Standing near the gate people who saw him smiled and bowed. Naruto gave them a polite little nod. It was bizarre. For most of his life people had hated him for reasons beyond his control. And now those very same people were eager to show him kindness for no better reason than his name.

"What's wrong Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked. "You've always wanted to have the villagers acknowledge you."

He nodded. "That's true Hinata-chan, but I always wanted to earn that acknowledgement by proving what a great ninja I was and becoming Hokage." He stared at the people as they were walking away. "What does it matter if they only respect me because of my name?"

Hinata nodded sympathetically. Having grown up as the heiress to the prestigious Hyuga clan she understood. "I agree Naruto-kun, people should not treat you differently simply because of your name."

Naruto looked over to where Kakashi, Sakura, Temari, and Shikamaru were standing. It wasn't only strangers who had treated him differently.


Four days earlier.

There had been a loud and incessant pounding on his front door. When Naruto had answered it he'd been surprised to see Kakashi and Sakura standing there.

"Naruto! Is it true?" Kakashi had shouted excitedly.


Kakashi grabbed him about the shoulders and began shaking him back and forth. "The Hokage just made an announcement that you are Minato-sensei's son. Is that true?"

"Uh, yeah it is, he was my father." Naruto gave Kakashi a weak grin. Seeing him so excited was kind of scary.

"That's wonderful!" Kakashi grabbed Naruto in a crushing embrace. "Naruto you have no idea how happy this makes me! It's as if a part of Minato-sensei is alive again!"

"Ah, Kakashi-sensei?" Hinata spoke up.

"Yes Hinata?"

"I think you're smothering him."

Kakashi suddenly realized that while hugging Naruto he was pressing his face into his chest. He immediately let go. "Oops, sorry about that. Listen Naruto, I knew your father very well. He was my beloved sensei and like a second father to me. If you'd like I could tell you stories about him, and about your mother as well."

Naruto needed a minute just to breathe. But he then grinned. "I would really like that Kakashi-sensei."

Sakura then stepped carefully forward and was staring a bit wide eyed at him. "So it's true? You really are the Yondaime's son and the last Namikaze?"

Smiling he rubbed the back of his head. "Well yeah, but I won't be the last Namikaze for very long. When Hinata-chan marries me she'll be Namikaze too, and our children will be as well."

Sakura was looking at him with a weird faraway expression in her eyes. "It's so romantic, the son of our greatest hero and last survivor of his clan." Sakura seemed to blush just a bit and took a step towards him. "You know Naruto-kun if I had known this back in our academy days I might have…"

"What? Treated him the way you did Sasuke?" Hinata slid in front of Naruto as though shielding him. "Would you have chased him shamelessly if only his last name had been Namikaze instead of Uzumaki?" Hinata's words had a rare coldness to them.

"What? No, of… of course not." Sakura took a step back

"But you would have treated him differently back then if you'd known who he really was?"

"Well of course I would have," Sakura replied truthfully. "I mean everyone would have acted differently if we'd known whose son he was."

Hearing her say that Naruto just shook his head. He liked Sakura, he considered her to be more than a teammate. She was one of his dearest friends. But hearing her say that he was forcefully reminded of how she had really been back then. Whenever she had yelled at him or hit him or just ignored him he had always excused it. He had always believed that if she ever knew the real him she would really like him. And now here she was freely admitting that he could have been the exact same person, but if his name had been different that would have been enough to earn him much better treatment.

He had always thought it a shame that Sakura had never given him a single chance back then. Now he was glad for the fact.


Temari and Shikamaru also dropped by later that day.

"Wait a second! You knew?" Naruto sounded outraged.

"That's right," Shikamaru said in his usual bored tone.

"For how long?" Naruto asked.

"I figured it out when we took the tour of this place. I knew that if the Hokage was giving it to you it could only be because you were the legitimate heir."

"And you kept this a secret why exactly?" An annoyed Temari asked.

Shikamaru gave her a look of surprise. "Because the Hokage told me to."

Temari's left eye began to twitch violently. "When we get home we are having a very long discussion about keeping secrets from your wife."

Shikamaru smirked. "Well technically you're not my wife yet."

"Watch it lazy, or I might never be your wife."

It made Naruto very happy to see that Shikamaru and Temari were treating him the same as always

Of course of all the reactions he'd received Hinata's had been his favorite.

