Such Great Heights

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Hurray for more Yondaime fics, because he deserves it. Doesn't even have a name and he's uber awesome.

Basically thought up because half of the first line wouldn't leave my head, and then the other half was supplied by Chev. Also, a reason for me to write fluff (or at least a little bit of fluff) because I miss it.

Lack of quotation marks is intentional.

Comments and criticisms always appreciated.

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When he was six, he gave her a flower. It was a pathetic little flower, half dead and lopsided, but she clutched it to her cheek and smiled, her cheeks rosy as she thanked him. Her mother beamed, hugging her daughter, gushing to her husband about how adorable children were and honey, don't you think so too? Her father sighed, looking at the boy in a way that wasn't entirely nice, then shrugged, his version of consent.

His father sighed as well, mumbling about damn brats and growing up too fast, then he ruffled his son's hair and winked. I approve, the look said, and the boy grinned up at his father, his cheeks stained with just a hint of red.

He gave her lots of flowers after that, but when he tried to give her a prettier one, red and soft, one of the ones he'd seen women always buying at the flower shop, she scrunched up her nose and returned it. That's not the flower you gave me before, she would say, it's not pretty. I only want your pretty flower.

He didn't understand, but he knew a command when he heard one. So he stopped trying to give her the flowers everyone else loved and just gave her the one she loved. And every time she blushed and smiled, he blushed and smiled back.

When he was eight, things like flowers and cute girls weren't so much on his mind; everything was about ninja and aren't shinobi the coolest? and making himself the best there was. He still saw the girl around (her father owned the local ramen shop), but his visits always consisted of talking about the new jutsus he'd learned, how he was top in his class and would probably graduate this year and wow, this ramen is really good you're getting better at making it! And she would always blush at his compliment, saying yeah she was getting better, thank you for noticing, and soon I'll be as great a cook as you will be a ninja.

He didn't realize that when she said it her eyes weren't smiling as much as her mouth was.

And, like he'd predicted, he graduated the academy at the age of eight, one of the youngest graduates ever. His father ruffled his hair extra hard after the ceremony, beaming and proclaiming how great his son was for all to hear. The boy blushed, Daaad you're embarrassing me, but his father didn't care and honestly neither did he. Graduating this young was an honor and it meant he was that much closer to his goal of being the best ninja ever.

She was there when he graduated as well, standing a little behind her father, who stood a little behind his. He noticed her after celebrating a bit with the other graduates and his father, and his smile took up his entire face when he saw her.

Did you see that? he asked, nearly bouncing up and down. I'm gonna be the best, just like I said I would!

Yes, she replied, you're going to be the best.

And he'd brought his hand up and grabbed hers, and then there was a pathetic little lopsided flower in her hand and she looked at him, eyes wide and he winked. Because I haven't given you one in a while, the wink said, and you looked kinda sad.

Her eyes smiled just as much as her mouth.

At ten, he was already going on missions regularly, a Chuunin now. But when he came back he always went straight to the local ramen shop, ordering the same thing every time and asking for the same cook. She always smiled when she brought out his steaming bowl, shaking her head and tutting when he slurped everywhere, always scolding him and reminding him he had his own house to return to and his father probably didn't appreciate him skipping out on his homemade meals for easy-to-make ramen. He just shrugged and asked for another bowl, and she sighed and rolled her eyes but complied, because she loved it when he came by, even if all he talked about was ninja things that she didn't completely understand.

Her father didn't much appreciate the fact he always paid her with a flower, and while she thought the gesture was sweet and cute, she had to admit the boy was making an awfully large tab for himself.

Eventually though, either because he began to realize the size of his tab or his father yelled at him to pay for his meals, he stopped giving her the lopsided flower and started actually paying. She was sad to see the flowers become more and more scarce, but she was growing to be a business woman after all, and money came first when the issue of payment came up.

But as his Chuunin assignments grew harder and harder, they saw less and less of each other and she began to wish more and more for random flowers. He never noticed, though, and the few times he could see her a week, he ate quickly and left, because there's way too much I have to do, sorry I can't stay but the food was great, I'll be back in a few days. See ya then!

By twelve he was rarely coming by for more than a quick bite to eat, and he never gave her flowers.

At fourteen he had sex for the first time, with a kunoichi from his old class and actual age group. He didn't think about the pretty flower girl, although the next day he wasn't too happy with himself. A mission passed by the skin of his teeth and high adrenaline were his only reasons for it. Growing man he was, but there was a difference between knowing someone and sleeping with them and seeing them again after four years and sleeping with them.

He stood before his mirror, shirtless, his hair messy and uncombed, and then he leaned down and splashed his face with water, scrubbing his cheeks and forehead until they glowed a faint pink. Behind him he could just see the bed, watched the covers move as a slim leg found its way clear of the entangled sheets.

