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all forms of love

Chapter Text

sasuke is far too used to feeling lost.
sasuke is far too used to love in its most jaded forms- in streaks of red dripping down thin ligaments, in a rough cradling of his head, and in whispered declarations.
sasuke has learned that love was a desperate chase across deep blue water, a familiar pulse of power thrumming through his veins- nothing but swirls of cherry blossoms and a sky that bled orange in his wake.

..

 

despite himself, the darkness is still rooted firmly inside of him- unforgiving, relentless, and craving release. these are the parts of himself he had learned to despise, and sasuke was afraid that those were far too many. there is red smeared underneath his fingertips, and he knows no amount of scrubbing will ever rid himself of his sins.

he didn’t deserve the happy ending he had gotten, he knew that much. the worst parts of sasuke told him that he would much rather die then stay in this godforsaken village, and the reasonable parts of himself told him the same- that it would be the only good thing an uchiha could ever do for this village.

..

he is cursed with a blessing.
sasuke is bred with vengeance and hatred, born into the burden of a bloodline whose every instinct yelled and tore flesh from his bones begging for moremoremoremore.
he thinks it’s funny how easy it is to hide his desperation, thinks it’s ironic to see himself reflected in those who cross him, finds fragmented shards of himself in their tortured pleads and gut wrenching screams as sasuke tears into the seams of their pathetic lives for only a second of real time.
yeah, sasuke is cursed, with glass skin and a paper heart, with crimson button eyes.

..

sasuke loses track of time as he aimlessly wanders. how many days has it been? weeks? months? years?
he’s so tired, god, he’s tired.
..

what is love, sasuke begs the universe, feeling like an uchiha for the first time in so long, realizing that right now- the salty spray of the ocean whipping across his face, the orange and rose hues of the sky collapsing on him- he is completely and utterly alone.

..

 

returning is kind of like waking up from a long nap in an awkward position, waking up and feeling pin pricks up and down your arm.
it’s strange, he thinks, seeing sakura smile at him, seeing the stone faces towering above his head, walking down dirt roads he had once done daily rounds on.

returning is carding your fingers through blonde locks and breathing for the first time in an eternity... returning is sasuke finally basking in the sunlight, the world only tinged in red when there are crystal cerulean orbs searching him throughly, pinning the bloodlust down, wringing the dirtiest parts of his soul out, leaving him pure, new....
Reborn.

..

(returning is kind of like waking up from a long nap in an awkward position, waking up and feeling pin pricks up and down your arm, and then regaining feeling.)

Chapter Text

naruto does not know love, and perhaps it is selfish of him to say so- childish and so incredibly selfish, but the thought resonated deep inside the crevices of his being, curling in a hypnotizing circle around his torso, around his throat.
love is too fleeting, naruto thinks, because he has only ever known love in tiny canisters, shaky hands, and pale irises that quivered.
naruto is too used to love in three minutes of warmth- of rushed promises to eat well, of flesh melting into paper and whisked away into oblivion.
naruto Is too used to love in flashes of red locks and iron chains.
naruto is too used to love in moments knee deep in cold slush numbing him as slender fingers knock away his own, leaving him grasping at nothing.
naruto is too used to diluted love in torrents of electricity crackling through his chest, used to being left behind and having no choice but to grasp at what was predestined to slip between his fingertips.
love is too fleeting, naruto thinks, because he has only ever known love in fragments.

..

 

blue on black, an oasis in the deep depths of hell.
naruto learns to drink from it, to drink in every shade of red he encounters, every sharp twist of his mind,
tells himself
this
cannot
be
real.

..

naruto is not human. he can't be- not with the animalistic lines etched on his face, not with this animalistic, primal urge inside of him that holds immeasurable power- power that could wipe out whole villages, could protect villages, could do everything but settle the raging want in naruto's chest, the emptiness- and on worse days, naruto found himself missing the smell of charred flesh, missing the way the the electric currents had shaken him, missing a time where he had felt truly alive.
no, there is no way naruto is human, because he has memorized hatred in all of its forms, knows that hatred is more than cruel words or scornful glances.
naruto is no longer a child, he thinks, and the demon inside of him is getting restless.

