Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and Co and therefore I do not make money from toying with them like they are my own personal and rather naughty action figures.

Summary: There are reasons why two people can't be together. Separated by oceans, by wars, by family feuds. Try being the Angel of Death. Romeo and Juliette were lucky. SasuNaru

Author's Note: Wow, it's embarrassing how long it has been since I've posted something… Let's all ignore that, shall we? I'm back now.

This is to DarkAlbino, Gwyllion, and MasterofRebels. Happy Birthday (some early, some late) to three of the most amazing people I have the honor of knowing.

And MasterofRebels gets another shout out because she's the Goddess of Betas. 'Tis true.

The Divine Glitch

Dressed in a long, black, high-necked coat that buttoned from his neck to his waist, Sasuke Uchiha leaned against the pale blue wall, unseen by the many doctors and nurses that flitted around the room. In their defense, though, no one ever saw an angel of Death.

With his arms crossed over his chest, he watched a young, soon-to-be mother lying on the bed. Her husband, a blond-haired bundle of nerves and excitement, reminded her to breathe, whispering words of encouragement and love, even as the man's fingers turned an abused white in her crushing fingers.

"Kushina," the doctor at the end of the bed said, "just one more push."

Sasuke moved away from the wall just as one of the many machines next to the bed blared to life.

"Doctor," a nurse warned but the doctor, his face narrowed in concern, concentrated on his task.

The father looked up, blue eyes bright as he scanned the nurse's face. "What is that? What does it mean?" His questions were brought to a halt when Kushina squeezed his hand and a scream echoed through the room.

Sasuke watched the doctor gather the baby to his chest, working his fingers past faintly blue lips and into a little mouth. "Nurse!" he snapped and the baby was plucked from his arms. Sasuke followed the nurse as she moved across the room and placed the small baby boy under a heating lamp. Several more doctors seemed to materialize in the room and huddled around the table. Stepping to the head of the table, Sasuke moved his pale hand over the child and smiled at the few wispy locks of blond hair that lay on his crown. All that he had to do was touch the baby and the newborn would never take his first breath, his faint heartbeat silenced forever.

Ignoring the constant chattering of the medical staff, and the more and more hysterical yells of the baby's father, Sasuke gave in to temptation and ran his fingers over the baby's head.

The moment that his fingers brushed the slightly damp blond silk, the baby's eyes snapped open. Vivid, sky blue orbs locked with his own midnight black, and Sasuke would have said the baby was looking right at him if he didn't know that was impossible. Before he could give the situation more thought, a tingle of electricity moved over his fingers and up his arm. After only a second, the tingle increased with such intensity that Sasuke was forced to remove his hand.

He stepped back, eyes wide, and cradled his hand against his chest. "Not possible," he whispered, looking up at the ceiling as though the words were directed at Heaven. One of the nurses held a small bag over the baby's mouth and Sasuke heard the doctor comment on the baby's improving vitals. When he looked back down, the baby's sharp eyes still followed him and a small, wrinkled hand stretched toward him. "Not fucking possible," Sasuke repeated and stepped back. The baby started screaming.

"Is the baby okay? Someone tell us what is happening!" the father demanded and a nurse turned and smiled brilliantly.

"It's a boy and he gave us a bit of a scare, but he is going to be fine."

"Oh, thank God," the man replied and bent down to kiss his wife. "Did you hear, Kushina? It's a boy! You did wonderful. I love you, I love you."

The red-haired woman turned her face into his kisses. "Minato," she began with a sleepy smile, "I lov…"

Machines blared to life once more and all the doctors and nurses looked toward the baby until Minato began frantically calling his wife's name. Within five minutes, the baby and Minato were removed from the room. In ten minutes, the doctor removed his gloves, glancing solemnly at the clock on the wall, and called the time of death for Kushina Uzumaki.

No one saw Sasuke remove his hand from Kushina's brow and disappear as a stricken Minato was let back into the room. But, in his defense, no one ever saw an angel of Death.

Until today.


