My reviewers and readers are awesome! This is it. Enjoy.
Naruto and Co. belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. The story is all mine.
Epilogue: The Beginning of a New Era
"Naruto, hurry up, we're going to be late," Sakura called up the stairs. Sakura could feel someone tugging on her formal kimono. She was wearing the kimono her parents had given her for a wedding present. It was a delicate pink with lighter pink cherry blossoms all along the bottom as well as the lower half of the long sleeves, completed with a red obi. Looking down she could see the deep blue eyes of her three year old looking up at her from where he sat on the entryway step.
"Mommy, I can't find my shoe. Help please?" Hotaru said as he looked up at his mother.
Sakura readjusted the one year old on her hip so that he was sitting more securely. The little boy just held on to her, as he was use to being toted around while Sakura chased his older brother. Both boys were wearing their own formal kimonos, similar to the one Naruto owned, blue basket weave print with the Uzumaki swirl embroidered randomly throughout. However, Higashi was teething again and the front of his kimono was already getting wet with drool.
"It should be right where I told you to put it this morning when we came home from your play date with Toshi and Kita," Sakura replied.
"I don't see it," Hotaru replied.
"It's right there next to Daddy's sandals. Hurry up and put it on please," Sakura said as she ruffled the redhead's locks before going into the living room to look for a towel to clean Higashi's face, as well as a pacifier for him to chew on during the ceremony.
"Honey, I can't find my speech," her husband called as he came down the stairs.
"It's right where you left it on the counter. Although, I don't see what you're so nervous about seeing as how you'll probably just wing it like you always do," Sakura said.
She didn't even looking up at Naruto while she set Higashi down so that he could toddle around the living room while she helped her other two boys get ready. Naruto, in full Hokage robes similar to the ones his father use to wear, rounded the corner into their kitchen in search of his lost document. Their lives have been a rush of activity this past week and it was no surprise that Sakura was the steady one that everyone counted on to keep their busy lives in order. What with their move into the Hokage Mansion's family quarters and the transition of turning what was once Tsunade's office into Naruto's, it had been a very busy week indeed.
The bonus about these new living quarters is that each boy got their own room and there was plenty of room for inviting their friends over. It also meant that Naruto would be available to everyone in the village at all hours, which was something Sakura had been secretly dreading the closer they got to his inauguration. She treasured their quiet moments together, no matter how few and far between they were with two small children as well as their busy careers. Now, she just hoped that they would still see each other more than in passing as his duties as Hokage were bound to change that.
"Found it, thanks Sakura-chan. I thought about just making it up as I go, but Baachan threatened to put me in traction if I tried it," Naruto said, his face paling at the memory of Tsunade's threat. He walked toward her and looked her up and down as it was the first time he had had a chance to really look at her all day. "By the way," he began as he forcefully pulled her by her waist into his arms. "Remind me to talk you into wearing that Kimono more often. You look amazing," he said with mischief in his eyes and a Cheshire cat grin on his face. "Do you think they'll notice if we are a little late?"
"Oh no you don't! It took me two hours to get us all ready to go and now that the boys are finally ready I want to get out the door before we have any more minor catastrophes," Sakura said in protest of the thoughts she knew he was having from the look in his blue eyes.
"You're no fun, Sakura-chan," Naruto said as he feigned a pout. He quickly recovered from his disappointment before announcing, "OK, boys, let's go!"
Naruto swooped up his youngest, who giggled at the sudden movement of being hoisted into his father's strong arms, blue-green eyes locking onto his father's face as he reached for the blue crystal Naruto still wore around his neck. Naruto absentmindedly pried the little fingers free before he put his free arm around Sakura's waist, escorting her and Hotaru out the door.
"And most of all, I promise to protect this village with my life as I have always done. Believe it!" Naruto said as he finished his speech. Giving his nice guy pose, complete with his signature smile and a thumbs up; blue eyes shining out from under the infamous Hokage hat. The crowd let loose an enormous roar as they cheered their approval of their new Hokage.
Sakura stood by her husband, tears of pride in her eyes as she watched him. Higashi was once again securely on her hip and she took Naruto's hand in her free one and gave it a loving squeeze. Hotaru was by his mother's side and had been hanging on to her kimono the whole time as he watched his father in amazement. Naruto turned his smile onto his family, his smile broadening as he looked at the woman who had started out as a teammate and woman of his dreams, but had become his partner and lover after everything they had gone through together. Tears came into his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. Looking around him on the roof of the Hokage Mansion, where he had given his speech, he saw his extended family. All the members of the Konoha 12 were there complete with their various significant others.
