A.N.: Please excuse the choppiness and OOC. This was initially written in order to get out of a rut where I could only write one style. It sort of fades out of that, but there's one point where I think I really snap out of it… so… if you wanna guess, go ahead…

Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me, goddamnit. If it did there would be less Sai and more Sasuke leaping into Naruto's arms.

Warnings: AU- thus, a tad OOC. Rated T for slash, including: kisses, mentions of sexual acts, etc. Mostly kissing. Lots of language, some drugs and violence and guns and… wow, this thing is a PTA nightmare.

The flat is empty, too big and too dusty and nothing left. There's still a spot on the floor where Fletcher shot Justine, but I don't care quite so much as I probably should- Justine wasn't much of anything, you see, even if we were allegedly friends. Fletcher went to jail, is still holed up there, and some days it's hard to remember things like the way he used to smile and his favorite cereal, things like that he was ever really around. I don't go see him ever- his Mum does, and his little sister Larissa with her, and Larissa tells me all about, on account of her and I having been real great chums the whole time I was going out with Fletch. He and I broke up a while before he killed Justine, and I took up with a bird from South Africa with these bloody crazy bleached dreadlocks, but Lari and I are still friends- I was still friends with Fletch, too, now that I think about it.

But I try not to.

That doesn't make it okay.

There's dust all over the place, landlady still lazy as ever and too cheap to hire someone to clean. Nobody came to try and get the stain out of the carpet, even though they knew it was this huge bright orange thing that the bloodstain would show fantastically on. I scuff at it with the toe of my sneaker. It's an old shoe, too old, I need new ones, but I'm too goddamn lazy to think about getting them. Plus I'm about broke. Gaara would buy me new ones, but hey, I don't live at home any more and he's as hard up for money as I am. I'm not his baby brother any more anyway. Not that I ever was, but orphans tend to develop some kind of warped family system on the streets or in the home.

The only reason I'm here is 'cuz Lari told me Fletch isn't doing too well and he wants me to have this place if he goes and until he gets out- bastard never got over me, did he? Besides, it's a rental, the landlady could give it to anybody she wanted to. She's got some respect, though- either that or she really is deaf and didn't just hate me like I thought the whole time I lived with Fletch. Anyway, I've not got any place to stay, seeing as the South African bird left without her half of last month's rent and I was kind of drunk and told the landlord to go find someone to pull the stick out of his ass, because I wasn't going to do it for him, and so I got kicked out. And I might have punched out a window. Beside the point.

Justine is dead because Fletch shot her, Gene OD'ed last September, and my goddamn cat has feline leukemia. Things are looking up, though. I've got an apartment with the next four months of rent paid already, and once that's gone I only have to do a quarter because Lari and Fletch and their mum are paying the rest. They care about me, that family, and I guess it's nice, you know?

I met him in midwinter, next to the Super 88. It's downstairs from Fletch's flat, so I shuffle down and buy tons of pocky all the time. I have enough money with three quarters of the rent being paid and all, and it's not like there's any chance of me getting fat. The African bird was as hard up for money as I was, and she wanted a nice flat. Her vision of the first world, you know. Now I think about it, she was a real bitch.

I was shoving all this random crap into my basket, seaweed and these little cookies shaped like mushrooms and about fifty packs of ramen, and he just sort of walked past me and fell over. I swear to God, he just fell right over in the middle of the aisle- in the Super goddamn 88! He couldn't have been older than twenty-five or so, and he wasn't- I learned that later, and that it even said on his drivers license that he was a registered epileptic. But I was too stupid to check.

So he fell over in the middle of the aisle, and what was I supposed to do, I screeched for the cashier and started to check his pulse and make sure he was breathing and everything. Problem was, he was flailing around like he was on fire or something, so I guessed he was probably alive. I remembered something I learned in some high school course and shoved a packet of ramen in his mouth to keep him from choking on his tongue- along those lines, I don't remember.

It's a few minutes, but before the cashier snaps up from reading porn under the table and reaches us, until he wakes up. I can imagine it's kind of rough to wake up with a plastic packet of compressed noodles in your mouth, but really, don't spit them out into the face of the guy who shoved them in there to save you. It's just plain rude.

He went stark still all of a sudden and his eyes snapped open. He laid on the ground a minute- so the blood wouldn't rush to his head- and blinked up at me.

