"One Paper Lantern"
By: Emo Fox
Kakashi-sensei had sent everyone home early.
Sasuke hadn't even shown up.
That was unlike the Uchiha not to show up – and unlike Kakashi to just dismiss them because Sasuke didn't show. When Sakura hadn't shown they paraded right to her home – she had just overslept but they still dragged her out of bed to go training.
Everyone was quiet too.
Naruto wanted to understand what was going on – even Sakura hadn't even whined about Sasuke not being there she just looked sad.
Then it hit him!
What if Sakura had asked Sasuke out for real and he turned her down? The bastard! Naruto would track down Sasuke, make him come and apologize to Sakura.
"Don't worry Sakura-chan! I'll make you happy!" Naruto grinned, running from the forest before the girl could respond.
He'd be Sakura's hero – when he presented the Uchiha to her she'll be so touched he went through all this effort she'll push Sasuke aside and fall for him!
Naruto chuckled to himself – yes he'd win Sakura-chan's heart!
Naruto had run around Konoha, searching everywhere – even broke into Sasuke's apartment but he hadn't been there.
Naruto had wandered all the way to the edge of Konoha; where the Uchiha manor was located.
Was he here?
Naruto frowned, his bright blue eyes taking in the expanse of ghost town before him. It was creepy to look at knowing what happened there. The kitsune had taken a few steps into the compound when a shiver raced down his spine.
Sasuke wouldn't be here…
Maybe he should turn back…
Then he caught sight of something, a shadow out of the corner of his eye, "Sasuke!" Naruto darted in that direction; running full speed as he turned the corner and running into something hard and fleshy.
They toppled to the ground, Naruto landing on top of the Uchiha, both awkwardly staring at each other in shock. "Sasuke!" The fox yelled right in the brunette's face; about to scream at him for making Sakura upset when he caught all the emotion swimming in those haunted black eyes.
…he looked so vulnerable.
Naruto was momentarily off balance – he had never seen Sasuke look like that before.
Then the fox was pushed right from his perch – tossed to the dirt as the Uchiha moved to stand, brushing off his clothes. "Dumbass." He murmured the insult half-heartedly, his mind seeming elsewhere, "Why are you here?"
Naruto remained on the ground, confused by the look Sasuke had given him.
What was going on?
"Why are you here?" Naruto retorted right back – unsure why the Uchiha wanted to visit this old creepy place.
Sasuke's whole family had died here…
It couldn't be a very leisurely place to hangout.
Naruto frowned, slowly picking himself off the ground, staring at Sasuke's back. The brunette had yet to turn or acknowledge him. "Hey." He spat, "You hear me?"
"Just leave Naruto." Sasuke's voice didn't hold an edge; he almost sounded tired.
What the hell was going on?
"I'm not leaving."
Sasuke turned then, a frown on his lips, his eyes hard, "Go away."
"Make me!" Naruto challenged back childishly.
Sasuke turned from Naruto then – walking away without a word.
It took a moment for the blonde to realize what was happening, quickly springing to his feet and reaching out for the brunette – grabbing his arm and trying to pull him back, "Sasuke!"
Sasuke allowed himself to be pulled back to the blonde, his eyes still looking ahead at nothing in particular, his barriers beginning to crack because the god damned fox vessel wouldn't leave him alone.
Naruto was confused by Sasuke's silence, his brows furrowing as he gazed at the other boy. He bit his lip, wondering to what to say or do. This felt weird, strange, like he couldn't be his obnoxious self for once. Sasuke's silence was unnerving, not the usual silence he was used to.
If that made sense?
As Naruto was thinking Sasuke once again got free, tucking his hands in his pockets and attempting to storm away.
"Sasuke." He tried again, jogging after the dark-haired boy.
"What's going on?"
"None of you're business."
"Training was cancelled."
Naruto kept pace next to the Uchiha, glancing at the deserted buildings then back up to Sasuke's stoic face. "Why're you here?" He asked softly, trying a different approach.
Sasuke let out a quiet sigh, kicking a rock and sending it flying in front of him. "Because."
God, Naruto was just like a child.
"Today is the anniversary."
Naruto was about to ask only to have everything crash down on him.
Anniversary of the massacre.
What a morbid day to be celebrating!
Though Naruto didn't think Sasuke was celebrating; remembering was a better word right?
"I just told you why."
"No you didn't." Naruto pointed out, "You told me what today was, not why you're here."
Sasuke frowned, stopping his stride and turning his smoldering black eyes on the blonde, "Figure it out dumb ass."
Naruto rolled his eyes, "Sasuke you're such a prick. I just asked why you're here, I'm…" He paused, trying to think of a good word to use when the Uchiha once again started to walk away. "I'm concerned you ass! Get back here!" Naruto once again trailed after the fellow ninja, cursing him in his head.
"Concerned?" Sasuke spat, glancing over his shoulder. "You're just mad training was cancelled and probably came here to drag me back."
Originally he was mad about training.
Then he was mad at Sasuke about Sakura.
…but, he couldn't remember why he had been mad about Sasuke over Sakura right now.
There was a bigger problem at hand.
