Chapter Six- God, Hinata, You're So Dense!
"God, what do I do now? I have no leads!"
Naruto sighed as he stroked his face, which was covered in a light stubble.
Funny, I didn't know I could grow facial hair…
He started shaving, absentmindedly. After they had reached Ichiraku, Naruto had been unable to extract any more information about Hinata's crush. He went through his mental list of possible candidates.
Kakashi- ew! I hope not! WAY too old for her. But I suppose he's a possibility, considering most stupid girls think he's "hot"… whatever.
Shino- what would they do? Say nothing to each other… ever? Probably not.
Kiba- no way, the guy's too rowdy, arrogant, and loud, Hinata would never like a guy like that.
He winced as he nicked himself. A little blood seeped out of the cut before it was healed a few seconds later. He sighed, wiping a dab of red shaving cream off of his cheek.
This whole thing was exhausting, but he couldn't stop thinking about it all. Whenever he consciously tried to think of something else, he was plagued by images of Hinata being mistreated by this mystery man. Here the man had another woman in arm, sneering at a tearful Hinata. Now he was holding Hinata roughly, fist raised threateningly. Now he was leaving her alone, when she needed him the most.
I never want that to happen to her.
Naruto finished shaving and wiped his face with a towel. He looked at himself in the mirror. A tired-looking young man with a clean face looked back. He hoped to hell that this guy was good enough for Hinata. The guy had to be at least as good as him, Naruto reasoned. He left the bathroom and ran a hand through his wild scruff of hair. Hinata deserved such a guy, because she was a good girl, strong, nice, beautiful…
Shut up. He told himself as the disconcerting feelings he had started to have for the girl sprung up.
He felt like the worst friend in the world. Real friends can think of their platonic friend without having feelings that invariably lead to streams of guilt. He really couldn't help his feelings though, he had tried, unsuccessfully. Every time he saw her he remembered things he shouldn't like how her form felt, pressed against his, and how soft her lips were.
He shrugged the feeling off and thought more about the task at hand. Today was going to be a long day.
Hinata hadn't a care in the world. Well, she had one, but she was blocking the rather unsettling thought that Naruto may be at this very minute planning a new way to mortify her. She hadn't given him a single hint this time, so hopefully there would be no further incidents. She pushed the whole of those thoughts out of her mind as she caught sight of Sakura and Ino.
"About time you get here, Hinata. What kept you so long? Too busy thinking about a certain someone?" Ino asked, with a grin.
Ino didn't know anything of the Naruto incidents, besides the failed confession, so she couldn't comprehend the sour look that appeared on Hinata's face. Ino threw Sakura a questioning look.
"Don't ask." She muttered.
"Whatever. Anyway, do you guys know why almost all the guys in the village are being called to the training grounds near the woods?"
"Well it's the weirdest thing but a bunch of guys in the village got this message to meet at the training grounds in a few minutes. Chouji got one but for some reason Shikamaru didn't. I have no idea what it could be; if it's for some kind of mission surely they'd want Shikamaru, right?"
Hinata looked around her, seeing many Shinobi around her age walking towards the same area.
"No, he couldn't possibly be…" She said, disbelievingly.
Ignoring her friends' odd looks, she started walking with the young men, towards the training grounds.
"Alright, who's next?"
People were gathered around, only about a quarter being the men that Naruto had summoned. A few men were standing on the sidelines, nursing some fresh wounds. Hinata stood, dumbfounded as she watched Naruto, alone in the middle of the field, taunt the crowd.
"Come on, if you guys want a chance with Hinata, you have to beat me first. I'm here to filter out all you losers!"
Her jaw dropped.
What. The. Hell.
"So, what, is he like your pimp now?"
A terse Neji stood besides her, with an amused Tenten. Hinata ground her teeth.
"I guess so." She told him.
A horrified Neji looked at Tenten for advice, but she offered none, as she was watching the few men that could get up the courage to rush at Naruto.
"Reiji, you're too greedy!" Naruto said before landing a hard hit to a dark haired boy's side.
"Hagane, you're too cold!"
He put a lanky boy out of commission.
"And you, Toshinori, you're um… ugly!"
A dark feeling settled into the pit of Hinata's stomach and she found her hands curling into fists.
"Haha, he's right about that one all right!" the Hokage guffawed while Shizune tried to shush her and at the same time pry the sake bottle from her hand.
"Come now, Tsunade, he'll hear you. Anyway, you have paperwork…" She was cut off as Hinata roughly took the bottle.
"Hey, givvit back!" Tsunade complained.
Hinata ignored her and threw the bottle back and, to the amazement of those around her, proceed to chug the whole of it. Her face took on a red tint. Throwing the empty bottle to the side, she staggered towards Naruto. He was focussed on a broad shouldered boy now.
"Stop it!" Hinata yelled.
Naruto froze in mid-punch.
"Oh, hi Hinata."
