DISCLAIMER: I don't hold any ownership or rights over Naruto or its characters. I apologise for any mistakes in punctuation or spelling.
"So… you're getting married."
Sasuke's voice suddenly increased ten-fold, echoing in the church, piercing Naruto's heart like a dagger.
A sombre, sullen mood was settling on top of the two of them, tucking them so tight it was hard to breathe, let alone express any raw feeling without breaking down completely. There was nothing left but the cold, dark aisle that tomorrow, will sport the wedding of a man, sincerely to his fiancé. Wedded and bound by vows, for life. The wedding that had been planned for ages, anticipated by everyone else except the one person it mattered to the most. Suddenly, the wedding was no longer so appealing. In fact, it made Naruto want to throw up. He could even feel the bile stuck in his throat.
"Yes, Sasuke… I'm getting married. Why does it seem such a shock to you?"
Naruto had his hands tight in his pockets, his voice thick with sarcasm and irony.
Naruto hated this but more than anything. He hated the man in front of him, who, without knowing so, was single- handedly ruining the blonde's upcoming wedding. Yet, amidst all the raw, aching hate he felt for him, he loved him. That was the biggest problem.
"Don't give me that look. I'm not backing down, Sasuke. I'm not losing everything again. Not for anyone and especially, not for you. I can't do this anymore."
The pure anger in Naruto's voice was blinding, drawing raw tears of emotion to his eyes. His anger issues were always walking on such a thin line nowadays. He was on the verge of breaking. Suddenly, a hand was around Naruto's neck, slamming him against the nearest wall. His head hit and for a minute he saw stars but all that vanished as soon as Sasuke's hot lips met his own. The kiss was rough, challenging as always, but this time, there was no fight of dominance. Just the soft echoes of their sinful moans in the halls of god's very own church.
Naruto let out a gasp as Sasuke broke away from him, arms shooting out in front of him defensively.
The raven pinned him with a penetrating glare.
"Really, Uzumaki? You're ready to give up this?"
Naruto let out an animalistic growl and pushed the Uchiha away with all the strength he had. The young man slammed into a row of seats, groaning as he did so, rubbing his head in soothing circles in a weak attempt to ease the pain.
"Yes. Yes I am."
He tried to make that sound as final as he could. He wanted him to go, far away from him, where his mind would not wander towards him. Naruto grabbed the raven's head and pushed it hard into the ground. He could have sworn he heard something crack and half of him wished something had. He wanted to break the Uchiha, drive him away, and give him a reason to stop coming back to him. Now here he was, straddling Sasuke, tears streaming down his face as he continued to take his anger out on him. However, just as he always did, Sasuke refused to back down. Naruto snarled in anger as Sasuke still stared at him, nose bleeding, blood dribbling from the sides of his mouth. He grabs Naruto's tie and drags him down, pressing them nose to nose, but this time he didn't kiss him.
He brought his lips very close to the blonde's ear, blowing hot breath there.
"You can't deny the truth, Naruto. I can't stop loving you. Face it. We're inevitable. You're just a coward."
Naruto gets off of him in anger and gives him a good kick in the ribs for good measure. He turns his back on the man, because he knows any longer and he'll fall for those onyx eyes again, and end up doing something stupid. Naruto tries to block the words Sasuke is shouting after him.
"YOU COWARD! YOU FUCKING COWARD! You're scared, you bastard! You leave me now and I swear, oh god, I swear, I will never look upon you again! I'M SICK OF THIS! I'M SICK OF YOUR LIES! GO! Go marry your wife! LIVE A LIE! I DON'T NEED YOU!"
The raven behind him is no longer shouting because he can't.
He breaks down and cries. He cries hard, even as the blonde determinedly walks out of his life. The doors slam behind Naruto but Sasuke isn't done yet. He slams an angry fist down onto the hard marble, grimacing as his knuckles began to bleed.
"I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! LEAVE! SEE IF I GIVE A FUCKING SHIT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS! I DON'T NEED YOU!"
"You don't need him. Fight it, Naruto… fight him out…"
Naruto looks like a madman, whispering to himself, trying to calm himself, calm his heart that was breaking. His thoughts were running around in his head, colliding and matching but never once making sense.
It's just like every other time.
He'd punch him, bruise him and break him beyond repair. The blonde would go out afterwards, to a pub, anywhere, fuck a prostitute, and whine about all the shit that's happened. Then came the bit that happened every time, the long, gruelling regret. Naruto suddenly feels the need to see him, hold him, comfort him and apologise for every fucking wrong word came out of his uncontrollable mouth, though he never did. But Sasuke was sure they had it, that thing people call LOVE.
