Don't own Naruto…….if I did Neji would have a WAY bigger role This is my first Naruto fanfic and only my second fanfic ever, so please be nice.

Contains some spoilers to the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. Takes place on the way home after the Sasuke Retrieval Arc.

Lee's POV and a fill in the blanks for how the guys got back to Konoha, well how some of them got back. NONYOAI!

Slightly AU, Lee isn't totally drunk in this one. haha Lee and his drunken fist...haha

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

My head is buzzing. I simply cannot believe it, the Sand nin who has caused me so much pain has, well, come to my aide. Gaara of the Desert had saved me from that monster Kimamaro, well not technically saved. I could have taken him on, but well, I would have been a lot worse off than I am now.

Which is not that amazing. Even I must admit that the Green Beast of Konoha just had a major operation, but enough excuses.

We are on our way back to Konoha, Gaara and I that is. We are riding his cloud of sand, and it is a little bit awkward as neither of us is talking.

Sighing, I think back to earlier, I feel a sense of pride for my fellow genin, well genin and a newly made chuunin. An A-rank mission to be dealt out to a group of the youngest ninja of the village, and yet…

…yet they are so much more powerful than could be expected of them.

Chouji, he may be a little on the heavy side, but I believe his head and heart are in the right place. My viewing of his fight in the Chuunin exam showed me that he might not be as talented as some of the others, but he usefully takes advantage of his large build. By making himself extremely large he is almost indestructible, he just got unlucky in the exam by getting paired up with someone that had the perfect way to counter Chouji's technique. However, he tried his best to come up with a way to get around the Sound nin's sound attacks, but proved that he is not as good of a strategist as his friend, his friend that it seems that he would do anything for.

Shikamaru. I have seen you fight, and though you seem indifferent, it is exactly that that makes me see that you do care, just not in the same way as me. You keep a cool head and are a brilliant strategist, coming up with solutions to almost unsolvable puzzles. You manage to capture anyone with your tricky shadow stretching jutsus. You truly deserve to be a chuunin and I can't help but be a little jealous of you; to be able to be as amazing shinobi as you without even trying or caring most of the time takes an incredible amount of skill.

Kiba. I suppose I can't just say that; it's always Kiba and Akamaru. Those two make the perfect team as I saw in your fight against Naruto. You guys make an awesome pair that works seamlessly; it's almost as if you can read one another's minds. I suppose you as well got an unlucky break when you were defeated by Naruto due to his fart, even though it was a little humorous. Hopefully you, me and the rest of us will become chuunin the next time around.

Neji. My pale-eyed companion from Team Gai. You were always so—so, well not entirely cruel, but not that kind to me these past few years. Always talking about how we were destined by fate, well I suppose due to your unfavorable past, I suppose some of that is to blame for your negative outlook. But in the short time since your fight with Naruto you seem to be a little, well, nicer. I like the new you, but I am still envious of your bloodline limit, as I think even now you could best me in a fight. I suppose we almost have a rivalry similar to Gai-sensei's and Kakashi-sensei's, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Finally, Naruto. You're bubbly outlook on life is almost infectious and you can befriend anyone you want. I am proud that you beat Neji, a feat that I probably could not have done. You have an interesting ninja way that seems to make everyone want to try their best. I have seen you change a good many people and am in awe that you can bring out the good in almost everyone. I see a little of myself in you; the determination, the hard work, we have almost the same drive.

Some of the village's finest shinobi, the Konoha Five. I like the ring of that; perhaps I should tell Naruto, I bet he would like it.

I sigh again. How I wish that I had been well enough to accompany them on the initial mission, but I cannot bear to wish for that. That would only generate hatred to the one that I am sitting next to, the one who came to my aide. Gaara, he confuses me, but somehow I think that he has been changed as well.

I can't help but worry as we continue back to the village. This was an A-rank mission, one if not all of my friends are most likely injured, what would I do if they were worse than injured.

My breath hitches. Neji, Naruto. If either of them had—had died, I would be just short of lost in grief. Not that I don't care about the others of course, but these two are something special. Naruto, well because he is almost my clone. Neji is something more. A friend who doesn't know how to show he cares other than to force them to be their best. I'm not sure how I would react if I lost him.

Two people standing next to a gorge attempt to flag us down. I notice that one is being supported heavily by the other and my eyes widen.

"It's Kiba and Kankuro!"

I turn to Gaara and he looks to them and we descend to hover on the ground just in front of the pair.

