October 13, Yondaime Year 1, three days after the Kyuubi attack

minato 1For the first three days after Kushina’s death, Naruto never stops crying, and Minato never puts him down.

Maybe that first is an exaggeration, Kushina’s dramatics rubbing off on him at last (too late). Naruto wails himself into an angry, exhausted sleep from time to time. The world is too big for a newborn to rail against forever.

Minato envies him, all the same. He wants to scream, wants to weep, wants to shake the foundations of the earth, rage with thunder and whirlwinds against the heavens until the gods themselves kneel down in fear and give him Kushina back. And he could, he thinks sometimes, walking the rooftop in the smoky hours before dawn, with Naruto sniveling against his shoulder and ANBU guards shadowing silently behind—he could challenge the gods, if gods there are in a world burned over. There are demons. Kushina died with one.

Another ANBU appears in a flicker of smoke, kneeling with his fist to the concrete rooftop. “Hokage-sama,” he says, not quietly; Naruto has begun wailing again with the abrupt chakra flare, and he has his mother’s lungs. “They’ve found the Sandaime’s body.”

The bone-white armor is charred and cracked; dried blood masks his tattoo. He reeks of death and fire, and his bowed shoulders tremble, a little, as he waits. Minato isn’t the only one who hasn’t slept since the Kyuubi came.

The ANBU might follow him against heaven. But half of them are dead, and so is the Sandaime, and a quarter of Konoha’s ninja corps. Who would look after the survivors, if Minato waged war against the gods?

He cradles Naruto’s head against his shoulder, rubs the tiny, shaking back. Blinks hard, against the drift of smoke that is all he can breathe, these days.

“I’ll come down,” he says. “Can someone warm a bottle for my son?”

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