Author: Caro N PM
Every Christmas Eve, there's a treelighting ceremony at Konoha Park. And every Christmas Eve, Naruto and Sasuke return to the same swing set and reminisce. But even traditions can change. AU A bit of NaruSasuRated: Fiction K - English - Friendship/Romance - Naruto U. & Sasuke U. - Words: 4,106 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 7 - Published: 12-25-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3968341
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I felt like submitting a small one-shot for the Christmas season (I don't know why...must be the weather or something). Regardless, this is just a small submission to ease my inner conflicts of the year and to suppress my so-called inner "fluffy" side. You can comment if you wish.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto (which belongs to Masashi Kishimoto). I also don't own the songs "Believe" by Josh Groban or "The Gift" by Jim Brickman (sung by Collin Raye and Susan Ashton). However, I do own Riaru and Cassandra who have small cameos in this short little fic. This may contain some brief shounenai in here (just a warning ;)
"So when is this thing supposed to start exactly?"
"Quiet Naruto. It's starting now."
The lights dimmed all around the crowd until the only source of visibility came from the electric lights draped across the platform and the twinkling lit garlands wrapped along the lampposts. The audience hushed as the choir slowly assembled onto the platform.
Then a spotlight fixed onto the cover over the platform beamed upon a young girl standing in front of the rest of the choir. Like the rest of the girls, she was wearing a scoop-necked bell-sleeved dress although hers was white instead of red. Her dark hair, shining blue in the light, was pulled back away from her pale scared face.
The pale-eyed boy behind her whispered, "Don't be nervous Hinata." He touched her shoulder briefly.
She gave a miniscule nod to show she heard him and tried to stop her trembling. "Thank you Neji." Everyone in the audience was staring at her expectantly.
On the electric piano, another girl with pink hair smiled at her encouragingly. She then glanced at the music director, Kabuto Yakushi, for the cue. The man pushed his glasses back against the bridge of his nose and raised his arms.
"We got it."
Hinata clasped her hands in front of her stomach. She took a deep breath. Kabuto nodded once.
Sakura began to play, adding a sleigh-bell beat to the background of her notes. Next to her, Ino's bells chimed sweetly to the melody.
"Children…s-sleeping. Snow is softly f-falling." Hinata's voice trembled and she willed it to steady. "Dreams are calling…like bells in the distance." Gaining some strength, she slowly stepped confidently into the light. Her body seemed transfigured by the glow."We were dreamers…not so long ago. But one by one we've…all had to grow up."
Immediately, the choir took up the next verse. "When it seems the magic's slipped away…"
Hinata, smiling now, answered, "We find it all again on Christmas Day."
A young man named Shikamaru began to play the drums for the chorus. The choir's voices began to swell in volume and they separated into their individual harmony lines.
"Believe in what your heart is saying. Hear the melody that's playing. There's no time to waste. There's so much to celebrate. Believe in what you feel inside and give your dreams the wings to fly."
The choir's combined voice slowly died away as Hinata took up the last line of the chorus. Her voice rang out, clear and sweet, over the crowd.
"You have everything you need…if you just believe!"
As the choir sang out in harmony, surrounded by all of the glittering lights and garlands, Naruto snuck a glance at the people sitting in the row in front of him. He had seen them walk inside before him and his parents. His eyes drifted over the long dark locks of a woman and her husband, before resting on the duck-shaped hairstyle of one of his friends.
People always talked about how they were so different and yet completely compatible. Day and night. Sun and moon. The same cliché analogies.
And yet Naruto couldn't remember a time when they hadn't known each other.
Oh sure, they hadn't gone through childhood and puberty together but it didn't matter. He had become an integral part of Naruto's life, especially during the Christmas season.
In fact, it was because of one particularly frosty Christmas Eve that they had been able to meet. That memory still stuck out in the corner of his hyperactive mind…a little frayed around the edges but still there. Stable.
He had been about eight…
Kushina Namikaze wrinkled her nose as a cloud of powder wafted up from the compact sitting on her dresser. She placed both hands on her hips, frowning at the compact and then at her son who was brushing a huge fluffy makeup brush across the powder and "painting" the dresser top.
