"You're late," Obito accused, pointing a finger at the newcomer.

"Hey, go easy on him," Naruto admonished. "He's still just a brat."

"Shut up," Kakashi said quietly. "This is childish."

Obito snickered. "Just admit it, Kakashi, you got caught!"

"I didn't think you guys were serious," Rin said exasperatedly. "I would've warned him!"

"But what good would that have done? See, Kakashi," Naruto said, a glimmer of playfulness in her eyes, "you came late. And guess what? You didn't get struck by lightning. You didn't trip over a black cat. You didn't find out that all the ramen in Konoha is gone. You're okay."

"Perhaps. But that's the last time I believe you about meeting times," he answered monotonously. He looked almost…embarrassed.

"I think it should be a mission – you have to be late twice a month," Obito remarked, grinning.

Rin lifted an eyebrow. "Um…Obito, what good would that do?"

"None whatsoever, but it would be damn funny."

"Oh, stop it!"

"Are you finished," Kakashi asked. "I'm getting tired of this. I don't speak Idiot."

Minato proudly watched his former students interact. They'd gone from a shaky team, to a dysfunctional family, to a dysfunctional family who happened to be friends. As worrisome as it was to have a team that close, he was glad to have been a part of it.

It had been a month and a half since Naruto had been released from the hospital, and already she was the powerful kunoichi she had been. Obito had caught up quickly; apparently, activating his Sharingan with two tomoe in each eye warranted some attention in his clan, because they had decided he deserved training from the Uchiha elites.

But right now, he didn't have enough time to reflect on this; he had some business to take care of.

He cleared his throat. "I have some important news," he said, catching their attention.

"Minato-sensei? When did you get here? What's the news?" Naruto's bright grin seemed to be contagious; soon, Obito and Rin were wearing the same expression, and Kakashi's eyes were a little lighter. Since nobody could really see his face, and considering how he'd been before, that counted as a smile.

"I just wanted to tell you that I'm proud of you all, and that I'm not going to be part of your team any more. From now on, you're all Team Kakashi. I'm trusting you, Kakashi," he said, glancing at the masked boy, "so you ought to know that I have a lot of faith in you…in all of you."

"Um…but, why are you not going to be on our team," Naruto asked, sounding a bit sad.

He smiled at them. "Because I have a new assignment."

"What is-"

At that moment, a runner approached them and let Minato know that he had been summoned by Hokage-sama. He waved. "Well, I've got to go. I'll see you later! Be good, kids!"

I'm just a line break…don't mind me!

Naruto thought she remembered something similar to this, but she couldn't quite place it. The whole village was gathered in front of the Hokage tower, waiting for…something. An announcement, obviously, but she didn't have a clue as to what it was.

"Hey," she said, poking Kakashi's shoulder. "Do you know what all this is about?"

"If you don't know, I'm not going to explain it to you," he replied.

What a…augh! What a stuck-up jerk! "Why do I put up with you, anyway?"

"Because I am your commander."

…Oh. Yeah. She couldn't say for sure, but she thought he might be teasing her.

"That's not a good excuse," she grumbled. "I think I must be losing my mind."

"You'd have to have one first," Obito 'pointed out,' prompting her to clench her fists.

"You'll get yours," she promised through gritted teeth.

Just then, she caught sight of Minato-sensei on the platform. He wasn't wearing his jounin vest any more, and…

Oh, it all made sense now!

"Guys, guys, Minato-sensei! Do you see? He's the Yondaime Hokage!"

"Yes, Naruto, we see," Rin replied at a whisper. "Now listen! He's going to give a speech."

Naruto seriously doubted that. Minato-sensei was a great shinobi, got things done efficiently, and he thought on his feet. However, she knew speeches weren't his style. He was a man of action.

"Hey," he called to the citizens of Konoha, his voice projecting loud and clear. Those who had been speaking stopped immediately.

"So, the Sandaime Hokage-sama has decided to retire. And he saw fit to name me as his successor. What do you guys think about it?"

There was a moment of confused silence, before a loud cheer broke out, started by Naruto, Obito, and Rin.

"Minato-sensei," Naruto shouted, at the same time as others shouted, "Namikaze-sama!"

He grinned and held up the Hokage hat. "Then I guess I'd better get used to this!"

The people absolutely loved and respected him, but she'd always known they would. He was a good person, with good morals, good looks, and charisma.

Naruto, however, still thought he was a dork.


-- THE END --
Stay tuned for the sequel, "Effect and Affection," coming soon!