Lost: Sanshain's funny bone. She needs it for her fics. If you find it, please return it asap...she's not accustomed to writing drama/angst/tragedy :P

As for this fic, well I'm sure you'll realise what the infection/illness is that's central to the whole story before you reach the end. Stuck in a Moment by U2 inspired this story, for reasons that are too personal to share and make me cry.


Stuck in a Moment

And if the night runs over, and if the day won't last
And if your way should falter, along this stony path

It's just a moment
This time will pass

"Mum says we're leaving tomorrow."

The skinny blond boy gripped his Batman lunchbox tightly, a little annoyed when his best friend said nothing.

Just kept bouncing the green rubber ball they always played with at second break. Naruto was kind of jealous; he wished he had a rubber ball like that, but Sasuke had refused to tell him where he got it.

"Mum says we won't be coming back," Naruto tried again, patiently because Sasuke was sometimes cranky and mean for no obvious reason. "She says this job is perminont and close to a hospital."

"Permanent," Sasuke corrected softly before he could stop himself.

He stopped bouncing his ball, catching it with both hands only to stare at it.

"Where are you moving to?" he asked, voice almost too quiet to be heard in the noisy playground. "We can write letters if you tell me the address."

Naruto shrugged a little helplessly. "I don't know. Mum said we're gonna live like gypsies, in a caravan."

Sasuke's eyebrows were lost under his bangs. "A caravan? That's not a proper house. That's stupid."

"I think it's gonna be fun!" Naruto grinned, eyes squinting, because Sasuke didn't look like he really thought it was stupid.

"Well where's your mum's new job?" Sasuke asked. "You'll probably live close by."

Naruto shrugged again. "She didn't say."

Sasuke exploded, cross and wishing his best friend wasn't leaving. "Well what did your mum tell you?"

"She said we were moving," Naruto's smile had disappeared completely, his voice wavering slightly. "And to say goodbye to you today since we'll be leaving really early tomorrow."

Sasuke was worried Naruto was going to cry, and he really didn't want that to happen – if his friend cried then he would too, and Sasuke hadn't cried since his family died.

That was three whole years of not crying, and he wanted to keep it that way. But his best friend was leaving. And with the ways things sounded, Sasuke thought it would be surprising if he ever got to see Naruto again.

It wasn't fair.

"Here," Sasuke held out his prized green rubber ball.

He knew Naruto liked it, and Sasuke decided parting with the ball was worth making Naruto happy.

Naruto forgot to thank him, but Sasuke supposed his huge smile did that, and pushed his Batman lunchbox at Sasuke.

Sasuke didn't really like Batman – he liked Spiderman better – but it was a present from his best friend so that made it special.

The two boys stared at each for a while after the impromptu gift exchange. This was probably the last time Sasuke would see Naruto and he wasn't quite willing to say goodbye just yet.

"You know those matching necklaces Sakura and Ino wear?" Sasuke asked quickly when Naruto looked like he was going to leave.

Naruto frowned, making a heart shape in the air with his fingers. "The ones you say are really stupid, where it's a heart in two bits? Sakura said she chose the smaller bit because it had a pink gem in it."

Sasuke sighed dejectedly. Yeah, he thought the necklaces were stupid. But now he wanted to give Naruto something so he remembered Sasuke. But it was too late for the necklaces now, and he'd already given him the rubber ball.

But how was Naruto going to remember him with a green bouncy ball?

And then he had an idea.

Naruto was dubious.

"Won't that hurt?" he asked, looking at the compass Sasuke had retrieved from his desk. "And you're not supposed to have those until Year Five!"

"My foster dad's friend told me how they're done and he says it hurts a bit," Sasuke glanced at his best friend. "You're not scared, are you?"

"No way!" Naruto shot back immediately. "...Are you?"

"No!"

They stared at each other, testing if one of them was going to chicken out but both stood firm. So Sasuke told Naruto to follow him and led the way to a spot by the sandpit where no teachers could see them.

Sasuke produced a black texta along with the compass, and forced open the marker to reach the ink.

"It's really easy to do," Sasuke explained as he coated the pin sharp point of the compass with black ink. "You just do a little bit and then put more colour on like this."

Naruto looked on, eyes wide. "And it's perminont?"

"Permanent," his friend corrected patiently. "Yeah."

"My mum will be real mad when she sees it."

Sasuke grinned then. "It won't come off so what's she gonna do?"

Naruto mirrored his grin, eyes glinting at the reckless naughtiness.

"I'll do yours and you do mine," Sasuke instructed, grabbing Naruto's arm and turning it this way and that as he decided on the best place.

He rested the inked point against the skin of Naruto's inner arm, just below the elbow bend, and looked at his friend seriously.

"It's going to hurt remember," he told Naruto. "And it's probably going to bleed a bit."

Naruto gulped and looked nervous, but nodded. His eyes widened and he gasped loudly when Sasuke pushed the compass in to his skin, but didn't pull away.

