Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and was just a fan
Author's Note: My apologies for the super long wait for this last chapter of 'From the Heart'. I have been super busy and distracted. The ending of Bleach recently disappointed me so much that I found myself having to come to terms with my two favourite manga's being rushed…it made me upset as a fan and I find it hard to see why a writer would give up? Once you have started a story you should put the same amount of effort and passion into the end as you do the beginning. Otherwise readers end up with a bitter taste in their mouths. I can deal with shock endings, I can even accept the end pairings, but I cannot accept stories being hasty, unfinished plot lines, characters being ignored and left out and lots of unanswered questions! Oh well, rant over, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, it's part of being human!
Anyway, enough of my ranting. I now need to focus on trying to deliver some NaruSaku and ensuring that I deliver a fitting end to my work…it is a little sad to see this one finally having closure but at the same time I see it as an opportunity to continue with more stories. The NaruSaku pair in my head will still remain there even when this story is forgotten by many.
I want to thank you all though for being dedicated readers, for the constructive feedback and for the positive encouragement. I hope you enjoy this final instalment…
From the Heart
Shikamaru knocked on the door of the Hokage's office and waited for a second before entering the room. He had gotten used to no response being given to visitors and took it upon himself to enter of his own free will. The room was stuffy and he was immediately hit by a familiar scent and shook his head. He's at it again, he realised instantly. As he approached the Hokage's desk he could see a ruffle of blond spikey hair poking out of the top of a wall of papers, appearing to be working hard, yet on closer inspection the man had headphones in his ears and was moving his chopsticks in time with whatever bad taste in music he was listening to. Leaning forward the wiser man reached out and gently pushed a pile of paperwork out of the way and caught sight of a magazine that had been propped up against it and now fell over. Naruto instantly paused in his actions and sharp blue eyes slowly looked up at the man standing over him. His gormless expression gave a nervous grin before slowly sucking in a noodle that was hanging from his lips. Shikamaru raised an eyebrow at his friend and leader, before turning his gaze back in the direction of the magazine. The image of a half-naked woman could be seen on the front cover and he rolled his eyes.
"Working hard I see" the brunette pointed out, a hint of disappointment in his voice. Naruto removed the headphones and turned off the music. His face was a little pale and he looked like he hadn't slept much yet the 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' look made him seem childish and guilty.
"I was just taking a short break!" Naruto defended when he saw the disapproval in his friend's features. Shikamaru placed his hands on his hips and sighed, short my ass, he thought. This Hokage was as lazy as the last two when it came to paperwork. Luckily for Naruto though he had people like himself and Shino who were quite adept at getting things done and often had to pick up his slack. "Well, break or not I advise you tidy yourself up as you have a visitor heading over" he remarked casually. Trying his best to not lose complete control of his temper. It was times like this that he had to keep reminding himself that Naruto was great at keeping meetings short and to the point. He handled negotiations well and had a lot of friends in very high places. He didn't take crap from others but at the same time listened to people's views and respected his elders. When it came to the small stuff though, like choosing the right groups of students to team up, sorting out the exams, delegating missions and so on, Naruto preferred to let others take the lead as he found it all a bit too boring.
"Who is coming?" Naruto asked, snapping the man from his thoughts and clearly contemplating how much he had to clean up depending on who was likely to walk through the door.
"Your wife" his friend replied, emphasising the last word with an evil glint in his eye and a wry smile. It was the small things that made him feel better about the situation. If anyone was able to kick Naruto into action on his lazy days, it was Sakura and it was always amusing to watch.
Naruto's eyes opened wide in panic and he immediately grabbed at the magazine on his desk, along with several others that were laying around on the floor, before quickly ramming them into his top drawer. He scanned the area desperately and rammed some papers under his seat before gathering up the rubbish and putting it in the bin, masking it with a blanket. The sound of footsteps outside the room caught their attention and Naruto sat down, breathing as if he had just done a marathon. Letting out a deep breath he turned around and faced his wife with a huge smile on his face.
Sakura however, was no stranger to Naruto's antics and could see right through his 'up to something' look. With a raised eyebrow she acknowledged Shikamaru and then scanned the state of the room. In an instant she understood what was happening. "I take it you won't be needing lunch then?" she asked, lifting a wrapped parcel for him to see.
Naruto didn't have the heart to tell his wife that her cooking wasn't all that great, which was why he spent money on eating take out all the time, but he did feel incredibly guilty when she caught him out and found himself unable to respond. As if reading his mind Sakura pushed the package into his arms and sighed, "Rin made it" she stated clearly. With that her husband's face lit up. His daughter making him food made him proud and also thankful. Rin, learning that her parents were both useless in the kitchen, forced herself to start to learn to cook and she proved to be very good at it.
Naruto took the package with a smile and walked around to his seat in hope that he could open it and see what sort of design his daughter made this time, a panda, a dog or maybe a cute heart…As he slowly unravelled the fabric and took of the lid though he was filled with some disappointment. "What happened to our innocent daughter?" he asked out loud. Sakura, having been staring at some of the paperwork at the top of his desk put it down a moment to look over his shoulder at the gift from their child. When her eyes landed on food made to look like Naruto's face screaming in pain she couldn't help but smile a little.
"She is still upset that you missed her parent evening but managed to make Kazuo's" Sakura spoke up.
Naruto frowned and placed the package gently on the desk, "I couldn't be in two places at once, a clone was all I oculd do" Naruto replied, "there was no way of getting out of it" he excused.
