Sonata For a Rainy Day
She finds this thought ironic: she is going home again. Because home is nothing anymore. It is the last place she wants to be.
(Where she wants to be is no longer living.)
It is the only place she can return to.
Amegakure is always a country in mourning.
She arrives in the barest hours of the early morning, when the light is faint and grey and straining to be seen through the clouds as thick as layered blankets in the sky. Even without Pain's rain technique, the natural weather of this land is stormy, overcast. Rain-drenched and shrouded in shadowed clouds. It's as if the very country is aware of the wars that have wracked its lands, the sadness seeped into the soil, the deaths of its saviors.
This is a more than appropriate homecoming, for she comes bearing the men who have loved this country the most. It's only fitting that the heavens weep for its god, that the land mourns for its soul. Pain was the country, for a short time.
This land is the bleeding corpse of a dream deferred, she thinks.
The bodies she carries are light. They don't weigh on her physically, for she doesn't carry them with her body, and the weight they have isn't enough to tax her chakra as she carries them in paper bundles to Amegakure.
They should be heavier, she thinks. There should be tons upon tons of force weighing them down: the albatrosses of history, the leaden import of memories. Time and love should have left their mark on these bodies, but it looks like only time and tragedy have written their future.
"I'm sorry," she whispers to them. The apology is simple, and too small for what it is she wishes to show remorse for. There are words she's wanted to give Yahiko that he never received, a collection of sorrows, a bouquet of regrets. There are whole conversations she's had with Nagato that stood place for others, where she wanted to ask a question that she was afraid she knew the answer to. Apologies to be made, for her own weakness. And love held back for duty.
She should have told him, she thinks, not to die. She should have tried to hold him back to earth with her need. But, she has never been selfish. She has always rode the wings of others desires, content to support instead of lead. Now she wishes that she could have been more forceful.
The words that go unspoken are the worst part of loss, she thinks. The looking back, the wishing. The regret.
The people of the town greet her when she arrive with their usual awe. They kneel before her, offering their service. They don't know their god is dead.
These people aren't even sure he really existed to begin with. All they've ever seen of Nagato is Konan as his messenger, an angel of their god. It makes it easier, in that sense, to deal with the loss of the leader of a country. She won't tell them their god is dead, and she won't have to deal with the mourning of a nation along with her own. And in this small way, Nagato will continue to live: as a protective deity, as a force inseparable from the country. A historical, everlasting memento mori.
She can't do the same for Yahiko. As far as anyone else knows, his is one more name, one more face to add to the old dead, those who lost their lives in the war. (but he hadn't lost his he'd given it away) This is another regret, dealt with by folding it up small and storing it in the secret places of her heart. It's how she deals with pain: storing and cataloguing, putting it aside for what she must do. Now that she has little left to do but reconcile herself to her losses, she finds herself unsure of what to do.
What she doesn't do is stagnate. Konan will not lie in her room in mourning, prostrate with grief. Konan won't allow her sorrow to make her useless. She does everything with purpose, and this is no different. Most of all, she has learned to cut off her emotions and separate them so clearly from herself that after a time, she no longer feels anything but the barest flickers of feeling. Maybe one day all of those thoughts denied will come back to her, an avalanche of stored emotion rushing over her like a breaking wave. Or perhaps they leave her entirely and go to a dark place to wither.
Either way, she is completely calm when she declares herself the Amekage, a name that sounds strange rolling from her tongue. No one has called themselves this since before even Hanzo ruled the land. The people below her speak at once, a rolling hush of a whisper that travels through the crowd. The sound of the crowd is neither disapproving nor enthusiastic, but tentative. Surprised. The sound of people swept up in a sudden change.
She makes no explanations, and no one requests any.
And just like that, Amegakure makes another regime change, quietly accepting. All the rebels are gone now, after all. A few surface now and then, remnants of a past that Pain had systematically destroyed in a blaze of genocide. These nin are nothing to be threatened by anymore, with no structure or country to call home. In a few years, what organization they had will fall apart at the seams. Akatsuki is a bigger threat, but in truth, she thinks that their days are numbered as well. Either they will win Konoha, or they will not, but they too shall pass.
