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 anywhere you wish before Sasuke leaves the village. Mild SasuNaru if you look hard enough.
This is a fic requested by summershine, who was the 100th reviewer for my fic Andante, Allegro, Al Fine! She chose this idea- my apologies for it taking so long as well!
"And when your fears subside,
And shadows still remain,
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame.
So never mind the darkness,
We still can find a way,
'Cause nothing lasts forever,
Even cold November rain."
By Nanaki Lioness
Sasuke wrapped his knee-length black raincoat around his thin body tightly, feeling the bitter winds trying to penetrate the thick wool as he did so. He shivered involuntarily, looking skyward to the clouded heavens and catching an eyeful of rain for his trouble. It always rained when he made his yearly visit to the city cemetery- he liked to think it was Fate scorning him, but in actuality, it had more to do with his yearly visit falling in November.
He looked up at the black iron gates in front of him, his body refusing to go any further. He mentally berated himself, shaking his head with mild disgust at his own lack of will- he did this every year. His mind would enter a battle with itself- go in, or don't go in? He could stand there for hours and listen to his emotions fight with his ideas for self-preservation, feeling like a spectator to his own thoughts.
Sasuke decided to skip it this year. Every year his will would falter and he'd have wasted a journey coming out. He'd have disappointed himself once again, and this year, he wanted to break the habit.
He pushed the gate open, wincing as it creaked heavily on its hinges. He briefly wondered if anybody had ever thought to oil it, but then again- this was a cemetery. In his mind, a creaking gate wasn't out of place.
He walked swiftly through the bleak graveyard, eyes straying from side to side as he walked down the graveled path. Headstones of all shapes, sizes and states of repairs lay either side of him- line after line of them all facing in one direction, uniform and standing to attention as though they were facing a speaker in a hall.
He kicked some dying roses off the pavement as he walked, shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his coat. His raven hair was soaked from the downpour above- his bangs sticking to his forehead and dripping raindrops into his eyes. They were beginning to sting, so he lifted a cold hand and brushed the fringe aside, blinking the rain from his eyes.
He realised with a start that he didn't actually know where he was headed, and he stopped in the middle of the path. He hadn't gone to the funeral, and he'd never had the nerve to visit. He mentally scolded himself- these were his parents! The people who had raised him and loved him unconditionally were here and alone.
Not quite alone, his mind reasoned as he broke into a jog, suddenly frantic with desire to find them. They had their neighbours- the earthworms and the resident rats. The thought made him shudder as he ran, choking on a sob as gasped for air. His thoughts were morbid, but he couldn't stop them coming.
He stopped in his tracks, almost sliding over on the sodden muddy pathway. He had expected to be alone- the cemetery wasn't the most pleasant place to be, let alone in the rain.
Yet, it didn't seem to be so- Naruto was sitting on his knees, oblivious to the rain and soaking floor, to Sasuke's left. The marker in front of him bore the name of the villager's Forth Hokage. Sasuke wasn't surprised- Naruto had made no secret of his gratitude to the Hokage for saving the village from the very Kyuubi sealed within him.
"Naruto," he answered, mentally berating his voice for sounding so weak.
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?"
Naruto scowled at him, getting up and brushing at his wet knees distractedly. "Saying thank you."
He didn't elaborate, and Sasuke didn't request him to do so.
"I don't need to ask why you're here, I guess," Naruto said quietly.
"Don't let me keep you waiting."
Despite his words, Sasuke still didn't move. Naruto eyed him curiously.
"Why are you still staring at me?"
"Because I don't know where they are."
Naruto had to strain to hear what was said, and he still didn't think he had heard correctly.
"Did you say you don't know-"
"Yes," Sasuke cut in quickly, his tone of voice making it very clear he didn't need any ridicule or questions.
"Then I'll show you."
Sasuke followed wordlessly and without thanks, part of him wondering why Naruto knew such a thing. The answer became clear, however, when they approached a sign towards the back of the cemetery bearing his Uchiha symbol on it. It seemed the Uchiha Estate wasn't the only 'Uchiha-only' area of Konoha.
