Author's Note: This was inspired somewhat from Maroon 5's "Not Falling Apart." I'm not sure how… Also, I finished reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, so maybe that influenced this a bit? And yes, I should be working on "Release," but I've had such a major writer's block like you wouldn't believe. Anyways, please read, enjoy, and don't forget to review!

Disclaimer: I don't just own Naruto, I own him with pure pwnage.

There's light. He's stopped dreaming now but he doesn't want to open his eyes. He knows what the light means; it's morning.

He can remember a time when he used to like mornings. He can remember a time when waking up wasn't painful and he didn't feel like hiding away for a while. But it hasn't been that way for a long, long while. Not since that first night.

Crap, he thinks fuzzily. He's opened his eyes without meaning to, and he tries to close them again quickly, but it's no use. He's up, and now he knows for sure; she's gone. His hand traces over the sheets, but they're cold. It's always the same. Always, he thinks, trying to remember when it wasn't like this. He can't. He wonders briefly how early she must have to get up.

I'm always here for you… It's her voice in his ear, but it's not. It's not the same gruffness as her moan or the shrillness of her scream. It's not the her he's come to know, or the one she wants him to know, or… But he doesn't want to think this early.


It was the first time that really scared him. He can see it clearly, from the moment she practically flopped into his arms and whispered in his ear to the jangle of keys in the lock, hurried, urgent, to what came next, what always comes next. But he was so scared, the entire time, scared. What if she didn't mean it? What if she hated him? What if he woke up? But he didn't wake up; he doesn't know the answers to the others.

She was so much more experienced than him, or so it seemed. Later he got the impression they were making it up as they went along. He remembers she smelled like flowers, like spring, like something clean, which of course made the whole act so much damn easier to reason.

Please… She never said it. They never say anything, always wordless; they talk with their skin, their looks, their bodies. But that was her look, begging. Or was it his own look reflected in her indigo eyes? Please…

I'm always here for you… It must have been that night that she said it, his arm across her breasts as they lay in sweat, in sticky sheets, breathing in humidity from the summer night air. She might have kissed him then; the details get a little fuzzy sometimes. All he really remembers is the horror of that morning, true terror that gripped his stomach like an iron fist. She had left.

He didn't know what to do. He tormented himself with questions, with things he should've done better but were now too late to change.


"I hate you!" He's glaring at his reflection in the mirror, sleep-deprived as it is; there's sand in his eyes and bags under them. "I hate you." Every morning that she leaves he does this, ever since the first night. He gets up and shuffles to the bathroom, grips the sink, and stares himself down, whispering that same pathetic phrase over and over again until he can't stand to look at himself anymore. It's a sad tradition, but then again, it's how he feels. Sad. Pathetic. Abandoned. Lost.

"I hate you…" Just who is he talking to, anyways? It changes from second to second. Now it's himself, for going through this ugly cycle, this nasty addictive habit he can't seem to break. Now it's him, for leaving in the first place and never looking back, that bastard, so that she came falling into his arms when there was no one else. Now it's himself again, for being such a pushover, for being unable to say "no." Now it's her… For being everything he wanted and more. He squints his eyes as a shaft of sunlight glares in through the window behind him, bouncing off the mirror and hitting him square in the eyes. Just like her. Exactly like her. That should be her name, Sunshine. She's got the colors down for it, too. Except… He sighs, his eyes lowering from his image as he turns to leave. Except he looks just like her in that regard, not to mention the "obnoxious" amount of orange in his closet. (She always uses that word, "obnoxious," when referring to his clothes. Of course, that makes it all the more easier for her to rip them off of him layer by layer with that sweet, sadistic smile of hers).

"I hate…" He knows he can't go on like this for much longer, he shouldn't, he isn't like this normally. He's a fighter, a winner; he's going to be Hokage for crying out loud! Or at least he wanted to be at one time in the very distant past. Now he's not sure of anything anymore, except the nauseous feeling in his stomach. And her.

"…I…" He hates the way his body acts when she's around, how she controls him so thoroughly from the moment her fingers graze his skin. He doesn't want to have that kind of relationship any more and, to be perfectly honest, he never really wanted it in the first place. He's tired––– no, sick, agonizingly sick of having to use himself to please her because he knows it's the only way to get her to stay longer than the fleeting moments she only seems to allow him, tiny, tantalizing glimpses of something he can't catch. He's tired of running after her. He's disgusted at himself. And he's sick of the never-ending sex; for once he'd just like to make love to her. But he's being ridiculous now.

"I love you." This is the part where he sits down at the kitchen table and cries for a very long time.


After that first night, after he realized that she didn't hate him and his frantic questions were answered (in a laughing, light-hearted tone like it meant nothing), after he had recognized that they were falling into this infinite pattern, after all that was when he did the stupid thing–––the stupid things.

He hadn't fully understood the terms that were handed to him. He had thought they were more, that he didn't have to act like everything was normal. But he had learned quickly that he thought wrong.

She wouldn't look at him when he smiled, wouldn't wave back. She stared right through him, moved away when he tried to touch her, to hold her. It was more painful than the rejection he was used to. Was she afraid? Ashamed? No, worse, she was toying with him, with his emotions, breaking him down slowly. Why did she do it? Why did he allow her to do it? And yet, the next night, there she was, pushing him into the wall while her lips met with his and her fingers tugged at his jacket. And he gave in. And was alone the next morning.


