It was so very hard to get out of bed this morning. It's been a while since I last wrote, but then, as the years went by, I somewhat forgot the purpose. I'm sorry for that. I know you must have been lonely without me writing. I know that sounds silly. Let me fill you in on what's happened since I last wrote.
We now live in a world without war, one where everyone lives in harmony. Oh, there's still little minor hiccups every now and then, but there have been no major battles or skirmishes in decades. Everyone heard of your sacrifice and chose to honor it.
I was sad when you left, even though now I understand why you did. You didn't have a choice. I'm proud of you for being as brave as you were. I don't know if I could have done that in your place.
I miss you, Naruto. I've missed you every day since that dreadful, horrible day. I tried to be happy for you, I really did. I tried to move on. I watched our friends get married, have children, and be happy. I watched your legacy grow, even when you weren't around. I've tried to uphold that legacy.
I know you still watch over me. I know that, because the gardenias grow thicker in our home than they do anywhere else in the world. And there's that particular yellow rose garden outside the bedroom window that always grows in the shape of a heart.
I miss you, Naruto. The few years we had together weren't enough. I want to hold you. I want to kiss you. I want to just know that you're there. I'd storm the gates of hell if I knew you were there and I'd do the same thing to heaven.
I never had any children of my own. I tried to find someone else to love, because you said you wanted me happy. There was this one boy from Kusagakure that I thought I loved, but no one could ever compare to you. My heart belongs to you, Naruto. It always has, it always will. You were my happiness.
It's been years and now our friends are passing on as well. I'm one of the oldest, so I guess I'm one of the next to go. My yellow hair that you loved so much is white now and I can't hold my fan anymore. Haven't picked the damn thing up in years. It's disheartening actually.
I've chronicled your life into a book and titled it The Legend of the Gutsy Ninja 2, in honor of Jiraiya. It's popular amongst the children. Speaking of children, your class all graduated, just as you said they would. The Chuunin Exams are more of a spectacle now than they are a simulation. But your kids swept the whole thing.
By the way, your two top students ended in a tie. They couldn't beat each other and they dedicated the match to your memory. It was sweet and creepy, in a hero worship kind of way.
Tsunade passed on a couple years after Amegakure. I'm sure you've run into her up there. I'm sure that you're still getting onto her for gambling. I'm sure she's still wrangling Jiraiya away from bathhouses. And I'm sure Kakashi still reads Jiraiya's porn.
That's their heavens. Want to hear what mine is?
You and me. That's heaven. At least, for me.
I know I've done some bad things in life, but you did so much for me. If I do end up going to hell for some reason, I hope they let angels visit. Just a kiss, that's all I'd ask for. Just one more kiss.
It was so very hard to get up this morning, Naruto. So very, very hard...
"Do you want to know why it was so hard to get up this morning, Sabaku no Temari?"
A wrinkled face turned to the voice from where she sat at a desk and white eyebrows rose. An old man with a staff stood before her, an old man that she would never forget.
"It's because you never got up. Hello, Temari. It's good to see you again."
Temari narrowed her eyes and turned back to her letter.
A gray eyebrow quirked and hands rubbed on the staff.
"You're late. You're fifty-seven years late."
"I told you before, Temari, I don't get to choose who goes when. I'm merely here to escort you to your fate."
The old woman stood to her feet, her bones creaking and huffed.
"Fine. Let's go and get this over with."
The old man nodded once and tapped his staff on the ground. Temari blinked and next thing she knew, she was in a hallway with two doors and a robed figure between them. She gasped when she looked at her hands and found the skin to be soft and smooth. A few slaps at her face and she found no wrinkles. A happy laugh escaped her lips, causing the old man to smile.
"I thought you would appreciate being at the age when you last saw Naruto. Now then, let's take you to your final guide."
Temari swallowed the lump in her throat and followed the old man to the mysterious robed figure. He whispered something to the guard of the doors and the head bobbed once, in understanding. The staff wielder turned to Temari with a smile and put a kind hand on her shoulder.
"This is where we part. My colleague will take you on your way from here. Do as he says. He'll guide you to where you are supposed to be."
Temari gave him a smile and nodded her head in understanding before walking past him and standing before the figure.
