So the moment everyone has been waiting for...the culmination...the epilogue.
The last three chapters were one hundred percent focused on the S-ranked fights. Lots of blood spilled; few sacrifices as well but in the end, the enemies were dealt with. Now, we shall focus on the aftermath.
Here it is.
Chapter 26 - Epilogue
One week had passed since the fateful battle that decided the elemental nations' future.
The members of the alliance had already dispersed and each went back to their respective hidden villages. The focus of the joint venture remained solely on ridding the world of the Akatsuki threat. Seeing that the organization was finished, there were no more pleasantries exchanged between the villages. Sunagakure and Konohagakure were already allies before the alliance started. Kumo, however, found no reason to extend the temporary alliance beyond this point. The Raikage had left Konoha soon after the fight was over, consoling the Nibi jinchuuriki for the death of her sister Nii Yougan. Gaara had left soon afterward with his subordinates.
Konoha was blessed with no sacrifices, but the toll of the fight weighed heavily on their shoulders as well.
Hatake Kakashi had spent every single day after the fight in front of the Memorial Stone as he lamented yet another of his failures. It was odd in a sense. Ever since the first time he believed that Obito perished, Kakashi had spent a couple hours of his time every day staring at the Memorial Stone, wondering if he could have done things differently. Every belief he had bottled up was released when he saw that the real leader behind the Akatsuki was none other than his first true friend. He once believed that the Raikiri was his most prized ability. However, said jutsu happened to kill both his teammates in much the same manner. If attempting to wipe Rin's blood off his hand was already impossible, also having Obito's was downright maddening. The floor received the first water drops, but it was not because of natural causes. Kakashi just could not control his tears. He believed that he had dried them when he killed Rin, but he was mistaken.
The pain was simply unbearable.
A kunai had suddenly appeared on his right hand and a new resolve appeared in his mind.
The pain was just too much. Just a small throat incision and it would be all over. His arm was trembling at this point as he positioned the knife inches from his throat and in one swift move….
A bandaged hand held Kakashi's wrist, surprising the scarecrow jounin as he looked at Gai's hard glare. This time, Kakashi looked at his partner with the same angered glare that Gai had showed him.
"Stay out of this, Gai." Kakashi attempted to force his wrist out of Gai's grasp, but he could not. Gai was much stronger than he was.
"No I will not stay out of this. I do not know who you are, but you are not my rival Kakashi. You cannot blame yourself for what happened. If you did not do it, Obito would continue on his path of destruction. He was the one who carved the path, not you." Gai remained strong, despite Kakashi's sudden bloody stare. Kakashi was lost in darkness and despair right now. Gai had lived long enough to see the same look in others. Hell Kakashi had seen the same look when he was in Anbu.
"I will repeat Gai, stay out of this. Everything is my fault" The last part came out of his mouth so loud that he almost coughed in pain. By this time, Gai had already retrieved the kunai and threw it on the ground.
Kakashi kneeled on the ground, trembling as he began his rant.
"It was my fault that Rin was captured in that damned mission. It was my fault that Obito was killed the first time trying to save my sorry ass. I was not worth saving, Gai. Obito did not have to save me. The world would be much better off if he lived and I died. Obito would have found a way to save Rin; he would have been a better student to the Yondaime and an even better sensei to Naruto. He would have found a way to prevent Suzuki from turning over to Orochimaru and above all, the Akatsuki would not exist. I…." Kakashi would have continued ranting had Gai not punched him hard in the face that sent Kakashi skidding a few meters.
"That's good Gai…but do it harder…perhaps with one of the gates open."
"I will punch you as many times as necessary to rid your brain of such unyouthful thinking. Is that what you believe in? If you died, the world would be a better place…is that it! Tell me Kakashi, what about the events that you helped prevent, huh? What about those? The amount of lives you saved as an Anbu captain…the hundreds of our comrades that would simply cease to exist if you were not there to save them, myself included. Perhaps Obito would be a better sensei to Naruto and yes, he could have prevented Sasuke from fleeing. You taught your genin that it was better to abandon the mission than abandoning your comrades…there is no amount of training that could better prepare the future generation."
Kakashi looked at Gai and the green beast relaxed upon seeing slight doubt in the scarecrow's visible eye.
"The reason why I have chosen you as my great rival was not because of your hip attitude or your genius displayed on the battlefield. It was because that no matter what happened, you would always manage to find a way out. You always came out on top, Kakashi and I respect you greatly for it." Gai finished the speech by giving his trademark thumbs-up followed by the exaggerating smile with a small bright spark. Kakashi looked at his savior for a while, before releasing a warm chuckle as he got up from the ground. The pain was still present, but after Gai's interference, it became tolerable. He took a couple steps forward Gai's direction and extended his hand with a smile on his face.
