Note: Special thanks again to my readers who have encouraged and inspired me to move forward with this Fanfic with all their feedback. I hope you enjoy this sequel to Awakenings! Sorry in advance if I make mistakes on Japanese usage (never took a Japanese class in my life) all I have are online Japanese English dictionaries, fansubs, and the occasional help from the singer of Random Ninjas!

All The Difference 1

Naruto leaned comfortably against the rough, warm bark of the tree as he looked up at the bright blue sky with white fluffy clouds billowing serenely through the spring air. In his right hand he held the hand of another and on his right shoulder rested a head covered in silky, ink-blue hair. He rested his cheek on the smooth texture of the sleek, dark hair. He felt the body leaning against him rise and fall with the steady rhythm of breath. He breathed deeply, inhaling the brisk morning air around him and allowing his body to absorb its coolness before releasing it back out into the world. Every cell in his being seemed to resonate with the peaceful beauty of everything around him and sigh happily in the company of the one he loved.

Tomorrow the two of them would go their separate ways for some time. Naruto was going on a special training trip with Jiraiya. Hinata and her team, Shino and Kiba, had been assigned a mission that would take them away from the village for a week. Since the day they started training together, they've seen each other practically every day for half a year. Being in each others company was like breathing air, so common, so comfortable, so regular, a life source that kept them going. Tomorrow they would have to leave each others side. But that was tomorrow. Today…they had all of today together.

Hinata stood up and dusted off her clothes, then turned around and held her hand out to him. Naruto grabbed it and allowed himself to be pulled up.

"Let's go to the waterfall!"

Naruto smiled down at her cheerful, pale eyes as she pulled him forward. He liked her this way, happy, smiling, at ease. He remembered back to when he barely knew she existed, when she was just that weird girl that was really quiet and always turned red and looked away when he looked at her or talked to her. Mentally he gave himself a big smack in the face. Why had he been so dense? There were times now when he would experience a spurious recall of a memory with her and, in light of what he knew now, he would realize how many of the tell-tale signs of her affections for him had been staring him in the face all along. His smile grew wider as he remembered the chuunin preliminary exams, when she had held out the bottle of medicine and could barely look into his face. He still had the bottle at home in his medicine cabinet. Every morning and evening since she gave it to him, his eyes had glanced upon it in while he brushed his teeth reminding him of that quiet girl in the corner of class. Now she walked beside him bathed in sunlight, framed by the cerulean sky and lush greenery of the forest, her eyes looking forward, clear and unfettered.

Hinata noticed Naruto staring at her and turned to look at him.

"Nani? (What is it?)" she asked with a quizzical tilt of her head.

Naruto's lips pressed together as if he were trying to stifle a laugh, shook his head, and then gave her a toothy smile.

She threw him one more questioning glance before she turned her attention back to the path before them. Soon they could hear the sound of water falling over rocks. The trees grew thicker all around them, their thick foliage allowing only blotches of sunlight to paint the forest floor.

They came upon the waterfall. The area was like a hidden oasis. Sunlight streamed down dancing upon the waters. Many of the large rocks were covered in thick blankets of dark green moss and lichens. Here and there wildflowers of various colors sprouted out of the ground. Bees and butterflies flew, lighting up when they passed from the cool shadow through a stream of light and back to shadow again. The spray of the water created an wraithlike cloud of mist that emanated from the falls and touched lightly upon their cheeks. The steady roar and splash of the falling and flowing water mingled with the occasional birdsong that burst from a nearby tree.

Hinata gasped.

"Kimochi! (Feels great!)"

Naruto breathed in the fragrant and refreshing air. He let go of her hand and hopped towards the water, climbing carefully up onto a large rock, then turning back and held his hand out to her. She smiled and took his hand, and the two of them made their way towards the glimmering, flowing liquid. When they reached the water's edge, they found a flat rock that extended out a bit. Squatting down on it, they dipped their hands into the cool water. From afar, the two looked like two small children playing by the falls. In truth, they were growing as healthy youths should. Each was at least half a head or taller than when they first graduated from the academy, and their faces were stretching out gracefully into what was to become their young adult features.

They took off their shoes and stuck their feet in the water sitting on the edge of the flat rock. Small tadpoles and fish swished by them under the clear surface of the water.

Naruto reached into his pocket and pulled out something that was wrapped in a dark cloth.

"Ano…(um…)," he said and Hinata turned away from the sight of the roaring waterfall to look at him, "I…erm…got you a gift."

She smiled as she felt her heart lift.

Carefully, he unwrapped the item slowly, pulling away the black cloth to reveal a dark, granite colored item. It was a small slim kunai that had a long matching chain attached to its end.

Hinata's eyes grew wide. Naruto examined her face furtively. She was looking at the item with an undecipherable look on her face that seemed like a mix of surprise and unpleasantness.

Naruto felt his heart sink a bit as he wondered whether she liked it or not. He picked up the piece.

"It's a special kunai weapon. Here, let me show you how it works," he said anxiously, hoping to save the situation from being an utter flop.

He grabbed her right wrist and began to wind the chain around it.

"See, you put it on like this and keep it hidden under your sleeve and when you need it, whoosh! You can shoot it out and swing it or pull it back if you want…"

He looked at her face as she sort of had a look of despair on her face as she stared down at his gift wrapped around his item. He felt crestfallen. He'd never given anyone a gift like this, so he wasn't sure if he had done something wrong. His thoughts were full of doubts. Maybe she had wanted something else…like flowers or a ring or something…maybe I should have asked Iruka sensei or someone about this before I bought her this gift…

He put his right hand behind his head, his elbow sticking out framing the rights side of his head.

"Ahahaha," he laughed nervously, "if you don't like it, it's okay. I can get you something else, ne? (ya?)"

Hinata blinked at him, then realized what had happened.

"Oh, no, I love it!..." Naruto's eyes perked up at the sound of those words.

"It's just…It's just…" she heaved a sigh as she reached her hand behind her.

"Oh, you didn't have to get me anything!" Naruto said, thinking maybe she just felt bad she didn't have a present for him as well.

"But I did…" she said as she pulled out something wrapped in a black cloth and looked up at him with a look of mild mortification. She pulled the cloth back to reveal the exact same slim kunai with matching chain and looked up at him with wide eyes.

For a moment they both looked down at the weapon in her hand, then their eyes met, and their looks of shock started to transition into amusement and they both began to laugh, the sound of their mirth ringing through the most air.

"I saw it and I thought it was so cool and I thought you would like it," Naruto said still chuckling.

"Watashi mo (me, too)," Hinata smiled. She reached for his right hand and wound the weapon around his wrist the way he had wound the other one around hers.

"Please be careful," Hinata said quietly from under her dark bangs as she finished securing the weapon protectively around his arm.

"You, too," Naruto replied as he pulled his sleeve down over to conceal the weapon. He reached out his right hand and slid his fingers over her left cheek, lifting her face to look into his. Then he leaned in and kissed her tenderly on the lips.

He pulled her towards him and held her the way he had in the hospital room after her kidnapping. He had never cherished anyone so much in his life.

Note: Aargh! It's too fluffy in here! Must have awesome fight scene next! It's all in my head, I just need to find time to write it all out. Please bear with my schedule if I don't update soon! Thanks for your patience in advance!