Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and co.
A/N: This story is written specifically for Ahja Reyn's Naruto contest.
This story took place when the world was younger and Egypt was still an unchallenged kingdom. The night air in the capital city of Cairo was crisp when the prophecy arrived. The ten chief priests as well as the Head Priest woke up in their beds, their eyes wide open. Their mouths were moving against their will, forming words they had no idea about.
They jumped out of bed and wrote down the spoken words and when morning came, all of them discovered they had written the same thing. That was how the prophecy was born. When they showed it to pharaoh, he caressed his chin thoughtfully and pointed at several of the words.
"The sun and the moon are mentioned," said the king. "Is this an astronomical prophecy? Should I be watching the skies?"
The eleven priests shook their heads in unison. "The prophecy means one child who encases the sun and one child who is born of the moon. So two children will come to you, lord pharaoh, and you must be good to them."
Pharaoh frowned darkly. "The last line of the prophecy – I don't like it. If I were to be good to these children of the sun and moon, could the last line of the prophecy not come true?"
"Perhaps, lord pharaoh," said the Head Priest. "But being good to them is our only hope."
Several years later, pharaoh was presented with a baby boy who was found amongst the stalks of papyrus in the Nile riverbed. After yet another trance-like stupor, the priests declared that this was the child of the moon. So pharaoh adopted him and named him Sasuke, but everyone in Egypt called him the moon-child.
However, the sun-child was never found. Every day, the priests sent out slaves to comb the Nile riverbed but no child appeared. The priests breathed a sigh of relief and told the pharaoh that maybe the prophecy wouldn't come true.
(Several months before Sasuke was found.)
Fourteen-year old Iruka looked away from the bread oven when he heard footsteps in his hut. He smiled and said in a loud voice, "Kakashi, feet off the table." He heard a disgruntled sigh and more footsteps as Kakashi joined him in the kitchen.
"How did you know it was me?" asked the silver-haired teen.
"It's always you," said Iruka as he moved to remove the finished bread from the oven. "You're the only one who can smell freshly-baked bread from about two miles away. Go on, you can take that one. I baked an extra one for you. But watch them for me, will you? Sometimes a loaf goes missing for no reason at all."
Kakashi poked the steaming hot bread with a finger and looked up at Iruka who had his back turned to him, wrapping the new loaves in cloth. Iruka was probably the only boy in all of Egypt who knew how to bake bread. In fact, he was probably the only boy who would bother mothering Kakashi like that. Iruka was sort of like a woman in that sense.
But if you told that to him straight up, you wouldn't be able to see out of your left eye for weeks.
"Hey Iruka, how long have you known me?" said Kakashi, almost innocently.
Iruka raised a suspicious eyebrow. When Kakashi tried to act innocent, you knew something was wrong. "Nearly eight years. Why?"
"How much do you know about me?"
"Enough to embarrass you," said Iruka with a chuckle. "What's the matter?"
There was a moment of strained silence on Kakashi's part. Then he took a deep breath and came out with it. "Iruka, did I ever tell you that my father was pharaoh's royal advisor? …by the look on your face, I guess I didn't."
Iruka opened his mouth but Kakashi cut him off. "Don't say anything! I know I should've said something earlier. I know you thought I was the son of a slave just like you but…I'm not…and you should know."
Iruka gripped the front of his tunic hard. There was a foreboding feeling in Kakashi's words. "Why are you telling me all this now?"
"I turn eighteen this year. My father wants to me go up to the palace and receive education to be the royal advisor after him so… so I may not have time to come see you as often," said Kakashi. He bit his lip.
Iruka lowered his eyes to the floor sadly. "I understand. No, really I do." Iruka put the bread on the counter and moved towards the door. "I have to go."
"No, I really have to go. They're expecting me at the riverbed to collect papyrus stalks."
Kakashi allowed him to leave but as he watched Iruka's receding back, he felt terribly lonely. He hated this. He didn't hate the thought of being royal advisor but he liked his friends at the slave huts; Iruka more than the rest. The boy became friends with him even though he was cold sometimes and took care of him whenever he was ill.
He was like the mother and brother he didn't have. Iruka's approval meant the world to him. But all that had to change. A royal advisor heeded no one but pharaoh. Still, as Kakashi looked at the bread Iruka prepared specially for him, he wished madly that Iruka could be pharaoh.
Iruka had lied. He didn't have to be at the riverbed for another hour. But he needed to run. He needed to clear his head. With Kakashi around he couldn't do that. But soon, Kakashi wouldn't be around. Iruka stopped running when he reached the riverbed. Nobody was there yet.
He bent over, trying to control his heavy breathing. What would he do once Kakashi was gone? Kakashi was his best friend; possibly the only one who treated him well. The other boys called him a sissy for baking bread and helping his mother out with chores. With Kakashi gone, who would he turn to with his troubles?
Iruka rubbed his eyes painfully. "I'm not crying," he told no one in particular.
He wasn't crying, but for some reason, he heard soft cries in the air, like a baby's. He raised his eyebrows in curiosity. Where were the cries coming from? Was there a mother nursing her baby all the way out here?
As Iruka parted the papyrus stalks, he saw a baby, no longer than his arm, with a head of golden hair lying on the ground. Iruka cradled the baby in his arms and looked furtively around for a mother. There was no one around. Iruka held the baby against his chest and ran to show his mother.
Thus, pharaoh never found the sun-child.
(Six years later)
The royal palace was quiet in its splendour. In the day, the corridors would be filled with white-robed servants walking back and forth, performing duties according to pharaoh's will. But now that darkness covered the sky, Naruto could easily sneak in without anyone noticing.
