I don't know where this came from. I just liked the idea and it wouldn't let me sleep. Still need a beta, so please forgive my mistakes. D:
Sidenote: I like humor. Mixing humor with more serious tones makes me even happier. :3
Living in a place like Konoha, one could expect that days to be lively and warm and the nights to be quiet and laced with chill.
I'll be frank...there's nothing we can do...
Sakura could feel the breeze from her window against her face and lightly tilted her head in its direction. Nights like this made her feel especially lonely. Her hands lightly traced over the silver casing on her desktop before nimble fingers deftly opened it and carefully slid out a well-weathered, but obviously well-taken care of flute.
A smile crossed the pink haired woman's face and she lifted the flute to her lips and began to play.
Eyes closed, she saw the notes come to life in starbursts of color and dancing; the cheerful sound of her flute startled an owl outside, causing it to give an annoyed hoot and leap from its perch outside her window.
Her curtains ruffled, and the sound caught her attention enough for her to pause mid note and slightly lower her instrument. Slowly, her small smile morphed into one of secret amusement, and she laughed openly, eyes turning toward the open window.
"It's rude to stare," a raspy voice whispered at her, facial features shadowed by the moonlight.
Vision is going to fade completely...
The woman scoffed. "And I suppose entering a helpless blind woman's room in the dead of night isn't?"
Vacant pale-green eyes shifted towards the masculine voice, and the pink-haired woman lightly brushed her hair back from her face. "Well? Aren't you going to ask how I am?"
"You don't seem sick," the voice said bluntly.
Sakura shook her head, her smile smile turning rueful. "And I suppose I should be in bed wadded up in ten layers of blankets wasting away?"
"Resting could help you get better," he offered.
The smile on her face turned into a blatant smirk. "You and I both know that's bullshit. Those doctors have no idea what's wrong with me."
"Following orders might help you recover, you know."
Immune system not up to it...
"I'm dying, not stupid," she bit out, smile vanishing. "I'm well aware that those idiots are stumped. Hell, they tell me that I'm not even supposed to be able to function around now."
Agitated now, Sakura shook her head and clenched the flute in one fist while holding out her other hand towards the male's voice. "Come here and stop lurking already. It's not like I'm going to bite you."
"Hn," came the slightly bemused reply.
Would it be so bad for you to be near me? Sakura wondered to herself.
For a moment there was silence, then the faintest of movements in the air before Sakura felt cool skin press lightly against her cheek.
Where is your husband, Mrs. Uchiha?
The pink haired female leaned briefly into the touch before grinning and giving it a light pat.
"You're an anomaly." By the sound of his voice, he'd retreated to her bed.
Barren women can't give heirs.
"That's rude," Sakura scolded, lightly licking her lips to return the moisture to them. "You shouldn't call others names when you haven't even told them yours."
"Oh?" And you think I care? went unsaid in the darkness of the room.
Sakura smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "I'd think you have monopoly on anomalies, Mr. Mystery. Besides, you shouldn't be calling me weird when you're the one who drops in unannounced on a poor blind woman without giving her your name."
It was a not so subtle hint, one that the male recognized but refused to acknowledge.
Silence fell upon them once more and Sakura shook her head in exasperation at her guest's moody stillness before once more lifting her flute from its place on the table. The soft sounds of some carefully memorized melody flooded the small room and her mind once more lost itself to the ebb and flow of the music.
Plenty of rest...
The music was lifting her up and away, curling around her body and taking her away from the dying shell that she was being forced to stay in, and she'd never felt so free-
Pain lanced through her chest and the cough came unbidden, abruptly breaking the flow of music. The resulting silence was like an ice cold bucket of water on a bed of hot coals. Her heart fluttered, breath hitching as she tried desperately to inhale fresh air and cough at the same time. Finally, after her fit subsided, she made as if to raise the flute to her lips again...then paused at the dull flavor of copper in her mouth. Slowly, her trembling hands fell to her lap, fingers loosely stroking the nicks and dents she'd made in the instrument from accidental bumpings over the years.
There was no sound from her visitor, but Sakura could feel him there, watching her with that unnervingly intense gaze.
Counselors for situations like this...
She had counted her twentieth heartbeat before there was a sudden moment and then cold fingers lightly brushed at the sides of her mouth and chin.
"You're bleeding," her guest murmured, and this time there was no concealing the concern in his voice.
"I'm fine," she nearly snapped and leaned away from those gentle-cold hands. "I...I'm not dead yet. And I still haven't finished my song for you tonight."
Silence once more. The weight of his eyes was thick on the side of her face, but she refused to turn to him.
"Why did you stop playing?" a voice called to her from her window, startling her terribly.
Sakura shrieked a bit and fumbled with her flute before brandishing it like a weapon-her eyes frantically squinted towards her window and the faint, blurry outline of a dark, colorless form was revealed to her sitting in the tall branches of her favorite sakura elder tree.
"Who are you?" she demanded, cursing all the gods she knew that her vision was failing her at such a critical moment. Who knew what this weirdo could possibly want with her?
The wind whistled and she could see the branches swaying in the wind, but the stranger remained unmoving, his face turned away from her and his body hidden in the shadow of the tree's trunk from the moonlight.
His voice was raspy and rough, she decided. It was almost as if he had never used it much before.
"I do not wish to harm you. I happened to hear you playing...and I found it beautiful."
"Oh." And what more could Sakura say to that?
"Who are you?" She asked once again.
