Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I, Meinos Kaen, own everything original, be it characters, plot or situations, found in this story.
They said about this story...
"As I said before, MK: This is your best work ever. Congrats on being awesome." - knight504
"A perfect end, to a perfect story!" - MastahofBitches
"Thank you for extending my ability to procrastinate. BEST ENDING EVER." - 92
This story is dedicated to Edward Anatolevich Hill
-Ahhhhh ya ya yaaaah, ya ya yaaah, yaaah, ya yah.-
"Something the matter, brat?"
"Hmm..." After getting reacquainted with Tsunade, Kakashi, Sakura and Shizune, Jiraiya had told Naruto that they should have a drink on him, properly ending that three-years training trip. The blonde, though, wasn't being that enjoyable of a drinking buddy. Even if it was difficult for him to get drunk, his cheerfulness usually made up for it. After leaving the others, though, he had suddenly started moping. "Nothing."
"Yeah, and I'm gay. Come on, what is it? Something about Tsunade's apprentice?" Naruto sighed, downing his glass full of sake and asking for a refill from the bartender. Bingo. "What? You tried to ask her out and received your first rejection of a new era?"
"No, no. It's just... I was disappointed." Now, that was a word that Jiraiya had never heard leaving Naruto's mouth. Noticing his confusion, he decided to elaborate. Might as well get the cat out of the bag. "When I said that she hadn't changed at all when she asked me if she had become more feminine, I wasn't being stupid. That was the truth."
"Well, so?" Jiraiya downed his own shot of alcohol as the bartender handed Naruto a refilled glass. The burning sensation gave him some insight. "Wait, you mean you were disappointedof her not becoming more feminine?" The blonde nodded, playing with his glass and enjoying the noise the ice made against the glass. The sage rubbed his chin. "Well, I can understand it, but, seeing how she was when you left, it was only logical... I mean, were you expecting her to become something in particular?"
"... Well, about that-"
"Naruto-kun?" Their conversation was interrupted by a bubbly voice. Master and apprentice turned to their right. Jiraiya whispered a 'hello, there'. Naruto blushed and beamed at the same time. He was rewarded with a bright smile. "It really isyou, Naruto-kun! It's been so long!"
"H-Hello, Midori-san..." Jiraiya blinked, suddenly feeling that something was very, very wrong. He didn't even grin lecherously as his student exchanged a bear-hug with a very curvy, well endowed, pink haired specimen of the female race. Why? Because Naruto had stuttered. Naruto never stuttered. "I-I came back just today..."
"And that awful daughter of mine didn't think of telling me? Honestly, sometimes..." Breaking the hug, the woman sighed, holding her face with one hand. She shook her head, dismissing her thoughts and smiling brightly at Naruto again. "You've become so handsome! Honestly, it's a mystery my daughter still manages to resist you!"
"Y-You're too kind, Midori-san. Thanks, though." Naruto lowered his head, embarrassed, scratching the back of his head. The woman cooed at the sight, while Jiraiya was more and more convinced that reality had just shifted.
"You're so cute! You've always been such a good boy!" She smiled and held up his head with both hands, Naruto still not meeting her gaze. "Are you? Are you still a good boy?"
"Yes, I am." Naruto replied, grinning sheepishly.
'Ok. What. The. Fuck.' Jiraiya was becoming more and more weirded out by the minute. He had never, everseen Naruto act like this, and it wasn't like he had never seen beautiful women, especially travelling with him. What was happening, in that bar?
"H-How have you been, Midori-san? Also, I didn't know you used to hang out in bars..." Naruto let out. The woman released his face and chuckled.
"Let's just say I've been living a little more since the divorce." That made Naruto blink in surprise.
"Yep. Since a couple months ago." The woman confirmed, and Naruto's mouth formed an 'Oh' of surprise.
"I-I'm sorry to hear that." He lowered his head, causing the woman to chuckle.
"Oh, don't be. But you owe me lots of stories about your travels! It's been ages since you've come to our house! You have to come by as soon as possible! Promise?" She bent forward saying that, causing the neckline of her kimono to shift a bit. Naruto blushed up to his ears and nodded quickly. The woman giggled and planted a big smooch on his right cheek. The blonde was now literally steaming. "Ok, I have to go back to my table, my friends are waiting. See you soon, Naruto-kun."
"Y-Yes..." Naruto replied, the woman waving with her hand as she walked away. Once she was at a safe distance, Naruto melted on the counter with a goofy smile on his face.
"Brat, who the hell was that?" Jiraiya's question was met with a frightening glare. "Not for that, you idiot! It's just, I've neverseen you act like this in your whole life! What's the deal?" The clarification made Naruto's expression soften up, and he sighed blissfully.
"An angel." Jiraiya groaned, palming his face. "Her name's Haruno Midori."
"... Haruno?" The sage removed his hand, gears slowly turning. "You mean she's Sakura's..." Naruto nodded. The gears were turning even more. He grinned. "You slydog! You mean that all this time you've been going after Sakura because-"
"I thought she would soon turn into a sweet, beautiful, angel of creation like Midori-san." He sighed, this time sadly, with a pout. "But I guess genetics don't work like that."
