Disclaimer: Oi, that's right, I don't own Naruto. Nor would I want to. Masashi Kishimoto is doing a great job so far (now if only they'd just get Naruto and Hinata to kiss, life would be perfect). The several Original Characters in this piece of fiction are the intellectual property of myself and my friend, and therefore we request that you do not take them as your own under any circumstances, unless you ask nicely first.

AN: This piece of fiction is based off a Naruto Roleplay that is still ongoing between a friend and I. It takes place post-timeskip, after the unfortunate events that befall Gaara. It is also slightly AU, and deviates from the main plot and story points…so if you don't like where it's going, don't whine.

This prologue is a summary of the events that actually take place prior to when the roleplay began. I thought it would be nice to give you the backstory of the relationship I've made for Naruto and Hinata, rather than just throwing you into it. I hope you enjoy.



"NARUTO!!!!" the shrill voiced shrieked.

Uzumaki Naruto grumbled as he turned over in his bed, idly wondering why it was that women only screamed his name when he was in some form of trouble.

The fifteen year old blonde yawned as he pulled the covers off his otherwise sleeping body, muscles tightening and relaxing as he stretched out his tired limbs, mouth showing a wide circle of pink before it slammed shut from an exaggerated yawn. Groggily he scratched his side, slowly turning his head towards his frog-styled alarm clock to see why on earth someone would be bothering him this early in the day, let alone shouting that loud.

Needless to say, his serene blue orbs burst wide open and went totally blank as he pointed and gaped at his clock, which read eleven twenty-six in the morning.

"Uzumaki Naruto!" The voice cried again, throwing a rock at his window.

The Kyuubi's container slowly rolled himself out of bed and went to his window, pushing the old fixture open with his droopy hand, idly catching another rock that had been flung at him by the furious pink-haired girl. Naruto's eyes traced the sharpened stone, his left eye twitching at the simple prospect that this one most likely would've broken the aperture. Then he shrugged it off, figuring his old, rickety window probably could've used replacing anyway.

"What do you want, Sakura?" he grumbled none too pleasantly. "I was trying to sleep."

Naruto gazed over his teammate from the now nearly village-wide infamous Team Seven. She had, like a lot of his other friends, changed a great deal over the two and a half years he and Jiraiya had been absent from Konoha. Gone was the "useless" little girl who was assigned to guard things while he and the boy she once would drool over if she saw a lock of his hair, did all the fighting. She was now blossoming into a fine young woman, apparently taking after her mentor, Tsunade, in more ways than her chakra-based immense strength. She didn't tease him – at least, not as much – as she used to, and she was certainly more comfortable around him as whole. He had half expected her to start walloping him on the head the moment he returned, but so far, he hadn't been hit. At least, not in a way meant to hurt him.

Currently, his now-chuunin female teammate was wearing a black v-neck top that, whether designed to or not, showed just enough cleavage to almost make her alluring. She also had on a pair of black-colored minishorts that only came to about quarter- to mid-thigh, covered with a strapped on pink skirt of equal length. Elbow-length crimson, fingerless gloves adorned her long, slender arms, and a pair of knee-high jet black boots stood with her frame, her foot tapping the ground impatiently as she looked up at him.

"Sleeping my ass," Sakura scowled. "Don't you have training to do or something?"

Something about those words rung partially true to the whiskered boy. Usually, Naruto was somewhat of a training demon, spending the majority of his day that he wasn't eating ramen training for upcoming missions, or to simply improve himself. However, Naruto had spent basically the last two and a half years training, and upon his return had been swept off on a mission so fast his head had almost spun. All of this combined finally made Naruto choose to do something he hadn't done in as long as he could remember being a shinobi: take a day off. He had actually planned to sleep throughout most of the day to recover his strength and sanity, but apparently his teammate had other ideas.

"Well, either way, get your lazy ass out of bed," the pink-haired medic-nin grinned, "and get down to Ichiraku's. Ramen's on me."

A million things probably would've gone through Naruto's head at that statement, if only he had even begun to try and understand it. But, when the words 'Ramen's on me' left Sakura's lips, he was dressed and out his door faster than light could even hope to travel.

Konoha was exceedingly busy and bustling, with Shinobi and villagers lining the streets en masse, whether for shopping, training, touring, or simply going out with friends and family. Not that the businesses that thrived off them minded any one bit: it was times like this – when everyone was bored from lack of missions or just from life in general – that kept those little hobby shops and flower stores open.

