This story is put on hiatus from here on out. There was a long break between chapter four and starting to write chapter five and my writing style plus interests changed to a degree that I don't believe I can continue this story just like that. Eventually I may rewrite it from scratch because it's still dear to me, but for now I do not have the time or energy to invest in this.

This is about the first quarter of chapter five. I figured what the hell, you guys might appreciate getting a glimpse of how the story would have gone on.

A last cursory glance over words that had already been read countless times, a last hastily scribbled signature, blood seal, and...


The face of the woman across from him lit up with a relieved smile, an expression he knew was mirrored on his own.

"Wonderful! On behalf of my country, I just want to say I'm very glad that we were able to reach a consensus so quickly."

Minato smiled wryly and simply nodded, refraining from commenting that it was her government that had started the whole mess in the first place. Wouldn't do to offend the official emissary from Iwagakure who was also the niece of the Tsuchikage.

"The feeling is reciprocated, Takano-san. Was there anything else you'd like to discuss before we conclude the meeting?"

He was mentally begging the foreign diplomat to say no, he was desperate to get out of here after days of practically living at his office, and it was already around eleven pm. By the time he got home Naruto would have fallen asleep already and then Minato wouldn't get to talk to his son again. He would have pouted at the thought if it wouldn't have been entirely undignified.

"No, I think we covered everything. Now let's get out of here." She smiled and winked at him conspirationally while taking her copy of the treaty, getting a light laugh from him.

"Alright." He got up and took the scroll with his copy to put it away, but refrained from tidying up the rest of the paper mess on his desk. He'd have time enough for that tomorrow.

While escorting her out of the office building, Minato contemplated the young, brunet woman that had turned up on their doorstep with an escort of highly trained ninja and a message from the Tsuchikage. Takano Yuri was very intelligent and efficient, a fact which, he had to admit, had surprised him after he had learned that she was the niece of Iwagakure's leader. He had half expected her to have gotten the job simply because of her familial background, but she was seriously skilled at negotiating to her own country's advantage.

"So..." She spoke up as they reached the exit, stopping and turning to him. "We should... celebrate our success, don't you think?"

He raised an eyebrow in surprise, quite sure he knew what she really wanted. She had been rather touchy-feely and all smiles with him, but he had thought it obvious that she was the scheming kind, so he wasn't prepared for this rather blunt offer now. He had expected something along the lines of her inviting him to dinner to thank him for Konoha's hospitality and then starting with the innuendo, but the way she was looking at him now was passing 'subtle seduction' and instead going straight into the area of 'blatant invitation'.

"I'm sorry, Takano-san, but I'm rather exhausted. If you want to go celebrate I will gladly offer you one of my ANBU as guide," he answered calmly, his face schooled into an expression of polite blankness.

Her warm smile cooled a little, but unfortunately, she wasn't ready to give up yet. Instead, she stepped closer to him and laid her hand on his arm-and Minato recoiled.

For a long moment they just stared at each other, one as surprised as the other, then the woman started to scowl, apparently quite offended by his reaction.

"Fine. My team and I will leave tomorrow. It was a pleasure doing business with you, Hokage-sama."

The way she hissed his title so that it sounded more like an insult than a sign of respect made him wince a little, but before he could even get a single word out to apologize she had already whirled around and was storming off.

"Just great," he muttered to himself, hoping he wouldn't have to deal with the fallout of this little episode. He wasn't even sure why he had flinched away from her, all he knew was that he had felt immensely uncomfortable the moment she touched him. Of course he wouldn't have accepted her offer, but he would have preferred to decline in a more polite way. And to top it all off, his whole ANBU escort had witnessed the event.

Sighing, he gave them the dismissal signal and started to walk home, cheering himself up with the thought that at least he'd see his son soon.

The house was dark when he came home, but he shrugged it off, assuming Naruto had already gone to bed. He couldn't expect the teen to stay up and wait for him all the time; besides, he already did it more often than he should as it was.

After kicking his shoes off he ambled down the hallway in the direction of his bedroom, but when he went past the bathroom he heard the shower running. A bit surprised - usually the teen showered in the mornings - he stopped and rapped against the door, calling out, "I'm home!"

He waited for an answer, but there was nothing besides the sound of rushing water. Frowning, he tried again. "Naruto? I'm home!"