After making passionate love to her for a few hours (stamina) he had revealed everything to her. He had been surprised at her reaction. She had actually seemed disappointed to learn that he was the son of the Fourth.

"Is something the matter Hinata-chan?"

"Oh, it's nothing much Naruto-kun. It's just that, well…"

"What is it Hinata-chan? Whatever it is you can tell me."

"Oh, well it's just that I've been dreaming about being Mrs. Uzumaki Hinata since I was a little girl. But I suppose being called Namikaze Hinata will have a nice ring to it as well."

He stared at her for a second before he burst out laughing.


As he was daydreaming some shouts brought him back to the present. Through the open gates streamed no less than twenty Suna ANBU. After their previous visit no chances were being taken. Gaara, Kankuro, and Matsuri were quickly greeted by Temari and then by everyone else.

Seeing Naruto Gaara approached him with a small smile. "Uzumaki Naruto, it is good to see you again my friend."

"Hey Gaara, it's good to see you too. Oh, but I'm not going by that name anymore."

"Really?" Gaara asked.

Naruto nodded. "I've taken my family name, I'm Namikaze Naruto now."

Gaara quirked what would have been an eyebrow. "Does that mean you are related to the Fourth Hokage, Namikaze Minato?"

Naruto nodded. "I'm his son and only surviving member of Namikaze."

"Then it seems we have yet another thing in common." Gaara said calmly. "I am the son of the Fourth Kazekage and you are the son of the Fourth Hokage."

It figured that Gaara would take such news in stride.

"Say Gaara, how would you and Matsuri like to stay with me and Hinata at our new mansion? There's plenty of room and we'd welcome your company."

Despite having warmed a bit Gaara was still not used to such invitations from a friend and hesitated. "Are you sure it would not inconvenience you?"

"Are you kidding? It would be great!" Naruto said enthusiastically.

Seeing Naruto's pleasure Gaara cast aside his doubts and nodded. "I accept your invitation, Namikaze Naruto."


Heading back to the Nara residence Temari pulled her brother aside where Shikamaru could not overhear them.

"All right, listen you," Temari whispered. "You're going to be staying with my future in laws. These are people I love and respect, you had better be on your best behavior."

Kankuro gave her a wide smile. "Oh of course I will."

Somehow this failed to reassure her.



Yoshino went downstairs to the kitchen to get breakfast started. As soon as she entered she froze. "What are you doing?"

Kankuro looked over to her and gave her a smile. "Oh just getting some milk." He lifted the carton and began drinking again.

Yoshino crossed the kitchen floor and yanked the milk carton out of his grasp. "If you want milk please pour it into a cup first. We don't drink straight from the carton in this house."

"Sorry about that, it's a habit."

Yoshino stared at him. "Also, we get dressed before coming downstairs." He was wearing nothing but some dirty boxers. Strangely though he still had his face paint on.

"Heh, right," he left the kitchen scratching his butt.



Yoshino entered the bathroom and froze. What was that odor? Investigating she quickly turned up her nose in disgust as she pressed down on the metal handle.



It was three in the morning. The loud laughter had woken everyone in the house. When Kankuro stumbled in drunk and with a pretty girl with long orange hair, large breasts, and a short skirt, the whole family was waiting for him.

"Man this is going to be troublesome," Shikamaru yawned.

Temari glared at him furiously. "I don't believe you! Who is she?"

Kankuro swayed a bit as he answered. "This is the beautiful and very talented Ormi."

"Orihime," the girl corrected.

"How old are you?" Yoshino asked frostily.


"Nice!" Shikaku sent Kankuro a big thumbs up. At least until he saw the glare coming from his wife. "I mean that's awful."

Yoshino turned to the buxom girl. "I think you should go home."

"Now wait a minute," Kankuro began to argue but effectively stopped when Yoshino grabbed a hold of his ear as though about to tear it off. "Ow! Ow! Ow! Let go!"

"You listen to me!" Yoshino somehow managed not to yell. "My home is not a brothel! You will not bring strange women into this house!"

"Ow! So my sister gets to have sex here but not me?"

"WHAT?!" Temari immediately began beating up her brother.



"So this is a local tradition huh?" Kankuro asked dubiously.

"Oh it sure is," Shikamaru replied.

"You're not considered a real man until you go through it." Shikaku said. "The ninja who couldn't do this wouldn't show his face for shame."