One particular store, however, enjoyed year long prosperity: Ichiraku Ramen. This little ramen bar had, at one time, been nothing on the scope of Konoha, almost going out of business. That was of course, until the day Uzumaki Naruto started coming. Old Man Ichiraku and his daughter were shocked at how many bowls of food that boy could down in one sitting…shocked even more by the monthly profits created by him alone. The current running gag between shopkeepers was that Naruto was putting Ayame through college.

However, said best customer hadn't show up this morning when he usually did. In his place, however, came individuals that normally didn't find themselves taking seats at Ichiraku's fine establishment: a one Inuzuka Kiba, and his chronically shy teammate, Hyuuga Hinata. The latter of the two was constantly pressing her fingers together, her face rosy in a hot blush as she continued to stare and occasionally poke at her miso ramen with her chopsticks, attracting the glare of her feral-looking companion as he scarfed down his own helping.

"Hinata," Kiba started, his mouth half-full of the wet noodles, "are you going to eat that, or just beat it into submission?"

Hinata looked up at Kiba sheepishly, taking some of the noodles into her mouth and sucking them down in a half-willed attempt to defy his statement. Upon completing the action, however, she returned to her nervous finger pressing and stirring of her food, causing the Inuzuka boy to growl.
"Listen Hinata," he managed with a wry smile, patting her on the shoulder, "I know you don't approve, but Shino and I made you come here for a good reason, and you know it."
The Hyuuga heiress gasped softly, looking down at her bowl of ramen and blushed harder, her finger pressing increasing in rapidity. "H-Hai," she stumbled across the words, "I know…"

"Then would you please stop fidgeting all the time?" he practically begged her. "It's starting to make my nose twitch."

"G-Gomen, Kiba-kun," she replied faintly, turning her face to him for only a moment before she returned, once again, to the idly beating of her meal.

The scruffy-looking young man rested his head in his hand, looking over his dark-haired teammate with a somewhat bemused expression. As far back as he could remember, she'd always been like this, and it had to a certain extent, grown on him. What else had grown on him was the way she had grown in just the last two years alone, along with him and Shino. She was no longer the small girl she had once been; she was now becoming a young woman in her own right. She had allowed her hair to grow out, past her shoulders, grown taller, and indeed, developed those womanly features that men Kiba's age would definitely begin noticing. Yes, she was still shy, but not nearly as much as she used to be. The blush that would occasionally coat her pale cheeks only came up in some of the more embarrassing moments she and the rest of Team Eight had endured over the last while, and she hadn't fainted in two years.

If you didn't count how badly she'd passed out when Naruto came back, that is.

Kiba had not really been shocked when that had happened. It was no secret between the entireties of their team that Hinata had the world's biggest crush on Naruto when he had left for his training with Jiraiya. But it had never been the subject of much consideration to the dog-boy or his partners until Hinata's fixation on the hyperactive blonde ninja had only grown during his absence. Despite all of that prior knowledge, when Hinata finally just blurted out one day when Kiba was teasing her about it that she didn't have a crush on Naruto, she was in love with him, both him and Shino had been left a little dumbstruck.

Thinking back on that moment when he had been teasing Hinata relentlessly about her idol, Kiba discovered that every aspect of it had been stuck in his mind ever since. The way she moved and flung her arms at him when she said it, the pitch of her voice, the fierce look in her eyes. It had been pretty obvious at that point that she had been one-hundred percent serious about the statement, reinforced by the fact that she had blushed furiously and hid her face quite shortly after having spoke it. That whole scene seemed burned into his mind, repeating itself over and over every time Naruto was even suggested amongst them. It was replaying in his head even now, which fit the moment really, as Naruto was why they were at Ichiraku's in the first place.

Somehow, and Kiba wasn't exactly sure how, Shino had managed to talk him into this. Even more amazing was that he and the bug-user had managed to talk Hinata into this. This had to be the craziest thing they'd ever come up with as a team, but it was for her, and how could they simply pass up the opportunity? It had been thoroughly planned, as well: even Sakura was in on it. But today was the day.

Hinata was finally going to tell Naruto how she felt about him.

It was really Shino's idea to begin with. One day after Naruto's return, the Aburame clan's prodigy had walked up to the shy girl and simply said: "You should tell Naruto how you really feel about him…lest you never get the chance again."

