Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.

Set near the beginning of the series, a couple of months after Team 7 assignment together, and after the Wave Country arc. A little idea that just wouldn't leave me alone.

Frame

By Nanaki Lioness

It didn't look this cold when I left.

The sun was beginning to set above him, but in October, Sasuke still didn't expect it to be so icy cold just yet with the turn of night. He wrapped his arms around himself, shivering slightly, and thankful that his journey wasn't a long one.

He walked through the streets of a small village near Konoha. It was noisy and bright, with people on stalls yelling their wares at him as he passed, and many slightly seedy looking bars on corners and within shadows. He didn't like it, but part of the reason gone there was because he knew he'd find what he was looking for.

He scanned the stores as he passed them, hoping he would find what he was seeking quickly. He was really starting to feel the cold.

There?

He ducked underneath the gold and red paper strips that covered a nearby doorway, looking around the small shop he had just entered. A lady stood behind the counter, seemingly distracted by some merchandise she was inspecting.

Sasuke ducked underneath a display of wind chimes, setting them off in a bad harmony of clanking and tinkling. The lady looked up at him, and he nodded to her. She nodded back, and carried on with her inspecting.

One of the wind chimes- a large, wooden three-chime design delicately carved as birds, swung dangerously close to his head. He glared at the object and batted it away gently, sidestepping out of harm's way.

Another glance round the shop gave him the answer he needed- this shop didn't hold what he needed. He glanced at the lady behind the counter again, contemplating whether to ask her if she could direct him somewhere that would sell what he desired, but decided not to disturb her.

Leaving quietly, and careful to avoid the wind chimes, he shivered harshly as he felt the cold bite him. He mentally cursed himself for leaving this trip so late.

"Sasuke?"

He closed his eyes and sighed. The other part of the reason he'd left this trip so late, and gone to another town, was to avoid people he might know.

"Kakashi."

Kakashi eyed him suspiciously.

"What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here?"

Kakashi stared. He still wasn't used to the boy's curt and, quite frankly, rude way of ignoring all honorific titles and being to-the-point with his words. He recovered, shrugging and holding up a small bag.

"I came to buy a new book," he answered.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow at him. "That Icha Icha filth, I suppose?"

Kakashi had the decency to ignore the genin's scathing accusation.

"So why are you here, Sasuke? I didn't picture you as the shopping type."

"I'm not."

"Are you sure? If you're not here for the shops, I should hope you're not here for the local bars."

Sasuke sighed, burying his hands deep into his pockets and wishing Kakashi would leave him alone so he could get inside a nice warm shop.

"You look cold," Kakashi noted, realising he wasn't going to get an answer. "I'll buy you a green tea."

It wasn't a question, it was a statement. He indicated for Sasuke to follow him to a nearby tea bar. Sasuke did so, walking briskly as he realized his arms were starting to go numb. In any other circumstance, he'd have turned his sensei down, but… Well, he was damned cold.

They entered the small tea room, Sasuke glad for the blast of hot air that hit him. Kakashi walked to the counter, ordered two green teas to sit in, and walked to a small table in the corner by a heater.

To sit in?

Sasuke shook his head and took the hint, sitting opposite Kakashi and trying to gain some warmth from the heater. It was a little too warm, but Sasuke's numbed limbs didn't complain as he put his feet onto it and held his arms above it.

"I didn't expect it to be so cold in October," he muttered, noticing Kakashi was observing his actions with great interest.

"It'll be an early winter," Kakashi responded with a shrug. "Maybe you should buy a coat."

"I have a coat."

"It's not much good to you right now, is it?"

Whatever Sasuke was going to reply with was lost as the counter attendant brought over their green teas. Kakashi nodded a thank you to him, handing him a note as payment.

Sasuke picked up the teacup, holding his hands around it and savouring the warmth it gave off. He didn't really like green tea- heck, he didn't really like hot drinks at all- but he was quite looking forward to drinking this one.

"I didn't get the chance to commend you for your conduct at the Wave Country," Kakashi stated, picking up his teacup and taking a sip.

Sasuke looked up sharply. Kakashi put the cup down and locked eyes with his pupil.

