The Village needed him too much. It needed every moment of his time. There were so many things to attend to. A day didn't seem to be enough for him to deal with all the problems plaguing his beloved Konoha.
He cherished these small moments when he could walk around the hills without worrying. A long time ago he used to relax and fall asleep on the top of these hills without any care. That was when he was just that twelve-year-old boy, Uzumaki Naruto.
But now, he was the Rokudaime. He was the youngest and perhaps the best of all the Hokages.
That carefree and optimistic boy was destroyed when he stepped into the path of true manhood. In the world of men, there was no time for games and fun. Everything became so serious. He learned to mature with the passage of time. He made decisions after thinking it over and over again. He faced challenges bravely. And he perfected every technique in the book.
Now, he was a competent and amazing man capable of running the Village without help.
Was this not what he wanted?
Naruto turned his eyes into the direction of the Village he loved. Its walls rose up to protect its buildings and its people. The faces of the past Hokages were etched on the mountain. They were great and brave men. All of them were powerful and loved their people so much.
Didn't he dream to be amongst them? Didn't he aspire to be the greatest of them all?
Yes, but that was a long time ago.
He sat down underneath a huge tree and looked at the town pensively. It's been fourteen years since he thought like that.
At first he thought that being a Hokage meant being so powerful that the people must acknowledge your presence. He thought that the position was measured in terms of jutsus and skills and mission logs. So he strived towards his dream so that he could secretly accomplish what he'd always wanted.
But then as he grew up, he realized that it was a position for someone who loved Konoha so much he was willing to die for it. That Hokage must use up all his powers to keep the peace, cultivate it, and nurture it. The money wasn't so important. Only the people and their faith and loyalty were important.
If they didn't love him before, they did now.
He smiled. They genuinely respected him unlike when he was a boy when everyone despised him. He'd shown them all.
They were his family, his life.
This was what he always wanted... right?
But why did he feel some discontent?
Naruto let out a sigh. It was a familiar feeling. He couldn't help but feel that even as he served the Village, he yearned for more. There must be more.
He let go of the dangerous missions and exciting adventures. As Hokage he had more important matters in his hands. He had to delegate those tasks to lesser ranks. There was no more carefree behavior as he was weighed down by the enormity of the matters waiting to be settled.
The young (he was only twenty-five) Hokage lay down on the sweet green grass under the tree. He wasn't wearing the ceremonial robes the Fifth was so fond of. Somehow he wanted to find some peace for himself in this quiet sanctuary.
He stared up at the late afternoon sky. What did he really want?
Freedom? But he was free to do anything he pleased.
Money? He had enough of that.
Acceptance? The people gave him that.
He closed his eyes. What did he want?
Naruto jumped at the sound of the voice. He quickly got into an offensive stance.
"I-It's me, Hokage-sama."
His eyes narrowed towards the direction of the voice. Then he relaxed and even smiled. "You scared me, Hinata-chan."
Hyuuga Hinata was standing some feet away from him. She returned his smile shyly. A soft breeze blew and made her hair dance.
"G-Gomen nasai, Hokage-sama," she apologized. He scratched his head as she bowed formally. She never did loosen up whenever he was around. And this was the first time he saw her in weeks!
"You don't have to bow, you know," he said "It's only the two of us here."
And your status is almost as high as mine, he added to himself. She was already twenty-five too and ruling the Hyuuga family comfortably.
She shook her head. "I-I must show my respect to you, Hokage-sama."
Geez, what happened to the old Naruto-kun? he thought.
"But you don't have to..." he insisted."Come on."
He leaned over and grabbed her arm lightly to persuade her to sit by him. She consented, blushing furiously, as they sat down on the grass. The sky was already lightening to pale pink and orange streaked the sky. A few stars were already coming out. Konoha glittered with its multitude of lights. It was very pretty.
"I didn't mean to disturb you, Hokage-sama. I must go..." she said but he didn't let go of her arm. His eyes stared up into hers, pleading. Something in his eyes made her stay. She sat down again.
The silence was uneasy. Neither knew what to say. But Naruto didn't let go of her arm. She stared at it, every fiber in her body alive with his touch.
There was also a time when they had been so close. What had happened?
Naruto smiled bitterly. Of course, they grew up.
She trained, studied, and was taught. Her dream to be stronger was finally realized. Slowly she moved up the ranks of the kunoichi and was soon a Jounin. Until the recent death of her father, she was a promising agent. But now she had taken up her role as the Hyuuga heiress to take care of her family.
He became Hokage. She became Head of the Family.