Those words got to Hinata. It had never really occurred to her, or any of them for that matter, that Naruto might never come back from one of his missions. In fact, it had never occurred to them that none of them may ever come back from one of their missions until Shino had said that. If those words had creeped Kiba out, the Inuzuka boy could only imagine the things that had gone through Hinata's head.

However, even it still hadn't been enough. Despite her feelings for the young blonde being so fierce, her shyness was the more resilient of the two. Over the past few weeks, she would constantly summon all the courage she contained, only to have it all retreat from her at the very last second as she stared at – as she described them – the deep, sapphire pools that were his eyes.

Kiba had to keep himself from laughing as he pulled that memory up.

Since Shino's first idea had failed, it was finally decided that some drastic measures had to be taken if the two ninja were ever to "hook up", as the feral boy had put it. After talking to Sakura about the situation, the pink-haired kunoichi had come to the decision that simply waiting wouldn't do the trick: they'd have to force Hinata and Naruto to get together. Though Kiba was against forcing anything on the Hyuuga heiress, both Shino and Sakura had finally convinced him (through more than verbal persuasion) that it needed to be done. He however, could not understand why it was he was forced to sit here, alone with Hinata, waiting for that stupid boy to show up.

Since when does Naruto run late for his favorite food? Kiba pondered to himself.

They had sent Sakura to see where he was almost ten minutes ago, and ever since, Hinata had not stopped fidgeting. Part of her was dreading this, and at the same time, part of her was looking forward to it. He could tell just from the way she smiled that she was – at least in part – thankful to him and Shino for having made her do this. However things turned out, she was his friend, and Kiba wasn't about to walk around for the rest of his life seeing one of his friends unhappy.

Just then the curtain flaps of the Ichiraku Ramen Stand flipped open to reveal Sakura herself, panting as she took her seat next to Kiba and Hinata.

"Well?" the male stated questioningly.

Sakura's face gleamed with something that was a mix of pride and glee. "He's on his way…stupid jerk was asleep."
"Asleep?" Kiba said, his head tilting like a confused puppy. "Naruto…asleep past seven?"

The medic-nin shrugged her shoulders, the smile on her face not relenting. "You've got me, I don't get it either," she sighed, "but he's on his way now. Speaking of which, do you have any money?"
The Inuzuka boy twitched, looking at Sakura defensively. "Why?" he asked.

"The only way I could get Naruto out of his apartment was to tell him I'd pay for his ramen," she explained. "But uh…I seem to have forgot to bring any money. So cover me?"

"Cover you!?" Kiba barked. "This is Naruto we're talking about! If I pay for his ramen I'll be broke for the next three weeks!"

"Would you relax?" Sakura grumbled. "I'll pay you back, promise. Besides," she continued with a sly smile, patting the nearly invisible lavender-haired girl between them, "this is for Hinata, not us, remember?"

"Hai, hai," Kiba grumbled as Hinata blushed and held her head low at being mentioned in the friendly spat, "I've got it, don't worry."

Upon finishing that statement, Naruto himself burst into the quaint little restaurant, waving a good morning to the Old Man and Ayame. He was about to sit down and order his usual, as well, when his eyes caught the trio to his right.

"Eh? Kiba, Hinata?" he said, giving that mildly confused stare. "What're you guys doing here? You don't usually eat Ichiraku's Ramen."

After his latest slurp of the stuff, Kiba came to the conclusion that this would also be the last time he ate here. He couldn't see what Naruto saw in these noodles…but perhaps ramen just wasn't his thing. Hinata, though consumed by a lack of words, seemed to be enjoying them. He smirked at that thought, thinking at least she wouldn't have to humor him if this did work out.

"We decided to try something out of the ordinary," Kiba spoke up, "and this is the only thing that came to mind. Right, Hinata?"

The shy kunoichi responded to her name by looking up from her bowl and giving a curt nod. "H-Hai, Kiba-kun," she replied, her lips trembling a bit.

Just great, Kiba sighed inwardly, they haven't even looked at each other yet and she's flipping out. This is going to be harder than I thought.

"Well that's great!" Naruto exclaimed, taking his seat. "The more people who experience Ichiraku's Ramen, the better!"

