Just a few quick notes before beginning:
This story is VERY song-inspired, so all the chapters are named after songs and have song lyrics at the beginning and end (I'm calling them the "title track" and the "end credits", for future reference). Some only have one song, others have a couple. Unfortunately, I do not own any of these amazing songs, or any of the Naruto characters, for that matter (although I do own one OC who will be appearing in later chapters).
If you haven't already, please go and check out my other fanfic, "A Flame in the Desert". It's still a work-in-progress, but I think it's coming along nicely, and based on the reviews I've received so far (which I really, REALLY appreciate), the readers think so too!
So this story (in case you didn't catch it) is called "The Sum of Black and White", and I don't immediately come out with who the two involved in the pairing are in this chapter, although I drop a couple of really obvious hints. So see if you can figure it out :)
Also, I try to keep my chapters for A.F.i.t.D. fairly reasonable lengths (they run about 3-4 pages on my word processor), however, the chapters in this story are long...like 5+ Word pages... but I did my best to make them enjoyable, and if it could be broken into more than one chapter, I did it. I know that sometimes I get annoyed with ridiculously long chapters, and now I've gone and done it myself (feels a bit hypocritical) so sorry if you're one of those who hates long chapters!
As always, read and review...it's always appreciated! (Plus I get so excited when I get a new review; it means that people are actually reading my story:D)
Rated T for now, just to be safe. Rating may or may not change later on.
Music: Title Track and End Credits: "Winter Light" by Tim Finn
The earth was frozen,
Ice upon the water,
All at once you saw her
There in the winter light.
– "Winter Light"
He had been leaping through the trees, from branch to frozen branch, focusing mainly on not slipping on the sheer icy coating that covered entire trees. His breath was coming forth in quick puffs of steam. It had to be below freezing outside, but he was sweating from the exercise. His lungs were burning from the rapid intake of the frozen air.
I should probably stop for a little while, he thought to himself, preparing to halt on a fairly thick tree branch. Unfortunately, he didn't see the layer of black ice until he was skidding and slipping across it. He lost his balance and went tumbling down to the ground.
She shivered slightly, but not from the cold.
This is nothing compared to what he said, she smirked to herself, recalling her father's harsh words of disappointment that he had bestowed upon her just a few hours ago.
As if his berating hadn't been humiliating enough, he'd just had to do it in front of Neji and Hanabi. The sheer embarrassment had been almost too much to bear, and she had composed herself only just enough to make it out of the door with some shred of dignity before breaking into a run. She had gone to the forest, to her favorite spot near a small lake, now frozen solid. She sat at the edge of the motionless water, under an evergreen tree, savoring the fresh smells of pine and ice around her.
It was beginning to get dark; fresh snow was starting to fall. She figured that she should go back to the village before it got too dark to see. She stood, brushing pine needles and snow flakes from her furry parka, and had just turned in the direction of the village when she heard a THUD! followed by a long "Owwwwww…" somewhere on her left.
She quickly turned to try to discern the source of the strange noises, and found herself looking at a large snow bank with a black-clothed leg sticking out of it. Quickly, but cautiously, she dashed over to the unfortunate.
"Hey, are you alright?" she called softly.
She didn't get any response; this frightened her a little. She really didn't want to see a dead person here; it would forever ruin the image of perfection that she had of this place.
"Hello?" she tried again, a little louder, "Are you alright?"
She scrambled up the piled snow and peered down into the crater that impact of the falling body had formed. She saw the form of a young man with long, dark hair lying in a very awkward position.
I don't think arms are supposed to bend like that… she thought to herself, looking over his sprawled out figure.
She didn't want to move him, for fear of doing more harm than good, but she did at least want to assess the damage so that when she went for Tsunade - which she would obviously have to do, now that it was clear that he was indeed injured – she had some idea of what was the matter with him.
His other limbs seemed to be at semi-normal angles, which was a relief to her; she had been kind of grossed out by the abnormal position of the man's evidently-broken arm.
She had finished inspecting his body and was just about to move to his head to check for any bleeding or other external injury, when his eyes suddenly flashed open, causing her to give a short scream and tumble backwards off of the snow bank.
He groaned as he sat up. His head was pounding and his left arm was shooting with pain. Not to mention that he was pretty certain that the rest of his entire body was one giant bruise. Funny, and I was just marveling at how soft the snow made everything seem…
He looked down at the girl who had been looming over him when he woke up; she was now kneeling, covered in powder snow, at the bottom of the snow mound. He almost laughed at how ridiculous she looked, but at that moment, a fresh bout of pain shot up his arm, making him grimace.
"I-I think it's b-broken," the girl on the ground stuttered.
He shook his head, "Nah, it's just dislocated. Lucky…" He sighed and opened his eyes to look at the girl once more. Pretty eyes, he thought. "What the hell were you doing anyways?"
She looked petrified. "W-What?"
He sighed in exasperation and swiveled, still holding his injured arm, so that both of his long legs were hanging over the side of the snow bank. "You were hovering over me when I woke up. What were you doing to me before? Picking my pockets?"
"N-No! I-I was just ch-checking on you! I th-thought you m-m-might be dead! Honestly!"
"Okay, okay, relax! Christ! I was kidding! Ahhh…" His grin quickly disappeared as he cringed and held his breath for a moment while the pain passed again. He let his breath out in a loud sigh and a cloud of steam when it was over. "Dammit, I've gotta fix this…" he muttered. He turned his eyes to the girl again; she still looked like a deer caught in headlights. "Hey, do you know anything about reducing dislocations?"
"Um…not…really…sorry…" she turned her big pearly eyes to the ground in defeat.
He sighed. "Alright, listen, here's what I need you to do…"
"I-I don't th-think I can d-do this! May-maybe we sh-sh-should just go to the h-hospital?" She couldn't conceal the terror in her voice, and she didn't even try.