Sakura glanced over at the man who remained in the room watching them carefully, his eyes showing a glimpse of amusement, but when he caught her gaze this soon changed to a gulp. Sakura's face told him to leave them some privacy and if he didn't he would pay a price. Bowing he turned and left the room in somewhat of a hurry. Sakura sighed and turned back to look at the sullen face of her husband. Naruto always tried so hard to spend as much time with the family as he could, even sometimes sending his shadow clones to meetings, until he got caught out and in serious trouble at risking being neglectful. Being a leader and working hard to prevent world war wasn't easy. You couldn't satisfy anyone and you had to make sacrifices.
She walked up to the back of his chair and felt him freeze for a moment, anxious about what she was going to do next. She placed her hands on his head and then down his neck and around his front, hugging him. He could feel her breathing in his ear, "she misses you when you are gone" she stated, "we all do" she squeezed him lightly and kissed him on the cheek, "you can't blame us right?" she asked. Naruto went to reach up to place his hands on her forearms, appreciating the sudden hug, when he felt her move to his side and the sound of a drawer open. "Though I guess you can't miss us that much" she stated, pulling out a magazine and shaking it in his face as she leant on the table. The view of a prominent bump was visible and he felt like he was being judged.
"It's not what you think!" he commented, watching her flick through the pages and a vein slowly start to develop on her forehead, "I like the romance section!" he confessed. Sakura slowly turned her head to him and the glare she gave warned him that he better not be lying to her. Naruto stood up instantly and took the magazine from her hands, turning it to the page he was referring to. Unfortunately, it was next to a page of a girl in a topless situation, causing his wife to look seriously unimpressed. Sakura was always so self-conscious about the way she looked and being pregnant again didn't help with that as she felt she was bloating out and looked fat, heavy and unhelpful. Not to mention what the hormones did to her mood! "This page!" he stated, tapping the love story article section where people sought advice about their love lives. Sakura glanced at it and raised an eyebrow. She found it hard to believe he of all people would be interested in this bullshit but when he took it from her and pointed to a particular section he seemed to smile at it, "this guy was having a hard time getting the girl he wanted" he commented, moving away from her slightly as he read it, "I put in some advice in the last article and it looks like it worked!" he stated proudly, turning the article around so she could see it again. She watched his child like grin and knew he wasn't lying.
"So, what advice did you give?" she asked, testing him and seeking to hear it from himself instead of reading it.
Naruto's face though went a little crimson and as embarrassment rose in him he moved the magazine, shut it and chucked it in the bin. "Um, nothing much" he stated, suddenly feeling a bit shy and awkward. Despite the years they had been together now he still found it difficult to express himself without becoming this way…unless he had her in a vulnerable position that was. Then he was able to be the one to make her blush. Yet despite his feelings he wasn't one to lie or hide things from her so he continued, "I told him to not give up" he stated. Sakura blinked and as he lifted his head to look at her she couldn't help but soften the look she gave him, letting out a small laugh and causing him to look surprised.
"What's funny about that?" he asked, suddenly upset that his advice was being laughed at.
Sakura coughed and shook her head, smiling fondly. She pushed herself off the desk and reached out to him, pulling his arm into her and kissing him gently on the lips. The motion was brief but it was enough to show she was not holding a grudge and everything was fine. For Sakura it was a relief to see that there was still a hint of the old Naruto within the man she married. He was smart and mature about the important things in life and won many people over, but as wise as he could be around feelings and issues such as war, when it came to love he remained as pure as he was the day she met him, it was rather refreshing.
"Don't forget that today is Shinachiku's birthday" she suddenly stated, moving away from him. Naruto instantly missed her warmth and pouted when she started to move away from the desk, pausing momentarily to look at the stacks of paper on his desk. The amount of work worried her and she looked up at him, "you aren't going to miss it this time are you?" she asked. Their 3rd child turned 4 this year and although Naruto was there when he was born, instantly falling in love with the fact he had blond hair like his father and green eyes like his mothers, he missed his 3rd birthday due to work and by the time he showed up the children had gone to bed. He had never felt so guilty in all his life and although no one blamed him and he apologised profusely his own feelings made him see himself as a bad father.
"I won't miss it" he promised. As the words came out of his mouth he became more determined, "I definitely won't" he stated again, and with that he raised his hands and crossed his fingers in a familiar fashion, "Shadow clone jutsu!" Instantly another 20 Naruto's crammed themselves into the room. Sakura found herself practically forced forward against the desk as his clones came in close for their orders.
"Excuse me Sakura-chan" one of them stated as hands placed themselves on her hips and moved her gently away from the desk, back in the direction of her husband, passed from one clone to the next as if she were dancing. A strong arm reached out and stopped her dizzying movements, holding her still momentarily before parting from her and continuing in dividing up the paperwork to the blond mass before them. Another clone brushed past her and apologised by nodding, before pausing for a moment to admire her, "You look beautiful today Sakura-chan" he beamed. Sakura felt her cheeks reddening a little. It still took getting used to the fact that each of these clones showed different elements to Naruto's own personality. It was like they were him but weren't at the same time. Due to that factor her husband ensured that they never called her anything but 'sakura-chan' as she was his wife and his alone. Despite that though she often found that each would take any little opportunity they could to touch her or speak to her.
When he was done the Hokage turned to his wife and grinned widely. She watched him as he reached out a hand and ushered her to him. "Shall we get out of here?" he asked.
"But your work?" Sakura replied.
