AN: I got this "Soulmate au" prompt from Tumblr. I look a few liberties. Happy Valentine's Day. (:

Everything around him is monochromatic. The dull atmosphere makes her feel just a bit more enigmatic.

He knows nothing of where she came from. He has not a clue about her name. He is ready to tell her to leave, but when the sensation of warm hands caress his whiskered cheeks, Naruto submerges himself into her without a second thought.

He's so close to her that the scent of her is almost overpowering. Her hair smells of lavender; her skin faintly of vanilla.

Some nights, she looms over him and the dark, silky strands of hair rain down on him and tickle his face as her opalescent eyes bore into him. She is the moon – gently illuminating the ominous crevices of his mind. They don't speak, and the silence between them is oddly comfortable. It feels as if they have been in this position for eternity. But that's okay.

Because for once in his life, he doesn't feel so lonely.

On other nights, she lies next to him. She is wrapped in his arms securely.

Briefly, Naruto thinks it's where she has always belonged.

On this particular night, he is feeling brave. His fingers push apart her bangs to place a kiss so light, he wonders if she even felt it. The sound of her giggling echoes through their space. It's the most angelic thing he's heard. It's soft, and there's and indescribable warmth to it.

He's sure his heart flutters at the sound of it.

Slowly, she raises her head to meet his gaze. Her eyes look to be smiling at him momentarily before she closes them. She inches towards him ever so slowly before waiting for him to close the gap between them. Naruto is having a bit of a hard time controlling his breathing.

She is patient.

His right hand moves to caress the side of her face as the space between them is no more. It's electrifying. He's never felt lips so soft. She's so gentle and yet, she's passionate – wildly so. His hands move from her cheek to comb through silky tresses. Hers stay planted at his chest, her finger softly traces shapeless patterns on the cotton fabric of his shirt.

They break apart, and Naruto watches her smile at him. It's a small one, but it's powerful enough to make his heart stir. He can't help but give her the biggest grin he can. This all feels so natural to him; the laughter, the gentle kisses they place on each other each night. This is everything he's dreamed of.

But it always hurts when the sun rises.

She begins to fade away slowly. Her hand in his hardly feels like it's even there now. Naruto tries to hold her close. His eyes squeeze shut. He isn't ready for her to leave yet. When he opens his eyes, she is gone, and he's back in his small, shabby bedroom.

The sun peeks through the cracks of his blinds. It hits his eyes, and he groans before rolling on his side to shield his eyes from the light. He lies there for a minute before sitting up in bed to stare at the plain white wall. Today is Wednesday, isn't it? He checks the alarm clock on his night table. It reads 6:03 a.m.

Naruto thinks he should be getting ready for work.

It takes him a while to get up. When he does, it is a slow and groggy walk to the bathroom. Before opening the door, he stops to look at his living room. There are beer cans from two weeks ago on the table, and the newspaper from two day ago appears to be stuck to the table too.

Laundry is on the floor. He can't tell if it was the laundry he was supposed to hang up outside or fold and put away. It really is such a mess, just like everything else in his tiny apartment. He knows he should clean it, but he just can't bring himself to do it.

Not able to look at it anymore, Naruto enters the bathroom and shuts the door. He sheds his clothes on the floor and kick them off to the side. They need to be washed anyway. They'll go with the ones out in the living room.

His hands rest on the shower handle for a little while. He turns it to the right. It takes a moment for the water to start flowing, and when it does, he lets out a scream because the water is too cold. Once it warms up, he grabs his shampoo and squeezes it into his hand. It smells like citrus.

Naruto works it into his hair as the suds begin to drip down his back.

What did hers smell like again? Cherry Blossoms? Or maybe it was sugar?

He frowns. She was such an amazing person and yet, he doesn't remember anything about her. He shuts his eyes in an attempt to see her face, but he's drawing a blank. What color was her hair? Orange maybe? Is she blonde like him?

What about her eyes? Could they have been green?

He tries to remember the sound of her voice. It wasn't sultry, was it? He doesn't even remember if she has even spoken to him. It's all so frustrating. Every single night, he dreams of her. He knows that she is wonderful because he remembers the dreams always make him happy.

