Fair warning, this is the third fic I have ever attempted. Ever. The first Naruto one. And you can see why I don't write *pokes fic.* (=
Oh well, I tried.
It was morning, sunny and warm, a day that would make one think of splashing children, of grass, of flowers, of smiles and happiness.
And Sasuke felt cold, and his stomach was clenching oh-so-painfully and he shouldn’t be responding this way. It shouldn’t bother him so much, because ninjas aren’t supposed to feel.
But the stone was wet and it shouldn’t be wet. Because it was sunny and warm, with the heavy air pressing down, forcing happiness and butterflies. And even if Sasuke himself was more winter than summer, he knew that the dark spots on the stone didn’t belong there. Not in this place, not from that source.
Every morning he awoke before the sun rose and left his apartment ot do training. Lunges and push-ups, throwing kunais and testing his chakra on the bark of the trees. Testing himself, punishing himself for living, reminding himself why he was alive. Some people meditated in the morning, Sasuke trained. Breathing the dew and mist, letting his sweat and the water in the air wash over and renew him for a new day, inching him closer to his goal.
That morning brought him to an old training ground, the place where he had first faced off against Kakashi, first realized what teamwork meant, first glimpsed that oh-so-tempting path of a life without revenge. It was the field where a part of his soul, a part he thought had been killed long ago, was ignited. Not a large flame, but a tiny whispering spark. This field symbolized his hope. Ironic, or fitting, that a memorial for the dead was its focal point.
The demons of the previous night, of his mind, were washed away with exertion, dissolved with the plunking of kunai in targets, and conquered with small bursts of chakra from the soles of his feet as he raced higher and higher into the sky. And after he felt a semblance of calm and normalcy, Sasuke leaned against the log that Naruto had once been tied to, catching his breath and basking in the rare feeling of peace, just for a moment. His head fell back, resting on the log, and his eyes slipped closed.
And shot open when a soft crunch of leaves told of a person approaching. Immediately alert, Sasuke slipped off to the trees, effortlessly climbing up and perching on a branch. He masked his chakra and searched for the intruder.
It was there, across the field, green and gray slowly walking, shuffling, as if being pulled against its will towards the center. At the stone memorial it stopped, kneeled, head bowed, and was so still that had Sasuke not seen the previous movement, he would have thought it part of the stone.
The two stayed that way for a minute, an hour, an eternity but a second. It didn’t matter; all time ceased to exist as Sasuke watched the jounin pay his respects. He was spying, he shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be interrupting this man’s memories, his pain, his grief. But he couldn’t move. He was immobilized by this man’s pain, this echo of himself.
The stillness was interrupted at a soft splash, only heard because Sasuke had been born, raised, and trained by ninjas. The water seeped into the stone, staining it, temporarily marking the memorial as a sign of grief, of lost comrades, of love and pain. Profound respect and honor filled the air as the head remain bowed, the body stiffly at attention even in its kneeling position.
With each drip, each darkening spot of the stone by Kakashi’s soul, Sasuke felt his heart clench as if it were he who was crying. He wondered who his sensei grieved for, who had affected him so profoundly that he damned all shinobi codes by letting his emotion stain, cleanse, the name of the dead.
And with each tear, Sasuke realized how very little he knew about his sensei, how much he understood, how much Kakashi understood about him.
A screeching bird flew overhead, disrupting Sasuke’s thoughts, Kakashi’s tears. Sasuke turned his eyes towards the memorial again, but Kakashi was gone. Possibly to inquire about the mission that the bird represented. Possibly to meet at the bridge, where Naruto and Sakura had been waiting for – Sasuke checked the sun – an hour. Had it been an hour?
He hurriedly gathered his things, preparing to run off towards the bridge. But mid-step he paused and glanced back at the memorial. It beckoned to him, and he responded, curious as to the name of Kakashi’s comrade. He walked to the stone and stared at the names. Heroes, Kakashi had told Team 7, who had died. Sasuke stood in the same place Kakashi had and whispered his fingers over the name. The tear stains were gone, dried by the sun, but Sasuke was sure this was the right name. Uchiha Obito.
When Sasuke left the field, the place of his hope, the echo of his past and of his soul, his destiny was nudged just a bit closer to the path he had glimpsed that first day, with Team 7, with Kakashi.