Author's Note: Well, I guess I'll feed my NaruHina fandom with this story here. I don't really intend lemons (at least not within the first four chapters or so) but I'm pretty sure I'll end up dreaming one up…Eheh. Typical disclaimers apply. I apologize for any outrageous OOC-ness, but I'm not overtly trying for it. Ok, lets get on with this.
For reference, this takes place after the time-skip, just as Naruto is returning to the village, and then skips around with time and such. I'll probably forget to note the time, so if you get confused…sorry. Heh.Chapter 1: "Insert Title Here"
Naruto stood atop the pole in Konoha, happy to be back. He looked out at the town contentedly, "Ah, its just how it was when I left…except…a-ha!" He noted that Tsunade's face had joined the other Hokage on the cliff face, "Granny Tsunade's been added!"
"Naruto!" yelled a familiar voice below.
Naruto looked down; it was Sakura. He jumped down before the pink haired kunoichi. "Sakura-chan, it's nice to see you again," he grinned.
"Same here," she said happily. She paused and then added, "You've grown."
"Yeah! I'm no longer a little squirt, huh?" he replied excitedly.
"Well, everyone's grown since you've been gone, so you may still be little," she teased and then giggled to see his defensive reaction.
"W-well, big deal! I'm a load stronger now! Who cares about height anyhow!?" he proclaimed.
"Well," she said, still giggling, "You apparently, you were the one that brought it up. But, yeah, everyone's grown. Shikamaru, Chouji (that was expected though), Tenten, Neji and Hinata." She had emphasized the last name with a sort of singsong tone.
Naruto was non-plussed, "I'm sure they've all grown." He looked out at an approaching figure who's head resembled a pineapple in some ways; he decided he'd ask now before he was interrupted, but something kept nagging him in the back of his mind, "You wanna go out later tonight?" As he finished the question, something in the back of his head told him, 'You don't want to go though.'
"No, sorry Naruto, I don't," she said simply, "I think you really should just give up on me. There are some other cute girls you could look into…"
"Oh, good, because I really didn't want to go out with you anyway. Heh, makes me wonder why I asked," he said without thinking.
Sakura chuckled with an edge in her voice; helping Hinata or not, she wasn't going to stand for such an insult, "Yeah, that's funny because…" SMACK. "I was wondering why you did too!"
Naruto flew of towards pineapple head, yelling, "Banzai!" all the while. He crashed into the figure that said as they went down, "I come to see him and this happens. How troublesome."
Naruto recognized the voice. "Shikamaru! What's up!?" he asked happily.
"Not much. Your ass is uncomfortably close to my face though. And if this wasn't such a wonderful position, I'd just stare at it all day," he said as sarcastically as possible.
Naruto apologized and got up. He helped Shikamaru up too and they both turned to Sakura, who was running up to the two. Sakura had cooled down and looked at Shikamaru, "Sorry about that."
"Oh, no problem. I love having bodies launched at me at high speeds," said Shikamaru. He turned to Naruto and said, "Long time no see. Thought I'd have preferred to have greeted you and not your ass first."
Naruto laughed. "Sorry about that. Blame Sakura," he said.
"Blame your own stupidity," said Sakura, half-annoyed, half-amused.
Just then, Temari joined them, "Oh, you're back. And I'd use 'density' Sakura." She greeted Naruto and then turned to Shikamaru and said, "Come on, you greeted him, we've got to get back."
"You guys on a date?" asked Naruto slyly.
"No, we're not," said Temari, perhaps a bit too quickly and bit to edgily. Sakura smirked slightly. Temari blushed softly, "Everyone keeps asking that."
"Presiding over the Chuunin exams troublesome enough; stop making things more complicated," complained Shikamaru, blushing very slightly.
"Ah, you're monitoring them?" asked Naruto.
"Yeah. It's troublesome but I'm a Jonin," said Shikamaru unenthusiastically.
"Ah…congrats," said Naruto, a bit sadly. When he inquired about Gaara and found he was made Kazekage, he said simply, "I'm glad". His smile was sad but happy.
"Everyone's a Chuunin now, Naruto, so I'd suppose that you should get the shock and sadness in and out of your system quickly," said Shikamaru.
Naruto fell onto all fours, moping. "I'm the only Genin out of my friends…" he said unhappily.
"Cheer up, Naruto," said Sakura sympathetically, "Let's go see Kakashi."
Naruto perked up, "Ah! Yeah! I've got something to give him!" He got up and grabbed Sakura by the arm, dragging her toward the Hokage's office, believing Kakashi to be there.
"Didn't even say good-bye," said Shikamaru, half-dejected, half-amused. He turned and looked at Temari who was looking away. She turned to look at him suddenly, expecting him to still be watching the two to find herself staring directly into his eyes. They both blushed softly. "That bastard's always insinuating something," said Shikamaru awkwardly. Temari said nothing and simply followed him as he walked back to his post.
Off behind a distant building, a figure was peeking around a corner, watching the Genin bound happily to the Hokage's office.
"Naruto, its great to see you," said Tsunade happily.
"Nice to see you too Granny Tsunade!" said Naruto.
"That the only person you're happy to see, Naruto," said a voice just outside the window.