He waited a few minutes, but again, nothing. Getting a little worried, he knocked louder and then tried the handle, but to his surprise the door was locked. Strange, the teen usually never did that...

Feeling more and more that something was off about this situation, he started digging through his pockets. "Naruto? Are you alright?"

Again, no answer. He found his lock picks.

"I'm coming in, okay?"

Without wasting more time he started to work on the lock, getting it open in less than ten seconds. He still couldn't hear any movement and with an increasing sense of alarm he entered the room, only to stop short as the hot, steam-filled air hit him. Everything was covered in a thin film of condensed water, making the floor dangerously slippery and breathing slightly difficult. Naruto's clothes were haphazardly strewn around the room, and was that...? It was. There were a few drips of blood here and there, leading to the shower cubicle.

Cold, hard dread settled in his stomach and he carefully picked his way through the mess, afraid of what he would find. What had happened to Naruto? Had he been attacked? And if so, why hadn't Minato been notified? Why hadn't ANBU gotten him to the hospital? Why-

All thoughts left the blond as he opened the sliding door and found his son huddled in the corner, his legs tucked up as tightly as possible with his arms crossed over his chest, his forehead resting on his knees and steaming hot water raining down on him. Feeling an awful lot like someone had just punched him in the gut, Minato just stood there for a moment and stared. Then he hastily slipped out of his coat-it would just get in the way in this small space-and threw it haphazardly behind him, before stepping into the shower, not caring that the rest of his clothes got wet.

Naruto didn't look up as his father crouched down besides him and rested a hand on his bare shoulder; in fact, he didn't even seem to be aware of the fact that he wasn't alone anymore. Minato's heart was racing with suppressed panic, but nothing of that was visible as he gently caressed the teen's shoulders, trying to get the other to acknowledge him.

"Naruto?" he asked quietly, his voice tight with tension. By now, his clothes were drenched with the scaldingly hot water, but he didn't even think about that as he shifted closer to his son and put his free hand on his knee. He couldn't see any bruises, though that didn't mean that the other hadn't been hurt. The young blond's cuts and scrapes usually healed up in half an hour, if not less, but Minato wasn't sure how other wounds would heal.

"Naruto?" he tried again, painfully aware of the waver that had entered his voice. It had been a long, long time since he had last seen the teen look so small, so fragile, and it reminded him of how young the boy truly was.

The tight knot of fear in his stomach wound itself even tighter as he got, once again, no reaction whatsoever. Ignoring the uncomfortable sensation of his sodden clothes sticking to his skin, he awkwardly got down on his knees, and laid his arms around Naruto's shoulders, interlacing his fingers behind his son's neck. He didn't know what was wrong, what had happened, and it was killing him. He wanted to help, to somehow be able to magically make everything better... but all he could do was to be there and hope it was enough.

He lightly laid his forehead on top of the teen's head and nuzzled his nose into the other's wet hair. Confusion, anxiety and helpless anger burning through his veins was making him sick and he clenched his eyes shut, pretending the stinging he felt in them was caused by the scalding hot water drumming down on his back; just like it was the humid air that was making his throat feel tight and his breathing hitch.


It was not a question, just a quiet murmur lost between the swooshing of water and slow, shuddering breaths. He carefully carded his fingers through the soft hair just above the teen's nape, separating the short strands that had gotten tangled up by the water and twirling them this way and that.

Then he closed his eyes and tried not to think about the way he felt his son's shoulders shaking almost imperceptibly.

By the time his eyes had stopped burning and his breathing had calmed down again, Naruto couldn't have said how much time had passed, or even just how late it was. His father's fingers were rubbing soothing circles into his neck and shoulders, and he concentrated on that, on the feeling of reassuring closeness and affection, instead of the seething rage bubbling just beneath his thoughts.

His hands hurt, both probably broken from when he had taken the worst of his anger out on a few hapless boulders, though the cuts and bruises had already faded. He tried moving his fingers a little, and winced at the pain this attempt caused, which in turn made Minato tense up. Feeling the need to reassure the other, Naruto finally brought himself to look up and meet the older one's anxious gaze.

"Hey," he greeted, giving his father a lopsided smile.

Minato forced himself to return the gesture weakly, muttering a quiet, "Hey yourself."