Naruto laughed bitterly to himself, shrugging down the remainders of another bottle of whiskey.
What a load of bull-shit. Sasuke was an idiot. As soon as he gets onto the street, he runs to an abandoned alleyway, where he kneels and rests against the wall, screaming for the world's end and for his own. Then he throws up, alcohol spilling onto the dirty concrete. Sasuke was right.
He was such a coward.
Naruto straightens out his tux half-heartedly, eyes saddening as he stares into the mirror. He was getting dressed, before the ceremony started. It was the breath before the plunge. The door behind him creaks and the blonde turns, eyebrows rising at the raven before him. The Uchiha is dressed as he was, in a simple white tux, looking as handsome as ever. Naruto pushed this thought out of his mind quickly, though it was a weak attempt.
Trying his best to not let his voice crack, Naruto puts on the best sneer he could. He wouldn't be surprised if it had crumbled.
"Well, Uchiha, who gave you the invitation to come? I thought you weren't going to arrive."
Sasuke shrugs and walks forward.
"I think I at least deserve to come and see the woman who's replacing me."
Naruto gave a curt nod and turns back around to face the mirror. Long, pale fingers are resting against his shoulders now, trailing down his arms, sending goose bumps on his skin, as they smoothen out the black fabric. The fingers then tighten his tie, before straightening the plain white rose in Naruto's breast pocket. White rose petals were scattered all over the floor, ready for the wedding.
Sasuke had always loved white roses.
Seeing their essence along Naruto's wedding aisle was hurting them both.
Sasuke tentatively brings his arms up and around Naruto's chest, hugging him tightly to him from behind, trying to reassure him to what he's doing. Naruto sighs and puts a callous hand over the raven's, lacing their fingers, staring at their entwined reflection in the length mirror in front of him. Sasuke's chin rested on his shoulder.
"I love you so much, Sasuke… but… I need to do this."
Sasuke nods into his shoulder, looking up into their reflection.
"I know, Naruto… I know. I love you too. Yet you love me enough to still be able to look into Hinata Hyuuga's eyes every day and tell her that you love her. I love you so, that whenever I'm with anyone else, I can barely breathe, because I'm too wrapped up in wondering what you're doing, wondering where you are and… who you're with."
Naruto closes his eyes.
"Oh, Sasuke… please don't say that. I love her… but I love you too."
"No. No you don't. Those nights we spend together, renting cheap hotel rooms, making love anywhere possible, it's over. I've begged you to leave, come with me."
Naruto grimaces. He grip on Sasuke's hand tightens slightly.
"This is how you want to live your life, Sasuke? Living off useless fucks every now and then, having to hide our love from everyone until finally old age takes you? I don't just want to hide and survive. I want to live."
"Live? Is being with her living? Is being with her making-… is… argh. Okay, you know what, never mind. I don't know what I'm saying. You're right."
Naruto feels hot tears stinging and blurring his vision. He holds onto Sasuke's arms tighter, spooning the man closer to him.
"Now, we can go separate ways…"
"So, we're done?"
Sasuke nods lightly.
"By the time you exit those doors, a married man, you'll walk out of my life, as I'll walk out of yours. You'll stay with Hinata and I'll find someone who can give me the love I need. Let's face it Naruto. You were right."
Naruto sobs openly, hands grabbing Sasuke's hands until they're numb from any feeling. He never wants to let go. He wants to lie in each other's arms for the rest of their lives, then so when death comes, they'll greet it with open arms, knowing that they've lived their lives they were meant too.
But they can't.
Naruto can't commit like that, no matter how much he secretly wants or Sasuke begs. Naruto can even hear the receding footsteps and the soft thud as a door opens and closes. As soon as he looks back up into the mirror, he's holding at nothing and Sasuke is gone.
All that's left are the white petals.
Spring passed, Summer went and Winter came.
Naruto decides he's never had a more lonesome season in his life. Plagued by thoughts of what were and what could have been, he lies in bed, with his wife, feeling more at loss than ever. He stays in bed, all the time, when his wife is out late, fingering the empty bed spot next to him, whispering his name. Naruto thinks about coffee, tea, rain, sun, what to do next and what he should have done. He thinks about his deceased parents he never knew, about his wife, about the world. But most of all, he thinks about Sasuke. He thinks about him a lot.
