"Naruto, this is once in a lifetime request... Please... Please bring him back to me. Please bring him home." She said as she cried her heart out.

It was heart-wrenching to watch her... and hear her request for HIM the way she did.

It was undeniable proof. That Naruto wouldn't have her. That he would never have her.

Because her heart was always HIS.

It was silly to think that heroics, charisma, and constant attention to her would sway her heart for him.

It seems that love is a battlefront not well-known to our blonde-haired hero.

And so, before setting off to save, but also potentially fight the man that he called rival, comrade, friend, and ultimately... brother, Naruto decided something.

He'd let her go.

The thought went against everything he believed.

His nindo.

His way of life.

Never going back on his word and giving up.

But to make his friends happy, Naruto would sacrifice everything. For friendship, Naruto would abandon his stubbornness and pride.

He'd let Sasuke have this victory.

After all, it was only fair. Since he was about to leave off with Kiba, Shikamaru, Neji, Chouji, and Akamaru to kick his ass and bring him back.

It hurt to let her go.

Scratch that.

It hurt like fucking hell to let her go.

To give up.

He couldn't face her or his fellow comrades for a brief moment as he looked down to his feet and pushed through the heartbreak.

But they had a job to do, and Naruto was not going to be the burden that caused Sasuke to fall into Orochimaru's hands.

No way in hell.

And with every moment wasted at the front gates of Konoha, Sasuke was getting another inch closer to Orochimaru.

"You got it, Sakura! I'll bring him back! I promise!" Naruto shouted out while delivering a thumbs-up and his signature toothy grin.

With that, they were off.

There was no more time to waste.