The Clock

Doors opened unexpectedly. Yells echoed uncontrollably. And in the middle of it all... I stood. Silent. Very silent.

"Naruto! What are you doing?! SAY SOMETHING!"

I turned to face the girl with pink hair and light green eyes. What to say, what to say?

"Sakura-chan... It's... not my decision to make."

Her body sunk ever so slightly. She jerked her head towards Tsunade, pleading. Why did she always do that?

"Look Sakura," Tsunade said in a firm tone, "You know as well as I do that Sasuke has made a choice. He chose for it to be this way. I know it must be hard for all of

Team 7, but it's something that we cannot control. I can't argue with the Village Elders reasoning. Sadly, it makes perfect sense."

Sakura's eyes were becoming watery as she begged and begged to Tsunade to change her mind. But what was done was done. There was no turning back now.

"If I may," I whispered unusually politely, "I would like to leave now."

Tsunade sighed. I could tell that Sakura's words were getting to her; but that wouldn't make any difference. I had argued and pleaded for countless weeks. Now, it was

much too late. I had given up and accepted what was coming.

She waved me out the door. Before I could shut it, she called to me, "I'm very sorry Naruto."

You're lying. If you were sorry, you wouldn't let this happen.

I nodded. I was the one lying.

I knocked three times, each pound more gruesome than the last. What was I doing? I was making it so much harder for myself, that's what.

The lock turned ever so slowly. Its click took an eternity; an eternity I didn't have. I couldn't get excited or... or...

It was so dark in that room. The curtains were shut tight, the sun unable to sneak a ray through them. Shadows danced across the walls. What were they so happy about?

Didn't they know?

"Sasuke..." I said without a thought.

He had already made it back to his bed. It was messy, extremely messy. How could he care though? What could he care about now? It was all over for him. To care

would just hurt even more than it already did.

I trudged over to his side. On the way, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a cracked mirror. I could already imagine him smashing his fist into it angrily. I didn't blame

him.

I sat on the edge of the bed, and stared into an alternate space where life was happy and innocent. Sasuke was tainted with so much blood now. How many had he killed?

How many undeserving lives had he taken away? I couldn't help but wonder such an absurd question.

Here was another one: Was he ready to kill me? It was the perfect time. I wouldn't defend myself after all. I was about to lose something so precious anyways, so what

difference did it make?

"What do you want?" Sasuke said, his voiced muffled by his knees.

He was grouchy. Definitely.

And I couldn't answer. I didn't know what I wanted. It was like I had be turned into a small child, one with no reasoning and no concept of what was happening. I did

understand life however, and I knew that some people did not always live it to the fullest. I sure as hell didn't. If I did, then what was I doing here in this cold, isolated

room?

We were silent. It was a time to reflect on all that we had done, all that we COULD have done. Together.

Then, there was tears. Not my own, surprisingly, but Sasuke's. He made his way over to me and place his head on my shoulder. I could feel warm liquid drip down my

shirt. It smelled so salty.

"I'm not ready," he cried, "I'm not ready to die yet."

Now he was the child, and I was the adult. I was given the hardest role; the comforting.

I didn't obey the rules. Instead, my eyes began to fill with the same salty water. It flowed swiftly and unevenly down my cheeks, right into his raven black hair. I wasn't

ready either. As much as I tried to convince myself, I wasn't.

"I tried... I tried to convince them. But they wouldn't listen," was what I wanted to say, but I just couldn't get it out. It wouldn't help the situation. And I was so

scared he would doubt me if I did. Wow, I'm a coward.

I watched, the atmosphere becoming thicker and thicker, as the sun rose high above the clouds and sunk beyond the horizon. Sasuke had long fallen asleep. It was soon

time for me to retire as well.

The sound of his breath was long and deep. It was never going to be like this again, was it? I watched the time slip away; the peace slip away. And before I knew it, the

sun was peeking over the clouds again.

There was rustling beneath the covers. I had fallen on the floor, my eyes glued shut. Gosh, I'm tired.

"Hey, you idiot," Sasuke yawned, "get the hell off my floor and wake up."

How nice of you.

My neck hurt. Ouch. But for some reason I felt so relieved.

"I can't believe you fell asleep on the floor..." he grumbled, "They're probably looking everywhere for you right now."

I shot up. Today was the day... The day when Team 7 would no longer exist.

I glanced quickly at Sasuke, just to take a look at his expression. He appeared as he used to be, back when there was nothing to worry about. Or, as he liked to phrase it,

back when we were "playing ninja." Had he forgotten? Or was he relieved? There were so many questions to ask and so little time.

"Hey... Sasuke..." I began, "Do... do you miss when we were Team 7?"

He turned away. "Don't be stupid. That's over now."

I could have sworn I'd seen him grin a little as he faced me once again. I laughed. This was the way it was supposed to be.

There was a loud echo on the door. "Sasuke! Naruto!" Sakura yelled, "I have to talk with you!" Her voice had a hint of grimness in it. It couldn't have been good.

But I made up my mind. I was going to start all over again with Sasuke, and make the most of the little time we had left. Yes, that's what I was going to do.

Distance

A sweet melody chimed in my left pocket. I reached in and grabbed my brand new cellphone. As I continued to walk through the park, an even sweeter melody came through the speaker of my phone.

