Word Salad and Frathworth and Butts
He had only been half asleep for the two or so last hours. Sleeping, but at the same time aware of the blanket against his legs and the now hard pillow underneath his head. Several times he had groaned and tried to make it softer by fluffing it up, but every movement he made hurt, so he had given up. His head would still be in pain when he woke up, so what was the use?
Light seeped into the bedroom from the thin white curtains in his bedroom. It was the light that was the reason why he couldn't sleep all that good. Now he would wake up too early, and the day would be as long and painful as the other days had been the last three months. He knew the clock was tick-tacking, and in his half slumber it turned twelve, three, six, seven, nine, and he would wake up to late to visit Sasuke and Sakura, and he would have missed the whole day, only waking up and go to bed.
Through the haziness he smiled in the bed as he went back to it, slipping inside the covers to sleep again.
A sudden flash of pain in his stomach made him arch up and hiss, rolling over to the side and almost fell out of bed, and grasping for the bucket that stood close-by. It felt as his insides were turning into outsides as he threw up inside it, mixing it together with days old vomit. His stomach cramped and hurt, he coughed and felt snot running out of his nose, tears in the corner of his eyes. He grabbed one of the glasses of water that stood at the bed, old water being there for days. There was a dusty layer disappearing into his throat as he drunk it, washing most of the bad taste away. His head fell down on the bed again, face down, as he got his breath back. Slowly the pain was fading away to the normal pain he had all the time nowadays, and his heart slowed down.
He looked up at the clock and saw it was only half past eight in the morning.
A quarter of an hour later he stood in the shower, the warm water sprinkling down his tired body and down on the floor, splashing around his feet. It had been a while since he showered, but today he was going out, and he couldn't go out smelling like three weeks of dirt. He reached out for the shampoo, hesitated and grabbed the shower cream instead. It felt good to feel the dirt being washed away with the water. His hands slowly moved towards his head a couple of times, only to be drawn back. Not today. He couldn't do that. Not today.
He stepped out and took a towel, dried himself of and grabbed a pair of boxers. They hung loosely on his hips, but he didn't have any smaller. No one was going to see underneath his pants anyway. His jeans hung as loose, and he buckled a belt tightly around his hips, pleading for them to stay up. A big sweater over his head, and he was almost done.
He sat down on the toilet seat and sighed, burying his head in his hands, rubbing his eyes. After five minutes he walked into the bedroom and reached for a blonde wig and fastened it on his head, pulling a black cap over it. Only a few bangs were showing, and it looked real enough. He made his way out and into the kitchen, moving away old dishes that needed a cleaning, and grabbed a glass of water jars with different kinds of pills. Swallowing the pills with a little water, then ready to go. A big jacket covered his thin frame as he left the house for the first time in three weeks.
The weather had changed slightly since the last time. Less snow and more sun. The spring was coming after a long, dark and cold winter, but he didn't really care. He didn't care to think about the weather.
Instead, he watched everything else, grabbing every piece of memory as he walked slowly to the bus stop. People passing him in the street, often with kids. The kids played around in the last snow, running away from their screaming mothers and fathers. A few elderly people walking by, towards the old park near the centre of the city. Cars in different colours rolling by, stopping for him as he crossed the street. He saw the beginning of a crocus at the side of the sidewalk, already being woken up by the early sun. It wouldn't be long-lived.
He turned left and looked backwards along the road. The bus was driving towards the stop, and he hurried his steps. When he arrived his stomach hurt again, and he grabbed the bottle of water in his jacket and let it pour down his throat. He went inside the bus and chose a seat near the exit, at the window. He watched the city passing by slowly, the bus stopping here and there to pick up people. Someone sat down next to him and he crept closer to the window. Two blocks away he was alone again, and the next stop was his.
He pressed the button, and then walked off. Turning a few times, and then walking straight. This wasn't his first time walking here. He knew the houses, and he recognized some people. His looked down into the ground as he made his way through them, keen on not being seen. He made his way towards his goal, a big white house with a large garden. Slowly taking the steps and then knocking on the door. He didn't wait for anyone to come and open, instead he just opened it and walked inside.
