I don't own Naruto. Don't sue me or I'll shuriken your asses.
Three white birds spun and swam through the sky over Konoha.
Uzumaki Naruto stood on the balcony of his office and stared out over the township of Konoha, leaning on the railing. The brightness of the cloudless sky made him glad for the wide hat of the Hokage that kept his head shaded from the sun and kept his face in cool shadow. It was the height of summer and the heat was uncomfortable, even for one who had lived all his life in the hidden Leaf village. The young man chuckled deeply, thinking of his friend Shikamaru and his girlfriend Temari. A native of the Sand, Temari would probably find this weather mild, while it was almost guaranteed to make Shikamaru even more sluggish than he already was. Doubtless she would bully him into taking her out for a picnic or something anyway, and Naruto could almost hear the Nara's curses when he realised there would be no clouds to watch today. A grin stretched across his face at the picture. Poor Shikamaru.
"Naruto!" Sighing the holder of the Kyuubi turned stuck his head into the cool confines of his office, waving a hand weakly at the young Chunnin who had called his name and ducked back out. A few seconds later Konohamaru joined him on the balcony. Despite his office Naruto had banned by edict any of his friends from addressing him by his formal title unless it was required by function. Besides, Sasuke always smirked when he called him 'Hokage' anyway and one was more than enough. The grandson of the Third had never called him by his title anyway, under the reasoning that Naruto was only keeping the Hokage's seat warm for him. The younger shinobi of the Leaf studied his mentor out of the corner of his eyes, before speaking in an accusatory tone.
"Don't you have work to be doing?" A tiny sweatdrop appeared on the blond's temple, confirming Konohamaru's suspicions. His distressed sigh made Naruto's eye twitch a little.
"Even the strongest ninja needs to take a break occasionally, Konohamaru." He said, attempting to muster as much dignity as he could, to back up his wise, Hokage-ly statement. The younger man stared at him warily, scratching at his mesh vest absently.
"...You just don't like paperwork." Naruto fell over. Storming back to his feet and abandoning all hope of any kind of respect from his student and friend he slouched onto the bannister, pulling the hat down a little further to cover his eyes and not deigning to answer the accusation, true as it might be. Beads of sweat was forming on the back of his neck uncomfortably in the heat, and once again he considered having his long spiky hair cut, before dismissing the idea. He liked his hair long, and a bit of heat would not defeat him. Even if it did feel like he was sitting in the middle of a katon jutsu. The long robes he had adopted with the rank he held were white fortunately so spared him the chances of catching heatstroke. The man at his side had launched into his usual half-hearted spiel about how the former 'dead last' was a disgrace to the position he held. Half-hearted because firstly, Naruto probably wasn't listening and secondly because he didn't really believe it.
The two stood in companionable silence watching the bustle in the village below them. Konoha had finally returned to the strength it had possessed in the years before the attack of the Demon Fox and the later war with the Sound. It had returned to it's position as the strongest of the hidden villages, further strengthened by it's solid treaty and friendship with the Village of Sand and improving relations with Cloud and Rock. Not necessarily good, but improving. His close relationship with the ruler of the Country of Snow meant that they had an ally in the Hidden Village located there as well, small as it was. In all it was a time of peace for the ninja, and one Naruto was glad to preside over.
If only presiding didn't mean sifting through mounds of paperwork. He was inches away from using a katon jutsu on the lot, but lived in fear that the 'advisors' would miraculously appear at his shoulders before he could hide the evidence, to scold him in their old person manner. Which would suck away his life. The advisors hadn't changed since the reign of the Sandaime, through Tsunade's years as Hokage and into his own. Considering Sarutobi's age at his death Naruto was convinced they were both about 150 by now. That or the living undead. They seemed to make it their business to pop up at moments best designed to annoy him. The growing circle of unofficial advisors that Naruto could call upon, including Kakashi, Jiraiya, Tsunade and Shikamaru seemed to take great delight in supporting them every time and he knew for a fact in Tsunade's case it was specifically to annoy him. She and they had clashed more than once during her time in office and it seemed she took great pleasure in beating him over the head with the both of them as much as possible. He could feel himself slumping just thinking about the two of them.
Resolutely standing straight he was about to re-enter his office and engage in a life or death struggle with accountancy reports (much to Konohamaru's relief) when he caught sight of two people below and paused, watching. Some things never changed.
The two figures, one dressed in a red, body length dress and the other in cobalt blue and white were walking next to each other in the street below. His student heard his sigh and turned to chastise his sensei and Hokage, but took note of where the elder man's eyes lay and fell silent before he could begin to speak. This was not something he could joke about.