"Really?" Kankuro said. "Because it sounds kind of dumb to me. I mean who hunts with a cloth sack?"

"But that's the whole point," Shikamaru explained. "Snipe aren't really dangerous, but they're fast and oh so very clever. So catching one with nothing but a sack is considered a true sign of manhood."

"And all of you leaf nins do this?"

"That's right," Shikaku said.

"Even Naruto managed to bag a snipe his very first time out." Shikamaru exclaimed.

Kankuro grunted. "Well if he can do it then I definitely can. So what do these snip look like?"

"They're about two feet long with floppy ears and sharp pointed teeth." Shikamaru advised earnestly.

"They have bright red fur and long spiny tails and can jump five feet into the air." Shikaku added.

"And they make this, 'yip, yip, yip' sound." Shikamaru said.

"Yip, yip yip?" Kankuro repeated. Shikamaru nodded vigorously.

"Now they'll be running wild all night through the forest," Shikaku advised. "Don't come back until you bag one or we'll have to tell everyone."

"Good luck," Shikamaru said as he and his father left Kankuro alone in the forest.


"Did he actually buy it?" Temari asked as soon as the two of them returned.

"He sure did," Shikaku said.

"Sucker!" Temari said happily.



Temari slipped into his bed. Somehow he was not surprised.

"We're not having sex, so don't even try." She warned him.

"You having trouble sleeping?" he asked her.

"Yeah, I'm way too excited. I mean everything we've been through over the last three years has led us to this." She looked over to him curiously. "Aren't you nervous too?"

"Nope, not even a little."

She smiled. "Let me guess, being nervous would just be too troublesome right?"

She was actually surprised when he shook his head. "No, it's just that I know that tomorrow I get to marry the only woman I will ever love. So what is there to be nervous about?"

She looked at him and smiled.

"Now try and get some sleep, after all I am the world's best pillow right?"

She snorted. "Well it's good to know you're useful for something."

After only a few minutes she was fast asleep.


The day

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The Nara estates were filled with honored guests and friends. The fact that the Nara's were springing for an open bar certainly helped. Along with human guests there were also about a dozen deer present. They were mostly nibbling on the grass or on some of the flowers. Since the Nara considered the deer to be family members their presence was considered not only normal but welcome.

As the time approached Tsunade took her place before all the seated guests. She was in her pristine white and red Hokage robes. She nodded to Shizune, who motioned for the band to begin the march.


Gaara extended his arm. "Are you ready for this Temari?"

In her right hand she held her bouquet. She carefully placed her left hand on her brother's arm. "I am."

Hiashi extended his arm and gave his daughter a rare and genuine smile. "I know if your mother were here Hinata, she would be as happy and proud as I am."

She placed her left hand on his arm. "Thank you father."


Asuma stood beside Shikamaru. "Please don't try and run, as best man I would have to be the one to bring you back."

"You don't need to worry; running away would be way too troublesome."


Iruka smiled, he could not have been prouder if it were his own son. "Are you nervous Naruto?"

He shook his head and smiled. "No, I can't wait."

As Naruto stood there with his best man Jiraiya approached him already smelling of alcohol. "Very last chance to save your freedom kid."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "And end up like you ero-sennin? No thanks."

"Come on kid, just say the word and I'll show you a little resort town where the sake is warm and the women are all hot."

"Jiraiya," Tsunade said sweetly. "Sit down and shut up, I'd rather not have to murder you in front of all these witnesses."


At the top of the aisle the two brides began the long slow walk towards the men they loved. They both wore white silk wedding kimonos. Their hair was done up and their faces were covered with white face powder and blush.

As Naruto looked at his beautiful Hinata he wondered just how he could have ever even looked at anyone else.

Shikamaru looked at his Temari and still felt no fear. He had long ago resigned himself to the fact that no matter how scary she was, she was the one and always would be. Nothing she could ever do could be as scary as the thought of not being with her.

When the two brides came to the end of the aisle their escort took their hands and with slow ceremony placed them on the extended arms of their loved ones.

With a smile Tsunade took out the ceremonial bottle sake and filled two small bowls.

"Share in this drink as the two of you will share in all of life's joys and hardships." Tsunade intoned.

She handed one of the bowls to Naruto and the other to Shikamaru. They both took a small sip and passed the bowl to their brides. Hinata also took a small sip while Temari's was more of a gulp.

