Disclaimer: I thought that cloning Kiba would be a good way to steal the REAL Kiba from K. Masashi, but turns out he can tell the difference between the two... At least I got the clone... Small consolation...

Reminder: No pairings.

Guide to my writing, please note the quotations:
'Naruto talking to people via chakra.'
'Naruto signing.'
"Naruto and Kyuubi talking in Naruto's head."

"The voice tells us that the human race is greater than it knows."
- Napoleon Bonaparte.

Seven years later.

Sakura sat backwards in a chair in the Hokage's bedroom, resting her cheek against her hand to keep it propped up. One eyebrow was arched delicately as she watched the Hokage-to-be pace back and forth. Back and forth.

He'd been doing that since she arrived three hours ago, and hadn't stopped, not even for a second. The routine was the same. He would walk across the room, swerving around the table in the middle until he reached the opposite wall, and then turn back again.

Walk. Swerve. Pivot. Repeat.

She sighed, shaking her head. She knew why he was like this. She understood, too. She just wished she was enough to calm his nerves, but she knew no one could. Not the way he could. But he wasn't there. He wouldn't be there for him. Not this time.

It was the most important day of this man's life, and the one person who could calm him down and congratulate him wouldn't be there. She buried her face in her folded arms, sighing deeply. She wished there was something she could do, but there wasn't.

"Can you please stop pacing? You're giving me a headache. Just sit down."

"Hn." was the clipped reply. She sighed, shaking her head and whispering words she really knew should be kept to herself.

"You're thinking about him, aren't you?" For the first time since she arrived, the steps stilled and he stood in the middle of the room, unmoving. "About how he's not here."

"I need him." he whispered. "I can't do this without him."

"You can." the pink-haired woman insisted. "You know he would want you to."

"But I can't! I-I need him! I can't do this without him, he's the most important person to me!"

"And what am I?" Sakura asked, slightly hurt.

The man before her sighed, shaking his head. "You're just as important, and you know it. But—you're here. And he's not." He bit his lip. "He's just—not."

Sakura sighed as pain wrenched her chest. She wanted nothing more than to give this man what he wanted. She wanted to fetch his best friend and bring him here for this special day, but she couldn't. He would have to go through this without the one person he wanted most in the world to be there.

The doors suddenly slammed open, interrupting the two teammates as they turned, startled, to see who'd dared enter the Hokage-to-be's room without so much as knocking.

"Did I miss it?.! Am I too late?.!"

"Sasuke!" Naruto launched himself at the Uchiha, hugging him tightly. "You're back! You made it back in time! I was so scared you wouldn't be here!"

Sasuke smirked as he patted Naruto's back before forcing the blond to let him go. He tossed his head to the side, flicking black bangs from his eyes and smiled at his best friend.

"Dobe. I wouldn't miss the most important day in your idiotic life. After all, why would I want to miss the embarrassment you're undoubtedly going to put yourself through?" He smirked viciously and Naruto paled.

"Oh, God, what if I do make a fool of myself?.!"

Sasuke's smile dropped immediately. He hadn't meant to freak the blond out, and now he knew he and Sakura were going to have to stop him from hyperventilating and skipping the inauguration altogether. Shit, the Uchiha thought.

Sasuke then winced and hissed as he rubbed the back of his head, turning to glare at the one who'd hit him. He met black eyes with golden irises and black-slitted pupils, thankful he hadn't been hit harder since the person was more than capable of injuring him severely.

"Come, kit. It is almost time." Kyuubi stated as he ran one hand through his flaming red hair, regarding his used-to-be host.

"Kyuubi-jisan, I can't do this!" Naruto blurted out as he backed himself into a corner and sank to the ground, his hands buried in his hair. "I'll make a fool of myself and they'll change their minds!"

"Oh, good job, Uchiha." Sakura said exasperated. "All that work in calming him down because he didn't think you'd be here for his big day and you freak him out instead of making him feel better." The Uchiha laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Kit!" Kyuubi barked, annoyed. "I did not almost lose my life seven years ago to save you only to have you not follow through with your dream because this—whelp has frightened you!"

Sasuke smirked at Kyuubi's choice of word. Seven years in his own body and the demon still couldn't think up better insults than a five year old.

"They have accepted you." Kyuubi reminded his somewhat son. "They have seen through the demon you used to possess and have accepted you as their future Hokage. To deny them this now would be an insult to them, and an insult to you. You worked too hard for this, kit, now get up and come! We must go!"

Whimpering pitifully, the blond stood up and left the room with Kyuubi, casting a nervous glance back at Sakura and Sasuke.

