Chapter 14: Epilogue
It had been almost a month since Ino, Sakura and Naruto had decided to become a three paired couple. Thankfully things were getting back to a sense of normal for them. Although their friends joked now and then about the odd relationship, they had come to just accept and go with it. They really didn't have a problem with it, maybe even wondering what it was like at times. Sakura and Ino's parents were pretty much used to it by now. As for the girls, they were doing well with things. It was a bit odd to work out how much time to spend between them, it was working out.
Sure there were the few arguments over simple thing, but nothing major. Usually they squabbled over little things but in the end they worked it out. Naruto played peace keeper sometimes and then Ino and Sakura would double team on him, usually for his own good. Either to get him to stop training himself to exhaustion, to make sure he was eating well, kept his place clean and things like that. It had its ups and downs but it worked out fairly well over all. If it would go the distance is pretty much the thought of everyone at this point. Some thought it would last only a few months, some were more optimistic than that.
At the moment Ino and Sakura were out with Tenten and Hinata on a girl's day out. It was something they did now and then recently, mainly because sometimes they needed to have some time alone with just them. It was nice to relax among other girls, and the four of them were pretty close. Hinata, Ino and Sakura had lost touch with anyone else from their age group, Tenten was so tomboyish that most girls in her class hadn't been close to her. Tenten didn't mind, she was never into the girly stuff anyway. Besides these girls were the closest females friends she ever had.
At the moment they were sitting outside a cafe, it was a nice day so they were out for some drinks. Mostly just tea at the moment, even though as a ninja they were considered legal adults, they just weren't up for drinking anything alcoholic, at least not until they were older.
Tenten sighed as she rested her head against the table.
"Rough day?" Ino asked amused at the brunette's actions.
"Yeah, " Tenten moaned. "Gai-sensei wanted to do some extra training today. So we all showed up early this morning, and I only just got done a couple of hours ago."
"B-but's it's nearly four in the afternoon." Hinata said to her surprised by the time. She never trained that long, at least not without breaks now and then. No wonder Neji was so strong if he trained like that with Gai and even did training at the compound as well. Then again, her older cousin was already a full jonin.
"I know, believe me I know," Tenten moaned. "You'd think with years experience I'd be used to it by now. I don't think I can move my legs now even if my shoes were on fire."
Sakura winced remembering her own training under Tsunade, some days she could just go home after training and crawl straight into her bed. Then when she woke up the next day, she felt swore all over and still tired, but she had pushed on. It did get easier later on, but that first year had been hard.
Ino also looked sympathetic to the older girl, lately her father had been drilling her on the family jutsus, her father still wasn't letting up with her mishandling it. She was learning a few new tricks but her father was a stern task master when he could be. She still had a punch of scrolls that he would test her on in a month. If she failed, no dates for a week and she would spend her free time studying. Ino had started to take the scrolls to the flower shop when she had to cover and when it got slow there. It was times like this she wished she had Sakura's knack for studying. She had always been great in that, in school, or with learning to be a medic. Ino was about average but she had suspected that Sakura had a great memory, maybe even close to a photographic one.
"So please tell me how things are going with Naruto?" Tenten asked. "I need something juicy to take my mine off today."
Sakura rolled her eyes while she blushed a bit, "That's all you seem to want to know lately."
"Well it's the only relationship going on," Tenten exclaimed. "I mean Hinata and myself are single as is everyone else we know. I need something to live vicariously through, who knows when I'll ever find time for dating with missions and Gai-sensei's training."
"You actually want to date?" Hinata asked her, this was the first she had ever heard of this.
"Well I wouldn't mind trying it," Tenten admitted, "Those two are too happy is seems lately and so maybe I'm missing out on something I figure. Plus how many good guys are even left?"
"Well how about Neji?" Ino asked as she smiled at her, "I mean he's on your team so you know him well enough and I have to admit he's kind of hot."
Hinata looked surprised at Ino and then to Tenten who looked like she might be considering it. She wasn't sure how she felt about it, but if Neji was happy she would be for it. Plus it might be good for her cousin, all he did was train and missions. He could use something else in his life she figured.
"Well if it doesn't work it might screw up the team," Tenten sighed as she pushed that thought away for now.
