Title: A Delicate Condition
Author: Shawny Wong
Theme: #28 Wada Calcium CD3
Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission, for fan purposes only. Do not reproduce without permission.
Summary: A mistake at the hospital's pharmacy causes trouble for many kunoichi in Konoha – and Hinata finds herself in a delicate condition. Written for Thirty Kisses on Live Journal. NaruHina. Minor pairings: SasuSaku, NejiTen, ShikaIno.
Naruto took his role as a teacher very seriously. When he was assigned a genin team, Naruto vowed not to follow his own sensei's example. Kakashi was an excellent ninja – one of the best that Konoha had ever seen – incredibly skilled and incredibly loyal. In a fight or on a mission, there was no one else he would rather have at his back (except for perhaps Sakura and Sasuke). Naruto trusted Kakashi with his life, but the man was a horrible teacher. Kakashi's laid back approach to teaching meant that his students were left to their own devices more often than not – and while that taught them to be independent, it didn't do much else. If Naruto had a yen for every time he wished for a just little bit of guidance from Kakashi... Naruto would have been the richest man in Konoha.
He was determined to be different. His kids would receive as much of his time and attention as they wanted. He would teach them all the things that he'd learned the hard way – things that he wished he'd learned from Kakashi, but didn't. And he wouldn't baby them (even if he wanted to) because they were ninja who wore the leaf hitai-ate, so he would respect that. He would be the best sensei that he could possibly be.
Five days a week, at precisely 7:00 AM, Team Naruto would meet at training ground 11. Naruto worked with his kids for several hours each morning on tactics, ninjutsu, and taijutsu. Occasionally, they did survival exercises as a team. Naruto also provided individual instruction, as needed. Thanks to his kage bushin, he could simultaneously work with each of his kids one-on-one on their specific strengths and weaknesses. After lunch, Team Naruto would head back into town for a D-rank mission – much to the boys' disgust and Naruto's ill-disguised glee.
In direct contrast to Kakashi's chronic tardiness, Naruto was always on time to team meetings. In fact, he was usually early. If he couldn't make it on time for whatever reason, Naruto would send a kage bushin or one of his smaller frog summons with instructions for his genin.
Takeshi fidgeted impatiently as he waited for his sensei to show up. From the corner of his eye, he could see Koji with his nose in a book (again). In the middle of the field, Ken played fetch with Okimaru. At first glance, his friends looked fine, but they weren't. Koji wasn't reading; he hadn't turned a single page in over fifteen minutes. And Ken's game with Okimaru was played in utter silence. Ken waited listlessly for the puppy to return with a large stick, before throwing it again for Okimaru to fetch. It was a pale imitation of their usual games – which were boisterous and loud. They were worried.
Takeshi was worried, too.
Naruto-sensei had been depressed for weeks – ever since they'd returned from Tea Country. The last time he'd seen his sensei truly happy was on their first day back in Konoha. According to Ken, Naruto-sensei wasn't in close physical contact with his girlfriend anymore. And now, Takeshi had a ring in his pocket! The engagement ring that was meant for sensei's girlfriend! The ring that Okimaru found discarded in the dirt like yesterday's trash! All the evidence pointed to one disturbing conclusion:
Naruto-sensei's girlfriend had rejected him.
But why? It doesn't make any sense! Hinata-san loves Naruto-sensei so much that she practically lights up whenever she sees him. Following that logic, she should want to marry him. So why did she say 'no'?
Thinking about it was confusing him – and making his head hurt.
7:00 came and went.
7:15 came and went.
Ken tired of his game and sat beside Koji under the tree. Okimaru sat with them.
7:30 came and...
"He's late," said Koji quietly, stowing his book in his pack. "Naruto-sensei's never late."
"I know," said Ken. He stuffed his hands in his pockets. "What do we do now?"
"Should we go look for him?" Takeshi wondered aloud. He was about to say more when the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end. They were being watched!
"That won't be necessary." A low dark voice steeped with killing intent echoed all around them. "You brats aren't going anywhere."
