Itonami: Cookies to Phoe-chan, Demoneyes 14, and Only Secret! Nice guesses. XD

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Naruto.

Chapter 22

"T-Tsuande-sama…" Sasuke breathed out as Tsunade trembled before him. The gigantic sword was embedded deep inside her upper torso. She was barely breathing. The Hokage had intercepted the sword from killing off Sasuke. He caught her swiftly before she could collapse. Sakura and Naruto sprinted to them.

Sakura's eyes were full of tears. "Tsunade-sama, are you alright?" Her hands were immediately charged to heal the fatal wound.

The dying Godaime stopped her apprentice's hands. She shook her head feebly. "It's not worth it, Sakura. Even I know when I'm dying. I've been dying for a long time now."

"Baa-chan, you aren't giving up, you hear me?" Naruto snapped at her from the right.

She tried to chuckle. A cough replaced it and blood dribbled down her chin. Tsunade looked at Naruto. "I think you've grown enough to take my place. Will you accept it? Will you look after Konoha with your life?" Naruto nodded gravely, fighting back tears. "Uzumaki Naruto, I name you as my successor, the Rokudaime of Konoha."

The rosy-haired medic looked at her sensei and cupped the side of her face. Before Team 7's eyes, their Hokage was turning older and older. Wrinkles drew themselves on the once youthful face of Tsunade. Her eyelids became hooded and her hair thinned. The woman who they were seeing right now was the true from of Tsunade, no longer beautiful and strong. Breathing was raspy and forced as the Godaime bled to death from her wounds.

"Sakura…" Tsunade said hoarsely.

The jounin started. "Hai, Tsunade-sama?"

The old woman took young hands into her aging ones. "Will you cast permanent genjutsu? To make me look like how I did when I was younger? I don't want Konoha to be disappointed."

Sakura, of course, was no one to deny her sensei's last wish. She nodded and slowly made the correct hand seals for a concealment jutsu. "Ki…" She whispered as crystal-like liquid spilled from her tears. In a flash of pale pink light, the Godaime returned to her young form.

And her last breath seemed to linger in the air between the members of Team 7.

Sakura stifled a sob by clamping a bloodstained hand over her mouth while Naruto looked on solemnly. His countenance was almost set in a disbelieving manner, cobalt eyes wide and hazy. Sasuke held the dead woman, the hokage, in his arms. She had died for him. To save him from the death that she suffered. He couldn't understand why she had done so. He deserved none of it. Absolutely none.

"Naruto, look out!" A young voice screamed out, snapping them back from their shock.

Naruto threw himself against Sasuke and Sakura, shoving them down to the ground in order to avoid an arrow dipped in fatal poison. Konohamaru sprinted toward them. "Naruto, you all right? You almost—" The young shinobi stopped when his eyes spotted the dead Godaime. "Is she…?" He whispered, feeling his stomach drop to his feet.

Sakura nodded slowly, shaking away her tears. "We must guard her body."

Sasuke agreed. He turned to look at his golden-haired friend. Naruto stood there, head bowed and fists shaking, his nails digging in so hard into his palms that they were starting to bleed. Chakra radiated heat as it started to swirl in masses around the lean shinobi. Naruto was enraged.

"Who threw that sword?" The blonde jounin asked softly, as if his voice could be heard among the other sounds of battle. When nobody seemed to answer, Naruto's head snapped up, the whiskers on the sides of his face deeply pronounced, and his blood red eyes could be clearly seen. "Who threw that fucking sword!" He roared out, malice and fury etched on every part of his face.

"N-Naruto…" Sakura stuttered, obviously caught off by his sudden change of aura.

Her voice went unheard. There was going to be major bloodshed. Red chakra engulfed Naruto's entire being like fire but he was unharmed. Instead, the chakra fed off of his energy and anger and it grew stronger. Naruto's canines grew long like a fox's fangs and his nails grew sharp like an animal's. A wicked smile was pasted on his face as he crouched in a position to pounce. "You came for the Kyuubi. Come and get it!"

