This story turned out differently than I expected. It was written for the ShikaNeji fanday on ygallery from this past weekend. The prompt was "rain." Seriously.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.


Fallen From the Sky

.

Leaves become most beautiful when they're about to die.

A forest surrounds Konoha.

Within that forest is a path. Follow the path and one will discover one of the last untouched areas of the village of leaf. It is not well-worn nor is it fresh, only used at times when the journey is more important than the destination.

It winds sporadically through the trees, cutting through shadow and sun. Ferns and moss taper the path the deeper it winds. Above, birdsongs warble across the canopy as deer call in the distance though remain hidden.

On a calm autumn day, two old souls walk the path.

Often, they have traveled this path, though it is never less than months between visits. As children their lives became intertwined. It was late when they met, but they made the best of the time given to them. Neither strayed far from the other, though both were wary of watchful eyes and knew a few years, the last of precious innocent days, would be the last happy times they were afforded.

They spent those years together.

It was their adult callings that led them on separate paths. However, they promised to never forget their time, their friendship, and most of all, their love, no matter what obstacles life placed in front of them.

The day before they parted, they walked this course. The younger had been told of its existence by his father who had been told by his. That day, legs moving uncharacteristically quick, he grabbed his partner's hand and led him to this place.

They followed it for hours, neither in a hurry to return nor speaking a word. Yet, both knew they had to go back, and finally, they stopped walking.

Foreheads touched and eyes remained closed, each taking the presence of the other one final time.

"Remember this place, and we'll meet here again," whispered the elder boy.

The younger opened his eyes, smiling. "As if I could forget. I was the one who showed you, remember Neji?"

Pale eyes narrowed but held only mirth. "Yes, I do. All I ask is this, no matter what you do, no matter what I do, do not forget us, Shikamaru."

"Never," the Nara whispered back, "only if you do the same."

"Of course." Lips met softly and quietly.

The last of innocence was behind them.


Yellowing leaves float on the breeze years later, showering the way in front of the two.

They walk side by side, a figure clad in black, the other in white, as their feet crush the shriveled plants, the only noise in the otherwise silent forest. Both are more worn, like the path, but there is brightness in their eyes that only comes on the days when they return to each other.

Not a word is said between them, nothing needs saying. Each knows what the other is thinking.

At last we are beside each other once again.

They continue on their journey as the warm air circles around them causing more leaves to drift around them.

A stray gets caught in the elder's hair. His companion notices and gently plucks it free. It is blood red, still fresh with life, but will soon wither and fade, returning to the earth to begin again.

Both pause at this moment, reminded of a day long ago when life ended for them both.

Dark eyes meet light as the leaf is forgotten, left to find its own way.

A hand is brought to a cheek, caressing like the gentle wind around them, as another enfolds the other into himself, and two souls intertwine once again.

Gold and crimson rain down on a barren path.

fin.


*The first line is taken from the Regina Spektor song "Time Is All Around" which was my initial inspiration for this story.

**Written for the ShikaNeji fanday on ygallery this past Saturday.