Author's note: Attention all. I, Sephy J, have a yukata/kimono fetish! That is all! XD ps, this is for a contest on deviantart!
Title: Matsuri Nostalgia
Several children almost bumped right into him, colorful and sometimes frightening masks covering their small faces, all of them laughing loudly while the adults shouted at them. The children ignored the half-hearted chiding, carrying their mischief somewhere else as the silver-haired one watched them go. The sun was setting, and the adults were all to busy setting up their business' to care. Already the main street was lined with them, stalls selling all sorts of foods and crafts. From catching fish with a paper net, to the colorful masks that the children were wearing, and even pinwheels and skillfully crafted little clay figures. The medic stopped to run his dark eyes over one stall's wares thoughtfully. A warm wind blew softly, spinning the pinwheels nearby, the rhythmic clicking almost nostalgic...
- - - - - -
There were so many people around, all shouting and bustling, that Kabuto got a bit nervous. His back bumped into someone, and they grabbed his shoulders. Looking up, he met the dark eyes of his foster father.
"Did they not have festivals were you came from, Kabuto?" The Yakushi medic asked the boy, giving his shoulders a squeeze. Kabuto frowned.
"They weren't quite so noisy." He said softly, and the older man smiled.
"Ah, well, Konoha is just a vibrant village. We love to celebrate when we have the chance. It gets our minds off of more depressing things, if only for a little while."
"I understand." He said quickly, all too formally. The older man merely shook his head, looking around.
"Ah-ha!" He walked over to a stall, leaving Kabuto alone for a moment. The silver-haired boy adjusted his glasses, leaning with his back against a building and crossing his arms. The Uchiha were out patrolling it seemed, their red and white fan-marked backs standing out from the others. Honestly, what were they doing, celebrating at a time like his? Men were dying in the war as they caught their little fish and ate their tacoyaki on the streets. Spending money on frivolous things such as paper mache masks and silly trinkets instead of weapons and scrolls. Such an idea was... Kabuto snapped out of his more morbid thoughts as a clicking object was placed in front of his face. It spun slowly, its red and blue colors mixing into one.
"Isn't that obvious? It's a pinwheel, Kabuto."
"I-I know that, Yaku—Father..." Kabuto caught his near slip, blushing a bit. The medic didn't seem to pay it any mind, keeping his smile as he placed the stick of the offending object into his adopted son's hand. "But why...?"
"I wanted you to have something, for your first festival in Konoha. I didn't think you'd wear a yukata enough to get any use out of it, if you're going to study to be a medic. And you're much to old for a mask to play ninja with... So I thought that this would suit you nicely. It's small, and you can put it outside your window. Whenever you see it, you can think of this night." There was a loud explosion, and Kabuto tensed all over, but his foster father only laughed at his shocked expression. "Don't tell me they don't have fireworks where you're from..."
"N-no, they did... I just..."
"It's alright. Come on." He took Kabuto's hand before the other could protest, leading him down the street. Soon they were sitting atop the roof of their house, watching the bright flashes of color light up the sky, each with their own impressive display and crackle or boom of noise. Kabuto almost started at the arm that was placed suddenly around his shoulders, blinking his eyes as he glanced up to his foster father's face. The older man looked so... sad. The fireworks reflected in his dark eyes like deep black pools of water, rejecting instead of accepting the lights. For the first time Kabuto saw what he had been expecting to see much earlier. Yakushi senior's pain. The boy pulled his knees up to his chest, gazing back at the fireworks. After a while, his father spoke, just as a warm wind passed them by, setting his pinwheel clicking.
"...When you look at that pinwheel, Kabuto... Try and remember this night. The people happy and the smiling faces... The music, the dancing... and the fireworks. The smell from the street, golden fried foods and succulent eels, the sweet scent of the women's perfumes, and the smoke from the fireworks... Remember them, instead of the terrors that you will one day see." He grasped Kabuto's shoulder, holding him closer. The silver-haired boy looked down, his eyes falling on the spinning pinwheel. He had already seen terrors, and they didn't bother him. At least, not in the way that they should affect one so young. Dead and dying people, bloodshed and the feel of a kunai slicing into tender, vulnerable skin... However, he worked up a reply,
"Y-yes, father... I will remember." And he closed his eyes.
- - - - - -
Something crashed into Kabuto's legs currently, and he glanced down at the small child that was clinging to his pants. His mop of brown hair was astray, and his once gray yukata was covered in dust from the old street, his hands dirty as well. "Toshi! I'm so sorry, sir!" A dark-haired woman in a white kimono with pink flowers spread over it gushed, rushing towards them.
