AN: Hi everyone. MY name is ironicending. I have done writing in other series like ff8, fmp, and gsd, but i thought i would try and give naruto a shot. This is my first one so i would appreciate a little patience. I havent gotten all the japanese suffixes and names down, so please don't get too upset if you find a mistake in that area. In fact, make note of it in your review if you so please.

A little about me? Well i tend to be one of those fluff writers. I love writing about relationships and all that good stuff that makes them work. I hate sad endings and i believe the guy and the girl should always get one another in the end. I mean life can be pretty depressing at times and i dont want to read something that will only make me feel worse right?

So anyways, i hope you enjoy this story. Essentially naruto doesnt return after 3 years. (im rounding up from 2.5) I hope you enjoy it.

Hokage. The title was given to not only the strongest ninja in Konoha, but also the one who cared for the hidden village and its people more than any other. It was the ultimate form of recognition. Even among the other kages, the Hokages specifically were considered to be extremely powerful.

Time and time again has the Village of the Leaf fallen prey to the attacks of not only men but mystical demons as well. And each and every time it had managed to bounce back more powerful than before. This was undoubtedly the result and test of true leadership.

None were more noted than the Fourth. He was the legendary yellow flash of Konoha. Yondaime was someone whose power, speed, and dedication were unmatched by even his predecessors. Only he could have sealed the most powerful of the tailed demons. And only he could have had too much faith in the people he protected.

The boy was supposed to be the hero of Konoha. Instead he became all that the hidden village wished to forget. He was the cause of their everlasting sorrow. He was the reason their children would be forced to live in fear of another attack He was the reason the village of Sound and Sand chose to lay siege to their home. It had to be because of him. It couldn't possibly be the villages fault or the result of deranged madmen. That was just too….illogical, wasn't it?

In the end all that meant was that poor Naruto was torn between his dream, and his dream. There was almost nothing more that he wanted than to become acknowledged by his home by becoming Hokage. But in order to do what was best for Konoha, he must never return to Konoha.

He couldn't very well remain in that town and pose a danger to his precious ones and still somehow manage to claim that he above all else wished to protect them. That was why he couldn't come back after three years.

Twenty years ago, the most brutal assault on the hidden village of Konoha had taken place and its beloved Fourth Hokage had died. Twenty years ago, Yondaime's legacy had been born

Seven years ago, the number one ninja in surprising people had left his home with his new sensei with no real intention to ever return.

Sure, he told everyone it would only take three years. There was always the off chance he could return one day. It was not as if he signed his life away and felt he was damned to die in the process of his work. If it was within Uzumaki Naruto's power, he would return home victorious.

Akatsuki only needed to be delayed. If they missed their deadline within three years, Naruto and the other demon carriers would have bought themselves some more time. It was Sasuke that proved to be the problem. At the end of three years his body would no longer be his own and Naruto was still no closer to locating his former teammate.

However some problems had the habit of correcting themselves. No, the raven-haired avenger did not return to those he betrayed. But he had turned traitor once more. It seemed to be in his blood. He had seen through Orochimaru's attempt to take his body and tricked the Sannin. Orochimaru was forced to choose another temporary vessel and delayed his transfer into the Uchiha for just a little bit longer. Even Sasuke had been able to buy himself some time.

All this meant to Naruto was that he would have to stay away from Konoha that much longer.

So three years passed and no one heard a word from Naruto. Then fours years passed, and five and so forth. Soon the loudest ninja the hidden village produced was nothing more than an echo that was fading away from memory like a terribly nightmare that only went away with time. Now his name was rarely spoken

But he was not forgotten. Not if the rookie nine had anything to say about it. Not if the Fifth Hokage had her way. Most had written off the boy as M.I.A. or dead but his memory could not be allowed to just wither away. He had impacted far too many people to become nothing more than a person who never was.

There wouldn't be a memorial for him if it was true that he had died. The council of elders claimed his name couldn't be added to the list of fallen ninja's until some proof of his death could be produced. It was a lame excuse to even themselves. It seemed the only way Naruto could be recognized was to be labeled a missing ninja. A traitor to Konoha. It was a title he did nothing to deserve.

But suddenly hope would spring up again some 5 years after Naruto's departure. Rumors spread like wildfire as mysterious tales spread throughout the land. The Yellow Flash of Konoha lived.

And he seemed to be saving lives throughout the Country of Fire. Unfortunately no one could get a good enough look at the man's face to confirm the rumors, but it must be true.

