Okay, so I have seemed to make my readers think that the chapter was the final chapter to my story, which it wasn't. What I meant when I said I was finished was that I was finished with that chapter, because it became a pain in the neck to write. I was trying to wrap up all the lose ends in my mind, but it just didn't seem to be working for me. Which really sucked. Anyways, read onwards my faithful reader, read!
White. Everywhere was white. The tiled floors, the ceiling, the walls, hell, even the people wore white clothing. There was just too much damned white. And then their was that smell, the stuff they used sterilize every damn thing with lingered in the air. Covering up the smell of death and disease with its own putrid smell. It reminded me why I hate hospitals with a growing passion. But I had to stay here, I felt obligated to, and besides, they were partly my family too, in a way.
Watching Gaara pace back and forth was also very amusing as well. After he had been kicked out of the operating room by Tsunade, he had yet to stand still. Haku was on the other side of the hallway, Neji's arms wrapped around him in a comforting way while both their eyes keep on drifting towards the doorway. Not far away from the young couple, Obito and Zabuza sat on a pair of chairs, the Uchiha bouncing slightly in his seat, not being able to hold completely still either. Shizune and Rin were assisting Tsunade at the moment, or else they would have been waiting in the corridors with them. Then there was Sasuke and Itachi, both of them leaning against opposite walls, staring into each others eyes, having a silent conversation.
Finally, there was me, Kazama Arashi, the Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure. Really I don't know why I was here to begin with, I know everyone else is here to see Hinata give birth to the twins she has been carrying for the last nine months, almost ten since they did not seem to want to leave the womb just yet. As for me, I was just here, I heard that the Uzumaki-Sabaku-Hyuugu twins were being born and I found myself using the Hiraishin seal I had hidden in the hospital. I felt like I needed to be here when the twins were born.
"Are we late? Has Hinata had the twins yet?" Sakura asked, waddling town the corridors as fast as her pregnant state would let her, her husband by her side, fretting over her and their unborn daughter. Haku was the one to answer the woman's question, but I had tuned out the world yet again. I barely even notice Iruka and Kakashi's arrival, the teacher panting slightly from running all the way here while apologizing for their late appearance, which happened to be the scarecrow's fault. It seems like Obito is rubbing off on Kakashi.
Every since Naruto died nine months ago, I found myself with the constant company of one or more of the people here today. Losing my son once to death was hard, finding out he was alive and well was another matter, but losing him again, watching him die, I just couldn't bare it. Not again. I think the only reason I am still alive is because they have all keep me ground here. Looking around one more time, I spot Sasuke scowling at his brother, and I know, for some, I have helped keep them ground as well.
Life has become simpler in the last few months. The war has finally been resolved and a rocky peace has settled in, sure there are a few skirmishes which have popped up here and there, but nothing major. Hundreds of ninjas no longer die a day because of a fruitless war, which seemed to be generated by Butsuyoku Madara, but there were still deaths. The world wasn't perfect -it never was nor would it ever been- though it was getting better. However, there were still quite a few headaches along the way, like clearing Itachi's name when everyone had seen him fighting against along side with S-ranked missing nins or explaining the giant chakra wave that everyone felt for miles around the night of his death.
Thankfully, with Shikamaru's high IQ, we had come up with a plausible story. One where Orochimaru had been the one responsible for the Uchiha Massacre and Itachi was given the mission to infiltrate Orochimaru's group and go undercover. He had to keep up appearances during the Suna-Oto invasion, but never once during the invasion did he kill a Konoha citizen. As for the wave of chakra, which had become known as Chakra no Tsunami, as far as anyone else was concerned, it was Orochimaru's last failed experiment that had wiped Otogakure clean off the planet, along with the rest of the area surrounding the village for hundreds of miles around.
But life has never been easy, not once in the last nine months. Burying Naruto's body next to my wife was one of the hardest things I every had to do, and then explaining to the grave marker of my wife just why our son had joined her up in heaven was too much for me. As for the funeral, it was supposed to be small. However, word traveled fast about the death of one Uzumaki-Kazama Naruto and people started to pour in from all across the great nations and everywhere else in between. The few people that came from Sand and Wave -Tazuna and his family- were expected, but the shinobi coming in from Tsuki -the Hoshikage and a handful of ninjas- , Yuki -the Daimyo-, Kiri, hell shinobi and villagers alike from Kumo and Iwa came to pay there respects and that was only to name a few. Naruto had touched the lives of many different people on his journey through life and it seemed like more people would miss him then he every realized.