He had always wanted to find out what the palace looked like from the inside and Kiba's dare was the perfect chance to do it. His sandaled feet whispered against the white limestone floor as he wandered aimlessly from corridor to corridor.
He had not thought about how he would find his way back outside yet. He would worry about that later. Suddenly, Naruto found himself in a corridor much wider than the rest. He brushed aside lush draperies that served as a door and saw the largest bedroom he would ever see in this lifetime.
In the middle of the room was a canopy bed with white gauze curtains and the most comfortable pillows. He was tempted to lie down on the bed, just to see what it felt like. But his senses were tingling ominously. It was the middle of the night. Why was the bed empty?
"Who are you?"
Naruto nearly jumped at the soft voice that permeated the night's silence. His eyes swiveled to the figure standing by the window, bathed in the moonlight. From his stature, Naruto guessed that this person was about the same age as he was. Judging from his voice, he was male as well.
"Um, I'm Naruto, captain of the unofficial boys' frog-catching team," introduced Naruto a little awkwardly. Iruka had told him before to drop the part about the frog-catching but Naruto couldn't help but feel a swell of pride at being the best frog-catcher in his area.
"Hmm…frog-catching, huh?" said the other boy. He moved away from the window, away from the blinding moonlight, and Naruto could make out long hair of ebony and pale alabaster skin. "I don't hear that very often around here."
"Well that's because people in the palace don't know how to catch frogs, do they?" asked Naruto with a cavalier shrug. "So, what's your name?"
The other boy paused, as if it was odd to be asked his name. "It's Sasuke…captain of the palace senet team, I suppose, if the palace had a senet team."
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Senet?"
"It's a board game. Want to see how it's played?"
Naruto's ears perked at the word 'game' and he nodded enthusiastically. But as Sasuke took out his set and tried teaching Naruto the rules, the little blond crossed his arms and pouted. "No offense, Sasuke, but your game sucks."
"I do take offense," replied the other boy in a deadpan.
Naruto took Sasuke's hand and grinned. "Come on. I'll show you a real game. It's called 'tag'."
Sasuke stared at the tanned hand covering his own. He couldn't help but notice how much they differed. While Naruto's skin was tanned and calloused, his was sickly white and smooth as porcelain. But he wasn't given a moment longer to ponder on their differences as Naruto dragged him out of the room to play his game.
Deep within him, Sasuke's heart gave a little leap of joy. Finally, there was someone who could touch him without fear or reverence but simply with the context of 'Let's play!'
They woke up the entire palace with their game. But, believe it or not, that had been entirely Sasuke's fault. Naruto knew well enough not to make any loud noises but Sasuke, who was playing such an interesting game for the first time, couldn't help but burst into in excited laughter every time Naruto managed to tag him or the other way around.
The guards found them first, and then pharaoh's silver-haired advisor came. The two boys froze on the spot – one with fear, one with confusion as to why the other one stopped.
"Pharaoh demands punishment for the one who disturbed his sleep," said the head of the guards. "Bring a whip to the other boy and escort the moon-child back to his room."
"A whip?" repeated Kakashi with disbelief. "But he's just a little boy!"
"His guardian then. Go find whoever who is responsible for this child and punish him accordingly," ordered the head of the guards. The guards left before Kakashi could say anything. Two guards stood side by side with Sasuke, demanding that he return to his room.
"No," protested Sasuke, "I want to stay here and play with Naruto. Make them go away, Kakashi."
"Do as you're told, Sasuke." Kakashi's voice was so cold and terrifying that even Sasuke didn't dare go against him.
"Don't worry, Sasuke. I'll get you out of here. Promise," said Naruto, softly.
The guards avoided the silver-haired royal advisor's eyes as they sent Sasuke back to his room, leaving Naruto alone with Kakashi. Kakashi gave Naruto a very hard stare. "They're going to punish Iruka, you know."
Naruto's lips had gone slightly white with fear. "I know," he said softly.
"Who knows what they'll do to him…who knows…what have I done?! IRUKA!" Kakashi left Naruto, running as fast as he could to catch up with the guards, to stop them from doing anything to his childhood friend. But by the time he caught up, the guards were already standing in front of Iruka's hut.
Iruka was covered in harsh red welts from the whip; some were bleeding freely. The guard had cast a long welt across his face, leaving a scar that would run over his nose for the rest of his life. Kakashi pushed his way into Iruka's hut but nearly crumbled when he saw Iruka's sorry state.
"I don't understand. What did I do?" croaked Iruka. He looked at Kakashi, hoping for any hint or help. Instead, he was struck down to the ground again with the back of a sword.
"Eyes on the ground, slave! What makes you think you can look at the royal advisor freely?" asked the guard. "Be forewarned, slave. If we see your nephew anywhere near the moon-child again, there will be hell to pay."
With that, the guards left. Iruka tried to sit up but the fresh wounds hurt whenever he moved. Kakashi moved closer to help him but Iruka flinched at his closeness. "Don't come near me anymore, Kakashi. In fact…don't come visit me anymore."
Kakashi fixed Iruka with a look of horror. "What? Never! I –"
"If they find you down here again, they might do something to Naruto. I don't want that to happen. From today onwards, you and I are strangers, Kakashi," said Iruka resolutely. He was glad when Kakashi left abruptly, in a flurry of hurt and anger. He didn't think he could keep up the bold façade for much longer.
Naruto, who had witnessed everything from the outside, finally came into the hut, crying fresh tears. "Iruka, I'm sorry. I didn't know things would turn out this way. What if I go away? I'm not yours in the first place. If I go away, you and Kakashi can become friends again."
