I don't own Naruto nor do I make money from it.
Warning: extreme emotional turmoil and loss. This story is not meant to make you feel good. Please be advised before reading it.
AN: I swore I would never right a one shot but low and behold here it is. Since my other fic 'What Dreams May Come' has pretty much gotten out of the inner turmoil, I felt the need to write a one shot to sooth my angst cravings. Flashbacks are in italics. Please don't flame and enjoy.
For Whom My Heart Tolls
Naruto wearily unlocked the door and made his way into the apartment that he had shared with Sasuke for the past five years. Dropping his keys and cell on the coffee table, Naruto swallowed as the pain of the last few days nearly brought him to his knees in agony. God, it hurt so much to enter the apartment and know that Sasuke wouldn't be there to greet him.
The apartment was a mishmash of both of their personalities. Sasuke tended to go for simple and elegant while Naruto loved a more flamboyant look. The two had clashed on more than one occasion concerning the décor of the apartment.
In the end, Sasuke always gave into Naruto. It was like a mating dance with the two. They would argue over the smallest little thing and then before either knew it, they were rutting like hormonal teenagers on the bed or sofa or table. While the raven haired man relished in the post coital bliss, Naruto would make his move and Sasuke would never know what hit him.
A small laugh escaped Naruto's lips at the memories of the 'fights' that ended up more as foreplay than actually altercations. Sasuke would be annoyed afterward but that never stopped it from happening again and again. That was their relationship. More than once, their friends asked what they saw in each other and the answer was always the same. 'I see my future.'
The ringing of the phone drew Naruto's attention. He really didn't want to talk to anyone. He'd heard so many 'I'm so sorry' and 'Is there anything we can do?' that he knew that if he heard another he would go insane. Not like anything they could say would make his hurting stop. They couldn't know how it felt to lose part of your soul. Standing beside the answering machine, Naruto listened as Sasuke's voice sounded through the room.
"This is the residence of Uchiha Sasuke and his dobe. We aren't in at the moment but leave your contact number and I'm sure the idiot will call you back."
Naruto released a little growl at the message. He'd bitched at Sasuke for weeks about it. The bastard wouldn't budge. He had won the bet and as such, his prize was the right to change the answering machine message to anything he wanted. Naruto had sworn that was the last time he would bet against Sasuke. The man had the devil's luck.
"Fucking teme." growled Naruto.
"Naruto…are you there? Pick up. Its Iruka…I'm worried about you Naruto. You didn't seem right at the service. If you don't pick up, I'm coming over there and staying with you…" Naruto snatched the phone from the hook.
"I'm here, Iruka. I just walked in the door."
"Naruto, do you need me to come stay with you? I know you can't be thinking right."
"I'm fine. I just need to be alone."
"Naruto…you don't need to be alone now."
"Please Iruka, I can't deal with anyone else right now."
"Alright Naruto, but I need you to call me if you need me. Don't forget to take the pills that the doctor gave you. He said they would help you rest."
Naruto placed the phone on the hook gently and breathed a sigh. He loved the man but he really couldn't deal with him tonight. Not tonight. He felt a pang in his chest at the thought of hurting his former foster father but he didn't want him mothering him. He just wanted to mourn in peace. Couldn't the world give him that?
Making his way into the bathroom, Naruto started the shower. While the water heated, he grabbed a plush towel from the linen closet and tossed it on the toilet seat. Shrugging his jacket from his shoulders, the heavy material fell to the floor with a thud. Naruto unbuttoned the white dress shirt and dropped it uncaring to the floor to join the jacket. Long tan fingers trailed over Sasuke's toiletries, placed exactly as Sasuke had left them.
"Bastard, I really can't believe you style your hair like that." Naruto could never understand why Sasuke spiked his hair like that in the back. It looked like a duck's butt. Sasuke didn't believe him but it did. Sasuke doing his hair was the weirdest thing Naruto had ever seen.
"Sasuke, why do you style your hair like that?" asked Naruto as he sat and watched his boyfriend spike the hair in the back.
"I like it."
"It looks like a duck's butt." Sasuke swung around to stare into the grinning face of his boyfriend.
"It does not look like a duck's butt." snarled Sasuke.