He waited a few second, and when no one answered, he kicked off his shoes but left the jacket on, and walked inside. There was no one in the kitchen, and not in the living room. But the door to the glassed porch at the back of the house was opened, and he took some steps towards it, but stopped when he heard someone's voice and his name.
"No, don't Sasuke," Sakura's voice laughed. "Naruto will be here any moment!"
He heard Sasuke's rare chuckle dedicated to Sakura.
"Naruto's always late. We can make a quickie, honey..." Sakura laughed again, and he walked closer, careful not to make any sound, which was rather easy, since he had lost a great deal of weight and was wearing socks. He looked through the opening, and stopped breathing as he saw Sasuke and Sakura getting naked on the soft outdoor couch. He could only see Sasuke's back and bottom and he lay down over Sakura, between her spread legs. A soft moan from Sakura as Sasuke penetrated her and he begun to move in and out of her, he with small grunts every time he went in. If Sakura looked up she would have seen him watching them, but her eyes were closed in pleasure.
"Make it quick", she breathed, small gasps making their way into her sentence. Sasuke groaned and moved slower.
"Fuck Naruto", he breathed. "I want to be inside you as long as possible".
A sting in his heart as he heard the words coming from his best friend's mouth. Fuck Naruto.
Naruto felt his eyes beginning to dim, and he realised he was about to cry. With one last look at his friends, he walked out of the house and sat down on the stairs. The stone was cold against his butt, but he didn't care. It was only one thing of many.
Searching his pockets he found a packet of cigarettes and a lighter, and he closed his eyes as he sucked in the nicotine.
It hurt, hearing Sasuke saying that. It hurt so much. Not because Sasuke was his friend, no. That would have hurt, but this hurt more. Of course Sasuke was his friend, but he...
He had always seen Sasuke as something so much more.
But Sasuke had fallen in love with Sakura, and now they lived together in the beautiful house he had dreamed of since high school, making love on the couch and not giving a shit about him.
And he had come to terms with it. He had accepted it. He knew he could never have Sasuke, because Sasuke would never have him that way.
But it hurt, hearing how little they cared, how easily they could throw him away like that.
When he sat on their cold stairs and smoked, the thoughts he had tried to block away came running towards him. Depressing thoughts, thoughts about his disease. He hadn't told them he was sick. When the doctors had told him, he hadn't believed in it himself. He had been back a week later and asked them, if they were sure. They were. And the treatment had begun. He had been operated on, but in no use. They had given him pill after pill, and at last, they had turned to chemotherapy. But it didn't go away. Words like, you'll be fine and we detected it too late were said, but after two years the treatment stopped, with four words.
Three months to live.
He was getting worse each day that went. His thoughts wandered to his messy apartment, his disgusting apartment. His neighbours had complained about the smell.
But he couldn't do it. Every day he lay in his bed or in front of the TV. Eating when he felt he could stomach it, otherwise only drinking water. Getting thinner and sicker.
After a while, he had started smoking.
It wasn't like it could get any worse.
"Why are you sitting here?"
The sudden voice from behind startled him, and he choked on the smoke. He turned around and saw Sasuke looking at him with a frown.
"You know those things give you cancer, don't you?"
"Yeah. I'll be careful."
Sasuke sat down next to him, but stood as quickly again. Naruto only watched him.
"It's fucking freezing," Sasuke explained himself. Naruto nodded and continued to smoke. He was on his third now, enjoying the warmth coming from it. It felt alive, between his fingers. Sasuke looked at him, he could feel the disapproval seeping from him and onto Naruto's shoulders. He chuckled and put it out against the cold step, but remained seated.
"Don't you want to come inside?" Sasuke asked him. He could hear the other was freezing, but after what he had seen and heard inside, he didn't feel like it. "You don't look well", Sasuke tried. That sentence made Naruto startle from his laziness and he stood up. He didn't want Sasuke to see, to know. He had to get out of here.