"No, Naruto," said Iruka wearily, giving the boy a light embrace despite his battered body. "It doesn't work that way. We're not meant to be friends in the first place. Our status is too different. You don't worry about Kakashi and me, Naruto. But I want you to tell me what happened tonight, so at least I'd know that I wasn't treated like this for no reason."
(Eight years later)
A sort of silent uproar had come over Egypt. The priests were edgy, the servants were confused and the slaves were blissfully oblivious of it even they could taste it in the air. After fifty years of reign Egypt, pharaoh had passed away of old age, leaving his throne to the crown prince, Zaku.
The slaves were grateful for the one work-free day because they were required to attend the late pharaoh's funeral procession from the royal palace to his pyramid, his final resting place on earth.
Everyone in the palace was busy with preparations but only the priests were truly worried. The prophecy from fourteen years ago came back to haunt them. It was mentioned that the prophecy would become reality when the current pharaoh passed into the afterlife. But since no sun-child had turned up, the priests did not know whether to take precaution against the prophecy or not.
"Kakashi," said the Head Priest, "go call the moon-child from his room. The funeral procession is about to start."
The silver-haired man nodded and walked the long, long way to the moon-child's room. He announced his presence at the draperies that hung at the entrance and peeked inside. Sasuke was inside, putting on his clothes and quite unashamed of his semi-nakedness in front of Kakashi.
Even after so many years of serving him, Kakashi still held his breath whenever he saw Sasuke like this. Ebony hair and a pair of matching depthless eyes, stark against the canvas of white skin – he was the dream of many lecherous men at night. Kakashi had caught more men leering at Sasuke as of late and he feared for the boy's virtue.
But Sasuke remained unfazed and icy cold to everyone he met, even to Kakashi and the late pharaoh who had adopted him.
"Hurry up, Sasuke," said Kakashi. "The procession is waiting for you."
Sasuke gave a scoffing laugh. "You are the only one who uses my name anymore." He looked at Kakashi over his shoulder; his cold eyes softening a little. "The incident that tore you apart from your slave friend eight years ago –it's my fault. I know it is."
"I do not deny that is," replied Kakashi easily.
Sasuke nearly smiled. Nearly. "Do you miss your friend?"
Kakashi unconsciously touched his lips that were now covered by a face mask that wrapped the bottom half of his face. He smiled bitterly but didn't answer. He had only seen Iruka about four times within the past eight years and those had been secret on his part. Each time Kakashi snuck a look at him, he would work up the courage to talk to him. But then, he'd see the scars from the whipping and he'd lose courage all over again.
"If you do not go now, crown prince Zaku will be angry," informed Kakashi
Sasuke sighed. "Then, it is unfortunate that I do not care about Zaku at all."
While the priests fussed and prepared for the funeral procession, six slave boys were digging around the Nile riverbed, looking for olive green hopping creatures better known as frogs. When someone touted a horn, signaling that the procession was about to begin, they halted in their frog-hunting and rushed back home.
Before they parted ways, the captain of their little frog-catching expedition gave them an encouraging grin. "Men," he said in a mock-imitation of the head of the royal guards, "today will be a day that will go down in history. For the first time, frogs shall invade pharaoh's funeral. But I must warn you; this little rebellion might cause you your very lives so please proceed with caution…and wait for my signal."
Konohamaru nodded fervently. Shino raised his eyebrow in a what-the-hell motion. Choji saluted his 'captain' resolutely. Shikamaru sighed and rolled his eyes, muttering under his breath, "Why did I even bother helping you think up this plan in the first place?"
Kiba, however, looked thoughtful.
The 'captain' of their team put his hand over his heart. "May luck be with you."
With that, they dispersed. Before he left, Kiba stretched out his hand and grabbed the shoulder of his 'captain'. "Hey Naruto, I agreed to help you with this because I thought it sounded fun and all but…they'll kill you if they find out it was your idea, you know."
"I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for eight years. I'm not backing down now," said Naruto.
"At least tell me why you're doing this!"
Naruto flashed him a grin. "I want to meet Sasuke." With a small sack of frogs in his hand, Naruto left to meet Iruka so that they could go see the procession together. He didn't catch Kiba's confused expression and didn't hear Kiba asking who the hell Sasuke was.
Because at the time, nearly no one in Egypt knew that the moon-child was called Sasuke and no one at all realised that Naruto was the sun-child of the old prophecy.
"Something smells good."
Iruka looked up from the oven and saw his mother enter the kitchen, wearing a soft smile. She knelt down next to him and saw the three loaves of bread baking in the oven. "Is one of that for Kakashi?"
The young boy nodded smilingly. "He has a very big appetite, you see. Every day after breakfast, he'd come down here and eat a whole loaf."
His mother stroked his head affectionately. "You're very good to him, aren't you?" Iruka grinned. "And he's very good to you too." Iruka's grin widened. "Iruka, it's hard to find good friends like Kakashi. You must always treasure him, okay? That way, even when I'm not around, I know someone will take care of my Iruka."
"What are you talking about, mother?" asked Iruka, nudging her hand off his head. "I can take care of myself."
She smiled. "Just remember what I said, Iruka."
Iruka heard the touting horn and removed his bread from the oven. "Naruto?" he called out.
He heard a loud stampede of footsteps and Naruto appeared at the door, panting as if he had been running. "Yes?"
"Get ready. We're leaving," said Iruka, placing the hot bread on the table and straightening his clothes. As he moved past Naruto, he didn't notice the nervous fidget and the sack that the boy tried hard to hide behind his back. Usually, Iruka would have noticed such details but today, his head was in the clouds.
If it was pharaoh's funeral procession, Kakashi would definitely be there. Eight years and not once did Iruka dare to lift his eyes to see the other man. Even when Iruka knew Kakashi was nearby, he didn't dare chance a look for fear of being punished.
