Disclaimer: As per usual, I own nothing related to Fate/Stay Night or Nickelback.
When It's Spring Again
"Please let me take you out of the darkness and into the light
'Cause I have faith in you, that you're gonna make it through another night
Stop thinking about the easy way out
There's no need to go and blow the candle out
Because you're not done, you're far too young
And the best is yet to come."
The long winter ended.
It was spring.
Rin visited often, which surprised Sakura for some reason she couldn't quite identify. Certainly, her sister had no reason to come by the Emiya household as often as she did; she seemed to somehow have the energy to split her time between the Association in London and her home grounds, even with the case looming over her head like a guillotine.
If Rin was nervous, she never showed it.
Sakura glanced up. Her sister was sipping absently from a cup, eyeing the bright pink patch of color that had been set on the kitchen table. She smiled. "Oh, yes. They were growing out by the shed. Do you like them?"
"They're… pink." Rin paused, took another sip from her cup. "Very pink."
The words were simple and blunt, quite like her sister was; for some reason, the younger girl found it funny and chuckled, turning back to the light meal she was preparing for them both. "Indeed," she said. "But I like them, they add a little bit of light to the house, don't you think?"
"I suppose," the older magus murmured, not seeming to pay attention to the conversation. She took a deep breath. "Sakura?"
Purple eyes glanced up again; she smiled pleasantly. "Yes, Nee-san?"
"My offer still stands." Rin drained her cup in one gulp, needing to wet her throat. "About living with me when I come home, once the case is settled."
"… Oh." Sakura turned completely now, clasping her hands in front of her skirt. Her smile was pleasant, and stayed in place. "I appreciate the offer, Nee-san, but we already discussed this. I want to—"
"Stay here. Yeah, I know." Rin waved a hand, cutting her sister off. She was quiet for a long moment, her teal eyes darting around, before they settled on the flowers again. She set the cup down on the table, and swallowed. "Sakura."
She was still smiling, oh so pleasantly. "Yes?"
The black-haired girl exhaled, shakily, and finally met her sister's eyes. "He isn't coming back."
The smile cracked, just a little bit, around the edges. "Nee-san."
Rin ignored her. "He isn't coming back," she repeated quietly, her eyes so sharp, so piercing, as they gazed into Sakura's. "You haven't said it, not even once, so I'm saying it for you." She tossed her hair back and squared her shoulders, even as she felt the hard, hot lump forming in her throat. "Shirou is dead."
The smile broke and wavered dangerously, barely even maintaining itself. "Nee-san."
Rin continued on. "He died in that cavern, Sakura," she said. "He won't ever come back. You can… you can stay here as long as you want, you can fill this house with as many pretty flowers you can find." When her eyes began to blur, her voice hardened. "And Shirou will never come back to this house, and never see these flowers. Because he's dead."
The smile was breaking apart piece by piece, becoming notably less pleasant the longer Rin talked. Sakura's hands began to tremble, oh so slightly. "Please, Nee-san." Her voice was high-pitched, and the cheer was as forced as the light in her eyes. "I really don't understand why you want to talk about this. I've made my decision, so I think—"
The sound of flesh hitting flesh echoed through the house. In the hallway, sweeping by the door, Rider jolted in surprise.
Her eyes stony, her lips pressed tightly together, Rin lowered her hand. The bruise forming on Sakura's cheek was already beginning to darken, but it would probably fade before the day was out.
The smile finally broke. Stunned, confused, teary eyes looked at her sister.
Rin's hand trembled; she clenched it into a fist. "If you want to stick your head in the sand and pretend Shirou is still alive, be my guest," she hissed. "But you know the truth as well as I do. And you know why he died."
Sakura said nothing. She opened her mouth, distinctly knew she wanted to say something, but the words wouldn't form. The tears were slipping down her cheek, and she wasn't even feeling them.
"I can forgive a lot of things, Sakura." Suddenly weary beyond all belief, Rin turned away, digging through the pocket of her jacket. "But if you spend the rest of your life pining after him when he gave up everything to save you, then going into that cavern wasn't worth it in the first place."