Sasuke had made it as far as the main entrance before he felt the telltale sign that he was being called back to Heaven. He bit his tongue harshly and closed his eyes to stop himself from laughing out loud at the feeling of one hundred fingers tickling all over his body.

"You are such an…" he began, and felt the air vacuum around him like a small hurricane before the feeling disappeared and he opened his eyes. "Asshole."

A chuckle filled the bright white office and Sasuke glared at the silver-haired man behind the desk. He was dressed all in white with his bare feet propped up on his white desk. His long fingers were folded together over his chest and holding an orange book -the only source of color in the room- that Sasuke was sure wasn't Heaven-approved.

"Is that language really appropriate?" Kakashi Hatake, head angel of Death, asked without looking up from his book.

Sasuke made an irritated noise and yanked a chair away from the desk before sitting, fingers wrapped around the metal arms, and staring at Kakashi.

Ten minutes and several pages of his book later, Kakashi released a long, low sigh. "I feel silly even mentioning this, Sasuke," he said slowly, and the orange book was closed and set on his chest, "but you were sent to collect two souls and only one has been reported. I was under the impression that you could count to… well, two."

Sasuke, who had relaxed in his ten minute wait, felt his body immediately tense. "You know damn well I can count to two."

"And yet…" Kakashi held up a single finger and then looked at it, comic surprise lighting his face. "One."

Sasuke sighed explosively. "It was the baby," he spat out.

Amused, Kakashi simply raised an eyebrow, urging the struggling angel to continue.

"He fought me."

Kakashi shook his head and brought his feet to the floor. He pushed his chair in until his elbows were resting on the desk. "Not possible. Babies don't fight. Hell, adult souls barely fight and even if they do, they never win. He should have been happy to return to Heaven. He should have wanted to."

"Well, this baby didn't. He fought me. I couldn't touch him." Sasuke took a breath and dropped the last… anomaly, "He saw me."

Kakashi ran a hand over his face, like he was tired, but his gray eyes were sharp, and Sasuke didn't doubt that he was already forming a theory. "No one can see us," Kakashi said, but it was more to himself. He looked up and met Sasuke's eyes. "Are you sure?"

Once again, Sasuke squeezed the arms of his chair. "I am sure I couldn't collect his soul. I… he reached out for me and cried when I left his line of sight. Maybe it was a coincidence."

"You don't believe that." It wasn't a question.

"Why don't you stop fucking around and tell me what happened," Sasuke said bitterly. "If this is supposed to be some learning experience, tell me what I learned and send me on my way."

Kakashi's palms fell with a crack against his desk and his face became the epitome of seriousness. "You were sent for two souls and only brought home one. This isn't a learning experience, Uchiha. This is a major fuck up. You have no idea the repercussions that having an unplanned soul wandering around will cause. For that matter, I don't know the repercussions… because it doesn't happen."

Sasuke felt anger well up inside him and he pushed forward, slamming his own hands onto the desk. "Then send someone else!"

Kakashi shrugged and leaned back into his chair. He rubbed the bridge of his nose with one hand while the other gathered his forgotten book. His body language said he was unconcerned, relaxed, maybe a tad bored by the situation. His eyes, however, never left Sasuke, hard and calculating. Sasuke was once again reminded of the sure power Kakashi held within him. "I can't. Every collection has paperwork behind it. You were sent to collect Naruto Uzumaki's soul on October 10th. You failed. No other paperwork assigning another angel has crossed my desk."

"So I will go try again."

"No, you won't." Kakashi slid out a drawer and pulled out a white folder before tossing it across the desk at Sasuke. Sasuke opened it, recognizing the 'job list' as his own. Hundreds of names littered the list and the baby's was nowhere on it.

"I don't understand," Sasuke said, snapping the file shut and glaring at Kakashi.

"Your case is being reviewed."

"My case?"

"This goes higher than me, Sasuke. You know, God's plan and all that. I filled out a report and sent it Up."

"And until then? What do I do? What about the ba… Naruto?" Sasuke's voice caught over the name and his eyes widen. Now that he said it, he'd never forget it. His looked at Kakashi and the silver-haired angel grinned back at him, amusement clear in his gray eyes.