But today, he'd finally be allowed to see his silver-haired childhood friend. The guards would be too busy guarding the sarcophagus containing pharaoh's mummy to lash out at the slaves in attendance. Iruka wondered how Kakashi was doing. Was he taking care of himself? Did he get enough food in the palace? He was always hungry enough to eat both breakfast and a whole loaf of Iruka's bread, after all.
"Iruka? Are you daydreaming?"
Iruka looked at Naruto, a little bit dazed. "It's nothing. Let's go."
Naruto lugged the sack of fidgeting frogs over his shoulder. Iruka daydreaming? That was certainly rare.
They had to walk a fair distance to get to the unmarked road that led from the palace to pharaoh's pyramid. The walk was mostly governed by silence since Iruka was not in the mood to talk and Naruto was constructing and reconstructing his plan in his head. When the crowd of slaves standing in wait came into view, Naruto held Iruka back.
"Iruka, remember that night eight years ago when the guards came and punished you because I played with Sasuke in the palace?" asked Naruto. Iruka nodded hesitantly, trying to quickly work out where this was going. "And remember after I told you what I did, you said that no child should be isolated like Sasuke and that if I got the chance, I should be nice to him?" Iruka nodded again.
Naruto grinned. "I'm going to try being nice to him again today so don't be angry with me."
"Wait, Naruto, what…"
But Naruto had already taken off towards the crowd of gathering slaves. He disappeared amongst the throng of people, leaving Iruka frowning and shouting his name. The horn began touting again and everyone fell silent. They all could see the procession coming towards them from a distance and gave it a wide berth.
Iruka remained where he was but continued to look furtively around for Naruto. As the procession neared them, Iruka prayed to every god he knew of that Naruto wouldn't try anything stupid. His prayer was not destined to come true.
The horn continued to tout and the slaves saw the procession nearing. It was headed by the Head Priest, followed by a band of royal mourners singing sad songs that made the children snicker. Behind them were the royal family and members of the royal court. As soon as they were in clear view, all eyes turned to the mysterious silver-haired royal advisor and the moon-child who walked slowly beside him.
Iruka looked meekly from the crowd, thoughts of Naruto forgotten momentarily. It was easy to pick out Kakashi from the rest of the funeral procession because of his unique hair colour. Kakashi had changed since the last time he saw him properly.
His body was more muscled and his eyes were colder. In addition to that, there was a cream yellow face mask wrapping the bottom half of his face. It almost looked like his face had been cut in half and it was no secret that many a court lady had been trying to find out what he looked like without the mask.
Iruka, however, was merely bewildered. Why the face mask? Did something happen? Iruka knew he was staring too obviously and for too long but so were a hundred other slaves around him. But somehow, one way or another, Kakashi's eyes found him.
Iruka held his breath. The feeling of nostalgia nearly overwhelmed him. It brought many old memories to the forefront of his mind; playing together at the Nile, baking bread for Kakashi and watching him scarf it down, always losing at their racing matches… "Kakashi…"
Then, their moment together was broken as the ox pulling the sarcophagus passed by. The slaves had to get on their knees and press their foreheads to the sandy ground before the sarcophagus. Iruka followed suit, still feeling Kakashi's burning gaze on the back of his head.
Ten feet away from where Iruka knelt, Naruto, also kneeling amongst the slaves, caught Kiba's eye and nodded. Kiba nodded in return and proceeded to pass on the silent message to Konohamaru, Choji, Shikamaru and Shino. Each one of the six boys reached into a small sack and deftly planted a frog in the garments of the oblivious people around them.
Within seconds, chaos broke out amongst the ranks of slaves. Some stood up and screamed when they felt webbed feet against their skin. Others got up and ran upon discovering something moving in their clothes. Those who didn't have frogs on them stood up and ran all over the place anyway, thinking that this was a curse planted on them from their gods.
The guards walking with the procession yelled angrily at the uproar. "On your knees! Pharaoh is passing!"
But there was no calming the hysterical crowd. In the mass panic, everyone broke lines and got very close to the procession. The ox pulling the sarcophagus panicked and tried to steer off its given course. Kakashi saw this and tried to help the guards in taming the beast.
The moon-child Sasuke gave a small smirk. The procession was long, slow and boring. Something like this happening was like a huge bonus for him. As he watched the priests panic – oddly resembling the ox as they did so – and the guards scatter around to silence the crowd of slaves, he felt a strong hand grab his wrist and violently pulled him out of the procession.
Before he knew it, he was amongst the gathering of terrorised slaves, crying and screaming mercy from 'gods' who were not listening. The sweat of the people standing close together stank, making Sasuke wrinkle his nose. Dread started to creep into his heart. The hand that had grabbed him continued to pull him, sifting him through the throng until at last, he came out at the other end where there were fewer people and the air was fresh.
"Hurry. This way."
He looked up at the owner of the voice and saw a head of hair like sunlight and a grin just as dazzling. Sasuke smiled and ran off towards the slave huts with Naruto, thinking only of how much he had waited for this day.
About a half hour later, the crowd still could not be silenced and the priests finally noticed Sasuke's absence. Their panic rose to a higher degree. This time, some of them actually screamed.
"The moon-child is missing! The moon-child is gone!"
"The prophecy! It has come true!"
"The sun-child has taken him away!"
"Did anyone see the sun-child?"
"What is going to happen to Egypt?"
"I told you we should never have ignored the prophecy!"
Crown prince Zaku kicked them all in the shins to make them shut up. He grabbed the Head Priest by the scuff of his robe and snarled close to his face. "What prophecy is this? What are you talking about?"
