Hello everyone! I'm probably best known for writing Street Fighter stories, but I had to get away from that for a while.
I've always loved Naruto since I discovered it in Shonen Jump about a year ago. I've also loved the shy girl Hinata. Her intentions are so innocent and pure. And she is one of the few people that actually sees the good inside our favorite ramen eating shinobi!
It's also sad that Naruto/Hinata fanfiction is almost nonexistent. It seems like SasuNaru is the majority (although, I will never understand how Naruto and Sasuke could love one another...they hate each others guts!).
So being a Naruhina fan, I wanted to contribute. I also want to say thanks to everyone that has already opened the doors for Naruhina fanfiction. This goes out to the Naruhina fans...
Update as of 9/17/08: With me striving to make Chapter 7 of this story extraordinary, I took it upon myself to look at past chapters to check for consistency. And while there is some definitely some consistency that I will clear up due to events in later chapters (especially chapters 1 and 2), there are also other matters that I wanted to handle.
As a writer, when you look at past work, you should never feel ashamed of it. I understand that I'm not perfect. Nobody is. However, my writers pride wanted to give my audience the best that I can do. While I love what I wrote in this chapter many years ago (I still love this chapter more then 2-6), there were certain matters that I honestly felt a bit embarrassed about.
As I have mentioned before, this story was originally a one shot. In one shots, everything has to be resolved by the end or it isn't a one shot. And that was fine. Since that now isn't the case, I've got some cleaning up to do.
So what have I done? I've added a bit more "soul" in this chapter. Errors that I accidentally put in and never fixed (like calling chakra ki) have been fixed. And thanks to having better knowledge of Naruto now then I did then, characters won't be as inconsistent compared to their manga counterparts (with the exceptions that must be done for the sake of my story), and there will be a "slightly more" gentle approach to the Naruto and Hinata scene (oh there is still going to be a scene, it will just be a bit more innocent).
If this is your first time reading this, then enjoy the full ride, as you'll get the goodness from the beginning! If you've read this before, then think of this as a rewrite of the first chapter. This isn't just cut and paste and add a couple of new words. Nearly the entire chapter was rewritten! And I will also do the same thing with the next chapter to make sure that everything flows nicely. Enjoy…
Those were the words that spread throughout Konoha village as chuunin Nara Shikamaru, followed by his team of genin, returned to the village with an unconscious Uchiha Sasuke.
The mission had not been an easy one...Akimichi Chouji and Hyuga Neji nearly died for their efforts. They had nearly run out of chakra. They would be out for a couple of days. Inuzuka Kiba wasn't fairing off too well either. While he only needed a couple of bandages upon his body, his dog companion Akamaru was put into a coma. Team leader Nara Shikamaru only had a broken finger, but it would soon heal over time. After his successful surgery at the hands of Tsunade-sama, Rock Lee located his comrades and assisted in the quest while Uzumaki Naruto went after his rival and blood brother Uchiha Sasuke. The rematch between Naruto and Sasuke was even more deadly then the previous one as unlike the first bout, there was no Sakura or Kakashi to distract the two in their destined bout with one another. Even though Naruto knew that his main objective was to bring Sasuke back to the village, a part of him wanted to beat the living daylights out of Sasuke for thinking he was so superior to him. And Sasuke wanted to prove that he was ready to face his brother Itachi and kill him in order to avenge his family. And defeating his former comrade Naruto would be the proof that he needed.
In the end though, Naruto barely managed to knock Sasuke into unconsciousness before slumping his body over his back and finding the rest of his team so they could all go home.
Upon returning to the village, Shikamaru, accompanied by Naruto, made the report to Tsunade about all that had happened while everyone else was taken to the hospital for medical care. Tsunade then decided that everyone that participated in the mission would receive medals of honor in a ceremony that was to take place in a week's time. As for Sasuke, Tsunade would work on removing the curse seal that Orochimaru had placed on him as well as get Sasuke some help to deal with the inner problems that haunted his heart and mind.
Chapter 1: "Foxes need Love too!"
The night before the awards ceremony, we find Uchiha Sasuke asleep inside the hospital. About 3 days earlier, Tsunade had successfully managed to remove the curse seal that Orochimaru had placed on Sasuke, but it had taken a toll on his body. Sasuke was going to have to rest for about a week before he could move again. Haruno Sakura had vowed that she would take care of Sasuke and never left his side except to use the bathroom and to get food.
We now find our hero Naruto making his way towards the Konoha hospital trying to make it before visiting hours were over for the day. Despite how they treated one another, deep down, Naruto really did care for his comrade Sasuke and hoped that he would get better.
