What most people don't know was that Sasuke's survival during the battle on the bridge in Wave hadn't been due to any particular kindness or mercy on Haku's part. The boy was kind and merciful and hated killing, true. But, Haku could close his heart and do what he had to if the situation called for it. At that time, with the battle between Hatake Kakashi and Momochi Zabuza heating up and the outcome rapidly becoming uncertain, Haku didn't feel that he could afford to play around with the pair of Genin that had been trapped in his ice mirrors much longer.

In one world, Sasuke would have stepped in front of a bunch of senbon which had been aimed at vital points that were a bit lower than his and currently in a slightly different location due to positioning as the target they'd been intended for was several centimeters shorter than he was and in a different position from the one he would have taken. Miraculously, all that the senbon that would have pierced him would have managed to do to the Uchiha boy would have been to knock him out for a few minutes. Of course there would have been some punctured internal organs which Kakashi and the local doctor would have dealt with later, but other than that, everything would have turned out pretty much fine.

In this world however, Sasuke hesitated for an instant. It was but an instant, but it was still an instant too long. In a battle such as this, the difference in placement of a single senbon could make a significant difference in the outcome, a difference in mobility, or in this case a difference between life and death. Haku could kill his heart if he had to, and this time he did. He also killed someone else as well. He killed the small boy he had met and befriended in the forest.

After Naruto had been punctured by dozens of the needles that were Haku's weapon of choice, there had been a welling of something ominous which vanished as Naruto breathed his last, the Kyuubi having been unable to heal wounds that still had weapons stuck in them in time.

As Naruto lay there not moving, not breathing, not reacting to the fact that he was practically standing on his hand, Sasuke stood stunned. That smiling idiot that chased after him and swore he'd beat him was gone. That smiling, prank pulling idiot who had sworn he'd become Hokage hadn't lived to see his dream as he'd sometimes half believed the boy would have. That idiot that he'd avoided becoming friends with because of what he feared he'd do to him if he did had died anyway, and it had been all his fault. The idiot had died because he'd chosen to cling to his own pathetic life. He'd changed his mind an instant later, but it had been too late. Far too late.

"Is this the first time you've seen a comrade die?" the masked ninja asked, almost as if he were mocking him.

"No." he said, finally breaking, falling to his knees. "NoNoNoNoNoNoNo! Not my team too!"

"Too?" asked the masked boy.

That question was like a slap to the face, and as he knelt beside his fallen teammate, he vowed that he would get his revenge. He vowed that he would kill him even if it took him the rest of his pathetic life to become strong enough to do so. He'd kill him and his brother.

As he stood there helpless to do anything about it however, Kakashi took his chance for revenge away from him less than two minutes later when the man punched a hole in the masked boy's chest while trying to kill the bastard's master. Afterward, the fight between Kakashi and Zabuza ended when Gato arrived revealing that he never planned on paying the missing-nin, and a new fight began. A new fight that had only barely been won with the help of the villagers because the ninja had almost completely tired themselves out fighting each-other as Gato had planned. Many died that day. Amongst the dead was Gato.

When the fight ended and all there was left to do was gather up the fallen, there was no miracle revival as Sakura sobbed over her teammate's body, as would have happened if this had been another world, since Naruto wasn't unconscious and wasn't in a state of false death. Kakashi cried as well shedding silent tears from both his covered eye and his normal one after he had checked and double checked Naruto's vitals and found nothing. As for Sasuke, he had long ago run out of tears, though there was an odd tightness in the back of his throat as he watched his teammates cry over a boy whose death he'd been certain he wouldn't mourn only that morning.

"But he wasn't supposed to die!" Inari, the hero of the hour wailed as he sobbed in his mother's arms several feet away.

"He was so much like his father, even in this." Kakashi said as he finally scooped up the body he'd stared at for a good half hour working up the will to carry off of the battlefield.

"What do you mean?" Tazuna asked.

The guilt over the death of one of the members of the team he'd tricked into helping him had aged the man several years in only a few minutes.

"His father sacrificed himself to save Konoha from the Kyuubi." Kakashi said as he pulled the senbon from Naruto's body far too late to do any good.

Sasuke was startled by this statement. Kakashi had known who the dobe's father was? Nobody he knew had known who Naruto's parents had been. He'd asked once or twice out of curiosity, and had never gotten an answer despite the fact that people had been practically falling over themselves in order to cater to him after the Massacre.

"Minato-sensei had wanted him to be seen as a hero. At least here, he will be." Kakashi said sadly as he carried Naruto's body back towards the bridge builder's home where their belongings were stored.

The walk home after the bodies of the fallen townspeople had been buried and the bridge had been completed was a silent one with Kakashi walking point carrying the black bordered scroll that contained Naruto's body. The only reason the man had had such a thing in which to store Naruto's body was because such scrolls were standard equipment for any mission above D-rank as there had been any number of spectacular accidents where Genin had accidentally killed themselves that had taken place on C-rank missions .

When they had set out, it became apparent that in the few short days that Naruto had been in Wave, he'd made quite an impact. Almost everyone in that small port town by the bridge had gathered to see them depart and pay their final respects. A sobbing Inari had stood at the head of a sizable crowd that had included the very young and the very old, all of whom had had something nice to say about Naruto.

