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Guardian by suzieuchiha

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Story notes: [Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto, not me!]
Chapter notes: [Disclaimer: I dont own Naruto] I know I probably shouldn't go starting another story but I've had this one lying around for ages and just really felt like typing it up! So here's chapter one!
“Ohayo, Neji-san.”

Neji looked up in surprise to find a glowing figure standing before him. He jumped to his feet and bowed low on the grass before her. She blushed.

“Hinata-sama, pardon my rudeness, I did not hear your approach.”

“It is quite alright. I come to you with your next mission. This one may prove to be a challenge so your considerable skills are in order.” Hinata spoke with a quiet but clear voice befitting of an Archangel. She did not usually deliver new missions to the angels but her partner, Haku, was preoccupied. She usually only observed the human plane, unlike Haku, who took a more active role in assigning guardians to the mortals who were most in need of guidance.

“I’m intrigued,” admitted Neji, it was a while since he’d had a challenge.

“Then please, follow me up to the roof and we will discuss the matter further.”

Hinata turned on the spot, her pure white kimono rippling, and spread her beautiful white wings. She flapped them once and was airborne. Neji followed her into the cool morning air and the two soared towards the streets of New Konoha City. Neji enjoyed the elation of flying. He looked down over the park where he’d been sitting on a bench beside the glassy lake. He hadn’t heard the Archangel Hinata approach, but that wasn't unusual; she was amazingly graceful and her wings almost silent.

They ascended at speed between the tall buildings until they reached the towering structure that made all the others look small. The pair sped up to fly vertically parallel up the side of the building. Neji saw their reflections flicker in the mirror surface of the towers many windows. Hinata’s face was upturned towards the clear blue sky, her long black hair streaming behind her and pale skin highlighted in the bright sunlight. She was truly and angel of the purest and rarest form. His own lithe form streaked along beside her, dark hair tied in a loose ponytail that flailed in the wind, with pale skin and equally pale eyes he was angelic in appearance just as he was strong in spirit.

Suddenly the wall ended and the two angels shot into the air above a glass domed roof. Neji could see the large fountain and beautiful marble floors of the penthouse suite through the shining dome as they alighted upon the roof beside the glass structure.

Hinata moved to the edge and looked out across the city as she folded her wings tightly to her back. Neji did the same and stood at a respectful distance behind her to watch her halo glow hypnotically in the clear morning light.

When she finally spoke her voice carried easily across the short distance even with the considerable wind that only came from being this high above the city.

“He lives in this city, on the mortal plane of course. He’s the financial manager of a large software firm; law abiding citizen, always pays his taxes, regular schedule, no family, no friends, no interests. When his day comes his spirit will pass over to the heavenly plane but he will become merely another angelic soul… unless something is done.” She turned to Neji, now with a large envelope clutched in her gentle hands. “I have observed him and believe he has the potential to become a powerful angel.” Walking up to Neji she handed him the envelope and looked at him with eyes so similar to his own that there could be no mistaking that they were related. She turned those pleading eyes on him. “I need you to help him, give him a reason to live because that is not what he’s doing now.”

“Well it certainly is a change from the usual ‘drunken mortal straying down the path to the demonic plane’.”

“You will help him then?”

“I will do my best.” Neji paused wondering if he might be overstepping the mark to ask the question that had occurred to him when Hinata appeared before him.

“Speak your mind, Neji-san.” Hinata said softly.

Neji looked at her with surprise; he had heard that the Archangels had the power to read minds but had not believed it.

“We can not read minds,” she answered his unspoken query. “I have merely known you long enough to guess your mind, Nii-san.”

Neji smiled, she hadn’t called him that since she had been promoted. Hinata’s rise to Archangel had been a surprise to their family, most of whom existed here on the heavenly plane as angelic souls. But Neji was the least surprised, being a high ranking angel himself, he often spoke with the Archangel Haku and had recognised the same exquisite qualities in his cousin as he saw in Haku. Hinata had, at first, been worried that Neji would not be happy, after all, he had been an angel longer and completed more missions. But he had found he possessed no negative feelings on the matter. The Archangels were always the two most pure, divine and just, male and female angels whose faces would appear in the Pool of Fate when their reign was to begin. He knew Hinata was the best person to take on the duty. He didn’t believe he would ever wear a halo, the defining quality of an Archangel that was passed to the new ruler from it’s previous owner, but he was happy this way, he could not muster any desire to shoulder such a heavy burden.