Team Naruto instantly slid into a standard defensive formation, guarding each other's backs. Okimaru growled at the unseen threat. Takeshi started to sweat under the pressure, but the grip on his kunai remained steady. He extended his senses the way that Naruto-sensei taught him, but... Where was the enemy?
"Kai!" Ken shouted and sent his chakra bursting outwards.
Of course! Genjutsu! Takeshi could have kicked himself for missing something so obvious.
A man shimmered into view right in front of them – just a few feet away – and the oppressive killing intent vanished.
"Hn... not bad... for brats," he smirked. "Maybe training you won't be such a waste of time, after all."
Takeshi didn't let down his guard. Who was this guy? He looked familiar... black hair, black eyes, pale skin, aristocratic features... and a katana strapped to his back. It took second for Takeshi to recognize him. He slowly lowered his weapon.
"Uchiha Sasuke," Ken growled.
"You will call me Uchiha-sensei. Until further notice, I am your substitute teacher."
"Naruto, wake up." Iruka put his hands on his hips and sighed a bit in exasperation when Naruto rolled over and continued to sleep. He reached down and shook his shoulder. "Naruto, it's time to get up."
"G'way." Naruto buried his face in his pillow. "...'m hav'n a good dream."
"A good dream?" Iruka's lips twitched in amusement. "Come on, Naruto. Get up and I'll treat you to lunch at Ichiraku."
One blue eye cracked open.
"Okay." Naruto yawned and sat up rubbing his eyes. "What time is it?"
"It's almost noon."
"Oh, okay... noon?! Shit! I'm late!" Naruto jumped to his feet in nothing but his boxers and frantically dug around his pack for a clean change of clothes. "Iruka-sensei! Why didn't you wake me up earlier?"
(Naruto got dressed in record time, pulling on a dark orange tank top and black pants and then strapping a kunai holster to his right thigh.)
"You didn't fall asleep sleep until very late last night. Besides, you looked like you needed it."
"But... but... my kids!" he protested, snatching up his hiate-ate. "We had team training scheduled this morning!"
"Relax, Naruto. I took care of it."
"You did?" Naruto paused in the middle of shrugging on his jonin flak jacket.
"Yes. I got someone to cover for you. I also sent a message to the Academy to tell them that I'm taking a sick day."
"You don't look sick," Naruto pointed out.
"That's because I'm not," Iruka said with a mischievous glint in his eyes. "You and I are playing hooky."
"Iruka-sensei! I can't believe you!" Naruto pointed an accusing finger at his old teacher. He tried to look scandalized, but the wide grin on his face gave him away. "Playing hooky? What would your students think?"
"They don't have to know." Iruka leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. "It can be our little secret."
"Okay. Thanks, Iruka-sensei... for everything."
"Bastard," Ken hissed glaring at their temporary sensei.
"Shh! He'll hear you." Koji whispered glancing furtively in his direction. "Do you want to get in trouble with Uchiha-sensei?"
"He's not our sensei," Ken retorted hotly. "I refuse to call him that."
The last Uchiha was undoubtedly one of the strongest ninja in Konoha, but Ken would rather sleep with cats than work under that... that man. He was too young to remember, but he'd heard the stories. How the last Uchiha had turned traitor and turned his back on his friends and the village. How he'd joined up with the legendary missing sannin, Orochimaru for power. Then he'd repented – and the village as a whole had welcomed him back! To the Inuzuka, whose clan motto was "wild heart, loyal soul," there was nothing worse than a traitor.
Ken might have accepted the Uchiha (eventually) if that had been all. He was too young for Sasuke's past sins to have affected him personally – except for one thing. Uchiha Sasuke had tried to kill Naruto-sensei in cold blood – and had nearly succeeded. That man had rammed a Chidori through Naruto-sensei's chest! (Ken had heard the story from some of the Inuzuka nin dogs, who'd heard it from one of Hatake's dog summons.) Just thinking about it made his blood boil.