"Ahahahah! This is beyond precious!" 'Naruto: He goes for the mothers! ... Hey, that could work as the title for a new book.'As he guwaffed, though, he noticed that Naruto was just staring in the direction of the table where Midori was sitting alongside her friends. His laughter settling down in a smile, he understood that his apprentice was well and truly loco for the older woman, who didn't look an year beyond thirty, by the way. "... Well, I guess it's now open season."
"Huh?" That distracted Naruto, making him return his attention to Jiraiya. "What do you mean?"
"Was I the only one to catch the part about divorce, brat?" Naruto stared. Then he gasped, blushing scarlet once again.
"EH? N-NO! I couldn't-I don't-!" Jiraiya laughed loudly.
"Yes, you do. Come on, boy! It's your chance to shine!" Naruto lowered his head, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
"B-But, I'm just a kid... She would never..." Jiraiya rolled his eyes. He then put a hand on the boy's right shoulder, forcing him to face him.
"Ok. Listen up, brat. From what I've seen, you cando it. And I even know how. Let's make a deal." Naruto was now listening. "I tell you how to do it, you try it. If I'm wrong, I'm going to dress up like Gai for a week. If I'm right, you have to tell me everything afterwards." Naruto lowered his eyes again, in thought. "Come on, brat. I think the prize is worth a shot."
Naruto slowly turned around in Midori's direction again. The woman was laughing cheerfully with her friends. Then, their eyes met. She waved at him again. He smiled weakly and waved back. Exhaling, he turned back to Jiraiya. "Alright. What do I do?"
-Ohohohoooo! Oh ya yaaah, ya ya yaaah, yaaah, ya yah.-
"... I feel a little guilty." In the end, Naruto had followed each and every one of Jiraiya's instructions. He had told Midori that they could catch up on everything over dinner, the woman promptly offering to cook for him herself. Then, he told her that he would be free on a day when the only other occupant of her household, Sakura, had night duty at the hospital. He had dressed casually, black pants and a dark orange t-shirt, no forehead protector. This was pleasure, not business. And he had brought a small present, something that he would present as a souvenir from his travels that he had bought just for her.
What did he feel guilty about? Well, about giving up on Sakura, leading her on for all that time and now switching to the real object of his attentions. 'Well, it's not like I was ever real boyfriend material for her, so, she's not going to be sad.' Letting the last of his doubts leave his body along with a deep breath, he knocked. After a few seconds, he was greeted by a bright smile and a cute azure apron. "Naruto-kun! You're early!"
"Sorry about that... Is it a problem?" He scratched the back of his head, embarrassed. Midori shook her head.
"Not at all. Come in!" Naruto bowed and stepped past the woman, removing his shoes as she closed the door behind them. "Oh? What have you got there?"
"Ah, this? Nothing much." He said, standing once he had gotten rid of his footwear. With a grin, he presented it to the woman with both hands. "It's something I got you during my trip."
"Oh! A present? How dear of you!" The woman accepted the small package with delight. She rewarded him with a loud smooch on his right cheek, earning redness once again. "I'll open it after dinner! Now I have something on the stove!" She skipped back to the kitchen. She poked her head out right after, though. "No peeking. It's a surprise dinner!"
"Okay." Naruto gave her a thumbs up while he massaged the 'offended' cheek with the right hand. Then he realized that it had gone just like Jiraiya had said, with the present. 'Ero-sennin, if this actually works...'
-Ye-ye-ye-ye-yeh ye-ye-yeh ye-ye-yeh, oh hohohoh.-
"When I finally found him, he had stayed so much inside of the hot springs that he looked like a lobster!"
"Oh, my!" Midori laughed out loud as Naruto recounted yet another funny anecdote featuring Jiraiya making an ass of himself and his apprentice coming to the rescue. "Ah, Naruto-kun! You're killing me!"
"Oh, no! I'd better stop, then!" He joked, raising his hands in a surrender fashion, smiling. "The world would be a darker place without you, Midori-san."
"Aaaaaaaw!" Barely repressing a squeal, Midori latched her arms around Naruto's neck and started covering his face with kisses. "You're just too cute!" She let him go, collecting the last things from the table as the sink got filled with hot water, ignoring the puddle of goo that once was Naruto as she put on the gloves. "Honestly, that daughter of mine! Still all hung up about that bad Uchiha boy..."
"I-It's okay, Midori-san." 'Okay. Dramatic pause, and then...' "It's not a problem. Not any more." Midori turned in his direction, smiling but a bit confused. "Want me to rinse and dry?"
"Why, thank you, Naruto-kun! And what do you mean with 'it's not a problem any more'?" She said, attacking the first dirty plates with a sponge.
"... I've realized that I'm not in love with Sakura." Midori's mouth opened in a 'oh' of surprise as she handed him the first plate. Naruto washed it with clean water from the tap before setting it to the side. "Maybe I never was. I don't know..."
"Good thinking, Naruto-kun. Let most of the water fall down before drying it." Midori commented, with approval. But she was still very confused about Naruto's latest statement. "You never were? But, you tried to woo her for as long as I can remember... Huh." She paused, handing him another plate. "Actually, that's not true. At the beginning, you weren't."
"Yeah, I remember. I just tried to play with her and the other kids, and you would comfort me if they brushed me off." 'Now, I got to say...' The two smiled fondly at the memory. "I've always thought that Sakura-chan would become as pretty and kind as you, Midori-san, you know?"
