ex delicium delirium

Warning: This collection is PG and feasibly canonic... until it's not. Then it gets dark. And darker. And a little sexy. Before it jumps into the abyss and becomes high octane nightmare fuel.

:: :: ::

After losing everything, you get it all back again.

There is the Konoha sky, the warmth from the sun, the shade of the trees. Somehow through the multiple attacks on the village, the giant oak in the middle of the market central survives, as the mail service, bookstores, and bakeries peak from it once more in a conglomeration of tree houses. The cobblestone roads are repaved, the telephone wires and pipes reinstalled. Fresh paint is rolled everywhere, across the walls, along the banisters, on a billboard advertising for Mighty-Youth Sparkle Toothpaste.

The people have come back. Civilians walk through the streets, children's laughter fills the school, playgrounds, and parks, and dogs once more are in their chase of the dominating cat population.

And you are there to see it all. See every detail of the recovering village: swallows spiraling in the air, the missing teeth of a child's grin, the falling petals of peach blossoms. Feel the breeze against your back, sunlight on your skin. Your muscles do not ache, lungs do not strain, ribs do not crack, eyes do not burn, your body completely rewritten.

Most of all, your little brother is here, a noble shinobi who descends onto the roof beside you as gracefully as a hawk. He places a hand on your shoulder, a polite request for you to follow him to his apartment. The Uchiha complex has been buried under rubble since the Akatsuki's invasion, and there remains but a garden and memorial tombstone left. Your future lies in a flat elsewhere, in the new residential areas only a block from the hubbub of the downtown market.

You crack open the windows, sweep away dust, and smile as you straighten your brother's photos with his teammates. Very soon, the home shows signs of life, with shirts tossed on the floor after sparring, bowls on the rack to dry, and heavy traffic of your brother and his friends, because even after they take off their shoes, they still leave behind dirt, twigs, or puddles that make the spies cry and trackers grin. Every morning and night, there is also noise, the type most call unpleasant, like bickers and banters and rants and the accidental smash of ceramic, but to you, it is music.

As you set the groceries on the table, you make an effort to look at the shattered tea cup you just bought, or otherwise they will assume it went unnoticed and flee.

Both your brother and his friend point a finger at the other, "He did it!" and you hold back a chuckle.

At dinner, Naruto relays every detail of their mission not unlike an Academy child caught up in his day's worth of accomplishments, Sakura buries her face at the embarrassment of their fiascoes, and your brother gives his rare inputs of corrections and noncommittal grunts. And you eat, and listen, and find yourself overcome with both joy and grief because you haven't eaten in a home, at a table, with home cooked food and company for over a decade, not since you torn apart your family into paper pieces.

But now, it seems this too has returned, the important pieces carefully taped and mailed back to you. You have a home, and you have a family, and these are the precious things you thought you would never have again. But you have them, and you are glad your back faces everyone while you wash the dishes, because your hands are uncharacteristically unsteady and there is water in your eyes.

Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know you are anticipating a cost, because there can be no gains without losses, a sacrifice at the root of every tree. But this time, it appears the world has given you everything, and asked for nothing in return.

:: :: ::