Shortly after Naruto's burial, Kyuubi and the spirit foxes had disappeared. Sasuke had told me that with nothing to bind the bijū to this world, he had been forced to go back to his own realm and I'm assuming the same can be said for my white fox companions of the last couple of years. Without my son here, things just never felt normal.
Hearing cries echo throughout the hallway, I was snapped out of my thoughts to see Rin and Shizune walking out of the delivery room with a bundle of blankets in each of their arms. The bundle in Shizune's arms was pink while Rin carried a blue bundle.
"Everyone, I would like to introduce you to Hoshiko and Noboru, the next generation of the Uzumaki clan," Shizune said proudly, handing Hoshiko over to her father while Rin held Noboru out to her uncle. The meanings of the twin's names not lost on anyone one present. Hoshiko to honor the Uzumaki Hoshi and Noboru, rise or ascend, just like their deceased uncle.
All of them crowed around the two new bundles, exclamation of the twins having their mother's eyes and father's hair reaching my ears, but never once did I take a step closer to look at the new additions to our mismatched family. I wasn't the only one, Sasuke stood back, staring longingly at the two bundles, a mixture of happiness and sorrow in his eyes and I knew. I knew the happiness was directed towards Gaara and Hinata for their wonderful gifts and the sorrow was that Naruto would never see his niece and nephew that he had been so excited over, for I felt it too.
That was all I could take, and with a few select hand seals, I disappeared from the hospital the same way I have arrived -a golden flash which was seen only by Sasuke- reappearing in a secluded area of the forest. It looked like just another patch of the woods, there was only one difference. Two grave markers. One old and smooth around the edges while the other was still glossy with well defined edges.
Sitting down in front of the two markers, Arashi bowed his head and gave a slight prayer to the gods and goddesses to look over his family until he joined them.
"Hinata had the babies today," Arashi began talking, not bothering to think about what he said and let the words flow out. "She went into labor early in the morning, nearly scaring poor Shukaku to death. Gaara had been on the outskirts of town, delivering a few parcels for SEED when the little bijū came scattering to his side, or so I've heard, before jumping up on Gaara's shoulder and telling him what was going on. He apparently did quite the impersonation of me, running through the village like lightning. Sounds like me when Naruto was born, eh koi?
"Anyways, they had a girl and boy. Hoshiko and Noboru. Apparently they have Gaara's red hair and the Hyuuga eyes, though I didn't get to see them for myself. I just couldn't stay there any longer," the blond haired man stated dejectedly. "I don't think I can do this anymore. It's becoming harder and harder as the days go on, and koi, I'm starting to forget. I'm starting to forget the sound of your voice, the way you walked and the way you smelled when we would just get up in the morning. I'm starting to forget the little things that are keeping me sane without you… without our son.
"Sasuke is in just as bad of shape as I am. He is taking your passing harder than any of the others; Karin seems to think it is because you died in his arms. But I know the truth, it's because his other half is gone, his Soul Mate," a sigh escaped the Yondaime's lips as he ran his fingers through his messier than usual hair. "Itachi tells me he hasn't been sleeping at all and when he does, he wakes himself up scream and refuses to go back asleep afterwards. He hasn't been eating either, and Sakura has become too big to cheek up on him and force him to eat whenever she likes to anymore. Though, I'm sure once she has her baby and gets back on her feet, she'll be back to the Uchiha compound like clockwork. Her daughter will probably pick up the same habits from her mother and bug Sasuke as well," a soft chuckle escaped the man as his own words weaved an image of an identical mother and daughter pair chastising the younger Uchiha. "In the mean time, Tsunade has told me if this keeps up, she'll have to admit him into the hospital under careful watch."
Another sigh came from Arashi before the music of the wilderness at night took over. Gazing up into the twinkling sky above, the lone man breathed in the beauty. "I really don't know what to do anymore. What can I do?" the Yondaime asked, knowing he would never receive an answer.
"Why not try wishing on the stars? Or asking the wind? They always have the answers and are willing to share if you're willing to listen."
"And if I wished for my family back? What then?" Arashi asked.
A soft breeze began to blow, before settling back down. "Then the wind will answer that your wife has always been with you, standing by your side and watching over you. She's always with you."
"And my son?"
"Then the stars will grant your wish." A twig snapped to Arashi's right and the man turn, his hand going for his weapon's pouch as his relaxed nature left him. He stopped in mid motion when he saw four small white foxes with brown eyes prancing around a larger golden eyed red fox with nine tails. And in the middle of the kitsunes, a heavenly being stood. Amaterasu had blessed the figure in front of him with hair the color of the sun and skin bathed in her warmth and love. Not to be out done, Tsukiyomi had bestowed upon the being a kimono made out of her silver rays of light while Susanoo turned some of his storm clouds into an obi. However, what held the Yondaime Hokage memorized were the unique blue eyes. Very much like his own. Too much like his own.
