December Rain

People used to say that the meaning of life would be found in great exploits and achievements, that through adventures and diligence one would become who one was meant to be.

He often wondered if the people who believed such things ever experienced the true significance of their existences.

As a young boy, his entire world was viciously ripped to sheds in the most brutal manner imaginable, event that tangibly shaped his life into a blood-soaked road fully consumed by vengeance.

As a teenager, he abandoned all loyalties and became a ruthless criminal walking further into the shades that would empower him in order to materialize his ambitions, going as far as to almost kill the one he had, from the bottom of his tattered heart, considered to be his best friend.

As a young adult, the death and subsequent revival of his beloved older brother had sent his mind into a spiral of madness that had nearly threatened to consume their world in a black fire of which there would have been no return from.

He had raged through an unholy war, crushing endless enemies with a peerless might that had permanently carved his name in the tomes of history. Crimson eyes witnessed the fall of both living and dead in a catastrophic conflict that shook the world to its very core.

Indeed, he had experienced his fair share of unbelievable events, but it wasn't until that rainy night in mid-December that he truly caught a glimpse of the reason he had ever been given the blessing of life.

The post-war world had left their once bright and vivid village in somber shambles, a diverse collection of scars marring the city streets he used to walk through as a child.

Despite all the tending and healing, and mending and rebuilding, the sky had remained a bitter grey to his obsidian gaze. A consuming emptiness inhabited his being like a parasite, unwilling to release him as he vaguely pondered if it would have been any different had he succumbed to death in the battlefield.

For the first few months after the final battle, his days were spent inside a cold and dirty makeshift cell as the village leaders reluctantly debated what his fate would be.

Bound by chains and seals all around his body, with no visibility and in complete isolation, all that had remained were tragic memories of the past replaying endlessly, one after another.

He had had nothing. No goals, no desires, no ambitions, no fears, no passions, no worries, nothing but regrets and guilt. Not even the murderous anger and the vicious hurt he had carried since the massacre had been left. He had been empty, his body barely going through the necessary motions to survive.

After a rather aggressive intervention from Naruto, the five Kage had decided on allowing him freedom with the condition that he had to be severely restrained and kept on watch for an unspecified period of time.

He had merely agreed because of the discomfort the tight chains caused him.

He had been subsequently relocated to a small, dimly lit apartment that had been confiscated by the authorities, standing close to the Hokage building by the center of the village.

His release had held no significant distinction to his nihilistic perspective. His time had been carelessly spent in isolation with his mind constantly drifting, his surroundings entirely forgotten.

Confrontations with others had been kept at a minimum despite Naruto's deep efforts and insistence.

He had rapidly started avoiding even him, yearning reprieve from the incessant noise and activity within the village.

By the end of his first year back in that place, he had developed a consistent habit of wandering around the dark empty streets during the middle of the night, basking in the silence that followed like an insulating blanket.

He had rather become inclined of doing so when it rained. The light sounds the raindrops made as they met the cold ground pavement, and the feeling of the water gently brushing against his skin had been one of few things he pleasantly discovered soothing.

It had been a night not unlike that, when he first met…Her

His feet had been unhurriedly carrying him through the deserted streets of the commercial district of the still recuperating village without any particular destination in mind.

Heavy downpour had deafened unwelcome distractions as his steps echoed silently in the rippling water below.

As an ash grey sky had thoroughly masked the darkness of the night, he had allowed himself to fall prey to his disarrayed thoughts.

His mind had been deliberating incoherently, his continued existence purposeless and without further significance. He had remained in a perpetual limbo that he couldn't escape from with a cacophony of emotions that had left him entirely exhausted.

He had stopped steadily in front of a large circular stone fountain at nowaki plaza. His clothes had stuck to his body as he stood staring blankly at his blurred reflection in the undulating water.

Temperature had gradually dropped to the mid-thirties and despite the fact that his body was internally heated by his fire nature chakra, the increasing ferocity of the gelid winds had started to become unpleasant.

Unbothered by the pouring rain, he had begun heading back through a lesser known path on the third corner of the 20th ward that lead to the main residential sector.

A pleasant, bitter smell had suddenly reached his senses as he was quietly crossing a street flanked by a number of small old rustic buildings.

Jasmin and earl grey had permeated alluringly through the sturdy cypress walls of a humble-looking tea shop as dim light faintly escaped the narrow windows.

The name written in the hanging banner had been unrecognizable to his gaze, never having encountered such place before.

Enticed by the appealing fragrance of the leaves, he had wistfully turned to the entrance of the shop before heading inside.

The smell had grown significantly stronger as his feet moved closer to the wooden counter, a small trail of water being left behind with each step.

Charcoal eyes had roamed appraisingly across the small establishment, a tranquil silence encapsulating the space within.

Old wooden tables had rested spread around the tidy room, pale walls duly decorated with heirlooms and antiques.

Several colorful lavender flowers had laid perched on tall glass vases that were attached to upper segments of the walls , conveying a pleasant harmonious atmosphere with the rest of the ornaments.

A woman had lied seated as the single costumer a few spaces to his left, long thick strands of straight indigo hair flooding silkily down her delicate shoulders.

She had been scribbling measuredly on a piece of parchment as her table was occupied with several open books. Her movements had been slow, tired. she had seemingly been there for quite a while.

A cup of warm jasmine tea had lied to her right as she continued diligently with what had most likely been her work.

Her factions had been obstructed to him by her lengthy hair, yet he had noticed the white lavender jacket and the navy shinobi trousers that she wore.

He had been briefly surprised that someone other than himself had been out of their homes during the rain.

His obsidian orbs had then turned away from the woman to the store owner behind the counter.

