Epilogue

AN: Well, this is it, people, the last chapter; it's hard to believe! I want to thank everyone who has stuck through this until the end! I want to especially thank MrsHellman and Hotari-chan for their help with this, and also my husband, who was a big help with chapter 6! I borrowed from the anime for this one, with my own twists to it, so I don't own Naruto, k? I also give credit to "Finding Nemo" for the ending to this story; I just had to put it in there! Enjoy!

Naruto loved being a genin. He had been assigned to a team, which was called team 7, along with a sensei. Naruto had been surprised to learn who had been selected to be on his team with him: Sakura and Sasuke. He was delighted though, as was Sakura. Sasuke was glad to be on the same team as Naruto, but he was pretty indifferent to Sakura, much to her disappointment. Naruto had also been very surprised when he learned who their sensei was.

Flashback

Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke were waiting in their classroom for their jounin sensei to show up. He was already late, all the other teams had left with their senseis and even Iruka-sensei had already gone home. Naruto was getting really impatient.

"He's late!" Naruto said angrily, as he opened the door for the tenth time, checking the hallway for any sign of their sensei.

"I'm sure he'll be here soon, Naruto-kun," Sakura told him, trying to make the blonde feel better. She was starting to get concerned herself though.

"Why is our sensei the only one late?" Naruto asked, irritability. 'Come to think of it, Kakashi-san was always late too…could it be? Nah!' Naruto thought.

"You do have a good point there, Naruto," Sasuke pointed out.

Naruto climbed up on a chair and proceeded to put an eraser in the doorway, so it would hit the guy when he came in.

"What are you doing, Naruto-kun?" Sakura asked him, curiously.

"Serves him right for being late!" Naruto answered, laughing as he got down.

"But, Naruto-kun, you could get in trouble for that," Sakura said, worriedly. Inside she thought, 'I love tricks like this!'

"Naruto, do you really think a jounin would fall for something like that?" Sasuke asked, seriously, with a frown on his face. Inside though, he agreed with Naruto. The instructor was really late.

"You never know until you try," Naruto answered him, with a big grin.

Just then, the door slid open, and as the said jounin poked his head in, the eraser bonked him on the head.

Naruto started laughing until he recognized who their sensei was. "K-Kakashi-san?" he stammered and pointed.

Sasuke remembered him from a long time ago, when he and Naruto where doing their school project. He couldn't believe that this guy was a jounin, letting the eraser hit him like that.

"Gomen-nasai, sensei," Sakura apologized; feeling slightly embarrassed, but at the same time, thought what Naruto did was cool. He had got their sensei good!

"Don't worry. I expect this kind of thing from Naruto," Kakashi said. Naruto gulped. "However, it's Kakashi-sensei from now on, Naruto. Don't think I'll be going easy on you, just because you're the Yondaime's son."

Naruto nodded nervously. Of all the senseis they had to get! And he would always be late!

End of Flashback

In the end, Naruto had accepted it. He then understood what Kakashi had been referring to on the day of his graduation. No doubt his father had planned this.

After Kakashi had introduced himself officially, he had the three genin talk about themselves a bit, which Naruto thought was pointless. Kakashi knew him well, and he and Sasuke were best friends. The next thing the new team had to do was pass Kakashi's survival training. This had confused them since they had passed the final exam to become genin already, why did they have to take another test? Kakashi explained to them that only 9 out of 18 people would become genin, and this test was to weed out the weaklings, as this was very hard test. Naruto was particularly upset about it.

"What the heck? What was the academy for then? And the final exam?" Naruto yelled angrily.

"That? It just picks out those who are qualified to become genin," Kakashi replied, very matter-of-factly.

"NANI!?" Naruto protested, but Kakashi cut him off.

"Anyway, I'm going to determine whether you pass or fail tomorrow at the training grounds," Kakashi continued, as if Naruto hadn't spoken. "Bring your equipment and meet at 5 AM!"

Naruto started shaking. I'm not going to get dropped by a thing like this! Why the heck didn't Tousan tell me about this? And why did he have to have Kakashi be our sensei? He thought angrily.

Sakura was having her own inner turmoil. If I don't pass, I'll be separated from Naruto-kun, and Sasuke-kun forever! I can't let that happen!

Sasuke's hands were clasped together before he heard this news; in response he clenched them tightly in a very determined way.

"Well, meeting's over. See you tomorrow morning! Oh, and don't eat any breakfast. You'll throw up if you do," Kakashi warned them.

All three genin were shocked by this news. Naruto was definitely going to have words with his father about this one!

