My first story! It's almost a shame I took a challenge to start with, but then only one other person had accepted said challenge, and it gave me too many ideas! And now, I get to try out! I hope you all enjoy this.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto…heck I don't even own the idea for this story. That goes to Chewie Cookies. Uh, well then…please don't sue?

Word of Honor

Chapter 1: The First Promise

Konohagakure no Sato (the Village Hidden in the Leaves) was enjoying one of it's quiet days. For some, this wouldn't do, as they took off and began training vigorously. Others found it quite enjoyable, though admittedly two were wishing that their third companion would stop yelling at them about how they needed to get off their lazy butts and train.

For the gate guards, Izumo and Kotetsu, they fell more into the second category; especially considering they really had nothing better to do at the gate, and it was a slow day. They knew how to entertain themselves better than most other people in the village, and as such, were rather creative in their games. Usually this involved adding a few other rules that used some shinobi skill or another. Today's game was I Spy.

"I spy something...grey." Kotetsu said.

"The pole?" Izumo said, not looking up from some papers that he'd spread out in front of himself.

Kotetsu gave him a flat stare. "...yeah. How do you do that without looking?"

Izumo shrugged. "I know how you think. Now, my turn. I spy something..." He glanced up, looking from side to side before looking back at Kotetsu with a smirk. "Orange."

Kotetsu blinked in confusion. "Orange?" Looking around wildly, he could see nothing in the nearby village that was orange, or remotely similar to that color. Turning back to Izumo, he narrowed his eyes. "Are you spying something out of the hundred and fifty yard range again? 'Cause you know that's cheating."

Izumo shook his head. "Nope. In fact, it's actually getting closer."


Realization dawned on him as he looked down the path leading away from Konoha. There, like a bright speck against the green foliage, were four people. And one of them was wearing bright orange.

"Uzumaki Naruto." Kotetsu said, a feeling of nostalgia coming over him as Naruto approached.

Izumo shook his head. "Nope."

Kotetsu stared at the group for another moment before what his fellow guard said finally seemed to sink in. Whirling around on his fellow gate guard, he glared as he slowly asked, "What do you mean, 'no'? He's right there!"

"Yes, but Naruto is not orange. I was spying his jumpsuit." Izumo said with a rather sage-like nod.

There was a short pause as Kotetsu and Izumo stared each other down. Kotetsu eventually broke the stare down, scowling at his friend. "You suck."

Not wanting to talk to his cheating friend for the moment, he turned his attention to the four approaching shinobi. Just from their appearance, he knew that there was one jonin, and three genin; a sensei and his team. The jonin had gravity defying grey hair, his village headband covering his left eye, and a jonin vest. The headband was a clear indicator of the person's identity; Sharingan no Hatake Kakashi. His charges were dressed in a far more eye catching clothing.

The first one to catch his eye was dressed in a short sleeved blue shirt, white pants, and had hair that arched back with large bangs framing his face. He knew at a glance that this was Uchiha Sasuke, the 'Last Uchiha' of Konoha. Despite having been away from the village for nearly four months, there wasn't much that seemed to have changed about him. If he stared hard enough though, Kotetsu swore he saw a near invisible smile on his face as he approached his home.

The female of the team, Haruno Sakura, was the second most visible of the group. Unlike Sasuke and Kakashi, she wore a red dress with white trimmings, her bright pink hair standing out more so than the others due to its uncommonness. From what Kotetsu could tell, she was animatedly attempting to talk to Sasuke, without much success.

The final, and by far most visible, member of the team was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with bright blond hair, and even brighter smile. The village's notorious prankster and 'most unpredictable shinobi', Uzumaki Naruto. He looked the most ecstatic to be back and kept running towards the village and then back to the team shouting something about ramen. It brought a smile to both Izumo's and Kotetsu's faces.

"Come on you guys, I can see the gates from here! Sweet glorious ramen, here I come!" Naruto shouted as he ran forward.

"Mah Naruto, wait for us." Kakashi said in a halfhearted, lazy way.

Naruto ignored his sensei, instead speeding faster towards the gates. Sliding on the soles of his sandals, he turned on his heels and began bouncing on his toes as he watched his team meander the last couple of yards to catch up. They spent a moment at the guard post, affirming their identity and checking back into the village. Within moments, they were headed into the village.

Izumo sighed as he watched them leave. "Well, that was a nice bit of excitement for the day."

Kotetsu nodded. Then, a small grin crossed his face. "I spy something orange."