Naruto lies there, on his side, facing nothing but air, talking as is Sasuke was there himself.
He just has to close his eyes and wait.
When Naruto opens his eyes Sasuke is climbing into bed with him, that pretty little smile on his pale face. He swears he can even feel the bed tilting as the raven sneaks under the covers. As soon as they're lying together, Naruto no longer feels stupid or insane. He feels like Sasuke really is there, with him, just as he promised he would be. Naruto wraps an arm around Sasuke's waist and pulls him to his chest, as he inhales the beautiful, musky scent of his lover. They talk, idle chit-chat, about how their days have been. Naruto thinks sometimes he's going insane, talking to his imaginary Sasuke. Their conversations are more or less the same every time.
"Sasuke… I miss you so much. I miss you every day and my heart aches for you. I can't live without you…"
Sasuke puts a warm hand to Naruto's cheeks and wiped away the tears. This is the most he ever does, only simple caresses, enough to drive any man wild and crazy with need. Naruto's imaginary Sasuke doesn't touch him much, because he isn't real.
"It's okay, Naruto. You just weren't ready for that kind of commitment. I understand."
The Sasuke in his imagination forgives him for everything he does, understands everything he does. He's anything Naruto wanted him to be. Naruto grabs onto him tighter. He never wants to let go of him, ever.
"No you don't, Sasuke. I can't live without you. You're my water, the very air I breathe and the very blood that keeps me alive. Why won't you come and take me back?"
Sasuke strokes Naruto's bare chest, pressing lips against tanned skin and sighs.
"Naruto. I will come back for you… when it is time."
Naruto feels his anger begin to rise. He was struggling, struggling so bad to keep his anger in check.
"Time? TIME? How much time do we really have left? I'm fucking dying here without you. I can't even breathe."
"It has always been your choice, Naruto. It was your choice from the very start. You made some decisions you wish you hadn't but you can't turn back. You pick yourself up and keep going. Shit just happens."
Naruto spat out the next words, surprised at how bitter and miserable he sounded.
"That's all you've got to say? Shit just happens?"
"What do you want from me, Naruto? You have a wife, don't you? Why don't you just go and fuck her. Isn't it all the same for you?"
"SON OF A BITC-"
Naruto's voice is raised and as quickly as Sasuke came, he vanishes and Naruto is left clutching onto nothing. He rubs at his fingers lightly. He swore he'd just been holding onto him. Naruto grits his teeth and curses himself, for losing his anger again. Whenever he was too angry, too violent, Sasuke would disappear, his imagination failing him.
He's desperate and he calls out to the darkness.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke. I shouldn't have said that… I take it back! Please, just come back to bed…"
Sasuke doesn't come back. He doesn't even grace him with an answer. He's abandoned him again. He was never there in the first place. The mere thought plunges deep into Naruto's soul and he clutched at his own sleeping shirt, rubbing hard circles over his aching heart, whimpering, grunting and crying himself into a pitiful sleep, where he dreams only of his lover. The Sasuke in his dream loves him, or at least this is how Naruto has dreamt him as. He dreams of passionate, gripping nights of love making, many endearments or love. Then, when Naruto wakes up, the spot next to him is empty again and all he can hope is that his Sasuke will come visit him again before he goes to bed and that this time, he won't leave him.
When it came to Naruto's divorce, it was more or less expected.
Naruto had told Hinata about Sasuke, only to hear that she'd been seeing someone else too. However, she understood and there were no bitter arguments and quarrels. As soon as Hinata is almost out his door, Naruto lets out a shudder. Naruto can't bear it anymore, unable to keep it in, too scared to let it out; he only allows himself animalistic grunts and groans of regret, strangled cries of pain. Hinata takes his head in her arms and brings it to her chest, running long fingers through his blonde hair. Her fingers are just like his, but whenever Naruto inhales, he smells Hinata's scent instead of Sasuke's and he's brought into reality. He wished…
He wished a lot nowadays.
"Come on, Naruto. Let's… let's turn this into something."
"I can't, Sasuke. This thing, this thing we've got going on, it has to stop. It's stupid. It's a fucking mistake."
"Naruto, how can you say that? Why do you have to be so... ignorant."
"It's meaningless sex, Sasuke. We're just two men taking out lust on each other, nothing more."
Sasuke grabs Naruto's shoulders.
"Bull-shit. That's fucking shit, Naruto, and you know it. We just fell in lov-"
Naruto lets out a snarl and pushes the raven off him, getting as much distance between them as he could.
