- ◊ (30: How Life Went/ How Love Stays) ◊ - Epilogue!
¤ (Uzumaki Household) ¤ - Φ (Hinata) Φ - ¤ (14 Years Later) ¤
I opened my eyes and smiled. I kissed Naruto's forehead. "Morning Naruto," I told him. He was asleep and he would stay asleep because he was exhausted. Yesterday he had trained all day with our eldest two children Rina and Ramen. They were 15 now and they were real challenges, both Chuunin now.
Rina had tied for her match in the finals but because of the intelligence and skill she showed during her exam she was awarded it. Ramen on the other hand won his match and there was much contemplation over whether or not he deserved it. He was almost as impulsive and illogical as Naruto can be but he got it. I think Naruto had something to do about it. I mean who was going to tell the Hokage they didn't think his son deserved to be a Chuunin despite winning.
Rina and Ramen had been on the same team as Kenta. It was very odd alone, also to have Kakashi as their sensei was even odder. He took to Rina as he took to Sasuke. Naruto thinks that was odd because Kenta is Sasuke's kid. I think the fact that Kenta is more average than Rina is. Rina is very interesting. She is a lot like me, or so I'm told. Not as I was at her age though, more like I am now. She was smart, logical, talented and unique. It was interesting.
Naruto really didn't like that Rina was around Kakashi, a pedifile, but I trusted him. He had never done anything and I doubted he would. Naruto threatened him anyway just to make sure he didn't do anything. Also, to make sure they were all well taken care of.
Naruto did get back at Kakashi for being late. He instituted that the team leaders who show up late to practice have to train with Gai-sensei. Of course Kakashi didn't do that so he showed up on time, except he always told them 30 minutes later what he meant but then Naruto made rules about that. It took a long time before everything came together. Let's just say Kakashi had a lot of training sessions with Gai. On another note, Lee would purposely show up to the training sessions to spend more time with Gai.
Naruto and I did have another kid a few years later. Hikari who we just called Kari. She was daddy's little girl. She's ten now and very excited to begin training. We've been training her most things already and the twins show her their own moves as well. She picks them up very quickly. I think by the time she is their age she'll surpass both of them. I can only say that because Rina and Ramen default to their own specialties and rely on each other.
I had wanted more kids but life got busy and years passed and I was happy with the kids I had. Kari was like Naruto. She already had it in her head that she would be hokage like her father. The clan loved her. She spent most of her time there training and talking to people. She was a social butterfly.
I got up around 6, Sakura was there already starting to prepare breakfast. Sakura had 5 kids. If Sakura had a say in it they would have a lot more because Sakura felt it was her job to have as many kids as she could but Sasuke had told her after their youngest set of twins was born that they shouldn't have any more. She was in shock.
I had to give it to Sasuke, he made the right decision. Sakura had a lot of difficulties getting through her last pregnancy and as a mednin she should have known that that meant she shouldn't have more kids. As Sakura, a dedicated wife and mother who believed she had to revive and entire clan, she ignored it. Sasuke told her no and she was upset with him, unfoundedly, but she accepted it and focused on the kids she had.
Sakura had been pregnant 4 times. First with Kenta, a girl and a boy and then with twins. Laura and Kane were one year apart and Laura about one year after Kenta was born. And 2 years later, Daichi and Sasuke II. Sakura had to fight to let her name their youngest boy after him. Sasuke didn't feel he deserved that but Sakura wouldn't say no. Daichi and Sasu (as we called him) were Kari's age.
Tenten and Neji had a son who was Kari's age. Yua was overcoming her weaknesses well and was becoming a great ninja. She leaned mainly on her mother's teachings and paired it with her slightly weaker than normal Byakugan to make her lethal. She was strong. Their son's name was Taiki. He was under stress by Neji to be great but there was no doubt that he would be. His byakugan was stronger than anyone's I've seen, except Kari's and Rina's. I'd say in a fight that he was Rina's equal. On pure strength he couldn't take Ramen. Ramen was getting more strategic.
Rina and Ramen got along better than ever. They relied on each other, I don't think anything could ever separate them. Rina was strategic and extremely intelligent. She can outsmart Shikamaru. Ramen has sheer will and strength and between them nothing comes through.