..

there was so much weight he carried, and despite his normally altruistic philosophy, the burden that he carried- legs trembling and seal burning- was something he so desperately wanted to shrug off.
at times, naruto thought about how easy it seemed- he was surrounded by such strength- all naruto wanted was one day where his chest did not feel as if it was collapsing on itself, the bitter taste of coppery failure eating away at his innards...was that too much to ask?
other times, naruto knew his place- he was atlas, damned to stagger under the weight of the world's sins, sins that naruto himself had committed, sins that naruto wanted to absolve so badly.
this was his ninja way, his purpose- ill fated to an everlasting loop of fingers grappling for purchase, joints aching, and soul scorching with red energy.

..

Chapter Text

at a young age, she is taught to conceal.
no emotions, the books read, and sakura has always been taught to follow the rules.
sakura is too used to love overflowing inside of her, too used to love in shouting matches, too used to love mangled in her mother's disappointed expression as she eyes the dirt on her face, the scratches.
sakura is too used to love in miserable places, in harsh insults, and usually carefree cobalt eyes welling up with tears, all echoing the same thing in her fragile, fragile mind-
not
good
enough.

 

..

the world around her redefines beauty.
it was a different kind of precision, the glint of a snake's eyes in a shadowed forest, the ethereal shock of silver, and the broad expanse of pale skin.
it was a different sort of beautiful- sakura's ragged locks, her calloused hands.
she learns to love it all.

..

 

sakura is no stranger to anger, has known anger that has killed, has known anger that planted seeds of even more anger.
it was a strange, vicious cycle that tore families apart, left gaping holes filled with bloodthirsty ruthlessness.
sakura knew that consuming feeling, learned to dread sensing the familiar signs of it muddling her rational thoughts.

(sakura is afraid she will never know what true strength is, she is afraid she will never be able to become accustomed to the stinging in her clenched fists as it hits flesh, as it tears into layers and layers of the earth.
what use is strength, she thinks, if there is nobody left to acknowledge it?)

Chapter Text

sasuke is afraid of love. it makes him scoff to even think of being afraid of something...but it must be a testament to his uchiha blood if he feels the need to flinch at the mere sight of orange, of blinding bright grins, of any semblance of kindness.

..

 

sasuke tells himself that this fear is what makes his love so real, he tells himself this because he knows it’s true..because even as a child he has heard his father and mother laughing silently in the kitchen, has seen his father’s sharp eyes soften in her presence, seen the gentle caress of fingers beneath the dining table, knows that in those moments the uchiha consisted of nothing but a man who loved a woman and a woman who loved a man.

..

still, they are uchiha before people, and sasuke remembers all the nights he spent atoning for his sins, thinking- the cold air biting into every fiber of his withered heart- it was a curse. he thinks of calloused fingers pressing into his forehead, rivers of red staining his ivory skin, of a man and a woman who lived and died together. sasuke feared he was unable to love the way he was supposed to, that maybe he was broken beyond repair. he has torn and broke his body, been restored in flashes of green pulsing energy that glistened with wet tears, and still...his black blood scorches his flesh.
..

sasuke is just barely a man...he is a boy on the cusp of something more. sasuke is a glass half empty learning how to be half full, sasuke is a doe wobbling as it takes its first steps- sasuke is a boy emerging from murky waters of anguish into the sapphire green cherry blossom sky, into the orange bright all consuming sun.

Chapter Text

naruto lived a lot of his life being told who he was.
he’s gone through it in his mind millions of times, unraveled every gory, blood red detail of his past and came to the conclusion that he was nothing but a mirror- a broken mirror with shards chipping away and pricking into the flesh of those who touched him.
..

naruto grew up without a care.
when people tell the story, they always say that it began with a foolish boy who’s every word and action traced back to the chasm of loneliness carved by a demon.
the truth is, naruto was not born lonely.
they made him lonely- those faceless blurs around him- they wanted him lonely, they wanted his blood to burn away at his flesh and his very own existence..and there are days naruto thinks they were successful,because sometimes when he feels lost, all he knows is the loneliness anchoring him, stinging and weaving through his blood stream like venom.
..

these days, the faceless blurs reach out to him, bend steeply at their waist, and tell him he is a hero, he is the savior, that he has shouldered the weight of the world and overcome it.
naruto wonders who wrote him into such an altruistic character. his inner thoughts jeer at that version of himself, feels the sky start to collapse down from its wobbly prison on naruto’s fingertips.
these days, naruto has become a faceless blur himself, and he sees himself in the fleeting eyes of passing souls, sees himself in the corpse of someone that could’ve been so much more.
..

naruto is not stupid.
he doesn’t care how many times it’s been ingrained inside his head- he is not stupid, and he never has been.
he is not stupid, and he sees.
no matter what those fools want him to be, wrote him to be- it will never be enough.