"Ah, Naruto-kun. You flat-Huh." Midori suddenly froze, like something had suddenly hit her. Then she gasped softly, and a plate fell to the ground, shattering in pieces.
"M-Midori-san?" Jiraiya had said to expect something to happen at this point, but the loud noise and the fact that he had never seen Midori drop anything in his life sent him into genuine alarm nonetheless. She didn't reply. "Midori-san!"
"Hu-Ah? N-Naruto-kun?" His shaking of her shoulders broke her out of her thoughts. She looked at Naruto, then at the broken plate, then at Naruto again. "I-I'm sorry! I just-"
"Are you feeling well, Midori-san?" Naruto suddenly invaded the woman's personal space, gently leaning his lips against her forehead, which earned a soft gasp of surprise and a subtle tinge of pink on her cheeks which he struggled to ignore. He released her forehead right after. "Your temperature looks normal. Maybe you're just tired?"
"... Yes. Maybe." She went with his explanation, answering his concern with a smile.
"Okay. Then, change of plans." He took her hands, removed her latex gloves and suppressing his blush as he grasped her soft hands, led her to the living room and gently made her sit on the couch. "I want you to stay here and rest while I take care of the kitchen, okay?"
"Alright, Naruto-kun." She nodded, smiling warmly as he slowly let go of her hands. "I'll be a good girl."
"O-Ok." He couldn't suppress the stutter any more. Alright, he had followed Jiraiya's instructions to the letter. What he couldn't understand was how were things supposed to go naturally from here. 'Now, what? Is she supposed to suddenly realize I've been in love with her since I was a kid and reciprocate?'
So immersed was Naruto in his thoughts and the act of washing the dishes, even with two Kage Bunshin helping him, that he completely missed the series of sighs and longing gazes coming his way from the living room.
-Ye-ye-ye-ye-yeh ye-ye-yeh ye-ye-yeh, oh hohohooooooooooo!-
"All done. Are you feeling better, Midori-san?" Naruto walked back to the living room, being careful of his volume. Midori had been quite silent for a while. 'Right on the money.' She had relaxed herself a little too much. He smiled as he observed her sleeping figure, her long pink curls sprawled on the armrest of the couch, chest softly rising and dropping under her apron and the clothes underneath.
Sighing, he dimmed the lights and then headed for the cabinet where he knew she kept blankets and other stuff. 'Seriously, Naruto, what were you expecting? Following ero-sennin's instructions, too.' He retrieved a long, green one and walked back to the couch, covering the woman in it, before kneeling in front of her. 'Come to think of it, this is the first time I see her asleep.'
His ears caught soft breathing, coming from her slightly parted lips. He knew that she wasn't one for lipgloss, and yet they were glistening in the low light coming from the kitchen. So pink, and full. He swallowed, blushing. "W-What are you thinking, Naruto?" He whispered to himself, lowering his gaze and head in shame, but his eyes were quickly captivated by those lips again. "... Just once." 'I mean, now I won't have any excuse to hang out around her anymore, so... I mean, I deserve at least this much. Right?'
His body stiffening, he pursed his lips and ever so slowly brought his face closer to Midori's one, closing his eyes along with the distance. When they were fully closed, his lips connected with something soft, warm, and beautiful. He almost melted. 'Damn it, now I've done it.' But he couldn't really feel guilty about it. This stolen kiss was everything he had ever imagined and more. The soft texture, the warmth, the smell of flowers, the slender arms wrapping around his neck and pulling him closer-'Wait a minute. Arms?'
There were arms latched around him, and the soft lips he had been kissing were moving into the kiss. His eyes shot open as he froze. A couple seconds later the kiss ended, the arms leaving him enough space to observe half-lidded green eyes and a loving smile. "Hmm... How did you know I like being woken up with a kiss, Naruto-kun?" His mind died for a second, there. It rebooted with a chuckle and a soft peck. Then he lowered his barycentre to get out of the soft grasp and backpedalled on the ground till he hit the nearby armchair. Midori giggled and sat on the couch, adjusting her hair with one hand. "What's wrong, Naruto-kun?"
"I... I..." His heart was about to explode. That's how it felt, that's what he thought it was gonna happen, so it was going to happen. His breath was quick. He lowered his head. He raised it again. "I'm sorry! I-I didn't-I mean, I don't know what-"
"Naruto-kun, relax. Do I look angry to you? Hmm?" Midori asked, cocking her head to one side. Naruto promptly shut up and observed her.
'She looks like the usual Midori-san.' He slowly shook his head from side to side, calming somewhat down. Midori patted the spot on the couch on her right. Naruto nodded and ever so slowly sat beside her, deciding that the floor looked pretty interesting at the moment.
"Naruto-kun, I think we both know what's really going on, here." His heart skipped a beat. "I had guessed before, when you told me that you hadn't really loved Sakura. So, why did you pursue her all this time?"
"B-Because..." He swallowed. The secret was going to come out. He didn't know if he could take that kind of exposition, though. "Because... I hoped... I thought... She would become just like... Like you, Midori-san."
