Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

You know, some people just never appreciate life until its already slipping out their fingers, bleeding out so quickly that you can literally feel your soul whispering out.

If Jiraiya heard me spout such nonsense, he'd probably smack my head and tell me I had too much or too little to drink.

If anyone else heard me say it, they'd probably look at me like I was insane.

After all, I'm the Yondaime, the Yellow Flash of Konoha, Fourth Hokage. I'm awesome, I'm talented, I'm smart, ad infinitum.

And I know it, of course.

But even I know I'm not immortal. It's a lesson a lot of people should really get to know, especially that crazy bastard Orochimaru.

Huh... I think the loss of blood has started reaching my brain, if I'm thinking about Orochimaru at a time like this.

Can't get distracted.

Not now.

A voice calls out my name, quiet and low. Kakashi. Good old Kakashi. He stands just outside the hut, leaning against the doorway. One of his arms has blood running down it, and he's thin and pale and weak, all scratched up and cut up.

Poor kid looks like I feel. His two eyes are exposed, and the Sharingan one reflects in the night. "The baby is here." His voice is low and uneasy, and trembling with sorrow. I never told him about her, or the baby. Never told anyone but Sarutobi, until tonight.

Makes me kind of sad. The only reason I even told the old man was because I needed some confirmation, some resolution to the idea that I shouldn't be distracted, shouldn't expose those who I love to the world. Especially not a newborn child

Sarutobi's wife died years ago, taking a blow meant for the Sandaime right through the heart. It was a sad day, and one of the few times I'd ever seen the man depressed as he cried into the thunder.

He agreed, and looked at me sadly. "The Hokage's life is dangerous... and some chances aren't worth taking. But this is your choice." He was probably trying to change my mind.

But it was too late already. I knew I had no other option than to hide them away. She wasn't healthy, wasn't even a ninja. Just a sick woman who sold flowers, who was sad and quiet all the time.

I wanted to see her smile.

I really wish I could have seen it... one more time.

"Alright... thanks Kakashi." I see the look in his eyes. I know what he's thinking. He doesn't like this, doesn't want this.

Sorry, kid. I don't want to leave you alone, not after Obito. But I've got no choice.

"What... what did she name him?" my voice sounds weak. I know she's dead. She was weak and sickly when I left her, unshed tears in my eyes reflecting her own. and I'm following her to the afterlife.

I promised myself I would never leave my children orphans... but I suppose becoming Hokage was breaking that promise already.

"Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto." Kakashi said quietly, looking at me. Damn it kid, you're making me feel bad, looking like a puppy I'm kicking out into the rain.

I'm not surprised she chose to change his name to something different from either of us. Hell, its probably what I would have done.

I want to ask Kakashi to look after him, but frankly, I know its asking too much. After this, Kakashi'll barely be able to look after himself. "Make sure... make sure no one ever knows he's my kid. Got it? I don't want him taking my crap as well as his own."

Kakashi looks at me as though I've gone completely insane. "He's your son! Why wouldn't-"

"He should, by all accounts, hate me for what I'm about to do. And I'm not his father." I feel weak, weaker than I've ever been before.

Damn fox. Just had to go and ruin my life, didn't he?

"Father's are the ones who watch their kid grow, who make sure they learn every lesson, who know when to hold on and when to let go. And me... Hell, I'm the guy that gave him this life, and this curse." My face twists into my familiar grin. "I'm an asshole."

It feels light on my face, a welcome change from all the heaviness in my limbs.

"I want Naruto known as the hero, not me. I'm nothing but a sinner whose forcing a curse on an innocent kid. Consider that my final request." I look at Kakashi, straight into both his mismatched eyes. He'll follow my request, tell it to Sarutobi.

Whether or not anyone follows it, is up to fate.

"Now forget about anything but that request, and get out. I'm going to end this." I try to force as much strength into my voice as I possibly can.

Kakashi stares at me for a moment. For a genius, he can be pretty damn stupid.

"I mean it, kid. Get out." It comes out more as a wheeze than an order, and I feel a bit of blood on my tongue.

"Yeah. I'm going." He doesn't look at me as he leaves, and places his forehead protector over his Sharingan.

"And Kakashi?" he stops, but doesn't look back.

"Tell Jiraiya I'm sorry I won't get to read the next book, would ya?"

Kakashi lets out a single bark of laughter, and walks away.

I meant it. I really did want to read that book.

My hands move over the seals surprisingly easily, for a technique I only learned a few days ago, when the Kyubi's presence became known. The words tumble out my mouth before I even realize it.

A big, freaky white thing appears as I finish, and the world turns black. Naruto started crying, even though he shouldn't have been able to see this weird thing.

Still, one should always try to be polite. All I can do, after all, is smile at Death, and hope it smiles back.

"So, you're the God of Death?" unsurprisngly, it doesn't answer.

Jeez... Gamabunta is a hell of a lot more fun than this creepy jerk. This guy would make a terrible drinking partner. Probably even leave me to pay for the drinks.

Still, I've got no choice. Even Gamabunta and I can't beat Kyubi.

Sorry, Uzumaki Naruto. Sorry, my son.

You know, I'm really going to miss this village, and especially being Hokage.

Except the paperwork.

I always thought that would kill me.


One last joke for the road, I suppose.

Sarutobi, I'm depending on you to make sure this turns out alright.

The sealing's begun to take hold, and a mark, that mark that will hopefully never be seen again on the boy- Naruto's body again.

I really wish I had gotten to known you, kid. Or at the least, found out if I could love you.

If I would have been a good father.

Or if you would like ramen.

Yeah... that would have been gre-

Author's Notes

I was fighting a rather off and on battle between the idea of Naruto being the Yondaime's son. But the similarity in looks, and the fact that Itachi calls Naruto the Yondaime's isan, which could be descendant, legacy, or something else along those lines, makes it hard for me to ignore. So, there's my take.

The abrupt ending is significant- the Yondaime was dying, and the seal kills the caster.

This story is so far planned out all the way up to the time jump. Beyond that, I'm not quite sure.

Up next- the Ichiraku chef.