Rating : T, for a couple swears.

Do not own. Am not making money.

This is dedicated to my best friend, who recently attempted suicide.


The vicarious value of vivacious Love


Sasuke found him smelling a flower.

"You're an idiot."

Naruto coughed and looked up. "You nearly made me inhale the flower, asshole."

"That's what you get for being an idiot."

"Thanks."


Sasuke found him kicking a ball.

"You're an idiot."

Naruto twitched in the middle of a kick and missed the ball, kicking the air instead. "You should be more positive."

"Thanks, but I'll leave the mindless optimism to you."

"Fine."


Sasuke found him climbing a tree.

"You're an idiot."

Naruto's hand slipped and his body propelled out of the tree, landing with a thump at Sasuke's feet. "You're a pessimistic bastard."

"At least I can keep my balance for longer than 10 seconds."

"I can so keep it longer than 10 seconds."

"Prove it."

"I will, asshole."


Sasuke found him counting clouds.

Naruto cut him off before he could open his mouth, "Yes. I know. I'm an idiot."

Sasuke coughed and looked away.

Naruto smiled blandly, index finger still outstretched and bouncing from cloud to cloud. "You should ask me what I'm doing."

"Being an idiot."

"Nope. Well, a little bit. But it's not on purpose."

"Glad to know it isn't intentional."

Naruto's foot twitched. "Ask me what I'm doing."

Sasuke sighed, sitting down next to him on the wet grass. "What are you doing?"

"Honoring the dead."

"Forget I asked."

Naruto sat up and turned to Sasuke, eyes pleading. "No, I promise there's a point."

Sasuke looked away and crossed his arms. "If you say so."

Naruto smiled, taking Sasuke's reply as acceptance.

"I made a list." The sky was blue, Sasuke realized. "It's a list of people who died." The grass was green. "And it's also a list of thing I'm going to do in memory of them."

"…Your stupidity knows no bounds."

"Thanks." Naruto went back to counting the clouds.


Sasuke found him playing hopscotch.

The sky was gray, like Sasuke's jacket.

Sasuke sat down on the wet cement and drew his knees up to his chest. His arms were shaking.

Naruto didn't stop jumping. "Hey."

"Hey."

Seconds turned into minutes turned into hours before Naruto realized Sasuke had fallen asleep there on the damp cement, with his shaking arms and swollen eyes. He sighed.

In fairytales, the hero always saves the damsel in distress from all her troubles. But because their lives aren't a fairytale, Naruto isn't a hero, and Sasuke certainly isn't a damsel, Naruto just sat down next to him.

And Naruto's proximity must have sucked what remained of warmth out of Sasuke for his shakes only increased. Naruto coughed and looked around discreetly before snaking an arm around Sasuke's shoulders.

Hours turned into minutes turned into seconds as time sped up. Stars fell, planets exploded, babies took their first breath and old men took their last as they sat there.

Sasuke woke with a start, limbs tensing.

Naruto twitched, his arm falling from the other's shoulders.

They went home, both hiding smiles beneath their scowls.


It was some time later that Sasuke found Naruto under a tree, notebook in hand.

"Is that the list you were talking about?"

Naruto looked up to find a Sasuke who wouldn't meet his eyes, instead scuffing his foot against the ground and scowling at the grass.

Naruto hid a smile. "Yeah."

Sasuke looked uncertain for a moment, before sitting down next to him. "Can I see?"

"I'll read it to you."

"I can read for myself, thanks."

"I don't trust you with it. It'll burst into flames because of your asshole…ness."

"…Fine."

Naruto cleared his throat, eyes wide and hands shaking because Sasuke was there and talking to him and everything was beautiful and the air was clean and the sky was blue and he could feel everything and nothing and he loved it.

"Jason Dahl – kick a ball. Thomas Burnett – get wet. Nicole Miller – watch a thriller. Georgine Corrigan – eat an orange…."

Time passed as Naruto flipped page after page and Sasuke listened. Naruto's hands had started shaking and Sasuke's heart had started hurting but they stayed there until Naruto went blue from lack of breath.

"Why?"

Naruto smiled at the bundle of grey curled up next to him in the chilly air. "Because...those are simple things. Little unimportant things to us. To people in general. But to Jason and Leroy and Nicole and Georgine those little things are things they can never do again. So, I thought," Naruto drew a shaking breath and clenched his hands on the notebook, "That I should do for them what they can't. Vicariously let them remain alive. Because death…" He paused, "is so cruel."

Sasuke bit his lip.

Naruto swallowed.

The crickets chirped.

"Would you like help?"

Naruto's smile could have cured an entire third world nation of AIDS. "I would love it."


"It'll never be enough."

Sasuke's eyes weren't glossy, just like his jacket wasn't grey.

Naruto looked up from where he was counting the number of ants in an anthill. "How d'ya mean?"

"No matter how much I do for them, It'll never be enough."

Naruto sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "It's not your fault nothing rhymes with Uchiha."

Sasuke sat down to the left of the anthill and stared at it. There was so much he wanted to say, but none of it sounded right. How do you explain to someone why you can't stop shaking, or why you feel like your heart is being squeezed?

You don't.

So he didn't.

Naruto understood anyway.


"Are you sure Saw counts as a thriller?"

"It must."

"…Why?"

"Because…it's thrilling."

Sasuke almost smiled "Idiot."

The couch they were sitting on was warm. Naruto was munching pre-buttered popcorn and Sasuke was trying to stop himself from falling asleep.

"How are you sleepy during Saw?"

"It's too much like our normal lives."

"…You're insane."

Another person died, Naruto was halfway through his bowl, and Sasuke started laughing.

"…What?"