"Hmm. So, it means that all this time, you weren't in love with Sakura, but...?" She bent forward, her smiling face looking up at him from the peripheral of his vision.
"W-W-With... With..." He started shaking. He squeezes his hands together, hard. "With... With you, Midori-san."
"There you go." Midori chuckled, and Naruto squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable rejection. "Naruto-kun, I'm honoured by your feelings, but..." He gritted his teeth.
Then, soft finger touched his hands, breaking their hold on each other so that elegant digits could intertwine with his owns. His eyes opened in surprise, and he turned to the left just in time to see a mane of pink hair softly lean on his shoulder, filling his nostrils with the scent of flowers, once again. "I like to cuddle a lot." She finished, and he gasped softly. Another chuckle, and his hands were squeezed gently. "I hope it's not a problem."
She shifted closer to him, searching his body warmth. She even followed his body and adjusted herself accordingly as he lost all strength and fell backwards against the couch.
'Ero-sennin, wherever you are, you are from now on forever and ever my fucking hero.'
"You took quite the beating, Deidara-senpai."
"Shut up, hn." Deidara winced as Kakuzu sew his arms back together. "Damn Jinchuuriki, hn."
"Hmm, if you allow me to say, senpai... It didn't look like you were really trying." Tobi commented as he observed the currently pitiful figure of his senpai and (hopefully) future partner. "I can understand that Jinchuuriki are strong, you're Deidara-senpai, senpai! More than a difference in power, it looked like... You couldn't go near him."
"... Yes. That would be a way of putting it. I-It's just, I couldn't stand being near him, hn! Did you look at his face? How he looked? Zetsu, help me out here!" The missing nin felt his blood boiling just at the thought. "It was like being near a burning tree, hn! I-I even tried to avoid his gaze!" He grasped his head with his good hand, a mix between a growl and a whine leaving his throat. "I mean, it was sick! He was so... So...!"
"Overwhelmingly, genuinely, disgustingly happy?" Itachi offered.
"Yeah! Exactly!" The master of explosions snapped his fingers, the Uchiha's suggestion fitting. "How could anyone be that happy?"
Itachi sighed, in a way that startled Kisame, being the one who had known him the longest. It was the kind of sigh that normal people made when reminiscing dear memories, but this was Itachi. "If only you knew, Deidara..."
"..." This was Itachi... 'Right?'
-aaaaoooooh, aaaooo hooo haha-
"So, ehm... Gaara is well?"
"Indeed, although we couldn't capture the other member of Akatsuki! What speed! You ask me, he became S-Rank for his ability to run away! During the whole fight, he only kept on dodging!" Naruto followed up his statement with a boastful laugh and a smirk. "No matter! We'll catch him next time!"
Now, his statement was incorrect, since Deidara hadn't been fighting Naruto only, but no one had it in him/her to correct the blonde boy. The missing nin had only been dodging him, and he wasn't the only one who had been weirded out by the Uzumaki. Sakura found him downright creepy, Kakashi was more posed and only felt it was better to keep their distance. Hell, even Gai, currently helping his rival stand, couldn't youth-speech the blonde's current state.
"... O-Okay. Dismissed." Even Tsunade and Shizune were affected, if the Hokage's stuttering was any indication.
"Ah, thanks, baa-chan! I'll see you soon!" Naruto then laughed cheerfully and left by slowly walking out of the door. When he left the room, Sakura grabbed a handful of her hair.
"Tsunade-sensei, is it some kind of disease? Is it infectious?" She asked, suddenly really worried. Gai swallowed.
"Tsunade-sama, I have to share Sakura's worry. I mean, I don't think I've ever seen anyone that... That..." Kakashi struggled to find the right words to describe Naruto's symptoms.
"Expansively, truthfully, sickeningly happy?" Tsunade offered.
"Yes! Exactly!" The ex-Anbu captain said out loud, pointing at Tsunade with an arm. He winced and groaned right after. Chakra exhaustion. Tsunade sighed.
"Shizune." The woman gave her mentor a nod, before the two closed their eyes in unison. "New haircut?"
"Check." Naruto had started growing his hair, the spikyness reduced because of gravity.
"New dress code?"
"Check." The boy had started wearing his jacket zipped down to his chest.
"Boast of confidence and sense of self-worth, new radious approach to life?"
"Check and check." Shizune nodded. Naruto now exuded confidence and plain manliness from his very pores, and his level of happiness was so high that it had started to overleak on the people around him, with the presented results. She nodded to herself again, arms crossed. "There's no doubt about it."
"Yeah, no doubt." Tsunade mimicked her first apprentice, bobbing her head up and down, arms over chest.
"W-What? No doubt about what? What's wrong with Naruto? What does he have?" Sakura exclaimed, suddenly worried, ballistic. The two older medic nins slowly opened their eyes and with a sardonic smile...
-Nah-nah-nah-nah-nuh-nuh, nah nuh-nuh, nah nuh-nuh, nah nuh-nuh, nuh-nah.-
"A girlfriend? Really?" Ino repeated amused as Sakura finished recounting her tale. "That's the diagnosis?"
"Yeah. Well, it does make sense, kind of..." The Yamanaka chortled and dissolved in a fit of laughter at Sakura's haunted look, much to her embarrassment. "W-What's so funny?"
