Naruto opened his eyes and immediately shut them with a groan. The light seemed to burn his eyes and aggravate the pounding headache he had. He groggily sat up and slowly opened his eyes, wincing slightly.

He slowly got out of bed and went into the bathroom. He turned his shower onto a cold spray in an attempt to cool himself- he felt like as if he was on fire. After he had finished, he pulled on his boxers, trousers and his t-shirt. He decided against wearing the jacket as he felt so hot.

'Hmm, maybe I should eat some breakfast…' But the thought of food made him feel sick to the stomach and he groaned.

Kyuubi, what's wrong with me?

You have a virus of some kind. I am trying to tackle the problem, but I'm failing. You should go to Tsunade.

If I can make it…

Kyuubi did not say anything, but Naruto could feel her worry. It had been quite a shock to find that his tenant was a female, but Naruto didn't mind as the great fox fussed over him much like a mother would. It had been a year since they had successfully retrieved Sasuke from Orochimaru, and they were now 16 years- with Gai's team being 18. They would sometimes all gather to talk and spend time together, like they were meant to today. Naruto and Sasuke were also Chuunin as they had recently passed the exam, so they were allowed to go on more higher rank missions.

Naruto leaned heavily against the wall, trying to get his breath back. It was getting harder and harder to breath and Naruto was feeling light headed.

Kit! Hurry, I cannot hold it back much longer!

Naruto pushed off the wall and made for the door with shaky steps. Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed near the door.

Sakura frowned. I was almost eight and neither Naruto nor Kakashi had turned up, and she was worried. She looked over at Sasuke, who was frowning slightly as he looked around.

Just then, there was a poof of smoke and their sensei arrived. Instead of voicing her normal complaint, she asked,

"Naruto's not here, is he on a mission or something?"

Kakashi blinked and then frowned and shook his head.

"Not that I'm aware of. Let's go to his apartment."

They hurriedly made their way to the blonde's apartment and knocked. There was a pause and then they heard a voice say weakly,

"Help… So hot…"

Kakashi did not hesitate in smashing the door opened and they gasped. Naruto was lying near them, his face contorted in pain as he seated profusely. His breaths came in gasps as he struggled to breath. Sakura ran to him and knelt beside him. She placed a hand on his forehead and withdrew her had, hissing slightly in surprise at the high temperature. She turned to the others.

"Kakai-sensei, can you get Tsunade-sama please. Sasuke-kun, help me take Naruto to the hospital. He has a really dangerous fever." Kakashi nodded and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Sasuke picked Naruto up bridal style and ran out of the house, Sakura hot on his heels.

Tsunade sighed. She hated giving out missions. It was tedious. She was currently listening to Lee's commentary about how he, Neji and Tenten were going to finish this mission in record time… and something about youth… she wasn't really listening.

He was interrupted, however, when Kakashi appeared in front of Tsunade. She blinked and then saw his expression.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Your presence is needed at the hospital. Naruto didn't appear this morning and we went to his apartment and found that he had collapsed. Sakura asked me to fetch you, saying something about a fever she couldn't handle."

Tsunade's eyes widened and she stood up. Ignoring the other Shinobi in the room, she rushed over to the hospital with Kakashi, and was followed by Neji's team. She walked in and demanded to know where her 'brother' was. The nurse replied,

"Intensive care. He stopped breathing soon after Sakura-san and Sasuke-kun brought him here." Tsunade cursed and then ran off, leaving Kakashi and Neji's team to stare after her.

Sasuke sighed. It had been four hours since he and Sakura had brought Naruto here, and he hadn't heard one thing. He was currently waiting with Kakashi and Neji. Lee and Tenten had gone, saying that they were going to tell the others what had happened. Sasuke frowned, remembering that there was going to be one of their 'gatherings' today, which started two hours ago. Tenten and Lee left a few minutes ago.

There was some noise down the hall and he looked to see the others coming with Tenten and Lee.

