Disclaimer: Standard Disclaimers apply! Naturally any character that is not associated with the show belongs either to someone I have permission to use or to me. Please ask permission to use any character that I own should you desire to do so. Thank you. If there are any similarities between my work and another author's then I apologize. I suppose great minds DO think alike.

Series: Naruto

Title: Sacrificing Spring

Author: Tiasha

AN: This IS a Death Fic! You are forewarned…

This is the last installment of this story! This means that there will be no more chapters after this! Thank you for having stuck with me thus far! I really enjoyed your comments and support! .

Chapter Four: One Step Closer—Ascension

He couldn't help but smile at the weather on the day of his ascension to Hokage. It was clear skies and bright with sunlight as if it were a beautiful spring day, but the cold wind attested to the season's imminent change from autumn to winter. It was as if his two best friends were smiling down upon him on his big day. His dream was just within his reach. Tsunade-baa-chan, the woman he had long ago come to think of as family, would be turning the position of Hokage over to him, declaring him the Rokudaime. Ero-Sennin had also shown up and Kakashi-sensei's mood even seemed to be up with the celebration that was occurring.

Perhaps the only thing Uzumaki Naruto could have wished for on that day was the presence of his two teammates: Sakura-chan and Sasuke-teme. But it would not be so, and it left his heart feeling slightly heavy. They had been taken from him much too early in his opinion. If he had had it his way, Naruto would have had them all die together from old age, including Kakashi-sensei. But it was not to be.

He would not fret over their deaths though. No, it would be shaming them if he did, this he knew. Sakura had always loved Sasuke, ever since they were little. It had always been "Sasuke-kun" this and "Sasuke-kun" that and at first it had annoyed him to no end because he (Naruto) had been in love with her…but he knew better now. He had not been in love with her, he had simply loved her as he had loved all his friends and those he deemed as family. She had been in love Sasuke and had sacrificed everything for him…and Naruto held no ill-will toward her because he knew he would have done the same thing to bring Sasuke back to her to keep his promise.

And Sasuke… Sasuke had been his best friend, the one person who he had felt was the closest thing he would ever have to a brother. He would have risked everything to bring him back to Konoha and to Sakura. But Sakura had done that. Sacrificing herself had seemingly brought Sasuke back from the brink of insanity and back to Konoha; but the Uchiha had isolated himself almost immediately upon returning. Only Kakashi-sensei, Tsunade-baa-chan, the Rookie Nine and himself were the people he would converse with; the rest of the village had shunned him, but it had never seemed to bother him. He had been content with no longer going on missions, as if he had given up his quest for vengeance…but then, he had started talking about not seeing everyone anymore and it being the last time or something like that. Naruto had not understood at the time, but when he suddenly was allowed to go on a mission and he and Kakashi-sensei were assigned to go with him… It had been suspicious circumstances…and Naruto had soon learned why. Sasuke was leaving him to join Sakura…he died in the same manner as her too.

The symbolism of his death had not been lost on Naruto—Sasuke had come to realize after Sakura's sacrifice, that he had loved her and he hated the fact that she had died for him; but he had lived without her for as long as he could stand, and when he could stand it no longer, he took down Itachi in the same manner as she had Orochimaru. Oh, Naruto had understood the significance of Sasuke using a Kamikaze to end his life quite well. And it had hurt as he had watched his best friend become engulfed in the raging winds only to hear that ominous boom and find that there was nothing left of them. It had hurt…but he would live on. He would live on for them, as he knew they would want him to.

Sakura had always told him to never stop trying to be Hokage. And Sasuke…his silent support was all Naruto had ever needed. Their deaths all those years ago would not be in vain, he would make sure of that.

"Naruto, it's almost time."

He looked up and nodded to Jiraiya, a large grin spreading across his face. "Okay. Thanks, Ero-Sennin."

The older man nodded, a smile on his face; "You're thinking about them again. Don't. They'd want you to be happy."

Naruto frowned and huffed in annoyance, "I know that."

Jiraiya nodded, "All right then. Let's get you ready."

Smile still on his face, Naruto turned back to the clear skies and cold wind. He would not let the sacrifices of his friends be for nothing. He would bring the longest period of peace to Konoha the village had ever known. That was his promise to them. And he couldn't wait for them to tell him that they were proud when he joined them in the afterlife.

'But that won't be for a long while, guys. Wait up for me 'til then, okay? I won't disappoint ya!'