The blonde ordered his first bowl with a topping of barbecued pork – an odd choice for this time of day, Kiba thought, but could tell from the way Hinata was sneaking peeks at him, that given the chance she'd probably order the same, if only to get him to look at her for a few seconds. In the back of his mind somewhere, the Inuzuka teen figured if he were a girl, he might steal a few looks at Naruto himself. The once overly hyperactive ninja had changed much in the two or so years since he'd left the village: no longer was he a clumsy oaf who would run in blindly with his Kage Bunshin and hope for the best. He also wasn't short and skinny anymore, either. The boy who was once made fun of for being the shortest member of his three-man cell was now almost taller than Kiba himself, and had certainly developed a much manlier physique than he had once possessed. The nin-ken user could've gone on with these thoughts too, if it weren't for the nagging in the back of his head telling him it was a little inappropriate for him to start admiring Naruto's features.

"Oi, Kiba," Naruto suddenly started from a mouth full of ramen noodles, "where's Akamaru?"

These words ripped the Inuzuka boy out of his reverie, and caused him to sigh. "Hana has him in for his checkup. I won't see him till the end of the day."

"Your sister really is the best when it comes to stuff like that," Sakura suddenly quipped as she slurped from her own bowl of ramen. "You should be proud of her."

From that point, pointless conversations like that continued between Sakura, Naruto and Kiba, jumping from subject to subject as the old friends slowly caught up on lost time. It was quite a while before it clicked in Kiba's brain that Hinata had been amazingly removed from the series of questions, and his gaze turned to her. There she was, eyes buried in that bowl of half-finished noodles, completely cutting herself off from the antics going on around her. This caused her teammate's eye to twitch in annoyance.

Damn it, Kiba's voice trailed through his head, if she keeps this up, the whole plan will be ruined. I've gotta act fast…

"Oi, Sakura," the canine-esque teen spoke up, "didn't you say you were going to help me practice my latest technique?"

Much to his expectations, the medic-nin quickly picked up on the true intentions of Kiba's words, and slowly pushed her ramen bowl forwards, smiling just a bit too broadly for herself.

"Oh yes, how could I forget!" she nearly shouted. "We should get to that, shouldn't we? Alright you two, have fun!"

Sakura ended that sentence by patting both Hinata and Naruto on their shoulders before leaving the restaurant with Kiba, the broad grin still etched on her face even as they rounded the corner to go back to their regular, everyday routines.

A bit afterwards, a shout could be heard across Konoha…something about someone forgetting to pay for a meal. Kiba smirked and patted his wallet, knowing his savings were safe for now.

There was almost a deadly silence over the restaurant after that moment. The only sounds that continued to drum through the small space were the boiling of water and the petulant slurping sounds Naruto made as he scarfed back more and more ramen.

The Hyuuga heiress might as well have been invisible.

Hinata sat there, poking at her miso ramen occasionally as the cheery blonde boy beside her continued to push what seemed like incredibly unhealthy amounts of the stuff into his mouth. She found the way his cheeks bulged at the excess amount of food to be somewhat comical, but if a laugh had tried to display itself, it got blocked in by the lump in her throat that was currently preventing her from talking.

It was torture. The young man she had pined over for years sat less than a foot from her, and she was unable to look up at him. They were practically the only people here, the only people who could hear what she wanted to say to him, and she couldn't find any words to use. It was like the gods were standing before Hinata, sticking their tongues out at her inability to do even the simplest of human actions: communicate. Even as she tilted her head to look at the boy she so admired, she could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks and the dizziness in her head that always told of an oncoming fainting spell.

Get a grip, Hinata! She mentally screamed at herself. This is your chance, take it! Shino and Kiba forced you here so you could finally tell him…don't screw up now!

"Hey, Hinata," Naruto spoke up, "is something the matter? You're not eating your ramen."

Being addressed by her love nearly sent Hinata unconscious, but she struggled against her crazed shyness, taking her time to sit up and nod to him, giggling at herself.

"G-Gomen, Naruto-kun," she spoke softly. "I…I didn't…didn't mean to w-worry you. See?" she continued as she took her chopsticks and slurped some of the now-slightly-cold ramen.

The whiskered boy closed his eyes in a jovial chuckle as he watched her gulp back Ichiraku's specialty. "There you go! Isn't this stuff the best?" he shouted enthusiastically.

"H-Hai, N-Naruto-kun," she replied almost by instinct. She wanted to press her fingers together, but one hand was occupied by the chopsticks she was using to down her meal, and thus made such nervous twitch impossible to do. Because of that, Hinata resigned herself to eating the ramen she had decided to buy, and discovered quickly that she didn't mind the taste at all. Rather, she enjoyed it a lot.

