For a change there was no one visiting the KIA memorial stone, yes Kakashi had a tendency to visit it whenever he wasn't away on missions but for this particular day he was escorting a client to the Tea Country and would be back soon.

Of course he wasn't the only regular visitor many other ninja that had lost their friends came to pay their respects and more often than not apologize for not being there to save them in time.

Today's particular visitor was none other than the Hokage the sixth to be precise, and he came bearing gifts. Carefully he sat the Hokage hat on top of the stone, lit some white rose incense, sat an orange flower at the base, opened the lid off a bowl Ichiraku's ramen and sat down starting to eat the noodles then spoke. "Hey dobe. Can't believe it's been another year all ready, heh you're twenty four now. Where does the time go huh?" He swallowed a few more noodles and pork bits. Looking to the sky Sasuke hmmed "Being Hokage is definitely troublesome. Shikamaru wasn't wrong about that, but still I took the job for you. Remember?"

Sasuke leaned against the KIA stone watching as some repairs took part around the village from the latest war attack softly he said "They're considering me as a candidate for the sixth Hokage. I know it's your dream so I want to say no." He stood in silence a bit longer then continued "But... what if I took the job in your place just to look after things for you? I know how much you loved this village and I'll do my best to protect everyone in it if you want."

A small breeze rustled the grass and Sasuke was surprised to see a little orange fox peer at him from the foliage before he could move it was gone in a flash.

Sasuke smirked "Heh guess that's a yes. OK then I'll go and work for Hokage."

"Now it's been three years and I still haven't died yet. I guess that's good." He finished the bowl of ramen broth off then sat it down, he leaned on his right knuckles. "My office was bombarded by angry Chunin this morning, apparently some prankster defaced the Hokage monument again this year and like last year they have no idea who done it other than the flash of orange. Some people are spooked thinking that you're haunting the village."

Sasuke fingered the black and orange jacket he wore under his Chunin vest and Hokage coat idly "I wish that was the case. Still it's a tradition I'll continue for you."

A bird flew overhead barely a silhouette in the blazing sunshine and bright blue skies.

Sasuke smiled slightly "It's great that's it's sunny. It suits you." More solemn he said "Sakura's doing a bit better. She's still waiting for me to confess my love to her but... I can't. I'm not in love with her and I won't allow myself to be. You cherished her so much which is why I do everything within my power to protect her. She's still working at the hospital, so for an active ninja she's out of harms way as much as possible."

Sasuke sighed "Kakashi's still a wreck. It's lucky I became Hokage since he was requesting missions bordering on suicidal, lately I've had him do simple C- ranks and occasional B's in an effort to keep him busy and safe. I've even tried talking him into taking another Team of genin but... ever since that day at the Wave when Haku-" His throat constricted "-Well he's never recovered. You were his sensei's son after all, it just killed him."

He rubbed a hand over his eyes "Don't feel bad though it was my fault after all. If I'd just moved that second faster, if I hadn't of hesitated then... Well I know you're probably yelling at me to stop being sad now right? Well tough I'm allowed to be."

Sasuke noticed the remnants of another flower by the stone also orange, "Guess Iruka's been here again. He's almost the way he used to be, still misses his knuckle headed blonde haired trouble maker though, as do the Ramen people. I'm still not overly fond of Ramen but I can make exceptions for you."

Sasuke leaned back on the stone watching the clouds drift lazily past "I had a meeting with Kazekage the other week I told you about him didn't I? Gaara a former demon container, I think you'd have gotten on well with him. Not because of your conditions though it's because he had a pretty lonely childhood as well. Fighting him may I add is not fun."

"I will prove my existence and kill you."

Sasuke stared at the opponent across from him that was steadily becoming a monster as sand formed limbs, Sakura was unconscious slowly being crushed to death by the sand hand. Gaara looked insane "Well what are you waiting for Uchiha! I'll kill her if you don't attack! Attack so I can kill you and taste your blood!"

Sasuke wanted nothing more than to pulverise the freak for even daring to scratch Sakura, he vowed to protect her for Naruto and no way in hell was he breaking that promise. Channelling as much chakra as possible he said "Summoning jutsu!"

A poof later and Gamakichi appeared "What the- I wanted Gamambunta not you pipsqueak!"

Gamakichi frowned "Well you're no fun either you big big-got! Bleh!"

Sasuke growled not having time for this and stuck the small toad of his head avoiding sand shuriken he gathered up more chakra "SHADOW CLONE JUTSU!"

Using his two clones that drained a lot of his chakra he distracted Gaara then charged forward hitting him with a chidori in the shoulder, Gaara screamed and Sasuke narrowly missed being swiped as the sand formed bigger into a giant one tailed sand raccoon. He cursed then gathered up all his remaining chakra , he WOULD save Sakura damn it, he felt like he had more chakra than ever "SUMMONING JUTSU!"

