Yay! Final chapter! I just get such a sense of accomplishment and relief when a story is done. Sort of like putting a check mark on a to-do list. Hope you all enjoy the conclusion!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its characters. This fic is made purely for entertainment purposes and not monetary gain.
Dream A Little Dream
Chapter 8: Family
When Sakura woke up, Kakashi was donning his jounin vest. "Going somewhere?"
"I was hoping to catch Iruka on his way to school. If I talk to him now, he can mull it over today."
Sakura nodded. "I know Naruto is going to be dying for some ramen at Ichiraku after the headmistress returns, so maybe we can talk to Ayame separately. It may work in the kids' favor."
Kakashi gave her a quick kiss as he headed for the door. "I shouldn't take more than an hour. See you in time for breakfast!"
Sakura shook her head in amusement as she got up to get ready. The man was successful at seeming aloof and cold, but he was probably one of the sweetest, most big-hearted people she knew.
While Sakura expertly flipped and stacked pancakes, Naruto and Sasuke peeled and chopped various fruits and Kakashi was doing surprisingly well with the bacon and eggs. The ruckus in the kitchen woke the kids and they shuffled out in various degrees of coherency. After a few minutes of silence, Keisuke perked up and began chattering away. Akane was bright-eyed immediately out of her room. Sanosuke sat at the table with his head down, Ayao sat next to him sleepily observing everyone else and Yuki just went up to Kakashi and buried her face in his pant leg.
Kakashi looked down and his face softened. "Hey, Yuki. Let's get you in your high chair. This stuff is hot and I don't want you to get hurt." He looked questioningly at Sakura and she nodded with a smile.
"I've got this. You can get started on everyone's drinks."
A little wail came from down the hall and Naruto and Sasuke immediately began preparing bottles, causing Sakura to feel proud of them. From putting on diapers backwards and pureeing ramen to wanting to adopt and knowing exactly how to make a bottle, the boys had come so far.
Once everyone was settled in for breakfast, Sakura whispered to Kakashi. "How did it go with Iruka-sensei?"
Kakashi smiled brightly. "He's very open to the idea and is going to come here after work to meet the kids."
Naruto perked up. "So after school lets out?"
"Good. I saw Ayame at the fruit stand this morning and she's coming here then, too."
Sakura was almost giddy. "Oh, I hope this works out."
With the plates cleared and cleaned, the group went to play in the backyard. Kakashi and Sasuke were on the porch with the twins and Kakashi asked Sasuke the questions that had been plaguing him since Sasuke's declaration last night. "Sasuke, about adopting Sanosuke and Ayao, how will you cope when you have a mission?"
The Uchiha sighed. "You know as well as I do that the village will never trust me enough to be much more than a chuunin. My best bet will be to work at the academy or in the Hokage Tower, both of which will allow me to be monitored by those in charge. If I do happen to get a mission, I know most of the Rookie 9 or Team Gai would be willing to watch the kids for a few days."
Kakashi had to agree with him. The odds of the village letting Sasuke out of their sight again was slim. "What about money?"
Sasuke almost laughed out loud at Kakashi, or he would have almost if that wasn't such an un-Sasuke thing to do. "I'm the sole survivor of an entire clan! All the Uchiha funds and wealth are mine. Basically, I work because I love what I do and I'd get bored if I didn't."
Well, that solved that problem. With all questions answered, the two fell into a comfortable silence watching Sakura and Naruto play hide-and-seek with the kids.
The day seemed to fly by, especially since they didn't really want it to end. As the kids were waking up from their naps, Iruka and his wife, Ayame walked in.
Naruto looked at the clock in wonder. "School's out already?"
Iruka nodded with a smile. "Yep. Same time as it used to let out, Naruto." He gave the blonde a sidelong glance and muttered, "You'd have known that if you showed up in class more than you did."
A tense staring match between the two men began and Ayame clapped her hands to break up the fight. "So, where are these children you were talking about?"
Sakura ushered forward Keisuke and Akane. "This is Keisuke and this is Akane. They're both seven."
Kakashi walked over with Yuki on his hip. "And this is my friend, Yuki. She's eighteen months."
Ayame knelt down in front of the two older kids. "Hello. I'm Ayame and this is my husband, Iruka."
