Practically everything under the sun was trying to prevent me from getting this part done, and it would have been finished about 24 hours sooner...but things happened. Anywho...it's done, so hopefully you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Naruto characters.
Staring at the stone, sasuke felt that it was taunting him…or something like that…but he wasn't thinking rationally anymore. At one point Sasuke's mind started supplying him with images of what could have happened to Naruto out in the cold. It didn't help that he knew the story of what the younger boy went through years ago; the fennec told him that he had been cold, but after some time, he didn't feel it anymore. In fact, Naruto said that he felt like taking his coat off rather than keeping it on, but he left it on, buried himself in the snow and drifted to sleep. Apparently Kushina found him only because she tripped over him while they were searching the park. That thought made Sasuke worry that no one thought to check every snow pile for Naruto.
Glaring at the stone, the youngest Uchiha went to pick it up, but paused when he heard the phone start ringing. With an annoyed flick of his stripped tail, Sasuke thought about ignoring it, but he realized that it could be important. Rushing over to the nearest phone, Sasuke didn't realize that he momentarily held his breath.
"Hello?" the white tiger managed to question.
"Sasuke, I thought you'd like to know that he showed up back home a couple of minutes ago," Minato's voice stated over the phone.
"I'll be over in a minute," Sasuke hurried to say while slamming the phone down.
Realizing that he just hung up on Naruto's father, Sasuke shrugged before rushing to get his coat and other things before scribbling a note for the others who were still looking for the blonde. He would have waited in order to tell them in person if it was anyone other than Naruto, but that wasn't the case.
Once he was done getting ready, Sasuke immediately left to, first, make sure that Naruto was going to be fine, and then to yell at him.
"The hour is about up."
Kyuubi about huffed at the obvious statement, but he realized that Itachi was right. They had been out in the snow for almost an hour, and they were lucky that the storm hadn't started up yet, but Naruto was still nowhere to be found.
"But we haven't found him yet," Kyuubi stated.
"Someone else could have found him, or he could have gone back to one of the houses."
He had to admit that Itachi made sense, but he still wanted to be sure that his little brother would be okay. Especially since he remembered when Naruto was brought back with a doctor the last time. It was scary when his little brother was carried in, unconscious and barely breathing…. Naruto had hypothermia, a rather serious case of it, and the doctor could only do so much. After that, it was up to getting the small fennec warmed up, and Naruto didn't go without even more problems since he got a rather nasty cold afterward.
"Kyuubi, we should start back to see if he returned."
Not realizing that he zoned out, Kyuubi knew that they had to go back, despite not finding anything on their own. It was possible for his mother and Itachi's parents to find him, or for the hyperactive bundle to return home.
"Yeah…let's head back."
While glaring at the door in front of him, Sasuke continued to knock until it was opened.
Blinking, he found himself staring at a stressed Minato, who Naruto was practically a copy of. The whole night must have been stressful, especially since Naruto's father knew all too well how the cold effected fennec hybrids. However, Sasuke was not there to see the older fox.
"He's in his room," Minato stated.
Sasuke gave a short nod in reply before heading toward his blonde friend's room. He then noticed, as he was walking down the hallway, that he forgot to remove his coat because it was getting significantly warmer. Minato must have turned up the heat since the house wasn't usually this warm…even in winter. Sasuke pulled off his coat and scarf by the time he reached the door he was searching for.
Since the door was open, Sasuke didn't bother with knocking, he just opened it more and walked right in, spotting the blonde sitting in his bed, shivering with numerous blankets surrounding him. With a sigh, the white tiger threw his things on the floor before removing his shoes and sitting beside the shivering mass.
"Are you okay?"
"J-just…cold," Naruto stammered out.
Nodding, Sasuke sat there for another quiet second before standing up and glaring at Naruto.
"What the hell were you thinking?! You know that you can't stand the cold for so long, and yet you stay out until it's ridiculously late, with a storm on its way, and then come back perfectly fine, other than being cold!" he shouted. "You weren't thinking, were you? What would be worth wandering out in the cold like that?"
After his outburst, Sasuke kept his narrowed gaze focused on Naruto, wondering what reason the blonde had for this act of foolishness.
"I wa-wanted to…f-find you a-a g-gift," Naruto managed to say, despite his shivering.
Freezing in place, Sasuke could only stare at his friend. Again it was for a present for Sasuke? Naruto risked his health, and everyone else's sanity, for some stupid present?