Stepping closer, afraid that if he got too close he would disappear, Arashi reached out to the figure wanting to touch him, by not daring too. When he was in a closer range, the blond man was able to see the exhaustion in the blue eyes that matched his and saw how small he really was. But the smile on the other's face made his heart speed up and before he knew what was happening, the smaller figure had taken a step closer only for his body to give out on him.
"Naruto!" Catching the fallen teen, Arashi held his son in his arms, never wanting to let go. Never again.
"I'm home Otou-sama, I'm home," the boy whispered drifting off into sleep.
"Naruto?" the Hokage question, worry in his voice.
"He's asleep,"Dei whimpered, trotting up to the two blonds.
"Let him sleep." Reimei explained, coming to stand next to her sister.
"He's been trying to find his way back."
"Back?" Arashi asked. "Back from where? Didn't Shinigami-sama take him to heaven?"
"Iie,"Yuuyami barked out.
"Since the former God and Goddess of Rice, Foxes, and Fertility made him their Heir before they passed on, when his moral body died he ascended, becoming the next Kitsune no Kami. He took on the duties given to him, but he wasn't happy," Yabun whimpered.
"And they all felt his place wasn't with them. It was here, but he was already dead here and couldn't come back. As a God, he has no right to live here. He could visit like other gods and goddesses, but never stay, and he knew by doing that, he would have hurt everyone even more then him dieing. So he sought another way to return and found it." Kyuubi growled lowly, catching the Yondaime's curiosity. However, the fox went no further, ears pinned to the back of his head and a small heart wrenching whimper echoed throughout the clearing.
He did not have a clue where the foxes were going with there story, but he had a feeling his son had done something in order for him to come back to them. What he did, he didn't know. There was one way to find out though. Pulling his nerves together, Arashi asked the lingering question to find his answers. "What was that price?"
"His immortality," Kyuubi finally spoke, "No longer is there any holy chakra running through his veins, he gave up the chance of ever being apart of the realm of the gods and goddesses. Not in this life or his next life. He no longer holds the title Kitsune no Kami nor will he ever be the Lord of Foxes again. The blood of the Tenshi was taken from him as well. He's a regular human child now, nothing more, nothing less."
It took awhile for the information to sink in, but once it did, Arashi looked at his sleeping son in disbelief. Most humans would give up everything to obtain immortality, but Naruto had given up being immortal to be with him, to be with their mismatch family. No one else. No one else. There was only one question left unanswered.
"If he is no longer the Lord of Foxes or the Kitsune no Kami like you say, then why are you all still with him?" the Hokage questioned.
"I am his familiar, immortal or mortal, I shall be by his side. Not even death shall separate us," the Kyuubi no Kitsune growled out, his loyalty to Naruto unwavering.
Turning his attention to the group of spirit foxes, Arashi waited for their answer. The four foxes just looked at each other before answering as one. "He's part of our pack, as are you, we're not leaving anytime soon."
Tsunade looking around the little restaurant, the Sannin looked for her lunch mate and quickly found him flirting with the young new waitress. "Jiraiya, will you ever change?"
"Only never," the old man responded, giving her one of his smile he used when he was the village's prankster before his own student took over the roll. But the effects were still the same and a burst of laughter came from the woman before him. It was nice to hear her laughter, she hadn't laughed much since her youngest grandson had died and he wouldn't deny he was hurt too from the lad's departure. However, he hadn't gotten that close to the boy either, in the short time he had been around before the Oto-Suna invasion and then after his return, but what he had seen of the blond boy, he knew he would miss.
Nodding to the waitress he had been flirting with, Jiraiya signaled the girl to bring them a bottle of warm sake and some appetizers. "So, I heard your oldest grandson just became a father himself, how's it feel to be a great-grandmother?"
"I'll let you know, right after you have a vasectomy," the Slug Sannin replied, pouring each of them some sake once the waitress had delivered the order. A smirk formed when she saw her fellow Sannin paled considerable. "But really the twins are adorable. Noboru is as quiet as a mouse while Hoshiko seems to have a fascination with Shukaku and cries whenever he's not around. The demon acts like he hates it, though Gaara tells me that his inner demon has a soft spot for the girl. But he's not the only one, Gaara won't let anyone outside the family hold either of the infants unless Hinata forces him to yield and Haku and Neji are over there enough that they practically live with them.