"Have you come here to devote yourselves to one another of your own free will?" The Hokage questioned.

"Yes," Naruto answered solemnly.

"Hai," Hinata said.

"Yes," said Shikamaru.

"Yes," said Temari.

The Hokage looked out sternly upon the assembled guests. "Can any here give just cause why these people should not be joined in sacred marriage?"

Kankuro suddenly developed a loud cough just then, but no one actually objected. Satisfied Tsunade returned her attention to the ceremony. "Do you understand that the vows you make this day are spoken before Kami and before all those who have come here to bear witness?"

"Yes," Naruto and Shikamaru said.

"Yes," Hinata and Temari said.

"Then speak the vows, and speak only the truth."

Smiling Iruka held out a pair of gold rings. Naruto took the smaller of the two gold rings. He then carefully slid it on to Hinata's left hand as he spoke.

"My wife, in sickness and in health I promise that I will love you, respect you, console you, be faithful to you, and protect you. From this day on until the day of my death, this I do swear."

With her hands trembling slightly Hinata took the other wedding band and placed it on Naruto's left hand.

"My husband, in sickness and in health I promise that I will love you, respect you, console you, be faithful to you, and protect you. From this day on until the day of my death, this I do swear."

Asuma held out the rings. With slow and careful hand Shikamaru slid one onto Temari's finger.

"My wife, in sickness and in health I promise that I will love you, respect you, console you, be faithful to you, and protect you. From this day on until the day of my death, this I do swear."

Temari took the other gold ring and with only the slightest shake was able to put it on Shikamaru's hand.

"My husband, in sickness and in health I promise that I will love you, respect you, console you, be faithful to you, and protect you. From this day on until the day of my death, this I do swear."

The Hokage held her hand up. "May Kami grant you the blessings of health, happiness, and children. May your unions be long and lasting. I declare that you are all now husband and wife." She smiled and nodded to both couples. "You may kiss your brides."

They were only too happy to do so.

"May I present to you," Tsunade called out. "Namikaze Naruto and his bride, Namikaze Hinata, as well as Nara Shikamaru and his bride Nara Temari."

There was loud applause in celebration. Then Jiraiya stood up and shouted two magical words that filled the crowd with joy.

"Open bar!"


"So you don't know how to cook fish?" The old man said with a too serious expression.

"Not really," Tsunade answered with a weak grin as she tried to come up with a polite way to escape.


From their spot on the dance floor Shikamaru and Temari looked at the Hokage's obvious distress and smiled evilly.

Temari leaned in close and put her head on Shikamaru's chest. "We actually made it, we're married."

Shikamaru grinned and nodded. "I know."

"So what do you think the future holds?"

"To be honest, I have no idea at all, but I'm sure that it will be troublesome."


Thirteen Years Later

Temari filled seven bowls of oatmeal. "Where is she?" Temari put the empty pot in the sink. Going to the kitchen door she opened it and gave a loud shout. "Tsubaki! Breakfast is ready!"

"Mom you're being really loud and troublesome." An eleven year old miniature copy of Shikamaru said. Shikataoru was his father's son. Not only in looks but in personality. He was a lazy genius who loved shogi, clouds, sleeping, and who hated pretty much anything that required effort. His two favorite words were 'troublesome' and 'so.'

She gave her oldest boy a look that earned her a roll of his eyes. "If your sister would get down here on time I wouldn't have to shout."

"She's always late mom." Her daughter Hana stated. Hana was ten and the middle child. She seemed to always need to get attention and to prove herself, usually against her older sister. She was very pretty with green eyes and dark hair she wore in a single long ponytail. She had no talent with wind but had shadow jutsus.

A green eyed and blonde haired eight year old sat next to her. Unlike his father and older brother Shikalo didn't keep his hair in a top knot. He preferred to keep his slightly long hair loose and uncombed. It gave him a bit of a wild look that he, and certain girls, treasured. "Well she is the strongest girl in the family so she deserves special treatment." He said innocently.

"She is not!" Hana declared loudly.

"Suuuuure." Shikalo said with a mischievous grin. The boy lived for drama and had an absolute gift for knowing just what buttons to push in people, especially his sisters. His brother Shikataoru drove him insane as no matter what he did he could never get a rise out of him. He was the only one of the children not to receive the Nara blood line. As if to make up for that he had very strong wind affinity, possibly stronger than Tsubaki's. He tended to drive his mom a bit crazy by refusing to train with a fan to better focus his ability. He considered it too girly.

