Just...something that came to mind, one and a half hour ago. Enjoy.

Promise of a Lifetime

She watched.

The child was crying, tiny fists rubbing at the eyes. A picture frame lay on the floor next to him.

She didn't need to look at it to know what photo was in there.

"What's wrong?" She murmured, sweeping him off the ground and into her embrace. Her other hand picked up the frame, and placed it on the table.

She pried his small hands away gently, and wiped the tears from his face.

"Don't poke your fingers into your eyes," she chided half-heartedly.

He blinked away tears and stared at her with big green eyes, his small hands now fisting on her sleeves.

Those sea-green eyes were so full of loneliness.

Sadness washed over her.

"Aunt Ino," he said quietly, looking down.


"Where's...mama and papa?"

She felt herself stiffen.

Then his head shot up, staring at her with impossibly big green eyes, a hint of blue behind it, bright with tears again.

"I want to see them..." he said childishly.

She ran a hand through his soft blond hair quietly, not knowing how to reply; his small head rested on her shoulder.

"Do they hate me?" He asked again. He sounded too calm, too controlled for a child.

Her hand froze.

"Of course not!" She answered him instantly, almost by reflex.

"Then...why won't they see me?"

She had no reply for that.

The child laughed, sadly.

"It's true, then...they hate me."

His voice had grown thick. He was holding back the urge to cry again.

"They love you." She said firmly, her embrace on him tightening protectively. "They had just...went on a journey, little one. That's all."

"A journey?" His sob-muffled voice was innocent, almost hopeful. His parents didn't hate him!

"A very long journey," she whispered, heart constricting.

He rebounded so easily, voice cheery. "So that explains why I never see them anymore!"

Then he wrapped his small hands around her neck, his voice sobering almost immediately.

"But Aunt Ino, why are you so sad?"

Already he wanted to comfort her, for whatever she seemed sad for.

"I seem sad to you?" She murmured, her hold on him tightening a little.

He unwound his arm from her neck, staring up at her with those eyes again.

"Every time you are sad, Aunt Ino, your brow get scrunchy, like this," he demonstrated by scrunching his eyes shut, purposely pressing his fingers to his eyebrows and pushed downward, and a comical frown formed on his face.

She managed a laugh this time, shaking her head. Her eyes softened.

"That looks more like your papa when he's sulking after your mama hits him on the head. And it's eyebrow, not brow," she waggled a finger at him.

He harrumphed at the mild correction, and then cocked his head to a side. Not deterred, it seems.

"So why are you so sad, Aunt Ino?"

"Hmm," she stroked his head. "I guess it has...something to do with two friends I can't see even if I want to?"

"Who?" He asked curiously.

"One is my best friend, and the other is her...lover. They - "

He pumped a fist into the air, interrupting. "All right! I will find them and bring them here!"

She chuckled again, softly. "It won't work. They are both too stubborn for their own good."

"I will beat them and drag them here!"

She laughed again, and teased. "And how, pray tell, are you going to do that? They are way too strong for you to beat them into submission."

His eyebrows furrowed, and he frowned. He folded his arms, and started to think.

Something wrenched deep in her chest again. God, he looks so similar to him...

"I know!" He brightened, green eyes rounding on her. "I will just train harder and be the best ninja ever!"

Her breath caught in her throat.

"Hokage! I will be the hokage!"

"Sure you can do it?" She murmured teasingly, head coming closer, touching his forehead with hers.

He gave her a determined look. A determined look she knew all too well. She knew a girl and a boy who wore that expression before.

"Promise of a lifetime," he declared.

That was it.

A tear escaped from her eye, splattering on his small hand.

He blinked up at her, eyes wide and confused.

"Aunt Ino?"

He wrapped his arms around her neck again. "Don't cry, Aunt Ino. I will keep the promise! I definitely will!"

"I'm sure you will," she whispered.

She hugged him tightly.

I'm sure you will.