"He's still a little kid." Sakura smirked as she stood, putting her ANBU mask in place and Sasuke doing the same.

The two ANBU left the room and hurried to the base of Hokage Mountain, where everyone in the village was gathered. Sakura and Sasuke went to join the other ANBU, nodding to their friends and reassuring everyone that Naruto would come. Kyuubi was with him, after all.

Sasuke would never forget that day seven years ago when he was sure he'd lost Naruto for good. The blond had been dead. Completely and utterly dead. Kyuubi had been extracted, and when a demon was pulled from its vessel, the host died. Sasuke had screamed at Naruto. He'd pounded on his chest and hollered that he would be pissed if the stupid dobe didn't wake up. Nothing worked. Naruto was truly dead. Sasuke had been about to give his life for Naruto when he'd been interrupted.

That was when Sasuke believed in miracles. Something went wrong with the extraction of Kyuubi—probably Naruto or even the Kyuubi himself not wanting to separate—and Kyuubi never completely left Naruto's body to enter the large stone figure. Instead, it had turned into its own being, resembling a human, by all accounts. Sasuke had never been so terrified in his life when he'd been shoved to the side by the strange man in the cave that day. He was just so—different. He had tanned skin like Naruto, but his eyes were the most frightening things he'd ever seen. Where Sasuke's eyes were white, this being's eyes were black. Where his were black, this being's eyes were gold. And whereas Sasuke's pupils were round, this being's were slitted. His hair was long, falling past his shoulders in a straight curtain of red.

He was naked, but Sasuke hadn't concerned himself with this, mostly trying to get over his fear and shove the man away from his best friend. When the Kyuubi had turned to him and hissed, showing his long fangs, that was when Sasuke noticed the claw-like nails and froze. He didn't understand, and the Kyuubi had finally found enough time in between pouring chakra into the blond to explain he was the Kyuubi no Kitsune. He had attained a human form during the extraction, and was now depleting almost all his chakra to keep his former host alive.

"Why?" Sasuke had whispered, utterly confused.

"Because he is my kit. My son. I will not let him die!"

And so, he had kept his promise. Naruto hadn't died. He hadn't woken up for three months, but he'd survived.

Akatsuki had been wiped out that day, too. With all the Konoha shinobi present, and then Kyuubi charging out once Naruto was breathing again, their deaths were inevitable. Sasuke hadn't had the pleasure to kill Itachi, since Kyuubi had beat him to it, but he didn't mind so much anymore. He'd realized some things were more important than revenge. So he'd rushed back to Konoha with Naruto, instead.

And now, the blond was getting what he deserved. He was going to be Hokage.

The ceremony started the usual way. Tsunade gave a nice, long, boring speech about her duties as Hokage and why she'd chosen Naruto. His friends already knew all of this, so they effectively tuned her out and busied themselves with something else. Of course, the friends not wearing ANBU masks were getting disapproving glares from various people whereas those with ANBU masks could let their eyes wander freely with no fear of being caught.

Time passed, Tsunade called Naruto out and read him all the duties of the Hokage before the elders officially declared him the Rokudaime Hokage of Konohagakure.

Next came the fun part. Namely, people got to embarrass the hell out of him.

First, each ANBU had to bow before the new Hokage and swear an oath of allegiance. All of his friends ensured they added in little jokes of their own to their usual speech, all of them varying.

Kiba commented on how no matter how bad his farts were, he'd defend him to his last breath—provided the blond didn't fart in his face, which would effectively cause his last breath.

Sakura had added in that even though he was annoying because he'd gotten his voice back, she would follow him and obey him—but swore she would rid him of his voice once more if she heard him scream "Sakura-chan" ever again.

As for Sasuke, well, he just made crude comments about how he could handle the moaning and groaning in bed, but Naruto would never be allowed to be seme. The blond had not been expecting that and his first order as Hokage was Sasuke having to tell the entire village he was just joking and was a horny, perverted bastard. Sasuke did so, but still insisted Naruto couldn't be seme.

Naruto didn't know where this perverted side of the Uchiha came from, and he didn't care. He just knew he was going to kick Sasuke's ass in a spar later for saying something that was sure to spread false rumours. Naruto was still very much single and incredibly straight, thank you very much. (1)

Next, his senseis had come up to individually congratulate him. Iruka had been crying so much he'd been led away in the middle of his speech, he was so happy for the blond. Kakashi had merely told him he should start reading Icha Icha Paradise. Upon hearing this, Naruto promptly grabbed the closest copy to him and launched it at the annoying ANBU's head. Kakashi had caught it and realized he hadn't read that particular one, disappearing back into the crowd to do so.

