Introduction: This is not a single piece of fanfiction, per se. Instead these are a collection of the non-linked submissions I did for the 30kisses LiveJournal community. I selected the Naruto/Sakura pairing ('cause I have an odd sort of fascination with them). You'll notice that while the "theme" is mentioned in all these stories, it may or may not actually play much of a role. Also, there is at least one kiss in each story, be it literal or metaphorical, or even taking place between people who aren't even Naruto or Sakura. There's also a series of linked stories I'm doing for 30kisses that fall into a continuity I'm calling the "Apartment Series" despite the fact that no apartments are really involved. I'll post these under a separate heading when they're all done. For now, enjoy these one-shots. More to be added as they get written.

Title: Kisses and Kettles
Theme: #11 - Gardenia
Rating: PG-13/T for language

Disclaimer: The characters and situations portrayed in this story are the sole property of Kishimoto-sensei and the assorted corporate types who've bought the rights. I've merely borrowed them for my own nefarious purposes.

When the first bouquet arrived, that mid-spring morning, Naruto honestly assumed that it had been a mistaken delivery. But there, on the tag, printed in blue ink was his own name, in nondescript, feminine handwriting.

"What the fuck?" he muttered as he stared blankly at the large, fragrant flowers bundled in pink tissue.

Completely out of his element, Naruto gingerly picked up the bouquet, set it on his kitchen table and phoned up Sakura.

It was far too early in the morning for this, Naruto realized a moment later.

"What?" she snapped groggily, picking up after six rings.

"Someone sent me flowers!" Naruto blurted.

There was a pregnant pause. "And . . . ?" Sakura prompted, growing irritation evident.

"Well . . . who sent them? What do I do with them? I don't want to kill them! And who do I thank? Shit . . ." Naruto always called Sakura when he wasn't entirely sure what to do, and this instance was no exception. Her advice never failed to save his hide and it was one of the reasons he quietly adored her beyond reason.

"Put them in water, moron," Sakura said briefly before hanging up on him.

So the bundle of pale blooms and dark vegetation was dumped unceremoniously into an unused tea kettle filled with water and then promptly forgotten.

A week later, however, just as the creamy petals were beginning to brown slightly, a fresh bouquet of the same variety arrived in the same manner. This time Naruto didn't call Sakura (having learned his lesson about early-morning calls the last time). He simply tossed out the old flowers and replaced them with the new. He also made a mental note to find out who would send him such things and to possibly scrounge up a real vase for them.

After the fourth bouquet arrived, Naruto began to realize that whoever was sending him flowers was never going to simply come out and inform him of the fact.

"Someone too shy to say they've been sending me flowers, eh?" Naruto mused on his way to the Hyuuga compound. "It must be that weird, dark girl."

Once Naruto was finally led to the smallest audience chamber where Hinata was waiting patiently, he asked the all-important question.

"So was it you?"

Hinata's eyes were wide with bewilderment and her small mouth curved into an 'o' of surprise. "Wh-what?"

"Have you been sending me the flowers?" Naruto clarified.

Hinata blushed to the roots of her hair and began nervously twiddling her fingers. "W-w-well, I d-don't really know what . . ."

"Is that a yes or a no?" Naruto asked.

Hinata stared for a moment. "It . . . it wasn't me, Naruto-kun."

"Really?" Naruto had been sure that the creepy girl had been behind it. He was old enough at sixteen to know what all her staring and blushing meant. It was the sort of thing that went hand-in-hand with leaving anonymous bouquets on people's doorsteps.

"No," Hinata said, a little more firmly.

"Drat," Naruto muttered.

Hinata blushed. "Drat? You mean, you were hoping that . . ."

"No!" Naruto said quickly. "You're nice and all but, well, you know . . ."

Hinata looked as though she were about to cry.

"Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to me!" Naruto said cheerfully, hoping to stave off Hinata's Sad Face. "I need to keep searching, I guess . . ." He turned to leave.

"You . . . might want to check with Ino," Hinata added hesitantly.

Naruto blanched. "You mean Ino likes me?"

"Oh, god, no!" Hinata blurted. Then she blushed. "At least, I really don't think so. Um. Well, it's just that her family runs the best florist in town and whoever brought you flowers probably got them there . . ."

"Ah! That makes more sense," Naruto said. "It would be really weird if Ino was sending me flowers. I mean, I always thought she and Chouji were, well, you know . . ."

"Yeah . . ." Hinata echoed.

There was a pause.

"So . . . are they?" Naruto asked curiously. "Ino and Chouji, I mean." Girls knew these things.

Hinata shrugged cryptically.

Naruto shrugged back. "Ah. Thanks anyway."

By the time Naruto had trudged over to the Yamanakas' shop, the Friday evening rush was well under way. It took several minutes before he had a chance to approach Ino, who was working behind the register.

"Hey, Ino," Naruto began.

"Naruto," Ino nodded in return. "You looking to buy something? We've got a couple specials tonight . . ."

"Nah," said Naruto.

Ino quirked an eyebrow and waited.

"Someone's been sending me flowers," Naruto explained. "A new bouquet every week."

Ino looked unsurprised.

"And I asked Hinata and she said that you might know who it was," Naruto added.

"Hmm," said Ino.

"They keep sending those flowers over there," Naruto continued, pointing at the bucket of creamy flowers near the window. "The white ones."

"Gardenias," supplied Ino. "In the language of flowers they mean 'a secret love.'"

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Well, yeah, I guess that's kind of self-explanatory. But who sent them? I need to tell them to stop since I've kind of got my heart set on a girl already . . ."

"What the fuck do I need to do to get that idiot's attention?" bellowed a familiar voice from the back room. "I suppose I could show up naked in his bed but I thought he was bright enough to figure the flowers out."

Ino sighed and placed a hand over her eyes.

"Hey, Ino-pig," Sakura asked snappishly as she stomped out into the store. "What flower means 'kiss me you jackass or I'll kill you?'"

Then she spotted the shell-shocked Naruto and fell silent, completely mortified. She stared at Naruto's surprised face for a brief moment, then her gaze fell to contemplate her shoes.

Naruto took a hesitant step toward the girl he'd had a crush on since he was a little kid. "Sakura . . ."

She didn't reply and appeared to be sidling toward the door.

"So . . . you were the one who . . . ?" Naruto was ready to cut her off should she decide to bolt.

"Yes . . ." Sakura said, looking nearly as unsure of herself as Hinata.

Naruto took another step toward her. "And . . . you want to kiss me . . . ?"

Sakura finally looked up at him. "Maybe?" she said with a very small smile.

"Might I suggest some sweetpeas?" Ino broke in with a huge smirk, gesturing toward a riot of pastel-toned flowers in a bucket. "They represent 'blissful pleasure.'"

"Shut up, Ino," Naruto told her firmly before pulling Sakura close.