It was weird to Tenten. She has never really paid much attention to him after the chunnin exam. I mean sure, she was surprised at how he defeated her beloved Neji. But she still never paid attention to the loud mouth- orange wearing kid. He wasn't really special to her. Even in all the missions she has been on with him. I mean he would occasionally say some old tired speech about wrong or right and defy her Neji on the mission objectives. And sometimes it led to saving people. And for that she admired him. His resolve in situations like that was astounding. But still, she wasn't worried about him. Neji was all she was worried about. All the time. But it seemed like Neji wasn't as concerned as she was.

She wanted more. But he wasn't willing to give her what she wanted. He just wanted to stay friends. She didn't understand it. She tried and tried but his resolve was stronger than hers. She started to think of the loud mouth at that moment. "Why couldn't my resolve be as strong as his." she would ask herself.

It had been 2 years since she has seen him. And when she did see him in front of the big boulder that stopped them from Akatsuki headquarters, she was amazed at how much he had changed. He was no longer the happy-go – lucky Naruto that she grew to become annoyed with. No, he was determined. Again, his resolve was strong.

For another 2 years she was still trying to figure out all about him, by now she figured out about the kyubbi being inside of him and why most of the villagers had picked on him and talked about him when he was little. But things have changed drastically, the way the villagers looked at him were no longer full of hatred. But full of astonishment. Many claimed he looked like the Yondaime. Many claimed he had this aura that made you want to know him. Heck, even the girls of the village seem to flock around him whenever he was around. But for some strange reason, he would never break under their pressure.

Was it his resolve? She would ask herself countless times. And she wished to find out one day.

Well her wish came true. She found him all alone by a riverbank on the outskirts of the village. He had changed a lot over the years; he now had a jounin vest over a black and orange shirt with his trademark spiral on his right shoulder. He also wore a long coat that many said reminded them of the Yondaime. His blue eyes sparkled as he looked onto the river. As she approached him, she felt the aura people were talking about.

"Hey Naruto!"

"Oy, hey Tenten." He replied

"May I sit with you?" she asked

"Sure." He replied.

She sat down next to him and looked at him. His manly features and physique made her blush slightly.

"You really have changed Naruto." She then continued on with her main reason for seeking him out.

"Naruto, can I ask you something." Tenten asked.

"Why yes. What is it you would like to ask of me?" He replied.

Shocked at how formal his reply was, she continued.

"I wanted to ask what keeps you going all these years. How can you be so determined through all that has occurred? Why is your resolve so strong? She asked

He took a minute to think about a reply and then gave her the same fox-like grin he usually does.

"I keep on living because that is my nindo. To never give up. And I never will give up on anything and anyone. It is what keeps me determined. Through all the put downs people have given me throughout the years, through all of the challenges that has affected me. Through it all, I can't give up. I will become Hokage one day; I will bring Sasuke back to this village. And that will never change. This is why my resolve is so strong. Because I will never give up."

As she sat there and thought of all he has said, she began to think of herself. What keeps her strong? What keeps her going? Why did she give up on trying to win over Neji? Who gave her the courage to continue on through her missions? Who?"

As she sat there, she came to the one realization and the answer to all of those questions.



"Thank you."

"Nani? What for?"

"For being never giving up. For keeping your resolve and always fighting on no matter what. Because of your resolve, and your determination, it has kept me from giving up. It has kept me from losing hope. It is all thanks to you that I can to anything with determination and succeed. For that I thank you."

With each word, Naruto's eyes went wide-eyed until his eyes could not go wide anymore.

He felt weird. He felt courage. He felt more determination then before. Her words were creating more hope into his soul. The words were overwhelming and he felt each letter, each sentence filling him up with pride and joy. He secretly made a new promise from that day forth.

"I will find out why I feel this way when you speak to me Tenten."

She was running.

Running from the 3 mist ninjas that were chasing after her.

She was sent on a solo mission to retrieve a very important scroll. It was supposed to be a fairly easy, C-rank mission. But what was unknown was that the scroll was also wanted by other hidden villages. She being the first to arrive, was briefly noticed by the other villages, and chased after. She had managed to trip up most of the other hidden villages, but was unable to trick the 3 mist ninjas chasing her.

As she continued to approach Konoha, a kunai that had been thrown by a mist ninja had landed itself onto her left leg and stopped her from running for a second.

The second was all they needed to surround the wounded and tired Tenten.

"Well well, looks like we finally caught up to the little kunoichi." One of the mist nins said.

"What do you suppose we do with her once we get that scroll from her?"

"Well she is from the leaf village. I suppose we can have some fun and have our way with her after she's tied up and gagged so she can't scream. What do you guys think?"

"Yeah. Lets do it." Said one of the 3.