A slight frown had marred the man's factions, eyes shining with unbridled wariness as they had focused on him. Recognition.

He hadn't been surprised, his reputation had been rather infamous. The pain and anguish his name had caused had remained an open wound for many within the village.

Gazes full of hatred and mistrust had followed him around wherever he went. He had become accustomed to it all, being able to easily ignore it.

"One black tea" he had said indifferently as he placed a pair of coins on the counter.

The old man did not move to take the money, his brown gaze watching expectantly for his suspicions, his fears to be confirmed, "We do not serve your kind here, demon" he had muttered gruffly, great resolve steeling his frail body as he had clenched his fists in apprehension.

He had remained unconcerned, his ebony eyes as serene as when he had first stepped inside. Inwardly, mild annoyance had invaded his senses as his gaze had lingered motionlessly on the man before him.

He had been about to turn around and walk away from the little tea shop when a gentle, soft feminine voice resonated to his left as the chair in which the woman had been seated scraped backwards against the stone floor. "Mr. Shiroe! That was very rude of you!" she had called as she turned to the man she had been addressing, faint displeasure and something akin to disappointment adorning her delicate factions.

Charcoal eyes had stared with slight intrigue, not expecting her involvement at all.

Her eyes had been a captivating shade of lilac tinted white, unhidden compassion and kindness shining full in display.

A delicate button up nose had descended down the middle of her elegant face framed with supple aristocratic cheekbones that gave her a peculiarly regal visage. Her full lips and small ears had had a feminine quality that was simply alluring.

She had been positively enchanting as far as appearances were concerned, evidence of her high-praised bloodline.

Her movements had been impressively graceful as she stood and approached them determinedly.

"L-lady Hinata!" the old man had gasped, his surprised chestnut gaze centered strugglingly on the indigo-haired woman.

"It is not right to be so disrespectful of others." she had said glancing his way before turning back to the other man "He is a person, just like you and me. I know you are better than this, Mr. Shiroe" the words had flown out of her mouth gently, almost like a whisper. A pleading expression had crossed her factions as she continued to stare earnestly at the shopkeeper.

Sasuke had noticed the man had the decency of looking ashamed for his attitude as he partially bowed to the woman at his side.

His reluctant gaze had centered on him for an instant before taking the money on the counter and leaving to prepare the tea.

"I did not require your assistance." he had said indifferently, his blank gaze traveling to the delicate-looking woman.

His words had not seemed to bother her in the least as the tips of her lips lifted into a candid smile. He remembered being surprised at how beautiful she was.

"I apologize if my involvement was unnecessary, I just did what I thought was right" she had continued in that pure almost bewitching voice as she respectfully bowed to him.

it had been an inkling of something, surprise, intrigue, curiosity and something more he couldn't name that enveloped his body unexpectedly.

That was the first time he had felt something other than overwhelming emptiness since the end of the 4th war.

She had invited him to drink his tea in her company, her work patiently left aside temporarily. He had agreed nonchalantly, interested in satiating his curiosity of the woman who could look at him and see an ordinary guy.

Their meetings had begun from that day onwards, intermittent at first due to the unfamiliarity with one another, but slowly, gradually becoming more recurrent.

For the first time in what felt like an eternity he had started looking forward to things, to seeing her.

And she was so…incomparable. He had often found himself just staring trying to memorize each and every quirk of hers.

Hinata Hyuuga was kind, soft-spoken, mature, stubborn, diligent, optimistic, wholesome, naive, clumsy, and a million things more.

Without realizing it he had quickly fallen in love with her.

When her teammates had found out about their meetings they had been greatly displeased, their distrust of him leading them to believe he could be a danger to her.

It was the first time since the fated battle with his brother that he had truly been afraid. Apprehensive of the possibility that she would heed her friends' warnings and terminate whatever relationship they'd had.

He had been a selfish man, and even though he had not understood his feelings at the time, he knew with complete certainty that he did not wish to be separated from her.

But he could not demand her affection, and so he had left that choice to her.

She had reached for him with her delicate fingers, holding him close by the sides of his face as their foreheads touched soothingly, dissuading all his fears and insecurities.

Her voice had echoed as gently as the day he had met her as she addressed the words she had been holding deep within her heart. "It doesn't matter what anyone says, you are very important to me. I will not let anyone take you away. So please, stay with me."

She had offered those words to him with all the courage she had been able to muster, a trail of tears descending down her cheeks at the prospect their parting.

That day was the first time he had kissed her. And nothing else had seemed to matter from then on. He had held strongly onto her with his both arms, finally allowing all those complicated feelings he had once been hiding to reveal themselves to her.

That was when he truly understood. That it had been her all along, the reason he had been born in that beautiful terrible world. The reason he had loved, and lost, and lost again. The reason he had remained alive despite it all. it had been her.

To meet her, to fall in love with her, to hug her, to kiss her, to make her laugh, to wipe her tears, to stand beside her, to make love to her, to make sure she was the happiest she could possibly be, to protect her. It had always been her.

Not a single day passed in which that fact was forgotten.

Now, seven years later, as he lay seated on his large silky bed, gentle rain pounding against his glass windows, he brought a bundle of blankets in his arms closer to inspect.

The whole world lied in the safety of his arms, the product of their love, his hope and pride softly tucked inside her lilac cotton blanket.

His warm obsidian gaze then drifted to the space beside him. Straight indigo strands of hair fell silkily down the nape of a neck. Her even breathing had remained unperturbed as he dedicated himself to watch her, to thank her, to lover her.

It had been one long, rainy night in mid-December when he discovered it had never been because of his past, his achievements, or his fame that his heart continued to beat, but a very special woman with kind eyes and an a beautiful earnest smile.