(Author's Note) This was a story that I've been wanting to put for quite a while. I'm glad I finally got it out. Though, I doubt that this'll be anything original. But, please, tell me what you think of it. Think of this as an 'apology' for not putting more romance into the Legacy yet.

Naruto

By: Tellemicus Sundance

What We All Carry

I watched in silent agony as you collapsed in front of me. And even though I was fast to catch you, I couldn't comfort you like I truly wanted to. Sure, I was able to hold your unconscious body. I was able to shout out in honest worry for your well-being. But I couldn't give you the love that we both dearly wished to receive.

As your teammates picked you up and headed back to your clan complex, I knew I couldn't follow. It would be unsightly for the 'demon boy' to suddenly become a stalker. I knew from experience that rumors and bad fortune would befall any who sought comfort for or were comforted by me.

So I was condemned to watching mutt-boy lead his over-sized Cujo away with you safely balanced on the dog's back. The sight of you once again out of my arms and being taken away from me caused a storm of memories and feelings to resurface.

I don't know when you started liking me, but I had always liked you. You had always been one of the few people in those days who even offered me a parting glance of sympathy and comfort. For that, I had always wanted to be your friend, even when all the other kids were disgusted by the opposite sex because of the 'cooties.'

You would never know the sadness that befell my heart when I learned that we had been assigned separate genin teams. That was one of the few opportunities that had been open to me for us to associate without anyone being able to complain. In fact being able to be in the same room with you, able to feel your soft gaze on my shoulders, and to be able to sneak a rare few of my own had been one of the primary reasons I didn't skip out of the academy more than I did.

My pranks in the academy, while fun, always gave me the chance to sneak such glances at you each time I was caught. Plus I could tell you enjoyed my pranks, because I could do something that I knew that you sometimes wanted to, but couldn't because of your image as clan heir.

It was because of that status thing that caused me to dislike clans as a whole. Those overbearing, wrinkled old bastards who ran the clan were always more obsessed with their power in the clan and its image. Because that was how they viewed their importance in the village, and the world in general. The fact that they sometimes did some pretty terrible stuff and could get away with it has only led to more, causing the clan to rot from the inside out.

Because of those wrinkled old bastards, I forced myself to walk away, probably for the ramen bar. The only thing that could lift me out of my brooding thoughts. But then again, a good brood was sometimes nice to do. I kind of understand why Sasuke use to do it all the time, it was a way to vent some stress.

Heh, that bastard had always called me the dead last, a dimwit. That I couldn't notice an explosive tag that was about to go off in front of my face. And, unfortunately, more times than not, he was right. As were a lot of people when it came to stuff that I didn't know too much about. But the one thing that I was well aware of was her feelings for me, since I was very interested.

I had known she liked me. Even for a person as thick as I am, it was ridiculously easy to see. Yet I kept playing the fool, not because I wanted to. Oh no, not at all. It was to protect her. If people thought that I was too dumb to notice that she liked me, then it was perfectly fine for her to continue her affections. But should anyone find out that I secretly wanted to return them, it would to her clan locking her up and we'd never see one another ever again. I know they would think that there would be nothing worse than their 'perfect bloodline being tainted' by such a scoundrel as I. That was why I have made such a big show about acting like I was in love with my other teammate. It would reinforce the image that I was clueless about her.

So I am forced to watch you from a distance. I watch as you fight to change yourself. To become the woman you want to be, strong and independent but dependable. Kind and wise, yet strict to your morals and feelings. You possess an inner strength that astounds me because I know what it's like to try to stand up while carrying such a burden.

But as you wallow in your beliefs that I'll never notice you for yourself and not just another comrade, I die every time I see your face. Not because it brings me despair of not sharing my feelings or time with the young woman I secretly love. No, I die because I know that while I can distantly return your affections but I will never be the man you grow old with. I will never be the one to soothe you when you cry, bandage you when you're hurt, calm you when you're angry.

It's a pain of unspeakable agony; to know I'm not the one you're meant to be with. But if that's what I must bear just to see you, on a semi-regular basis, then I will persevere. Maybe, if we can weather this dark storm, one day we will be together. We will be safely in each other's arms. But, until that time, I will continue to watch you, my eyes wet with unshed tears.

For you, Hinata, I will wait for eternity…