Kakashi leaned way back in his chair and settled his feet on his desk. He opened his book and shrugged. "You do your job. Young Naruto lives on stolen time and we wait for your case to come back with an explanation and judgment."

"And the repercussions you were so concerned about a moment before?"

Never taking his eyes from his book, Kakashi waved one careless hand toward the ceiling. "It's Their problem now."


Being an angel of Death is a full time job. Clichés such as 'Death never sleeps' and 'Death waits for no man' certainly applied, and as a result, there wasn't much downtime. But when there was, many of Sasuke's colleagues found a place that they could go, a flower-filled conservatory, a quiet, fog-filled moor, or a snowy mountaintop, where they could let go until the next round of collections.

Sasuke hadn't ever really settled on one place. He went where he went and stayed where he stayed until he needed to get back to work. That was until Naruto Uzumaki refused to give up his life.

Now, whenever Sasuke had a moment, he could be found in the Namikaze-Uzumaki household. He stood in the shadows and watched Minato mourn the death of his wife. He watched him sob and pray and beg and then stumble into the nursery when his newborn son started to cry.

Sasuke watched, with his fists clinched at his sides, while the blond-haired man stood over his son's crib and cursed the red-faced child, blaming him for Kushina's death, wishing he were the one who had died instead. But moments later, the proud man would scoop the baby up, holding him against his chest while his legs gave out and he slipped to the floor. He listened while Minato apologized to Naruto -I didn't mean it, God, I- I'm so sorry- holding him gently, rocking and rocking, while he told his son how much he loved him, how much his mother loved him… how they would be okay.

Sasuke wondered many times, in the months that followed, what Minato would have done had things gone the way they were scripted. What would he have done had he lost both his wife and child that day? Minato had no idea how lucky he was to have that precious little boy. He had no idea the gift Naruto had given him in his first moments of life.

As Naruto grew, Sasuke's urge to touch the baby was like a never-ending itch. He told himself that he wanted to make sure that this wasn't all a mistake and that Naruto had actually, if not impossibly, fought him off. That the tingling he still felt in his fingers since Naruto's birth was real. But, when Minato gathered the boy into his arms, swung him over his head until giggles echoed throughout their house, or wiped away Naruto's tears, soothing away his pain, Sasuke knew it was about more than proving a point.

Sasuke was used to living without the comfort of simple touch. Hell, anytime he touched someone, they died, but not Naruto. Naruto was special, unique, and Sasuke couldn't forget how it felt to touch the little boy even when he told himself he'd never touch him again.

And so, Sasuke watched his little oddity grow and the whole time, Naruto watched him back.

There was no denying it. Naruto could see him. He would flash a toothless, drool-filled, and disgustingly adorable smile whenever Sasuke appeared before him. He clapped and squawked in a language Sasuke didn't understand but that couldn't stop the smile that came to his lips whenever he heard it.

Naruto crawled for the first time when he was six months old. Minato sat on the floor and, out of pure coincidence, Sasuke appeared just as the little boy pushed himself up on his hands and knees and made his first jerky attempts at movement.

"Come on, buddy, come on," Minato encouraged and Naruto sucked on his lower lip in concentration before moving forward. Sasuke stepped around from behind Naruto and kneeled next to Minato, wanting to see the look on the baby's face, to be part of his triumph.

Naruto froze for a moment before a huge smile… Sasuke's smile… covered his face and he scuttled across the floor, straight for the shocked, dark-haired angel, ignoring his father all together.

The baby stopped just within reach, and Sasuke held his breath. One chubby hand reached out, struggling to touch Sasuke, and Sasuke couldn't move. He didn't want to. Finally…

"Hey, you little drool monster," Minato pouted, "you missed me." And without another word, Naruto was scooped up and snuggled against the blond man's chest.

Naruto nuzzled into his father's shirt, blond wisps of hair pushed up in every direction, but his blue eyes never left Sasuke and his small fingers still stretched out for him. His lower lip trembled and the softest whimper escaped.