"Gai…you are a true friend, thanks for everything." Gai nodded and shook Kakashi's hand.
"No problem my rival…"
Hidden behind a thick tree near the Memorial Stone, Jiraiya smirked at the scene. He had faith in Gai's drive to keep Kakashi from committing seppuku, just like the White Fang. Jiraiya often wondered about the similarities that Kakashi had with his father, Sakumo. Both were considered elite jounin as Sakumo' strength even rivaled to the Sannin. Jiraiya had no doubt that Kakashi would be even stronger than his old man in two or three years.
'Now I guess I will see how Naruto is doing at the hospital.'
The hospital room did not reflect the madness that Naruto had been through the last couple of weeks.
As he opened eyes and looked around, all he could see where the white walls of the room and the sleeping Sasuke on the other side. The only entity that invaded the room was the dim rays of sunlight. His ears were entranced by the many tranquil sounds of the wind gently moving the window curtains and the village population going about their respective business outside the hospital. As far as he was concerned, there was no one threatening to invade the hidden village. There was no S-ranked missing-nin out there after him for Kurama. For some reason, though, Naruto just could not fit in such a peaceful scenery. He became accustomed to the Akatsuki's threat every single day and every single second. Now, however, there were no threats out there.
It was somewhat unnerving.
His eyes landed at a single chair that contained his clothes and a brand new jounin vest on top of it. After seeing Naruto's capabilities, simply keeping him a chunnin was simply ill advised. At least those were Jiraiya and Tsunade's words for him when they came with the vest two days ago. That day, Naruto was indeed happy to receive the promotion. He did ignore the few snide comments made by Sasuke, as none of the comments were derogatory. The teme just could not help himself wherever Naruto's growth as a shinobi was brought into the subject. As he looked at the sleepy Uchiha, Naruto remembered that Tsunade had decided on a smaller sentence for his crimes, seeing as he aided in the fight that dealt with Akatsuki. Sasuke, in the end, was allowed to become a shinobi once more, but he had to perform a good number of missions for the village, followed closely by an Anbu Team and Hatake Kakashi.
Kakashi even had the seal that Naruto placed on Sasuke to assure that he would not escape. Speaking of Kakashi, Naruto remembered the look in him when they returned home. Naruto hoped that his old sensei would bounce back from whatever he was facing right now. The knowledge that the organization leader was actually Kakashi's best friend and teammate in the past was a pretty tough pill to swallow. Naruto could not help but imagine if Sasuke had taken Obito's place…and Naruto would have to be the one to kill Sasuke.
"You seem deep in thought right now?" Naruto smiled as he saw his girlfriend materializing out the room window.
Right now, she was calm but when Naruto came back, looking like a mess, she was frantic trying to take him to the hospital.
"I was thinking if Kakashi-sensei is alright after what happened." Yuugao released a sigh as she also thought about her senpai. The man had been through a lot trying to get over the death of his teammates, only to see his best friend being responsible for almost destroying the elemental nations. Now Kakashi's Raikiri, a technique he used to protect, not only killed Rin but also Obito as well. She was about to comment when another voice entered the conversation.
"His wounds are still too fresh, but I believe he will be okay. He just needs a bit of time off to process things that is all."
Jiraiya appeared outside before going inside the room to check on Naruto. His godson looked much better than a week ago as most of his wounds were healed. Even with the fox helping him, it took this long for his student. Of course, Naruto was also the one with most wounds, as both Nagato and Obito managed to land powerful blows on Naruto. The other one in the room would take even longer, but Sasuke's case was chakra exhaustion and mental trauma, battling against Obito with the Mangenkyou Sharingan.
He became blind soon after and Tsunade had decided to give him Itachi's eyes as well.
It would take at least another two weeks before Sasuke could wake up and another week for his eyes to adjust. Because of this, Sasuke had become the second bearer of the Eternal Mangenkyou Sharingan, with Madara himself being the first. Normally, such operation would be completely frowned upon, since Sasuke, about a month ago, was still a rogue shinobi that openly acted against Konoha. Certainly, Tsunade had quite an ear full from the elders about giving Sasuke such an amount of power. However, with the Akatsuki threat handled and with Sasuke knowing the truth behind what happened, it seemed that Sasuke had calmed his urges down. Also, now it was time for his next ambition to reach the surface and that was recreating the Uchiha Clan from scratch. Everyone just snickered at the headache Sasuke was about to face, when he makes his ambition known to the entire village.
In fact, Naruto was on the floor holding his stomach when he saw Sasuke's scared face.
"So how are you doing gaki? All healed up, I take it?" Naruto nodded with a pleased smile.
"I am one hundred percent already. I was already healed two days ago, but no one believed me." Tsunade even threatened to break his bones if it meant convincing him to stay longer in the hospital.
