Naruto jolted awake and stared into the darkness of his room. Rolling onto his side, he saw that it was shortly after 3 in the morning. He sighed. This was the fourth time he had awoken since falling asleep after Hinata left his apartment. "If I'm not going to be able to sleep, I might as well just be…" his thought trailed off. Naruto was messed up, but he wasn't going to even finish that thought. Besides, he knew he was only having trouble tonight because Hinata wasn't there with him. He wasn't entirely sure how he knew that, exactly, but he knew it. And...if Hinata knew what he had just been thinking, he knew in that same instinctive way that it would destroy her, and he would never do that. After what she had done for him, Naruto would sooner gouge out his own eyes than hurt Hinata.
Closing his eyes, Naruto tried to let himself relax. He didn't get very far, however, when the remnants of his dream, along with the last thing he saw in Itachi's Tsukuyomi, flashed before his eyes. He opened his eyes again. "This is ridiculous!" he said aloud. Getting up, the blond walked around his empty apartment and began tidying up. His apartment wasn't really messy or anything, but he couldn't sit still, and this was the only thing he could think of to do just now.
After several minutes of this, Naruto felt like he had worked off some of his nervous energy, so he lay back down and closed his eyes again. He was able to drift off to sleep after a short while this time. His dreams were less than peaceful, but at least he didn't wake back up until the morning had fully broken.
It was early. Tsunade was awake, staring out the window of the office she would have sworn a week ago would never be hers. She could just see the sun beginning to peek over the wall of the village. The Legendary Sucker had been proven wrong many times, but this time, she was certain she was right. She was Hokage, but she knew deep within herself that there was no way she could handle this job alone. She figured, in her less contrary moments, that feeling this way was what had led her grandfather and great-uncle to establish the council in the first place.
That said, however, Tsunade knew she was going to need more help than the now-shrank council could give her. She needed a number two, so to speak. She needed...a deputy Hokage! That's what she needed. Someone who she trusted to always do what she wanted and upon whom she could lay her entire authority. It would have to be someone she trusted, of course, but also someone she could afford to not have at her side at all times. Shizune was out, then. And even though the remainder of the council had all proven themselves to be both loyal and intelligent, she didn't think she could put that much trust in any of them. Ironically, the closest she could come to that would be the empty chair that was Sasuke's by default since his clan was wiped out. She trusted the boy, but he was still a boy.
Then it came to her like a flash of lightning. Of course. The only real choice for this position was Jiraiya. The goon might be a pervert and a complete nut, but at the core, he was loyal and could be trusted to do the right thing. "He's perfect, in his way," Tsunade thought to herself with a small smile. "And I bet I can make him go for it, too. All I have to do is remind him just how much girls will go crazy for him when he introduces himself as 'Deputy Hokage'." Snickering slightly, Tsunade turned from the view of the village and sought out her assistant.
Shizune was waiting near the door when Tsunade turned and gave her a grin. Tsunade beckoned to her. "Yes, m'lady?" Shizune said.
"I need you to find Jiraiya for me, Shizune. I need to speak with him," the Hokage said. Shizune nodded and left. "This is going to be interesting," Tsunade said to the now-empty room.
"OINK!" Tonton said. Tsunade chuckled. She had forgotten about the pig for a moment. Tonton seemed to be telling her that Jiraiya was a stubborn oaf at times. "Yes, yes, I know," she said. "I can handle him, though. It's the rest of the village I'm worried about."
The sun slowly crept higher, lighting up more of the village. Tsunade smiled as she saw people beginning to emerge from their homes and begin their days. She was beginning to feel like a Hokage.
Hinata was pushing herself especially hard on this mission. Kiba and Shino had both noticed it. Kiba had teased her about wanting to get back to Naruto, which made the shy girl blush, but she didn't let his needling distract her. She knew, in her heart of hearts, that Naruto needed her to get back as soon as she could. She had seen the look in the blond's eyes, and she wasn't going to leave him alone any longer than was absolutely necessary.