"Oh please," Sakura said to her. "Did you forget I'm dating my teammate? Not to mention the relationship I share with Ino with him, if we can make that work that would be nothing."
That caused the girls to break out in laughs, it had become more of a joke now between them about their relationship. That if they could get that off the ground, then anything else would be easy in comparison. It was all in good humour anyway so the three of them didn't mind.
"So are there any perks to dating Naruto?" Tenten asked. "You two kind of avoided that earlier."
"Well...it is nice that he has an apartment all to himself," Ino admitted. "I mean it's so good to have a place where we can all be alone. No one watching us and no one getting in the way, it's really nice." Ino sighed remembering the moments alone they had.
Sakura blushed a bit as she was just as guilty as taking advantage of that. "It is nice, nicer now that he keeps his apartment nice and clean."
"Oh yeah," Ino agreed. "It's nice not having to see days old food just laying out, or underwear and other clothing just thrown around the place. I'm honestly surprised he was able to find anything before."
"Well he did clean up before he left on his training trip with Jiraiya," Sakura admitted as she as well as a few other of Naruto's friends looked after his place for him while he was gone. Mainly to dust and make sure everything was okay for when he got back. "I think living alone for all his life made him so relaxed that he just didn't care about keeping the place clean before."
"Sounds like you two are really working on improving him a bit," Tenten smirked.
"He's a work in progress," Sakura and Ino said at the same time. It was an odd thing they did now and then and people had started to notice, especially Naruto. So they had given the full story to their friends and everyone that asked. How Ino and Sakura had shared their memories of Naruto, but it short of went a little further. Every now and then you'd also catch the odd personality quirk being done by the other. Sakura would make for a motion of pulling on a bang that wasn't there, or Ino would crack her knuckles before hitting something, that was something Ino never got into the habit of doing before.
They also had explained to Naruto, how Ino had entered his mind and that weird dream he had was actually real. Ino confessed to peeking at his most private memories but he was surprisingly fine with it. Well, he was a little put off at first but he came to accept it as an accident.
"Plus you know, he can be very romantic when he puts his mind to things," Sakura said to the group.
"Naruto-kun is romantic?" Hinata asked. She had always wondered what it would be like to date Naruto and how he would be. At least with this, she could see what might have been. She didn't let it get to her, she just filed it away as nice to know. She had started to move on a bit with her feelings, she was sure a part of her would never totally let him go, but she could get on with her life anyway.
"Oh yeah," Ino smirked remembering a few things. "Did you know that he went all the way across town to buy me flowers, my favourites too, just so I wouldn't know? He placed them on my bed somehow too. I think he broke in through the window as my parents never saw him."
Sakura giggled at that, she had the same thing done to her. "We went out on this dinner and he tried so hard to be a gentleman. I think he's been taking lessons from someone. He tried so hard to be polite and eat slowly, I could see it was killing him inside. So after dinner, I took him for a bowl of ramen, on me, as a reward for trying so hard."
"Ah the ramen reward," Ino nodded her head. "I swear, he likes that more than a kiss reward." She pouted as she crossed her arms. She didn't like the idea of food, beating in with her boyfriend's affections. There was just something wrong about that.
"Man he sounds like he really goes all out," Tenten said feeling a little jealous now.
"Oh yeah but he gets reward," Ino smirked remembering the last make out session. She still had a small kicky on her neck that thankfully her high neck top was hiding. She really didn't want her parents to see that. She knew they had an idea of what she got up to with him, but an idea and the reality were two different things.
"Also…the shadow clones," Sakura said softly with a blush on her face.
"Oh god yes," Ino moaned with a smile.
Tenten and Hinata both blushed as mental images were being brought up into their minds.
"Uh…you two aren't talking about…well…" Tenten trailed off. "I…didn't even know your relationship had progress to that point."
"Uh?" Ino blinked as Sakura's face went totally red now. "Whoa not that!" Ino said blushing herself. "we haven't done…that…yet. I just meant that he gives killer massages. He uses shadow clones too, you know one for the each foot and leg then another behind use for our shoulders. That's what I meant."
"Oh good," Tenten sighed, she really didn't need that kind of information with shadow clones. Although now she couldn't get the image out of her mind, she cast a look to Hinata who was blushing to hard it looked like all the blood had gone to her face.