Funny thing was that I didn't think it was all that odd that he just kept sitting on the floor because I had just noticed that he was gorgeous. All black hair and pale skin and dark eyes that I thought I might fall into if I looked too close. So I looked away.

He sat up after a while, sighing and rubbing his head. I guess it hurt when he fell, hit his head on the linoleum. I came up a second after him, so without warning I straightened out my spine to come face to face with the most heartbreaking little smile I'd ever seen in my life. It was crooked and tiny and it feels like it slammed itself right into my jugular vein because it hurt so much more than it should have from a complete stranger.

"Thank you." He said in a little, not quite cracked voice. It was so sad. He sounded so sad. "I'm… Well, thank you very much. Sorry about that."

And he turned around and started to walk away. I'm still managing to stand there blinking like a moron, although admittedly I am a moron, and didn't really seem to notice until he was halfway down the street, shoulders slumped and his hair sort of bobbing behind him.

Somehow I couldn't find it in me to follow him when I picked up his wallet from the dirty tiled floor.

I moved a couch over the spot on the carpeting with the bloodstain, but it still wasn't okay.

I rang the doorbell of the Super 88 guy- Sasuke Uchiha, don't give me that look, I had to look in his wallet for his phone number- with a tiny pop in my finger. It was a difficult bell, my hand was all cramped from writing in the margins of something too small for its own good the day before, give me a break.

He opened the door in a pair of pajama pants and scratched his head. The pants were old and turning yellow in some spots from the kind of mystery stains you don't want to know about, plaid in the worst way. I was tired of them already when he invited me in for a coffee.

"Look like you need it."

His voice was a little too blurred around the edges with sleep and maybe drugs or something for my comfort, but what the hell you going to do. It was a nice enough flat, anyway, and I've been alone for far too long- long enough to know when these things are okay to dive into.

It ended up being crap coffee, but I came out into the street with a phone number and twenty-dollar gift certificate to Starbucks in my back pocket, so, you know, you win some you lose some.

The cat peed on the stain, but that only made me feel like more of Justine was lingering in the living room.

I moved the T.V. into the bedroom.

I didn't call him for a few days, because honestly, I forgot, Can't expect a guy to remember every phone number shoved into his jeans. It'd probably be more romantic to say that it burned a hole in my back pocket or that I couldn't stop thinking about his face or his voice or something, but I was basically feeling good about having had a nice conversation with him and returned his wallet. I wasn't thinking there'd be anything more to our relationship.

Then one night I was sitting around polishing the gun I keep in the hall closet, under the loose board in the same spot Fletcher kept his. I also keep a few spare syringes and joints in there, but I'm not too huge on drugs so it's fine. Not like I'm an addict or anything.

I like to keep the gun nice and well-oiled, because it makes me remember Fletch and Justine- even though I would have forgotten Justine soon enough if Fletch hadn't shot her, if I didn't have to live with a little of her ingrained into my carpet. I don't use it, but it's there for emergencies and it's there for me to feel like I have some control. I don't, really, or maybe I do, but it's there still. I oil it every Thursday night at ten o-clock while I watch Scrubs reruns. reminds me of a foster parent I had growing up.

I had just started putting it back together when I saw an ad for one of those Internet dating services. One of the ones with all the sickeningly sweet couples walking through parks and sitting on couches with their limbs wrapped around each other so you can't tell where one starts and the other stops. They tell you all about how happy they are and how great the site is and how their lives are full of sparkles and sunshine and all that shit now. It made me feel kind of lonely- especially when I saw my ex on it with some dude with a shiny bowl cut. The really annoying thing is that he looked pretty hot in this really tight green polo he was wearing, and it somehow managed not to clash with her hair, even though it's this stupid science-defying shade of pink.

Normally those sorts of ads just make me feel sorry for the pathetic saps who would actually agree to go on and announce their dopey happiness to the world at large, but I knew Sakura. She was a nice girl, really, maybe the nicest person I ever went out with, and she was smart. Probably why we were only together for six months.

I just sat there on the couch and watched her and the guy- Lee was his name, she had mentioned him to me in one of our infrequent emails- grin at each other. The cat purred gently next to me with a consistency that had no idea it would die the next week. I held my gun up close to my chest, so I could imagine it cradled my heart.

