Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto

Inen Seigi

by Asper 4 reviews

On concentricity and causalism. When viewed from a map, Konoha is a perfect circle. [Team 7 fic]

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Characters: Chouji, Ino, Kakashi, Naruto, Obito, Sakura, Shikamaru - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-03-01 - Updated: 2007-03-02 - 2686 words - Complete

Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Kishimoto Masashi
Warnings: Mild, mild spoilers for the recent team 10 arc.
Summary: On concentricity and causalism. When viewed from a map, Konoha is a perfect circle.


Inen seigi is the concept of causality in Buddhism. It dictates that for something to occur, its direct cause, /in/, and indirect cause, /en/, must be aligned.


Sakura first encounters the concept in /The Buddhist View/, a dusty old tome hidden away in the back section of the library where Tsunade-sama had her rummage for old medical reports.

Despite lacking a unified religion, Konoha had derived its aesthetics from older, more eastern beliefs, ones which lay-villages across the country worshiped fervently. Their concepts were old and powerful things, ones which she cannot deny are very palpable forces in her own life as well.

It appeals to her as a very responsible idea of fate, that one must make the in to make use of the en provided by some greater, divining power. For a long time past, Sakura has lost the ability to grasp the appeal of paltry fatalistic beliefs, rooted in destiny and togetherness and other things that cannot be measured empirically in training and wars and medicine.

This, decidedly, is not one of those things, because in Konoha, causality can be measured by mapping out the occurrences of lifetimes, and finding out that they are composed of perfect circles, intertwined or concentric; showing lifetimes connected, lifetimes spent trying to prevent yourself from being swallowed alive by another. Sakura knows this because the Uchihas are a textbook case of the latter and Sasuke's circle swallows up her own, just like Itachi's swallowed his. Sasuke is gone now, trying to erase Itachi's lines and redraw his own, but in cases like these, blood is only washed away by more blood.



Ino is reclining, in a rather Shikamaru-esque manner, at the front desk of the Yamanaka flower shop one bright day. Sakura turns her head at the noise and smiles brightly at her friend, The Buddhist View tucked against her chest snugly.

"Where are you off to? Does Tsunade-sama have you on more errands today?"

"Yeah, just finishing up," she answers, but Sakura looks distracted, and Ino notices the heavy text under her arm. She decides not to inquire. It is not a concept she would find any comfort in anyway, since Sakura and Ino are two very different people, who possess life-circles that are not quite as concentric as they used to be. In Sakura's life, there was Sasuke, to whom she entitled more of herself than she could have afforded to lose. In Ino's life, there was Asuma-sensei, who gave her more than she would ever need in a lifetime.

Ino loves differently than Sakura, but has always understood that both versions are equally valid in the greater scheme of things. Ino's love is spread amongst this village; it lies with her family, Chouji, Shikamaru, Asuma and Sakura, but not necessarily in that order. More diluted, but equal in volume and there is no difference, except that some types of love have a greater affinity for happiness than others, and Team 10's love is the former. The latter, undoubtedly, is Team 7's.

But no matter. Taking this route home, albeit accidentally, has allowed Sakura to run into Ino. She ends up buying a bouquet of white flowers which she places in a crystalline vase on her shelf; they possess some beautiful name she does not remember.

This is /in/.


Sakura has a window in her room that she always leaves opened, lined with bright, yellow curtains that flutter cheerily in the breeze, day after windy day.

"What do you think of this?" She asks Naruto one day, sketching a large circle on a piece of white paper, and then a smaller one inside.

He takes the prompt as a guessing game, yelling out possibilities while she is in the process of drawing. "A...sun! No, um... wheel? No? Okay, ball...bowl...bowl. Ramen! Let's go to Ichiraku Ramen, Sakura-chan!" She gives him a withering look and asks him to think about it a little more deeply.

He answers with a confused, roguish grin: "Why, is this homework? Does it really matter?"

No, she supposes it doesn't.

Her bed isn't near the window, so some nights she drags out the futon and lies beneath the parted, fluttering curtains. There are many more months until the rainy season, so the sky is clear and vast above Konoha night after night, and she can see every glittering star embedded in those heavens. Their light is an old, ancient thing, travelling to Earth in measurements of time that envelope her own lifespan a thousand-fold.

For Sakura and Naruto, missing Sasuke is the same as loving Sasuke: an unfair, terrible and beautiful truth that cannot be realized in halves. Some nights, she thinks of Sasuke, bathed in ageless light and lying under the same brilliant sky. Of Naruto and herself, trying so hard to find him (that's /in/, she thinks) but to no avail time and time and time again (that's-?).