Sasuke reached out, his own hand moving in slow motion, unsure, but unable to stop. Naruto squirmed, reaching and stretching, fretting in his struggle, until finally, tiny fingers met long, pale ones.

Sasuke gasped and Naruto stopped breathing.

It couldn't have been longer than a couple of seconds, but Sasuke couldn't move. Naruto's small fingers latched onto his own and he told himself he was killing the baby, collecting his soul, but he couldn't move… it was impossible… why now?

"Did you tucker yourself out, Buddy?" Minato spoke with a smile into Naruto's crown when the child's head fell softly against his chest. "Naruto?" He pulled the baby away from him and his son's small body fell limply forward, his lips blue. Panicked, Minato stood, yelling, "Naruto!"

The movement yanked Sasuke's finger free of Naruto's small grasp and immediately the baby drew in a desperate breath only to release it with a mournful, weak cry. His tiny lips still held a tinge of blue as Minato rushed toward the front door, grabbing his keys and Naruto's coat before bolting out of the house and to his car.

Sasuke stood in the living room, long minutes after he heard the car tearing down the driveway, and pictured Naruto, struggling to breathe, his small chest failing to rise more often than not, but still reaching longingly toward the thing killing him.

Sasuke didn't come back for months.


Naruto noticed him immediately. He always did.

Sasuke leaned against the far wall of the living room and watched Naruto maneuver his bright orange walker around the coffee table and his father's long legs and move steadily toward Sasuke. He smiled and babbled, his little legs pushing and pushing until he stopped in front of the angel and thrust his arms up.

"Up! Up! Up!"

Sasuke just stared down at the boy and then looked at Minato when the man walked toward Naruto. "I knew I shouldn't have let you watch Spider Man." Minato chuckled, rubbing the little boy's head. "Buddy, you can't climb walls." Blond eyebrows furrowed for a moment. "At least, not yet, thank God."

Naruto glanced quickly at his father and giggled, looking back to Sasuke with shining blue eyes. "Up! UP! UP!"

"Riiiiight," Minato sighed. "You keep trying for that and I'll go make us lunch." The phone rang shrilly. "After I deal with that…" Minato ducked and pecked Naruto on the cheek before walking out of the room.

Naruto had taken to banging on the tray of his walker, a continued chorus of 'ups' and giggles falling from his mouth.

Sasuke kneeled, careful not to get too close, and snapped, "Stop that."

Naruto's little fists stopped mid-hit. An adorable… annoying… pout came to his small lips and he whimpered, "You now! Wuto up! You up!"

Sasuke shook his head. "No, I am not going to pick you up."

"Youuuuuuuu," Naruto whined. "Pease! Pease!" Was a one year old capable of puppy dog eyes? Oh, hell…

"My name is Sasuke." Sasuke took a moment to chastise himself for attempting to communicate with a one-year-old by pointing at his chest like a caveman.

Naruto's blond head tipped to the side, his mouth moving over the new sounds, he was simply miserable with S's, and suddenly he smiled. Sasuke didn't realize how much he had missed the look until this moment.

"Kay! Up, Kay! Up!" Once more, the small hands were thrust into the air and his little legs bounced him up and down in his chair.

"I can't touch you," Sasuke said and sat crisscross in front of Naruto's walker. "It hurts you."

The baby brought his hands down and fiddled with a toy attached to the walker. "Ohhhh," he said sadly. With a little sigh, Naruto looked at him again, this time just reaching out his fingers. "Kay?"

Sasuke shook his head. "I will hurt you. Hurt Naruto. Owie. Understand?" Oh God, what had he become?

Naruto still reached and whined until Sasuke held out his hand. "I'll show you once and then I'll leave if you keep whining," he explained with a serious frown.

Naruto, unconcerned by the dark look, smiled and Sasuke saw four white teeth in his grin. He'd been gone for too long. He moved his hand closer and Naruto grabbed onto his thumb. Immediately his breathing hitched and trusting blue eyes widened. Just as quickly as it started, Naruto let go.

