One Lesson Earned
Inspired by a fic entitled Black on White by Astly-Hina-chan / a request for insanely-normal
Nine-year-old Hyuuga Hinata knew that getting called into the teacher's office was not very pleasant. She had seen the faces of her male classmates whenever Iruka-sensei would announce their names and the time they would see him in his lair, and they didn't exactly look thrilled. Especially Naruto-kun…
Her face felt the creeping warmth once again. She could not explain why of all the boys in the classroom, it was only in him she feels the most…well, unsettled. His presence could send her to panic. Her heartbeat would pulse quicker than usual. And then suddenly, her palms would feel clammy, something that constant wiping on her pants couldn't help.
He didn't know her, and she knew him. Simply stated, it was futile coming up to him and greeting him, "ohayou". Besides, her courage was not exactly reliable.
So she could only satisfy herself watching from afar the carefree boy with whiskers and sparkling laughter.
Her eyes fell on the "No Students Allowed Without Permission" poster on a room, and she immediately composed herself. She stared at the door for a while, deliberating on whether to knock on the door or to just wait for Iruka-sensei outside.
Just then, she heard the familiar voice shouting from inside.
"See? SEE? Your tutor is late! I'm leaving, Iruka-sensei! I want to eat ramen!"
"Calm down, Naruto. It's been only two minutes past her schedule…"
"GRAAAH! I don't want to stay here and study more! It's boring!!!"
"Naruto, you idiot, come back here!" Noises of moving chairs and sandals alarmed her, and before she could react, the sliding doors suddenly banged open, and Naruto's rushing form emerged from the room.
The next thing she knew after the impact was she landed on her rear, her things scattering all over the floor.
"Gaaaah! Why weren't you looking—" The boy paused when he saw her face. "Hey, you look familiar…"
"A-Anou…" Her face turned hotter when he peered closer towards her, inspecting her face.
His blue eyes lit up. "Oh yeah! The weird girl who never talks!"
She sweatdropped. "A-Ah…"
He got up, and then without warning, pulled her up as well. "You know, you have to be more careful around here. You're a ninja, so you must be more aware of your surroundings." He bent down to pick up her things, but amidst his hurried task, a hand grabbed the collar of his shirt.
"GOT YA!" said Iruka triumphantly.
"Gaaaaah! Iruka-sensei, put me down!" Like a chicken that just got beheaded, he wouldn't stop moving about.
"Naruto, you—" Iruka's face relaxed into a relieved smile upon seeing her. "Hinata, I'm glad you're here already. Your student is starting to become very impatient."
This made both the children gasp.
"M-My…" whispered Hinata in disbelief.
"Her student?!" spat Naruto out. "B-But she's my classmate!"
Iruka nodded. "Hai. I figured out that since you wouldn't listen to me, you might as well try to listen to your friends who are more of your age."
"I don't have a friend," interrupted the boy.
"Then she'll be yours," said the man, groaning. "Anyway, you have to get started." He turned to the girl. "You will tell me tomorrow what you were able to teach him, is that alright with you, Hinata?"
She nodded slowly, still in a daze. She, a tutor of Uzumaki Naruto-kun?
At last, Iruka placed the boy down. "I will see you both tomorrow in class. Now run along!" He waved, and then headed south of the hallway.
"Gah, Iruka-sensei! Iruka-sensei, chotto matte!" He was about to run after the Chuunin when he glanced behind his shoulder. The girl was still staring at him speechlessly, as if in a trance. "Hinata!!! Why aren't you moving! We have to talk Iruka-sensei out of this!"
"A-Ah…" She attempted to move, but she only ended up tripping on her foot and landing on the floor once more.
The boy sweatdropped, and then rushed towards her. "Anou sa, are you always that clumsy?" He looked back at the hallway which now bore no sign of their teacher. Groaning, he sauntered towards her and started to pick her things up.
"Sorry…" he heard her whisper amidst his task. This made him look up at her, puzzled.
"Were you saying something?" he asked, still unable to digest the fact that someone apologized to him. He was always seen as the troublemaker in the village, and this was his first time to hear an apology. From a person he barely knows, at that.
Her cheeks flamed, and instantly, she looked away.
He, on the other hand, was baffled. He was used to people looking away when he would notice their silent angry eyes. But the eyes of this girl…it was not the same as those of other people's. They were far too gentle for words, like the eyes of a kitten he once saved from the roof of a neighbor's house.
