Author Note

Hi there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.

We are now finally crossing into the Shippuden era. Like I said before, the time skip won't be long, as the chapters focused on Naruto's growth after his Chuunin promotion. Exciting missions, boring ones, mundane ones as well…yeah, not all assignments in a shinobi's life are and should be life-threatening with damsels in distress or good guys versus bad guys or someone bent on destroying the world. We got to see some of his interactions with his former Genin team as well as some of the older shinobi in Konoha, as well as missions with Kurenai, Yuugao, Anko, Hana, amongst others.

The last mission was one that I particularly enjoyed writing. It served to solidify the bridge needed for his relationship with Kurenai to start.

I get that some have criticized about how it happened, but you have to remember the evolution of their consideration for one another, throughout the chapters. I know that it takes some time for each chapter to be posted and if I didn't have a job to pay the bills, I would have posted chapters more frequently. That being said, sometimes it's easy for the readers to forget what happened before and some won't bother to go back and reread it, but fanfiction writing is like this, in the end. It's a book in writing. You post chapters along the way, not the entire book in one go. Anyway, about Naruto and Kurenai's relationship, in this chapter, I shall go into more depth about their evolution…I won't start the chapter by already declaring them a couple.

Obviously, both Naruto and Kurenai will have to handle a lot of teasing from Anko, based on the rumors after the mission, courtesy of a certain Gama Sennin.

Furthermore, I shall get into Naruto's new techniques, so to speak…but I venture that my readers know, precisely, which ones.

Plus, this chapter shall also mark who shall be appointed as Godaime Hokage.

Anyway, here is the chapter.

And a fair warning, there will be a lemon scene, but I will say it beforehand for those who do not wish to read it.

Another warning…this chapter shall be fairly long.

Nidaime no Sairin

Naruto Shippuden

Chapter 28 – Naruto Shippuden

Beta: Scheffinator

A week has passed since Naruto's mission where he and Kurenai ended up playing the part of a couple a bit too lively for both of their sakes.

The spy was captured and taken to Ibiki for interrogation. Of course, it was a rather irrelevant interrogation, since Jiraiya had already got what he needed from the man.

The mere fact that his spy wasn't his spy anymore, told him plenty. Akatsuki had their paws on him, so there was only one thing left to do, in Hiruzen's right mind. Either the spy told Konoha just whom he was reporting to in Akatsuki or he would meet his premature end. Of course, the man knew his odds and therefore committed suicide. It was a shame to lose such a talented spy that has been supplying Jiraiya with intel for longer than Naruto was alive. However, Konoha just couldn't allow him to roam free…not even keeping him locked up bode well for the higher-ups.

Who knew what Akatsuki was capable of…with one of their own inside the village grounds.

Aside from that, Hiruzen and Jiraiya had conversed in length about what to do, moving forward.

Naruto, the village's Jinchuuriki, would have to be stronger.

Much stronger than he is right now, despite some already considering him an A-class shinobi.

His overall skills were already impressive, but he needed an edge. Naruto's usage of the fox's chakra would only grow in time, so they didn't need to worry about his chakra capacity. His usual Rasengan was doubled in size from where he learned the technique. Yuugao had already declared that she had nothing more to teach him in terms of Kenjutsu and his water/wind elemental Ninjutsu repertoire, while limited in terms of quantity, had efficiency as its main quality. No, what he lacked was his knowledge in Fuuinjutsu and space-time Ninjutsu. So, Fuuinjutsu was Jiraiya's field of expertise, which is why the perverted Sannin had taken upon himself to tutor him.

Space-time Ninjutsu was a mystery to everyone in Konoha, with the exception of the Yondaime Hokage.

His technique, the Hiraishin, was passed on to three Jonin in the village, but none of them held a candle to Minato's knowledge.

Of course, Naruto was privy to the knowledge shared by the Nidaime Hokage, so aside from Fuuinjutsu by Jiraiya, he took upon himself to learn that particular craft from the Nidaime's scroll. Two particular techniques were his target to learn. The Gojo Kibaku Fuda (Mutually Multiplying Explosive Tags) and of course the Hiraishin Giri (Flying Thunder God Slash). The first one, a Fuuinjutsu technique composed of multiple exploding tags hidden inside other exploding tags…the last one, one of the Nidaime's masterpieces and Naruto's personal interest.

The first one, although an A-ranked technique, was not considered hard to learn.

The second one involved Naruto learning theories that he so far couldn't make sense of.

Usually, one would have time to get that far, but against S-ranked shinobi gunning for his life, time was a luxury he couldn't afford at this point, as he moved towards the waterfall cave where he first met with the Nidaime Hokage.

About his personal life, or rather what happened between him and Kurenai was considered an S-ranked level secret…by themselves or rather Kurenai did.

Once they returned from the mission, she was having trouble looking him in the eye and also having any form of conversation with him. Then, she had opted not to see him for a good while, which really made him nervous, thinking that he had stepped over the line in their mission. She didn't use the secret code and it seemed like she was enjoying it just like he did. The Chuunin was truly at a loss about what to do or how to proceed…it's not like he could go to anyone to ask questions.

A mere word about it and he would risk it getting out in the open, which was something he didn't want for either one of them.

He remembered Anko teasing him about this in their last mission, but he had a feeling that the snake Jonin would simply blabber to everyone. He could count on Yuugao-sensei for help, but considering her own life history, Naruto didn't feel like bothering her with what happened. Of course, talking with the perverted Sannin was out for obvious reasons. Asuma-sensei was out as well, considering that he and Kurenai had dated in the past, when Naruto heard about it from some of his Chuunin peers, gossiping about it one time, near him. Neither of his Genin teammates, nor Yakumo, were viable options. Hinata has been acting strange around him for quite some time now and Shikamaru would simply wave it off as too troublesome to get into. Thinking about his former sensei, Naruto managed to get a nervous laugh, in contemplation.

'Just imagine asking about this to someone who was a firm believer that shinobi and emotions just don't match'.

Naruto could already picture the legend's response, looking at him with a plain face for a while, before dismissing the situation as a waste of time.

