A/N: Hey there everyone! I'm finally back and decided to start a new fic... don't worry, I'll finish HackCYCLE too... I'm sorry it's taking so long... but I really wanted to do a Naruto fic too!

Promise of A Lifetime

Chapter 1: Sakura's Tears

She didn't get it, she didn't understand the blonde shinobi one bit. He had protected her so valiantly, stood up for her, saved her more times than she could count. He put his life on the line for her constantly and never once regretted doing so. Why? Why did he continue to do such things for her? Sakura turned to look at the ninja in question, who had let out a grateful sigh as the Hidden Village of Konoha finally came into view.

"I'm going to go and have a huge bowl of ramen as soon as we get back!" he said enthusiastically, a large grin on his face. Naruto moved even faster, leaving Sakura and Jiraiya to catch up.

"Why...?" she asked mentally, her eyes misting over slightly as the image of that same Naruto pushing her out of the way as spikes shot from the wall. She remembered the horror that shot through the core of her being as she looked at her teammate, supposedly run through... only to find that he had barely dodged.

"Oi! Naruto! Calm down! You may have tons of stamina but Sakura and I are exhausted." called out Jiraiya... which was only a half truth. The Legendary Sannin wasn't very tired at all... but Sakura really was exhausted from this endeavor... and it showed. She wouldn't be able to keep up. Naruto nodded and slowed down a bit, letting them catch up.

"Why?" she repeated inside of her mind with a little more passion, a deep pang of guilt shooting through her heart as she remembered Naruto saving her from a pit trap, only to slip and fall in himself. The terror of losing Naruto shot through the core of her being even harder that time.

Naruto grinned at Jiraiya, "Heh, you're getting too old, aren't you Ero-sennin?" he prodded.

"Didn't I tell you not to call me that!" Shot back Jiraiya. It wasn't long before the heated argument started.

Tears threatened to spill as Sakura continued to look at the happy boy in front of her. She could still see the rip in that back of his jacket. Naruto had taken that blow for her... he had jumped in the way and got a giant blade in the back because of it.

"WHY?" She mentally screamed... as if she could get an answer simply by increasing the fierocity of her thoughts. She remembered, in great detail, even as his heart was being crushed... all he could think about was keeping his promise to her. Again she felt that fear... that horrible fear that she had lost Naruto.

"Sakura-chan?" came Naruto's voice, breaking her out of her thoughts. She hadn't even noticed that they had stopped, or that Naruto was in front of her, his eyes showing a deep concern.

"Sakura-chan what's wrong...?" He asked, sure that he had a hold on her attention now.

Sakura studied the boy in front of her. He had that same look in his eyes. That odd look that he always got when he was ready to throw himself in front of her to protect her. She could feel even more pain and regret welling up inside of her as she looked at the ninja.

The orange-clad ninja looked away... down to the ground, "Sakura-chan... don't worry..." he said softly, "we'll find him and bring him back... I'm sure of it..."

Sakura couldn't take it anymore. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked at Naruto. There was a bittersweet smile on his lips... it seemed so familiar to her, but she couldn't quite place where she had seen it before.

"I told you... even if it takes me the rest of my life..." he closed his eyes for a moment, before grinning, "I'll bring him back to you..."

"Even now... he's only thinking of me..." she mused internally, "Why, Naruto... do you go so far for me...?"

"So you really shouldn't be crying!" he continued, seeing that she had not stopped crying... in fact she seemed to be crying harder. This only served to confuse Naruto and drive him back into his concerned-looking state.

Guilt washed over her as she realized that he had forced a grin to try and cheer her up... when had she ever done something nice for Naruto? When had she ever just stopped and talked to him for no reason? They had known each other since the academy... and she didn't know much more about Naruto than his name. She had no idea when his birthday was, no idea where he lived, and not even the slightest clue of what his life was like. She remembered once saying that Naruto knew nothing of her... but now she understood that it was the other way around. She didn't know anything about him.

"Please stop crying, Sakura-chan..." pleaded Naruto finally, seeing that nothing he had said had an effect at all.

It looked like there was nothing the blonde shinobi could actually do to halt the flow of Sakura's tears, so Naruto was extremely suprised when the pink-haired ninja slowly, intentionally wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly to her, burying her head into his chest. Naruto didn't know how to react to this. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd been hugged, much less by a girl. However he remembered what he had done on that day he promised to bring Sasuke back... and he would abide by it... even if it meant passing up an opportunity so perfect to hug the girl he had chased after for most of his life.

