The first thing Neji noticed, upon waking up, was that he was in terrible pain.
The second thing Neji noticed, upon waking up, was that he was blind.
The third thing Neji noticed, upon waking up, was that he was most definitely not on the battlefield anymore.
"Ah, you're awake."
Neji shifted his head to the side, towards the origin of the voice, though he paused at the flash of fire that it sent through his neck. He tried to open his mouth to reply, but found that it was covered with a medical ventilator.
It was probably for the best. With how his body felt at the moment, trying to talk would probably be excruciating.
"You were rather touch and go there, for a while." The person chuckled. "But we pulled you out. Still don't know who you are, but you didn't suffer any brain damage, so I'm sure you'll be able to tell us when you recover. For the moment, though, you should probably go back to sleep."
Neji couldn't really think on the implications of those words, or the fact that he was even alive, as darkness quickly overtook him.
The second time that Neji woke up, he was in far less pain.
He was still blind.
And he was strapped to a table.
…At least the ventilator was gone.
"Hello." A deep, vaguely familiar voice spoke from his left.
"…H-hello." Neji coughed halfway through the word, his throat protesting after Kami-knows-how-many weeks without speaking.
"My apologies about the… accommodations." The tone implied that its speaker wasn't sorry at all, nor particularly gleeful about it, simply acknowledging it as there.
"Apology accepted." Neji knew the protocol. He was to be polite to his captors as long as it didn't compromise village security. If he could get information out of them in turn, give them false information, or simply confuse them, then all the better.
Given the situation, he could probably use the third option in order to achieve the first.
"Do you know where you are?" The voice questioned him.
"Can you give me an approximation of the date?"
Neji frowned. "I… no."
Neji didn't answer.
The voice really was familiar…
"So that's why you sounded familiar…" Neji mused aloud, fairly certain that he understood the situation now. They were probably wondering if he was some refinement of the Edo Tensei, and questioning him for that reason. "Ibiki-san?"
There was suddenly cold metal held down against his throat. It wasn't a blade, but a thin rod that pressed against his jugular, an idle warning.
"Why do you assume that is my name?"
Damn, no confirmation.
Still, there was something very wrong with this situation, other than the fact that he was, to the best of his knowledge, supposed to be dead.
Come to think of it, what kind of backwater village would have the gall to steal his corpse? Or a reason to do so?
"I was present at the twenty-third Chuunin Exams, Konoha, Summer Cycle." Give a little, get a little.
There was a long, pregnant pause. Then the man was gone.
Neji was left alone in the silence for all of ten minutes before the door opened again.
Against his better judgment, Neji had occasionally allowed Ino to practice some of her mind techniques on him, provided that she avoided some of his more sensitive memories. It gave her a chance to practice her techniques against someone who could see her chakra coming, and it gave him a chance to practice throwing intruders out of his mind.
As such, Neji actually recognized the sensation of someone delving into his mind, and reacted accordingly, slamming down walls and misdirection at every memory he could.
He was not altogether successful.
Screaming was not Neji's style. Neither was writhing. As such, he was fairly calm despite the horrific intrusion that his last refuge was undergoing.
The words were calm, forceful, and full of tranquil fury.
I will. A softer voice promised, even as it plucked out some memories of his first Chuunin Exams.
I'm afraid I can't do that yet.
Neji mustered up all his force of will, subconsciously recalling his memories of battling against Ino, and shoved the intruder out.
It didn't work.
The person seemed perturbed.
"Tell me, do you know where you were found?" It was Ibiki again, though his voice now sounded less clinical and more… conversational.
Neji didn't answer, still angry over the earlier intrusion on his mind.
"You were found several miles outside the gates by a returning team of Chunin. You were completely bereft of clothing,"
"And your body showed signs of having been destroyed from the inside out by a weapon we still have not been able to identify, as it was no longer lodged inside your body."
That would be the Juubi's giant, demonic wooden senbon.
"There was not a single thing on your body, in your body, or near your body that was man-made. Everything was either your near-corpse, or a natural part of the forest."
Well, that explained… nothing.
"Do you know what year it is?"
No, though if asked, he would assume that it was less than a year after the war.
"Maybe it will make more of an impact if I give you a reference point that you seem to be… personally acquainted with."
Oh, please do. Horrifying reminders of the war were just what he needed at the moment.
"The Hyuuga incident, in which a Kumo shinobi attempted to kidnap the three-year-old Hyuuga heiress, Hinata, leading to the eventual death of one Hyuuga Hizashi, occurred one year and three months ago."
Neji's brain ground to a halt.
A/N: Well, people asked for it, so… blind!Neji time-travel fic!
*blows party horn*
Yeah… let's see how this goes.