Sakura closed her mouth with a small, audible click. The tears were hot and painful against her skin.
Quietly, Rin retrieved a piece of paper and set it down on the table. "That's my number," she said. "They've given me a cell phone, to keep in contact with anyone still in Fuyuki. Call me, if you want to."
And with that, she left the kitchen, not even bothered by the scent of food burning.
Sakura was quiet for a good, long while after her sister left. She waited until she heard Rider murmur a soft farewell, until she heard the door close.
Then she crumbled to her knees, buried her face into her hands, and wept.
It was raining in London. Fitting, Rin supposed, to set the mood of the day.
All things considered, under other circumstances she might have enjoyed the place. It had always been her dream to come to London and pursue a higher education, a better calling for her abilities as a magus. It was a little hard to appreciate actually living the dream, to some extent, when she was facing the Association for the Magic she had used during the War, and was constantly being eyed by overweight, sweaty men who only saw her as breeding potential.
She'd be home, soon; or, at the very least, she'd know her fate. The trial was set to begin in only minutes, and it was taking all of her willpower to not shake like a loose leaf caught in the wind. So focused was she on not having a minor breakdown right then and there that it didn't dawn on her until a few minutes later than her cell phone was ringing.
She shoved a hand into her pocket and fished around for the device, quickly flipping it open so it wouldn't go to voicemail. Breathless, she brought it to her ear. "Hello?"
"I'm horrible to live with."
There was an awkward, three second pause. Rin licked her lips. "Okay?"
"I really, really am." Sakura rushed on in one breath, as if Rin hadn't spoken. "I… I don't even really sleep at night, anymore, I kind of just wander around, so I'll be making a lot of noise when you want to rest. And even when I do sleep, I have nightmares, so my screams will probably wake you up. And I… I don't know why, but ever since you left I just cry for no good reason, and I don't know if you'd appreciate that." She exhaled heavily on the other end of the line. "I'm really, truly horrible to live with, Nee-san."
"… Okay?" Rin tried weakly.
"And I'd want to bring Rider with me."
"… Okay." It seemed to be her default response to everything Sakura was saying at the moment. Rin ran a hand through her hair and tried to compose her thoughts. "Um… we'll talk about it when I get home." She paused, then finally asked the question she knew her sister wanted to hear. "So, uh, you want to live with me?"
She could have sworn she heard her sister sob once, softly, in relief.
Rin smiled and felt much, much happier than she had any business feeling at the moment. "Okay."
It was raining in London. In spite of that, Rin felt as though she was being bathed warm rays of sunlight.
It was spring.
"… It's pink."
Sakura giggled, absently wiping the dirt from her hands; purple hair spilled all around her, and Rider lightly brushed it out of her eyes. "It's my favorite color."
Rin was quiet; her only response was to lift a brow, eyeing the bright pink patches of flowers her sister had started planting around their house the moment the weather had started to warm up again. "It's really pink."
Sakura laughed out loud now, getting to her feet. "Is that all you can say, Nee-san? I really worked hard on them, you know."
"I've always been more a fan of red," Rin murmured, and Rider snorted in amusement. Lifting her voice so Sakura could hear her, she instead said, "I know you did. They do look really nice."
Her sister's eyes gleamed playfully. "But you only notice the pink."
"Well… yeah. Yeah, I do." She shrugged. "They're pretty, though." And she had to admit, they did brighten the place up.
"The whole house will be pink if you don't watch out," Rider commented with a grin, and yelped in protest when Sakura smacked her lightly over the shoulder.
Rin chuckled. If pink made her little sister this happy, then she could endure it.
There was a moment of silence; Rider continued to work on the plants, but Sakura seemed lost in her own world for the moment, thinking. Finally, she spoke, her voice soft. "Nee-san?"
"Do you think we could take some to Senpai's grave?" Her voice wavered, cracked, just a little bit. "I think he'd like them."