"Kakashi's book."

"…you're no fun."

With our 'bright' team, Kakashi was looking to the Hokage's Tower with a far off look in his eye. Their mission had turn into something akin to a disaster, and due to the nature of events that had taken place, he actually had to have a discussion with the Sandaime. Wanting to have the discussion in private, he made a motion to get his teams attention. "You guys look really tired. Why don't you all head home? I'll handle the debriefing."

All three genin turned to their sensei with a bewildered look in their eyes. Normally, for their usual D-ranked missions, they would enter the Hokage's Tower together, and present their mission report in the same manner. It was meant to develop their abilities to report when they later became chunin and jonin. For Kakashi to do this was to break protocol.

Of course, none of them were going to pass up an opportunity to go home early. "Thanks Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto yelled as he all but dragged his two teammates after him. Personally, he wasn't tired at all; he probably would have been able to keep going for another couple of hours of tree hopping before really feeling exhaustion overcome him. He was just in a hurry to find Iruka and tell him about how kickass he was on the mission.

After going nearly two blocks, his teammates finally broke his grip on them. The second he released them, Sakura moved to past him to Sasuke's side. Sidling as close as she could get, Sakura put on the cutest looks she could as she spoke. "Sasuke-kun, you want to go get something to eat. You know, to celebrate our completed mission? We can leave Naruto-baka, since I know he annoys you."

Sasuke gave her a slight glare, though there wasn't really any effort put into it. "No Sakura, I don't want to go get anything with you."

Sakura sighed, already knowing that Sasuke would say that. He'd always said that when she'd asked him out, no matter how covertly she attempted to ask. And soon to follow-

"Sakura-chan, if you want, I'll go get lunch with you."

-was Naruto's dimwitted attempt to ask her out.

This time though, Sakura was tired. Unlike Naruto and Sasuke, she didn't have the stamina to do all of the things they were capable of doing; like tree hopping for hours on end. Plus, she hadn't yet dealt with the stress of their C-ranked mission turned A-ranked in difficulty, not to mention the missing-nin that they had stared down and barely survived encountering twice. Not only that, but they had spent the last couple of days straight traveling from Nami no Kuni (Land of Waves) to Hi no Kuni (Land of Fire), which meant that she hadn't been able to clean herself as thoroughly as she wanted, and she wanted nothing more than to relax in a tub for a few hours. After a date with Sasuke of course.

But no, she had to deal with getting rejected by her Sasuke-kun again, and Naruto's bumbling almost the moment she arrived home. Knowing that Naruto would push try and push the matter did nothing more than make him a larger target for her recent anger. So, without a second though or any preamble, she finally snapped.

"No Naruto, I don't want to have lunch with you!" Sakura shouted, feeling the stress of the entire journey pouring out of her onto Naruto. It felt good to shout at someone; she personally didn't see why others didn't do it as often. "In fact, I want you to stop asking. I'm tired of you asking me out on dates, I'm tired of you provoking Sasuke-kun and more importantly I'm tired of you! So just stop it, okay?"

Due to their place in the village, their conversation had attracted the attention of a small group of civilians. Even Sasuke seemed to have taken an interest in the conversation, if only because he wanted to see how Naruto would react. Sakura usually either reprimanded Naruto verbally, or went straight to punching Naruto in the face. To see her reacting so harshly to something as stupid as asking her out seemed a little out of place; which meant that Naruto's reaction should be quite interesting to see.

For his part, Naruto stood pretty firm, not budging as Sakura yelled at him. Internally though, he was panicking. 'Aw man, Sakura's gonna hit me. What did I do? Whoa, she's turning red. I better say something.'

"I'm sorry Sakura-chan." Naruto said, looking at his feet. He really hoped that Sakura didn't keep yelling at him; he really didn't know how to respond to her right now, and it unnerved him more than a little bit.

Sakura shook her head, sighing lightly. "I'll forgive you Naruto." As soon as the words left her mouth, she got a devious idea. "Just promise me that you won't ask me out on a date anymore and we'll be fine."
Naruto's head snapped up, his eyes wide in shock. "What?"

Sakura smirked, crossing her arms as she spoke with a more bossy tone. "You heard me Naruto. Promise me that you won't ask me out anymore, or I won't let this go."

Naruto flinched as he heard this. Of all the things to ask him, why did it have to come to this? It wasn't that he wouldn't agree –he didn't want to be on bad terms with Sakura for anything- it was that it would tear him apart to make that promise. It was worse since he'd be saying them to his crush, Haruno Sakura.