So, with a sigh, the experienced Chuunin resorted to doing what he could at the moment…train his ass off and hope, beyond hope, that the answer would become clear.

Though, the thought of Kurenai never wanting anything to do with him, brought chills to his spine.

===With Kurenai===

It was late at night and one Yuuhi Kurenai had decided to simply stay home tonight and possibly the entire week.

Her hair was a mess, she was wearing a short red dress that barely passed her thigh.

Her only company for the night was a bottle of sake and the memory of yet another mistake of hers to keep her company.

To this day, she couldn't understand what possessed her to go over the point of no return with Naruto.

Sure, they were supposed to be a couple and play the part convincingly. However, at one point, something inside her wanted…desired, it would be the better word. Naruto's choice of clothes in their assignment had only added insult to injury as she eyed a man next to her, forgetting about the boy that she once knew. The after memory still lingered as her body still trembled at the feel of his lips on her…his hands caressing her arms and back, while she used hers to feel the efforts of his training so far. Above all else, she could feel his warm chakra, while kissing…and it was something she had never felt before.

'This safety...the was like we were under a warm blanket…and I just couldn't stop…no…I didn't want to stop'

Kurenai stopped in her daydreaming once again, with a forceful rub of her face, while kicking herself for feeling like that…the shots of sake doing little to keep the guilt from weighing down her shoulder. She should have stopped him…stopped herself once they both realized the spy stopped looking at them and focused on Jiraiya once more. And now, she was risking, yet again, the friendship of someone close to her.

Once again, the hands went for her face as she cursed her urges…cursed her own hormones…cursing Naruto, for being so…so…

"Nai-chan, come on, open up….I know you're in there!" Kurenai jumped from her couch, once Anko's voice, together with her smashing her doorway, was announced.

"Go away, Anko, I want to be alone!" A couple of seconds passed, but then Anko slammed her doorway once more.

"Come on now, let me in…" Kurenai groaned and got up, before opening the door and walking back to her sofa, angrily. "What's going on, went on a mission with Naruto-kun and then you locked yourself in your house, what happened?"

"I don't want to talk about it, okay. Now say what you want and leave me be, please." Anko looked at her friend in alarm...remembering the last time she behaved like this, though it couldn't be.

"Come on, Nai-chan, at least talk to me…" Kurenai wasn't meeting eye to eye and Anko placed both hands on her waist.

"Does this have anything to do with the mission? Ibiki was having the day of his life with the spy, so the mission was successful."

Kurenai kept it quiet for a moment, before pouring more sake to ease her headache.

"The mission went fine…if that's what you're concerned about." Anko narrowed her eyebrows, now wondering if perhaps she had made a mistake in pushing those two, ahead of time. Instead of pushing to get the answer she needed, Anko had decided on another more subtle approach, as she took a seat next to her clearly distraught friend, offering her a more caring tone this time. There could be many things that happened and Anko was dreading the worst possible outcome…of Naruto perhaps taking advantage, which was farfetched in her mind, but he was still a guy. If that happened, then Anko would truly introduce him to every viper she had in her summoning contract.

"It's me Nai-chan, you can talk to me. Did he do something to you?" Once again, Kurenai felt conflicted in opening her mind and Anko was starting to get mad at him…and mad at her for pushing this to happen. "He did, didn't he? Oh, I am going to castrate that bastard!" Anko moved to storm out of Kurenai's house, when the illusion Jonin grabbed her wrist and pushed her back to sit next to her.

"Nothing of that sort happened, Anko…" Kurenai was feeling numb until Anko's words were fully processed.

The snake Jonin had released a sigh in exasperation. She truly didn't want to believe that he could be like that…but she was wrong in the past with plenty who pretended to be a nice guy, only to show his true colors afterward. Luckily for Anko and not so much for the imbecile, that she could summon snakes from within her sleeves. She, then, looked at her best friend, who still appears to struggle with her words.

"Me and Naruto-kun went on an undercover mission together as a couple and…we…ended up kissing."

Anko kept her attentive eyes and ear to her friend and like a switch inside her brain, she noticed the sudden smile in Kurenai's mouth.

Though, that smile then shifted to a frown.

"Okay, you're undercover…it happens…what was the problem?" Kurenai's ruby eyes looked at her friend's and then towards the floor.

"At first, it was only under the pretense of our cover…before we started, Naruto-kun was so sweet to ask for a codeword for me to use, just in case…" Being Kurenai's best friend, Anko was privy to Kurenai's feelings about the blond prodigy. And seeing the affection Kurenai used to address him was too much for the snake Jonin, who by this time was feeling less guilty for pushing them together. However, she was still wondering why her friend was so distraught like this…if Naruto didn't do anything wrong with her and was, like Kurenai said, a gentleman. Her friend, then, continued the explanation. "Our bond worked plenty in the bar and…it felt easy to flirt with each other. At some point, however, I…I guess he too…forgot that we were on a mission…" Anko's eyes widened as she saw Kurenai's mesmerizing eyes as if she was reliving it. "When we kissed, Anko, it was like…everything else stopped mattering. I…just wanted more…we both wanted…"

"Wow, he is that good, huh?" Kurenai hadn't even paid attention to Anko's questioning, as she was yet again remembering the sensation. "I don't get it, then…why are you like this?"

The feeling of guilt returned in full force and Kurenai turned to her friend.

"On the way back, my mind went haywire, Anko…I am his senior….what I did was unprofessional…he's younger than me…I took advantage of him…"

Anko was snorting at each and every so-called problem that Kurenai was listing.

"But what bombarded me even more is that I was risking his friendship." At this, Anko stopped and looked more thoughtful. "What if we take things further and then something happens, Anko…"

"Okay, those you first mentioned are horse shit…but the last reason is more sound." Kurenai felt more at ease now, despite her chest never stopped hurting.

"Ever since he first came to me for Genjutsu lessons, we became close…seeing his growth as a shinobi is a privilege. Furthermore, molding his growth while taking care of his personality…Konoha has never bothered to care about its geniuses and plenty died because of it. I also got to impart my wisdom…about Genjutsu…Anko. Aside from that, we got to know one another. I told him about my father…" Anko's eyes widened at that…Kurenai only shared that with a precious few.