Kiba and Hinata were there, their now 4 year-old daughter standing by Hinata's side as she held on tightly to her new white puppy, lavender eyes wide in awe. Shikamaru was holding his baby daughter, Amaya, while Temari held an energetic Toshihiro firmly in front of her with both hands preventing their 4 year-old son from disappearing into the crowd like she knew he would if she let go. Neji and Tenten were standing together while Tenten held their baby Keiji who was the the spitting image of his father. He had also been speared the Birdcage Seal since Hinata and Neji had both opposed it and Naruto and Tsunade had convinced enough members of the Hyuuga clan to finally do away with the practice.
Ino and Mitsuhiro stood with their twins, Ino gave him a wink that made him laugh. Choji had his fiancé with him, a petite woman who had once been a waitress at his favorite BBQ joint. Shino was also standing with his new wife, an arranged marriage to a woman who was a distant cousin of his in the Aburame clan and also a kikaichu user. Lee was standing next to his Genin as he gave his nice guy pose when he locked his wide eyes with Naruto's blue.
And last, but not least was Sasuke. He was standing with his arms crossed over his chest, trying to look unimpressed, but Naruto knew better. Daisuke was by his side with a wide grin on his face as he looked at his adopted uncle. The boy was now the top of his class and threatening to graduate the Academy early much like his father, Itatchi, had done. Sasuke's Genin were standing in front of him as well, at attention as their sensei had instructed. Erika, Tora, and Ren stood nearby. There were rumors that Sasuke and Erika had been seeing each other, but both parties denied it. However, Naruto and Sakura knew better. Tora and Ren were in full ANBU gear and part of Naruto's personal guard.
Sai was also there as was his duty as ANBU commander, expression hidden by his mask even though Naruto was sure a cheesy smile was plastered to his face. Kakashi stood with hands shoved in his pockets, book stored for another time. His one eye showed his smile as the wrinkle lines around it were becoming more obvious each passing year. He was standing between Guy and Kurenai. Next to Kurenai stood a miniature Asume as Seimei was now almost tall enough that the top of his spiked hair was in line with her shoulder. Asuma's son had apparently inherited his father's height. Konohamaru stood next to his cousin along with Moegi and Udon.
Naruto had put his Genin, soon to be Chuunin, to work during the ceremony and they were standing by waiting for further instruction. Although, not one of them were aware that all nine promotions, including all members from Sasuke and Lee's team, were sitting on Naruto's desk waiting for a signature. It seemed that all nine rookies from their class, for the second time in the history of Konoha, made it through the second phase of the Chuunin Exam.
The list of ninja present for Naruto's inauguration could go on and on as they were all there, missions on hold until approved by the new Hokage.
The last person he acknowledged was standing off to his left, in full Kazekage robes, save the hat, which he had hanging off the back of his gourd. Gaara was there as a support for not only their ally, but to stand by the side of his friend as he realized his dream. Who would have thought that these two village outcasts would one day be the leaders of their respective villages? Not only that, they were leading the ninja world into a time of peace. For as long as there are ninja, there will be a need for a leader to guide them. The world was changing and one day there may not be a need for ninja, but until then, both Gaara and Naruto had vowed that they would take on the challenge of fighting for what they believed to be right and to protect those that were precious to them.
And so begins the tale of the new leaders of Konohagakur no Sato.
A/N: Sorry for the long wait, but my muse has been begging me to work on a new idea and I had to deal with it before I started to go crazy. I know that there is a lot more you would love to read of my story, but instead of making you wait for ideas for this story line to formulate this is where my tale ends for now. I also don't think I could carry on an epic novel as this is now far enough away from the canon for me to be comfortable in doing that. Feel free to mark me in your Author Alerts if you would be interest in more as I am thinking of putting together a set of oneshots that go along this storyline as ideas come to me. The collection will possibly be a mix of both canon character and the next generation of OC's, but like I said, I still need a little inspiration first. In fact, I already have a new story underway that will be posted once I'm satisfied with it. Also, if you have any ideas, PM me and maybe I'll be able to do something story worthy with the ideas.