Finally! I can get on to the original idea bunny that I've been working to get to! I'm sorry if the last chapter was a bit incoherent, but it was so long and I just wanted to get to this – the Naruhina part!!!!!!! ^^

I am sorry for the bad second chapter, and that Naruto didn't use sage-mode and so on, but the chapter just wasn't about that. It was about Hinata and her fight. That chapter was mostly just for getting Hinata hurt and showing Naruto and the others what she can do. Remember, this is an idea bunny, I write it only because my fingers and mind DEMAND me to. This is why I do not fill out holes like that.

I hope you can bear with me :)

-

Being the fifth, most of Tsunade's work took form of paperwork. She had had a hard time adjusting herself to this and stop being the flighty person she'd always been. There hadn't been much time for anything else but being the hokage, not even being a healer. Yet she had found time to tend to Sakura and her training. She had seen a true prodigy in the rose-haired girl. Training her had also been an adjustment from the daily routines.

Now Tsunade gladly took on the paperwork. The rebuilding of Konoha had begun and was well into process, and Danzou had been dealed with. There were still a lot of people needing help in the hospital, and Tsunade had lost her best healer to Naruto's search.

Yet, though this was a lot of work, it didn't occupy her mind enough. She was tired, but thoughts of Jirayia and Shizune kept running through her mind, and then Dan and Nawaki came to her again. It felt like she was losing everything, and she knew she could not bear losing Naruto and Sakura. Naruto had already lost her necklace, which made her worried; without it, Yamato could not help him.

Yet life went on, and with help from the Sunagakure they'd made sure Konoha was not attacked when vulnerable.

Paperwork had just begun returning again when Naruto's party came back.

A few of them was hurt, but none of them vital or deadly.

Except one.

Hyuga Hinata was in a critical state, and Sakura had done everything possible on the journey back to Konoha.

It seemed Tsunade was the last person who could save her.

-

It had been dark for a long time. She didn't know much, but she knew that.

In the darkness, only little mattered. She didn't feel much of the expected pain because she was so detached from her body.

But she did feel pain.

It was the writhing pain of not knowing.

Had Sasuke been defeated? Was anyone hurt? Was Naruto hurt? If so, physically or mentally?

She tried not to think too much.

Sometimes she even hoped for the real, physical pain. That could be able to take her mind off all those thoughts.

Strangely enough, the easiest thing to think of was where she was. She was pretty sure she was on her way back to Konoha, or maybe she was already there. Whatever had happened to her, they could help her.

So she and everyone else hoped.

-

"How's she holding up?"

Neji and Kiba jumped at the sound of someone else's voice. They hadn't moved or said anything in a long time; they'd simply sat on each' their side of Hinata's bed, watching over her.

They looked to the door where Shino and Shikamaru stood.

It was Shikamaru who had spoken.

"Sakura sais she's still unstable," Kiba answered. His voice was a bit grudgingly; Akamaru hadn't been allowed in.

"What about Hyuga?" Shikamaru asked, looking at Neji.

Neji shrugged. He was still angry that one and a half days had passed with only two other Hyugas than himself showing up. They were merely members from the side branches.

"They're minding their own business," he answered.

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow, but avoided to note that Hinata most certainly was their business.

"Tsunade wants to talk with all three of you," he continued, on turn pointing to Neji, Shino and Kiba.

"Why?" Neji asked, his eyes narrowing.

Shikamaru shrugged, looking seriously at Hinata. "About her, I guess. I don't know. But don't worry. I'll watch over her. And Sakura will be here soon."

A considerable amount of time passed by before Neji and Kiba got up and followed Shino out of the door, all three of them looking back at Hinata.

When they'd left, Shikamaru took Kiba's place besides Hinata; this way he could still watch the city properly.

He looked at it and shook his head at the destruction, and then he turned back to Hinata.

He'd been visiting her three times before with Ino and Choji, all three times bringing flowers with the two. She'd never moved from the spot. Her chest was raising quietly, all the tubes moving so slightly it was almost impossible to see.

Everyone was worried for her, and Neji, Kiba and Shino only left to permit others to visit – only three were allowed at once. Kurenai had been there once, though she'd spent almost the entire day sitting by her former student's side, praying for her.

Shikamaru hoped for Hinata. For Kurenai, for Konoha, for Neji, for the Hyuga, for Hinata herself. Though Hinata was a silent person, she had more importance than people realized.

"Where are the others?"