After being told where Sasuke's room was from the nurse, Naruto makes his way towards room 101 to check in on his teammate. Right as he is about to open the door however, Naruto hears voices on the other side.
"Sasuke-kun...if you can hear me...please wake up..."
"Sakura-chan?" thought Naruto as he opened the door slightly to get a peek at what was going on inside. Naruto's ears had not deceived him after all. It really was Sakura inside Sasuke's room.
Sasuke's eyelids blinked twice before slowly opening and being greeted to his pink haired and green-eyed teammate of Team Seven.
"Sasuke-kun..." Sakura whispered as her eyes started to get watery.
"Sakura..." Sasuke grunted as his eyes stared off into space. Considering his actions, Sasuke was surprised that anyone would want to visit him.
"Sasuke-kun..." Sakura whimpered, as tears finally streamed down her cheeks. "I thought that I lost you forever..."
"Sakura..." Sasuke sighs, as he finally sits up in the bed and turns his head over to the left to fully look at Sakura's face. He could see the anguish that he had caused Sakura. Her eyes were red from crying so much, and a couple of dark circles were visible under her eyes. Sasuke assumed it to be from lack of sleep. And Sakura's normally well brushed pink hair, arguably the reason for Sakura's namesake, was unkempt without her usual ninja headband to keep it all tidy.
What made all of these observations about his teammate worse though, was knowing why Sakura had been in so much distress these past couple of days…
It had all been because of him…
That's right. The pain lay solely on his shoulders. Because of his quest to be an "avenger", Sasuke had been willing to do whatever it took to accomplish his goal of defeating his brother Itachi. Sure, seeking Orochimaru for help may not have been the wisest thing that he could have done. In fact, it was downright stupid. And you know…evil…
From looking at Sakura's face, Sasuke felt emotions that he didn't think he would ever feel for her: Remorse, and longing.
He had tried to push Sakura away so that when the time came to leave, the pain would not hurt as much. He didn't want to see her hurt. And he didn't want to admit that he actually longed for Sakura as much as she had for him.
It had been one of the things that had pissed him off during the Sound Invasion. When Naruto had been able to protect Sakura from Gaara, and he couldn't! It wasn't right! He should have been the one to protect Sakura! But at least she was safe…
For the first time in his life, Sasuke actually felt sorry. Not for the fact that he failed in his mission, oh no. But for hurting Sakura so much. She didn't deserve all the crap that he put her through. She might have been annoying, and a little bit too fanatical at first, but it had all been for his sake. Naruto wasn't the idiot on the team, he was…
"Sakura…" Sasuke whispers as he brushes a couple of strands of hair out of her eyes, "I'm sorry…"
Meanwhile, Naruto was still outside peeking into the room, not quite liking what he was seeing. Naruto also noticed that his stomach seemed to feel tighter as he watched the scene between his 2 teammates.
"Sasuke-kun..." Sakura said as she caught Sasuke in an embrace, "I'm…I'm here for you…"
This had not been the first time that Naruto witnessed something like this. When Tsunade had first entered the Konoha village as the fifth Hokage, Sakura had displayed this same affection towards Sasuke.
Naruto however, was not prepared for what Sakura would do next...
"Sasuke-kun..." Sakura said as she lifted her head from Sasuke's neck and looked directly into his eyes. "I...I...I love you..."
Hearing this heartfelt confession come out of Sakura's lips was almost enough to send Naruto's emotions over the edge. She...she loved him? How could she? Sasuke treated her like trash! Naruto knew that Sakura liked Sasuke a lot, but loved him?
Naruto found it even more difficult to maintain his composure when he saw Sakura crush Sasuke's lips with her own…
Sasuke was caught back by Sakura's actions, but didn't hesitate, nor stop Sakura from what she was doing. He wrapped his right arm around Sakura's back and pulled her body closer to his, increasing the intensity of the kiss.
Naruto had seen enough. Seeing Sakura kiss their teammate...and his biggest rival was too much to bear, even for Naruto. Despite being the container of a demon fox that would kill without any qualms for 13 years, Naruto was still only human...
And being human meant that not even Naruto, who holds the reputation as the loudest and most hyperactive ninja in Konoha village, was immune to emotions that human's experienced daily. Emotions such as laughter, anger, or in this case, heartbreak...
Naruto felt it best that he leave, before things got out of hand. He quietly left Sasuke's room with the two inhabitants inside not even noticing that he had been around in the first place.
Tears welled up in Naruto's eyes as he left the hospital. Any final ambitions that he had of winning Sakura's heart were shattered after he saw her kiss Sasuke.