"Naruto..." she choked through the tears, "BAKA!" She shouted fiercly as a fresh wave of sobs spilled form the pink-haired girl. She clutched at Naruto desperately, like he would fade away if she didn't hold onto him tight enough.

"I wasn't worried about Sasuke-kun this time!" She cried, "I was worried about you!"

"Me?" He asked, obviously confused... since when did Sakura ever worry about him over Sasuke? It was unnatural... just how shaken was she from their journey to find the Uchiha boy.

"You... kept throwing yourself in front of danger meant for me!" the pink haired girl continued, "And every time you did, I thought you were dead! I can't lose you like I lost Sasuke-kun! I can't bring Sasuke-kun back alone!"

That same sad smile crossed Naruto's features once more.

"So that's it..." Naruto thought, looking at the girl, "I'm the only one she knows that can stop Sasuke... I'm the only connection she has left to him..." He gave an inward sigh.

"Why does that smile seem so damned familiar!" thought the girl, the combination of Naruto's strange activity lately... her recent fear of losing him... and the extremely odd way he was acting now... it was all really starting to irritate her. She delved deep into her mind, trying to find where she had seen him smile like that before.

"Sakura-chan," he said, looking right down into her distraught green eyes, "I won't die until we've gotten Sasuke back!" he said, the sad smile disappearing and suddenly being replaced with a huge grin, "I will bring Sasuke back for sure! It's a promise of a lifetime!"

It hit her like a brick. That's where she had seen his sad smile before. It was on that day...


"You... really love him, huh?" he had asked, a very deflated and defeated smile... "I can understand very well... the pain that you're going through right now..."

"I will bring Sasuke back for sure! It's a promise of a lifetime!" He had said, giving her a huge Naruto-style grin and a thumbs up... he was trembling, though... and his grin seemed practiced and fake...

End Flashback

How come she hadn't noticed until now? Yet another pang of guilt went through her... what happened to him that day? She was seeing that sad smile more and more these days. Had she stirred a long-dead memory so violently? Or was it really that recent? Was it pity in his eyes when he gave her that?

"I can understand very well.. the pain that you're going through right now..." it echoed in her mind over and over. When had he felt such pain...? His words were genuine, he definitely wasn't lying... so when had that pain gone through him? Who had made him go through it?

"Naruto..." she said in a much calmer tone, much to the boy's delight, "remember... back when you made that promise...? You said... that you understand the pain that I was going through... and you said it like you had gone through the same thing before..."

She paused. Naruto nodded, a sudden dread washing over him as he already knew what she was going to ask.

"When did it happen...? Who did it to you...?" she had asked, promising inside of her mind that she would heal Naruto's pain... by reuniting him with the one he had lost.

"I... don't want tell you who..." Naruto said, not wanting to lie to Sakura-chan by saying that he couldn't tell her or that it was somebody else, "but... I went through it that very day..." he said, figuring that it would be safe to allow her that much.

"That day...?" thought Sakura, "It happened on that same day...?"

Naruto pulled Sakura off of him, his hands resting on her shoulders as her tears finally came to a stop. Whether she was feeling a little better or she had just ran out of tears to cry, he didn't know, but she had stopped crying... and that was a start. He took the time to give a quick glance around. Jiraiya was already gone, probably having the heart to leave them be this one time.

"Come on Sakura-chan... we should get going before Ero-sennin get's worried about us." He suggested.

The truth was that he needed to distract her for the moment. The sad look of determination on her eyes told him that she would pry the information from him if he decided to stay here, and there was no way he could resist Sakura-chan if she was determined to get something out of him.

"Yeah..." she said, raising her wrist to her face to dry her now puffy cheeks, "Let's go."

"He doesn't want to tell me... so I won't get it out of him... but he was in a hurry that morning." she thought as she moved along with the orange-clad Gennin, "I'm sure I could find out about all the girls he saw that day... and when I find her..."

Her eyes drifted to Naruto once more, her eyes inevitably falling to the deep scar in his back. It was almost healed now... wait, when did that happen? She could have sworn that the gash was deeper than that a few minutes ago. She chalked it off to her being upset immediately, she must have made the slice deeper than it seemed in her mind because of the guilt she had been feeling.

"I'll make that up to you Naruto... I'll bring you together with the one who hurt you, just like you're doing for me, for sure..." the pink-haired shinobi let a small smile play across her lips, "It's a promise of a lifetime..."

A/N: Sorry the first chapter is kind of lame. I really wanted for it to be better but I just couldn't find the motivation to make it any better than this. I'll try to make up for it in the next chapter though! Please review if you liked the story, it'll help me keep motivated to finally finish my stories!