Except for the end where she disappears, and he knows next to nothing about her.

His arms rest at his sides as the shower water continues to rinse out the shampoo from his hair. His eyes are still closed. Naruto is trying his hardest to remember her, he really is. She's a source of happiness for him. She's someone that he's trying so desperately to keep from slipping away.

Naruto's eyes open, and he realizes that he's been in the shower for far too long without even washing his body. He doesn't rush himself. Instead, he picks up his bar of soap and runs it along his body as he tries to piece together who the girl in his dreams is.

The ramen shop is always busy and calls for Naruto's undivided attention. If he leaves the noodles cooking for a minute longer than they should, they start to get all soggy. If the heat on the grill was too hot, the pork would lose its tenderness.

Each vegetable needs to be cut to perfection and each bowl needs to be seasoned to perfection. Although it requires so much of his time attention, Naruto is fond of working here. The pay is decent, and customer interaction is usually fun. As he works diligently, two more customers enter the shop.

"Welcome to Ichiraku –!" He pauses to watch his friends sit down at the counter between them. His brow begins to furrow, and he squints his eyes and pouts. "Hey! Why are you guys always around here during my shifts?"

Teuchi passes by briefly, carrying some crates into another room. "Now, now," he laughs. "Don't be so rude to our customers." Naruto kneads the back of his neck sheepishly. He can hear Sasuke scoff.

"You act like we plan to come here to see you all the time," Sakura frowns. "It's just a coincidence."

Naruto grins. "So not all the time, but only once in a while?"

Sakura's look of annoyance is replaced with a small smile. "Only once in a while," she repeats.

"Today was a coincidence though," Sasuke insists. "We just happened to be going the same way. You just happened to be working right now."

"Oh," Naruto starts, "so it's not a date then?"

The pop of color on Sakura's cheek doesn't go unnoticed by Naruto. Sasuke looks as unreadable as ever though. "No, it's not a date."

"You don't have to be so blunt about it Sasuke-kun," Sakura mumbles. Her posture slumps.

Even if it wasn't a date, it's always hard to find one without the other. As of late, Naruto has been feeling like a third wheel. He's sure that his friends don't mean to purposely make him feel like this, but he can't quite shake the feeling that they check up on him because they feel obligated to.

The negative thought catches him by surprise. He laughs it off. "It's fine Sakura-chan! I'm sure Sasuke didn't mean to hurt your feelings, no need to sulk about it."

"I'm not sulking!" She cries. She was always so defensive.

"Right, right. Anyway, what kind of ramen do you guys want from your master chef?" Naruto jabs his thumb into his chest.

Sasuke raises a brow. "I don't think 'master chef' is the best phrase to describe your cooking."

Naruto has the urge to flip him the bird, but that wouldn't have looked good in front of the rest of the guests. "You're gonna eat your words when I whip up the best bowl in the world! So what'll it be?"

"A bowl of shio ramen with spring onions and pork," Sasuke orders.

Sakura hums to herself momentarily. "I guess I'll have shōyu ramen. But hold the spice please!"

"We need to have a serious talk about your ramen choices," Naruto mutters. "It's disappointing that none of you craved miso ramen. It's obviously the best choice." He turns his back to work on their orders, and he can hear Sasuke mutter, "This coming from the guy who only eats instant ramen at home." He can hear Sakura's attempt and failure to stifle a laugh.

He pretends not to hear it.

It's another one of Sasuke's light jabs, Naruto knows this, but those dark places in his mind are ticking off tons of excuses as to why he doesn't cook at home. Who wants to come home from cooking all day just to cook again?

Naruto doesn't have enough money for the ingredients to make Ichiraku style ramen at home.

Cooking here is much more fun than cooking at home. It's a lot less lonely in the shop, and he is able to see the smiling faces of those who enjoy his cooking. Why make a good meal if there's no one to share it with?