"Naruto." She sighed and took the brush from his hands. "What did I tell you about playing around with Mommy's makeup?"
Naruto blinked up at her with seemingly innocent blue eyes. "Um…don't touch them without Mommy's permission?"
At that, Kushina laughed. She set the makeup brush back on the dresser top and closed the compact. "Don't touch them at all Naruto. That's what I told you." She waggled her index finger back and forth. "This has been the fourth time you didn't listen."
The little boy crossed his arms in front of his small chest, bottom lip sticking out in a visible pout. His eyes scrunched up in a constipated manner. "Well it's not my fault your stuff looks fun to play with." You got all these cool gadgets and stuff up here.
His mother laughed again. "Then why don't you play with Daddy's stuff in the closet or something?" She reached for a tissue to brush away the face powder off the dresser.
Naruto scrunched up his face even more. "Dad's stuff is boring though," he mumbled.
"Hey! Are you saying just because my stuff is boring that I'm boring?"
Naruto's father Minato had just walked into the room. Naruto grinned and leaped off of his mother's stool, racing toward his father to grab onto his shirt sleeve.
"Naah. You just don't have cool stuff Dad. But you're much cooler than Mommy is."
"I resent that!" Kushina stood up abruptly, a mock frown once again set on her face as Minato laughed. Then she knelt down until she was eye to eye with her small son. "I'll have you know I can be just as cool as your Dad." She flicked his forehead with two fingers. Naruto giggled. "But clearly this house is only big enough for one cool person huh?" With that, she straightened up and pranced out of the room, her long red hair swishing behind her. "I'll meet you in the living room Minato since I'm obviously not cool enough to grace you with my presence."
Minato shook his head, still laughing. Naruto joined in. Mommy can be so weird sometimes.
"So Naruto, you ready to go? The Uminos are waiting for us."
Naruto nodded excitedly. It was a family tradition that every year on Christmas Eve, they would visit Konoha Park for the tree-lighting ceremony. Even the playground would be decorated for the holidays so it was perfectly safe for the kids to play there at night as long as parents were around to supervise. Naruto had already planned to see a few of his classmates there.
"Let's go! Let's go!" He raced out the door, tugging his father after him.
"Trains move quickly…to their journey's end. Destination…are where we begin again."
Naruto smiled. His eight-year-old self had anticipated that Christmas Eve would be special like all of those prior. However, he had no idea just how different it would be.
Naruto had no sooner stepped into the darkening park when his vision was obstructed by flying green hair and tiny lavender-clothed arms. The impact was enough to send him crashing toward the cold ground.
"Ow!" He glared at the green-haired bundle. "Riaru! That hurt!"
The little girl sat up, her vibrant blue eyes growing large with guilt. "S-sorry Naruto. I guess I was just excited is all." She stood up and helped him to his feet. Her green hair spilled out of the puffy cotton hat she was wearing. "Where are your Mommy and Daddy?"
"Over there." Naruto waved one small arm in the direction behind him where Minato and Kushina could be seen walking slowly toward them. "They're bein' a bunch of slowpokes."
"Ooooh." Riaru smiled and waved at the approaching couple. "Hi Mr. and Mrs. Namikazeeee!! Iruka-otousan's waiting by the fountain!!" Before they could acknowledge her, she grabbed onto Naruto's mitten-covered hand. "C'mon Naru, let's go to the playground! Everybody else is already there!"
Naruto didn't waste time following Riaru to the playground. If anything, he reversed their positions and was now the one dragging her to the place.
When they reached the playground, they could see other kids giggling and crawling over the jungle gym and the merry-go-round. Some were going down the slide or playing tag on the grassy knoll next to the gym. The younger kids were fooling around with the mini-sandbox and the hopscotch drawings.
Riaru ran on ahead to greet some of her other friends but Naruto stopped to stare at the playground's decorations. Golden lights were strung around and around the bark of the trees, some even hanging from the branches. The lampposts had garlands wrapped around them complete with poinsettias and tiny cranberries. He wasn't one to usually admire flashy stuff but he had to admit it was all pretty to look at.
