Title: Somewhere, Far From Here

Fandom: Naruto

Pairing: Asuma/Kurenai

Rating: PG

Word Count: 1,034

Summary/Description: Everything here is at odds, but soon, they'll be set right. Asuma and Kurenai muse on the after.

Warning/Spoilers: None, really? Spoilers for middlish parts of Part 1.

A/N: This goes out to Essy, for helping me write this in the first place. Sorry if it reads kind of… forced? I'm kinda 'eh' about it, but I don't know what to do to fix it.

Disclaimer: Naruto owns me. :(

When Kurenai returns to the house, he's there already, sitting on the front steps, chain smoking as if it were any other day. She takes a few moments to watch him carefully, gauging his mood and temperament. The blue smoke that he puffs out profusely clouds his face, yet she can see through him clearly; the movements of his hands are stiff and yet his pose is completely natural; she knows he may want to be alone and yet he offers her a slight smile in welcome. Everything here is at odds.

He's still wearing all black, and it is striking because he was never much of a mourner. Not outwardly, anyway. He keeps his secrets and his regrets and his scars all locked up on the inside, shuttled away so that no one can poke and inspect. Not even her.

Kurenai strides forward, and folds to her feet besides him. She curls an arm around his waist, and rests her head again his chest, breathing in the familiars smells of sweat and tobacco and cologne. She knows he will speak when he's ready to.

The rain stopped some time ago, and now the sun is out, cheery and obnoxious, beaming down on the wet leaves and trees and grass and ground. Everything glistens like it's been newly polished, and it's glorious. Glorious and incongruous and oh so very wrong. Everything here is at odds.

She can feel him playing absently with her hair, twirling the strands around his fingers, tugging at it from the dots, dipping his head to press his nose into the dark mess. He's probably getting smoke in her hair, but she doesn't mind. She moves closer to him to make it easier for him. Nothing else is easy today.

"Lots of things I never got to say," Asuma remarks gruffly, all of a sudden. Kurenai looks up at him, waiting to see if he will continue. "He died not know a lot of things about his own son." The smoke curls around his face as he exhales quietly.

Kurenai reaches up, and runs her fingers through his beard, just once, softly.

"Don't," she says in a low voice. "Don't dwell on the past, on mistakes. He knew most things, the important things, and he died loving you, and everyone in this village. He died for us."

He taps the cigarette, scattering tiny ashes, and does not volunteer a comment. Instead, he looks up at the sky, and her eyes follow. It is very blue up there, and a faint rainbow is still shimmering on the horizon. Childish laughter can be heard not too far away, and Kurenai catches sight of some yellow balloons, drifting higher and higher, out of reach, the strings snatched away by some errant breeze with no regard for childhood fun.

She curls the arm tighter around him.

"Whenever you're ready," she says in a low voice. She takes the hand that holds the cigarette, and presses a kiss to his knuckles. "I'll be right here."

That makes him break out into a smile of sorts, and he discards the cigarette, crushing it under his heel. That smile is one that only she gets to see, she knows, and she feels warm and privileged and loved for it.

"When aren't you ever?" he says, and cups her cheek to kiss her. It does not last long, only a few seconds, but it is enough to let her know that he is strong and he is coping and he is going to be okay. Many things were fractured today, but he is going to be okay.

Asuma holds her hand. He takes out another cigarette, but only holds it, twisting it between his fingers.

"I'll get to say them soon," he says softly, and at first, she has no idea what he's talking about. One look at his eyes, though, and she knows. "I'll tell him everything." His voice is rough and firm.

Kurenai smiles for him, and touches his cheek.

"Someday, far from here," she says, and curls deeper into his side. Everything about him is musky and familiar and so homey and right; it leaves a dull ache to think about the turmoil that is spinning inside of him, and every other citizen right now. They will all make their peace, but the hurt is still fresh. "Far, far from here." She gives him a glance. "And not for a long time, either."

He barks out a short, harsh laugh.

"Yeah, no heroics. You don't have to tell me that." He grazes worn knuckles across her cheek absently, and she notices that the cigarette has been crushed. The brittle brown insides are scattered all over the ground, the wind picking them up and taking them far beyond and away. Asuma still isn't looking at her, and Kurenai is getting a little worried.

"There's always an after." Even as she says it, she's not so sure that it's true. She has no proof, beyond wanting to believe, needing to believe, but somehow, she feels like he needs to hear this. Whether it's true or not. "There's always something that comes along."

Again, he is silent, a tense mass of muscles beneath her. For seven long seconds that she counts with her breaths, he is silent and unmoving. He barely even breathes. Kurenai thinks that if she concentrates hard enough, she can feel the vibrations of the memories thrumming beneath his skin whirring themselves to a panic, curling up in fright and pain and awe.

He takes out another cigarette.

Then he smiles, again, and she has to remind herself that he is going to be okay. He is showing that himself, right now. He is going to be okay. She mirrors that smile, because she can't help it, and thinks that the Third would be proud.

"Heh, yeah," Asuma says, drawing out another cigarette. This one he lights, and takes long drags before speaking again. "I wonder what comes after."

This time, she reaches up to cup his neck and brings him down for a kiss that lasts much longer than the first, because it's always better to say these things without words.

"Everything," she says simply.