Author's Notes: Possibly gonna be a multi parter here folks. Slight Haremy bits so bear with me.
After the war ended, it was time for rebuilding, a time to look to a bright tomorrow, and a time to seek forgiveness. Sakura had to seek forgiveness from Naruto for her lies, Naruto needed to make sense of the new life that would await him, and Sasuke he would have to seek a road to redemption for his crimes.
Shortly after the end of the war, and though he tried Sasuke couldn't redeem himself in his eyes yet. He couldn't stand the fact he hadn't done anything to ear their forgiveness yet. "Come on Karin. We're leaving…" Sasuke said coldly as he stood at the gates of the village, staring at the girl who would follow him to hell and back.
"…Sorry Sasuke-kun…" began the red head as she looked down, she clutched her arm nervously as she looked for the courage to say the next words, "I want to stay here…I need to walk my own road for now …"
The words not only caught Sasuke off guard, he expected Karin to follow him like she had so willingly in the past. He figured he still had his hold over her. "…Why…?" dryly the raven haired shinobi asked, not conveying any emotion as he looked at her.
She pulled her arms behind her back and nervously rocked on her heels, glancing to the side and looking at Naruto as she meekly said, "I…I have my reasons…"
"…I understand. Dobe, you look after her…" Sasuke said as he turned and walked out of the village, he was unsure why, but he knew she must have a reason after all she was enamored with him. He decided to leave while he could, it would be better if he was alone anyway.
"Out with it! Why do you suddenly want to stay here? And what's with the way you are eyeing Naruto!?" Sakura began interrogating the red head not wasting anytime. It was like she felt threatened by her all of a sudden, as if she was afraid Karin was after Naruto romantically.
"That is between me and Naruto-kun!" Karin chimed cheerfully as she looked at Naruto happily before moving behind him seeing glints of jealousy in the pink haired kunoichi's eyes.
Years had passed since that night, and to this day Karin still hasn't told Naruto her reason for staying, but it had to be a good reason. Naruto was on his way to see the current Hokage, Hatake Kakashi, but as he walked down the street he had a look of frustration on his face. The reason was a good one, Karin on his right, Sakura on his left, and both were arguing, he wasn't even sure why they were arguing anymore.
Now in the three years, their wardrobes had changed a good deal, Naruto's was a great improvement. He had upgraded himself to a fur coat, black fur trim, a red orange fabric, with black flames rising up from the bottom of the coat, a black t-shirt, and black cargo pants. A very professional look, the stories about who helped get the outfit put together varied from person to person, one story claims it was Karin, another says it was Ino, no one really knew who helped piece together the outfit.
"You need to let go of Naruto's arm! He can't be seen with a whore!" Sakura exclaimed as she looked at the red haired kunoichi in displeasure. Sakura's appearance wasn't all too different in the three years she had let her grow longer, her outfit remained the same, except for smaller aesthetic differences, she had remained the same.
"Oh hohoho!! What's wrong little girl? Are we jealous? Awww don't worry, I'm sure you will get breasts one day!" said Karin as she kept her grip on Naruto's arm. She like Naruto had opted for a new wardrobe in her three years, her Chinese style to of a deep azure blue, black pleated skirt, and silken sleeves akin to the kind a priestess would wear, as well as keeping her thigh highs. She had taken the position of most beautiful Kunoichi in Konoha by storm.
"I have breasts! I just don't need to look like a prostitute!!"
"I'm not a prostitute!!! Naru-kun, save me!!! The mean lesbian is going to hurt me!!!"
"Don't call me a lesbian you skank!!"
"ENOUGH!!!" shouted the blond as he held his head in frustration with the two he had enough of their constant bickering. He was tired of being the peace keeper in this, the two just argued and argued whenever they were around him. He looked at both girls in frustration as he said, "I like you both very much, but for the love of the Rikudou Sennin!! COULD YOU TWO JUST SHUT UP!? I'm tired of you always calling Karin-chan a whore. And I'm tired of you calling Sakura-chan names all the time!!! I'm going somewhere so I can actually get some peace and quiet!! Alone!"
