Naruto clenches his fist in the nice Kitsune-niisan’s fur as the larger being hurls itself through the trees, darting from branch to branch. The dark green leaves reflect only the light of the moon and stars far above their heads, and keep smacking the boy in the face as they pass, so he ducks is head down, shoves his nose in between Kitsune-nii’s shoulders, and swallows down a bitter-tasting sob.
A second later he’s up again, glancing behind them at the freaky spider monster that’s hounding their tail. Tears try and squeeze out the corners of his lashes at the memory of it squirting the sharply-stinging venom into his eyes. His vision blurs, again, fading out even more. Naruto angrily scrubs at his face, mad at his own tears and at the fact his sight isn't working the way it’s suppose to!
The anger bubbles up out of his chest and he gives a howl, leaping up off Kitsune-nii’s back and throwing himself head-first at the mean spider monster. He was going to be hokage, dammit , no giant spider was gonna get the best of him!
He pulls back his fist and, squinting through the haziness of his own vision, aims it at where he’s pretty sure one of the creature’s own eyes is. It makes a squelching sound as it hits, gooey grossness popping beneath his knuckles. Naruto shudders, but grins and bears it, because a real ninja would be squicked out. That Uchiha bastard at school would probably faint over something like this, the princess, but not Naruto! Naruto was too strong for that!
And also too small, right now, he realizes as a enraged hissing envelopes his sharp sense of hearing, and a powerful blow sends him careening into the ground. Much smaller than he remembers being, which was totally unfair! He’d grown up all by himself, dammit! That height was his , gained through perseverance and hard work! He chokes on something that tastes like salt and metal, trying to crawl up his throat. Its making it hard to breath.
“You moron !” A low voice growls from just behind his ear, and Naruto claps his hands over them protectively on instinct, because they’re right now the only reliable sense he has left now that his eyesight is completely black and useless. A blast of heat whooshes past him, from behind him, accompanied by a deep timbre growl that shakes the forest floor beneath them. He hears a screeching sound emit from the direction the spider monster was, and lets loose a big whoop of victory.
“Hey, you got him, Kitsune-niisan!” He crows. “Way to go!”
There’s another growl, closer to his head that the one before. It’s much softer than the first one, though, so Naruto pays it no mind as he begins blindly waving his arms around him wildly, in search of the great fox.
“What a precocious little brat ,” the deep voice complains, and sharp teeth sink into the collar of Naruto’s shirt, which isn’t actually a shirt, but a blanket that used to be from his bed that he’d fashioned into a scrappy toga, because he’d woken up in these woods completely naked, which was totally unfair . Why would someone steal his clothes? And leave his blanket? That’s just rude.
Naruto grips the front of his makeshift toga with tight fists. It was his blanket, though, from when he was a baby. The only thing he had from….
He feels a little better, knowing that even if they’d stolen his clothes right off him, he still had his blanket.
He shakes his head roughly, chasing away the thoughts, and turns a blinding grin upward to where he hopes the fox’s face is. “We make an awesome team, Kitsune-niisan!”
“I told you, you imbecile, my name is Kurama .”
“ No -”
There’s a shuffling sound that comes from their left, light and airy. They both freeze, going silent. What if it was another spider, but even bigger? Naruto grips his blanket-toga even tighter. He can’t see anything , and it’s freaking him out. He wonders, that maybe, if Kitsu- er, Rama-niisan wasn’t here to have his back, then maybe he’d be just a little bit scared.
“Who goes there, in our woods?”
Naruto’s ears perk up. That’s definitely a guy voice, but it sounds so pretty! And girly, a little bit, but Naruto won’t say that out loud, just in case it hurts this guy’s feelings.
Kurama growls. It sounds a bit muffled, maybe because he’s still got Naruto’s collar in between his teeth like he was holding an errant kit.
Naruto coughs, rough and wet. He releases his blanket from one hand, bringing it up to his mouth, to catch the icky salty stuff that’s coming out. It tastes bad, and makes him feel yucky.