Love...it was the one thing that Naruto craved more then anything. Even more then being Hokage, Naruto wanted somebody that actually cared for him. Not somebody that did it to be nice, but deep down, really felt worried about him. The only person that even came close was Iruka-sensei, but Naruto wanted a deeper connection. Naruto wanted somebody that woke up and thought about his well being or smiled whenever he came near. Not out of obligation, but general concern…
"It isn't fair..." Naruto thought as he walked through the village. "No matter how much I try, in Sakura-chan's eyes, I will always be dead last. I will always be a loser. I will never be good enough for her...because I'm not Sasuke. No matter how much I train or how much stronger I become, Sakura-chan will never accept me."
Seeing Sasuke steal Sakura's kiss from him had been equivalent to someone driving a kunai straight through his heart. And of the past battles that Naruto had been in with such ninja like Neji or Haku had paled in comparison to the inner battle that Naruto was facing right now in his heart. There were only 3 people that truly understood Naruto's pain, but one of them was dead (3rd Hokage), one was currently away on a mission (Iruka), and the other one knew about Naruto's pain, but was too tied up being the new ruler of the village to talk to Naruto (Tsunade). So basically, Naruto was out of options when it came to someone to confide in. Kakashi was not even an option. Although Kakashi probably already knew about Naruto's feelings towards Sakura, Kakashi was not one that Naruto felt comfortable discussing his inner problems to. Kakashi's idea of solving problems was pulling out his copy of Icha Icha Paradise. The hentai...
Naruto almost snickered at the idea of asking Kakashi for help. Even if Naruto had thought of asking Kakashi for help, it would still be impossible since Kakashi was currently away on an A ranked mission which meant that he wouldn't be returning to the village for quite some time. So in the long run, Naruto was screwed.
Naruto had made his way to the ninja academy, even though that wasn't his intention in the first place. Naruto had been walking just for the sake of it, and to get away from the hospital...and Sasuke...and Sakura-chan…
"Damn you, Sasuke...why does everything always have to come so easily for you? Why do I always have to work twice as hard as you and still get half the respect? Why do all of the girls want to be with a jerk like you?
That recent memory still fresh in his head, Naruto saw the swing that he sat on when he had failed his ninja academy exam for the third time in a row. It was his swing, the swing that he sat on when he felt depressed. And right now, Naruto felt long overdue for a visit...
Naruto sat down in the swing as the last of his tears had dried up. Naruto had originally planned on going to the Ichiraku Ramen stand immediately after checking up on Sasuke, but the incident at the hospital had made him lose his appetite. Right now, Naruto could care less about anything. Nothing mattered. Not his training, the medal ceremony the following day, a nice bowl of miso ramen, or even his ultimate desire to become Hokage. Naruto didn't care, cause one of the things that he had cared about the most, had just been taken away from him.
Ever since team seven was formed, Sakura would continue to pursue Sasuke's affections, despite the fact that he treated her like garbage. In return, Sakura would constantly insult Naruto and treat him bad, even though Naruto cared about Sakura like she was a goddess. Over time, Naruto had hoped that Sakura would come to her senses and realize that Sasuke could care less about her and look towards someone that did care, but Sakura never gave up. Even when other guys like "Fuzzy Eyebrows" Rock Lee would desire her, Sakura never gave up on her goal, which was to be with Sasuke. And in the end, it looked like Sakura had finally succeeded in winning his heart.
"There was never a chance for me..." said Naruto to himself as he gave his swing a test drive. "My fate was sealed when I became the jailer for Kyubi 13 years ago. Nobody dares get close to me because they are afraid...afraid of the demon inside of me. Everyone in this village hates me, and wishes that I were dead. They try to ignore me, like I am only a figment of their imagination. Whenever I fight, people always expect me to fail. They always have low expectations of me, despite the fact that I beat strong opponents...despite the fact that I train twice as hard as everyone else..."
Naruto stopped swinging as his recently dried eyes became wet again.
"I might as well give up on things like love. I am only fooling myself if I think that someone will actually accept me for who I am, and not what I am. Just because I hold a demon fox inside of me...people think that I...sob... am a monster...that I... choke...don't have feelings or that I don't...sob...matter...I never asked to be the container of Kyubi, so why do they... sniff ...treat me like it was my choice? Why do they continue to hate me and..."
Naruto couldn't hold back his tears anymore as he started to cry again. The only thing that Naruto had succeeded in is making himself feel even more miserable. So much for being strong...Naruto had said that he would never cry again...but all of that pent up emotion...it had finally reached its peak. And the only way out was through the eyes...
