The dull, steady thrumming of my heart in my ears is distracting at best. Then again, perhaps it's best to have something to help block out the outside right now. This is going to take more focus than I normally have. I just had to go and listen to that bastard Sasuke, didn't I?

My feet raise small clouds of dust as I plod across town. It's been hot lately and there hasn't been any rain for at least a week, so the dirt paths that wind through Konoha are dry as a bone. The sun beats down on my neck and back. The warmth is soothing, but I can feel a thin sheen of sweat starting to form. I should probably hurry or at least stick to the shade. It won't do to show my face to her all filthy. Not this time.

Several scenarios of how this could all go run through my head. I'm pretty sure I screw up massively in every single one of them. I suck at planning ahead. Why shouldn't I just wing it? It's worked for me until now. Until now. I guess that's really the key phrase here. I can't afford to screw this up. This isn't life and death, it's more important than that.

I shake my head to clear it. It works for barely an insant. An itch forms on my nose where my hair brushes against it. It might be time for a haircut. Then again, she says she likes my hair long. I guess I can ask her about it later. Maybe, who knows? If this doesn't work out it won't really matter anyways.

I don't know why everyone thinks it's so important that I do this. It's not like I don't want to tell her or something. I just haven't. Simple as that. I mean, I've tried before, but I always seem to fumble the words and end up just making a fool of myself to cover it up. Well, that's how I am I guess. I'm sure she understands without me having to say anything. She has to. I can't risk it though.

Almost halfway there and I stop at Ino's flower shop. She doesn't ask any questions, just smiles knowingly as I pick out a small boquet of orchids and continue on my way. I'm pretty sure she overcharged me. I grumble, but I can't help but smile. The whole thing is just so like her. Besides, I'll get her back later.

With a start I realize that I had my nose buried in the bouquet. I can't help it, the smell reminds me of her. I adjust my position and cradle them loosely in one arm as I keep walking, mindful to keep from breaking the fragile stems.

I'm not paying the slightest bit of attention to where I'm walking, but somehow I manage not to run into anything, though I probably made a wrong turn or two. I can't really be sure on that. At the very least I'm on the right path now, the road narrowing as I approach the edge of the village and enter the line of trees.

I walk slowly through the wooded corridor. The sound of muffled impacts gradually makes its' way to my ears. I'm almost there now. The icy grip of terror tightens on my heart. I steel myself and keep moving forward. No backing down now. Got to tough it out.

My feet lead me out of the trees and into the small clearing of one of the village's many training areas. I'm momentarily captivated by a whirl of motion and chakra as the slight figure before me dances and strikes. Her open palm connects with the wooden post and splinters fly from the opposite side. She pulls back to strike again, revealing the log to be completely undamaged on the spot she hit. Just as she's about to land her second blow she stops and turns to look at me.

I'm immediately halted right in my tracks, unable to bring myself to move under the calm warmth of her gaze. This isn't good. I had expected to be at least halfway across the clearing before she noticed me. This is too far away. I don't know if I can do this. I'm.... I'm thinking too much.

She cocks her head to the side quizzically as she looks at me, clearly wondering why I stopped. This isn't like me. Normally I'd already be right on top of her, picking her up in my arms and swinging her around like an excited child with a puppy. She calls out and starts to walk toward me.

My hands tremble as she approaches. When did I become such a wimp? There's nothing to be scared of. At least that's what I keep telling myself. What's the worst that could happen? I don't even want to think about that. Keep it together now. You can do this. No problem. One step forward.

A moment later and I'm face to face with her, barely a foot apart. Her hands are clasped behind her back and she leans forward cutely. She issues forth a bright and cheery greeting, but she's obviously confused by my odd behavior. After way too long of a wait I return her greeting.

Now she's asking me if something's wrong and reaching out a hand to touch me. I shake my head and hold the flowers out to her, almost defensively and she takes them with a smile. I guess it's now or never. I just hope I can get this out.

"I need to tell you something." I barely manage to choke out.

Her smile fades into a soft frown and my heart sinks. I pause for another moment to gather my courage. It's not really helping, especially not with how she's looking at me. She looks so small, so unsure. I scream at myself in my head to just get it over with. So I do.

"You see... umm... the thing is...that....well...I....I love you."

Done. Now I just have to wait. Not too long I hope. I can't bring myself to breathe until she answers.

She looks up at me with those eyes of hers. Those big, beautiful, warm as a summer day eyes of hers. Even still, her expression is unreadable. What on earth is she thinking? What's going on? The flowers slip to the ground at her side and she takes a step forward, her hands coming to rest on either side of her head as she lays her cheek against my chest.

"I love you too." she whispers almost inaudibly.

My arms are wrapped tightly around her before I even realize what's happening and I'm feathering kisses into her silky cobalt hair. She nuzzles her face tighter into my chest and clutches at the cotton of my shirt. Everything is ok now. Everything is good, great, best. I have no idea why I waited so long. No idea at all. It doesn't matter. No, it doesn't matter one bit. Nothing matters but this. This is everything.

Once more I whisper it with all of my strength "I love you."

Another chapter completed. I like this one a bit more than the previous one, even though I enjoy combat. I think this chapter does a better job of capturing the charm I found in the first chapter. Hopefully, you all agree with me. Well, I request that you let me know what you think, even if it's simply to rant about my lack of grammatical prowess. Thank you all

RH

I'm welcoming the passing of every second
I watch the clock to while away the hours
This time holds no meaning without you
No point for a life spent in ivory towers
The merest mention is enough to drive me crazy
A harsh whisper leaves my mind undone
In essence I'm exactly what I am not
The truth is that you are my only one