"It's being done" he responded with a shrug, stepping closer to her and taking her hand in his own. If she wasn't going to come to him then he would come to her. She let him pull her in close, a hand placing itself on her bump and stroking her fondly. "Besides, I can think of a ton of stuff I would rather be doing" he confessed.
"You keep this pace up and you won't have any energy left later" Sakura pointed out, pushing him away gently as she scolded him. He often tried too hard to please everyone, being in multiple places at the same time and not always getting the level of sleep he needed…not to mention his unhealthy diet. Then he would fall asleep or lose track and end up late, forgetful and helpless.
Naruto frowned and pulled her back into him, resting his head on her forehead and closing his eyes, "right now I just want to be with you and the children" he remarked, practically pleading for her to let him slack off for a day.
"Really?" Sakura asked, a wry smile appearing on her lips, "you know full well that Rin and Kazuo are at school" she commented, wondering what exactly he had in mind. As Naruto leaned in closer and kissed her on the neck she could feel his clones pausing in their work and watching them. "You know I should warn you that Shinachiku is…" Sakura started, but when the door burst open and an upset Tenten walked in carrying a toddler by the scruff of the neck it answered things for her.
"Let me go you old hag!" the child protested as he tried to wriggle free from her. Unlike their eldest this one was a bit more to handle with a defiant personality of his own, taking after both his parents, he had his mother's short temper and his father's stubbornness.
"I am sorry Sakura-chan but I can't handle this brat for another minute!" their friend stated, making her feelings quite clear that her and their son just didn't see eye to eye. Yet as if noticing the couple in front of them for the first time Tenten blushed and Shinachiku blinked several times.
"Dad what are you doing to mum?" their son asked out of the blue, noticing their closeness and how red his mother's face was. Sakura instantly pulled away from her husband at the realisation of how things looked. Tenten seeming a little surprised spoke up hesitantly, "Sorry, this is clearly a bad time" she commented, lowering the child in her arms and setting him on the floor, but not letting him go.
"What has he done this time?" Sakura spoke up, glaring at the boy on the floor who looked up at her with defiance in his eyes before suddenly turning a shade of grey as he sensed his mother's anger and disappointment. He crossed his arms and looked away from her as Tenten finally let him go and rose to directly face his firesome mother.
"He is trying to pick fights with all the children again" Tenten remarked. "A few of them have been left in tears"
Naruto stepped forward and looked down at the boy, "is this right?" he asked, showing his upset but giving him the chance to tell them himself. His son glanced up at his father, the man he admired the most in the world and puffed his cheeks in denial before nearly turning beetroot and giving in, hanging his head in shame.
"I want to be like you!" he tried to defend himself.
Naruto crouched down and tried to look the small child in the face. He waited patiently until the boy lifted his head and looked him in the eye. "You want to be a ninja?" Naruto asked, a little worried at the realisation and also a little proud.
"I want to be Hokage!" Shinachiku replied. The statement surprised the three adults and they all started to burst into laughter at the same time. Realising he was the butt of their joke the boy became upset and angry, "What's so funny?!" he asked. It was likely that if anyone else laughed at him he took immediate offence and expressed himself negatively.
Naruto rubbed his head affectionately, "You know there is more to being the Hokage than fighting" he stated clearly.
Sakura watched the two of them fondly and was startled when Tenten shared an idea of her own which she hoped would help the boy see the light, "Why don't you spend a day with the Hokage at work and see what it's all about?" she spoke up with a smile. Naruto's expression changed to a solumn one but his son was staring at him with stars around his little body in excitement. Naruto didn't have the heart to tell him it would be pointless and he would just be bored, watching him fill in paperwork and have adult discussions with other people. It really wasn't as fun as he even thought it would be. The best thing about the job was the feeling people gave him when they looked up to him. That feeling of respect, trust and love was far better than the feelings of loathing, hate and judgement he had as a child. Yet despite his position his children didn't necessarily get it easy. They had their own points to prove, being the children of the great Hokage and famous medical leader of the country they were often judged and had to prove their ability under the limelight and pressures. When they were seen, lacking things could sometimes get nasty.
As if reading the mood, a shadow clone approached and spoke to the Hokage directly, "why don't you head out for today, we've got this" he reassured. The boy looked up at the image of his father and then out to the other Naruto's in the room. Seeing so many of him though didn't seem to faze the little guy at all, he was used to it and if anything he wished he could do that too one day.
"I want to help too!" the child spoke up in excitement.
Naruto realised that if he didn't say something soon he would look bad and yet he didn't want his son hovering around the office nor did he want to let him down either. "Well today is a special day and I don't think work is something we should worry about" he stated clearly, picking his son up and putting him over his shoulders. At least they had a perfectly good excuse to put the job shadowing on hold for now. Sakura stepped forward and cupped her son's face as he grabbed hold of his father's hair to balance himself, sustaining a groan from the older man.
"Your father is taking a day off work to spend with you today" Sakura beamed.
Naruto frowned and studied her for a second, "all of you" he remarked but the sly smile his wife gave him made him realise suddenly he was about to be abandoned.
"I have a hospital appointment to get to" Sakura confirmed, "then us girls were going to head out for a drink" she added, as if rubbing in his face the fun experiences she would have as he became a slave for a day.
"Is it the scan today?" Tenten asked, a little excited as she stepped into the room. Sakura turned and her friend placed a hand on her stomach, rubbing the bump smoothly.