Hinata had managed to finish her bowl in relatively good time for herself, sitting up with a pleased smile on her face. A smile that quickly degenerated into a stare of disbelief as she turned her head to check on Naruto's meal progression, only to discover he had eaten five bowls already. When the shock cleared her system, she found herself not only giggling, but giggling loud enough for the blonde shinobi to hear her.

"Eh? What's so funny, Hinata?" Naruto queried in that clueless way he generally did things.

When she realized he was talking to her, she gasped, turning her head and blushing a bit as she put her chopsticks down, pressing her fingers together. "W-well it's just…it's kind of…" she gulped, summoning all the courage she had ever possessed in her life to bring out the words, "…k-k-kind of c-c-c-cute when you…e-eat so much, N-N-Naruto-kun…"

To this statement Naruto tilted his head, and looked at Hinata with those wondrous blue eyes that washed over her like tsunamis. She felt her heart beating wildly as his gaze met hers, the blush on her cheeks deepening as she fought with all her will and sanity not to avert her own pale eyes.

"Eh?" he uttered in an amusing display of obliviousness. "What do you mean by that, Hinata?"

It was if the life had been sucked out of her. Suddenly, Hinata could not call upon any reserve of courage or any force of will to make her say what she truly wanted to say. The words played themselves across her mind over and over, as if to scream, to shout, and to paint it all across Konoha: I love you, Uzumaki Naruto! I've loved you for so long, you're everything to me! You've given me hope, you've made me strong inside, and you've given me the inspiration to never give up!

What ended up coming out of her mouth, instead, was: "Um…N-Naruto-kun…would you like…t-t-t-to…t-t-train together?"

Ayame smacked her palm into her forehead at the Hyuuga heiress's failed attempts.

That was how, in an act that could only be described as cowardice, Hyuuga Hinata and Uzumaki Naruto began to train together. Whenever Naruto or Hinata didn't have a mission, they would find a time to train together that suited them both. At first, it was a bit of a one-sided venture: Naruto did most of the training, while Hinata stood back and watched from behind wooden posts.

However, as the days went by, Hinata found it easier and easier to be close to Naruto. Within a week she had started training near him, and shortly after that, they would be side by side, practicing, improving, even going as far as to begin sparring with one another. It all seemed to happen so fast, and the Hyuuga heiress could not have been happier with the results. By the time two weeks had gone by, she found herself able to look at him without blushing (too much), and she could actually talk to him without losing her nerve. Though there were still moments when she would find herself extremely close to him, and her shyness would get the better of her, she was still beginning to overcome it and have fun with the boy she secretly loved. It was the most amazing thing that had happened to her.

The experience didn't benefit one or the other solely, either. Both of them began to learn new and exciting tricks from the other, including an in-depth look into each other's fighting styles. Their sparring matches started out short and quick, but with the prior knowledge they began to evolve into true training lessons, ripe with surprises and interesting strategies. Both of them looked forward to each practice, wanting to learn more about the other, wanting to simply enjoy the experience.

However, none of this was relief to the Byakugan-user. In fact, if it was anything, it was slightly sweeter torture than anything else she'd been exposed to. True, she was enjoying herself, and she got to spend time with the young man she had fallen head over heels for, but at the same time, she dreaded it, and felt depressed by it. She was able to be with him all this time, getting to know him, understand him (or so she thought)…but she was still unable to open up her heart to him. At times, while she watched him flaunt that tooth-filled grin, she would feel tears well up in her eyes. So far, she had managed to repress all that, but she was finding herself losing it. If she didn't say something soon, she'd most likely go insane.

Fate must've finally decided to take pity on the Hyuuga girl.

That day, Naruto had arrived first, wearing that trademark big smile that usually made her melt into a puddle of blushes and fainting spells. It had surprised her, as Naruto was usually last of the two to show up. Somehow that morning, he seemed more eager than he usually had been. Something about it had set the girl at ease as she approached him with one of her trademark blushing smiles.

"O-O-Ohayo, N-Naruto-kun!" she squeaked.

"Oi, Ohayo Hinata," he replied almost whimsically. "Say, there's something I want to ask you before we get started today."