"You're an idiot. It does not look like a duck's butt."
"So are you if you can't tell that it looks like a duck's butt."
Sasuke growled and pulled Naruto into his arms and smothered the blonde's lips with his own. Naruto gasped at the sudden assault on his lips and Sasuke used that moment to press inside tasting and teasing. After several heated minutes, lips parted and breath panted.
"Hn…I win. It does not look like a duck's butt."
"You win" panted Naruto and pulled Sasuke down for more.
"Bastard, using your body against me" snorted Naruto before stepping in the shower.
The warm spray was comforting. The heat soothed his tired muscles but did nothing for his aching heart. Leaning against the tile, Naruto allowed the tears that he'd withheld to burn trails down his face. God, it hurt. It hurt more now that it did when the phone call came. It hurt more now than when he'd sat in the funeral home and picked out the casket and headstone. It hurt more now than when he'd sat frozen beside Iruka as the pastor conducted the funeral service.
The feeling of loss was so sharp that he wasn't sure he would be able to withstand the pain. He'd never felt anything like it. How could Sasuke be taken from his so easily? How could the simple act of driving home result in destroying his entire world? His very soul felt raw and he clutched his hands into fists so tightly that his nails dug grooves into his palms. Physical pain had nothing on the pain that a soul experiences at the loss of a loved one.
Naruto watched dispassionately as blood dripped from his hand to tint the water pink before swirling down the drain. Flipping the water off, he grabbed the towel and began to pat his skin dry of the water droplets that clung desperately to him.
Walking naked from the bathroom, Naruto walked to Sasuke's closet. He had willingly given the bigger closet to Sasuke since the 'prima donna' had far more clothes than himself. Naruto was happy with a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt but not Sasuke. No, he had dress clothes, play clothes, dress casual clothes, work suits, and even a formal tuxedo. What the fuck did Sasuke need with all those clothes?
Taking out an old pair of sweats, Naruto did a quick sweep of the bedroom. A bit of cloth under the edge of the bed caught his attention. Half hidden beneath the bed was one of Sasuke's discarded shirts. It was probably the one that he'd slept in the night Naruto left to stay at Iruka's. Naruto brought the shirt to his nose and breathed in the faint scent of Sasuke. He always smelled so good. That was the first thing Naruto fell in love with about the brunette. His smell. It was clean, slightly musky, and one hundred percent pure Sasuke.
Grabbing his cell phone from where he had dropped it, Naruto pressed a few buttons and opened his saved messages. Pressing his phone to his ear, Naruto closed his eyes as Sasuke's rich voice played through the phone. Collapsing on the leather sofa, Naruto buried his face in Sasuke's shirt.
"Dobe, what have I told you about leaving your cell at home. I know I upset you last night and I'm sorry. Things at work have been really straining on me. I just wanted to say…Why am I talking to your voice mail? I'll talk to you when I get home. I love you."
Naruto whimpered and played the message again and again. If he'd only had his cell with him when he left the apartment to take care of the laundry then he would have gotten to speak to Sasuke. Instead, so much between them was left unanswered.
"I can't get the day off. This case is important, Naruto. I might make partner if we win." argued Sasuke.
"But Sasuke, it's our anniversary. You promised you would try and get off." whined Naruto.
"Listen dobe, if I make partner, we can move into a bigger apartment and you can quit that shitty job of yours and go get your degree." said Sasuke.
"I'm tired of always being second to your job. Do you know how long it's been since we made love? You come in so tired that you can barely do more than crawl into bed. They are driving you into the ground and you keep coming back for more." shouted Naruto.
"I'm sorry if I'm working hard so we can have a better life." snarled Sasuke.
"Maybe we need a break for a bit. I think I'll go stay with Iruka tonight. We can talk tomorrow." whispered Naruto.
"Naruto…don't leave me. I can't survive without you." cried Sasuke as he clung desperately to Naruto's hand.
"I'm not leaving, teme. I just think we need a break from each other for the night. I'll be home when you get off tomorrow." smiled Naruto and leaned up to kiss Sasuke. Breaking the kiss, Naruto grabbed his keys and exited the apartment not realizing that it would be the last time he saw Sasuke.