It was no secret that he had a crush on her; he'd been trying to ask her out since the last year of the Academy after all. It wasn't really like he expected it to go anywhere serious, like boyfriend-girlfriend or something like that, he just wanted to interact with someone who would actually respond to him. Granted, her version of response was punching him in the face after yelling at him, but it was interaction nothing the less.

It was even worse since the only way he knew to interact with girls was dating. He knew that dating was supposed to be 'intimate', but from what he'd seen of guys and girls interacting together dating seemed to be the only common trend to form friendship between guys and girls. With guys it was easier; train and beat the crap out of each other, and something will eventually pop up later that they could do. Guys seemed to have more in common with each other than with girls.

Giving Sakura one last desperate look, Naruto finally began to reply, "Sakura-chan…"

"Promise me. Promise me that you won't ask me out again." Sakura said, this time obviously demanding.

Naruto winced at her tone, knowing what it meant for him. She (and pretty much everyone else) knew how much promises meant to him, and that he would do everything he could to keep said promise. Plus he'd only heard her talk like that a few times before, but even he was not so thick skulled to miss the threat of pain that would come if he didn't do as she asked. Not to say that he actually planned on keeping that promise completely; if the opportunity arose, he would ask her out in a heartbeat. He just had to figure out how to say it so it didn't sound like he was 'asking her out'. Finally giving in and resigning to his fate, he quietly muttered, "I promise."

Sakura gave his face a scrutinizing once over, before nodding to herself. "Good. I'm going to hold you to that promise, you got it? No more asking me out!"

Naruto nodded, feeling a knot form in his gut. As she said the word 'promise', he noticed a small tremor run down his spine. It was different from the chill of cold, or goose bumps he'd get whenever he was about to be caught after pulling a prank. His chest tightened, and his breath was momentarily caught in his throat. As the feeling finally began to fade away, Naruto realized that Sakura was walking away, chasing once again after Sasuke who had left when he'd gotten bored of the conversation.

Naruto scratched the back of his head. Somehow, he felt that he'd stumbled into something that was bound to be painful.


Several Days Later

Naruto stared into the empty space where he figured Kakashi was bound to show up. It had become a game of his to guess where Kakashi would show up from. So far, he had yet to be right, but he was certain that Kakashi would show up from the side of the bridge with arches this time. It was amazing how consistent Kakashi was at being late, seeing as he was nearly three hours late again, and it was grinding on everyone's nerves.

Well, Naruto's and Sakura's nerves. Naruto couldn't really tell if Sasuke was affected by his tardiness or not. He'd never seen Sasuke so much as twitch when it came to Kakashi's habits. In fact, only Naruto and Sakura seemed to react whenever Kakashi showed up. Funny that.

'He should be here any second now.' Naruto thought with a smirk, rubbing his hands together. He had him this time; he couldn't be wrong every single time that Kakashi showed up, right?


Naruto's smirk faded rapidly as it shifted to an expression of disbelief and amazement. 'No way! He came that way yesterday! How…no, he's not doing that just to mess with me. That would be silly…right?'

Sakura was less distracted by her thoughts. "You're late!"

Kakashi's eye shifted to its usual up turned U-shape, indicating a smile as he explained his tardiness. "Sorry I'm late. I met the most intriguingly beautiful woman, and decided to stalk her, since she seemed too good to be true. Turns out, she was just your average ordinary kunochi, though she did have some very…unusual interests."


Kakashi had to force back a pout. 'Aw, I wasn't done yet. I was going to tell them how I trapped her under a box after luring her with bait. Ah the intoxicating power of dango. Thinking of which, I should probably get back to her soon.'

"Well, since you're here, I guess I can tell you all that the Sandaime gave us all the day off, and said to enjoy yourselves! See ya!" Kakashi said quickly, disappearing in a puff of smoke to who knows where, before Sakura could yell at him about how he'd made them wait for three hours to tell them that. He knew that they'd be mad at him at their next meeting, but the look on their face though was well worth it. Plus, it wasn't like Sakura could actually do anything to him. 'Anko on the other hand is another story. Hopefully she won't try and kill me this time.'

Back with the genin, while Naruto and Sakura's minds tried to catch up with what Kakashi had said, Sasuke had already begun leaving. Noticing Sasuke's departure, Sakura called after him. "Sasuke-kun, how about we work on our teamwork…just the two of us?"

Sasuke rolled his eyes, not even bothering to answer her question. Catching the hint, Sakura slumped despondently.