Shikamaru turned to look at Lee and TenTen.

"Tsunade needed to talk to them," Shikamaru answered. "You need to talk to Neji?"

TenTen sighed. "Lee thought it would help Hinata if we stood by her side and cheered her on."

"She inherits the true fire of Konoha!" Lee exclaimed, knotting his fists, his eyes almost in flames. "If we cheer her on, she'll make it! She's a true Konoha shinobi, and –"

TenTen smacked the back of his head. "She's in a coma, you idiot!" she reminded him. Then her face smoothened and she turned toward Hinata. "She's still unstabil?" she asked. Shikamaru nodded silently.

After a moment of silence, Shikamaru asked: "What about Naruto?" Since they got home, he hadn't been much away from Tsunade's side. Tsunade wanted his help to many things, and this was one of his very short breaks.

TenTen's face turned disapproving, and she crossed her arms. "A jerk – like always."

Lee shook his head. "Naruto's just confused," he said seriously. "He knows he'll have to talk with Hinata, but he doesn't know what to say – or when. I understand; Kiba and Neji are like guard dogs, waiting to snap his head off."

"They're like brothers to her," Shikamaru noted and shrugged. "It's to be expected."

"But Shino's like a brother to her, too, yet he doesn't act anything like that," TenTen said with a confused face.

"Shino thinks differently. He's angry with Naruto, too, of course, but he thinks it's up to Hinata," Shikamaru answered.

"Hey hey!" Sakura greeted them from behind, and they all turned. "Every time I walk into this place it's always crowded with people," she snorted, seeming cheerful. For a moment, Shikamaru felt hope, but her expression turned sad when she looked at Hinata.

"We'll leave," TenTen said and grabbed Lee.

Once they were gone Sakura continued to Hinata's bed. Shikamaru felt suddenly uncomfortable as Sakura began to check the Hyuga girl. He turned to the window and watched the clouds lazily, though he couldn't with as much comfort as he used to.

"Can I come in?"

Sakura and Shikamaru both froze at the sound of Naruto's voice in the room.

Shikamaru put a smile on and turned to look at Naruto. "Trying to avoid Kiba and Neji, are we?" he asked. Naruto cringed, but shook his head.

"They just gave me free," he said in a remorseful tone.

"Who are they?" Sakura asked with narrowed eyes.

Naruto shrugged. "Everybody, including Tsunade and Yamato. They wanted to know if any … accidents happened." Sakura winced, but then her firm face came back, remembering that nothing had actually happened.

"But I'm sure you haven't been that preoccupied in the last two months as to not have time to visit Hinata once. You know she deserves that!" she reprimanded him. He knew he deserved it, but it still stung.

"I … I didn't know what to say," he mumbled. Sakura's face smoothened a bit.

Shikamaru shrugged uncomfortably. "Y'know what, I still have a lot of work to do," he told them and walked out of the door casually.

When the door closed behind Shikamaru, Sakura knotted her fist, and Naruto jumped away from her immediately.

"Sakura-chan," he said in that shaky voice of his, and she sighed.

"You've really caused some trouble, Naruto," she groaned angrily. "Have you any idea what you've been doing to Hinata?" She shook her head. "She's been all out of it. The only good thing that's come out of it, I've heard from Neji, is that her training have changed. She's become stronger since her … confession."

Naruto muttered something unintelligible.

"What?" Sakura demanded mercilessly. "Naruto," she sighed then. "There's no excuse for what you've done. You should have told her before."

"Told her what?" he asked.

"That you don't love her back, of course!" Sakura answered, staring him down. "You're downright cruel! All these years, she's loved you, and then she finally pull together enough courage to tell you, and all you do is throw her aside. At least tell her instead of let her guess. She did actually save your life! If she hadn't come along –"

"I know, I know, Sakura-chan," Naruto cut her off and stepped closer to Hinata. He was somewhat … happy to see her sleeping. She looked like she wasn't in pain. Her face was clean. He knew she was unstable and that it was his fault. He shook his head. Sakura was right. What he'd done was unforgivable. His hand twitched toward the bed; wanting to … He didn't know. Stroke her hair? Take her hand? Just try to comfort her and say that he was sorry somehow. "I … I guess I was … Scared," he whispered, deciding not to touch her at all.

Sakura stared at him. "Scared? Of what?" Sakura was clearly startled. She couldn't get into her head how Naruto could be afraid of Hinata. She couldn't understand how anybody could be afraid of that kind girl – but then again, Hinata could be strangely fierce toward those who wanted to hurt her friends.

