title: Fracture

summery: The death of Naruto.

pairing: Team Seven break-your-heart love. And a bit of Sasuke x Sakura. Ish.

note: Weird, fragmented style. Plus, it might crush you soul. Just a little. AND it's an optimistic (heh) AU. Kk?

word count: 984


Her eyes are luminous – impossibly so – through the tears.

It hurts to look at them and all the emotion they contain. But he does. He sucks up all his pain and misery and absolute despair to gaze back into a stare that is accusing and infuriated and heart-wrenchingly sad.

Her voice is harsh and rasping, betraying nights of broken sobs.

"It should have been you."

:

"Naruto!" Her scream is so high and broken, so shattering, that he turns to her, momentarily forgetting his opponent.

She is kneeling in a pool of blood. It should be her own. It's not.

Naruto is on the ground, and Sasuke knows by the paleness of his skin that the crimson flood comes from him. Sakura bends over him, hair sticky with sweat and blood and tears, hands pressing to his chest and glowing with a brightness Sasuke has never seen. The chakara pumps and Sasuke fights and the world stops spinning and everything freezes. Because nothing is happening.

Around her, Sasuke dances a dance that is deadly and swift and protecting. She doesn't notice. Sakura is too focused on a heart that won't beat and a soul she thought would never give up.

She thinks nothing has ever been so wrong as this.

:

It takes her hours to fall asleep, and when she does she doesn't realize it.

He is smiling at her, all wide and bright and as radiant as anyone ever could be. He is laughing with her – never at her – and he is beckoning her to him. She is ecstatic, thrilled, and giddy so she follows without a thought. When she reaches him, she lunges, tries to capture him in the cage of her arms and hold him there and let nothing touch him again.

But he is cold in her embrace. Then stiff. And when she pulls back he is white and shut-eyed and suddenly the world is coated in a layer and thick, oozing red.

She bolts awake with a scream that is silenced before it exits her mouth.

Sakura can still see Naruto's smile.

Sakura can still feel the blood on her hands.

She rolls over and retches.

:

Sasuke stands, shaking, over the enemy nin. On the ground, Sakura hunches over a figure in orange. Slowly, as if her head and everything it contained weighed a million pounds, she looks up. In her eyes – her empty, broken, never-to-be-the-same eyes – he sees the truth.

And it drives him to his knees with a howl of misery.

:

When they get back it is midnight.

The streets are empty

Both think that maybe, possibly, there are such things as small miracles.

Tsunande is there to greet them. The messenger hadn't proved faulty.

The hokage looks the same as ever. She takes the news and the body with a professionalism that tells of her position and her experience. The teens in front of her – bloody, bruised, crushed into oblivion – can't even tell her what happened through the gasping sobs and deep breaths that don't bring air. She understands and sends them home.

When they are gone she fishes out the strongest stuff she has. Popping the top, she cries for impossible dreams she once thought would come true.

Dreams that now lie dead.

:

Sasuke is the one to carry him back.

She offers, voice hollow and empty with eyes to match, but he declines. There is justice in this. There is justice in the agony of black-haired-devil carrying sun-blond-angel. Déjà vu, maybe. But surely justice.

Mostly, though, there is the weight of a body at his shoulders and a heavier weight that pulls at his chest and shoulders with a pressure to crush. It is hard and grueling work, but he never dares slow down, never dares to let his best friend fall.

It doesn't feel real yet, even as his arms begin to protest their task.

He prays a futile prayer it never will.

:

At the funeral, they don't sit together.

When she comes in, she looks at him. For a single second, their eyes meet. Then, just as quickly, she looks away, tears already falling. He is jealous of those tears and how freely they are allowed to fall. Scowling, he swipes his own eyes and silently promises he'll cry himself to sleep later.

He doesn't pay attention during the service. He can't. If he does everything will hit him again and everything will hurt and he can't handle the pain when he's by himself, so he especially can't deal with it among this crowd.

So he silent and stoic throughout. Later, when the whispers of indifference and 'he doesn't care' begin to crowd the air around him, he laughs. It turns into a sob before he can force it back.

:

"It should have been you," she repeats, bringing her hands up to knead her red eyes.

"It should – It should – He was Naruto and he – He… He was good and he was amazing and he always, always healed and I never, ever thought and – " Her voice spirals, waves, until he cannot even begin to comprehend the erratic mumblings that tumble from her.

But he understands. He understands why she's pacing in frantic circles and pulling at her hair, eyes wild and mouth spilling over everything and nothing.

Then she turns to him, salty streaks tracking down her cheeks, and sobs, "It should have been me!"

And it's too much – it will always be too much – but she is Sakura and if there is one person still in this world that he truly loves, it is her. So he takes a step foreword, wraps his arms around her, squeezes tight, and lets the damn within him break.

Through the hiccupping bubbles of uncontrollable grief, he whispers:

"Not you. Never you."


completed: 6/24/08


note: So I believe in happy endings. I think that if you're going to write, you should have the decency to write something that will make someone happy, gosh darn it.

…And I wrote this.

Hypocrite is too kind a word, no?