Disclaimer: Jeez, I can't believe you still haven't gotten the point. Well, then, I still don't own anything. Happy? Naruto and Gakuen Alice belong to their respective creators-creators which are obviously not me.
I look at this story and I think I'm slightly over obsessed with the Father/Son relationship my deranged mind has created between Gai and Neji. I also ignore the rest of Team Gai a lot-which is weird because they're my favorite team and Lee is awesome (Tenten is eh, I mean, I don't hate her-I really hate NejiTen, though). Hmmmm...I also realize I write the crappiest angst ever. And everyone is OOC. And that I have a biased love of Tono and Koko. And Narumi. And I need to give Yuri and Ruka more screentime. Crud.
I have an outline for this. It's open in the window next to this one. It's all bulleted and in complete sentences and everything. Let's see how this turns out…
"…so you didn't answer eighteen." Tono stated in a slow, careful tone. Neji shot him a blank stare.
"For the last time, Tono, I did it all last night. And no, I'm not giving you the answers."
"You could've done it last night. You were right next to me. I would've helped you."
"But you're a bastard!" Tono whined. "Give it!" Neji snorted at the Amplifier's antics, eyes rolling in his signature inconspicuous way.
There was a sudden, strangled half-shriek, half-snarl, and Tono lunged forward, one hand flying out to tear the worksheet from Neji's iron hold. Neji had been expecting that, though, coolly sidestepping the attack.
However, he hadn't considered that Tono had thought out his own reaction.
But it was too late. Tono's free hand snaked around, wrapping itself around Neji's waist and pulling him close against Tono's chest, leaving no possible room for escape. The other hand came down on the hand holding the worksheet, encasing it in a tight grip and slowly crushing down. Surprisingly, it hurt-just enough for Neji's to slacken his hold and for Tono to snatch the paper away and make a run for it.
A guttural growl curled from the back of Neji's throat, lips pulling back in an incensed scowl. "Tono," he hissed lowly before bolting after the retreating Amplifier.
The sound of polished black shoes clicking against the immaculate tiled floor of the Elementary School rang through the halls as the two ran, Tono tossing back sly taunts and wicked little laughs while Neji remained silent, stony glare fixed on Tono's back and threatening scowl glued to his face.
They rounded a corner when, just his luck, the door to the men's restroom was flung open. Neji found himself slamming into a broad chest, sending the man stumbling back and himself dizzily reeling about until the man steadied him, clapping a strong hand down on his shoulder.
"Are you all right?" asked the man as Neji rubbed his throbbing head. Kami, Neji thought, is he made of iron or something?
"I'm fine, although I should ask the same of you. It was my fault for running into you after all." Neji replied, trying to sound as polite as possible. He looked up at his "victim". There was something oddly familiar about him, he noted, something oddly familiar about the bushy black eyebrows, the black bowl cut hair, the black eyes…Neji frowned and shook his head, but it did nothing to rid himself of the nagging voice in the back of his head.
The man smiled, a blinding white smile stretching ear to ear, flashed him the thumbs up (though Neji thought those black eyes shouldered the burden of some devastating heartbreak). "I'm quite alright and am very glad to hear that our meeting there did not hinder you!" Neji blinked at the booming voice. What an odd exuberance, what an odd use of words…
The nagging voice was growing louder, and, quite frankly, Neji had no idea how to quiet it.
"However, I hope you can forgive me for getting in your way like I did."
That damn blink was back. "What? Oh, no, that was entirely my fault. My friend took my homework and I was trying to get it back. I should have been watching were I was going, but I wasn't, so I'm very sorry for running into you like that."
"It's fine, although I think I'm still slightly at fault for this," the black-haired man stated in that thunderous voice of his. Neji made to protest, but was swiftly cut off by a hand shoved in his face. "I would like to tell you my name, but I'm afraid I cannot because of school policy. What about you?"
Neji shook the offered hand, the bells in his head going off wildly. "Neji, Neji Hyuuga. Nice to meet you."
"Likewise." Gai paused (because, let's face it, the man is obviously Gai), looking him over with a scrutinizing eye. "You look a little, well, old to be in this part of the school. Are you not from-"
"I'm from the High School Division; I take it you've never been?"
Gai shook his head. "No, I'm afraid this is my first time visiting. I'm not an Alice. But if you're in the High School, why are you here?"
Neji hid a frown, his eyes narrowing and brow furrowing. This man was asking too many questions. Neji didn't like questions. Neji didn't like revealing too much. But there was something about this man that made Neji want to tell him everything…
"I was heading to a Somatic Class meeting with-"
"Narumi-sensei?" Gai finished. At Neji's slightly miffed expression, he smiled and continued. "I was taking notes on his class earlier. His elementary class?"
"Oh," was all Neji had to say.
"So, you kids enter the Academy pretty young, don't you?"
Neji was finding it hard to suppress a frown at such a question as peculiar and as prying as that. However, he hoped he wasn't revealing his discomfort to the man. "Well, yes…"
Gai nodded. "It must be terrible, having to leave your parents at such a young age…"
Neji shrugged, unconsciously crossing his arms defensively over his chest. "I suppose; I don't really remember my parents. In fact, I'm not entirely sure if I ever had any…"
He mentally kicked himself for revealing that much information. What was wrong with him?