"Wow, really? When?! You never mentioned that to me." Kurenai smiled, remembering it.

"Yeah, it happened in our first mission together with Hana-san. He even felt guilty when I told him how my father died, taking the fall for what the fox did." Anko saw Kurenai's now content smile. "After his mission with Yuugao turned into failure and he cried in my arms, Anko…it was so heart-warming…to have his trust…to know that he felt safe around me to mourn…I just can't allow myself to throw all that away for my own selfishness, Anko….I just don't know what to do!" Anko then released a sigh followed by a smile at her friend. She also remembered how much she teased him about this possibility in their last mission and how Naruto wasn't able to hold back the blush at the thought of him and Kurenai getting together.

"He is indeed quite surprising…I tease him a lot, but I also grew to care for him…like a little brother. Yuugao-chan never stops gloating about her student…" Kurenai this time wiped the tears from her eyes, feeling more at ease.

"I don't want to hurt him." Now that the snake Jonin understood the conundrum, she felt more at ease with her initial plan.

"Well, who's to say that what you're worried about will happen?" Kurenai looked at her friend, who was smiling. "You're worried that something may happen that can set you two on different life paths…well, I am certainly seeing signs that you are not seeing, Nai-chan."

"What signs?" To an expert interrogator, it was quite obvious and Anko snorted at the question.

"Your face betrays you Nai-chan…when you talk about him, a smile appears, almost automatically…" Kurenai blushed and Anko felt the need to scream like a schoolgirl at the scene. "The way you describe the make out session, I can tell you wanted things to escalate…like I bet he did with the princess." Anko laughed at Kurenai's look of anger at her friend for once more teasing her like that…"Okay, I will stop doing that. Can't fault a girl for trying to tease you, though. Now, I can't really tell you what to do…to count him as a friend or a lover…but to keep yourself from exploring bigger things, based on the mere possibility that something may happen…our line of work just doesn't allow us to think long term, Nai-chan. We can be killed anytime, anywhere."

Kurenai nodded, understanding what her friend was getting at, but Anko was not done.

"I say go for it…I get the feeling, though, that he may reciprocate your feelings more than you realize. And who knows…maybe something wonderful can come out of this…heh…more than it already has, in my book."

"You're only saying that, because going forward…means that eventually…" This time, Anko smirked, knowing that she got through to her friend.

"Heh, please don't insult my intelligence, here, Nai-chan…I know that you have already pictured it plenty of times…I can even smell it. Just remember to give me all the details later on." Kurenai then blushed in embarrassment.

"You're such a pervert!" Kurenai, though, was still blushing and Anko placed one hand over Kurenai's neck, before reaching for the sake.

"Now…let's get this party started, heh…wait right here as I will call in Yuugao-chan and even Hana-chan…she has been itching for some female drinking buddies."

Kurenai laughed, feeling better this time as Anko left via shunshin to call up her friends. While alone in the apartment, she passed a comforting hand over her mangled hair, while remembering her time with Naruto, only now without the guilt.

===With Naruto===

The next day, Naruto was seen standing on top of a lake with his eyes closed, while wielding his sword.

Unlike what he expected, training yesterday didn't clarify his conundrum about Kurenai. Still, spending enough chakra and performing some Kenjutsu and Taijutsu drills at least allowed his mind to get clearer, somehow. It had allowed him to blow off some steam, and then get some shut eye last night. Right now, he was focusing on extending his senses past a few miles radius. The droplets of water around him swirled around him, first at low-level speed and then faster, before turning in a different direction.

Then, the droplets stopped spinning and all of it fell on the lake, as Naruto opened his eyes and began the katas that Yuugao-sensei drilled into him, since they began.

The sensei stood on top of a hill overlooking his training in her own Jonin attire, with her arms crossed.

To the untrained eye, it looked like pure perfection and coordinated movement, but to her, it was obvious that something was wrong with her student. His sword's movement lacked resolve and he was missing important steps.

Any trained Jonin would be able to kill him right now and it made her frown.

"Hi there Yuugao-chan." The sword user turned to see Kurenai land behind her. She, then, turned to see her student keep up with his exercises, regardless.

"Hello there…I trust that Anko is alright?" Kurenai chuckled…their girl's night yesterday ended with them having to take Anko to the emergency room, after she passed out drunk.

"She's fine…probably won't awake for another day…" Kurenai then lined up next to Yuugao as she watched Naruto's swordplay.

A smile surged in her lips as she eyed his movement, though she was surprised when Yuugao stated.

"He's erratic today, which is quite odd." The Genjutsu user looked down at that, understanding that she had something to do with this.

"I think that's because of me, I'm afraid…I'll go and talk to him."

Yuugao looked sideways at Kurenai, remembering about last night and how Naruto became the center of their conversation…or rather Kurenai and Anko's conversation.

Whatever it was, though, it wasn't something that pertained to her, so she just nodded. She was about to comment further, when a hawk circulated over her head.

"Well, it appears I have a mission to attend to...see you later." The illusion specialist waved to her in goodbye, before turning to Naruto and moving closer to the lake. By each step she took, her heart beat increased, which was a new sensation for the ravenette Jonin. While Hana and Yuugao chatted by themselves yesterday, she and Anko had taken the opportunity to discuss her and Naruto's next steps…so to speak. She has made peace with listening in to her heart and desires, however at the end of the day, such a relationship just wouldn't be in anyone's best interest to be made public for obvious reasons.

Anko, though, had the slight sensation that Naruto wouldn't question it, based on his own desire to keep what he could do a secret from most.

Hell, even today, Kurenai understood that there were still official secrets declared by the Hokage regarding Naruto…Anko said that not even she was privy to the contents, so it was above a Jonin's and even an ANBU's pay grade. Like she expected, no sooner had she stepped on his sensing radius, Naruto stopped his training and looked in her direction. She just waved with a smile, while understanding the guarded look she was receiving right now.

