Sakura Trees
By: Koorino Megumi

This drabble is dedicated to Ginger Ninja, for inspiring me to write it! It relates to recent manga events (in about the 120s; I have read through 138), but it has no explicit spoilers. Enjoy!

She was sitting under a tree when he found her, beautiful pinkish blossoms raining down all around her. She was perfectly still, with her knees off to the side of her body and one hand resting on top of them, as she stared out at the field and all of the sakura trees. They must have been in bloom for several days already because every single one was quickly dropping more and more flowers to the ground.

He didn't say anything at first as he came up behind her. Uncertain, he watched her for a few moments as she stared. He didn't think she'd ever looked as beautiful as she did right now with flower petals raining down around her and settling in her hair. But finally he shook himself from his trance and forced his legs to move until he sat down beside her.

She didn't notice him until then, and even when she did, she turned very slowly. It seemed the flowers had been holding her just as entranced as the image of her amongst them had entranced him. He gave her a little smile, and she gave him one back. They were the same smile, really--full of warmth but also very forced. She went back to looking at the flowers.

He pulled his eyes from her, looking out at the field as well. But he couldn't help glancing back, once, twice, three times. He cleared his throat, knowing he should say something before he made her feel as awkward as he currently did. "They're very pretty...aren't they?" he asked.

"But isn't it so sad?"

The words were so soft that they were nearly swallowed by the breeze. He blinked, wondering if he'd heard her correctly. "What's sad?"

"The sakura," she replied, her voice somewhat thick from her emotions. "They're all crying."

He frowned, looking out at the rain of petals and seeing the storm in them that she saw. He tried to think of something to say to lift her spirits but came up with nothing.

"They're so sad," she continued, her eyes locked on the flowers again as well, following the path of one petal as it fell from the tree to the ground. "I feel like...someone has left them. Someone very important. And they won't stop crying until they don't have any tears left."

He looked at her as she spoke these words, and he was not at all surprised to see the tears welling up in her eyes. They quickly began to fall, creating tracks that allowed a sakura petal to stick to her face. He brushed it away gently. "Maybe that is how they feel...but I always thought it was something else."

She gave him a curious look at this, lifting one of her own hands to wipe at her tear-stained cheeks. "Really?"

He nodded. "I always thought they were crying because they're happy."

She smiled faintly, although the expression was obviously forced. "You don't have to say that to make me feel better."

He shook his head. "No, really! I always thought, 'Look at the sakura. They get to live their lives just the way they want to, and even though you can only see their true selves for a moment, that moment always comes back. Every year! How happy they must be, to share those moments with people who care about them." He was bright red by the end, and he couldn't hold her gaze, but he forced the whole story to come tumbling out.

And, to his surprise, she laughed. It was a small laugh, choked with tears, but a laugh all the same. His eyes widened as he turned back to her. "Thank you," she whispered. And she reached down, scooping up a handful of petals, and then held them out to him. "Here."

He took the blossoms obediently, reddening even further at the feeling of her smooth hand against his as she passed them to him. The blossoms had almost filled the cup of her two small hands, but he could have held them in one palm instead of two if he'd wanted to.

"There." She smiled. "Now these petals really are happy. Because they got to be close to someone they love."

He could hear the sadness hiding just behind her words, but he nodded all the same. And then he stood and thrust his hands outward, scattering the petals to the wind. She gasped at his sudden movement, but he looked back down at her with a smile of his own. "This is better," he stated.

"Why?" she asked, watching the flowers drift away and mix amongst the other falling petals.

"Because now they get to search for whatever person they love the most," he replied. "Isn't that an even happier thing to do?"

Her eyes welled up with fresh tears at those words, and he sat back down, putting an arm around her shoulders and letting her cry for as long as she wanted.

And all around them, the sakura continued to fall.