I called Sasuke the next day during my lunch break from a café that reeked of warmth and affection.

I put down a rug over the stain, but when Sasuke asked why I had a rug on a perfectly fine carpet, I couldn't tell him why.

It was a cheap rug, anyway.

Sasuke was raised by his brother, and hated the man for it. He never wanted to talk about it, and when, on our first date, I asked him about his family, he just said his parents were always away when he was a child on business and he didn't really know them. He didn't mention Itachi until months later when we were Christmas shopping.

Useless crap has always been abundant in the capitalist market, but Christmas is a ridiculous, heady experience for even the most dedicated consumer. Sasuke and I were all over the city that day in a mad rush to get everything done and not have to think about it any more- because that's how we dealt with everything that took us away from the two blocks around our respective flats and the studio where I worked.

"You think Gaara would like a mug, or something?" I said distantly, thumbing through a stack of calendars for the next year that pictured mostly kittens. The end of Sasuke's scarf came loose from its knot and fell down from his neck. He plucked it back up off his chest absently.

"Isn't he your oldest friend? Like a brother, and all that?"

"Well, yeah, but I've never gotten him too much before, we've never needed really nice things, seeing as we spent the first ten years of our lives huddled around an old man on the street for warmth." I plucked up a mug with a disgusting reindeer frolicking over the handle.

Sasuke looked up at me through his fringe.

"Mugs are not appropriate gifts to those on equal ground to brothers."

"How should you know? You don't have any friends except for Neji and goddamn Ino."

Sasuke gave me a strange look.

"Just because I don't talk to my brother doesn't mean I don't have to buy gifts for him."

My jaw was on the floor for too long, so I couldn't buy the mug before Sasuke rushed me out of the store to get his mother a scarf.

I was listening to Belle and Sebastian too loud one afternoon when the stain screamed at me so loud that the blues weren't really blue any more*.

I spent Christmas with Sasuke, and we went to old man Jiraya's grave and then out for Chinese food in the afternoon because we were too tired to cook. Then we got smashed together in my flat.

We hadn't actually intended on spending the day together, but we were both drunk the night before and tumbled into bed without a passing thought to the fact that we were going to spend Christmas at our respective homes.

Alone, but neither of us knew the other had the same plans.

The stain stared at Sasuke and I when we were happy and made me feel bad about feeling anything when people were dead somewhere. Like here.

I passed the joint to Leonard, who took the longest inhalation I've ever seen before thumbing it off to Sasuke. He was on my right, and Leo on the left, so he had to lean across me to grab it. After he strained himself to reach over and get the joint, he just stayed like that, splayed out against me. I sluggishly strained my arm down, grabbed one of his legs, pulled him onto my lap.

Leonard went into the kitchen to eat all my goddamn brownies, but I didn't really care.

"Naruuuuuuuttttttooooooooo…" Sasuke seemed like he was testing my name in a humming whisper against my chest. His lips moved gently against my solar plexus, and his words vibrated through me lazily, laced with the drug.

I grabbed his hair as slowly as I've ever grabbed anything and pulled my chin down and his chin up and kissed him with a weight that needed something he probably couldn't give me yet.

Leonard pumped something through the speakers I got from a junk shop and patched through every room in the goddamn flat.

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief

"There's too much confusion," I can't get no relief

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

"No reason to get excited", the thief he kindly spoke

"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke

But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late".

Sasuke's lips were still on mine but they moved softly in time to the lyrics, and my fingers in his hair and around his waist pressed into his skin with each twang of the guitar, until the line between our bodies and the music was gone.

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view

While all the women came and went

Barefoot servants, too.

My legs spilled lazily onto the carpeting as Sasuke slid himself under my skin and injected himself into my bloodstream with the ease of a long awaited fix.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl

Two riders were approaching,

The wind began to howl.

The stain was almost forgotten one Sunday afternoon. Then the cat peed on it again and I remembered I didn't want to forget Justine.

I couldn't remember why, though.

On a day when it was really still too cold to be driving to the sea, Sasuke and I drove to the sea.

It was chilly and the wind gusted itself over our skins with a casualty that we detested with our souls, just because we were young. We sat on the hood of my car in a parking spot that wasn't near close enough to the ocean. My car was red, and ancient, something I had scraped for in the first ten months of my first job as an adult. Heavily used, because I had gone into the dealership with hopeful, large eyes and come out with the only thing I could afford.