..

it is far too easy to declare naruto a hero- because the best heroes are the empty ones. the ones who were born with nothing and will die the same way.
fate was a cruel mistress, this he knows, because his loved ones touch him in slow increments, because in the end they are nothing but dead eyes and paper flesh scattering through the cool, crisp fall air.
this he knows, because his chest will always be heaving with electricity and the skin of his right arm will never tan evenly.
fate is cruel, naruto knows, because it takes in flashes of bright fire and destruction, and gives in obsidian eyes and cherry blossoms- and naruto cursed it for giving him one more thing to be forcibly torn from his calloused grip on the universe.

..

naruto is a mirror, a broken and chipped mirror, with shards falling in fractured heaps below him, digging into darkness and reflecting back eyes that swirled back and forth with a red endless, tormenting desolation.

Chapter Text

there are two things one can be in this world, sakura is taught.
the first was beautiful, like her parents taught her. she remembered her mother's flawlessly applied makeup glossing over every imperfection and flaw on her creamy skin, her slender waist mocking sakura's significantly wider hips in the reflection of the mirror as she drug perfectly manicured nails through the knots of sakura's pale pink locks, yanking painfully.
even sakura's father was beautiful- lean, not broad like the other men within the village, almost delicate, smooth and fluid in ways sakura could only dream to be.
the second, was strong, like kakashi was, like naruto and sasuke were.
strong like kakashi as he tugged his headband up and pushed his students behind him in a swirl of red.
strong like the fierce look in sasuke's eyes as his prepubescent body moved to shield naruto from a nearly certain death, even as needles tore into his flesh, and his blood wet the dirt he stood on.
strong like naruto when he stood in front of pain- eyes hooded in orange and gruesomely strong chakra- smirking. strong like naruto when he smiled at her and promised that everything would be okay.
yes, there are two different things one can be in this unforgiving world- strong or beautiful, and Sakura Uchiha-Haruno is neither of them.

..

 

sasuke is sitting in her kitchen.
the sight should not be strange, but it is. sasuke in his dark cloak- hair long and slightly greasy, lip split, and a jagged cut on his cheek dripping a bloody tear trail down to his chin, it is strange because sakura cannot remember the last time sasuke had set foot inside their shared home, had step foot in the village.
it's strange because she should hate this man, this man who had married her out of obligation, this broken man who could never seem to forgive himself...this man who was so, so strong despite it all, this man who did not love her back, this man who she could not help but find beautiful.
this man- her husband- who sakura realized that she didn't hate, not even a little.

..

sasuke had not been nearly as cruel to her in their juvenile years as people seemed to think.
he was not so bad at all, and looking back, sakura knew he had just been another ninja who was a victim of his own mind, and she thinks that she had pursued sasuke in hopes of placing her hand over his aching heart and deteriorating mind and mending it the same way she had mended countless cuts and wounds before.
still, sakura can still memorize the entire map of sasuke's features, the tiny nuances- just a simple upward quirk of his lips or the slight quivering of his eyes, and it haunts her, this memory of a misunderstood boy who hid behind false bravado and musings of revenge, a boy who she could have saved, a boy who's voice wavered even as he cut into her with ruthless insults.
sakura had been taught and forced to choose between being strong and beautiful, but she looks in the mirror at her scarred skin and pink shiny hair, and realizes that there is strong and there is beautiful, but there is also weak and ugly, and that's what she must be if sasuke- even after all this time- can barely look her way, if sasuke cannot even try to love her.