"Yes, it is" Sakura confirmed, "though I will be glad when she comes out" she stated, placing a hand on her lower back. Her body was feeling it more and more with each pregnancy and as such they both promised this would be the last…though her husband made a puppy face at her when they talked about it initially, like he was worried that he wouldn't be able to lay his hands on her again. It was embarrassing when she had to explain to him he could still practice.
Tenten raised her head and looked from Sakura to Naruto and back again, "Have you thought of a name yet?" she asked, super excited at the fact they were having another girl.
Naruto looked at his wife who shared a look with him before shaking her head, "no we haven't thought of one yet" she admitted.
"Hanami" their son suddenly called out. All three of them looked up at him and he confidently looked back down at them, "I want her to be called Hanami" he stated clearly as if his word was the law and it was final.
Tenten blinked then suddenly smiled, "you know that's not a bad name" she chided.
Naruto thought about it for a moment and watched the thoughtful expression Sakura was wearing as she gently stroked her bump. "I agree" he confirmed, snapping her from her thoughts. Sakura lifted her head to take the image of her husband and their son into her mind, they were like twins and she saw them as totally adorable, but at the same time needed to feel like she was the one in control, "I will think about it" she stated stubbornly as she turned to walk out of the room, coaxing the dark haired woman to follow her. She paused by the door and looked back at Naruto again "While you are in town I need you to stop by the bakery and Ino's store" her eyes glanced up at their son for a moment and back down and Naruto understood. He was being given the responsibility to pick up the cake and decorations. He nodded in understanding and watched as the door closed behind the women. There was silence for a moment until Naruto felt his son move around on his head and tug at clumps of his hair.
"Ow!" the Hokage protested, "What are you doing up there?" he asked.
"Nothing!" his younger version protested.
Naruto sighed, realising quickly that this was going to be a long day, "well where do you want to go today?" he asked.
"Rin-san!" a voice called out, causing the twins to turn around to see who it was.
"urgh" Kazuo grimaced, yet another guy heading in their direction after his sister. He took a step forward as he held his bag over one of his shoulders. It was his protective and dominating look that helped keep most of the guys at bay. A look he managed to master thanks to his mother. Once you could overcome the demon aura from that woman you didn't fear anything anymore. "What do you want?" he asked, his tone of voice clearly aggravated. This was beginning to become a daily occurrence and as he often walked home with Rin he found it more of a nuisance than she did. The boy before them hesitated in his tracks for a moment and stopped a few feet in front of them. His mouth quivered and eye twitched as a bead of sweat started to pour from his head, causing his glasses to slide a little down his face. Rin placed a hand in front of her brother and gently pushed him back as she stepped closer, meeting the boy with a radiant smile.
"What can I do for you?" she asked politely. The boy's features turned a shade of pink and Kazuo rolled his eyes. They fall for it every time, he noted to himself. He was the only one who knew what his sister could truly be like. She had an outward kindness and inner demon.
"Um…well…" the guy stammered glancing from her to her brother as if he was the reason for his hesitation.
Rin turned to face her twin and her long red hair swayed as she did so. He watched her carefully and noted how the smile faded from her face as her back turned to the man behind her, "leave" she ordered. Kazuo didn't bat an eyelid at her request and shrugged his shoulders. He couldn't care less about what happened to her, if anything he felt for the guy that remained behind her.
"Fine" he muttered, turning around and heading into the house first. "Just be quick about it, I'm hungry" he complained, making it clear that he disliked waiting. Rin turned to face their guest and smiled at him softly, taking the boys breathe away and stood there waiting patiently, conscious of the group of boys up ahead that were watching them.
As Kazuo closed the front door and went to take his shoes off he placed his bag on the ground and heard a shrill complaint coming from the kitchen. "Where is it?!" his mother's voice made, him cringe, she was clearly not in a good mood. He paused for a moment wondering which would be his best option…1) go back outside and face the wrath of his sister, 2) go inside and face the wrath of his mother or 3) try to sneak out the back or up to his room… "Naruto?" his mother's voice called out as if needing help, "is that you?" Kazuo sighed, he forgot his mother had super good hearing.
"No, it's me" he called back, daring to step into the threshold and towards the kitchen, the scene he saw though surprised him, "Mum why are you standing on the kitchen table?" he asked.
Sakura was hunched forward with a shoe in her hand, staring at the floor, "That THING of YOURS is LOOSE AGAIN!" she snapped, pointing the slipper in his direction like it was all his fault.
He raised an eyebrow, "you mean Bob?" he asked, knowing exactly what she was getting at. Bob was the name he had given to his pet tarantula. Kazuo had chosen to take after his mother in the direction of science. He proved to be adept at healing and had put himself into studying plants and animals from all over the world. As such he kept a selection of unusual things in a hut out back, but often forgot the fact that his mother hated creepy crawlies or anything slimy. It always amused him considering she summoned slugs, but she would state clearly that they were different.
"You better find it before I do!" Sakura threatened. Kazuo knew she meant it too. The amount of times they had to repair the house because of her temper caused a huge financial hole…though it wasn't like they couldn't afford it with their parents being in highly respected job roles, it was just a scary pain in the ass.
"Yeah, I am on it" he mumbled, entering the room and looking around. He knelt down on one knee on the floor and placed a hand on the cold tiles. "Come" he stated as a stream of chakra covered the ground, like feelers, luring the large arachnoid from its hiding place behind the fridge. He heard his mother gasp from behind him and smiled. This was a trick that he had learnt from Shino-sensei and one that made him the go to person for getting rid of bugs in the classroom, causing him a small boost in popularity with the ladies. It was thanks to his mother he learnt that trick.
