Hullo. This is the side story! I think that NarutoxHinata is the cutest, most innocent coupling in the series.
- - -
You had to admit that Hinata had changed over the last six months. (A/N: The six months in which Naruto, Sasuke, and Kakashi were gone, remember?) Even Neji had to admit it, and her friends had known from the beginning. Because the Hinata from before would have fainted at the first tender words. The Hinata from before would have been discovered quickly. And the Hinata from before would certainly not have snapped a picture of her cousin kissing his teammate.
Giggling in a very un-Hinata-like way, she sneaked off and got the picture developed. Unfortunately, Neji walked in as she paid for it. His eyes darted from her camera to the picture to the evil expression on her face. Very soon, his quick mind had put two and two (and two) together.
When she saw things click in his face, she scampered off, leaving him standing in shock. Then – "HINATA-SAMA!!!!!!" Operation: "Publicize Neji-niisan and Tenten-chan's love" had begun!
The first person Hinata showed the picture to was Tenten, to make sure she wouldn't get in too much trouble for showing it. Tenten blushed and said it was a cute picture, adding that Hinata could show it to people as long as she gave Tenten a copy. Hinata obliged and made her escape. Tenten would be the first person Neji would go to for help.
Naruto-kun is gone, she told herself firmly. He's coming back soon – today? – but meanwhile, I have to make up for him! Pranks!
Who else could she show? Oh! Oh! Maybe Lee-san would like to see! Maybe he'd help her! The spandex-clad young man scared her sometimes, but he was kind in general.
"The flower of our team is gone, lost to Neji!" Lee declared dramatically when he saw the picture. Gai-sensei just cried. And cried. And cried. Maybe there was something wrong with him…? Hinata didn't want to know. She sped off.
Sakura-chan was off on a mission, but Ino-chan would help her. However, the blonde's house was empty when Hinata skidded to a halt at her front door. Sighing, the blue-haired girl turned and raced off to find Ino's team. What was that lazy-by's name again…? Ah, yes. Shikamaru-san.
"Mendokuse…" Shikamaru complained as he got up to answer the door. Hinata's voice came through the door.
"I – I can c-come back l-later," she offered timidly.
"It's okay," a woman called back. It was that sand kunoichi from the Chuunin exams – Temari, Sabaku no Gaara's sister. "Shika-kun's on his way, lazy bum."
"A-ano," Hinata stuttered once she was inside. "D-do you know wh-where I-Ino-chan is?"
Shikamaru frowned in thought. "Aren't Sakura's teammates coming back today? I bet she went to go see the Uchiha. Why?"
Hinata held out the picture; Temari took it, squealing, "Kawaii!!"
Glaring at Shikamaru, Temari returned the picture to Hinata. "If Neji comes looking for you, we haven't seen anything," she assured the younger kunoichi, grinning. "Kawaii!" Winking, she added, "If the Uchiha's back, then that blond kid will be with him…"
"Arigato gozaimasu!" Hinata called, blushing and running off. Naruto-kun!
Sure enough, Naruto was standing just inside the front gates. Hinata barely registered Sakura and Ino behind him, grinning, as she squeezed the breath out of her crush.
"H-Hinata-chan?" Naruto gasped. Suddenly, Hinata realized that she had just hugged him without fainting and jumped back, blushing. She really had gotten bolder.
"S-sorry, N-Naruto-kun," she managed to get out. Sakura's voice startled her.
"She missed you, baka!" Understatement, Sakura-chan! "Don't you have something to give her?" Hinata's ears perked up hopefully.
And lo and behold, Naruto held out a plain white box. At this point, Hinata didn't care if it was just a box full of leftover ramen; it was a gift from Naruto-kun, and that was all that mattered. "I hope you like it," she blue-eyed young man mumbled.
Inside the box, nestled comfortably amidst the fluffy white cotton, lay a silver necklace. The pendant was in the shape of – Hinata leaned closer – a bowl of ramen? She giggled, blushing.
That's just like Naruto-kun! she squealed to herself happily. Sakura helpfully clasped the sparkling piece of jewelry around Hinata's neck.
"Th-thank you s-so much, N-Naruto-kun!" Hinata beamed. Gathering her courage, she flung herself at him and pecked his whiskered cheek.
voice pulled her away. "HINATA-SAMA!"
Oh, shoot. Neji-niisan just had to ruin it…
"What did you do this time, Hinata?" Ino sighed. Neji was still quite far away; she had time to put her plan in action. If Ino-chan knew something, everybody in Konoha knew it.
"I t-took a p-picture of N-Neji-niisan k-kissing T-Tenten-san," she giggled, stumbling over her words in her hurry.
Hinata grinned, nodding. "I d-did! H-here!" She showed her prize, and Ino collapsed, rolling on the ground with laughter. Ooh, Neji-niisan was going to kill her…
Sakura smiled with an expression that Hinata did not quite understand. "Good for you and them," she murmured. Oh, she must be thinking about her sensei… Hinata sensed that there was more than the teacher-student bond between Sakura and the older Uchiha.
"Hinata-sama!" Neji was getting closer.
"I sh-should b-be g-going," Hinata told her friends. Sakura hugged her, laughing.
"Ino and I will slow him down a little," she whispered. "Go!" The Hyuuga heiress shot one last, lingering glance at Naruto and then disappeared down the road at top speed.
Behind her, she could faintly hear her cousin shouting and Sakura replying.
She hid the picture in her picture album. Neji-niisan would never think to look there for it – What was that saying? If you want to hid a tree, plant it in a forest? Exactly.
And Neji never found it. However, after he and Tenten got married and had a kid – Hyuuga Hakeru – and she and Naruto had Hiyo, she dug out her album, wrapped the picture up, and gave it to Neji as an anniversary present.
Eight-year-old Hakeru giggled and backed away from his parents, muttering about cooties under his breath. Naruto laughed. Tenten blushed and reached out to touch it with a trembling finger and joy in her face. Neji – well, Neji kinda just… fainted.
Hakeru had never seen his father unconscious with crimson spreading across his cheeks like a wildfire. He decided that it was… interesting.
- - -
So? So? What did you think? Like it?