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Naruto went straight to his father's office. "TOUSAN!" he bellowed as he slammed open the door to his father's office, causing Minato to jump and slide his brush across a document he was working on. His eye twitched in annoyance.

"Naruto! You just made me mess up a very important document I was working on," Minato told him, irritability.

Naruto ignored his father. "Why the heck didn't you tell me that Kakashi-san was going to be my sensei? He's going to put us through some grueling test tomorrow, and unless we pass it, we'll all fail and get sent back to the academy!" he yelled angrily.

"Woah, calm down, Naruto," Minato said. "You know that I couldn't tell you who your sensei was going to be. I assigned them to the teams as I thought best," Minato explained.

Naruto huffed and folded his arms. "The final exam was for nothing! It just picks out who's qualified to become genin. Kakashi-sensei gets to decide who passes or fails now!"

Minato smiled. "Naruto. It will be easy for you to pass Kakashi's test, if you think about it," he told him.

"What do you mean?" Naruto asked, impatiently.

"You know that Kakashi was once my student, right? Remember how I told you that teamwork is the most important thing for a shinobi?" Minato asked him.

"Yeah, so?" Naruto asked, not getting the point.

"Kakashi believes the same way I do. Think about it," Minato encouraged Naruto.

Naruto looked blankly back at his father for moment. Then it dawned on him. He gave his father a big grin.

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When they arrived at the training grounds at 5 AM, there was no sign of Kakashi. He ended up arriving very late, much to everyone's annoyance.

Kakashi then presented them with their mission: to retrieve 2 bells from him. The one who doesn't get a bell, would be tied up, fail and be sent back to the academy. All three could fail, or just one of them. He further told them that they would have to come after him, as if they were going to kill him. It seemed impossible and very unfair. However, they were all determined to pass this. Naruto remembered what his father had told him earlier about teamwork and Kakashi being his father's student. Naruto shared this with Sakura and Sasuke.

"If we work together, we can do this. I'm sure that's what Kakashi-sensei wants us to do, and not just blindly follow his orders," Naruto explained.

Sakura and Sasuke looked skeptical, but agreed to do it. In the end, it had worked. They didn't manage to get a bell, but Kakashi saw them operate as a three-man team, so he passed them. He told them, "ninjas need to think beyond the normal." He went on to explain that ninjas who don't take care of their friends are worse than scum.

"The training ends here. You all pass. Tomorrow, we'll start doing missions!" Kakashi told them. They were thrilled.

"Naruto-kun, you were right!" Sakura gushed.

"That was pretty smart of you, Naruto. Guess your tousan's rubbing off on you finally," Sasuke teased.

"YES! We're all really ninjas now!" Naruto yelled with excitement, ignoring Sasuke's comment.

Since then, Team 7 started doing all kinds of D ranked missions. After doing this for a while, though Naruto got really tired of them, and wanted to do something more exciting and challenging. So one day, after returning a woman's lost cat, and hearing his father read off a list of the next D ranked missions, none of which Naruto liked at all, he spoke up.

"No way, Tousan!" Naruto interrupted, making a cross with his arms in a big 'x'. "I'm tired of doing these easy missions. I want to do something more exciting!" he finished in frustration.

Sasuke silently agreed with Naruto. Kakashi sighed and Sakura was speechless. Only Naruto could get away with speaking to the Hokage like that and only because he was his father.

Minato sighed. He knew this was bound to happen sooner or later. "Naruto, you are still a novice ninja. You have to do easy missions to gain experience," Minato told him.

"But, Tousan! All we've been doing lately are these dumb missions!" Naruto answered back.

"Naruto! Have you forgotten how missions are assigned, or do I need to remind you again?" Minato asked sternly.

"Yeah, yeah, I know all of that Tousan, I don't need a lecture. I'm not a kid anymore! I want to do something that will challenge my skills!" Naruto huffed as he folded his arms.

Kakashi put his hand behind his head and rubbed it. Naruto could be so dramatic at times.

Minato smiled at his son's antics. "Very well, I understand, Naruto. Since you are so insistent, I will allow you to take on a C ranked mission." Naruto looked up at this. "It involves escorting a certain person," Minato explained.

"Now that's more like it!" Naruto gushed, excitedly. "Who is it? A feudal lord? A princess?"

"Woah, take it easy, Naruto," Minato told him. "I'll introduce him now. You can come in now," Minato called.

