So yea, this is the chapter I had wanted to write since the inception of the story was planted in my head. Admittedly, parts of this chapter was inspired by Mandy Moore's Cry and the dialogue in certain scenes plays off some of the dialogue from Naruto Ch 235... ;D
Anywho, with that said, I hope you enjoy... oh and please review... kay thanks!~
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, or any of its characters, that privileged belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. :3
Those two little words plagued me, consumed me. For the next few weeks I couldn't get the concept of 'home' out of my mind. It used to be so easy, so simple, home. Home was Suna, it was where my brothers were, it was where the nightmare originated, it was where the demons resided. It couldn't have been any easier, it never occurred to me that the concept of home could ever change for me, but if I had been asked at that very moment where home was for me, I most definitely would not have said Suna.
It irked me that my world was slowly changing, that I once again felt lost, abandoned. The more I dwelt upon the concept of home, the more that nagging sentimental hallmark cliché, home is where the heart is, kept weaseling its way into my mind. I despised useless euphemisms meant to uplift and instill feelings of love and security, it nauseated me to think that people actually believed these senseless sayings, yet the more those words repeated in my head, the stronger the desire to believe them grew. Unfortunately for me, my severed heart was far too broken for me to ever decipher where it was leading me.
That was the story of my life, unnecessary pain and destruction, abandonment and hopelessness, fleeting moments of love. I thought I had me all figured out, that there was nothing in the world that could surprise me anymore, but everything for me changed that night, the night we finally collided.
I'll never forget that night, September 25th, 1:55am. The stars were once again veiled by a thick blanket of clouds, shutting out the brilliant glittering stars, the way they were whenever I need their comfort. I had found my way onto the roof again, like I had for every night during the past two weeks. I was tired. Tired of the pain, of the loneliness, of the confusion, of life. My only saving grace was the fact that the nightmares did not come, that the demons remained caged, yet that nagging desire to repaint that white staccato wall with my blood refused to leave me. I think I would have given in that night, I probably would have tore up my knuckles again, just to remind myself I was still alive, that I still bled, but just as I took at step toward that wall, the piercing cry of screeching tires infiltrated reached my ear and I found myself staring over the ledge onto the street below.
I can still feel the pounding of my heart as I watched the scene unfold before me in horror. I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat as I watched the car swerved wildly down the street, moving much too fast as it slammed into the side of an unsuspecting car attempting to make an innocent left. It was as if someone had hit the slow motion button as the shriek of metal on metal tore through the quiet night, as the windshield shattered, sending millions of sparkling shards of glass drenched in bright red blood, scattering off into the air, as the passenger was flung from the car, with such force and velocity that as the body slammed into the second car, the impact tore the head from the body sending it flying and skidding to a halt some fifty yards away. I could not tear my eyes away as I watched the second body exit the vehicle and slam against the side of the car, splitting the poor guy's scull in two, plastering his brains all over the other car, and then the driver, the unfortunate driver who was only flung halfway our the windshield, the sharp fragments of the shattered windshield piercing into his abdomen, as he gasped for air and clawed at the hood.
My body was frozen in place up upon that roof, I wanted to cry out and scream as flashes of my past forced its way into the forefront of my mind, as the blood drenched walls and dusty streets infiltrated my senses. All those horrific memories of my past, those secrets I had kept locked so deep inside me, resurfaced that night, and that nightmare that I had held at bay for so long came rushing at me with full force. I knew I needed to get out of my own head, to get to a phone, to call the cops, to see if there was a way to salvage the situation, but it was not until the driver's side door of the second car slowly opened and the shaky teen-aged boy emerged from the car, that I found myself spiraling down the fire escape, running as fast as I could toward that gruesome scene. I forgot all about the cops, the ambulances, the phone, even the bloody mess that was before me, all I could think about was the fact that I had to reach him and save him from the hell waiting to engulf him.
He stared at me, dazed, stunned, as I raced toward him. I needed to keep his attention on me, so that he would not look behind him and see the bloodbath that was the accident. I wanted to wrap my arms around him, to hold him close to me and shield him from the reality of the situation, to make all this madness disappear, to make everything alright, but all I could do was skid to a stop and stare stupidly at him as he turned around to face the bloody mess of mangled metal and maimed flesh.
Someone else must have also witnessed the accident, because as I stood there, gaping at the back of his head, flashes of blue and red lights filled the streets, sirens blaring as the cops and paramedics came runing up to us, and the firefighters rushed toward the distorted metal in an attempt to salvage the poor souls trapped within. I found myself recounting the details of the accident to a cop who furiously scribbled away in his little notebook, as the paramedics came in and whisked Shikamaru away.