"No fighting you two." Temari sat down.

"Mom can we eat?" That came from five year old Kaze. Kaze was easily the sweetest and kindest of all her children. How the girl had managed to acquire that personality from her parents was a mystery. She had brown eyes and dark hair that she wore loose down to her shoulders. She had the Nara blood line but it was too early to know if she had any talent with wind. She was also the only one of the girls who still played with a doll.

Temari smiled at her littlest. "Let's give your sister just a couple more minutes."

Just then the kitchen door flew open. Stomping into the kitchen came a twelve year old in a lavender and pink outfit with short skirt, patches of fishnet on her legs, blonde hair tied back in four short ponytails, and a closed fan slung over her shoulder.

"I am the mighty Tsubaki, wind and shadow mistress of the forest!" She proclaimed loudly.

Her entire family stared at her.

Shikataoru sighed. "I can already tell this is going to be really troublesome."

"Tsubaki! What is that on your face?" Temari got to her feet.

Her oldest gave her a big smile. "It's war paint! It helps bring out my inner warrior!' She answered proudly.

"Mom! She's wearing lipstick!" Hana said outraged.

"Tsubaki! Did you use my lipstick to put all those lines on your face?"

Her daughter didn't bother to deny the obvious. "Don't you want me to be as strong as possible today?"

"Training makes you stronger! Putting lipstick all over your face only makes you look ridiculous!"

"Uncle Kankuro does it!"

"My point exactly," Temari said.

"I bet she's just trying to wear lipstick for Sasuke." Shikalo teased.

"Shut up! Sasuke-kun has nothing to do with it!" Tsubaki said.

"You know if he sees you like this he'll probably think you're an even bigger freak than he does now." Shikalo added.

"What?! You little jerk!" Tsubaki moved towards her little brother only to have her mother intercept her.

"Tsubaki wash your face and then come back for breakfast."

"Mom I told you this helps bring out my inner warrior!"

"It brings out your inner clown." Temari stated.

"Uncle Kankuro wears it!" Tsubaki dug in her heels.

"He also plays with life sized dolls." Temari shot back.

"I am not taking it off!" Tsubaki stated.

"Oh yes you are!" Temari promised.

"Honey," Shikamaru finally decided to speak up. "You are such a pretty girl why do you want to hide behind all those red lines? Do you really want to look like your uncle Kankuro?"

Tsubaki's obstinacy disappeared. "O.k. daddy!" She went over to her father and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll take it off." And out of the kitchen she went.

Temari sent her husband a look that was half amused and half annoyed. "You she listens to."

Shikamaru shrugged. "I have a way with blondes." Both his wife and Shikalo gave him a fishy look.

"You know she's going to be even worse when she passes her exam." Temari noted.

"Is that possible?" Shikamaru asked.

"Mommy can we please eat now?" Kaze implored.

Temari smiled at her youngest and sat back down. "Sure honey."


"You haven't forgotten about the party tonight have you Shikamaru?" Naruto pestered him.

The Rokudaime's Chief Advisor rolled his eyes at him. "No Naruto I haven't forgotten. The whole family is looking forward to it, especially Tsubaki."

Naruto gave him one of his huge smiles. "I bet I know why."

Shikamaru mumbled something that rhymed with bubble some. "Naruto you need to go through some reports."

"Mission reports?" He asked eagerly.

But Shikamaru shook his head. "No, budgetary reports you need to determine where this quarter's surplus should be invested."

"Augh!" Naruto looked as though he had just been poisoned. "I hate those! Why do I have to read them anyway? I'll just end up doing what you say anyway."

"You're the Hokage; you should at least be familiar with the village's finances."

"But it's so boring!" Naruto whined. "I feel like I'm trapped in one of Iruka-sensei's lectures. You know I never imagined being Hokage could ever be so boring."

"Boring is good Naruto."

"Oh come on Shika! Don't you miss the good old days? You know before I became Hokage?"

He gave the Hokage a flat look that his wife would have been proud of. "Which good old days? When we were fighting for our lives against Sound, Lightning, and Earth? Or were you thinking of that time the Akatsuki captured you and we just barely rescued you in time."

