Wow, this is a first for me; I actually wrote a het story! Took me all darn day, too. And this one is PG, too…which, for me, is another first….

SUMMARY: Hinata greatly admires Naruto; she's trying to change herself, to be brave like him. Can she muster the courage to tell him how she feels? Neji, who is, literally, blind, is searching for the courage to change himself, too. Can he open up and let Tenten in?

WARNINGS: uh…for once, not many. Um..some slight swearing by Tenten.

PAIRINGS: Naruto x Hinata, Tenten x Neji

NOTES: AU-ish, because Neji is blind (literally), and I changed a few things. Inspired by Bette Middler's song, "Wind Beneath My Wings." This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a songfic. While I'm not particularly a fan of this song- I heard it on the radio at my grandmother's- I think it describes how Hinata feels about Naruto. So, I included a few lyrics express how Hinata feels about Naruto. Also, about how Tenten helps Neji out of his icy shell., I'm getting all philosophical, ain't I lol? Oh, just ignore it and enjoy this cute lil love story!

DISCLAIMER: Stands for the entire fic. I do not own, and am making no money off of this. I do not own Naruto, nor do I own Bette Middler's song. Lyrics below are from said song.

AUTHOR: Neko Oni

SIDE NOTE: Also, Tenten and Neji don't appear in this chappie...but they're coming up, I promise!



Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Hinata watched from the shadows. That was how she lived her life. Watching. She learned through other people. She was far too shy, too timid, to venture out on her own. To take a chance. To step onto the dance floor of life. She hung by the side, hoping for someone to waltz by and offer her a hand, teach her how to dance.

But even if they did, she would with draw. Deep down, in her heart of hearts, she knew it. She was too plagued with self-doubt. What if she fell? What if she tripped the other person up? No, life was too much of a dangerous gamble. One which she'd surely loose- after all, all the times she's stepped up, she's failed spectacularly. So she hid in the shadows.

And she hated it. She hated herself. She wanted to be out there, taking chances, living life. Maybe not in the center of the dance floor, in that bright spotlight. She would be happy enough on the outskirts of the dance floor. At least she would be dancing.

She wanted to fly, to be free. She was her own cage; every time she'd try to spread her wings, old doubts, old fears, the nagging demons of her past would rise to torment her. The look of disappointment on her father's face, the sneers and jibes from Hanabi, even Neji's cold indifference.

So she hid, and she watched. She trained her hardest, trying to make herself stronger, braver, more outgoing, yet each time it was time for her to step up, to step out, she shrunk back, clinging to the shadows, to her old way of life. Her courage failed her. Always. She was a failure.

So she watched the others. Mostly, her cousin Neji, and Naruto. Neji she couldn't help. Her cousin was a gifted genius; he didn't have to train as long or as hard as the others. Everything came so easy to him. He easily mastered new moves and techniques, making them look effortless and graceful, like he'd been doing them for years instead of a few days.

Despite this, Neji had a HUGE handicap; he was blind. Literally blind. It was a rare genetic defect of the Byakugan, cropping up every tenth generation or so. And, lucky Neji, he just happened to be born ten generations from the last occurrence. Instead of the "all seeing eye" it was the "no seeing eye." A reverse of the blood line genetics.

Yes, Neji was a beautiful martial artist, so graceful and lovely to watch when he did the katas of the gentle fist. He resembled a flying crane at dawn. Even blind, he was the pride of the Hyuga family. It hurt Hinata that Hiashi never smiled at her like he did his sightless nephew.

For all his beauty, Neji was cold. He was frozen, distant, and arrogant. He was so cold outside because he was hurting so bad inside. Hinata knew, but she never said anything. She would offer comfort to her cousin, but Neji would never admit he needed it. He was too broken inside.

She didn't want to be a mess like him. Her heart hurt bad enough now; she feared what a cold heart felt like. Yes, Neji was beautiful to watch, but Hinata didn't want to be like him. Watching him only caused her to draw further into herself, to hide in her protective shell.

But Naruto…he was a failure. Like her. She could relate to him. He was no gifted genius, and he wasn't stunningly beautiful, like the alabaster dolls Neji and Sasuke were. Naruto wasn't bad to look at, either. Far from it. His electric eyes were a bright blue, a summer's blue sky, and his blonde hair; it reminded her of the sun. He was like a ray of sunshine, a warm summer's day. He may have been a failure, like her. But, unlike her, he never gave up. In pain, when his heart was hearting, he could pick himself back up, smile and laugh.

That was how Hinata wished to be. She didn't want to be afraid of falling. When Naruto fell, he simply laughed, dusted himself off, and got back up. She wanted to be like that. Just watching him, his movements, his voice, his facial expressions, plucked a cord deep with in her. Something in his charismatic soul called to her. She wanted to reach out and touch him, to become like him.

She didn't want to hide in the shadows. She wanted to be in the sunshine. Like Naruto. She wanted to laugh freely, to stand her ground. She wanted to be strong enough to pick herself back up, and keep on going. She yearned for the courage to stand tall and strong. She wanted to move forward, not back. She wanted to feel the warmth of the sun, of life, on her skin, and not be afraid. To face her fears, and beat them back. To win for once.

Watching Naruto gave her courage, and hope. When he picked himself back up, when he laughed, when he ran a hand through his tousled blonde hair, his blue eyes shining in the sun, caused a warm feeling to spread throughout her. If Naruto could do it, then maybe she could, too. He was her hope, her dream. She wanted to soar like him, not cower in the nest.



Reviews are always greatly, greatly appreciated! Please let me know what you think! Ple