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Die A Little Death With Me

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Had his come even dried that morning when he decided that was the day he would betray him? It wasn't the weeks spent trapped in a hospital bed, the hours that T&I questioned him while a Yamanaka rifled through his mind that finally made him break. No. For Iruka, it was finally being released home to find the same sheets on the bed from that morning that caused him break. Mizuki.

He angrily tore the sheets of the bed, which aggravated the wound on his back. He cried out, the pain making him fall to his knees. He was supposed to be on bed rest with therapy for several more weeks. As he lay there panting in agony, he cried for the first time since everything had happened. He had loved Mizuki, no matter how many times the man had put him down, treated him like shit, but this was...he couldn't even name the emotions that cycled through him. 

So he stayed crumpled on the floor and cried for a love that had never been real in the first place. He cried for the young, innocent chunin he'd been when he'd let Mizuki take his virginity, truly believing the other man wanted him. He cried for the broken man he was now, left with nothing but a scar and the ruins Mizuki had left behind.

Eventually, he slowly moved from the spot on the ground. He managed to get the sheets changed, throwing the old ones into the trash. His back hurt even with the pain killers they gave him. The wound is almost healed, but the nerve damage is lingering, a constant reminder that he's a fucking idiot who fell in love with a sociopath. 

Iruka knew he should rest, but the need to purge outweighed his self preservation. Every gift the silver haired bastard had ever given him went in to the trash, though gifts from him were rare. By the time he got to the fourth bag of trash, he felt like he finally had his apartment back. Dragging the bags to the can were agony, sweat dripping from his brow as his body shook from the effort. 

He had been warned not to use chakra or over tax himself, but none of that mattered as he formed the seals for a fire jutsu. He would burn away any trace of Mizuki, of his lies and betrayal. It took almost an hour to get through it all. He came close to throwing up more than once, a combination of the stress of his body and the memories of that bastard touching him. 

Iruka used a bit more chakra to douse the smoldering embers of the fire, trash can now blackened by the prolonged burning. His vision swam and he nearly passed out as he released the jutsu. Too much. He'd done far too much. He sagged against the wall, gasping for air as he tried to get his vision to clear and get the world to stop spinning so much. 

He almost didn't make it back to his apartment. Several times his vision narrowed as he almost passed out from pain and the strain he'd put on his body. He got as far as his couch before he decided that was far enough. He collapsed on the cushions, as he stopped fighting against the need to pass out.

***

Ko and Izumo tried. They really did. They were pissed when they found him passed out on the couch. He had refused to go back to the hospital when they had finally managed to wake him. Izumo told him he was being foolish, that he needed to be checked out. Iruka had told him to mind his own fucking business. 

That had started a fight between him and Kotetsu, which ended when the other chunin stormed out of his apartment. Izumo had stayed to try to calm things down, but Iruka had pushed him away as well, telling him that unless Kotetsu was planning on betraying Konoha then he had no idea how he felt and to get out of his fucking house. 

He hadn't heard from his friends in over a week. Anko was gone on an extended mission, so he was alone. The pain ate at him, slowly driving him crazy now that he was home. That morning had been particularly rough since he'd been told he could not return to teaching until he was cleared by his doctor. That meant it could be months before he could return to his life as he knew it.

Iruka tried to push it away, tried not to dwell on it, but he felt like everything was spiraling out of control. He slammed his tea cup into the sink, shattering it, causing several pieces to fly everywhere. He bent over the sink, trying to get air into his lungs. He felt like he was being choked, vision going gray. It was too much to deal with, to process. In the back of his mind he knew he was having a panic attack, but that did nothing to lessen the overwhelming emotions that gripped him. 

Gradually, the attack lessened and it became easier to breathe. Iruka raised a shaking hand up to his forehead, wiping away the cold sweat that had formed on his brow. It was then he noticed the blood. A fragment of his tea cup had sliced a shallow cut on his hand, which was bleeding freely. He swore, grabbing a paper towel so he could apply pressure to stop the bleeding. He fumbled through his cabinets, looking for a first aid kit. 