"Hi there, Naruto-kun…good afternoon." Naruto placed his sword inside its scabbard and then sealed it inside one of his scrolls, before eyeing her. "Getting some training done, I take it?"

"…Oh yeah, Yuugao-sensei is quite strict about not missing a day of practice…where is she by the way? I thought that she was observing."

Kurenai noticed the more reserved tone he was using and it somewhat hurt, even though she understood.

"She was just called for a mission."

Naruto acquiesced and then looked down towards the body of water, observing its fluctuation…as if trying to understand the current situation.

"Why are you looking down, Naruto-kun?" The answer to the question was obvious, but Kurenai still had to broach the subject somehow.

"I thought you didn't want to see me." The ravenette Jonin did expect the answer, but she was surprised to see the downed look, before Naruto continued, getting out of his chest. "Listen, ah, I apologize if I stepped out of line…before."

"Wh…" Kurenai didn't complete her questioning, surprised that he would be apologizing. She approached her once student, now friend and possible love-affair. "You don't have to apologize for anything, Naruto-kun…you did nothing wrong." When they stood in front of one another, blue eyes met with ruby eyes as Kurenai became transfixed by its transparency. Naruto, for his part, saw her smiling and couldn't help but blush particularly at the wave of her messy ravenette hair, before she used her hand to place it behind her right ear.

"Then, why?" This time, it was Kurenai who looked down.

"I got scared…" Naruto looked at her in surprise, while she continued. "It all happened so fast, that once I realized it, I got scared…I didn't want to risk jeopardizing what we have, Naruto-kun…and for that, I apologize."

She heard him release a sigh, before showing a content smile.

"That's a relief…" to her questioning gaze, he clarified. "the mere thought of never seeing you again…I had trouble sleeping ever since we came back…I caught myself wondering if I said something or did something inappropriate that made you lose trust in me…that made you not want to see me…" Kurenai chuckled at such a heart-felt confession coming from the young man as they took a seat by the lake shore to be at ease next to each other once again. They just sat in a comfortable silence and Kurenai had simply allowed herself to bask at the warmth of his chakra enveloping her once again. Like sitting by a fireplace, while it's cold outside.

Looking sideways, she could see him looking at the sky, now with a relaxed smile on his face and she felt terrible for almost taking it away from him.

"Ah Kurenai…do you want to go out to dinner tonight?" The Jonin smiled at the offer.

"You're asking me on a date, Naruto-kun?" The first time this conversation happened, her question was for teasing purposes. This time, she could see the confidence in his expression.

"I am." Kurenai hummed at that, already thinking about a proper way for them moving forward.

"Of course, I do…only this time, you don't need to take me anywhere…" Naruto looked at her in doubt. "Just come to my place and I shall cook for us. There is no need to bring anything, leave it all to me."

"Wow, but that wouldn't be so cavalier of me, now would it?" She waved his concern off easily, making a mental note to retribute to him, later on.

"There is no need to worry about that, Naruto-kun. Now, there is only one thing I need to talk to you about." Now, she was dreading this, as he could very well object and that would cause issues, but it was important to her. "This is nothing against you, Naruto-kun, but I'd like for this to be between us, if you don't mind. I simply despise gossiping of any kind, not to mention the damage it could mean to our careers, if revealed sooner than we wished to. I hope you understand." To this, Naruto looked at her for a couple of seconds, which to her, felt like hours until he nodded. Naruto's whole life is surrounded by secrets…at least this one was not something that he was born with.

"It's fine by me…" She exhaled in relaxation at his prompt answer. "Actually, I was afraid to come to anyone to talk to, from fear of it getting out in the open and jeopardizing you somehow."

"Yes, I'm glad you understand…now, please be on time then, Naruto-kun." Getting up, she left him to his training, while he looked at her back. With a newfound resolve, Naruto shunshined back to the lake again and Kurenai felt his chakra riling up. She turned, only to see much clearer movements from him. She could only smile at his enthusiasm, before already going through the list of groceries she needed to purchase for their date.

After their first romantic dinner date, both had decided to resume where they left off on Kurenai's sofa.

===Two months later===

Two months after Naruto and Kurenai's mission, three experienced Chuunin were lined up in front of the Hokage's Office…Hyuuga Neji, Aburame Shino and Uzumaki Naruto.

From the three, only Neji had opted to still remain with the same outfit, a white kimono shirt with long sleeves, matching paints and a navy-gray apron tied around his waist and black shinobi sandals. Shino chose the standard Jonin attire from Konoha, while wearing an open overcoat over it. Naruto, for his part, also went for the regular Jonin attire, only instead of long sleeves, he opted for short ones.

Hiruzen focused on a much more surprising and nostalgic change.

Instead of the regular Konoha hitai-ate, Naruto had opted for the same helmet worn by the Nidaime with the Konoha logo in the middle.

Hell, with his spikier hair…experienced eyes and even the white-fur…Naruto would be a carbon copy of Tobirama-sensei, only with blond hair and blue eyes.

Behind them, were the respective and former Jonin sensei…Maito Gai, Yuuhi Kurenai and Sarutobi Asuma.

"Well, since everyone's here, I would like to express my pride in seeing before me, three examples of Konoha's will of fire…in three years, receiving not only the Chuunin promotion, but now a full Jonin status." Kurenai and Asuma looked at one another and smiled, seeing their prodigies reaching their same height, while Maito Gai was crying his heart out and screaming about the power of youth, much to Neji's eyebrow twitch. Hiruzen considered the contrast between the stoic Hyuuga and his Jonin's over enthusiasm.

Shino was of course another expression of one of Konoha's genius clans as well, just like his father before him.

His wrinkled eyes moved slowly towards Naruto and lingered for more time than the rest, for obvious reasons.

Naruto had picked up on the hidden communication and bowed in respect towards the aged leader.

Out of the three, Naruto had been through more missions and had received the majority of the Jonin force's approval, followed by Neji and lastly Shino. At this point, pretty much none of the ninja force even remembered just who takes residence in Naruto's body anymore and that was only due to this young man's drive and tenacity into the shinobi arts. Now that Hiruzen took a closer look at Naruto, the image of Tobirama behind him was actually shared by another, right next to him.