A poof later and he was standing on top of Gamambunta. Gamambunta wasn't too happy about being summoned but once Gamakichi pointed out the demon guy was mean to him he soon agreed to help, waking up Gaara was no easy task as they avoided an air bullet, Gamabunta told Sasuke to use transformation jutsu on the both, something with fangs and claws. Which whilst running towards the target was no easy task, the first thing he thought was 'what would Naruto do?' he readied in sudden inspiration "TRANSFORMATION JUTSU!"

The nine tailed fox was attacking the sand raccoon, Sasuke leapt on the sand arm and ran up with the speed training he'd done and punched Gaara in the face. Gaara woke up making Shukaku's control fade, "It isn't over!"

Sasuke with his sharingan avoided being caught in the sand "YES IT IS!"

And head butted him making the sand deteriorate, Gamabunta and Gamakichi poofed away, Gaara and Sasuke landed on tree's leaping at each other near exhausted, hurt and bleeding letting Sasuke get one last punch in before they hit the forest floor.

Gaara looked up at the sky watching as Sasuke slowly crawled to him with determination, Gaara asked "What makes you so strong?"

Sasuke huffed out "I. Will. Not. Allow. You. To. Hurt. Naruto's. Precious. People. I. Promised. To. Protect. Them."

Gaara's eyes widened "You fight so hard to save others for someone else. Why?"

Sasuke slumped then inched forward eyes burning from worn chakra reserves wanting to be shut off

"He was alone once, he never cried, never complained, he always believed in the goodness of people, he always smiled, was always wanting to prove himself and he died trying to save me. For that I won't let him down!"

Gaara looked at the sky again 'I see. I understand now.'

Kiba appeared at Sasuke's side, "It's OK Sakura's safe now."

Sasuke stopped "Good." Then he passed out.

Kankuro and Temari picked up Gaara and fled, Gaara said "Kankuro, Temari. I'm sorry."

Kankuro was shocked "Don't worry about it."

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to think like you?" Sasuke had the impression Naruto probably be laughing at him right now. "Who'd have thought that white haired pervert's jutsu would have come in handy? Getting him to teach me that technique was hard on the account of he didn't want to."

"I would like you to train me for the Chunin exams finals."

Jiraiya stared down at the Uchiha with disdain "Why should I kid? Don't you have enough in the Uchiha library to keep you occupied? And isn't one on one with Kakashi enough for you?"

Sasuke clenched his fits "Kakashi was going to train me but I want to become stronger without relying on my sharingan. I can't always depend on it to get me out of trouble."

Sasuke thought bitterly 'Especially when I got it I lost a team mate.'

Jiraiya snorted "And what makes you think that's enough for me to train you? You'll probably run off after your brother the minute I make you even a little stronger."

New searing anger engulfed from the mention of It-HIM as well as the desire to avenge the clan for what he did but then he remembered that it would require leaving the village for far too long. He didn't even know where Itachi would be, and how long would it take to track him down?

Weeks?

Months?

Years?

The kinda time he couldn't afford to be away so he said stubbornly "As much as I want to kill him I can't leave, I will protect the hidden leaf village until I die."

With that unwavering vow Jiraiya reassessed the kid but still declined "I said no."

Sasuke growled then thought 'Well this is for you Naruto'

"SEXY JUTSU!"

Jiraiya raised an eyebrow "Sexy what?" Then his eyes popped out at the raven haired beauty before him "WOW!"

The bombshell said "Won't you please train me Jiraiya sama? I'm a fast learner."

Jiraiya was practically drooling "Of course baby anything you want."

Sasuke returned to normal "Finally."

Jiraiya humped "Fine fine here's the condition though. You gotta stay in that girl form the entire time."

Sasuke twitched "Stupid old little pervert!"

Jiraiya gasped "I'm not a little pervert! I'm a big one hehe!" Sobering up he said "All right kid have you heard of summoning contracts?"

"I still haven't killed Itachi. But then again how can I? I'm swamped with paperwork, taking care of the village, keeping relations between clans intact. I've tried making Neji less bitter after he nearly killed his cousin Hinata but I'm afraid that's something only you could have achieved. I try but unlike you I'm no miracle worker."

Sasuke looked up as a messenger hawk flew to him and delivered a scroll. Scanning over its contents he sighed, "I have to go. Some idiots insulted the Fire lords wife and the Lightning country ambassador is arriving early. I tried to stay the whole day this time but it seems no one wants me to have a day off any more. Maybe next year huh? Sorry."

He placed the Hokage hat back on his head "I'll be back as soon as I can."

He walked away back towards the tower, just because they wanted him didn't mean he'd rush especially when they interrupted a day he'd scheduled to be totally free, months in advance.

Before he left he looked back at the stone "Oh and Naruto. Happy Birthday."