And God said,
"Take now thy son Isaac, thine only son, whom thou lovest.
There shalt thou offer him up as a holocaust."

-Genesis 22:2


It was the tenth of October, and the day had been filled with fire, and destruction, and desperate fighting slowly turning into pure despair.

It was the tenth of October, and the people of Konoha died as easily as candle-flames, shinobi and villager alike.

It was the tenth of October, and Kazama Arashi – the Yondaime Hokage, the Yellow Flash - was pacing impatiently in the waiting-room of Konoha Hospital. The room periodically shook with the earthquake-tremors of the battle raging outside, and at every tremor he had jerked like a man shot, ran to the windows, and watched. The night-sky was lit up by fire and lightning and the glow of chakra, but more than all that by the raw red energy of the Kyuubi. Arashi would glare at that far-away shape, his eyes blazing like fired glass in his drawn, white face. Then he would turn away and stalk stiff-legged back to his circuit over the waiting-room tiles.

A nurse appeared at the door, stumbling a little as the floor shuddered beneath their feet, and told him that his son was born. And something in his chest opened, and bloomed, and filled him with sudden tenderness. He felt as if something he'd been waiting for, something he had been building his life towards, had come.

And then he remembered what was waiting for the both of them outside, and that sudden warmth froze and shattered into a thousand tiny shards of ice.

He had been worried – horrified – sickened - about what to tell his wife, the mother of his child; but the nurse told him that she hadn't been able to survive the induced labor and childbirth. In the chill that had seized his heart, it had felt like nothing, that news, just one more spear in the barrage – but he knew very well the guilt and sorrow that awaited him.

If he lived to feel it.

He ran into the delivery-room, the air thick with the scent of blood and birthing fluids and that unspeakable chemical-fragrance of the hospital. There was a body on the bed, something that had once been someone he loved; but now he could not spare it a thought. A small, squirming bundle of blankets was thrust into his arms, and he fled the death/birth-room for the battle.

He ought to have kept his full attention on where he was going, which was the only safe way to do it when he going at that mad, blinding speed that had gained him the nickname 'Yellow Flash'. But he could not help but steal glances at this new, squirming stranger in his arms, forming a confused picture of pale, infant's-blue eyes, a small red face more expressive than he imagined a face could be, and a surprisingly thick thatch of blond hair, damp from the birth but already spiking in a familiar way, drying from the wind of their passage. There was a thin wailing in his ears, and he ran to the music of the baby's cries, which sounded to him like storm-winds howling. He stroked the baby's back cautiously and the baby was soothed.

This was his son in his arms – his son – his son! Arashi was dumb with the wonder of it.

And five hours later, he was dead, and his son's cries had sharpened to a feverish pitch that no one would sooth.


Author's Note

Hm, I'd meant for the story to be about a ghost Arashi following Naruto around on his birthday, but somehow a flashback became the main story. Oh well.

Reviews? (looks hopeful)