"No," he said. "I know it's been a while, but I just remembered something I have to do." He knew it was lame, but he couldn't think of something else. Sasuke always made him nervous when he looked at Naruto, and right now Naruto wanted to be anywhere except under Sasuke's gaze, his beautiful eyes. The sun had hidden behind a cloud, and suddenly it was winter and not spring anymore. Sasuke looked pale in the light, his dark bangs hanging in his face, and the light pink lips...
He guessed he had always been attracted to the other boy. They had met early in life, and Naruto had from the beginning had a thing for the beauty Sasuke had inherited. They had always been best friends, and they had always helped each other through things too. Naruto had been there for Sasuke when his family had died on a business trip, and Sasuke had been there for Naruto that time he had tried to forget about Sasuke and made a move on Sakura who had turned him down. Seeing as Naruto never had a real family neither, he and Sasuke had always got together at Christmas and birthdays. But a lot of things had changed since Sasuke fell in love with Sakura. Sakura, the girl who had turned Naruto down. Sakura, who they didn't even know. But he wanted Sasuke to be happy, so he let it be. Hoping it was just a fling. But now they had lived together for four years. And Naruto had kept away, not wanting to see when they kissed, when they were together, when they...made love. He didn't want to see the things that broke his heart.
He knew Sasuke was wondering why he stared at him. They – Sasuke and Sakura – had called him the other day, saying it was way too long since they had gotten together. Asking him for dinner.
Two months ago, the doctors had said the final words. Naruto had kept away, but he had also wanted to say good bye. Sit in the white wonderful house with Sasuke – and Sakura – one more time before it was his time to go.
But that was before they had "fucked him."
Naruto had always known that Sasuke had brown eyes. Dark brown, so when standing more than a metre away, they looked black. But now the light gave them their true colour, and Naruto smiled. One month to go. He was getting worse each day. Perhaps...perhaps Sasuke would contact him earlier, but he didn't think so. He could keep away a month. He could.
"No," he said again. "I must go." His smile grew wider and more insecure as he took one step closer. "Bye, Sasuke-teme". He gave him a small peck on his lips, before walking away as he searched for a new cigarette. Behind him he heard the door open, and Sakura's voice.
"Wasn't he going to stay for lunch?"
If Sasuke answered, he didn't know. Either he didn't, or he had walked too far to hear anything.
Maybe you have been asked the question, if you had one month left to live what would you do? You will think about all the things you would do, bungee-jump, jump from a plane, see the world, confess to your lifelong love, call an old friend...call your mother.
If his friends had answered the question for Naruto, they would have made a long list with all the things he would do before he died. Everything you could think of, and they would believe it.
Of course Naruto would do that! It's Naruto.
He guessed he too thought that, before the disease. Perhaps in the beginning, he tried to do some things. Half-hearted though, because at that time he had thought he would survive.
Perhaps you have seen movies or read books with people getting to know they are soon to die, and they make a list with things they will do before the very day?
He was laying on his sofa, his stomach hurt. He hadn't eaten since yesterday. The puree the nurse had got him earlier stood on the table, more stood in the kitchen. She had asked if he wanted to clean up a little before she went, but he had shook his head, knowing and seeing in her face that she didn't really got the time, but her nature and pity were talking through her mouth. She had left after awhile, and he had turned up the volume on the stereo and closed his eyes. Not too surprising he had gotten worse, and they had begun sending a nurse from the hospital every now and then. They got him food and checked up on him, gave him more medicine. Not that it was going to help. In two weeks all those pills would be for nothing, because they all – including himself – had already given up on him.
Sasuke hadn't tried to contact him. He didn't know if he should be happy or sad about it. Happy that he didn't have to deal with it.
But he guessed he was more sad than he thought he would be. He knew that Sasuke had understood the meaning of the small kiss. Who kissed his best friend on his lips without meaning anything with it? Now Naruto knew that Sasuke didn't return his feelings. It was it. Before, he could've imagined, and did, how he would confess to Sasuke, and Sasuke would leave Sakura for Naruto. Everything on pink disgusting clouds and happy always and forever.