Unknown to Naruto however was a blue haired, white-eyed girl that had been watching Naruto behind a tree and listening to everything. Also unknown to Naruto was that this girl's eyes were also in tears from what she had heard Naruto say. Naruto was her hero...the source of her strength...the joy of her life...Naruto was the person that she loved with all of her heart.
It had broken her heart to find out why her secret crush had been treated so cruelly all these years. It was a wrong that needed to be rectified.
"Naruto-kun..." the girl whispered as tears streamed down her cheek. "You are loved...you always have been...and I think it's time for me to show you that..."
The girl, known as Hyuga Hinata, came out from behind her tree and decided to bring forth her courage and give strength to the one that had always empowered her.
"Naruto-kun..." mumbled the girl as tears continued to run down her face.
"Huh?" Naruto said as he quickly wiped his tears away and looked up.
It was Hyuga Hinata. The same girl that he made an oath to on her blood…the same girl that he had dedicated his fight against Neji in the chuunin finals to, was standing in front of him.
Hinata immediately wrapped her arms around Naruto's neck as she cried on his chest.
"Hinata is crying...but why?"
Naruto had no idea for Hinata's current distress, but he knew that whatever it was that was bothering Hinata, couldn't be resolved while he was still in his special swing. So Naruto did the gentleman thing. He got up off the swing and escorted Hinata to one of the benches that sat outside the ninja academy so that they were a bit more comfortable.
Upon sitting Hinata and himself down on the bench, Naruto lifted her head slightly so that they were looking at each other face to face. From this close distance, Hinata's clear white eyes were like beautiful pearls that reflected everything. And Hinata's blue hair almost seemed to glow from the moonlight that shone in. Hinata was beautiful...why hadn't he noticed it before?
"Hinata? Why are you crying?"
"Naruto-kun..." Hinata says through sniffles, "I...I heard everything...no one should have to deal with such pain..."
"What are you talking about?" Naruto asks, truly confused.
"I know…" Hinata says with a look that seems to tear into Naruto's soul, "I know about you…and the Kyubi…"
"She knows?" Naruto's body stiffens, as panic started to kick in, "Then when she said that she heard everything, she meant…"
"I...I feel your pain..." Hinata begins again, "I know how it feels to be alone. I may not have spent most of my life with a demon fox inside of me, but people still ignore me like I am a monster. Even my own family has little faith in me ever since my little sister Hanabi beat me in a fight. Sometimes my teammates Kiba and Shino doubt my abilities. But whenever I see you Naruto-kun, I don't feel so alone anymore. I feel like...I can do anything. Whenever I see you, all of my pain goes away. I don't like it when the people in this village are mean to you or talk badly about you, Naruto-kun...It..it isn't right. You...you deserve to be loved, and you deserve to be acknowledged for more then just your strength. True power comes from the heart..."
"Hinata..." Naruto wonders, "Why do you have such confidence in me? What do you see in me that others don't? Why don't you hate me like everyone else?"
This was it...now there was no turning back...in order to answer his question, Hinata realized that she would have to tell Naruto the part that she had been trying to leave out...The part about her being in love with him. Ever since the academy days, Hinata knew that there was something special about Naruto ever since she first laid eyes on him. It saddened her to think that nobody but herself took the time to find out about him or get to know him for his achievements...instead of his failures...
Instead, everyone in the village was told to ignore Naruto like he was a disease...like he was an apple inside a bag of oranges...like he was the goose inside a group of ducks. And explanations were never made. Just like all of the other kids in the village, Hinata was just told by her parents to ignore Naruto and not to associate with him. This led Hinata into wondering why...
What had started out as curiosity, led to discovering that Naruto was not the evil beast that people often depicted him as. Naruto was only a boy that longed for affection, yet nobody would listen to his cries for help. Nobody would give him the attention that he so desperately needed.
Well all that was about to change...because of Naruto, Hinata had found the strength that she didn't know she had to stand up to her cousin Neji during the chuunin exam. Even though she lost, Hinata still felt a lot more confident about herself. When everybody wanted to look the other way, there was Naruto, cheering her on. Even after she was defeated, that same boy even vowed to defeat Neji for her. Naruto cared...when nobody else would...
Ever since that day, Hinata had started to gain more confidence in herself and her abilities. No longer would she be the "always shy" Hyuga girl that people doubted. Slowly, Hinata was going to change and become stronger, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.
And as a test to see how far she had developed, Hinata was going to tell Naruto how much he meant to her. A smile came across the face of the heir to the Hyuga clan as she prepared to take the first step of the rest of her life...
