Done for the Naruto100 drabble community. No, this isn't really a drabble. Hee.

I might actually continue and expand on this, but this was an idea that had been brewing in my mind for a while. This was self-proofed, so, if there's some spelling/grammar mistakes, I apologize profusely. I don't tend to get a beta for stuff I post to drabble communities (even when they expand the word count).

And, oh yes, not happy fuzzy story either. Hee.


Despite the numbing pain from the middle of the shin down, the cold of the snow around her could still be felt. It seeped in through her boots, through the layers of cloth that was meant to keep her warm, and sent pin pricks of pain through what was supposed to be numb skin.

But things never worked out the way they were supposed to.

The wind continued to pick up, sending her hair whipping through the air and causing it to dance amongst the streams of snow. It hurt her scalp, and she could feel ice in the gusts of air that battered against one side. She wasn't sure if the wetness she felt running down the surface of her cheek was melted ice, or something different.

She couldn't bring herself to care.

That was how it was. The body registered the pain of the freezing cold around her. It registered the fact that standing in a foot of snow was dangerous to the feet, the fact that she didn't cover her hands was posing a danger to her fingers. Even her earlobes, and parts of her face likely were already that threatening shade of numbing purple. She was not oblivious to the tingling, strangely burning pain that the threatened parts of her body was displaying. But she could not simply summon up the will in her heart, her mind, or if one wanted to be whimsical, her soul, to care about it.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The monument glinted at her, the way the snow and wind caused the obsidian to glisten mocked her somehow, and she narrowed her eyes slightly. They teach the medical jutsus to help save lives. Her mouth twisted slightly, and she felt warmth slide down her cheek, and the salty taste of her tears lingered on her lips, even after it froze.

Then why couldn't I save you?

Somehow, she forced her legs to work, and ignoring the way they protested considering their nearly frozen state, she soon found herself curled up against the stone. It somehow managed to be a strange source of warmth, and she rested her head against it. Her fingers lifted, and out of habit, they traced the etchings of a name. She was certain that its overly worn edges were her doing. No one came here as much as she did, she was certain of it.

"You weren't supposed to leave me." She was barely aware of speaking the words, but her eyes followed how her hot breath immediately froze before her. It wasn't fair. They should never have left in the first place. Almost as much of a habit for the first name, her fingers travelled roughly five names up, pausing at one. She traced the character, and she almost punched the monument when she made out "sa". Instead she went to the name above it. It, too, was worn heavily, like the name she was just carressing. But this was from two sets of fingers, not one. Of course... there'd only be the one now...


She barely heard her name. She debated whether or not she wanted to acknowledge it. Why me? Why did I have to be the one left behind? Again, her fingers drifted down to the most recent entry, though it was decidedly more worn than that of her long-buried teammate. You were always leaving me behind. No matter now much I pleaded with you, you left me. Even then... even when I was willing to make a deal with the God of Death himself to keep you here, trying with everything I had to save you, you just gave me that stupid, smug grin, and told me not to worry.

And then you left me.

"C'mon, Ino, my balls are freezing off!" The voice was closer this time, and even if she was unsure of who it was before, the slight growl in the statement confirmed the identity. "I already gotta worry about sterilization with th' way you keep kicking me."

She couldn't even bring herself to smile. She reacted with only a slight grunt, not even having the strength to insult the canine ninja properly. She let out a sigh when he walked over and picked her up. Unconsciously, she snuggled against the warmth of her friend, who seemed to take it upon himself to see that she didn't do something stupid... like stand out in the middle of a freak blizzard and freeze to death. She listened to the steady drum of his heartbeat, trying to drown herself in the comforting rhythm, though she did hear some comment about needing to take her to the Hokage, again, to make sure she wasn't in any danger other than frostbitten body parts. She didn't know why he decided to play caretaker to her, though. Maybe it was because he just understood her on some level. Underneath her current frame of mind, as dark as it was, she was thankful that the usual "prick-waving" (as it was referred to) was put aside for the time being.

"Man, what would you do without me?" she heard him ask. She angled her head over his shoulder to watch the retreating image of the monument. Her eyes focused on that one name again. Strange how she had memorized it's location to the point she could pick it out so easily, even through all of this snow.

Nara Shikamaru

She sighed and closed her eyes, nuzzling into Kiba's shoulder, trying to get warm despite her conscious desire to just curl up and freeze right there. "I don't know... freeze to death?" she murmured. The chuckle he gave felt nice, but not nice enough to tempt her to join him in the levity.

It was going to be a long cold winter.