gift!fic for: Annie, who is more than I will ever, ever deserve. Thank you for understanding me. I really, don't know how you deal with my…ridiculousness, but I'm eternally grateful, nonetheless.
summary: "So, go to sleep. I'll fight your nightmares. I'll keep you safe."
notes: Little!PeiKo. Pre-Jiraiya. Fluff.
disclaimer: Not mine.
War is hell.
Konan knows this, so she tries not whimper when she sees the dilapidated shack she's been using as a makeshift shelter
(makeshift home—the latest in a string—stretching for days and weeks and months and years, and she wonders what time it is, what time is
crumbles as the result of a foreigner's foreign words.
It is yet another casualty of the war that took her motherfatherbrothersister—and she's thankful.
At least this victim cannot bleed.
She wanders into a refugee camp a few days later. Her once-yellow dress is now a grimy shade of grey, and she has not eaten since the fish she caught forty-five minutes ago, if one were to measure distance by time.
The people here are Desperate.
She learns quickly—no walks after dark, no food left unguarded, no leaving your back open to the crowd, nononono, until it is a litany of negations, of restrictions in her head. She grows cautious, and after a while, her eyes lose their fear, replaced with a calm cool pragmatism.
Still, she is a girl, and she is young, so once in a while, she falters.
Nagato is an anomaly, she thinks. Or rather, she would, if she knew the word.
They meet by chance on the banks of the nearby stream. Konan, quiet, languid thing that she is, moves so silently that she surprises him as he is washing his face. He falters, slips headfirst into the gently moving water.
She tears off a piece of her ragged shirt, and after a hasty sterilization, applies it to the light scratch. He looks at her, strange eyes unblinking, and does not say a word.
He is a little bit broken, she thinks.
(like her old dolls, like the marbles cracked under the soldiers' feet, like the picture frame on her old brown table, in her old brown house—
like Mother's neck)
He does not talk much, but that's all right. He will heal. He will speak, when he's ready.
He is stronger than he looks, and she knows this.
There's not much they can say in such closed spaces, anyway.
They band together, in a place they've no choice but to call Home, and hope for something they can call Salvation.
"You don't talk much."
"I've nothing in particular I wish to say."
"But...you'll tell me when you do, right?"
"That's good enough. For now. We're in this together, right?"
She sees them sometimes, in the theater of dreams.
In them, she is happy. Happy and Young(er) and Wild and Free, and Mother to the side, and Father behind, and Brother in front, and Sister in her arms, and they are together, smiling and laughing and living in the little brown house she grew up in.
The scene changes.
The dark skies burn bright with sudden sunlight, and she Knows. She knows what comes next.
(It is unfair, she thinks, wildly, dazedly, still under the blanket of not quite-sleep. They have stolen everything already. Could they not leave her sunshine, at least?)
She has lived it.
Mother's head sounds hard against the floor of her room, and Sister is crying, and Brother is bleeding, and Father is deaddeaddead—dead dad, and she hates him a little for leaving her behind.
She watches from her place underneath her old blue blanket, and does not breathe, and soon, she is gasping, choking, fighting for air, and wherewherewhere is relief and—
She is awake.
Still under the cover of darkness, she breathes in, great gulping gasps for breath. Nagato watches her with wide eyes. He is shaking, too.
"What was that?"
She looks at him, still panting, though now, under control.
"A…a, bad dream. That's all."
"A nightmare," he asks, carefully curious.
"Yes." She turns to the side—no rest for the weary. "Go to sleep."
Nagato, for the first time since she has known him, snorts.
"No. You sleep. I'll keep watch."
"I can't sleep. Or they'll come back again," she says, the last part at once, an almost hopeful whisper, and, an almost overwhelming fatigue.
(She is tired of ghosts.)
Nagato, slowly, hesitantly, takes her hand.
"I'll take care of them. Your ghosts." He turns away.
"So, go to sleep. I'll fight your nightmares. I'll keep you safe."
(I won't leave, he promises without words)
Konan looks at him for a long while, and turns over to her side, asleep within minutes, and Nagato stands watch. He will catch her dreams, he thinks. He will protect her, even if he does not understand why.
They do not let go.
Heee. So, um, the fluff was there. TOTALLY. 8DDD
Annie, I hope you liked it my dear. Happy Holidays, and once again, my deepest thanks.
(ruins the mood by initiating a SQUISH-attack!)