"No." Naruto stuck his tongue out to him in a childish manner, "I'm here for you for real."
"For real?" Sasuke quirked a brow.
"You shouldn't be here."
"Because it's stupid."
Sasuke stopped again, right on the ridge over-looking the lake, over-looking the dock he and his father stood on when he practiced his fire jutsu. He still had his hands tucked in his pockets, his dark eyes gazing out across the water flicking them up to gaze at the horizon. "Stupid?"
"Why is that?" He said, his tone clipped, not looking to the blonde.
"Because you're being selfish."
"Selfish?" That was a new one. Sasuke thought Naruto would go on a rant about how he shouldn't remember the past because he couldn't bring them back or something. Some normal emotional tirade about how Sasuke should move on, just like everyone else had given him before. But no, Naruto had mulled it all over in his brain and came up with Sasuke being selfish.
He was really a retard.
"If you think about them they're here."
"What do you mean?"
Naruto flushed, this conversation was getting weird – a little too intimate. Naruto jumped in front of Sasuke flailing his arm in the direction of the empty houses then across to the empty dock and quiet lake. "If you think about them they're here, like they're spirits! They come back when you think about them, they wander here with you and they can't sleep."
Sasuke was at a loss, just looking to the blonde like he had grown two heads.
"I mean it, that's why I don't think about the past." Naruto smiled, "If I think about them they come back to me and it's selfish. They should be sleeping. I love my parents but I don't want them to have to wake up on account of me."
"Who told you this?"
"Iruka-sensei." Naruto murmured, "He told me to keep them in my heart but not in my mind."
Heart but not in mind?
"Then what do you want me to do? I can't just forget!" He said, raising his voice a notch, knowing he was getting a bit too emotional over something Naruto wouldn't understand. Naruto had lost his parents before memories could start; Sasuke had seen his whole family die in front of him, had memories of them playing over and over in his head.
"Don't forget." Naruto murmured, "Here, I have an idea."
"What idea?" Despite it all Sasuke found himself clinging to the blonde's words, silently not wanting him to leave.
This was stupid.
"Let's light a lantern for them, all of them." Naruto said, grinning to the Uchiha as if it was the best idea ever. "So they can all sleep."
Sasuke nodded curtly, "Fine."
"Okay." Naruto said, looking around the area and catching sight of a paper lantern swinging with a few broken ones on a string in front of what could have been a shop. He ran up the hill, grabbing down the sphere of old paper and ran back towards Sasuke. He had been in luck because this one still had a candle in it, though it was small it would work. "Here." He reached out and boldly grabbed Sasuke's hand yanking him down towards the slope that led to the lake. The two boys ran out to the dock, Naruto yanking Sasuke down to kneel with him. "Light it."
Sasuke didn't let go of Naruto's hand; the warmth from the other child helping him stay grounded in the moment. He made the necessary seals with one had, concentrated and was able to just light the meager candle.
Naruto kept his cheery smile, "Good. Now, once I put this in the water this is the last time you get to remember them. After today they're going to sleep, okay?"
It was so perfect in its childish simplicity.
Sasuke could finally let go.
Sasuke had to let go.
Sasuke nodded, his throat feeling tight and he was unsure if he could form words right now. Memories were playing behind his eyes and he wasn't sure if he was ready – if he was really ready to let his family go. His hands were sweaty, his heart hammering in his chest and his fingers started to shake.
He wasn't ready!
Naruto felt the trembling hand in his own, lifting his bright blue eyes to Sasuke's profile. He saw the flush on his cheeks that must be from the force of holding back tears and saw how tightly Sasuke was clenching his jaw shut. "It's okay." Naruto said in a soft voice giving Sasuke's hand a squeeze.
Sasuke wished Naruto would stop looking at him.
He wished he wasn't so weak.
He felt like he was going to break down.
Naruto leaned over the wood, setting the little lantern on the lake, letting it drift with the wind's current the light flickering inside it's paper cage.
Sasuke's whole body was tense the moment Naruto dropped the lantern into the lake.
Sasuke's dark eyes held too many emotions, his mind was a mess and he felt himself wanting to run out and grab the thing – send Naruto home and hide somewhere in the compound.
Naruto sat down on the dock, tilting his head to the Uchiha, noticing the look of panic as well as other emotions playing across his face. He had never seen Sasuke like this – so vulnerable. It almost scared the fox; Sasuke was the tough one, the super strong one, his rival. But, Sasuke was just a kid too – just like him. Naruto smiled gently at Sasuke, keeping his grip on his hand tight. "It's okay to cry."
Sasuke blushed from the embarrassment of Naruto's statement, wishing he didn't look so stupid in front of him. But, he couldn't help it, he couldn't stop of flurry of feelings inside of him.
"I'll still think you're a strong bastard." Naruto reassured.
"Promise." Naruto grinned as Sasuke finally leaned his head on his shoulder and broke down.
Meh. Blurb that had been in my head forever. I finally got around to finishing it so I hope you liked it. I hope no one was too out of character, but there you go. Kind of had a NaruSasu inkling but not really, only if you really looked. It was kinda more a friendship thing.
Anyway! Please leave me a review. Thanks.