"T-the prophecy t-that-that we told your father," stuttered the Head Priest. "It says that when the evening star of Egypt passes on, the sun shall steal the moon away and—"
"How can you be sure that the 'moon' refers to that cold-blooded boy?" demanded Zaku. "It says nothing about the sun and the moon being children, or even human for that matter!"
"Sometimes, the prophecies aren't clear. But it is the truth that resonate in our hearts telling us that two humans have been born as the sun and the moon incarnate," said the other priests. "Egypt has not always been ruled by human pharaohs who are the chosen of our gods. Before then, the gods themselves ruled Egypt. We believe that this is the first step of the gods to reclaim Egypt."
"That cannot happen!" snarled Zaku. He hurled the Head Priest away from him. "I am going to be pharaoh. Me! Not some god! Halt the procession! Guards, go look for the moon-child! When I find him, I will slay him and the one who 'stole' him."
"My prince, you cannot go against the prophecy," said the priests, but Zaku paid them no heed. The guards stopped trying to subdue the slaves and went on a large-scale search for Sasuke.
The priests gathered together, murmuring with worry. "Head Priest, what should we do? Prince Zaku will not listen."
The Head Priest sighed and shook his head. "We do not have a hand in this prophecy. Our duty is only as messengers. Now that we have passed the message, we should do nothing and – eep!" He cowered within the shadow of Kakashi who loomed over him from behind.
The silver-haired royal advisor's cold eyes were narrowed with displeasure. "This prophecy you all talk about – will you tell it to me in full?" It wasn't a request. Even if it was, the priests wouldn't dare deny the scary advisor.
After they told him the full prophecy, Kakashi uttered a soft curse and ran into the throng of slaves, leaving the priests bewildered as to what he was going to do.
The two boys were resting from their sprint in an uninhabited slave hut that was tatty and poor even by slave standards. The table and chairs looked so worn that they might give away if anything was put of them. Therefore, Sasuke and Naruto opted to rest on the floor.
Sasuke was sweating much more than Naruto, not used to this type of exertion from his long stint at the palace. Naruto had been admiring the other boy's smooth pale skin – rare, even among the girls –when Sasuke's voice broke him out of his reverie.
Naruto grinned. "Yep, that's right. I'm glad you remembered me. But it wouldn't have mattered otherwise."
Sasuke raised a fine-shaped eyebrow. "It wouldn't?"
Naruto got up and looked out the window. "Good. No one's escaped here yet. We should be safe for an hour or two. After that, we have to start making our way towards Luxor. It's a very long journey but I've packed enough provisions to last us for two weeks. Hopefully, a traveler on a camel will spot us by then. When we reach Luxor, we –"
"Wait!" Sasuke got up onto his feet, his mind reeling with what Naruto was saying. "You want me to run away with you?"
"Isn't it obvious?" asked Naruto, a little surprised. "Hang on, I haven't really asked you yet, have I?" He then grabbed Sasuke's hand with both of his and looked at Sasuke with an excited gleam in his eyes. "Sasuke, will you run away with me?"
The sincerity and exhilaration hidden within those words won Sasuke over completely. He could not and would not return to his life as a treasured doll in the palace. This was something he had wished for all his life: a life outside in the sun with a friend to laugh with and a game to play.
Needless to say, running away was not a game at all. The guards would definitely chase him and this would unquestionably put Naruto's life in danger. Sasuke looked at the sun-haired boy worriedly. "Why are you doing all this?"
"Why?" Naruto frowned, as if he had never thought about this before. "Well, I guess it's because I want to be Sasuke's friend, and it's a friend's job to make sure you are happy. You weren't happy at all in the palace, were you?" Sasuke chose to remain silent. "Besides, I already promised you, remember?"
"Don't worry, Sasuke. I'll get you out of here. Promise."
Sasuke gave a small smile. His face was still not accustomed to making wide grins like Naruto. "Thank you. Where are we now, by the way?"
"No one lives here anymore because this hut belonged to a leper," said Naruto. "Everyone was afraid of catching the disease. But it wasn't actually a disease. Zabuza was born with that ill-looking complexion. But no one believed him."
"You did," stated Sasuke.
"I did. Haku did too." Naruto's grin grew bigger. "They did the same thing we're going to do, you know. Zabuza and Haku, they ran away together, all the way to Aswan. When we reach Luxor, that's where we'll be heading – Aswan. That place is very far from the royal palace so it's easier to hide."
Still, Sasuke was skeptical. "Don't you feel sad leaving your friends and family here? You'll miss them and regret going with me."
"Yeah, I'll miss Iruka."
Sasuke's face fell. He knew it was too good to be true.
"But Iruka will be fine," added Naruto. "I love him but you need me more than he does. With me gone, I think he'll be able to patch things up with Kakashi. And my friends…they'll understand. They all helped me kidnap you, after all." Naruto peeked out the window again. "Okay, I've rested enough. We better get going."
But they couldn't leave. Someone had caught up to them and was blocking the door of Zabuza's old hut with his body.
"When you said you were going to be nice to Sasuke, this wasn't what I had in mind." Iruka was panting as if he had run too fast than was healthily advisable.
Naruto froze. "Iruka, how'd you know I'd be here?"
"It's not that hard to figure you out, Naruto," said Iruka, "and the footprints in the sand leading up to here helped as well." Naruto cursed his mistake so colourfully that Iruka shot him a glare and Sasuke smirked in amusement. "I knew I encouraged you to be friends with Sasuke but this…"
"I'd love to explain everything to you, Iruka, but we can't stay much longer," said Naruto. "I have to get Sasuke out of here before the guards find us."
Iruka stood, stunned for a moment. He knew Naruto had been planning something by the way he acted in previous days. But running away? Leaving Cairo? This was way beyond what he had expected. Then, with a resolute gaze, he said, "Why not let me come with you, Naruto?"