I know they're friends again – and I know Naruto-sensei forgave him a long time ago. But I don't trust him! Not one bit!
"Let's just get this over with." Koji yanked at another stubborn weed and tossed it aside.
It was early afternoon. Team Naruto was performing yet another tedious D-rank mission in the village while Uchiha-sensei supervised from across the yard. Koji couldn't wait to finish their mission. Then they could go. He didn't like working with Uchiha-sensei anymore than Ken did. The man put him on edge with the way that held himself aloof from everyone – and the way he never smiled. (Koji had tried to break the ice that morning by cracking a small joke and had received an icy glare and twenty laps around the training field for his efforts.)
"I hope Naruto-sensei gets better soon," Koji muttered. "Heck, I'd even take Lee-sensei over Uchiha-sensei any day of the week. At least Lee-sensei knows how to take a joke."
"I don't think Naruto-sensei's sick," Takeshi said softly. He added another weed to his ever growing pile.
"What makes you think that?"
"Naruto-sensei's never sick." Takeshi shrugged. "Remember? He said something about it once."
"Yeah..." Ken frowned in concentration. "Something about a rapid healing ability... If he's injured in a fight or poisoned, he recovers faster than most people – and normal colds and viruses don't affect him."
"I think he's just taking some personal time off," Takeshi said grimly.
"Because of... Hinata-san?" asked Koji uncertainly.
The boys worked in silence weeding, pruning, and fertilizing all the plants in the garden. They collected all the debris and put it in a large bin for composting. Then they waited while Sasuke ran an appraising eye over their work.
"The mission was completed successfully. You are dismissed."
They almost – but not quite – ran for their freedom. None of them wanted to give Uchiha-sensei a chance to change his mind! Several times, Ken checked over his shoulder using all his enhanced senses to make sure they weren't being followed. His gut instinct told him that they were still being watched. He strained his ears and sent just a touch of chakra to his nose, but he didn't detect anything out of the ordinary. Finally, Ken chalked it up to paranoia and relaxed.
Coincidentally, the boys found themselves in front of the Academy. Because they had finished their D-rank mission in good time, it was still early and classes were still in session. Most of the students were indoors, but one class of third year students were having target practice with kunai and shuriken outside. Ken, Koji, and Takeshi paused to watch and ended up lounging on the grass the way they used to back when they were students at the Academy.
"What a jerk!" Koji exclaimed. "I don't understand why Naruto-sensei is friends with Uchiha-sensei!"
"I can't stand that guy!" Ken snarled, as he clenched and unclenched his fists, wanting to hit something. "I want Naruto-sensei back!"
"If only she'd said 'yes'," Takeshi mused aloud.
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it. If she'd said 'yes', then Naruto-sensei would've been great! He'd be his normal happy self. Except she didn't – and now we're stuck with Uchiha-sensei."
"That's it!" said Koji snapping his fingers. He smiled widely at his friends. "All we have to do is get them back together! Then everything will go back to normal!"
"And how are we supposed to do that?" Takeshi asked skeptically.
"Um... I have no idea," Koji admitted sheepishly.
"Figures." Takeshi rolled his eyes in mild exasperation.
"I think we should try," said Ken thoughtfully. "Things are already pretty bad between Naruto-sensei and his girlfriend, so we couldn't possibly make things worse – and what if we can help fix things between them? It couldn't hurt for us to try."
"That's right!" Koji agreed enthusiastically. "There has to be something we can do!"
"What we need is a good plan," Ken said firmly.
As one, Ken and Koji both turned to Takeshi and waited expectantly. Takeshi groaned and covered his face with his hands.
"Why are you looking at me?"
"You're the strategist on this team," Koji pointed out. "So think of something already."
"And make it good," added Ken. "Naruto-sensei's future happiness is at stake."
"No pressure, of course," said Koji cheerfully.
"Ganbatte, Takeshi! You can do it!"
"Morons," Takeshi muttered darkly. "Shut up and let me think."
Shizune sighed wearily.
