AN: Yes, it's an odd combination, Asuma/Kurenai and Saku/Lee. Yes, I am an odd person. Just trying for something close to acute here, and missing by a mile; humor me...


Tomato soup and toast; heavy futons in the middle of the floor, the stuffing snuggling around them like memory foam. The quiet rushing of buckwheat stalks in the evening breeze, and Lee holding her hand all this time.

When he doesn't come home, she doesn't know what to think.

----

Grief is a constant balancing act, and Sakura finds that it's all she can put her mind to; life is too hard to take in parcels, and so she deals with one thing at a time. Eating. Washing her hair. Sleeping sometimes.

She wishes they would just come and amputate her legs, because they no longer work; she keeps trying to run, to find high ground, but she can't escape this pall. She doesn't see him everywhere, like in the novels; there is simply an absence of Lee, a frightening hole in the universe where only he could fit; his star has fizzed out in the vastness of the velvet dark that crushes her after sunset, and the world is suddenly so much colder. She looks to heaven, but cannot locate him there no matter how the tears enhance her vision, no matter how she hopes.

She walks to Kurenai's house when she can't take it anymore; when she wakes with her soul feeling like used elastic. Maybe this woman can slow the world again, and remind Sakura of what life is worth beyond the sweet, rainy days that keep her trapped in their apartment, screaming in a vacuum.

----

Asuma scabs the cigarette against the ground, and lights another; this is the passage of eternity, the hell they all end up in. He'd been expecting flames and spiked chairs, but this is worse than anything.

Lee is beside him, staring at the ground; his eyes are wispy, dreamy, and he looks just as peaceful as he did when they shoved him into the incinerator. But he's not in the vial of ashes, the one Sakura stares at trying to realize what's happened; all he had been is now here, completely separated from what he had once known.

"I said I would never die," he remarks to no one in particular.

Asuma nods, and stamps out this cancer stick out before he's inhaled even once. He knows how long it will take Lee to stop saying that; to realize that it's futile.

"Yeah." he answers the boy. "Neither was I."


AN: When you review, to this here crew,

You lift our souls up from the mortal stew;

You make such a difference when you simply,

Simply review...

A poem for you.