He sat down on the kitchen floor, wrapping his hand. He vaguely recalled that the last time he needed this first aid kit was also became of Mizuki. His vision started to blur as tears welled up in his eyes. As angry as he was at Mizuki, he was just as angry at himself for staying with him for so long. No matter how much he yelled at him, or came home smelling like other men, Iruka would always justify staying. It wasn't that bad, all couples have issues, he would tell himself. He doesn't hit me, but even that was mostly a lie. Mizuki just hid his physical abuse under the guise of 'training'. How had he let things get so bad? Why didn't he walk away for it all? Now, he was lucky he could even walk at all.

He sat there for a long time before he finally pulled himself up. Dealing with the broken cup was more than he could manage, so he left the mess behind. Another mess he couldn't fucking handle. He headed to his bedroom, suddenly so exhausted. He would see how tomorrow went.

***

Iruka was awakened the next morning by a pounding at his front door. He startled awake, still half caught in a nightmare. He'd been having those a lot. He dragged himself to the door. A muffled shout of Iruka-sensei made him freeze. Naruto. A chill went down his spine as the nightmare came rushing back, the night of the Kyuubi attack. 

He stumbled back, away from the door. Naruto's pounding on the door increased, as did his shouting. The chunin fled the room as he felt bile rise up. He just barely made it to the bathroom as the dry heaving started. The nightmare had been too close to the real thing. Naruto just had terrible timing. 

He was grateful when the boy gave up and left. He rested his head against the cool seat of the toilet. Today was not looking better than yesterday. He would have to buy the blond ramen later to make it up to him. He'd feel better once the nightmares subsided. 

Physical therapy that day was particularly exhausting and painful. Iruka was beginning to wonder if he would ever get better. The medical nins had high hopes, but each time his progress felt so minimal. The walk back to his apartment was agony, his back burning with each step. His day didn't get better when he finally got there because Anko was waiting for him and she looked pissed.

Her face softened a bit as he struggled up the stairs. He unlocked the front door without greeting her, stumbling into the apartment making it only as far as his couch before collapsing. "Oh Ru, I didn't know it was still this bad. Can I get you anything?"

"Pain meds are on the counter in the kitchen." All he wanted to do was curl up on the couch and pass out, but he doubted he could avoid a confrontation with with purple haired woman. 

Anko brought him water and the bottle of pills, which he quickly took. It would be a bit before they kicked in, but they would help. "Ru..." The chunin nearly winced. Here it came. "Are you eating?"

He looked up at her, puzzled by the question. That was not what he was expecting. "What? I mean yeah." Sure, he'd only had toast so far that day, but it was only...4 o'clock. Well, shit. It must have slipped his mind.

"I ask because your fridge is basically empty. The older lady next door says you've barely left home in weeks. Did you even go grocery shopping this week?" Anko tried to keep her voice calm and even, but it just served to piss Iruka off. 

"I'm not a fucking child, Anko! I don't need you or that old bitch spying on me." He bit out at her. He was in too much pain to deal with this nonsense. "Why are you even here? To lecture me about Ko and Izumo?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Ok. You can hold your goddamn horses right now, Iruka Umino. I'm here because I'm concerned. You were seriously injured like a month ago. Now, you're not eating and fighting with your friends. We care about you,  Ru."

"No one asked you to! I am so sick and tired of being in pain all the time. I don't want your fucking pity." Iruka pushed himself up, wincing. "I'm going to bed. You know where the door is."

She tried to follow him, but he practically slammed the door in her face, leaning heavily against it. Moving that short distance made him break out in a cold sweat. Fuck, he had overdone it again. He listened to Anko swear at him through the door for several minutes before she finally left, still cursing his name. He collapsed into his bed, passing out shortly thereafter. 

***

Iruka felt like shit the next day when he finally managed to get out of bed. He stumbled into the kitchen to make himself some tea. He glanced at the fridge, wondering if he had anything edible in it. Anko had been right about his bare fridge. 

He opened the door with a sigh, wondering if he maybe had some instant ramen left in the cupboards. He was shocked to fine it filled with home made meals and fresh vegetables. One of the meals had a note that just said 'don't be an ass'. He didn't know how Anko got back in, but that was definitely her handwriting. Guilt ate at him as he pulled out some food to heat up. He didn't mean to be such a bastard to his friends, that just seemed to be his default lately. 