And giggled.

Before Sasuke could pull his hand away, Naruto grabbed on again and let go, then again and let go. His laughter was like a ringing bell. "Tickies! Kay, tickies!"

"I amnot tickling you," Sasuke corrected him gruffly and just watched while the baby willing had his breath stolen away over and over again.

Sasuke looked across the living room and saw Minato standing in the doorway, a look of concern over his face. He cupped the receiver of the phone and whispered, "Naruto? Are you okay?"

Naruto clapped, bouncing in his seat, and pointed excitedly to what looked like an empty wall. "Kay! Kay!"

Minato smiled. "That's a new word," he said and then walked back into the kitchen, talking once again into the phone.

Sasuke felt Naruto's fingers tickle his hand and quickly snatched the fingers up into his own. Naruto's face twisted with surprise but the boy didn't pull away. His face lost its color and Naruto slumped back into his walker, but he never struggled. It was like he wanted Sasuke to collect him.

Sasuke released his hold, practically throwing the child's hand back at him and stood, plastering himself against the wall. Naruto gasped for breath, sucking in air, and coughed weakly. Minato was in the room in a second, babbling about Naruto's breathing and speaking rapidly into the phone.

Sasuke kneeled next to the father and child and leaned into Naruto's face. "You'd let me. You little idiot! You'd let me take you now. Now that your name isn't on anyone's list."

Naruto's lashes fluttered over his eyes, his breathing still shallow, and he sighed, "Awww… Kay," before he lost consciousness.

The doorbell rang and suddenly men and women in EMT uniforms crowded into the room.

Sasuke watched them connect the baby to monitors and whisk him out of the apartment. He collapsed against the living room wall, rubbing his hands over his face and cursed. "Shit! It doesn't make any sense," he growled into the room.

He wasn't surprised at all when his body started to tingle, overwhelming and most decidedly erotic pleasure racing through every nerve, and the air swirled around him. "Fucking Kakashi," he panted and then disappeared.


"Now, now… you said you didn't like the tickling sensation."

Sasuke nearly jumped over the desk and attacked his grinning boss and had he not been trying to get his body under control, he would have.

"I'm just trying to accommodate your needs," the silver-haired angel continued, undeterred by Sasuke's growled warning. "Have a seat."

Sasuke didn't answer and didn't move to sit. Kakashi just smiled brightly and shook his head. "I'm not going to let my feelings be hurt by your little attitude… Kay."

Black eyes widened and Sasuke's fingernails bit into his palms. "What do you want?"

"Sit." This time it wasn't an invitation. And so, self-preservation trumping embarrassed defiance, Sasuke sat. "I checked on your case. I thought you would like to know that the report on Naruto Uzumaki has been passed Up five times from the moment that it left my office."

Sasuke blinked. Five times? That was nearly to…

"I don't remember the last time a report actually made it to the desk of God, but I think we might have a winner on our hands."

"Someone must know," Sasuke began slowly. "Someone had to have prevented it that day because, just now, he didn't fight… I could have collected him."

"You tried?" Kakashi asked and his eyes narrowed.

"The kid thinks it's funny. Laughs every time he touches me and his heart skips a beat and his lungs freeze. He fucking giggles."

"But you can't actually collect him?" Kakashi asked, fingers forming a steeple in front of his face.

Sasuke shook his head. "That's the strange thing. I think I could. I think he'd let me."

"Let… souls don't 'let'. It's their time and we take them. They don't pick and choose."

"Hn," Sasuke shrugged, unwilling to argue something neither of them had an answer to.

"Stop trying. I can't imagine the amount of paperwork I would… or I mean, how much trouble you would be in if you took a soul without permission. There's already one report with your name drifting Up, let's not have another."

"Whatever," Sasuke said and stood. He turned toward the door, gripping the handle before looking back over his shoulder. "Do not call me like that again."

Kakashi made a non-committal noise not looking over his book.


