Rating: T+

Warnings: Antics, language, dorks in love, Uzushio and it's crazy, etc.

Word Count: ~2500, ~148,000 overall (COMPLETE askjfbdkbfs yes!)

Pairings: Sasuke/Naruto, Kakashi/Obito

Cowriter/idea guru: EmeraldBenu (\o/)

Disclaimer: Would have ended so much differently if it were mine. /sob

Notes: (So much for shortly. /dies) BUT IT'S DONE. OMFG, I FINISHED IT.

I'd like this to be my thank you to all of the amazing, incredible people who have put up with my weirdness and random disappearances and everything else. You are awesome, and I love and appreciate you all. I'm (probably) not going to be starting any more epics for at least a month or two, but as always I am totally open to whatever prompts you want to throw at me. Even if plot bunnies don't bite immediately, I put every idea away in a folder and let it stew.

Again, thank you so much for sticking with Stormborn. It's my silly self-indulgent baby, and I'm so very grateful that other people have enjoyed my ridiculousness. *huggles*


Chapter Thirty-Four, Encore

[Encore: An additional performance added to the end of a concert.]

Two years later:

The city feels old and new in the same breath, in a way that would be impossible were the city any but Naruto's. Sasuke strides through the square before the Administrative Center, over the lines of the transportation seal etched into the stone, and all around him are old buildings, weathered and worn and rebuilt. But between them are signs of all the things made new again, windows replaced and shops rebuilt and people still settling in, even after nearly nine years.

He remembers what Naruto said, that day in the market when he was still Youko to Sasuke, a lead to Naruto and nothing more. Naruto had said that Konoha was painted in earth tones, while Uzushio was sea and sky and sunset. It's true, and of the people as well as the city. There's red hair aplenty here, and it's strange, even two years on, to look around and not see the brown hair predominant in Konoha, but red and grey and blue and blond.

But it's a good village. It's a good place to call home, without the burden of the Uchiha name that Konoha has, willingly or not, always held. Here, Sasuke is not the last loyal Uchiha, but Konoha's envoy, the Uzukage's partner. There's peace, and happiness, and if everything is still slightly imperfect, well. It's a shinobi village, and one filled with Uzumaki at that. Sasuke could hardly expect anything different.

At the door of the building, Sasuke steps aside, allowing a girl with long red hair to go barreling past, another girl with short blue behind her. Aki laughs, almost tripping over her own feet, as the other—one of Fū's former genin, he thinks, though he can't put a name to her face—shouts curses and lunges for her. They bolt around the side of the building, raising cries of indignation from people in the street, and disappear towards the market district. Sasuke just rolls his eyes, by now well used to the complete lack of dignity and formality in Uzushio's shinobi, and ducks through the doorway, almost crashing into Aki's twin and Fū's other former kunoichi.

"Did they—?" Natsu starts.

Wordlessly, Sasuke points in the direction the two girls disappeared, and the boy mutters something impolite and gives chase.

Sasuke can't image any other shinobi anywhere treating their Kage's office like this, but it's Naruto. It's Uzushio. And that's enough of a difference to change everything. He smiles to himself, just a little, and lets the door swing closed behind him as he crosses to the stairs and leaps up them two at a time. There's no rush, no need to get anywhere quickly, but…Naruto is in his office, and they have plans for lunch. It's only been a few hours since he dragged himself out of their bed, whining about paperwork, but even that is long enough for Sasuke to miss him.

As ever, Karin is seated at the desk outside the Uzukage's door, sifting through mounds of paperwork and muttering to herself, spotted with ink and somewhere between homicidally aggravated and ridiculously content. She gives him the evil eye as he passes—something about distracting the Uzukage during his only productive period of the day, and undermining her attempts to bribe him with food, if he remembers past rants correctly—but only warns, "If I hear any suspicious noises, I'm getting Suigetsu and having him flood the room."

Sasuke attempts not to roll his eyes too visibly, and inclines his head before slipping through the wide doors to Naruto's office. It's a big, open room, with light spilling through the wide windows and giving it a warm glow, and the inviting air is only compounded by the wide, delighted smile Naruto gives him as he looks up.

