He's gone, he's gone, he's gone, but no matter how many times she repeats it, lips forming the words like a silent prayer, she can't understand it.
It's too late for bright blue eyes. Those eyes of his, bright enough to burn her, but gentle enough to heal her. They always did, really. After each bit of her shinobi soul was torn away, she could look into those eyes and be a child again, healthy, whole.
Not a woman whose humanity was slowly being taken from her.
In those eyes, she saw herself the way he saw her. "Sakura-chan is perfect," he would say, and she could never deny that he believed it, when she looked into those limitless eyes, so cold now.
Cold like the snow that had fallen on them when she had confessed her love, and maybe she wasn't ready and had only halfway meant it. But. She had halfway meant it, which was more than she had ever given to him before.
He wasn't a child anymore.
It's too late for that day with the snow, though she still gets chills to think about it. She squeezes her eyes shut and tries to chip away at the ice covering her heart with a sweet summer memory.
Endless days in the sunlight with them. The strange choreography of their relationship, coming close to something a bit more than she thought she wanted...and then back away, carefully, always. A bittersweet dance, but pleasant enough, when one had all the time.
She doesn't, now.
It's too late for the words she can no longer remember.
He had said lots of things to her, pretty things, meaningful things, but none of them can come to mind now. Maybe the ice is in her mind instead of her heart. There must be a wall there. She can't think, she can't process.
Her brow furrows.
"I should be strong," she muses. Stands, remembers his eyes, nearly falls, falters, strengthens.
And she begins to run.
Running to the days of summer and something akin to love, to eyes of fire and steel and oceans, to snowy days of half-truths. To protection and steaming ramen and feelings bubbling up inside her.
Running to him.
And for some reason, he thinks of her.
Maybe it isn't strange, to think of the woman you love on your deathbed. He wouldn't know. He's never died before.
He remembers her strength, her marvelous strength, and half-smiles to himself. He needs that strength now, and he almost feels it in him. Slowly, he pushes himself up.
He is alone, yet somehow he hears her voice. "Sakura," he says quietly, savoring the taste of the name, the meaning to him. Beauty, love, faith, all encompassed in three simple syllables.
Hallucinating. He knows it.
Arms wrap around him and something almost like warmth is on his skin, but he's past warmth, isn't he? He's nearly gone. But if dying is so sweet, perhaps he won't mind it as much as he thought.
Then a realization starts to boil within his chest, running with his arteries to the very tips of his being until all he can think of is her name. She never wears perfume, but he would know her scent anywhere.
He lets himself cry, because it's okay to be weak when you love.