(Author note: Quick flashes of memory are in double parenthesis.)
He sat down on his bed, thinking. Nothing had been the same since he got home. It's too damn quiet, he grumbled in his mind. He stood and began wandering around the apartment. It seemed so...empty—Lifeless. He gritted his teeth in frustration. "GRAAAA! This is stupid! Living alone never bothered me before!" he growled as he paced around the living room. "If I'd stayed she would've treated me like a baby!" he yelled to no one. But the more he walked around, the more he felt like he was gonna crawl right out of his skin if he stayed in his old place.
Eventually, Naruto wound up in front of his wall calendar. His birthday was circled in red. He gingerly touched it as he remembered his thirteenth birthday. He had been in the middle of training with Jiraiya to learn frog summoning and so hadn't been able to have a party. He had been looking forward to it too since he'd never celebrated with anyone. "It would be nice..." he said softly. He stood there a bit, turning in a slow circle as he surveyed the apartment. A sad realization came to him and he hung his head in defeat. "This...isn't home anymore..." he said before walking back to his room.
He rummaged around under his bed for a moment before finding what he was looking for. He pulled out his backpack and once again filled it with his belongings. No more. I don't want any more birthdays alone.
Naruto knew where Tsunade would be—her office. He was surprised, however, to find Sakura at the same place. "Sakura-chan?"
"Hey, Naruto," Sakura greeted.
"What are you doing here?" Naruto asked.
"I've just decided to take her on as my apprentice," Tsunade said with a smile.
"Yup," Sakura said happily.
Tsunade noticed the overloaded bag on Naruto's back. "Naruto...are you...?"
Naruto smiled. "Yeah. I changed my mind. Guess I got too used to having a family," he said before his expression changed to be somewhat serious. "But you have to promise that I'll still have the same freedom I had at my apartment. No bedtimes, no keeping me from dangerous missions...any of that stuff."
Tsunade smiled. "Of course not. I know you're too independent for that."
Sakura, for her part, was confused. "What...just happened here?"
Tsunade laughed. "I'm sorry, Sakura. Of course, you didn't know. I'm adopting this brat over here," she said as she ruffled Naruto's hair.
Sakura smiled widely in delight. "Really?! Naruto, this is wonderful! Congratulations!" she exclaimed as she gave the boy a hug.
"Thanks, Sakura-chan," Naruto replied, blushing a bit. He suddenly remembered a piece of his conversation with Hinata from the other night.
(("What do you want to do when you're older, Hinata-chan?" Naruto asked.
"I think I'd like to be a medical ninja," Hinata replied shyly.))
Tsunade sighed. "Yes?"
"Do you think you'd have time to train two girls at once?" Naruto asked hopefully.
"Two? Who else are you thinking of?"
"Hinata-chan. She told me she wanted to be a medical-nin someday."
Tsunade sighed thoughtfully. "Hmmm. I suppose."
"But," Tsunade said, holding up a finger to tell Naruto to be quiet, "if she can't keep up with Sakura then she'll have to call it quits. I don't have the time to help her catch up."
Naruto nodded in affirmation. "Nm!"
"Alright. Now, why don't the two of you go home? I need to get back to work. Sakura, we'll start your training on Saturday. I should be done with these damn papers by then," she said, gesturing to the many large stacks of paper on her desk.
Sakura nodded. "I'll see you later, Naruto," she said as she walked out the door.
"Bye," Naruto replied. He hiked up his backpack and turned to Tsunade. "Later, Granny!"
"Think I'll ever get a 'Mom' out of you?" Tsunade said with a wry smile.
"I wouldn't count on it," Naruto laughed. With that, he walked out the door.
Tsunade sighed and shook her head, then sat down to resume her daily grind.
Naruto finished putting his belongings back in his new room and went downstairs to make some ramen. Once he got to the kitchen he started going through the pantry, trying to find the delectable noodles. Izumi walked in and made a face when she saw someone was in her domain.
Naruto turned around. "Sama? I'm not a Sama."
Izumi eh hemmed. "Yes, you are. You're the son of a Hokage."
Naruto was confused. "How'd you know about that?"
Izumi smiled. "Tsunade-sama called ahead to tell the staff that you were coming back and what the situation was. She also said to tell you to," she eh hemmed again, "And I quote; Keep your big mouth shut about it until she makes an official announcement."
Naruto frowned and growled under his breath.
"And by the way, Naruto-sama—I am the cook. If you want ramen, ask me and I'll make you some. If you make your own food I won't have a job," she said with a small laugh.
"So what am I supposed to do?" Naruto asked as he scratched the end of his nose.