With the name of ‘Nii-san’ to remind him that he was still talking to his younger cousin, even if she did wear a halo now, he spoke his mind. “Pardon my asking, Hinata-sama, but why is it I have the pleasure of your company rather than Haku-sama? Is it not usually his duty to deliver missions?”

“Haku-sama is currently dealing with a troublesome new angel.” Neji was sure he caught Hinata’s expression change slightly before she looked away.

“Troublesome?” Neji probed, he knew it was not his place to ask but something in Hinata’s expression told him she was keeping something from him.

“Yes, he has been having a little trouble letting go of loved ones and adapting to death. But it is of no matter, Haku is more than capable of calming hi–“

At that moment a crash interrupted them. Neji jumped. Being so used to the silence this high up, the noise seemed louder than it actually was. Hinata glanced to the glass dome of the roof. Neji walked over to look in.

A blond haired angel stood in the room below, his wings were spread wide and the remains of vase lay on the floor beside him.

“Please, calm yourself, Naruto.” The glowing figure of the Archangel Haku, glided over to the young angel.

“I can’t die. I can’t die. I can’t be dead!” he cried out, sinking to his knees on the marble floor. “I can’t leave him. I can’t lose him!”

Even from the roof Neji could see the tears leaking from over bright blue eyes. It was a heartbreaking sight.

“Troublesome, huh?” he remarked softly.

“Hmm, I wish there was more we could do for him, but it really is only a matter of time. He will adjust… eventually.”

“I guess so.”

Haku suddenly looked up through the window from his position on the floor beside the sobbing angel. His doe brown eyes were intense, but their gaze was not directed at Neji. Neji looked behind him and saw that Hinata met Haku’s gaze with equal intensity.

“You should go,” she said suddenly, breaking the eye contact with Haku who went back to trying to calm the new angel. “You have a mission to complete. Everything you will need is in the envelope. Good luck.”

Understanding his dismissal, Neji nodded to the Archangel, “May the darkness never taint your heart.” He spoke the ritual goodbye.

“And may your wings never fail you.” She replied with a small smile.

Neji ran to the edge of the roof and dived clean off. He allowed himself to freefall maybe 10 storeys for the sheer thrill of it. Then he extended his wings, bracing himself for the backlash. He smiled with a childish excitement he was glad he still possessed, even after so many years of watching over the mortal plane. It was a beautiful day and he had a new mission with someone who, one day, may well serve as an angel alongside him… if he could get this guy to live his life.

He sobered, Hinata was right, it was a difficult mission. The objective seemed simple enough but when he thought about how he might achieve it he drew a blank. It was easy enough when something was clearly wrong about how a mortal lived their life but this time was going to be different. He supposed he would have to spend some time observing this guy and work from there.

Neji took a deep breath of the deliciously clean air rushing past him as he descended. Focusing all his energy on the single goal of forging a path onto the mortal plane he prepared to transport himself. There was the familiar sensation of energy building up inside him like a rapidly filling reservoir and then the dam breaking and the rushing feeling of being stretched almost to breaking point as though he was the water and part of him was stuck in the dam before the rest of him forged through the path between planes and he was slammed back together again.

Neji opened his eyes which he couldn’t help closing every time he experienced the horrible sensation of inter-plane transportation. At first glance it looked as though he was in exactly the same place, streaking down the side of the tallest skyscraper towards the ground. But it was different. As usual the first thing that hit Neji was the smell. The wonderfully fresh air of the heavenly plane was now the polluted air of the city laced with the smell of everything from an overflowing drain to the hotdog stand on the corner. Here the sounds were harsher, the light less pure and the view much less spectacular. Car horns honked and people shouted, dustbins overflowed and the streets were dirty. Neji soared over the roads packed with taxis that were going no where soon. He only had to look around to find a hundred people he wanted to help and a hundred more he wanted to send straight to the demonic plane.

The mortal plane felt like such a cruel world after the pristine streets of the heavenly plane, but Neji knew that if he was coming from the demonic plane, this crowded and noisy city would seem flawless.

