A/N: Hello, friends and comrades. I wrote this one-shot to fill my time. Have fun. It's very slight AU—same universe, just assuming they don't die.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything relating to the series Naruto except a ninja headband and a few video games. Naruto is the property of Kishimoto-sensei and Shueisha.
Latin: Salvation Through Harmony
"Why do you wear those things by your ears, Zaku-kun?"
He opened one eye lazily, turning over so he didn't face her. Zaku felt her steady gaze beating down on him. Kin waited patiently, smiling the entire time. The six year olds were smarter than they looked, but since they didn't have any parents, they were crueler than kids their own age too. They didn't hurt people for fun, however.
"I don't know, I just do, Kin," he replied nastily. Gingerly touching the side of his face, he was just too lazy to explain to Kin why he wore them. He sighed, feeling bad. "I'm sorry."
"That's okay," the black-haired girl reassured him, putting a hand on his bare shoulder. It was soft and warm, making Zaku blush. He thought of Kin as nothing more than a friend, but at times like this, it made him uncomfortable. "We'll be okay."
Zaku sat up and was surprised that she said something like that. Her onyx eyes were glowing. "Yeah. You're right, we're going to be okay."
Eight years old, and they are approached by Orochimaru.
"Come with me," he says to them. "I'll care for you, more than your parents ever would." Kin is afraid; Zaku is nothing more than eager. Kin is suspicious of this pale, fragile-looking man, yet her friend is trusting. Too trusting, she would say.
"Zaku-nii-san, please…" Kin whispers, tugging on his shirt. Zaku is looking up at Orochimaru. He turns around to glare at the girl.
"Shut up, Kin, this guy is going to take care of us." His voice is cold, harsh. He is being selfish; he does not care what Kin wants or thinks.
Yet, Kin forgives him, as she always has and always will.
Ten years old. She is crying. Warm liquid gushes from his body. It stains her hands and her face; it smells of iron and life. It's like glue on her body; it sticks to her hands.
"Zaku-nii-san, I'm not going to say it…" she mutters, squeezing Zaku's hand. "But…but just…please stay alive!" Kin's free hand wipes away the tears that stream down her face.
He laughs and allows her to hold his hand. "You're a good girl, Kin."
They are eleven. She is recovering from a near death experience. Orochimaru has taught her not to cry, but rather, suppress emotions.
"I don't want to do this anymore, Zaku-nii." She does not think of him as a brother, but more of a comrade. He has hit puberty; he says things that make her red with embarrassment. She begins to doubt some of the things she has done.
"What are you talking about?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. They are sitting under a tree, bandages decorating her chest and left leg. He sits next to her, and stares at Kin with purpose, with understanding, something that she had so long craved from someone.
With him, though, it is sweeter.
It's his twelfth birthday.
"Happy birthday," Kin says in a small voice. Dosu nods in acknowledgement. They are walking down the road in their village.
Zaku turned his head. "Yeah, whatever."
Kin's eyebrows furrow. She is worried about Zaku, because he doesn't care anymore. Power has made him emotionless.
She is in love with him.
She has just turned thirteen.
"Orochimaru wants us to enter the Chuunin Exams in Konohagakure," Dosu tells his teammates, looking at Zaku and avoiding Kin's gaze. It is harder for them to ignore her now.
"I know," they say simultaneously. They steal a short glance at each other before looking away. He tries not to think about her.
I'll get over it, he muses, but he really knows that he won't get over it.
He is in love with her.
"What did you get yourself into, Zaku?" For this one instant, she allows herself emotion, she feelssomething. It left a bitter aftertaste, but while she had it, it was sweet.
There is one large gash on his back. She was taught not to care about her teammates, and yet she rubs the salve on him, allowing Zaku to scratch at her bare knee in protest.
A single tear reminds her of seven years past, when crying was permitted. When they had the opportunity to live a normal life.
"Do you remember, Zaku? When you said that it would be okay?" He's silent for a minute.
"Well, you lied to me."
The next time he sees her, he makes sure no one is looking.
"We're going to die soon, Kin."
"You're not upset?"
She closes her eyes. "I am not upset about the fact that I will die. I'm more concerned about you."
"Because I love you."
Given the circumstances, they could not do anything with each other.
They harmonized, therefore achieved Concordia salus.
Salvation through harmony.
Ending Note: Pure angst and romance. It sucks. There aren't enough Kin x Zaku fics, though.