That memory made him shudder. "Still you have to admit those times were exciting! Since I became Hokage things have gotten really boring!"

"Naruto the past six years have been great! We are at peace, we have strong and loyal allies in Sand and Mist, our economy is booming, and with the Akatsuki, Orcinus, and Orochimaru gone there are no serious threats to the peace. Naruto you may get to reign for a very long time without any more wars or major crises."

Naruto was less than thrilled. "Great."


Since Shikamaru was the Hokage's Chief Advisor and Temari was one of Hinata's best friends they and the kids had visited the Namikaze estates many times. But tonight's celebration for the academy graduates was different. Out on the lawn a band was playing and couples were dancing. There were a dozen long tables loaded down with food and drink. In a roped off section near the rose garden a petting zoo and pony rides had been provided. Later there would be fireworks. Before leaving Temari had made sure each of her children had their Nara's heart with them. Each of them had pulled out the silver onyx pendant they had been given shortly after their births. She doubted any of them would get lost but she liked knowing they could be quickly found at any time. Under the watchful eyes of the ANBU a small crowd wandered the Namikaze grounds. As soon as they had arrived Kaze had made a straight run for the petting zoo and the bunnies there. Other parents had brought their younger children as well so Hana and Shikalo sought out some of their classmates. Shikataoru thought it would be too troublesome to track down other kids from his class so stuck by his parents. Tsubaki was also near them, though she was bouncing up and down anxiously scanning the crowd. She had her new hitai-ite around her neck.

Shikamaru leaned over to his wife so he could whisper to her. "Why is Tsubaki wearing lipstick and make up? I thought we both agreed she was still too young."

His wife sighed. "I made a deal with her. She promised to never put on 'face paint' again if I let her wear regular make up."

Shikamaru chuckled. "What do you want to bet that was what she was after the whole time?"

Temari shrugged. "It wouldn't surprise me she's a good strategist."

"Must get it from her dad."

"Yeah right." Temari teased.

"Sasuke-kun!" Tsubaki shouted and dived into the crowd.

"That girl," Temari shook her head. "She always goes after what she wants full bore."

"Now that she gets from her mom." Skikamaru commented.

Temari smiled at her husband and laughed.


"Iruka-sensei!" Naruto greeted the man who had been and remained his father figure.

"Naruto!" Iruka smiled. All his precious people knew he preferred to be addressed by his name and not his title. "It's good to see you outside the Tower for a change."

"I know what you mean. I hate having to schedule a meeting with the Director of Education just so we can have our weekly ramen."

Iruka smiled fondly. "Do you remember the time I bought you ramen after you painted the Hokage monument?"

"Of course! I also remember what a great motivator it was for getting me to clean it up." Naruto paused for a bit. "Say Iruka, when I told you that night that I was going to be Hokage did you think I ever would?"

"No," Iruka grinned a bit to see Naruto deflate. "But the next night when I saw what you did to Mizuki I knew you had the stuff to be Hokage one day."

"Well of course!" Naruto said happily.

"Dad! Help!" The two of them looked up. A familiar twelve year old boy was running towards them. He had spiky blonde hair, lavender pupil less eyes, smooth skin and cheeks, a shiny new hitai-ite around his forehead, and a black jump suit with a thin stripe of orange running along the side.

"What is it Sasuke?" Naruto asked.

His son ducked behind him. "Dad you have to save me! She's crazy!"

"Who?" Naruto asked.

"Oh Sasuke-kun there you are!" Nara Tsubaki came running over.

Naruto chuckled. "My son the heart throb."

"Must run in the family." Iruka commented.

Naruto gave him a look of profound denial. "I didn't have any girls interested in me at that age."

Iruka shook his head. "You had one who was very interested in you, even if you didn't know it at the time." Naruto could only nod ruefully.

Tsubaki came to a halt in front of the Hokage. "Oh hi Sasuke-kun! I was hoping you'd be here tonight."

"I live here you crazy girl." Namikaze Sasuke answered while making sure to keep his dad between him and her.

"Do you notice anything different about me Sasuke-kun?"

"Well you have your hitai-ite on obviously."

She smiled. "I also have make up on." She batted her eyelashes at him. "Does it make me look more beautiful?"

"No," he said flatly. "You look the same as always." The girl dropped her head crushed.

The Hokage shook his head. "Son you don't understand a woman's heart at all."