Sasu clung to his mom's leg, smiling and laughing as he told her about what he was going to do today. Daichi sat quietly at the table. Daichi and Sasu were competitive and it worried Sasuke. He was afraid it would be like he and Itachi but I doubted it. Twins, and I knew, had a special bond. My doubt would they'd grow into it. I think the fact that Sasu was the youngest and Sakura babied him bothered Daichi, he was independent but he loved them all, even if he got irritated at Sasu. They never fought.
"Morning Sakura, how are you today? Where is Sasuke?"
"A mission briefing…" It tore Sakura up to see how Sasuke, despite everything was still going off on missions. Neji had even given it up when they had Taiki. Tenten taught at the academy. Neji taught Genin and stopped once they were chuunin so he wouldn't leave too much on serious missions.
The door was kicked in and slammed. I sighed as Ino walked in angrily carrying her youngest child, a little boy who looked like Shikamaru. She sat down at the table. We were used to this. It had started the day that Shikamaru found out Ino was pregnant. He knew before a test could confirm, or she could even guess. He was a little shocking. He had woke up one morning and told her she was pregnant. He told her that she was on two weeks and that soon they could be sure. He was right. But being told that she walked out, and he chased her. He always did. He loved her too much to let her go, that didn't mean he wouldn't argue or fight with her, or even stop calling her troublesome.
"What's wrong Ino?" I asked her.
"He said that Yoku was troublesome. I will not put up with him saying our kids are troublesome!" Sakura laughed and Ino glared at her. They still didn't get along particularly well. Ino was pregnant with their first kid a little after I had Kari. Kari was just old enough to start regular school and take care of herself basically when Ino was pregnant again, and the same thing happened for their third kid. Shikamaru had claimed she did it just to throw him into chaos. She had walked out every time. She had no problem walking out on him. The funny thing is they loved each other so much it was ridiculous. Of all the people I knew, she and Shikamaru were the most actively in love people I knew. It was surprising knowing how long it took them. They still went on dates and such like they had all along. It was adorable. Of all of my close friends' kids, her kids were the youngest of them all.
The door opened quietly. It was Shikamaru. We were all used to it. So much so that even the kids could sleep through their fights and arguments. Babies slept through their arguments. He looked at Sakura and I with an apologetic face. I smiled at him and laughed. Sakura liked to pick on Ino because of her "weak" relationship. Ino got up from the table and walked away. It was the same every time.
Ino would walk away, setting whichever kid the argument was about aside so they wouldn't be injured in the fight. He was go after her and then she land a solid punch on him, that he would managed just to block and not do too much damage. I knew that he took the hit to make Ino feel better. It was so choreographed I know he wasn't so slow that he couldn't. He'd apologize to her, telling her how sorry. He'd pick up the kid and talk to them and Ino would forgive him. It happened and then they'd leave with a "by guys, see you around" as though they hadn't disrupted our entire day.
Their three kids were two boys, oldest and youngest and a middle girl. The boys were like Shikamaru, laid back and smart while the girl was like Ino… I'd say she was probably actually troublesome. They were 9,6,4. Tori and Naku were the other two kids.
It didn't make sense to me that our family and Sakura's shared a house but it was never boring. Between Sakura, Sasuke, and their 5 kids and Naruto, and my 3 there was something going on. Sakura became the head mednin since she wasn't going to have more kids. They hadn't let her until she was sure because someone had to always be able to preform proceedures. Ino was her backup and was home most of the time and covered random shifts as she felt like it. Shikamaru taught at the school.
"Hina-chan!" Naruto called. I ran up the stairs.
"What's wrong, Naruto? Did something happen?" I didn't know what to expect.
"No, I wanted to wish you a happy birthday!" I laughed and hugged him. It was November so it was our anniversary, not my birthday.
"You mean happy anniversary?" I asked him.
He sighed and smacked his head against the wall. "Sorry again Hinata, I just can't get it straight! Why are all these things so close together?" I laughed.
"We planned them like this, remember?" He probably didn't remember. I thought them being close would help. He knew our anniversary came before my birthday and after his… or did he? Who knew.
"I'm a failure. I'm surprised our kids are alive still. You are the best wife ever, Hinata." He hugged me tight and I hugged him back.