"You! Getting so worked up! Oh, my stomach..." Ino breathed in and out deeply, mindful that they were in a restaurant. A private booth, but still a public place. "Oh, come on. So what? Naruto's got a girlfriend! What's the big deal? You should be happy for him! Also, no more asking you out at the drop of a hat!"
"I-I know that I should, but, I mean-Come on! This is Naruto we're talking abo-Wait, that came out wrong." Sakura breathed in and out, deeply, holding the bridge of her nose. 'Ok. I'm calm, now.' "Naruto has spent most of his life going after me. Where the hell did he acquire the people skills to get a girlfriend in seven days after returning to Konoha?"
"Hmm... Training trip?" Sakura raised an eyebrow. Ino laughed nervously. "Okay, bad joke. I can't see that happening either, following that pervert around." The blonde brought a hand to her chin, tapping her lower lip in thought. "But I see your point. It is strange."
"I don't want to badmouth Naruto, but he can be naïve. I'd just like to know what kind of woman... You know? To be sure she's not taking advantage of him." Sakura sighed, an image of some blonde conniving bimbo latching onto Naruto with tentacle-like arms surfacing in her mind. "He is the Hokage's favourite and the apprentice of one of the three Sannin, after all."
"Well, just ask him to meet her next time you see him. Now, did you think about my proposal?" Ino quickly shifted the subject to the reason why they were meeting each other that day in the first place.
"Hmm... I think I will take you up on that." Sakura grinned, which caused Ino to squeal and to high-five her best friend/rival. Then, the pink haired girl's mood became sombre. "I just hope mom doesn't take this the wrong way. I will leave her all alone in that big house, now that dad left..."
-Nah-nah-nah-nun, nun-ah-nah, nun-ah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!-
"Why, that's wonderful, dear!" Ask Sakura, that was the wrong way. Midori had just smiled and squeezed her hands together. "You and Ino: room-mates! It will be just like when you were playing house when you were little!"
"Ehm, not really, but, mom, are you sure you're not against this?" Midori's shook her head from side to side. "Not even a little?"
"Sakura, what kind of mother would I be if I wanted to keep my daughter all to myself? You're growing up, and barring some..." 'Psychotic would be too much, would it? Oh my.' "Violent tendencies of yours, you're growing up to be a fine woman, and a daughter I can be proud of." Sakura blushed at the praise, her mother reaching for her hands over the table. "It's just time for you to leave the nest. I understand and accept that."
"... Thanks, mom." Sakura smiled and the two pink-haired women met each other in a loving hug, the younger one's turning into a pout as her mother's chest reminded her that genetics were a bitch, sometimes. She pulled back, putting on a worried face again. "Are you sure you'll be okay, all alone?"
"You just think about living your life, Sakura." Midori reassured her with a smile. "I'm sure I can get someone to visit me, if I want to." As she chuckled, Sakura noticed how lately her mother had seemed to be even more pretty and cheerful than usual. And she usually was really cheerful. Also...
"Mom, have you started wearing your hair in a braid again?" The question surprised the woman for a second, then she chuckled and grabbed onto the long braid, cascading over her left shoulder. "You stopped doing that around the time I was ten..."
"Hmm... Well..." Sakura had a feeling of utter wrong as she thought of the Haruno Midori in front of her as a lovestruck schoolgirl, giggle, playing with her hair and all. "Someone told me that he likes them better this way, so..."
'That doesn't help. At all.' Sakura shuddered. She had enough problems worrying about Naruto's love life. She would just have to confide in her mother's judgment. She was an adult, after all. "Okay. I, huh, I think I'll go tell Ino and... Organize the moving, you know... So..."
"I understand. Go ahead and have a good night, darling." Sakura nodded slowly and decided to hightail it out of there before images of her mother-
'Argh! Get out! GET OUT!' Because she had been worrying about Naruto all day... The mental image of him sucking face with her mother would not go away anytime soon.
-Nah-nah-nah-nah-naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Dah dah daaaaaaaaah...-
"So, Sakura's moving out?"
"Hmmhmm." Midori sighed blissfully as she laid on Naruto's lap, the shinobi gently running his hand through her hair. "She's going to live together with Ino."
"Aren't you going to get lonely?" She chuckled at that and raised her right arm to stroke his cheek tenderly, mimicking an earlier scene from the chick-flick which was currently playing on the television.
"Why, Naruto-kun. That makes it sound like you're going to let me get lonely." He blushed at that, covering her hand with his own.
"It's just-I'm not always around. There's missions, and... I mean, at least you could always see Sakura when she was in the village." His face became worried, and Midori felt that familiar clutch at her hearth and butterflies in the stomach, the works.
"Hmm, well... Why don't you move too, then?" He blinked at that, worry replaced by confusion.
"Well, I was thinking about it. My apartment's starting to feel quite cramped, and-" He blinked as she chuckled, amused that he hadn't gotten it yet. "Wait a-You mean move as in..." She nodded and he became red in the face. "You mean move in? With you?"
"It's a big house for just one person. And that way, you can see me more easily, right?" She pushed herself up from his lap, sitting on her knees on the couch.