Naruto relaxed back against the tiles behind him, letting his legs slide down so that his father was sitting in between them. Next he held up his hands and stated blankly, "I think I broke my hands."

The older blond froze for a moment, a dangerous look flitting over his face, but before the teen could catch more than a glimpse of that expression promising painful retribution to whoever had hurt his son, it was gone again. Instead, Minato schooled his face into a mask of blank nothingness, nodded, and carefully took his son's wrists to examine just how bad it was. After a few seconds though the frown was back; it seemed Naruto had been right and his hands were broken – both in several places.

"What happened?" He asked gingerly, afraid the other would clam up again.

The teen shrugged and dropped his gaze, then answered reluctantly, "I got angry."

Minato wanted to ask more, the lack of knowledge about who had hurt his son (and thus would die very soon) burning a veritable hole in his stomach, but he decided against it in favour of finally getting out of the shower. He got back up into a crouch, ignoring the feeling of blood returning to his limbs, and tried not to acknowledge the effect the naked, wet teen was having on him.

"Is it okay if we go to my room?"

Naruto nodded and tried to get up as well, but before he could do much more than awkwardly get on his knees, his father had already placed his hands under his son's arms and was lifting him up. The younger blond blinked in surprise when he suddenly found himself set on his feet and the water was shut off, his mind needing a moment to catch up. By the time it did, Minato was looking at him worriedly again, and he hurried to step out of the shower. He didn't want to see that expression in the other's eyes.

The teen shivered as a gust of cool air hit him. His father hadn't closed the door behind him, and thus most of the steam was gone and all that remained was a thin layer of water covering everything. Picking through the mess he had created as he rushed into the shower reminded him of why he had done so in the first place, and he shuddered as he remembered the moment his thoughts had cleared up enough to notice the stench (ash and bamboo) that clung to him. He had felt... dirty. Soiled. Even now, the memory alone was enough to make his hands twitch with the suppressed urge to destroy something.

The sound of a soggy shirt hitting the floor brought him back to the then and there, and he returned his thoughts to figuring out how to dry himself off without using his hands. Before he could come to a conclusion though, a towel was slung around his hips, making him jump. He started to turn around, and yelped in surprise when a second towel landed on his head, his whole body going tense at the unexpected darkness.

Immediately, gentle hands settled on his shoulders and tugged the cloth aside, Minato's low voice murmuring apologies against his ear while he began to carefully rub the teen's hair dry. Naruto exhaled shakily and closed his eyes, the other's caresses helping him to relax his tense muscles. As it did before, his father's close proximity pushed back the rage and fear, replacing it with comfort and security, and Naruto instinctively moved closer, wanting more of that feeling.

As the teen took a step forward, he inclined his head to look up at the other, and Minato froze in mid-motion as he met his son's eyes, dark with some unnamed emotion. There was a quiet intensity in them that unsettled and entranced him at the same time, and he felt as if he had stumbled unexpectedly, unsure what had caused the sudden shift in atmosphere.


The teen's gaze didn't flicker in the slightest, and the spell was only broken when the younger blond took another step closer and pressed himself flush against his father's chest, nuzzling his cheek against the heated skin and letting his eyes fall closed. Minato was only dimly aware of the towel slipping from his hand and falling to the ground with a muted thud, his thoughts having gone quiet, overwhelmed by the urge to protect the fragile being pressing itself against him.

His arms slid around his son's shoulder, his hands settling between the shorter one's shoulder blades and the small of his back respectively. The other's skin was hot wherever they were touching, and if he hadn't known about the shower he'd have thought Naruto was running a fever. As it were, the feel of the smooth, heated skin against his own made him shiver, and instinctively he pressed the other closer, nuzzling his nose into the teen's hair.

Naruto took a deep, shuddering breath, and let it out slowly, focusing his thoughts on the tanned skin interspersed with thin, white lines before him. Close up, he could see just how many old, smoothly healed scars there were, some thicker than others, and he dimly remembered the promise to himself he had made - about finding each and every single scar on his father's body and tasting them. Now was as good a time to start as any, right?

With a mental shrug, and stubbornly not acknowledging the vestiges of rage that were probably even now fueling his aggressive actions, he languidly lapped at one especially eye-catching scar. It was stark white against his father's bronze skin, and strangely jagged, as if someone had carelessly ripped out a shuriken that had gotten lodged in the other's chest. He wasn't sure he wanted to know exactly what had happened.