As the Hokage's personal assistant, she was constantly swamped with work. In addition to managing Tsunade's schedule, keeping track of mission reports, and working shifts at the hospital, Shizune also represented the Hokage in other matters. Occasionally, she sat in on council meetings instead of the Hokage and arbitrated minor disputes. This recent fiasco with the mixed up drugs only added to her mountain of work. Right now, her biggest priority was tracking down all the kunoichi who received the false contraceptives. Her other tasks could wait because their health took precedence. Shizune scanned the long list of names in front of her. Thankfully, most of the names had already been crossed out; only nine names left.
The next name on her list was Hyuuga Hinata.
Shizune made a mental note to schedule a physical with Hinata as soon as possible – then she frowned in concentration. Something about seeing Hinata's name nagged at her. Shizune had the strangest feeling that she was missing something – or forgetting something important – but what?
"Good morning, Shizune-san!"
"Good morning, Keiko," Shizune smiled at the young secretary.
"These are purchase orders for extra supplies and field kits for the teams that are going out on long term border patrols." Keiko handed the forms to Shizune. "I double checked them and everything is in order. The Hokage just needs to sign them. Could you make sure that Tsunade-sama gets them?"
"Of course," she said distractedly – struck by an odd feeling of deja vu.
Will you… m-make sure that Tsunade-sama g-gets them?
Shizune groaned and slapped her forehead with her free hand, as Hinata's soft voice suddenly came back to her.
"I can't believe I forgot!" she exclaimed in dismay. "Keiko, do you you remember the student records I gave you the other day? The ones from the Academy?"
"Yes. What about them?"
"Where are they now?"
"I took them down to the Records Room."
"Did you see any other documents included among them?" Shizune asked hopefully. "There were some forms for the Hokage at the bottom."
"I'm sorry, Shizune-san," Keiko said apologetically. "I didn't think to look."
"It's not your fault. I forgot to tell you about them." Shizune said ruefully. "I'd better go get them now. Before I forget again!"
Hyuuga Sho resisted the urge to tap his foot impatiently. He had more self control than that. Instead, he allowed himself to glare more imposingly at the peons scuttling behind the desk. He already submitted the real estate contract – along with a note from the bank stating that the necessary funds from the Hyuuga account had already been transferred to the village's general fund. All he needed now was the official deed to the land for his clan's records and he could go. However, as with all bureaucracies, there was some delay.
How dare they make him wait!
The Hyuuga elder absently noticed the Hokage's dark-haired assistant rush into the Records Room and hastily ask the peon something about student records. He ignored her as she flipped through a pile of folders on the far side of the room. She was obviously looking for something specific. It was no concern of his – or so he thought.
"Did you find what you were looking for, Shizune-san?" asked the peon.
"Yes, I did." Shizune sighed with relief. "I promised Hinata that I would give these forms to the Hokage for her. I'm glad they were still here."
Hinata? Is she speaking of the heiress?
Sho narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Unlike his fighting ability which had deteriorated over the years due to old age, his instincts for information gathering remained as sharp as ever. Why would the Hyuuga heiress submit extra forms to the Hokage? Something strange was going on. Like a shark that sensed blood in the water, Sho went after his prey with single minded intensity.
"Hinata? As in Hyuuga Hinata?"
Shizune tensed at the imperious tone – and eyed the only other person in the room warily. It was a Hyuuga; the silver white eyes were a dead giveaway. She vaguely recognized him as one of the elders who represented the Hyuuga clan on the village council whenever Hiashi was unable to attend. What little she could remember of him was unflattering.
"Hyuuga-san." Shizune gave him a small nod. "What brings you to the Hokage tower?"
"I'm here on clan business." Sho waved his hand dismissively. "Did you say that those documents are from Hyuuga Hinata?"
"In that case, it appears that I have even more clan business here than I thought." Sho held out his hand expectantly. "You will give those to me."
"I'm sorry, Hyuuga-san," said Shizune frostily. She quickly slipped the loose papers into a folder and snapped it shut, protecting the contents from prying eyes. "These documents are confidential."
