Disclaimer: Kishi. Bring Jiraiya and Asuma back - and Itachi - and I swear I'll stop plotting your overthrowing.
Title: Rosy Memories
Summary Notes: Blame my real life for my not writing more. No, seriously, because it affects my muse. Now, hope you enjoy this little piece; I had a lot of fun with it, and comments appreciated!
Yakumo remembers vividly the first time she met Sarutobi Asuma, because until that moment, she'd never seen Kurenai-sensei blush.
She had since reforged the relationship she had shared with her old sensei before their estrangement, and the events surrounding the monstrous Ido. With the monster of her nightmares gone from her heart, and a fresh understanding of everything that had happened since the death of her parents, including the actions that were in fact motivated by care for her well being on the part of her sensei, Yakumo had felt more optimistic than she'd felt in a long time, able to move about more freely than she once had, despite the knowledge that she would never be the kunoichi she had dreamed of being.
As such, it had felt completely natural, the desire to re-establish the bond between herself and Kurenai-sensei. She had been wary at first, afraid she would be rebuffed by the genjutsu mistress, or spurned by the students she now trained, but her fears had been erased the moment she'd turned up on Kurenai-sensei's doorstep and had not only been warmly welcomed and fussed over by Kurenai-sensei, but her students, too. They'd recently finished a training session and had been flopped about Kurenai-sensei's apartment, devouring the dinner their sensei had bought for them, and after the initial stand-off, Yakumo had found herself drawn into their antics. Even Shino's stoic disapproval of Kiba's loud jokes had bolstered Yakumo's confidence amongst them, and since that day, she had attempted to see her old sensei at least once a week, provided she was not out on a mission.
It had been one of those days. It had been a rather cold day, considering it was merely a week before Christmas, but the snow lining the streets of Konoha had been so bright and pretty that Yakumo couldn't help smiling as she skipped alongside - or slightly behind - Kurenai-sensei. However, considering she was bound up quite warmly in her coat and still feeling the bite of the cold, she had to wonder how exactly her old sensei was putting up with the snow and the cold, considering she still strolled about in her normal outfit of choice, without even a cloak to wear over it.
On closer inspection, Yakumo deduced that Kurenai wasn't actually handling the cold as well as she appeared to be; she was paler than usual, and under the makeup, her nose was pink, and Yakumo could have sworn she could hear teeth chattering, no matter how muted it was. However, it was Kurenai-sensei, and Yakumo knew her old sensei well enough to know that while Kurenai would fuss relentlessly over people she cared for to the point where it became rather like being harassed by a bossy mother hen (sexy big sister type notwithstanding), she was notorious for not appreciating it when somebody else tried to fuss over her.
And as gentle as Kurenai could be, she could also be rather formidable when provoked. She wasn't the strongest genjutsu artist in Konoha at present for no reason, after all.
However, if there was one thing Yakumo had in spades and shared with her old sensei, besides an affinity for genjutsu, it was that stubborness when it came to worrying about those you cared for. And thus, Yakumo pushed her way through the snow, ignoring the ache in her chest until she was at Kurenai's side. When those crimson eyes turned to gaze at her curiously, Yakumo spoke, tilting her head and placing a hand on her hip in a rather familiar pose, considering who it was she was dealing with.
"Your nose is pink, Kurenai-sensei. Aren't you cold?"
A fine, black eyebrow rose in response, and those dark garnet eyes narrowed slightly in response. Yakumo faltered slightly, not entirely as confident as she liked to pretend to be when she decided to behave like her old sensei, but she ploughed on relentlessly anyway.
"You should wear a jacket, or something, shouldn't you? You must be freezing in that outfit."
The other eyebrow arched, and Kurenai's tone was firm, though Yakumo rather thought it ruined by the slight tremor in it, no doubt brought on by the cold air.
"I'm perfectly fine, Yakumo. You, on the other hand, are looking rather pale. Have you overexerted yourself again?"
Yakumo pouted; she should have known Kurenai would attempt to turn the tables on her.
"Well, your nose is all pink! You should be wearing-"
"Well, it is!"
Kurenai opened her mouth to give her former charge a sound scolding, but broke off at the sound of a deep chuckle behind them. Not a second later, a jonin jacket that smelt just a little like smoke had been settled around her shoulders, and those red eyes widened slightly as they turned to look up at the new arrival.
Yakumo blinked in surprise, before barely resisting the urge to dive behind Kurenai-sensei when the man's laughing dark eyes turned on her. Yes, laughing eyes; she'd never seen anyone with eyes that laughed even when the person wasn't smiling. Except for Naruto, but he was another story.
"You must be Yakumo."
Yakumo blushed slightly when the shinobi spoke to her, scuffing her foot. She could smell the smoke coming from him, though the cigarette in his mouth currently wasn't lit, but despite that, his tone was simply warm and curious, plainly amused even, and not pitying or condescending like she'd grown used to. It set the girl at ease despite herself, and she actually almost giggled when the bear of a man spoke again.
"Well, it's good to know there's at least one other person around here with common sense. Seriously, Kurenai, you're going to catch pneumonia one day, if you keep walking around like that in this weather."
Yakumo's smile faded for a moment. She didn't dare look up, waiting for the blistering retort from her sensei at the man's jibe, but it was strangely absent. Blinking, the girl looked up curiously, only to find the bear-like man smiling almost fondly at the genjutsu mistress, who seemed rather preoccupied with her hands tugging the jacket around her more snugly all of a sudden.
Yakumo was also very interested to note that it wasn't just Kurenai-sensei's nose that was pink anymore.
"Ah...eh...Asuma, I don't need-"
The man snorted, though he still seemed amused rather than annoyed. "Sure you don't. And you're welcome; you can drop by later and return it once you've put on decent clothes for the weather. Anyway, I'll see around. Nice meetin' you, Yakumo."
Then he grinned again at Yakumo, who by this point, had established the man's name and had decided, in that wicked way of young people, that she liked this man very much, whoever he was to her old sensei, simply because she'd never seen Kurenai so thrown from her normal calm demeanour until this moment. So she happily grinned back at him, waving after him.
"See you around, Asuma! It was nice meeting you too!"
A lazy wave was her response before he disappeared down the street, and once he was out of earshot, Yakumo rounded on her old sensei, who was still standing there in the jacket, looking rather dazed by the encounter and the exchange between her old charge and her comrade and, er, friend.
"I didn't know you had a boyfriend, Kurenai-sensei," she said innocently, grinning wickedly when Kurenai's eyes widened and she spluttered.
"I...it's not...he's not...I don't have a boyfriend, Yakumo!"
"So he's your crush, then? I didn't know older people had crushes..."
The girl giggled when not only Kurenai's nose, but her entire face lit up in a vibrant pink, before bursting into loud gales of laughter at her old sensei's reproachful scowl. Oh yes, she'd remember forever the day she'd met the big, bear-like jonin that was Sarutobi Asuma, because until that day, she'd never seen Kurenai-sensei blush like that.