I do not own Naruto.

Pairings are, as of yet, undecided. Thus far, the sole review I have received told me to put this fic in the NaruxSasu genre because some people don't like reading that pairing. However, seeing as how I have yet to choose on a final pairing, I think I'll leave it where it is. This will be a primarily yaoi fanfic with side dishes of het. Therefore, if you are not among us who find boy-on-boy lovin positively smexy, you are free to press the 'back' button.

Flames shall be laughed at and then used to make s'mores.

"Temari. Kankuro."

A strong looking blonde nin with a giant fan strapped to her back stepped forward tentatively, looking at her younger sibling with questioning eyes, "Gaara? What're we doing?"

"Konoha." He stated simply, his cool mint eyes glinting slightly.

Kankuro and Temari exchanged confused glances before the Puppeteer spoke, "Konoha? Is something wrong? The alliance?"

Those same green eyes turned away from the two older sand ninjas, gazing off across the desert as a small smile crept over his face. Turning back to look at his brother and sister, a twinkle entered his eyes, "He's returned."

"Even if these people never appreciate me, it's good to be back." A twenty year old Naruto murmured to himself with a content sigh and a wistful smile as he stood at the gates of Konohagakure. He was finally back…hopefully for good this time. After he'd returned from his two and a half year training stint with Jiraiya, he'd been sent on a retrieval mission to get Sasuke back. It felt as though it had taken forever to bring the last Uchiha home but it had finally been accomplished. Only two days after his ex-teammate had been brought back – and before he was even healed - Naruto had left once more to train with the Toad Sannin.

That had been five years ago.

Now he stood on the outside of the gates, watching the hustle and bustle of the marketplace for a moment before approaching the shinobi on duty and showing the required entrance papers. He'd left Jiraiya in Lightening Country, knowing that he had learned all he ever could from the Legendary Sannin, two years ago to train by himself. A handful of scrolls about his family's own bloodline limit and some specific-to-the-Kazama-clan jutsus had been given to him on his departure. Surprisingly enough, there was even a personal letter to him from his father, the Yondaime.

Boldly, he walked down the busy streets of Konoha paying no attention to all the curious looks he was getting. After all, he had disappeared with no words to anyone save the Godaime and now he was back and looking nothing like he did at his departure. Sunshine golden locks fell to his shoulders in shaggy layers and cerulean eyes glittered with intense knowledge and barely concealed danger. The years had finally been kind to him, granting him some much needed height and placing him at a towering six foot two inches.

Being out of the village that hated him so had given him the chance to finally eat healthy – not that he didn't plan on eating some major ramen from Ichiraku's once he was settled in – and it showed brilliantly. Not only was he now taller than Kakashi, his entire frame had filled out. His shoulders were broad, his waist narrow and his legs long and muscled. All of the training he had been through had finally paid off only a year and a half ago. Kyuubi had apparently noticed the boy's strength and had decided that it was as good a time as ever to challenge him.

After fighting an internal battle with the King of Demons, the blonde had come out victorious, fully absorbing the fox's soul into his own and with it all of Kyuubi's chakra and heightened senses. His outward appearance hadn't changed at all from the merge, save for the pupils of his eyes slitting like a cat's. However, in extreme circumstances, he would still grow claws.

All in all, he was fairly happy with himself and all he'd accomplished. It was also going to be a whole lot of fun to piss on the self-proclaimed-Avenger's parade. Naruto had learned and accomplished a great many things during his time away and he couldn't wait to finally get a few good ones in on the Uchiha. Even after being brought back to Konoha – with only scarce time to spare before his body was offered up to Orochimaru – he was still an arrogant prick. Of course, Naruto had only been around for forty-eight hours of the bastard's return but he knew that man better than most.

He was sure that even with ANBU breathing down his neck Sasuke was still walking around with his nose in the air and ignoring all the women vying for his attention. In the blonde's opinion, it was going to make his arrival all the sweeter. It also helped that he knew Sasuke had just passed the chuunin exams and Naruto himself was already a jounin and had a place as either an ANBU or Hunter upon is return.

With a sigh, the blonde shinobi darted from the streets up onto the rooftops, his sandaled feet hardly making any noise and barely grazing the buildings as he ran. In no time, he was at Hokage Tower. He stood outside for a moment to ponder his entrance. While the idea of either coming in through the window or knocking down the door to Tsunade's office were fun ones, he wanted to completely catch her off guard. He knew without a doubt that if he pulled one of the other tricks, the woman would know it was him.

He was still the only one bold enough to call her 'baa-chan' and intrude on her whenever he felt like it.

Tanned eyelids drooped a little over brilliant cerulean eyes as his mind went through the seals for a transportation jutsu that had become one of his favorite moves of all time. Many of the jutsu he had learned in the past he had come to modify to suit him and his complex chakra. In fact, the series of seals that flashed in his mind was one of his own creations. With it, he was able to mold his chakra around his body, allowing him to be virtually undetectable. His chakra signature couldn't be sensed at all and it even rendered the Sharingan and Byakuugen useless.