But today Naruto has come over, those curtains dance in the breeze and Sakura ends up going for ramen.

This is /in/.


Kakashi has never been the kind of person to see some sort of divine intervention in his life. He was what he was and wasn't what he wasn't: not a hero, because that would require a lot of editing of his past. Maybe a legend, he considers in times of bemused self-approval. An unlucky man, sure.

The grave never changes; it is a stubborn constant in Kakashi's life that he fears will never go away. He comes here to contemplate the same, pale-pallor stone, visually retrace the etched markings that spell UCHIHA. Time has changed nothing about this place, except for the deep green moss that slowly creeps its way up from the base of the epitaph and the fact that his point of view has just gradually shifted upwards. It does not change the colour of the stone, or the name written there, nor does it change the ghostly spectre of a young-dark haired boy that plays wildly in the surrounding trees.

"What are you looking at?"

The same question. Every day. And Kakashi, true to his own daily response, says nothing. He's beginning to fear that he might have developed a bizarre case of necrophilic voyeurism. But this Obito's not dead in the universal sense: he is still moving, talking, dodging tree trunks with those loopy goggles. He is just not alive. He is also not gone.

Some days, Kakashi wonders whether or not his coming here daily has somehow tied Obito's spirit to this stone. The idea that he might be intervening in his friend's journey to the afterlife is sometimes unbearable, but Kakashi has also pegged himself a selfish man. The trip here is now tattooed into his brain and happens almost unconsciously.

There is nothing more he can do about it now.

When he first received his newest genin team assignment, he had agreed half-heartedly. Undoubtedly this group would be just like any of the other ones, ambitious little bastards who really were exactly like him.

And then he read those names out loud.

Uchiha. The name had echoed in the vast expanse of trees around the grave when Kakashi had come back here and whispered it in disbelief. Obito's spectre turned its head at the sound, pausing mid-leap and watching Kakashi with a look full of curiosity and something else he could not place.

Another circle drawn, Kakashi's, intertwining with two branches of the Uchiha line, a bloodline Kakashi can't ever seem to get rid of. One he has never wanted to be rid of.

There are times when he understands that Naruto and Sakura suffer, and that he suffers himself. But to Kakashi, suffering is just a part of living and breathing, like the beating heart and working brain.

Obito's spectre tries to leap onto a neighbouring tree, but misses, falling squarely on his backside in the soft grass. Kakashi knows that there are many things that you cannot change, life-circles that cannot be disentangled. Uchihas that stay because of him and, despite that, Uchihas that he just couldn't make to stay. Such are side-effects of an unlucky life indeed.

The light here diffuses through the canopy of the trees, illuminates the stone marker almost reverently. For the first time since his team assignment, that machine of perpetual motion comes to a stop and observes Kakashi quietly.

And smiles.

This is /en/.


One evening, she asks Naruto whether he believes in inen seigi. It's not a concept he's familiar with, so she elaborates.

He scratches his head pensively. "So... that's like, if I try a new jutsu, which is in, I wouldn't get it if there's no /en/?"

Sakura shakes her head. "No, Naruto. Remember your Kage Bunshin? You just didn't provide enough in, but when you practiced a lot you learned it. That means you had en after all."

"Okay. So if I go to Ichiraku Ramen, that's /in/, but they end up running out of noodles and I go hungry, it's because there's no /en/."

"Mmm," she agrees with a nod of the head and soft smile.

"Makes sense," he tells her. "Want to go watch the fireworks?"


Once, in the training academy, a young Shikamaru was being rudely awakened by a bright pink Frisbee that seemed to constantly gravitate towards him. He looked up for what must have been the twelfth time to see a blonde, light-eyed girl rushing over.

"Can you give us back our Frisbee?" It was Yamanaka Ino, the daughter of one of his father's best friends. She extended her arm expectantly and Shikamaru rolled over unobligingly, causing her to groan in an impatient and frustrated manner.

Chouji interceded on Shikamaru's behalf. "Ino," he said, complacently handing her back the toy. "It's not Shikamaru's fault the Frisbee keeps being tossed over here."

Snatching it away, she placed both hands on her hips, an icon of bitchiness even in those tender years. "It's the wind. And he's not supposed to be sleeping during recess anyway."

After she stormed away, Chouji resumed his noisy munching of his second bag of chips. Shikamaru didn't mind, there were some distractions-depending on the person causing them-that could be tolerable enough.

A thunk sounded above him, and the pink Frisbee landed on his face, followed by the sound of heavy footsteps. "Ino-" Chouji tried to say, but not before the toy was viciously whipped away from Shikamaru's head, leaving an impressive scratch on his right cheek.