Shino was watching his teammate carefully. "It isn't logical to push yourself so hard," he said in his typical droning monotone. "We will need you at your best if anything goes wrong, and you won't do anyone any good if you exhaust yourself."
Hinata sighed. "Yeah, I know," she said. "But you didn't see the look in Naruto's eyes when I told him I had to leave for a day." She shivered. That look was going to haunt her nightmares, she just knew it. "I can't bring myself to leave him any longer than I have to...and I just...I don't care what it does to me, I have to finish this and get back fast."
Shino smiled privately. He didn't show it often, but he did truly care for his friends, in his own way. Hinata was like a little sister to him, and, had he been more emotional, he would likely have doted on her. "You do yourself much credit, Hinata," he said simply.
Hinata knew just how much such a compliment meant coming from Shino, and she blushed. Kiba might get to her with his teasing, but Hinata so rarely got compliments that she didn't really know what to think after hearing such a thing. "Thank you," she said quietly, her impeccable manners saving her.
Fortunately, the mission wasn't a hard or dangerous one, and Team Eight was on their way back to the Leaf Village well ahead of schedule thanks to Hinata's extra effort.
Jiraiya entered the Hokage's office without knocking, as usual. "What did you need, Tsunade?" he asked. "Shizune said it was important."
Tsunade grinned at her former teammate. "Yes, Jiraiya. It is. I need to speak with you about taking a new position within the village." Jiraiya opened his mouth to speak, but Tsunade held up a hand to silence him. "I know, you're already the village's spymaster, but this won't interrupt that work at all. In fact, I suspect it will make your job as the lead spy that much easier." Jiraiya closed his mouth and raised an eyebrow in a questioning expression. Tsunade chuckled, then said, "I hereby appoint you, Jiraiya of the Sannin, to the newly created office of Deputy Hokage."
Jiraiya did his best impersonation of a fish out of water for what seemed like a full minute. After opening and closing his mouth no less than twenty times, he finally let out a yell. "WHAT?!"
Tsunade rolled her eyes. "Look, I needed someone I could fully trust, and you're the only one I can trust, and who I don't need immediately available to me at any given time."
Jiraiya took a breath, then said, "All right, I get why me, but what's this 'Deputy Hokage' business? That's not even a thing. I mean...is it?"
Tsunade snickered. She had him hooked. She knew it. "It wasn't, but it is now. Basically, you'll be my eyes, ears, and mouth in any situation where I cannot personally attend to whatever matters need attention. You will have my full authority to act in the name of the village and the Hokage, and you will answer to no one but me."
Jiraiya looked around, then focused on Tsunade. "What's the point of this? I mean, I know you basically dissolved the council, so I get that you probably need help, but why make a whole new office? Why not just have advisors, like the Old Man did?"
Tsunade sighed. This was the one point she hadn't thought Jiraiya would bring up. "I can't trust the council, and while I will have advisors, I can't really give them this much authority. It would be downright ludicrous to have an advisor show up in place of the Hokage to a meeting or something like that."
Jiraiya nodded slowly. "You're not wrong," he said eventually. "I guess I get it. But why should I take this? I mean, it's going to interfere with my research, my spying, everything."
Tsunade grinned. "Perfect," she thought to herself. "It won't interfere with anything. Only a select few will know this is a legitimate thing. Your spy network won't change at all, since you never answered to anyone but the Hokage for that anyway. And besides, you know how girls go crazy for an authority figure. Just imagine how they'll react when you introduce yourself as 'Deputy Hokage Jiraiya'."
Jiraiya considered this. After a minute or so, a lecherous grin spread across his face. "All right, I'll do it!" he said. Tsunade gave him a glare, and the old pervert took on a serious mien. Standing straight, he said, "I humbly accept this position." Tsunade gave him a dismissive gesture, and Jiraiya left.
Tsunade sat at her desk and pulled a sheet of paper from the top drawer of her desk. Writing on it, she couldn't help the small smile that was tugging at the corners of her mouth. Maybe being Hokage wouldn't be so bad, after all.