"Zabuza comes by at least twice a day and brings Obito at least once who then drags Sasuke along and Itachi follows. Shizune stops by before her shift while Rin stops by after her shift with Iruka and Kakashi when the Academy lets out," Tsunade said with a chuckle, not believing how the birth of two infants had changed the heavy atmosphere which had fallen on them in the last nine, almost ten, months. "And it has only been a week since they were born."
Taking a sip of his sake, Jiraiya look at Tsunade, but he didn't seem to be really seeing her. His mind elsewhere. "With every death, hope is extinguished, forever lost. But with each new birth, a new hope is born as well. The new Uzumakis tykes represent that hope and everyone naturally latch onto them."
Again, the two lapsed in silence, sipping their sake while thinking about the last week. They continued their small talk, drinking sake and snaking on various things for an hour or so. But there was one subject they had been dancing around, none wanting to be the one to bring it up, yet one of them had to.
Downing his sixth cup, Jiraiya found his nerves. "So how has Arashi been doing? Still not coming into work?"
"No, he asked for the week off after the twins' birth, it'll be a week today," Tsunade answered. "But even then, I haven't seen him all week. I'm starting to think that he has taken Naruto's death harder than Sasuke and not the other way around." The woman was going to say more, but the screams coming form outside had both Sannin out onto the streets in a matter of seconds. What they found, was not what they were expecting.
Mass amount of frogs were jumping around throughout the main road, getting into everything, causing pandemonium. In the middle of all the mess, there was a three pronged kunai lodged in the ground and if anyone bothered to take a closer look -though none of the people were even saw the kunai to begin with, their attention focused solely on the frogs- they would have noticed two foxes etched on the two shorter prongs and the kanji for ichi between the two foxes.
"I have a feeling this will be a long day," Jiraiya state, looking around at all the frogs and flinching when one use his head as a lily pad.
And the Toad Sannin was right, for once. Throughout the day, different pranks were played all over the village, varying in complexity and the size. The one thing that tied them all together was a three pronged kunai with two kitsunes etched into the metal and a number between the two foxes. It was the talk of the village, every prank was different and somehow everyone was affected one way or another. Some people, those with a better sense of humor than others, just simply laughed it off and others were cursing up a storm, which got them in further trouble by the maternal female populations when children were around.
Nonetheless, stories of pranks were whispered out through the village all day long. Some of the bigger pranks seemed to be the villagers' favorites were almost constantly being spoken of, one of which would be how the Hokage Mountain had a genjutsu placed over it, making it look like all the men were women, save for the Yondaime who was sticking his tongue out at the village with a childish gesture. That was the eighteenth prank. Then there was the third-first, the one that had all male ROOT members in the hospital because of the female ROOT members who swore the men had been peeping on them in the bathhouse.
Few thought that the thirty-first prank could be out done, but they were wrong. The seventy-seventh had the council members speaking in high voices and a pained look on their faces all day long when they sat down. No one really knew what had happened to them, when asked; they would become beat red, mumble something about wild animals and quickly limped away.
Hell, even SEED got pranked, the twenty-fifth prank to be exact. However, they wouldn't divulge the information of the prank, but judging by the way a lot of new couples were formed amidst the ranks, it was better left alone. Though, the villagers thought that the best prank of them all was when Jiraiya learned he would never be able to peep into the bathhouses ever again if he wanted to court Tsunade. Sure, he had always had a crush on his female teammate, even to this day, but giving up his peeping ways? Oh, that was harsh.
By mid day, the number of pranks around the village was in the seventies and the villagers and shinobi were all on guard, but they didn't stop them from getting pranks. They were saved when the golden rays of light disappeared across the horizon, when the ninety-ninth prank pulled. One which totally destroyed the Council of Elders' meeting room, which was the tenth prank pulled on the council that day and it was a general consensus that whoever or whomever were playing these pranks sure did not like the elders. Neither did it seem they liked ROOT, since there were just as many pranks pulled on them as well.
But that didn't mean the last prank had been pulled. Everyone was on edge thinking the pranks would start up again at anytime, but they won't, not for them at least. No, the finally prank wasn't from the citizens. It was only for a select few people in the village. And that prank would be the best prank, no questions asked.
Oh, something was up, there was definitely something up. Konohagakure was being pranked every ten minutes it would seem and the culprit -or culprits- had yet to be identified, let alone be caught despite the many shinobi who were out for the person's -or persons'- blood. What disturbed him even more was the fact that he and the rest of his team had yet to be pranked and from what he was gathering it would seem prankster(s) whole mission was to involve everyone living in Konohagakure.