"No, it's alright." He gave the boy a smile, patting his head before his mother reclaimed him.
"Oh, you're not even dressed! Aren't you attending the festival?" The older woman asked, holding her son's hand as he tried to escape yet again.
"Oh... I don't have any yukata's or anything. I'm just passing through..."
"But you're staying the night, aren't you? You should attend! Here in Mizuchiha we have the most beautiful fireworks you've ever seen and the most delicious eels you've ever tasted! Here, come with me. My husband runs a stall near here. Hurry now, the sun's almost down!" She took Kabuto's hand in her free one, pulling him along with her.
- - - - - -
Orochimaru tore his gaze away form the window when the door opened, watching with disinterest as his medic entered the small hotel room. Kabuto came in, closing the door behind him with his foot as he was carrying two boxes across his arms, as well as a bag hanging from his right. The Sannin lifted one ebony eyebrow.
"I sent you for tea, and you bring me boxes?" He asked, his voice deep and smooth.
"A-ah. I can explain." Kabuto set the boxes down on the bed, opening the sack and pulling from it the herbs for tea. Set them on the table and lit the fire under the kettle on the table, placing the herbs into the strainer and setting it in the kettle, filling it with water. "A boy ran into me on the way back, and his mother insisted I... Well, her husband had a stall all set up, and she gave me a good deal..." He walked back over to the bed, lifting the lid of the first box to expose a crimson red yukata. Black flowers were painted across the yukata's front, and continued the pattern all over as he lifted it from the box.
"You bought yukatas... with my money?" The pale man asked, again raising his eyebrow. Kabuto shook his head,
"No, I used mine. I had enough. Besides... this one is for you. I thought that we could..."
"Go to the festival? Forget it, Kabuto. We're here to rest." Orochimaru said, frowning as he moved his eyes from the fabric to his medic's face. Kabuto blinked his dark eyes, lowering the yukata slowly.
"A...ah. You're right, Orochimaru-sama." He said, refolding the yukata. He replaced it onto the box slowly, placing the lid back on. The Sannin watched him carefully, tapping one long nail on the table.
"Of course... you did buy them, so you might as well use yours. Go ahead and go, Kabuto. I will be just fine by myself here." He said, turning away from the medic to gaze out of the window again. Kabuto stiffened, but he didn't say a word. Finally, he sighed as he began to undress. Orochimaru watched him from the corner of his eye, licking his lips slowly. From the box the medic pulled a dark blue yukata, patterned with delicately painted red flowers with white tips. He dressed quickly, keeping his pouch hidden at his back. Reaching up, he untied his hair, tying it again at the nape of his neck so that it stayed down a little more. The Sannin almost hated to see him go, but he let him. Kabuto left without another word. Insolent brat.
Orochimaru hated festivals.
- - - - - -
Sarutobi had dispersed the trio as soon as they reached the main street, and they had all disappeared. Of course, Orochimaru hadn't wanted to come at all, but he had been dragged by both his Sensei's and Jiraiya's nagging. And now here he was, just as he thought, alone. Tsunade had gone off in favor of some female company in her friends, and Jiraiya had gone off somewhere, probably to oogle the older women with nice, full breasts peeking out from their tight yukata's. The young ninja rolled his eyes, arms crossed as he walked down he busy street, avoiding any running children and drunk adults. Such a waste of time... He'd rather be fighting in the war right now.
A commotion caught his attention to the right side of the street. Several women were screaming, and a few were running away from a stall. He heard the splashing water as he drew near, and a man's curses. Breaking though to the front, he saw what all of the commotion was about. There was a snake in the goldfish-filled pool, dark black, and about two feet long. It swam and squirmed away from the man, who was trying to catch it with his net. Seeming to give up, he grabbed a knife, and Orochimaru rushed forward.
"No!" He shouted, reaching in and snatching the snake in an instant. The serpent bit him in response, and several people gasped. The pale boy didn't even wince, holding the wriggling animal tightly in his hands.
"How terrible? Did you see that!"
"How disgusting! A snake!"
"It bit him, how gross!"
"It doesn't belong here! Kill it!"
"Yes, kill it!"
"Shut up!" A voice rose above the others, and another body pushed its way through the small crowd that had gathered. "Orochimaru, you idiot! What are you doing, grabbing random angry snakes!" Jiraiya snapped.
"It was hungry, so it tried to eat the fish, but these people want to kill it." The pale boy stated blankly, though he was shaking in silent anger. The white-haired boy must have noticed, because he took his arm, leading him away from the crowd.