..

they have sex.
sasuke tells sakura he loves her, and in between harsh breathing and low moans, sakura tries to believe it.
their daughter-sarada uchiha-is beautiful, the spitting image of her father, everyone coos, dark hair and dark eyes, and sakura tries not to resent the lack of green eyes or light hair, tries to love unconditionally, as a mother should.
sakura tries not to notice how sasuke's gaze lingers on naruto as she speaks, tries to swallow down bile when sarada's eyes glow red for the first time, tries to unsee the fierce pride in sasuke's inky orbs.
sakura tries and she tries but she cannot escape this fact- she was an uchiha, and now sarada was too, now complete with a sharingan to prove it.

Chapter Text

it’s quiet.

naruto thinks he should be used to that, he thinks he should have grown accustomed to the silence that consumed his house in the late morning, but he hasn't.

the silence is horribly unsettling, and the unease settles deep inside of him. he’s home so late that he’s sure the sun will be creeping up in an hour or so- it’s too late to get any sleep. naruto can’t remember the last time he slept…

naruto exhales, and slips his sandals off before heading to the porch. the air is warm, only slightly humid, and he revels in the slight comfort the air brings to his chilled skin. naruto’s slender fingers automatically dig into his pocket, and he doesn’t realize what he’d been unconsciously reaching for until it’s in his palm- glaring right back up at him. he only hesitates for a second before lighting the damned thing, lifting it to his lips, and letting the ecstatic feeling wash over him, letting the smoke plume. it had been weeks since he’d had even one second alone, it had been weeks that left no time for warm nights and vices. it’s strange, but in the still night, rubbed raw, tired, and smoke filling his lungs, he feels more himself than ever.

there must be something wrong with him.
well-
naruto stubs his cigarette out against the steps he sits on and lights another all in the one movement.
-he knows there’s something wrong with him.

cocooned in a euphoric haze and warm air, he remembers buying this very house. he and hinata had been newly married, and he still hadn’t completely lost his naivety, hadn’t lost his ravenous thirst for happiness. he remembers his first time seeing the home- the many gaping windows, the beautifully polished wooden floors, high ceilings, the vast yard. he remembers seeing the house and feeling for the first time- satisfied. he was a man dying of thirst, and in that moment- hinata standing in the unfurnished home, hair and eyes glowing in the sunlight, naruto had felt like a dead man brought back to life. naruto had felt finally- for the first time in a long time- satiated, filled to the brim, thirst quenched. naruto had bought the home in hope of raising a family in it. naruto had bought that home to see hinata blossom. he’d hoped to love his wife for eternity, to wake to the smell of brewing coffee, to his daughter jumping on his chest, his son running around.

now, naruto realizes that he had not accomplished even one of the things he had wanted to.
he traces the tips of his fingers against the wooden porch, listens to the hum of cicadas.

 

naruto can picture his wife’s hair splayed out on her pillow, can visualize the empty space next to her, the one he should be occupying, he wonders if she misses him, if she waits for hours and hours on the couch, he wonders if she cries when she realizes he won’t be home that night either. he wonders when he stopped wanting more. who was this naruto uzumaki? was he konoha's savior, konoha's protector? was he a husband? a father? naruto had gotten so accustomed to living in desperation, to wanting and wanting and wanting. who was naruto uzumaki now that he no longer craved, no longer ached, no longer wanted?

who was this naruto, now that he was empty?

naruto’s finger catches on the wooden floor he had been absentmindedly stroking. he takes another inhale of smoke, another exhale. the sun is starting to edge up, he can see the faint streaks of light. he stands up carefully, brushes the back of his trousers off, his legs cramping as he does so. he tiptoes inside, slips his sandals on and grabs his white and red cloak from the floor where he had so haphazardly thrown it earlier.

as he opens the front door, he catches sight of hinata watching him from the door of her, no, their, bedroom. she looks tired- hair mussed and eyes emotionless in the moonlight. she is a tantalizingly beautiful vision of all of naruto’s wrongdoings.

naruto can’t bear it any longer. he tightens the cloak around his shoulders and turns away to leave, closing the door behind him. his finger aches with the splinter he had obtained earlier, but it doesn’t compare to the way hinata had looked at him, like a flower withering in the aftermath of his storm.

as naruto walks, a warm breeze passes by him and he shivers. the warmth is of no more comfort to him. naruto is starting to think he’ll always be cold.