Note: Quick update because procrastination is my lover and I should be writing a paper. This is old. This is really old. I take back what I said before. This is the first piece I wrote for this fic. So enjoy the chapter that started it all.

The Pledge

A figure burst through the door to the Hokage's office. Sasuke ran to the desk, slamming his fist on the table when Naruto refused to look up.

"Where are they?" Sasuke hissed. Naruto sighed before speaking.

"They're fine Sasuke, don't worry." He said before returning to the paperwork on his desk. Sasuke snatched the paper up.

"Don't lie to me Naruto! Where are my children?" His shout echoed through the room, only to be met by silence. When Naruto made no sigh of answering, Sasuke reached across the desk. His hand tightened around the collar of Naruto's shirt, and with a quick pull, Sasuke had pulled Naruto out of his seat so the two were face to face.

"I told you, they're fine." Naruto stated, his voice even and unperturbed. "You don't need to worry so much." Sasuke's grip loosened on Naruto's shirt, but he held the Hokage still.

"I just received word from one of my ANBU that a group of A-ranked criminals are wandering about in Lightning country, killing anyone they find. He was part of a team of five. And he's the only survivor. If they're out there, we need to send someone to get them back." Sasuke released Naruto's shirt. Naruto stood and turned to the large windows behind his desk.

"You're forgetting that my only son is out there with them." He whispered. "They should have been put up for the chunin exams their first year as genin. They were ready for promotion for two years, but I had Shikamaru wait instead. By their age we were both out training to achieve our goals, and had dealt with more A-ranked criminals than I can remember."

"Our lives are not their lives Naruto. You can't keep trying to live a better childhood through your son." Sasuke walked over so that he was standing by his friend and allowed his gaze to follow Naruto's out the window. Directly in his line of vision were Konoha's gates, wide open and waiting for the return of several shinobi.

"I know that Sasuke. And you need to realize that just because we can shelter them doesn't mean we should. You're a good father, but you keep trying to make up for what you didn't have at their age, and it's only stifling them." Naruto closed his eyes and let out another sigh, but this time it was filled with far more emotion.

"Three months." He said, before taking the paper Sasuke was still holding and returning to his desk. "The mission was only going to take two weeks, but with these developments, it will take around three months." Sasuke turned to yell at Naruto once again, but stopped short. At his desk, Naruto had placed his elbows on the desk, and his face was covered with his hands.

"How could I be so stupid? I knew something like this would happen, but let myself be deluded. I can't believe she talked me into this…" Naruto trailed off.

"What are you talking about?" Sasuke asked. "There's no way Sakura tried to convince you to send them away for that long on such a dangerous mission." Naruto's face appeared from behind his hands. He grinned at Sasuke and laughed. After a moment, he wiped a few tears of laughter from his eyes.

"You still don't know?" He asked with genuine curiosity. "She's kept it from you for this long?" Sasuke remained silent while Naruto stifled his laughter.

"I promised her that I wouldn't tell you, but under certain circumstances, I have to be honest with you." Naruto paused and with a sly smirk leaned back in his chair for the first time that day.

"You daughter wants to be Hokage." He said simply, waiting for a response. Sasuke stood silent for a moment, contemplating what his best friend had said.

"You're joking." Sasuke stated, not believing him. Naruto shook his head and smiled.

"No, I wouldn't joke about something like that. She's had it in mind for at least three or more years." Naruto paused, a far away look in his eyes. "I think I understand why the old man and the hag always let me get away with everything. Seeing the way she acted, it reminds me of how I used to act."

"Never again compare my daughter with yourself as a teenager. She has manners." Sasuke cut in.

"I know. But it's the persistence. The determination to prove herself, to me, to you, to the world. She carries a burden that neither of us will understand completely. She has to deal with the expectations that come from you to carry on the bloodline. She struggles to show the village that she won't live her life the way you did and turn traitor. And above all else, she keeps trying to show her brother that she's better, that she can be Hokage. Because the way he's treated her isn't helping her self confidence. She just wants to make us proud, and I think that if I hadn't given them the mission, she would have assumed that I thought less of her."

Sasuke stood in stunned silence, contemplating Naruto's words.

"Why didn't she tell me?" He finally breathed out after a few minutes of contemplation.

"The same reason she didn't want to tell Shikamaru, or Hinata, or even her brother. Because she thought that you would be disappointed if you found out. That you would call her goal a silly dream. She didn't want to disappoint you."


Four months passed, with little news from Team Shikamaru. Sasuke had taken to waiting at the gates every day at sunset, waiting for them to return. Sometimes he would be joined by Hinata or Naruto or Sakura. But now he stood alone, watching the horizon carefully. With every day after the three month mark had been passed, Sasuke became more and more anxious.

As the sun began to set on the last day of the fourth month, four slow moving figures appeared in the distance. At once Sasuke recognized them, sensing their chakra signatures for the first time in months. Only one of the figures stood alone. Two of the others were supporting a third who seemed to be gravely wounded. Sasuke ran to the group, his eyes widening as he took in the sight before him.

Shikamaru was leaning heavily against Hiraku, while his own son helped keep their leader steady. The three were all bloody and looked exhausted. From behind them, he saw her.

Yukiko had grown at least three inches in the last four months. Along with her height, she had grown her hair out. While she had once kept it cut short for convenience, now her hair fell to her shoulder blades and tied back at the nape of her neck, far too similar to the way her deceased uncle had once kept it.

She looked more worn than the others combined, and it was only after a moment that Sasuke noticed that she was carrying a decapitated head in her hand. With the other she wiped her brow and looked around. Yukiko's eyes met Sasuke's. She let out a small sigh and smiled at her father.

Sasuke could only stare. The way his daughter smiled at him sent him spiraling back into his memories of when he had killed Itachi. The way she closed her eyes and smiled at him was far too similar to what Itachi had done, and for the first time in her lifetime, Sasuke recognized her subtle features that were distinctly like Itachi's.

Yukiko opened her eyes again and tried to take another step forward. When she placed her foot down, her leg crumbled under her, causing her to fall down. She dropped the head and collapsed. Sasuke was at her side immediately, and pulled her into a sitting position.

"Daddy." She whispered. "I missed you." Yukiko stared up at her father, hope in her eyes. Sasuke stared down at his firstborn. Her eyes were the deep crimson of the Sharingan with the telltale signs of the Magenyeko she had acquired years earlier.

"I missed you too." He whispered back. Yukiko closed her eyes and rested her head against her father's chest.

"Don't worry." She said with more assurance. "I'm home."