Disclaimer: I do not own NARUTO. I do not take part of the creation, production and distribution of the said anime. The characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This fic is written for pure enjoyment and is highly fictional. If such occurrences happen to the original plot, then it is a case of pure coincidence.
A/N: Last chapter. All the love in the world for my beloved readers. ^_^ Please continue to support Naruto~! It's long, sometimes fruitless and will probably continue until we eventually have kids but you gotta admit, it made you laugh, cry and relate to the wonderful characters at one point in your life.
Til the next fic! ^_^
Chapter XV: The End
Uzumaki Naruto was a man of compulsions.
He was a man renowned to do things out of pure instinct; never really giving one's thought a chance to be pondered before jumping to execute his act. One of his compulsions was to run across town, enter the Hyuuga compound unannounced, and carefully modulate in front of Hyuuga Hiashi that he needed to borrow his daughter for a bit.
Said man stared at him incredulously, before he declined the Hokage's request.
Uzumaki Naruto was a man of tenacity.
He was a man renowned to be firm about his decisions. Once he wanted something, he was going to do everything in his power to attain it. So when he warned that he would kidnap Hinata if that was what it took to get to talk to her alone, he did it. He could recall Hiashi shouting of transgression and profligacy, which he ignored all together.
He wasn't that surprised when several Hyuugas attempted to stop his hasty retreat. He managed to scare off half of them; promises of death, doom and destruction escaping his lips, as well as missions of odd sorts. A handful of Hyuugas remained steadfast, more loyal to their clan leader than they were to their village leader. Naruto was tempted to use Rasengan on them, but he had his hands full of Hinata.
Uzumaki Naruto was a man of good interpersonal relations.
As he neared the exit of the compound, his pursuers caught up and formed a barricade to block his exit. Naruto could never be more thankful to his lucky stars that Gaara appeared out of nowhere and aided him with his notorious Sand Technique. They escaped the compound unscathed, but the Hyuugas were able to corner them as they reached the forest.
An army of Sand shinobis arrived to their cause; and being the honorary best friend that he was Gaara used to technique to form a giant sand wall so he and Hinata could have his much sought after privacy.
Uzumaki Naruto was a man of words.
He wasn't blessed with an extensive amount of vocabulary, nor was he wise to the ways of poetry and literature, but he had always got something to say at every possible situation. And he always got the first things to say.
So it was a clear and utter surprise for Naruto that he, in all his confidence and reliance to his voice, could not, for the love of God, find the words to start a conversation with this pearly-eyed, dark haired girl who happened to have feelings for him.
That was the problem actually: she loved him – for a very long time at that. It's not the typical love, like for a brother, or for a friend, or for a comrade. It was the love-love, much stronger than crush but a little lesser than exaltation.
He was happy, of course, that someone like Hinata has feelings for someone like him. He wanted to scream to the heavens for it. It left a giddy, warm sensation over his midsection. It left him a lasting image of Super Bushy Brow-sensei's Springtime of Youth, complete with waterfalls, fields of flowers, colorful butterflies, endless blue skies, and all those jazz.
She loved him.
Something about it felt wonderful and right.
He had to admit though; at first he thought she was weird. Who wouldn't? He was exposed to women who fawn over cool guys and walk over his dreams. They screamed, giggled, and squealed over a smirk of the school's heartthrobs, like Sasuke and Neji. They cared more about how to keep their long hair shiny, how to look striking for their crushes, how to do girly stuffs when girly stuffs were never needed at all.
Hinata was… different. She was that shy wall flower who stood at the farthest corner of the room, playing childishly with her fingers. She would blush a deep color of crimson every time he were to pass by, gasp when he called her name, and faint when he closes the distance between them.
Kiba always chided her reactions. Shino would stay silent, but he had that knowing look on his face. Akamaru seemed to know about something to, but Naruto did not know dog language and Kiba never bothered to translate.
