July 2, 2004 – Finally spotted all the errors…well, the ones I could find, anyway.

Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine. Sasuke is. Nihihihihi ::laughs like a madman before being chased by other Sasuke rabid fangirls::


The Setting

First it must be understood that there is a boy, and a girl. "Oooohhh," you exclaim, squirming in your seat with shivers of excitement running down your spine in anticipation of fluff coming your way. "A love story! I know this!" Of course you do. This is a typical love story. You may have heard of it before, you may have read about it before, heck, you may even be experiencing it right now.

Anyway. There is a boy and a girl. Now, we could choose to place them anywhere, but it actually is perfect to place them in a ninja village called Konoha, a village that has withstood many wars of past, and with perfect knowledge that it will face more wars to come. Their peers are their fellow ninjas, an eccentric sort of crowd that at first glance it seems almost impossible to place all of them together in one room without a war of their own breaking out, their differences from each other being so great. When they were children, perhaps. But these teenagers have encountered life and death too many times already to not recognize the bond they all share.

Ah, teenagers. Yes, the age is seventeen, an age that one wants to cling on to for it means the last time you will probably be excused for the silly and stupid things you do, and a time to discover more things about you, before you step onto the threshold of adulthood. A time when everyone seems to be swapping dates like changing underwear, when everyone seems to have a list of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends already. A time when couples exchange flowers and sickeningly sweet love notes, a time when you giggle with delight and feel giddy over seeing your boyfriend/girlfriend. When you blush beet red with just a brush of his/her hand with yours.

It was different for our boy and girl. But it was also typical of them to be so.

This is where their story unfolds.

The Characters

A. The Stereotypical Dense Male

His name is Uzumaki Naruto. Blond-haired and blue-eyed, he could probably pass for one of those cherubs painted in ancient chapels and churches, except that his face is forever stretched into a mischievous grin that immediately spells trouble whenever you see him. Plus his hair has grown into wild spikes on his head. PLUS there are those whisker-like marks on his face that seems to be a reminder of the demon that is contained inside his body, the reason why people hate him.

Yes, everyone hates him. He is overly-loud, brash, stubborn, irritating, and insulting. He loves to play pranks. He loves getting into fights. Trouble and chaos seem to follow him wherever he goes. He is frustratingly stupid, not seeing things even if they're right in front of his nose.

Yet everyone loves him. He hates being underestimated. He never gives up. He never goes back on his word – his ninja way. He seeks to constantly improve himself. You may be surprised to find him sitting beside you when you are all alone and crying your eyes out, to comfort you in the best way he knows how, which will probably end up with you laughing instead of crying because he is doing such a horrible job of it. He immediately jumps to defend someone being belittled even if it means getting his ass whipped big time.

He grows on you, his image sticking to your brain like barnacle to a rock. You start loving to have him around even if you may want to squeeze his neck for pulling a prank on you that seems to involve throwing you into the river the other day. With him, things are never predictable.

"I'm gonna be Hokage someday!" he boasts almost everyday, without fail. An impossible dream, but we start believing it could come true.

He is a boy who, beneath the façade of cheerfulness, mirth and mischief, feels very alone in the world with no one really understanding him.

B. The Stereotypical Sweet, Shy Female

Her name is Hyuga Hinata. Short dark hair, smooth white skin. Petite. Wide expressive eyes, colored milky white, a reminiscent of the power of the Byakugan which belongs only to their clan. With her looks, she seems utterly fragile. You feel like walking on tiptoes when you are around her so as not to startle her.

She is the ultimate Good Girl. Never disobeying her father's orders. Very polite, constantly apologizing for things she isn't even responsible for. A girl who covers her mouthas she coughs daintily and murmurs "excuse me" even if she is all alone in the room. A girl who never has a bad word to say about anyone.