She's kinda like Naruto that way, she thought.

"It's just … All my life … I've had to struggle and fight for people to even begin recognizing me. It took so long with you. I can't believe Hinata … loved me … I didn't even do anything for it. It feels like I don't deserve it."

"You don't," Sakura snorted. "Baka. You've acted –"

"I know, Sakura, but before that! What did I ever do for Hinata to make her feel that way?" Naruto demanded.

She thought about that for a moment and found the answer in her thoughts a moment ago. "Remember how she wanted to change herself?" Naruto nodded. "I think you did the difference. You changed her – you made her like herself more." He frowned at her, as if he doubted he even had such an ability.

Sometimes Naruto doesn't see himself very clearly, she thought to herself with a faint smile.

Naruto looked at Hinata again. "How's she doing?" he asked.

"She's alive," Sakura answered. "But Sasuke's chidori hit her hard. She was in a very difficult and vulnerable state when he hit her. Her chakra circulatory system was connected with his. She could have died on the spot because she was so exhausted. Tsunade said it was a miracle she even survived to Konoha."

"Is she going to make it?" Naruto's voice was angsty now.

Sakura looked seriously at him, and then she whispered: "I don't know. I hope so."

With those words, she left.

Naruto froze as he found himself alone with Hinata, even though she was unconscious. He felt though she could hear and see him anyway. Feel him, even.

He shuddered as his head swam. He felt shaky. Remembering all those times Hinata had fainted in front of him, he suddenly understood.

It goes that far? he asked himself, puzzled.

She didn't move as he watched her, and time passed by without him noticing terribly much. Birds chipped outside, and he watched Hinata's face. It didn't change once.

"What are you doing here?"

It was a growl, which made the speaker Kiba.

Naruto's hands came up in reflex, and his eyes met with both Kiba's and Neji's. Shino's were hidden behind glasses, but Naruto wasn't afraid of him – not that Shino wasn't strong, he just didn't seem to be intending on killing him.

"Answer him." Neji said in a low, contained voice, which made it all the more scarier. "What are you doing here?" His voice was regular, and his stance wasn't offensive. But Naruto knew he could make some deathly move within a second.

"I'm –"

"Hell what, it doesn't matter!" Kiba barked, taking one step toward him. "Get out of here! You have no right to be here!" His words were almost shouts.

Naruto figured that it was probably a better idea to do as they said when Shino spoke up.

"Hinata wouldn't want us to act this way." His sunglasses, of course, didn't give anything away. Naruto wasn't even sure if he wanted to see his friend's face right now. Even though Shino acted differently from the others, there were no questioning his anger.

"But Shino –" Kiba growled.

"Besides," Shino cut him off, "this is what you've been complaining about – Naruto not showing up."

Neji and Kiba both turned their eyes on Naruto, who hated every second of this. He was beginning to mend whether he should have come, but he knew Hinata deserved better than that, so he stuck to his decision.

Kiba crossed his arms. "Fine. So why are you here, Naruto?" he asked.

"I just came to see if Hinata was all right," the blonde responded, trying not to get angry himself. They had a right to be angry, he didn't.

"Of course she's not all right, you moron!" Kiba exclaimed. "You freaking broke her!"

"I –"

"Even if she was all right physically, you've totally destroyed her mentally!"

"Sakura said Hinata was training more and better because of it," Naruto muttered.

"Oh so that makes everything okay?" Kiba shouted. His words were almost incoherent. Shino put an arm on his friends'. "Remember, Kiba, Hinata has a right. She wouldn't want us to stop Naruto from being here."

Kiba and Neji scowled. Then they both shot glares at Naruto, before they turned and left the room, obviously reluctant to stay with him.

Shino continued on to the stool on the side of Hinata's bed. For the more than hundredth time, Naruto cursed that Shino was impossible to read. His face would probably even be hard to read if he didn't have that hood and the glasses – his forehead never frowned like other's did, and his voice didn't change very often. Not even when he was sulking.

He went on to the other side of Hinata and rested against the wall, looking from Shino to Hinata, letting each of them get a minute before shifting.

Being Naruto, he had a hard time, especially when it came to Shino, determining whether the silence was awkward or not. He wasn't sure how long had passed until Sakura came back.

She nodded seriously to Shino and then went right on to checking Hinata.