After he said these words the two kunoichi stood dumbfounded. They had never realized they would push Naruto this far with their arguments, he after all had a saintly tolerance for most things but the arguing must have gotten a little out of hand.
Moments later, Naruto had reached Ino's house and knocked on the door, he had come to know Ino as a voice of reason in the recent years. Now naturally he could be dating her, but it was pretty much platonic between the two.
The blond kunoichi opened the door and looked at Naruto, seeing the look of irritation on his face. She knew what had happened, and she knew that he had come to her for something he wasn't entitled to around them. "I know, I could hear it from here. I'll go get you a Ramune and some aspirin" she said in a supportive manner as she looked at him tenderly.
"Thank you Ino-chan…" he said as he walked into her house rubbing his temples just glad to be away from the two girls for the time being. He needed to be around someone he could just talk to normally. It was the one thing he needed right now, he followed her into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
"Here you go." the platinum blond said as she put a bottle of Ramune and some aspirin in front of the orange clad shinobi. She took a seat across from him, as he was taking the aspirin as she said, "You're going to have to eventually pick one of them, that's what it's all about really."
"…I know. But it's not easy I can't quite forgive Sakura-chan for what she did. It wasn't a true confession of love. She was lying to me for my sake, I know, but it was the fact she lied to me, about loving me." he said as he looked across the table at the blond, wishing it could be easier, than the two girls made it.
"I know I told her it was a bad idea. I told her to tell you the truth." responded the purple clad girl as she looked at him, she didn't really care for the fact that he had to play mediator all the time.
"And Karin-chan, she's well, she's honest with her emotions, probably too honest. And to be truthful, I can't tell if she's genuinely in love with me or what." He said as he stared at the marble inside of the bottle of carbonated drink.
Ino just stared at him for a moment, she could understand somewhat since it seemed like things were complicated for him. One girl he couldn't quite forgive and a girl who was hard to read, especially for a guy like Naruto who was not used to affection from a girl having been ignored constantly when he was younger.
'I wish I could help him…he really doesn't deserve to be put through this so often.' she thought to herself, she blushed faintly as she realized that Naruto had grown to be the best looking of the guys in the rookie nine. She tended to try and ignore it since she wanted to be his friend through most of it since it was ridiculous what those two girls put him through.
In truth Ino wished she could find a guy like Naruto, after it turned out that Sai was either asexual or gay it was hard to tell. It was an awkward situation in all truth of the matter she couldn't quite explain the whole story since it was more painful to her than anything.
"Why does Karin act that way? Did she ever explain why she wanted to stay and not go off with Sasuke?" asked the kunoichi as the thought popped into her head, she didn't quite get it. She thought Karin was Sasuke's blindly loyal self appointed girlfriend.
"…Well…I know. But it's something between me and her…" he said quietly as he stared at the crimson marble in the bottle. He remembered quite well her reason for wanting to be with him, and not Sasuke since it actually went back to when he met her.
It had been said that Sakura had joined Sasuke, and Naruto had gone to find them. He was wishing he had told her what he knew about Sasuke maybe it would have stopped her. As he rushed through the forest he saw a girl with crimson hair, standing at the side of the road, something seemed odd about her as if she were waiting for him.
He dropped to the ground and looked at her expecting an attack, "I recognize your chakra. You must be looking for Sasuke-kun…" she said quietly as she looked at the blond. Her stern expression ceased soon enough as if she were relaxed by his chakra.
"I am…I think the teme brainwashed a friend of mine." he said with agitation to his voice, he was worried about Sakura, he had to do anything to save her.
"I'll help you…he cast me aside like a broken tool. But he didn't brainwash her…she joined him willingly." the redhead responded as she pointed to the east indicating that to be the direction Sasuke was. When he nodded his head the two of them moved in the direction she had indicated, they had their own agendas but for now they were one in the same.
About half an hour into their search, the kunoichi took note of the boy's chakra, she felt so much more comfortable around him than when with Sasuke. It was something she had never felt before, she then quietly said, "Your chakra, it's really warm…I could almost get used to being around you…"
"…Warm?" Naruto asked as he shifted his gaze to her for a moment, he was perplexed by what she was saying. It was strange.
