Henceforth, this section of the fanfic shall be hereby known as The Disclaimer. Those characters that exist within the confines of the series Naruto do not belong to myself. This work of writing is merely a creation of a deluded and somewhat disturbed mind operating on a minor to intermediate lack of slumber.

Okay, enough of that...

Vanilla Ice Cream

A Naruto One-Shot Fanfic

By Nathan Huss

I like her.

I don't love her. I'm setting that straight right now. I don't really know her well enough to love her. But I do like her.

The first time I met her was when I was about four or five years old. I forget exactly when. It was at the park. My dad had brought me there with the intention that I would make some friends among the other children my age.

It didn't really work.

I was already pretty… heavy… at that age. Yeah, that's right. 'Heavy.' You call it anything else and you'll find out what being road-kill feels like.

Anyway, a bunch of the other kids started making fun of me, and I kinda… well, let's just say that my parents had to apologize to their parents the next day. In any case, after that I ran off thinking that if he couldn't find me I wouldn't get in trouble with dad.

Hey, I was five years old. And I'm not a genius like Shikamaru. He would never have lost it like that in the first place.

I hid in a bush for what at the time seemed like forever, eating a couple bags of chips that I had brought with me. At some point I started hearing someone crying, and went to go see who was doing it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but eventually came across a girl about my age curled up with her back to a tree, crying like anything. I didn't recognize her, but she hadn't been one of the kids teasing me, so I slowly walked towards her.

"Um… Are you ok?" I asked. "Why are you crying?"

Her head jerked upward and she looked at me. I'm not sure whether she was looking at me in surprise, or fear, or anger, or whatever (though I seriously doubt it was anger. She was and still is someone who never really got angry). The reason I didn't notice was her eyes.

They were almost pure white. I had never seen anything like them before.

"Wh-who... Who are y-you?" she asked.

"Akimichi Chouji," I said. "Who're you?"

"H-Hyuuga Hinata."

I sat down next to her, still looking at her eyes. "So... why are you crying? Were the other kids making fun of you too?"

She shook her head. "N-no…"

I nodded, and absently opened another pack of chips. After stuffing a handful into my mouth, I realized she was looking at me with those white eyes of hers again, only with curiosity this time. Sheepishly, I held the bag toward her, silently offering for her to take some. She shook her head again, turning down my offer, but she seemed a bit happier.

We sat there for a little while longer. She wasn't crying anymore, though every now and then she would sniffle quietly.

"My mother... Sh-she's really sick," said Hinata suddenly. "She h-had a baby a few days ago, and s-something w-went wrong. Father won't l-let me know what's going on, and Neji-niisan's been so c-cold to me even since... a-and…" She looked like she was going to start crying again.

"Those're way better reasons to be upset than mine," I said around a mouthful of chips. "I beat up a bunch of people because they said I was... that I was fat." I had virtually spat out the last word. "Compared to you, I probably shoulda just laughed it off, huh?"

After I had said that, we were both silent for a while longer. Then, once again, she spoke up as if having just worked up the nerve to.

"Th-They make fun of my eyes… s-sometimes. All Hyuuga have them, b-but I still get made fun of."

"You mean how they're all white?"

She nodded.

"Well, I think they're neat," I said with conviction. "They kind of remind me of vanilla ice cream."

At this she blinked in confusion.

"It's my favorite flavor of ice cream," I continued. "They aren't quite the right color, but they're close enough. So, I won't make fun of them."

For the first time since I'd sat down next to her, she smiled.

"I... I won't make fun of you because you're… um… I w-won't make fun of you, either. For any reason," she said tentatively.

We smiled at each other. I'm not really sure how things would have turned out if we had been able to talk with each other longer, but it was then that an adult with white eyes similar to Hinata's came out of the bushes.

"Hinata-sama, there you are. You must come quickly. There's been a change in your mother's condition."

Hinata's eyes widened in fear and she quickly scrambled to her feet. The two of them immediately hurried off, with Hinata pausing briefly to give me a look that was… I'm not quite sure. Apologetic? Thankful? I wasn't that good at reading people's expressions, and in this situation her white-on-white eyes helped confuse what little ability I had.