I jump off of the floating Sand and relieve Kankuro of Kiba.

The scruffy genin lifted his head at the movement, and smiled when he saw me holding him up, but it faded a moment later.

"What's wrong?"

"It—it's Akamaru. He's not doing so well." Kiba motioned to Kankuro, and I saw that the Sand nin had put the small dog in a large pocket on his shirt.

I realize that Kiba must have been completely drained in order for him to entrust his companion with another person, but his smile and the fact that he could remain upright with a little support meant that he would most likely recover.

"Well what are you waiting for? Get on."

I turn to see Gaara expanding the small island of sand to fit Kankuro and Kiba. I helped the younger genin onto the sand and he sat down, though I still needed to support his back.

We rose into the air and we were again off to Konoha. I might have been imagining it but we seemed to be going faster than before. I looked at Gaara again. Was he increasing our speed to get Kiba back to seek medical attention faster? Did he actually care? I suppose he must have to come to my aide. I smiled to myself, perhaps people do change.

Something caught my attention. A great many trees appeared to be ravaged up ahead. My heart clenched. Another battle, another chance that someone might not able to go home.

"Can we—"

I break off as I notice that we are already decending towards the area. We once again hover a few inches above the ground. I jump off and my eyes widen at the state of the trees; quite a battle must have been had here.

"Search for survivors." The monotone voice breaks me out of my reverie. I nod, but then look back to Kiba; he is in no position to defend himself should we be attacked. Gaara, noticing this replies, "I'll take him with me."

I nod and begin the search. Who would be injured this time? Shikamaru? Chouji? Naruto? Neji? I reason that it is not Naruto as he went on ahead of me before therefore couldn't be back here. That left only three options.

My eyes scan the terrain, so far no leads to whoever was here. Perhaps one of our guys beat his opponent and has already headed back to Konoha. I cling to that hope as I start to realize now who I'm the most worried about. His pale eyes shut forever in death…NO! I cannot think that! He is too strong to be—to be…..dead.

Now that I start I can't seem to stop. We were never really friends but I wanted to be like him so much, I can't believe I didn't tell him of my feelings before…we could have been the best of friends—NO! We can still have that chance! We have to!

My head starts to hurt with all of my worrying. I shake it to clear my mind, but something catches my eye. Two mounds on the ground a few feet away from one another. Once again my heart clenches as I hesitantly walk over, numb with apprehension.

When I get there, it is like a nightmare. Something that is too horrible to be true! There he is, Neji, on the ground. When I do a quick of evaluation of his wounds, what I find horrifies me. He has a small cut on his face, but that is the least of his worries. Blood trails from his mouth and he has two gaping holes through him; all the way through. One is in his shoulder and the other his side.

"No, no, no." I repeat falling to my knees. I turn to look away from my friend to see a Sound nin with six arms on the ground, his eyes closed and his chest not moving. He is dead then. That a boy Neji, take him down with you!

A moment later I am sick with myself. Neji is not dead! Hyuuga Neji cannot die! For one think the terrible curse mark on his forehead is as obvious as ever, meaning he is still alive. I breathe a sigh of relief.

"Come on Neji, you have to pull through! I'm sorry I was never good enough to be your friend. Please come back, I'll try harder; we still have a chance."

He doesn't wake up.

I feel tears prickle in my eyes. "You are the most powerful person that I know, you won't let some minor flesh wounds take you! I never really noticed, but helped me become what I am now! You are my truest friend and I won't let you give up on me!"

I only stop my monologue when I hear a soft voice.

"You a—are good enough."

My eyes widen to see Neji awake and a slight smile on his face, though laced with pain. "I-I knew you--you'd find me Lee—my fri-fr-friend."

I smile, but a look of sheer pain crosses his face and he nearly passes out again.

I have to get him back to Konoha! Only the Hokage can save him with these wounds. I put two fingers in my mouth and whistle to alert Kankuro, Gaara, and Kiba that I have found him.

I take Neji's hand into my own, and whisper "Don't worry, I'm here now."

Moments later Kankuro and Gaara burst through, followed closely by Kiba on his bed of sand. They halted when they saw the extent of the Hyuuga's wounds.

"We have to get back to the village, if we don't he'll die!"

TBC…

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Well what did ya guys think? Like it? Hate it? Please tell me I won't continue the next chapter if it sucks. As I said before, it's AU so anything is possible for the Hyuuga and the others. All types of reviews are welcome!

Hugs,

MM