"You're not a failure, Naruto. You are the best husband and father ever. It's not me, I promise. I love you Naruto." I kissed him and took his hand in mine. "Now how about you wake up the kids, breakfast will be ready soon." He nodded and let go of my hand.
I walked down the stairs to sit at the table. "He forget your anniversary… again?" Sakura asked.
"He thought it was my birthday, I guess that's an improvement."
"Your birthday is two days after Christmas though." She told me. I nodded and laughed.
"He'll never remember that, the fact he knows today is special is something." Sakura nodded knowing the truth.
All the kids got ready and we all sat down and ate. While I was cleaning the table I overheard Naruto (very loudly) asking Sakura if she could watch the kids so he could take me out to dinner. Sakura of course agreed and he yelled "Believe It" for no reason.
Naruto still had to go to work and I had things to do at the complex. My first thing to do was visit my little sister Hinabi and how she and her new baby were doing. I walked into the building and knocked on her door. She pulled it open quickly and gave me a look. I knew that look, I gave it to Naruto all the time. It's the "too loud" look.
"Sorry Hinabi, did you just put him down?" This was her second kid. The other is 4 and probably off training with my father. She looked behind her and stepped out into the hall.
"Yeah, he's not been sleeping well. You know how it is." I nodded. She hugged me. "Happy Anniversary sis! Did he remember this year?"
"He thought it was my birthday." I laughed quietly. She shook her head.
"I still don't see what you see in him."
"And I don't see what you see in yours, so it's a good thing I married Naruto and not your husband isn't it?" She and I laughed. "Naruto is sweet, kind, caring and dedicated to my family. He's forgetful but he tries and that's what matters."
"I still say you could have done so much better…"
I cut her off. "Then the Hokage?" I asked her.
"You always bring that up."
"Well there aren't that many hokages out there, so that has to count for something. Right?" She laughed and nodded.
"It does. He's pretty great and he loves you. His memory is pretty bad but he does try and he's good to you." I hugged her. I never doubted Naruto for a second. Never since I've known him. I knew he could do it. I have faith in him.
Hinabi checked on her youngest child, Zadu and once he was asleep she let me in. We talked for a little about how everything was going. She had been married for about 12 years now and everything was going good for her. After a while, I told her I had to go work, we hugged and I went into the office.
The complex, once I had got everything together was fairly easy to manage. I made sure that everyone was happy with training schedules, that the rules were being enforced. I listened to any complaints by the elders and talked with everyone. I visited the cooks and the people who cleaned the house. Everything was usually in order.
Now I got to do my favorite thing, watch Kari train with my father. He was getting old but that didn't mean he was weak or easy to beat. I could take him but some days it was extremely difficult, barely a win. I never went down without a few scratched and loss of feeling to most parts of my body. It had been years since he had beat me though.
Kari was improving dramatically every day. There wasn't anything she wasn't open for trying and learning. She loved to train with everyone. Her favorite was her dad and after that Neji and Tenten. Neji was warm toward her probably because she was so much like Naruto and me. He was nice to Rina but Ramen got on his nerves and since they were always together he usually ignored them.
At the end she was taken down while she had gotten father's right arm, his strong arm. I clapped when she was done. She ran over and hugged me. It had been a while since breakfast and she ran off immediately after. "How was I mom?"
"You're really improving, Kari." She smiled. She, like Naruto, loved to be told how well she was doing. She needed people to complement her to feel better about herself. It wasn't good, but with a strong family and friend support she would be okay. She doubted herself. Ramen and Rina had each other to push themselves to be stronger. She just had her desire to be Hokage.
"Kari, why don't you go practice some more while I talk to your mother?" Kari nodded to her grandfather and walked away. Kari wasn't happy but she understood that she had to practice and she wanted to talk.
"You need something father?"
"Not anything in particular. I just found something you may like." He pulled out a necklace. It was the one my mother wore all the time when I was a child. She never took it off. I was in awe. "I think she'd want you to have it. As her oldest," he put it in my hands. I put it on under the chain that held the Kyuubi necklace piece so I was connected to Naruto.
I hugged him. He was surprised but he sort of hugged me back. "Thank you father, this means a lot to me."