"B-But... So soon? I mean..." Naruto suddenly felt overwhelmed. It had taken him a couple days to get used to the notion of having a girlfriend. An older girlfriend, who was the mother of his team-mate and his first and only love. Now, said girlfriend, after only a month, had offered him to move in with her. "Are... Are you sure, Midori-san?"
"I wouldn't have asked, otherwise. Why?" Midori inched her face closer to his own. "You don't want to?"
"N-No! I mean, I do! I really do! It's just..." He flushed. He scratched the back of his head. How could he say that without offending her? "... That would be... Coming out in the open with it."
"... Naruto-kun." Midori grasped his cheeks softly. They joined their lips together in a loving kiss. They were left flushed and smiling afterwards, as always. "I want to come out in the open with it."
"... I don't think Sakura would be happy with it." She chuckled at his haunted look.
"Me neither. She'll probably hit you, kick up a storm, not talk to both of us for months, maybe destroy a portion of Hokage's mountain in her rampage-probably the Nidaime, she always got scared at night when she looked at it from her room-but she'll have to come around, eventually." Midori slowly set her forehead against his, their noses barely touching. "It's a threshold we'll have to cross sooner or later. I think sooner would be better, no?"
"... True." 'Like removing a tooth, I guess. Just bring it on.' He had to admit. As happy as he was, the shadow of Sakura haunting over him kept him from really enjoying being Midori's boyfriend. Even if just the thought always brought a goofy grin to his face.
"That way, we can also do adult things together, yes?" His ears weren't supposed to have that many blood vessels. Midori smiled and latched around Naruto's neck in such a way that her chest was the only thing in his line of vision. "Naruto-kun, I know you think about it. You haven't asked because you respect me... But mostly out of fear of Sakura, right?"
"... Huuu..." 'I still can't say if she wears a bra or not.'
"You know... It's okay with me, Naruto-kun." She let out, her voice suddenly more husky than before, forcing Naruto to shift his gaze to her glazed over eyes. "It's really... Really okay..." She was leaning in. For the kill, Jiraiya would say.
"M-Midori-san." She found herself smooching the palm of his hand. He gently pushed her back. "As much as I'd like to... You're right. We'd better come out with it to Sakura with this, first."
"Hmm... Okay." She smooched his lips. Again, with a smile. "Soon, though, okay?"
"I promise. As soon as she moves out." Satisfied, Midori put her head in his lap again. He raised an eyebrow. "Huu, Midori-san, aren't you suppos-"
"Just a preview, then." Naruto gasped.
"Shizune." The sake. It had to be the sake. Even if that day she hadn't touched a drop of the stuff. She was asking just for the sake of completion. There was no way that what was transpiring in front of her eyes was real. "What's happening?"
"... Sakura-san... She's..." Shizune had no such easy scapegoats. She was pretty much pure to most reality-perception altering substances. She had no choice but to see what was presented to her through binoculars as authentic. "She's demolishing the Nidaime's face. With her head. Also, she seems to be echoing a perpetual scream, ignoring the basic need of breathing."
'Fuck.' Reality had betrayed her. "Okay. I'll rephrase, then. Why is this happening?"
"I don't know, Tsunade-sama." She moved her body so that her point of view shifted along the trail of smashed and partially collapsed buildings. "I'd suggest following the trail of destruction back to its source while we wait for her to calm down." Tsunade raised an eyebrow at that. Shizune sighed. "What would take more? Remaking the head or having Anbu regrow bones?"
-Da-da-daaah, daaah, daa-daah.-
"Huu... Isn't this Sakura's house?"
"Well, actually, she moved out just yesterday, Tsunade-sama." The two women had arrived at Ground Zero, alias Sakura's old domicile, which currently sported a hole in the wall, debris a bit all over the ground as the house's kitchen was now an open-space. "Maybe this has to do with it?"
"God damn it, Ino! Can't you pull harder?" A familiar voice echoed from the inside of the house.
"No, I can't! Who did you take me for, Choji? Nnngh!" This was also familiar.
"I'll go get some butter. Maybe that'll help." This was new. Its owner came into sight as she entered the kitchen. A pretty woman with long pink hair tied in a braid. "Butter, butter... Oh." She took notice of the two female shinobi standing in front of her new ventilation system. "Tsunade-sama?"
"Ehm, yes. And you..." 'This is Sakura's old house, and going by the hair...' "Are you by any chance Sakura's mother?"
"Yes, Tsunade-sama. I'm Haruno Midori. It's a honour to meet you." The woman smiled and bowed deeply, before sighing as she straightened herself. "Although, I would have preferred the reasons to be different. Maybe for the engagement. I suppose you're here because of Sakura?"
'Engagement? What the-' "Yeah, we were rather curious pertaining the cause of her latest outburst." Tsunade decided to ask questions about that a bit later, focusing on the source of the suddenly higher pitched scream coming from mount Hokage. If the wack was any indication, someone had tried heroisms. Maybe Lee. "While her volatile mood is nothing new to me, I've never seen her this... Huuu..." 'Psychotic would be bad, wouldn't it?'
"Hmm, I have to admit to being half of the cause." Midori sighed. She had been joking about the Nidaime's head... Well, half-joking. "You see, Sakura and Ino came by to take my daughter's last belongings..."
Half an hour earlier
"Alright. This is the last one." Sakura raised the last box, making her old room completely spoil. Hoisting it up over her right shoulder, she let out a long sigh. "It feels kind of sad, doesn't it?"