As stated before, he was rather proud of his accomplishments.

The last seal formed in the background of his mind and he felt a small shift in the air around him as his body moved, landing him neatly in the Hokage's office without so much as a whisper of out of place chakra. Tsunade sat at her desk, hazel eyes serious and sad, staring at someone in the chair across from her. No words were spoken but the blonde knew the Hokage better than most and from her look alone, he knew something serious was being discussed.

Deciding he'd rather not bring out her wrath by catching something he wasn't meant to hear, Naruto let his chakra control slip just enough to send out a signature. The effect was instantaneous as the Godaime's piercing stare went from the person seated in front of her to him, standing in the shadows. "Who are you and what do you want?"

"No need to stop your meeting on my account Tsunade-baa-chan. I can come back later if you're too busy to talk." He smirked watching her eyes widen at the all-too-familiar nickname she hadn't heard in years.

Shakily she stood from behind her desk, eyes wide and filled with tears as she took a hesitant step towards his corner of the room. It was almost as if she was afraid he was in her mind and although he still loved his pranks, she was one of his precious people and he didn't want her thinking she'd lost her sanity. So he stepped from the darkness and gave her his trademark smile, "I missed you."

"N-Naruto?!" She stuttered, her eyes still wide before she pounced on him, wrapping him up in freakishly strong arms and burying her face against his chest. "I-I never thought we'd see you again. You've been gone so long."

He only had a small window of opportunity to return the embrace and revel in the feeling of family he got from her before he felt her push away from him and a fist slammed into his skull.

"Gaki! You can't just leave like that! Do you have any idea how many people were worried about you? Why was I the only person you ever wrote to?" The blonde woman roared at the man in rightful anger even though her eyes still smiled.

"I couldn't really help it baa-chan! Those damned Akatsuki bastards were after me and I couldn't risk them finding out about Iruka-sensei or anyone else! You're the Hokage and I knew you'd be safe." He whined and pleaded his heart already hurting at just the thought of what his father-figure had gone through after his departure. He had really wanted to say good-bye to the man but he knew he didn't have time. He had to leave to protect the ones he cared for and really it was all pointless if he inadvertently handed them over on a silver platter.

A gasp shut Tsunade up before she even started speaking and she whirled around with a gasp of her own, apparently having forgotten about her guest's presence. Naruto craned his neck to see around the Hokage and felt his heart climb the back of his throat as his stomach dropped to his feet. Iruka stood before them both, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides, tears filling his eyes and his lower lip caught in his teeth. Before anyone knew he'd moved, Naruto had his father-figure wrapped tight in his arms, the teacher's tanned face buried against the man's neck and tears trailing across his cheeks.

"Gods Naruto! I missed you so much." The teacher breathed quietly, tightening his arms around the blonde. Naruto returned the action with fervor, clutching the man so tightly to him it was a wonder he could still breathe. "I'm back now and I don't plan to go anywhere." The blonde said quietly into the dark hair of the man he would always know as his father.

After a few more moments of the tender embrace, the two pulled apart. Iruka blushed lightly as he wiped the tears from his cheeks and smiled. Tsunade returned to her seat behind her desk and motioned to the chairs in front of her, "I think you have a story to tell."

Foxy grin curling his lips, Naruto bounded into the chair tugging Iruka by the hand and dropping him in his own seat. "It's a long story so I'll just tell you all the important stuff."

Five years…it had been five long years since Naruto had left. He remembered the day he found out with perfect clarity as he stared at the weathered letter in his hand.

Flashback

It was evening and he'd just been brought home two days prior when a furious pounding rattled his front door. Curious as to who it could be that had reason to seek him out within his entourage of ANBU assigned to guard him, Sasuke had answered the knocking immediately and was met with a fist to the face before he'd even blinked.

Not only was the hit unexpected but it was packed with chakra and soon the Uchiha found himself slamming into a wall and sliding to the floor. Once he'd finally cleared the stars from his eyes and looked up he came face-to-face with an irate Iruka. The chuunin was trembling in rage, his hands clenched to fists at his sides and his once warm, chocolate eyes were broken and filled with tears.

"You!" The teacher seethed, his voice wavering with the force of his emotions, "You self-absorbed bastard! I don't know if I'll ever see him again and it's your entire fault!"

Before Iruka could commence with the beating he so wanted to deliver to the raven, strong arms wrapped around his middle and he was bodily turned and pulled into a warm, familiar chest. His hands unclenched and twisted in the jounin vest he was pressed into as sobs rose up in his throat, "It isn't fair Kakashi! I want him back!"

"I know Iruka, I know. He'll come back when he's ready. This is something he felt he had to do and beating Sasuke unconscious won't bring him home any faster." The copy-nin murmured to the broken man in his arms, running long fingers through his lover's unbound hair and looked at the Uchiha with almost-anger in his visible eye.