"Why do I have such confidence in you?" Hinata begins, "It's Because I know deep down inside my heart that you are destined to do many great things. And strength comes from support. You have a great dream, Naruto. I know it will come true one day. I believe in you because you try and never give up. And because you are one of the few people that believes in me."
Naruto started to blush slightly from what Hinata said. "She...she believes in me?"
"What do I see in you?" Hinata continues, "I see a great spirit and a great soul with a good heart that only wants to help people. I see somebody that works hard at everything they do and doesn't take anything for granted. I see someone that desires love and attention. I see someone that has been robbed of a chance to have a family. I see somebody that is treated cruelly for all the wrong reasons...And I see somebody that always makes me smile every time I see him..."
"Hinata..." Naruto was really starting to blush now from Hinata's comments. Nobody had ever said anything so honest and heartfelt towards him...not even Iruka-sensei. Naruto was starting to look at Hinata a little bit differently now.
Hinata knew that it was time to tell Naruto her true feelings. Everything else she had said had only hinted at her true message. Hinata suddenly felt slightly nervous now, cause this was going to be the boldest thing that she had ever done in her entire life. Standing up to her cousin Neji was easier to do then this.
"No...I can do this...I'll be strong for you, Naruto-kun..."
"Why don't I hate you like everyone else?" Hinata started to whisper as she placed both of her hands on Naruto's cheeks. "First of all, I'm not like everyone else. Everyone else in the village is blind. They don't see the true Naruto when they look at you. They only see the hatred that they were taught to hold against you. They don't believe in amnesty, giving you a chance to grow and improve. It's ironic how our village is known as one of the strongest villages if not the strongest because of our unity, but sometimes the people in the village forget that. They say one thing and then do the exact opposite. They are hypocrites...
"Hinata..." Naruto says solemnly, "You know the truth now…you know why the village hates me…
"I don't care!" "Hinata protests, "You never had a say in the matter! What you did...I consider heroic...you continue to push on with Kyubi inside you...despite the fact that people hate you daily...the burden that you carry...is one that I wouldn't wish on anybody...that is true strength...even when you fall down...you get back up...that is what will one day make you Hokage..."
"Hinata...why is it that you seem to understand me better then anybody? Why is it that except for Iruka-sensei, you are the only one that treats me with true kindness? Why do you cry for me? Why do you care so much?"
"I could never hate you, Naruto-kun...You are not like any of the other guys in this village. You are...special to me...and..."
Hinata found herself staring at the floor now. Her confidence was wavering. And right when it was needed most.
"No!" Hinata thinks as she lifts her head back up, "I won't back down! I can't afford to! Not anymore! He needs me!"
"Naruto-kun..." Hinata began again. "I...I like you...I like you a lot...you are not like any of the other guys I know...I know a lot of people think that I like Kiba-kun but...he is just a friend...whenever I see you...I feel like the happiest person ever. You always make me smile...you always make me happy..."
And once again, Hinata had managed to restore Naruto's spirit. She had done it once before just before Naruto had to face Neji in the chuunin finals a while back, and now she had done it again. Hinata, was like his guardian angel…
"Thank you…" Naruto thanks as a small smile covers his face, "You always know what to say to cheer me up! Why?"
Hinata blushed before resting her head in Naruto's chest and wrapping her arms around him.
"Why?" Hinata says, an adorable grin forming on her lips, "It's because I love you…"
At those words, Naruto froze.
"She...she loves me? Me? The person that everyone likes to hate? The person that nobody had any faith in?"
It had to be a joke, Naruto had concluded. Nobody loved him. He was the village idiot. The fall guy. The demon.
While a couple of people might have genuinely started to respect him, that's where it ended. It would never go any farther then that. His incident in the hospital earlier had been proof of that. Sakura had started to respect him from the time they had started as teammates. She had started to see that he was strong, and could handle his own. While Sakura might have been unconscious to see his triumph against Gaara, she had been awake to see him save both her and Sasuke from that giant snake before Orochimaru got the drop on him.
And in the end, where did it get him? Nowhere. Even after all of his devotion, Sakura had still chosen Sasuke over him. Even after he had risked his life for her, it was all for Sasuke.
"Hinata…" Naruto says quietly as he lifts Hinata's head off his chest.
Naruto appreciated Hinata caring for his pain. Naruto even was thankful to Hinata for cheering him up. But he didn't need her making up some cruel jokes about being in love with him.
But as he gazed into Hinata's eyes another time that night, Naruto found himself lost in them. Whatever it was that he wanted to say had been completely forgotten.