He winces. He's never such a downer at work, what was wrong with him? Naruto decides to keep conversation going, despite the fact that there's a steady uneasiness in the pit of his stomach. It lessens when Ayame enters the shop to help him out with other customers.

By the time Sasuke tries some of his ramen, Naruto temporarily forgets about the uneasy feeling, because his skills have wiped Sasuke's smug smirk off his face. "Heh, that good huh?" Naruto's foxlike grin is enough to make his best friend scoff.

"It's alright," he mumbles. His mannerisms say otherwise, as the noodles are quickly disappearing from the bowl.

"Woah, you've really outdone yourself, Naruto," Sakura is in awe. "This is surprisingly really good."

Naruto pouts. "Whaddaya mean 'surprisingly'? I've been working here for a year now, my food should be pretty good."

"It's almost as good as my dad's," Ayame smiles.

He begins to scratch the side of his cheek sheepishly. "Aww, I wouldn't say that, Ayame…"

"Neither would I," Sasuke remarks.

"I've just about had it with you, you asshole!"

Ayame gives a good natured laugh as Sakura begins to rub the sides of her temples. The one sided bickering between Naruto and Sasuke are a natural occurrence. The rest of the customers don't mind it at all. It's amusing to them.

The sun begins to set. It hides behind a few apartment buildings in the distance. Most of their customers are gone for the day, and this includes Sasuke and Sakura. Naruto remembers the two of them left with arms linked together.

They're so weird in their "not together" situation.

He shrugs it off and wishes Teuchi and Ayame a good night before leaving the shop to get his bike. The bike ride home is quiet and not long at all. There aren't many cars on the street, and there are hardly people on the sidewalk.

Everyone is ready to turn in, he supposes.

Naruto wants to get into bed as soon as possible. It means that he gets to see her again.

The side of his face rests on her chest as she sits comfortably in his lap, bare legs wrapped around his waist. She breathes steadily as her fingers comb through his blond hair. She is comforting and gentle. She is what he needs. His arms are wrapped around her torso, fists grabbing hold of the silk fabric of her blouse.

Tonight, he holds onto her tightly from the moment he sees her. Maybe she won't disappear if he does it this way.

"I know he doesn't mean anything by it, but it still hurts, y'know?" Naruto tells her. "If I wasn't always by myself, I'd make quality meals for sure but… what's the point if I'm just gonna be staring at a wall with no human interaction whatsoever?"

She's silent for a moment. He feels as if he's being just a bit too whiny. "I did not know you felt so alone. I thought I was doing my best. I'm sorry."

This bothers him. Does she not know that she's just a dream? A small sigh escapes him. "No, I always look forward to seeing you. You make me happy. We just… never have dinner together."

"Oh," She sounds genuinely surprised. "Then, let's have dinner together. We can cook together."

She's not real. None of this is real, and yet, Naruto finds himself going along with this charade, as if they'll actually have dinner together. "What would… what would you like to cook?"

She can hear the hesitation in his voice and removes her hands from his head to place a small kiss there. "I want to make red bean soup. It's my favorite."

"I like red bean soup too," Naruto says. He can feel her giggling and he can't fight the smile that appears on his face. Is this really a dream? She feels so real.

"I'm really glad. It's like we're having a dinner date," she smiles. Soon, Naruto can feel her grow warmer. She gasps. "Oh! I hadn't meant to call it a date. It can be a date if you want it to be, I don't mind! But if you don't want it to be, then that's okay too! I just thought –"

She is cut off by the sound of Naruto's laughter. His head isn't resting on her chest anymore. He looks her straight in the eye. "I'd like to go on a date with you. But I've never been on one so I… wouldn't know what to do."

"It's okay. I don't care about what we do. All I want is to be by your side, Naruto-kun."

The way she says his name makes his face warm, and the thought of her always at his side makes his heart race. His hands are holding the sides of her face now as he kisses her. She makes him feel complete as she tells him that he'll never be lonely again.

She is a liar.

He wakes up without her yet again.

He is alone again.

Sunday mornings are usually spent grocery shopping.