'Tobirama-sensei, Minato, I have no doubt in my mind that both of your legacies shall live on in this young man.'

While the coronation was being held, Kurenai allowed herself to pay more rapid attention to the man next to Shino…her man.

She was smiling in deep pride, not only because of the secret romance part, but also the fact that she played a specific part in his development as a shinobi and she was working very hard in containing her personal joy in merely observing him. Not only her, but also Yuugao and Anko as well, each in their own way. Naruto, for his part, slowly looked backwards and they crossed eyes for a few seconds, before she swiftly nodded at him. The helmet addition surprised her when he voiced it…it was indeed surprising when he said that he worshiped the Nidaime Hokage, but then seeing his prowess in water techniques, it was to be expected.

'It has certainly looked good on him…'

One thing was for sure in her mind, though no one could see it…Naruto would be out with his peers celebrating, but afterward, he would be all to herself….

Later on, all of the once Academy students, now respectively Chuunin and Jonin, went out to celebrate.

Neji was with Tenten and Lee, who for his part behaved like Gai with the exception that he vowed to surpass his rival and be promoted right afterward. Shino was more of a recluse, so he had just accepted Choji and Ino's congratulations and even Naruto's, before he opted to leave the pub and go home. Kiba and Sasuke were together with Sakura at one of the tables, having fun. Normally, Sakura would be due for the promotion as well, but she was being suited by Tsunade to become a full-fledged medic-nin in the future. Naruto, Shikamaru and Hinata had chosen a booth for their own and Shikamaru was also dressed in the regular Chuunin outfit this time.

He and Naruto were sharing a glass of beer, while Hinata, surprisingly enough, had decided to order some sake.

"Okay Shika, I wonder why you weren't promoted as well. I have seen you leading a couple of missions." The Nara heir was using his little finger and scratching his ear, much to Naruto's humor.

"It's such a bother, actually…though Kaa-san has been quite insisting on me picking up the slack." Naruto laughed at that and turned to Hinata, who blushed and looked away, though the alcohol was slightly giving her courage.

"Ah congratulations on your promotion, Naruto-kun." Naruto looked at her strangely as did Shikamaru. The truth of the matter was that when they were a team, Hinata had seen a different Naruto than the one she had a crush on and slowly moved away from that feeling. However, she was growing up as well and her child-like infatuation turned into something else at looking at him and for quite some time now, Hinata has had some dreamy nights of him without his shirt on.

So much so that nowadays, she blushed every time she saw him, when they hung out in Kurenai's house together with Yakumo.

"Thank you, Hinata…with Neji's promotion as well, I take it your father is taking it easy on you, right?"

Hinata nodded with a smile, at least glad that she could focus on another subject.

"Ah yes…Tou-san has taken it upon himself to train Neji-niisan and me as well. Neji-niisan has been helping me out as well."

Naruto smiled at that and once more, Hinata looked away.

She was about to comment when Sakura approached their table.

"Naruto-senpai, congratulations for the promotion." The Uzumaki turned to see the medic in training and smiled.

"Thank you, Sakura…how are Tsunade-sama and Shizune treating their little pet project?" The teen medic proudly closed her fist and declared.

"Just great…I have been learning a lot from them…any day now, I get to participate in Shizune-senpai's most complex surgeries." Sakura, then, turned in derision to Shikamaru, one of the members in Medical Ninjutsu. "You would too, Shika, if you applied yourself more." Shikamaru just released a sigh at that. To this day, he had yet to understand just how he was selected to become a student under Tsunade's Medical Shinobi program. While it's good and all to learn first-aid treatment, it's not like he saw the need to go further than that. Little did he know that it was Naruto who placed his name as a good candidate.

"Tsunade-sama only picked me because of my family's herbs, Sakura…and I also don't care about becoming a full medic-nin like you." Sakura only snorted in derision.

"Yeah whatever…troublesome…troublesome…it's all you ever talk about."

"Sometimes, that's all I need to say, Sakura." Naruto remembered when he gave up trying to get his friend to pick it up a notch.

Eventually, Sakura left as well as the others, leaving Naruto alone with Hinata and Shikamaru, who started yawning and said his goodbye to his teammates. At this point, Naruto saw himself stuck with a completely drunk Hinata.

"Hinata, I think you had enough for tonight."

The pub was already getting filled with the village's less than savory customers and Naruto dreaded leaving her behind.

Even Neji had excused himself, saying to Hinata that she should have gone home.

"Oh Naruto-kun…ahhh" Naruto moved to catch her, before she fell from the seat she was on by the bar. She leaned on him as he helped her stand. "It's fine, I can handle.." However, it was clear that she was inches from passing out.

"Let me take you home, Hinata…let's go." She was still insistent, however, so Naruto had quickly and efficiently used a Genjutsu to finish the job started by the alcohol.

'Well, what a mess…I can't take her home like this. Her father will be furious both at her and at me.'

"Take her home, boy, pretty soon the customers here won't think twice." Naruto looked at the elder bartender and nodded, before placing her unconscious body over his shoulder.

Once outside the bar, Naruto had a feeling that dragging the heiress of Konoha's most prized clan wouldn't do him any good.

Plus, the possible rumors already brewing left him no choice, but to tell Kurenai before she found out from someone else and make wrong assumptions. So, quickly jumping towards the nearby rooftops, Naruto went towards Yakumo's place, hoping beyond hope that she was still awake. Like Kurenai thought, Yakumo never went beyond the regular Chuunin, but she managed to make a living for herself, participating in missions as a long-range support and she happened to be Hinata's best friend nowadays, so she could shed some light into what happened and take care of her for him.

Knocking the door of her apartment, a taller red-head Yakumo opened up, before looking in surprise at Naruto carrying an unconscious Hinata on his shoulders.

"Wow, what happened, Naruto? I thought you guys only went out to celebrate."