It all seemed pointless now though. It was too late. He guessed he tried to comfort himself with those words. In two weeks he would have gone away, and then he didn't have to worry about anything anymore.
Sasuke, Sakura, Cancer, Apartment, Death, Medicine, Love, Loneliness.
His mouth was dry, and it had stuck together as he opened it up to throw up bile. He leaned back against the sofa and breathed heavily. He had realised he had to take the chance to eat directly after the food or water had came up, otherwise it didn't go down. He reached for the puree and ate it slowly, letting it slink down his throat rather than eating it.
Through the music he suddenly heard a soft knock on his door. He turned off the music and rose on shaky legs and made the short walk to the door through the piles of junk dominating the floor. Along the way, he grabbed the wig and cap, pulled it over his head, unlocked the door and opened it slowly.
He heard Sasuke say his name when the door was only opened by an inch, and he let it open two more before he stopped, looking through the narrow opening at his best friend.
"I...wasn't sure you were home..."
What was he doing here? Why was he here? Why now?
He had the urge to just slam the door in Sasuke's face and lock it, never to open it again. He stopped himself from running back into his apartment and hiding underneath his blanket.
"It took some time before you opened."
He looked up at Sasuke. He guessed he wanted an answer. He knew he was smelly. He hadn't cared to shower again, or doing the things you should do. He knew he was disgusting, and suddenly he felt crawling movements all over his body, over and under his skin. The ache for getting clean became stronger than the pain in his stomach and body. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, before he realised what he wanted to do.
"Hi, Sasuke. You want to talk I guess. I know I would, if I were you. So...but...but I'm a little busy right now, really busy, big time busy, so can you come back later? Maybe four hours or so? Thank you! See you later!"
He shut the door closed and stood still, hands pressed against the door. He knew he had been blabbering, and for a long time he didn't hear anything outside the door. After two minutes he heard someone walking down the stairs, and he breathed out.
And then he panicked. He quickly turned around and looked at the apartment. It looked like someone had a trash-war inside. His breathing got faster, but he forced it down, counting to ten, keeping his head cool.
Then he panicked.
Again, he stood in the shower. Again, the water ran down his filthy body. He felt he had gotten smaller since last time, he could feel every rib when he brushed his hand over his torso. Dirt fell off with the water, and for a second, he almost felt good, standing there. His heart slowed down as the minutes went, his skin getting hotter for every minute. He realised he was kind of hungry, and the idea of food didn't seem as horrible as it had just an hour ago.
Outside the bathroom, a cleaning company emptied his apartment off trash and cleaned it. After he had called them during his minutes in panic, he had realised that Sasuke didn't had to set his foot inside his door. But then he shook his head. When he died, he guessed he wanted his apartment to be clean.
He had asked them to clean the bathroom first, so he could make himself ready. They hadn't even lifted an eyebrow as they walked into the dirty, oh so disgusting room. They had seen this before, and would see worse. In half an hour, they were finished, and he had hurried inside his new hiding-place. It had been so long since he had seen any part of his home clean.
He lifted his face into the hot stream. As soon as the bathroom had become clean, a part of his apartment hadn't been just an apartment anymore. It had turned into a home. A little.
Again, he hesitated when reaching for the shampoo-bottle. But this time he grabbed it, poured a little into his hands and began to massage his scalp. He could feel hair between his fingers. Short hair, wet and dirty. Now it would be clean, and he would look nice for Sasuke.
No. He wouldn't wonder what he wanted. He would know soon enough.
Not now, when he almost felt okay.
He washed out the shampoo and cleaned his body one more time before stepping out. A fresh towel hung on the hook next to the door. He had asked for the luxury-packet from the cleaning-company. Not only did they clean his home, but they also brought a set of fresh towels and bedclothes as such things, as they did his laundry of all his things. It was soft against his pale skin, and soon he was dried off. He had managed to find some clean clothes in the back of his wardrobe, and put them on.
He sat down on the toilet not knowing what to do with himself.