"Yeah, Tsunade-hime can be quite persuasive when her patients are being…difficult." Yuugao resisted the urge to snicker at Naruto's pouted face. Yeah, when Jiraiya said 'difficult' he meant 'childish'. "Now that you're a jounin, have you given any thoughts to the future? Most newbie jounin wait a year or two before they take a team of genin and there is also Anbu you could choose from. I hear you received the invitation to join." Yuugao for some reason was against the idea of her boyfriend choosing the second option as she was thinking it was time to ask for Anbu retirement and become a regular jounin. Perhaps, she and Naruto could take on missions together. She heard her boyfriend speaking…
"Nah…no offense to the Anbu and all, but I'm just not the silent type you know. Also, with the amount of chakra I have, it is such a pain in the ass to conceal. For now, I will take on missions…"
Jiraiya laughed at that. He even caught on Yuugao's released sigh, but decided not to comment on it.
"Yean and with the fox inside of you, any seasoned jounin would single you out. Doesn't mean you cannot cause havoc anywhere you go, though." Naruto showed a wide smile that caught Jiraiya by surprise for a while. He just could not help but see the Yondaime Hokage, doing the exact same thing. Minato…Kushina…this young man right here is by far your greatest accomplishment. Jiraiya thought as he looked at Yuugao with another smile on his face. And it looks like grandchildren are on the way…
Two years later
The big oak trees represented only blurs as a bright gold figure crossed through it with speed that rivaled, perhaps even surpassing, the speeds reached by the Nidaime and Yondaime Hokage. Uzumaki Naruto went on a solo S-ranked mission towards the outskirts of Fire Country to hunt an A-ranked missing-nin that had been terrorizing the villages. He had grown a few inches and his face was now more angular. Unlike the Yondaime, though, Naruto's hair was much shorter, but still spiky. He wore metal braces on his arms that complemented the standard jounin uniform. Already surpassing the S-ranked barrier, Naruto did not take much time to deal with the threat and capture the missing-nin from Kirigakure. The tension was upon delivering his captive to the Mizukage, but Naruto got out, unscathed. He could feel great amount of animosity towards him from the majority of Kiri's hunter-nin. Now, one would question why exactly Naruto was in such a hurry to reach Konoha.
As soon as he decided to camp for the day and resume his trip in a casual pace, Gamakichi appeared next to him, informing Naruto of the big news.
When he left the village for the mission, Tsunade had assured him that it would take longer for the due date. However, for some reason, his wife's pregnancy accelerated and right now she was going into labor. Eight months ago, Naruto received the news that Yuugao was pregnant. The much bigger news was that he would be a father to a twin couple. The labor was considered delicate, because of the fact that Naruto's DNA was altered by the fox's presence inside him. Tsunade was afraid that some of the fox's chakra would be passed onto Naruto's children. One time, four months ago, Yuugao was taken to the hospital in a hurry after leaking a small amount of red chakra. It took Naruto's newfound fuuinjutsu knowledge and even the fox's assistance to subdue the red chakra and allow Tsunade to heal Yuugao's slightly damaged uterus. Kyuubi's chakra was poisonous to everyone, aside from the actual host.
He crossed the oak tree forest and took to running towards the path that led to the village entrance.
The guards could only see a bright gold flash crossing in front of him.
Naruto reached the hospital and soon received directions to where his wife was. He reached the hallway and found his wife screaming to the heavens, even threatening everyone with a small tanto, that she did not want to have the babies without her husband. The doctors were divided between rushing Yuugao to the delivery room and trying to save their own lives. Tsunade and Shizune did find the situation quite humorous, before they all saw Naruto gently grabbing Yuugao's wrist that held the tanto.
"I'm here Yuugao-chan" His voice had also lost whatever innocence it once held, being much more condensed, compared to his usual boisterous expression.
One thing that did not change, however, was the spark in his bright blue eyes, which Yuugao was grateful for. The way he looked at her was the same as if she was actually the only person in the room. Tsunade and Shizune covered their shock well upon seeing Naruto's presence. The man had left three days ago for a mission that would take at least a week to finish. She had other things to worry about, however, and ushered the medics to take the now more relaxed soon to be mother to the room, followed by Naruto.
Three hours later
The entire procedure took a total of forty minutes as Yuugao and the babies were now inside another room as the medics performed some tests to check on their health. Naruto was seating at the hallway, waiting for someone to tell him that his family was okay. Three people saw this scene upon entering said hallway, the sannin Jiraiya, the elite jounin Hatake Kakashi and the Anbu Captain Uchiha Sasuke. Well, Sasuke was not alone per se, as he was carrying a black haired infant with light brown pupil-less eyes, on his shoulder as well. Sasuke, as soon as he managed to take up the Uchiha Clan seat, began his project of recreating the Uchiha Clan. Like everyone expected, as soon as Sasuke became an eligible bachelor, he became swarmed with fan girls. However, one person in particular, stood above all the possible choices. In fact, it surprised the hell of most everyone and even shocked a few when he appeared one time with the most unlikely woman in all of Konoha.