Naruto awoke late. He was glad to find he had slept a decent amount after waking up in the middle of the night. He had been told to meet with Tsunade as soon as he woke up, so he got dressed and headed for the Hokage's office.
When Naruto arrived, Tsunade looked up and smiled. "Hello, Naruto, come on in. How are you doing today?"
Naruto smiled, but even Tsunade could tell it didn't reach his eyes. "I slept all right, I guess. Will Hinata be back today?"
Tsunade smiled, her eyes sad. "I received word that their mission was complete early this morning, and they're on their way back, so they should be back this evening, if not sooner, yes." Sighing, she asked Naruto the important question. "Did you have nightmares?"
Naruto shivered slightly, remembering the dreams of the night before, and his already tenuous smile slipped. "Yeah, I did," he said simply.
Tsunade nodded. "That's to be expected after what you've been through," she said. "If you want to talk about it, I'll listen."
Naruto considered this offer for a moment, then shook his head. "No offense, but I don't really feel like talking about it right now," he said, his eyes closed. He was doing everything in his power to not remember the horrible things he had seen in his dreams.
Tsunade rose and came around her desk. Resting a hand on the boy's shoulder, she said, "I understand. If you need anything, just ask." Naruto nodded. "You can go ahead and do whatever you want today. Don't forget that you have friends. And I'm here for you now, too."
Naruto nodded, then said, "Could you have Hinata come to my place when she gets back? I want to talk to her."
Tsunade considered this, and she came to a decision. "Of course. See you later, Naruto."
When Team Eight arrived at the Hokage's office, Tsunade was waiting for them, along with Hinata's father, Hiashi Hyuga. Hinata, Kiba, and Shino stood stock still while Kurenai reported on their mission. Tsunade listened, then said, "Good, you four completed your mission ahead of schedule. You may collect your pay as usual. Hinata, please wait. The rest of you are dismissed."
After the three other members of Hinata's team had departed, Hiashi spoke up, to Hinata's surprise. "All right, Lady Hokage, she's here, now what am I here for?" he asked, his tone slightly mutinous.
"I'm sorry, Hiashi, but I didn't want to have to explain this more than once. Hinata already knows this, but Naruto Uzumaki was recently the victim of a particularly heinous genjutsu. His mental health is in an excessively fragile state due to this," Tsunade said. Hiashi nodded, his face confused. "During the genjutsu, Hinata somehow got through to him, we're not really sure how, and as such, he has latched onto her now that he is out of it."
"Okay, I understand, but what does this have to do with you calling me here?" Hiashi asked. The man wasn't angry, but he was definitely impatient.
"I'm getting to that!" Tsunade snapped. Taking a breath to calm herself, she continued, "Naruto was here earlier today, and he told me he had nightmares last night, and then asked for Hinata to come see him as soon as possible." Hiashi nodded, and Hinata blushed at this. "His mental state seems to improve whenever Hinata is around him, and it seems to backslide when she isn't. Due to this, I have come to a decision. I am assigning Hinata a long-term A-rank mission. From today onward, Hinata will be Naruto's live-in caretaker. She will be his companion until his mental health stabilizes."
Hinata gasped, covered her mouth, blushed, and said, "What?! I'll be...living with...Naruto?!" It was all she could do to not hyperventilate or faint at the thought. She was more than happy to do anything in her power to help Naruto, but this was...this was just too much! Could she really do it? Taking a deep breath, Hinata got control of herself and said seriously, "I will do this, for Naruto and for the good of the village."
Tsunade chuckled. "Good. Now, both of you, get out of here. You have things to do, I imagine."
Hinata and Hiashi left the Hokage's office. "Are you going to be all right, daughter?" Hiashi asked as they walked toward their compound.
Hinata took a deep breath. "I will do what I must, Father," she said back. "Naruto needs me."
Hinata would repeat those three words more times than she cared to count over the next few days. She had no idea just how true they were.
A/N: And there it is. Yeah, I know, it's been forever since I updated this. As you can see, I finally have an actual idea where to take this story. I hope you enjoyed this one, and I'll update it faster next time. I hope.