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How Time Changes
When you're gone from your home for too long, months, years at a time, things always change. Always. People change, the land, and you most importantly change. This is what Naruto discovered, coming back from his three year trip. He was now 17, same as his peers, and he was not the same Naruto.
Sakura was surprised, even shocked at how much he changed, he was more soft-spoken, tall, nearly a head taller than her, and he had grown out his hair. What people noticed was that when he smiled in that special way, he was almost an exact copy of the Yondaime.
This is what Tsunade noticed, fondly remembering both blondes with a little bit of bitterness. Naruto behaved quite a bit like his mother, usually brash, outspoken, wearing his heart on his sleeve, but there are those moments when he resembled his father. And those moments made Tsunade's heart ache like no tomorrow.
What Konohamaru noticed was the increase of confidence, not like how Naruto was when he was younger, all boasts and half-truths behind a lying face, but now he was more…real. Like the confidence was hard-earned and quiet, like he was just daring somebody to attempt to belittle it.
Shikamaru and Temari ran into him as he walked into the gates with Jiraiya. They almost didn't recognize until Shikamaru noticed his eyes, not his hair, or his whiskers, but his expressive, heartfelt blue eyes. "It almost made him blush, but really, Shikamaru already had his troublesome blonde. No matter what they told everybody that asks. He was sure that Naruto noticed Temari grab his hand….he was thankful the blonde didn't question.
Hinata was hiding behind a post, using her byakugan to take a closer look at her idol. He was so different…he had changed himself. And she was so jealous, longing to be like him, to change herself enough so that she could finally grow up and not be stuck in her academy days. It took her a couple weeks and an accidental witness to something private to realize that she didn't need him to show her, she could find it herself.
Iruka was proud. When people had scorned a small blonde boy for something trivial, he had comforted, he had hoped for. And he was right, Iruka thought, as Naruto embraced him in a warm hug, Naruto was somebody to protect, somebody to love and believe in. Iruka couldn't be prouder.
Kiba was impressed by the strength the blonde had within him. Naruto spoke now with such a certainty that the Inuzuka didn't dare make fun. Akamaru noticed something about the blonde faster than his owner did, rolling down to lie with his stomach in the air at Naruto's feet, inviting a chuckling belly rub to the gigantic belly. Kiba realized, after Naruto disappeared behind the street corner, that the blonde was going to be Hokage, was going to be his commander, his Alpha. Remembering the Academy and his scorn for the young blonde's dream, now, seeing Naruto's resolve…Kiba had no issue with following the blonde. He would follow, he would respect, and he would die for his Hokage. He wasn't talking about Tsunade.
From those who really didn't know him well, like Ino, Shino, Chouji, and every single civilian ninja that resided in the Leaf village were amazed and awed by the blonde bombshell. Naruto was a new person, had learned, had been taught and now he was the on doing the teaching.
Kakashi flinched. A tan hand was on his shoulder, and he knew with whom it belonged. Kakashi didn't hate Naruto, no, quite the opposite in fact. He just didn't want Naruto so see who he was now, such a ghost of whom he used to be. Three years of pining could do that to someone.
"Hey there Kakashi, I missed you." And then he was being hugged and everything was okay again.
It was during a party Ino threw for his return that Naruto made his move. Stalking his prey for the entire night, chuckling and laughing maniacally in his mind, a mischievous grin had been on his face the entire night. People gave him amused, confused looks, and it was toward the end of the party that he gave them an answer.
Everyone was in Ino's living room, a large, sparsely furnished place with picture and drinks on a small table. People were quietly speaking, the music turned down low and then Naruto stood up, saying he was going for some air.
A meaningful and quite sneaky look at the silver haired jounin, that nobody else saw, invited him to go with.
On Ino's front porch Naruto stood staring at the moon, a content look and the voices from inside washing over him. He had people to love. People to protect.
Kakashi took a plunge, a risk so huge in his mind that if he was rejected, he was sure his heart would implode and nobody could ever find the pieces. He put his arms around the amazing blonde he had loved for years now.
Naruto sighed happily and leaned back, his head falling against the strong shoulder of his past sensei. "Finally." He whispered silently to the silver haired jounin, "You took long enough".
It made Kakashi chuckled, a warm sound in his chest, "Sorry love, I'm not all that brave."
Naruto laughed, turning so he stood leaning on the railing, Kakashi's arms still around his waist and his own reaching up to encircle the other's neck.
"You're the bravest man in the world." Was all he said, giving a big grin to Kakashi's surprised look. They stood together for a while, the sounds form inside still coming out of the windows and door behind them.
Finally, Kakashi took another plunge, but this time it wasn't so nervous. "If I'm so brave, then I guess I should do this." He reached up and in the face of Naruto's shock, pulled down his mask slowly, leaned in and captured the frozen blonde's lips with his own, pushing and drawing the blonde close.
Naruto sighed and smiled, kissing back, closing his eyes. They stood still, savoring each second with each other, at least until Sakura's voice interrupted them.
"Oh my GOD! EEEEEE!" they broke apart and looked at the joyously shrieking pink haired girl, who stood at the door, hands clasped and watching them with a big grin. Who knew…Sakura was a yaoi fanatic.
Others heard her shriek and went to the windows and doors to see what, most gasping and gaping at the clasped forms of Naruto and Kakashi.
As people began to yell questions, laugh and inquire about the two, Naruto could feel Kakashi's embarrassment building. Decide to get this over with, Naruto smirked like a fox. Slyly. Clever.
Naruto pulled Kakashi's headband over both his eyes, leaving the man with his eyes covered but his mask down. Pulling him by the hair, He wrenched the man's head around and began kissing the snott out of him.
Kakashi shuddered and let the younger take over, slipping slightly so that Naruto was the only thing holding him up. Even as he heard some of the guys laughing uproariously and the girls all squealing happily, Kakashi thought of how the boy kissing him senseless had changed.
Three years, he had transformed from a whining, snot-nosed, annoying brat into a self-commanding, clever, foxy man. A perfect blend of Kushina and Minato, Naruto was his own person. His own personal Hokage. Kakashi fell in love all over again, tripping but instead of falling flat on his face, he was caught by the blonde.
And, as Naruto transported them somewhere without so many prying eyes and began to rip his clothes off like a hungry tiger, Kakashi could only think one thing.
'I wonder how much a mattress can handle…'