Shit , he hears Kurama-nii’s voice echo inside his head.
“Uwah?” Naruto tries to ask.
He feels dizzy, and it’s made worse by the fact that all he can see is black-black-black, everywhere. The light and airy footsteps are approaching them from the right, and the whole world shifts weirdly as he feels Kurama set him gently down on the leafy, stick-littered forest floor.
That’s not something I can heal from out here, brat.
Naruto lies down on the floor. He definitely doesn’t feel good, at all , but he tries to focus, because Kurama-nii must not trust these pretty-sounding guys if he wasn’t talking out loud for them to hear. What if you go back inside my tattoo?
It’s seal, dumbass, and it doesn’t work like that.
Well, it’s stupid then!
A great big breath is huffed from above him, Kurama’s sigh making Naruto’s hair rustle a bit.
Go to sleep. I’ll make sure these fools don’t try anything.
That’s, Naruto yawns, a strange and painful burning inside his chest mingling with the breath, why we make such a… good… team…
The last thing Naruto senses are the chilly but strong hands that are genty picking him up from the ground, and cradling him close to a sturdy and warm chest.
It’s nice. He’s never been held like this before. Maybe these guys aren’t so bad.
A million thoughts are running through the Elvenking’s mind as he stares down at the uneasily slumbering child tucked into the linens before him, and for the first time in a long time, he’s having trouble grasping at any single one of them.
“Where did you find him,” he asks, foremost, and there’s a faint tone of wonder that underlines his words despite the effort he’s putting toward keeping it out.
His son bows his head, still knelt next to the bed. He has one hand on the child’s too-thin wrist, fingers gently encircling the limb.
“We were patrolling the usual routes, when we heard sound of commotion. The beast took down one of the spiders, in what we’ve determined to be in the protection of the child.”
“Although not in time, it seems, to avoid any injury,” Thranduil states, tiredly.
The Elvenking presses out a low, calm breath, and turns to regard the great canine beast that was hunkered down just outside the door of the room. It’s girth took up almost half the corridor outside, and it glared through the archway at them with glimmering eyes filled with what can’t be mistaken as anything other than a sharp, dangerous intelligence.
The beast is motionless as they regard one another, and finally Thranduil turns back to the bed. He moves forward, reaching out to touch a feather light finger to the bandages soaked in solution that were wound carefully around the child’s eyes, gaze flickering to the thicker gauze that covered the horrid wound in the boy’s chest. Sorrow climbs up his throat, and Thranduil presses a hand over his own heart to keep it at bay.
“This is not something our healers can treat,” Legolas murmurs quietly, running a careful hand through the closely shorn, wheat gold locks. The child whimpers beneath his touch, and Legolas withdraws it, looking pained.
“I’m aware,” Thranduil replies, lowering his hands back to his sides.
His son raises his eyes to try and meet his gaze, but Thranduil finds himself unable to look away from their newest, guest.
“We will,” Legolas hesitates, and then forges on, “need to seek a healer more... capable, if he is to fully recover.”
Thranduil closes his eyes. He takes another, fortifying breath, and opens them again.
The Elvenking turns on his heel, swiftly making his way out of the room, through the archway, and past the beast who’s glimmering eyes, the color of hellfire, follow him still.
“Send a scout forth to Rivendell,” he orders one of the guards stationed in the corridor. They all regard the great beast in their midsts with a cautious eye. “Have the Lord of the Homely House notified that the Elvenking arrives promptly and seeks his aid.”
A guard bows his head in obedience, stepping forward to venture down the halls on quick feet. Thranduil clears his throat, and the elf turns back to face him. The king of Mirkwood holds his gaze for a long moment.
“Be sure that they understand that the situation is dire.”
The guard bows once more, and vanishes down the corridor.
Thranduil turns, again, and finds himself caught in the sight of the beast. It’s lips are pulled back from it’s fangs in a mockery of a grin. They both stare at one another.
Neither of them makes a sound.