The Kyuubi-controlled Naruto sprang upon his prey, his enemies, and he began to slaughter them madly. Flesh, organs were ripped out ruthlessly, with blood spraying like fine mist among them. It was like seeing through a red fog. Sasuke was afraid that the Kyuubi would not discriminate among allies and the foes, but it seemed like a part of the real Naruto was holding back from massacring everyone in sight.

"Sakura, we have to get him under control!" He shouted over to his pink-haired friend.

"Hai!" She called over.

At first, they tried means of distraction. Sasuke produced an enormous Goukakyuu fireball, but Naruto barreled through it effortlessly. Sakura countered with a genjutsu to blind him and deafen him, but that had absolutely no effect on him.

"It's no use, Sasuke!"

The Uchiha had a feeling in his gut that mere jutsus would not stop the crazed Kyuubi. It had been a long time since he had his chakra and done a summoning. The rest of everything else had flowed smoothly enough. Sasuke decided the risk was safer than Naruto's rampage.

"Sakura, I'm going to summon!" He shouted over the noise. She looked at him in surprise but nodded nonetheless.

Familiarity allowed him to go through the seals without any trouble. Concentrating hard on his level of chakra, he bit his thumb and pulled out an ancient scroll. It flew open in the air and he smeared his blood upon the aged paper. "Summoning jutsu! Manda!"

Something beneath him exploded and he had to cover his face from the dirt and bits of grass. Sasuke felt himself being elevated and the feeling was exhilarating. A great anaconda hissed below. Great amber eyes glared up at him. "Brat! Where have you beenttthhh? You dare sssummon me after yearsss of neglect?"

"I had my chakra taken away, Manda. I couldn't summon you even if I wanted to." Sasuke replied nonchalantly. Before the snake could accuse him of any thing else, he imputed, "How are your children?"

The beast seemed surprised at the question. "They are good…sss…One my daughters is Sssakura, after your woman. Have you reproduccced yet?…sss."

The Uchiha coughed into his hand. "No."

"Am I sssummonded to eat something?" Manda questioned severely.

Sasuke jumped back into business. "I need—"

A huge ball of smoke appeared beside the snake and the master. Katsuyu, the great slug, rested upon the ground with Sakura on its forehead. "Manda! What are you doing here?" It exclaimed in his booming voice.

"The brat sssummoned me. What elssse am I sssupposed to do, idiot?" The giant anaconda snapped.

Sasuke blinked at Katsuyu and then at Sakura. "You can summon?"

She stuck out her tongue at him. "You aren't the only one who has a summoning beast. Tsunade-sama taught me years ago." The rosette smiled at him. "Let's get this started."

The two beasts were ordered to somehow capture Naruto or render him unconscious. Manda seemed to be all for that idea. He used his tail like a whip and lashed out at the furious red-eyed nin.

Snarling, Naruto scratched the tail and his hands started a sequence of seals. Sasuke was alarmed. "Sakura, he's summoning!"

As soon as the words left his mouth, another ball of smoke erupted before them and when it cleared, a colossal toad with a pipe in its mouth was revealed. When Gama Bunta saw the other two beasts, he blinked his huge eyes. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Hello, Gama Bunta-sama." Sakura politely greeted. It was their second encounter.

The toad spread a hesitant smile across his ugly face. "Sakura-kun, it has been awhile. Where is that yellow headed brat, anyway?"

"Right here, you old toad face." Naruto said cheerfully.

"Naruto, you're alright!" Sakura exclaimed. She suddenly threw a kunai at his head, which he barely dodged. "That was for scaring us, you bastard!"

The Rokudaime grinned. "Sorry, Sakura-chan."

"Damn right, you should be sorry!" She shrieked. "Do you how scary this all was?" Tears pooled at her eyes and spilled down her face.

Katsuyu sighed. "She always cries."