We were side by side and no matter how much we imagined we were in shorts and big apple-shaped sunglasses, we were wearing wool sweaters and jeans that clung a little tighter to our legs than should have. I was wearing a hat that bunched down around my neck in hapless folds of yarn, and he the same ragged scarf as when we were Christmas shopping. I had on blue mittens. He didn't.

"Do you think that one day we'll forget?"

I don't remember which one of us said it, but it wasn't important and it wasn't fair.

He looked too cold, and the metal of the car was too hard, so I wrapped his hand in my mittened one.

The stain was still there when Sasuke and I made love next to it, on the living room floor.

He never asked me why I was distracted, but he looked hurt afterwards. I suppose it was my fault, but I didn't try to explain because Justine wasn't there to.

I was in the studio, lugging boxes of clay into the storage room when Sasuke showed up. He waited until I was done and the truck was closed and driven away to grab me from behind. I hadn't noticed that his breaths were short and ragged. Eyes oddly red.

Sasuke didn't hug me often. He was afraid to get too close, because his brother and family had been so oddly distant and let him down so many times that he was used to having nobody to rely on. He didn't like to hug me because however close we were, he could take comfort in not touching me when he didn't want to.

This time I turned around and held him with all the strength and sturdiness I hadn't been allowed to give.

It felt so good, it was almost wrong.

Sasuke once asked me what the stain was and why I didn't have it removed.

He didn't look as hurt as he had last time when I didn't answer.

I drew on his hand in felt-tip markers because the waiter was taking forever with the check and we were bored. It was a cheap restaurant, and I had a marker in my pocket that one of the kids who came to the studio during the day because during summer break had given to me.

She was autistic. I always had at least two classes of kids with special needs, because their mental scars reminded me of the ones on my face and that stretched between Gaara and me and wouldn't let me get him more than a coffee mug for Christmas. This little girl had the biggest, saddest brown eyes I have ever seen in my life and she looked up and me through her fringe in a way that made my heart melt without having heated it at all.

"Here," She whispered in her tiny, tiny voice- much too tiny for a ten year old. She pressed a marker the same color as the space between night and day into my fingers. "It's special. Don't let it go."

I drew hearts on Sasuke's hand in a small restaurant that smelled like stale beer and tomatoes cooking while we waited for the waiter to bring us our check. He let me, just watched the pen bob up and down and then after I told him he was beautiful he smiled and tucked his hand safely away.

I gently sliced open my own thumb one day and let the redness dribble down, dripping off the tip of my nail and in to mingle with Justine's. Fletcher deserved it.

It took me weeks to put together the pot that the little autistic girl with the impossible eyes had made that fell off the table and broke, knocked by a stray elbow. It was the most beautiful pot I had ever seen in my life, because the glaze held every color in the nighttime sky and because it was small and lopsided and because one side was thicker than the other.

I brought home the pieces and Sasuke, living in my flat with the new cat and Justine's stain by that time, told me that it looked like it was made for someone who needed something very badly.

I thought about the tired eyes of the girl with impossible eye's father as he came to pick her up every Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and the way her Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday mother grasped her arm with fingers done such a bright red I couldn't have been able to tell if someone was being pierced with them the other three days of classes.

Sasuke let me hold him, held me, really, when I couldn't find the last piece to hold together the puzzle and the pot shattered again and again on our kitchen table.

Sasuke had an attack on top of the stain, a seizure that scared me so much it was almost like he hadn't been having them the entire time I'd known him and before. The stain was swallowed up by his flailing limbs.

Kiba and Leonard and Sasuke and Larissa and I met up for lunch and Larissa said that Fletch would be getting out of jail in a month and a half. Good behavior. He was never charged with intended manslaughter anyway, he was a little drunk and she was a little drunk and the safety was off on the gun- except Fletch didn't drink, and he always, always kept on the safety when I lived in the flat with him. I sunk down into my chair and remembered that whenever Fletch smiled his teeth were too sharp- they scared me. For the first few months after I left him, I forgot why, and it was okay.

Now it wasn't and when Sasuke asked who Fletcher was it was even less.