"Hi there Yakumo, well, she had a lot to drink and passed out…I thought about taking her home, but Hiashi-sama will seal my tenketsu before I have a chance to explain."

Yakumo quickly nodded and ushered them inside, before Naruto placed Hinata in one of the rooms available. After closing the door and seeing Yakumo behind him, Naruto decided to question.

"I had no idea that she has taken on drinking like that…did you?" The illusion using Chuunin, though, negated, just as surprised.

"I will take care of her, Naruto, don't worry. I can send a message to her house, saying that she was too tired to come home and had slept here." Naruto realized that there was nothing he could do at this point and he still had somewhere to be.

"Thank you, then I shall be gone, then…see ya later, Yakumo." The clan heir nodded, before seeing Naruto vanish in a shunshin as if he wasn't ever there.

===With Kurenai (Lemon scene, please move ahead if you don't feel like reading)===

As soon as Naruto landed in front of Kurenai's front door, he started waving through hand seals to create an illusionary perception image, in case someone else passes by and sees him late at night. Two seconds later, Kurenai opened the door wearing nothing but an overcoat, fully aware of the Genjutsu in place and walking seductively at her man, before placing her arms around his neck and locking lips with her man.

"You sure took your sweet time coming here, Naruto-kun. I was starting to wonder if you didn't want my gift."

Naruto's answer was to embrace her strongly and return the kiss, making the brunette Jonin lose her breath.

"I apologize for making you wait, Kure-chan. I just had to take a drunken Hinata to Yakumo's place, before coming here." She only lifted her eyebrow in wonder at the explanation. "Yeah, surprised me as well to see her taking up drinking, but she's fine now and resting." Hinata happened to be a fellow person of interest to Naruto and Kurenai. The Jonin always cared for her and worried about her wellbeing, while Naruto went above and beyond to help her train and overcome her insecurities.

"Well, I am glad that my knight in shining armor was there to escort her into safety, then."

Naruto smirked, as she once again enveloped him with her arms, while kissing him.

"You did say something about a gift…" Kurenai only hummed at the insinuation, already forgetting about Hinata.

"Oh…how silly of me, forgive me…please come inside." She turned and grabbed his hand, while Naruto could smell her perfume as well as be heavily intoxicated by the sight of her luxurious black hair swaying by each step she took. No sooner had the couple crossed the doorway, Naruto closed it behind him and already embraced her from behind, before licking her neck, earning a moan in anticipation from the ravenette Jonin.

"Wow, eager aren't we?" While he kept on his activity, Kurenai slowly removed the trench coat she was wearing, before turning to her lover in all her majesty, revealing what she was wearing underneath…nothing. Naruto wasted little less than one tenth of a second to embrace her passionately and land a fierce kiss on her lips, while his hands slowly rubbed her back, then went towards her bottom. Kurenai's hands and arms, meanwhile, went behind his neck, bringing him closer and pressing his chest to hers.

She could feel his excitement close to her respective region and realized what was asked of her.

"Let's go upstairs, Naruto-kun and remove those clothes of yours. Hmmm."

"After you, then…" Kurenai once more grabbed his hand and led him towards her bedroom. Once there, she pushed him towards the bed and fell right on top of him, before resuming the kissing. Only this time, she was the one using her hands to feel his entire body, while helping him off his shinobi clothes. Once everything was gone, she also dropped her trench coat on the floor and climbed back on top of him. Naruto, however, flipped her over and stood on top, as he started using his mouth and hands all over her body. Kurenai passed her hands through his blond hair as she felt him massage her with his hands, going slow and tender through each and every part of her body.

At one point, when he went back to her neck, his hands reached for her breasts, which made her lose control and pull his hair, slightly.

He moaned at the pull, but went right back to his focus. With a slight pause to simply admire her beautiful body, slender hair and ruby eyes, Naruto went back to kissing her, placing his body over hers. Her arms embraced his back, while basking at the back muscles, added by some slight scarring from his previous assignments.

She always marveled at his workout regimen and how much care he had for his body, keeping it in its mostly pristine shape. By each muscle joint she passed through, the more she began to lose herself to the moment, wishing it to simply last the entire night. She could also feel his member itching downstairs and extended her hand to grab it, making him tremble at the action. Daring to be bold, she enjoyed having this control over her man, while in the act of their love making. It made her even more aroused, as Naruto decided to do the same with her area.

The two were busy exchanging saliva and tongue-wrestling, while each stimulated the other's most sensitive and most important region.

Aside from their physical exertion, sometimes, the couple would enjoy some chakra related exercises as well.

Naruto had complete control over his chakra, perhaps better than she did at this point. As such, both would attempt to capture the other in a Genjutsu, right in the middle.

Nothing would happen, of course…as each took no less than a second to remove the other's chakra from the system, but Kurenai would allow the feel of his chakra inside of her for as long as she wanted. It felt so warm that she allowed him to play with her if he truly wanted to. So, exercising some dimension displacement, Naruto made her imagine that they were in a secluded part of a forest, bathed by a waterfall under the moonlight as his fingers worked faster. She opened her eyes to look around, drenched in sweat as her heartbeat increased. The noise from the forest, added by the waterfall…the excitement of his ministrations down there, proved too much for her to handle.

"Ah Naru-kun…ah…!" She couldn't formulate the words, while having her first orgasm of the night…the shock to her system bringing them back to their room.

Naruto, though, just kept his hands and mouth going through her body and Kurenai had decided she had enough…flipping him once more, she stood on top of him, before lining up his member with her own. As soon as she felt his entire member entering her, she let out a long moan, just as Naruto lifted his body to embrace her, while she moved her hips up and down. It was such an exhilarating experience and she wanted more…she desired more. When Naruto held her close, their chest got into contact with one another and Naruto held her tight, while it happened. They tried returning the kiss, but both just couldn't function without air for so long.

The couple would move through more positions throughout the night, each more daring than the other.

Kurenai wanted to feel him on top of her, because she wanted to see his face…see his eyes, while he looked deep into her eyes.

Naruto, then, wanted to go back to the position from before when she was on top of him and he embraced her close.