"SHUT UP! SHUT THE HELL UP! ENOUGH WITH THIS FUCKING SHIT! Don't talk about love to me! YOU HAVE NO IDEA!"
Sasuke gives him an incredulous look. He gestures at himself.
"ME? ME? I have no idea? You're the damn clueless one. You can't see what we have, even though I've laid it right in front of you and you refuse to open your eyes! You can't change how this is. WE can't change! GOD. I'm so goddamn SICK of your everything!"
"Sick of it? SICK OF IT? THEN GET OUT OF MY LIFE! I DON'T NEED YOU GODDAMN ORDERING AND TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!"
"You think you're so great, thinking you can just order me out of your life! You can order me out, but you can't deny your own feelings. You're only human! You have feelings! Running away won't help..."
"Too hell with the damn feelings! WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? I THOUGHT YOU WERE SICK OF ME! GET OUT!
"FINE! FINE THEN! I WILL! WATCH ME!"
Before Sasuke walks out, he turns around and throws the flowers back into Naruto's chest. The petals crumble and fall.
"You can have your fucking roses back."
Sasuke always said he'd leave, every single time, but as always, he'd come running back. He was lonely.
"I'm lonely too, now, Sasuke… so lonely."
Naruto's words were suddenly stuck in his throat; all those speeches he'd planned for so long suddenly flew out of his mind, as soon as he heard Sasuke's voice. It's been over two years since he'd last heard his voice, a year since Naruto had finished signing his divorce papers. The phone shook in his hands.
"… Hello? Anybody there?"
Naruto opened his mouth but nothing came out.
Naruto let out a somewhat wheezed introduction.
"Uh… hey, this is Naruto."
Naruto could imagine Sasuke grinning on the other end, perhaps even holding the phone closer.
"Well, hey yourself, dobe. Uh, wow. It's… it's been a long time."
"Yes… yes it has."
A long, awkwardly uncomfortable silence stretched.
"Uh. So, what're you calling for?"
Naruto's heart stopped.
Was he calling at a bad time, or did Sasuke simply want him out of his life? Maybe he'd caused the raven more pain than he was worth. Maybe, Sasuke had found someone else…?
"I-I just wanted to say hey. I was wonderin'… you know."
Naruto paused, stumbling for a word to say.
"So, uh. How have you been?"
Naruto wanted to hit himself. He'd been so keen on telling Sasuke about his divorce. He thought that maybe, if Sasuke knew he was free again, he'd come back.
"Oh… not bad. Just been, you know, relaxing with a few old friends." Sasuke's voice came out disappointed, as if let down that Naruto had merely asked that. Naruto let out a question that'd been nagging him for ages.
"So. Um, you seeing anyone?"
There was a very long pause. Naruto waited with baited breath.
"Uh. Yeah…" said Sasuke.
"Oh… that's nice."
Naruto was about to blurt out about his and Hinata's separation when he just vaguely heard the voice of another man speaking on the other end.
"Hey, Sasuke! Get your pretty little ass off the phone! We're gonna be late."
Naruto heard Sasuke give a laugh.
"Coming! Hey, Naruto. I'll talk to you later. I'm a little busy."
Without waiting for an answer, Naruto slammed the phone down into its cradle.
He got up, rather shakily at that, his legs feeling like jelly. He walked up to a wall and rested his head against it, teeth gritted, taking in short, aggravated breaths. Who was that guy, in the background? Sasuke had said he was seeing someone. Was that him? Probably was.
They were probably getting ready to go somewhere nice, eat dinner somewhere while Naruto was here, stuck, all alone and miserable, caught up in the past. He grimaces angrily, flashes of his own imagination zooming across his mind. He could see Sasuke sitting somewhere, with some faceless man, enjoying himself. Then his thought flicker back to when Sasuke said he'd wait for him forever.
'You're such a fool, Naruto…', he tell himself.
Sasuke told him he would find someone new. Now he had. Naruto was a fool for believing Sasuke would wait for him. He angrily brought back his fist and punched a hole in the new, cream wall.
"DAMN IT! DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!"
Hello. This is Naruto Uzumaki. Please leave a message and I'll call you back. Please leave a message and I'll call you back.
"Hey. It's me, Sasuke Uchiha. I tried calling you but no answer, so I'll just leave you a message. I'm sorry about before. A friend and I were going to meet a few people for dinner so we had to get moving. Well, I was just wondering if you'd like to come over. Call me back and tell me what you make of it. Thanks."