Naruto noticed how half-lidded Hinata's eyes were, as well as how close her face was to his, but there was nothing that he could say or do about it. It was as if all time stopped.
"Na…ru…to…kun…" Hinata spoke softly and sweetly, before melting into his mouth.
It took a moment for Naruto to register that the heir to the Hyuga clan was kissing him, but when he did, Hinata had broken off the lip lock.
"Then…she's serious? She really does love me?"
"Naruto-kun..." Hinata said apologetically, "I'm...I'm so sorry...I shouldn't have done that...it...it was wrong of me to do and..."
Hinata's words were cut off as Naruto returned her sweet kiss. Now knowing that he wasn't going to reject her, Hinata's grip on his body tightened as she put in more of herself to match his intensity.
"All of this time...when I was trying to make Sakura-chan like me, Hinata always did..."
After kissing for several more seconds, Hinata broke off the kiss before she started planting her lips all over his neck.
"Hinata…" Naruto gasped from the new sensations that he was feeling.
Hinata continued to kiss all over Naruto's neck before finally biting down.
"Itai…" Naruto hissed as he felt Hinata's teeth inside him.
Naruto felt paralyzed as Hinata continued to place love bites all over him. The feeling surging through him was intoxicating.
Hinata had no idea what she was doing. She wasn't even fully aware of her actions. All she knew was that she was in love with Uzumaki Naruto, and she would show him through the best of her ability.
Naruto meanwhile, had wondered how he had been so fortunate to find Hinata. How could he have been so blind? How could he have missed her admiration of him?
Naruto remembered what had happened after he had defeated Kiba in the chuunin preliminaries. Hinata, Kiba's teammate, had offered him some ointment cream to tend to his wounds. When he had inquired why, Hinata became so shy that her sensei Yuuhi Kurenai just told him to take the stuff. It always puzzled him why Hinata was going out of her way to help him. Didn't Kiba need the cream more? He did, but the reason why he didn't receive it, was because Kiba wasn't him…
"I really am a baka…" Naruto sighs as Hinata continued to please him, "How could I not see how much Hinata wanted me?"
Simple, Naruto answered to himself. He had been too busy trying to gain Sakura's favor to notice anyone else.
"Well no more…" Naruto thinks as he looks back at Hinata, nearly lost in a sea of desire for him, "I won't take you for granted anymore. I won't make the same mistake that Sasuke-teme made with Sakura-chan for so long. You deserve better then that…"
Naruto, with newfound resolve, mimics Hinata's actions by biting into her neck.
"Naruto-kun!!" Hinata moans, as she throws her hands behind his head.
Naruto nibbled into Hinata's neck in such a way that Hinata was now purring. Maybe hanging around Erosennin had its benefits afterall…
She had been his light at the end of the tunnel…and the sun to shine on the maelstrom that was his life. He could never thank her enough for that…
Naruto, finally finished, breaks away. Hinata pants from the excitement that they had gone through and rests her head back onto his chest.
It had started off as a depressing evening, but Hinata had changed all of that. Finally understanding who she was made Naruto look at Hinata completely differently. He had found her. He had found his precious person…
And if he wanted to keep her, he needed to make sure that she got home before suspicion arose.
"Don't you have to go home? I don't think your family approves of me…"
"I don't care!" Hinata proclaims as she kisses Naruto's lips again, "I love you, Naruto-kun, and one day, I'll make them understand that...even if I have to renounce my Hyuga heritage!"
"Hinata! You can't do that! I'm not worth it! I mean-"
This time it was Hinata's turn to hush Naruto with a finger to his lips.
"Yes it is. Nobody pays more attention to me then you, Naruto-kun. Nobody is more honest and more caring then you. My family...there is some love...but it is mostly like a unit love...not really genuine love like I have for you. I will become the heir to the Hyuga empire when I come of age...and there is nothing that my family can do to change that. They can't decide who I fall in love with..."
The things that Hinata said had made Naruto want to cry again. Hinata was the first person that had shown so much concern for him. She loved him without fear...and without regret...
"I could stay out here with Hinata-chan all night...night? Wait a second! What time is it?"
Naruto looked at his watch and saw that it was a quarter to 10:00.
"Oh no! The awards ceremony! It's supposed to take place tomorrow afternoon! Hinata! We have to get home!"
"But I'd rather stay with you Naruto-kun..."
Naruto was almost tempted to forget about the awards ceremony right there and then, but he also remembered that Hinata's family would go crazy if they found out that Hinata had been out all night with the "forbidden" Uzumaki boy.