"…I'm a sensing type, and compared to Sasuke-kun you feel really warm. He always feels so cold so full of hate…" she quietly explained, as she kept moving with the blond as they the continued to their destination.
Naruto could understand her now that she explained what she meant, he then said kindly, "That's because he has been consumed by hatred and revenge…he let it control him. But I…I want to help people even him…after all the wrong he's done."
'He wants to help people…?' she thought to herself as she continued to spring from tree to tree as she quietly looked at Naruto realizing he was different than Sasuke. She could really follow him, it was so much different than anything she ever felt, this compassion he held. It was somewhat attractive, maybe more redeeming than just physical appearance, but the noble nature he had was more important than anything in her eyes.
It was in that moment that the Kusanagi Sword of Sasuke ran Naruto through and pierced him to a tree. "Stay out of this Naruto…" he said as he pressed his foot to Naruto's abdomen and ripped the sword from the blonde's body.
"Sasuke-kun!! What are you doing!?" Karin screamed as she rushed to support the weakening body of the kind hearted Shinobi.
"…Keeping him out of the way…you should stay out of the way too…" he responded before he rushed off into the distance of the forest, abandoning the two as if they were a hindrance to whatever he was planning.
Karin could only helplessly watch as Sasuke disappeared into the horizon, she helped Naruto to the forest floor and leaned him against a tree. "Naruto-kun…" she began quietly as she removed her cloak and opened her shirt, she would have to endure a little pain, "Bite me…if you don't you'll bleed to death." she quietly finished as she kneeled in front of the blond bulling his head closer to her neck.
"…I'll be fine…I'm a Jinchuuriki…" he said in objection, feeling as if he didn't need to rely on her.
"Do it! I need to be of use to you…" she said as if it wasn't a request but rather an order, and as she said that the blond bit into her neck and siphoned her chakra away, only taking what he needed to kick start the Kyuubi's chakra so he could heal.
"…It is something very personal between me and Karin-chan…" he said with a faint smile, as he remembered what it was between him and Karin. He knew it was beyond friendship and possibly deeper than just adoration for him.
"…Have you taken the time to think about what you want? Stop worrying about what Sakura or Karin want. Your heart is yours…don't sacrifice your happiness just so one of them doesn't get hurt." Ino said as she offered some advice to Naruto wanting him to be happy, since he deserved his own happiness.
Naruto shook his head lightly, since he was a selfless person he never thought about himself. He just couldn't be selfish like that, wanted others to be happy if he had to forsake his own.
"Naruto…you have to choose who you love. You and Karin have something special…I can tell." remarked the kunoichi as she looked across the table at Naruto, she had been observing the way he had been staring at the marble in the bottle of Ramune, as if it reminded him of someone.
Naruto looked at his friend in shock, everyone else was aware of it, but he was in denial of it. It was as if he was holding onto the past, unwilling to accept what he had. He had a chance at true love, not a chance at an illusion that he used to believe in.
"Do yourself a favor…" began Ino as she ran a delicate hand through her hair, she then quietly finished, "go to Karin…you know deep down that you love her."
"But…I…" the blond shinobi tried to make up excuses why he couldn't do it. He was feeling hesitant about actually seeking his own happiness.
Ino slammed her hands to the table and quickly stood her foot, she looked seriously as Naruto and said, "No buts! She makes you happy right? You make her happy right? The way I see it…you two have found your happiness with each other. Be a man, don't let Sakura decide for you…decide for yourself!"
Naruto stood to his feet and nodded, Ino's words go through to him at last, he had to stop being a doormat. He had to take his personal life into his own hands. "Thank you for talking sense into me, Ino-chan" he chimed as he turned and walked to the door, he knew what he had to do now.
As this was going on, the two warring kunoichi, were discussing the matters of the temporary armistice. Because they had driven Naruto away with their fighting, they had to come to terms of how to deal with their issues.
"…You better explain to me why you cling to Naruto so much. I'm sick of it…you don't even know him!" Sakura exclaimed as she looked at her nemesis with disapproval, as if she thought Karin wasn't fit to be around Naruto.