As they approached her, then tied her up and gagged her, one began searching her body slowly for the scroll, along the way grabbing and fondling her assets.

Ignoring her muffled screams, they continued touching her up AFTER they had found the scroll until they began to feel a great deal of killer intent wash over them like a wave.

They began to hear a demonic voice that shook all three of the mist nins and to an extent, Tenten.

"You will release that leaf kunoichi and return the scroll and I will kill you. Or, you could not release her and let me kill you willingly. Either way you put it, YOU. WILL. DIE!"the voice echoed throughout the forest.

The three mist nins laughed nervously at the threat.

"Like you can take on the 3 of us. Especially if you can't see us."

One of the mist Nins began going through hand signs as mist began to fill the entire vicinity of the forest they were in.

"I see you have made your choice. Unfortunately, your choice was the wrong one."

As the mist nins pulled out their katanas and zanpatou, one of the mist nins's arm and leg went flying through the air along with his head in less then 3 seconds. The figure that attacked still standing there. The 2nd mist Nin acknowledged him and swing his sword as the figure disappeared in thin air and appeared behind him. The figure then slashed his back and stabbed his back with a kunai that came out of his chest. Making a hole through his body. He had no time to scream as he felt a claw slitting his throat. The now fallen mist Nin's jutsu slowly disintegrated. Leaving the figure and the remaining and slightly frightened mist Nin staring each other down.

It did not take long for the mist nin to realize just who he was looking at as he heard many stories of the figure. He had golden yellow hair that flowed over and under is leaf headband, 3 whisker marks on each side of his cheek and eyes were in slits, looking like a demon. Red, demonic chakra flowed all around his body and his cape-like jacket with orange flames at the bottom flowed through the fast-paced wind as a clearly seen huge ball of chakra began to form on his right hand as a 3 pronged kunai was embedded right above the three Tenten was tied to.

"The…the… orange flash of Konoha." The mist nin stuttered as he dropped his weapon and stepped back. Unfortunately, it was the last words that would ever escape his mouth as a orange flash past by him in the blink of an eye and a rasengan went through his body, sending guts and various other body parts flying.

The figure's chakra then disappeared and his eyes became sparkling blue as he stood over Tenten's body and walked down to release her from the ropes bound to her body.

As soon as her was finish freeing her, Tenten jumped with gusto into his strong arms. She then began to mutter something as the man felt her shaking in his arms.

"Na-Naruto …thank you. I thought I was going to die." She cried. "But how... How did you find me?" she asked him.

He grinned as he answered her question.

"I was on my way to a mission when I felt a familiar chakra surrounded by 3 unknown ones. I then made my way over here and found you. I then knew I had found my mission objective and here I am." He stated

"Your….mission objective?" she asked as she wiped her tears away.

"Yes. My mission was not one given by the Hokage herself, but a mission giving by me." He said.

"So then… what was your mission?' she asked.

"Simple. My mission was to find you and protect you. And this mission is a SS-rank mission."

She gaped as she asked the next question on her mind.

"Why is it so important to protect me?" she asked

He chuckled as he released her and put his left hand behind his head.

"Maybe it's because… you're important to me since that day you told me I keep you going. I have held you as a very important person. Your words they… they had some weird effect on me. They made me more determined than I have ever felt in a long time. So I made a promise to myself from that day forward and I will keep this promise. The promise was to find out why you made me feel that way. And I have found out why it is I felt so determined. The reason is I…"

He stopped as she looked at him. Her pretty and sincere brown eyes looking into his captivating cerulean eyes. He could tell she wanted more. And he wanted to give it to her. But he just couldn't. Not until he made her do something with him.

"The reason what Naruto?" she whispered.

"The reason …… I can't tell you until you do something with me." Naruto said with a foxy smirk on his face.

"Oy? What is it? What is it you want me to do Naruto? Tell me and I will do it." She pleaded as she grabbed his jounin vest and pulled him close to her and gave him her best rendition of puppy eyes.

As tempted as he was to as her to do something else for him, he resisted his urges and replied to her.

"I will tell you the reason if you go out on a date with me when we return to the village." he said nervously as he closed his eyes and opened one up slowly waiting for a reply.

"Yes. Of course I will." She said smiling.

He then began to pick her up and spin her around. He then put her down and made some hands signs.

"kage no bunshin"

3 Naruto clones appeared next to him. He then told one to dispose of the body, another to pick up the scroll and the third to seal the three weapons.

He then picked up Tenten again and held her bridal style.

" Wh-what are you doing Naruto?" she said with a slight blush on her face

"Why my mission is not over." Naruto replied as he began making his way back to the village, leaving his clones behind to do what was told.

And they continued on towards the village with the sky the shade of a peaceful orange, putting a rest to the eventful day and approaching a nighttime full of enjoyment and excitement in store for the two.