Now when the shower was quiet, and he had stopped moving, he could hear the people outside. Moving and running around, vacuum-cleaning his floors, talking to others, giving out orders. If it wasn't for Sasuke, and the thought of him (not that he did think of the boy, because he had said he wouldn't!), he would have been scared of having them there. Having them there to see how he looked and that he was sick. That he needed help.
He hated asking for help. He felt weak when asking, and weak when given. He had always done things by himself. The only person he ever had the guts to ask was Sasuke. But not since Sakura, not since her.
Now he stood here, hiding away in his bathroom, just because of Sasuke. Always because of Sasuke. He had his arms falling down his sides and stared into the door. Then he turned around, took a step forward, somewhat determined, made another turn and looked up.
Oh good god.
He looked horrible.
For the first time in a year he looked at himself in the mirror. He was pale. He had always been tan, always in the face, because that was the only place that always was in the sun. Now it was pale. He had blue bags underneath his eyes, and the three scars on each cheek had taken a new form, since his cheeks had turned hollow. His eyes looked grey, having lost all the blue colour they normally had.
But the worst part was his hair.
He had always liked his hair. It had showed his person. Bright. His blonde short locks were no longer there.
He wasn't all bald. Hair had grown out uneven, destroyed. He had spots on his head where there was no hair at all, and spots where it was longer. His eyes met his eyes again. He looked sadder. He looked broken. He looked like his hair. Grabbing an electric razor he shaved it all off. It was better being all bald than this. He couldn't look at this. Rather empty than destroyed.
After throwing the hair away, he went out. His apartment was full of life, and a girl stopped and smiled at him as he stood in her way. He gave a half smile back and stepped away, and took a look around. It was beautiful. They had done a lot when he had been showering. He was glad it was being taken care of. He walked into his kitchen and took his medicine that had been left untouched. He went to the bedroom and grabbed his wig and cap, and put them on. He had almost reached the door to when he was stopped by a tall woman with long brown hair. She held some papers and smiled nicely at him.
"You're going out, Uzumaki-san? We are soon finished, but we can lock this place up if you want. Just tell us where to leave the keys."
"You don't need a key. Just lock it and close it and it will stay locked". The woman nodded and her smile got even broader.
"Great! We'll send you an invoice in a few weeks then. Have a great time, Uzumaki-san!" She turned to leave, but he grabbed her sleeve. For a second, her eyebrow furrowed, but then her business smile was back and she looked questioningly at him, urging him to say what was on his mind.
He didn't know what he should say. Did he have to tell her that he would be dead in a few weeks, and therefore never be able to pay for the work they had done? Or could he lie and tell her that he was going away in a business trip and be gone for many, many weeks, and therefore not be able to pay for the work they had done. Or maybe, he could tell her that it was now he had cash, so he wanted to pay right away? But in the end, as always, his mouth betrayed his thoughts, and had already spoken.
"No. I'll be dead then. Can I pay right away?" The woman looked taken aback, and her eyes darted first towards the apartment, and then his head. She opened her mouth, and for a few seconds, she just stood there, mouth opened and eyes looking back and forth. But, in the end, the smile came back to her face. But just as it had entered his mind, he realised that this wasn't the smile she had used earlier. This was a kind smile, a real smile, a smile of pity. She nodded, as if to herself, and wrote in the notepad in her hands. She ripped it off and gave it to him.
"This is your receipt, Uzumaki-san". He looked down on the paper in his hands, and looked up, not understanding.
"But the luxury-packet..." She shushed him down.
"The luxury-packet just became a little cheaper". And before he knew it, she had passed him and shouted at someone in her staff, leaving him with the receipt by the door. He looked at it again, and sighed. It wasn't like he had any use of the money, but he didn't want to argue with her. He picked up his wallet from his pocket at laid the money on the counter next to the door and went out. He took the elevator to the first floor, and left his building. He walked down the streets down to the city. He knew a small bakery he and Sasuke had visited some times during high school. Sasuke had never been a fan of sweets and pastry, but Naruto knew he liked those really dark chocolate things they sold just there.