Naruto had flinched at the way Sakura had worded her question, but brightened as he caught the change in her attitude immediately. Jogging next to her, he grinned widely in his well known, wide, toothy smile. "Hey Sakura-chan!"

Sakura flinched at his tone, knowing what he intended to ask. Not bothering to change her demeanor as his question definitely wouldn't make her feel any better, she gave Naruto a half lidded glare. "What do you want Naruto?"

Naruto opened his mouth excitedly, thinking for a moment that he had a shot to go on a date with Sakura. Then, the strangest thing happened. Instead of saying anything, his throat closed up.

Naruto made a kind of gagging noise, trying in vain to get his question out. There was a slight burning sensation in the back of his mouth the harder he tried. Noticing Sakura's confused look, he tried one last time. With no words coming out, he finally gave up. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he bit his lip before trying to say something else. "Never mind Sakura-chan."

Sakura watched Naruto's face morphed through a variety of emotions. First excitement, then confusion, then subdued, then back to confused. Brushing it off as Naruto being weird, she ignored him as she walked away.

Naruto followed Sakura's departure with an unfocused look. His normally unfocused, and scattered thoughts suddenly had something to think about. To him, it was an innocent question, but he'd been unable to ask it. He remembered the promise he'd made to Sakura a few days before, but it seemed ridiculous to think that was what had stopped him from asking her out on a date. He hadn't made any promises that he'd been able to break.

'Or did I?' Naruto thought, grabbing his head as he became more and more frustrated. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts for the time being, he finally came to a decision. He'd head over to the Academy, talk to Iruka, and get some answers.

Taking a step forward, he paused as his stomach growled loudly. "Okay…Ichiraku for some ramen, then to Iruka-sensei!" He shouted, completely reversing direction as he made his way to his favorite food establishment.


Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Shinobi no Kami (God of Shinobi), stared down at his desk with a happy sigh. Leaning back into his chair, he pulled out a little orange book and slowly read through the 'literature' that his student had written. The reason for this reprieve was quite simple; the daimyo had declared today a national holiday years ago when he'd retired. Since he'd come back into service, it was a day where no one would dare bother him with such things as paperwork unless they had some kind of death wish.

Taking a long drag on his pipe, he felt the tension of his job ebb away. For the first time in several months, his body was at ease with the world around him. His mind on the other hand, was far from relaxed as it raced through thoughts of his village, recent missions, and Uzumaki Naruto.

After the recent mission, he'd had a long discussion with Kakashi. Or rather, he'd listened as Kakashi had gone over how the mission could have potentially gone worse and how they had needed backup. It had actually taken nearly a half hour before he could get Kakashi to stop listing other, not relevant things that could have gone wrong. He eventually got to explain how he couldn't risk sending another genin team, the only team available being team 8 at the time, especially due to the hunter-nin's presence. While it was obviously that the hunter-nin was just acting, they just couldn't risk the chance of that being true. Especially since team 8 had three clan heirs with techniques that other ninja would love to have. While Kirigakure no Sato (Village Hidden in the Mist) may have had a recent bloodline purge, Kumogakure no Sato (Village Hidden in the Clouds) would pay handsomely for the Byakugan, which would be a bad thing for all party's. That one mission could have started the Fourth Great Shinobi War.

While this was more than enough to satisfy Kakashi for the time being, Kakashi's next subject was what was eating at him at the moment. He believed that Naruto was more than ready to hear about his family. His reasoning was sound, especially if he told Naruto that people like Zabuza would be hunting him if he accidentally said the wrong thing to the wrong person. All that was well and good, but he was unable to bring himself to tell him.

The reasoning behind it was simple enough; he was nervous about how Naruto would react. He knew from personal experience that those who were related to the Hokage's generally had a different take on life, and usually acted out more than others. Before Naruto had come around, his grandson Konohamaru would do whatever he felt like in an attempt to get people to respect him for him; including 'assassination' attempts on himself. Tsunade, despite being the granddaughter of the Shodaime Hokage and one of the powerful Legendary Sannin, had left the village and was gallivanting about gambling her life away.

His son though, would be a far better example of what he expected of Naruto. Sarutobi Asuma had been a smart kid growing up. He'd graduated Rookie of the Year, he'd shown great progression as a genin, and his only real weakness was his wild streak that was a mile long. This lead to the two of them butting heads on more than one occasion and shortly after he'd become chunin he'd left the village and went off to join the daimyo's personal guard, the Twelve Guardians.