Who else could leave a blur of blond hair while traveling at such insane speeds? Who else could shock people with his striking blue eyes when someone caught just the briefest hazy glance? Who else could summon frogs to do their bidding? And who else but the Yellow Flash could control and wield the awesome power of the Rasengan?

The second coming of the Yellow Flash gave spirit to a country of faltering hope. Mere men could only accomplish so much, but those who became more than men and transcended to the level of ideals were the ones who changed lives.

Soon villagers felt safe in their homes and no longer feared abduction while they slept. They had someone to look out for them. Someone to protect them from invaders. Someone who didn't need nor care for their acknowledgement.

Seven years later that someone was returning home.

A figure with unruly white hair and a strange marking of oil upon his forehead protector was quickly approaching the gates of Konoha while his strength was faltering. Upon both his shoulders remained the body of a ninja who could fight no longer. He had been a fool to let his pupil engage in that last conflict alone. Even Jiraiya was prone to make the occasional mistake.

It was kind of funny. The hidden village of Konoha was so easy to find. All one had to do was look for the mountain with the faces of the 5 Hokages carved upon it. It appeared that they finally saw fit to add Tsunade's to it. Perhaps if Naruto were to waken, he could take the time to defile that one as well.

No, that wouldn't happen. He long since grew out of such childish pranks. It was amazing how fast maturity could catch up with someone. All they needed to do was face certain death 5 or 6 times.

Jiraiya quickly spotted the Chakra of inbound ANBU members on patrol. Good, they would have to carry them the rest of the way for he could not.

The frog hermit collapsed under the weight of his apprentice as his weakened body also suffered from a great many injuries from their last battle. Naruto had protested the entire way against going back to Konoha until the pain caused him to pass out. He couldn't return, not yet.

Several masked ninja surrounded the duo while the remaining hid themselves in case this was a possible ambush. Their identities were barely distinguishable under the garbled mess of clothing but some faces could never be forgotten. At least by the team leader.

'Naruto? He lives? He returns? It would be best not to alert the other members on my squad just yet. There response would be most unpleasant.'

"It's Jiraiya! Quickly, take them both to the medical center. I'll report to the Hokage." The jounins quickly complied with the orders while the team leader left to reach the fifth. If there was a conflict great enough to gravely injure one of the legendary Sannin, Konoha needed to know.

Hospitals everywhere were always the same. The staff ran around wearing those not so sanitary lab coats and white masks to protect them from pathogens. The entire building held that sterile smell that was neither foul nor pleasant. And of course, there were always those annoying bright lights.

Why in the world did doctors find it necessary to blind their patients after they had already been injured?

A dazed Naruto was slowly beginning to regain consciousness as a blur of faces covered in medical masks hovered above him.

"Tsunade-sama! He is awakening."

"Shit, I was worried this would happen." That damn fox had a habit of causing trouble. But why did it choose to heal the boy now that he was in a hospital? Surely he could have used such a 'gift' immediately following the battle.

But the fifth had overreacted. For a normal person, waking up in the middle of a surgery would have been a traumatic experience that could only further complicate matters. However Naruto wasn't the number one ninja at surprising people for nothing. His wounds started to heal themselves and his body began to reseal itself.

It was an utterly amazing sight to behold. The boy had never been able to mend himself so quickly before.

Wait, that was wrong. He wasn't a boy anymore.

"Hey old hag. Long time no see." Never mind. Forget all that talk about maturity earlier. Not everyone grows up.

She normally would have stuttered his name slowly. Her fist should have clenched and become raised with anger. Tsunade should have given the little brat a pounding of a lifetime just so he may have the tiniest bit of respect beaten into him.

Instead she kissed him on the forehead and hugged him fiercely. "Ack…you're…killing me…" The boy's body fell limp within her embrace.

With a look of fear Tsunade began to quickly check his vitals and feared she may have done more damage than good with her display of affection. No, she couldn't have hurt him, not so soon after he came back. He wouldn't turn out just like her so-.

"Gotcha!" One eye blue orb opened while a cheeky grin was plastered upon his face. Mature or not, Naruto will always be Naruto.

Tsunade tightly clenched her teeth together as she spoke to the boy. "You better rest up Naruto, because when you get better I am going to beat you senseless. Then I am going to heal you so I can do it again."

This time Naruto closed his eyes sleepily upon hearing Tsuande's threats. "Ok Hokage-Sama."