Bob walked up his arm and sat on his shoulder. Kazuo stood up and turned to walk around the table and towards the back door that led into the garden. He could see his mother flinch from the corner of his eye before she carefully lowered herself to the floor. He took Bob back to his cage and double locked it this time, leaving a treat in there to keep him busy before heading back into the house. On his return to the kitchen his mother's initial ashen face seemed to have gained some colour and he looked around at the mess she had made. He walked up to what looked like a batch of cookies that actually smelt pretty good. As a hand reached out to touch them it was snapped back from the swipe of a dish cloth. "Hey!" he complained.
"They are for our guests!" his mother stated clearly. When he looked her way, he noticed she was covered in flour and icing sugar and had clearly been working hard to bake. He had to admire the work she put into things, it was why he never gave up himself. "Where is your sister?" she asked, as if only just noticing that they were alone.
Kazuo shrugged, "she is being confessed to again" he commented, half-heartedly. The raised eyebrow from the older woman made him add, "most likely anyway" as he couldn't be certain.
"Really?" his mum seemed to be a little too excited by this information and turned to run into the living room to sneak a peek through the front window. With his mother out of the room Kazuo snuck a cookie and bit into it, his eyes opening in surprise, hmmm, these aren't that bad he noticed, pleasantly pleased. His mother's cooking wasn't always the best and he often felt for his father who suffered from stomach cramps now and then at trying her knew experiments, but when his mum really tried she didn't do too much of a bad thing.
Rin stood there for what seemed like an eternity as the boy in front of her struggled to get his words out. She was patient though, sometimes too patient. She had learnt from her mother a long time ago that you shouldn't judge people on their appearances alone. Her mother had judged her father when they first met and she had been proven wrong about him, so no matter what idiot, moron or fiend that came Rin's way, she always tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. Well, she would keep trying until her patience wore thin. It was disappointing for her to realise that not every moron turned out to be a hero like her father…in fact it seemed he was a rare breed.
"Um…I….well…you may not know me" the guy blurted out, "I am from class 2:2" he stumbled. Rin continued to smile sweetly at him but her expression made him lose a little of his nerve. "You see I…." he started, pausing to breathe before lifting his head up high with his eyes closed, "I have been watching you for a while and would like you to be my girlfriend!" he rushed, stopping only to open his eyes slowly to wait for her answer.
Rin sighed, she appreciated it wasn't easy for a guy to confess to a girl and the fear of rejection was probably a huge thing but she was bored of acts like this. They barely knew her and came to her just because of her looks and her heritage. This one was no different…he couldn't even look her in the eyes. "Sorry but I am not interested" Rin replied kindly. She watched as his eyes looked a little upset for a moment before opening wide in surprise and horror. His mouth opened and closed without any words forming for a few moments and she knew instantly something was behind her. A large shadow and dark aura cast over her protectively and she couldn't help but smile as she watched the boy and his friends back away. "I'm sorry to bother you" he rushed before running away like a coward.
Rin sighed, "such a let down" she commented. She may only be young but she was smart for her age and always ahead of the game. Where her brother sought to enhance his mind she sought to enhance her body and as such was looking for someone with confidence in themselves and who could keep pace with her and so far that was no one. She hadn't made her mind up yet about what she wanted to do as she got older but she had been rumoured to be suitable for an ANBU position, mainly because of her fearlessness.
"RIN!" the sound of her excited younger brothers voice caught her attention and she turned around to see the image of her exhausted, messy and rather scary looking father collapsing onto all fours behind her as her younger brother jumped off his shoulders and ran towards her, throwing himself into her arms. Shinachiku was definitely outgoing and full of energy. Hanging around him was never dull and her mother always noted that out of them all it was her that he would listen to the most. Her mum felt that she would make a great teacher one day.
"Dad are you alright?" Rin asked, noticing the jelly baby like figure now prone on the floor. The groaning sound of his voice made her aware he was still alive. She put two and two together and upon seeing the shopping bags next to him she realised he had been with their brother the whole day for his birthday. Isn't he lucky?! She thought, trying not to let the inner side of her get jealous again. "Did you get your lunch?" she asked with a wry smile. She watched as her father's body went a little rigid before it nodded its head. She could see the guilt all over him and knew he was sorry.
Sakura watched through the window as her daughter stepped forward and reached out a hand to help her father up off the street before making her brother take responsibility for carrying something, and helping bring the bags into the house. Shit, she suddenly realised, I have spent all this time watching them and the kitchen is a mess! She ran into the kitchen but was hit by sparkly cleanliness. Kazuo and two of his clones stood by the kitchen sink, window and table, wiping the surfaces down. The gesture was incredibly kind and would be appreciated by most mothers, but Sakura knew her son oh too well. Like his father, he would sometimes do nice things as a sign of guilt. "You ate some didn't you?!" she asked, accusatory, watching as the clones froze before disappearing to leave him to it. He turned around and grimaced a little, with a crumb still on the sides of his mouth.
"I didn't have them all!" he protested, "just a little!" backing away in fear for his life.
The sound of the others coming through the door made Sakura's mood change and she turned to him with a desperate look in her face, "did they taste okay?" she asked, shaking him. Kazuo smiled, understanding the expression his mother was showing, she hated to be a disappointment.