"Kakashi-sensei!" said Naruto, bounding towards the window to greet his teacher.
"How've you been?" asked Kakashi happily over Icha Icha Paradise.
"Great! I've got something for you!" said Naruto, reaching into his pouch and extracting a book.
"Oh!!! It can't be! It can't be!" said Kakashi excitedly and extending trembling hands, "The latest in the Icha Icha series…and it hasn't even been released!!!!"
Naruto grinned happily at his sensei's reaction.
"Ah, Naruto and Sakura," said Tsunade, "Kakashi has something to tell you two."
"Right!" said Kakashi, jumping into the office, "We've got some training to do! I want to see how you guys have progressed."
Naruto and Sakura stared at him, half-shocked, half-apprehensive.
Naruto was returning to his apartment, tired but content in succeeding in procuring a bell from Kakashi. As he was walking he heard a strange click; it sounded like a camera shutter. He looked around quickly. What could have made that noise? He walked soundlessly towards where he heard the click and called out, "Uh, hello? Someone there?" When no reply came, he shrugged and continued home, a bit quicker now and using the rooftops as a means to get there. He suddenly felt that he was being followed. He stopped and turned around. Still nothing. He continued forward again, moving much faster and making sudden changes in direction. He picked up speed and stopped at his front door suddenly. He heard nothing. "Guess it was just my imagination," he said relieved. Suddenly he heard a noise.
"Aaaaaaaaagh!" came another familiar voice. CRASH. Naruto felt himself being launched through his front door and hit the floor hard. Stars twinkling before his eyes he stared down at the mass that lay upon him.
"H-Hinata-chan?" he asked tentatively. 'Why did I use –chan?' he thought to himself immediately afterwards. He prodded her head softly.
Hinata hoped if she lay still long enough, Naruto would assume that she had passed out from the impact. When her felt him poking her in the head, she began to blush much more strongly than she already was. She became aware of how warm Naruto was and how his heartbeat was slowly changing from the violent tattoo against his chest to a soft and steady rhythm. It comforted her and she felt drowsy suddenly. 'Ah! I have to stay awake,' she thought to herself, 'I can't fall asleep!' She shook herself physically to ward off sleep, alerting Naruto that she was indeed ok.
"Hinata-chan," he said. 'I said –chan again?' he thought. "Are you ok?" asked Naruto once more, prodding her head again.
Hinata steeled her will and looked up at him; his face was inches from hers. She couldn't take it and fainted.
Outside, a certain pink haired ninja was watching the scene. She turned around and jumped off into the night, smiling to herself and muttering, "Perfect."
Hinata awoke to find a warm mass enshrouding her; she felt unbelievably comfortable and almost fell back asleep. A familiar smell greeted her nose; she had smelled it just last night. She opened her eyes and found Naruto's jacket covering her. She sat up suddenly and realized she was on his bed. "Oh…oh my…what…what happened?" she said to herself, blushing and feeling terrified at once. Memories of last night flooded into her all at once and she slumped backwards, her face in her hands, thrashing about. 'I can't believe I did that,' she thought frantically, 'Just for a stupid photo!' She got up and decided she had best explain herself to Naruto; hopefully, he didn't hate her. She didn't realize how far from the truth this idea was.
Naruto was in the kitchen, looking through the photos on the camera (it was digital). 'Odd,' he thought to himself, 'Apart from a few of her teammates and her family, all these pictures are…are pictures of me.' Indeed they were, pictures of Naruto from a few years ago and from yesterday. They numbered, strangely only in the tens. He noticed that none of them were from good vantage points; they were all distant and removed. 'If she wanted to take my picture, she could have asked,' he thought, 'I wouldn't mind.' He found himself suddenly the action with fondness. 'Why did I do that? And speaking of weird things, why'd I call her -chan?' he contemplated silently. 'Wait. Wait…Hinata always blushes when she sees me, she usually faints afterwards or if I touch her or get unnaturally close, like yesterday…Where have I seen that behavior before?' Naruto's mind was racing; he racked his brains for that familiar memory… "Ahah!" he suddenly said aloud, "Ero-sannin! He wrote about a girl who was in love with this guy that always acted like-" Naruto cut himself off suddenly. A strange feeling filled him, a feeling like he was eating his last, most delicious bowl of ramen ever; a feeling that mixed filling joy with empty sadness. He felt unusual, like he had been presented with something he had never really had. "Hi-Hinata-chan…loves…me?" he said finally, "What does that mean? I mean…no one's ever loved me…at least not like that."
Hinata stood in the doorway and made a motion to walk towards him; she would just have to confirm everything he just said and hope he didn't hate her. But as she began to walk, Naruto suddenly burst out,
"What do I do!? I mean…if she really does love, I think I might just be happy…but…how can I love her and not screw up?! What if…what if I do something to make her hate me!? I've had crushes but I didn't know anyone could possibly like me! And then there's the Kyuubi! What if she found out!? Argh!" He slammed his fist on the table.
Hinata walked over silently and put her arms around Naruto from behind, resting her chin on his shoulder. Naruto jerked up slightly. "She'd say that she begs to differ," whispered Hinata, blushing furiously. She tilted her head against his. Naruto's mouth fell open slightly in surprise. For a moment he did nothing, but then he returned the motion.