And then he saw her colorless eyes. It struck him. The reason why she didn't look at him with those measuring gazes was…
"You're blind!" he burst out, making her turn his way once more, shocked. "So that's why I crashed on you…you couldn't see where you were going…and I even had the nerve to yell at you. Gah, I'm sorry, Hinata!" All of a sudden, he hastened the gathering of her things. "I should bring you home quickly. Your family might be getting worried already."
He took all the notebooks together and tied them more securely, and then faced her again. "Let's go. I'll carry your things."
"Oh yeah!" He slapped his forehead and then clasped her hand. "This way! Don't worry! I'll be your eyesight!"
Hinata couldn't even speak—him holding her hand was proving too much for her young, inexperienced heart already.
He, on the other hand, led the girl by hand, his eyes carefully scanning the road for anything that might trip her. For some reason, he felt proud and useful. Yes, he, the number one prankster of Konoha, was helping someone unconditionally. If Iruka-sensei could see this…
Then he froze. He turned to her quickly. "Hinata, why did Iruka-sensei pick you to be my tutor when you couldn't even see? How will you read our lessons?"
She withdrew her hand from him and shrank back, her fingers playing together. "A-Anou…I was..t-trying…I was…telling…"
He looked at her blankly.
Her face turned pink. "I-I'm not blind."
"Oh." He was embarrassed, thus he was pissed off. He propped his arms at the back of his head and started to walk away.
"N-Na…Naruto-kun!" she cried, upset by the thought of the boy getting mad at her. She shuffled after him. "N-Naruto…kun…"
"Shut up! I'm not going to study! I don't care what Iruka-sensei says!" he yelled.
He felt her catch up with him. "Na…Naruto-kun…"
"Stop following me!"
But she didn't.
He walked down the streets of the Konoha market, the park, the playground, and the training fields, but every time he would steal a glance behind his shoulders, the girl was still following him, head hung.
At last they reached the monument of the Hokage faces. He looked up at the carved features of the legendary number one ninjas of Konoha, pondering on what to say. They both had just walked the total distance that he knew only genins and chuunins would cover for their exercises.
"Why are you following me?" he decided to ask.
"Why?" he asked, firmer this time.
Silence. But he could hear footsteps going away.
Something tugged within him. The girl followed him all the way here only to apologize?
He faced her, eyes less angrier this time. "OK. I-It was…" He rubbed his cheeks shyly. "…my fault too."
She looked back at him, her pallid eyes uncertain.
"I-In fact, I—" He blinked when he felt something hit his face upon putting down his arms. It was then that he realized that he was still carrying her things. "Ahahaha! All this time, I didn't know why you were following me. Gah, I forgot about your books!" His lively laughter filled the place, making Hinata slowly smile too.
"Let's go back home," he said after a while.
She nodded shyly, but looked surprised when he knelt down beside her, offering her his back.
"I made you walk up to here when you don't have to," he explained, grinning sheepishly. "My way of apologizing, I guess."
"Your knees are buckling," he told her matter-of-factly, glancing her way. "At your state, I don't think you can walk three steps forward without falling again."
Instead of feeling insulted, this made her smile. Maybe it was her wistfulness, but she thought she detected concern in his voice.
He looked awed with her facial reaction. It was not everyday that someone would smile at him.
Feeling his steady gaze, she immediately looked down and placed her arms around his neck. He grinned and hoisted her up on a piggyback.
As the two walked, he began to speak again. "You were supposed to just teach me, and now you'll get home late. Iruka-sensei shouldn't have told you to come with me," he mused aloud. "I'm Konoha's number one troublemaker."
She shook her head, even if she knew the boy couldn't see her. And then once more, she shut her eyes, giving in to fatigue.
But before darkness took her consciousness, she thought she heard him speak.
"I-I'm sorry for causing you trouble, Hinata."
"Oh god, Iruka!" cried Kurenai as she took the sleeping Hinata into her arms. Naruto had dropped by a while ago, carrying the girl on his back, announcing that he couldn't wake the girl up to ask where she lives, so he just brought her there. "What if the kids got lost on their way home? Don't you know that this is the child of the most important family in the village?"
To this, the teacher calmly shrugged. "I trust Naruto. He may be stubborn and insolent, but he won't let anything bad happen to other people." He smiled when he remembered what the lad told him.
"I'm a bad student. I'll just give her the headaches you have because of me. I'll study harder, just don't assign her to do it again."
"What was on your mind anyway? Hinata's smart, I know, but to make her his tutor…why didn't you assign Haruno Sakura instead?" asked the Jounin.
"Hinata taught Naruto perfectly what I had in mind." He flipped open his lesson plan and showed it to her. "Kindness."
"The philosophy of the Sandaime…and yes, the Yondaime even." Iruka smiled. "I think he earned his lesson well for today."