After shaking his head and regaining his focus, Sasuke stood shakily, bracing his hand against the wall as he rose and leaning his back against it once he was up. "What is going on?" He demanded, his voice only lightly changing in ire as he looked from the sobbing chuunin to the jounin that had been his teacher.

Without a word, Kakashi moved Iruka away from his body a little and pulled a piece of paper from his vest. After thrusting it at the raven and trusting him to grab it, the silver-haired man led the academy teacher out of the house, one arm around the man's shoulders pulling him tightly to his side.

Numbly the Uchiha followed the two and shut the door before making his way to his bedroom. After slipping between his cool, silk sheets Sasuke opened the now crumpled paper and read:

Iruka-sensei,

I wish I could've done this in person but you've been gone for awhile now and I know seeing you cry would break my resolve to do this. Hopefully I can come back to Konoha one day but for now I can't stay here. For thirteen years I've lived in a village that hates me and then I was assigned to my genin team and that didn't treat me much better. I tried so hard Iruka-sensei, to be the kind of person that would outshine the burden dropped on me by another's hand and really, I can't stand the majority of the people in this village anymore.

I always thought being in a cell with two other shinobi and having a jounin instructor would be the best thing in the world and it wasn't. Not even close really. The girl I had a crush on ignored me and beat me up while the guy I had hoped to be friends with ignored me or insulted me. My sensei disregarded me to focus his attention on the other two members of my team and I felt as alone as I always had.

Bringing Sasuke home meant the world to me. Sakura begged me to make sure he got back and I promised her I'd come through. I did too and it got me nothing in return. The girl I used to have a crush on didn't even visit me while I was in the hospital after the guy I'd come to love pushed a Chidori through my chest. It's funny you know. I was actually the one that brought him home; I carried him all the way back to Konoha with a gaping hole in my chest and the other members of the team sent to retrieve Sasuke got praised by the villagers while I was forgotten.

Sakura even screamed at me and gave me a broken nose with a punch to the face for roughing the bastard up to get him back here.

It's sad that I expected her to thank me and was acutely disappointed when she didn't. What's worse is that the fucking bastard I almost died for doesn't even care. I visited him before I left the hospital and all he said was that I was really a dobe for letting myself get hit with his Chidori.

Please don't freak out once you figure out the timeline. I know I only spent a little over a day and a half in the hospital but you know they didn't want me there anyway and for all the attention they paid me, I was better off in my shitty little apartment. Besides I heal fast anyway…there's even new skin completely covering the hole in my chest as I write to you.

If I live long enough, I'll come back I promise.

Uzumaki Naruto

P.S. You were always the father I never had…thank you.

End Flashback

The said to be cold-hearted Uchiha felt a stinging sensation at the backs of his eyes as he re-read the letter and felt the urge to throw up. He remembered thinking that he could finally find some peace as Iruka-sensei spoke of Naruto being gone, assuming he was only going on a long-term mission or some such thing. After he'd read the letter, he had thought maybe it was a prank but letting those last words to the teacher written in the blonde's surprisingly neat scrawl trashed the idea. Naruto was a prankster true, but he would never be so cruel to the man he saw as a father.

He had read over and over and over the last words the blonde had said to anyone so many times that the paper would have been crumbled to bits by now if it weren't for the jutsu he'd cast to make sure it stayed the way it was. Had he really been so heartless? Yes, he knew he had but Naruto always got under his skin and made him feel so strange. Lashing out at the fox-container was the only way he'd known to deal with it all.

With an uncharacteristic sigh – he found himself doing a lot of uncharacteristic things since Naruto disappeared – Sasuke placed the note back into the lock box he kept it in and made his way out the door. It was mid-afternoon and since the village had no missions going out at all that week unless they were of the utmost urgency – it was time for the annual summer festival– he figured he'd go train for awhile.

"Well that's about it I guess." Naruto said as he stood from his chair to stretch. He was so used to moving constantly that sitting still for so long felt like murder.

Tsunade gaped at the blonde, disbelieving that he could really act so completely nonchalant about everything he'd just dumped on them. Her eyes caught on the whisker lines on Naruto's handsome face and she winced internally. How could she have just thought that? Of course he could act as though he was speaking about the weather while delivering the news she'd just heard…he was used to having a life filled with adventure, pain, betrayal and a score of other things, most of them unpleasant.

Iruka stood as well and the Godaime took that as her cue. Without a word, she left the room and came back, the jingling of keys sounding in her hand. Stopping in front of the blonde, she smiled and shoved the keys into his hand. At his questioning look, her smile turned a little brighter.

"I figured you'd want to stay in your father's house. Be prepared for a week of celebration brat."

Naruto startled and look up from the keys in his hand to the Hokage, "What? Celebration?"

Her smile turned to a wicked grin and the blonde shifted uneasily.

"Yes, celebration…it's the summer festival. You do plan on attending don't you?"

"Do I have a choice old hag?" Naruto grumbled, a slight pout forming on his lips.

"Not after that comment brat." The Hokage grinned at the blonde before wrapping him up in a hug again, "It's good to have you back."