Iruka was able to coax Yuki to let him take her from Kakashi and knelt down with his wife. The rest of the group quietly left the living room and headed for the play room, giving the possible family some time to get acquainted.
Ayame came into the playroom an hour later, tears forming in her brown eyes. Sakura stood and immediately led the woman to one of the spare rooms and gave her a moment to pull it together. It wasn't long before Ayame was smiling and crying. "We would love to adopt those three."
Sakura couldn't help the lump in her own throat and started crying and laughing right along with her. "You had me worried for a minute."
Ayame smiled apologetically while wiping her eyes. "I'm just so happy! It doesn't take long to fall head over heels in love with those kids, does it?"
Sakura shook her head, not trusting her voice after that statement.
Ayame continued. "I can't even explain it, really. It was just this feeling that Iruka and I had. With those kids, we felt completely at ease and whole. Like we were a family being reunited. It doesn't make sense, but then again, stuff like this usually doesn't. Now that we've met, it's going to be hard going home without them while the paperwork and necessary checks are done."
Sakura smiled brightly. "Well at least you don't have to worry about the checks. With Iruka at the academy and you as a civilian, there's no reason for you to be denied since denials are usually only given to shinobi that do a lot of missions. And your house is big enough. The only thing that will need to be done is for the Hokage to sign her approval and you know Shishou won't have any problems with you two being parents."
The ramen girl pulled Sakura into a hug. "We can't thank you enough for this! We'll be back tomorrow to talk to the headmistress. Will you let her know for us?"
Sakura nodded fervently. "Leave it to me!"
Akane and Keisuke were excitedly telling the other kids about the couple who were going to adopt them, going on about how cool it was that they were going to be brother and sister along with Yuki. Yuki didn't understand and Kakashi was grateful for that. To her, Iruka and Ayame would be 'daddy' and 'mommy' for as long as she'd be able to remember.
The headmistress returned while Sakura was cooking dinner and the kids rushed to greet her. It may be an orphanage and she may have been eager to get away, but Sakura saw in that moment how much the old woman loved the kids she was in charge of.
The four ninja gave her a debriefing while they all had dinner and she was ecstatic about Keisuke, Akane and Yuki's upcoming adoption. "So, this couple is a good couple then?"
The four nodded, enthusiastic in their support of their friends. Sakura spoke up. "All of us except for Kakashi were Iruka's students at the academy and the whole team are regulars at Ayame's ramen stand. They're very good people with kind and loving hearts and I know they'd make exceptional parents. They plan on coming by tomorrow to speak with you about the adoption."
The headmistress clapped in excitement. "As much as I love the kids that pass through here, nothing makes me happier than seeing them go to a proper home with new parents who can give them the love and attention they deserve and that can only come from being a family."
After dinner, the ninja told the headmistress about their plans for the rest of the children. She took Sasuke into her office after hearing about his intentions and the two came out smiling. When Naruto asked Sasuke what had him so eerily happy (since a smiling Sasuke usually means trouble) the last Uchiha showed them his copies of adoption papers. Once the Hokage approved and the appropriate agencies made sure his house was child-safe, Sasuke would be the proud parent of Sanosuke and Ayao.
Sanosuke was insanely giddy and that rubbed off on little Ayao who kept smiling. He pulled on Sasuke's pant leg. "Does this mean I'll be Uchiha Sanosuke and Ayao will be my sister, Uchiha Ayao?"
The question had the normally stoic young man looking a little wetter in the eye department and he smiled a huge and true smile at the little boy. "It sure does."
The interaction had all of Team 7 a bit choked up.
Holding back her tears, Sakura mentioned to the headmistress that she still needed to talk to Ino and Chouji and the woman happily agreed to meet with them if they were interested.
Finally, the time had come and the ninja were ready to leave. The children lined up for their goodbyes and there were smiles and tears and laughs and hugs all over the place. The most touching moment for Sakura came when Kakashi picked up Yuki and hugged her before heading off into a corner. Curious, she watched as his hand came up and pulled down his mask. Yuki giggled happily and patted his face before placing a sloppy baby kiss on his cheek. When the two came back, Sakura grabbed his hand when she noticed a little wet spot in the fabric over the Sharingan. "Do I need to be concerned?"