That's when he saw the little boy sitting on the swing near the back of the playground. He was slowly rocking the swing back and forth, his feet only just reaching the ground. A pale yellow scarf fluttered around his neck as he rocked.
An older girl, a…teenager if that's what she was called, was whispering to him quietly. She, like the boy, was bundled up for the cold although her white coat resembled a marshmallow puff beside his oversized blue jacket.
The girl started and looked over her shoulder. Naruto followed her gaze and saw a slightly older teenager with long black hair and matching eyes. He was gesturing toward the growing crowd of people near the enormous tree used for the ceremony.
The girl, Cassandra, nodded once and whispered something inaudible to the boy on the swing. She handed him a candy cane before standing up and making her way over to the older guy.
Seeing as how nobody was paying attention to the kid on the swing, he decided to talk to him. "Hi!" He sat down next to the boy on the other swing. "I'm Naruto!"
The boy raised his head and looked at him with confused black eyes.
"Yeah I'm talking to you," said Naruto with a small laugh. "Ne…" He poked the boy. "What's your name? Huh? Huh?"
The boy scowled and slapped Naruto's poking finger away from him. "Don't do that," he said in a voice deeper than normal for a child.
Naruto pouted. "Well you weren't answering," he said impatiently. One hand drifted down the chain link connecting his seat to the metal bar above them. He could feel the cold seeping into his mittens. "So what's your name?"
The boy squirmed uncomfortably on his seat. The sounds of children laughing continued around them, but Naruto barely noticed. He kept his large blue eyes trained on his companion.
"Sasuke." The boy looked completely serious. "My name is Sasuke."
"Ships go sailing far across the sea. Trust in starlight…to get where they need to be."
The day Naruto met Sasuke was the first and only day he had missed the tree-lighting ceremony with his parents. He'd spent the entire twenty minutes talking to Sasuke (mostly doing the talking) about everything under the moon. He missed the glowing lights and the shining star and the music, but replaced them with stories about Sasuke's workaholic father and gentle mother, Sasuke's brother Itachi, and Itachi's peculiar friend-but-not-girlfriend Cassandra. He didn't know it then at the age of eight (when he was complaining about missing the ceremony), but by now he knew he wouldn't have traded them for anything.
Because seeing Sasuke at the ceremony now became a tradition of its own.
"Stop whining Naruto," scolded Kushina gently. "The tree will still be around next year. You can watch it be lit then."
"But I wanted to see it toda-ay."
Kushina sighed, sending a bit of frosty breath into the air. "It was kind of your fault you spent so much time at the playground that you missed it. Riaru and the others were calling for you to come with them. Didn't you hear them?"
Minato smiled and leaned down to ruffle his son's spiky blond locks. "Don't worry about it. At least you made a new friend right? That's something that you don't do every year on Christmas Eve."
"I guess," Naruto mumbled, reaching up to wipe his nose with his jacket sleeve. He looked up at the sky, being able to faintly pick out swirling clouds. "Ne, you think it'll snow?" he asked hopefully.
Kushina rubbed her arms. "Maybe." Minato settled an arm around her shoulders and she smiled up at him. "That'd be nice. A white Christmas."
Naruto turned around, expecting Riaru or his friends Kiba and Shikamaru. But instead, he found Sasuke standing there.
Sasuke stared at the ground, a frown working its way through his eyebrows. Then he shoved the candy cane Cassandra had given him into Naruto's surprised hands. "Merry…Christmas. It was…fun…talking to you." He frowned again. "I didn't mean to make you miss the ceremony but…but…ugh."
Naruto could hear him mumbling inaudibly how stupid he was sounding. Heh, Sasuke's funny. He grabbed Sasuke's gloved hand with his own mitten-covered one. Sasuke blinked and looked up in shock.
"I had fun too," he said sincerely. He tugged on Sasuke's hand. "So…maybe I'll see you next year ne?"