Mitarashi Anko never told a soul as to how exactly she managed to take the Uchiha away from every girl in the village.
Truth was that when Sasuke was busy avoiding the horde of fan girls, Anko appeared one day and helped him escape. Afterward, the two started talking and before everyone knew it, the two were already together. Their bond was even greater, considering that the same man targeted them and Sasuke had shared with Anko things that he would never dare tell anyone else. Anko was the same as she told Sasuke just how her experience with Orochimaru was when she became his apprentice. They got married in secret. Only Naruto, Yuugao, Kurenai and Kakashi knew about it. As usual, none of the girls his age took it well, especially Ino and Sakura, with the latter believing that Sasuke would finally reciprocate the feelings.
Anko became pregnant two months after the weeding and Itachi was born nine months later. Anko and Sasuke were now expecting their second born named after Anko's father any day now.
"Hi Naruto." The person in question looked up and nodded fondly.
"Hi sensei…Sasuke. You brought little Itachi along, huh." Sasuke nodded.
"So Yuugao is in there right now?" Naruto nodded and his sense of urgency was quite clear in his visage. Sasuke knew that look quite well and he even theorized that Tsunade-sama did this on purpose to make him suffer. Hell he bet that even Anko was on board with the Hokage's scheme.
"The labor went fine I guess. As we feared, though, little Minato and Kushina both received a bit of Kurama's chakra, so the labor was more complicated." Three weeks ago, Naruto and Yuugao were busy discussing baby names. It was actually Yuugao's idea to give the names of Naruto's parents, seeing as he did not meet them in life. Naruto was so thrilled about the idea that he agreed to it immediately. He expected to at least name his son after his father and let Yuugao choose the name of their daughter, but Yuugao went ahead with her idea. Now as the three most powerful shinobi in Konoha stood in the hospital's hallway chatting, the red light was turned off, unnerving Naruto immediately before he saw Shizune come out with the news.
Said woman saw the worried look of the father and smiled at him, showing everything was fine.
"You can come in now Naruto-kun, your family is waiting for you." Shizune smiled even more when she saw her surrogate brother's look of happiness. Naruto took some time to embrace her.
"Thank you for everything." The two nodded at each other, before everyone followed Shizune towards Yuugao's room. As soon as Shizune opened the door, Naruto's heart melted at the scene of his wife holding little Minato and Kushina on each of her arms. Both of the infants inherited Naruto's hair it seemed, but both of them had Yuugao's facial features. The eyes remained a mystery because both twins had yet to open their eyes. Tsunade, Anko and Kurenai were in the room as well, helping the former Anbu Captain in her and the children's every need. Naruto chose not to waste his time with words trying in vain to describe how he was feeling right now. He merely crossed the room and leaned close to Yuugao's face, before kissing her gently on the lips. He then kissed his children's foreheads and silently wished that his own parents looked after their grandchildren from above.
'I expect that you help me too, Kurama.' The fox inside of him looked at the two kits from Naruto's eyes and nodded with a gratifying smile on its face.
After all, the fox did go out of its way to pass on his chakra to Naruto's children.
Ok that is it for Regret.
I want to thank everyone for your patience and support. For a fan fiction writer, getting started is relatively easy. You have an idea of a different event in Naruto's history or a different mindset and work it from there. The hard part is taking the story where you want it and do so in a believable manner. I have read many stories that frankly had lost its focus or its objective and attempted to fix it by adding pieces of other anime into the mix. In addition, the story gets too out of proportion that it ruins the plot. It is imperative that the writer focus on the information that Kishimoto already created (for Naruto only stories, I say) and work around it. However, beyond that, having the aid of the readers is crucial for the story's continuance.
Say what you like…sure, there are those who would criticize your work just to diminish you. They do not offer anything constructive.
However, the very few out there (the ones who openly praise your work and even some who offer tips here and there) that only contributes to the writer's drive to keep on going.
It is because of the readers that I found the strength and time to finish my stories and thank everyone for this. For this reason, I would appreciate everyone's help in deciding my next course of action. Meshii and Cursed Eyes are still in progress. However, with 'Regret' no longer being a concern, I now have time to focus on one more story, besides the other two. Please help me decide by going to my profile and voting. These are my options right now:
1. Prepare the sequel for Lone Wolf
2. Prepare the sequel for Tired
3. Prepare the sequel for Accursed Team
4. Continue After the Storm
5. Start my 'challenge' story with Naruto and Senju Tobirama
Please help me decide.