"They were great mum" he reassured her. The relief on her face made him feel more at ease and he started to help lay things out on the table quickly. Admiring their work Sakura looked to him and pulled him into her, kissing him on the forehead softly. The action made him push her away in embarrassment, rubbing his head, although he couldn't hide the blush that came on his cheeks. His mother's attention was soon drawn away though when his father walked into the room. Sakura walked up to him and looked at their youngest with a disappointed expression. She took the bags from them and then immediately spun Naruto around, "bathroom now!" she stated clearly. Shinachiku tried to avoid it and instead headed towards the table where he could see all the goodies, but his mother grabbed him by the back of his clothes and sent him in the same direction as his dad. The pair were filthy. Sakura turned to her eldest son, "can you make sure they behave themselves" she requested. It was a lot to ask a child to look after their parent but at times like this needs must and given the fact he just scoffed a few cookies down he had no right to complain about it or she would make him pay.
There was a knock at the door and Sakura jumped, she looked at the clock and started to panic a little, "They are early!" she stated, rushing around to lay things out and make it look a little better. She went to head towards the door as it knocked a second time.
"Um Mum…" Rin's voice spoke up, interrupting her, "I think you need to look in the mirror too" she advised. Sakura frowned at her daughter before turning to catch a glimpse of herself in the reflection of the window and immediately grabbed a damp cloth and started to wipe flour from her face, removing her apron and disposing it in the laundry. It wasn't perfect but being a mother taught Sakura that you couldn't do everything. Composing herself she let out a deep breath before putting on her best smile and heading in the direction of the front door. Rin watched in admiration as her mother greeted their guests one at a time. Their house was relatively big and spacious so there was plenty of room for the couples that entered with their children in tow. Making an excuse she made her way to her room to get changed out of her school clothes.
"Not long now" Kiba commented as he noted Sakura's stomach. He and Hinata now had two of their own and he wouldn't change them for the world, even though they had him running around more than her own children did to Naruto. Bringing up wolf like kids came with its own problems she realised, especially when one of them took after his mother and was being seen as the future heir of the hyuga house hold.
"Four weeks" Sakura commented. She looked at Hinata and then back to him, "do you plan on having any more?" she asked with a smile. Kiba's face went pasty white at the thought, hell no, was what he was thinking in his head, but he chose to shake it instead.
"I don't know how you cope with three" he remarked, "let alone a fourth" he noted.
Sakura wondered the same herself but she hadn't realised before just how much of a family person she was deep down. Yet it wasn't easy that was for sure, with their work ethics managing to have time with the children was hard, but they made sure they had it. Even if Naruto was working until late in the office he would always take a break to see the children to bed and sit down to have dinner with them. It was the small things that mattered and as long as they managed to remember the special occasions everything else could be forgiven.
"Mum where are the candles?" Rin asked, interrupting the conversation.
"Is there something I can help with?" Lee asked, approaching them. Sakura handed him her drink to hold and shook her head.
"No thank you Lee" she stated with a smile. With him he brought his own daughter. It was a thankful moment that she did not end up with bushy eyebrows like her father and took more of her mother's looks. That didn't stop her from being as passionate as her dad though.
Sakura headed into the kitchen with her daughter and started to look around for the candles to light the cake as the door went again, turning to Ino she said "sorry would you mind?" The blond woman happily handed her husband a tray of food to offer out to people as she headed to the front door.
"I think they are up there" Sakura commented, pointing to the very top of the cupboards where a box was kept of odd bits and pieces she was yet to sort out. "Hand me the stool" she told Rin. Rin moved around the people in the kitchen and collected the stool for her mother before placing it by her feet, near the door. Sakura carefully stood on it and reached up to collect the box.
"SHINA!" the voice of Kazuo called out, yelling at his brother and sounding a little exasperated, "hold on!"
Rin felt her temple throb and looked around the door to find out what was happening, "WHAT IS IT NOW?!" she barked, forgetting for a moment that they had guests present and receiving several silent stares. The image of her youngest brother with nothing but a pair of pants on, running down the stairs, visibly wet hit everyone as Kazuo tried to chase him with his top. Luckily the older one was dressed himself, though his red hair stuck to his face and made him seem a little like the Kazekage. Their guests couldn't help but laugh at the commotion, it was a typical day for the Uzumaki household. "Would both of you cut it out?" Naruto asked as he appeared at the base of the stairs himself.
"Dad, do something!" Rin demanded, it was embarrassing as it was.
In that moment just as Naruto walked towards his daughter to address his sons Kazuo managed to dive forward, catching Shinachiku in his arms, "Gotcha!" he stated happily. But the two slipped and glided along the floor and into Rin who stumbled and slammed backwards into the door beside her. She felt the door hit something as she fell to the floor and the sudden realisation of who was behind the door dawned on her.
"SAKURA!" the voice of Hinata made them all begin to panic. In that moment everything went into slow motion and the children could do nothing but watch as their mother lost her balance, falling from the stool beneath her. The box in her hands flew backwards and they could see people running to help. Then as if time caught up with them, in a flash of an instant strong arms caught Sakura just in time as blur of black reached out and caught the box just before it landed on the birthday cake.
The room remained silent for several moments as what just happened sunk into them all. Rin, Kazuo and Shinachiku looked up at their parents in shock and admiration. Naruto stood carrying Sakura in a bridal fashion, "are you okay Sakura-chan?" he asked her, deadly serious in his tone. Sakura placed a hand on his chest and nodded in relief. He placed her onto her feet and she held onto her stomach for a moment. Hinata ran to her side to make sure that she was alright as Naruto turned to look down at his children, a darkness hovering over him. Now, if anyone ever thought Naruto couldn't control his kids this was the moment to witness that they were wrong. Naruto could be fun loving, caring and doting but he could also be very serious, stern and unforgiving. It was one of those expressions that told the children, without words, just how serious of a problem this could have been and they knew the warning well.