Minato sucked in a sharp breath in surprise, caught off-guard by his son suddenly trailing his tongue over his skin. He jerked back a little, but immediately stilled again as he met Naruto's gaze. The teen's eyes were somber, smouldering but also strangely blank... and the deepest shade of violet the man had ever seen. He had one moment to comprehend that it was the demon's instincts making his son act this way more than anything else before all thoughts were cut off, smothered under the feeling of the younger blond's lips pressing against his own insistently.

He involuntarily made a small sound of surprise in his throat and stumbled backwards, but Naruto didn't let up, instead continued to push against him until Minato suddenly found himself with his back against the sink. He put one hand on the porcelain to brace himself against his son's weight, but the other hovered uncertainly in the air. This really wasn't the right moment; the teen was hurt and acting under the influence of his baser, demonic instincts. Minato really should push the other away, but he was also aware of the fact that more than anything else, Naruto needed to be comforted right now.

Unsure about what to do, he lightly settled his hand on the younger blond's naked waist and decided that he would stop things if they went to far or the other accidentally hurt himself somehow. He hadn't forgotten that his son's hands were broken, and he tensed when the teen sneaked his arms around his father's neck and lightly crossed them behind his head.

Naruto bit down on Minato's bottom lip until he could taste blood, the older one hissing at the sting of pain, and then sucked it between his teeth, drawing a thrilling little gasp from the other. He knew that this wasn't helping the situation at all, but even while a part of him was yelling at him that randomly making out was no solution to any of their problems, the bigger part was preoccupied with the utterly addicting taste of his father's mouth, that hint of coppery blood only adding to the electricity sparking up and down his spine.

He pushed harder against the other, wanting to get rid of every last inch between them, and sneaked his tongue into the older blond's mouth, feeling another thrill when he was greeted without hesitation and the grip on his waist tightened. The burning in his veins was shifting, gradually changing from the wish to rip something apart to something else entirely, and he wanted more of that.

His hands were completely useless, sending stinging pain up his arms every time one of his fingers so much as twitched, but even that didn't dissuade him in the slightest. Instead he concentrated all the more on what he was doing with his mouth, smiling in satisfaction when he succeeded in drawing a quiet moan from the other .

Minato was rather uncomfortably aware of the fact that the situation was rapidly spinning out of control, but even knowing that he didn't do anything about it, a mixture of the wish to comfort the teen and liquid heat pooling in his stomach keeping him frozen in place, pliant to whatever Naruto wanted to do. Besides, he quite liked the way the other's demanding kiss just seemed to push all his other worries far away, calming him down and setting him on fire at the same time.

He let their full weight rest against the sink and ghosted the fingertips of his now free hand up his son's back, getting a full-body shudder for his efforts, and then rested it in the shorter blond's nape, using it to tilt the other's head further to the side. He could feel Naruto's grin against his mouth and responded in kind, brushing his tongue along the other's lips before biting down softly, getting revenge for the earlier nip. The teen made a low sound at the back of his throat, needy and raw, and Minato could feel it fogging up his mind, chipping away at his self-control.

He promised himself he would stop in a moment, that he just wanted to give his son a little bit more time to calm down, but instead of gradually separating, he allowed his hand to slip down from the other's waist to his already precariously hanging towel, his rough fingertips skipping along the hem and making goosebumps break out all over the teen's skin. Naruto shifted again, tightening his hug around his father's neck - and made a low hiss of pain.

Instantly, Minato froze, sharply reminded of why they were here and that this was an incredibly bad idea. He drew back as if scalded, his hands falling away from his son's body as guilt started gnawing at him. Here they were, Naruto's hands broken and the boy in an extremely distressed state, and all he could think to do was to take advantage of him. God, he was such an ass.

Though the younger blond didn't seem to think so. "Mhh, Minato..."

With his father's mouth out of easy reach, the teen had shifted his focus to the taller one's neck, and Minato found his resolve seriously wavering as teeth and a talented tongue worked at his sensitive skin. Still, broken hands.

"Naruto." He laid his hands on his son's shoulders and pushed, forcing the younger one a step back and getting a sound of dismay for his trouble. "We have to take care of your hands."

Deep purple, slightly glazed eyes glared up at him.