Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. And probably don't own anything you don't recognize.
Chapter One: The God of Harvest.
This all looks familiar. I'm looking at the village from the top office of the Hokage tower. Sakura is sitting behind my desk of paperwork with her clothes on the floor. She calls out to me "Naruto, you can look now."
She is my dream girl, the person I always wanted. Yet I do not look at her. My gaze sweeps across the village as if searching for something. What am I looking for? There! A girl with an unrecognizable face jumping across the roofs of the village. She catches my stare and looks behind me. She looks disappointedly at me.
I jump out of my office to chase her, ignoring Sakura's call behind me. I ask myself 'Who is this girl? Why is she here? Why am I sad so see her disappointed?' I'm almost gaining up on her. I'm reaching for her. Almost there…
"Ooof," I land on the floor of my apartment in a daze. I start rubbing the bump forming on my head. "Oweee", I whined. I must have fell off from my bed. My memory of the dream I just had became unclear. I didn't try too hard on remembering. Sakura chan always told me it wouldn't help if I try too hard on remembering a dream.
It was probably just another one of me being Hokage. I have been dreaming about that a lot. Judging by the still darkened sky and the carrier pigeons' tweaks, I assumed it's almost 5 AM without looking at my alarm clock.
Right now I'm just another Jounin in a ninja village, having a completely normal ninja morning. Okay… I lied about the being just another Jounin part. I don't like to brag but… ok that was a lie too… I'm one of the strongest Ninja on the elemental continent and I am currently being groomed to be the next Hokage. Not as many people see me the same as when I was younger. After all the deeds I have done for this village, there's got to be a few change of hearts. It just takes time.
The elemental countries are at peace right now, but you'd never know when some little incidents could spark the next large conflict. I'm currently on a forced vacation ordered by the council. They told me it was for my own good. There were a few complications on my last mission. Ah well, what's done is done. I decide to think of something more cheerful, something pink.
I jump out of my windows and run towards the markets. No ramen for breakfast today. Sakura chan is going to get off from her hospital shift in a bit. I'll ask her to dine with me in my favorite spot in the entire village.
It's been so many years, people would think I have given up on her. I haven't, and am not going to give up. Plus I think she's starting to show some interest in me.
After buying some fresh bakery for Sakura chan and I to share, I started running again, only to stop after hearing a familiar voice call out behind me.
Uchiha Sasuke, the name translates to many things to people, traitor, hero, potential husband… but to me he is my best friend and my brother. I always thought of him as such. Many times in the past people tried to convince me to not think that way, but I'm stubborn like that and that's all in the past now. Now, I trust him with my life. We had been trough too much. Besides, life is short; especially for us Shinobi. We both seen and done so much together. The only thing we can do now is to live life to the fullest.
He looks as calm as ever in his ANBU gear. They were slightly dirty so he probably just came back from an easy mission. We haven't hung out in a while.
"Oi, teme, I was just heading to the hospital. Sakura chan should be getting off her night shift soon. You want to come? " I said with a smile plastered on my face. The childhood insults we use to call each other stuck and became personal nick names between us.
"Hn," is his only reply. Typical. Looks like I need to do some more work to get him to come. Back when we were just fresh genins, there was absolutely no chance that he'll come to something like this. He changed, we changed. I like to think we all matured, but Sakura says it's different for my case.
"Come-on it's been so long since the old team hung out together. It's so rare that we get the same time off together." Sasuke opens his mouth to respond but I cut him off, "Okay, good to see you agree, why don't you get cleaned up a bit and meet us on top of the Hokage mountain." I run off before he can decline. "Oii dope." He shouts half heartily. He'll come, he always does.
Sakura is waiting outside of the hospital for me. I'm not going to tell her that Sasuke would be joining us. I think it'll be a nice surprise. I hold her in a light hug and use shushin to get us on top of the Hokage mountain. Perfect timing to watch the sunrise.
I give Sakura my brightest smile and she smiles back at me. "Thanks Naruto."
We started chatting about how we've been recently while eating from the snacks I bought. Somehow we got to the topic of love, specifically, my love life.
"So Naruto did you charm any girls lately?" She teases me with her smile.
I can't help but blush while looking at her beautiful face. This might be my chance to confess. She sees my blush and grew a smirk.
"Ha! I knew there was a girl. Come-on Naruto, you can tell me. Maybe I can give you some advice." She grabs a long piece of grass off the ground and starts tickling my face with it and softly called in her sing song voice. "Out with it."
I can't hold my laughter and gives in" Ok, Ok you win I'll tell you."
She leans closer to me and whispers in my ear "So who is it?" I take a deep breath, inhaling in her scent.
"You lose I'm not telling." I back out.
She giggles and throws the piece of grass at to me. "You liar."
This nice feeling… It's just like my dreams. The atmosphere feels like exactly the same. I wish we can stay like this forever.
"I'll tell you if you tell me" I told her. 'maybe she likes me back, I know she doesn't dislike me' I thought.
