Always There Beside Me


Summary: He'd never sat beside her before, and to be honest, she knew she couldn't possibly concentrate if he had.

Author's Note: Spare time plus inspiration equals another Naruhina one-shot. For this little ficlet, thank you goes out to my classmate and friend Marphil who is so much like Naruto it's surprising; and also to Icee who's kind of like Hinata too. (The two sit beside each other in front of me in class, I just couldn't resist!) Ha ha… too bad they're not a real couple. Just kidding!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Hinata, nor do I own the real people I have based them on in this story.

He'd never sat beside her before.

To be completely honest, Hinata was rather thankful for that. How could she ever concentrate in class with him beside her? No, she would be too busy blushing with shy embarrassment, or stealing glances to find wheat-blond hair or a sparkle in a pair of mischievous blue eyes.

"Hinata-chan? Is… something wrong?"

If she knew that, why was this happening to her?

Naruto laid a hand on her shoulder, perhaps in concern. "Hinata-chan, what's the matter?" he asked again.

"Um… ah, nothing! N-nothing at all…" she stammered, or more aptly, squeaked.

She had come early to class, and sat in her usual seat. In fact, the day began with events of no particular interest or uniqueness. So how exactly had this happened?

Sakura and Ino had decided it was the perfect day to continue their rivalry, and though Hinata didn't pay much attention to the fight, she had supposed it ended in a draw; Ino sat to Sasuke's left, and Sakura to his right. Shino, who usually sat beside Hinata, had gone off to take Ino's seat beside Shikamaru. So that was why when Naruto, the perpetual latecomer, reported to class, the only seat left was the one beside Hinata.

She noticed this, as she noticed he was approaching. In an embarrassed kind of panic she tried to scoot away from the vacant seat, only to bump into Kiba accidentally. The boy, who was obviously not in a good mood that day, growled, and Hinata was forced to go back to her own seat. She gave a sigh as the orange-clad boy sat down beside her. He gave her a pat on the back, and his touch sent shivers down her spine. "Hey, Hinata-chan!" he said with a big grin, "Looks like we'll be together all of today!"

"Y-yes," she replied shakily, "A-all of t-today…"

Iruka-sensei entered the room, and instructed the class to settle down. "Today," he announced, "We'll be talking about the replication technique and what you have to remember to be able to perform it properly."

Beside her, Naruto winced. "That's not something I'm good at!" he moaned, and, turning to Hinata, he grabbed her arm pleadingly. "Hinata-chan! You'll help me, right? Please?"

"Huh? Um… a-all right…" she murmured, caught off-guard.

"Now, Naruto, Hinata, if you would pay attention, we can start the class," called Iruka-sensei with an amused smile. Everyone in the class had begun to stare, and it only made Hinata redden even more.

Soon the explanation on the replication technique began, and she tried her best to concentrate on the lesson. And for a few minutes, she did. That was… until she felt a soft tug at her hair. She stiffened, but did not pay attention to it. Then another tug. And a third. She turned to look. What exactly was going on?

Her blush deepened. Naruto, perhaps overcome with boredom, was absently fiddling with her hair. Her heart hammered. "N-naruto-kun?" she wanted to ask him what it was that he thought he was doing, but it seemed her voice was gone, along with what was left of her courage.

"You know what, Hinata-chan?" he mumbled, his fingers still on the ends of her hair.

No, she thought to herself, I don't know. What is it?

"You remind me of ramen," he said finally.

She blinked. What did he just say? She looked at him with wide eyes, wondering what that meant exactly. She was thinking, or, rather, hoping that what he would tell her would be along the lines of, "I like you," or "Let's spend some time together." But no, of course not. It had to be about ramen. If it was not about one thing, it was probably about ramen.

She turned away. Since when did she let another person make her second fiddle to ramen?

Since she met Naruto.

"Hey – hey, Hinata-chan, what's wrong?" he asked for the third time that day.

She shook her head. "N-nothing's wrong," she said, but she must not have sounded very convincing, because Naruto went on.

"I'm sorry if I offended you. What – I mean, what I meant to say was…" his voice trailed off a little, and she wondered if he was going to go on. She had never seen him like this before, embarrassed, almost a bit shy; she was fascinated. Finally, he went on. "… Would you like to join me for ramen after classes?"

She smiled. "R-really? You want me to come with you?"

"Well, yeah!" he said with a laugh. "Of course I do! Will you?"

She gave a little nod. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"Nah. Thank you," he said with a big grin.

Suddenly, Iruka-sensei called out, "Naruto! It appears you are enjoying the lesson very much. Why don't you come on down to the front and show the class a sample of the replication technique?"

"Rep…li…ca…tion?" he stuttered, almost to himself. But he didn't let his fear show on his face as he strutted down to where their teacher stood. He grinned up at Hinata and formed a few hand seals, and for a few moments she thought he was actually going to do it. But even after the rays of blue light formed around him, nothing seemed to happen.

Iruka-sensei looked at him dryly. "I'll see you after class, Naruto. The rest of you are dismissed."

"What? Sensei, come on, let me go!" he pleaded.

Hinata rose from her seat and headed for the exit, when he tapped her on the shoulder and made her face him. He grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, Hinata-chan… maybe we can go for ramen some other time, okay?"

"O-okay," she answered.

And as she left, she gave a smile no one else could see, just because he had assured her there would actually be a next time.

Author's Note: I loved the beginning parts, but for some reason I felt like I had to throw ramen in there and it probably messed the whole thing up and so… please be gentle if you think it sucks, all right? Also… thanks to Musay who celebrated her birthday yesterday! She's fifteen now… haha, getting old!