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Seeking Solace

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Anko chewed absently on her dango while sitting peacefully under a sakura tree. The quaint little park they had chosen for today's meeting was completely bordered by springtime flora, pinks and greens all lined up to shelter picnicking patrons. A gentle breeze touched her cheeks, her hair dancing in unbound freedom and she leant back, a soft chuckle parting her lips.

"This is nice…" her fingers nimbly threaded through strands of chocolate silk, the chuunin in her lap blinking back the blinding rays of sunlight.

"It is."

"How come we don't do this more often?" She asked, taking another bite of dango.

"Because you're an old harpy who hates sentimentality?" Iruka replied. "And because missions don't usually get so…" he shrugged. Days like these only happened when the kunoichi came back from a mission gone sour. When she'd been hurt in ways no one would ever see. Days like these were serene and beautiful and tainted.

Anko tugged his hair playfully, then sighed, dropping her half eaten dango on the grass. "You're right. I don't like this… feeling." She frowned, the word like poison on her tongue. "I don't like being so helpless."

Iruka snuggled against her taut stomach, netting and bandages forming a barrier between him and warm skin. He casually snaked an arm around her waist and squeezed. "You're not helpless, Ko-chan."

"Don't call me that." She whispered, fingers lightly tracing the younger mans scar.

During her academy days she'd made a small group of friends. More often than not they were called Kokomoru. Anko, Kotetsu, Izumo and Iruka. But those days were long gone. To remember them just… hurt. Ko-chan was a reminder of everything she had lost. Friends, family and innocents. Ko-chan made her wish that there hadn't been anyone to come home to. Not now, not then. Ko-chan was the frightening urge to be alone, because if there was no one else there she could pretend life had never been something more.

Ko-chan hurt and Anko was so very sick and tired of always hurting.

"You're meant to cheer me up, not start with the sappy, whimsical shit."

"Cheer you up?" Iruka pinched her buttocks, rolling away before she could get in a good punch. He sat several feet away, aware of the kunoichi's broken thoughts and decidedly tapped his chin. He smiled. "I've got it…"

"You're going to sing aren't you?" Anko deadpanned.

"Hey," Iruka feigned indignation. "You love my singing."

"I love you. You're singing leaves something to be desired…" her nose wrinkled.

"You wound me," Iruka grinned mischievously, then cleared his throat.

"Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
do make tomorrow a sunny day
like the sky in a dream sometime
if it's sunny I'll give you a golden bell…"

Anko launched herself at the yowling chuunin. "Oh gods, you're destroying it! Stop! Iruka, plea-GUH!" She cracked up laughing as he fought back, pinning her to the grass.

"Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
do make tomorrow a sunny day
if you make my wish come true
we'll drink lots of sweet booze…"

Staring up between her bangs she fought to hide the smile threatening to break free. Iruka had perched himself on her stomach, careful not to apply weight to her healing injuries. "My ears are bleeding you little bitch - get off of me!" Anko bucked.

"No way, Anko-nee-chan!" Iruka leant forward, tacking her wrists above her head.

"Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
o make tomorrow a sunny day—"

"It's not even a happy song," she continued half-heartedly to struggle.

"But it is your favourite," Iruka pecked her cheek, laughing at the outrageous roar he received in return. "…but if it's cloudy and I find you crying… sing with me now!" He let go of her wrist to wave his hands in the air. Frayed ponytail swaying.

"Then I shall snip your head off!" They both finished, Anko's contribution a notable snarl as she flipped their positions. "You're an asshole," she folded her arms and glared. "That was my favourite song and you just mutilated it!"

Iruka practically beamed back up at her, hands pillowed under his head as he automatically replied, "And you're a fag-hag." He closed his eyes, content in the moment. "A smiling fag-hag."

Anko growled, the corners of her lips curling. This was why she had friends.

"Fuck you." She said climbing to her feet. Without pause she turned from their little picnic and strode away. One final, "I'm telling Kakashi you had your paws all over me!" and then she was gone.

Smiling softly to himself Iruka whispered. "… you're welcome."