There was nothing else that binds them except business matters. That was inevitable.
He missed the laughter, the stories, and the "dates" to Ichiraku. They'd been so close. She was his closest friend aside from Sasuke and Sakura. With her, he felt he could do anything.
"H-Hokage-sama... I have to go."
She stared at Naruto, confused. The blond didn't look her way but he tightened his hold on her arm. The orange of the sunset played in his hair. Her heart ached.
"W-Why won't you let me? M-My family is worried..." she tried to reason.
"What happened to us, Hinata-chan?" he asked. Their eyes met and mirrored the same hurt.
"Don't call me that!" he hissed. Calming himself, he forced his heartbeats to slow down.
"N-Naruto-kun..." she whispered; there was pain in her eyes. Memories she cherished so much flooded her mind. She was transported back fourteen years ago when he was just Naruto and she was just Hinata. Everything was so simple then. Growing up made everything complicated.
"I'm sorry." He said abruptly and he let go. Her hand touched the burning trail his hand left. She shook her head sadly. What did happen?
"Hinata-chan, what happened to us?"
The words hung in the air. She bit her lip.
"We grew up, Naruto-kun."
He sighed sadly. Regret. She could feel it.
"Are you happy that you're fulfilling the duty you've always wanted to do?" he asked as he plopped down. She watched him stare into the distance.
"Yes," she whispered. "Are you...?"
"Yes," he said absently.
They were lying. Neither was too happy with their lives. Something was missing... They wanted something...
"Growing up sucked the fun out of everything, ne? Duties left and right, obligations and things to do..." he said thoughtfully as he lay down on his back again.
"But you're doing a good job. It's been a year since you've been made Hokage... You did it," she said as she knelt down. "We do our duties because it is expected of us. We're not children anymore, Naruto-kun."
Pearl-gray met blue. Memories came back. It still hurts.
He reached up and touched her cheek, her chin. The longish darkness of her tresses brushed up against he back of his hand. She'd been lovely as a girl and more beautiful as a woman. "Yeah, and it sucks."
She placed a hand atop his. "It cannot be helped."
"I still feel uncontented with what I have. Something is missing, Hinata-chan. I don't know what it is." He sighed as he reveled in the silky smoothness of her hand. Incomplete was the better word for the problem that plagued him.
"You're twenty-four. It's almost about time you thought about settling down," she suggested.
He made a face. "And who would I bring home and make my wife?"
"You're Hokage. Surely there's a line of girls fighting tooth and nail to get a chance to shag the rich and handsome Hokage," she said lightly to hide the stab of pain.
"You have a point," Naruto said and pinched her cheek fondly. But his face saddened. "There's none I want."
Hinata hid her shock. H-He was gay!
"No, not what you're thinking," he chuckled as he stared up at her. "I don't feel like I belong with any of them..."
"It will be your duty to settle down with someone. Or to marry anyone that the Council decrees, if it will stop the war. Love has no place." she echoed the words her father had said to her. "It's our duty to fulfill whatever is needed for the good of many."
"I miss being myself. Being a Hokage isn't much fun, really." Naruto said as he tried to smile.
"Being the Head isn't a walk in the park either," she admitted.
"I miss going on missions, having adventures, and hanging out with my friends. I hate being so busy..." She watched him intently. "I miss being with you."
Her voice caught on her throat. "So do me."
"D-Do you remember why we said goodbye?"
She nodded. "We parted ways so we could do our duties freely."
They smiled sadly. What they had in the past couldn't be regained but then there was always the future. It wasn't too late...
"Maybe I do need someone else in my life. A man can't live on friends alone, can he?" he said as he sat up abruptly. She fell on her rear in surprise. "And all work and no play can make Peter a gay!"
He laughed and she began to laugh too. They laughed so hard their stomachs hurt. Afterwards they lay together, side by side under the starry sky.
"I don't know about you..." His hand closed around hers shyly "But I feel happier here than behind the Hokage's desk."
"Me too," she said softly.
Their eyes met. The hurt they had harbored for fourteen years was gone. The sweetness of their old relationship was restored.
Duties still waited for them. They were both powerful people in whose hands the lives of many depended on. A day wasn't enough to fulfill their obligations. It wasn't a wonder why they felt so discontented.
They wanted to be themselves, to be alone.
And to have this time to themselves.
"Don't leave me again, okay?" he said as he looked in her eyes.
"We can be together now... We've lost too much time..." he said as he rested his forehead on hers. She was all he wanted.
(A/N: Another one for the 100 themes challenge in HD!)