Karin blushed some, she knew she had to come clean about it someday, the reason she was so fond of Naruto and why she had to be around him. "Because…I appreciate him. I don't treat him as a surrogate for Sasuke-kun. I don't expect him to change. If he changed his chakra wouldn't be as warm as it is and furthermore, my chakra flows with his…" as she said this she unbuttoned the top few buttons of her top and pulled it open show her bite scars, and pointing to a particular scar.
Sakura's jaw gaped in shock at the symbols of her sacrifice numerous times she had been bitten, numerous times she had suffered, Karin had done this for others.
"When Sasuke-kun ran Naruto-kun through…I made one last sacrifice…and had him bite me to save him, because even the Kyuubi chakra couldn't save him alone. But with my Chakra…he was able to survive. I can still feel my chakra intermingled with his. That…that is why I love Naruto-kun, something you wouldn't understand…" the redhead explained as she buttoned her top up once again desiring to leave Sakura to think this knowledge over, because this was her testimony of her love for Naruto. She could have tracked him down if she wanted, but she respected him too much to track him down when he wanted to be alone.
"…You really do love him…don't you?" the red clad kunoichi said with some resignation to her voice.
"…I do…" was all she said as she walked away slowly, she didn't bother to look back. She didn't need the permission of this girl to feel the way she did. She knew the bond that was shared between her and Naruto and that was stronger than any bonds that Sakura had with him.
Sakura clenched her fists as she looked at the redhead, her eyes narrowing. She couldn't understand it, Karin only knew Naruto for three years, and yet they had grown so close in that time. "Why…? Why are you able to connect with Naruto in a way that I can't?" the pink haired Kunoichi asked in a sorrowful voice, she wanted to understand, she wanted to know why Karin had such a hold over him.
Karin looked back to Sakura and smiled faintly as she closed her eyes as she said, "I do what I can to make him happy. I want him to smile…not that smile he shows when he says he's fine but he's dieing inside. I mean his real smile…" as she said this she remembered something from a short time back.
Naruto was curled up in bed, he had gotten a rather nasty chest cold, and was doing his best to keep warm. "Thith thuckth!" he exclaimed as he threw his arms to the sides of the bed in exasperation. He didn't want to be in bed, he needed to do things, he needed to train, he didn't want to stay put.
"You heard Sakura. You have to get your rest Naruto…ouch!" she said as she yelped in pain as she accidentally cut her finger, yet again. She had taken it upon herself to make sure Naruto got a speedy recovery. In fact she was cooking for him, or rather trying to do her best. She wasn't as at home in the kitchen as some people, such as Hinata was.
"Are you okay, Karin-chan?" he asked as he sat up wanting to check on her, it was his natural response to want to check on her.
"I'm fine! Now stay in bed! Or I will make you stay!" she exclaimed while she bandaged her finger, this wasn't the first time she had cut herself it was the fourth time. She decided to shoot her best menacing look as she peered from the kitchen, she figured that would keep him in place.
Naruto with a sigh of resignation laid back down and crossed his arms over his chest, he didn't want to tempt fate. He didn't know if she would whack him with a wooden spoon or do something else that was drastic. His experience with Sakura made him weary.
Eventually she had finished preparing the meal for him, two spring rolls, and a bowl of chicken ramen. She carried the tray to his bed, her face flush with shyness and looking somewhat like she had been to hell and back. "I'm sorry it didn't turn out better…" she said as she laid the tray across his lap, she then took a seat in a chair beside his bed.
Naruto stared at the spring rolls and ramen noticing that they weren't exactly perfect, far from it. He looked at her not wanting to offend her, after she worked so hard on the meal he took a bite of one of the spring rolls, and found it to taste much better than it looked. He then shifted his attention to the ramen which didn't look much better, but he soon found just like the spring rolls it was also extremely delicious.
When she saw that he was happily eating the food she prepared, she gave a sigh of relief. She was relieved that he liked her cooking she had been scared that he wouldn't want to eat it because it looked so ugly. "I made plenty if you need more." she said with a warm smile as she watched him eat.