"Hello Aoi," he said.
"Mizu!" I screamed, almost too loudly, "Mizu! It's been ages!"

I was a little overly excited. But the sound of Mizu's voice was so rare to me now that I could not keep my cool when he had time to call me.

"How are you Aoi? How is it in Tokyo?" he asked calmly.
"I love Tokyo! It's so beautiful here, especially in the spring. I wish you could see what I'm seeing Mizu..."

Suddenly, my heart was pained. I had to stop and take in a breath. The cherry blossoms around me were a sad reminder of the distance between us. Of course Mizu would never see what I could see. He was so far... so far. I hated the very thought of what he did for a living, because it seperated us. After University, I could only ever hear his voice. I didn't even know where he was stationed anymore.

"So Mizu," I managed to cough out, "where are you right now...?"

There was a long pause. For a mintue, I thought he had hung up.

"Aoi, you know I can't tell you that..."

I stood still under the petal rain, and listened to the shuffling in the background. Mizu was not alone.

"I'm sorry Aoi, I have to go," he apologized softly.

I was silent. Who knows when he could call again? I loathed those same words he said to me when I had crossed the line; asked beyond him. He was running from me.

"Mizu... I... P-please don't go!" I cried. I could feel tears welling up. A bit of the salty liquid spilled over and a single tear managed to roll down my cheek. I watched it fall into the pavement with a splash.

"Bye Aoi," he replied. It was a coldhearted tone, and it made me hurt more on the inside.

-----

For weeks I anticipated a new call from Mizu. It was nerve-racking, and I could feel a bit of paranoia beginning to creep over me like an ominous shadow. I could hardly sleep, hardly think, hardly breathe. Before I knew it, my life was centered around that one single call. I waited and waited... months past, seasons flew, and I began to lose my hope of ever hearing his beautiful voice again.

Mizu could play violin, and he could sing. But he chose not to persue those as careers. I never really did understand why. All I knew was that Mizu was somewhere out there, like me, waiting. His waiting wasn't the same though. He was waiting for those orders... the orders that would change his life forever. After University, he became an astronomer. I was fine with that, for there were plenty of facilities in Tokyo. However, he chose to join a top secret government operation, and he left before I could even say goodbye. Since then, I hadn't seen him. He wasn't allowed to reveal his location, and camera phones were strictly out of the question. So, obviously, I would never see him again.

It was spring again, and I walked the same path I had many times before. I watched the soft pink petals drop elegantly to the grass. It was nostalgic, because I still remembered, so many years ago, when Mizu took me to the exact spot I stood on and sung to me. I was so entranced, so distracted, that I hadn't realized the true message behind the lyrics. It was our last spring together.

I sat under the tree, and gazed up into the sky. Where are you Mizu? I miss you so much. I want you to be here with me...

As if by pure coincidence, my phone rang. My heart leaped from my chest and across the street. It was him!

"Mizu! Oh my god! You finally, FINALLY called! I've been waiting!"

Mizu wasn't the same. His voice was no longer a beautiful ring to my ears, but a hard, monotonous bellow that made me shudder in fear.

"Aoi, I have to tell you something..." he whispered.

There was a lump in my throat. How could I answer? How could I answer when I knew what he was about to say?

"I got the orders Aoi. I don't know if I'll make it back," he hinted.

The tears were coming now for sure. Not just one, but a whole fountain. People stared at me in pity as they passed; I was too distraught to notice.

"Mizu, Mizu, MIZU! Please don't go! Please! I've been waiting for you forever, and I miss you more than anything in the world! I love you more than anything in the world! Mizu, Mizu..." I choked, my eyes red and puffy.

"I'm so sorry Aoi... but I have to go."

I slammed my palm into the trunk of the cherry blossom tree. Why, why now? Why him?

"No!" I yelled, tears muffling the seriousness of my voice, "NO! You can't go there! It's a suicide mission! I know it, you know it, THEY know it! They're sending you to die Mizu! You can't leave me here, not when I waited so long for you! You can't!"

Mizu was going to cry as well. I could hear it in his voice as he forced the words out of his mouth. "Aoi, I'm sorry... I'm sorry... Please, stop crying."

I buried my head deep in my knees and screamed his name. Mizu, please don't go, please!

"I love you, Aoi," he breathed.

I gasped, and the line was silent.

-----

The space shuttle launched at exactly 4:06 am on Tuesday. It was destroyed at 12:06 pm on Friday.

Mizu was on that shuttle. He was the only one left that could help the government navigate the ship through the hazy stars and planets. He was forced into a war that he could not win. Everyone died on that ship.

None of the bodies could be retrieved. In the end, I didn't get to see Mizu. Even in death, he was an unknown face to me. Maybe he still did look the same as he once did? I would never know.

The last I heard of Mizu, was the second he died. I was in my room, gazing through the window absent-mindedly, when a pretty sound, almost like a music box, filled the room. It was quiet, but I could make out the words. It was Mizu's song that he had sung to me before he left to persue his career. The song that was everything to me, I could hear one last time. When it faded away, I weeped into my pillow.

The line between our two phones was dead, and so was Mizu.

End