"She would be very proud of you Hinata. I am sorry I ever treated you so poorly…"
"I have forgiven you father, long ago. I know that you were struggling with her lost and I needed to be stronger."
"It doesn't excuse my actions toward you. I was wrong." I nodded. "And know that I am proud of you too. And I love you." I hugged him again and it was easy for me to hug him back. However I noticed that he winced when I hugged him.
"Father, are you okay?"
"I'm not doing too well. I'm getting weaker. I'm going now to see a mednin." I was worried for my father but I wasn't allowed to show it. He would be okay; he was strong. We were Hyuugas; we survived.
I called her and told her she should stop and go home. I told her to relax with her siblings. She didn't want to but she did. She was worried about her grandfather, as I was but she wouldn't show it.
I worked around the clan, I had lunch there and then I left. The elders couldn't complain because everything was peaceful, everyone was getting stronger and nothing bad was happening. I was going to keep it that way forever.
I walked into the Naruto (the Hokage's) office. He jumped up and hugged me. "Want Yoshi to get you lunch?" Yoshi was the assistant Naruto got when I was pregnant and as I spent more time at the complex as opposed to the office. I was still like his assistant, advising him on what teams should do what and such but he was pretty self-sufficient.
"I already ate at the complex." He nodded and told me to have a seat. "So how was your day?"
"Boring, I got to assign Neji's genin to cat chasing missions."
"Cat chasing?" I asked.
"I had to do them all the time." I sighed, I'm sure Neji was happy about that. "I even gave them each their own cat!"
"Those missions are to encourage teamwork Naruto."
"It's Neji's job to teach them that even though they have separate jobs they should still work as a team. I just saved 2 other genin teams from having to do it." I laughed. It was ridiculous but still smart. I enjoyed Naruto's plans.
"So what do you want for dinner?" I asked him, pretending I hadn't heard his plans.
"Actually Hina-chan, I want to take you out for a nice romantic dinner tonight. We can then walk around in the forest and enjoy the sunset. That sound good?" He was very worried if I would like his plan.
"It sounds wonderful." I smiled at him. He jumped up happily dancing around the room.
"This is going to be awesome. Believe It!" I laughed. Every time he said that I laughed, because I did believe it. I didn't doubt him. The funny thing about his expression was that everyone in the village loved it. They all used it, there were even Naruto figurines and plush toys for kids that had a jutsu on it to say it when they squeezed it or did something. Kids loved it. The fact that they thought he was stupid and childish for saying now made it more funny. I think now they had reason to believe him. He did what he said and they trusted in him, they believed him.
∆ (Uzumaki Household) ∆ - Φ (Naruto) Φ - ¤ (That Night) ¤
I sat at the bottom of the stairs waiting for Hinata to come down. I was excited for our date. I was determined to make up for the fact I forgot about our anniversary. I never got it right and Hinata still loved me. I loved her so much and she deserved so much better. I heard the door open and she giggled and stepped out. I watched as she walked across the hall and down the stairs. She looked gorgeous.
She was wearing a purple dress and there was something purple into her hair. I don't know how it was staying. "What'd you do to your hair?" I asked her.
She laughed. "Rina put matching ribbons in it and braided it for me. She did a really good job."
"You look amazing, Hinata." I kissed her and took her hand. I walked her through the village. She waved to different people and we talked with some of them. Everything had changed for the better since Hinata and I had gotten together. The villagers loved and respected me. They treated me like a real Hokage. Like the third or even my dad. They were okay with Tsunade but me, they loved me. I was so happy. I was finally accepted all because of her. "I love you." I told her as we walked. She made a funny face and smiled.
"I love you too Naruto-kun." She blushed and we went into the restaurant. This place was ridiculously expensive and normally you couldn't get in but they loved Hinata and I was the Hokage so they found us a place. I had called earlier to make sure. I had taken Hinata here before for anniversaries and birthdays and she always loved it. It was very fancy and though my orange suit stuck out everything was great.
Then I noticed the necklace that was around her neck. She always had the Kyuubi pendant but this one was different. "What's that?" I said, probably too loud because people looked and Hinata gave me a look.