She unconsciously put on wistful smile. "Mine is… hopeless. Almost every girl in the village wants him. It's …"
I tuned her out after she said that name. Oh that dreaded name. I thought she was over her crush. I guess I was hoping for too much.
"…besides he doesn't care for me that way. You probably always knew it Naruto." She gives me a fake smile. It might look real to everyone else but I can tell. "Now, it's your turn. Spill!" She tries to change the subject to my love life.
I yell at her, surprising her and me "Don't give up so easily! You don't know for sure do you? You can't give up like that Sakura chan. I would never give up that easily. 'Never give up' that's my nindo." What am I saying? I'm the one who's getting heartbroken.
"Sorry to barge in like this. You two seem to be getting along just fine without me." came from a voice behind us.
Damn I have completely forgotten about Sasuke. How long was he behind us? I was so focused on Sakura chan, I didn't even sense him.
He gives us a knowing smirk. "I'll bet Sakura is the girl that is Naruto's 'beloved'".
Sakura looks surprised. Whether it's from Sasuke showing up or what he said, I'll never know. My face pales and I can hear my heart race. I have no idea what to do.
Sasuke stares at me and frowns a bit before changing his face joking grin. "Of course I was just teasing you two."
I take the bait and laughs with my perfected mask. "Of course I got over my crush years ago. He is just joking, ha ha you are not too good at it Sasuke. Ha ha ha."
Sakura looks more relaxed then I liked after hearing that. "No fair Naruto, you are always doing that! I want the truth. I admitted that Sasuke is the one I like so now it's your turn!"
She said it in front of him; I guess I'm to blame.
"Sorry, but you are not my type." Sasuke bluntly stated. I feel enraged. How could he just reject her like that! She's been our friend and teammate forever. I can't believe this.
Sakura only smiles cheerfully. "That's too bad I'll have to find someone else." I can't believe how easily she took that. Sakura yawns "I guess I'm really tired after that night shift at the hospital. I think I'll go home to get some beauty sleep." She sounds way too cheerful. "I'll see you guys around." She walks away is a brisk pace.
"Sakura chan." I call out to her. She ignores me and runs off the cliff wall, and descends towards the village. I loses my mood and left the half full picnic basket with Sasuke who only shrugs as I chase after Sakura chan.
Even a dense guy like me can see how hurt she was. 'This is all my fault' is the only thought on my mind. If only I changed the topic. Sakura chan wouldn't have been hurt. I was a coward. I'm the only one who should be hurt with unrequited love.
After a while I realize that she really wants to be alone so I decide to let her be. I walk towards my favorite shop. Some ramen might help sooth my heart ache.
"Ayame neechan give me the usual" I call out to the pretty brunet behind the counters.
She gives a bright smile to her favorite customer. "Sure thing Naruto kun. Coming right up." It's still a bit early before the morning rush. Ayame and her dad are still prepping.
There is an old man sitting on the other side of the small booth with a bowl of vegetable ramen in front of him. Strange, I don't remember seeing him when I got in here. I wave it away, I probably wasn't paying attention with my mind so focused on Sakura.
Still, this man is giving off a strange aura even by ninja standards. There is a bag sitting by his feet. He is probably from out of the village as I don't ever recognize meeting him before.
Being my friendly self, I speak to him. "Oi, so you are from out of town eh? I'm Uzumaki Naruto by the way." He gives me a kind smile, but somehow it looks really creepy to me.
"Yes, I know, and I am Inari, just Inari" says the man. I'm not too surprised to hear that he knows who I am. I'm pretty well known across the continent. However, his name sounded too familiar. I'm sure I have never met a "just" Inari before.
"Here's you order Naruto kun, and more is coming" Ayame put a large bowl of miso ramen in front of me. I try not to think too hard about the strange man and start draining the ramen bowl. After finishing my second bowl I feel a bit better about Sakura chan but it still hurts.
I notice a small bronze stature on the back wall of the small ramen booth with some praying incense burning in front of it. It's the Kami of harvest that many farmers and shops pray too. The bronze figure is carving of an old man carrying a bag of rice. Wait a second; I look at the statue and toward the old man in the booth. I look back and forth repeatedly and the old man only smiles knowingly at me. That kind smile from the old man still looks eerily creepy to me.
His features screamed of fox! Why have I not notice that before! Am I losing my sharpness? I knew the forced vacation from duties was a bad idea. Inari is the name of the Kami of harvest but he is also lesser known as the Kami of foxes. I have a strange feeling that bag by the old man's feet is filled with rice.
This is getting a bit too weird even by my taste, and I have a giant fox in my belly! I suddenly didn't feel too hungry anymore. Just as Ayame put another bowl of Ramen in front of me the old man calmly says to me "How about we take a walk Naruto kun. I believe we have much to discuss." He picks up his bag and walks out of the shop in a slow pace. I drop enough money on the counter to pay double of what I ordered and run after Inari, the god of harvest.
AN: So who would like to take a guess on who the girl (or girls?) Naruto is going to end up with. Even one worded reviews is appreciated. I'd like to know what people think before posting more.