Hinata tilted her head up, looking at Naruto, but quite purposefully avoiding the flowing depths of his eyes, for fear that the blush and fear associated with such an action would cause her to faint before she had a chance to respond.

"Wh-what is it, Naruto-kun?" she questioned.

"W-well," he started, rubbing the back of his head, grinning even wider. "I've been wondering…um…if you might be able to teach me…some of that Jyuuken stuff that you do."

Hinata's eyes lit up as much as two pupil-less eyes could. She could hardly believe the words that had exited his mouth. Naruto wanted something from her, that only she could give?

As trivial as it might have been, to her, it was the most important thing he'd ever said.

"B-but N-Naruto-kun," she suddenly found herself saying, "w-without the Byakugan, using Jyuuken is basically pointless. Y-You wouldn't be able to do it anywhere close to effectively."

What the hell are you doing?! Hinata screamed at herself. The first time Naruto has EVER needed ANYTHING from you, you start turning him down!?

"Oh, really?" Naruto sighed, blinking in disappointment. "You're…sure there's no way I could learn it?"

Hinata felt her breath catching in her throat as she noticed the melancholy that stuck on the blonde's features. "D-Do you…really want to learn how to use it that bad, Naruto-kun?"

The Jinchuuriki pounded his chest with one hand proudly, beaming. "Of course, Hinata," he boasted. "I'm willing to do anything to get better. Even if I can't use it like you can, I'd still like to try!"

Hinata's heart pumped harder as he spoke, her face shimmering red as she drank in every last word to leave his lips. That old phrase of his, the one she had adopted so many years ago, rang through her head over and over: I never go back on my word. That is MY way of the ninja. The reason why she admired and loved him so, because of what he had taught her without even knowing.

Giving up, no matter what presented itself, was never an option.

"O-Okay!" she gasped the words. "I'll…I'll try my best to teach you, Naruto-kun!"

"You will?!" Naruto shouted. "Alright Hinata! Show me what to do!"

Three days had gone by since that, and Hinata had discovered, despite how much she cherished Naruto, and how much she wanted to be together with him, there was a certain aspect about him that drove her almost crazy. It was the thing impeding their training, and it was the thing that was almost making her give up.

This boy just had no chakra control at all, did he?

That was probably the crude way of saying it. Most likely the way Neji would've said it had he been supervising Naruto's training. The reality of the situation is that Naruto had what would have to be considered as a lack of chakra control. He had some, just the basics, but beyond that his control was a bit shaky. It would either take months of training, or a miracle, to get this point to perfect Jyuuken…and even then, he lacked the eyes to make it work properly.

Not that Hyuuga Hinata gave twenty-six hells whether he could get it right or not.

Each and every day since then, they had been together whenever they were free. Side by side, they would practice palm thrust after palm thrust, using chakra, and trying to produce the correct results. For three straight days Naruto and Hinata trained together, and all he had to show for it was something he basically already knew from fighting Neji: the stance of Jyuuken, and the way to use it. It was beyond him, however, how to control his chakra and force it through his palms in precise bursts. Try as he might, for three straight days, they would continue trying until he would finally become exhausted from the long training, and he'd be no better in that regard. Despite being frustrated trying to explain things to Naruto that were almost second nature to her, Hinata could not have been happier with the time it allowed them to spend together.

Then, on the fourth day, it happened.

Training had been going as usual. It was around four in the afternoon, and Naruto was showing signs of tiring, something that was kind of uncharacteristic of him, but the kind of training he was going through with Hinata had done that to him a lot. After the last failed attempted to perform the technique right, Naruto had slumped to the ground with a sigh, panting hard. The pretty lavender-haired girl leaned down, patting him on the shoulder comfortingly at this, flashing a blushing smile.

"It's alright, Naruto-kun," she said, surprising even herself by not flinching or turning her gaze away, "you'll get it eventually."

Then something unthinkable happened. Uzumaki Naruto, the boy with the most unshakable confidence in the world, looked up at the Hyuuga girl with tears in his eyes.
"G-G-Gomen, Hinata," he choked, "I'm…I'm just n-no good at this kind of thing."

Said girl was taken totally aback by this. Something in her mind screamed that he was a clone, a poor imitation somehow, that any second the chakra smoke would clear and there would be a log with a note saying "Gotcha!" would appear in his place. Hinata's Naruto would never have started crying, would never have said it was too tough, and would never have just given up!