He frowned then, unsure what she liked about him. Sure, he was kind, cheerful, and was willing to sacrifice everything for his friends. But he was also the smart-mouthed Kyuubi-kid who had nothing more important to do than play pranks, the dumb-dead last from their Academy years, the impulsive brat who was lucky enough to be crowned as the Sixth Hokage. No matter how much he looked into it, his cons overweight his pros.
Perhaps she did love him all those time and he was just too dense to figure it out.
All of these reflections were making him testy. He expected a melee of epic proportions on the other side of the wall, as the Hyuugas and the Sand-nins crash. And while the local villagers were anticipating the wise intervention of their Kage, here he was on the brink of breaking his skull open, trying to find the words to initiate a conversation with her.
The uncomfortable silence stretched longer and Hinata felt compelled to break it. "Ummm…" she said softly, "Is there something you want to talk to me about?"
Naruto made an acknowledging sound in his throat, "I wanted to talk to you," he announced, his intentions still vague.
Her pearlescent eyes glowed with inquisitive; Naruto was awestruck by the quality of their color. It reminded him of the pale moon, full in its glory. "About what?" she asked, breaking him off his reverie.
Once again, Naruto marveled how this girl could rob him off his words without punching him outright, and scatter his wits effectively. Proceeding with limited caution had always been his battle plan, much to Shikamaru's chagrin. Clearing his throat, he went on with his tactic. "Remember that day you came to my office and ask how to profess your feelings to the guy that you love?"
A rosy glow emerged from her pale cheeks, and Hinata carefully looked down on the ground. "Yes…" she almost stammered the word, unsure where this conversation was heading.
"Well, I was hoping you could help me with my love problem as well." He was rewarded by a startled expression on her face. Seeing the confusion etched there, he further elaborated his answer, "It's about a girl who has been in love with me for a long time. I don't know why she's in love with me. I mean, I'm awesome and all, but I'm not the most likable guy for most of the female population. I can't just ask her about it, 'cause I'm afraid she'll run away. So I was wondering…" His blue eyes settled over hers, daring her to look away. "What could she possibly like in a guy like me?"
Hinata looked mildly uneasy, but Naruto was glad she did not tear her gaze away from his. "What… What kind of person is she?"
"Oh, the usual: dark, silent, and weird." He shrugged nonchalantly, remembering that it was the same description he used on her before his fight with Neji. Sliding an eye over her frame, he carefully added, "And cute."
Whether or not she could remember that these were his exact words for her, Naruto could not tell. Naruto saw her swallow a lump in her throat, and politely looked away again. He was afraid she was going to let him hanging to her silence.
Softly, not on normal decibels standards but enough for him to hear, she answered him, "It's your smile."
"My smile?" he asked one golden eyebrow quirked.
She closed her eyes, and let out a deep breath. "You have a wonderful smile. You may not notice it but it affects people around you… It makes them believe in you. It makes them trust you. And ultimately…" She let her voice break off, before continuing, her face breaking into a wonderful smile of her own. "It makes them believe in themselves."
He was amazed on the impact of this person's words to his character. Not just her words, her eyes, her voice, her face, and her sincerity as well. He never really thought much of himself, but this person saw him as though he was manna coming down from heaven.
"My smile, huh?"
She nodded at him. "Are we done? I'm concerned about my father…" She gazed fondly at the sand wall, willing for it to part so she could get a view of the other side. She was really concerned about her father, and her clansmen.
"Hinata," called Naruto, a thoughtful expression crossing his features. "There's another thing I wanted to say to you." She inclined her head at one side, waiting for him to continue. "I know the guy you love."
She might as well have been the proverbial deer who was caught at the end of kunai. Her face lost its color, and cold sweat broke from her brows. "T-the guy…"
"I solicited the help of some friends." A powerful shoulder moved to shrug, as Naruto waited for her reaction. "Your problem had left me confused so I devised a way in order to meet this fellow."
