Notes: I had to google what trees grow in Japan, and then everything about apple trees. I admit, this is a stupid fic but it was like a grenade in my hand, had to be written, or it might explode into flowers and turtledoves or sunbeams, since that's what this fic is made of apparently.

[I bet you're all, WTF, man, another pointless story? Tsk.]

Disclaimer: Kishimoto owns Naruto.


Growth

Shisui owns an apple tree.


Year One.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it was planted two nights after he was born. It wasn't a tradition, it wasn't some obscure rite, his father had simply been looking to get out of the house, observe the twilight, take a much-needed smoke without his wife staring hellfire at him. He'd taken the apples he'd confiscated from his idiot genin – there's one in every team – and let them fall when the shrill sound of a baby in utmost discontent went ripping through the night air.

Crunch! went one apple, and one seed took root.

Year Two.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it was a fragile sapling when Shisui came to chew on it, all shark-like teeth and squealing. Shisui crawled the grass to death around it, poked the twigs into his own eyes, tearing at its leaves with his delicate nimble hands. His father had tried to salvage it, except he wasn't as adept at fixing the broken as he was at creating it, and the plant would grow crooked for the rest of its life.

Year Three.

Shisui owns an apple tree and the sapling grows with him, inch with inch, color by color. Some days Shisui likes zipping over it, rolling around it clutching his knees to his chest, laughing himself to tears, sitting cross-legged in the mottled shade, waiting for the day he can walk over rushing water, tiptoe on a leaf without making it fall. Some days he ignores it completely, and goes looking for tadpoles with his cousins in the Nakano. Most nights he sits with his father in front of it, learning by ear all about fire and stars, currents and patterns, duty, and love.

Year Four.

Shisui owns an apple tree and, since apples never fall far from the tree, pardon the pun, and his cousin is as merciless to it as he is. He drags the toddler away from his tree, for Itachi's own safety really, since he seemed to saw it fit to choke himself with mouthfuls of leaves. Itachi doesn't cry the way he would have – Itachi didn't do things like those – but he spits the half the leafy bundle at Shisui in contempt, and vomits the rest on Fugaku, seemingly by accident.

Year Five.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it grows, brighter and lovelier, but Shisui doesn't see it. He spends days in bomb shelters and underground tunnels, nights in terror, hours in the terrible still loneliness of aftermath. The lightning crack of trees being splintered apart rips through his ears, but he hears and sees and cares for only Itachi whose head was burrowed into his little-boy palms, rocking back and forth, in time with lub-dub beating of the heart of war.

Year Six.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it grew taller than him. He didn't think it would, not when the land was barren and the river water poisoned by Iwa nin in their desperate bid for victory until it tasted sour and metallic, not when the dry earth trembled under its roots and fire rained down. He'd stared at it before going on to an empty home, disbelieving, at its height. But then he himself was so made small by war that everything grew in comparison.

Year Seven.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it thrives in muck the way Shisui never does. He recalls this while crunched down, kissing the wet dirt, on a training spiel miles away, Uchiha strong men on both sides of him, the ones who weren't throttled by war, while waiting out the torrential rains that never seemed to end. The Uchiha's greatest-in-the-making, kunai in hand, doesn't like the pools of water. When he arrives home, looking like drowned cat, the tree gloats at him.

Year Eight.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it stands crooked but proud, its branches like arms yearning to touch the sky, Shisui mimics it, striking poses instead of doing his laundry, which he's done on his own ever since the war, whenever they gave him time off from training. Behind him, water continues to pump out, spilling into the grass and making rainbows in the air.

Year Nine.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it grew so fast he almost missed it, but one day it was blooming and it was beautiful, It was too pink for him to appreciate properly, but he tried and he made bouquets for every Uchiha girl, young and old, civilian and shinobi, working while Itachi stood at the gate, the sunset highlighting the austere planes of his face, telling him he should have let them grow, what a waste.

Year Ten.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it bears fruit in a swathe of heavenly scents, crunchy flesh, sticky juice, and sweetness that numbs. Shisui eats it fresh from the stem the nights he watches stars from where he lies on the branches, the nights he can't sleep for the ravenous nightmares and voiceless screams. The smell of apple blossoms is a comfort, like his mother's cool hands, and sometimes he just falls asleep there.

Year Eleven.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it unleashes a motherload one harvest season. He's not there during the picking, being on a mission to Suna at the time, top secret, pretend you're watching the Chuunin finals, and he misses it while taking watch during the desert night, when the star-stitched sky seems endless and the warm wind magnifies every sensation, misses the fruit, misses home. He's pleasantly surprised when, three weeks later, he catches sight of apples preserved in a jar in Itachi's oustretched hand.

Year Twelve.

Shisui owns an apple tree and he'd practiced with it, on it, in it. He'd had spars while dancing on its branches, practicing chakra control on its twigs, juggled the unripe fruits with his feet, caught every single falling leaf blindfolded in autumn. As a rule, he avoids fighting with Itachi, not even to see who was stronger, which a lot of people seemed intent on finding out, but since they used different styles, and that would be comparing apples and oranges.

Year Thirteen.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it grows fatter and sturdier, and he catches Sasuke trying to climb it, reaching for a kunai that had stuck, and Shisui thinks he could understand why Itachi – hell, everybody – fell like a ton of bricks for the little kid who was reluctantly the height of wide-eyed innocence. Sasuke would grow up to be quite the ladykiller one day and, being amused just by the thought of it, Shisui can hardly wait.

Year Fourteen.

Shisui owns an apple tree and he falls in love beneath it, as the rough bark molded cracks into the skin of his back, as the grass grew dotted with sunbeams and leaf-shaped shadows that danced with the breeze, falls in love like some spring-fevered fool, and it's easy, so damn easy, like falling off the edge of a pavement he'd been walking and teetering on for forever.

Year Fifteen.

Shisui owns an apple tree and it is magnificent, vivid with life, alight with the fireflies, and Shisui almost breaks a couple of fingers trying to grind a hole through the trunk, using a technique his father wasn't granted time to teach him. He flickers around the trunk, loving life with all its complications, wanting to live it, wanting to build his own house right there, wanting to grow, wanting this, wanting that. His movement sends a layer of blossoms cascading down on him, and the scent trails him all the way to the Nakano before fading into the wind.

Year Sixteen.

Shisui owned an apple tree and it dies. No one had cared fot it.


End.

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