"What? No! You'll slow us down!" whined Naruto.
Iruka felt a vein bulging in his temple and he raised a scorned eyebrow. "Excuse me? Need I remind you that I was the one who found you by the Nile and raised you all by myself? Don't you think I'm capable enough to take care of myself when I'm with you?"
Naruto continued to sulk. "But you're old now."
The older man was about to tackle Naruto when Sasuke exclaimed, "Wait, what do you mean you found him by the Nile? Isn't he your son?"
Iruka looked at Sasuke, perplexed. "Well, of course he's my son but not exactly. I found him beside the river Nile fourteen years ago and raised him as my own ever since."
"I was found by the Nile as well!" said Sasuke. The clogs in his head started to turn extra fast. "That's why pharaoh never found another baby. Because he was already found. Naruto…are you the sun-child?"
Naruto looked at him funny. "Sun wha?"
But their lively conversation was not about to end well. Just as Sasuke was about to retort, Naruto fixed a finger to his lips, ordering silence. They could hear footsteps outside. The guards were here, searching for Sasuke under Zaku's order.
"All of you search the huts," said one of the numerous captain guards.
"What about the leper's hut?" asked a guard.
Iruka, Sasuke and Naruto froze at the question. The three of them slowly and quietly lowered themselves to the floor so that the guards would see nothing when they looked in the window from afar.
"Leave that," said the captain guard. "It's contaminated. Even criminals wouldn't be stupid enough to hide there."
The three people hiding in the hut breathed a huge silent sigh of relief. They signaled to one another with their eyes to remain silent and close to the ground until the guards left. Iruka couldn't help but be thankful that he had erased all traces of their footsteps entering this hut before this.
Several minutes passed as the guards checked each and every hut. They gathered back to their captain, reporting that there was no sign of the moon-child and his abductor.
"Prince Zaku is on his way," announced a messenger.
The captain cursed under his breath. The prince would not be pleased. He looked at his guards and found one missing. "Where is the new recruit Majal?"
"He insisted on double-checking, sir, just in case we missed a hut," said one guard.
"Ask him to stop. The prince is coming," ordered the captain.
"Majal, stop looking! The prince is coming!" called out another guard.
"I just have one more hut to look in!" insisted Majal.
"Wait! Stop, Majal! That is the leper's hut! Don't go in there!"
The three people hiding in the hut held their breath. Their blood turned to ice. Everything happened so fast. The light in the hut was obstructed by the figure of Majal standing at the door. He saw clearly the figures of Iruka, Naruto and Sasuke lying on the floor. He opened his mouth in surprise and started to shout.
"No!" hissed Naruto. He lunged forward and grabbed Majal's legs, making him fall backwards.
"Majal?" called out the other guard.
"People!" shrieked Majal. "There are people in this hut!"
"Prince Zaku is here!" yelled the messenger.
The captain leapt in excitement. "Prince Zaku, we've found people in that hut!" He pointed at the leper's hut but made no move to go near the hut. Zaku, who knew nothing about the previous owner of the hut, leapt down from his chariot with a sword in his hand.
Naruto cursed, loudly this time. He grabbed Majal's sword and threw him inside towards the wall. Majal's shrieks of being infected with the leper's disease went unheard. Naruto strode out. Now that they were discovered, they could not avoid a direct confrontation.
But as he made the first step outside, bringing himself to full view for the guards and Zaku, Sasuke pulled him back into the hut, slamming him against the wall. In that instant, Zaku spotted Sasuke and grinned maniacally. "Moon-child, I don't care what the prophecy says about you. I'm going to kill you and the sun-child here today. This is the prophecy I make."
But Sasuke paid no heed to him. He concentrated only on stopping Naruto from going outside.
"Sasuke, what are you doing?" demanded Naruto angrily. "I've to get this guy out of the way so we can leave!"
"No," said Sasuke, in an almost delirious tone. "No, you can't go out there. If you go out there…you…" The words he wanted to say were stuck in his throat. Sasuke didn't want to say it. Saying it would make it real and tangible. This was Naruto; real, alive and breathing under his arms. This was Naruto; his first real friend. Sasuke wasn't letting him go out and fight Zaku.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and nearly slapped Iruka away. "Sasuke, you're the moon-child?"
Sasuke felt more dread covering his heart.
Iruka ran a confused hand over his long black locks. "Sasuke, I don't understand. I'm pretty sure Naruto doesn't either. What prophecy is the prince talking about? What sun-child?"
Sasuke knew the prophecy. The priests taught it to him before he could even speak properly. He hated the prophecy but never did he fear it like he did now…the sun shall steal the moon away…so that meant Naruto was the sun-child. Their meeting had been fated. It wasn't by chance that Naruto became his friend.
Being raised among the slaves and used to hard labour work, Naruto was much stronger than Sasuke who lived his entire life in the palace. He easily kicked Sasuke off him and sent him a short apologetic look. "It's true, I don't understand some of what's going on here. But I do understand that we can't leave this place unscathed if I don't get rid of Zaku so…"
Naruto ran out of the hut without a second thought.
Sasuke screamed. "No!" He reached out to grab Naruto but the sun-kissed boy was now too far away, standing opposite Zaku with resolution set deep in his eyes.
Zaku wore a large sadistic grin as he raised his magnificent sword. "Today I end the prophecy," he said and charged towards Naruto.
At that moment, the moon-child let out a loud cry that wrenched the hearts of many that were present. "NARUTO—!"
Kakashi was never one to believe in prophecies. He lived his life trying to break the norm. As the son of a royal advisor, he wanted to befriend the slaves and work as one of them. As a royal advisor himself, he wanted to be true to himself, rather than to pharaoh. It hadn't been easy defying the stiff Egyptians.