Kakashi looked at her strangely and she smiled. "In about twenty years, that little girl's gonna be a heart breaker. You, my dear, are already smitten. Should I be prepared?"
Kakashi chuckled and then sighed playfully. "By that time, I'll be old and unattractive to young women. Besides, you'd probably beat me up if I left you."
Sakura shook her fist jokingly. "Don't you forget it, mister!"
The quartet left, waving at the kids who were huddled in front of the orphanage doors, waving and yelling goodbyes. Sakura managed to hold it together, barely. Sasuke was still on cloud nine about his possible adoptions. Naruto was biting his lip, but the tears were steadily flowing. And Kakashi had his book up. Sakura suspected if he lowered it, his eyes...eye... would be a bit brighter. Considering the few sniffles she heard from him, she knew she was right.
The group got to the spot where they usually parted ways after missions. "I'll hand in the report to Tsunade-shishou. I'm going to stop by Ino's on the way back and talk to her about Makoto and Hana."
The boys nodded and bid the two jounin their goodbyes before disappearing with two pops. Kakashi looked at Sakura with a little gleam in his eyes. "Will you be coming to my apartment afterwards?"
Sakura winked at him. "Wouldn't dream of being anywhere else."
Sakura flew towards Ino's house, grinning broadly. Tsunade had been willing and ready to sign adoption papers for Iruka and Ayame and Sasuke then and there. The only hurdle then would be the child-safe check and Sakura knew from being in the two homes that they were definitely ready. The purchase of some outlet plugs and cabinet and drawer stoppers would be the only things needed, besides moving chemicals up to higher places.
She came to a stop outside the flower shop and happily greeted Chouji. "Hey, Chouji! Is your pain of a wife in?"
A shrill shout of "I heard that, Forehead!" came from the back room and Sakura grinned slyly at the frowning woman who appeared. "Seriously, I help you and you insult me?"
Sakura shook her head. "You know I'm kidding. I actually had something to discuss with the two of you."
After laying out the deal for the two shinobi, she noticed Ino chewing her lip. "I'm not too sure, Sakura. I mean we do want kids, but I really wanted my own, you know?"
Sakura sighed. "I know, Ino. And just because you adopt doesn't mean you can't have kids later. And I wouldn't want you to adopt unless you're sure it's what you want, but those two are only one month old. They still have all of their firsts ahead of them. It'd be like kids of your own without the labor and stretch marks."
Ino looked at her husband who was smiling at her. "It wouldn't hurt to meet the babies. We've been having trouble, after all."
Ino nodded. She was still hesitant, but what harm would it do?
Sakura headed to Kakashi's, ready for what was to come and nervous at the same time. She wasn't sure whether she should pick up speed or slow down. Realizing she was being ridiculous and Kakashi wouldn't pressure her, she picked up the pace, ready to be with him again.
She got to Kakashi's apartment and knocked before opening the door right after. The apartment was dark and Sakura wondered if he had gone somewhere. "Kakashi?"
She heard shuffling in the direction of his bedroom and slowly headed back there, kunai drawn in case there was trouble. Once she got to his doorway, the kunai fell with a loud clang and her eyes opened wide while her mouth dropped in shock.
The bed was dusted with rose petals and small candles cast the room with a warm glow. Kakashi stood there in the suit he was wearing the last time the team went to dinner, mask and forehead protector gone, holding a bouquet of pink, oriental lilies. His eyes crinkled as he smiled that bright smile that made her knees weak and Sakura leaned against the door frame for support. "Do you like it?"
Sakura looked around the room again before looking at her former sensei. "It's perfect. As long as you're here, it's perfect."
She closed the door and headed for Kakashi, all her nervousness from a few minutes ago completely erased.
Six months later, Sakura and Kakashi dodged a bunch of running kids while entering Iruka and Ayame's yard. The couple smiled as three kids came full-speed at them. Keisuke, Akane and Yuki grabbed onto the newly arrived shinobi and hugged for all they were worth. Iruka approached with a smile on his face. "Glad you guys could make it. And I need to warn you that Yuki has added new words to her vocabulary and has been saying them since we started planning her birthday party. She was very excited about one guest in particular. Understandable since he's been on a mission for a month."
The pair looked at him strangely and he looked at his birthday girl. "Tell them your new words."
