northern downpour:

I can't be as sorry as you think I should

But I still love you more than anyone else could

- Make This Go On Forever, Snow Patrol

Suigetsu huddles against the wall, arms rippling as they lock around his knees. There is blood dripping from his hair and nails, his teeth are chattering. He thinks he may have bitten his tongue; there is an acrid taste in his mouth. But his teeth keep going chomp, chomp, chomp. He is cold, and the blood is warmer than summer days, and it is uncomfortable, stickier than water, and why does it only feel strange now? He is alone - where is Sasuke? Juugo? Even Karin - where are they? It is a massacre out there, and he cannot do anything to stop it.

No. He can.

He has to.

For Sasuke, for himself, for his brother, for everyone and everything that could possibly become important.

"Sasuke," he croaks, wishes he could stop shivering, and thinks of his Sasuke. An image of the Uchiha sprawled out, skin shredded and crimson, appears in his mind. "Sasuke..." Sasuke's lips wide and open and gasping for air.

And then Sasuke is there, grimy clothes slipping off his frame and eyes wide and dark. He scrabbles for something to hold on, fingers barely holding onto the open door. "Suigetsu!" His voice is hoarse.

Suigetsu reaches out for him - at least, he thinks he does. His arms remain locked, rigid, around his knees. "Sasuke." He probably thinks I'm a coward, Suigetsu thinks. And he's right.

"We have to go -" Sasuke is screaming something at him, something he doesn't understand so he gets up and crushes Sasuke against his chest. "Do you feel it?" Suigetsu whispers. "I can't feel anything, I can't feel you, I can't." He wants this moment to go on forever. Just the two of them, there, alone, together.

Sasuke looks at him with frustration and maybe despair, and kisses him. "Can you feel this?"

He can taste blood and tears and there are no fireworks whatsoever, but he thinks Sasuke may be smiling into the kiss.

There is a crash, Sasuke snarls, and he is here, the man with blonde hair and blue eyes and cheek- whiskers, and he is staring. Suigetsu wants him to go away, to leave him and Sasuke be. But what the man is holding... it's only a little infant knife. Something Suigetsu could take care of quite easily. Of course.

"We can take him," Sasuke says, voice so seductive. "Remember how we fight... we are the most powerful, we can fight him, there is no reason to be afraid...We have taken down a thousand men, Suigetsu..." Suigetsu thinks Sasuke is reassuring himself more than he is trying to reassure Suigetsu, because there is a glimmer of panic touching Sasuke's voice, and Sasuke is holding onto him so tightly. Suigetsu looks down at him, and he sees the look on Sasuke's face change. He sees himself reflected in Sasuke's dark eyes; his face is blank and white.

"You said you'd protect me," Sasuke hisses. "You said you were the strong one, you'd protect me, you'd show me, snap out of it, Sui!" He thinks Sasuke is about to cry, but it is only blood.


There is blood on Sasuke's face. In his eyes.


"Did he hurt you?" Suigetsu says, voice low and the muscles in his face taut. "What did he do to you?"

"Sui -" Sasuke grips Suigetsu's wrists and pulls them away from his shoulders. But Suigetsu is staring blindly at Naruto's head.

"Said I'd protect you..." There is a sword on his back.

"Said I'll show them..." There is power in his arms, his fingers, his teeth, his eyes and lips and mouth and thoughts. He can hear Sasuke screaming something, and fire swirls around them.

He leaps forward, eyes blazing.

He can feel it.

He is fluid, he is quick, he is the water singing and splashing through enemy blood, he is power, breathtaking and unstoppable and impossible.

They have won, for now. The Konoha ninja have retreated.

They have won.

He still has Sasuke, he still has himself... He is alive. And the grubby land around him is Paradise, and Suigetsu sits in his tent, covered in dry blood and earth and tears and he wears a stupid smile.

Sasuke slides next to him, but he refuses to meet Suigetsu's eyes. "What I saw out there..."

"I said I'd protect you," Suigetsu echoes automatically. His fists clench and he wishes to feel such an incredible power surge again. Was it for Sasuke? He is not sure. He was simply fighting for his right to live, that was it. He does not even remember thinking anything, just blood and water singing through his body and spilling through his lips.

"That wasn't you," Sasuke whispers. "That was... that was someone else. You would never do something like that for me..."

"I love you." It sounds bland to both their ears.

"I love you too." Sasuke says, voice possibly even blander. He offers him a crooked smile, but it drops abruptly off his face. His expression is grim once more, Suigetsu honestly wishes Sasuke would smile more.

"How are you so powerful...?" Sasuke's voice is low, hoarse, like it always has been, but there is something different this time, and they make love that night.

He wakes to find tears in Sasuke's eyes, and blood on the boy's fingertips. There is blood on his hands as well, and Suigetsu wonders what they have done.

"Get out," Sasuke says, almost choking on furious tears. "Get out."

"'S my tent," Suigetsu mumbles, but he heaves himself up, kisses Sasuke for maybe the last time, and slips out.

He can hear Sasuke's feet, light, quick, coming up behind him. He knows Sasuke will not apologize. He says, "It's okay."

A scowl stretches across Sasuke's face and he puts his hand on Suigetsu's cheek. "Hn." Sasuke almost growls, but his fingers thrum against the other boy's skin, and Suigetsu pulls him down next to him. They sit in the dust and dirt, and Suigetsu hums a soporific melody until Sasuke tells him to shut up.

"I think I might love you just a little bit," Suigetsu tells him.

"Hn." Sasuke turns his head away, but Suigetsu knows he isn't that angry.

"Okay. I know I love you." Suigetsu presses a kiss to Sasuke's cheek. "And you do too, and don't deny it!"

Still no answer.

"Sasuke. I'm here for ya. I'm here to fight, I'm not gonna leave you alone." Suigetsu is pleased when Sasuke's lips twitch - this is the answer his ice prince has been wanting all along.

"We're leaving tonight," Sasuke says softly. "Get your things together."

"Hn," He mimicks Sasuke with a grin and pulls him in for a kiss.