Entry for H&E Valentine's Day contest (hope to finish it before the deadline). Keyword: Promise

Rated M for heavy innuendo and potential sexual situations.

Companion piece to my earlier story "Playing Cupid."

Chapter 1: Sakura in Bloom

Scratching her head in agitation, Sakura gazed down at her paperwork. Her eyes narrowed as in a small fit of boredom she started to draw spirals along the edge of her notes. Sakura had been trying to study in her office so she could get her mind off of a certain shinobi who was taking over her thoughts. When she would try to distract herself, something small would remind her of him and she would spend the next hour trying to get him out of her head.

She tried training, but then she saw a frog and she started thinking about him again. When trying to get some lunch, her stomach kept craving ramen. Then she decided to study to get her mind off of things. And that's where she was now, staring at the small spirals adorning her notebook.

It was annoying to think that of all the people to obsess about, the only person on her mind was him. Sure, she had been staring at him out of the corner of her eye during training sessions and taking more care in treating his wounds over others, but that didn't mean anything other than that she was a really close friend, right? She wasn't sure what her status was with him or what she wanted it to be, but she hoped that she would figure it out soon.


Sakura looked up to find Kurenai looking at her expectantly from the door to her office. "Oh, Kurenai. What brings you here?"

"I saw you in your office after finishing my exam. I thought I would drop in to say hello," the woman said with a faint smile.

"Oh, did you have another pre-natal check-up?"

"Yes. I got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time today. The baby's just a tiny little thing right now, but I think he or she will be strong," Kurenai said as she tenderly put her hand over her stomach.

"That's really good to hear."

Sakura was happy to see the jounin woman in such good spirits. She couldn't imagine how hard and scary it must be for her to go through pregnancy and birth without the support of her husband. Asuma's death was truly tragic. The thought of losing Naruto to Akatsuki frightened her to the core. Sakura knew that with the constant threat the organization posed to him and Konoha, it would be no surprise if they somehow captured and extracted the Kyuubi from him. But that was not something she would consider or allow. She had sworn to herself that she would never let Naruto come to any harm, ever.

"I should probably get going now. I'm sure that you still have work to do," Kurenai bowed politely.

Before the woman left her office, Sakura stopped her with a question, "Wait, I wanted to ask you something." Kurenai paused in the doorway waiting for Sakura's question. The young medic paused momentarily before finally asking, "How did you and Asuma finally get together?"

Kurenai closed her eyes reminiscing about her courtship with Asuma. Taking a seat in one of the chairs in Sakura's office, she smiled wistfully. "You would never believe it, but Naruto actually had a hand in helping us get together."

"Naruto did? You mean loud-mouthed, ramen eating Naruto?"

"Yes, Naruto. Hard to believe, isn't it?"

"Yeah, kind of is," Sakura tried to imagine how her teammate could have possibly helped two older adults in the matter of love.

"But in his own special way, Naruto was the one who gave me enough courage to finally show Asuma how I felt."

"So you were the one who instigated the relationship?"

"Partly. Asuma had been buying me flowers and taking me on dates, so it was mutual on both our parts. But I was the one who took the final step in consummating our relationship."

"What did you do? I mean, if you don't think it's too personal or anything," Sakura said hoping that she wasn't prying into intimate details about Kurenai's love life.

"It's actually a funny story. Asuma had been telling me about how Naruto stole the scroll of forbidden jutsus from Sandaime a few years ago. He had been teasing his father on being so weak for falling to Naruto's Sexy no Jutsu. I decided to prove him wrong by using the exact same technique that defeated the Sandaime on him."

Sakura stared wide-eyed. "You mean you performed the Sexy no Jutsu on Asuma?"

"At least a variation of it. I used my own body and prepared a simple genjutsu to make me appear unclothed," Kurenai laughed.

"And did it work?"

"Let's just say that we started living together the next day."

"That's a really funny story. One that I'm sure your baby will love to hear when they're my age." Sakura laughed.

"Of course. So Sakura? Is there anyone who you were thinking of trying that technique on?" Kurenai teased.

A mental image of herself standing before Naruto in nothing more than a few strategically place smoke screens and a sexy pout flashed through her mind. Sakura couldn't hide the blush that painted her face from the observant woman before her.

"Oh, so you are thinking of using that technique on someone."

"No! It's not like that at all! I mean, who would want to use the Sexy no Jutsu on the idiot who created it," Sakura said in a rush.

Kurenai's eyes lit up in amusement as she stared at the stuttering kunoichi. It didn't appear that Sakura even noticed or realized what she had said. But the older woman had learned all that she needed to know, or at least confirmed what she had always suspected. "I shouldn't tease you anymore about things like this. But I'm sure you're pretty busy so I should take my leave."

Sakura recomposed herself before speaking, "Yes, thank you for stopping by though. It was nice chatting with you."