It was then that Hinata turned away from him, and was preoccupied by staring anything but him. A grin kicking on the corners of his mouth, he made it impossible for her to deny he was there by jumping in front of her at every possible opportunity. He was teasing her, and found he enjoyed the odd reddish tinge adorning her cheeks. "They had a rough time, you know. It was hard to tract the guy down when you interact with so many people, Hinata. I was almost afraid that he's part of my carefully assembled team. And then, just this morning, they gave me the result of their search. They found the ninety-nine point nine percent match to the person who captured your affections."
"We both know who that person is, Hinata," he replied plainly, without mockery or derision. Closing the distance between the two of them, he tentatively placed one hand on her arm, the other touching her cheek, chuckling when she finally met his gaze. "I think you're amazing," he said, his blue eyes sparkling with sincerity, "and I think anyone would be lucky to have you."
"I also think that you should have more confidence," he murmured, bringing both of her hands to his lips, "because if there is a ninety-nine percent chance that that guy is me, I'd probably say I love you too."
Hinata was at lost for words.
Here was the person she had been pinning for all her life. The person who had made her smile in times when she wanted to quit with herself, the person who inspired her to be better, the person she would offer her life in a heartbeat.
At the back of her mind, she could hear the Kazekage's words, True love is fearless.
And fearlessly, she sealed her lips with his.
It was a light peck, her lips settled over his hesitantly – very different from the first kiss he sincerely wished he did not share with Sasuke. That was accidental, open-mouthed, and oh so gross it sent shivers down his spine.
This one was sweet, pure, and so utterly Hinata. He could smell her sweet-scented cologne. He could feel her warm breath puffing lightly over his cheeks. He could not help but capture her bottom lip, which earned him a startled cry, and deepened the kiss. His hands placed hers over his shoulders, and them bade them capture her face, angling her head as he had done so, as he'd quest for more.
There were only two things that were in his mind at that moment, first was yep, reading that Pervy Sage's 'romance' novels did pay off; and the second was kissing Hinata was the best thing that ever happened since ramen.
His heart was beating so loudly, he wondered why it didn't break out of his ribs already.
When it ended, they were both red-stained faces and panty breaths. Both also found it slightly impossible to look anywhere but each others eyes.
It was Naruto who first spoke, gathering some semblance of reality with his razor-sharp with, "I suppose that's a yes." He was grinning – he could feel it – like an idiot, he guessed.
Hinata produced a silent laugh; it was music in his ears. "It's always been you," she admitted, smiling, hand grazing tenderly over his scratched cheeks, "all my life only you."
She watched his face break into that wonderful smile that turned her insides to jelly, and made her heart skipped two times faster. He was about to kiss her again, when realization of the chaos behind the wall dawned to the both of them. "We need to get back," he said half-meant.
"We should," she agreed, a fascinating shade of pink decorating her face.
With three knocks and a kick, the sand wall before them ebbed and disappeared to the ground. By the time it was gone, the assembled relatives, friends and ninjas stopped their activities and focused their attention on the two.
"We're together," Naruto announced, further emphasizing his point by flinging his free arm over Hinata's shoulder and pulling her into a hug.
Hinata confirmed by blushing her to the roots of her hair.
Someone, who remarkably sounded like Chouji, counted three backwards and the ninjas that had gathered before them threw the flowers they had been holding, like some carefully rehearsed ritual for a grand wedding when the bride and groom had been presented to the public. They rejoiced, shouting their appreciation for Konoha's new couple.
Elsewhere, he could hear Sasuke's sarcastic dobe, Sakura's supportive cheer, Sai's random banter on love, Lee exclamation of the burning power of youth, Tenten's chuckle, Neji's soft Hn, Shikamaru's troublesome drawl, Chouji's proud laugh, Ino's cry, Kiba's growl of laughter, Akamaru's bark for success, and Shino's silence (why, yes, Naruto's great like that).
And then he saw his future father-in-law's face.
By that thundercloud look on Hyuuga Hiashi's face, Naruto had a lot of explaining to do. But from the warmth radiating from the hand that held his, he had a feeling it was going to be worth it.