Sasuke still visited Naruto during his down time but he tried to keep his visits to the nighttime hours, when hopefully the little boy would be asleep or at least when he was alone. He never tried to touch Naruto again, but allowed the little boy to do it to his heart's content. Naruto would hold on as long as he could and then release Sasuke's fingers with a giggle and a smile.

Sasuke tried not to notice when the intervals got longer and longer. If it were an issue, he would have been called back to Kakashi's office and so, for the time being, he would just assume it was still Their problem.

Naruto grew by leaps and bounds and Sasuke was present for his first step to his first day of kindergarten and so many things in between. He watched Naruto on his first play date with a little girl and made faces with the grimacing child when the pink-haired toddler confessed her undying love. He sat by Naruto's bed when he came down with the flu and told him everything would be okay when Minato cried in his room at night.

So many nights Sasuke would watch the little boy sleep peacefully and try to come up with a plausible theory for why Naruto had been allowed to live and how. His hand would ghost over Naruto's forehead, tickling the soft blond hairs, and Naruto's breath would catch. He had no answers, but in the dark of the night, when no one could see him, he hoped it was for him.


Sasuke had never considered before that Naruto called for him. There were several reasons for that actually. First, Sasuke had a job to do. A job that made him who he was and that he completed without thought, hesitation, or failure. Well, barring that one time, but that was Their problem… dammit. Secondly, Sasuke didn't do anything he didn't want to do and the notion that a child, a baby, could bend Sasuke's will to suit his own whims was, simply put, preposterous. And then, third and last, it just wasn't possible. The end.

However, as Sasuke was walking through the twilight-lit garden of the nursing home his latest collection had occupied, he couldn't deny the feeling like his chest was sucking into itself. He couldn't deny when he fell to his knees, gasping for air, and for Naruto, and he really couldn't deny it when in the next breath, he was in the backseat of Minato Namikaze's SUV with a screaming, bleeding Naruto.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" the six-year-old cried, and Sasuke ripped his eyes from Naruto to the front seat of the car. The hood of the car was folded neatly like an accordion against the trunk of a tree. Branches jutted through the windshield, making it nearly impossible to see through with all the spidery cracks that weaved across the broken glass.

A sick, wet gasp came from Naruto's father and Sasuke leaned forward, surprised that he was still alive.

"Uchiha?" an arrogant and all too familiar voice asked, "What are you doing here?"

The soft noises the older man was making ceased and Sasuke looked through the driver's window to see Neji Hyuuga pull his hand away from Minato's face.

Before he could answer, Sasuke felt something yank on his black jacket and suddenly his arms were filled with a shivering, blond-haired boy.

"Kay, what's the matter with Daddy?" Naruto gasped as he struggled to breathe but still burrowed closer and closer into Sasuke.

Sasuke fell back against the dark leather seat and moved his fingers through Naruto's hair. For the first time in his life, he willed himself not to collect because he didn't want to have to let go.

"Oh, I see," Neji continued, suddenly at Sasuke's window, peering into the car. "It is the boy without a destiny. How interesting."

Pale eyes shifted from Sasuke to Naruto and Sasuke growled low in his throat. Sweat slid down the side of his face in his effort to fight off the core of who he was. The moment Naruto fell limp against him, Sasuke shoved him away, leaning the boy against the side door as he pushed himself against his own side.

Neji chuckled. "But you, Uchiha, you have a destiny. One you can't fight. You are an angel of Death. It is who you are."

"Shut up," Sasuke bit out, never taking his eyes from Naruto, whose breathing came in shallow pants. Blond lashes, heavy with tears, fluttered over blue eyes and Naruto whimpered, moving toward Sasuke again.

"I'm scared, Kay. S-something's wrong with Daddy. Something…"

"Shhhh," Sasuke said and held out his hand. Naruto's fingers immediately wrapped around his and the tears fell down Naruto's face. For the first time, Sasuke noticed that something must have ricochet in the car because Naruto's cheeks were cut and bleeding. Pulling his hand free, he waited a moment for Naruto to draw a breath and then moved his thumb over his small cheeks, wiping away the blood.