"N-Naruto-kun!" she found herself shouting. "Y-You can't just give in! I-It may be difficult, but…but you have to try, don't you?"

He sniffled in response. "It's just," he started again, "there's no way for me to have the kind of control I need to make this work."

"So you're just going to cry and give up?" the Hyuuga heiress scowled. Such a reaction was foreign to her, and inside her own head she could hardly believe she was talking this way. "That's not you, Naruto-kun! You never give up, no matter what! So try again, and if that doesn't work, try again!"

The blonde boy suddenly looked up at the kunoichi's fierce expression, and gulped, steadying himself and getting up on his own feet.

"Arigato, Hinata," he said in barely a whisper. "I was starting to forget myself."

The blush across her cheeks would've been visible from the moon.

Each of them took the Jyuuken stance, eyeing one another, readying for the next strike. Hinata felt her lips dry as she steadied herself, a lock of her hair drifting in the light breeze in front of her eyes. She didn't even bother to move it out of the way, simply choosing instead to activate her Byakugan to see.

Which was about when she saw it.

Naruto's chakra was running low at this point. His inability for precise control and mild temper concerning his training had caused him to expel more chakra than he probably should have from his body. So it shocked Hinata quite deeply when she saw his body brimming with a bright, red chakra, coursing through his tenketsu and flickering powerfully over his body. She stared in complete awe at this amazing force, her guard dropping.

Naruto struck her, quite suddenly, in her left shoulder. There was a loud pshh as the red chakra gushed from his palm against her, and through the upper left of her body. She cried out, falling back against a nearby training post, gripping the injury with her right hand, feeling the slight burn the chakra had left on her skin underneath her clothing. She bit back a cry of pain, slumping against the post behind her and sighing as she rubbed the spot firmly to alleviate the pain. She felt her feet give out from underneath her suddenly, and fell to the ground, only to feel herself be caught in the arms of the very person who had hit her.

"Hinata!" Naruto cried out, pulling the heiress to her feet. "Are you alright? I didn't hurt you, did I? Should we call Tsunade-baachan?"

Hinata gasped, her cheeks flushing and her head growing dizzy as the blonde held her so tightly, the look of worry in his eyes evident. Somewhere inside of her, Hinata cried in joy for the concern he showed for her. It meant that, even if it was just a little, he cared.

"I'm…I'm fine, Naruto-kun," she whimpered, wincing as pain coursed through the spot where that amazing red chakra had burned her. "I'll be okay, honest."

"You're hurt!" he gasped, straightening her out. "Quick, I'll take you to the hospital and…"

"Naruto-kun!" she yelped out, wincing again at the burn. "P-please, I'm fine. I'm not some little girl a-anymore."

Naruto looked her over and smiled, nodding his head. "Of course, Hinata. I gotcha."

They both shared a friendly laugh, mostly at Hinata's expense, she guessed. After the fit of giggles had died out, she looked over Naruto, and with her palm, gently shoved him in the shoulder.
"Arigato, Hinata," Naruto said suddenly in a soft tone. "If it weren't for you, I'd have given up before I'd ever gotten it right."

The pale-eyed girl felt her heart skipping several beats as she looked up into his glowing sapphires, her head spinning as she grasped faintly at her consciousness. "N-No, Naruto-kun," she almost whimpered, "y-you don't have to thank me."

"Why not?" the other asked.

Hinata had expected herself to freeze up, hide her face, or at least faint. Instead, she found a reservoir of hope and courage she didn't even know she possessed, and soon the words passed through her lips with shocking confidence.

"Because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have learned that lesson myself."

Naruto's eyes widened at that statement, looking down at the passionate flare in her otherwise lifeless eyes, staring into her. "H-Hinata…"

The kunoichi shook her head, not letting him interrupt. "It's because of you that I have confidence, Naruto-kun," she breathed out, "no matter how small it may seem. You've given me the ability to believe in myself…and…and you've taught me to never give up, or go back on my words. You've taught me so much, Naruto-kun. That's why…"

At this point, Naruto's hands were holding Hinata by her shoulders, steadying her as she stood up as tall as she could, legs still a bit shaky. Her gaze fixated on his own, their eyes meeting with a sudden spark, which ignited something within her, giving her the strength to say the last bit of what she wished to say.

"That's why…Naruto-kun…" she gasped out, suddenly snapping her eyes out, "that's why…that's why I've fallen in love with you, Naruto-kun!"