"Empty space always does." Ino put in her two cents, clasping Sakura's free shoulder. "Come on. Time to go. We have to free the living room from all the boxes or we can't party, tomorrow!"
"Eh?" Sakura was succesfully distracted as she followed a grinning Ino downstairs. "Wait just a-Ino, what party?"
"My, Sakura. Every new apartment needs a party." Midori put in, earning a satisfied nod by the blonde kunoichi.
"Mother always knows best, Sakura!" Ino stated, but Sakura's stare didn't exactly scream 'convinced'. "Ah, come on! Live up a little! No booze, okay?"
"Hmm... I guess it's okay, then." The pink haired kunoichi sighed. There was no moving Ino when she set her mind on having fun. She then turned to her mother and the two hugged each other while Ino took the box out of her hands. "Well, I guess this is it, mom."
"Yes, Sakura. Before you go, though-" The doorbell rang. Midori released Sakura, suddenly beaming, which didn't go unnoticed by the younger females. She opened it. "Finally, Naruto-kun!"
"Naruto?" Sakura said, surprised by seeing her team-mate at her house. "What are you doing here?"
"Ehm, sorry. I just..." The blonde boy was visibly nervous as he stepped inside, Midori closing the door behind him and then hugging him from behind. He blushed as he found the back of his head on her chest.
"Come on, Naruto-kun. Tell her."
"Naruto-kun?" Ino repeated, crossing her arms, confused by the whole thing. Sakura a little less, since she had heard her mother refer to Naruto like that before. What really threw her off was the neck in bosom pose. She couldn't even get angry at Naruto since it had been her mother who initiated it. And what was this about having to say som-
"Sakura-chan." Naruto's voice broke her musing. The boy was looking at her straight in the eyes, even if his body language screamed that he wanted to be anywhere but there, talking to her. "I... I never really liked you."
"Wait, what?" The two kunoichi were expecting anything but what Naruto had just uttered. The blonde's perseverance in his pursuit of Sakura was legendary. "Naruto, what the hell? You never really liked Sakura?"
"I just discovered that recently. I'm sorry for... Well, all the trouble." He let out, bowing his head for a moment in an apologetic gesture.
"It's... It's okay?" Sakura wasn't really sure what was transpiring in there. Yes, it may have been a bit annoying, but she had eventually put it under Naruto stuff. For him to just suddenly come out and-She narrowed her eyes. "Naruto, is it this new girlfriend of yours who asked you to say this?" He visibly winced. She clicked her tongue. "I knew it. Naruto, just-"
"She didn't brainwash me or anything, Sakura-chan. It's just... Well..." He cut her off before she could get angrier. He didn't know if he could have kept talking if she had. "You see, Sakura-chan, all this time I went after you because I believed that, with time... You would have become like her."
"Naruto, that doesn't make any..." She trailed off as she suddenly took in the whole situation. Her eyes went wide at the same time as her jaw went slack. Ino got it too, if her dropping the box was any indication. Naruto flushed and Midori cocked her head to the side. Ino palmed her forehead. Sakura slowly fell to the floor on her butt. "... Mom, don't... I mean, you can't... MOM?"
"Sorry, Sakura. I stole your suitor." Giggling as she said that, Midori planted a wet smooch on Naruto's left cheek, much to his embarrassment. Sakura grasped her hair with both her hands, hard, the timing of both Naruto finding a girlfriend and her mother's hairstyle change suddenly being recognized as synchronized.
Ino recovered enough to start laughing. The laugh of someone who found insanity in disbelief. "This is... This is beyond precious! Oh my god!" She couldn't form any other coherent thoughts or words. Sakura had lowered her gaze to the floor inbetween her legs, suddenly hyperventilating.
Naruto was sighing in relief. For some reason or another, Sakura hadn't gotten angry. Seemed like they had avoided the worst. "Just... Why?" Or maybe not. "Why couldn't you keep this to yourself, mom? Because I know it was your idea to tell me. Naruto is about to piss himself standing." He started sweating. The tone wasn't helping his feeling of impeding doom.
"Oh, that's simple. Because Naruto-kun wouldn't want to have sex with me, otherwise." Silence. The proverbial pin. And, the face one makes after biting on something really sour? Ino and Naruto had it.
-Lololololoooooooo! La la-laaaaaah, la la laah, lol, haha.-
"Aaand that's what happened." Midori finished with a pout, before a loud 'pop' echoed from behind her, followed by a sigh of relief. "Oh. It seems Naruto-kun is finally free from the wall!" She turned in Tsunade's direction, and she found both medic nins with slack jaws and eyes wide. She cocked her head cutely. "Huh, Tsunade-sama?"
"... Sorry, care to repeat everything after 'I stole your suitor'? I kind of got estranged from reality for a couple minutes."
-Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, oh-ho-ho-ho-ho!-
A low rumble echoed in the distance. "Seems like my granduncle's head has gotten tired of all the abuse." Tsunade sighed, while Shizune watched the stone construction fall to shambles through her binoculars. "Still, I didn't think the reason for her behaviour would be something-I mean, since when have you been into older women, Naruto?"