At one point, their minds were just too foggy and they simply continued, without much technique. Kurenai would lie down on the bed and Naruto would get behind her. She would bend over her body, while he grabbed her hands with his own. She had just lost complete focus in her eyes when Naruto completed the scene, whispering close to her ear, how much he wanted her right now. She heard him whisper that he wanted her every day, every night, just like this and it set her over the edge…it sent him over the edge as well, before both were reaching for the climax.

Because of the position, Kurenai just slammed her face on the mattress, while Naruto fell on top of her…both feeling the elevated heart beat of the other, just as Kurenai flipped herself and saw the glazed expression on his face.

Kurenai fiercely grabbed his hair and pulled him closer for a long and tender kiss…her gift for him wasn't near finished and Naruto was counting on it.

===Next Day (end lemon scene)===

When the sun rose the next day, the sunlight bombarded the inside of Kurenai's bedroom.

The couple were peacefully in their slumber after the hefty events of last night. Both lacked any clothes, whatsoever as Naruto slept with his head facing the ceiling with Kurenai's head resting on his chest. Her arms comfortably embracing his neck and her ample chest pressed against Naruto's. Naruto's eyes slowly blinked as he heard the noise of someone knocking on her door. Quickly extending his senses, he could feel Anko's and Yuugao's chakras outside his lover's house. It wasn't exactly a knocking, but someone punching the door. Since they started dating, their relationship truly remained a mystery to everyone in the village, with the exception of Anko and Yuugao.

"Ah Kure-chan..." Naruto gently shook her, but only got faint complaint noises from the ravenette Jonin. "Someone's at the door. Anko and Yuugao-sensei, from what I can tell."

"Uh...can you open the door, Naru-kun…" Her drowsy voice made him smile, before he ushered her to leave her chest pillow, much to her personal complaint. While putting on his Jonin pants, he remembered something and turned to her.

"I have to meet the pervert to resume my Fuuinjutsu studies, so I will grab something to eat along the way."

Kurenai now had her face buried under her actual pillow and Naruto had a very good look of her bottom facing the ceiling.

The scenes from last night playing over and over in his head, which only made the situation worse, since he wanted nothing but to climb back to bed and be with her.

"Okay, have fun." Right now, only her drowsy voice and a faint wave from her free hand was enough to prove that she was awake.

Quickly dressing his entire outfit, Naruto then opened the door, right before Anko could finish her last pounding. A quick snaring in Genjutsu later and his image had vanished from the outside perspective. The snake Jonin smirked deviously at seeing him leaving Kurenai's home first thing in the morning and Yuugao had only extended a greeting to her student.

"Morning Yuugao-sensei, Anko…Kurenai's upstairs in her room. The pervert is waiting for me. Bye."

The two Jonins waved him off, before getting inside Kurenai's home and climbing the stairs towards her bedroom, only to see the woman sprawled on the bed, completely naked, while barely covered by her white sheets.

"I gather that last night was good, huh, Nai-chan." Kurenai's eyes opened briefly and then closed as she snuggled affectionately in her pillow, while remembering about last night.

The feeling of her and her lover's activities was still warm and she could feel it all over her body all the way to her toes.

"Hmmm..." Anko snorted at Kurenai's morning moan and saw Yuugao climb back down the stairs, to assault Kurenai's fridge for their morning breakfast.

"I bet that endless pit of energy rocked your world until the early hours of the morning, ain't it…damn you look sexy and glowing right now." Normally, Kurenai would be bothered by the teasing, but right now, she couldn't care less, feeling lighter than a feather. It was just so tender and warm being with him that Kurenai wanted it to never end. The feeling of his chakra when they made out was already overwhelming, but when they made love yesterday, it was like she could feel him entirely…and…well, it was intoxicating.

Anko, for her part, had to click the mental picture, seeing her best friend smiling like that, though her sensitive nose was still sensitive to the post-coitus stench in the room.

"So, Yuugao and I shall make you breakfast…feel free to join us when you recharge and take a bath…the smell of sex is itching my nose."

Kurenai's only eye opened and looked at her friend.

"Will do…just give me 10…no 20 minutes and I will join you." Anko snorted at that…by the look on her friend's face, it was obvious that she wouldn't leave the bed for at least another hour, as she snuggled even deeper into the mattress.

===With Tsunade===

It was already late in the afternoon as one Senju Tsunade walked without a clear path.

She was walking by the passageway near the village river where she used to meet with Dan, a long time ago. It was curious that her legs took her here, right after the heavy conversation she had with the Hokage. Once again, he was insisting that she take the position of the next Hokage. Though, this time, he had expressed that it would be the last time doing so…if she didn't accept then, he would have to think of other prospects. This conversation wore her down every time. It made her remember the worst pain of her life…losing her brother and then losing her lover due to the war.

Both of them wishing to receive the honor of being the next Hokage…

Which was why she vehemently refused the position every time sensei broached the subject to her. It felt easy, so to speak, to lash push back once cornered.

However, she also understood why sensei counted on her and was rather insisting. She could see his health debilitating and it was because of the job as well as their arguments. A part of her wanted to say yes, because it would be in Dan and Nawaki's memory. But then, that very reason pushed her back and saying no to her sensei was almost automatic. Said voice always won in the end. It was what, twenty or so years when Dan died and still she felt the immeasurable pain, whenever the subject came to mind.

With no outlet anymore…be it either booze or gambling, Tsunade was forced to deal with the situation properly this time.

Releasing a sigh and looking at the sun setting for the day, her eyes just lacked focus as she found a bench to sit on. This decision was tearing her apart.

"Oh hello there, Tsunade-sama." She blinked in surprise at the familiar voice and turned to see Naruto approach her with a wave. His outfit was slightly damaged in some places and the Nidaime's helmet did bring her back as well.

"It's you Naruto…congratulations on the promotion." Tsunade said not so convincingly, while looking back towards the sun setting and Naruto could only wonder.

"I appreciate it…ah…do you need anything? You look troubled." The Sannin negated, but kept on looking at the sun. Naruto kept on walking, then, since it seemed like she wanted to be alone. "Okay, then, take care."