The shocked silence that consumed both of them seemed to last for an eternity. Hinata's heart pounded in her ears, and she could hear and feel every breath fill her chest and exit her mouth. The boy she loved looked down at her with surprise, still holding her by the shoulders as a light breeze blew around them, lifting the locks of Hinata's hair up and down with it. The deep blush began to spread across the Hyuuga girl's cheeks again as she realized her body was moving forward, tilting her head up, reaching up with her lips to meet his own, all of her own volition.

Only to be stopped by Naruto's calloused fingers.

"H-Hinata," he whispered. "We…you and I…we shouldn't…be together. It…it wouldn't work."

She felt like her heart was being torn in two. She had finally, after all these years, found the strength to tell the person she dreamed about how she really felt about him, and he was turning her down. Rejecting her. Water gathered in her eyes as a low sob echoed from her throat, the tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Wh-why?!" Hinata cried out. "Why, Naruto-kun?!"

Seeing the tears streaming down her face, the hurt he had caused her, the blonde shinobi knew that he could not make some lame excuse. He bit his lip and turned his head from her for a second, expelling an agitated sigh.

"Because," he spoke calmly, "I'm…not normal."

Her small hands gripped at his orange and black jacket, holding hard, listening to every word that came from his lips, tears staining her cheeks.

"Hinata, I…you're only going to be the third friend I've told this to," he spoke solemnly. "I'm…I'm not normal. Inside me…sealed inside me, by the Yondaime Hokage, is the Kyuubi…the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox."

Hinata's grip tightened on his clothes as her eyes shot open. Though it was generally not spoken of in the village, being the heiress to the most powerful clan left in Konoha, she had read the history and texts surrounding the Great Shinobi Wars…and the demon beast that had taken the Yondaime's life to stop. To think that that giant beast, that had threatened to destroy all of the Fire Country, that had nearly crushed their lives before they had even started, was being carried by the boy she loved.

Suddenly, she understood why the village had hated him so over all these years. It only made the tears come faster and harder.

"That's why…" he whispered again, "that's why we shouldn't. B-because…because I'm losing control of it…and I'd be putting you and your family in danger. So…"
"I don't care!"

Naruto's eyes burst wider than they had been before, and trailed down to the trembling Hyuuga girl, who clung to him tightly, sobbing beneath his grown body.
"I don't care!" she repeated, voice choked with sobs. "I don't care if you're some sort of creature, or if every villager in Konoha hates you! I don't care, Naruto-kun! I love you, I love you no matter who or what you are!"

She buried herself in his chest, sobbing and drawing him close as he continued to stare at her in shock and disbelief. The words Hinata had uttered were not hollow, nor were they spur of the moment. The words she had spoken had come deep from within her heart and soul, and they touched Naruto in a way no other person's words ever had. His strong arms wrapped around her body, pulling her in for a deep hug as he rested his chin on her head, stroking her back to calm her down as she trembled and quivered into his form.

Minutes went by with neither one of them saying a thing. Hinata's tears and sobs slowly came to an end, and were replaced by her melodic breathing, rising and sagging into her love's chest, hearing his heart beat against her ears. The rhythmic pumping set her at ease, and moments later she tilted her head up from his body, straightening herself, looking back into his calm, blue eyes.

He was smiling at her. That big, dopey, full-toothed smile he always flashed when he was exceedingly happy. It made her smile too, a soft giggle passing over her lips as she slowly closed her eyes, and leaned upwards, her right hand leaving his jacket to run her fingers across his cheek.

This time, he didn't resist. Both his hands slipped over her shoulders to cradle the back of her head as his own eyes closed, pushing his lips down to meet her own. Both met in the middle, their mouths colliding as they finally kissed, the smaller girl melting into the body of the Jinchuuriki boy, whimpering out as she clung to him for dear life, savoring the feeling, imbedding it in her mind forever.

Though it lasted naught but half a minute, both of them could have sworn hours had gone by before they separated, still held by each other's hands, breathing slowly and steadily, gazing into one another's eyes.

Naruto reprised his earlier smile, giving a small laugh. "So…you wanna go out for some ramen later?"

Hinata laughed and hugged the young man around his chest, snuggling her head underneath his strong jaw.

Life was finally good.

There you go! Prologue done! Please don't be afraid to share with me what you think (but try to be more constructive than destructive). Utter flames will be used as fuel to heat my home. The real story should start soon.