When he stepped out of the bakery ten minutes later, he knew it wasn't time to go home yet. The money he had been given back from the cleaning lady kept bugging him. Maybe it was a sign or something. Maybe he was supposed to do something with it? He looked down the streets and watched the different kinds of shops.
He didn't know what Sasuke wanted. He tried not to think about it, but he knew it was there, all the time since Sasuke had been at his door. Was he going to say he loved Naruto? Was he going to turn him down, and end their friendship? Or would he only turn him down, and ask them to continue being friends. And when Naruto would never be able to live with the two last things, there wouldn't be a problem. But what if Sasuke wanted to be with him?
He shook his head and with that shook away the thought. No. Sasuke wasn't going to do something like that. If Sasuke had liked him more than a friend, he would've known. Sasuke was his best friend after all. Or had been, at least.
Flowers perhaps. That would give his home the fresh feeling it deserved after all this time, and he stood just by the store. He went inside and picked a pre-made bouquet and took a place in the line, waiting for his turn. Bored, he looked out of the window, at the people walking by, and the signs of the other shops across the street. If he was going to buy something, what was he going to buy? A man with raven hair suddenly walked by, and he stopped breathing. Of course Sasuke would still be around. What had he been thinking? He could've bumped into the other when buying sweets, and that would've been embarrassing. He watched Sasuke from the flower shop, watching him stop in front of a book shop, looking into the display window. His heart sped up, just by seeing him. What would having him in his apartment do to him? Sasuke looked up, and turned around, and for a second, he was afraid he would turn his head and see Naruto in the store. But he didn't, just continued walking until he couldn't see him anymore.
In two weeks, he would be gone. In two weeks, he would never see Sasuke again. Never see the black hair, the pale skin, the dark brown eyes, the smirk when Naruto did something stupid, the chuckle when he let his guard down, his chest against Naruto's cheek when Naruto was sad, Sasuke's head on his lap when Sasuke was sad, Sasuke's dark voice that one time made Naruto tremble, the worry in Sasuke's eyes when something had happened. There were so many things about Sasuke Naruto would never live to see.
"Can I help you?" He turned to the voice and saw a young girl waiting for him to pay, and he fumbled out his wallet and did. He took the flowers and went out, looking the way Sasuke had gone. He could not see him anymore, and he sighed in relief. He began to walk back home but stopped as something caught his eye. He watched it for a few seconds through the window, and smiled.
Perhaps it was just stupid, but he had always known to be just that. Perhaps he was being silly and just throwing away his money on something he would never look at again.
But maybe, he couldn't just let it go. Maybe, he needed just this.
One last hope.
When he came back home again, the cleaning team had finished and gotten out. If he hadn't known how his apartment had looked before he had stopped taking care of it, he would never have thought he was in the same place. The fresh smell of soap filled his nostrils. He went from room to room to look and smile. His bed had new bedclothes, white new ones. It looked soft and nice and he had to lay down on it and bury his head in his pillow. Then he remembered the time and went to the kitchen and placed the flowers in a vase and put them on the table. He looked at the clock hanging in the kitchen. It was soon to be three, and Sasuke would be there in half an hour. He took the water-boiler and tried to fill it with water, but the water was heavy, and his hand and arm begun to shake at the weight. He placed it on the bottom of the sink, and when it was filled with enough water he lifted it with two hands, giving all his strength to do that small action. He hadn't realised he had gotten so weak.
He went to the refrigerator and took a can of puree and ate it, swallowing more tablets. His stomach hadn't protested so far, but better safe than sorry. He stood in the kitchen for a while, enjoying the clean floor beneath his feet. He went to a mirror and fixed his "hair", and this time it wasn't as hard to look at himself. His walk outside had made his cheeks red, and he looked better, fresh along with his home. He went to the living room and started some music, the guitar of Lars Winnerbäck filling the apartment with life. He barely heard the knock on the door this time, over the soft music. He wrinkled his eyebrows at the time, and opened the door.
To Be Continued
So, this was the first part of the twoshot Counting Time. What did you think? I hope you liked it. And a big thanks to Word Salad and Frathworth and Butts for beta'ing this for me! Thank you!