Date: Post-Canonization
Pairing: SasuSaku
Prompt: Heartbeat
Title: Angel in the Agony
Summary: When the pain rips him apart, she puts him back together.
Disclaimer: Naruto, not mine since 1999.
Note I: Because the genin days need love too. Based on the opening pages of chapter 50.
Note II: Experimenting with style and punctuation. Shorter than usual.

Two tiny pin-pricks in the back of his neck. That's all it is.

That's all it takes to turn his blood to molten fire, burning him alive from the inside out. The point of contact is cold, so cold, so cold it's hotter than the sun. The freezing heat burns a path down his spine, branching out along his nerve pathways and consuming him whole.

He forgets who Sasuke is. He forgets what Uchiha is. There is no him, there is only a great black void of rippling agony tearing him apart and remaking him. He can't see can't feel can't hear, there is nothing he is nothing he is everything and it hurts, oh god it hurts ithurtsithurtsithurts-


He should breathe. He needs to breathe. Why can't he breathe, why isn't there any air?! Pleasepleaseplease he needs to breathe, needs to live, HE NEEDS TO LIVE. There was a reason, he can't remember it through the fire, but he repeats it to himself over and over. LIVE. LIVE. LIVE. LIVE.

The harder he fights for cognizance, the stronger the pain becomes. Blindly, he reaches out for something, anything to hold on to. Anything to remind him that he is real and that this endless inferno is not all that he is or has ever been. He is slipping farther and farther away, forgetting more, losing more, and the despair is almost as unbearable as the agony-


Just as he is nearly gone, he finds the anchor.

What he thinks may once have been his hand grapples desperately, clinging to this beacon that he can't even see. He only knows that it's there, he can't let go, he musn't let go-


Someone else's fingers fit perfectly between his, and he clutches at the lifeline with every shred of him that there is left. The flames begin to recede from his fingers, and he feels something new. It's faint, oh so faint, and he can't really be sure it's there.

Another searing bout of pain racks him, and he grasps the hand harder as he shakes and screams. His throat is so raw from screaming, he can taste blood. He feels himself sinking into the velvety blackness once again, breathlessly drowning, pleading with the everything and nothing that is left inside of him. The flames cauterize his vocal cords, paralyzing his cries-


He's fallingfallingfalling, and then someone is holding him and he feels it again.

It's a pulse, he realizes, beating rapidly in time with his own. With massive effort, he pushes away his consciousness of his body's torture, focusing only on that hummingbird beat. The sensation trickles through the connection of their touching fingers, through their joined palms.

He sheds unconscious tears at the realization that he is still here, he is still human, and he is not yet lost. He needs to be closer, but his body spasms and writhes in the agony and he cannot move, he has no control. His wordless pleas begin again, the hope in his chest dying.

But he is pulled in by the pulse, and tears rain down on his face from above. It's all around him then, beating through the arms holding him, protecting him. They cling to him, wrapping him in a gentle warmth that draves away the insatiable flames inside of him.

Then the source of the pulse is right next to him, beating in his ears and filling him with the will to fight. He pushes back at the flames, allowing the pulse to echo through him. The beating is so loud that it drowns out the sound of his own blood roaring in his ears.

The hope and the light of that beating pulse clashes with the darkness destroying the inside of him, pulling him apart. He is tired, so tired, and even as the pulse becomes the focal point of his world, driving back the torment, he knows it's not defeated. It recedes into his veins, biding its time and eating away at him from the deepest recesses.

Finally, his body stills, and Sasuke lies there for a long time, just listening to the steady pulse. It calms him, soothes him, and when he lifts his heavy eyelids, he sees a blur of red and strands of pink.


As he fades into unconsciousness, he finally realizes what kept the darkness at bay.

Her heartbeat.

author's note: Hi guys. Still writing these, only 7 more to go. I know it's been longer between updates and I apologize. I have a lot of writing projects going on this month, and most of them will definitely be trickling down to you. I sincerely appreciate the metric ton of favorites/follows/and reviews that you guys have left me. Happy Holidays!