The young blond was rolled out of the surgery room on the gurney and brought back to his room while a flustered Sannin stood frozen. "Was he just…respectful?"

Two giant orbs suddenly became conscious of the world around him once more. His eyes blinked rapidly as he became accustomed to the light that was shining in. Everything was still the same, the unnecessarily bright hospital lights, all the additional sickening white and...wait, the room. It smelled different.

His nose was enraptured by the smell of cherry blossoms as her fragrance wafted up to Naruto's nose. Sometimes having keen senses could be a blessing. His head rapidly jerked to the side and revealed the source of the aroma.

Haruno Sakura sat in a chair next to him flipping through medical charts as she wrote down notes from her rounds. Her hair was worn up in a pony tail while two stray bangs matched the slight curve in her face. Upon hearing the ruffling on the bed, her forest green eyes slowly shifted from the pads she held to the male form laying upon the bed.

Her soft pink lips pursed apart as she brought one hand up to cover her gasp. "Naruto…you're…you're really alive! You're really awake!"

The charts she held before clamored against the ground as Sakura leaped forward and wrapped her slender arms around the bruised warrior. It seemed Kyuubi healed him enough to only prevent him from dying, not from sparing him pain.

"Sa…Sakura-chan? Is it really you Sakura-chan?" She was gorgeous. Sakura was always one of the prettiest ninja's he had ever come across, but back then she was still just a girl. Right now the person hugging him tightly was all woman.

The smack to the top of his head answered that question. "Of course it's me, BAKA!" She quickly followed up with a tender kiss against his forehead. "Of course it's me," she spoke in a near whisper.

That dual action described the little vixen perfectly. She was the ultimate combination of extreme harshness and soft gentleness all rolled up into one person.

Sakura was never afraid to display her quick and unbridled anger to both friend and foe. Unfortunately the training she received under Tsunade gave her the strength she needed to back up her carefully worded threats.

Only her friends and family saw their daughter's loving side. It was the part of her that could show affection, concern and passion for that which she held important.

Her arms were still tightly wrapped around Naruto as she leaned her head against him. Of their own will, Naruto's arms could do little more than follow suit and wrap their own hands around her waist. "Uh Sakura-chan. You can let go of me now."

Could that have been a typo of sorts? Was it actually Naruto who asked for Sakura to get off of him? Impossible! Absurd! In truth his actions betrayed his words on how he really felt on the matter.

But regardless of how he felt about the pink-haired girl, his injuries were still severe and pained him as her increased pressure was forced upon him.

Naruto felt a few tears dampen the paper like clothing he was forced to wear throughout the duration of his stay in the hospital. "You big, stupid, selfish jerk. Three years. You were supposed to come back after three years. I thought you died. Everyone did. People started to forget you were ever here because you left us all alone."

Naruto's sky blue eyes began to cloud over while his glance started to slowly shift down while Sakura continued to speak. "Then Tsunade-sama told me you never planned on returning. That…that your promise of a lifetime would end up costing you a lifetime. But I knew Naruto. I knew you would come back. How else could you end up Hokage? You had to come back to accomplish your dream."

Naruto's discomfort suddenly felt like such a trivial thing compared to what he had put his friend through. Sakura should have been glad to have been rid of such a pest. She should have been comforted that Naruto would only come back when he no longer posed a danger to the town and once Sasuke could be made to return.

Instead he had cheated her from a pillar of strength. He was supposed to be her unwavering rock that provided stability when the world around her fell apart. Instead he shattered and abandoned her as well giving her the worst kind of hope possible. The false kind.

His face was crestfallen and his voice downcast. "I'm sorry Sakura-chan. Thanks for visiting me. I'll try not to upset you if we run into each other again." This was why he originally left. He wanted to spare his precious ones this kind of pain. It wasn't fair to them. It wasn't fair to him.

Sakura released her grasp upon him and reclaimed her seat next to his bed after gathering up the many charts that clattered against the floor. "You wish you could get rid of me that easily Naruto. I've taken the next few weeks off from work here at the hospital so I can take care of you. You build up a lot of vacation time over the past seven years if you never use any. Besides, someone needs to make sure you don't do anything stupid now that you're back." Silently she said to herself 'and someone needs to make sure you stay.'

"So you're my doctor then?" Uh oh, this could be trouble. Sakura now had access to all kinds of poisons and painful remedies. He certainly wasn't comforted by the fact she must be very skilled with a scalpel. He would hate to wake up one morning and discover he was missing something very important.

