the limb.
Neji smirked, looking over at the small blond, "Obviously that isn't the case."
Naruto smiled brightly at the other boy before settling against the tree for a moment as they listened to the sounds of the night.
"You should get some sleep. You still have third watch," Neji murmured.
Naruto smiled, then nodded and jumped down, landing silently on the ground before returning to his bedroll, a smile on his face. Neji watched the smaller blond settle in before resuming his watch of the surrounding area, a small smile on his normally stoic face as his aura settled protectively over the small campsite.TBC…
A/N: In another bout of procrastinating I'm giving in to another idea. Human Nature and Echolalia aren't on hold, but they aren't coming along as quickly as they could be…