Jiraiya was the next one to appear, talking mostly about Naruto's Sexy no Jutsu, which caused Naruto to bury his face in his hands. He knew everyone was going out of their way to embarrass him, and they were doing an amazing job.

The last person to come forth was Tsunade herself, the Godaime, soon to be retired the second she ended the ceremony. But, the ceremony was not to end yet.

The blonde woman walked slowly towards Naruto, a box in her hands. Everyone watched curiously as she stopped before the boy who was like a son to her and, after placing the box on the ground, removed his Hokage hat. He looked ridiculous in it, anyway. She kissed his forehead before tying his hitai-ate around it. She then stepped back and silently proceeded to pull off his robes, exposing his black pants and white shirt underneath. All this was done in silence, Naruto utterly confused along with most of the crowd, but a few knew what was happening. They wholeheartedly approved.

Tsunade folded the robes in her hands and placed them on the ground beside Naruto, putting the Hokage hat overtop of the robes and then straightening again. She faced Naruto and lightly ran her fingers over the crystal necklace that dangled around his neck, smiling.

"One more time." she whispered.

"Sorry?" Naruto asked, confused.

"One more time. That was what I said when I gave you that necklace. The two before you died, never achieving their dream, but I'd decided one more time. I needed someone I knew wouldn't let me down. I needed someone to take this from me and prove to me that becoming Hokage wasn't an unattainable dream. I shouldn't have doubted it for a second. You are his son, after all."

Now Naruto was really confused. What the heck was she talking about?

"Tsunade-bachan?" he asked nervously. For some reason, he felt like he was being stripped of his title already, and he wasn't officially the Hokage yet! He felt sweat starting to trickle down his spine and resisted the urge to start bawling and demand to know why he wasn't being granted his dream when he'd come so close. Instead, he just stood there.

Tsunade moved away from him, bending down and resting her hands on the box she'd brought with her.

"One more time, and it paid off. I should've known, Arashi, that only your son could ever become as great as you." With those words and a confused frown on Naruto's face, the woman pulled off the lid before her and extracted what was within. She'd been saving it for years. She and Jiraiya together had been keeping it for Naruto to give to him one day when he was old enough. Instead, they got to do better. They got to give it to him when he fulfilled his dream.

With a smile, the woman pulled the Fourth's robes out of the box and walked behind Naruto, putting the white robes with red and orange flames onto the boy who was the son of the man who'd once worn these very robes.

Numerous people's jaws dropped, Sasuke's the hardest. For he knew what that was, and he knew what it meant. Only the adults smiled knowingly, approving of the action Tsunade had just taken.

Naruto himself stared down at the robes in awe. They were the Fourth's, that he knew, but why—

"Do you still not understand, Naruto?" Tsunade asked with a smile.

The Rokudaime couldn't open his mouth to voice his suspicions. They were just too—absurd!

"Are-are you telling me that..." he trailed off, his eyes widening with each word.

Tsunade smiled warmly and hugged him. "Your father would be proud you followed in his footsteps, brat. The Fourth probably wouldn't have had it any other way."

Naruto didn't even fight the tears that spilled over his lashes. His father was the Fourth. All these years, he'd sat above the Fourth's head on the Hokage Mountain, never even knowing that the head he sat upon belonged to his own father.

"Congratulations, kit." Kyuubi smiled from slightly behind him.

Naruto pulled free of Tsunade's grasp and turned to Kyuubi. "You knew!"

"Of course I knew." Kyuubi sniffed, slightly insulted. He crossed his arms and turned his head away. "He sealed me in you, brat. It would've been hard for me not to know."

"I'm going to kill you later for keeping this from me." Naruto grumbled before turning back to Tsunade. "And you, too. And Jiraiya. And Kakashi. And—heck, everyone who knew is going to go down!"

Tsunade just laughed as she shook her head before turning to the crowd.

"From this day forth, the Godaime Hokage has retired. Please welcome the new Uzumaki Era. Rokudaime Hokage, this village is yours."

Naruto smiled at those final words.

It was official. He was the Hokage. He was the protector of this village. People accepted him. Loved him. Worshipped him. He was no longer hated for something he couldn't control. He was complete.

He'd attained his dream.


(1) Sasuke was teasing! They are NOT together! THERE ARE NO PAIRINGS!... I just thought I would remind everyone, so you don't accuse me of turning it into a yaoi. Sasuke was just trying to embarrass him.

Woo hoo! I'm done another one! Hope you guys all liked it :) This is going to be my last Narutoverse one cause it was WAY harder than I thought it would be. AUs are so much easier, so I'm going to stick to those. Thanks for reading!