Disclaimer: Do I really need to state this every time?
On to the chapter!
IS Chapter 22
It was evening, the sun had just barely set, and outside was slowly growing less sparse with people. Konoha has been restored to its former glory and peace reigned in the little village. Everyone had something to talk about, someone to mourn, or work to better the village. In a little restaurant sparely crowded sat a pale young woman with her blond hair up it a high ponytail and her pale blue eyes focused on her drink.
Beside Ino sat a pink haired ninja with dull green eyes, and she too stared at her drink. "It's all so surreal." Sakura commented, as she fiddled with her water. "A short time ago we were in a war, and now, everything is back to how it should be… But so many people died." She added on.
"Naruto-kun has changed too." Hinata added softly before she took a small sip of her drink, her white eyes focused on the bar counter that they were seated at. "He is stronger…"
"He sort of has to be to be Hokage." Kiba muttered as he stared at the timid Hyuuga heiress. "But he isn't the only one to change." He stated as he absently patted Akamaru on his head, earning him a quiet bark of approval.
"Neji-ni-sama and Nara-san both have gotten stronger." Hinata stated in agreement. "I wonder what kind of training they did." She added thoughtfully as the man who ran the restaurant set a plate of food down in front of each of them. "It must have been very intense." She added quietly as she snapped her chopsticks apart.
"Who would have thought the dork, the hunk, and the lazy-one would become so powerful, not too mention utterly gorgeous!" Ino cooed in agreement as her fangirl expression won her over.
"Thought you liked Sasuke!" Sakura hissed as she glared at the girl beside her.
"Hey, a girl can branch out!" Ino cried in self defense, earning a huff of annoyance from the girl beside her. "Besides, I bet it would be easier to get a date from that hunky new Hokage of ours then it would be to get a date from Sasuke." She added as an after thought.
"You are on!" Kiba stated with a smirk. "Sakura I dare you to get Sasuke on a date before Ino can get Naruto to go on a date. Winner gets my next paycheck." He declared.
"Deal!" Both girls exclaimed, neither noticing the sad look in Hinata's eyes nor the strange look they got from one of the other patrons of the little restaurant.
- - - - - -
Naruto sighed for what had to be the umpteenth time as he read over the mission report he had just been handed. "What do you mean that you are no longer welcome there?" He questioned as he rubbed his temples and looked up at the man standing before his desk and he instantly regretted. "Gai… Turn off that smile before I make sure you can never smile again." The blond hissed with a glare as he readjusted his Hokage hat upon his head, feeling awkward in the get up.
"Youth!" The man exclaimed excitedly as he ran from the room yelling about something that had to do with laps around Konoha.
"Man…" Naruto sighed as he sagged back in his chair just as Neji and Shikamaru appeared in his offer, the latter draped lazily on the first. "Now why are you two late?" He questioned before he regarded them two of them. Instantly his cheeks turned crimson, before he sighed. "Pretend I never asked." He muttered.
"Naruto-kun…. There is unrest in the realm of the demons." Neji stated, getting immediately down to business as he absently caught Shikamaru's wondering hand and repositioned it in a more appropriate place. "With Yoko-sama's death, the fox clans are fighting amongst themselves. It's a blood bath, and the present Demon king does nothing to stop it."
Naruto stood and removed his veiled hat and placed it on his document free desk. "You both know what this means… right?" He asked softly as he stood and moved over to the window. "Kyuubi and I both figured something like this would arrive due to that…. And we have come a long ways. I'd imagine that with Kyuubi and me together we are part of the super S-class of demons." He stated as he stared down upon his village.
"The demon realms are already shifting, and in the North," Shikamaru began as he licked Neji's neck, "Demon clans are crossing the barrier of our worlds and are slaughtering all humans they cross paths with." The Nara explained.
Naruto nodded. "There is only one way to solve this issue. I need to become the King of the Demons." The blond said with resolution as he turned to face his dear sweet friends. "And this is one adventure I can not take you two on." He said sadly as he regarded.
"We know." Neji whispered. "There is only one other person that you can take with you. Uchiha-kun."
"Yes… His powers essentially make him a demon, whereas Kyuubi essentially makes me a demon. This way we can cross the barrier. You two, untainted by demonic nature can't cross over." The blond elaborated. "Only I can do this…"
- - - - -
That evening, Naruto stood in Iruka's kitchen, preparing a feast for the man that was like his father. His mind, thought preoccupied with that which was to come, was somewhat at peace. "Iruka-sensei, it's ready." He stated cheerfully as he laid out their meal upon the kitchen table and sat down with the Chunin. Iruka had been furious when he had initially learnt that Naruto was in all actuality the Kage Gesshoku, but after a long explanation and a sincere apology the man had admitted how proud he was of the blond.
"You know." Iruka began after having taken several bites. "I missed your cooking while you were away, and now that you are Hokage I still miss it as your duty to this village keeps you quite busy." The man added softly.
"I know…" Naruto said quietly. "But with time all things change. Whether the changes are good or bad depends on the outlook one has of them." He stated.
"You've grown…" He man commented, "You've changed for the better." The man said with a smile.
"You've changed too." The blond added. "I mean, what else could Kakashi's face mask in your bedroom mean." The blond added slyly with a wink causing the man to choke slightly.
"What were you doing in my room!" The man exclaimed, his cheeks red.
"I see you didn't deny it." Naruto added slyly. "So when did you two get together?"
Iruka sighed and placed his face in his hands. "After the war… During the battle, he saved my life at one point and, when I went to thank him… well, one thing kind of lead to another… and now we are practically attached at the hips." The Chunin explained with a lopsided grin.