She slammed her heel to his head, releasing a huge amount of chakra into his head, creating a massive headache. "Shut up." She sniffed and wiped away her tears.

Naruto smiled weakly and gazed at the ground. There was not even one black cloaked shinobi standing. "Well, I guess we can go home now."

The two remaining Team 7 members looked down also. Only Konoha ninjas were milling about, carrying their dead and their wounded off the bloody battlefield. It was a sad victory for the Leaf.

"All of these people…sacrificed for the Leaf. Every one of them deserves recognition. All of them." Naruto spoke softly, his blue eyes clouding sorrowfully and gravely.

"You'll do fine…"


Naruto looked at them with wide eyes, shocked at the title he had earned. Sakura and Sasuke were smiling. Simultaneously, they bowed to him. "Will you lead us back home, Hokage-sama?"

The golden haired Rokudaime's eyes softed again. "I would be my greatest honor yet. Where's Hinata-chan?"

He spotted Hinata down below. She was busy healing people. He loved her. That was his final conclusion. That was all he needed.

The three beasts of summoning led the way toward the Hidden Village of Leaf. Uzumaki Naruto stood proudly upon the head of Gama Bunta and watched as the sun set over the horizon.

Gates of Konoha were wide open as they entered. A crowd was cheering madly for their return.

They were all home, the living and the dead.

"Hey, Sasuke, you want to get some ramen afterwards? I'm hungry." Sakura called over from Katsuyu.

"Are you buying?"

She frowned. "Of course not! I don't have any money!"

"You can cook at the manor. I'll help." He said.

Sakura brightened. "It's a promise?"

"It's a promise."

Once they arrived at the Uchiha mansion, Sakura took a shower first in order to prepare the food. She was in the kitchen pulling out ingredients for a miso soup and rice. Expertly taking out a knife, she began to divide the soft tofu into little squares.

She detected his familiar presence but she didn't pay mind. "Have you decided to ignore me all of a sudden?" His rich tenor voice rumbled in her ear as a pair of strong arms wrapped around her skinny waist.

"What have you done with the real Sasuke?" She teased without looking at him. Sakura started on slicing the green onions.

"Thank you, Sakura." He whispered. She stopped slicing.

"For what?"

"For being my precious person. You and Naruto. You are the most precious person to me."

Sakura didn't want to believe it. It felt like this was all a dream and that if she believed it, it would disappear as if it hadn't ever been there. "Do you mean it?"

"I mean it. Not only here," he guided her hand to his temple, "but here too," and her hand over her heart.

Emotion swelled up inside of her. "When…?" She choked out, her throat clamping with a sob.

"From the moment you took me back. I just knew…"

"Do you know how long I've waited for you to say something like that?" She sniffed.

Sasuke chuckled. "I'm a slow learner."

"Do you—can you love me?"

His arms around her waist constricted as he pulled her closer to his bare chest. "I do and I can. I will."

"You romantic fool." She breathed, caught up in his smell and warmth.

"I rehearsed it in the shower."

Sakura wiggled her hips a little. Sasuke abruptly tensed. "Don't do that."

"I need to make dinner, Sasuke. I'm hungry." She said, trying to pry his arm off her waist.

"Tomorrow, meet me at the park." Sasuke said, releasing her.

"Hm?" She raised her eyebrow as she turned to face him. "Why?"

He smirked. "I have to propose somewhere, Sakura. I rather not be it in my kitchen."

Sasuke cut off her reply with a kiss. "Tomorrow. I need your answer tomorrow."

The next day, she said yes.

Author's notes: Am I late or am I late? I'm so sorry! I have no excuse to give! I just give all the blame to schoolwork! T-T

This chapter is shorter than the rest, but I really didn't know what else to write.

Finally done with the Akatsuki and things. I think this will be my final chapter that I will write. Wow, sheesh, this was a long story to write! I'm proud nonetheless. I hope you all enjoyed reading! It's been a pleasure writing!

Any last reviews will be appreciated! Love you all and I thank you all for those who regularly read this story.