Naruto's eyes watched intently as the girl spoke to the seemingly unresponsive shinobi. After a while it became apparent that the conversation was one sided and that the young woman was giving up. She dropped back gradually before stopping completely and letting the apparently oblivious man continue on his way through the streets. the young kunoichi with waist length pink hair, the colour of ripe peach blossoms, morosely watched the man disappear around the corner, before slowly making her way back the way she had come, disappointment radiating of her visibly. No, some things certainly didn't change at all. Konohamaru, reluctantly spoke, breaking his mentor's concentration on the street below, now devoid of either of the two people he had been watching.
"Naruto? We need to-" The blond haired man straightened abruptly and turned to look his student, cutting off what he had intended to say.
"When you take over this position Konohamaru... you'll find that being Hokage is about much more than paperwork..." With that said Naruto flipped himself over the railing and sprinted across the rooftops. What surprised the grandson of the Third Hokage was that he was following the last of the Uchiha... not the woman he loved.
Uchiha Sasuke had changed little in the years they had known each other. Still arrogant to a fault and antisocial as a rule he had none the less become one of Naruto's close friends - though they rarely acted like it. On the occasions when the Hokage of Konoha was called upon for a mission, the child of the Uchiha clan was invariably his backup. They had known each other for over a decade now and in that time, whether they wanted to or not, they had learnt about each other, knew secrets few if any others were aware of. It was part of growing up for the both of them.
Naruto mused upon this as he watched the wielder of the Sharingan walk below him. After a few more seconds of silence he called out to the man he called a brother.
"Sasuke!" The blue haired youth looked up, smirking at the sight of the Sixth Hokage, sprawled undignifiedly on a branch in the tree above him. His wide brimmed hat was hung haphazardly on a smaller branch next to him and the robes were undone for comfort, revealing the mesh shirt underneath them. The wind ruffled their hair as they watched each other, a pleasantly cool breeze wafting across the top of the monument where they both resided for this moment. Sasuke grunted and turned to look down on the village below them both.
"Shouldn't the Hokage be in his office?" Naruto grinned weakly, knowing the other man couldn't see him anyway. He fingered the trim of his robe and shifted on the hard wood, trying to prevent his ass from going numb during the conversation.
"Even the Hokage needs a break now and then." Sasuke chuckled.
"You just hate paperwork." Barely managing to not fall out of the tree, Naruto scowled. Did everyone in Konoha know he hated paperwork? He sighed and reigned in his frustration, at least as much as he ever could. He hesitated, not knowing how to brooch the subject he had come to discuss, but left it an instant to long to make the conversation seamless.
"What's on your mind, dead-last?" Naruto grimaced. If it was going to be blunt, then...
"You love her." Sasuke stiffened, almost imperceptibly, but they had grown up together and Naruto had learned Sasuke as much as he had learned himself.
"Love who?" Naruto felt the urge to laugh but stifled it quickly, knowing that his friend would take it the wrong way if he did.
"Don't play dumb. That's by bit." Naruto grinned, but the blue clad man didn't respond. Breathing deeply he continued.
"You love her Sasuke and you know it. I know it. The only one who needs to know it now is her." Sasuke twitched slightly, before beginning to stride away, not looking back.
"You don't know what you're talking about, dumbass." Naruto sighed and closed his eyes, listening to the sound of the man's unhurried footsteps.
'Always calm and collected, eh Sasuke?' Silence for a while, before he spoke again.
"You never finish what you start after you talk to her." Sasuke stopped abruptly. Naruto continued. "No matter what you're doing before she talks to you and you tell her 'no', you never go back to it after you turn her down. You always walk." Sasuke spun on his heel and glared at the man in the tree, his dark eyes fierce. Naruto didn't notice. His eyes were tracing the three birds that danced in the skies above the Village of the Leaf.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Sasuke snapped.
"Nothing makes you walk away from training, Sasuke. Not hunger, or thirst, or any of your friends normally. But when she speaks to you, you always stop and... walk away. If she meant nothing to you, you would not. In fact if I had to guess I'd say you were on your way to train just now before she tracked you down. And now you're here instead."
"Taking to spying now, Naruto?" Sasuke's voice was furious, face locked in a snarl, the crimson of the mirror wheel glowing in his eyes. The object of his anger shrugged.
"I'm a ninja. It's what I do." Sasuke's enraged retort was steamrollered as the young man continued to speak, more resolutely now.
"You love her and we both know it. Don't lie to me because we both know the truth of the matter. I know you as well as you do, and I know you love her." His sky blue eyes flitted to meet the Uchiha's, harsh as agates. Sasuke flinched, a mere twitch. Naruto sighed deeply. "I'd tell you that she's not going to wait forever for you and that you need to grab her before she drifts away from you. But to be honest, she's stayed with you for all these years, no matter what you did, no matter how much you hurt her and she never even looked at another man." Perhaps only Sasuke knew how much saying those last words rent and clawed at him. Naruto smiled suddenly and his eyes softened. "She will love you forever Sasuke, no matter what you do. Isn't it better for everyone for you to tell her you love her back?" Sasuke looked away, finding himself staring out over the village again. His mouth was dry and his voice cracked when he spoke, after a time.
