Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto.


Hinata treasured the time she spent with Naruto. Of course, thanks to her shyness, his obliviousness, and general bad luck, there was nowhere near as much of that time as she would have preferred. So, it was not surprising that, while walking by a bench on her way back from the training grounds, she suddenly stopped. Naturally, it was not the bench itself that caused her to stop, but the person who was napping on it.

"Na --" she quickly cut herself off as she realized that he was asleep. Quickly going over the options in her mind, she wondered how best to handle the situation. Even spending a few minutes talking with Naruto would have made her happier than anything. But, he might not like being woken up. Naruto wasn't the sort to get angry at something like that, but Hinata didn't want to inconvenience him. She looked over the sleeping boy, who was snoring peacefully in a slumped half-sit. What if he hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before, or he was tired from training? No, as much as she wanted to spend time with him, it was best to just leave him alone.

Besides, she had an errand to run anyway.

Later in the day, Hinata saw Naruto again, this time on her way back to training again. He had a training ground to himself, and was in the middle of what looked like an intense workout. He wasn't sleeping this time, so surely it would be okay to stop and talk to him. Maybe she would even ask to train with him. She opened her mouth, but she couldn't muster the courage to call out to him. No, she would feel guilty if she interrupted his routine. She wouldn't act this way towards most people, but if she disturbed Naruto's training, she wouldn't be able to look him in the eye. Naruto would surely have no objections to stopping and talking for a few minutes, and he might even agree to spar with her, but Hinata was unable to convince herself that this was true.

Besides, she'd already planned out her training routine for that day.

For dinner that night, Hinata went to Ichiraku Ramen. She hadn't gone with the specific intention of seeing Naruto, but her subconscious saw the possibility of him being there as a possible bonus. Peering at the stand from afar, she saw that he was indeed enjoying a bowl of ramen... with his teammates. Try as she might to convince herself otherwise, she knew it would be rude to interrupt Naruto while he was having a meal with his team. Like so many times before, there was nothing to do but sigh and move on.

Besides, she wasn't really that hungry.

XXX

Naruto, having finally (or "as usual" according to some of his acquaintances) found some spare time, flopped down on the grass and stared up at the clouds. After a few minutes, his relaxation was interrupted by a small squeak. He sat up and turned around to see a retreating dark-haired girl. Quickly realizing who it was, he called out to her.

"Hinata!"

She turned around. "H-hello, Naruto-kun," she stammered, "I-I was just out walking and I didn't expect to see you."

Naruto chuckled. "Don't worry about it, it's no problem!" he grinned at her. "Hey, hey! Wanna join me?"

Hinata hesitated, turned red, then barely spoke, "Okay." She moved to lie down close beside him, paused, blushed some more, and chose to lie down slightly farther away instead.

Naruto lay back down again. To tell the truth he had started to get bored with the cloud-watching before Hinata had appeared, but he didn't mind spending some extra time for her sake.

Besides, cloud-watching was better when you did it with a friend.