There was no set routine or special code for them. Sakura would play to lose herself from the pit that her life had become, and sometimes she would get the faintest impression of being watched. Most times though, he would not speak, but it was comforting to know that someone else was there.
And now...now Sakura could feel the tears of frustration welling up. Her body was numb, weighted down with illness as it ate itself from the inside out. She wanted so badly to get up and play but her breath rattled in her chest and her fingers felt far too dull and thick.
She knew what was coming for her, but she wanted to give her guest at least one more song before...
Sakura blinked as thin arms wrapped around her and held her close. She held her breath because he had broken their habit; never had he come to her when she was not playing. Nor had he ever come into her room without invitation before. To be held in someone's arms like this...after so long...
"Shhh," he murmured to her, and she realized that it wasn't just her illness that was making her breath hitch but small, helpless sobs that she couldn't seem to control.
"I-I'm sorry, I can't..." she made a vague gesture towards the flute case, which lay quiet and untouched upon her dresser. It had been so quiet for so long...
"I know," he said, and she felt him wiping away her tears once again as he pulled back. There was hesitation in the silence between them now, and Sakura could feel his eyes on her, calm and intent.
"Do you still...want to know who I am?" At her hesitant nod, he clasped her frail hands in his own and rested his forehead against hers.
Invoke my name and you'll be Mine.
"My name...is Gaara."
"Gaara..." It came out like a sigh as she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his own.
She does not remember lying down, but she is opening her eyes-
from light to dark, dark to light
-and there are vivid green eyes softly watching her from under crimson locks. Her lips part in wonder and she reaches a hand up-
Not shaking, not pale, rosy, normal pink-
"Thank you for seeing me," her favorite guest says, lightly leaning into her touch, and the skin under her hand is warm and smooth and real. The way he says the word indicates that there is something more to it that she was missing but she doesn't care because his small smile makes something warm flutter in her chest and she does not protest as he grabs her hand and leads her from the bed-
Walking. She's walking under her own power; not on legs weighted and stiffened from disuse and bruises that ache-
Her free hand clenches and she realizes that it's not quite free for her flute-loved, old, much-used is there, but it is like new, no dents, no scratches, but it feels like hers-
"Are you ready?" he asks gently, one hand on the window, the other still grasping hers as if afraid to let go.
Sakura stares at him for a moment liking the contrast of his pale eyes to his dark hair before a slow grin breaks out across her face.
"...and they found her body in her bedroom the next day, smile on her face and all. Sometimes though, if you get close to the manor during quiet nights, you can hear someone playing a flute from the tree in the backyard..."
"That's such bullcrap, old man!" a young voice pipes up indignantly. "Besides that wasn't scary at all! Just some sappy-ow, hey, what wassat for, Moegi?"
The girl glared at her friend, her eyes moist from the sentimental tears she'd shed for the story. "You're such a moron, Konohamaru!"
The eldest of their group, a blond man with small graying paths but lively blue eyes covered freely with laugh lines grinned at the exchange before heaving a mockingly tired sigh. "Kids these days, so unappreciative about the beautiful things in life."
The girl gasped in outrage. "No way, Naruto! I thought it was so romantic!" She turned to the quietest of the three youngsters that had yet to speak, her eyes daring him to disagree with her. "Right, Udon?"
Konohamaru shot a glance at the old house at the end of the block. It was in a sad state after having been abandoned for so many years, but the sakura tree near the back of the house was still just as large and beautiful as it had ever been.
"Hmph," he muttered, glancing sideways at Naruto's indulgent smirk. "I still say you're messing with us, you old coot!"
The blond man's smirk widened, blue eyes twinkling in mirth. "Well then, if you're so sure of yourself young man, why don't you go to the old sakura tree tonight and see if you can't ask Lady Sakura for a performance?"
A few hours later saw Konohamaru and crew creeping quietly across the old Haruno yard-or at least trying to, given his loud blue scarf and their terribly conspicuous mission impossible rolls from bush to bush.
Thankfully that stopped when Moegi chipped a nail.
The neighborhood was silent; at three in the morning, it was way past their bedtimes, but they-or rather Konohamaru-had something to prove.
"Alright!" the boy in question exclaimed. "So where's this ghost? Come out, Lady!"
Moegi thumped him on the head. "Idiot! Show more respect!"
Udon tapped his fingers together and tried to remember why he was going along with this again.
"C'mon, Moe! Don't tell me you actually believe-!"
A light giggle floated around them and all three froze. Konohamaru twitched and looked at his female friend. "Uhh, Moegi, was that...you?"
Again the laugh came, and a sudden flurry of sakura petals began to rain from above. The children looked up, and all three stared in shock.
A pink-haired woman was staring down at the three of them, her green eyes lit with gentle amusement as one hand covered her mouth.
The other held a gleaming silver flute.
"Hmph, he's been trying to scare brats again," a scratchy voice rasped from above, making the kids jump in fright. Before their eyes, a red haired man faded into their sight, his sea green eyes neutral as one hand rested on the woman's shoulder.
The woman tsked, but her eyes were still amused as she reached up a hand to squeeze the male's hand. "Don't mind him," she said, eyes twinkling like brilliant jade as he grunted.
Konoharmaru could feel his mouth working and made a small sound before hiding behind Moegi. "Y-y-you two are..."
A twinkling laugh rang out into the night; it was neither confirmation nor denial.
"So little ones...would you like to hear me play, too?"