"I'm ready. What do I have to do?"
The hooded head cocked to the side and a scratchy voice echoed from the darkness.
"Choose your door. Your final place will be beyond the one you choose. Good luck."
Temari stared at the figure in disbelief.
"What? This is how you guys resolve people's afterlives? By a game of freaking chance?"
"Do not question. Only do."
Temari huffed and looked at the two doors. They were identical down to the doorknob. How was she supposed to know which one to choose? Her hand twitched from one to the other before that scratchy voice broke the silence.
Before she could think, she opened the door on the right and stepped into pure blackness. The door behind her shut and a hand found its way to her shoulder.
"Do not fear. I shall guide you to your place."
Temari fought back the tears in her eyes. After all these years, trying to make up for bad deeds so she could see her Naruto again, and she ends up in the darkness...it was her worst nightmare come true. She sniffled and the robed figure looked over at her.
"Do not weep. We do not yet know what your place will be."
Temari cast hopeful eyes to the side.
"You mean...I'm not damned?"
"I don't know."
She sobered up a bit at that and they continued to walk for what seemed like forever until eventually they came to a lone tree standing in the middle of the darkness with a simple plank swing hanging from a thick limb. The robed figure stepped to the side and grabbed a rope.
"Sit. I'll push you."
Temari's face screwed into a scowl and she snarled at whoever was under the cloth.
"How dare you! That's one of the last things Naruto did for me! If I'm to be punished then so be it, but don't you dare think I'll stand for that!"
The figure was not moved.
Temari's anger subsided and she sat down forlornly on the wooden plank, her head hanging low as she whispered.
"Whatever I did to deserve this...I'm sorry."
"And what, my dear Temari, would you have to be sorry for? Seriously, all those years you knew me and you didn't think I'd pull one last prank on you?"
Temari's back stiffened and her neck slowly turned to look over her shoulder, hope swelling in her heart. The hood fell back to reveal the golden locks and bewhiskered face of her beloved, his trademark grin in full effect.
"Hey, babe. It took you forever to get here."
The next thing he knew he was on his back with a hysterical Temari on top of him, kissing him, touching him, anything to make sure he was real. After she had calmed down, he sat upright with her in his arms. She had so much to ask him and after several minutes of inane questions, she asked the one he'd been waiting for.
"So...is this heaven?"
"Yes, it's our heaven."
She looked around the darkness again and quirked an eyebrow.
"Our heaven? It's black."
"Well, duh. It's not finished. I've been waiting for you. Everyone's heaven is different, you know, and mine wasn't complete without you."
Temari nodded and let him pull her to her feet. She smiled at the familiar touch and melded against his body again.
"So...how do we complete it?"
Naruto put a finger to his chin and thought for a second.
A devilish smile later and she was worried. It left immediately when he put his fist under her chin, tilting her head up.
"How about this? We close our eyes, kiss until we can't hold our breath any longer, and then...we open them."
She smiled as she threw her arms around his neck and whispered.
"That sounds like a damned good plan."
The two locked lips and for a moment, even heaven seemed to stop for them. A love that had been unrequited for decades, one that would last eternity, had finally come back to itself. Temari broke off after a minute, gasping for breath, and heard Naruto whisper in her ear.
"Open your eyes, Temari."
Slowly, ever so slowly, she cracked her eyes open and the splendor and beauty of their heaven caused her breath to hitch and a lump to form in her throat. Sheer words could not form the magnificence and scope of what lay before her. To a blissfully happy Temari, it could only be summed up in two words.
And that is the end of An Uzumaki Amongst the Dunes. I hope you folks have enjoyed yourself. I'm sad to see this end. This is the story that put me on the map in FanFiction. I didn't want it to end. I really didn't. But all good things must come to an end. I just want to thank everyone who's ever read this story, from the newly started to the folks who have been here since the beginning.
The ending is partly borrowed from a scene in an online comic called "Jack". It's an excellent comic based on the ideas that Heaven and Hell are different than we think.
Check it out.
Readers, Reviewers, Thank You ever so much. I love you, guys. Even you anonymous assholes. Thanks for hanging with me. I'll get back to work now.