Iruka grinned. "He's only twelve Naruto. It took you awhile to figure things out too."

Tsubaki lifted her head as the band began playing a new tune. "Oh! That's my very favorite song!" She let out a long depressed sigh. "I sooo wish I had someone to dance with."

Naruto reached behind him and put a hand on his son's shoulder. "Son dance with her."

"Daaaad!" The boy sent his father a look of betrayal.

"Have just one dance with her, I promise it won't kill you." His son opened his mouth to argue. "That's a command from the Hokage."

Reaching out she took a firm hold of Sasuke's hand. "You heard the Hokage!" She began dragging him to the dance area.


When they got there he put his hands on her hips and she put hers on his strong shoulders. "I'm only doing this because of my dad." Sasuke told her as they began to move to the music.

"Sure!" She said happily.

"I'm only dancing with you for the one song."


He frowned at her. "You know I never would have guessed that this was your favorite song."

She gave him a wink. "It's not."


"Temari-chan how are you?" Hinata called as she approached.

"Hinata-chan, I'm just fine. How are you dear?"

"I'm a little tired from putting everything together for the party but otherwise I'm fine. How are you Shikamaru-kun?"

Shikamaru smiled and nodded. "I'm fine."

From behind Hinata came an eleven year old girl. She had long dark blue hair and lavender eyes. She looked very much like her mother. "Uhm… hello Shikataoru." The girl immediately began pressing her index fingers together.

"Oh, hey Hitoma are you as happy as me to have school over for the summer?"

"Umm… sort of. I umm… kind of miss seeing everyone though."

Shikataouru shrugged. "You can still see them outside of class."

"Umm… of course."

Shikataouru leaned in and put the palm of his hand on her forehead. "Are you feeling all right Hitoma? You look kind of flushed."

"Umm… I'm all right." She took a deep breath and tried to not pass out as he touched her.

Hinata smiled at her shy little daughter. "Shikataoru would you like to go inside and play some shogi with her? I know Hitoma would like that."

Shikataoru shrugged. "Sure, come on Hitoma." The little girl let out an 'eep' as he took hold of her hand and led the way. The three adults all chuckled as they watched.


"Hey Naruto." Shikamaru slid up to him.

"Hey Shikamaru where's Temari?"

"She's with Hinata right now. Wasn't Iruka here a minute ago?"

"Yeah, he went to find Shizune and their girls."

Shikamaru nodded as he looked out to where people were dancing. "Looks like everyone is here tonight."


There were Asuma and Kurenai. Their oldest son Saru was away on a mission in Grass country. Their two other boys were around somewhere.


There was Ino. She was watching the couples dancing longingly as she stood there off to the side. He seriously doubted she'd come here with a date. She hadn't been out on a real date in about three years. He hadn't talked to her in awhile. He made a mental note to invite her over for dinner sometime this week. He worried about her but didn't know what to do. Irmana had been devastated but she was now happily married with three kids. Irmana had been deeply hurt, but had managed to heal. Ino hadn't.


There were his mom and dad. They were both starting to go grey. Dad had managed to pick up a few more scars and mom had picked up a few more pounds. Dad refused to retire even though mom was getting troublesome about it. Still they were happy together and they both adored their grandchildren. He and Temari never had trouble finding baby sitters.


His eyes were drawn to a small ruckus. He was not surprised to see Tsunade standing over a prostrate Jiraiya shaking her fist and clearly yelling at the man. Shikamaru rolled his eyes and wondered what he had said this time. He wondered if any other ninja village had a pair of council members as troublesome as those two. Despite their near constant complaints though he had noticed that the two of them spent an awful lot of time together.


Neji and Tenten were dancing. As was their son Hizashi. Like Tsubaki and Sasuke, Hizashi was a brand new graduate. In fact he had come in second behind Sasuke for the top spot. Hizashi seemed to be in good spirits as he danced with a pretty dark haired girl. Since Naruto had outlawed the caged bird seal and ended the formal division within Hyuga Neji and his son had become much easier going.


Then there were Sakura and Lee. Shikamaru let out a depressed sigh. They had finally gotten married a couple years ago. They were Konoha's sort of couple. They were sort of in love. They were sort of happy. They were sort of damaged. Sakura had never and probably would never get completely over the loss of her first love. Lee had been destroyed by their original break up and by the knowledge that she had only turned to him because Sasuke was gone. They did still care for each other despite all of that. Ultimately they had found their way back to one another. And looking at them now as they danced they certainly seemed happy. From a distance at any rate.