There was an ache in her chest now; she assumed it would always be that way. Quietly, the older girl draped an arm around her sister's shoulders, gave her a light squeeze.
"Sure, why not?"
Winter returned during the night.
It returned with its chill, its chains, and wrapped around her so tightly sometimes that she felt that even if she screamed for help, Rider wouldn't hear her. The winter of night chased away the warmth of spring and woke Sakura in the darkness, covered in sweat, choking on her own screams of loss and terror as images she could just barely remember flashed through her mind.
When the winter became too much, when her thoughts began to slip and shift like the shadows of her bedroom—he's just hiding, of course, it's just a game, if I wait long enough Senpai will come back, I'll find him, I just have to go back home and wait—she wrapped her blanket tightly around herself, climbed out of bed, and started the trek to her sister's room.
The chains followed at her feet like loyal dogs, rattling and whispering. But they were silenced, mercifully silenced, in the warmth of Rin's room.
The first night they had slept like that, curled together and just listening to breathing and heartbeats, it had been awkward and there hadn't been much sleep at all. But over time, the awkwardness had faded, to a point where all Sakura needed to do now was stand in the doorway, and Rin would pull back the covers.
Winter snarled and hovered like a hungry wolf at Rin's door, but it never entered the warmth.
Sleeping in Rin's arms was different from how it had been with Shirou; Rin was a snuggler, often nuzzling into her and holding onto her just tightly enough to make breathing a tad difficult, and her hair spilled all around them and her breasts were warm and firm against Sakura's, so their heartbeats often matched paces.
But it was still a wonderful feeling all the same.
Sakura wondered when, exactly, she had begun to crave it.
It was spring.
"Sakura, aren't you graduating soon?"
In fact, her sister was working on homework right at that particular moment; she looked up, her red ribbon tangled in her hair, and blinked owlishly as she tried to adjust the focus of her attention. "I am, yes."
Rin sipped from her tea, curious. "Have you thought about what you'll do after that?"
A long, awkward pause followed this sentence. "Um," Sakura said, very intelligently. She blushed a little and turned back to her project. "I haven't really thought about it, to be honest."
She'd expected it, really; Sakura had never been like Rin, with a set path for her life. Her only purpose under Zouken had been to serve as his corrupted Grail, and to be discarded once she was no longer of any use. She wasn't inclined to the way of magi; the one time Rin had suggested intensifying her studies and aiming for London, Sakura had shrugged it off.
"Is it bad that I haven't?" Sakura seemed concerned by her sister's silence. "I mean, I've spoken to Fujimura-sensei about some of my options, but I don't really have anything solid yet…"
Rin quickly shook her head. "No, it's fine. I was just curious." She took another sip, grinned a little. "Looking forward to graduation?"
Sakura smiled sheepishly. "It's not like I plan to go anywhere."
"Mmm." The magus in red simply shrugged. A silence fell, and it was a comfortable one.
Rin smirked wickedly. "Hey, Sakura."
"I saw Rider making out with Ayako behind the archery dojo the other day."
Sakura choked on the very oxygen she was inhaling.
Winter came by less and less often, these days.
Sakura still felt the cold, tight chains from time to time; she probably always would, for the rest of her life. The nightmares were fading, and she was sleeping through the night, but she could never quite fight back that sharp, empty feeling when she stood in front of Shirou's grave, no matter how many bright, colorful flowers she brought from him.
But even when the season ended, spring lingered.
She'd been talking to Taiga a lot more lately, spending more time with the older woman as graduation neared and she tried to decide what to do with her life. In the teacher she found a surrogate mother, a warmth she had never known, and she treasured the shift in their relationship. While she was still uncertain of exactly what her plan would be, Taiga had offered to speak to her grandfather to at least get her a part-time job to ride out the year, and that was good.
Rider was happy, and it delighted Sakura to see her that way. Whether or not she had, in fact, made out with Ayako behind the archery dojo as Rin claimed was still a matter of dispute, but Sakura preferred not to think very hard about her Servant's sex life.
And always, always, was there warmth in Rin herself.