Sasuke stared at him before hastily pulling his hand away. A small flush appeared on his pale cheeks. Naruto could have laughed again but that might have been rude.
The word ended on a hopeful note.
In answer, Naruto took Sasuke's hand again. He squeezed it.
"Promise. Merry Christmas."
He and Sasuke rarely saw each other during their years of growing up mostly because Sasuke attended a different school. Later, even when they ended up in the same high school, they only acknowledged each other as acquaintances.
Yet every year they would meet again on Christmas Eve…always by the same swing set on their first encounter. And it didn't matter how much they changed as they got older. Naruto became even more energetic but less of a whiner. Sasuke became more stoic and adopted a penchant for brooding. It didn't matter because they would always return to that same swing set, reliving childhood memories.
Naruto grinned and returned his attention to the choir singing on the platform. Sasuke had not yet seen him today, but their meeting could wait.
"Believe in what your heart is saying. Hear the melody that's playing. There's no time to waste. There's so much to celebrate. Believe in what you feel inside and give your dreams the wings to fly."
This time, everyone in the choir sang out the final part of the chorus. Sakura's piano-playing grew louder at the climax.
"You have everything you need…if you just believe! If you just believe! If you just believe!" the choir sang. "Just believe. Just believe…"
Kabuto lowered his hands and the audience cheered loudly, some even standing up. The choir bowed low before Neji nudged Hinata to the front once more. The cheering grew louder as she bowed again, her pale face pink but smiling. Sakura and the other musicians stood up afterwards to even louder applause.
Naruto sighed happily and stood up. "I'll see you near the fountain for the ceremony," he whispered to his parents before elbowing his way through the moving crowd toward that familiar head of black hair. "Oi Sasuke!" he called.
The young man jerked around wildly at the mention of his name. The couple with him also turned around though a lot less erratically than he did.
Sasuke's face softened. "Naruto."
The blond moved around a few more people to get to him. "Did you forget or something?" He smiled, showing bright teeth. I haven't seen you since winter break started.
"No. I haven't."
"So you're Naruto," said the woman standing next to Sasuke. Her dark blue eyes rested on his face. "Sasuke's told us a bit about you."
Though they had never spoken to each other, Naruto recognized her immediately. "He's told me about you too. You're Cassandra right? Itachi's friend-but-not-girlfriend."
"Right," she replied with a small smirk. "I'm more of his fiancée-but-not-girlfriend now. I don't think Sasuke told you that."
HUH? Naruto glanced at Sasuke who rolled his eyes.
Itachi, however, nodded. "That's correct." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Shouldn't we be going? I think these two have an appointment they have to keep." He smirked knowingly at his little brother who frowned.
"Okay," said Cassandra. She tossed a warm grin in Naruto's direction. "It was nice meeting you Naruto. Have a Merry Christmas."
"So how has school been going for you?" Naruto asked his friend as they took their seats across from the swing set. By now, the seats would no longer accommodate them.
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "We go to the same school now moron. You should know what it's like."
"Well sorry. Just tryin' to make a little conversation." Naruto snorted, sending a puff of cold air out as he did. "So, your brother's getting married?" Sasuke nodded. "I thought you said he didn't like her."
"He doesn't…or does." Sasuke shook his head. "I don't know. Regardless, he's going to marry Cassandra anyway." He gave Naruto a sidelong glance. "My parents don't mind. They just fit I suppose."
They just fit. Naruto looked up at the darkened sky. A tiny snowflake drifted down and landed on his gloved palm. "Like us?"
"Ye—no!" Sasuke coughed and hit Naruto over the shoulder with the back of his gloved hand. "Don't say such stupid things!"
"Geez. I was only comparing."
They sat in silence, listening to the wind whistling through the trees. By now, the temperature had begun to drop by several degrees. Even more people were crowding near each other for warmth.
"Winter snow is falling down…children laughing all around. Lights are turning on like a fairy tale come true." Sakura sang as she pressed against the keys of the electric piano, a soothing lullaby-like melody flowing from her fingers. She was sitting near the giant tree, people huddled around her or sitting by the fountain. "Sitting by the fire we made. You're the answer when I prayed I would find someone. And baby, I found you."