"Sasuke, why did you leave me? Did you think that you were the only one that couldn't survive with the other?" whispered Naruto.
"God, Sasuke. Why did you leave me alone? I'm so sorry." cried Naruto into the shirt. How could he keep going when he felt like this? How could he survive with this much emptiness?
Dragging himself towards the bedroom, Naruto sunk onto Sasuke's side of the bed and immersed himself in Sasuke's scent. Grabbing the bottle of Xanax from the bedside, the blonde downed two of the pills dry and curled himself into the covers as he waited until the pills to take effect. His soul was broken and there was nothing left of him but tattered memories and regrets.
The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. It was all the same for Naruto. He went to work and then he went home. It was a never changing cycle that was slowly dragging the life from him.
It was coming up on one year. A whole year without Sasuke. A whole year alone with his pain. Iruka tried, he really did, but in the end nothing could ease the aching hole left by the bastard.
Tossing his keys on the table, Naruto stared around the apartment. Dust had begun to collect and the carpet was in serious need of vacuuming. He just had no energy. It took all his strength just to wake up each day and go to work.
He'd just settled on the couch to once again look through the photo albums that contained his and Sasuke's life together when a knock sounded at the door. Sighing, Naruto tugged on a robe and went to see who it was.
"Naruto, I've left five messages. Why haven't you called me back?" Iruka practically yelled as he pushed past the blonde.
"I'm sorry Iruka, I've just been tired lately." Naruto had given up on smiling long ago. People used to say that his smile lit up the room but no longer. The thought of smiling just made him want to cry. Everything made him want to cry. It was easier just to ignore the world that wanted the Naruto before Sasuke's death. That Naruto was dead and lying in the ground next to Sasuke.
"Naruto, you don't look so good. I'm going to fix you some tea." Iruka headed towards the kitchen.
'Sasuke is probably rolling over in his grave at the shape Naruto is in.' thought Iruka as he put the kettle on the stove. Sasuke had doted on the blonde and vice versa. To see Naruto in such shape was something akin to watching an animal tortured. It tore at your heart.
He watched from the kitchen as Naruto settled himself on the couch and began flipping through a photo album. He knew what was in that album. Sasuke had given it to the blonde on their first anniversary. They were still struggling to make ends meet and so Sasuke decided to make use of the massive amounts of pictures that Naruto took. Compiling them into an album, Sasuke had given it to the blonde. Naruto had been so happy when he showed off what 'his teme' had done for him. It became tradition with the two. Each year Sasuke created an album and presented it to Naruto.
The whistling of the kettle alerted Iruka that the water was ready. Taking two cups into the living room, Iruka handed one to Naruto. The blonde brought the hot brew towards his lips but was unprepared for the heat. Sputtering, Naruto gasped as the hot liquid spilled down his shirt.
"Oh goodness, Naruto. Let me go fix you another cup while you change." said Iruka.
Naruto nodded and stripped his shirt from his body. Iruka nearly burst into tears at the emaciated body before him. He looked almost like a skeleton. The bones of his spine were prominent bumps that disappeared into his pants. Iruka had noticed that Naruto seemed to be losing weight but hadn't realized just had poor he'd become.
"Naruto…let me take you to dinner. We can go for ramen if you like." Iruka said cheerfully.
"I'm not hungry, Iruka." sighed Naruto as he settled once more on the sofa with his albums.
"Naruto you aren't well. You shouldn't be that thin." pleaded Iruka.
"Look at this Iruka. I found this wrapped in Sasuke's closet a few days after the funeral." Naruto offered up the album to Iruka, the unspoken request to drop the subject was clear. Glancing at the cover it read, 'Sasuke & Naruto'. Opening to the first page he read the dedication, 'To my dobe, It is for you whom my heart will always toll. I love you. Sasuke.' The rest of the album contained the various pictures of the two, taken throughout the year. Iruka nearly burst into tears. There was nothing he could say. He sat with Naruto until the blonde fell asleep on the couch. Grabbing a throw, Iruka covered Naruto and quietly left the apartment.
Naruto continued to drift through his life. As the anniversary of Sasuke's death approached, he began to draw more and more into himself. All of their friends stopped calling but Iruka. They couldn't understand why Naruto was still depressed nor did they want to hang around with someone who brought them all down. Not that Naruto cared. Nothing really mattered anymore. It was too hard and it hurt too much to put on a happy face.