"Not yet, I will be though soon. I just have to finish up these charts on my other patients. Tsunade-sama wanted me to do that before taking a look at yours." She had received a warning that his history would be cause for great concern. It wasn't the ideal way of letting Sakura find out about his past but there was no chance Naruto would reveal it to her.

"So you haven't looked at my chart yet?" He stopped smiling. Naruto never stopped smiling, even if that meant he had to fake it.

"No, not yet." Patients rarely ask about their charts or get so worked up over their medical history. What could be in there...?

Naruto sighed and leaned back. "Good." That meant he had a little bit more time to have Sakura's respect. She would no doubt want to switch off this particular assignment once she found out what happened.

Sakura quickly shot her glance back up with a curious expression upon her face. What could have been so terrible about his past? Now was not the time to pry. She would find out soon enough anyways.

"Cheer up Naruto. I'll be here for the rest of the day, and starting tomorrow, I will be your official doctor. I'm pretty good at it to. I bet I'll be better than the Hokage herself someday."

"I know you will be Sakura." It wasn't Naruto speaking. It was far too motherly a voice. The Fifth Hokage walked into the room and headed towards Naruto. She ruffled his wild blond hair and leaned in to kiss his forehead once again, but stopped for just a moment. There was already some pink lipstick upon it. Looks like someone had beaten her to the punch. Oh well, being second here was no problem.

Sakura blushed deeply having heard some rare words of praise from her sensei. Maybe now that Naruto is back, everyone will act a bit happier. He tended to have that affect on people.

"Now get some rest Naruto. I'd like to talk to you about your travels, but we can do that once you're discharged. I'm sure you would want to get reacquainted with everyone else first. I'll leave for now and give you guys some more alone time." Tsunade did something she had little reason to do anymore. She smiled.

She turned to leave around but found her hand weighed far more than it should have. The blonde woman turned around and found a guilt stricken boy with watery eyes looking back at her. No matter how old he got, Naruto could never abandon his childlike appearance.

"No, please, stay Tsunade-sama."

The fifth quickly turned around all the way and hugged Naruto as tightly as her medical training told her was safe as her own tears escaped the prison of her eyes. She muffled her sobs into him as she spoke while one hand gently stroked the far side of his face. "Naruto. Don't you ever worry me like that again! First you leave and never let anyone know how you were doing and then you came back so gravely injured! I never want anything to happen to my little boy!" The mighty Hokage sniffled a few times before slowly releasing her clasps upon the one she saw as a second sun.

Naruto looked back feeling more than a little bit shaken. Her little boy? She accepted him? Acknowledged him? Gave him the hope of having a family, some kind of root even though it wasn't by bloodline?

"Could I…could I call you mom?" It was a heavy request that Tsunade had every right to deny.

She nodded slowly with a smile upon her face. "Just never when it's matters relating to official business or when I need to talk to you ninja to ninja. Understand?"

For once Naruto was unusually quiet though it didn't prevent him from nodding in understanding. She loved him like a son but they could never confuse business with family. Not in their line of work.

"You know this means you can't call me an old hag anymore." Being an 'adoptive' mother does have its advantages.

Alarmed Naruto almost sprang up from his bed. "What? Why not?" Somehow Naruto felt he was getting the raw side of this deal.

"Because then I may just have to ground you and make you clean your room." The two suddenly started laughing and was quickly joined in by Sakura. The entire time she could only watch speechlessly as she didn't know the two knew each other so well.

"Alright, mom it is." Yes, being a mother again certainly did have its advantages.

"Good, now let's go about finding you a good wife." It was supposed to have been just a little joke right? He couldn't possibly be thought well enough to find someone willing to marry him. It's not like someone was waiting seven dreadfully long years hoping against hope that the boy may someday return.

So then why was Sakura blushing?

Alright, i know what you are thinking. That part with Tsunade was a bit too much and should have been made to wait another chapter. I dunno, i just couldn't help putting it here. Why you may ask? People dont make rational decisions, but emotional ones that they will always reason out later. Thats what i think Tsunade would do.

I would love to get some comments and criticisms here. This isnt the best chapter i've written but i think it came out well enough. I know, my flow was lacking but i will get into it. Please leave your reviews and questions and whatnot. Its one of those little joys i look forward to.

Oh and yes, this will be narusaku. :-)