He had the scars on his lips to prove it.
Now, more than ever, he didn't want to believe in this prophecy. After the priests divulged everything they knew about the prophecy, Kakashi got up and left, trying to find Naruto and Sasuke before all the guards. But he had failed.
When he reached the part of the slaves' residential huts where Naruto had been hiding with Sasuke, he saw many, many guards and Zaku standing outside Zabuza's old hut, poised to fight Naruto. Kakashi's eyes widened with horror. He ran towards Zaku and Naruto.
The prophecy should not come true. Such a sad prophecy should never come true.
He heard Sasuke's painful cry and his legs nearly gave. He had to prevent them from fighting. Anything to stop them. "Stop!" he yelled. "Zaku, don't fight him! Don't fight the boy!"
"Kakashi?" exclaimed Iruka in surprise. What was Kakashi doing here?
The silver-haired man didn't notice his childhood friend. All he knew was that his words weren't getting through. It was the stupid face mask. He pulled down the mask, revealing the scarred bottom half of his face for the whole world to see. Many of the guards gasped in shock and Iruka covered his mouth in dismay.
Sasuke didn't react. He had seen Kakashi's face before. He had seen Kakashi's face when those scars had been fresh wounds and bleeding. Kakashi cried as loud as he could, "Zaku, stop this!"
But still the prince didn't hear him, deaf from his blind ambition to prove the prophecy wrong and rule Egypt. He clashed swords with Naruto and immediately knew he had the upper hand. He had received training in fighting as the crown prince while Naruto knew nothing but street tackling with the slaves.
The maniacal gleam in his eye became more obvious the longer he fought with Naruto. Many times Kakashi tried to interfere but the guards stopped him, saying that Zaku would be pharaoh next and that stopping him would mean death.
In the hut, Sasuke was struggling against Iruka's arms. He badly wanted to go out there to Naruto but Iruka kept him safe inside. Sasuke cursed his weak body, his vulnerability as having grown up as the palace doll. But more than that…more than that…
There was a sickening sound in the air that made Sasuke freeze in his struggles. It sounded exactly like a sword would when piercing a body. Iruka halted as well, eyes widening with fear. Sasuke broke out of Iruka's grip and looked out the window. He nearly cried with joy when he did.
By some blessing, Naruto had managed to stab Zaku in the chest. The prince was now lying on the ground, bleeding freely from his wound. "Naruto, quick! Run away!"
"Run away?" exclaimed Naruto in surprise. "Why would I –"
Although Kakashi had rushed to Zaku's side and had already pinned one of his arms and although Zaku was weak from the fatal wound in his chest, he managed to pick up his huge sword and thrust it upwards at Naruto.
A normal sword would never have reached. But this was the prince's war sword. It pierced the back of Naruto's neck and the tip emerged from the front of Naruto's throat. Zaku pulled out his sword from Naruto with a triumphant bloodstained smirk. "If I go," he gurgled, "you will go too, sun-child."
Naruto swayed on his feet, falling through the air towards the ground, until Sasuke rushed out and caught him in his arms. The ebony-haired felt so many things at one time that he didn't know which emotion appeared on his face. His vision blurred and tears were falling on Naruto's cheek.
The sun-child chuckled and grimaced painfully. He couldn't speak. Zaku's sword had severed that ability. Instead he smiled weakly at Sasuke and mouthed, 'Aswan.' By the time Iruka reached him, Naruto was gone, limp in Sasuke's arms.
The guards surrounded the dead prince, wondering in a trance-like state of shock what their next action should be. The royal messenger had run back to the palace to bring the news of Prince Zaku's death. Kakashi had left Zaku's side and now knelt beside Sasuke.
Stupid prophecy. It was a stupid prophecy. Iruka was the only one left in the dark. He had taken Naruto from Sasuke and was crying loudly into the unconscious boy's chest. It was an ugly stupid prophecy.
When the evening star of Egypt passes on, the sun shall steal the moon away and keep him safe. The sun and the young evening star shall cross and fall. Then Egypt will fall under the rule of the moon.
"Did you hear," said a young boy with smooth skin and long black hair like a girl's, "about the things that happened in Cairo?"
A gruff man with pale grey skin, like a deceased person, grunted in reply. "I wonder how they run things up there. I'm glad you followed me here, Haku. Being near the royal palace would not have been good for you."
Haku smiled. "I don't mind either way. Aswan is a nice place. There's hardly any talk about the royal family, though everyone's been talking about the prince's death and some prophecy. News travels slow in Aswan. Those events probably happened several months ago." Then he said, as an afterthought, "With the crown prince dead and the late pharaoh having no other heirs, I wonder who's going to be our new pharaoh."
"What does it matter?" said Zabuza.
They were interrupted by another man entering their hut without permission. He was tall with silver hair, with a mask around his mouth and an old friend of Zabuza's. "It should matter to you. You are still a slave of Egypt. Pharaoh controls whether or not you live."
"Here's a face I've not seen for a long time," said Zabuza. He had a scornful smirk but that was about as friendly as Zabuza got. "Not much of a face anyway. And who's that man hiding behind you since you got in?"
Iruka stepped out timidly from behind Kakashi. "Hello, Zabuza. Long time no see."
"Iruka!" exclaimed Zabuza with a shark-like grin. "You still bake that delicious bread? I remember Kakashi always sneaking some for me."
"Was that why loaves of my bread keep disappearing?" asked Iruka. Kakashi looked away guiltily.
Zabuza looked from Kakashi to Iruka and back to Kakashi. "Hey, Kakashi, is this the man you were keeping secret from pharaoh? You know the time where pharaoh asked if you were friends with a slave… he cut your lips because you refused to answer."