"Sasuke!" he cries happily, like they hadn't already had plans to meet, and Sasuke crosses to his side in four long strides and leans down to kiss him, because he can't physically do otherwise. Naruto says his name like Sasuke's presence in his life is marvelous, is a marvel, and just—how is Sasuke supposed to get used to that?

He hasn't yet, and he's absolutely certain that he never will.

"Lunch," he reminds Naruto as they break apart, slightly breathless. He'd try for more, but Karin's words are less threat and more dire warning. Sasuke has tested her before, and it didn't end well for anyone.

Naruto takes a quick look at his desk—mostly clear, honestly, because he takes his position seriously, and Sasuke finds it somewhere between endearing and strangely hot—and then grins, pushing back his chair and rising to his feet with a faint stretch. "Awesome," he enthuses, grinning, and the bells in his hair chime as he steps around the desk and right up next to Sasuke. "If I have to look at one more of the Daimyo's tax proposals I'm going to set something on fire."

As if on cue, there's a dull whump, an earth-shaking roar, and the southern window explodes inward in a shower of glass. Sasuke lunges for Naruto automatically, throwing himself on top of the blond and bearing them both to the ground as shards rain down around them. From their position on the floor, he can half-see the column of unnervingly black smoke billowing towards the sky, and the faintest hint of flames beneath it.

Naruto jabs an elbow into his side and wriggles out from under him with an annoyed huff, and Sasuke, seeing that nothing else has exploded in the last ten seconds, allows the escape. He stands, shaking glass from his clothes, and then shadows Naruto as he crunches his way to the gaping window and leans out.

The wing of the Administration Center that holds the Jounin Standby Station is burning. There are a few people fleeing towards the outskirts of the city, but most of them are congregating, calling inquiries and concerns. Sasuke has to roll his eyes, because honestly. What other shinobi village would treat pieces of their Kage's seat of power blowing up as if it were just an ordinary day?

"Oh, no," Naruto groans, slapping his hands over his face. "Oh my god, the paperwork." Sasuke gives him an incredulous look, but he ignores it, leaning out further and bellowing, "Hey! Anyone hurt?"

From the edge of the crowd, Fū waves a cheerful hello and calls back, "Nope! That part of the wing was empty!"

Naruto's eyes narrow, and Sasuke raises a brow, because in the middle of the day, on a Tuesday? There should have been at least some jounin there. Clearly, someone is up to something, and if it ends in buildings exploding, it's…

Actually probably the standard, for Uzushio. Sasuke pinches the bridge of his nose and reassures himself yet again that insanity is not catching.

"Was Kabuto or any of his chemicals involved?" Naruto shouts, though his gimlet glare is still fixed on Fū.

"Nope, you're good!"

Naruto mutters something uncomplimentary, then runs through three hand signs in quick succession. From the bay, a funnel of water rises, stretching up towards the clear sky and then bending forward. The far end pulls up, and from the center of the funnel a torrent of water pours down on the blaze, drenching it and the bystanders in seconds. Shrieks rise, startled and offended, but when the jutsu finishes the fire is out, and the building is still (mostly) standing.

"Naruto!" Fū screeches.

"This is your fault!" Naruto bellows back. "I know it is, Fū! And I swear, you are going to be the one doing all of the paperwork for this, so help me!"

Fū shoots him a venomous glare, but slinks off to the side and pointedly starts wringing out her skirt. It's as good as a confession, coming from her.

Naruto groans and whacks his head against the window frame a few times. "Agh. I don't even want to know, do I?"

"I believe," Gaara says precisely, from where he's leaning in the doorway with Haku right behind him, "that Fū and several of our former genin attempted to lock Utakata and Ookami Koto in a closet."

"And no one thought this sounded like a bad idea?" Naruto asks despairingly. "That's it. I've had it. Put them all on D-rank missions pending assessment. Make them nasty."

"Yes, Uzukage-sama," Gaara murmurs, inclining his head.

There's a moment of silence, and then Naruto glances over his shoulder, expression surprised. "You're…not arguing with me. Or placating me," he says slowly, as if still coming to this conclusion. Then surprise shades to suspicion, and he turns, crossing his arms over his chest. "Okay. Spill, Gaara."

