Naruto smiled as he walked along, he had just left his kage bunshin to finish up the paperwork, and was now heading towards his garden. His smile only faltered slightly as he passed the academy, and found one student swinging back and forth on a swing that had been built to replace the one destroyed during the Pein invasion. He knew the child sitting there swinging back and forth, it was Kurenai's kid Haku. But instead of springing forth memories of the androgynous ninja from his doomed Wave mission, this time Haku brought forth an image of another small child rocking himself back and forth on the swing that one had replaced.
He decided it was time to change that. Walking over, he knelt next to the swinging child, before he finally addressed her. "Hello Haku-chan... how are you doing?"
Watching the startled girl's head whip around, and her eyes bug never got old in his opinion. And then she smiled warmly and waved. "Hello Hokage-sama... I'm... I'm alright..."
"Now now Haku-chan, you've known me all your life, you can call me The Great and Powerful Naruto Uzumaki Super Hokage for Life!" Naruto proclaimed while striking a dynamic pose he'd seen in a manga some years ago. It seemed to work, since the girl was giggling now. "That's better... now tell me, what's wrong?"
The girl's giggles slowed to a stop, leaving her looking only slightly sad this time. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she looked up at the academy quietly. "Mommy's in there, for a meeting about us kids starting school tomorrow... but the other kids just keep calling me Sharingan freak..."
"Cause of the red eyes?" Naruto asked, getting a nod from the girl. Pushing himself up, he held out a hand. "Come with me, I want to show you something..."
The girl walked with Naruto quietly, holding his hand as he led her to the back gate to his house, and into the garden proper. "Here we are..." Naruto stated while he knelt down and cupped a tiny flower that seemed to be a weed in the cluster of other larger, similar flowers. "This is a very special flower do you know why?"
"Because it's different?" Haku guessed while looking at the flower.
Naruto chuckled softly as he checked the dirt for moisture. "Good guess Haku, but without this one little flower the others would all die out... do you want to know why?"
"Why?" Haku asked, amazed that such a little, unnoticeable flower could be the hero to all those big and beautiful flowers.
"It's because this one... draws in the bees that pollinate all the other flowers," Naruto explained while pulling his watering can over and sprinkling a little water over the ground. "It has the strongest smell of the entire group, and that brings in the bees, but it also drives off the harmful insects that would eat the other flowers. Shino Aburame showed me this flower when I was worrying about bugs eating up my garden, and I didn't want to use pesticides..."
"Oh... wow... so this little plant is that strong?" the amazed little girl asked while touching the tender petals gently. "But... I don't... oh, am I like this little plant? Different, but important?"
"That's right little Haku!" the Hokage beamed at the little girl proudly. "So you see, the others don't see you for the strength you possess, but someday I imagine that they will never be able to imagine their world without you..."
"Thank you Uzumaki-sama!" Haku yelled happily while hugging the Hokage tightly around the shoulders, silently she was grateful he was still kneeling so she could actually hug him like that. "I'll show them my strength just like that little flower!"
"That's the spirit little one! Now what say we get you back to your mother?"
Naruto walked the little girl back to the academy, picking up some snacks on the way to hopefully placate Kurenai. It seemed to have worked, as he didn't have to worry about her hunting him down while he slept that night. However, the next day was very scary.
He was sitting in the front of the academy, listening to the new academy students come forward and introduce themselves to the rest of the class. The last one was Haku Yuhi.
She came up to the front of the class, full of the poise and dignity that her mother had, getting a proud smile from where she was standing against the side wall. When she bowed to Naruto, he began to worry, not that he showed it at all, as her smile changed to one he swore he'd seen somewhere before.
When she spoke, any doubt he had was bombarded into dusts as he realized it was one of his own grins haunting him from the past. "I am Haku Yuhi, and I'm going to be the strongest one of all! I'm going to be the next Hokage!"
He could just tell from the glare that Kurenai was shooting him, that she had his smile and determined eyes while flashing a victory sign to the entire crowd. On either side of him, he heard a snort of laughter knowing that Iruka and Hinata both had figured out what was going on. Maybe he should see about giving Kurenai a raise... she had been doing great as the academy's kunoichi teacher for the past year... in fact he might find room in the budget to give the entire academy a raise.
He only hoped that it'd be enough to save his hide from Kurenai's wrath.