"Don't worry about it. They're idiots. It's just an animal..." He stated, huffing as he continued to pull his teammate along. Meanwhile, the snake seemed to have stopped struggling, and curled tightly around the dark-haired boy's arm. Orochimaru smiled, stroking the snake's shiny scales with his thumb. When they reached an area with plants, they released the snake. Orochimaru watched it slither away thoughtfully, golden eyes a little narrow. "...What is it?" Jiraiya asked, nudging the pale boy with his foot.
"That snake... it's just like any other animal. It needs food and shelter, but because its destiny is to devour others for food, they cast it out." He sad sadly.
"What, those people? They don't know what they're doing. They were just scared of it."
"...I feel like that snake."
"Nothing. Let's go." Orochimaru stood, giving his teammate a smile, though he didn't feel like smiling at all. By the time they got back to that portion of the festival street, all he got were whispers and stares. No mater how Jiraiya tried to distract him, his sensitive trained to catch the faintest stick breaking, ears caught their words.
"That snake boy..."
"With his bare hands..."
- - - - - -
Presently, the night was still young. Over the years, Kabuto had gotten used to the loudness of festivals, having attended so many back in Konoha. Compared to there, this festival was small, and quiet. He did catch the irony, that where his father had taught him to remember the smiling faces, he had instead tried to destroy them. But that was just his duty, and he felt no guilt. He had never been a ninja of Konoha, not even a citizen. He was an enemy, brought into the village by an outside force... He had only been doing his job...
Fending off the women had been a task for the silver-haired young man. All of the local girls were looking for a summer romance, and a handsome young stranger seemed like the opportune target. He smiled politely and refused their offers, retreating again and again. Finding a stall with sake, he had happily bought himself a small bottle. He wasn't going to become intoxicated, of course. Just a little never hurt anyone... and besides, he was a bit bitter at being left alone out here. He needed something to cheer him up. A few girls approached him again, giggling as he gave them a polite conversation to amuse them. At least the attention felt nice.
Once pleasantly buzzed he talked his way out of the conversation, edging his way out of the group. His face was just a little hot, but his steps were steady. For once in a long while, though, Kabuto felt alone. The festive mood seemed to have invaded his carefully closed mind, and against his better judgment he had actually enjoyed himself. This left him with the other issue. He didn't want to be the only one pulled in. The fireworks were going to be starting soon, he could smell the smoke and powder already. The breeze was warm at the end of the street where he stopped, leaning against a tree in the square that was filling up with couples and groups of friends. It swayed his long yukata, his bangs moving slowly in front of his glasses. The tug on his yukata took him a little by surprise. He hadn't heard someone approach. Looking down, he met the large brown eyes of the boy that had been called Toshi. The small, dirty brunette had his other hand behind his back, and he smiled.
"Where's your friend?" He asked, smiling.
"The one the red one was for."
"The red..." Kabuto blinked. "Oh, the other yukata. My friend... wasn't feeling very well." He smiled, adjusting his glasses.
"Oh..." Toshi's expression was sad, and he almost seemed to pout. "Momma said you spent so much on that one that they must be special to you. I wanted to see them!"
"I'm sorry..." Kabuto blushed. That prying woman... He was glad that his master had not heard that.
"Well... I was going to give this to them... but since you're here alone, I'll give it to you!" He pulled his hand out from behind him, holding out a long wooden snake, jointed so that it moved side to side when you moved it. It was painted in all sorts of colors, in circles and spots. The medic blinked, holding out his hand before he even thought to protest. Toshi placed the to into it, giggling as he turned and ran off.
"Oh, wai--... Geez..." He sighed. He didn't exactly want to chase the boy to give it back, but he didn't really want to take it with him, either. There would be no end to the Sannin's teasing... Helooked up as three girls approached him, and he recognized them from the sake stall. One of them was rather drunk, and she wrapped her arms around his neck when she was close enough, much to the chagrin of the other two women.
"Mmm, 'Buto-chaaan You said your partner was coming... Did she bail on you? How cruel, I'll watch fireworks with you..." She giggled, and one of her friends tried to pull her off.
"Shina-chan, that's not fair! I talked to him first!" She bickered. The third female moved to his right, her lips brushing the silver-haired one's ear.
"Hey, Kabuto-sama, why don't we ditch these two drunkards and make our own sweet summer fireworks in my room?" Her tongue traced the shell of his ear, and he winced.
"L-ladies...please..." He tried, his best to be polite, while he tried to squirm away from them. Much to many hands on his person for his taste.
"What is that? A toy snake?" The drunk one on his neck giggled, and the one near his ear smiled.