The guy he was after took this opportunity to skitter away. Naruto straightened up, looking a little guilty. Hinata made her way to him, enraged.
"How could you?" she asked him.
"W-what do you mean?"
"This! All this! Just what the hell do you think you're doing? How could you embarrass me like this?" she said, gesturing wildly.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you, I just wanted to make sure that these guys were worthy of you." He tried to explain.
"Who are you to make that kind of deshision for me?!"
She struck at him, rendering his left arm useless.
"Whoa, drama!" Tenten said on the sidelines.
"You show him, Hinata." Neji said.
Naruto kept dodging her strikes but she was getting closer and closer each time.
"This is probably going to take awhile, want to play go fish?" Tenten pulled out a pack of cards from her pocket.
Neji blushed profusely.
"Are you propositioning me?"
"Later, Neji. I needja to tell me what Hinata's doin' with that chakra of hers." The Godaime requested, dashing Neji's little fantasies.
A little disheartened, he activated his byakugan and watched as Hinata landed another successful hit.
"Hm, that's interesting." He commented.
"Well you know how the Hyuuga use a small amount of chakra in every strike to their enemy's chakra point?"
"Well consider that a needle of chakra, and right now Hinata is driving a stake through Naruto's system." Neji explained.
Tsunade contemplated this for a moment.
By now, both of Naruto's arms laid useless by his sides. He looked kind of pathetic, actually. It was probably the incredibly remorseful look on his face that stopped Hinata from continuing.
"Damn it… let's just talk, okay?" she told him.
Looking behind her, she saw that the crowd had even increased in size since she had started fighting with him, some had even gotten popcorn. She led Naruto off somewhere where they could have a private conversation.
"Okay, Naruto, I need you to listen to me. I don't appreciate this whole thing, you can't just do this, especially without asking me." She told him.
"But I just need this guy of yours to be good enough." He tried to explain.
Hinata couldn't believe it, he wasn't letting this go. How could he fixate on something like this but be painfully oblivious about other things?
"Why do you even care? Why don't you do this for anyone else, huh?"
"Because I don't care about anyone as much!" Naruto yelled.
An echoing silence.
"Buh?" was the only sound to come from Hinata.
Naruto sighed in exasperation and shook his head.
"Yes, yes, it true! I'm sorry Hinata but it's incredibly obvious to everyone but you. I like you, a lot. And I've been trying to be a good friend to you and protect you from getting hurt by this guy who obviously doesn't deserve you. Maybe jealousy was a part of it, but I didn't want you to end up with some creep who wouldn't even pay you the respect you deserve. So I went through a lot of trouble, and maybe caused you some grief, but it was all because I care about you and want the best for you!"
Chest heaving from his emotional outburst, Naruto looked expectantly to Hinata. The girl, still drunk, frowned slightly.
"You are exasperating, why can't you get that I love you! I don't care if you like this other guy more, just at least understand what I'm trying to tell you." Naruto said.
If his arms had been usable, he would have thrown them in the air, but instead they just flopped sadly at his side.
"So you're saying you love me, more than as friends love one another?" Hinata tentatively asked.
"That I'm one of your precious people, but I'm not just lumped in with everyone else?"
"Yeah," Naruto said impatiently.
"The kind of love that a man can feel for a woman, but not in the way of friendship?" Hinata continued.
"Yes, but why are you repeating all this?"
She looked at him calmly.
"Didn't we have this conversation before, except the other way around?" She asked him.
The confused look on his face gave way to realization as he recalled that night where she had looked so sad and he… had been so dense. How could he have not seen before? No wonder she repeatedly beat him up. Naruto looked up as Hinata drew closer to him.
"Hinata, I'm so-" he started but Hinata put a finger to his lips, shushing him.
"Don't apologize, Naruto. I'm just going to make it as clear as I can this time. I love you. In a sexual way, and don't you dare misinterpret that." She said firmly.
She closed the gap between him and engaged him in a kiss that made him forget that he was incapacitated. He was only cognizant of the moist warmth of her lips, tender, but demanding. Hinata deepened the kiss and Naruto couldn't help but think "Sexual way, huh?" Finally they parted for air, looking at each other with passion glazed eyes. Suddenly Naruto smiled, thinking of the image they must be making, him with his useless arms, and Hinata, slightly unbalanced from the sake.
"Alright Hinata, I'd better get you home."
She shook her head slightly.
"No, let's go to your place. We can wait for me to sober up and for you to be able to move your arms and then you can show me why you're the most qualified man to be with me…" she trailed off with a smirk.
As he let her lead him away there was only one thing that Naruto could think: Hinata's awesome!
Hinata: I love you, in a sexual way.
Naruto: Dur… I don't get anything. How did I put my pants on this morning?
Hinata: [performs a million hands of hakke]
And there you have it, last chapter, and I'm not even counting how long it's been since the last update. To my new readers, welcome; to my old ones, um well sorry.