"Ehm, since ever, I guess." The male blonde in the room admitted, scratching the back of his head embarrassed. Ino snickered. The situation was surreal, but this would be great to narrate around. "I mean, I've been in love with Midori-san for as long as I can remember."
"Hmm, so you've always preferred older women." Tsunade stated, while Midori chuckled and hugged the reddening Naruto sweetly. A wild thought occurred to the Hokage, who smiled maliciously. "Have you ever... With me or Shizune?"
"Ever what?" Naruto asked, confused. Shizune went red in the face. Tsunade smirked and moved her hand in a pretty explicit pattern. Naruto began to emit steam, gaping. "B-BAA-CHAN!"
"I don't hear a no."
"... Once or twice." Naruto squeaked out, earning a chuckle from Tsunade and Midori, while Shizune blushed even if her sentinel position gave her some cover. "R-Returning to Sakura going crazy, she's calmed down now, right?"
"Yeah, but I don't think it's safe for you to be anywhere near her for the next few days." Tsunade deadpanned. "I don't think even butter will be enough, next time."
"Ehm, yeah." The shinobi said, pulling at his collar, a bit of debris falling down the front of his jacket. "I think I'll take your advice, baa-chan."
"Good. Now, to go and restrain her. Ino, mind giving us a hand?" The Yamanaka stood up with a nod, follow Shizune out. The medic nin was trying to make herself scarce ever since the argument of onanism came up. Tsunade stretched and got up from the couch. "Well, I'll send someone to repair the walls later."
"Thanks, Tsunade-sama. We're very much obliged." Midori said, bowing her head from her sitting position. The buxom blonde smiled and headed to the 'exit', stopping herself under the arc. "Ah, and, Naruto?" He raised his head. "Try not to screw this up, or you'll owe me a Hokage head."
"... Aye aye, ma'am." He let out a sigh, blushing.
-Oh-ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, lo-lo-loooo!-
"Thanks, shinobi-san." Midori bowed to the Anbu who Tsunade had sent to repair the walls along with a small team of carpenters. The masked ninja nodded before disappearing in a puff of smoke. The woman closed the door behind her, turning to Naruto. "Well, all in all, it didn't go that bad."
"Yeah. The Nidaime's head will be rebuilt, I got out of the wall and Sakura-chan will hopefully stop hating me before the next century." He let out with a groan, melting on top of the couch. "... Midori-san, are you sure about this?"
"I think it's a bit too late now, right, Naruto-kun?" The pink-haired mother chuckled, sitting beside Naruto on the couch, leaning her head on top of his chest, his beating heart erratic.
"True. It's just... I guess I still can't believe this is all happening to me, huh?" For the first time in a long while, he was really happy. He had a girlfriend, the woman he had loved since he was a child and now lived in her same house, and barring Sakura, it seemed that everyone approved. Yes, life was-He blinked. "Midori-san?"
"Now, Naruto-kun. It's the main reason we went through all this trouble, right?" Clothes shuffled. "No turning back, now."
"... Ok." He squeaked out. Her grip seemed a little possessive. But he liked it. Someone finally wanted him. In more ways than one.
-Trolololo la, la-la-la, la-la-la-
"Sakura, could you please work through your problems in a way that is not destructive to either yourself or your surroundings?" Ino groaned as she halted the barman's hand, making him drop Sakura's empty glass again. "Seriously, Sakura. What's the big deal?"
"The big deal, she says..." The pink haired nin muttered under her breath.
"I mean, okay. Your mother and Naruto are together. So? They're happy. And if Naruto screws it up, you can always crack his head open."
"I know. I worked through that after I broke off the Nidaime's forehead." She admitted, cracking her hands. "It's just..." She poked the glass with one index finger. "I feel lonely, now."
"... You were counting on other people to be miserable and alone so that you wouldn't feel as bad about yourself?" Sakura winced. Ino could be too intuitive and blunt, at times. "Damn, Sakura. Selfish much?"
"I know, I know! But..." The medic nin moaned as she raised her head from the counter, grabbing onto her glass. "It's not easy having to stare happiness in the face..."
Ino sighed. "Alright, I guess you need some time to get adjusted to it. It's comprehensible. But you do know you can't avoid your team-mate and mother forever, do you?" She nodded. "Good. And don't worry, it's not like the story will become mainstream. Tsunade-sama covered up your outbreak with schizofrenia, and-"
"Hey, did you read Jiraiya-sama's new book?"
"Yeah! Man, what a plot! The hero courts a girl all his life and then-BAM! It was only to get closer to her mother! What a twist!"
Again, Ino tasted sour lemons. Glass shattered.
-Lolololololololo, lololololololol, lololololololol, lololo LOL!-
"What the hell was that?" Naruto shot up, carrying the bed's covers with him.
"Hmm, Naruto-kun, I'm cold..." Midori moaned, pouting as she raised as well, skin meeting skin as she held onto Naruto for warmth. They both peered through the window. "Oh. The Yondaime's head."
"... Oh, crap." 'Ero-sennin isn't that good at dissimulation, I guess.'
-Lolololo-lololo-lololo, oh-ho-ho-ho hooooooooooooooooooooo!-
Dear people who came in here expecting a sappy NarutoxSakura one-shot...
You've been trolled.
With good writing.