Wow. This is the first non-Shards Universe fic I have done in ages. Years. It was rather weird. But I had fun. I've missed writing fluff.
For those still sticking with Strings I give you a standing ovation and the promise that I am working on the next chapter. It's just ... slow going. Battling a lack of inspiration and writer's block is hard. Currently, I'm losing badly--like Napoleon and the Waterloo badly--but that may change. Hopefully soon. I'm terribly sorry for keeping you waiting so long.
For those of you who haven't read Strings or Shards, you should, and you can just ignore the previous paragraph. Enjoy the fluff!
And review, please. Or I'll get Rin to throw a snowball at you. =P
Rin was beautiful.
Her eyes danced like twin stars and her hair swept across her cheeks as she moved. All of this passed through Kakashi's mind in a blink. The rest of him was preoccupied by her hands tugging a coat onto his lax shoulders and winding a scarf he'd forgotten he owned around his neck—or maybe it was Obito's; he didn't like orange—like a whirlwind. She was talking faster than his sleep-fogged brain could process so he found himself staring blankly as she adjusted the scarf over his nose and arched an eyebrow at him.
"You're not getting a word of this, are you?" He frowned and the scarf slipped a little, prompting Rin to fix it impatiently.
"Are we going to Snow Country?" he chanced a wild guess based on the limited clues provided to him.
She slapped his arm, pushing him sideways a step. He grimaced. Ever since Rin had trained with Tsunade, she'd become a force of nature—and she'd gotten over hitting him when they turned seventeen. At least she hadn't sent him through any walls like she had a tendency to do with Obito...
"...snowing outside." Rin's voice pulled him from his thoughts and he blinked at her in mild panic, realizing he had only caught the last pieces of her sentence.
Rin rolled her eyes at his wide-eyed look-though it wasn't really since one eye was closed and other only opened a few more millimeters, dispelling some of his usual lazy air. But when it came to Rin he might as well have stamped "uh-oh" in red on his forehead.
"I said." Rin's tone was dry but her eyes smiled. "It's snowing outside."
He glanced to left, out the window to the white flakes raining down by the billions.
Oh. So it was.
Still unsure of where this was going, he glanced back at Rin and raised a questioning eyebrow. She shook her head, sighing at his apparent stupidity—because in spite of his renowned genius, he had always been an idiot around his female teammate. "It hasn't snowed since the war."
Well, he knew that. He could clearly remember the last time he had seen snow in Konoha. He'd cursed it as he struggled through it on his way to meet his team at the gates for another handful of months on the blood soaked battlefields of the Third Great Ninja War. Snow was wet and cold and annoying, and didn't really deserve remembering or celebration when it decided to pour down from the sky.
Glancing down at the coat sitting haphazardly across his shoulders and the scarf draped around his neck and face, Kakashi finally put all the pieces together.
"You want to go out in the snow?" he asked with barely-masked dismay.
Rin nodded, looking like a child with her exuberant grin and glowing eyes. "Yes. I want to build a snowman and make snow angels and all the stupid stuff you're supposed to do when it snows."
Kakashi absently straightened his coat and sighed, running a hand through his tangled hair, still a bird's nest from sleep. Rin had hauled him out of bed about half an hour ago and he was fairly certain he was stilling wearing his pajamas under the coat. It was too early for this. And it was snow. He hated snow almost as much as he hated rain.
"Rin, people stop building snowmen and whatever else you want to do when they become teenagers. We're twenty-two," he pointed out, trying to keep his voice calm and reasonable. He didn't want to have his first crashing-through-walls experience.
Rin pinned him with a sharp glare, but kept her hands crossed over her chest. "Well, I never had a childhood, Kakashi. So I want to experience those things now. And you had even less of a childhood than I did so I want you to do it with me."
Kakashi desperately sought some form of escape. "Get Obito to go."
"Obito's on a mission, and you need to live a little. You're coming." Her voice left no room for argument, and Kakashi knew better than to press his luck—even if he was slightly offended by the implication that he had no life; he did things with Obito and Rin all the time, calling him some kind of hermit was rather unfair.
But this was Rin. Rin with her pleading/demanding eyes and her infectious laugh he never grew tired of and knew he would hear if he said yes. So he sighed and resigned himself to his fate, and as he trudged back to his bedroom to put proper clothes on, he wondered where along the twisting road of his life he'd gone from considering Rin a liability to holding her at the center of his world.
And where his ability to say no had disappeared to.
"You're doing it all wrong!" The carrot was snatched from his hand and Kakashi sighed for the thousandth time since being violently pulled from his warm bed.