By the time I made my way back to him, his injuries had already been treated, and for such a serious accident he had surprisingly come out pretty much unscathed. Besides a broken finger, he had not been touched, unfortunately his friends were not so lucky, especially the two on the passenger side, the side that got slammed by the other car. His distraught expression pained me, pulled at my heart, so I tried to find the right words to say, to reassure him, but the words escaped me, and all I could do was sit there next to him in silence. Situations like theses were never really good for me, I had grown up in a world where sweet words and comforting hugs did not exist. When my mother had died, I was told coldly by my father not to cry, because her death was simply a necessity. When I tried to stop him from beating my brother to the point of near death I was told to shut up lest I wanted a taste. When I had attempted to do the right thing by him and treat my little brother's wounds I was told not touch him lest I catch his uselessness. When my father was murdered and I laughed, I was called a monster and all my so-called friends betrayed me, abandoned me, discarded me, just because I believed that the fucking bastard deserved it.
Time dragged as we sat there and watched the firefighters continue to pry their way through the metal. They had already cleared away the three mutilated bodies that were ejected upon impact, but the blood was still everywhere, the smell of burnt rubber and oxidized iron still lingered. Although he didn't say anything and wore his usual indifferent expression, I was certain that the grotesque collision bothered him, and as they pulled the last two bodies from that first car, my suspicions were confirmed when he suddenly leaned over and retched.
Before I had a chance to realize what I was saying, to consider the impact my words would have on him, "well you're surprisingly fragile for a man" came tumbling out of my mouth.
The glare he shot me, instantly made me recoil and put my foot in my mouth. Perhaps it wasn't the most sympathetic thing to say, ever, but I hadn't meant to be mean. I didn't say it because I thought any less of him, or that he was any less of a man because of his reaction, but if you were to ask me why I said it, I honestly wouldn't have been able to say. It wasn't that blood and gore had no effect on me, that there weren't times in which I felt the foul bile surging up my esophagus, it was just that long ago I had been conditioned to either had to suck it up and swallow my disgust, or pay dearly for displaying weakness. I do have to admit that I hated myself afterwards, that the look he gave me cut deep into my heart and stung more than it probably should have, that for a second, I could heard my father's maniacal laughter resound in my head.
The silence that followed was excruciating, he refused to acknowledge my existence after that, and yet I still couldn't bring myself to leave. He had always been there for me when I needed someone the most, and although I clearly lacked tact with my words, and I certainly wasn't the most compassionate of people, I wanted to be there, no, I needed to be there for him.
When they finally pried open the top of his car and reached his friends, I felt a weight lifted off his shoulders as he released the breath he was holding, for it was stretchers that the paramedics were calling for, not body bags. I wanted to reach over and pat him on the back, the way Kankuro used to do for me whenever the gravity of the situation had finally passed, as a nonverbal way of saying, "everything's going to be okay now," but my hesitation cost me my chance, as he slowly stood up and made his way over to the ambulances.
I'm still not sure exactly what happened after that, but the next thing I knew, I had somehow managed to convince everyone on the scene that I knew the parties involved and needed to accompany the victims to the hospital. He stared at me funnily as I climbed into the back ambulance with him, a look of annoyance and confusion betraying is usually composed features, but at the same time I could have sworn I caught a hint of relief in his eyes.
"There's no use in fidgeting you know. Shit like this happens all the time. Didn't they make you watch those videos during driver's ed?" I asked suddenly. We had been in the hospital for hours, sitting there in silence, waiting for news about his friends' conditions. I didn't mind the silence, I didn't even mind the waiting, although admittedly I'm probably one of the most impatient people you'd ever meet, but it was his incessant fidgeting that drove me up a wall.
He stopped moving his fingers and looked up at angrily me. "Stupid videos in a classroom are very different than real life. I was the driver, I was responsible for their lives! I let them down. I should have never asked my parents for that fucking car! I should have never gotten my license."
I stared at him. I didn't know what to say, I couldn't understand where he was coming from, I couldn't understand why he would care so much, it wasn't as if the accident was his fault, it wasn't as if there was anything he could have done to change the situation. These were the cards life dealt him, sometimes they are shitty, but there's nothing we can do to change them, we just have to play with what we've got.
"I shouldn't have been driving, it was too soon, if I had been more mature, if I had more experience, if I hadn't been so laid back... everyone just trusted me and I let them all down. It's all my fault..." He said quietly as he stood up, a look of desolation on his face.