(Privately, she thinks they will not. The people of Konoha have a strong tendency to endure.)
Konan is recognized among the people, but not known. She is worshipped and revered as a divine agent- not known and respected as a political figure. This means that they easily accept her as their leader, just as they accepted her as a savior. But they keep their distance, out of respect, out of awe, out of fear. This makes the task of selecting advisors and ministers for a council of people she will need to advise her suitably difficult.
They are, at first, far too reverent to be helpful. It isn't as though they are incompetent: she has more than enough knowledge to see to that. But they won't, can't work with her, can't see her as less than something ethereal, divine, tumbled from the heavens and still a being that is otherworldly. It is that very inhumanness that makes them silent and distant, her remove from humanity that keeps them from their tasks. When she enters, when she speaks, they worshipfully attend, and no more. No more.
She has been aware of partnership once in her life, and can't help but feel the absence and the irregularity. It won't do. But there is no other option open to her. All of her fellow inhumans have gone.
She returns to the old routine of ruling a country, squashing assassination attempts, going through interminable piles of paperwork and reports of what is happening on the borders. And she sees no one. Konan never has, in her life she has limited her company to her closest friends alone.
Now, in their grand apartments, she is for the first time aware of the empty space. They never cared about it before, furniture and decoration being at the very bottom of their list of priorities. Their apartments are spacious, but devoid of life. Every step she takes makes echoes, each echo and click of a heel reminding her that there will be no more answering footsteps. She has no one left to speak to but echoes and memories, and the people she interacts with on the basis of leadership are not people she would choose for-
What is it? Companionship?
She doesn't need that. What she misses isn't just a person, a loss that can be easily filled by another individual. She misses a piece of her own self. The three of them were like young trees grown up close to one another, their branches entwining and twisting about each other until they were no longer distinguishable as separate.
Konan will never be whole again.
Friendship is a strange thing, really. It's another concept she hasn't thought of in a long time. A term so distant it has become almost alien. She has been given teammates, yes, but they aren't the same. Akatsuki wasn't what they had when Yahiko led them, a long, long time ago.
(When she thinks of it, she hasn't had friends. She has had extensions to her soul.)
Now, she walks along the empty halls, rests in the white-walled room, and thinks.
There is the question of what is to be done with their bodies.
She could, she supposes, just keep the bodies around. After all, Konan is used to seeing the faces of the dead in living guise. Still, upon further reflection, (and it does take her some time,) she supposes it's not the most proper way to honor the spirits. Yahiko- or Yahiko's image, lived while Nagato lived. He'd used the face of a murdered hero to complete the road to victory he'd left behind.
Now that both souls had fled, there is nothing left for her but the flesh, which will soon turn to dust. Not that she intends to allow them to putrefy in a room, alone and uncared for. Presumably, the Land of Rain has burial traditions, but their history itself has been buried under war and mass murder. It will take some time to think of what she can do.
She places the dead in a room, dark and cool, in their chakra-infused paper shrouds. They should keep them whole until she finds out what to do. The time for deciding seems so short. These are the hours in which she tries to rearrange her world, which has been built on the lives of her friends, the foundations secured to their bedrock, and now that the ground beneath her has crumbled and she has only ghosts of a long-ago time of stability, she can't control her own fears and uncertainties.
In many ways, Konan feels like a boat untied from its dock, drifting with no goal.
Ways to honor the dead.
Konoha in the Land of Fire ceremonially burns its dead, scatters the ashes. Grass makes wicker coffins, and other places boil the flesh from the bones and arrange them in patterns in a family crypt. Ocean villages send the dead out to sea. There is the possibility of burial, of course. Tombs are familiar things to them, a place of bodies piled high and cold in the darkness. Konan doesn't think she'll go with that method, remembering what she has seen. Skeletons seated cold and alone for eternity, waiting to crumble.
In the war, the bodies of Amegakure people were piled into holes in the ground, left for scavengers, burned in fires. War is harsh. Before then, they tended unmarked graves, believing death made all equal.
In the end, she takes them both back home. Back to a cave, where a small grave for a dog waits for company.