"You have no right to interfere with clan business!"
"And you have no right to interfere with official ninja business! These files are for the Hokage only. Good day, Hyuuga-san." Shizune brushed past the angry Hyuuga and walked away, ignoring the eyes she could feel boring into her back.
Hyuuga Sho watched her go in silence, but an furious twitch formed over his left eye. How dare that... that... upstart deny him his rights as a Hyuuga? More determined than ever, he waited until Shizune was out of normal sight. And then...
Instantly, the veins around his eyes bulged from a surplus of blood and chakra – and his enhanced vision zeroed in on his target. With a touch more concentration, he started to read. The distance and the flimsy folder were mere annoyances that he easily brushed aside due to the unique power of his kekkei genkai. A few minutes later, he released the Byakugan.
Hyuuga Sho trembled with fury. It was bad enough that... that... disgrace of a Hyuuga embarrassed the clan with her constant failures. But to conceive a bastard child like some common whore? That was unforgivable. He would have to work quickly to ensure that the clan's reputation was not damaged by her disgusting actions.
Hinata has shamed us for the very last time. I will see to it that she is sealed and banished from the clan! As for the mongrel she carries, it cannot be allowed to inherit the Byakugan. It would be best to ...
... eliminate it.
Hinata's day had crawled by. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes felt like hours, and each hour felt like an eternity. All she wanted – all she'd ever wanted – was Naruto. She needed to find him yesterday – but she didn't know where else to look. The only reason she came to the Academy this morning – instead of searching for Naruto again – was because she had wanted to talk to Iruka-sensei. He and Naruto had always been close. Iruka might know where to find Naruto! Except Iruka wasn't at the Academy; he was home sick. Then before she could request the day off, two other assistant-teachers and the taijutsu instructor also called in sick. Suddenly, the Academy was understaffed and she couldn't leave.
Hinata burst into action the moment her last student left the classroom. She quickly wiped off the blackboard, jotted down some quick notes in the margins of the syllabus ("completed overview of chakra circulatory system, started basic first aid techniques, assigned reading: pgs 378-412 of Shinobi Nations"), and closed the windows which had been opened to let in some fresh air. Then she took a final glance around the empty classroom; it was ready for the next class. She was done for the day.
Finally! I can go. I'll look for him at the Hokage monument again. Then I'll try Ichiraku and check his favorite training ground. If I still can't find him... I'll wait outside his apartment. He has to go home... eventually.
She picked up her jacket and turned to go, only to come face-to-face with...
"Koji? Ken? Takeshi? What are you doing here?" Hinata blinked in surprise. A sudden fear gripped her heart and squeezed. "Did something happen to Naruto?"
"You could say that," Takeshi shrugged. "Naruto-sensei didn't show up for training today. We got a substitute teacher instead."
"That man is not our teacher," Ken muttered.
"Shut up, Ken!" hissed Koji. "We agreed to let Takeshi do the talking."
"Look, Hinata-san," Takeshi said, ignoring his friends. "It's really none of our business. But things that affect Naruto-sensei affect us, too, because we're a team. You know? So we're making it our business. We think you should change your mind about Naruto-sensei."
Ken smacked Takeshi over the back of his head... hard.
"Ow! What did you hit me for?!"
"That's it?! That was your plan?! You're telling her to change her mind?!"
"I thought you said it was a good plan," accused Koji.
"It is a good plan! Now shut up and let me talk!"
Hinata looked back and forth between the boys in confusion. What in the world were they talking about? Change her mind about what? What plan?
Takeshi turned back to Hinata and looked her in the eyes.
"Hinata-san, you need to change your mind about Naruto-sensei. I don't understand why you said 'no.' So I'm going to tell you about all the reasons why you should be saying 'yes' instead. Naruto-sensei... He's a great guy. He's a jonin, so you know he makes decent money. He's strong, he's funny, and he's loyal. He doesn't drink or gamble or smoke. And he's totally awesome with little kids. In other words, he's perfect husband material. But most of all, he loves you... and that's why you should say 'yes.'"
