Title: No

Rating: G

Warning: Kakashi's POV. Angst-ish. Written in second person. Implied Yaoi, if you want to (and I certainly do).

Pairing: Nothing explicit; implied Yondaime x Kakashi, if you care for it.

Summary: Kakashi considers an offer made to him.

Word count: 500

Disclaimer: The characters and universe do not belong to me. I'm merely playing with them for the sake of it. No money made.

Author's note: Written in December 2008. First entry ever into the 'Naruto' world.

~ * ~ * ~

You would have given your life for his.

Your soul, if need be.

The trade wouldn't have been difficult.

It even wouldn't have been that painful, you muse.

*

There's been fire then; fire everywhere. The blaze left nothing but ashes in its wake - ashes and a carved stone, as black as a starless night.

"I can bring him back," the snake has whispered. If you were stronger, you would pretend the offer is a murmur in the wind.

If you were stronger, you wouldn't consider paying the price.

*

The names carved in the black stone glow softly in the moonlight.

You know many of them.

Too many of them.

The burden of that knowledge crushes you, and you can't think clearly.

You heart beats steadily in your chest, and each pulse hurts.

You're alive, and he's not.

*

It's time: the snake's here.

You feel its presence. You smell the blood on its sleeve.

You smell the scent of dead corpses surrounding it. It paralyzes you. It always does.

"Well?" it asks politely.

You don't look up, but you can hear the smile in its voice.

A faint wind rises, and you hear the leaves rustle. You close your eyes.

You would have given your life for his, without hesitation.

Your soul, if need be.

But not Konoha.

Not your comrades. Not your students. Not his son.

"No."

"I see," the snake hisses, and there is no smile in its voice anymore.

You open your eyes, and the chirping sound of a thousand birds fills the air.

*

The night grows colder, it seems, but the silence soothes you. It's a relief, after the thunder that reigned on the battlefield.

You lie on the ground, eyes on the dark sky. Your body feels comfortably numb.

A weak sigh escape your lips.

There are no stars left, and the moon is fading away.

There are no lights for you.

There's never been, has it?

Even the sun has always been out of your reach.

*

The snake is wounded. It'll survive, probably; but it bleeds tonight and it's a feat you're proud of.

Still - you would have paid its price gladly.

Your eyesight blurs. You would have paid, if it hadn't meant condemning Konoha.

If only it hadn't...

You are selfish; he was selfless.

He's never known how much you loved him.

Your eyelids become heavier, and you close your eyes.

He'll never know much you still do.

*

"It's not time yet," a voice whispers into your ear.

Strong arms lift you from the reddened ground, and a breath of wind caresses your face.

Someone has come in search of you. Someone is asking you to live a little longer.

To hurt a little more.

You try to move away, to fight, to protest, to open your eyes. Your duty is done; you deserve to rest.

But you're breathless, voiceless.

"Stay still," the voice insists softly. "We're almost there."

The hold on your wounded body tightens carefully, lovingly.

You shed a tear.