Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and/or its characters.


She wringed her hands nervously as she approached the door. Taking a deep breath so not to hyperventilate, she opened it and looked inside.

"Hyuuga-san, please come in. You're next." She heard Mizuki call and stepped inside meekly. She slowly made her way to the middle of the room and waited for further instructions.

Mizuki and Iruka looked at each other and then back at the girl. The ponytail-ed man smiled encouragingly at the frightened girl in front of him, "Whenever you're ready, Hinata. Bunshin no Jutsu."

She gulped. Her hands formed the seal that she had used for the last three months in the Academy as she silently prayed to whatever god would help her. Please let me get through this, she mentally pleaded and her dry mouth whispered, "Bunshin no Jutsu…"

A cloud of smoke filled the room. As it dissipated, it revealed four perfect copies of the girl named Hyuuga Hinata. Iruka smiled at her again, "Hinata… you pass."

Mizuki grinned at the girl, "Great job, Hyuuga-san!" He handed her a forehead protector. "Wear it proudly."

She looked down at the clothed metal that lay in her small hands. Wear it? Were they serious? Something so precious and so hard earned. And they just tell her to wear it as if it were a headband. She wrapped the fabric around the metal plate and placed the object in her pocket. She then bowed lowly to both of the men and left the room as quietly as she came.


Months went by since she had received her 'badge of honor.' During that time many missions can and many missions went. Still, she refused to let her forehead protector to endure damage. She would wear it around her neck while her large coat hid most of it from view. Many missions were done half ass because of the risk they placed on scratching her precious forehead protector, even though her actions were subconscious.

But it still happened. It still managed to gain scratches and scars. She hated that. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't keep it perfect.

Then one day, she saw him. Uzumaki Naruto. He had always caused her cheeks to burn; the one she admired. And as she admired him after he had finally recovered from that fateful mission to retrieve Sasuke, she noticed something.

His forehead protector was banged up almost as bad as he was when he returned.

She was a little more than shocked. Naruto cared about his forehead protector more than his own life, it seemed, and yet it was so mangled… She needed to know why. And that was how she ended up talking to him.

He had his back turned to her as she squeaked out his name. He stopped for a moment and turned around, "Hinata?"

The blue haired girl blushed as he smiled his foxy grin at her. She nodded her head in reply.

"Hey! What's up?" He asked. He waited for a response. Knowing Hinata, he knew he would have to wait a while. Of course that didn't mean he would wait patiently. After the first minute of her finger tapping, he began to tap his own foot.

"Ano…Na-Naruto-kun… why do you let your forehead protector become like that? I-isn't it im-important to you?"

Naruto frowned with confusion at the girl. No one had ever asked him that before. "That's a weird question." He told her and he watched as she shrunk deeper into her baggy jacket. Knowing that if he didn't say something quickly he would hurt her already low self-esteem, he began to speak.

"I guess I've never thought about it before." He took off the object in question and looked down at it fondly, his thumb running over the metal plate. "Each scratch tells a different story and shows character. It looks pretty frail, but it's a lot stronger than most people give it credit. I don't worry about it cause I know I don't need to."

"Aa… souka… Demo, aren't you afraid it's going to break?"

"Why should I be? If it hasn't now, why would it?"

"Demo… Naruto-kun, it's an object. It will break-"

"It's kinda like you, Hinata." He smiled his foxy grin at her as he cut her off.

She broke out into a deeper shade of crimson. "They said that you wouldn't win. That you wouldn't get up again, but you did. You always did during your fight against Neji."

"But I still lost Naruto-kun…So in a sense, I still broke…"

"Breaking and losing a fight are two different things. When precious things break, they can never be replaced, they are lost forever. When you lose a fight, if you're still alive, you can always try again another time."

She stopped. He wasn't really talking about her anymore, he was talking about the Uchiha Sasuke mission. She knew she was treading on dangerous ground.

She looked away guiltily. "Gomen nasai, Naruto-kun…"

He looked back at her, realizing what he had just done. He mentally kicked himself. He wasn't supposed to be an angst monster like Sasuke and make girls feel bad. He looked over his shoulder, "Don't worry about it."

He returned his forehead protector to its rightful place, tying the ends tightly so it wouldn't fall off. He then bent down a little and stared at her forehead protector. She nearly died from him being to close. He then returned to his normal stance, "See. Perfect things are no fun and a hassle to look after." He then brought his finger to poke her in the neck where her headband was, "It's there to protect you, so let it."

She was frozen. "Na-Naruto-kun…" He looked her in the eye.

"Yeah, yeah, I know it doesn't look like much, you didn't either at first, but it's pretty tough. Besides Hinata, it's something you're supposed to wear with pride, not hide away. It's going to get scratched no matter what you do, the question is, do you want the scratches to come from being a ninja or from being afraid to wear it."

Hinata looked away at first but then turned her gaze back to him. She nodded her head and he knew what she meant. He grinned at her again and she blushed so more. He poked her in the head, "And it's supposed to be worn here, but I guess you'd look better if you left it the way it is. It's… you that way."

She couldn't help but smile, a small shy one, but a smile nonetheless. "Thank you Naruto-kun" she said quietly, her cheeks stained with a pink tinge. They stood there in a comfortable silence for a while, just watching each other.

Placing one of his hands behind his head, Naruto scratched his whiskered cheek, looking anywhere else but at the girl in front of him. "Say Hinata, you wanna get some ramen with me? Ichiraku's got the best in town. Besides, it's almost lunchtime."

If what Naruto said earlier made her happy, this made her ecstatic. She blinked a few times to control her blush, keeping it to the minimum at her cheekbones. She swallowed and smiled, "S…Sure Naruto-kun. That would be… nice."

The foxy shinobi seemed to be very relieved by her answer as he grinned his infamous grin; "It's a date then."

She couldn't move… 'D-d-date? He can't possibly mean…' and her thoughts were washed away by the warmth she found when Naruto grabbed her hand. His touch made her heart skip a few beats but also calmed her. She had to remember that it wasn't normal for girls to die of heart attacks from having their hand held.

He plopped down on a stood at the ramen stand as she daintily placed herself in the seat next to him. He ordered for them seeing as Hinata didn't eat ramen as much as he did. As they waited for their food, they chatted a bit. He told her stories of his travels and she ate them up greedily. She wanted to know everything about him and this was the best way. She was surprised that he began to ask about her. The dark haired heiress didn't feel her stories were as great as his, but indulged him anyway. It turned out that he enjoyed them a lot.

She found herself giggling more than she thought she could as he laughed with the voice that brought a smile to her face. Their food came and the talking ceased as they said their grace and dug into their lunch.

Hinata smiled as she watched the boy that happily slurped his noodles next to her. To think, this all started over a curious mind and a bunch of nicks on a Konoha forehead protector. Her eyes then found themselves glancing at her forehead protector. Maybe she could deal with those dents and scratches after all.

Blah… Merry Belated Christmas, ximena-san! n-n;;;; Why write about her forehead protector... you ask. Because I own one and the thought just randomly came to me when I was walking to buy my lunch from a local pizzaria. I learned the hard way that it scratches no matter what I do with it... so blah...

Updates on my other story are soon to come... n-n;;; just got my laptop fixed... and now I have to share it with my mother (who broke my brother's laptop already...)... Sorry for the wait...