Placing both hands inside his pockets, he kept on walking, until Tsunade looked at his back, remembering something very important.

"Wait…" Naruto stopped and turned to see her. "Can you take a seat next to me? I…I want to ask you something."

The recently promoted Jonin complied and took a seat next to her, while waiting to see what's going on.

"Since you're a Jonin now, you must know that the Hokage wants me to succeed him." Naruto nodded…it has indeed come up in restricted conversations…herself and two others that Naruto could predict, even if no one openly told him.

"It has come to my knowledge, yes…" Naruto, though, looked at her in wonder.

What could Tsunade possibly want with him regarding this particular subject…she has more experience years under her belt than he had at living.

"Do you think I should accept?" Naruto even backed away, now treading on thin ice…

"Ah I don't really think I am the best one to help you…I am barely a Jonin." Tsunade laughed at that…she understood, alright.

The boy next to her was experienced for his age, but still wet behind the ears to help her with such a decision.

"Indeed, you're quite young still to be offering me any advice…but right now, you share something with me that no one does." Naruto looked at her in question, before she elaborated. "My little brother worshiped our grandfather, the Shodaime Hokage. He wanted to become Hokage as if nothing else mattered to him in this world, but he died. Dan, the love of my life, had a similar desire, but he died in my arms. My memories of the Hokage, besides Sensei, came from them. However, I had two other examples of a Hokage in my own clan." Naruto made the connection and remembered Tobirama-sensei.

"I see…" Tsunade looked at him sideways and saw that Naruto was down memory lane as well, thinking about her grand uncle.

"Seeing as you possibly remember Tobirama-oji better than I do…would he be disappointed in me if I didn't accept the position?"

Naruto took a long time to consider her pondering.

It was indeed a sensitive subject and answering right away without much depth, wouldn't be of help to anyone. So, Naruto answered with more heart than brains.

"Growing up, I idolized Tobirama-sensei…wanted to be like him…be as efficient as him as a shinobi. Too often, I catch myself wondering if my choices would be approved by him." Naruto laughed while remembering a fond memory. "I remembered him using his water whips on me when he caught me either slacking in training, asking irrelevant questions or even wasting time with irrelevant emotions, in his words." Tsunade smiled at that as she kept on listening. "Tobirama-sensei was quite strict about the way of shinobi and I understand that most of my choices after him leaving would be considered by him as irrelevant or a waste of my time." The thought of having a relationship with Kurenai came to mind. "At the end of the day, I think…when we meet each other again, he won't hesitate and criticize what I did or didn't do, but I'm sure that he will be proud of me for fulfilling the mission he left for me."

Tsunade kept on pondering for a bit, remembering the mission her granduncle gave to Naruto before leaving. Naruto, then, concluded.

"As to your question, I believe he would be." The answer surprised her and she looked ready to lash out, but he beat her to it. "He always advocated towards one's full reaching potential, never allowing whatever reason it was to be in the way. Hokage-sama has his own reasons for wanting you to become Hokage, because like Tobirama-sensei passed on the mantle to him, now he must see in you the same qualities needed for the village's next leader."

Tsunade bit her lower lip, as if having an inner struggle as to which side would be victorious. Naruto chose to get off the bench and turn to her.

"Come to think about it…it would be interesting to see for myself the changes you could make as Hokage…" She looked up and saw him smiling at her. "Sakura has thrived under your tutoring and she speaks very highly of her experience as a medic-nin. Perhaps, with you as the village leader, our Shinobi and Kunoichi could be even more protected, under the world's best medic." Naruto observed as she smiled, in appreciation. "Anyway, I have someone waiting for me, so I shall leave you be…take care." Tsunade saw him wave and then begin to walk away once more, though one thought lingered in her now much clearer mind.

'The changes I could make as Hokage...'

===With the Hokage===

It was late at night in Hiruzen's office, when the Hokage stood alone smoking his pipe in relaxation.

He was about done for the day and thinking of going home, when the familiar sound of heels made him look upward and see his student at his office door. Both said nothing for a while, but Hiruzen knew the reason why she was here now.

"So…after some time to think about it, have you come to a decision, Tsunade?"

The elder leader had no clear idea about her answer. Ever since they began this back and forth, it was a roller coaster of deep emotions that almost gave him a heart attack…


Now, as the Senju heir stood before him, Hiruzen admitted dreading the answer, since this would be the last time, before having to choose between his other two admittedly less favorite choices. Tsunade, for her part, remembered her brother Nawaki and her lover Dan, both of them wishing for the same thing. She also recalled seeing her grandfather and her granduncle, in the role of the village leader. Last but not least, she remembered Naruto. She still wasn't one hundred percent sure of her decision, but she had decided to at least hold the position until the brat was old enough to rescue her from the job.

"I accept, sensei." Hiruzen could only smile and realize that he had forgotten to breathe in anticipation.

Author Note

Ok, that's it for now.

Wow, indeed, I have many ideas about this chapter and it was quite enjoyable to picture the scenes in my head and make justice (I think) in writing. For those who didn't want Tsunade as Hokage, my sincerest apologies. I had placed a poll in the beginning, but then decided to remove it, since she would be the best choice. Yeah, it's been done plenty of times and a change would be ideal? My other choices would be either Kakashi or Jiraiya, but both will play important roles throughout the story. I couldn't just place them behind a desk, doing nothing.

Also, don't read too much into Hinata's feelings for Naruto…her former reasoning is truly gone and nowadays it's only somewhat physical and temporary.

And before anyone asks, this will only be a NarutoxKurenai story. With everything settled, it now marks the beginning of the Shippuden era. I shall decide, later on, about the chronological following, already anticipating that a few changes will occur.

Lastly, I have recently created a P-atreon account for those who wish to follow my stories more personally, sending suggestions and occasional polls to help me. Also, for those who wish to make a pledge there, it would be greatly appreciated. If not, then, it's fine as well. What's important for me is to have more readers admiring my stories.

P-atreon Account: Anime-Enthusiast

Next update: Avalon Bond