Actually, no one notices her that much. She fades into background most of the time, and she likes it that way. Her eyes widen like deer caught in headlights when someone's attention is upon her, and immediately she tries to shrink back and render herself invisible. She is so quiet that you would almost jump in astonishment when she speaks. And when she speaks, her voice is soft, seemingly incapable of raising it to a shout or a holler. A girl who will actually scream (if she knew how) and jump behind the nearest possible object large enough to cover her in order to hide, if you so much as call her name or speak to her.

A girl who, no matter how hard she trains, will never earn the respect and acknowledgment of her clan despite holding the title of clan heiress. A girl that lives in the shadow of her younger sister's strength and power.

She is a girl who feels strangely alone while standing inside a huge crowd, getting pushed around by the people yet never complaining.

The Story

So, what happens? "Opposites attract," you say, rubbing your chin thoughtfully and nodding. True. We will now confirm one thing we have figured out for ourselves: Naruto and Hinata are good friends, best of friends even. The people around them have started going out with each other, or are focused on training or on their respective unrequited loves. Circumstances have strangely thrown them together within close proximity of each other most of the time. They use to make small talk, which rapidly turns into long conversations up to the wee hours of the night with the owner of the ramen stand screaming at them to leave so he could close up already.

Soon they are getting together without their peers. They find themselves opening up to one another, telling each other things they haven't told anybody else before. Naruto is drawn to her gentle spirit. She, unlike others, never shouts at him or hits him on the head when he does something mischievous. He could play a prank on her and she would never get angry. She laughs at all his jokes, even the corny ones. She is used to seeing him talk with his mouth full. She may be startled and her mouth may drop open when he does something shocking; but then a few seconds later they'll burst into laughter, clutching at their sides and nearly rolling on the floor in mirth.

Hinata has always been fascinated with his seemingly never-fading energy and determination. He would bounce from one activity to the next, almost never taking a breather and plunging right ahead. When he laughs, it is infectious, and she finds herself always laughing with him. When they walk together, he always walks beside her, never leaving her behind. For all his roughness, he is actually a perfect gentleman – to her, at least. He speaks to her in a jovial tone, or a serious one when they are talking about serious matters; he has never raised his voice or spoken to her harshly.

And so other facts are confirmed: Hinata has actually changed over the years; she is still painfully shy at times, she is still polite, and her voice is still soft but when she speaks her voice no longer trembles and it carries a tone of certainty never before heard from her. She no longer hides but nevertheless makes no effort to make herself known. And finally, Hinata has been admiring Naruto ever since they were little. What started as a fascination turns into a crush, and now, our sweet Hinata is in love, as in head-over-heels in love with Naruto.

But Naruto doesn't know this. Oh no, he doesn't know. Of course he doesn't. He has no idea why her eyes shine when she looks at him sometimes. Has no idea why she blushes whenever he hugs her goodbye. Has no idea why she would gaze at him for the longest of times and will stop only when he asks, "Do I have something on my face?" Has no idea why she kisses his cheek one night before they part. And has no idea why something seems to flutter about his stomach when she does so.

Not only does he have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER, Naruto is also not aware of the actions he is doing. He is not aware that his mouth curves into the gentlest of smiles instead of his usual foxy grin or smirk when he sees her. He is not aware that he has started to hold her hand gently but firmly when they walk. Not aware that he wounds an arm around her waist to pull her away from the grinding crowd. Not aware that he places his hand on the small of her back to guide her into a shop or to a table or to a seat in the ramen stand. Not aware that he reaches up like, every FIVE minutes to tuck her hair behind her ears, his fingers brushing against her soft cheeks every time.

But Hinata is aware. She is SO aware that she would resemble a lobster when she thinks about the things he did, while lying in bed and clutching a pillow tightly to her chest. She is also painfully, painfully aware of the fact that EVERYONE knows what she feels and that everyone sees what he does, and that no one has the heart to tease them about it because her situation is irritatingly heartbreaking. She is also painfully aware that HE was not aware, so painfully aware that her chest would tighten and tighten and the tightness never goes away even if she takes deep breaths or cries her heart out.

