Naruto is owned by Masashi Kishimoto. All rights reserved.

Fear of Love, Love of Death
One Shot

It was complicated.

Hinata, the one girl I always thought was weird, does something not even I was able to comprehend. She fought for me, knowing full well she didn't stand a chance. Not because we're from the same village, not because she's my teammate, not because of orders. She fought for me, because she loves me.

"Because I love you."

And that was the most terrifying thing I ever felt. Because I fear losing that the most. I felt if that was gone, taken away, then everything I did to reach this height, to be respected, cared about, it was all wasted.

"Because I love you" was the most dreaded thing in existence. When she was killed, or at least looked like she was killed, it tore a hole in my being. She was dead, with love the last thing in her heart. Love towards me.

I knew I had lost it. Lost what was most important. And most of all, I wanted to tear him apart, the one who oh-so-callously ripped my heart open, left me exposed, raw, completely vulnerable. Rage took over, and when I came to, it all over.

Makeshift hospitals all over what was once Konoha, now just a giant dust bowl. Another thing lost in this stupid fight for the tailed beasts.

It's enough to make me pre-empt their plans, destroy the one thing they've been looking for, fighting for…

…However, it'll also make Hinata very sad. "Because I love you."

I don't want her to love me… it hurts… it hurts, remembering how it felt, seeing her get stabbed, thinking she had died.

If this is love, how could I stand it, seeing it being torn apart, being so open to the pain of the experience…

This is probably what Pain really wanted to inflict on me.

It's working…

I find myself at the tent Hinata's being cared for. I don't really remember a lot of what happened. Not that I really want to remember, but far as I know, good guys win… if you call this winning.

I open the curtain, and I see Sakura sitting there, checking over Hinata. Looks like they managed to salvage some stuff from the rubble. Either that or they already had stuff sealed away, I don't know. The result's the same. Some power running through the machines, keeping tabs on her vitals.

"Naruto…"

Sakura's pretty tired, herself. She must have been healing everyone nonstop.

"Hey."

"Hey."

I just sit beside her, looking at Hinata.

"What happened out there?" Sakura asks.

I don't know what to say… would she get upset that Hinata told me that she loves me? Would she hit me?

"Hinata… said she loves me."

The silence is deafening. I can't even hear the beepings of the machine.

"I didn't know…" Sakura says after who knows how long. "I knew she had always been watching you… I didn't make the connection, till now." She grins contritely. "I'm sorry. I'm a terrible person."

Then she got up and left. "Don't stay too long," she says at the tent flap. "She's out of danger, but still needs rest."

And now it's just me and Hinata.

It'd be easy to kill her now. It'd be really, really easy to press upon her throat and squeeze. Squeeze until she can't breathe. A kunai would be quick. Bloody and quick. Or even—

CRACK

Dammit! Punching myself in the face really hurt!

"Naruto…"

I think I just wet myself. I look at Hinata, laying there, a thin smile on her lips.

"…shouldn't… hurt… yourself…"

It hurts… it hurts so much… and yet…

I cry.

I'm only dimly aware of her hand on my hand.

"Sorry…"

I don't care. I kiss her fingers, squeezing her hand. I just don't care…

"I love you."

And I have no idea what possessed me to say it. It's painful to be loved, and yet…

She's… she's asleep…?

I don't know how I should feel now… like what the hell? Why now…?

Then I realize he fingers are intertwined with mine. Kind of thing that I once imagined going on with Sakura... but Sakura's involved with someone else… something else…

…and I've already let her go without noticing.

Truthfully, I don't know what the heck I'm doing, or if this is even a smart move, or whatever. Right now, though, I'm not really going anywhere, just till I get this all figured out. Love… it's.. I don't want to feel pain... but, maybe... maybe this... is a good thing...

I'll figure it out soon enough.

I hope.

end

AN: Upon reading the current Naruto thread, this sory just came forth like a damn. All those feelings and whatever you suddenly discover you never knew you had boils over, and leaves you feeling shocked, lost, and somehow, sober. Chapter 437 and 438 was like a cleansing breath of moment, and the one thing I thought, despite all my inner Hinata fanboyistc soul was this: you admit love, he admits love... now what? For the first time, I approached this idea with conviction, and the idea of love being the perfect solution doesn't connect well, and it may never settle in.

Which could give root to a more lasting sort of thing. But only if you are prepared to deal with the pain of discovering it.

Because it's going to hurt in ways no fist or weapon can ever hurt. And is far more damaging than any WMD ever invented. And for that reason, it'd be a lot simpler to kill it instead of taking it in and embracing it.

That was my intention, to express the ideas that had born from the cold logic of Pain's actions. A message of courage, and hope. Or at least that's what I hope...