As she opened her eyes she saw Naruto walking towards them, he had a look she hadn't seen in years. A look of resolve, of determination, a look she had grown to miss.
"Karin-chan. Sakura-chan. I'm through with this endless bickering between you two…" he began as he looked at both kunoichi, he had to do what was best for him this time, and not sacrifice his happiness.
"Sakura-chan, you are a good friend and will always be my friend. But you need to understand something I love Karin-chan. She makes me happy. Please understand, I don't need you constantly calling her uncalled for names." he said, a strict look on his face as he looked at her, he wouldn't have her calling Karin horrible names any longer.
As the words hit Sakura's ears, a crestfallen expression overtook her. It was aware to her, that she had her chance and she lost it years ago. She looked to Karin expecting to see a smug expression on her face. But she didn't see that, in fact there were tears of happiness in the red haired Kunoichi's eyes, Sakura then said with slight sadness to her voice, "I understand Naruto. But Karin…if you…if you ever hurt him…you have to answer to me."
Karin was walking to Naruto, she was elated to hear those words from him, when she stopped and glanced back at Sakura. She nodded her head and said, "Hopefully it won't come to that…" she then walked to the blond shinobi and wrapped her arms around him.
"It took you long enough dummy…" she whispered as she buried her face into his chest, happy that Naruto had finally acted like a man. Finally had the courage to speak from his heart
"I'm sorry Karin-chan, I just needed to be told to act like a man…" he whispered lightly as he kissed her forehead.
Sakura smiled some, she saw with her own eyes that the two were truly in love she decided to let them be and walked away. It was painful for her, she knew it was out of her hands, but perchance had things gone differently in the past. Perhaps it would have turned out different.
Naruto smiled fondly at Karin as he put he lifted her chin and looked at her fondly, as he moved his hand to her cheek. Slowly he brought his face closer and closer to hers.
Karin blushed light as his face neared hers, she then whispered lightly, "Naruto-kun, do you remember our first kiss...?"
He smiled and nodded softly as he brushed his lips against hers, as he kissed her tenderly. He remembered quite well, as it hadn't been too long ago, he closed his eyes as he ran his fingers through her silken red hair.
It was mid July, during a summer festival the two had decided to watch the fireworks together. As the fireworks went off one by one, the night sky became vibrant with a plethora of colors. But for the two, they weren't watching the fireworks any longer. They were looking at each other, the time they had spent together in the few years had brought them closer, closer than just friends.
"Naruto-kun…" she quietly said, her cheeks reddened lightly as she looked to blond.
"Karin-chan…" he responded in a hushed voice, as he set his hand on her cheek.
As a large number of fireworks went off, the two kissed softly, they didn't care about the fireworks though. They were more enthralled with the moment of bliss they were sharing.
"I remember it well after all it's only been a few months since then Karin-chan." he quietly said as he caressed her cheek, he lightly kissed her forehead as he held her in a warm embrace.
Two years would pass, and one day Sasuke returned to the village. He had found his road to redemption, his road to cleansing his soul of the sins he had committed. As he walked into the village, he encountered Karin, who looked a touch more motherly. Her hair was done up with a hair clip these days.
"…Sasuke, you're back." said the red haired woman, shocked to see that her one time infatuation had returned.
The raven haired man blinked in shock, he noted the sudden absence of the usual suffix that normally accompanied his name. "You look well, Karin, do you know where Naruto is? I want to make amends to him and Sakura. I figure they're together doing something." he commented, figuring he could take care of the matters involving them all at once.
"Actually, he's-" she began as a loud thud could be heard from behind and she quickly turned, as a blond haired toddler held her hands over Naruto's eyes and a red haired boy having hold of Naruto's right leg having assisted in knocking him down. She pinched the bridge of her nose as she quickly exclaimed, "UZUMAKI KUSHINA! STOP COVERING YOUR FATHER'S EYES!! AND MINATO LET GO OF HIS LEG!!!"
Sasuke blinked, the shock of what he saw upon his return was overwhelming, Karin and Naruto, together. "You…and Naruto…?" he asked as he stammered, he had always figured Naruto and Sakura, but this, this was clear out of left field.