Iruka forced Naruto to stay with him on the night of the anniversary of Sasuke's death. He said something along the lines of Naruto not needing to be alone that night. He was probably right but Naruto wasn't going to tell him that.
Thoughts of suicide had been becoming more and more prevalent in Naruto's mind. Life without Sasuke had just become too hard. He hated the thought of leaving Iruka, the only father he'd ever known, but he was living a half life. Was simply breathing a life? Was drifting through an existence with nothing but sorrow and pain a life?
Naruto decided that it was time to let go. He was scared, he didn't deny that, but there was also something surreal about the decision. He who had always been so full of life was now contemplating taking his own. Would Sasuke be waiting for him? Would he be happy to see him? Was there anything out there? All of these questions ricocheted through his mind but none deterred him from his chosen goal.
On the day of what would have been their Seven year anniversary, Naruto sat down to write a letter to Iruka. It was only fair that he at least say goodbye to the only person that seemed to care anymore and he knew he could trust Iruka with his last wishes.
I know you are probably crying your eyes out at this moment but I want you to know that there was nothing you could have done to prevent this. Over this last year, I have come to realize a lot of things. I now realize that I was never meant to survive without Sasuke. If you told me ten years ago that I would love someone so much that I couldn't live without them I would have laughed in your face. I'm not laughing now.
I want you to know that I cherish every moment spent with you. You are and will always be my true father. We may not be bound by blood but we are bound by love. I'm so sorry for all that I put you through this last year but I hope that you are able to remain strong in my absence.
I have a few requests of you because I trust you above all others. First, I want you to take care of my albums with the exception of this picture. I want to be buried with this picture. Second, I want to be buried next to Sasuke but I'm sure you already knew that. Lastly, I want you to go and ask Kakashi out. I know you have been sweet on him for years but have never had the courage to do anything about it. Don't waste your time longing for your precious person. Go and find him.
Take care and know that Sasuke and I both will be waiting until the day when we can see you and all our precious people again. Until that day, be well and stay strong.
Folding the letter neatly and inserting the chosen picture, Naruto placed the letter on his bedside table. Walking to the bathroom, he showered and dressed. He didn't dress fancy but in a comfortable pair of jeans and a bright orange tee-shirt. He wasn't going to dress up just for Sasuke. The bastard fell in love with him wearing jeans so he would meet Sasuke again wearing jeans.
A bottle of wine sat at the bedside along with a half filled bottle on Xanax. He'd never been crazy about wine but Sasuke always kept a bottle around for special occasions and this was defiantly a special occasion.
Pouring a glass, Naruto sipped at the beverage rolling the liquid in his mouth, tasting the tangy yet bitter flavor. Taking a pill from the bottle, Naruto placed it on his tongue and took another swallow of wine. With each pill, his body began to relax more and more.
'Soon, Sasuke, soon.' thought Naruto as he swallowed the last pill.
Lying back on the bed, Naruto felt a euphoric feeling engulf him. It felt like he was floating on a cloud. His eyes began to drift shut and his body went limp. The only thing that topped this feeling was the taste of Sasuke's lips. Naruto couldn't think of one thing that felt better than Sasuke's lips.
His consciousness began to grow fuzzy and soon he knew nothing. There was only blackness. He never felt his breathing still nor his heart fail. He knew nothing and felt nothing and so he continued to drift. It could have been minutes or it could have been days. There was nothing and he was nothing until a gentle touch on his cheek forced his eyes open.
Contrary to belief, there was no great tunnel of light and no choir of angels. There was only Sasuke. The shiny black hair seemed to catch the sunlight that came from nowhere. A small smirk graced the elegant lips as they lowered to meet Naruto's. Lips touched, tasted and savored. They'd been apart for too long and now they would never be apart.
"You always were impatient." smirked Sasuke.
"Would you love me any other way?" asked Naruto.
Sasuke smiled and pulled the blonde into his arms. There was no heaven or hell. There was no pain and no suffering. There was only each other and the peace that came with each other's touch. There was only this moment that would last an eternity. In each other's arms, their hearts tolled only for each other.