"What happened?" Ino quietly asked Sasuke. He looked at the doors and said,

"We were meant to meet up today and Naruto didn't turn up. We grew concerned and went to find him. He was in his apartment on the floor sweating and in pain. We rushed him here and soon after there was a huge commotion as he stopped breathing. I haven't heard anything else."

Everyone paled and silently hoped that their blonde friend was alright.

"Well, shouldn't the Kyuubi cure him?" Kiba asked. Soon after the retrieve Sasuke mission, Naruto had confessed to them all about the demon, they were shocked at first, but they accepted it. They viewed Naruto as a person, not the demon itself. In fact, when they found out that Kyuubi was female, they were rather amused by the fact.

'Please be alright dobe.' Sasuke thought. Just then the door opened and an exhausted Sakura stepped out. She sighed as she ran a hand through her hair.

"It's not good. We haven't been able to start his breathing, so he's on life support at the moment. Kyuubi has been trying to cure him, but not even she can stop the virus's progress. Tsunade-sama and Shizune-san are working on a cure at the moment."

There was silence for a while and Hinata shyly asked,

"Can we see him?"

Sakura nodded and said,

"You can, but he won't wake up."

Sasuke stood up and walked into the room and he narrowed his eyes. Naruto was lying on the bed with the life support machine attached. He also had various other tubes sticking out of him. Sasuke slowly approached the bed and stared at Naruto's face, which was unusually pale. His chest rose and fell with artificial breathing. Sasuke clenched his fist. Naruto looked so weak and helpless, and it upset Sasuke. He was so used to seeing Naruto jumping up and down, always exited and giving off a kind of strength that Sasuke could only dream of having.

He was vaguely aware of the others around him, just as upset as he was. Sasuke silently hoped that Naruto would be ok. It wouldn't be the same without him. He just had to get better, he just had to!

A month had past, and there was no change. Everything that Tsunade and Shizune tried didn't work as the virus mutated so quickly. If anything, Naruto was getting worse. He had lost a lot of weight and was nothing but skin and bones. Tsunade tried to give him nourishment, but anything she gave him was used up by the virus that was killing him slowly.

And that is why, now, Tsunade was standing in Naruto's sickroom with Jiraiya and the four Jounin senseis' along with Iruka. They were here to make a decision. Nothing they were doing was making Naruto any better. He was getting worse. The virus was eating him whole, devouring him slowly and painfully.

Tsunade didn't stop the tears running down her pale cheeks.

"Have we made the decision then?" Jiraiya said sadly. The others nodded slowly, save for Tsunade and Iruka. Iruka shook his head and said,

"You can't kill him! Don't shut off his life support. He will get better! Please!"

Tsunade turned at looked at the stricken Chuunin and said quietly,

"No, he is not getting better. We have tried everything in our power. It is not fair on Naruto to make him suffer like this. The virus is winning, we have lost. Let's not make him suffer; I can't bear to make him suffer."

Iruka was silent, but she could tell he didn't want his 'son' to die. Tsunade walked slowly to Naruto, staring at his pale cheeks. She reached out a trembling hand to the switch on the life support machine. She stared at it for a few moments, then took a few deep breaths and switched it off. She watched the monitor as it showed his heart rate. The others were also watching the screen as well. After a minute, the heart rate slowed and then stopped altogether. Tsunade then broke down, crying her eyes out. She grabbed Naruto's now lifeless body and held him close, not wanting to let go. Jiraiya came up to her and stroked her hair, trying to sooth her. Kakashi lowered his head and said quietly,

"I'll tell them."

Tsunade didn't go home that night; she stayed in the hospital with her 'brother', crying her heart out. The world now seemed a much bleaker place. When the others were told of his death, they at first denied it, but they couldn't escape the truth. They stayed together, giving comfort and receiving it back. They suddenly seemed empty, hollow, as if something was missing, something big. And it was.