Never

Original Dark Angel

Epilogue: You Idiot Chibi

"Sasuke!" Naruto knocked the other boy to the ground. "Now you are the idiot. Orichimaru can only give you a dark power. One that will turn you into Itachi. That won't help you. What will become of you after Itachi's dead? Do you think ahead that far?"

Sasuke looked up at him through tear-filled eyes, blood trickling down his chin. "After that it doesn't matter. I have no future and I seek none in return for killing Itachi. I no longer care."

"Well, I do!" Naruto shouted. "We all love you! Sakura-chan, Kakashi-Sensei and I all care about your future and you'll have one, whether you want it or not." He dragged the other boy up and wrapped both arms around Sasuke's thin shoulders. "You're my brother. I promise that I wouldn't let Itachi hurt you anymore," he whispered. "This will hurt you."

"Let it!" Sasuke screamed. "Let it, Naruto! As long as Itachi is dead, I don't care!"

"You idiot," Naruto whispered, bringing his fingers up to press the pressure point of Sasuke's neck. As Sasuke slumped unconscious into his arms, Naruto sighed before hoisting the boy over his shoulder and turning back. We won't lose you too."


As Sasuke returned to consciousness, he found the chakra bracelet connecting his ankle to Naruto's. The indignity of it would normally have infuriated Sasuke, but he was too relieved. Taking a deep breath, Sasuke pushed himself up into a sitting position, and faced Naruto across the campfire. He swallowed hard and raised his head so that he could look Naruto in the eye. "I'm sorry, Naruto," he rushed before he could choke on his own pride. This was a huge transgression, and required an apology whether Sasuke wanted to give one or not. "Thank you for holding me back."

"You're an idiotic chibi," came the low growl across the fire, but then it turned into a chuckle. "But that's okay, cause Sakura-chan, Kakashi-sensei, and I know how to deal with that."

Sasuke fought the urge to pout or whine. It was exceptionally difficult to control his emotions after his brief stint at reliving his childhood. "I apologized." He hadn't managed to quite miss the pout, but he had successfully avoided the whining.

"And I bet that it hurt, didn't it, Sasuke?" Naruto teased.

"Baka."

"Chibi."

"Dobe."

"Sasuke-chan."

"Aarghh!" Sasuke leapt over the fire and tackled his teammate . . . and was promptly pinned as he had been every time he had wrestled with Naruto for the last two months. "That's not fair.

"Get over it." Naruto rolled off of him and they sat there catching their breath. "Sakura and Kakashi will catch up soon," Naruto mentioned quietly. The other two had been left behind to deal with the Sound ninjas that had gotten to Sasuke yesterday morning after the team had a fight, while Naruto went after Sasuke.

Sasuke shrugged from his position in the dirt and watched the flames.

"You are so grounded."

Sasuke looked up fast. "You think?"

"Kakashi-sensei flipped out so bad when you disappeared that for a second I thought his porn had gone missing. You're going to be grounded or my name isn't Uzamaki Naruto."

"Great," Sasuke muttered. "Why am I always the one in trouble now? I thought that was your job."

"It was before you turned yourself five, got into a heap of trouble, and then ran off for Sound the first time something went wrong," Naruto scolded. "I promised that I would help you fight Itachi. I will always keep my promises."

"Stop treating me like I'm still five," Sasuke growled. Before Naruto could retort, there was a rustle in the bushes, and both boys reached for weapons. But only Kakashi and Sakura appeared.

"Yo," Kakashi offered, taking a seat next to Sasuke. Sakura kissed Sasuke's hair before sitting next to Naruto. "It's too late to go home tonight. We'll head back tomorrow morning. So you three had better get some sleep."

Sasuke got up wordlessly to move over to the sleep mat that Naruto had set up for them, but was delayed when he suddenly found himself in the center of a group hug. "Hey, let me go," he protested.

"Never," was the chorus answer.