So what happens next? Our uncouple go on about their ways: they walk together, gaze at the stars together, eat at the ramen stand together, shop together, even cook together and train together, hell, they might as well take a bath together and sleep together, but let's not go there. She continues to make goo-goo eyes at him and kiss him goodnight on the cheek, and he continues to hold her hand, and touch her waist and her back and her cheek and her hair.

One night, Naruto accompanies Hinata home as usual (just in time for her curfew). They are standing in front of the gates, having their usual last banter before they part ways.

"Where's my goodnight kiss?" he asks cheekily, something he has come to ask of her ever since she first kissed him (on the cheek) long ago. As we can imagine, our dear, dense boy again has NO IDEA why he likes it when Hinata gives him a kiss (ON THE CHEEK).

Giggling, Hinata stands on tiptoe (he is now almost a head taller than her) to press her lips against his left cheek. Then Naruto does something which, again, he has NO IDEA why he did it.

Before her lips met his cheek, Naruto turns his head so that it was their lips that meet.

His eyes instantly close, savoring the feel of her soft, soft lips against his own. Her eyes had opened wide in shock, and seeing his close ones, slowly shut on their own accord. He is aware that his arms had wrapped themselves around her waist, and this time it is she who is not aware that her arms have gone around his neck. In this scene, NO TONGUE is involved, folks. Away with your perverted minds and lasciviousness for it will ruin the magic and innocence of this first kiss.

This magical first kiss ends almost abruptly. Naruto is not aware that he had pulled Hinata closer to his body, and again it is Hinata who is aware that things are getting a little too hot for her to handle. (This is where the part of WITH TONGUE nearly comes in. Only nearly. "Dang," you mutter.) She stiffens and pulls away from him, says "Good night!" breathlessly, and runs into the gates up to her room where she will lie on her bed and not sleep a wink on this night, leaving him confused, still UNAWARE and still having NO IDEA what just happened.

The next day Naruto arrives at their usual meeting place to find Hinata is not there. He has NO IDEA why his heart sinks with disappointment over not seeing her. She is usually the first one to be there, waiting patiently until he shows up panting, ready with his excuse which she always accepts with a smile. Now it is he who will wait for her, not once feeling anger when 30 minutes passes by and she still isn't there, and feeling very relieved when she finally arrives an hour later instead of screaming like a madman like he used to do when his sensei Hatake Kakashi was late. He STILL HAS NO IDEA why his heart seems to swell inside his chest when she raises her bowed head to look him in the eye.

They sit, side by side. Things are obviously awkward between them now and Naruto has NO IDEA why. "This is beginning to get irritating," you say. No kidding. This pair of ours insists on torturing themselves till they die from emotional pain, as all other pairings everywhere do on typical love stories such as these.

Hinata takes a deep breath and says, "Naruto-kun…I have something to tell you. Something I've been wanting to tell you for a long time." She avoids his stare, choosing to look at her feet instead. To her internal horror, her voice has begun to tremble again, and she could feel the courage she mustered up slipping away, but it was too late to back out now.

And so Hinata goes and tells Naruto that something that she wanted to tell him for a long time. And Naruto sits there in absolute shock. He is dumbfounded, his mouth hanging open almost comically. His brain was slow to process those three words (eight letters counting) Hinata said to him.

They sit like that for a long time. People around them go about their daily routines, but everything seems to fade away, the two of them being aware of only each other. They sit like that until Hinata couldn't take it anymore. She stands up and begins to leave.

Naruto's hand shots out and grabs her own, preventing her escape. "Hina-chan, I—" he starts to say, then words fail him. They stay that way for a long time again, their eyes locking, both of them unable to look away. To his dismay, the longer they stare at each other, the more Hinata's lovely eyes would glisten, until tears threatened to spill over her long lashes. When a tear finally escapes, she pulls her hand from his grasp and runs away from him, but not before he sees the look of hurt on her face.