Naruto replayed it, over and over and over, just to hear Sasuke's voice. It was driving him crazy. The raven was the one thing he wanted, the one thing he couldn't get.
It was insane.
Then again, their relationship had been insane from the very start, from their very first lustful kiss in a secluded corner after school. They began dating in secret, always scared of how others would think. Naruto had been a sports player, which he knew would make all his fellow players feel awkward in the change rooms. Sasuke was going for school president and he wanted nothing to tarnish his spotless reputation. However, the only real evidence to the public of their secret relationship were the bouquets of beautiful, scented white roses sent to Sasuke every week. They each had a fair share of short dates, and then through college, Naruto ignored Sasuke, try to break off what they had.
Everything went down-hill from there.
The roses had stopped too.
A little someone in his mind was telling him that he should just pick up the phone and call Sasuke, though the other half told him to just keep replaying. He pressed the button again.
Hello. This is Naruto Uzumaki. Please leave a message and I'll call you back. Please leave a message after the beep.
"Hey. It's me, Sasuke Uchiha. I tried calling you but no answer, so I'll just leave you a message. I'm sorry about before. Me and a friend were going to meet a few people for dinner so we had to get going. I was just wondering if you'd like to come over. Call me back and tell me what you make of it. Thanks."
Naruto picks up the phone, his hand shaking a bit. He knows Sasuke's number. He'd memorized it years ago and hadn't forgotten it since. The blonde nervously punches in the numbers. The phone seems to ring on forever, until finally, he hears a man's voice.
Naruto's heart squeezed painfully. Holy crap. That didn't sound like Sasuke.
"Uh… this is Naruto Uzumaki… may I speak to Sasuke Uchiha?"
The man on the other man made a noise, one Naruto couldn't tell whether it was approving or angry.
"Oh. He's not home. You're Sasuke's ex, right?"
"Well, I guess you could call it that…"
"He's told me a lot about you."
Naruto raises an eyebrow but couldn't help the little smile that pulled at his lips.
"Yup. He told me how you used to be really close, and how you used to always refuse him everything. Then he said how you ended up cutting all connection from him, by going off to marry some woman."
Naruto winced by the harsh tone of the man's voice.
"Anyways, you should have seen how excited he was when he got the phone call. He doesn't normally smile like that. I can't even make him that happy."
Naruto scratched at the back of his neck. He couldn't tell whether that was a compliment or an insult.
"Oh… well, I don't normally give him calls, so he must've been pretty… pleased."
"Yes. Yes he was. That's the reason why I wish you to decline his invitation and not come over."
The other man scoffed on the end of the phone.
"Sasuke has a habit of getting his hopes too high, in the end only having himself let down. You broke up with him, even married another woman to show him that. I suggest you just leave him as he is. He's happy now and I'm sure you wish him no harm. When you come here, he'll be so happy then expect you to visit him again, which I expect you won't, since you've got your wife."
Naruto gritted his teeth, his hold on the phone tightening, his knuckles going white with the pressure.
"I've divorced with my wife. Don't talk as if you know me."
"Just stay away from him, Naruto."
Naruto slammed a hand down on his table, knocking over his cup of coffee.
"You don't know anything about him! I've known him over half our lives!"
"Yeah. Half the time you were just hiding and running from him. The other half, you spent having sex because you were too much of a coward to give him anything more than that. Doesn't sound too romantic to me."
"You have no right to rule his life! He's none of your business!"
The other man tutted.
"I'm his boyfriend. Everything he does matters to me."
The word 'boyfriend' hit Naruto.
"I've got nothing against you personally, Naruto. I just don't want you near him. I love him a lot, more than you ever will. If you ever really loved him at all, you would do the right thing and leave him be. Give him a call later, tell him you decline his offer then back off."
Naruto's voice was breaking.
"I can't… I love him. He said he loved me too."
Naruto could hear the other man let out an amused sound.
"It's no good to dwell on the past. Just let him go before you hurt him again. Goodbye, Naruto."
The man hangs up and leaves Naruto still holding the phone to his ear, frozen.
Naruto look up at the voice. Sasuke walks into the dark room, the same soft smile on his face. Naruto grins and shifts in the bed to the side a bit as Sasuke crawls in next to him.
Then raven runs a hand down the side of his face.
"You're upset today… what's wrong?"
Naruto grabs Sasuke hand and pulls Sasuke close, smelling his hair. Roses. Vanilla white roses, just like the ones he used to buy for him. He smiles.
