As the days turned to months and months to years, Naruto understood that living in fear was like literally drowning yourself in your bathtub. He understood fully that being a shinobi meant his life would always be on the dark side, and he would always be in an endless maze of being haunted by the enemies he made through the years. But in the end, it wasn't so bad.
He would come home to Kakashi or Kakashi would come home to him, and they would be in each other's safe embrace, not a care in the world. Both lead a dirty life of blood and violence, but having the precious person waiting at the end of the long dark hallway was always an encouragement to the both of them, especially to Naruto.
Standing there in the gathering of shinobis, at the age of twenty-five, dressed in his Jounin uniform and his other former rookie batch smiling at him as the Hokage spoke, he couldn't help but feel like he was floating. He was definitely home. Years ago, he hated Konoha for how she treated him, despite of his hardships. But his work finally paid off. He was true hero to both the elders and the youngsters. He could see Kakashi smiling in his direction while he stood in the front line beside Tsunade as she gave speech to the whole village in that fine Spring morning. Iruka was standing beside Genma, smiling in his direction as well, like any proud elder brother or parent would.
Naruto, for the first time, felt the real warmth of the village's fiery spirit.
As Tsunade announced his name and he walked down the path to the front of the gathering, the crowd roared in cheers. He saw his former rookie companions and their little families (to those who had one already) smiling at him, their children waving their little hands in the air to their idol. Naruto received the acknowledgement he always wanted and finally achieved his dream of being one of the Hokage.
For the first time, as he stared in to the many faces of the villagers, the Hokage's formal robes around his shoulder, tears pricked in his eyes. But they were not tears of anger, despair or hatred towards the village's malice.
But they were tears of joy.
Writing this fic has been great! I'd like to thank everyone for all their support and comments that made my rainy day a sunny one! Mwah! I love you guys!
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