That simple fact seemed to put him on edge and Neji knew him and his team were bound to be caught in one of the pranks sooner or later. However, as the sunset and no pranks involved him or his team, his suspicions rose. He knew he was going to be involved in a prank, but someone had a special plan for him and his teammates.
After seeing the effects of the pranksters prank on SEED, Shikamaru decided that the people behind the pranks should be left alone. Even though some people weren't taking the pranks well, the over all atmosphere of the village had lighten considerably. Then there was a fact that the pranksters were making ROOT's life a living hell and the council as well, which put the people behind everything into his good graces.
Besides, it was too troublesome.
Hinata merrily hummed a sweet song as she walked through the market place which was in a current state of disarrangement. Many of the venders' stales were painted bright neon colors while others had genjutsu placed over them making some look too frightening to enter. However, the young Hyuuga Heiress almost fainted at the sight of one of the higher class shops -which were a bunch of assholes if anyone asked her- that had a genjutsu over it which made the place look like a whorehouse. The shop owner was desperately trying to get any ninja to release the illusion, but none seemed to be willing, or they just couldn't, making all of the customers go elsewhere for their items.
Hinata could have taken the genjutsu down herself, but she decided to let the man suffer. She still remembered how badly her husband and his brothers were treated by the man years back and this was just karma. Besides, she needed to get home quickly to her family; it was almost time for some of their mismatch family to start showing up. Their house was constantly filled with guests at all hours of the day, but she never mind. It kept all of their minds off of the last couple of months without Naruto. Though, she was concerned about Arashi because she hadn't seen him all week and it was disconcerting. He didn't even stop by to see the two new Uzumakis even once.
Hinata's worries did not stop there however. Sasuke was fairing off any better, though he did come by every day like the rest of the mismatch family, but he looked worse off by the day. When asked about it, the Uchiha just said he had been more unease than usually, like there was something tugging on his heart and it was keeping him on edge. He was sleeping even less than before, if that was even possible with the small amount of sleep he had already got. At least when he was at her house, she could force food down his throat and make sure he ate.
But, Hinata was still worried about both the Uchiha and the Yondaime. They were her family and she would do everything she could to help them, but she sadly; she couldn't bring back the dead. No matter how much she missed Naruto herself; there was nothing she could do about it.
Sasuke had been asleep, his cousin and brother forcing him to sleep while they went to visit Gaara and the others on Tsunade's orders. He didn't know how long he had been slept, but judging from the sounds coming from downstairs, Itachi and Obito were back. What they were doing was another matter, what was with all the noise?
Shaking his head, Sasuke walked down the hall wearing only his drawstring pants, wanting to give the two other Uchihas a piece of his mind. Though, when he arrived in the kitchen he found a meal fit for the whole family spread out on the table. Five kitsunes spread out across the floor staring at the food longingly. Though, he was more interested in the blond making even more food in his kitchen.
"Naruto," Sasuke breathed out, thinking he was dreaming and if that was so, he never wanted to wake up. The blond jumped slightly; dropping the knife he was using to chop the fruit on the counter and twirled around on the balls of his feet.
"Sasuke, you're awake," the blond stuttered out, pouting slightly. "I'm not finished yet, and the others aren't here either. Otou-sama was-eep!"
The blond wasn't able to say anything else, seeing as Sasuke pulled him to his chest and into strong arms. Kissing him to make sure he was real. Once he was sure that this was not a dream, the Uchiha looked over at the glazed over blue eyes and his heart soared when he was greeted with the smile he had been missing for nine months.
"I told you, you had nothing to worry about. I came back, didn't I?" Naruto asked teasingly, which only caused Sasuke to pull him in for another kiss, a light nip at his lips showing his Soul Mate his unhappiness at the blond's disappearance. Never once did he notice the infamous three pronged kunai with two foxes innocently lying on the kitchen table surrounded by wonderful smelling food. An even hundred branded into the metal.
Okay, so this is the real end. I hope all of you have enjoyed the story, and thank you to all those who have stuck by me with this two year project, I really am greatful. I would like all of you who will review to tell me a few things about the story so I can improve on my writing. First off, I want to know what was your favorite part and what was your least favorite part. What did you find the most funny, the sadest part, and anything else you feel you have to comment on. Though, I do not want a flame -who does?- I will take constructive criticing, though I know my grammer and spell are bad, so you don't need to tell me! I'm working on it.
Thank you to all of you who have read and reviewed.
Shi no Tenshi 902