Sakura had waited, right from the start, for spring to fade from her sister; for the cold winter to set in, and for the older girl to become tired of her, cast her aside, and move on to become the grand magus their father had always intended her to be. She had waited, but it never came. Rin was still as warm, as kind, as snarky and gentle as she had been from the very beginning.
Even when Sakura could sleep through the night without waking up in a nightmare-induced fit of terror, when the younger girl went to her sister's room and sought her out, Rin never turned her away.
Spring had settled in Rin, and it wasn't leaving her anytime soon.
Sakura wondered often, when she was alone, when it had happened; when she had stopped feeling pain over memories of spiky red hair, sheepish golden eyes, and a kind smile. When she had started to live, really live, for curly black hair, gleaming eyes of teal, and a wicked smirk with a hint of warmth behind it.
It was spring.
Rin was sitting next to her, lounging lazily by the front door of the Tohsaka mansion; her legs stretched out, her head tilted back, her eyes closed. She looked like a cat curled in a patch of sunlight.
"Well, yeah." Sakura shifted, tried to get comfortable, and waved when Rider zoomed by on her bike. "I'm thinking, maybe to be a teacher or something. Like Fujimura-sensei."
"I could see you doing that." Rin cracked open an eye to survey her younger sister. "You'd be good with kids, I think."
Sakura blushed at the praise.
They were silent after that, enjoying the warmth and brightness of the day. Rider passed by a second time, now pursued by a small puppy intent on biting her bicycle tires to death.
Finally, Sakura spoke. "Nee-san?"
"Even if I go away to school…. I can come back, right? Back here, I mean."
Rin opened her eyes now and braced herself on her elbows, looking at her sister in confusion. "Sakura?"
"Because…" Sakura trailed off, playing with her ribbon, and then plunged on. "Because when Senpai… when he died, I couldn't go mad. I couldn't go mad, so I thought it would be like a game. If I waited long enough, if I prayed hard enough, he'd come back." Her voice broke.
Rin sat up now, alarmed. "Sakura, you don't—"
"And I… I would have stayed that way, I really think I would have, until I died." Tears were rising now. "But you were there, and you wouldn't let me believe it was a game. And it was mean, and it really hurt at first, but if you hadn't been mean, I couldn't have decided to try living without him." She was crying now, silent tears, so similar to the ones Rin had seen at the end of her winter. "You made me live again, Nee-san, even when I didn't want to. And I know it's stupid, I know it doesn't work that way, but I'm scared. I'm so scared that if I leave, I won't be able to keep living like this. That I'll go mad, go back to how I was, and waste everything. So if I can just come back from time to time, I don't have to stay, but if I could just come back I think—"
She never even got to finish her statement; the air whistled through her lungs as she was yanked into a tight, hard, desperate hug, Rin holding onto her so tightly, so desperately as she trembled, as if she was afraid her sister would break if she didn't hold on with all her heart and soul.
Sakura inhaled, tried to stop her tears, and found she couldn't. Her hands came up tentatively, clutching at Rin's back. "Nee-san?" she whispered.
"Idiot." Rin's voice was rough, ragged; against the skin of her neck, Sakura could feel something warm and wet. "Don't talk like that. You can always come back. You can stay here as long as you want to." She pulled back, wiping at her eyes, and tried to smile. It wobbled dangerously and still carried a hint of tears, but it held, and it was the warmest, sweetest thing Sakura had ever seen in her life. "Okay?"
Sakura smiled back. It wasn't pleasant, not at all; it was ragged around the edges and trembling, threatening to collapse at any moment, and she swore it was the first real, true smile she'd given in what felt like an eternity.
"Next year, when I come back for spring break, we should go see the cherry blossoms."
"… Yeah. I think that would be really nice."
So Sakura is probably all kinds of OOC, considering this is based off the Heaven's Feel Normal End where she's consumed by guilt and such. I just wanted to actually write a semi-happy ending, kind of.
Okay yeah, I just love the Rin/Sakura relationship far too much in any light. I admit it.
Read and review, please!