Asuma’s arms, accustomed as they were to the drag of strong ocean tides, ached terribly. The waves crashed against his small boat, water sloshing over the sides. He cursed and bit down on the drowned cigarette still perched between his lips, though the rain had long since put it out. He rowed harder still, desperate to get back to shore before the sudden storm, blowing in on a once sunny morning, could do him in.
He barely noticed it at first, hard as the rain was beating down on him. It sounded like chimes tinkling out a melody underwater. Asuma hardly registered the sound until he noticed that the ache in his arms had almost entirely abated, and he cursed again, at himself this time, when he realized that he had all but stopped rowing. His body felt oddly light, a bit numb.
That was when it dawned on him, awareness of the music surrounding him. It washed over him from all sides, somehow seeming to resonate even within his body. Each note slid down his back, through his veins, constricted around his heart so gently that he barely registered it as a threat. The useless cigarette tumbled into the water gathering around his shins.
His arms began to move again, still numb and, to Asuma’s great dismay, paddling the boat away from the shore he needed to get back to. The song rang within and without him, pouring over his tongue and tangling between his fingers. Coaxing his hands to grip the oars tightly.
Guiding him to… where?
The further Asuma paddled, the more the music swelled, a sweeping crescendo gathering his resolve and bolstering his courage. He knew that whatever he was experiencing was objectively terrifying and should have him shaking in fear, but Asuma trembled with excitement instead. Something was calling him, and his own soul answered in kind, seeking harmony.
She was waiting for him when his boat reached the cave that would protect him from the storm. Though Asuma had never once in his life laid eyes on her, he knew those crimson eyes as if they were his own. Her song drew him ever closer, each note guiding his feet while those swirling eyes, so gentle despite their violent color, gazed upon him as if he was the only thing in the universe that existed. Waves of dark hair spilled across her shoulders, her skin pale as moonbeams and cool beneath Asuma’s fingertips once he could reach her.
The spell was broken the instant he made contact, and Asuma glanced back at the cave’s entrance in time to see the storm growing to disastrous dimensions. Bolt after bolt of lightning struck, accompanied by deafening thunder, the waves towering like small mountains. Another minute out there, and Asuma surely would have perished.
He reached into the front pocket of his vest, but the carton of cigarettes was soaked through. Cold arms reached up to drape around his shoulders, and the words that usually came to Asuma so easily failed. Her painted lips parted in a perfect smile, sucking the air from Asuma’s lungs as she pulled herself up on her tiptoes to kiss him.
She tasted like the ocean, only brighter and comforting.
Asuma was still too stunned to speak, but she answered his unvoiced question in a deliciously low, hypnotic voice. “Kurenai.”
The storm had broken long, long before Asuma found the strength to leave.