"It's nothing. Let's just go to bed, 'kay?"
Naruto tries to grab some sleep, closing his eyes, before he heard Sasuke whispering in his ear.
"Just do what you feel is right and everything will go fine…"
Then, as usual, Sasuke is gone, with Naruto feeling more confused than ever. Another three years passed. Naruto never got the nerve to call Sasuke back. Sasuke sent him numerous messages but at one point just stopped, as if losing hope. Naruto looked out the window, fingering his coffee mug lightly, watching the pouring rain slide down the glass, as if the heavens and god were crying their own tears for him, feeling the ache in his heart.
"My hands are so cold… as well as my heart. Will you not come warm them for me?"
The world is a lot darker now. Every day is a lifetime in hell. Rain pours, the sun blinds and the bitter chills freeze every part of him. Yet, he thinks about Sasuke, day and night. It might as well have been the last straw he was holding onto, the one thing that got him through the day.
Naruto closes his eyes and wishes to fall asleep. He's half scared to doze because his dreams are always about him.
Naruto is nervously picking at his fingers, smoking a dimming cigarette in front of the old café, people passing him without even noticing his presence, except for one.
Naruto looks up and lets out a breath of relief. He was almost afraid, afraid that he wouldn't turn up. Sasuke's casually strolling towards him, the irksome smirk upon his handsome features, looking stunning in just a pair of black skin jeans and a plain white shirt and jacket. He still looks absolutely brilliant. Naruto can hardly breathe. He'd been dreaming of this moment for the last few years of his pitiful life. There's no bone crushing hug, or hungry kisses like before. Instead, Sasuke raises a finger elegantly and flicks the cigarette hanging from Naruto's mouth and catches it in his other hand. He raised the lone stick.
"I've always told you smoking was going to kill you… you dobe."
Sasuke finally graces him with an uncharacteristically big smile.
"I see you got my message, dobe."
Naruto gives a choked laugh and grabs Sasuke by his shoulder, bringing him close. Their faces are close and their breaths hitch.
Naruto leans in, tilting his head, as if about to kiss him. Sasuke looks just as eager, but on last minute, the Uchiha backs off. Time had been too long and they'd grown apart. They needed some time to mend, both of them. Naruto gives an awkward cough, covering his mouth with one hand. He turns around, but not before giving Sasuke a smile and a beckon.
"Hey, you wanna go grab a cup of coffee?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world."
It'd been too long for both of them. They were somewhat friends, the both of them now. Well living in the same house would see them as boyfriends, lovers even, but the two were very strict on what kind of relationship they were in. They were no longer 'friends with benefits'. It was more like 'lovers on their way'. You could have said that it more like the beginning of the story than the middle. Sasuke however, had his own reasons for meeting Naruto again, at the doors of that little café.
Naruto rushed through the white doors, blasting into the room with a bunch of roses, face covered with beads of sweat and an expression of pure worry.
His eyes softened at seeing Sasuke's face. The raven was lying under hospital sheets, with his head propped up on pillows, dressed fully in the hospital white shirt. Sasuke gave him a small smile and told him to sit down. Naruto wanted to cry but he bit his lip instead. He would get them both through this. Naruto pulled out a beautiful glass vase from behind his back and filled it up with water. He carefully dips the rose stems into the crystal water and sets it on his bedside table, before looking up at the air conditioner.
"Is it too cold in here? You want me to turn it off?"
Sasuke shakes his head.
"Do you want me to open the windows? It's horribly stuffy in here."
"No, No. It's fine. Sit. I've got something important I need to tell you."
Naruto nods quickly, taking a seat as he gestured to the flowers.
"I got you some roses, Sasuke. White roses. They were always your favourite…"
Sasuke smiled and leaned forward to kiss Naruto on the lips. He smiles, then they are both quiet, before Naruto couldn't stand the suspended silence any longer.
"Sasuke, what's happening to you? They gave me a phone call, a little while ago, to tell me to come quickly. Sasuke…? Goddammit. Just say something."
Sasuke shakes his head slowly and inhales the sweet scent of the flowers. He doesn't answer. Naruto feels like crying now and he immediately grabs Sasuke by the shoulders.
"Whatever it is, Sasuke, just tell me! If you don't, I can't help you!"
Sasuke pushed Naruto away gently.
"You can't help me Naruto. It's too late."
"I'm sorry Sasuke, for your loss. He was very special."