The same could not be said of Konoha however. In contrast to Naruto's departure from Wave, almost nobody was there to greet them when they arrived at Konoha, though Sasuke had the feeling that there should have been. The only people who had been there to greet them at the gates were the Hokage with his advisors in tow, and a rather drunk looking Umino Iruka who was being supported by the guy from the ramen stand that Naruto had liked. Naruto may have been a hero in Wave, but he was practically nobody here. A nobody who had been the Hokage's pet and the favorite student of a rather ordinary Academy Instructor.

The small group had been standing before the gates stopped them before they could reach the desk sign in putting an end to the mission from hell. What the Hokage and the group of ANBU that appeared out of nowhere when they arrived did next confused Sasuke and shocked the hell out of Sakura for some strange reason. After stopping them in front of the gates, the Hokage summoned a litter out of a storage scroll which Kakashi then lay Naruto's body on. As soon as Naruto's body had been settled, the Hokage draped a robe that Sasuke hadn't noticed the old man had been holding over the boy and set a very familiar hat atop his body. The four ANBU who had made their sudden appearance then picked up the litter and carried it into the village.

The Hokage followed the litter alongside his advisors with his head bowed. Iruka and the ramen stand owner followed suit as well. After a bit of milling about, Kakashi then indicated that they should follow in a similar manner. There was shock and confusion in the eyes of the two gate guards who then did something unusual when they reached the sign-in desk. Rather than asking them to sign in as they normally would have, the men moved and stood in a manner that seemed to be part of some sort of prescribed ritual that they only half knew.

"Who goes there?" one of the guards asked in a formal manner though his body language spoke of being caught almost completely flat-footed and struggling to keep up with a script he'd thought he'd never have to use.

"The Godaime Hokage has fallen in the field of battle." the Hokage said formally with a look in his eyes that suggested that he was lost in a different memory at the moment. "We return the Godaime Hokage to his rightful home and resting place."

"What's going on?" Sasuke quietly asked his teammate while the strange ritual continued.

"They do this when a Hokage falls outside the gates of the village. It's a ritual that's loosely based on what happened after the Shodai Hokage's death." Sakura whispered back. "They did this for the Nidaime and the Yondaime. Why are they doing it for Naruto though?"

Eventually, the ritual was complete and they were allowed to pass. The strange procession then made its way to the Hokage Tower. Along the way to the tower that served as the Hokage's residence, people turned to stop and stare, they mostly stared in shock and confusion. Much the same way Sasuke felt as he followed along in the strange procession. Some people however, some of the older people like the old man with the wok attached to his back, started crying apparently realizing what was going on and finding it in their hearts to care about Naruto in death as they hadn't done in life. One person had started to cheer as they passed, only to be slapped into silence by a person standing next to him.

All along the way to the tower, there was a great deal of whispering and muttering from those who had watched the procession in confusion, and the two words that came up the most were "Demon" and "Why?". After a while of passing through mostly silent streets in which a great deal of quiet muttering could be heard, they reached the Hokage Tower, and Naruto's body was set down in a stone chamber in the basement. As soon as Naruto's body had been laid down, Sasuke was informed that there would be a funeral in which Naruto would be interred with the other Hokages in two days time. As Head of the Uchiha Clan and Naruto's teammate he was not allowed to skip it as he had an important role to fulfill.

Sasuke's head was reeling as he headed home. As the last of the Uchiha he had an important role to fill but, he had no idea what that role was though. His father had died before he could teach him such things as well as just about everything else that could come up in his life as a Uchiha.

Two days after he returned to the village with his surviving teammates, Sasuke stood in front of a crowd, stumbling through a ritual he'd only read up on the night before after discovering it in the midst of a frantic search through the Clan Archives. As he fumbled yet another line, he wished his father was there instead. His father would have known what to do and not made an ass of himself while doing it, as his father had apparently gone through this at Naruto's father's funeral.

Hadn't that been quite the shock. The Dobe's father had been none other than the Yondaime Hokage himself. Apparently, Naruto had always been Hokage without realizing it because the Yondaime had named the boy his successor as he died. The Sandaime had only temporarily retaken the position, and had been acting as regent until Naruto was old enough. Nobody had told the boy this though, as the Sandaime had wanted the boy to feel he had to work to earn the position that by all rights had already been his rather than to feel that he'd been entitled to it since those who worked for the position they had, almost always did a much better job at it than those who had just had the position they held in life handed to them, and the Sandaime had wanted Naruto to have the drive necessary for someone who was working to earn his spot so he could channel it into his role as the Hokage when the time came.

That time would never come however.

After the funeral had ended, Sasuke found himself tracing a name on the Memorial Stone as he watched the construction on the Hokage Monument. Naruto had gotten his wish. He was on the stone where he said he'd be the day their team had come together, just not how he'd expected he'd end up there. The person who had put Naruto's name down on the stone however had put him down as Namikaze Naruto, Godaime Hokage which irked Sasuke.

Namikaze Naruto was a stranger to him. Namikaze Naruto hadn't been the boy who had attempted to befriend him on his first day at the Academy only to be rebuffed. Namikaze Naruto hadn't pulled pranks on everyone trying to get people to notice him. Namikaze Naruto hadn't been there trying and failing to pull him back down to earth before pounding him down into it. Namikaze Naruto hadn't had to struggle to gain acknowledgement from the villagers who had looked at him with hate in their eyes for something he hadn't done. Namikaze Naruto hadn't had to fight for every scrap of attention and affection he'd gotten.

Uzumaki Naruto had done all of those things and more.

Edited 12-2-12