He allowed himself a small mental What the hell have I done? before he sighed and turned around, grin on his face as he saluted the girl. She just smiled and shook her head, getting out of bed and into her clothes. He wasn't sad to see her do so, although he had to admit she was a very pretty thing.

After she dressed she walked up to him and patted his cheek, thanked him for the nice time and was gone. He saw her around town after that, but never said anymore than a simple hello. They both liked it fine that way.

His visits to the local ramen shop increased after that, although he didn't know why. He especially didn't understand it because he made sure to go whenever he knew the pretty girl he used to talk to wasn't working. Her father always smiled at him though, happy to oblige one of his regulars, but he never asked why the boy didn't talk to his daughter much anymore, and the boy was grateful for that.

He couldn't have answered, anyway.

Years passed and he became a Jounin at the age of fifteen, and he got his own team a year later. One of his kids always wore a mask and, at the age of six, was one of the youngest genin to graduate, even younger than he was at the time. The other two children, a boy and a girl, were the same age as their silver-haired partner and also new graduates, although it was obvious which of the three was the farthest along among them. The silver-haired boy never bothered to hide his contempt for them, and the girl was always there to try to knock him down, Geniuses aren't everything, you know! her constant defense.

He agreed with her, always wearing a smile on his face as he watched his kids argue and compete and slowly, very slowly, grow the bond he knew they would.

Two years later he was named as the next Hokage, the fourth to take the title and the youngest as well. Everyone in the village cheered, his father most of all. He smirked at his father, that same smirk he'd always given as a child when he proved the old man wrong (or right) and Congratulations, you're my son! could be heard above the rest of the noise of the entire crowd.

And he also noticed the pretty girl he hadn't seen in years, smiling and holding a pathetic lopsided flower in her hair right above her ear, where he'd be able to see it.

Things seemed normal after that, even though he knew they definitely weren't. He didn't much enjoy wearing the formal robes because they chaffed, and he much preferred to stay with his team and go on missions, since that's what he could do and he preferred to do what he could and be where he was needed. So they allowed him to keep his team, not that they could have stopped him, and he continued to go on missions, which always caused the third Hokage to roll his eyes and shake his head, Children, when will they learn? his constant mantra.

And one day, when the new Hokage's children were fifteen and his silver-haired Chuunin was due to become a Jounin, he took them all out to ramen at the local restaurant and asked if the pretty girl could make their food, please, because her cooking was the best. The owner nodded, eyeing the grinning Jounin, the grumpy Jounin, and then two genin before rolling his eyes and going through the flap at the back, calling for his daughter to hurry it up, the customers are waiting.

She hurried out a few minutes later, bowls on a tray and tray in hand, pausing only a second when she noticed the bright hair and huge grin of the boy she'd known for years.

Except he wasn't exactly a boy anymore, and they hadn't really talked since they were still children.

Your orders, she said as politely as possible, setting down the tray. The dark-haired boy and the girl grabbed up their bowls with gusto, while the blond and silver-haired boys rolled their eyes and shook their heads, respectively. The woman behind the counter folded her arms over her chest, eyeing the two not eating, a stern I slaved to make that for you, now eat it sounding over the loud noise the two genin made.

Nah, you didn't slave, the boy-turned-man said, leaning one elbow on the table and putting his head in his palm, you just like to exaggerate.

No more than some others, she replied, arching an eyebrow.

Yeah, but I do it the best, he countered, and then they both smiled. And he realized he'd missed her smile, even if it was different now than the one he remembered from when he was twelve.

He visited her a lot more after that, when he could. With a war going on, it was hard for him to find the time, between protecting the village's best interests and leading his own team. And then him and his kids were sent on a mission, one that changed everything and everyone and when he came back this time there was no kunoichi willing to sleep with him to take the pain away.

A part of him was glad for that, because how could he be a good Hokage or sensei if he allowed himself to run from the pain when his two remaining kids were the ones hurting the most?

He visited what remained of his team everyday, and more often than not he found one of them standing before the tall stone slab that listed the names of fallen comrades. They never spoke at these meetings, just stood and stared at the names. He recognized some himself, old comrades, those he grew up with who had died previously. Usually he just stared though, looking through the names, because seeing them was more painful than not. He wondered once if his kid did that too, then decided the boy was the type to hurt himself in place of guilt and knew for certain that everyday, the silver-haired Jounin burned the sight of that name into his eyes.

She found him one night in front of the monument of names, sitting crosslegged, chin in his palms and elbows on his knees. Without saying anything she sat beside him, legs folded to the side and beneath her, hands laying flat on her thighs. He knew she was there, but made no move to acknowledge the fact. But she seemed content to just sit there with him, and he allowed himself to be content with that as well.

Eventually she shifted slightly, pulling her legs around so she could hug them to her chest and rest her head against her knees.