Karin blushed some as she pried her daughter off of Naruto's head, she was a touch embarrassed that her children took so much after Naruto. "…Y-Yeah…we've been married for two years…when you told him to take care of me, you probably never figured this would happen…" she shyly said as she helped Naruto to his feet.
"Eh heh, hey Sasuke…" the blond said as he rubbed the back of his head he hoped that he wouldn't have to deal with Sasuke being bitter about it.
Sasuke smiled faintly and shook his head, "You two look good together. I guess I played Match Maker…" he said as he looked fondly at the two. He could clearly see what it was that Karin stayed in Konoha for.
Karin coyly pushed her hair behind her ear as she blushed at the remark that she and Naruto looked good together. She was even gladder that Sasuke wasn't so upset about it. She then looked to her children and said, "Kushina, Minato, this is Sasuke."
Minato of course was like an unholy mixture of Naruto and Karin's spunkiness, maybe you could blame it on the red hair, he had only a few words to say, those were, "Duck Butt."
Sasuke's eye twitched at the comment of their son, the boy had quite the mouth on him, it was almost like he was the spawn of Naruto and a certain member of the Sound Five. He regained his composure and looked at his friend, "Naruto…since you're here I'm-" the Uchiha survivor began he was trying to make amends for his past actions.
"Its okay. I got over it a long time ago." Naruto said as he picked his daughter up and held her proudly. He looked to his wife and then back to his one time rival, and said, "I think you need to forgive yourself. Only then will you find your road to redemption."
"Some of that Gama Sennin knowledge Naruto?" dryly he asked Naruto, since it seemed like an odd thing for him to say.
Naruto shook his head light and sagely said, "Its just common sense!"
Just then a pink haired Kunoichi walked up behind the group, "Welcome back Sasuke-kun…" she warmly said, with a fond look on her face.
Naruto smiled softly and lightly nudged his wife with his elbow as he whispered to her, "We should let these two talk. Maybe they are meant for each."
Karin nodded with a smile as she scooped up their rather mouthy son, and the two of them headed off with their kids. "By the way Naruto-kun…I'm pregnant." she demurely said as she looked at her husband waiting to see his reaction to the prospects of more children.
Naruto's eyes widened some, he took a deep breath looked to the sky and just prayed to the powers that be. 'Please don't be triplets…please don't be triplets…' he prayed hard since twins were already a handful, and Konohagakure could never handle five children with his and Karin's genetics. It would collapse, and fall into ruin. He shifted his daughter to his shoulders and said, "No covering my eyes this time!"
"Oh relax! What's the worst that could happen?" she commented as she looked back at her husband, she didn't think anything that bad could happen, then she looked at Minato, and looked straight to the sky and prayed and prayed hard, 'Please don't be triplets…Please don't be triplets…'
The two looked at each other, and breathed a sigh of relief, because they knew they could handle it together. They didn't have to face this hard task alone. Who knew maybe they would produce a docile child. One could only hope since it would be better than another wild child.
"We definitely need a bigger house. Seems like someone on the other side is messing with us." he commented as he walked alongside the red haired Kunoichi, he knew, he just knew they would have triplets.
"Agreed!" Karin exclaimed as she thought what kind of trouble their kids would bring, Minato was a touch mouthy, and that was something to be worried about. She set the red haired boy on the ground and held his hand since she knew he would rather walk on his own feet, as she looked at Naruto and smiled happily as she said, "I think we'll be fine, Minato could just grow up to be as wonderful as his father is. Besides I hear you were no angel as a kid yourself."
He chuckled nervously, and scratched his cheek as he walked with his family heading down the street, as he pulled the Hokage hat from his coat and set it on his daughter's head. He knew they would be alright, it was assured since he would be the kind of parent he always wished was there for him. "We can hope Kushina grows up to be just as good as you are…" he said as he put his arm around Karin and kissed her cheek, which cause both Minato and Kushina to make faces.
The future would be alright, after all. The worst possible thing is children would be better pranksters than Naruto was. After all they could work in a team and seriously canvas the village.
Author's notes: Hope you guys enjoyed it. It was kinda fun to write, a nice vacation from my harem works.