"Y-yeah," Sakura stammered. "We have done a few things, but nothing like that. It's still too early and Ino and I want it to be special."
Ino nodded her head and then tilted it to the side as she thought about something. "Although…maybe after we finally get to that point, I wonder what it would be like to have two Naruto-kuns at the same time."
"Ino!" Sakura yelled out as the mental image of two or more Narutos with her. A drop of blood ran down her nose as she quickly wiped it away.
"Ha!" Ino pointed at the other girl. Honest, she just didn't understand why Sakura was so uptight when it came to things like this. "You can't deny what you were thinking at that moment now forehead. Just admit your inner pervert already."
"I don't have an inner pervert," Sakura hissed out in a lowered tone. The last thing she needed to do was to yell that out in broad daylight with who knows who listening to that.
"Oh please I think everyone is to some extend. Some more than others," Ino thought about it. "I mean I know Naruto is."
"What, since when?" Tenten asked about that.
"Sexy Jutsu," Sakura remarked in a deadpan tone. Thankfully he hadn't used that in a very long time, even if it was a bit disturbing that Naruto made for a pretty girl in that form. That was a road she didn't want to travel on, it led to all kinds of bad thoughts that she wanted to avoid.
"Yeah," Ino laughed at that, "But he's surprisingly good compared to his teachers. I mean let's face it, Kakashi is a porn reading addict, and then he was on a training trip with the world's biggest pervert. It's amazing he wasn't totally ruined by those two."
"Yeah you have a point there," Sakura sweat dropped at that comment. It was true, the thought of Naruto coming back as a mini-Jiraiya was not a pleasant one. She liked Naruto just the way he was and she didn't want him to change that much. Just have him be more careful, clean up now and then and try to think before he acted. Everything else was just fine and perfect for her and she knew that Ino felt the same way.
Tsunade looked out over the village it had been quiet lately, which was never a good thing. It just meant a storm could be coming, then again Naruto had been away for nearly three years and it had been quiet. She smirked at that thought Naruto had a habit of just drawing trouble without knowing it. As soon as he set foot in the village, the Kazekage had been kidnapped and everything else that had happened after it, like some kind of chain reaction. But still, a break from it all was nice if it was only a breather.
She had a break herself at the moment as she liked to look over the village. It was strange how she had avoided her home for so long. She knew that she had been wrong to just run away from everything and who knew the kind of things she had missed out on. Then again maybe if a certain pervert had been around she would have stuck around. Although she never admit it, she missed him when he went off on his training with the toads. Then when he wondered the lands looking for this child of prophecy he was supposed to train. When she first heard his reasons for going off on his own, she nearly laughed. But he had been uncharacteristically serious.
During the war when they fought together she felt something for him, he was no longer the immature boy she had known. He had grown to be a great ninja, still immature, but she respected him. When he went off to train those three orphans she wanted to either stay or have him come back with her. She felt lonely without him around, Orochimaru had never been the type for social interactions. She thought back to how glad she had been when she saw him return. When the war was over she wanted him to return with her, she even hinted that she wanted him, personally, to come home. But when he heard his students had been killed it sent him wondering again.
He had been there for her when her younger brother had died but he had not stayed. She was alone and suddenly there was Dan. She did love him, he was impossible not to. But his death and ripped her apart and she refused to let anyone else get that close again. It took years and a loud mouth blonde brat to open her heart again. Here she was, back home, as Hokage of all things and she had finally opened her heart again. A part of her wished she was as young as she looked, at fifty years old what hope did she have to have a family of her own? That time had come and gone it seemed. She would have loved to have had a family to raise, and it would keep Jiraiya around as well. But if there was one thing age gave it was to know what to hold on to.
She had love in her life again and she didn't want to lose it another time.
"You look deep in thought," Jiraiya stated. He had been watching her for awhile now, he loved the way the light hit her when she was looking out like that. Personally he didn't see the problem with her age, not long ago he had asked her to drop the genjustu while they were alone. It took some time but she did, he surprised her by not shying away. She would always be beautiful in his eyes, of course that is to say he didn't mind how she looked now. Maybe he could ask her to share the secret, he wouldn't mind looking younger himself.