The redhead simply raises a nonexistent brow and keeps his mouth firmly shut.

Haku gives the other man an amused glance, then looks at Naruto and offers, "I believe Gaara won the betting pool."

Naruto gives him a dark look, eyes narrowing, and growls, "Explain."

"On how long it would be until something blew up or caught on fire," Gaara clarifies, voice level and entirely unrepentant. "There is a standing bet that resets after every incident. I predicted that it would be by midday."

"And this would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that some of your genin just locked a jinchuuriki and an Ookami up in a very small, confined space, right?" Naruto is rubbing his temples, looking pained. Sasuke glances between the three of them, then out the window at the charred, soggy building, and leans back against the wall to watch the show.

Gaara very carefully says nothing.

"I hate you," Naruto tells him, and then glares at a giggling Haku as well. "And I hate you too. You are trying to kill me, and you don't even have the decency to do it head-on. Instead you're trying to murder me with paperwork."

"I've been told that suffering builds character," Gaara counters, as mild as milk.

Naruto growls at him, then at Haku, who's still laughing, and spins away, bells chiming almost menacingly as he leans out the window and bellows, "Fū! I'm going to drown you!"

Because she's many, many things, but definitely not an idiot, Fū bolts. With a snarl like the fox living in his head, Naruto leaps right out the window and gives chase.

Sasuke rolls his eyes so hard it hurts, berates himself for being a romantic sap unwilling to give up even this much of a lunch date, and goes after him.

On a hill overlooking a city that glows white and red and gold under the noonday sun, Obito pauses, taking in the gout of smoke, the sound of distant, tinny screams, and the surges of multicolored chakra rising in the streets. He blinks, brows rising, and then glances over at his companion in silent question.

Kakashi looks both faintly pained and slightly nostalgic. He studies the city over the top of his ever-present porn—one more battle Obito has yet to win when it comes to this ridiculous man—and then gives Obito a sideways look. "Hmm," is all he offers.

Obito eyes the other man for a moment, remembering the absolute glee with which he'd waved Kagami off when Obito's father had finally decided to return to Azami and the Pure Land, after nearly three months traveling with them. Remembering how happy Kakashi was to finally get some peace, quiet, and alone time with Obito now that he's more or less settled in this new life. He takes another look at the madness taking place below them, just in time to see a tsunami-size wave rise from the bay and hover there, threatening, as the shouts rise in volume.

He wants to see Naruto again, the boy with such conviction that it made him waver, falter, when he had thought nothing could. But—

"Maybe we should come back when they're a little less busy," he suggests, trying to keep the fairly dubious note out of his voice.

Kakashi looks at him, looks at the wave that's moving again, chasing a small, shrieking figure across the bay, and nods agreeably. "Why not," he approves, and steps closer to loop an arm over Obito's shoulders.

Obito grimaces at the book now dangerously close to his face, and uses the very tip of one finger to push it away. He tries very hard not to look too closely at a suspicious stain on one of the open pages. "Hatake, if you don't put that thing away, I'm going to drop it in a dimension filled with lava. Are we clear?"

"Maa, maa, Obito. It's literature," Kakashi protests, but the book disappears before Obito can make good on his threat, and the Copy-Nin gives him a pout that would be a lot more effective if he wasn't closing on forty.

"And I'm a unicorn," Obito mutters, but he lets Kakashi press himself up against his side without protest, maybe possibly leans a little bit closer even though he'd never admit it under pain of death.

Kakashi side-eyes him in a way that means whatever comes out of his mouth next is definitely going to make Obito want to throttle him. "Oh?" Kakashi asks innocently. "Is that why you're always so horny—urk!"

Obito feels absolutely not one single drop of remorse as he attempts to stuff a pair of socks down Kakashi's throat. They're Kakashi's own, after all, and if Obito didn't check whether they were dirty or not first, well.

For that comment, Kakashi deserves it. And worse.

As the Copy-Nin gags and claws at his mouth, Obito casts once last look at Uzushio, and smiles a little to himself before letting Kamui whirl them away.

They're leaving, yes, but the journey is far from over. And maybe next time they pass through, it will finally be on their way home for good.

acta est fabula