Title: Rustling

Author: Nebiru (ex-Kizune)

Pairing: ShunUki – and, yes, this is yaoi, so beware.

Raiting: PG-13

Genre: AU, angst, romance.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the arrangement of words.

Summary: the life of a single person in the eyes of an old, wise tree.

Author's comments: This was originally written in my native language. So this is another translation. (more like a simple sketch). Reviews are welcome.)

It is a wise tree.

It has been standing here for several centuries already.

Thick, winding branches gloomily stretch over the ground.

Day after day it watches people scampering about the park.

In blinding summer heat foolish boys try to climb to his peak. In the coolness of spring mornings worried mothers look at his swelling buds, wishing the warmth would come sooner. In cold autumn evenings, under the burning red and yellow foliage, young girls cry, when too cruel "no" is the only answer to the yearning of their aching hearts.

And only in the frosty winter – when impudent blizzards are swarming about the park, covering the earth with piles and piles of snow, this wise tree slumbers, enjoying the rare silence and quiet.

Alas! But not today.

Bloody-red spots on the snow by his mighty roots look somehow… downright wrong. Ugly.

And hoarse coughs, shaking the body of yet a young boy, sound too awful - like bursts of thunder.

The tree frowns and if it had been able to move, it would surely have wound the thin figure with its mighty branches.

Because the boy can barely stand on his own feet. Pale fingers desperately search for the support from the thick trunk, and the boy leans against him, trying to breathe in some air.

The tree has seen a lot in his lifetime, but nonetheless - a human had yet to surprise him the way that young boy did.

- Hi! - says the little human – his voice sounds too hoarse – and then he is sliding tiredly down to the tree's roots on a cold carpet of snow. The tree looks around, but there are only two of them.

- I'll just stay here for a while, okay? – explains the boy, his thin hand slowly following the dark and deep lines of thick bark. The touches are tender, but the tree feels itself a little bit uncomfortable. Nobody has ever tried to talk to him. Sure, he tasted the humans' tears; he suffered the loss of his branches and leaves; there were times when someone wanted to chop him down and days, when foolish creatures were carving their names on his trunk, but not even once a person tried to address him.

- I am such an idiot, - the boy suddenly whispers, pressing his messy top to the tree's trunk, - I don't have the right to love him, you know?

Thin fingers lower down to the snow – right where the bloody spots are – and dig bitterly into the red and white surface.

- That's why I… mustn't. And he… he is so nice. The best person in the whole world. My best friend…

With sadness the tree watches as tears gather in the beautiful hazel eyes. It wants to tell the boy, that everything will pass and be all right, but in those eyes he sees, that… no. The love it is. Not for a year, and not for two, but for life. If the boy survives that long, of course…

For some time the boy stays silent, listening to the songs of the approaching snowstorm, and then, still unsteady, gets up to his feet.

- I can't allow myself to be such a crybaby, can I? - he smiles, - It won't do.

The tree nods in its thoughts, wishing to try to keep the boy's spirits up, but it doesn't know how.

- Sorry for bothering you. I promise to visit you some time later, if you're not against it, okay?

The thin figure disappears down the lane without waiting for an answer.

Time flows slowly. Season comes after season. The years pass, and the tree still spreads and throws off its leaves in due time. With some amount of worry it notices that summers are becoming longer, winters – colder, the autumn rains fall more often, and the air around becomes filled with rotten scents. Especially now, in the summer drought. When you want so much to drink some cool water, but there is no way to.

The tree doesn't recognize the boy right away. Only when he, smiling, lets his hand touch the chapped from the heat bark. The tree rustles thoughtfully with its foliage, covering the thin body with a refreshing shadow.

- Thanks, - says the human, and the tree suddenly understands, how old the boy had become. Must have grown up – how many years had passed? The pale face acquired the ill color, wrinkles hid themselves in the corners of his eyes, and it seems like his fingers had grown even thinner.

- I promised I'd come, - whispers the boy playfully – but no-no, a man now. Only very ill – time after time holds up a handkerchief to his mouth and stifles the angry coughs.

- Still in the land of living! - nods the man cheerfully as if reading the tree's thoughts, - And you know what? He said he'd come today. Since we had finished the university, we rarely see each other. He is working hard, and I am not allowed to leave the hospital… But today…

- Juu!

The tree watches, how from the shadows of the nearest lane – with a broad smile – appears a man. Tall and tanned – almost breathing with life. Unshaved and in the crumpled clothes. With little devils, dancing in his brown eyes. The tree snorts. Huh! Apparently a typical ladies' man.

But then there is an undeniable happiness in the eyes of Juu, and it makes the worriedly rustling foliage fall silent. It is love. Oh, dear…

They sit together on the grass, having covered the ground with a wide blanket near the tree's mighty roots, and the tree has no choice but to listen to their conversation. Though it seems like the tanned one is the one keeping up the talk, and Juu… Juu just smiles warmly. Laughs, even if there is no reason to. And the tree suddenly, desperately wants to shout, to whip that ladies' man across his face with its branches.