He knew he needed to apologize to her, to all of his friends really. They did care about him and just wanted to help him through this. Being confined inside was not helping with his mental state, but when he do go out, people stared, whispered behind his back. Isn't that the teacher that was sleeping with the traitor? How could they clear him? Surely, he must have known. 

So he'd stopped leaving house house unless absolutely necessary. Maybe he should try to make it to over to Ko and Izumo's place. It wasn't far and his physical therapist did want him to walk each day on top if his stretches. But what would he say? Sorry I threw you out of my house, just didn't seem to cut it. 

He would figure that out after he ate and got dressed. He was in a better mood as he sipped his tea, so he decided to sort through the mail that had been piling up. His stomach dropped when he saw very familiar handwriting on a letter addressed to him. DON'T READ IT! He screamed at himself, even as he tore the envelope open. 

How had Mizuki gotten a letter to him? Were prisoners allowed to send out mail? His stomach clenched as he read his words. His hands were shaking uncontrollably as he got to the last line, 'love you always-Mizuki'. What kind of game was the bastard playing at? A fucking apology letter? 

He quickly dug through the pile of mail for find several more letters. The next one begged him to see him, the next two grew increasingly desperate sounding. The last one...the last one was full of hate and venom for ignoring him. The letter tore at every insecurity Iruka had, every thing Mizuki used to put him down, and told him how he had cheated on him their entire relationship, in great detail. 

The letter fell from his hands, landing softly on the table, where Iruka just stared at it. Too much. It was too much knowing how much Mizuki truly hated him. He stumbled away from the table, running into the wall behind him. The first sobs shook his whole body, as he cried, wailed, for the lie his life was. He sobbed for what felt like an eternity, losing himself to the misery.

He came to in the bathroom, barely recalling going into the room. He looked down in horror at the mess he'd made of himself, blood running down his forearms. A bloody kunai was sitting just out of reach on the counter. He took a shaky step towards the sink and caught a look at himself in that mirror.  

Iruka's eyes were wide, shock starting to wear off a bit. He was panting as he came back into his body, which meant the pain was starting to hit him. He swore and formed the hand signs for a basic healing jutsu. He healed the wounds enough so they closed up, hopefully it was enough to not scar. How long had it been since he'd done something like this? Since the early days of dating Mizuki and he'd never done it during some weird blackout period. 

He washed the blood off his arms, quickly cleaning up the sink and floor. It gave him something to focus on instead of absolutely freaking out about having cut up his arms like that. He obsessively cleaned the tiles, scrubbing at the group to remove any trace of blood. After spending the better part of an hour scrubbing the bathroom, he realized how much blood he had on his clothes.

He bit back a sob as he struggled out of his clothes, running them to the washer. The blood had seeped through in places, staining his skin. He tore his hair tie out as he headed back to the bathroom to shower. The water was hotter than he normal like, but he didn't care. He needed to clean himself up before Mizuki found out. He froze under the hot spray as he realized what he'd just thought. 

He had always credited Mizuki with being the reason as to why he finally stopped cutting. As he scrubbed the blood off his body it occurred to him he had stopped because Mizuki had told him how pathetic it was that he had to cut, how disgusting his scars were, not that he actually had that many. It had been how he had coped as an angry teenager. 

Now, he was just a broken adult, unable to cope with the reality that his life was quickly spinning out of control. It a way it was fitting that he'd lost control and sliced up his arms. That piece of shit Mizuki wasn't here to tell him how he was a terrible person or to manipulate him. He was finally free of him. 

***

That small revelation helped him through the rest of the day and the next few weeks. He made time to apologize to his friends and really focused on his recovery. When things became too overwhelming or he started to spiral into a deep depression, cutting helped. He would heal the wounds as much as he could to minimize the scarring, hiding the marks on his legs, where it was unlikely that anyone would see them.

By all outward appearances, he was getting better. He was making steady progress with his rehab, the pain slowly subsiding to manageable levels. He even had a date set to return to work. He should be happy, should be celebrating, but inside he felt so close to a break down. Just smile through it, he told himself. That's all people want to see. They want to see the lie so his problems didn't become theirs. 

Iruka kept the letters and he would obsessively re-read them on his bad days, days when he locked himself in the bathroom with his sharpest kunai. He hid from his own pain, stuffing down the years of abuse, only letting it spill out on those dark nights. He had everyone else convinced he was fine. Surely he could convince himself as well.