Shikamaru turned back to Naruto. "You know we're both lucky to have found our wives."

Naruto nodded vigorously. "Oh I know believe me. I don't even want to imagine what life would be like without my Hinata-chan. Ever wonder what life would be like without Temari?"

Shikamaru chuckled. "It would be much more restful and far less troublesome. But it would also be much less amazing. So I think I'll keep her."

"Oh really?"

Turning around he saw Temari with an amused look on her face and Hinata covering her mouth to suppress a giggle. "Hey honey." He said.

His wife shook her head but came over to his side as Hinata went over to Naruto's. "You'll keep me huh?"

He shrugged. "Well finding someone else I would love as much as you would just be too troublesome."

Temari gave him a small smile. "Guess I'm lucky you're so lazy then." She paused for a bit. "Now honey you know Gaara is coming to visit us next month and that he's bring Matsuri and all three children."

"Of course, it's a major state visit. I'm looking forward to seeing them."

She took a deep breath. "Kankuro is coming too."

"What?! Since when?"

"Since always." She said calmly.

"This visit's been planned for five months."

"I was waiting for just the right time to tell you." She decided to go ahead and get all the bad news out of the way. "He wants to stay with us again."

Shikamaru frowned, his usual good mood nowhere to be seen. "You mention this after our daughter puts on face paint?"

"He loves our children."

"Couldn't he love them from a distance? Like from a hotel… in Suna?"

"I hardly ever get to see him."

"That's a bad thing? Temari he's a terrible influence on the kids! He'll spend the entire week spoiling them and telling them how to get away with things."

"Oh come on, he doesn't have any children of his own."

"I wonder why."

She sent him a hard look and crossed her arms over her chest. "He's my brother." That was her trump card and they both knew it.

Shikamaru looked as if he'd swallowed a lemon. "Fine."

"I knew you'd understand!" She hugged him and gave him a kiss. He gave her a look that said he didn't understand but wouldn't argue any further.



"Kakashi sensei," Naruto greeted. "So where's the ball and chain?"

"Naruto-kun!" Hinata scolded.

"Oops, sorry. So where's the psycho you're shacking up with?"

Kakashi smiled. "Standing right behind you, hey Anko." He gave a cheerful wave.

"Ack!" Naruto jumped around. "I didn't mean it!" There was of course no one there. Everyone around him had a good laugh.

"That was not funny Kakashi." Naruto pouted.

"I would have to disagree."

"Kakashi," Hinata asked. "When are you and Anko going to finally get married?"

"Probably the day after she decides she wants to."

"You are so whipped." Shikamaru said.

Kakashi shrugged. "What can I say? The sex is amazing."


Tsubaki and Sasuke approached the group. She was hanging on his arm and had stars in her eyes. "Thank you for dancing with me Sasuke-kun." Before he could object she planted a kiss on his cheek.

He gave the girl a very firm look. "O.k. I danced with you for three songs. Now you have to keep our deal and leave me alone the rest of the night."

"Of course Sasuke-kun! I always keep my promises." She gave him one of her big smiles that forced her eyes closed. "Just like I promise to eventually make you my boyfriend."

"Hah! That'll never happen you crazy girl!"

"You'll change your mind once we get to spend more time together."

"The only way I'd do that is if we were on the same squad and there is no way that's going to happen!"

Kakashi, Naruto, and the other adults all shared a conspiratorial little smile.

Another team seven with a Sasuke, an obsessed fan girl, and Kakashi-sensei. Naruto thought fondly. I better remember when I give them their first C-rank no missions to Wave and no bridge builders!

A lone sky rocket rose into the night and exploded leaving behind gold in the night sky. It was a signal that the fireworks were about to start. As if on cue their children all gathered around them. Temari picked Kaze up and held her as Shikamaru put one arm around her and one around an excited and bouncing Tsubaki. As the fireworks began and their children began to ooh and ahh Shikamaru and Temari shared a look. Their lives were not perfect. They had the stresses of family and career and also had the occasional argument. But they both knew their home was a happy one and filled with love. Neither of them would ever want to be anywhere else.

"I love you." She said spontaneously.

He leaned in so they could share a small kiss underneath the lights in the sky. "I love you too."

In the end that said it all.