I never found out, as that was also the last time I saw her until we were both at the academy.

I didn't remember her at first. I'm sure you know how she was then: quiet, timid, unassuming. She did her best not to stand out, and it worked. So even when her name was called in class for roll, I never really connected her with the girl I had met back then.

Ino would probably say that it was also because I was always too busy stuffing my face to notice, but that's just her.

When I finally did make the connection, it was almost as much an accident as our first meeting had been. More so, since this time I was trying to get to the classroom early enough to snack a bit without getting yelled at, and wasn't looking for the source of someone crying or something similar.

It was a bit funny, if you were on the outside watching. Take one small, shy girl walking, eyes looking down at the floor. Take one… heavy boy, walking, and paying more attention to the bag of candy he's eating out of than where he's going. Add one hallway corner. Mix together.

Maybe I should take Ino's advice and cut back a bit on the snacking. My metaphors are starting to become food-related.

In any case, you get the idea. We ended up walking right into each other. Because of the difference in our sizes, I was just started from the impact. She actually bounced off of me to fall on the floor.

Most of the other kids started snickering, but a quick glare from me made them continue on their way, though most were still snickering as the walked off.

"Sorry about that," I said, reaching down to help her up after wiping my hand off on my pants. "Are you okay?"

She glanced up along my arm at my face, and it was then that I recognized the white-on-white eyes that I had seen years before. I was caught off guard, and took a step back. She probably took my reaction the wrong way, as she scampered to her feet, murmured a quick and nearly silent "Sorry" and all but ran off.

I didn't fully remember her right away even then, so all I did at that point was just walk to class, wondering why those eyes looked familiar.

After class, Shikamaru and I went to get a quick snack, and I ended up buying an ice cream cone. The flavor? You guessed it. My favorite: vanilla.

So at that point I remembered her. I didn't do anything about it, though. I mean, I had known her for all of 30 minutes or so, and I hadn't talked to her at all since that day. Instead, I ended up watching her.

Hanging around Shikamaru gives a guy a habit of noticing details, if only in the hopes of keeping up with him once he gets off his ass and does some work. So, I noticed things about Hinata. That she was very timid, more so than I remembered. That the same timidity muted whatever progress she made in her skills. That despite that she worked hard to become a better ninja. That when she actually spoke, she tended to stutter nervously. That she liked Naruto.

When I found out that last one, I was surprised as hell. I mean, Naruto isn't a bad guy, for all that the adults told us to stay away from him. He was always willing to share some food if I had eaten all I had on me at the time. He'd kid around a lot, laugh at himself, that kind of stuff. Still, we were never really friends, more like kids who got in trouble alongside each other.

In any case, she idolized him. Whenever she started to get depressed in the middle of a lesson, she'd always glance over at him, and then continue with stronger effort.

Watching her is pretty much all I did. I mean, I'd do little things, like if she'd dropped something near me I'd pick it up for her, or other stuff like that, but just stuff that anyone who was being polite would do. She'd always hurry off afterward anyway, after mumbling a 'thank you' or something. Otherwise we were just two kids in the same class.

Eventually, graduation came, and we had been put on different teams. I didn't miss her or anything. After all, we never really talked with each other, or had anything to do with each other except for those few times we were paired up during some sort of lesson or training in class.

So, we had our missions, they had theirs, and it wasn't until the preliminary for the third round of the Chuunin exam that I saw her again.

One word. Ouch.

Her fight with her cousin, Neji. I swear, if I had been in a situation like she was, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to last as long as she was. And again it was Naruto cheering for her, urging her on, that allowed her to do so. She lost, yeah, and lost badly, but she didn't give up. I really admire that. At the time, even though I knew that she couldn't really win against Neji, I was also cheering her on in my head.

She looked so battered and bloodied afterward, though… Even though I was proud of the way she stood up to her cousin, the way she was at the end made me kind of wish she had given up.