"It's the first time I've seen you put your teammates first, and as a result, the mission succeeded. I'm impressed."

Sasuke didn't reply, sipping his tea instead and breaking eye contact. He stared at the green plastic table, tracing watermarks where it had been hastily cleaned and left to dry with his gaze.

"Naruto would never admit it to you, of course, but I know he's grateful-"

"It's fine," Sasuke interrupted hurriedly.

Kakashi chuckled to himself. Sasuke eyed him over his tea, unable to read why.

"You've all grown so much already," Kakashi said with a sigh, picking up his teacup again. "Only a couple of months ago, you would never have considered risking your life for anybody, let alone Naruto."

Sasuke looked back down at the table, uncomfortable with the turn the conversation was taking.

"I'm pleased with you three," Kakashi concluded, finishing his cooled tea in one go. He put the cup down and stood up. "Keep up the good work, Sasuke."

He waved goodbye and left the tea shop, leaving Sasuke staring into his half-full teacup and trying to push back the slight blush that threatened his cheeks.

"Almost forgot!" A voice said behind him. Sasuke jumped, flinging some of the tea from his cup across the table.

Kakashi stood behind him, looking a little sheepish.

"I forgot my book," he explained, reaching under the table where he'd left it to retrieve it.

"I see," Sasuke answered shortly, avoiding the older man's gaze. He wasn't sure if he'd managed to still that blush, and he daren't turn his face and find out the hard way if he hadn't.

"Well, I really off this time. Bye, Sasuke."

Sasuke didn't reply, finishing his tea and staring into the bottom of the cup for a while. The teashop was warm, and he didn't want to leave, but he also didn't want to be stuck in a shady town past seven pm. A glance to a clock on the wall confirmed that it was rapidly approaching six thirty, so he reluctantly removed his feet from the heater and exited the teashop.

Icy air whipped round him wickedly, and he shivered violently. Half tempted to give up and go home, he stopped as he noticed a store nearby. He strode quickly across to examine the window display, which confirmed what he was looking for.

A photo frame.

Entering the shop, he nodded to the man behind the counter and made a beeline for the window display.

"How much is this one?" He called to the attendant, who had been watching him.

"Which one?" The man asked. "Hold it up."

"This one," Sasuke said, picking up a small, wooden brown frame. Simple, and the right size. Exactly what he was looking for.

"You're lucky, that's the last one of those. It's beautiful, isn't it? My daughter makes them all by hand. Everything in this shop is made by her, in fact. She's a talented young lady."

"How much?" Sasuke prompted again, noticing the man was staring off into the distance with a wistful look on his face that clearly indicated he was thinking of said daughter.

"Oh, sorry. Bring it over, let me see."

Sasuke did as instructed, handing the frame over. The man looked at it carefully, turning it over in his hands.

"This one is 2,200 yen."

Sasuke inhaled sharply at the slightly steep price, but didn't object. It really was perfect.

"I'll take it."

"Good choice, young master."

The man wrapped the frame in tissue paper and placed it into a small paper bag, taking the money from Sasuke and giving him a huge smile.

"Thank you and good evening."

"Hmm," Sasuke responded, preoccupied with the bag he'd just been handed. "Bye."

He left the shop, clutching the bag close. He didn't notice the cold as he walked through the streets back towards Konoha, opening the bag as he did. Pulling the frame out, he inspected it again.

A slight, small smile tugged at his lips. For once, he let it do so. Waiting for him back at home was the perfect picture for such a perfect frame.

The photo taken by the Academy of himself, Sakura, Naruto and Kakashi.

Admittedly, neither himself nor Naruto looked happy to be in front of a camera- or near each other, in fact, but it symbolized something Sasuke had found that he didn't even realize he'd been looking for.

Of course, he'd never live it down if anybody found out he'd framed it and put it by his bed. He sighed wearily, wrapping the frame back up, putting it back into the bag, and resigning himself to never allow anybody into his house ever again. Just in case.

-.-.-

Author's Note: Not much to say here. I haven't been inspired like this in a while, and it was fun to get out of my system. I can finally go to bed!

I hope you enjoyed!