"When did you become so dense?" I asked bluntly, annoyed at his outlook of the situation.
"Excuse me?" He demanded, narrowing his eyes and hardening his stare.
"I said, when did you become so dense? I thought you were Mr. Smarty-pants, that that brain of yours had the capability of analyzing situations to an unnatural degree."
For a split second I could have sworn he rolled his eyes at me, right before he shoved his hands into his pockets, turned away, and took a few slow, labored steps toward the other end of the waiting area.
I let out an exasperated sigh. "Look, it doesn't take a genius to see that what happened wasn't your fault. You did everything right, the very fact that all your friends are still alive is testament to that. Shit happens in life, sometimes it's fucked up and beyond our control, when that happens we just have to suck it up, grow a pair and roll with it. What kind of man are you anyway, to just throw in the towel and give up once something bad happens? What happened to fighting back? Proving that you're better than the situation? At this rate you're nothing more than just a fucking pussy."
I don't know what came over me, I don't know why I cared so much at that moment, why I felt the need to make sure he understood the situation for what it was, that he was acting like a little bitch and needed to man up. Perhaps it was because he always had such a chauvinistic point of view of things, that this sudden desire to give up and put himself down was unsettling, perhaps it was because I had long forgotten what it meant to actually care about someone other than myself, and seeing him like that actually stirred up something within me.
"Fucked up shit happens everyday, your friends were lucky that you are responsible, that you had their best interests in mind, just think, you guys could have been the other car. You might not think you're mature enough, that you didn't have enough experience, but the fact is, you were and you did. You got into an accident, so what? If it wasn't you it would have been someone else, and if your friends were stuck with some irresponsible ass-wipe then they might not have even survived the crash, or kept their heads. At least you know you did everything right, so take from this what you may, but don't be a little bitch and punk out of life just become some shit happened."
He didn't say anything, he just stood there, with his back turned to me, frozen in place, staring off into the distance as if he had forgotten where he was right about to go. I couldn't tell if my words had gotten through to him, I wasn't sure if I should apologize for over stepping my boundaries, or continue to beat the point home. As I stood there, contemplating my next move the doors to the ER burst open, and the doctor triumphantly stormed through the doors, victoriously exclaiming the success of the operations. It seemed that his friends were going to make it, that all those hours of waiting weren't just in vain.
I'll never forget that moment, September 25th, 2:10pm, it seemed to have lasted forever, but yet it ended so soon. The funny thing about it was that although that waiting room was full of people, his family, his friends' families, random administrators, others waiting on news of their loved ones, at that very moment, it seemed as if everyone in the room simply vanished and the only people left were the two of us. It was as if we were in our own little world, and all the emotions he had kept buried inside, manifested before my eyes, and although he still had his back turned to me, I knew by the way his shoulders trembled and the soft erratic way his breathes were expelled, that he had stared crying. I can't explain how I felt, all I can say was that, at that moment, something inside me was changed. Twelve hours ago I probably would have made another offhanded, inappropriate comment about the fragility of men, but instead, I realized that of all the people I have ever met in this world, he was more of a mystery to me than anyone I have known, and that for some reason this nagging desire to unravel him grew stronger and stronger.
I found myself going crazy the next day, the blood and gore of the accident had brought back to life those horrific memories I had so carefully locked away, so very long ago. All I could see before me was the blood that tainted my past, the blood that had seeped into my skin and corroded away any semblance of normality I had left. I felt my sanity slipping from me as I battled the demons within my soul, I was cornered, beaten, defeated, and just as I was about to give into the madness, to give into the animal inside of me, he appeared, and pulled me back from the brink of insanity.
"Hey, you weren't at your usual Sunday morning spot, so I figured I'd just come by and see if you were here."
As I stood there, holding the door open, listening to the words escaping his mouth, I could feel those blasted memories begin to fade, the nightmare slowly dissipate, and the demons retreat. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, on the reason why my inner conflict dispersed. The thing was, I had always believed that it was the chess games, or the floating clouds above that grassy knoll, that had the power to reconcile the violence within my heart and exorcise the demons of my past. Never had I ever considered the possibility that it could have been him, but at that very moment, I finally realized that perhaps, maybe, just maybe there was a slight chance that it was just simply him. It was such a strange feeling, yet in it's own weird way, it was almost refreshing, and I could almost feel a smile spread across my lips as my mind cleared and my sanity returned. "Guess you we right, cause here I am. What's up?"
He shrugged. "Nothing really, I just wanted to say thanks."