"I know... that you-"
"-don't matter at all right now, Sasuke. This is between you and her. Not the three of us." Sasuke whirled back, openly incredulous.
"How can you say that? Everything you just said about her can be applied to you too!" This time it was Naruto's turn to look away. He slipped onto the balls of his feet, crouching on the branch so that his robes billowed behind him. The wind had picked up now.
"...No matter how I feel about Sakura, it's how you two feel that's important now. Maybe I never will love another like I love her... but know for a fact she'll never love me the way she loves you. She'll love you even if you tell her you hate her every day, and even if I told her I loved her everyday it would not change her mind. That is the way things are. But if she can't be happy with me Sasuke... then I'll be content with her just being happy. And the only one who will make her happy is you." Sasuke shook his head, unable to think of anything to say. His feet shifted uneasily in the dirt. Naruto had gone back to watching the birds, as they wheeled through the cloudless sky.
"Dumbass..." If Naruto heard the halfhearted insult he didn't show it, nor did he react to the pained tone in which it was whispered.
"Why are you still here, Uchiha?" Sasuke stared at him. "Just because she will wait for you forever, doesn't mean she should have to. Get going, before I throw you off the cliff to give you a head start." Three white birds, slipping through the air, high over Konoha, each one seeming to run from another one, always in sweeping circles, never getting anywhere. He heard the dark haired man's footsteps stride to the edge of the cliff before pausing.
"...Thank you, Naruto." The blond heard him kick off the floor and leap from the top of the monument and turned in time to see the azure blur dancing across the rooftops. On his way to the Haruno residence if Naruto had to guess. Shaking his head, he felt the soft spikes of his hair brushing against the back of his neck and the sides of his face.
"Showoff." He sighed and adjusted his position slightly for comfort, keeping his eyes on the birds. He squinted trying to make out what the avians above were, but gave up after a few seconds. "You can come out now."
A sheepish looking Konohamaru stepped out of the bushes below, scratching the back of his head and looking guilty.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop but-" Naruto waved away the apologies and smiled slightly.
"It doesn't matter, Konohamaru." The younger man stepped forward until he was in front of the tree the Hokage was perched in.
"I'm surprised Sasuke didn't sense me." Naruto's smile lessened slightly.
"He sensed you. It just wasn't important at the time." The youth's quiet 'Oh' of comprehension floated up to him. There was silence for a while, though the elder of the two was happy to let it continue peacefully. Below the Chunnin youth shifted uncomfortably, struggling with his emotions. Eventually Naruto stood, hand reaching out for his hat. "Well, lets get back to-"
"Why did you tell him to go to her! Why did you give up?" Naruto's hand stopped a few inches short of the headgear and fell back to his side.
"Because I'm the Hokage." Konohamaru started.
"What's that got to do with anything?" He demanded. Almost absently Naruto's fingers began doing up the toggles on the front of the robes, until he had reached a few shy of his chin.
"A Hokage's job is to protect the citizens of Konoha, and to make sure that they are happy. They will be happy together. This is part of what I have to do. Being Hokage is more than just paperwork, Konohamaru." His hand snagged the red and white hat and he jumped down to stand next to the boy, leaving his head uncovered. The youth looked torn.
"But... what about you?" Naruto stared out over the forests of the Fire Country.
"I have this village. I have the people who are precious to me and I have this tree-" He patted the bark of the tree behind them affectionately -"I have the clouds in the sky during the day and the stars above me at night... that's all I need." He broke for a few seconds before whispering his last words. "And... what she want's is more important than what I want right now." The younger man stared at his mentor and watched the pain filter through his face, unchecked. This was what it meant to be Hokage.
"It's not all paperwork." The Sixth mumbled under his breath one more time. Konohamaru inclined his head, knowing he was not supposed to have heard.
Abruptly Naruto had plastered a grin across his face and slapped the hat onto his blond head.
"C'mon Konohamaru. We've got paperwork." He strode to the edge of the cliff face and urged the boy forward grinning. "I'll race you back to the office. If you win I'll buy you a bowl of ramen!" The younger man grinned in return and jumped off the top of the monument as the Uchiha had done a few minutes ago. Naruto paused for a few seconds, taking time to lay his impossible dream to rest before leaping off the cliff, robes billowing about him.
Far above the ninja village of the Leaf, one of the three birds pealed away to flutter down towards the rooftops, leaving the other two to dance together in the cloudless sky.
Really the purpose behind this is that I think Naruto would want Sakura happy, even if that meant her being happy with Sasuke. he doesn't like it, but he'll deal. Review please!