Why the hell are you sitting there, you fool? Can't you see?

Take him! Take him in your arms. Do it!

But… no.

The day is approaching its end, the bottle of sake turns out to be empty, and the tree one more time tries to hide the sadness and the bitterness, smoldering in the hazel eyes.

- Juu… - suddenly says his friend in a serious voice, and the tree freezes, feeling as the air around becomes denser. There are black clouds on the horizon, and crooked lightning slowly begins to draw flashes at the edge of the sky, - Juu… how long?

The man with the unusual grey hair sighs tiredly, and the tree moans in hopelessness in rhythm with the rising wind when it finally hears the answer.

- Two months, Shun. Perhaps… a little longer.

And then - that Shun is… embracing him. As if saying his last goodbye.

And Juu… poor Juu… thin hands slide down the broad back, almost not believing in such a sudden and generous gift. Hides his messy top in the strong shoulder, secretly breathing in the other's smell. And then, when Shun leaves… almost choking with tears – like back then, many years ago – leans his cheek against the rough trunk.

- I don't think I will come again… - whispers Juu, and the tree wants so much to fold him in his branches, - Isn't Shunsui just wonderful? Sometimes lazy, of course, and foolish, but he is… the only one.

Juu goes away, when the storm and the downpour pounce together upon the earth, his back hunched.

The tree watches him leave, gulping down the needed and long-awaited water, but the water has a disgusting iron taste, and the tree thinks that Juu's blood must be of the same flavor.

The autumn passes; the playful winter furiously throws around heaps and heaps of snow. Then the spring floods come, and after - once more the summer holds the earth in its befuddling clutches of deathly heat. And the tree is eternally happy, when summer finally leaves, yielding to the magnificent and colorful fires of autumn.

It is a warm evening, clouding the mind with its sweetness. The nature around is silent and quiet, the small river rumbles pleasantly nearby, and people can be seen, walking here and there.

And suddenly the tree holds its breath, throwing around yellow and red foliage in surprise.

Because it is Juu, standing near him, smiling and caressing his thick trunk with his hands.

He is yet too pale, but minutes pass, and there are no coughs. Only the wild smile and the gentle touch.

- Missed me? – asks Juu, and the tree creaks in agreement with its thin branches on the wind.

- I had to go through the operation, - finally Juu tells him the truth, - The doctors thought I wouldn't survive, but… I made it. I am as healthy as one can be right now.

The tree throws happily the yellowish leaf at the man, and the leaf lands slowly on the grey hair. The tree likes to listen to Juu's laugh in response. But then Juu falls silent again, watching out for somebody in the nearest lane in worry.

- Shun will come soon, - says the man, - I want to tell him about my feelings… Should I, how do you think?

The tree remembers the tanned ladies' man with some amount of doubt, but in Juu's kind eyes - there is still so much warmth, that the tree has no other choice but to rustle in support. It watches as the man bits his lower lip, folds his hands and tucks the annoying strand of hair behind his ear.

When the familiar figure appears down the lane, Juu feverishly whispers:

- Please, God. I don't need anything else…

And the tree looms angrily above the second visitor, throwing at him hordes of dead brown leaves.

Of course this wise old tree has heard many prayers during its long life, but it had never – never wished so much, with all its heart and soul, that this silent prayer would be answered by someone.

Can you hear, you idiot down there? Don't break his heart. Don't you dare! Too many scars are already on it.

- Phewww, everything all right, Juu? Could barely leave work…

- Shun, I am… - and Juu freezes, trying to tell his friend the truth, but not a single sound manages to fall from his lips.

You, fool! – the tree cries silently – Just say it! Just three simple words!

But Juu stoops, puts his arms around himself, and the tree hunches in grief together with him. The bitterness fawns upon the earth under the tree's roots. Why, Juu… Why you…

And then the pile of leaves, covering the damp ground, suddenly rustles, and the tree cheers with its last red flames, watching as Shun grabs the man by the shoulders, pushes him to the trunk and covers his mouth with his lips. And Juu… Juu… How bright his eyes are shining! How ridiculously long it takes the surprise to turn into joyous tears, sliding down the pale cheeks. Thin fingers slowly find their way in the man's dark hair.

The tree crowns the two with a cascade of colorful leaves. This is his last foliage, but for these two… there is nothing he would not part with.

- You little coward, - whispers Shun, kissing away the tears and puts his scarf around Juu's neck, when a cold gust of wind makes the man tremble.

Juu wants to say something, but Shun shakes his head and pulls him closer.

And the tree is very sad that he can't move and embrace them both.

But he is happy together with them and enjoys the thought, that there are still things in this rotten world that you should believe in. Things you should wait for.

And before leaving Juu smiles to him, but the tree knows, that the man will definitely come again.

Only next time – he would not be alone.

They shall come together.

w/n: 07.10.10

t/d: 01-03.06.11