"Uh... you're welcome?" I said eying him questioningly. For a simple 'thank you' he certainly came a long way to seek me out, in fact I'm still kind of unsure on how he knew where I lived. It wasn't like my address was listed anywhere, yet there he was, standing at the door of my apartment, hands in his pockets, apathy plastered on his face, and a simple 'thank you' on his lips. Deciding that there was more to his visit than just a simply thanks, I stepped back from the door, opening it wider and gestured for him to enter my little apartment. "So... what exactly am I being thanked for?"
"For yesterday." He said as he stifled a yawn and rubbed the back of his neck, before accepting my invitation into the apartment. "Granted, you were kind of a royal bitch to me most of the day, but still, I was grateful you were there."
I couldn't help but let out a small laugh. "Royal bitch eh? Gee... thanks." I said sarcastically, closing the door behind me.
He chuckled in response, clearly amused by my sarcastic thanks. "But in all seriousness, I really did appreciate your presence, I don't think I would have made it through that night, let alone the whole day if you hadn't been there..." His voice trailed at the end, as the gravity of the night before slowly seeped its way back into that little apartment of mine.
I shrugged and settled into the old, worn couch I had acquired from the nearby thrift store shortly after coming to Konoha almost a year ago. "I guess... but honestly, I really didn't do anything... except berate you of course... that and question your manhood."
Following my lead he plopped down next to me and scoffed before staring down at his hands. "I suppose there was that, hence the royal bitch comment, but..." He paused, tapping his fingers against themselves for a few seconds before quickly stopping, as if he remembered my comment about fidgeting, and began again, his voice lower, more solemn. "It's just that... well, when I first realized just how bad the accident was, I felt like I had just stepped right into the middle of a fucking horror movie. There was so much blood... and that dude... his head... I wanted to run, to just fucking disappear and pretend it was all just a bad dream, that none of it was real, but then there you were. You were so calm and collected, as if it wasn't anything special, and yet your eyes, your eyes were filled with so much fear and horror, compassion and sorrow. It's weird, but seeing you like that, seeing all that emotion in your eyes and the fact that despite all that, despite the atrocious scene and your inner disgust, you were still able to compose yourself... I don't know, it kind of anchored me, drew me back to reality, helped me return to sanity."
I frowned, his words were unsettling, not only because I completely disagreed with them, but also because that little bit he said about me anchoring him, drawing him back to reality, saving him from insanity, it was the very sentiments I felt in regards to him. "You know," I said softly, "being calm and collected in a situation like that isn't normal... it's not something praiseworthy... something to be thankful for... you can't possibly know..." I stopped, swallowed the painful memories and looked at him. "You couldn't possibly fathom the amount of shit the world has flung at me, the amount of blood that stained my very core... the unimaginable things that created that soulless monster you saw last night."
He looked up apologetically at me, as if he could see into my past, and understand the breadth of the things I have witnessed, things that no being should ever have known, things that clawed at my sanity, things that I had to keep buried deep inside so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed and could face another day. "... Well what I meant was that, despite the fact that you found the scene revolting, and I know you did, so don't even try to deny it... and despite the fact that you didn't need to be there, heck besides me, who was clearly uninjured, you didn't know any of the other people involved, you decided to stay. I know it was kind of selfish of me, but in a way I was glad that you decided to throw away your Saturday and accompany me to a hospital, and sit in a dingy waiting room for hours on end with nothing to do, just to know that people you have never met before were going to be okay... But you know what? The funny thing is, and I know this is gonna sound kind of stupid and quite narcissistic of me... but for some reason, I just kinda felt that maybe, you were there for me... to make sure that I was going to be okay, mentally, and to be honest, even though you were mega-bitch in your way of going about it, it kinda made me happy... and for that I am really grateful."
"Heh," A smirk played at the corner of my lips, it amused to know that despite his apparent ignorance of the situation yesterday, he was still observant enough to accurately interpret my actions. "Perhaps..." I said coyly, "there could be some truth in your assessment... but then again, who knows, it's possible that you could be as narcissistic as you are brilliant."
"You're a strange woman, you know that?"
I chuckled and flashed him a smile. "Yea... I hear that from time to time. What of it? You don't think it takes away from my awesomeness do you?"
He let out a restrained laugh and shook his head slightly, the smile lingering on his face. "No, no, it's not a bad thing at all. In fact I find it rather refreshing."
"Oh? That's good then, now I don't have to kill you. But you know..." I said, the humor leaving my voice. "There's something that's been bugging me ever since the hospital."
"Thing is, I just can't figure out why you cared so much."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... well, that whole time, yesterday, you blamed yourself, as if you were personally responsible, like you were the one who got those other kids drunk and made them slam into your friends... why? What made you care so much? What was it that made you get so riled up that you would lose all sense of logic? I just don't get it."