"Is that a metaphor or something?" Her fingers brushed over the wooden toy.
"Excuse me." A voice spoke loudly from behind the ladies, and all three of them started, turning around. A very pale man stood behind them, his long raven hair drawn up into a single tail high up on his head, his golden eyes still somehow bright in the dim night lights. His yukata was a deep red, black flowers and vines painted with an elegant hand. "You seem to have found my runaway. Thank you for keeping him safe for me, but I'm afraid I'll have to steal him back from you now." They parted like water as the Sannin moved close, grabbing a hold of Kabuto's free hand, while the medic flushed a, vermilion wave spreading across his cheeks. Runaway, was he? The girls all stared, wide eyed as their target was stolen away by the even more mysterious man. All at once, they shared glances, blushing amongst themselves.
- - - - - -
Kabuto's heart pounded as he followed his master to a remote part of the courtyard, of to the side near a small fountain. His hand was released, and it was left feeling hot, and moist. The Sannin's palm had been sweating? The medic dipped his hand into the water, averting his eyes. Was he angry...?
"Did you not want to be pulled away from your friends over there?" Orochimaru asked smoothly, raising one ebony eyebrow. Kabuto looked back up, giving his head a shake.
"No, Orochimaru-sama... Thank you." He said with a small smile. The Sannin shrugged, leaning against a pole with his hip.
"What is that?" He asked, eyeing the wooden snake. Kabuto's face went red again.
"Toshi, the boy who's father owns the stall with the yukata's gave it to me..." He held it up, watching it wiggle as he moved his hand. "It's kind of—ow!" He yelped as the wood pinched his finger, setting it across his lap as he stuck it in his mouth. Orochimaru chuckled, shaking his head. "W...what?"
"It seems we've both been bitten by a snake at a festival..." The Sannin said, and Kabuto wondered about this, but he didn't dare ask. If it had been a good memory, he wouldn't have been so adverse to joining the festival, after all. The first burst of color illuminated the night's sky a brilliant green, the resounding boom enough to rattle one's chest. Red followed quickly after, crackling loudly. Kabuto stood, drawn to the colorful display with wide, dark eyes. His master watched him curiously for a moment, watching the lights reflect off of his medic's glasses, as if they couldn't reach him through them. The wooden snake was clutched tightly in his right hand, and he swallowed hard. Seems his medic had his own memories...
Reaching out, he snatched the glasses from his nose. Kabuto blinked, reaching up as if to stop him but lowering his hand again. "I-I can't see them..."
"You can see the colors... These reflect them." Orochimaru said, folding them and sliding them to hook at Kabuto's obi sash. The medic frowned, but he didn't argue, looking back up at the next flash. He smiled faintly this time, at the large blue and green blast. The Sannin smiled as well, glancing up.
- - - - - -
After the fireworks the two dedicated villains had taken back to the small outside sake bar, drinking until they both felt nice and warm, from head to toe. It was nicer this time, to have a drinking partner who's company that each other enjoyed. Even in their silence, the aura was very comforting. The mood was infectious, everyone around them was laughing and smiling, and the pair only sat in silence, perhaps the faintest of smiles on their slightly flushed cheeks. It was even more obvious on the Sannin's cheeks than it was for Kabuto's and all the medic had to do was mention it once to receive a warning glance. But Kabuto didn't quite feel like behaving himself, and he mentioned it again. The desired result was achieved this time, as the older man suggested that they continue this line of discussion in the privacy of their room.
As they stood, something snapped under Orochimaru's foot. Glancing down, Kabuto was shocked to see the broken pinwheel laying there, bright yellow and green. Kneeling, he touched it, causing the Sannin to sigh. "What is it? Leave it, Kabuto." He said dismissively, waving his hand as he turned to leave. Kabuto laughed, and he glanced back. "...Kabuto?"
"This is it. My answer." The medic stated, lifting the broken toy. An eyebrow rose on his master's face. "I gave it up... when I followed you out of the village. The pinwheel for the snake."
"Fascinating, but I think we should be going. Stand up."
"Mmm, alright. Anything you say, Orochimaru-sama." Kabuto remarked with a smile, standing and dropping the useless memento to the ground. He held the wooden snake tightly, though it had bitten him so "cruelly" earlier, leaning on his master a little as they continued their journey back to the hotel. The Sannin chuckled.
"Now why can't you be that easy to make obey all of the time?" He asked, a smile on his pale lips.
"Because then I wouldn't be any fun?" The silver-haired one asked, smiling back.
"Ah, this is true." A white smile, and he continued on his way, his medic close behind.