He shook his head. "No, we have to do this here. Now." He glanced over his shoulder at her and saw that she looked close to fainting. "Hey, I'm the one in excruciating pain here, don't you pass out!" She tried to smile, but the nervousness in her face only grew. He sighed, placed one of his large hands over hers where it rested on his injured shoulder and turned to face her. "Look, I know you can do this, okay? Don't worry, you won't hurt me. Just do exactly as I told you and it will be fine, alright? I promise."
She looked into his dark eyes. Those eyes seemed so familiar; she was sure she had seen eyes like them somewhere before, on someone else, but she couldn't recall at that moment. He was so confident, not only in himself, but in her. Her! She didn't even have confidence in herself, and yet this complete stranger, who literally just happened to fall out of the sky, was trusting her to perform this task that could permanently damage his arm for all she knew.
"Okay," she whispered, "Okay, let's do this."
"Alright," he said satisfactorily. "You remember how to do it?"
"Alright, whenever you're ready then." He turned forward once more and grasped the trunk of a thin tree with his good arm to steady himself.
She placed one hand under his bad arm, just below his armpit, and held him firmly in place. She closed the fingers of her other hand around his wrist. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Confidence… Then, without warning, she swiftly and firmly pulled his dislocated arm down at a 45 degree angle, the way he had told her to, putting it back in its normal position.
He had let out one short yelp when his joint had slid back into its socket, but didn't seem to be in any sort of worse pain. She let out a huge sigh of relief.
He rotated his arm to make sure it was in properly, he winced a little, but seemed pleased with the outcome. He turned to her with a grin on his handsome face. "There, see? That wasn't so hard, now was it?"
She couldn't help letting a huge smile crack her face, she was so relieved. "I can't believe I actually did it! I was so worried I would mess it up!" She confessed.
"Now why would you think that?" He asked her, still busy rotating his arm in every which direction.
Her ecstatic smile fell. "Because I tend to have a knack for messing things up, just ask my father. He'll tell you what a failure I am." She said glumly.
He stopped his rotating to look at her. She was sitting atop of the snow bank once more, her hands were folded in her lap and her head was hung, eyes down. He let his arm fall to his side as he walked over to stand in front of her. He put the fingers on his good hand under her chin and lifted her face until her eyes met his.
"You're not a failure," he whispered, "I don't know you very well, but you did a really brave thing today, something that not a lot of people would be able to do, or even try to do. But you tried and you succeeded. The last time I checked, success was the opposite of failure, right?"
She nodded, grateful tears beginning to well up in her eyes.
"Don't ever let anyone tell you that you're a failure or a coward, because you're neither, understand?" he continued, "You've got a good heart and talent; you just need to have some confidence in your abilities. So promise me that you won't let anyone – your father, teachers, whoever – think that you're a failure ever again; promise me that you'll be more confident in yourself and your abilities, and that you'll continue to use them to help people in need. Promise?" He gave her a small smile.
She wrapped her arms around him, tears now flowing freely. He was startled, but he quickly relaxed in her soft, warm embrace.
"I promise," she whispered into his ear, "Thank you so much for believing in me."
He shrugged, grinning, "Yeah, well, you did save my arm, after all. I mean, it could have fallen off or something if you hadn't been here to use your awesome medical skills on it."
She held him at arm's length, looking into his glistening black eyes. He lifted a finger and wiped away a tear that was beginning to freeze on her cheek. They held each other's gaze for a few moments more, then he turned to look at the sky, which was now darkening by the minute.
"Shouldn't you be getting home?" he asked gently.
"Oh crap! They're gonna come looking for me if I don't hurry!" She slid down from her sitting position on the snow bank, right into his arms.
"Whoa! Careful," he laughed, "I don't know if I'd be able to relocate your leg. I don't have amazing medical skills like you."
She blushed slightly and laughed, "Well, I don't know about amazing…"
He held up a hand, silencing her. "Nope. They're amazing and I won't be told any different."
She laughed again, "Alright, if that's what you want to believe."
"I don't just believe it, I know it! My perfectly-functioning arm is proof of it." He held out his formerly dislocated arm and rotated it painlessly a perfect 360 degrees. "Now, come on, I'll walk you back to the village."
He held her hand all the way through the forest. When they had reached the edge of the village, she had continued walking, not noticing that he had stopped and was looking down at the village apprehensively. The tug on her hand had caused her to turn around and notice this.
"What's wrong?" she asked him, also turning her eyes to watch the villagers moving about: the kids having snowball fights, the adults doing Christmas shopping, for although it was dark, the hour was still fairly early and the streets were lit by numerous lamps.
"Nothing," he replied, "You're okay to go the rest of the way on your own?"
He released her hand, "Alright, then you'd better get going."
She nodded again and turned, starting slowly towards the village. Suddenly she stopped, turned, and quickly dashed back to him. Before she even knew what she was doing, she had her arms around his neck and her lips were on his.
His eyes were wide with surprise, but certainly not unpleasant surprise. As he got over his initial shock, his eyes closed, his lips closed over hers and his arms encircled her waist, pulling her closer to him.
After what seemed like ages, she broke the kiss. "Thank you again," she whispered into his ear, before turning and once more heading to the village. This time, she made it all the way.
He watched her go with a dumb grin on his face. And even after she had disappeared from his sight, he stood and looked down on the happy village. For a second, he wondered why he had left it all; everything seemed so peaceful and perfect there. But his face clouded over as he remembered that looks can be deceiving and that even the most perfect place can feel like a prison.
It was with these dark thoughts that he turned back to the woods and stalked away from the carefree and festive scene below.
So what do you think? A little intriguing, maybe? Please review and let me know what you think!