Hinata wanted to laugh... or cry. She couldn't seem to decide which. Naruto's genin were trying to convince her to marry Naruto. Didn't they know? She wasn't the one who needed convincing. She knew all of Naruto's wonderful qualities inside and out. She'd dreamed of marrying Naruto since she was a child. The one they needed to convince was Naruto. She wished them luck, with all her heart.
If only he did... If only Naruto wanted to marry me...
"Have you talked to your sensei?" Hinata asked gently. "It's sweet that you're so concerned about his life, but marriage is a very big step. Maybe he doesn't want to get married. You should ask him if that's something he wants first."
Takeshi tilted his head to one side and a strange expression crossed his face. Behind him, Ken and Koji were equally baffled. What an odd thing for her to say!
"Are you kidding? Of course, he wants to get married," Takeshi said confidently.
"What makes you say that?" Hinata wondered.
"This." Takeshi tossed a small blunt object in her direction.
Superior reflexes automatically kicked in and Hinata easily caught the object in mid-air with one hand. She examined the item curiously. It was a nondescript box that was so small it easily fit into the palm of her hand. The outside of the box was scuffed up and dirty as if it had been tossed around and then recovered from a ditch. She opened it to find... a ring? (Granted, it was a beautiful ring...)
"You know what that is." Takeshi frowned. Why was she acting like she didn't know? "That's the engagement ring Naruto-sensei bought for you."
Hinata froze, absolutely certain that her ears were playing tricks on her – or that she was dreaming – and she forgot to breathe. An engagement ring? For her? From Naruto?
"Naruto-sensei thinks that we don't know this... but he commissioned it in Wave Country on our first C-ranked mission outside of the village."
"He bought this ring in Wave Country?" she asked faintly. Her heart was pounding too fast and she was lightheaded. She felt like she would pass out at any second. Wave Country? But... that means that he bought it... months ago!
"Yeah. About six or seven months ago, I guess," said Takeshi nonchalantly. "He said he was only catching up with an old friend, but Ken overheard them talking. Naruto-sensei finally showed it to us a couple of weeks ago, on the way back from Tea Country."
Not only did Naruto want to marry her, but he wanted to marry her more than six months ago! Before she'd gotten pregnant. Hinata trembled as the implications started to sink in.
If we get married now... It won't be because of the baby! Naruto wants to marry me! Her joy was suddenly eclipsed by despair. But... I h-h-hurt him so much. What if he doesn't want me anymore? I have to find him!
"Thank you for telling me this. I have to go!"
Hinata ran from the classroom, leaving the boys in her wake.
Please don't let it be too late...
Naruto hesitated just outside main entrance to the Academy.
What am I doing? I shouldn't be here.
He had enjoyed spending the day with Iruka. They had lunch at Ichiraku and then wandered around the village. They even played several games of shougi – with Iruka trying to teach Naruto the finer points of the game. He was grateful to Iruka for trying to distract him, but Hinata was never far from his thoughts.
Iruka said that he needed to talk to Hinata. It had sounded like a good idea last night, when he'd been half drunk and desperate to believe that he still had a chance with her. However, now that he was sober and calmer, he wasn't so sure. What if Iruka was wrong? What if she really didn't want to see him? He'd practically promised not to bother her anymore. Wasn't he going back on his word by being here?
But his feet remained rooted to the ground. He couldn't bring himself to leave without at least seeing her first.
I just want to make sure she's okay. I'll just look. I won't bother her. It's not going back on my word if she doesn't even see me. Right? That excuse sounded lame even to his own ears. His shoulders sagged. I'm so pathetic. I'm stalking my girlfriend and trying to justify it. No wonder she left me.
I should go... before she sees me.
Just then the doors flew open. Naruto reacted just in time to avoid getting smacked in the face.
"Hey! Watch where you're..." Naruto almost choked on his words when he saw who it was.