Sasuke allows Sakura to bring him into a tight hug. It had been merely an hour or too since Kiku's funeral and the group of friends were now walking back in the falling snow. He pets her pink hair lightly and feels his own tears sliding down his chilled pale cheeks. Suddenly, all of his friends were embracing him, as they try to huddle through the bitter Winter. Ino gives Sasuke a pitiful look and puts a hand on his shoulder.
"You need to eat Sasuke… it's not healthy otherwise…"
"You should see a doctor… you're way too thin."
That was probably Neji, concerning his health.
Sasuke didn't care much.
He knew what he had to do and he didn't care if anything got in the way. He'd reach Naruto even if it killed him.
He was twenty-nine now, no longer the teenage self he was before. Sasuke hardly cared for himself now. What did he have now? Kiku was gone and Naruto sure as hell didn't want him. Snow fell around the group of sullen companions. After a while, Sakura had introduced Sasuke to the doctor Tsunade, one he'd known for many years. She went to check the results and she came back in with a long face. Sakura immediately stood.
"Tsunade, what's wrong? What's wrong with him?"
Tsunade sat down quietly and encases Sasuke's hands in her own. The raven looks up at her and meets with her eyes, which reflect nothing but pity. Her warm hand grabbed his one very tightly; her eyes looked close to tears.
"Sasuke, you've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."
Sasuke says nothing but he can hear Sakura explode in anger. She was shouting at the top of her lungs.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN CANCER? HOW CAN YOU GET RID OF IT?"
"Miss Haruno, please calm down. It's not sudden either. For us, it is, but since Mr. Uchiha hasn't been seeing a doctor for some time, the cancer is of which, quite deep…"
"QUITE DEEP? What do you mean quite deep? Look, we'll pay you money, anything, just please get it out of him! It's going to kill him!"
Tsunade shook her head lightly.
"It been there too long and it has spread. There's almost no chance of it working or him coming out alive in the end. Pancreatectomy is not a choice, since it has spread and is no longer in just one part of him. I do not know what to do."
Sakura slammed her fist against the table, shaking pencils and pens around.
"You're a fucking specialist. You have to know! It's your responsibility to know! Are yo-"
Sakura was cut off abruptly as Sasuke raised a hand and got up to unhook his coat from the hanger.
"No. I will not be taking the surgery. If there is no other way, then there is no other way. I would rather die naturally then through the hands of surgery… I'll be fine."
"I was diagnosed more than five years ago with pancreatic cancer. Just a week or so before I scheduled that meeting with you in July in front of the café."
Naruto's eyes are wide, half with disbelief, the other with shock.
"Why… why didn't you tell me?"
"Because if you knew, you would never had stayed this long with me. You would have left me and found someone else, knowing I would die. I lied, yes Naruto, I lied. I just wanted to see you again, before my time came. I was scared, so scared that once you knew, you would leave. What would I have then Naruto? Kiku fucking passed away. If you went to-"
Sasuke was cut off as Naruto pulled him into a tight, crushing hug, smothering the roses between their chests. Sasuke is struck for a moment but closes his eyes and holds onto the black fabric of Naruto's clothes, fisting it in his hands. Naruto's voice is choked with tears.
"You… you stupid bastard. I would never leave you and I will never run away. What do you take me for? A coward? You idiot…"
"I'm fucking dying, Naruto. I can't just slip through this one."
"You still don't get it, Sasuke. I don't care… we've wasted more than half our lives not knowing where we're supposed to be and who we should be with. The last five years have been... surreal. I wouldn't leave you, Sasuke… you're very important to me."
Sasuke presses his face into Naruto's black jacket wiping his tear and mumbles, his voice slightly muffled by the thick fabric.
"I'm glad I decided to spend this time with you…"
Naruto can feel Sasuke's slim fingers pushing something into the back pocket of his pants.
"There's a key, under my pillow in our room. Take it and go to my closet. It'll unlock that box I never let you see. I want you to keep what's inside."
Naruto is about to reach into his back pocket but Sasuke stops him with a squeeze to his shoulder.
"No. Read that when you get home."
"I love you, Sasuke…"
"I love you too."
Sasuke cried too that day. The roses between then crumbled and white petals flew down onto white hospital blankets, spiralling like snow in the Winters, so pure, so beautiful.
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…
'I love you…' how many times had they told each other that in their miserable lives? Only once, only then.
"Why are you dying, Sasuke? It's just… it's just not fair."
"I guess the time was just right… it was just my time. It would have happened either way."
"You think you'll go to heaven?"
"I dunno… probably not."