For Naruto, he couldn't risk it. Naruto wasn't just a shinobi, he was the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. If Naruto got into a disagreement with him and left the village, there was little he knew he could do to quell the madness that would come from the news. He had the power, but no one could control chaos of that magnitude on their own for long.

Rubbing his temples with a heavy sigh, he shook his head. He knew he'd have to tell Naruto about his lineage eventually. Just not yet. After his first Chunin Exams were over, he'd tell him regardless of whether or not he actually reached the rank. He just hoped that Naruto proved himself strong enough to survive the tests.


Naruto jogged down the road towards his favorite eating establishment. His stomach was empty, he had the whole day to do whatever he wanted, and planned to enjoy himself as much as possible. However, there was just one problem with that; he had too much on his mind.

If anyone who knew him heard that he had too much on his mind, they'd probably laugh at him. After all, he was the 'dead last' of his class and obviously couldn't take a moment to think. That couldn't be further from the truth. Naruto did think, in fact he actually thought a lot. The only problem was that his thoughts went by faster than he could catch them, and usually wound up being either bored or confused.

Right now, he was definitely confused. He'd just recently left his team meeting and stumbled across something strange; he'd promised Sakura that he wouldn't ask her out and then when he tried to get around it by saying it different, he couldn't say it. He'd never had anything like this happen to him before, and despite his current grin he'd been terrified.

It was his greatest kept secret; his fear of the unknown. It was why he really didn't like ghosts; no one could explain how or why they were there, just that they were there. What had happened to him wasn't something he'd ever heard of, or heard anyone else talk about which made it unknown. And it scared him.

As such, he was headed to food first, and then to the visit the one person he figured would be help him; Umino Iruka. He'd figured out who he planned on seeing as he made his way to Ichiraku; oddly coming to the conclusion to ask Iruka due to the fact that he knew they both ate their, and he'd answered a few of his previous questions there. While he'd been a prankster during his time at the Academy, Iruka had done what he could to answer any questions he'd had. And since he'd done what he could to make it easy for him to understand, Naruto trusted him to be simple and honest. It helped that Iruka was one of the few people that he'd labeled a 'precious person' because he'd saved him when Mizuki had tried to kill him.

Rounding the last corner, he spied Ichiraku and bolted the last bit as fast as he could. Skidding to a stop just outside of the restaurants flaps, he pushed them aside with a flourish. "One bowl of miso ramen!"

"Naruto? What are you doing here?"

Naruto blinked in confusion as he looked at the other person sitting in front of him. "Eh? Iruka-sensei, what are you doing here?"

Iruka grinned, waving a pair of chopsticks in greeting. "We have the day off today, and I figured I'd see you here at some point."

"Really?" Naruto asked, sliding into the seat next to him. "I don't remember having any day off. Did I miss something?"

Iruka chuckled. "Probably. You somehow managed to skip today at the Academy every year."

"What day?" Naruto asked, tilting his head in a confused manner.

"It's the Sandaime's birthday. Also known as Paperwork Day." Iruka gave him a sidelong look and notice his confusion. "You didn't know that? February eighth."

Naruto's eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he took in this information. He had never once asked when his jiji's birthday was, and had never thought to ask someone when it was. He was so far gone, he missed when Ayame placed his ramen in front of him.

"Naruto…Naruto are you okay?" Iruka asked slowly, waving a hand in front Naruto face.

"What?" Naruto asked, blinking his eyes rapidly. In true Naruto fashion, the first thing his mind thought of was the steaming bowl in front of him. "Awesome! Itadakimasu!"

"Naruto." Iruka slowly rubbed the bridge of his nose.

Naruto turned back to Iruka, noodles hanging slightly out of his mouth. "Huh?"

Shaking his head in exasperation, Iruka chuckled. "You haven't changed a bit have you?"

Naruto grinned. "Of course I have! I'm a genin now! I've been training really hard, and just got back from my first C-ranked mission!"

Iruka's grip on his chopsticks tightened at the mention of that. He'd heard the story from Naruto a few days before with him, and Iruka had immediately set out to find Kakashi and give him a piece of his mind. He'd been unable to find him, and when he'd told the Sandaime, he'd just been brushed off seeing as Kakashi had done 'the right thing'. Because endangering your team of genin was 'the right thing' to do in that situation.

"Eh? A C-ranked mission?" Ayame asked from the kitchen.