"You must have promised him something good to get him out of here tonight then." The blond stated as he took a bite of his dinner, enjoying the way the man across from him flushed. "Ah, you must be like Neji. Make promises of bedroom time to get your lover to leave you in peace. Kakashi sounds like Shikamaru, surprisingly."
"Hyuuga-san and Nara-san?" Iruka stated with a blink. "I didn't see that coming."
- - - - - -
"Though the war has ended," Naruto began as he stood upon the stage and addressed the mass of people that formed Konoha, "Peace is still not ours." Whispers met his words and the blond raised his hand, immediately calling silence upon them all. "In the war, allies of mine helped us, and one of them perished." He paused as sad note flickering through his deep blue eyes. "With her death came great unease, and through this shift in the balance of nature a crack in the barrier between our world and the demon world had formed."
Shouts of panic and anger rose up and once again, the blond Hokage raised his hand to garner silence. "I understand your concerns." He stated loudly, calming them. "Konoha is no stranger to threats by demons. Many of you know this as well as I do. But, I will not allow a repeat of the Kyuubi incidence."
"And how do you plan to stop this?" Sneered one of the village elders.
"Simply, you have all acknowledged my strength. As such, I will do all in my powers to save this village from further pain and suffering. With this rift in our worlds, not only Konoha and its allies are in peril, but so is life as we all know it." He stated before he shrugged off his open Hokage robe, leaving him standing in his black leather attire. He lifted his shirt revealing his seal. "This is my curse, this is my gift." He said. "This marking has signed my fate as the vessel to the very demon that nearly demolished this proud village." He explained.
"The fourth, sealed this demon into my per my mother's request, and from that day I have be branded. As I grew up I never knew my purpose in life, until this day. My purpose is to use this gift, this curse to travel through the rifts in our worlds. There I will defeat the demon king, and claim ownership of the demon kingdoms. Only then can I settle this unrest and seal that rift." He explained as he lowered his shirt.
"I know… many, if not most of you are against this whole plan, but you must understand, this is our only chance." He stated.
"You are just going to abandon Konoha?"
"No… I would never abandon this place." Naruto began.
"You are foolish to claim he would do something so cowardly as that!" Neji stated from at the side of his dear friend. "We all know that this man would bleed for all of you, he would lay his life on the line jus to give you a future. That is what he intends to do!" The Hyuuga stated furiously his words causing silence to fall.
"But who will protect us while you are gone?" A young girl questioned naively, causing the Hokage to smile.
"Don't worry; I am leaving Hyuuga Neji and Nara Shikamaru here to help you all in my stead. Shizune will act as their advisor and assistant just as she had for our beloved Tsunade-sama." Naruto stated softly.
"You go alone?"
"Yes." Naruto said with a nod. "Humans are unable to pass through that barrier and enter the other realm. With the nine-tailed fox sealed within me, I have a chance to get in." He explained.
"Why not take the Kazekage with you?"
"I could never ask anyone else to put themselves into danger for my sake." The blond answered honestly. "Konoha and Sand are allies, do not get me wrong, but I know that this is something that I must do on my own." He explained. "This is the ultimate test. The one that will prove to myself that I am a worthy leader for this grand village. That I live up to the title of Hokage."
Naruto concluded before he walked off the stage, leaving a stunned mass of people behind.
- - - - - -
"You know… It almost feels as if I'm walking to my death." Naruto stated as he stood at the Northern gates of Konoha, his blue eyes thoughtful.
"You aren't." Neji stated firmly as he pulled the smaller teen into his arms and held him firm. "You are walking to victory." He whispered in the blonde's ear. "All our hopes, dreams and prayers are with you. You are not alone." The Hyuuga prodigy stated as he pulled an arms length back. "I have watched out grow through the years into the impressive person that you are now. I have no doubt in me. I know you will succeed. You always do." He said as he pulled back a gentle light in his eyes.
"He's right…" Shikamaru added, as he slung an arm around his friend, chocolate brown eyes focused on the gold and pink and purple clouds of dawn.
The trio stood there in silence staring up at the sky. "You know… I named you as my successor Neji…." He stated. "Just in case I am unable to succeed." He said firmly. "It would have been stupid to go without naming one." He reasoned.
"You aren't going to die… dobe." A new voice cut in, causing the group to turn and regard the onyx haired Jounin.
"Sasuke-teme." Naruto said with a soft smile. "It has been a long time since the two of us have spoken." He stated as he walked up to the taller teen. "You've gotten taller."
"And you have gotten stronger." Sasuke added begrudgingly. "Though, I will prove that I am still your better. When you come back we are going to fight." He stated.
Naruto looked stunned at his old rival before his customary grin took over his face as he accepted the hand that Sasuke held out to him. "Sure." He said softly.
"Naruto-kun… I don't know where you got the impression that you were headed out alone." A familiar voice stated as a white kimono wearing male appeared, his flowing silver hair loose, and his emerald eyes alight with life.
"Kimimaro-kun!" Naruto stated with a happy expression. "I didn't anticipate you being back so soon."
"I've been back for a long time." The man stated. "I just thought I'd surprise you by revealing my return to you this way." The man said with a nod as he adjusted the pack on his back. "Though, if you ever want to arrive at that barrier, I suggest we get going." The former agent of Orochimaru stated and soon the duo said their farewell to the Leaf ninja and left.
- - -
Sorry, its short, but it is intended as a filler chapter. I hope you all enjoyed it.