Naruto face plants in Sasuke's blankets.
"Sasuke, can I stay the night?"
"Anything you want…"
They fell asleep together that day, in the hospital. Naruto remained faithful to his words. He never left him, because there was nowhere for him to go, nor a place he'd rather be.
I love you…
The next day, Sasuke passed away.
His death had come a week earlier than expected.
He died in a shower of white roses, but not without hearing the words 'I love you' just once. When Naruto woke up, Sasuke still looked asleep, in a blanket covered with petals. He was peaceful enough to be sleeping, but his cold hands gave evidence to his death and to the passing of their time. The water in the vase had dried out. The roses had withered and the petals fallen the ground, melting into the white floor of the hospital, as insignificant as any other human being in the world. Naruto spent a day in the hospital, going around, thanking anyone who had assisted Sasuke during his stay there.
Then, he went home.
Naruto sits watching the sun finally shine through the rain clouds and bask the world in a soft, warm glow. He smiled and got up, before walking over toward his dinner table.
He gave a sad grin as he fingered a small photo frame of his most precious person. Sasuke had a soft smile on his face. They had taken that just a year ago. He brushes a finger over the photograph, touching the pale face fondly as if it were real. He slowly reaches into his pocket and pours himself a cup of coffee, sitting down to read his letter.
If you're reading this, then you're probably fuming at why I didn't tell you about it all in the first place. Then again, we haven't really been very honest to each other, ever.
I'm sitting in the hospital, living of IV drops and I'm just reliving the last few years of my life, and the miserable ones before it. Some of it makes me laugh, the others make me cry but what I realise, is that it happens to all evolve around you. I'm not writing you a love letter so I won't drone on but I think it is important for you to know, that you are the most precious person to me too. I've been so miserable alone that it drove me to drive over a thousand kilometres just to go back and spend the rest of my pitiful life with you. Though, I think it was probably the only good decision I've ever made.
I love you and I leave all I have to you.
Ps. Quit those shit-sticks you always smoke. Those cigarettes will kill you.
Naruto goes up and unlocks that little box in their closet. There was the umbrella they had shared on the way to and from school, a few good pictures taken, a couple of notes they had passed during class and Naruto's old football shirt. Naruto felt a bit guilty really. Sasuke had thought to keep all of these things from their high school, while Naruto had thrown everything out.
Then, Naruto gets up and walks to their bed.
He gets on slowly, the bed creaking under his weight. He shifts slightly until he's sleeping where Sasuke used to. He inhales softly, head buried in the pillow and suddenly he's smiling because he can still faintly smell Sasuke's lingering scent. He turns his head and sees their wardrobe, doors wide open, Sasuke's clothes still neatly staked side-by-side. Naruto grabs the Sasuke's pillow and wraps his body around it, as if that would be a good enough replacement. Slowly, the hot tears begin to slide and he feels very much alone. Sasule's smell is everywhere and it torments him to no end. Was this his fault? Had he gotten what he'd deserved? Maybe god was laughing at Naruto, punishing him for all the shit he's done by taking the one thing that mattered. He lies there, for a very long time, wondering what he was to do next. Naruto had lots of regrets. He could have lied there all his life, wondering how he could go back. But he didn't, because Sasuke had always been right.
You made some decisions you wish you hadn't but you can't turn back. You pick yourself up and keep going. Shit just happens…
Instead, he heads downstairs and goes back to his dinner table, before for two, now for just one. He sighs and takes a sip of his coffee, before picking up a small pot and placing it on the window sill, giving it a little drizzle of water.
A single, beautiful, pure white rose bathes in the sun.
Naruto gives it a fond smile then turns and walks out the house. Where to? He has absolutely no idea. But in a way, that was the best bit about it. The front door seems to open for him and he sprints out, bathing in the golden sun god has made for him. He lies there, on his front lawn, embracing the world for the first time.
He's made his peace with Sasuke.
I love you…
A/N: Wow. It's finally done. This has taken a surprisingly long time to write, since I postponed it for so long.
Well this is a story revolving much around regret, love and the lives of two people. Please do not see this story as 'homo-erotica'. You could even just close your eyes and imagine one was a girl and it wouldn't be so bad. I'm a strong believer that love is love, so this fanfic is just based on a love story, not two guys going at it hard-core. Some of you might hate me for killing off Sasuke but I guess that's just the way I wanted it. A happily ever after didn't seem to click for me in this story.
So, thanks a bunch for reading and please leave a review.