"When I was at the complex today father gave it to me, it was my mothers. He found it recently and felt that I deserved it." She was smiling. "He told me my mother would have been proud, and he is proud of me… and loved me." I squeezed her hand, knowing how much this meant to her to have her dad's love and approval.
"Is there something else?" She was staring off to space, that meant there was something else. I knew Hinata by now.
"I think he's very sick Naruto. I shouldn't have done it but I looked at his chakra system and it's damaged beyond belief now. I don't think that he will live very long." I squeezed her hand.
"Sakura will take care of him. He'll be good as new. Don't worry." She nodded and we ate in silence. I of course couldn't stand that for long so I got up and asked Hinata to dance with me before the next course came. We danced in each other arms for a while and our meal came. Hinata was in a happier mood.
We ate and then we went for a walk into the woods. I had the guys open the gate so we could leave and walk to my favorite place. I had only ever taken Hinata there. She knew about it because she had found it in the first place but it was a waterfall. We didn't go swimming like we did. She took off her shoes and let her feet go into the water. I didn't intend to go in but I slipped and fell in. She thought it was hilarious and I splashed her. By the end I pulled her in and we walked back soaking wet.
When we walked in the house everyone looked at us funny but didn't ask questions. Hinata and I were like that. You didn't question, you just assumed we had a great time. We went into the bed and curled up together after we changed into different clothes.
"I love you." I told her again. "What would I do without you?"
"I don't know Naruto, what would you do?"
"How should I know! I just know I need you." I grabbed her and pulled her closer squeezing her. I tickled her and she rolled away about to fall off the bed. I tried to stop her but she pulled me over and ended up on top of me. We were both laughing and I kissed her.
"You know Naruto-kun… I love you too." He smiled.
"I know. I know." She smiled at me and rested her head on my chest. I held her and then I heard people outside the door running and then I heard a crack. Hinata jumped up and we both ran out to see Rina looking over the railing. She turned around.
"I didn't push him. I didn't!" I didn't think she did. It would be more like Ramen to fall over it. I looked over the railing.
"You okay Ramen?" I asked him.
"Yeah dad! That was fun. Can I do it again?" With all his training as a ninja how could he fall over the railing? He had chakra control a ton better than mine and he could have easily landed on his feet.
"No, you will not. You scared Hinata!" I yelled at him. Hinata hopped over the railing and landed gracefully making sure he was okay. Even Kari had run out from her room to see what happened. Sasuke and Sakura's kids hadn't bothered knowing it was probably Ramen being stupid. Sakura had just looked at him and sighed.
"Are you okay?" Hinata said. He sighed.
"Yeah mom, I'm fine." She smiled and hugged him.
"Be more careful," I told him, he nodded.
"I was but I we were running and I slipped and crashed over the railing!" He complained.
"I told you, you should work more on chakra control." Rina told him.
"Nah, I have perfect chakra control." I rolled my eyes. There was no such thing. He should be able to at least keep his balance. It sounds like something I would do when I was like 12 and he's 15.
Everyone got together and we watched movies the rest of the night. It was Friday and so the younger kids didn't have school and the older kids didn't have missions or even training until later. It was good to get to hang out as a family. Hinata fell asleep half way through the second movie and I carried her up to bed and went back to watch movies until I wanted to sleep.
I made sure all the kids went to bed, even got them their midnight snack of ramen and then once they were all asleep I went to our bedroom. I had found love and happiness. Everything I had ever gone through was erased. All I could imagine was this life. The one with my beautiful wife Hinata, and our kids. Our friends happy with families of their own. I was even Hokage. With Hinata's help I had everything. I loved her so much for that.
"I love you," I whispered one last time before I closed my eyes after turning off the light again and curling in beside her. I shut my eyes and went to sleep, just for a little while before the next adventure.
Part 2: The Art of Loving: Completed.
A/N: Thank you for all of you who reviewed and if you didn't please do, I appreciate feed back on how you liked my story. It has taken me nearly 3 years to complete this and I had a lot of setbacks but this is one of my favorite stories in that it has accomplished everything that I had set out for it to do. It was fun to write and I enjoyed every moment of it and hoped you did too.
Completed on December 24, 2010 5:08 PM. 153,831 words. 30 chapters.