I sat, watching the stars. They taunted me, twinkling high above as I watched them dance and laugh, far beyond my reach. I sighed. The beach around me was empty; not many people go on evening strolls.
I looked to my side. Vaguely in my past, I recalled coming here. There was a festival, and my sensei had taken our group to go see it. We ran away, of course; we scattered like the wind among crowds of people, immersed in the lights and stalls about us. We were young children then, and as we ran along I remember being dazzled by the food and objects surrounding us: cooked meat permeating the air, people yelling back and forth, long lines, and trinkets and goods being bartered and bought. My best friend and our gang of girls dashed around, giggling and squealing.
I remember we managed to steal some food; you learn how to pull those sorts of things off when you go to ninja school. As we walked along, munching on the fruit of last week's training, I saw him. He was walking along, shoulders slightly hunched, but nonetheless with a purposeful stride in his step. I forced myself to breathe; I couldn't let my best friend know who I liked. I dropped my gaze to focus on my meat, but if I were to glance just slightly up, I would still have him in my line of sight.
I turned quickly to talk to Ino when I started; my friends were gone! I frantically looked around, but they were nowhere to be seen.
And then my eyes alighted on him again.
I took a deep breath and then ran towards him. It felt as if it took forever to reach him as I pushed past dozens of people, shoving against the flow of the crowd. I was being swept away when I finally gave in to my panic.
"Sasuke-kun!" I yelled as I tried to push desperately past a young couple. They didn't separate; in fact, the girl made a face at me and clung tighter to her lover.
Suddenly he was there. He held their hands apart, and shoved them out of the way as he glared at me.
"well, come on," he said, and tossed the couples hands away. He turned to leave, and I followed. I quickly turned around to look back at the couple. The girl stood with tears in her eyes, a look of utter confusion and something I didn't recognize at the time etched on her face, while the boy stood with his head facing us; while she looked at him, he simply glared off into the distance towards my retreating form.
I turned back around and followed Sasuke's footsteps. We walked like that, silently, before he stopped suddenly and wheeled around. We were at the edge of the festival now, and I didn't want to turn around and look upon all the ground I would have to cover just to find the bus again.
"Aren't you done following me yet?" he asked in an irritated tone. I stuttered something about being trampled by the crowd, and he rolled his eyes.
"Look, whatever," he said, " but I'm not going back until it's time to leave, and since you're a goody- two- shoes, you should just go back." With that, he turned on his heel and began to run farther away from the little school field trip.
I didn't even bother thinking; I just set out after him. I was always like that: a follower, never the leader. Even now, I'll never measure up to any of the really strong ninja of today, but looking back, I did a lot of stupid things without thinking, simply because they weren't stupid at the time. Like following him when I knew it would lead to trouble.
But at the time, the only logical thing for a girl in love to do was to follow the boy of her dreams to wherever he lead her. So I set out after him.
We ran along for a long time, and before I knew it the cement below my shoes had turned to pebbles, then sand, and honking horns and chattering voices had been traded in for the sound of waves running back and forth against the ground I ran on.
Finally, we slowed down. I caught my breath. He turned again, and for a moment I thought he was going to be upset at me again, but he turned towards the ocean. He looked across it to the city on the other side of the bridge connecting the city to the island we were on now. He nodded, and I saw a smile on his lips. This was before he stopped smiling, before any reason to smile was destroyed before his eyes. But it still took my breath away.
"Nii-San said I would be able to see it from here," he said contentedly, and proceeded to plop down on the sand. I blinked, surprised.
"You have a nii-san?" I asked, startled. He nodded, still looking off into the distance.
"Yeah," he said, and we fell into silence again, him staring out into the distance, and me glancing around nervously.
"Uhm..." I asked shyly, "what did your nii-san say you would be able to see here?"
He looked back at me and grinned.
"I don't know," he said, "but he said it would be a surprise." he paused, then said, "I think he means fireworks."
"What?" I asked, puzzled.
"He said it would be something I like a lot, and it was in his favorite song."
And then he started singing.
"Afureru hito de..."
And I sat, mesmerized by the song. I didn't really understand the true meaning behind the lyrics, but I was more than delighted to discover that my crush had a lovely singing voice, and even more delighted to discover that he was singing just for me.
"Kimi no koto kirai ni, naretara ii no ni kyou Mitai na hi ni wa kitto mata omoidashite shimau yo ko-"
"Teach me," I said suddenly. He looked at me, a slightly stunned expression on his face, before he flashed that stunning smile at me again.
"Afureru hito de..."
And we sat there as night fell and the stars danced and laughed, twinkling teasingly at us as I learned the lyrics to a song that only I probably remember now.
And suddenly, the sky burst into light. Sasuke jumped up from the ground, and I stood, transfixed. The sky lit up with fireworks, with all sorts of brilliant designs and sudden flashes of shining colors.
I turned and glanced to my side. Sasuke stood, his mouth agape, head tilted up, completely transfixed by the fireworks before us.
The show must have lasted for about 30 minutes, but I didn't even watch most of it. I watched Sasuke's eyes reflect them, his own eyes twinkling more than the balls of light shooting into the sky. I watched his face as he stood there, looking so overjoyed that it still makes me want to cry.
At the time, though, I didn't mind crying as much, so I let the waterworks go. I was sobbing pretty badly by the end of the show, so much so that Sasuke threatened to leave me behind in the walk back if I didn't shut up. That made the tears slow, but they were still escaping when we made it back to the festival.
We were met by an angry Iruka, and the trip was cut short after Naruto was caught stealing ramen from a vendor.
I've never forgotten that song he taught me. Years later, all of us but Sasuke (who had long ago left us for Orochimaru) and Iruka (who had to give lessons to the children who were placed in the summer classes at The Academy) decided to go on a trip to that island again: a beach vacation for all of us to enjoy. In fact, a lot of others came with us, but at the end of the day I had wandered down the beach, past the location of the festival from my past, and found myself remembering those sentimental memories. I smiled halfheartedly, and glanced back at the sky before beginning to walk even farther past that spot.
And the urge to sing just kept growing, and growing.
And so I gave in to another foolish, childish thing: I began singing the song, just as he had taught me to sing it.
"Afureru hito de..."
And I kept singing. And singing. And when I reached the point where I had stopped learning, I just made up words, and then repeated the parts I did know.
And suddenly, a sudden explosion made my heart stop beating for a moment. I jolted and turned towards the sound.
And brilliant flashes filled my vision.
And suddenly I felt like I was young again, like all the stupid things I've ever done were perfectly sane decisions. I began walking again, slowly, singing so loudly my lungs felt like bursting, my feet becoming dirty as I walked through the parts of the beach where the ocean and sand mingle together; and all the while, a rhythm of fireworks set the night sky above me aglow.
But finally, I finished singing, and on cue, what felt like hundreds of fireworks shot up into the sky for the grand finale, and the sky shimmered faintly as the last sparks receded into nothingness. I stopped walking, and turned towards the other coast, across an ocean of dark waters that just moments ago were dancing and rippling with bursts of glistening colours; reflections of a moment in time that, somehow, I knew I had seen before, years ago, when I had followed the boy I loved.
I stood there in silence, and closed my eyes. All that I could hear was the sound of the ocean sliding over the sand as it's waves came ashore.
And all at once, things came full circle. Someone called my name, and at the sound of his voice, my heart stopped for a few moments.
And I turned, knowing exactly who was behind me, and how I felt for him; and I knew that even though things had changed, just as the memory of that moment in time would stay with me forever, my heart would be his forever.