Naruto doesn't buy much. There is instant ramen in most of the bags. The rest of the bags he is carrying holds ingredients for red bean soup. He doesn't know why he purchased them, but ever since a few weeks ago, he's been craving it.

The walk from the grocery store to his apartment isn't long. On the way back, he runs into a friend. "Oh, it's Shino!" Naruto cries. "It's been a while!"

His eyebrows raise at the sound of Naruto's voice. He stops in his tracks to let Naruto catch up. "It has been a while. Nice to see you again."

"Same here!" Naruto laughs. "Where are you off to this morning? Off to hang out with Kiba? Tell that jack ass he's got some nerve playing poker with me last weekend and not paying up properly!"

"I'm not going to be seeing Kiba today, but I'll be sure to relay your message," Shino tells him. "Today, I'll be with another friend. Why do you ask? Because she has just moved into a new apartment and I will be –"

He doesn't get a chance to finish. "Ohhhh, Shino! You never told me you were on your way to help a lady friend," He practically cackles. "Trying to get her to go on a date with you?"

His wiggling eyebrows do not amuse Shino. "No, I'm only going to help her out. I've told you this not too long ago, but it seems that you haven't been paying attention to what I have to say." Naruto doesn't seem to be paying attention this time either.

"What kind of girl is she anyway? Is she super pretty?"

Shino slides his shades up on his face. "If you are so interested in the kind of person she is, why don't you meet her yourself?"

Naruto shakes his head. "No thanks. I don't want to cut into your time with her," he says with a wink. In reality, he doesn't want to feel like another third wheel again. "Besides, I've gotta take these groceries home."

"But I've already told you that I wasn't trying to –"

"See ya later, Shino! Good luck with her!" He cries as he jogs ahead. Now that he thinks about it, he also doesn't want to meet anyone but his dream girl. She doesn't exist, he knows this, but the effect she leaves on him after he wakes up is strong.

There's an ache in his heart when he wakes up and finds that she isn't next to him. He's frustrated with himself when he can't remember the sound of her voice or how she looks. She has a name, but he can't even hear her say it in his dream. Why does he stress himself out over a woman who's just some sort of figment of his imagination?

He's desperate, he concludes.

His mother is gone. His father is gone.

His friends don't understand how much it hurts that there's no one out there who will listen to him and understand his pain.

But she's there. She's always there, and she always understands.

And that's why Naruto just can't let her go.

Naruto's fingers lightly traveled over the side of her stomach. She would laugh and tell him to stop because she was ticklish, but he couldn't help it. She's so incredibly soft. His hands run from the side of her, past pink and white polka dotted panties to her thigh.

It's smooth and silky, but he can feel some sort of blemish. It's a scar.

It isn't a large one, but he can't help but run his fingers over it again and again.

She shifts uncomfortably. "Is there something wrong?"

He shakes his head. "No. I'm just wondering about this scar. How'd you hurt yourself?"

"I got this a long time ago. When I was a little girl, I was playing around by the koi pond nearby my home. I used to be so clumsy," she laughs. Naruto gives a small chuckle of his own before placing the tiniest kiss on her lips. "I wanted to feed the fish, and I wanted to see them eat the food."

"You were a really nice kid, it sounds like."

His dream girl smiles. "Thank you. I um, I lost my footing and fell in. On my way down, one of the jagged rocks cut me. One of my caretakers had to get me out and bandage me up. Then, I was scolded terribly by my father."

"Ouch," Naruto almost winces. "Sounds pretty bad." In an instant, he slips away from her embrace. She is about to question him but she lets out a small gasp instead. His lips press against the scar ever so faintly, and he can feel her thigh twitch.

"Ah, w-wait a moment!" She cries out. "That tickles too!"

The kisses don't stop, and the air is filled with her laughter. Her cheeks are flushed and the smile on her face is so pretty. The laughter stops when his lips stop at her inner thighs. The blush on her face is deeper than before, and he watches as she bites her lip.

A minute passes by, and Naruto is completely still. He waits for her consent.

