Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. Me no own. You no sue.
A/N: Welcome to Soporific's second attempt at writing Naruto fanfiction. This particular piece was a royal pain in the butt to write, but 'tis all good. I'm fairly satisfied with it. It is, however, my first time playing around with these characters, and really, I do try hard to not get them OOC. But if they are, tell me, and kindly suggest how I could improve next time. Constructive criticism make my day. :)
With that said, read on. It takes place after Sasuke gets back (if he ever does), and is basically from his perspective. Focuses on him and Team 7, and is vaguely SasuSaku, if you perceive it to be that way.
He watches the snow falling slowly to the ground, like angels' feathers floating gently onto earth. He sits up stiffly on the hard, dead patch of land, his back aligned with the cold bark of a tree. The canopy above his head does nothing to protect him from the wrath of the white blossoms, and as the temperature drops, the cold seeps into his every pore, his clothing hardly sufficient to ward it off. However, he doesn't seem to be bothered by the lack of warmth, as he seems to be lost in his own world, appearing calm and at peace.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Inside, he is troubled, restless, and confused. Question after question skims through his mind, none of them answered, all of them asking, why, why, why? His senses tune out the rest of the world, his eyes slightly glazed as they incessantly stare into the endless horizon. Surrounding him, the blueness of the sky is painted red by the sun, its colours clashing magnificently to create a deep purple, its smooth strokes brushing a subtle tinge of yellow and pink at the edges of the painting. But he does not notice; he never does.
He does not see the sunset, the sky, the colours. He does not see the beauty of the snow, the purity of the white, only the cold of winter. And perhaps it is why he sits here now, utterly bewildered why he is where he is, why they did what they did, and why, why, why he let them.
In the distance, he sees a couple of young children as they trudge through the snow. They had been happy moments ago, playing with it, admiring its beauty and making snow angels, but now he hears them cursing the cold, cursing the snow, cursing winter. Yet, winter does not cease its wrath, as the sleet that covers the ground grows thicker and thicker, the temperature colder and colder. Silently, he relates. Then, before he realises, the children are gone, disappearing into the village, where all is good and warm.
"What are you doing?"
Her voice is almost unheard, but his ears are trained to pick up her sound under any circumstances. He knows she would sooner or later show up, yet he only graces her presence with a hostile glare. Despite his greeting, she sits down next to him, close enough to know she is sitting with him, but far enough for him to not be uncomfortable.
He knows she does not expect an answer, and he fulfils her expectations. They sit in silence, not comfortable, not awkward, just serene, solemn and…silent. He contemplates yet again, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees her – relaxed and at ease, her form leaning against another tree casually, her eyes closed in silent meditation. For a moment, he watches her.
He watches the way she breathes softly, the peaceful rise and fall of her chest as she relaxed. He watches her face, following each curve and line, and for the first time ever, he notices her smile. It isn't quite like the smile she used to give him years ago before he left; it isn't conspicuous, noticeable or in any way clear – hell, he isn't even sure if it is real. But most of all, he isn't sure if it is directed at him. Still, he notes the way the corner of her lips tug upwards very, very slightly into an almost non-existent curve. He wonders again.
She is the epitome of subtlety, he decides, ever since he saw her again after all those years. She had never quite approached him blatantly, not like his other teammate, whose loudness and frankness never seem to ceased to exist. No, she is more delicate than that, he realises, and now he questions why. Is it because of him…? Perhaps.
He studies her again, how her short pink mane frames her softly, how a few strands of her bangs on her face added that look of…grace. He is reluctant to call her that, as she was anything but graceful when he left her, but perhaps he should reconsider. Time changes people after all – it most certainly changed him.
Looking at her yet again, he wonders if he still knows this person sitting only a few metres away from him. His heart is filled with a sense of loss each time he sees her and his other teammate together. Oh, they welcomed him – albeit after quite a beating the first time – but it always feels like there is something, something missing that he can't quite put his finger on. All those years…had he really missed so much?
The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as a small breeze blew. He involuntarily shivered. His thoughts drifts back to the weather, the season – winter.
They say he is winter; cold, harsh, unforgiving; sweeping over spring, summer and autumn. Naturally, if he is winter, they say she is summer.
But he thinks otherwise. He thinks she is spring, and the spring does not come from only her name; to him, she is spring from the way she smiles, the way she cries, and the way she laughs. She is spring because she comes each year after winter without fail, melting the snow and bringing the sun and warmth. She is spring in the way she brings back the greenness of the trees and inspires the blooming of the flowers. Her moods are also unpredictable, he thinks, like the spring showers. However, it is her beauty that dominates the tears in the end. To him, she is spring, and spring is her.
If he were to think about it, he would say that Naruto would have to be summer. He is vibrant like the colours of the trees and flowers in summer, and everything about him exudes an almost violent exuberance, like the sun in summer. Naruto is…passionate, that much he can say; passionate, fervent, like the summer heat. Naruto is also dangerous, he decides, beating down upon you like the heatwaves of summer if you get him too fired up.
So he supposes that Kakashi would be autumn. He is forever falling away, always on the verge of losing everything, but never quite there. He seems to be always hanging by a thread, but then again, he supposes within that itself lies autumn's beauty; the way he clings onto life, never letting go. The colours of autumn are yellow, orange, red and brown; soft, pallid colours that do not shout out, unlike summer's vividness. Yet it is because of this he finds autumn comforting, soothing; his presence not glaring, but Sasuke knows that he is always there.
He remembers he was autumn once, teetering on the edge of life. They had always held his hands though, so that he never fell. But in the end, it wasn't them who let go; it was him. He knew they desperately grasped for him as he fell, but he refused their outstretched hands. And so he fell. He fell into winter.