The End

Everyone is so used to seeing them together that they are all surprised to see Hinata walking alone and Naruto eating by himself at the ramen stand. And they are all saddened to see Hinata blending again with the crowd, letting herself be pushed and shoved, walking with her head bowed, her eyes puffy and red from constant crying. And they are all saddened to see the cheerful boy no more: Naruto now sports a perpetual frown on his face instead of his usual grin, and mopes about in a fashion that beats his teammate-slash-rival Sasuke's sullen behavior. No more pranks, no more loud laughter, no more irritating chatter. They become only shells of what they used to be.

He feels strangely empty without her by his side. Even stranger that when he is around his teammates, teachers and other friends, he still feels alone just because she isn't there.

Naruto tries his best to analyze his situation from every possible angle by getting the insights of his peers.

"It only means one thing," Shikamaru says in his lazy drawl. "You are so whipped, Naruto."

"Whipped?" Naruto repeats, his brain working overtime to process this new word.

"Yeah," Chouji, Shikamaru's teammate-slash-best buddy, pipes up. "You know, like how Shikamaru is with Ino." Ignoring Shikamaru's glare, Chouji continues, "In other words, you're in love with Hinata."

Love! There goes that word again! Poor Naruto's brain screams 'INFORMATION OVERLOAD!' and he promptly passes out.

"Is she your girlfriend?" Sakura, his teammate-slash-former obsession, inquires much later. He vehemently shakes his head, and Sakura had the treat of seeing Konoha's number one loud ninja turn red from the roots of his hair to the tips of his toes before he yells, "SHE'S NOT! Hina-chan's my best friend!"

Sakura mentally notes the use of such an affectionate nickname before screaming right back at him: "SOME BEST FRIEND YOU ARE! How could you let her be like that?! Why don't you go talk to her and patch things up with her?!"

For they no longer talk, much less see each other. They take care to avoid each other at all costs. Well, it is Hinata who does. Sometimes they would see each other from far away, and it is Hinata who turns away, while Naruto just stands there, wanting to call out to her but does not.

As Sakura continues to scream his ear off, Naruto is able to process one thought: Things are different now.

The Epilogue

Not all love stories have epilogues, but this one has. This is one thing that makes this love story different from other typically typical love stories. We have an epilogue to show that our stereotypical dense male and stereotypical sweet, shy female have deviated from their stereotypes.

They continue to avoid each other until such a time they become tired of spending such energy for them not to do so. One day it slips from their minds that they should not see each other and the exact opposite happens. You can clearly see that what happens next is they bump, as in literally BUMP, their heads banging against each other in the crowd. Hinata opens her mouth to apologize and Naruto opens his mouth to curse, and they see who they bumped into and they freeze.

This time it was impossible for the people around them to fade away as they are in the middle of a jostling crowd, Konoha being a prosperous village with its population actually rising ever since the wars have stopped. Their eyes lock once more and it is impossible for them to stay that way for a long time because the crowd is pushing them in opposite directions.

Naruto holds out a hand. Without hesitation, Hinata grabs it. It astonishes them both that just like that, almost in a snap of a finger, they are together again. How easy it is! With the threat of being separated in the crowd gone, they lock eyes again, only to soon burst into happy laughter. And the sound is musical to everyone's ears.

This time, he not only holds her hand; he intertwines his fingers with hers. Once again, they walk together, and from now on they will do everything together for the rest of their lives (and that includes the taking a bath and sleeping together part). Yep, things are different now, but they are definitely for the better.

And we sigh happily, and wait for another love story to unfold.

now this is really THE END.

reen's ramblings: The concept of this fanfic is based on "The Universal Plot" by Lilledeshan A. Bose. I'm sorry if there are some grammatical and typographical errors, and I would be glad if you can point them out to me . I finally wrote a Naruto fic! Hooray! –-throws confetti—Much thanks to those who reviewed!