"Why does he need a carrot for a nose, anyway? It's a waste of good food." For his perfectly logical question, he got snow dumped in his hair.
"That's just the way it's done," Rin declared as he frantically tried to get the cold, melting snow off his head, gasping in way that was definitely unfitting of a dignified ninja.
Rin looked a little guilty at witnessing his plight and pried his gloved hands from his hair, helping clear more of the cursed stuff away. "Sorry."
"Tsunade's rubbing off on you," Kakashi muttered bitterly as he finally shook the last remnants of snow free and pulled together the frayed edges of his dignity that he still pretended he carried around Rin.
Rin ignored him as she carefully pushed the carrot into place, forming distinguishable features on their creation. Kakashi tried not to be distracted by the way she bit her bottom lip in concentration and was glad the scarf hid his smile when she let out a triumphant victory cry and stepped back to admire her handiwork.
"There!" Placing a hand under chin, she tilted her head sideways in contemplation and frowned. "Hmmm ... I still think he needs something. Some ... flair."
"Flair," Kakashi repeated blankly and followed her gaze to the snowman. He looked fine—complete with pebbles for buttons down his front, larger rocks for eyes, and smooth stones for a slightly creepy smile. The carrot stood out proudly as a pointy nose and for two people lacking in artistic talent, Kakashi thought they should be proud.
Rin didn't seem to agree.
"Yes, flair." She turned back to him and her rich brown eyes narrowed then lit up in a look Kakashi had learned to dread over the years. Rin had an idea, involving him, that he probably wasn't going to like.
As he braced himself, his teammate hurried forward and reached behind his head, tugging his hitai-ate free. His bangs slid into his eyes and he instinctively closed his bad one, loving her too much to protest and inwardly marveling at that.
He watched in bemusement as Rin rushed back to the snowman and looped the hitai-ate around his head, tying it gently and sloping it at an angle so it covered his left pebble eye. Kakashi reached up and touched his own face in wonder—a little taken aback that she had decided to fashion their little creation after him.
"Ha! Perfect!" She clapped her hands together and turned back to him with a dazzling grin. He felt dizzy—and butterflies were floating in his stomach, like they always decided to do when he spent too much time around Rin. "What do you think?"
He glanced at the snowman and smiled behind his scarf. "I like him."
Rin lit up like the sun and Kakashi felt the air leave his lungs in a rush. "See, I knew you'd have fun. Now, we have to try snow angels."
Kakashi wasn't sure what was involved with making snow angels but he silently hoped they wouldn't have to try to build one. That could be disastrous. Doubts swirling through his head, he let Rin tug him away from the snowman to a new area of the training field. Their boots crunched loudly in the fresh snow and when they stood with unblemished white all around them, Rin stopped.
"Here looks like a good place."
Kakashi was beyond confused, but before he could open his mouth to ask for clarification, Rin flopped onto her back, pulling him along. He let out a startled yelp of surprise and gasped when his back hit the snow and it swiftly began to seep through the feeble layers of his clothing, brushing icy fingers across his spine.
"Rin!" he cried in shock and struggled to get up.
Her arm held him down and her giggles broke the panic, reassuring him that this wasn't some new form of torture and they weren't being attacked. "Easy, relax. This is part of making snow angels, silly."
"Really?" he griped, squirming uncomfortably as some of the snow beneath him began to melt under his oppressive body heat.
Rin smiled at his obvious discomfort, getting Kakashi to show emotion was always a victory in her own private war against her teammate's painful childhood and life on the battlefield. "Yes, now stop whining and let me show you what to do."
"I'm not whining," Kakashi insisted and got slapped across the chest, pushing him further back into the snow. "Okay, fine."
"Baby," Rin teased, smirking at his weary glare.
"Is the point of this lying here until you're soaked to bone and freezing?" he asked wryly.
"No. Okay, you have to wave your arms and legs like this." Rin shifted her limbs in a strange flailing motion. It almost looked like she was trying to fly—only using her legs for wings, as well—and he didn't see the point of it at all. After a few minutes of this—and Kakashi wondering if Rin was dying or mentally unstable because no sane, living person would do this willingly—the brown-haired kunoichi finally stopped.
"There, I think that should do it." She turned her head and smiled charmingly at him. He could see where this was going and he was not, under any circumstances going to... "Now you try."
He'd forgotten about his inability to say no to Rin.
Grumbling, he copied Rin, feeling utterly ridiculous and once again eternally grateful for the scarf and the way it hid his blush. After what felt like an eternity, he stopped and shot a pleading look in her direction. "Is that enough?"