At least she did better than I did, though. Rolling into the wall, getting stuck, and then getting knocked out by one sound-boosted punch. Heh, bet she would have laughed at how easily I got taken out.

No… no, she wouldn't have. It's not the type of person she is, and besides, she promised she wouldn't make fun of me for any reason…

Um… so where was I? Oh, right… After that there was the whole deal with the real third round, the Sand and Sound invading, the Sandaime's death… After that there was rebuilding, getting new missions, hanging out with Shikamaru and Ino when we all had the time (Shikamaru is still complaining about all the work he has to do as a Chuunin. To be honest, he's just repeating the same things that he said when he was a Genin, only now he complains about the paperwork as well).

Then, there was the mission to bring back Sasuke.

I'm not really supposed to tell people about it, but… What I will tell you is that I was put on the team, we went off to catch up with the people who had Sasuke, I fought one of them, used all three of my clan's special pills, won, and nearly died in the process.

When I was brought back, I spent a fair amount of time in the hospital, building back up my charka and stamina reserves, as well as building back up my body mass for my clan techniques. Which was really hard, let me tell you. All they'd let me have was hospital food, and only two helpings at most. Mostly I got people from outside to smuggle stuff in for me.

I was surprised one day when Hinata came in to my room. I knew she was likely coming by every day or so to visit Neji and Naruto, but that she came to visit me totally caught me off guard.

She looked a lot better. I don't even mean compared to how she had been after her fight with Neji. She looked happier, more confident, and just… better. I guess things had been getting better with her situation at home and stuff.

She smiled at me, said hello, and straightened out the vase of flowers that Ino had brought me. We talked for a little (during the course of which I noticed she didn't stutter nearly as much as she used to), she told me how Kiba, Naruto, and Neji were doing. After a little, I noticed that she had brought in a bag. I figured it was something for one or all of the other guys, and she had stopped off as a courtesy before delivering whatever was in it, since I had been on the same mission with the rest of them.

I got the surprise of my life when she pulled a huge tub of vanilla ice cream. I spent a few moments switching between staring at her and the ice cream, during which she started blushing a bit. Why did she bring it? Does this mean she remembers me from the first time we met? If she did, what did her bringing the ice cream mean?

Then I said what I think was the dumbest thing I could have right at that moment:

"There aren't any spoons."

We stared at each other, until she began to giggle. I chuckled sheepishly, and she excused herself to go get a pair of spoons. After she came back, we ate up, though she only took a few mouthfuls.

When it was empty, she threw the tub into the trash, and said that she had to go. I told her to stop by anytime she felt like doing so, and she said she would. As she left the room, we both had smiles on our faces.

We've started to talk with each other a fair amount nowadays, when we're able to. About non-classified missions, training, general news, and wondering about what Naruto's doing with that white-haired man he left the city to train with.

We're not involved or anything. Just friends. I'm not sure just what exactly she feels about Naruto; respect, or a crush, or what. I'm not about to ask any time soon, either.

I like her. That's pretty much it. Though if something ever happens… Well, I wouldn't mind. Who knows, it just might.

And every now and then, we go to the ice cream parlor and each get a scoop (or four, in my case) of vanilla.

Author's Notes:

God help me, I've written WAFF…

Not that I have anything against it, but just the fact that I'm writing it rather bothers me.

The idea for this came about when I noticed that in various fanfics that Hinata had been paired with virtually every male character. Pretty much the only ones she hadn't were Rock Lee, Kankuro, Chouji, and the various teachers/instructors. She's even been paired with Itachi a number of times, for crying out loud! Mind you, similar could be said about Sakura (she's actually been paired with a few more characters as far as I've seen), but I like Hinata more.

So, I got the idea in my head for Vanilla Ice Cream, seeing as I felt that Chouji was an underused character from the Rookie 9.

Plus, I wasn't kidding when I spoke about my mild lack of sleep being an influence.

Anyways, didn't have any prereaders for this. Please R&R, as well as go to read my other works. Hope you liked this.