He sat there and stared at me for a couple of seconds, with an expression I couldn't quite decipher, before he shrugged his shoulders, replaced his mask of indifference and slumped back into the couch. "I don't know. I guess in a way I just knew they would have done the same for me."
"Hmm..." I mused as I pursed my lips and crossed my arms. "But how could you be so sure..."
Turning his face toward me, he took a moment to think before saying, "well let's put it this way. Why did you come running from wherever the hell you were? Why did you decide to come with me to the hospital? Why did you feel the need to be there even though there was no logical reason for you to be?"
I frowned, in an instant I could see his reasoning, and it displeased me to know that he was once again right.
"Well?" He asked, failing to keep his apathetic mask in place as a smirk threatened to shatter its facade.
I glared at him and mumbled, "because you would have done the same for me."
In an instant that see-I-told-you-so smirk broke across his lips and I glowered at him, curbing the desire to beat the living shit out of him, because no matter how much his know-it-all expression irritated me, I had to admit that the man had a point.
"I hate you, just so you know." I said in defiance.
He chuckled and closed his eyes. "Uh-huh. I'll keep that in mind."
"And if I don't?"
"Heh," I scoffed, before grinning wickedly at him. "Don't worry, I'll make sure to remind you periodically."
"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow and met my eyes, returning my grin with that aloof smile of his. "That's good to hear... I suppose."
"You know, you're really lucky."
"Why? 'Cause you hate me?"
"No. Because you have people you care about, who care about you in return. Good, faithful, genuine friends are hard to come by, and although you like to pretend you're a loner, that the people around you are too troublesome to bother with, you seem to have a pretty sizable group of them."
"You know, you really are a strange woman." He said sitting up. "But I suppose you do have a point. When you put it that way, I suppose I am pretty lucky, but going off your logic, you're not so bad off yourself."
I felt a scowl creep across my face. "How so?" I questioned.
"Well for starters, you have me."
"Wow, you really are narcissistic..." I countered, rather sarcastically.
"Hey, I'm just following your logic here." He said defensively.
"Yea, well..." Truthfully, I had nothing. In a way I suppose he was right, I was kinda lucky, in the sense that I did have him. I hated the fact that I had never noticed this before, that I had always been so wrapped up in my past, drowning in a pool of my own self pity and misery, that I had failed to see what had been staring me in the face this whole time. I mean, in an roundabout kind of way, I did notice, given that I was always aware of the fact that whenever I needed someone, he would always appear, as if he had this bizarre direct link to my brain and knew exactly when and where to just materialize, but it had never occurred to me that in some strange, backwards, forced kind of way, we had actually developed an undeniable friendship.
That afternoon I finally realized what those two little words he said to me when I first returned to Konoha meant. For the longest time I was so fixated on the fact that home had to be a physical place, that he had meant that Konoha was my home now, but that day, I finally understood that my home wasn't Konoha, nor was it Suna, or even that little apartment we were sitting in. Home had become for me that place where I could finally feel safe, where the demons weren't welcomed and the nightmares couldn't manifest, home was, as that irritating hallmark sentiment put it, where my heart was, and for the first time since, well ever, I was finally able to piece together enough fragments of my shattered heart to be able to clearly see where it was leading me. Simply put, home was where he was.
You know, I still don't know how it happened, perhaps you can enlighten me, because it's been bothering me for some time now, but how is it, that two people, so polarily opposite could possibly bind together so perfectly? I don't want to hear some scientific bullshit about physics and how positively charged objects and negatively charged objects experience an attractive force, I want to know why I fell for your dumb ass, okay maybe not dumb, because perhaps as Mr. Sarutobi put it, you're quite brilliant, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, so that's my story, it's not much, I know, but it's the cry of my heart. It does make me wonder though, that if after all this, you still see me as an enigma, or that perhaps maybe somewhere along the way, with or without this silly letter of mine, you had managed to figure me out, because if you did, could you please show me the solution manual?
A/N: I know that the latter part of what Temari says in the hospital was said by Shikamaru's dad in the manga, but I didn't feel like introducing Shikaku at the moment (or ever really) so I had Temari say it... same difference... same effect in my opinion... which is really all that counts since I'm the one writing this... hahaha
Anyway, so this chapter was a lot longer than I had initially planned, but what can I say, it kinda ran away from me, and I couldn't find a good stopping point except for where it ended... and well it's over. D:
I hope you enjoyed this story, and please please please review... thanks 3