"Naruto…you're such an idiot. Don't ever do that again," he demanded. "You almost died the first time, and you're lucky this time."
"Ah…but th-the third t-time is the ch-charm," Naruto stated with a small grin.
"Don't even joke about this, Naruto," Sasuke growled.
A silence then fell over the two, and Sasuke eventually felt his resolve disappear the more he watched Naruto shivering. Trying to stop from sighing noticeably, Sasuke pulled some blankets away from Naruto, causing the blonde to yelp and try to take them back, but Sasuke climbed into the bed and pulled his friend close to help get the fennec warmer.
Itachi frowned when he saw the lights in his home dimmed. Wasn't Sasuke supposed to be waiting for Naruto? Opening the door, he ignored Kyuubi as he stomped by the door in order to get the snow off of his clothes, instead, he attention was focused on a note sitting on the table.
Picking up the piece of paper, Itachi couldn't keep the slight smile off his face. Well, it seemed that Naruto was at his own house, and Sasuke just couldn't wait for anyone else before going to see him.
"Kyuubi, your brother is at your house."
"Really? How do you know?"
"Apparently your father called over here to tell Sasuke that he came home, and Sasuke wrote a note rather than waiting for us to all come back," Itachi stated while handing over the note Sasuke left.
He watched as Kyuubi quickly skimmed through the note, most likely only reading one out of every four words that were written on the paper.
"Then let's head over there," Kyuubi demanded.
Amused by Kyuubi's one track mind, Itachi followed after the red fox, but not before making sure to leave the note where their parents could find it.
"If you don't hurry up, I'll cut off that striped tail of yours."
Itachi flicked his tail, that had been cruelly threatened, and glared at Kyuubi. Sure, he knew that the other would never go through with it, and he did want to make sure that his brother was fine, but that was no reason to threaten the wellbeing of his tail. Kyuubi would have to pay for that.
While he was glad that Sasuke was helping him get warm, Naruto was also trying to fight off the sleep that was trying to take his mind over. This was more for his friend than himself, especially since Sasuke shook him rather violently when he had first slipped off to sleep. Apparently he was having issues over what had happened the last time…not that he remembered much, but Sasuke seemed to.
"Sasuke?" Naruto asked, his shivering no longer affecting his speech.
"Aren't you tired yet?"
The silence that droned on was one that told Naruto that the Uchiha was still not tired. Unfortunately, that meant that he would either have to convince Sasuke to let him sleep, or get the white tiger to drift off first. Both were easier said than done.
"Fine, but I'm going to get some sleep. It's been a long day."
"And whose fault is that?" Sasuke retaliated.
Naruto knew that, while Sasuke would speak in full sentences to him, this was not part of a usual conversation. This was trying to be a distraction from letting him sleep, and when it came to getting his sleep, Naruto was well aware of what was going on around him.
"Can we talk about this tomorrow?" Naruto muttered.
"What is there to talk about? You were are an idiot and that was just further confirmed tonight."
Oh yes, this certainly was a distraction.
"Let the poor boy sleep."
Directing a glare over to the door, Sasuke noticed his brother, as well as Naruto's idiotic brother. He didn't understand why they would suddenly pop out of practically nowhere in order to interrupt their conversation, while the logic of them wanting to check up on the blonde's wellbeing had left him.
"Yeah, Sasuke, he'll still be there in the morning. You can join in with us all as we yell at him," Kyuubi added. "Besides, he needs to get some sleep and warm up."
Sasuke growled slightly in annoyance that he was being told what to do, especially since the idiot fennec hybrid had nearly given him a heart attack when he found out that he was missing.
"Get out," he hissed.
"I suppose we should leave," Itachi stated. "Oh, and by the way, Naruto fell asleep during that short conversation. Just let him sleep, Sasuke. He needs his rest."
Turning his attention back to the blonde, he found that Itachi was right…Naruto fell asleep. While that was annoying, the white tiger hybrid just couldn't bring himself to wake his friend again, even if he had to fight off the urge to just shake Naruto until he woke up. However, Sasuke figured that doing that would kill more of the blonde's brain cells.
Sitting there, Sasuke carefully watched over Naruto through most of the night, listening to the storm that raged through the night, up until he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. Though, before he slipped off to sleep, Sasuke made a decision, and he was going to make Itachi help him.