Naruto stopped at the edge of the gate also bearing the Uchiha fan, gesturing to Sasuke behind him without turning around.
"I'd guess they'd be there somewhere."
Sasuke still didn't respond, stepping past Naruto silently and pushing the metal gate open. It didn't creak, unlike the gate to the main part of the cemetery. He made to close it behind him, but it felt pointless- there were gaps between the bars. Instead, he left it as it was, and took a few steps forward.
The pavement was weaved with weeds and grass- clearly no-one took care of this area of the cemetery. Sasuke made a mental note to come and do it himself when the weather and choice of day were better.
He could sense Naruto was still standing awkwardly behind him.
"Aren't you going?" He prompted sharply.
Sasuke's eyes widened slightly. He hadn't been expecting such an answer.
"That wasn't a request," he pushed.
"I don't care."
Sasuke gritted his teeth, fighting the urge to turn around and knock his friend unconscious. "So you're just going to stand there?"
"Yup. What are you going to do about it?"
Sasuke turned, one hand on his hip, eyes narrowed in mild anger. "Don't tempt me, Naruto, because I'm sure it won't be pleasant."
Naruto shrugged. "You're all talk. You're here because you're grieving. I doubt you're in the mood for a fight."
Sasuke watched him, cheeks slightly reddened at Naruto's spot-on assumption.
"I know what today is," Naruto continued. "I know why you're here. I'm surprised that you didn't know about this place, though. Haven't you ever come here before?"
"If I had, I wouldn't have needed you to direct me, would I?" Sasuke snapped.
"I just find that odd," Naruto shrugged. "For someone's whose whole life centers about revenge for these people, I would have expected you to have least visited in the last few years."
Sasuke had never wanted to knock Naruto within an inch of his life so badly before, but he couldn't muster the energy to do so. Instead, he sighed, the hand on his hip dropping to his side in a clenched fist.
"Do you think they hate me for it?" He asked instead, against his better judgment, but unable to stop himself. The guilt he'd felt for his inaction was eating him, and Naruto had just had to bring it to light and make him feel worse.
"Sasuke, they're your family, and you haven't done anything wrong. Of course they don't hate you."
"I didn't go to the funeral. I've never visited."
"So? You love them, don't you?"
Sasuke glared at him in a non-verbal response.
"You don't need to come and cry by the graveside to tell them you love them," Naruto told him. "They'll know."
"Do you believe in a God, Naruto?" Sasuke asked quietly, looking up at the sky. Rain washed down his face, and he made no move to dry it.
He heard steps being taken across the pavement, splashing wetly through puddles, and looked across to see Naruto coming to his side. They stood side by side, looking out across the Uchiha marked gravestones silently for a while.
"I don't know," Naruto eventually answered, the break of silence startling Sasuke. "Do you?"
"I don't know either. You speak like you do."
"Maybe I do, then."
They stayed in silence for a while longer, before Sasuke felt a hand on his shoulder. He almost shook it off as he normally would, but decided against it when he saw the sympathetic look on Naruto's face.
"I'll leave if you want me to. I understand this could be a private thing."
Sasuke thought about that for a moment. If Naruto had asked to come along from the beginning, he would have rejected it without question. But now, when he was right here, Sasuke found no reason to complain about his quiet presence.
"You don't have to."
Naruto gave him a smile, indicating the gate behind them with a nod of his head. "I'll be back there if you need me."
Sasuke gave him a nod in return, turning again to face the depressing sight of his family's final resting places. Most of the trepidation he had felt about making this journey had disappeared, and he owed it all to Naruto.
Not that he'd ever admit that to the blond in question, of course.
He took a couple of small steps forward, steeling himself as he approached the grey, uninviting slab that bared the names of his parents. He wanted to turn around and leave again but he stopped himself. He had Naruto's courage, as well as his support. He had nothing to fear from this overdue, faceless meeting with his family.
Sasuke sunk down to a crouch beside the marker, running a hand across the worn granite softly. He didn't know what to say. Words just would not come to him, but he didn't care.
He was, at least, here, and somehow he just knew that was enough.