"Yes," she answers finally in a voice so small, he almost has trouble hearing her. When he pushes the panties to the side, he realizes that she has been waiting for him longer than she admits. It's a pleasant surprise, he thinks as he tastes her. She quivers underneath him, and the laughter that once filled the air is replaced with moans of pleasure.

He spreads her legs apart wider and holds them down so that she doesn't move around as much. Just hearing her moan his name does something to him, as do her fingers when they comb through his hair. His boxers begin to feel a bit tight. Funny, his chest is starting to feel the same way, as if it's about to burst.

Is this what being with someone truly feels like? Naruto feels lost.

He's never been with anyone before, so there's no way to compare this feeling. By the end of the night, he stares up at the stars above him with his dream girl by his side. Her arms are wrapped around him securely while her face is buried in the crook of his neck.

"I've never felt that way before," she whispers.

"Yeah?" His voice is just as quiet.

She nods. "Yes. It felt amazing." He can feel her lips move along his neck, and a small chill runs down his spine. "I love you."

He breathes in and out slowly in an attempt to get his heart to slow down. It doesn't feel like it's working. "Do you really mean that?"

"Of course I do," he can feel her smile against his skin. "I've always have."

Naruto's fists begin to ball up. "If you do, then why do you always leave me by myself all the time?" She says nothing at first. Then she sits up to loom over him, just like when he had first gotten these dreams of her months ago.

She gives him a look of confusion. Does she really not know what happens when the sun comes up? "When I wake up, you're never there. I can't remember anything about you. Not your voice or your face… Nothing! Don't you know how frustrating that is!?"

"N-Naruto-kun, are you crying?" She reaches out to wipe the steady flow of tears from his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Please don't cry, I didn't mean to make you cry." Naruto doesn't move. He can't move. He only listens to her saying over and over again that she's so sorry that she's hurt him.

Naruto squeezes his eyes shut in an attempt to stop the tears. When he opens them, they still fall, and his dream girl is nowhere to be found. He is in his shabby bedroom again, and what's more is that it's still night time.

He rolls over on his side. His shoulders begin to heave. None of this is fair to him. Nothing at all. Naruto wants so desperately to meet her. He's desperate to hold her and kiss her, to spend as much time with her as possible. He wants to believe her when she tells him that he'll never be lonely again, but how is that possible when she won't even stay with him for longer than six hours of sleep?

Naruto begins to sob. She's a terrible dream – a terrible, terrible dream. But she's a dream that he'd gladly have forever if he could never awaken again.

"I'm sorry you had to come into work on your off day. Ayame's cold hasn't gotten better, and I can't have her working in the kitchen like that."

Naruto shakes his head. He doesn't mind at all. Working at Ichiraku is fun, and he rather be here than in his apartment crying over a nonexistent woman. "It's not a problem, Teuchi. I'll gladly fill in for Ayame, no sweat!" He grins.

"Glad to hear it!"

Today's work day is a normal one, for a Saturday anyway. It's busy than weekdays, but Naruto is working twice as hard today. It doesn't go unnoticed by their usual patrons, who compliment him wholeheartedly. Naruto is a bit bashful, but gives them his biggest grin regardless.

A couple of friends pass through the shop briefly to say hello while a few others sit down for a bowl. Naruto is feeling proud that Chouji orders a bowl of miso ramen with a side of braised pork. At least one of his friends has good taste (even if Naruto had to recommend it to him).

When the customer traffic dies down, Naruto watches Kiba enter the shop and he immediately narrows his eyes. "I've been looking for you! Didn't Shino tell you that I wanted my money last month?" Kiba laughs and waves Naruto off.

"He did. Don't worry, I've got your money right here," He pats the side of his pocket. "So keep your panties on."

"And again, I am ignored." Shino mumbles.

Kiba groans. "Oh come on, don't be like that!" He cries, trying to get his friend to cheer up.

Wow, Naruto didn't even see him come in, let alone sit down right next to Kiba. Shino's talent of being invisible was something special. Good thing he didn't show up to help his friend move in. Naruto thought he'd be the third wheel, but in reality, they probably would have forgotten about him.