Yuki clutched Kakashi tighter and squealed. "Unca Kashi!" She buried her face into the man's shoulder and he looked at Sakura wide-eyed, a huge smile visible under his mask.
Sakura giggled. "That is too cute! What about you guys? Enjoying living here?"
Keisuke and Akane nodded emphatically. Keisuke sucked in a breath like he just thought of something. "Ooh, guess what? Grandpa is teaching me how to make ramen! It's a lot of fun and I think instead of training horses I want to take over the ramen stand when I grow up!"
Akane chimed in. "Daddy and Mommy took us camping last weekend! We saw all sorts of cool animals and Daddy did some really neat ninja tricks!"
The silver-haired shinobi and his pink-haired partner could only nod and smile, their heads spinning from the here and there comments the kids were making. Through the jumble, Sakura smiled mostly because the kids had adjusted well and were comfortable with their new family.
A loud shout from behind made them turn just in time to be tackled by Sanosuke and Ayao, the two newest Uchiha happy to see their friends after so long. Sasuke leisurely strolled in behind his kids. "They missed you while you were gone. All I heard was 'When are Auntie Sakura and Uncle Kakashi coming back?' Everyday, seriously."
Sakura stroked the brunette head of the little girl attached to her leg. Ayao had certainly gained confidence under Sasuke's care. She no longer hid in Sanosuke's shadow so much, which seemed to alternately relieve and sadden the little boy.
Sakura looked up at Iruka. "Are Ino and Chouji here?"
Iruka pointed a thumb over his shoulder. "They're in the backyard."
The group headed to the back of the house and Sakura smiled. Ino had Makoto and Chouji had Hana, ready to let the two babies try to make it to the other parent. Once the two had held the infants six months ago, it had been over. It was love at first sight and they had started the adoption papers there and then, not even bothering to think it over.
The headmistress was there, smiling warmly at the kids. She admitted it was a little lonely now that she didn't have any kids, but also admitted the only happy orphanage was an empty one. She still kept in touch with the kids, sort of an aunt to them all. Sakura set the presents she and Kakashi had bought for Yuki on the gift table before heading over to Ino, who was now cheering with Hana after a successful trek across part of the yard.
"Hey, Ino-Pig! How's motherhood?"
"Forehead, this is the best thing I've ever done. And I have big news for you."
"Oh? And what is that?"
Ino beamed, blue eyes brightening. "We're expecting!"
If Sakura hadn't seen Ino and Chouji interacting with the twins, the announcement would have made her nervous. Ino had wanted her own kids so bad, that there might have been concern over the twins becoming second-fiddle to the biological children. But Sakura knew the two never thought of the children as anyone's but their's after that first time holding them. "Congratulations, Ino! I'm so happy for you!" She hugged her best friend and then the father as he approached the two women.
Sakura and Kakashi stumbled home after Yuki's birthday party, exhausted from playing with sugar-crazed kids all day. When Kakashi passed the turn for his apartment, Sakura pulled on his sleeve with a giggle. "I think your brain has imploded, love. Home is this way."
Kakashi smiled over his shoulder at her. "Follow me. I have something to show you."
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Can it wait? I just want to fall into bed and sleep."
Kakashi shook his head. "You'll like this."
Falling silent and walking alongside the man she loved, Sakura didn't bother to notice their surroundings, more interested in burying her nose in Kakashi's sleeve since the man had decided to wear cologne that day.
Sakura looked up and cast a curious glance at the man beside her. "Kakashi, what's this?"
He pulled out a key to the gorgeous old home in front of them. "This is the Hatake home, Sakura."
She stepped forward to take in the sight. The house was stately and homey all at the same time. When she turned back around, she found Kakashi with his mask down and on one knee, holding a ring in his hand.
"How about it, Sakura? Will you marry me and help to make this house a home again?"
Sakura tackled him with a bone-crushing hug and a bruising kiss to his lips.
His lips split to reveal his perfect teeth. "Is that a yes?"
Sakura nodded, still not trusting her voice. She pulled Kakashi to his feet and toward the house. Finally she managed to choke out a response. "Come on, love. We have rooms to christen."
A/N: And it ends with a little perversity. Yippee! Poor Kakashi couldn't read his book in the story so I had to make it up to him somehow. (grin) Reviews greatly appreciated and thanks a bunch for reading! Hugs & Kisses!