The nightmares were so constant that Sasuke no longer jolted with heavy panting and screams. His eyes no longer widened as he stared into the void and waited for the visions of his past to blur away to darkness of his room.
Now he woke with a sigh and rolled on his back, blinking up at the starry night sky.
He felt stupid the first overnight with Team Seven. He had childishly hoped that being as far as possible from Konoha would give him respite from the dreams of mangled bodies and blood seeping into floorboards.
There was no running from his ghosts.
Sasuke turned his head to his right and saw Naruto with his mouth wide open and his body twisted so that he was snuggling his blanket and bed roll instead of lying on top of it. He didn’t need to look to know that Kakashi wasn’t sleeping in his bed roll. Their instructor was never in his bed roll though he liked to continue to create the illusion that he was sleeping soundly across from his trio of genin.
Turning to his right, Sakura was awake, eyes on the starry canopy above their head and her lips moving slightly as she spoke to herself.
In the dark her chin length hair seemed more dusty rose than the wata-ame pink of fluffy festival treats it looked in the midday sun.
Sakura’s hair looked like the orange of glass molding in flames when the sun was falling and the color of candelabra amaranths during the false dawn━but he wasn’t going to look into why the shades of Sakura were so pronounced in his mind that he could find her in the world and the world in her.
But for now the fire pit was dead and the only sounds were that of chirping cicadas and the rustling of wind through leaves. Yet Sakura was awake.
“I can’t sleep when we’re out of Konoha anymore,” she whispered into the night.
She didn’t need to turn to know he was awake. It seemed that she was always aware of when he was awake.
Again, something he didn’t care enough about to give it much thought.
Perhaps in another lifetime he would have the liberty to give in to passing curiosities. But not this one. So he pushed it away to the far recesses of his mind.
“But then again,” Sakura continued on without waiting for his response. “I don’t sleep much in Konoha as well. I can’t stop feeling so restless.”
A hand of hers left it’s place resting on her stomach to finger the short strands of her hair. If it was to mourn the loss of its length, Sasuke didn’t know. The action reminded him of his mother, and the way she would stroke his forelocks when he was in bed with a fever.
So he disliked very much when Sakura played with her hair as if to soothe herself.
He watched her lift her hand up and draw a shape into the air.
“Cassiopeia is right there. So that means Polaris,” Sakura dragged her pointer finger upward and Sasuke followed it to a bright star just a little off from right above them, “is right over there.”
“Wouldn’t you use the saucepan to find Polaris?” Sasuke whispered his question. He wasn’t going to sleep any time soon and Sakura’s voice was better than the distant sound of his own screams from his dream.
“Not when Ursa Major is low in the sky. Cassiopeia is actually more helpful for us when the season is changing to winter.”
Sasuke looked to the sky and searched for the saucepan and discovered that Sakura was right. There was a bright star that could have been the tip of the handle barely spotted through the trees.
“You can almost see Alkaid right there.”
Leave it to her to know the names, Sasuke grumbled inwardly. It was late in the night and he was tired. Being restless always left him irritated at the smallest of things.
Sleep would solve that issue if he could get it.
“If I didn’t need to sleep I would pull out my planisphere.”
Sasuke looked over at her expectantly and Sakura didn’t disappoint. She didn’t need to look at him to know an explanation was required.
“It’s a star chart. It helps me find the constellations.” Sakura sighed and snuggled into her bed roll. “My favorite constellation is falling lower into the west now.”
Sakura lifted her hands and made the shape of a triangle.
“The Summer Triangle,” she murmured almost dreamily.
Sasuke rolled his eyes. Of course that one was her favorite.
“It contains one of the brightest stars—Vega—and well,” her tone changed and she finally looked at him if only to flit her eyes back and forth between him and the sky, “Orihime and Hikoboshi are in it.”
Besides the obvious ones for navigation, he knew very well of the stars for Orihime and Hikoboshi. It was one of his mother’s favorite stories.
Before he was an academy student they would make teru teru bōzu together before Tanabata, in the hopes they would keep the rains away.
But that was in the past. Little white dolls didn’t hang from his windows anymore.
Sakura’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He was slowly slipping back into the scenes from his dream.
“He’s really prominent around this time of the year. And then he falls to the scorpion in the summer.”
“And with the scorpion so rises the snake.”
A silence stretched between them, the conversation dying with the reminder of events from a different forest. He could feel the slight pinching at the junction of his neck and shoulder. Sasuke would have believed Sakura had fallen asleep if he didn’t peek over at her from his peripheral.
“Leo stands proud in the sky when Serpens rises,” Sakura broke the silence.
Sasuke raised a brow, not sure where she was going with that statement. She turned her head to him and smiled shyly.
“You’re, uh, a Leo.”
“So I am.”
Sasuke turned back to the dotted patterns in the sky. That’s all they were. Random scatterings. Designs created by men connecting different stars to tell stories held no power.
They meant nothing.
Nothing meant as much as the restless feeling inside, knowing he was still so far away from where he needed to be, from the things he needed to do.