Gai's answer caused an icy chill to crawl up his spine. "I see…but are you enjoying your time at the Academy?"
Neji found his eyes nervously flickering around for a distraction to keep him from answering these intrusive inquiries. Why on earth would he need to know any of this?
And then, like a Prince Charming rescuing the damsel in distress atop his magnificent white steed (minus the magnificent white steed), Tono appeared around the corner, half-walking, half-running up to them. There was a barely distinguishable troubled glow in his dark eyes, a slight frown to the otherwise impassive face, a minor tensing of his posture, but Neji noticed it all. Just because they argued every now and then (read that as "they argued often"), it didn't mean they didn't genuinely care for one another.
"Hey Neji, who's your friend?" Tono asked, voice casual. Neji could hear the masked edge in his tone.
"Ah, Tono, this is a…classroom assessor, I suppose. Sir, this is my friend...Akira Tonouchi."
Tono nodded slowly, warily shaking hands with the black eyed man before turning to face Neji.
"Look, don't mean to be rude, but we kinda need to hurry up. Naru's probably freaking out over you and I promised Noda I'd actually show up to class today, so can we go?"
"Of course," Neji hastily replied. He turned to Gai. "I'm sorry for running into you like I did; it was completely accidental and foolish on my part."
That white smile was back, a smile Neji had decided was false-because there was no way that crippling sadness in those black eyes was any less than it looked to be. "Accidents happen, and I'm telling you, it's perfectly fine. Well then, I hope to see you again."
"Of course…" Neji murmured. They barely had time to shake hands when Tono latched onto Neji's arm and began dragging him away. It wasn't until they were around the corner, down the hall, out the door, away from the building, away from those sad eyes, that he finally spoke.
"Neji, what the fuck was that all about?" Tono asked. It wasn't a question. Tono demanded an answer from the silent brunette as he led Neji along.
"Nothing. I just ran into him."
"Bullshit, he was asking weird questions."
Neji made to answer (Had Tono been listening to our conversation the entire time?), when a sudden, blinding headache struck him full force, causing him to stagger to a stop, hands gripping at his head in a desperate attempt to stop the pain.
"Once a failure, always a failure. You can't change that…"
"Do you understand now? You have no way of beating me…"
What…what is this?
"We are judged by what we cannot change. What can't be changed must be endured. We are who we are, and we must live with it…"
"Only a fool wastes his time trying to become something he can never be…"
Is this…is this me?
Vaguely, he felt that he had dropped to his knees, Tono crouching beside him, worry contorting the handsome features as he hovered over the pained brunette. But he felt detached from his body, like a disembodied being enveloped in strange thoughts…strange feelings… strange, odd, peculiar, but all oddly familiar.
"The curse represents a mark of the bird in a cage…it is the symbol of being tied down to an inescapable destiny."
"Father, I have but one goal. I want to become stronger…enough not to lose to anyone…that's how I feel. Father, the birds are flying freely today…they look so happy."
Am I free now…free like the birds? Am I still caged? The curse seal is still here…I...think it is...is it the green mark on my forehead? I don't...I don't know...but I feel so free…
"Neji? Neji? What's going on?" Tono's hands gripped his shoulders, roughly shaking the dazed brunette back and forth.
"I'm…I'm fine…" But the response sounded too distracted, too shaky to quell the rising fear in Tono's gut.
"Even if my enemy is far stronger, even if my body should fail me, I cannot lose. There is a reason I cannot lose."
"All this time I've been called a genius, so I cannot lose."
This could be me…but if it is…then who…who am I? I...Neji...Neji Hyuuga...prodigy...012587...
"No one can determine another's destiny."
…but what about mine? What is my destiny?
There are arms around him, gently supporting against him a chest, eyes wide in a fretful way, face openly alarmed. White eyes flutter open, bleary and confused, not quite sure of where he is, when he is, who he is, what he is…
Tono can tell he's confused, carefully helping him stand as best he can. It's not much in his befuddled state, eyes still glazed and strange memories still tearing him apart. The searing pain they're accompanied by certainly isn't helping, either. But Tono is unusually patient, leaning Neji against him, bracing one arm around his waist, taking Neji's own arm and wrapping it around his neck to support him on the way to the Somatic classroom, buzzing with people and life and especially Narumi, who stands outside in gaudy shades of purple with his foot tapping impatiently but hands clasped in concern.
Narumi sees them coming, blue eyes widening. He moves forward, practically flying, and is by Tono's side in a half a second, already scooping up Neji in a bridal hold as he begins to move back to class with brisk steps, Tono scurrying along beside. Neji can sort of see Narumi through his muddled gaze, notices vibrant colors and usually exuberant features and finds himself remembering more…
"As usual, I can't keep up with their craziness…"
"He's so childish. He acts like a seven year old…"
Who…who are "they"? Who is "he"?