With a quiet chuckle, Rin nodded and sat up, brushing snow from her wet hair and purple scarf. "Sure, Kakashi." Her eyes turned teasing. "I can see how much this is killing you."
So, maybe the scarf didn't hide the blush as well as he'd thought. Perfect.
With an embarrassed grumble disguised as irritation, Kakashi moved to prop himself up on his elbows, but before he could shift his arms into position, Rin's hand slammed down on his chest, pinning him in place with a startled "oof!"
"Not like that!" the kunoichi scolded in response to his questioning look. "You'll ruin it." Questioning morphed into puzzled, and Rin rolled her eyes again. "Here." She knotted her gloved fingers through his and pulled him upright with one forceful tug.
He struggled to regain his equilibrium even as he marveled for the hundredth time at her strength, shaking more snow loose from his damp hair. "So, now what?" If sitting up would ruin whatever it was his jerky movements had created, how on earth was he supposed to stand?
Rin bit her lip thoughtfully. "Actually, I'm not sure."
Kakashi gaped—another undignified gesture hidden by the scarf. "What? I thought you knew how this worked."
"I've never done this before, alright!" Rin shot back defensively, waving her hands in frustration.
"But you knew what to do before...."
"My mom told about how to do it, before she died. She lived in Snow Country for a while."
"Oh," Kakashi murmured, anger vanishing like the flakes hitting his jacket.
Rin ran an agitated hand through her hair in a manner eerily similar to Obito. "I just don't remember what she said about getting up without ruining the angel."
Kakashi figured it was about time he put his genius brain to use—also forgetting that he never acted particularly smart around Rin. He searched quickly for a solution to their sudden dilemma because snow was soaking through his clothes into uncomfortable places and he was freezing.
"Maybe we can use Shunshin?"
"You have to be standing for that."
"That'll crush one of the wings."
"Maybe if I put my hands outside the angel I can push myself to my feet."
"That ... might work."
It was worth a try, before he died of frostbite, so with gritted teeth, Kakashi executed his brilliant plan—which ended up involving a lot more starts and stops and fumbling, and frantic directions and warnings from Rin, than originally imagined. At last, shivering and kissing the last of his pride good-bye, Kakahsi was standing. Unable to look Rin in the eyes, he offered her his hands and hauled her to her feet with considerably less trouble.
Unfortunately, he pulled too hard and she crashed into his chest, knocking him backwards into the snow again. He spluttered and cursed while she laughed into his coat. Her laughter was deep and rich and he found himself not caring about how cold he was—the sound warmed him down to his bones.
Even if his dignity was gone forever. It was time he stopped pretending anyway.
"Well ... that went well," Rin said when she could breathe properly again, words still laced with quiet giggles.
Kakashi managed to sit up. "Of course it did," he replied with mock affront. "I'm a genius."
Rin laughed harder, and Kakashi didn't think he'd ever been quite this happy in his life. "C'mon. We have to see how the angels turned out."
They clambered to their feet in a tangle of limbs, still leaning on each other. Kakashi determined it was acceptable to drape his arm over Rin's shoulders and cheered silently when she hugged his side, looping an arm around his waist. It was only to share body heat, he lied to himself unconvincingly and left it at that, focusing instead on the ground at their feet.
Because there, side by side, were two angel imprints in the snow. From up above, he could see now that his seemingly random movement had etched out wings and a dress in the white earth. There was a lesson about life in there somewhere, he knew, but for now Kakashi just let himself be amazed.
"They're beautiful," Rin decided happily, grinning up at him.
"Yeah," he agreed softly. "They are."
Then Rin did something to throw him even more off-balance: knelt in the snow and scrawled their names in front of the angels, joining them together with a plus.
Kakashi + Rin.
What did that equal, he wondered, and ignored the answer screaming at him. He was too enraptured with how full he felt inside to dig deeply into any of this. He loved Rin. That was simple and terrifying and he would leave it at that.
Rin straightened and brushed some of the strands of hair plastered to her cheeks behind her ears, taking his hand nonchalantly, as though she hadn't implied something incredible moments before. He laced his fingers through hers, and together they crunched back toward the road, passing the snowman with a wave and a shared smile.
"So," Rin looked up at him curiously as they ambled back to the village and warmth, "did you have fun?"
Kakashi paused to digest the question. He was still a little disgruntled about the rude wake-up, he was soaked to the bone, and he was worried that his fingers and toes had somehow fallen off, but Rin had laughed and smiled and pretty much said she loved him.
That was worth everything, he decided. But he was afraid to tell her that; didn't have to tell her that.
Squeezing her hand and saying "yes" was enough.