The landlady sent up a carpet cleaner to do all of the flats. I told him to go around the stain, and Sasuke had to take him aside and whisper something into his ear while I sat on the toilet with my head in my hands.

When Sasuke found the gun, he cried so hard that I didn't know what to do with myself other than reach out and try to pry it from his fingers. He yanked it back roughly, with a strength that I didn't know he could pull up through tears.

He pointed it at me, slowly, deliberately, smiling even though his eyes were still wet.

"Is this what it looked like?"

I was standing next to the stove, with a wooden spoon in hand. The macaroni was burning, but it was less important than it should have been.

"Did you love him?"

I nodded, slowly; still remembering how much Fletcher's smile scared me. I could see straight down the barrel of the gun, almost to the bullet inside.

Sasuke's eyes buckled, and I caught him the moment his knees begin to and we slid to the floor in a tangle of limbs, and the gun slid off to the side, all but forgotten for now, and we were both crying too hard for Fletcher and Justine and Larissa and Jiraya and Leonard and Gene and the cat and Alec and Gaara and people I don't know and people Sasuke doesn't know but we're crying for them anyway.

Later, I trace his bones under his skin and let him push my arteries aside with his fingers to stroke my heart.

Sasuke and I no longer talked about the stain.

I painted a picture with one of my special ed after school classes once, because they looked up at me and smiled and asked me if 'Mr. Naruto would please paint a picture with us? Please?'

So I painted flowers on sakura trees and the suffocating warmth of the Japanese summer and old man Jiraya laughing under the bridge where Gaara and I lived with him and I painted Tokyo at night and the countryside and my foster parents and the man who adopted me when I was fifteen and brought me to this city and I painted magic laced into the clouds of smog and the rain and Sasuke.

The children sat and watched with a rapture that I've never seen from any child in my life. The little girl with the impossible brown eyes smiled at me afterwards and took my hand and told me that I shouldn't be sad because I had the man with the golden hair and nice eyes that said he loved me even though we were broken.

Sasuke stood and blocked the door when Fletcher tried to get into the apartment. I hid in the bathroom, crouched on the toilet with my hands squeezing over my ears until I felt as though I might squash my brain into a mush that would save me from having to remember any more.

The snow fell around Fletchers head as I watched him stalk away from the apartment, hunched over and angry. I curled in on myself and held my bones close to one another so that nothing could hurt them any more. Sasuke came and traced my spine and told me I was beautiful and told me we would always be together and said that my bones were magic and said I shouldn't let anyone else touch them if I didn't want to.

I watched the snow spiral down onto the city streets and drummed gently on my ribcage, hands tucked carefully between my knees and compressed stomach. I pretended my skin was made of paper and my bones weren't as fragile as they are and that I could play songs by Bob Dylan and Tarkio on my ribs and forget that Fletcher was never really as sweet as how I remembered him and that Justine never was as important to me as I wanted her to be.

Sasuke plunged his fingers gently inside my spine and caressed the bones back into place so that my skin could hold them in place just a little longer.

*Reference to the song 'The Blues are Still Blue' by- you guessed it- Belle and Sebastian. From The Life Pursuit. Fantastic album, fantastic song. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for fun music that isn't total crap :].

AN: Well, that took me long enough to write. It started as SasuNaru for me and to get me out of a bit of a rut I was in (I could only write in a particular style with a particular character after writing something for class, full of swears and really white-trashy and insensitive). Then I wanted to do a Christmas gift for Scott, so I changed it to Remus/Sirius. So I had to go through and change all the names to Harry Potter characters that I thought fit. Then I went through and edited it on print outs- just shredded it up- about three times. Okay, once, but I'm pretty hard on myself. Then I realized it didn't feel right, so I thought I would do it another fandom Scott's into, but I couldn''t think of one that would work. Then I realized that I had written my own screwed-up AU Naruto and Sasuke and I couldn't really make them anyone else without basically rewriting the entire story. I suppose that's good, but it took so LOOOONNNNGGGG. Plus, I've been sick and then I was away and NOW I WANT A BURRITO FROM ANNA'S BUT MY MOM WON'T DRIVE ME THERE AND MY STOMACH IS STILL MESSED UP AND I WANT SOUR CREAM WAH WAH WAH CAPSLOCK TOO LONG OF AN A.N.

Thank you for reading! Please review!