"I'll be fine, Gai. Stop worrying."
"I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…"
…please…everyone…I'm sorry…so, so sorry…please forgive me…please…please…
"Dear Man in Green…"
Neji bites back a sob, squeezes his eyes shut, takes a deep, shuddering breath. His shoulders are trembling, but he's glad no one calls him out on it when he pushes himself up and away from Narumi, mumbling a half-hearted 'I'm fine', taking shaky steps into the classroom.
They all see him, he knows, but right now his head hurts to much and his memories are to wild and his mind is to confused for him to actually care. They all stay away, though, as he stumbles into a chair partially hidden in some back corner.
He can hear Tono telling Yuri what happened in hushed tones, the forced cheer in Narumi's voice as he tells everyone to leave Neji alone and continue with what they were doing earlier, Ruka's gentle presence as he slips over, crouches by his side while the little rabbit in his arms sniffs at him. His mind keeps whirring, the memories keep flowing, and all Neji can do is curl up tighter, take Ruka's hand, and slip into an uneasy unconsciousness.
When he wakes up, though, he feels oddly empty, his mind feels oddly blank. It's fuzzy, he can sort-of remember Tono taking him into the Somatic classroom after having a run in with some freak in the Elementary Division, but he's not entirely sure what happened between crashing into the man in the hall and getting here. All he knows is a splitting headache and Ruka's quiet company as he holds his hand.
Neji blinks, pushes himself into a better sitting position. Ruka had fallen asleep too, leaning against his chair while his hand continues to cling to Neji's. Smiling, Neji gently disentangles the two interwoven hands and then scoops the sleeping blonde up into his lap. Ruka wakes slowly, rubbing at his eyes blearily before realizing what happened, bolting up in surprise, blue eyes wide. Neji lifts an amused eyebrow, lips curling slightly into a smirk.
"Neji, you're awake!"
Neji smiles softly. "Obviously."
There's an embarrassed flush on Ruka's face, nervous blue eyes refusing to settle on any one object in the room. "Are you…alright?" he asks, hesitant, careful not to stare at the perplexed brunette.
Neji's eyebrow finds itself arched. Was he…alright? Well, other than the headache, he feels fine. Mostly. There's still that feeling that he's forgotten something important, forgotten something that is a part of him. Something important must have happened earlier. But he just can't remember what…
"Other than a headache, I feel fine."
"Oh," Ruka says, relief taking over his expression. He finallt meets Neji's eyes, blue eyes surprisingly bright, "That's good. Would you like an aspirin or something?"
"…Sure, thanks Ruka," Neji answers, half-listening, too preoccupied with his own thoughts. The corners of his mouth tilt down. He just can't quite remember …
But then white eyes widen. There's something, something hazy and tucked away in the back of his mind that he can just barely recall. He has a feeling it has to do with earlier, but he's not sure.
"Wait, Ruka, before you go…"
Ruka fetches him the pencil and paper he asks for, and it's barely out of his hand and into Neji's when Neji starts writing, letters large and messy, scrawl anything but perfect in his haste to get it out before he forgets...
Dear Man in Green,
I saw you today didn't I? I'm not sure what happened, but it feels like something important. You're someone important to me, aren't you? I think you are.
P.S. I don't know why, but I feel the need to apologize for something. I don't know why it is, though. So I suppose what I'm trying to say is I'm sorry.
He's standing in front of his desk, crisp envelope in one hand, the other resting on the wood. White eyes focus on the white envelope. That feeling is still there, burrowed deep within his chest. It won't leave, but he's not sure he wants it to.
Something, he feels, something will change if he sends this. He feels that he's breaking some indestructible rule doing this.
He does it anyways.
The envelope is left on top of the desk, a hand lingering on it before finally letting go. He turns to go, white eyes carefully focused in front of him. The door slams shut, the voice in his head whispering 'I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…'
Minutes later, nothing is left on the surface of the desk, nothing but broken memories and shattered dreams.
And somewhere else, Gai can hear his students behind him; he can hear their tears, their sadness, their pain-he feels it too. Somewhere else, Gai kneels before the Memorial Stone, tears dripping from his dark eyes, a crumpled note clutched in one hand. Somewhere else, Gai knows that Neji almost knew. Somewhere else, Gai knows it was not quite almost and that everything has changed.
Somewhere else, it hurts Gai. Somewhere else, Gai thinks that the note feels impossibly heavy. Somewhere else, Gai thinks his heart feels just as heavy.
...Neji is a pedo. Stop pedo'ing on Ruka you pedo.
ANYWAYS, and this is by far the worst in the series. Oh my lord, it's just terrible. I'm ashamed to have written it. Well, it was a good idea anyways…a good idea that I fucked up. Yeah baby. Woop-dee-frickin-doo.
Alright I'm done here (thank god I'm finally done with this damn trilogy). Expect a sequel. If anyone actually, y'know, cares. Does anyone even read this? Oh whatever. There'll still be a sequel.
Oh, and Happy New Year everyone! Here's to 2012 being amazing-because, I mean seriously, 2011 sucked. 2011 sucked hard.