You must miss him. She hadn't asked a question.

I do. Not as much as them, came the soft reply.

They're your kids, you're allowed to miss him as much as they do, was her equally soft answer.

He shrugged, but that was his only movement.

What would you do differently, she asked the monument, but he knew she really asked him. If another of your children was in danger… She wouldn't meet his eyes.

He didn't answer and she closed her eyes.

Did you keep your promise, he asked finally, tilting his head just enough to signal he was looking at her, however indirectly. I'm the best ninja there is, are you the best cook?

She blinked open her eyes and looked at him sadly, and then she nodded. I'm working on making my own restaurant, she finally answered, and he smiled.

As long as he smiled even just a little, it was okay that his smile wasn't entirely real.

That's good, because I'm really hungry right now, he said, and Dad says he won't cook for me anymore because I'm grown. But I'd really like a homemade meal right now, and not just some easy-to-make ramen, he finished softly, looking exactly like the boy that used to give her flowers.

Well then, she said as she stood, reaching a hand down to help him up, you can be my first customer.

He smiled up at her, and the smile almost reached his eyes.

She visited him often after that, always there when he returned from his missions, there for him to rant to when being Hokage became too much. While the last rarely happened, he was glad of her company regardless, because his children were gone now, the silver-haired Jounin leaving for ANBU, his little girl gone to join the friend who went ahead. He knew his last remaining student burned her name into his eyes everyday now as well, along with his lost best friend, because he had burned those names into his.

When they were twenty-six, he gave her a flower and a kiss, and asked her to live with him. A few months later and she always walked around with a hand to her belly and a distant look in her eyes. He began smiling again, both with his eyes and his mouth, and their small apartment usually had tiny, pathetic, lopsided flowers scattered around.

Four months later and reports of a monster started coming in, stories about a giant creature that killed all in its path far to the east. Most ignored the stories, hoping that distance protected them, but all the shinobi, and him especially, listened and frowned, and his eyes were always narrowed and he was almost always seen with an intense look in his eyes.

He disappeared for training often after that, sometimes not going home for days. When he did return, he always had a flower and a smile through the dirt and grime and cuts and bruises, I'm home, sorry I'm so late dancing off his lips. She frowned, hands on hips, and told him he could make himself some ramen since he'd allowed his food to go cold and didn't you know I slaved over this food for hours?

You didn't slave, he said and tapped her on the forehead, you just like to say you did.

Her response, as always, was to slap him playfully on the shoulder.

More time passed, more stories reached his village, and the night his pretty flower girl went into labor, Wave country sent a message about a giant fox demon rampaging through the country, heading their way. Amid the cries of the woman he loved he could only imagine the cries of his villagers when the demon reached them, and he knew exactly what he had to do.

You'll yell at me, he thought as he sat beside her, their infant son with his thin blond hair nestled in her arms, both fast asleep. Because I won't be able to eat your cooking anymore.

Later that night the demon attacked, suddenly and half-unexpectedly, killing five ninja in the few minutes it took to mobilize the others. He was among the first there to counterattack the monster, its size and evil surprising even him. He only let his surprise show for a moment though, and then he was on the offensive, right amidst his fellow ninja.

They didn't defeat the demon that time, retreating farther into the town to regroup in the precious few moments, hours, however long they would have before it began its assault again. Their fallen comrades were left behind, playthings for the demon, among them the parents of countless children who hadn't been allowed the chance to say goodbye.

He searched among the remaining villagers for a familiar face, for a bundle of cloth and a shock of pale blond hair. He found neither, but the smell of burning wood gently, and then quickly, reached his nose.

Eyes widened in shock, he darted through the crowd as fast as he could, following the scent, stopping abruptly when his eyes landed on the remains of a burning building, timbers fallen down in a heap, only one small section left standing.

People milled from the direction of the fallen hospital, limping and injured or healthy and helping those less fortunate, and he ran through the group, almost frantic to find his pretty flower girl and his son.

A patch of pale blond hair among bundled cloth caught his eye and stopped him short, and the young nurse caught up to him, tears in her eyes as she panted for breath.

We were caught while evacuating, she breathed out, a nasty burn keeping her left eye closed, probably forever. I'm sorry but—

He cut her off, grabbing the bundle from her hands as she cried silently and stood there, wringing her hands helplessly. The baby cried loudly, definitely taking after his father in that aspect, his chubby face scrunched up, equally chubby hands balled into fists at the side of his head. He had a small burn on his wrist that, with proper healing, wouldn't scar, but that was the last thing on the man's mind.

His son wouldn't ever scar, not after what he was about to do.

The nurse turned to leave but he grabbed her arm and turned her around, a quiet thank you echoing hollowly between them, and then he was gone, his son in his arms.

She was the last to see him alive.