Naruto grinned, jumping into a fully detailed description of his mission; complete with sound effects and unnecessary commentary. Iruka ignored him for the most part, focusing on his ramen in an attempt to finish his next bowl before Naruto finished his story. Ayame, and shortly after he'd begun Teuchi, seemed to hang off his every word. Iruka inwardly chuckled at Ayame's little gasps of surprise and excitement whenever Naruto had done something impressive, knowing how exaggerated Naruto could be. After all, no one could turn themselves into a windmill shuriken and have themselves thrown at a missing-nin without them knowing…right?

As Naruto began to tell about the walk to the village, he remembered what he'd planned on asking Iruka after he'd gotten something to eat. "Hey, Iruka-sensei?"

"Eh?" Iruka said, drawn away from his ramen.

"Something happened today, and it's really been bugging me." Naruto rubbed his cheek nervously. "Do you think you could help?"

Iruka looked Naruto over thoroughly. Naruto had only asked questions about something when it was something of particular interest, and those were usually very, very interesting conversations to try and explain to him. Having not seen him since the Academy, he was a bit nervous as to what new subject Naruto would bring up.

However, he was still a teacher at heart, and didn't have it in him to not try and help. "Sure Naruto. What's the matter?"

Naruto twisted around in his chair, trying to get a bit more comfortable before he began. "Have you ever made a promise you didn't want to keep, but found yourself having to keep it when you want to break it?"

There was a small break of silence as Iruka thought over the question. The way Naruto worded the question made it sound like Naruto had discovered some secret that he was dying to tell someone, but had been expressly forbidden from talking about it. While it could have been on his mission, Iruka quickly decided it was likely something else. Although Naruto hadn't mentioned how he'd beaten the ice user Haku, he was more than capable of connecting the dots and figuring that the Kyuubi had been involved.

'Oh, so he wants to talk about the Kyuubi, but was told not to. That makes sense.' Iruka thought, not realizing how far from the truth he could be.

Sadly, he was unaware of Naruto's promise to Sakura.

"Well Naruto, it could be that you're just becoming more mature." Iruka said, smiling kindly as he patted Naruto on the shoulder.

Naruto scrunched up his face in confusion. "What's 'mature'?"

"It means you're growing up. Sound to me like you've finally decided to take your shinobi life seriously."

Naruto's confusion left instantly. "Yeah, that sounds right! I've been working really hard to become Hokage! Promises are important to someone as awesomely powerful as the Hokage, right?"

Iruka nodded, glad that he'd gotten through to the blond. "Right Naruto. Now go enjoy yourself."

Naruto grinned impishly at that. Quickly placing down some money for his ramen, he got up and began to make his way towards his apartment. He'd missed out on every one of the Sandaime's birthday's, and he planned on making something big. Maybe another run at the Hokage Monument with the words 'Happy Birthday Jiji' would work. "See you later! I've got twelve years to make up for!"

Iruka shivered as he felt his 'prankster senses' tingle. Peaking his head out of the flaps, he shouted after Naruto. "Promise me no pranks today Naruto! The last thing the Sandaime needs right now is you getting out of hand!"

Naruto groaned, whirling around to face his former teacher. "Don't worry, I promise!"

There was a shiver that ran down his spine and a pressure in between his eyes as he said those words.

It was going to be a long day for Naruto.

AN: Alright! My first story, first chapter, DONE! I hope you've all enjoyed thus far.

I'm going to be following Chewie Cookies guidelines for this story pretty loosely, seeing as I have an idea of how to work this. I'm not just going to drop all the good stuff on Naruto's lap, he's going to earn it. I mean, he's not Sasuke after all.

Just so you all know, this will eventually be NaruHina. There may be another girl who I'll add, mostly because of the humor/drama that would come from that particular promise (if you don't know who I'm talking about…I have nothing to say to that). But then, that's only if people want her in, or it fits the plot at that point. The 'Hinata gets a backbone' part will involve her acting somewhat out of character and then as the clan heiress should, which I'm really looking forward to writing. For those of you who missed it, this story starts after the Wave Arc. I have a good reason for this…which I'll explain later.

I don't like 'bashing' characters, but I will villainize and twist them (villainizing is a particular favorite). Sarutobi is just trying to do his job and be a surrogate father…even if there is somewhat of an agenda behind his actions.

Also, this will be very, very AU. That means there will be some other things that should prove different, unique, and (if I write it right) interesting. Of course, your input will definitely help move it in a more awesome direction!

Please push the little review button at the bottom, it'll make my day.