Sasuke chuckled to himself. "Figures. Sakura would choose a time like this as an excuse to sing a mushy love song."
Naruto laughed. "Well the crowd seems to like it." He jerked his head in the direction of the audience the pinkette was gaining around her. "At least she's enjoying herself…" Even if the song kinda hits closer to home than most.
"And all I want is to hold you forever," Sakura sang. "All I need is you more every day. You saved my heart from being broken apart. You gave your love away and I'm thankful every day…" She looked up, green eyes shining. "…for the gift."
As soon as she began the next notes on the piano, the lights circling the tree began to light up, traveling around and around the leaves. Everybody began to cheer loudly, almost drowning out Sakura's playing. Naruto got to his feet and tugged on Sasuke's arm to get his friend to stand up as well. The man, not anticipating it, slipped on the pavement. Naruto caught him by his upper arms.
"You okay Sasuke?"
Sasuke bit his lip, looking distinctively ruffled. "I…I guess so." He straightened up, face slightly pink with embarrassment. He was not known for stumbling.
Naruto figured that his friend was expecting him to let go already but he didn't. It felt…nice to have Sasuke tumbling into his arms, all of his icy armor broken down and set aside. It was like that when Sasuke first tumbled into his life all of those Christmases ago.
"Naruto. You can let me go now."
"Naruto." Sasuke was beginning to sound agitated.
"Heh heh, sorry." Naruto released him and stepped back. He scratched his head, Sakura's voice drifting into his ears. More snow was beginning to fall gently from the dark clouds.
"And all I want is to hold you forever. All I need is you more every day. You saved my heart from being broken apart. You gave your love away and I'm thankful every day…for the gift."
He smiled widely. "We should go. The lights are up and everybody's watching."
Sasuke frowned at him. "I don't feel like watching the lights come on Naruto. I could do that at home."
"Oh c'mon Sasuke. Light-en up," said Naruto with a cheeky grin. It was a bad pun and he knew it.
Sasuke glared at him. "Ha…ha," he said.
Naruto ignored the fake laughter and proceeded to tug Sasuke over toward the tree. By now, the tiny lights and sparkling garlands of holly and ivy were all lit, making the tree seem on fire. On the top of the tree, a shining star sent rays down across the park.
Little kids were cheering as snow fell onto them. Some were catching the tiny droplets of white powder-like water with their tongues. Others were making snow balls and throwing them at their parents, who were only too happy to retaliate. Snow began to form around the playground and walls of the fence in drifts.
"It's nice isn't it?" Naruto spoke up. "A white Christmas. That's something new for this year's tradition."
Sasuke looked solemn. "Yeah. But I don't think it matters. Traditions can change."
At the wistful sound, Naruto glanced at him. The yellow scarf he was wearing was longer and less bright than the one from long ago, but it was still there. Stable…just like most traditions. He licked his chapped lips, swallowing.
"You mean it Sasuke?"
Sasuke's dark eyes met his. "…yes."
"Hm." Naruto watched the falling snow land in Sasuke's black hair. The white clumps of powder were clinging to his damp locks. He looked up again and suddenly smirked. "Then I guess with the white Christmas…you won't mind if I add something to this tradition would you?"
Sasuke frowned. "What are you talking about?"
In answer, Naruto reached out and tugged him closer. Then he pointed upward. Sasuke followed the finger up toward the archway separating the entrance to the playground from the fountain. Then his eyes widened.
Hanging from the side of the arch was a tiny sprig of mistletoe.
"You're not serious."
Naruto grinned widely and he moved forward until his wintry breath brushed over Sasuke's mouth. "Just go with it," he whispered before pressing his lips against Sasuke's. The snow fell from above, swirling around and around them as they relaxed into it…probably expecting something like this to happen for years.
"You gave your love away. I just can't find the words to say. And I'm thankful every day…for the gift."
I think I'm going to like this tradition.
Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!