"I know Hinata-chan. I want to stay with you too...but your family might suspect something. Don't worry, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Sweet dreams, Hinata…"
They gave each other a warm hug before running off towards their perspective homes...
"Welcome everyone!" Said Tsunade to the crowd that afternoon.
"About a week and a half ago, Orochimaru had tried to capture one of our ninjas! Unfortunately, due to all of our chuunin and jounin being absent on missions, I was left with no choice but to give the only chunnin left in the village, Nara Shikamaru, the task of assembling a team of himself, plus 4 other genin that he felt worthy, to go on a rescue mission for their comrade. Gentlemen, when I call out your name, step forward..."
Chouji stepped forward looking good as new. Even after he had taken all those solder pills, he recovered nicely. Tsunade put the medal around his neck as the crowd applauded.
"Good job, Chouji!" Team 10's sensei Sarutobi Asuma congratulated as Chouji stepped down from the stage, "You have come a long way since Team 10 started!"
"I'm proud of you, Chouji!" Chouji's teammate Yamanaka Ino chimes in as she hugs him, "I'm also glad that you are ok! I was really worried about you!"
"Thanks you two!" Chouji says as he rubs the back of his head, "But don't forget that Shikamaru is still up there!"
The crowd went wild when Neji stepped forward. He was a fan favorite. Like Chouji, Neji had also been in a near death state, but fortunately he survived. It was just not his time to die yet.
"Neji…" Neji's sensei Maito Gai says as Neji comes down from the stage,
"Please don't break down and start giving out speeches about my flames of youth", Neji pleads as Gai pats him on the back. To Neji's great delight, Gai kept his mouth shut. But then Neji remembered that Lee was still up on stage…
Neji's other teammate Tenten, also picked up on this realization and sighed, knowing that the silence that she and Neji were blessed with at the current moment, was only the calm before the storm…
"Next, Inuzuka Kiba."
More clapping went off as Kiba stepped forward to receive his medal.
"Akamaru…" Kiba sighed as the medal was placed around this neck, "I couldn't have done this without you. You deserve this medal more then I do…"
Just then, there was yelping in the crowd.
As everyone turned to see what the commotion was about, they saw a small nin dog with bandages wrapped around its body running towards the stage before leaping into Kiba's arms.
"Akamaru!?" Kiba said shocked, "You're ok!"
Kiba then looked into the crowd and saw his older sister Hana smirking at him. Kiba understood fully what had happened. His sister Hana had healed Akamaru.
"Akamaru…" Kiba says as he takes his medal off and places it around Akamaru's neck, "This is for you!"
The crowd awes as Akamaru starts licking Kiba's cheek.
The crowd once again went wild as the young genius prodigy came forward.
"Congratulations on your first successful A ranked mission," Tsunade says into the microphone, "Sandaime made no mistake when he made you a chuunin. I see great things for you."
The audience kept yelling for Shikamaru to say a couple of words after his first successful mission he led.
"This is so troublesome...why do I have to do this anyway? Sigh… might as well get it over with...
Shikamaru grabbed the microphone from Tsunade.
"Thank you for the medal. And thank you everybody for believing in me. I promise that I will continue to do my best to make this village proud and to show off the true strength of the Leaf!"
Everyone clapped for Shikamaru as he stepped off the stage except for Yamanaka Ino, who was blushing. Ever since Shikamaru returned, Ino realized that she had feelings for him. She had never really wanted Sasuke. It was just to mess with her rival Sakura. Ino secretly loved Shikamaru, and told him...with a kiss upon his return to the village.
"Shika-kun!" Ino shouted as she jumped into her lover's arms, "I knew you could do it!"
"Shikamaru…Chouji…" Asuma says, "To celebrate the success of your mission, I'll take you all out for barbeque."
Chouji's mouth started to water as Asuma now took out his wallet to make sure that he didn't regret his decision.
The crowd went silent as Rock Lee stepped forward. "Not only did Rock Lee recover fully from his surgery, but he also went off in search of his comrades to assist in the mission. For that Rock Lee, you not only get the medal of bravery, but also the medal of courage and persistence."
The crowd was now screaming at the top of their lungs.
Neji and Tenten eyed each other, counting how long it would be before their sensei made an ass of himself.
As soon as Lee stepped off the stage, the countdown began…
"Lee!" Gai cried as he hugged Lee tightly
"Gai-sensei!" Lee returned with as much enthusiasm as Gai, also in tears "Did my flames of youth burn brightly enough?"
"Yes!" Gai says as he cries on his pupil, "But now you must make them burn brighter!"