The genjutsu specialist walked out of the hospital with many things on her mind. Putting a hand over her stomach, she knew first-hand how the life of a shinobi could end in the prime of their life. All shinobi were put in danger everyday, but Kurenai couldn't help but think about the precarious life of Sakura's teammate, Naruto.

Kurenai had started to care for the boy, even before she married Asuma. Her late-husband had inherited Sandaime's fondness for Naruto and in turn, Kurenai had thought of him as a part of the strange family she gained when she married into the Sarutobi family. It was only fair that the kids of this generation were given a taste of the happiness she had with Asuma, especially Naruto who deserved it the most.

"I think it's time to help Naruto get a certain girl. Good thing that Anko owes me a favor," Kurenai said to herself as she left the hospital.

Sakura stared at the doorway where Kurenai had left. Her brain was frozen on one thought and one thought only. She wanted to see Naruto in nothing more than a headband and his signature smile. Her face flushed into many different shades of red while processing the information. Was she in love with Naruto? Thinking back to her earlier thoughts and how she had been acting today confirmed her answer. Yes.

Sakura didn't know exactly when she started to feel that way. A part of her thought that she had always felt this way since she was a genin, but her stubborn side refused to believe that she had harbored these feelings for so long. But it made sense. Her constant worry over his wellbeing and slight jealousy over other women weren't just because she was his longtime teammate. It was because Sakura Haruno realized she was in love with the ramen eating, orange wearing, blond-haired idiot of a teammate, Naruto Uzumaki.

Now Sakura was fussing over the thought of what to do with this new information. Naruto still held an attraction to her both emotionally and physically if the many times she had caught him glancing at her body were any indication. He still made his poor attempts at asking her on a date, which didn't have an ounce of romanticism. However, if he were dressed in a nice shirt and tie with flowers in his hands when he asked, that would be a different story. Sakura always wanted to have a guy sweep her off her feet. She guessed that she was going to have to confess her feelings to him, since obviously the idiot wasn't going to make the first move. It looked like she was going to have to grab the bull by the horns, or in this case, Naruto by his . . . well somewhere.

As she started to walk back to her apartment, Sakura was trying to figure out the best course of action to take. She thought that asking him out might be too forward, though she wouldn't completely rule out that possibility. Flirting with him might work, but then Naruto could be as dense as they come so she wasn't sure if he would catch any of her hints. Frankly, Sakura wasn't sure what to do. She could strategize the best way to fight an enemy, heal the most critical wounds and could retain sensitive information with the utmost confidence. But when it came to this, she was stumped.

Sakura was so lost in her thoughts she didn't register the person standing in front of her until she nearly ran right into them.

"A little distracted tonight, Sakura?" the voice of Anko Mitarashi rang out. She stood wearing a smug look on her face with both hands on her hips as she stared down at the confused chunin.

"Oh, Anko. I'm sorry about that. I was just thinking."

"Thinking? And what were you thinking about? Hm?"

Sakura's mouth open and closed soundlessly as she struggled to say anything but the truth. "Um, well . . ."

"Could it involve ramen? You know . . . something spirally? Like Naruto for example?" Anko prodded.

"How did you know?" Sakura asked in shock.

"I didn't, but judging from your answer I was right. So what is our blooming blossom going to do to our little pervert-in-training?"

"Naruto's not a pervert!" Sakura said, startled that those words actually came out of her mouth.

Anko gave Sakura a pointed look. "Really now?"

"Well, I mean. Yeah he is one, but he's not as bad as Jiraya!"

"True, but who's been training him for the past two to three years?"


"And who's been training him recently?"


"And what do those two men have in common?"

"The fact that they're perverts," Sakura said defeated.

Anko grinned, "and they always say that the student follows the master. So who knows what sort of perverted techniques Naruto has learned through them. Though, that could be good for you."


"Maybe he's going to be a real beast in bed," Anko said licking her lips.

Sakura wished that there was a hole somewhere nearby where she could fall in and bury herself to hide her embarrassment. Though a part of her had to admit that it was a delicious idea to think about how to fully utilize Naruto's unyielding stamina.

"So Sakura? Have you got a plan for how to nab yourself a blond-haired cutie?"

"Um . . . no. Not yet."

Anko tapped her finger on her lips while thinking. "Is that so? Well, if you need some help, I could offer you some pointers and tips. I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve that would help you out. What do you say?"

"I don't know. I'll have to think about it," Sakura said uncertain about whether or not she should trust Anko or continue to find that hole to bury herself in.

"Oh, well you better decide soon. I heard from someone that Hinata was looking for me to ask for advice and training on how to get a certain someone who she lik--," Anko said casually.

Sakura interrupted the woman before she could finish speaking, "I'll take your offer!"

"Good. Do you have any plans for the rest of the evening?"

Sakura shook her head.

"Well neither do I. Let's head on over to my apartment where the real training will begin. Sakura, I promise that after I'm through with you, you'll be able to make Naruto nothing but putty in your hands," Anko said while licking her lips.

Sakura swallowed hard. Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea after all.