Naruto didn't like watching Sakura lift and put down Hinata's unmoving limbs. It was like looking at a corpse.

"Is she any better?" Shino asked.

Sakura nodded stiffly. Naruto noticed that she was black under her eyes, and her forehead was frowned in drowsiness.

"She seems to be a little better than before," she said and rubbed her forehead.

"Sakura," Naruto murmured, and she looked questioningly at him. "You should get some sleep. Get someone else to check on Hinata." Her face smoothened as he looked at him in surprise. He understood. He wanted her to stay, to check on Hinata constantly. She was the best healer aside from Tsunade. He didn't want anyone else to help Hinata. But he couldn't put more friends into situations like the one Hinata was in.

She nodded. "Thank you, Naruto. I'll see you in the morning." Then she left, her back slumping as if the mere thought of sleep was enough to make her body relax. She would probably go right to the bed and collapse on it without making ready for the night.

"Naruto."

Naruto was surprised at the sound of Shino's voice, and he turned to look into the blackness of his sunglasses.

"What?" he asked.

"Why didn't you talk to Hinata after her confession?" Shino asked.

Naruto was utterly surprised that Shino would ask this. Shino didn't seem like the kind of guy who would ask this. Then again, Naruto honestly didn't know much about Shino.

He took in a deep breath. This would have to be done properly. At least Shino wasn't like Kiba – he didn't hit him and yell at him and accused him.

"I … I didn't know how to confront her. How to talk to her. In the end, I've never gotten to know Hinata much. She always passes out." He frowned. Why was he so stupid that he hadn't realized the truth sooner?

"You could have contacted me or Kiba," Shino suggested.

"Shino, I … I honestly didn't think it much through. I … Believe me, Shino, I'm so sorry," Naruto stuttered, shaking his head. "I know I should have handled it differently."

Shino nodded. His arms were crossed, and he almost looked more serious than usually.

Naruto sighed. "I'm gonna make it up to her," he promised. "As soon as she wakes up."

The Aburame got to his feet and nodded. "I trust you on that, Naruto. You tend to keep your promises."

He began walking to the door.

"Wait!" Naruto exclaimed, immediately in a stressed stance. The thought of being alone with Hinata again had him unnerved in seconds. "Where are you going?"

"Kiba," Shino answered. "I trust that you will not leave this room, at least until someone else comes along. Don't worry. I'll make sure Kiba and Neji don't kill you."

As he walked out, Naruto wondered whether he heard amusement in Shino's voice or not.

-

Naruto stayed the night and slept a bit in the chair, Shino had been sitting in. He couldn't get himself to relax enough, though, so he was awake most of the time. Then he watched Hinata.

He hadn't realized before, but she had a beautiful face. Well, of course he'd known she was beautiful, but he hadn't noticed that she was this beautiful. With the lights from the stars and the city from the window lighting up her face, she looked stunning.

He'd always thought of Hinata as a very quiet girl, but he was thinking that maybe it was time to reminisce that observation. He'd seen her in battle, and she was always persistent and willful. Every time he saw her, she was stronger than the last time.

He remembered when he was on his way to the arena during the chunin exams, ready to fight Neji. She'd been hiding, blushing when he saw her. She told him he'd make her like herself more. That he'd inspired her.

He was glad that he had somehow helped her, even if it couldn't make up for what he'd done.

"I'm sorry, Hinata," he murmured drowsily. His head was nodding back and forth like a doll's.

"Naruto! Have you been here all night?"

He turned around to look shortly at Sakura, before he fell to the floor from the spin.

"Naruto!" she shouted, trying to grab him in time, but unsucceeded.

She placed him on the other bed in the room so that he could sleep it out.

She checked Hinata and smiled.

-

When Naruto woke up, he found a sheet of paper on his pillow, and he pulled it to his hand a bit gruffly to see what was written.

His bad mood changed immediately.

The message was written in Sakura's handwriting:

Hinata is better.

His heart was singing, and he felt as if the world would turn in to a happy-ending musical that everyone would puke over because of its pink aura.

He got to his feet and made few dance-like jumps.

"Hinata!" he addressed her, having forgotten that she couldn't hear him. "You're okay, you're okay! Thank goodness, you're okay!"

Then he froze. He was leaning in over Hinata's bed, his face not many inches from hers. That was when he realized that Sakura's note had said nothing about stabilized.

He sighed heavily and felt his eyes sting. Resting his forehead lightly to hers, he took in deep breaths to steady himself. Why was this happening to Hinata? She was probably the person in the world who deserved it the littlest. He remembered Neji telling her she couldn't be ninja because she was too nice.