Kazuo knew from his father's look that there was no point wasting his breathe and blaming his youngest brother as he was also old enough to know better to be safe in the house. Rin also knew that even if she wasn't at fault there was no point trying to state as such. Things happened for a reason and every action had a reaction and a consequence. All of them were to blame.
"Mum…." The soft and shaky voice of their brother broke through the silence as his eyes watered up at the realisation that he could have hurt her and his little sister that was inside of her. "I'm….zzzzzoooorrrriiiieeee" he wailed as he knelt on the floor. Unable to pick him up with her bump, Sakura placed a hand on her husband's shoulder, reassuring him and breaking his mood. Realising he was creating a negative atmosphere for something which was an honest mistake Naruto shook his head to snap himself out of it and reached down to pick the youngest one up in his arms and turn him to face his mother. Silently and without looking at them he made room for the other two to enter the group hug as well. "Sorry mum" the twins whispered at the same time as they hugged her apologetically.
"Well, he has plenty of spirit" Ino chided with a smile, breaking the ice that had formed in the room.
"He is more wild than his father" the voice of the Uchiha stated, gaining the attention of the family, "where shall I put this?" he asked, holding up the box he had caught the moment he saw it go.
Sakura broke away from her family and turned to look at their friend. Even after all these years of him proving loyalty to Naruto and the village people still felt uncomfortable around him. "Please place it over here" she stated, showing a space on the table, "I was looking for the candles" she remarked, hunting through the box. She found what was needed and looked around for a light…she stopped and starred at the darker haired man before her.
"What is it?" he asked, wondering why she was studying him so carefully. Sakura held out her hand with the candles in it and smiled at him softly.
"Would you mind?" she asked. He wasn't able to say no and took the items from her, walking up to the back door and into the garden. The guests all watched out of the window as he summoned his fire ball technique, mastering it to such a degree that he could control the amount of fire and the target it was focussed on.
So cool, Rin thought as she watched her uncle in admiration. If only other men could be like him, she thought.
"I want learn that!" Shinachiku stated as the man entered the room, giving the candles to Sakura to place on the cake.
"I thought you wanted to be Hokage?" Naruto asked, a little irritated that his son changed his mind again.
"Sounds to me like he wants to be cool" Ino chided, gaining a frown from the Hokage as everyone else laughed. No matter how much time went by Naruto would always show a hint of jealousy towards the friend he saved.
"Okay now, it's ready!" Sakura stated proudly. They all gathered around the table and Naruto placed his son on the chair closest to the cake. With his parents either side of him Shinachiku felt like the luckiest boy in the world.
"Now you have to make a wish" Naruto remarked.
"Ready?" Sakura asked. Rin and Kazuo looked at each other and smiled as the three took in a deep breath and let it out together, blowing the candles out in one swoop.
"What did you wish for?" Kiba asked. Naruto looked up at him and covered his son's mouth before he spoke.
"Wishes don't come true if you say them out loud!" he remarked.
"You are just worried he wished to be like Sasuke" Tenten teased from the side lines. The comment resulted in the room roaring with laughter, as much to the Hokage's dismay.
1 month later
"Where is she?!" the voice of the Hokage called as he ran down the corridor, taking the nurses and doctors by surprise.
"Naruto" Ino spoke up, standing in his path. She turned and pointed to the room where his wife was being held. There had been some minor complications during the delivery and Naruto had to remain out of the room with his other children, pacing back and forth, worried out of his mind.
"Is she alright?" Kazuo asked on behalf of his father who was too emotional to get any words out as he ran into the room ahead of them, the moment he realised his wife was in there. Ino nodded and placed a hand on both Kazuo and Rin's heads, ruffling their hair.
"Your mum is the strongest woman I know" she commented, "they will both be fine" she reassured.
The twins looked at one another. Their brother was standing in between them, holding their hands, evidently nervous about the way things were over the past 24 hours. It was all too much for any of them. They waited as Ino walked past them before heading towards the entrance of the room. In that moment, they saw a very tired and shattered Sakura sitting up in the bed. Their father towered over her, looking down at a small mound of cloth in her arms. The tears in his eyes and smile on his face reassured them that everything was okay. He looked up and saw them hesitate by the door. Bending to kiss Sakura on her forehead before taking the bundle of joy from her arms he walked a few steps and lowered himself to the ground so they could get a better look. Rin looked at Kazuo who looked down at Shinachiku before taking the lead and ushering them all forward.
"She's small" the blond spoke up first, letting go of his siblings' hands now he seemed to have his own feet and get some confidence back.
The other two looked down and their hearts melted too. They could barely remember the day their brother was born but knew they would definitely not forget this moment. "She is going to have mum's hair" Kazuo noticed, glancing the faint tint of pink in the small tuft on his sister's head.
Rin reached out a hand and her sister held onto her little finger for a moment as she wriggled in her father's arms. "Finally, another girl in the house" she remarked, happy to have a sister to share with and talk to about girly things.
They followed their father as he took Hanami back to rest in her mother's arms, jumping up on the bed to surround her. "She has your eyes" Sakura noted as the pale blue appeared briefly as she opened and closed her eyes to adjust to the new world she had been brought into.
