DisclaimerNo, I don't own Naruto. If I did, I would be basking in the glow of my success, not writing non-profit fanfiction in an attempt to please my fan-ish heart.

Author's Notes: Muse decided I needed to write, I felt like I wanted some angst, and so this is what came of it. First time using second person POV, and one of the few times I use present tense.

Thanks as always to Moe for beta-ing.

Completed: 24/11/04


- heaven's tears -

It's a hopeless thing, to want something you can't have. It's a hopeless thing, to wish for something you had lost on a dark, heartbreaking night when you became all that was left. It's a hopeless thing, you think, to want something that had long ceased to be yours.

You think you'd have been passed these thoughts by now. You think that now your choice has been made, you shouldn't be so entrenched in what-could-have-beens and what-should-have-beens -- except, somehow, it seems right to think back like this, to remember times when you actually had hope for the future and a rest from the past. You like to think it wasn't because of him, but you know it's not true. You know it had always been him, and that when you cut your ties with the village, you would have been cutting ties with him too. You remember how reluctant you were then. You remember how you stayed past midnight even, hoping to catch a glimpse of blond hair and the glare of narrowed blue eyes. You remember how you never did, and you were running out of time because the Sound had been waiting for a while. You remember how, instead, you caught pink hair and the gentle, glistening sheen of tears in a pretty face that adored you. You didn't care.

You went, and you had no regrets. You knew what you had to do and you were determined to do it -- Naruto or no Naruto. He understood you the best, yes, but in his innocent heart he had never grasped it, this need for revenge that had burned you from the inside out since that night --

Yes, since that night you were never whole again. He had taken away your world, but not your life, and when you were lying in the hospital bed, white sheets and white walls, all you wanted was for him to have killed you too. You didn't want this burning pain, this tightness that eroded everything else but the present and past, this trembling hurt that wouldn't go away. You didn't want to live. But you had to, you realised on one grey day of many grey days. You realised that he was still out there, unpunished. It was on that day you realised how vengeful you could be. It was on that day, you realised you wanted to live.

Naruto never understood that. He doesn't understand that now. He doesn't understand how close you were to losing that reason to live. He doesn't understand how terrified you were of feeling again, how you deliberately isolated yourself so that you were never tempted; he never understood your reasons for leaving, but you think he might have understood why you never killed him. You wanted to, of course. You had to, to gain that power you had always sought, but could never achieve. Not without a sacrifice, something which you deprived yourself of once you understood why he did what he did. You wanted to kill him, not be him, though in the end it didn't matter. You figured out in the end nothing mattered but his death. Not even Naruto.

Or so you thought, except in the end you couldn't sacrifice him. You couldn't. And that was the answer you needed.

You left him lying there in the rain, body still and eyes closed, sleeping peacefully despite his wounds. You remember gazing down at him and thinking, I'm sorry. I can't stay. And you remember thinking that at least a part of you could -- so you gave him the Leaf symbol that you had surrounded yourself with since you graduated; you think that he should have at least this part of you because the rest belonged with your family. You brushed aside his wet hair, closing your eyes as you leaned forward and gave him your last kiss. You had met with a kiss -- it was only fair that you left with one as well, so you touched his warmth for one last time, one very last time...

And left.

You didn't turn back.

He didn't understand. He never had. He thought you were the real Sasuke, but the real Sasuke died on that night, and you were simply what was left behind. You thought trading this shell for another was a fair price to pay for more power, you thought he could never understand because he had so much power himself, and what had you been doing all this time? You were wasting your time, you raged. Trying to be what you weren't when in reality, you were a dead thing. Lost, alone, cold.

You live for one thing only, and that was to kill that man. Once you had achieved what you sought, it didn't matter what happened next. There was no need for anything or anybody else. You wish he would understand that too, but he was always stubborn and stuck in his own way. It was your fault, you admit. You allowed him that knowledge of your soul, a glimpse of the Sasuke you should have been, and he decided to believe in you for eternity. Your fault, but his fault too, because he should have given up when you had.

You expected him not to, though.

Your brother is dead.

Orochimaru is dead.

Others died too, but you didn't bother with their names.

You think you should have felt something when you finally achieved the one goal you never could. You remember how your dreams were filled of the aftermath -- vengeful, satisfied, and triumphant. Peaceful. You weren't haunted anymore by ghosts passing through your life, every mark, every scratch a symbol of your lost clan. Instead you felt nothing. You wanted to wonder why; perhaps, you did. You can't remember anymore. You don't remember much except your brother's laugh and his dimming eyes that were for once, normal. You might have said something in answer to Orochimaru's anger, but that wasn't important. He was falling to the ground soon after, and everything became a red, misty blur.

Red is a forgettable colour, you think, while vivid blue haunts your memories, replacing older ones that were laid to rest.

Even now, when they hunt you, and you hide, still waiting for that glimpse of blond hair and narrowed blue eyes and a voice full of determined strength, you can't forget. You think of the past, and of things you could have had; what-should-have-beens and what-could-have-beens, and the softness of a kiss under the rain. You think of things you shouldn't, but you don't stop either. You can't forget.

You lit a fire a while ago; you barely feel it now, but that's not the point. You're here because of one reason only and that reason still hasn't arrived yet. You know he will be -- soon, but not at the moment, and you can't help but feel grateful for the time to collect your thoughts. You don't know how you will fare this time. You haven't seen each other for years, not face to face. He has been on your trail before, true, but you have never allowed it to go this far. Perhaps, you wanted him to this time. Why else are you sitting on rough soil, complacently waiting for him to appear? For it to end?

"Naruto," you say, your dark eyes flicker up to a silent forest. He has improved, you think.

He steps forward, silent as he never was in that life you left behind, and you finally glimpse blond hair and narrowed blue eyes.

You think of warm kisses and cool rain, and you say, "Naruto."

He doesn't speak. You smile and tilt your head, because you know both of you will finish what you started years ago, and because he is silent when he should have been loud. You wonder if your memories are wrong, but he comes at you, and you decide not to think for a while. You will do what you hadn't managed before. What you couldn't allow to happen before.

You fight. The image of blond hair and narrowed blue eyes is the last image you want to see, and it rains, it rains, and when your eyes close you remember soft kisses and a young boy sleeping under heaven's tears.

It rains.