Unthinkingly, he pulled back and put his hand where his head had just rested. Part of him had expected her to be warm, but she was unthinkably cold.

He looked at her with eyes that showed an aching heart deep down in him. "Hinata," he murmured, with all that feeling welling up in him. She couldn't … die, could she? It was as if it was the first time he thought about it. No, not the first time, the first time he thought about the consequences.

Hinata would be gone.

"Don't go, Hinata. Don't go," he whispered, taking her hand with his own free one. "Please, Hinata." He blinked away the tears as fast as he could, but one slipped and hit her eyelid.

-

It was still dark, but she had vague observations of what was happening. There were voices, but she wasn't exactly sure who it was. It was all a big blur inside of her, and even though she tried her hardest to make sense out of what she heard, it was impossible. She was in a numb condition that was inescapable.

But then she heard the voice that she loved the most in the whole world. She was sure her heart was going frantic, that she was blushing. But she felt no heartbeat, no heat in her cheeks. She couldn't feel her body. Even if she tried to come closer to him, tried with every fiber of her mind and will, she couldn't reach him. They were separated on so many levels, she felt a wave of devastation wash over her and bury her under a thick layer of it.

Naruto-kun, she cried, hoping he would somehow save her.

"Hinata!" Her prayer had been heard! He was calling to her. He was calling her name!

"You're okay, you're okay. Thank goodness, you're okay!" It sounded like he was singing, and she wanted to giggle at the ridicule bliss in his voice.

But then the atmosphere changed, yet again.

"Hinata."

His voice was sad, and she couldn't bear that. She'd wanted to hold him so many times, wanted him to hold her, wanted to hug him, maybe even brush her lips against his …

But never before had the urge been so scathing. She couldn't reach him, and she couldn't help him. But he was hurting, and he wasn't supposed to. Naruto shouldn't be sad. That was wrong. So out of this world.

Only she felt like she was in a different world now.

"Don't go, Hinata. Don't go." His pleading was heartbreaking, because she didn't know how to do as he asked. She didn't know how to go, yet she also didn't know how to not. It seemed though she was moving without making the effort. Moving away.

"Please, Hinata."

She wanted to cry, she wanted to shout, she wanted to tell him he shouldn't shed the tears she could hear he was shedding. Or fighting not to.

Naruto-kun! Hear me! Hear me! Don't cry, Naruto-kun! She wanted to tell him.

But not a single sound came over her lips.

-

Hyuga Hiashi was known for being a strict, yet fair, leader of the Hyuga Clan. What he was not so known of was as an even more strict father. But those who knew, knew it much too well.

The Byakugans looking through the room, back at Tsunade, was piercing and cold, just as they were supposed to be. The fifth Hokage fought back a shiver, and said: "I wish to give you the report on your daughter's recovering."

Hiashi's face didn't change.

"You called me all the way here just for that?" he asked, obviously annoyed.

Tsunade ignored that.

"She's a bit better, but her state is still critical. Her chakra circulatory system is still a mess, and we've tried everything that we can do."

Hiashi's brows changed the slightest, and that little change made him look angry. "You mean you can't take care of her?"

"We can't do much. There's still a good enough chance that she'll survive, but we want to do everything we possibly can. That's why I wanted to ask you to lend me a Byakugan user to help us." Tsunade folded her hands in front of her and looked seriously at the man.

Hiashi raised an eyebrow, simply looking annoyed now.

"You can," he stated simply.

"Thank you." Tsunade bowed her head.

"Now, if there is nothing more –"

"Actually, there is," Tsunade noted.

"What?" Hiashi demanded.

"Hinata have been in hospital for three and a half days now, and you still haven't visited."
The Hyuga Clan Head looked as if a child was wasting his time with worthless babbling.

"I've trusted she is in good hands," he answered.

"But a father –"

"I am the leader of the Hyuga Clan. I've got other things to tend to than my useless daughter."

Tsunade was stunned at these words. She knew that the Hyuga clan was strict, and she knew from Kiba and Shino – and even Sakura – that Hinata was having a rough time, but this was far out of her expectations of what this man was capable of.

"I-I'm afraid I don't understand."

"The Uchiha got away, didn't he? And she got hurt. We didn't get even one of them. It's a failure, then," Hiashi explained plainly.

"But Hinata worked harder than anyone else," Tsunade informed him.