"Yes, Gai-Sensei!" Lee returns, even louder then before, "I shall make my flames of youth burn brighter! And if I can't do that, then I'll run 100 laps around the village! And if I can't do that, then I'll do 1,000 push-ups! And if I can't do that, then I'll do 1,000 sit ups!"
The entire crowd sweatdrops as Lee and Gai have their little "moment". Meanwhile, Neji and Tenten are slowly walking away from the other half of their team to try and keep the embarrassment down to a minimum.
"Ahem", Tsunade coughs, bringing the attention back to her. "We still have one person left! Uzumaki Naruto!"
Immediately, the crowd went completely silent as Naruto stepped forward. Despite earning a bit of respect from the crowd, Naruto still knew that the people of the village really didn't give a damn about him.
"Naruto..." Tsunade started in a serious tone. "You assisted in the mission to bring back your teammate...and you were the one that located him and brought him back home safely...I also understand that you met up with Orochimaru but managed to escape from his clutches without putting yourself into any real danger. For that, you get this medal..."
The crowd was still silent as Naruto received his medal.
"Just as I thought…" Naruto sighed, "Nobody cares what I went through…"
That was what Naruto had thought at first, until he saw Hinata clapping.
Then it was his teammate Sakura…
Then it was his sensei Kakashi…
Then it was his adopted little brother Konohamaru, along with his friends Moegi and Udon…
"Naruto-nichan!" Konohamaru shouted at the top of his lungs, "You rock!"
Konohamaru had been the one to make Naruto smile.
Then it was the rest of the rookie nine and Gai's team clapping for Naruto. Including their Jounin teachers…
Next it was Teuchi and his daughter Ayame, the owners of Ichiraku Ramen…
Then it was Umino Iruka, the first person that had accepted him as a person.
Then it was Morino Ibiki clapping…
Then it was Mitarashi Anko clapping…
Then it was Ebisu clapping…
And finally, it was Toad Sage Jiraiya who clapped for Naruto…
And once the rest of the crowd saw the support that Naruto had, they started to clap as well…
Naruto looked to his sides and also saw that Shizune and Tsunade were clapping…
And it was then, that the tears that Naruto had been fighting to hold back, came forward.
Tsunade pulled Naruto into a hug as he cried into her chest. Naruto had not been the only person crying that day. Tsunade was also crying as she held the one that she considered her grandson. Rock Lee and Gai were also crying. As was Iruka. But perhaps the most important one that had been crying for Naruto, had been the one that had accepted him all along…
"Naruto-kun..." Hinata cried as she clapped for her beloved, "Now they are starting to see what I have always saw in you. I'm happy for you..."
Hinata wanted to run over and hold Naruto so bad, but she knew that she couldn't. At least, not in the presence of her family…
As the ceremony died down, everyone started to go their separate ways. Asuma took his team to have barbeque as he had promised them. Gai also took his team to a restaurant to celebrate. Sakura went back to the hospital to check back up on Sasuke. Kiba and Akamaru had left for home to enjoy the beef feast they had been promised. As for Naruto, Teuchi and Ayame had dragged him to Ichiraku for free ramen. Hinata, not wanting to be left out, grabbed on to his arm. This did not go unnoticed by Ayame.
"So Naruto has a girlfriend now? How sweet…"
It had been a wonderful day, Naruto thought. He got the recognition of Konoha (or at least he was starting to), he had Hinata by his side, and he had the "food of the gods" in front of him.
"Hey, Naruto," Ayame asks after serving another customer their order, "I just noticed that you have some kind of mark on your neck. What happened? Are you alright?"
Naruto dropped his chopsticks and borrowed Ayame's mirror to look at himself.
"How did that happen? I was with Hinata when...Hinata...that's how it happened..."
"uh..." Naruto began as he started to blush. "It was some late night training..."
"What kind of training could leave a mark like that?" Ayame thought at first until she saw that Hinata was blushing and also had a similar mark on her neck. Ayame then fought to keep from giggling as she had found out the truth.
Naruto: Yatta! Hinata-chan loves me! I've got a girlfriend now!
Naruto: Now that Hinata and I are together, we have to keep our love secret from the entire village. And what's this? Sasuke is healed and is back to being a ninja? I'm going to kill that teme for making me risk my life for him...
Sasuke: Don't get in my way, Naruto! I am an avenger! Nothing is more important to me then that!
Naruto: Just stay out of my way, Sasuke! I'm going to be Hokage one day!
Naruto: Next time, on Naruto: "Forbidden Love! The New A ranked mission!"
Hinata: Naruto-kun...will we be ok?
Naruto: Of course we will, Hinata! I'll protect you! I don't go back on my words. That's my ninja way!