At this thought, Naruto perks up. "Oh yeah! So how'd everything go with your lady friend, Shino?" Again, Shino doesn't appreciate the eyebrow wiggling.

Kiba looks astonished. "Lady friend? Woah, Shino! Are you holding back on me? What lady?"

Shino's brow furrows while his lips purse momentarily. "He is speaking about Hinata," he answers.

"Oh, so her name's Hinata. Sounds real pretty~!" Naruto teases.

Kiba gives a snort. "Oh please, Hinata's just a friend. Why didn't you tell him?"

"I tried to," Shino tells him. "He never listens."

So she's just a friend then? Well, this is the first time the two of them have even mentioned her. "Why's this the first time I'm hearing about this Hinata person?" He asks. Knowing Kiba's big mouth, he was sure he'd hear about her sooner. "You never bring her around to hang out with the rest of the group. You should, it'd probably be a lot of fun."

"I dunno. I've just never had a reason to bring her up during conversation," Kiba shrugs.

"Also, Hinata's been out of the country since after high school. We've only been keeping in contact with her through online messaging and letters," Shino explains. "Now that she's finished with school, she's come back here for work and such."

Naruto hums to himself momentarily. "She sounds fancy," he mumbles. And a little posh too, but that's neither here nor there.

"Anyway, enough about her," Kiba says. "You just gonna stand there and chat us up the whole time, or are you gonna take our orders?"

"Oh right, sorry 'bout that!" Naruto chuckles.

After Kiba and Shino leave, the rest of his sift is slow. Ramen is good for lunch and dinner, but no one comes here for a date night on a Saturday. Teuchi tells him to leave for the day. He can handle the rest of the dawdling customers and close shop by himself.

At first, Naruto isn't sure he wants to go home yet. He'd be forced to think about his dream girl again. After much prodding from his boss, Naruto listens to him, and leaves the shop. Maybe he should call up some of the guys for another game night to take his mind off of things.

It's on such short notice, but he really doesn't want to be alone at home with his thoughts. He's undoing the lock on his bike when the clicking of heels grab his attention. It one of the only noises around at the time, besides the low humming of cars, and the sound is coming directly across the street.

He looks over, and although there are a few people walking along that sidewalk, his eyes zone in on one person in particular. Her hair is as dark as it is long. It's a perfect contrast to her white eyes. He watches her for a while, and everything he's been feeling for months begin to crash down on him.

He remembers everything now.

That's her! That's the woman in his dreams! He remembers how soft her hair feels, and that she always smells of lavender and vanilla. Those are the exact color of the eyes that looked into his blue ones countless nights.

He's not dreaming, is he? He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment, and when he opens them, she's ready to get inside of a car. He can't lose her now. This time, this is all real. If he lets her get away, he'll truly have nothing.

"Hey!" He shouts, and she, as well as a few others around him, stop to look at him. She's even prettier outside of his dream. "Hey, don't leave yet! I need to talk to you, you're the girl of my dreams!"

Her eyes widen as people around them whisper things about her situation. She's frightened, and isn't sure what to do. She looks down in at her driver who commands to get in, so she does, in fear of the stranger across the street from her.

The car speeds off, and Naruto grits his teeth before speeding off on his bike to catch her. She's not slipping away from him that easily. She can't slip away from him that easily. He needs to talk to her. He needs to be certain that this isn't all just a dream, and that he won't wake up with tears in his eyes anymore.

Every dream had been so amazing, how wonderful would it be for them to become a reality? He wants this so badly.

His legs petal faster than they have in his entire life, and the wind feels like it's pushing him forward. He's breaking out into a cold sweat. He's swerving past so many pedestrians and cutting off so many cars just to keep her car in his line of sight. He's running red lights in the hope that maybe he'll catch up with her.

But he never catches up with her.

Another car doesn't stop in time when Naruto runs another red light. The car screeches, and the screams of horror are the only thing that flood his ears when he lands just feet away from his beat up bicycle. Everything has gone red, and he closes his eyes so that he can't see anything anymore.

Everything hurts.

But nothing hurts as much as his heart does.