A week later, Naruto found himself on the familiar road to the Academy. It was Kizuko's first day back and he wanted to surprise her by picking her up. Gaara tagged along, his ever silent shadow, and they passed a group of village woman standing in a circle with shopping bags.
"Well, there they go…"
"Can you imagine? Oh and did you hear that…"
"My husband heard it from Inuzuka Kiba personally. The entire place was in shambles."
"Well, My sister's son's best friend works in the hospital and let me tell you about the scene they caused in there. Why, I'm told Inuzuka-sensei, bless her heart, walked in to check up on them and fainted dead away at the scene."
Cue gasps of delicious scandalized horror.
"Oh, yes. And all the while in front of the little girl."
"Well, I declare…and she's such a sweet looking little thing too… if you just ignore her heritage."
"Come now, Tanaka-san, some things are difficult to forget. But you're quite right, why had she been raised in a different situation then…"
Naruto walked pass and grinned a foxy grin at the all. "Afternoon, Ladies."
Well, that shut them up.
They made their way to the Academy. Naruto felt a sudden chill run down his spine, and shuddered, which made Gaara pause.
" I dunno…it just feel like there's this ominous aura about that's got it out for me…"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"I'm not! I swear it feels like…"
A hand reached out of the door way he was standing in front of, grabbed him by the ear and drug him protesting with in the room.
"NA! RU! TO!"
"Iruka-sensei! I can explain! I…"
And thusly did Naruto sit, nevermind that the chairs were far too small for him. Gaara leaned against the wall and watched the scene with smirk and an air of immense amusement.
"I take my eyes off you for five minutes and look what happens. You're off trashing Sound bases and nearly getting yourself killed! What have I always told you?"
"Umm….don't drink the last of the milk and leave the container in the fridge?"
Iruka folded his arms and drummed the fingers of his right hand against his left arm, all while giving Naruto the 'I am not amused' look. "Try again."
"Errr…never mix colors and whites?"
The look continued.
"Oh! Think before I act!....oh."
"Exactly. It's any wonder you've lasted this long." Iruka sighed the sigh of the long suffering and walked up, mussing the blonde's hair.
"I'm sorry, Iruka-sensei…"
"You'd think I'd be use to it by now. But…I'm glad you're alive. Kizuko-chan too. I…I heard about Sasuke and everything that happened."
Naruto shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant.
"You're not fooling anyone." Iruka crossed his arms again, giving the younger man a stern look.
"I nearly lost her, sensei. And I had to see a girl cry over the body of her father. I don't ever want her to have to go through that."
Iruka sighed and pulled his surrogate son/little brother close. "So be careful and she won't. You still care so very much…stupid elders….And you didn't just hear me say that."
Naruto grinned. "Oh yeah? How much ramen is that worth to you?"
"One bowl apiece at Ichiraku tonight for all of us. My final, last, and only offer."
"Really? Iruka-sensei, you're the best! Hey, Gaara!! Free ramen tonight!"
The redhead rolled his eyes. "My heart's joy knows no bounds."
"Spoilsport. Hey, Iruka-sensei…Sasuke's daughter…I know Bachan—"
"Hokage-sama or Godaime-sama. Be more respectful."
"Like I said, Bachan talked to her, but I haven't heard anything since. What happened?"
Iruka gave up the concept of respect and Uzumakis together as a lost cause. Therefore, he went on to answer the younger man's question.
"She's staying in the village. A couple agreed to adopt her."
"Really? Like is that a good idea? And what couple would be crazy enough to adopt an Uchiha?"
The chuunin shook his head. "Yes, really. I'm sure Hokage-sama has her reasons, and she's only 9 after all. As for the couple, I figured you would have known by now. The Inuzukas agreed to take her in."
"Inuzukas…as in Kiba and Hinata?"
"Ah. He can be taught."
"Man, I knew Hinata wanted kids but…"
"I think she'll be good for her. The girl's pretty messed up from what I hear, and I think having a mother like Hinata will help a lot."
Naruto was silent for a long while, simply staring out the window. "The world is very weird, isn't it, sensei?"
"You're telling me? I'm a teacher for, leaf's sake."
At that moment, a small head sporting two golden pigtails bounced through the door hauling a dark head with tiny silver hoops behind it. "Iruka-sensei, can Kizuko and Shinosuke….Papa!!"
Dropping Shinosuke's hand, she ran across the room and flung herself into Naruto's arms. "Papa, guess what? Some of the other girls where calling Kizuko weird earlier because she has green eyes like Gaara now instead of blue eyes like Papa. And…that made Kizuko mad… But then Kizuko showed Shinosuke her new eye color and he didn't laugh or say it was weird at all!! He said they reminded of the grass on his favorite cloud watching hill."
"Oh really?" Naruto raised an eyebrow at the boy across the room who suddenly found his feet very interesting. Gaara also noticed this and started noting weak points, should the need rise to kill, maim, or threaten the boy in the future. Shinosuke, being the child of Nara Shikamaru and Ino and therefore very intelligent, decided that it was now a good time to return home.
"Err…I just remembered that Kaachan said she needed my help in the store this afternoon. I need to get home. See you tomorrow, Kizuko!" He said very quickly and waved at his friend who waved back enthusiastically and then rushed out the door and down the street back home.
"Bye bye!! See you tomorrow!"
Iruka covered his face with a hand to try and cover up the chuckles of amusement coming from poor Shinosuke's plight.
"Ne, Papa. Shinosuke's parents are getting him something really really cool and Kizuko wants one too! Will Papa and Gaara make one for Kizuko?"
"Sure, Kitling. You know Papa and Gaara would get you anything." Here it comes, he thought. First set of kunai? A scroll? His very first Go board? Knowing Shikamaru that'll be it.
Suffice to say, Naruto completely missed Iruka biting his finger to keep silent and trying not shake with silent laughter.
"A baby brother!!!!"
Naruto fell over in shock.
"Ummm…Kitling…don't you think the family's just right as it is?"
"Kizuko wants a brother."
"Little brothers can be utter demons." Gaara pointed out.
"Good. He'll fit right in then."
Oh my goodness…it's over. It's really finished…I can't believe it. The story that spawned this entire freakin' universe in my head is well and truly done. It's kind of melancholy actually…like watching a child grow up and graduate or something.
I never would have finished this if it weren't for all my reviewers and readers. So thank you all so very much for sticking with me and encouraging me. I'm so very glad you all followed along and came to like Kizuko and Shinosuke and Kaede. Thank you all so very much.
Hmm…so now what? Sequel? The further Adventures of Kizuko and Shinosuke? Oh the many many possibilities…^_^