"Should we move?" Chouji asked, eying the injury warily, but Shikamaru had a feeling that the wind would still conspire against him, and Ino would always be on the retrieval mission for that Frisbee.

"No," he decided, turning over. "That would just be a pain."

Another thunk sounded, a little more muffled this time, since the Frisbee had now made contact with his backside. The telltale steps approached once more.

Shikamaru sighed audibly. Why did any of his father's friends need daughters at all?

Years later, Shikamaru contemplates the incident with due cause, since Sakura has dropped her book near the training grounds and he happens to find it. In a moment of rare motivation, he opens it and peruses through it mildly before reclining on the soft, grassy hillock, pensively smoking a cigarette.

Sakura finds him there, a handful of moments later, and thanks him profusely. "I thought I'd never find this. I can't believe I left it here, just when I was starting to understand it."

Instead of replying to her gratitude, he pauses before asking: "Are you reading this for fun?"

"No," she says, and it's not a lie.

"Well," he stands up, brushing off his pants before shoving his hands deep into his pockets. "I think you're looking at it the wrong way."

He never gets to elaborate on his cryptic message because Ino and Chouji have arrived, a little late, for their team meeting. "Sakura," Ino calls out, several paces away. "Look what I found!"

Shikamaru doesn't get the chance to see, because, before he knows it, he is hit squarely on the ear by a round, pink flying object.

"Shikamaru," Ino says irritatedly, marching over towards them. "Sakura was supposed to catch that!" Chouji reaches there first and picks it up, looking at the Frisbee-induced dent in Shikamaru's ear.

It goes without saying that some things move in circles, reek of repetition through temporal and regional scales. This story is probably being repeated somewhere else. This story probably happened once before. Team 10 knows this better than anyone and have come to this conclusion by adding up each one of their fathers, their beloved Asuma-sensei and bright pink, homing device Frisbees.

This is /en/.


But overall, it occurs to Sakura that she doesn't really like the notion after all.

She's sitting by the river at sunset when Naruto finds her there, watching the orange-hued light refract off of the rippled surface of the water. She sees his blurry reflection before he touches her shoulder.

"What are you doing?" He asks her jovially, his features beautifully illuminated by subdued, evening light. She points at the sun, indicating a number of things with the action: watching the sunset, thinking about Sasuke and circles and ephemeral concepts that bridge time and space and justify distance and not being here and /why/.

She doesn't know how many of them Naruto gets, but she figures all when he sits down beside her and doesn't say a word.

"What I was telling you about--" She begins after a minor eternity, head tilted towards the horizon and slender arms wrapped around her knees.

Naruto adds: "Inen seigi."

He's watching her closely now and she's watching the last vestiges of light disappear behind a linear horizon, chased by darkness that bleeds downwards like wet, wet paint on canvas.

"I've been thinking," she starts tentatively, before trailing off. /About Sasuke-kun/. A lame ending, and entirely to herself. Naruto waits for her to finish. She decides to start over.

"Don't you ever--"

"Sakura-chan," Naruto stands up, looking at her in the semi-night; the sun is gone now, and velvet darkness cradles the green forests of Konoha lovingly. Above him, the stars watch shamelessly, cold and distant. Tells her: "Don't think about things like this," as though he had read her mind. "What does this have to do with anything, anyway?"

Sakura continues, eyes closed, a terse tone to her voice: "Don't you ever think that maybe-" A breath. One more time. "I've been thinking. About what I was telling you. That searching for Sasuke-kun all this time-"

How far away those stars were. Their ancient light has probably heard this story many times before. "That for some people, if there's no /en/-"

There's no need to say more, because the weight of her words rests on both of them like the aftermath of an avalanche. /They'll never be together/, the stars seem to finish for her.

Together, a nebulous and coveted concept.


Somewhere out there is Sasuke: cold, glittering and so, so far away like the millions of diamantine stars that span the endless heavens.

His voice is determined, stubborn. A lifesaver in times like these. "You were the one who told me; it's just like my Kage Bunshin and your inen seigi."

It's not hers, she knows, but Naruto is kinetic and beautiful, Sakura is lonely and determined and Sasuke is many things, but mostly /not here/. And none of the above means anything at all, at least not to Naruto.

"If that holds true, then so does the opposite." His voice sounds angry, but she can't see his face for all the indigo night.

"There must be some people who, no matter what, are just meant to be together."

Naruto smiles towards those stars: not here but it doesn't matter. To him there is Sakura and Sasuke and himself, together for always, three interlinked life-circles, the immortal Team 7.

/This/, Sakura thinks, is /en/.

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