"I just feel sorry for Nicole Miller." Sasuke was laughing so much his body shook.

Naruto smiled. "…Ok?"

"I mean, what if she didn't like thrillers?"

Naruto watched his friend shake next to him. "That's not even funny."

"I know."

"You're still shaking."

" I know."

"It's not because of that bad joke."

"I know."

They finished Saw in silence.


Naruto was peeling oranges faster than Sasuke could eat them.

"This is ridiculous," Sasuke mumbled, his mouth full, " I'm going to turn orange."

Naruto didn't look up from his peeling. "Maybe you'd be nicer if you were orange."

"Don't count on it."

Naruto snickered.

Sasuke swallowed and reached for another orange.

The crickets chirped.


The moon was overly bright and the water overly dark as Sasuke sat on the edge of the fishing dock, legs dangling over the side to kick half-heartedly at the ripples.

Naruto stood behind him, stretching his arms lazily.

"Whatcha thinking about?"

Sasuke kicked harder, pretending that his feet could reach the water. "What you'd do for my vicarious epitaph thing."

"I wouldn't do one for you."

Sasuke looked up, legs stilling. "What?"

Naruto twitched. "Not to say...just…well...I'd never let the situation come up."

Sasuke's eyes were dark pits of black, his skin lustrous like snow. Sitting on the edge of a pier with his empty eyes and shaking arms and hurting heart, he looked like a lost little boy whose superiority complex wasn't foolproof.

Naruto looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets. "…Nothing rhymes with Uchiha anyway."

Sasuke glanced back at the water.

There weren't any crickets that night.


He had reread the same sentence 20 times when Naruto came up to him.

"What's wrong?"

"You're here."

He reread the sentence again.

"Asshole."

"Idiot."

The sentence was on a loop in his thoughts.

"Do you need help?"

"No."

Sasuke had always hated reading obituaries.

"…God, Sasuke. What are you, a masochist?"

"No."

Naruto grabbed the pieces of paper from him.

"200+ dead in Uchiha Massacre… How long have you been sitting here reading this?"

"No idea."

The silent study room at the library wasn't quiet so silent anymore.

"Dammit, Sasuke! We're leaving."

Sasuke scowled and crossed his arms, ignoring the blond standing behind his chair.

"…Please?"

He pretended he was in another library where the only other person was the 80-year-old man in the corner who dozed off while reading the Times.

Naruto muttered a nearly silent, "Asshole," and drew out the chair next to Sasuke.

Sasuke looked away.

Minutes passed before Sasuke spoke.

"It's just…" He worked his throat, forcing the sounds out. "Nothing's enough for them! I can't run into walls or sniff flowers or climb trees for them. It won't matter if I jump a wall or play hopscotch or count clouds because they'll still be dead and gone. I can write 100 notebooks for them but nothing will ever be enough!" Sasuke wasn't shaking, just like his eyes weren't glossy and his jacket wasn't grey. "I can do anything and everything but it won't matter! I can talk to somebody about everything or everybody about something and it won't change a damn thing!" His face was red and his eyes were focused on the table but he couldn't stop the words pouring out him. "Nothing even fucking rhymes with Uchiha, that's the perfect goddamn clue."

The walls were vibrating and Naruto was breathing and Sasuke was shaking and pretending he wasn't and oh god why did I have to say all that how stupid-

"It doesn't have to rhyme, Sasuke."

Sasuke looked at him. "…That's not the point."

"It kinda is." Naruto smiled contemplatively. "You see, you're thinking of meaningless things. Playing hopscotch and counting flowers and sniffing clouds or something. But I know something you can do for them that has all the meaning in the world, and that would be enough."

His only response was a mumbled 'What?'

"Love."

Sasuke stopped shaking. "Excuse me?"

"Love. Learn how to do it."

Sasuke scowled, a pink tint dusting his cheeks. "I know how to love."

"I'm sure."

"I do!"

"Prove it."

"…You're an idiot."

"That's not the normal way of expressing love."

"Fuck you."

"Neither is that."

Sasuke hid his head in his hands and growled in exasperation.

Naruto laughed and Sasuke lifted his head up. His breath hitched, a sound like the strike of a match.

"I hate you."

Naruto understood that Sasuke had only missed by one word.


Wind chimes tinkled in the background as they walked, wind pushing damp hair off their shoulders.

There were so many words floating in the air, swirling in the gutter, screaming in the breeze, that they could feel the pressure on them like a weight. There were so many things Naruto wanted to say to the silent form walking next to him that he could barely contain the words.

They walked in silence.

"You should smile more."

Sasuke snorted.

The sun was rising in front of them, a web of intertwined pinks and yellows.

"There's never any reason to."

Naruto laughed.

The wind blew.

Sasuke shook.

"Then I'll have to give you a reason.'

Birds sang.

Trees rustled.

Sasuke smiled.


fin.


If you understood that, thank god. If not, I need to work on my communication skills. There was a lot I wanted to say with this, and I really hope at least some people understood my point.

The sad thing, the girl I wrote it for will never read it. It's pathetic, but this story was my way of getting out my own feelings. I could rant to you, a stranger, about the hurt and guilt that keeps me from sleeping. I could tell you how when I tried to break into the 'behavioral clinic' she is kept at, I became hysterical upon the discovery that they had a pool. But I shall resist, as I think -hope- you understand at least a little of it just from reading this story.

The list of people is real, and in my possession. The people mentioned, (Jason Dahl, Thomas Burnett, Nicole Miller, Georgine Corrigan) , are also real; they lost their lives on United Airlines flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

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All readers loved, flamers accepted, reviewers sent international hugs and constructive criticizers given the design for world peace.