Everyone turned to see who it was. The door slid open and in came an old man, carrying a bottle of sake in his hand. The first words out of his mouth were, "What's this? Some kind of joke? They're all kids!" he exclaimed indignantly, as he took a drink from his sake.

"Why you! Who do you think-" Naruto was cut off when he heard, "I will be with them," Kakashi spoke up. "And they are more than capable of handling this mission," he added.

Naruto felt better that Kakashi had vouched for them.

"I agree with Kakashi. Don't underestimate them, just because they are young," Minato put in, making Naruto swell with pride at his father's words. The old man snorted but said nothing more. "Your mission is to escort Tazuna-san back to his country. He is a bridge builder and you are to protect him with your life as he completes the bridge. You will set out tomorrow morning, early," he told them. "Dismissed."

Naruto didn't really like this guy's attitude, but at least they were going to be doing something that was better than a D ranked mission.

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That next morning, it was time for Naruto to get up, and get ready to leave for his mission, but he was still asleep. So Minato came into Naruto's room to wake him up, so he wouldn't be late.

"Time to get up, Naru-chan!" Minato said loudly, shaking a surprised Naruto awake. "Come on, get up, get up!"

They ate breakfast together and after giving Naruto some last minute instructions, Naruto was ready to go.

"May I see you off at the gate?" Minato asked Naruto.

"Um, I guess so, Tousan," Naruto agreed, but a bit curious as to why his father wanted to see him off. "You're not going to embarrass me are you?" he asked, suspiciously.

"No! Of course not," Minato said quickly, putting his hand behind his head. "It's just that…well…this is your first mission outside the village…and…I…just want to…see you off, that's all. You know, be a supportive father," he answered and laughed nervously.

Naruto raised a brow at this, but agreed to it. Minato sighed in relief. The truth was that Minato was feeling a little nervous about Naruto going on his first mission away from the village. Kakashi would be there, but Minato couldn't help but feel a little of that overprotective side of him kicking in again.

They headed towards Konoha's gate, where team 7 was supposed to meet. Naruto was very excited, and Minato couldn't also help but feel tremendous pride for his son.

"Hey, Naruto! I'll race you to the gate!" Minato said, smiling.

"You're on, but no high-speed jutsu!" Naruto answered, grinning back at him. "And if I win, you have to treat our team to ramen when we get back!"

"Deal!" Minato answered.

They took off running, with Minato going a little faster than Naruto.

"I'm going to win," Minato called as they neared the gate.

"No, you're not!" Naruto said as he passed Minato suddenly. "I did it!" Naruto yelled as he reached the gate first. "Yes! You have to treat us all to ramen!"

"Aw, no fair, my own son beats me!" Minato said, in a fake pouting voice, making Naruto laugh.

Sakura and Sasuke were already there, waiting for Kakashi, who was late, as usual. Tazuna was there also. Minato watched as Naruto talked excitedly to his teammates. I can't believe this day has finally come, where my son would be leaving the village to do his own missions, Minato thought wistfully, thinking back on how far he and Naruto had come to get to this point. Get a grip, Minato, you have to let him go. Don't do anything stupid.

Finally, Kakashi showed up with everyone yelling, "YOU'RE LATE!"

As they prepared to leave, Minato walked over to Kakashi and whispered, "Look after him, won't you?" Kakashi nodded in understanding.

As the team began to walk away, Minato watched his son with mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was so proud of his son. On the other hand, he felt like a nervous wreck, sending his son out on his first away from home mission.

Naruto turned around and saw his father standing there, watching him. He glanced back at his team and then at his father.

"Kakashi-sensei…wait! I forgot something!" Naruto said suddenly, running towards his father.

Minato looked surprised as he saw Naruto running towards him. He threw his arms around his father and said quietly, "Love you, Tousan."

Minato hugged him back. "I love you too, Naruto."

Everyone watched the exchanged with bemused expressions on their faces, even Tazuna.

They stayed like that for a minute or so before Naruto said, "Um…Tousan? You can let go now, everyone's waiting for me."

"Oh! Sorry!" Minato said quickly, releasing him. He watched Naruto run back to his team.

"Bye, tousan! See you when we get back!" Naruto called back as he waved to Minato.

Minato waved back, and watched him until he was no longer visible. "Bye, Naruto," he said quietly. "Do your best."

END

AN: Wow, I can't believe this story is over! I sure had fun writing it! There may be a sequel, but I can't promise you. It all depends on if the inspiration hits me or not, and time, and all those kinds of things. Thanks to all my reviewers, you were all wonderful and encouraging! Please review this last time and let me know what you think! Thank you!