"Shut up." Kakashi's voice had turned cold in a very short amount of time; so cold that Haku took a step backwards.
Iruka's expression turned to shock and disbelief. Why would Kakashi do something like that? Wasn't it easier to deny that he had anything to do with Iruka? "Kakashi…"
"It's nothing. It's all over now," said Kakashi with a note of finality in his voice.
"What brings you two to Aswan?" asked Haku politely, trying to break the unwelcome tension in the hut.
At this, Iruka and Kakashi exchanged looks as if not sure of what to say. Now, a third person entered the hut. He was a young boy, about the same age as Haku, with similar white skin and long-ish ebony hair. There were few people as beautiful as Haku and this caught Zabuza's attention.
"Who are you? Kakashi's lover?" he asked cavalierly.
"No," said the boy. "I'm pharaoh."
There was a moment of silence, then Zabuza broke out in coarse laughter. "This brat is pharaoh? What joke are you playing on me Kakashi? You think I'll fall for that?"
Haku tugged lightly at Zabuza's sleeve. "Zabuza, I think he's telling the truth."
But whether or not these two people believed him, Sasuke didn't care. He was here for only one purpose. "Did the two of you know Naruto?"
"That brat?" said Zabuza the same time Haku said, "That boy?"
"Yes," said Haku. "He was very nice to us. He was probably the only one brave enough to befriend me after the whole village knew I was Zabuza's close friend. You liked him too, didn't you, Zabuza?"
"To a certain extent," the gruff man admitted reluctantly.
"Can you tell me your story?" asked Sasuke, taking a seat opposite Zabuza. "Everything and anything that happened to you – starting from the first day you met him."
Zabuza raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Why do you want to know?"
Sasuke put on a sad smile. "I'm writing a story."
"Oi, Naruto! The museum's about to close. Get your butt out here."
Naruto ignored the voice and remained transfixed on the large display before him. It was probably the largest display of the Egyptian exhibition in the museum. Twelve feet high and twenty feet long; it was believed to have been part of a wall from an Egyptian royal palace in Aswan.
According to the people who translated the numerous hieroglyphic texts inscribed on the huge block of stone, it was telling a story – a story about a child of the moon and a child of the sun; brought together by prophecy and torn apart, also by prophecy.
"I don't think we saw this when we came in earlier," said Naruto.
Sasuke walked up next to him, annoyed. "You probably missed it because you weren't really looking at the exhibits. I remember you screaming 'Sakura-chan! Look over here!' like an idiot."
"What? Was I wrong?"
Naruto made a face at him. "With your bad hearing, I could be saying 'Sasuke-chan' instead of 'Sakura-chan'."
Sasuke sighed. "Don't bother getting my hopes up, Naruto. It's past closing time. Stay here if you want. I'm leaving."
"Oi, wait for me!" Naruto scrambled after Sasuke. "Hey, can we come back here tomorrow? I wanna read more about that child of the moon story."
Sasuke shrugged carelessly. "Whatever you want."
"Yeah!" crowed Naruto, punching his fist in the air happily. "We can stop by Kakashi and Iruka-sensei's place first for a ramen lunch, and then head here!"
"Hey…Naruto?" Sasuke looked at him in the eye. "Thanks."
Naruto stilled. "For what?"
Sasuke frowned. "…I don't know. For some reason, I just felt like saying it. It must be this Egyptian exhibit. It's making me think funny things."
"Like what? Like what?" Naruto wanted to know.
Like how I never wanted you to leave me, like how I badly wanted to run away with you…Sasuke shook his head. Why was he thinking is past tense? Those thoughts didn't even make sense.
Stay with me.
The two boys walked out of the museum, Naruto filling the silence with energetic chatter all the way. Although neither of them mentioned it, both of them felt the heavy shadow of a smile resting upon them as they left.
When they returned to the museum the next day, they would learn that the story on the wall was penned by a pharaoh known only as the moon-child.
The story on the broken wall exhibit was penned by a pharaoh called moon-child. Many translators say that the pharaoh had used his own name in the story but as to whether the story was fact or fiction; that was still under debate.
Myth told that this pharaoh was writing about his true experiences – he was the moon-child and his best friend was the sun-child. He spent his years as pharaoh writing this story and making sure everything ran smoothly in Egypt. Unlike previous pharaohs, he constructed no monument or temple in his name. He even went as far as to request not to be buried in a pyramid.
His time of reign as pharaoh was relatively short; estimated to be around fifteen years. Before he even showed any signs of failing health, he appointed one of his servants as his heir to the throne, breaking an age-old tradition of preceding mighty dynasties. Shortly after, he disappeared, leaving no hints as to what he had planned on doing.
Since moon-child had left no monumental proof of his existence, many historians doubt his existence. Those who believed he existed continued to ponder why he appointed a new pharaoh before reaching the peak of his reign and where he disappeared to in his final years.
Several obscure hieroglyph manuscripts found in his successor's tomb hinted that he had fled to Luxor to live out the remainder of his life with the royal advisor and his partner. But many had reservations as to whether the story told in the manuscripts was true. Some historians infer that the manuscripts were the final pages of moon-child's fabricated story.
We might never know the truth. Time has covered moon-child's tracks.
But many, many centuries later, an ebony-haired boy stood before said manuscripts, which were displayed next to the broken wall. Beside him was a sun-kissed boy who was yakking away incessantly. Still, the ebony-haired boy was smiling. He slapped the sun-kissed boy on the head. "Shut up, dobe."
A/N: Not set in a specific time period in Egypt but presumably before the archived periods. Hope you enjoyed it.