"Just reminiscing is all," she smirked at him.
"Ah, the old friend to old people like us," Jiraiya joked as he walked a bit closer to her. He held her in his arms and she didn't protest, in fact she rested her head against his chest.
"You ever wish you could do it all over again? Only knowing what would happen back then?" She asked him.
"All the time," he said honestly. There were so many things he would change, try to stop Orochimaru's path into darkness or failing that killing him when he had the chance. Bringing those kids from Rain back with him, he shouldn't have left them on their own like that. Maybe finding a way to save Minato and helping Naruto's life more while he had been growing up. And of course there was Tsunade, what he wouldn't have given to have had a relationship with her a lot earlier.
"But it's best to make with the time we do have," He chuckled.
"So you still spying on the brat and his girlfriends?" She asked him knowing full well the answer.
"Well of course," He grinned down at her, "They're going to be the source of my new book, maybe a new spin off series."
"Pervert," she muttered.
"Yeah but I'm your pervert," He grinned at her. She had to smile at the stupidity of that statement. They had a small silence as Jiraiya got a bit more serious. "I think I put off investigating those rumours for too long. Pretty soon I'll have to go and investigate them myself."
Tsuande got a shiver run through her, and it wasn't a pleasant one. She walked away from him looking out over the village through her window. "Promise me that you'll return, no matter what."
"Promise me!" She shouted, she didn't want to see the fear in her eyes. "I lost too much already, please, don't make me lose yet another person I love. If you do, then I'll never forgive you for it."
Jiraiya knew that this wasn't the Hokage speaking but the woman who was the Hokage. The woman that had lost so much that it had scared her soul for life. He took gentle steps forward and hugged her gently. He felt her tense up a little but she soon relaxed into it. He went to whisper into her ear.
"Very well, you have my promise to always come back to you. As long as I have you to come home to, I'll always have a reason to come back." He said to her.
She smiled at his words and quickly turned around and hugged him close, she nestled into his larger body, feeling the warmth of him was always soothing to her. She just wanted the moment to last forever, to stay like this in this moment.
-Konoha training field-
Ino and Sakura weren't sure what Naruto had in mind, although they had a good idea of where they were. Sakura from experience and Ino from one of the left over memories she still had shared from Sakura. The forest was thick but the sound of a waterfall was heard, and both girls knew which one. This was the area where Naruto had trained himself to exhaustion to learn how to use his wind affinity. When the forest finally pulled back and they could see the area with the large waterfall and the large piece of wood high up with it as well. That wasn't all, there in front of the small lake where the water fell, was various clones of Naruto with what looked like a large blanket and were setting something up.
"Is that what I think is it?" Sakura couldn't help but smile.
"I think it is," Ino giggled as she looked on. Naruto had set up a personal picnic for just them.
"I hope you don't mind," Naruto grinned at his girls, "I wanted to make something special so I've been setting this up for the past month."
"The past month?" Both girls asked him at the same time.
Naruto nodded as they walked over, "Yeah. See, I wanted to make something really special. So I was learning a few things like your favorite foods and trying to learn how to cook them. Ayame-neechan was helping me with the cooking at night. And I sort of asked your parents what you really liked to eat."
Both girls were touched by the thought and work that went into this. It was just another big reason why they had fallen for him. He would be very sweet at times like this, who knew that he had a hidden romantic part of him? Well it certainly was a bonus to find that out about him. And they had to admit, the area was a very romantic and beautiful place for this. He led both girls to the cloth as the shadow clones dispersed since they were no longer needed.
Naruto dug into the picnic basket and pulled out three dishes, one for each of them. Their favourites but they weren't surprised to see that he brought some ramen for himself. He also brought with him a few snacks and some drinks. All in all it actually looked very good, both girls knew that he had to have spent a lot of hours working on making sure the meal was just right for them. He was just that kind of guy, to go all out when he set his mind on a goal. In a way it kind of made picking this place even more perfect, this was the place where he had trained harder than ever to learn how to use his wind chakra. Naruto never gave up, no matter the task and he always managed to accomplish what he set out to do. Even if it was just with nothing more than just guts and pure determination, he accomplished his goals.
