title: dead like me
summary: AU. he has more life in him than all the boys she’s ever dated.
listening to: theory of a deadman - santa monica
note: because i’m feeling morbid.
Most girls in the throes of a bitter break up might spend time on the couch, watching crappy romantic comedies while eating ice cream and yelling at the screen. Or maybe they’d cry in the arms of their best friend, who would reassure them of their amazingness and denounce all things male. Others might hit the gym, to make him regret his loss.
But Haruno Sakura is not one of those girls, and on a quiet night she makes her way through the local cemetary, carrying a backpack and a large blanket. A large full moon hangs overhead, so close it looks like it could fall out of the sky. The lunar halo is bright enough to nearly blind her.
Carefully, Sakura picks her way among the headstones, many of them old and cracked, blackened by age and acid rain. The large weeping willow tree in the center of the graveyard is her destination, and she spreads her blanket and rests comfortably against its massive trunk. From her bag, she pulls out a calculus book and a pencil, preferring to do her calculations by hand.
She takes her rage and her loneliness out on the numbers, preferring them to the boy that’s thrown her away. At least numbers have rules and follow them. Numbers are consistent when he never was, and the silence from the graves around her is less empty and more forgiving than the ones that had been between them in the last few months.
A worn pink eraser rubs harshly at her mistakes, much like his words. Tears threaten to fall, but she tells herself it’s because she’s frustrated with this impossible formula and not the way he left her for a prettier redhead with longer legs. The numbers won’t line up, won’t make sense, and that’s the final straw because if they don’t make sense then how can her life? She half-sobs, half-screams in anger.
"You wrote in an extra number."
Sakura startles violently at the raspy voice coming from behind her right shoulder. She jumps up, holding a protractor in front of her as a weapon. She’s well-trained in self-defense, but her would-be attacker doesn’t need to know that until she has to use it on him.
"That’s not going to hurt me."
The voice chuckles, a hoarse, dry sound that that cracks and wheezes. Her eyes fly around the tombstones, searching for its source. Her eyes land on a broken headstone a few feet away from the tree and the boy leaning against it.
His skin is a mottled ash grey, his eyes a dull crimson. Jet hair spikes naturally in a messy disarray, bangs falling over his eyes. He’s watching her with what would be curiosity, but his dead eyes are emotionless and glassy.
It takes her a few moments of staring before she realizes that he’s not breathing. There is no rise and fall of his chest, no visible puff of air from between his lips in the cold night air.
Sakura starts to back away slowly. She’s seen the movies, she knows how this goes. Except for the part where he can talk, that’s new. Still, she doesn’t say anything, afraid any sound will attract his hunger.
The boy sighs, inasmuch as he can with no breath. A rattling noise sounds in his chest. “I’m not going to eat you, I’m not into that.”
Still highly wary, she pauses in her backward steps. “But you’re…”
"Dead," he intones listlessly, "No more, no less."
"Okay, but that still makes you-"
"Don’t say it." It doesn’t come out waspishly, but that’s clearly his intent. His voice, like his eyes, is flat and emotionless. "I’m not one of them. I don’t eat flesh or brains. I’m just here.”
Sakura is still unconvinced though, holding her calculus book in front of her like a shield. “What’s your name? Can you even remember?”
His mouth tries to perk up at the corners, but his face is still stiff with lingering rigor mortis. “Nobody’s asked me my name in…I don’t remember how long.”
He pauses to think, his lips returning to their flat line. Time passes in silence as he tries to remember, occasionally punctuated by the sounds of Sakura shifting uncomfortably. Eventually, he shrugs stiffly. “I don’t remember.”
Sakura looks around, some of her unease ebbing. “Were you buried here? It should be on your headstone.”
He ‘hn’s in affirmation. “I was buried right here.” He turns his head toward the broken stone he’s leaning against. Sakura moves toward the front of the stone, still keeping her distance. But the stone is dirty, and she’s forced to kneel to wipe away some of the grime and overgrown moss.
Once uncovered, Sakura discovers that the engraved letters are old, very old. The dates are nearly unreadable, but she can make out that this boy has been dead for many years, if this is in fact his grave marker.
"Uchiha Sasuke…" she murmurs, tracing her fingertips over the name.
Blank eyes watch her intently. “I suppose that sounds familiar.”
Sakura sits back on her heels, allowing herself to study the boy for the first time. His clothes are moth-eaten tatters, his shoes rotted away long ago. He’s tall, or was tall, she’s not quite sure which tense to use in her head. He stands nearly a head and a half higher than her, but his body is wasted from years of decay.
"What are you?" she murmurs, curiosity overtaking her fear.
His shoulders move in what tries to be a shrug. “Just dead.”
Sakura shakes her head, frowning. “You can’t be just dead, you’re walking around and giving me tips on my calculus homework. How long have you been this way?”
The boy, Sasuke, is eerily silent as he thinks, decrepit body swaying slightly. He slowly shakes his head again. “I remember waking up in the box they buried me in. It took a long time to dig myself out.”
He looks down at his fingers, which are stained with dirt. “I hide in one of the mausoleums during the day. And at night…” His head turns toward the gravestones surrounding his.
Reading them, Sakura discovers that they all bear the same last name. “Your family?”
He jerks his head down in affirmation. “I don’t remember it, but I think we all died together. I keep waiting, thinking maybe…”
"That they’ll wake up too," Sakura finishes for him as he trails off, sadness in her eyes. How long he must have been waiting, and been alone all this time.
"I’m sorry," she tells him sincerely.
He smiles ruefully. “Don’t be. Apologies mean nothing to the dead, and neither does time.”
He moves unsteadily toward her, offering her a hand to help her up. Without thought, she takes it. His fingers are freezing, she’s not sure why she’s surprised at that. But his grip is gentle, and he makes no move to chomp at her flesh.
"Thes sun will be rising soon," he murmurs, dead eyes fixed on the east, where the sky is beginning to turn pink.
She looks at him anxiously, his dull skin appearing even paler in the morning light. “What does that mean for you?”
"Hiding," he informs her dully, beginning to totter off in the direction of the nearest mausoleum.
Sakura glances at her things scattered across the ground. “I guess I should go, I have class in a couple of hours.”
At the stone door, he pauses and looks back at her. “Will you come back?”
As she looks into those dulled crimson eyes, she swears she sees a spark of hope.
"Yes," she promises.
And maybe she can make his eternity a little less lonely.