Hinata looked absolutely shocked to see him. (He wondered briefly where she had been going in such hurry.) She was slightly winded from running so fast. Her beautiful lavender eyes were wide with surprise – and she was panting lightly, small puffs of air passing her soft lips. He jerked his gaze away from her incredibly kissable lips before he could give in to temptation and swallowed hard.
"Oh... Hey, Hinata-chan..." Naruto pasted a smile on his face. "I was just passing by because... you know... It's a nice day and I was... taking a walk." (He cringed at the awful excuse.) "How are you? Um... You're obviously in a hurry, so I won't keep you. Yesterday, I said I wouldn't bother you anymore. Right? So I won't! You don't have to worry about that..."
Naruto wanted to kick himself. He was babbling like an idiot. (It was a nervous habit that he couldn't seem to break.) Why wasn't she saying anything? She was just staring at him, like she couldn't believe he was dumb enough to stick around where he wasn't wanted. He bit his lip and looked away.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I'm just here because... I wanted to see you. I'm sorry. For yelling at you yesterday. That's all. If you don't want to see me... that's okay. I understand. I'll go. I'm sorry, Hinata-chan. Whatever it was that I did wrong... I'm sor-"
"Don't. Don't say that."
After trying so hard to track him down the day before... After failing to find him no matter where she looked... The last thing she expected was to run into Naruto right outside the Academy. She couldn't believe that he was right there! What could she say that would convince him to give her a second chance? She grew more and more heartbroken, the more she listened to him speak. He didn't understand at all! She didn't want him to go! Why was he apologizing? It wasn't his fault!
"Don't. Don't say that," she said fiercely. "You don't understand at all!"
"Don't be sorry."
In just three steps, she closed the distance between them – until she was mere centimeters from touching him.
She clutched the front of his flak jacket so tightly that her knuckles went white. She was terrified that he would disappear the moment she let go – so she was never going to let go.
"You didn't do anything wrong."
She buried her face in his shoulder and sighed. Her warm breath fanned against the side of his neck and Naruto's mind went blank. He shivered, hypersensitive to her body pressed against his.
"I love you."
She stated it clearly. She didn't want him to ever doubt that she loved him.
"I do. I love you. I will always love you. I love you so much!"
Thank God. Naruto was dizzy with relief – and his heart was singing, dancing, and doing cartwheels inside his chest. If he was dreaming, he never wanted to wake up. He wrapped his arms around her, crushing her to him and burying his face in her hair. Hinata still loves me!
"I love you, too."
"I'm the one who should be sorry! Not you!" Her breathing hitched and her shoulders started to shake. "I'm sorry Naruto-kun! I was so h-horrible to you! I'm so, so sorry!"
Naruto pulled back in alarm when he felt hot tears soaking through his shirt.
"Shh... It's okay, Hinata-chan. Please, don't cry," he begged. "It's okay."
And it was.
Everything was okay now because he had her back in his arms – and in his life.
"Can we go home now?" she asked shyly. "I want to go home."
Naruto laughed. It was the happiest moment of his life.
Three pairs of eyes watched from their hiding place around the corner. They were too far away to hear what was being said, but Naruto-sensei was hugging his girlfriend. That had to be a good sign. Right? A few minutes later, their ears picked up the sound of happy laughter.
Naruto-sensei was laughing – and then he was kissing her.
Takeshi grinned like a Cheshire cat.
"I told you it was a good plan."
To be continued...
(1) Naruto and Hinata are back together! I'm so relieved. Aren't you? The angst is over. The next chapter is going to have plenty of sugary sweet NaruHina fluff – along with hints of citrus. I'm going to have so much fun writing it! I can't wait!
(2) (I meant to say this in the last chapter, but forgot. Sorry!) In Japan, there is an end-of-the-year gift giving custom called Oseibo. More about Oseibo here: http : // gojapan . about . com / cs / traditioncustom / a / oseibo . htm
(3) "Ganbatte!" is a Japanese phrase used for encouragement. It's best interpreted as: "Come on!" or "Go for it!" or "Do your best!"
(4) Please review! Thanks!