"Can I have another brother next?" Shinachiku asked innocently. Sakura could feel Naruto look at their son and then hesitatingly looking at her as she watched their daughter carefully.
"If your father wants more he will have to give birth to them himself" she stated harshly, snapping his thoughts in two. The thought of a man trying to give birth made Naruto want to cross his legs. The lemon shaped look on his face gave it away.
Kazuo grabbed his brother's head in a head lock and ruffled his hair, "you don't need another brother" he remarked, "I should be enough!"
Sighing with relief at the distraction from his own children Naruto let the two boys play fight each other as Rin scolded them like their mother.
A knock came to the door and they looked up, "I hope I am not disturbing you" Kakashi spoke up as he stepped into the room. The children instantly stopped what they were doing as they saw the presence of the previous Hokage.
Sakura and Naruto double glanced at one another and the man in the room.
"What is it, something on my face?" Kakashi asked in surprise at the wide mouthed stares he now received.
Naruto pointed at him with a shaking hand, "y..y..your mask!" he stammered.
"What about it?" Kakashi asked.
"Where is it?" Sakura pitched in.
Kakashi brought a hand up to his chin and stroked the stubble that remained there for a moment. "Ah…yes well there was no need to hide anymore now I am retired" he stated with a shrug, not seeing it as a big deal at all.
"I knew it! You've met someone!" Sakura blurted out suddenly, taking them all by surprise with her excitement.
"Eh, is that true?!" Naruto asked, taken aback.
Kakashi approached them and was allowed to take hold of Hanami. He held her up before settling her in his arms. She was a well behaved baby, unlike their third child, who caused a ruckus like his father did.
"Maybe I have" the older man commented, "maybe I haven't" he finished with a smile.
"Secretive as always" Sakura sighed, seeming like she was giving up a little and yawning.
"You seem tired" Kakashi commented, "perhaps we should let you get some rest." He looked at the concerned expression on Naruto's face and then down to the children by his side.
"Do you kids fancy some ice cream?" he asked randomly, "my treat"
The youngest jumped at the chance for free food, dragging his brother behind him. On the way out of the room Rin paused to turn to look at their parents and her new sister. She wanted to bore the image into his mind.
"Hey you coming?" Kazuo asked, reaching her side and following her stare.
"Do you think they looked that happy when they had us?" she asked, thinking out loud.
"Yes they did" Kakashi spoke up, placing a hand on each of their backs and turning them around and out of the door. "Though I admit they were less tired looking and a lot younger" he confided.
"What were our parents like when they were our age?" Rin asked, curious to know more about them. She had seen plenty of pictures but got a mixture of stories growing up from different people. Her father's being the most exaggerated.
"Well…where should I begin?" Kakashi replied as he left the room with them.
Naruto placed Hanami into her bed and kissed her little hand before turning to look at his wife. As he approached the bed he noticed she had fallen asleep and smiled to himself. Sitting on the bed he kicked off his shoes and lay beside her, wrapping an arm under her neck and encouraging her to take the position that was hers alone, the nook. He watched her sleeping form for a few moments, enjoying the silence of the room. It was rare for them to get moments like this these days so they soaked it all in when they could.
He thought back to when they first met and their adventures as part of team 7. His endless efforts to get her to go on a date with him and the constant rejections and heart ache. He wished he could have told the him back then that one day all that fighting would be rewarded with such an immense feeling of happiness. As he held his wife, the mother of his children, in his arms he closed his eyes and spoke out to the silence, "yep I am the luckiest man in the world" he cheered, followed by a yawn. He slid down the bed a little and gently caressed her cheek before planting a kiss on her lips as she slept. The action made Sakura squeeze into him more tightly and he smiled.
"I love you Sakura-chan" he whispered.
He felt her wriggle beside him a little, getting more comfortable, "is that so?" she asked, showing she was still awake, though barely. "You can start showing me how much with a back massage" she remarked, hinting that she could benefit from the physical touch.
Naruto smirked and started to rub her neck and shoulder. She groaned and moved into him, clasping his shirt and holding him close. Sakura welcomed the contact and could feel the stress of her body relaxing and leaving her. When she was younger she would never have thought that one day she would desire this touch, this warmth, this security. Now she had it she never wanted to let it go.
"Good night Naruto-kun" she whispered, as she drifted off into slumber.
"Goodnight Sakura-chan" he replied, drifting off himself moments later.
"Should we wake him up?" a nurse whispered when she found them together, worried about patients not being allowed in past this hour. Ino shook her head and ushered her out of the room, quietly closing the door behind them.
"Leave them be" she stated, "they need their rest where they can get it". Besides if the commotion outside of the hospital was anything to go by these parents will soon have their hands full.
A/N: I could have written a whole new arc! But I chose to keep it short and simple. I just wanted to show that no matter the length of time that passes my version of Naruto still strongly feels for Sakura and that is shown by them having lots of children! I know I surprised many of you with the twins and thought that some NaruSaku fans who wanted Hanami and Shinachiku may like to see a little of them in action, which is why I added them here! I hope you like my interpretation of them!
Well, this is the end of From the Heart and it was sad having to write that but at the same time, ending with an open ending like this leaves room for the imagination, so in my eyes their story still continues.
Thank you so much to you all for reading and following me all this time. NaruSaku will always have a close place in my heart and who knows, one day I might write some more for this pair, but for now I will wrap this up. Take care of yourselves. xxx