The weather was nice; there was a warm breeze and big fluffy clouds passing across the cheerful sun and the early afternoon sky and neither of them could stop shaking. (Lee and Sakura are left behi...
watching them run
some things are melting now
He didn't move for a few moments, just stood beside her and watched them fade into the forest, blue and white and bright, bright orange all fading into shadow and the greenery of the pines and oaks. Something thick and heavy and almost tangibly solid slid down his throat and settled cold in the pit of his stomach.
It was late summer. The weather was nice; there was a warm breeze and big fluffy clouds passing across the cheerful sun and the early afternoon sky and neither of them could stop shaking. They were being left behind.
For a moment, Lee felt frustration so overwhelming it brought tears to his eyes; quickly, he fought them back, lest he be caught in his own struggle. Shed tears in front of her and it's four thousand vertical push-ups, Lee. Shed tears in her presence and you will surely die. Think of what she's going through right now. You still have your team, Lee, and Sasuke is gone . . . why?
Right now, there are other things to focus on. Neji is right.
Lee turned his head to look at Sakura, hesitating as he realized that she was still crying, huddled into herself with slim arms crossed, one fist pressed to her mouth.
For once, he was unsure of what to say to her.
Part of him wanted to tell her it was okay to cry.
Some other part of him, the part he liked to pretend didn't exist, understood that it would never be okay again.
"Hey, Sakura," he said finally. It felt wrong to break the silence. He winced.
Sakura looked at Lee, green eyes brilliant and shining and unfocused and he could tell she was looking through him and gazing into the face of some unseen pain that he couldn't fight in her name. She looked absolutely lost, not a genin or even a shinobi but a little pink girl alone against the backdrop of field and forest, small shoulders shaking violently with the force of her emotions. But Sakura wasn't crying anymore. She was trying to fight the sadness, Lee could see it in the way her mouth was set in a thin line, the way her brows knit together quickly before smoothing out again.
To him, Sakura looked so much like a tragedy, her expressions and gestures the story of a cracked doll once loved dearly, put aside and forgotten in pursuit of greater things. He thought her fights were always the hardest to win, harder than Neji's, or Naruto's, or Sasuke's, or his own. How indeed/, he wondered, /do you fight things like this that are always so deep inside you? He wondered if she would manage to win this one, or if this time the sadness would eat her up.
Hesitantly, he reached out and drew her into an awkward half-embrace and she didn't fight him, didn't hardly move at all, just stared out into the forest that kept taking them away from her.
And he hugged her because he couldn't do anything else. Because this wasn't his battle and she felt small and too fragile, like she would break beneath the weight of his arm and his concern.
"Don't worry." The words came softly from his lips, and she trembled against him. "Naruto promised. He'll bring him back if it means his life."
She started, a shudder passing through her tiny body. Slowly, her eyes closed and for a moment he thought she might cry again.
"That's what I'm afraid of," she said.