A disgusted grunt sounded behind him. "And yet you both still struggle against it. So foolish. Someday fate will catch up with him and then…"

"I thought I told you to shut the fuck up, Hyuugu," Sasuke said darkly, ignoring Naruto's confused expression. "Your job here is done. Go."

Neji gave a curt nod. "So foolish," he repeated and then he was gone.

Without that unpleasant distraction, Sasuke set Naruto away from him again. Sobs shook his little body and his frightened eyes darted between Sasuke and his father, lifeless in the front seat.

"Naruto." The child didn't respond, his breathing quickening in a way that had nothing to do with Sasuke's touch and instead with shock and panic. Sasuke swallowed thickly and glanced at Minato before whispering, "Buddy."

Naruto's attention immediately snapped to Sasuke's at the pet name his father used for him and the sobs halted, although his bottom lip trembled. A loud sniff echoed in the quiet darkness of the car.

"You need help," Sasuke began.

"You're here," Naruto answered weakly while he scooted over the seat, trying to push himself into Sasuke.

Sasuke shook his head firmly, to the answer and to Naruto's movement. "Stay there." Fat tears slipped down bleeding cheeks. "Where does your Daddy keep his phone?"

"His p-pocket," Naruto whispered, "but I am not supposed to touch it. Not ever."

Sasuke nodded. "I know, but this time, it is alright. He won't be mad."

Naruto shook his head, biting his lip to fight off a new round of tears. "I should ask. I'll ask him, o-okay? Daddy? Daddy?" Naruto frantically said as he attempted to crawl over the seat, clawing at his father's shoulder.

Sasuke pulled him back and into his arms. Naruto's pleas were cut off as his breath froze but he didn't struggle. He never did. Sasuke leaned down until he was whispering in the little boy's ear. "He can't hear you, Naruto. But I know he wants you to be okay and so do I. I need you to get the phone."

Without another word, he pushed Naruto up and over the seat. Naruto took a moment to breathe and then shifted slowly toward his daddy. "Daddy," he whimpered, "D-daddy…"

"The phone, buddy," Sasuke reminded him gently. "Get the phone."

Trembling fingers pushed into Minato's breast pocket and the moment they latched around the metal object, Naruto was over the seat and pressed into Sasuke's chest. "He's dead." Sasuke's eyes widened when Naruto forced himself to breath, a painful, deep draw of breath that should have been impossible with Sasuke's arms wrapped around him. "Like on TV, Kay. Isn't he?"

Sasuke kissed the soft hairs on Naruto's head and sat him back into his seat. "Yes, he is. I'm sorry." Sasuke nodded toward the phone clasped in Naruto's hands. "Open the phone." Naruto did and Sasuke talked him through the 911 call.

After the details were given, the operator insisted Naruto stay on the phone but Naruto muttered 'goodbye' before he snapped it shut. The phone slid from his fingers and made a dull thud as it hit the floor. Sasuke opened his arms and Naruto dived forward.

"Just for a minute," the dark-haired angel whispered, rocking the child like he'd watched Minato do a million times, murmuring nonsense, and forever aware that Naruto wasn't breathing.

It wasn't long before Sasuke heard the sirens in the distance and pushed Naruto away for the last time. The little boy immediately started whimpering and when the red and white lights illuminated the interior of the car, his whimpers became all out cries.

"Don't leave!" he yelled, grabbing for Sasuke. Sasuke pried his little fingers free and shushed him, watching as the EMTs neared the car.

"Be quiet, Naruto," Sasuke said sternly still pushing him away. Naruto couldn't be seen talking to no one. "Help is here now."

Naruto's head shook frantically back and forth. The cuts on his face that had slowed began to bleed anew and mix with the fat tears that ran down the little boy's cheeks. "But you're here, Kay," he said quietly and then screamed, his eyes huge with fear, when the EMT opened his door.

