Title: Blue
Challenge #: 14
Challenger: Akuma Memento Mori
Rating: All Ages
Fandom: Naruto
Genre: Romance
Challenge Pairing: Neji/Naruto
Other Pairing: -
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Summary: Neji likes watching birds. He likes watching Naruto more.
Warning: Shonen-ai

Author's Notes: Part of my NYRC 100. Information and link in bio.

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Neji likes watching birds. There is something in the way they glide in the air so gracefully, free of earthly restraints and cares. He prefers to see them that way. He hates looking at all of the birds for sale in the marketplace, locked away in ornate wire cages. It reminds him too much of his own gilded cage.

He buys one a week to set free in the forest. He feels a little weight lift each time.

He prefers the bluebirds to the others. They're the same color as his eyes. They're loud and obnoxious and attention-seekers. Just like him.

But they're beautiful and graceful and worthy of every second of attention.

As much as he likes watching birds, watching Honohagahure's number one hyperactive knuckle-head ninja is immensely more enjoyable. He doesn't need the Byakugan to see beneath his antics. All he needs to see is the sorrow in his blue eyes to understand. Blue like the bird.

Naruto just grins at him and throws a water balloon at Sasuke.

Neji likes to imagine that Naruto is a bird in disguise. He dreams of soft blue wings that sprout from his shoulders, carrying him into the air as gracefully as a bluebird. He dreams of the blue-winged boy turning to him and offering a hand. He wakes up every time.

He watched Naruto closely. Ten Ten gives him a knowing smile every time she catches him, but he ignores her. She doesn't need to know everything. He wonders if the others of Team 7 can see what he sees. He thinks Uchiha and Hatake might. Haruno can't see beyond his ridiculous orange jumpsuit and class clown antics.

He sees him stare at her when she's not looking and feels a stab of jealousy. But she looks at him, he makes a face at her, she glares at him, he looks into the trees (Neji wonders if he knows he's there) and it goes away.

He watched closely when he fights. He needs to watch the competition, he says. Ten Ten doesn't believe him, but she understands, so it's all right. Sasuke smirks annoyingly smug and it sets Naruto off, even though for once it wasn't directed at him. Neji glares at him for a brief moment but would rather watch Naruto.

Naruto is not clumsy when he fights. Neji thinks he might have been right about Naruto being a bird dressed as a ninja. He flies through the air wit ha grace and sureness that rivals anything with wings. He briefly wonders if the birds would be jealous if Naruto sprouted wings. He rather thinks they would.

Neji wonders if perhaps this was fate's way of making up for her mistake. Naruto scoffs and says he doesn't believe in fate and that he wouldn't want wings anyway.

He watched closely when Hinata talked to him. Perhaps he's harsher to her after these instances, but he has his reasons. He doesn't get along with the main branch and Hinata would not be any different.

Naruto says he needs to lighten up and shoves a wood carving of a fox into his hands. Neji ignores Hinata when she asks if he knows who put it on her pillow.

When Neji brings his bird to the clearing, Naruto is waiting for him. A dove sits in a cage beside him. Neji doesn't ask, but Naruto looks embarrassed and explains anyway.

He says the dove reminds him of Neji. White like his eyes, calm, and sure. He says the dove has a simple beauty and a peaceful presence.

He says Neji would look far better with wings and turns pink.

Neji smiles and releases his bluebird. Naruto releases his dove.

Neji likes watching Naruto. When he does, he doesn't feel so trapped and he doesn't feel so alone.

Naruto likes watching him too.