It all tastes like dirt in his mouth.
He listens with a sinking heart and rising nausea as the medic said Lee's dreams, his life was over. It's easier then looking at the broken doll boy that is his student or the monster child that broke him. He nods and lets Kakashi awkwardly coax him back to the balcony. There is a final useless battle and then he is free to crawl off into a corner to emotionally die. It's not like Neji needs him to train him - not really, he has his uncle to look after him and Tenten lost painfully and Lee is... Lee will do better without his bumbling ways.
He locked himself in the bathroom and let himself finally release the bile that has steadily been creeping up his throat surge forth. Let himself dissolve into a quivering mass of snot and tears and slobber as he coughs up what feels like his soul. Kneeling before the toilet all but swearing that he's coughed up his bowels along with the guilt. Finally he passes out against the bathtub feeling hollow as a drum and as tired as he's ever been.
He wakes up feeling like crap and starving; even so he can't find it in him to get up much less make breakfast. It's 10:38 if he hurries he can make to hospital before Lee wakes up. Disgusted he watches the power shake slowly slough down the drain and feeling his stomach churn sympathetically. It tastes like mud all gritty an-and he can't finish it. As expected Neji doesn't need him so he goes to visit Lee. Sweet Lee who tries to be cheerful. Now he's lying to the boy just so he can spit up his stomach lining in the bright, sterile bathroom. When he finally pieces himself back together pointedly ignoring his hovering blue shadow he is relieved Kakashi only wants to invite him out for drinks.
He drinks until he damn near poisons himself and then trips outside to ralph in the gutter until this throat nearly bleeds. He finds himself back at home the next morning tucked in tight. The taste of artificial mint has gone slightly sour in his mouth. There isn't an indention in the pillow despite the scent of coconuts. He avoids the power shakes in the freezer and the fruit on the counter. It seems a little over ripe. The sunlight hurts his head making him decide to sweat out the last of the toxins in him. He runs two laps around the village for every time he could have been a better teacher, a better mentor, a better father. He stops counting aloud after a thousands, stops counting consciously at two thousand and one.
He almost passes out during the Sound invasion, but half-sick and punch drunk he's still more powerful then a bunch of hopped-up freaks. He's happy for a while playing games with Kakashi, but it doesn't last long enough. Luckily there is something in his refrigerator for Lee to devour though he's constantly pulling a Kakashi to avoid questions. It's just another quirk like the over-the-topness. Even so overdramatic as he is passing out at the Sandaime's funeral isn't going to be written off as a fluke. It's just he really couldn't help it with all the candles and bodies and flowers, incenses, perfume. It was too much.
It's four o'clock in the afternoon. Three hours until visiting hours on this floor are suspended. Genma is watching him eat one grape at a time, there are 40 on the plate, an hour ago there were 54 - he's making progress despite the wrongness of the fruit. They taste like everything else these days - drier then dust, gritty as gravel, hot like sun-baked sand. Genma looks displeased, particularly because Gai is now a mere ten pounds above the 110 he needs to keep him out of the hospital. He looks like more of a scarecrow then his eternal rival. "Eat the damn grapes Gai, just eat the goddamn grapes." They're cold and bitter, but so is Genma's voice - he eats another grape. Two hours and counting.
His face stings from where Lee slapped him. It doesn't seem like it should hurt so much, but everything does now. He shivers having never seen Lee actually mad before, but he deserves it for ruining the boy's life and going back on his word as well as betraying his nindo. Besides everyone else is pissed why not Lee? He shivers under Neji's almost stare. Neji won't actually look at him or talk to him or leave until all the fruit he's brought has been eaten. And with his byakugan and family training there's no way in hell Gai's little tricks are going to work. He can taste rust, alkaline...sand - it's sand and grave dirt he's eating not a cherry, but he chokes it down. Neji ceases to glare as he continues his gagging.
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Lee needs your support." Coconuts and mint toothpaste. His mind is wondering again. Not so much that he can't see the irony. Kakashi's almost as bad a teacher as he is maybe worse- but at least all his students are healthy and uncrippled. Except for the fact two are rapidly being eaten by their demons and the last one is working herself into an early grave. He's too delicate to hit or someone would have decked him by now. The blond lady - the Godaime stands impatiently by the doorway as Lee challenges him. "I will accept this surgery even though there is a 50% chance I will die. If I make it you must get over this addiction. "He picks at the crisp, blue sheet - "And if you die, I will die too." No one says anything after that - his iv annoys him.
He's too light to be out of the hospital, but this is a special occasion. He stands by Kakashi looking like the very visage of death feeling the eyes sliding off him like oil on water. One pair brands it's self between his ever frailer shoulder blades. One pair refuses to look at him, both say the same things and it. It hurts, everything hurts - he's too raw for this openness, this cold, this unyielding environment. For once there is not a bit of green to be seen on him surrounded instead by the steel green grass of the human lawn. They'll be feeding the real Green Beast today-feeding it Lee. It hurts. It hurts that Lee died disappointed in him, it hurts he so completely failed what could have been his son as well as himself. It's convenient though, because he made a promise, a deal - if (when) Lee died he'd die too. Such an easy promise to keep, because right about now he couldn't stop dying if he tried.