When he reached his destination, he sat down on a park bench that looked almost identical to the one he had sat on this morning, except that this one had its memorial plaque graffitied. He opened the envelope Hinata had given to him. It contained a sheaf of papers detailing his new assignments location, habits, schedule, stats and…

“Huh?” Neji muttered. “There should be more than this. What about family? Friends?”

But the page that would normally contain details on family and friends was littered with N/A’s.

Neji sighed. Although Hinata had briefly mentioned the man’s position he had at least expected details of relations living far away or even deceased. But according to the file in front of him the man had been found on the doorstep of an orphanage and had lived in carehomes all his life. Nothing was known of his origins before that.

Neji looked at the picture of a dark haired man with a serious expression on his pale face and emotionless black eyes. He was a handsome man but Neji thought he’d look better if he smiled or even showed any kind of emotion. Well it was his job to change those dead eyes and Neji had never failed a mission yet. He was sure he would succeed even if it did take a little longer than usual.

Neji frowned at the name below the picture: Sasuke Uchiha. He wondered how the man had gotten his name when nothing was known of his family. Neji supposed the orphanage must have named him, because if there had been a note with him when he was found details of the note would surely have been included in the file.

He stood preparing to take flight in the direction of his new assignments apartment. He swayed and sat abruptly back down again.

“Damn it.”

Inter-plane transportation always took a lot of energy out of angels and demons whose energy levels were limited to that which was available within the beings own body. Only the Archangels, the Devils and the Angel of Death and the Demon of Death could draw energy from their surroundings.

After inter-plane transportation Neji often found he still had a small well of power left inside him. He supposed he had exhausted that well of power by flying here. But it was always easier to transport yourself if you were already travelling at high speeds so the drop from the skyscraper had been the best option.

Neji sighed, he was exhausted. He couldn’t very well present himself to his new assignment when he felt like this. First impressions could count for a lot and he needed to be at his best. He would feel better after a nap, but much as he was reluctant to move from this bench in his current state, he needed to find somewhere he would not be disturbed. He currently had no corporeal body and could be seen by no one other than the mortal he was assigned to and any other angels or demons he happened to come across, but it was still rather uncomfortable to wake up to find someone sitting in you!

Too tired to fly anymore, Neji dragged his feet into a less public area of the park. He lay down on the grass spreading his wings out much as one would stretch their arms and giving an indulgent yawn before closing his eyes.

It was a truly beautiful sight that not one of the passing mortals saw. The sight of an attractive young man dressed in a white kimono and matching white hakama, lying peacefully on the grass his long black hair framing an angelic face and his pure white wings spread out to either side of his slim body.

When Neji woke up he judged it was roughly mid-afternoon. ‘Perfect,’ thought Neji as he shook the stiffness from his wings. ‘I can get a good look at his apartment before he gets back from work.’

He took off at a run, glad to find his previous drowsiness almost completely gone. The address he had in the file was quite close to the park. A pretty nice area if he remembered correctly. He was glad he didn’t have to go out of the city for this assignment, he had had some pretty difficult experiences tracking people down outside the city before, but having lived in this city on the heavenly plane for so long he knew his way around. Each of the three planes had roughly the same layout except the features were subtly different. Like the graffitied bench, for example, he knew the state of that bench was probably even worse on the demonic plane. The 3 planes also had different weather, a different atmosphere and, of course, very different inhabitants.

When Neji reached Sasuke’s flat it was empty. Getting in wasn’t a problem. Angels and demons weren’t corporeal on the mortal plane. They could become corporeal and even visible if need be but it took energy to maintain so most opted to only be seen by their assigned mortal. However it was almost impossible to hide your presence from another dead being, whether they be angelic or demonic.

Neji found you could usually tell a lot about a person by the state of their living quarters. At first Neji thought he might have gotten the wrong address, it didn’t look as though anyone had lived there recently. The apartment was modern and minimalist with cold wooden floors and unadorned white walls. There were no unnecessary decorations and the few items that were around were all placed neatly were they ought to be. The only signs that anyone lived there were the dark coloured clothes in the wardrobe and the organised food in the cupboards.

Neji sighed, it was a rather bleak setting but he was stuck here until he could change this guy. He made himself comfortable on the black leather sofa, crossing his legs and spreading his wings out.
Chapter end notes: Tell me what you think? Please? *puppy dog eyes*
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