Title: Life is Perfect
Summary: Between Heartbeats, she loves him. And he wants to smile, just to be alive, and he feels paper-thin and useless.
Author Note: I had no idea who the characters were when I wrote this. And then it just happened. Ka-BANG!
Author: Lady Avaritia
She wants to smile, just to live, to exist in the golden glow of daylight, to coax reality away and he knows it's all useless and there's really nothing he can do.
He's paper-thin and breakable, and he can't give her anything she wants, because she never really asks for anything material he can grant. But she asks for his smiles, and she asks for his love, and she gently pries his heart out of his ribcage without damaging a single bone, a single nerve ending.
He's jaded and disillusioned. She's selfish when she asks him to stay.
It's going to hurt so much when she's gone, because he will stay for so much longer.
('I wish we could go to Neverland… we will never grow old. We will be young forever there. And you will love me… always. We will never have reason no to smile.')
And she wishes, she wishes too… she dreams in color of finding the door to the Other House and finding the Other Him, so he can love her there.
Except he's too dark to be her Peter Pan, and she's too old to ever be a Coraline, with the buttons sewed in her eye sockets.
She's not a part of his world. Where she comes from, she's went to seven different private lessons before she was eight, and she's been fluent in three languages by ten, and by eleven, she's been considered a capable shinobi. She's done real work in the real world, and between heartbeats, she's loved. She's loved her brother, she's loved her friends, she's loved her men, she's loved her lovers, she's loved herself, and now, as heartbeats slow, and her damaged liver gives up, she loves him. she loves him between breathes, and coughs, and her heart's weak thumping, between smiles, and between stories of what she's done, of things she's won.
He loves her too, somewhere. He loves her in his heart, beneath his skin, past his bones, behind his mismatched eyes, and damaged psyche. He loves her with his smiles and with his words, and he thinks that, Kami, won't it hurt so much?
So, as she lay dying, he teaches her to live. Not that ghostly existence of drifting through people, and cities, and smiles. He teaches her to live slowly, a breath at a time, inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale- until she doesn't need him to guide her anymore.
He teaches her to blow soap bubbles.
('I've never done this before.' 'Neither have I.')
H teaches her to watch the sunset.
(People have lost the sky.)
And in the very end, when she is going out like a candle refusing to burn out as the foolish moths crowd it, he teaches her to forgive, before she has forgotten.
So she forgives, because he's never asked for anything but that.
She forgives the man who loved her for dying.
('Because he died for a dream.')
She forgives the man who loved her too much for loving her.
('So let him have loved me.')
She forgives the man who didn't love her enough for giving up on himself.
('And I wish, so much, I could've dragged him back over the edge of mortality.')
She forgives him for loving her in the end.
('You just didn't know better.')
But she cannot forgive herself.
('I am a lost cause.' 'Nobody is a lost cause.')
And then she goes, not to Neverland, not to the Other House, but she goes. And he can't follow, because he's rooted there, like all the men who ever loved her, struck, forever a groundling, as she flies away like a marvelous bird. He looks at her face of stone, carved into a heritage of death and blood.
And he finds it in him to forgive her for leaving, and to forgive himself for loving her.
And he stops going to the monument of the life he never got, and he starts returning to the here and now, and he starts living like he wanted her to.
('I mourn, Tsunade.' 'I know, Kakashi. But when do you live?')
And he wants to smile, just to live to exist in the golden glow of daylight, and he feels paper-thin, useless and transparent, and he knows she's laughing at him, almost like he can hear it in the cotton candy clouds of sundown.