It took Sasuke a few minutes to ink his name in to Naruto's arm. He worked carefully, trying his best to ignore his friend's occasional muffled moan of pain, and used the hem of his school shirt to wipe away Naruto's blood. They rinsed it clean with Naruto's water bottle and both admired Sasuke's name written in dark neat letters along Naruto's arm.

Then Sasuke handed over the compass and held out his own arm. He immediately slapped his free hand over his mouth to stop his cry, not expecting it to hurt quite so much. Sasuke's tattoo was a little messier than Naruto's, but he didn't mind. And it was his own fault that the 'N' was a bit wonky since he had jumped.

All in all, after they cleaned his arm, Sasuke thought it looked brilliant.

They smiled at each other and kept looking at their new tattoos, pleased and connected, forgetting for the moment that Naruto was leaving.

And Sasuke wouldn't really remember, despite the constant reminder etched in to his arm that faded only slightly over time.

He wouldn't really remember until he was twenty, but he hadn't really forgotten either.

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

All he had wanted to do was donate blood.

Sasuke wasn't a giving sort of person, and as a rule looked out for himself first and foremost. But Iruka and Kakashi had nearly died in that car crash, and a dozen bags of transfusion blood was the only reason why they didn't. His foster father and his friend were all he had left – his family – and that they were alive because a handful of random strangers took time out of their life to donate blood was scary.

Those people wouldn't know they had saved Iruka and Kakashi, and Sasuke to a degree. And maybe that's what floored Sasuke the most.

An anonymous act of kindness that was worth more to Sasuke than he could put in to words.

And he thought the best way to show how grateful he was to still have his family was to give back. So without telling his foster father or Kakashi, Sasuke visited the blood donor van that was nearly always at his university on Wednesdays.

And discovered that giving blood wasn't as simple as he'd thought, and probably explained why a substantial chunk of the population didn't bother. Sasuke had to provide his medical history and a blood sample, as well as submit himself to a physical examination and complete a three-page questionnaire.

In the end, he wasn't allowed to donate blood.

It wasn't because he identified himself as gay, and it wasn't because he was a little bit underweight for his height and age.

"I- what?"

Sasuke couldn't release his grip on the phone as the blood donor nurse breathed in sharply.

"I'm sorry," she said softly, concerned and pitying. "Then...you didn't know?"

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

After yet another visit to the doctor Sasuke, Iruka and Kakashi sat at the kitchen table, too quiet and too serious. Sasuke stared at the name tattooed on his forearm, remembering that day and, now, realising the repercussions.

Had Naruto known?

Sasuke doubted it. They'd been seven. And if he thought about it, it was his fault for suggesting the tattoo idea.

He had been so scared about Naruto forgetting him; leaving and never remembering.

Iruka had been furious with Sasuke when he got home that day, the fresh tattoo and red skin not easily hidden. He wasn't allowed to touch the Nintendo 64 for weeks after that, and was punished with reduced pocket money for even longer. Though Sasuke had craftily deflected a majority of his foster father's anger to Kakashi when it became clear that's where the idea had come from.

Sasuke was pretty sure Kakashi and Iruka hadn't talked for months following that.

Staring at Naruto's name now, he wondered about his childhood best friend. It had been thirteen years since he had seen him.

A blond skinny boy who carried around his Batman lunchbox like it was his most prized possession. Sasuke smiled slightly to himself. He still had that stupid thing in his cupboard somewhere.

But something was knocking on the backdoor of Sasuke's mind, screaming to come in. He was fairly certain his brain was doing its utmost best to keep out the thought, but Sasuke was curious by nature.

And calmly let the raging thought in.

And was very nearly sick.

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

It took Sasuke three months to track down his childhood friend.

Those weeks he had barely slept, the bags under his eyes big enough to carry his uni books.

But the thought of doing something as trivial as sleeping when he had to find Naruto – make sure he was okay – alive – was laughable.

He stood outside the not-a-proper-house caravan and smiled. It was painted red and orange and blue and, in general, was quite a retina-destroying sight.

Sasuke thought it was brilliant.

He stepped forward and knocked on the door, no plan in mind and not concerned about what he would say. A voice shouted back from behind the caravan so Sasuke walked around the side, relieved and fucking overjoyed.

Because there was Naruto.

There was no mistaking him with his perpetually messy spikes of blond, those clear and mischievous blue eyes and the grin that was too huge, too wide and showing far too many teeth.

His face was smudged with paint – the sort of smudges, Sasuke thought, where paint-splotched fingers rubbed at an itchy spot unconsciously – and he was sitting in the grass, sweeping a brush on a canvas splayed on the ground before him.

Naruto looked up though, and graced Sasuke with a friendly smile.

"Hi! You need something?" and then he cocked his head to the side and squinted, smiling disappearing. "You look familiar..."