Naruto was like a frightened animal shaking and scurrying to get away from the startled medic. He pressed his back into Sasuke while his small hands scrambled behind him, grasping for Sasuke's and yanking them around him. Sasuke didn't stop him. He was focused at the red-haired man pulling out Naruto's booster seat and glancing at Minato in the front seat. Another medic moved behind him, opening Minato's door.

"Hey, little guy, my name's Chouji. Are you Naruto?" the medic introduced himself and with a glance took in the other medic shaking his head, pulling his hand away from the still body in the front.

In the back of his mind, Sasuke counted the slowing heartbeats of the small body wrapped in his arms. For a single moment, he considered collecting Naruto. But the idea of stopping Naruto's heart stilled his own in his chest. And so, he fought it, letting Naruto press into him, and ignored the voice in the back of his mind that mockingly spoke of destiny and fate.

Fuck Neji. He didn't know. He didn't understand that Naruto and Sasuke had been fighting each other from the moment of Naruto's birth. He didn't understand that they fought against each other, against themselves, with every ounce of their being… just to be together.

Naruto's head fell limply to the side, cushioned against the side of the seat, and Sasuke was jarred from his desperate thoughts by the medic's panicked voice.

"He's not breathing!" The man lunged forward pulling Naruto toward him. His eyebrows furrowed when he met a moment of resistance but then the little boy was in his arms. Gloved fingers immediately located his pulse. "He has a pulse, but it's weak and thready."

Naruto's body jerked and he gasped for air even as his eyes frantically searched. "No," he coughed, "No!"

Chouji continued to hold firmly to his wrist when Naruto began struggling. "I'm here to help you, Naruto. I'm going to take you somewhere safe. Make you feel better."

"NO!" Naruto screamed, coughing immediately afterward until his body curled into itself, the painful wracking bringing fresh tears to his eyes. With a desperate tug, he freed himself from the medic and twisted.

Sasuke watched, pressed against the door, as the little boy, his heartbeat still erratic in Sasuke's ears, faced him on his knees. Naruto held out his arms. "Please, please, please…" he begged between desperate draws for breath.

"Who is he talking to?" Sasuke heard the other medic ask.

"I don't know. He must be in shock. We need to get him to the hospital." Chouji finished his sentence and wrapped his arms around Naruto's middle from behind, pulling him out of the car.

"NOOOO!" Naruto yelled. He kicked his legs and slapped at the medic's hands and then looked up at Sasuke. With his lips trembling and his chest heaving, he screamed, "Please, don't leave me.Sasuke!"

Sasuke was across the car in a second, hands cupping Naruto's small, precious face. In that moment, everything stopped, or maybe Sasuke stopped noticing how Chouji continued to pull at Naruto, how his voice rose in alarm when he noticed Naruto stop breathing, or how he looked at Naruto with confusion, concern, and fear in his brown eyes.

"I will never leave you, Naruto," Sasuke whispered. He leaned forward and touched his forehead to Naruto's, scared blue eyes level with unwavering black. "But this is for the best."

Naruto fell limp and Sasuke released him. Chouji yanked the unconscious boy from the car, laying him on the ground, and checked for his heartbeat. "No heartbeat! Come on, Naruto, come on!"

The other medic ran to his side and set a huge box on the ground. Chouji cut open Naruto's shirt and prepped the paddles of the defibrillator. "Clear!"

Sasuke grabbed his own chest and slipped to his knees when Naruto arched off the dirt. After a quick check, Chouji placed the paddles again. "Clear!"

"Come on, idiot," Sasuke mumbled and, as if on cue, the other medic gushed, "I have a pulse!"

It was only then that Sasuke noticed that police cars and fire trucks were also on the scene. He absently recognized Minato's body being zipped into a bag and the nearly overwhelming glow of emergency lights in the night air. Naruto was bundled into an ambulance and Sasuke pulled himself to his feet before he disappeared.

Without conscious thought, he found himself atop a snow-covered mountain peak. Wind lashed his black hair over his face and his jacket flapped with wicked snaps around his body. Sasuke ignored it all, seeing only Naruto's face and hearing the sound of his whole name for the first time on Naruto's lips.

He looked straight Up.



To Be Continued…