Ino picked up her chopsticks and tried the piece of fried meat there, she put it into her mouth and was surprised that it wasn't bad. It could use a bit more flavour but given that Naruto's cooking skills normally ended with either ordering in, instant food or ramen, it was a very good.
"Wow, this is pretty good Naruto," Ino said eating another piece.
Sakura nodded, "Yeah, remind us to return the favour for you sometime." Although she had an idea he would want nothing but ramen, honestly that might have been one of the reasons he had been so short as a kid. Then again he had grown up in those years away, she liked the new taller, leaner looking Naruto.
"Hmmm? Something on my face Sakura-chan? You're staring at me," Naruto asked in mid slurp with his ramen noodles.
She blushed as she hadn't caught herself looking, "O-oh it's nothing!"
"I think she's just enjoying the view," Ino smirked looking at Naruto and her eyes really were taking him in. No longer was he the little brat as she had thought of him before, he was a real man now. Maybe it was that day they took on those men that had killed Asuma was when she first really saw it. When he used that Rasenshuriken, and the power it held. She hadn't seen anything like that in her life, it had been the most amazing, powerful and terrifying thing she had ever seen. Never in her life had she ever thought that something like that could be created. She still remembered how in awe she was of its power when Naruto had finally landed a hit with it. Yes, that was when she knew he was a powerful ninja to be respected and proud to know.
Naruto blinked as he looked at the water, "Oh yeah it is."
Both girls sweat dropped, sometimes even Naruto could be a little too clueless that it wasn't cute anymore. But they went back to eating, talking and enjoying their time together. It was such a beautiful day and being alone with each other felt right to them. Hell, it felt normal at this point. Sure there were the little jealous things here and there. Ino feed Naruto a piece of her meal and Sakura didn't want to be left behind. This prompted the girls into a little 'one up' match again. Even as best friends they still had a rivalry thing going, most likely they always would.
Eventually things calmed down between them, and before they stuffed Naruto with half of their food that he cooked himself. They got to talking, mainly about what to plan for their time off. Apparently Naruto was invited over for dinner again by both Sakura and Ino's parents. So they had to pick days for that. It was after that they just laid down on the blanket looking up at the sky.
"Huh, so this is why he's always doing it," Ino said as they watched the clouds. It was surprisingly relaxing.
"Let me guess, a certain lazy teammate?" Sakura asked.
Ino giggled and nodded, "Yeah, now I see why he's always doing it like I said. It's kind of relaxing, I don't think I've just looked at the clouds since I was a kid."
"Yeah same here," Sakura agreed. "That one kind of reminds me of a shuriken."
"Really? I think it's more like a flower to me." Ino said and looked to Naruto. "What about you?"
Naruto squinted and thought about it. "It looks like a piece of ramen to me."
Both girls looked at him and then fell into laughter, well they should have seen that one coming. Naruto pouted at the moment, he got the feeling they were picking on him. But he soon got over it when Ino curled up against him.
"You know we're really lucky to have a great guy like you in our life." Ino told him.
Sakura mirrored her doing the same finding it very comfortable to use Naruto as a pillow. "She's right. Too bad we didn't know now what we knew back then." She snaked an arm around his hip holding him close to her. "But at least we fell in love with the right guy this time around."
"Yeah we sure did," Ino admitted as he placed a hand on his chest.
Naruto looked up to the bright blue sky as both girls rested against him, Sakura on one shoulder and Ino on the other. Both looked to be so relaxed that they might just fall asleep next to him like that. He didn't mind that at all. They looked like sleeping angels to him and he could just stare at them forever. He sighed as he felt their bodies snuggling against his, he felt so lucky in that moment. He never thought anything like this would ever happen to him. He had no idea where this odd style relationship would go, but he wanted to enjoy every moment of it.
Whatever the future held, he would cherish these two. They were his most precious of people and he loved them both with all his heart. He closed his eyes and he felt a peace he hadn't felt in a very long time with both himself, his life and with the world.
Well I hope you have all enjoyed this, I'll get to the sequel 'Actions and Consequences' when I get the time and also when I come up with a full plot for that story. And to those who keep asking I might do an M rated one shot with the three of them.
Also I'm working on a new story. Bleached Vampire, a crossover with Bleach and Rosario+Vampire, I liked both fandoms and wanted to try my hand at both.