"I love you." These are three simple words he'd like to say, to yell, to scream at the top of his lungs, and yet these three simple words seem more like a wish, a plea than affection. It's okay because he needs her. It's not okay because she doesn't need him.

"Pathetic." He spits the word, he snarls it, he beats himself with it. "Pathetic." It's a wonderful word, really. It seems to describe everything that's going on in his life, everything that has anything to do with him breathing.

"Wait…" He pauses at the door, hand on the knob, and something occurs to him. Is he suicidal? He shakes his head, but his hand is still on the knob and it makes him hesitate. Go forward, he wills himself. That's his life right now, go forward, but he doesn't want to go forward. Yet he doesn't want to go back either. He's stuck. He thinks of her, pale honey hair, sweet red lips, that torturous smile, the dark blue of her eyes… And suddenly he is able to open the door.


She had rules. She never said them directly, but he learned, he learned from the icy cold coolness of her cobalt eyes, the way her eyelashes swept downward, the purse of her lips, the way she turned and left. Literally. Walked out the door. But the beautiful thing about cycles is that you always get a second chance. And they always come full circle.

Rules. She had rules. Like don't give her that look when she does something wrong, because she never does anything wrong. Like don't kiss her or touch her or do anything gently, tenderly, softly, because she's not some weak-kneed girl and could kick his ass in a heartbeat. Like don't hold her when they're done with their passionate night's meeting. Like don't speak, because speaking makes it real. Rules. He learned them all to the letter, even though they were unwritten. He never questioned any of it. He was chosen, so he learned. And yet, he had already broken the biggest rule of them all: don't get attached. But rules are for breaking anyways…


Now he's walking down the street, breathing in air. How did he get here? It doesn't really matter. The sun is brighter out here, but that's okay. He hasn't had a mission in a week so he doesn't have anywhere to go, but his feet are leading him somewhere, or more correctly, to someone. He doesn't even need to look where he's going, although he has his acute senses to thank for that. Every step gets him closer to her heartbeat, the warmth of her body, the slight scent of sunflowers she puts on every morning (he knows because he woke up early one morning to convince her to stay which, naturally, was in vain)

Everything is normal. Nothing is normal. The clouds, the birds, the trees seem fine, they seem the same, but he knows better. Nothing is the same anymore. And suddenly, there are flowers.

"Welcome…" Her voice trails off flatly as the bell above his head rings. Her cerulean eyes take him in, breathe him out. She's confused. She's on guard. What is he thinking?

"Is there something you're looking for?" she ventures at last, acting normal, but not smiling as she would to any other customer. However, her face has the satisfying look of lacking a good night's sleep. He smiles inside knowing that he's won this little bit of her for himself. In the back there are sounds of moving, grunting; her father is here, as always. He's never sure if she's told him or not.

"Yes," he says at last, picking out a red bloom from a display. "I'd like to give this to a girl…"

"Naruto." He looks up, startled, pleasantly surprised. She must have gotten less sleep than he thought. She never says his name anymore, just screams it in the night. It's not the same. He likes this way better.

As if realizing her mistake, she closes her eyes tightly, patiently, takes a slow, deep breath. Finally she nods to herself, the movement barely perceptible as she opens her eyes again. She looks into his, and holds out her hand for the money. He smiles almost apologetically as he places the bills and coins into her smooth, perfect hand, a hand that has made him so happy and yet so miserable.

"Ino…" She doesn't act like she registers the name. In fact, she's acting stiffly now, her gaze dark and far away from his. "Ino…"

"Please," she manages at last, shaking her head slightly, blinking slowly. "Just leave."

"Okay." He turns, leaving the flower on the counter in front of her, sneaking glances over his shoulder as he nears the door. She picks the blossom up, studies it, frowns, and gazes at where the display is. He knows she wants to put it back, but there's a trace of guilt in her face, so she places it under the counter.

He's left now, just as she told him to. Another rule: leave when she says leave. He smiles to himself, running a hand through his spiky hair. He can't stop smiling. It's the smile of a pleased lover. It's the smile of a crazed madman. It's her sweet, sadistic smile that she leaves each time she kisses him, a little bit peeling off of her lips like a second skin. He hopes to one day kiss away that smile and see just what's underneath. But not yet.

One red rose. He wonders what she does with them all, if not reselling them. But she can't. He knows; she feels that it's wrong to sell flowers with emotions attached to them. Plus, she doesn't want anyone else involved, even if only indirectly.

One red rose. He gives it to her every time, and every time she comes back that night. He'd like to think he has some effect on her, but who is he kidding? He shakes his head as he walks down the street, alone in his mind despite the crowds that fill every possible space. Every night is the same. Every day is the same. But it's okay. He's doing this for both of them. Maybe they need this right now. Ordinary. Normal. Routine.

The next morning he wakes up alone, the sun shining, the sheets cold. Abandoned again. He knows before he checks. But this time, this time his hand closes around something hard, something smooth, something sharp, something soft, something fragile, something meaningful. He gets up and opens his eyes immediately to make sure it's not a dream. But he's not asleep. And he grins.

The beautiful thing about cycles is that you always get a second chance. And they always come full circle.

This is the part where he picks up a red rose from among the bedsheets.