And even before Naruto had finished speaking, Sasuke raised his arm and rolled up the sleeve of his jumper. He held his forearm straight down in front of his body as he walked closer, until he was crouched and leaning over Naruto's painting.

And his childhood friend – best friend – Naruto – grabbed Sasuke's wrist and held out his own matching tattoo, his eyes wide and smile not quite able to break through until Sasuke whispered.

"Naruto."

"Sasuke," he said, just as softly, before getting a hold of himself and yelling in his friend's face, grin practically splitting his face in half. "SASUKE!"

Sasuke didn't mind so much, and they stared at each other kind of like they had thirteen years ago, pleased and connected.

Until Naruto coughed and Sasuke's expression morphed immediately to concern.

Then they both knew why Sasuke was there.

"I'm sorry," Naruto whispered. "I didn't know. I'm so sorry, Sasuke."

Sasuke wasn't angry. He had felt a lot of things about this but never anger. He squeezed Naruto's arm, right where his name was inked, and bumped his forehead against his friend's.

"It's okay."

It wasn't really okay, but Sasuke was pretty sure Naruto knew that. But Sasuke saw no point in being angry or bitter. Yes, he wouldn't have planned this for himself – not by a long shot – but he wouldn't have planned it for Naruto either.

Sasuke was a prime example of life not being fair. He was also a pretty good example of how to know when to roll with the punches.

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

Six months later and a week before Sasuke was admitted to hospital, he told Naruto something only the blood donor nurse he spoke to a year ago knew. Naruto laughed and laughed, and sheepishly told Sasuke that he was a virgin too.

They rectified that. Several times. They didn't bother with protection because, well, what was the point at this stage...and sex with Naruto was the most amazing thing with nothing in the way. Nothing stopping them from being as close as possible.

And despite how he got here, Sasuke felt Naruto was Life. Necessary.

And Sasuke wished with his whole being that Naruto hadn't left all those years ago, and yet it didn't seem to make a difference; it didn't feel like they had ever been disconnected.

Sasuke had forgotten for a while, but he remembered.

And Naruto had always been there anyway, etched right in to his skin.

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

A week after Sasuke was admitted to hospital, Naruto was in the next bed over. The ward nurse scolded them half-heartedly for rolling their cots together, but eventually gave up. Not that either of them were well enough any more to do much of anything, spending most of their time sitting cross-legged facing each other, playing cards and boardgames, and the childish hand clapping games a girl in the bed next to Naruto taught them before the pair were isolated.

All the things they missed out on doing together for thirteen years.

Sasuke was a bit concerned about how much his own health had deteriorated so quickly. But that was nothing compared to seeing Naruto sick more often than not.

He hadn't really considered the fact that he was dying, but when Naruto was dying right in front of him too, it was harder to ignore.

It felt like he was ill all the time. And if he wasn't sick, Naruto was. A cold, a sore throat, a cough – it lasted days upon days.

And Sasuke knew one day they'd fall ill and never get well again.

On the days when he couldn't forget that, he'd make Naruto join him in his small hospital bed and they would just lie together.

At least that way Naruto didn't see his tears.

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

"You shouldn't be here," Naruto said one day, his voice quiet and shaky. "It's my fault. You shouldn't be here, Sasuke."

Sasuke was silent for a long time, listening to Naruto cry.

"Idiot," he said eventually, throwing a hand over the edge of his bed to grab Naruto's. "You're here, so I'd be here anyway."

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

Iruka and Kakashi were there, but Sasuke barely noticed because that didn't make Naruto's hospital bed any less empty.

It was going to happen – he knew it was going to happen – but the pain and loss was crushing.

It hurt to breathe and think and move without Naruto.

It just hurt.

But it was after Iruka and Kakashi left that the ward nurse visited him with a doctor. The doctor talked with him, friendly but matter-of-fact, and Sasuke hadn't even thought about this before.

"I didn't think I could be an organ donor."

The doctor pushed up his glasses and smiled softly, a little sadly even Sasuke thought.

"Unfortunately, not usually. But there are more people like you than I think you realise, and those people sometimes need help just as much as everybody else. Legislation is being reviewed but it's a long process; and until it's amended, everyone still deserves their best chance."

Sasuke was a little horrified. "Are you saying that, for example, if I needed a heart transplant...I wouldn't get one? Unless it was from..?"

He trailed off when the doctor nodded, his mouth set in a grim line. "As I said, legislation is being reviewed. But until change happens, I personally find people who want to make a difference."

Sasuke didn't need to think about it for very long. He had an anonymous debt of kindness to repay.

His life had changed when he wanted to be a blood donor, so he supposed it made sense to finish this way.

Sasuke settled back against his hospital pillow and folded his hand over the name tattooed on his arm, smiling a little. He'd be with Naruto again soon enough, but before then,

"Yes," Sasuke said. "I want to be an HIV positive organ donor."