He had always wondered why winter is a season; it is such an odd one out. Spring, summer and autumn are beautiful, in their own respect, but winter is so…cold. Winter is cruel and unforgiving, killing the life spring has brought, dousing the warmth summer has set, and cutting the last threads of autumn's spirit. Despite all this, winter is a season. And spring, summer and autumn welcomed him.
It had felt right once, he admits now, it had felt so right. Even though he was winter, even though he was cold and cruel, it had felt right because they accepted him. And somehow…somehow, winter became a part of the cycle.
But then the cycle stopped. The bonds that held them so closely together broke, and all because of one; winter. He reflects now, and reluctant though he is to admit it, it had been selfish. Still is. He reflects on how the collapse of winter could bring such extremities to spring, summer and autumn. He marvelled really. He didn't think that the fall of one could bring down three others. But then again, that was exactly the problem; he didn't think.
So now he thinks, because even though thinking hurts, he needed to make up for all those times that he didn't. He thinks about her, about him, about them. He let go once, are they willing to hold his hand again?
The silence stretches. He waits for her to break it, but surprisingly, it is he who shatters it first.
"I hate winter."
He expects her to be taken aback, but she does not miss a beat. "Why?"
"It's cold," he answers simply.
"Yes, it is. But I don't hate it."
"Because it's beautiful."
He is reminded cruelly of the young children in the snow. "That's what they all say in the beginning."
"Oh, but it's true. And it's not the beginning anymore, is it?"
He does not know what she is saying. "So is it the end then?"
"Oh, no. The end is still so far away."
The conversation stops there. He contemplates on what she said.
"What do you see in winter?" he murmured quietly.
"I told you, it's beautiful."
"It's cold. How can it be beautiful?"
"Don't you see?"
"The coldness is what makes winter beautiful."
She perplexes him. He turns around to look at her, eyebrows furrowed. "How?"
"Well…I don't know. I mean, I do, but I don't know how to explain it."
"It's like… Winter brings people together."
He raises one perfect eyebrow, silently inquiring her to go on.
"When it's cold outside, people come together inside."
He remembers the children again. "Hn."
She isn't finished. "And it's warm inside. And because it's so cold outside, people start to appreciate what's inside. They start appreciating each other. Don't you see? Amongst the cold, the people get together. Winter brings them together."
"But it's still cold."
"The outside doesn't matter, does it? It's the inside that counts."
Her emerald gaze locks onto his. "And it's warm inside." A small smile plays on her lips.
He forces down the upward tugging of his own lips. "People still hate winter."
She looks at him. "Do they?"
"Yes. Winter is ugly to them, but spring, summer and autumn are beautiful."
She sighs again. "You're delving into it too much."
She looks at him again. "Sasuke-kun, if you scrutinise everything too hard, you'd hate the world. Nothing is perfect, even a perfectionist like me knows that."
"You're missing the point."
She sighs. "Let me put it this way. You say people think that spring is beautiful."
"But what's so beautiful about spring?"
He raises an eyebrow at her question. "Spring brings life. Spring is when the flowers bloom again, when the snow melts, when the sun starts to shine-"
"Exactly," she interrupted abruptly. "Spring is when the flowers bloom again; again, because there were no flowers in winter. Spring is when the snow melts; because there was too much snow in winter. Spring is when the sun starts to shine; because it had been sleeping all through winter."
He is silent.
"Don't you see? If we had no winter, then spring would not be so pleasant."
He looks at her sharply.
"There is nothing remotely beautiful about spring, Sasuke-kun," she whispers softly. "It's not all you think it is."
He gazes intensely into her eyes. "But it is."
Her eyes light up for one second. "Oh?"
"Because," he says, the words coming out of his mouth as he finally realises why, "because, in the end, no matter how cold winter is, it always looks forward to spring to bloom after it."
She pauses. Then…she laughs. Her laughter is music to his ears, cheesy as it may sound, but he had longed to hear that laughter ever since he got back. Now he is assured.
She stands up, brushing the non-existent dirt off her clothes. She walks up to him, and stands in front of him. He looks up at her, wondering what she is up to. Then he hears a voice from the distance.
He looks past her to see Naruto and Kakashi standing in the distance; Naruto waving his arms frantically, a foxy grin on his face, and Kakashi standing still, the ever-so-present orange book in his hand.
Naruto sees him, and does not waste a second to greet him. "Oi, teme! Hurry up!"
He looks at Sakura, then at Kakashi, who raised one hand in greeting.
"Don't keep us waiting!" Naruto's voice blares in his ears again.
He looks back at Sakura, who was also grinning. She stretches her hand out towards him, offering to pull him up. He eyes her hand warily, thinking that nothing about her is what it seemed to be. She is always ambiguous, and even he knows her outstretched hand meant a lot more than just that. But it is without thinking that he looks at her, then at her hand again, before finally taking her hand and getting to his feet too.
She leads him to Naruto and Kakashi, still holding his hand, and this time, he does not let go. He is still somewhat hesitant, but she stops halfway and turns around.
He looks at her, and she smiles. She smiles the smile she used to smile long ago; she smiles for him. And he feels it, he feels the warmth inside; he feels the warmth in winter. She looks at him, content, and he looks at her, thankful. No words were exchanged – none that were spoken anyway. So then he smiles too, because she understands, and that is enough.
A/N: Well? Hope you got all those vague symbolism I wrote in there, especially the Kakashi part. If you don't get it, say so, and I'll gladly elaborate. I am currently captivated by symbolism and metaphors, and felt the need to write something like that. XD So, tell me what you think. Review! It can be your good deed for today. :P