"That is to be expected from a Hyuga, but victory is also expected, and she did not complete the last goal." Hiashi's face showed no affection, no sign that he cared at all for the subject.

"But I know from Kiba and Shino – from Neji – that she showed incredible skills," Tsunade exclaimed, getting a bit obsessed now.

Hiashi raised an eyebrow. "Really? He hasn't told me."

She didn't have a hard time guessing who he was.

"Apparently Hinata have found a whole new way of fighting. She have abilities far beyond other Shinobi, if only she could get the support to explore the talent she's got. She is constantly held back by the Hyuga Clan, not helped forward." Tsunade knew she had said too much. She was not supposed to put her nose in the business of the clans, but she had a temper that was easily triggered.

But Hiashi didn't get angry, as she had expected. Instead, he said:

"I see. And what abilities is this?"

She was put out for a moment by that, but then she answered quickly: "She's got chakra control far better than the majority of the Konoha Shinobi – even than most Hyuga members. She's got the mind to think differently, and the determination to get things done, and to push herself to the limit. You should mold her so that her talent can become some of the finest – as it is to be expected from the heiress of the Hyuga."

Hiashi took in her words, and for a moment he just looked at her with blank, Byakugan eyes, then he nodded, and turned.

He was out before she could say another word.

-

It was the first time Naruto had left Hinata's room since he first came. He was getting some coffee to help him through the endless hours. He wasn't usually much for the black moisture, but he needed it now.

That was when he saw something he had not expected; Hyuga Hiashi. Hinata's father.

He instantly thought of possibilities to escape the inevitable. Hiashi had finally come to punish him for what he had done.

His fears grew larger as he noticed Neji behind him. Both of their eyes were hard, just as the Byakugan was supposed to be.

He knew of only one reason they could be here, so he decided to take his time on that coffee.

-

Tsunade's special healer student was in Hinata's room as they approached. Hiashi called himself to her attention, and as soon as she saw him, she bowed quickly, and said: "Hiashi-sama. We expected you sooner."

Hiashi didn't respond, and she hurried to get out of his way as he walked to Hinata's side.

"How is she?" he asked.

"She's doing better. She's a real fighter," Sakura answered, and there were devotion to read in her voice. "Most people would have died from that."

When Hiashi didn't respond in any way, Sakura glanced questioningly at Neji, but – almost to be expected – he just shrugged.

Hiashi watched his daughter for a few minutes. The other two were completely silent, though Sakura was the only one feeling uncomfortable. Neji was used to Hiashi too much for those feelings.

Then Hiashi nodded. "I trust that you will get her back with us soon, and that you tell me immediately when you do."

"Of course," Sakura hurriedly assured, afraid to take too long to response to this frightening man.

"Good," Hiashi responded, then he turned and left the room. Neji followed directly.

Sakura shuddered and returned to Hinata's bed. She patted the sleeping girl's forehead. "I understand if you want to sleep long, Hinata. I really do."

-

"Are they gone?"

Sakura turned to look at Naruto.

"Yea," she answered.

"So they're not coming back?"

"I don't think so. Not until she wakes up. Well, Neji will probably come at some point, but not Hiashi," Sakura answered.

Naruto nodded and got into the room. "Is she feeling better?"

"A little," Sakura answered. "I'm hopeful, and so is Tsunade-sama."

"Great!" Naruto beamed, sitting down beside Hinata and touching her hand with his own. Sakura made a little jump at this sight, but he didn't notice; he was already watching Hinata's unmoving face.

"I'll … I'll leave you alone," Sakura said then and did as she promised.

Naruto barely heard her.

He felt that he owed it to Hinata to stay by her side, at least till she woke up, but something inside him was now demanding that he stay, not because of the guilt, but just to stay by her side. He was reminiscing all the memories he had of Hinata, and he was sad that there weren't many. He tried to figure out what she had been thinking in different situations, but he was always unsuccessful – he knew this was probably because he wasn't the most brainy of persons.

Watching Hinata sleep was both disturbing and relaxing. Disturbing because it wasn't natural for her to lay here in the hospital, and relaxing because of her flawless face and her steady breathing.

Days passed, and Naruto only very rarely left the room, and only for a few minutes, max. Neji and Kiba used that time to visit her, but Shino came whenever he felt like, and so did the others.

Once Naruto left her for a whole hour, and he felt anxious that she might wake up and think he didn't care. Think that he had just abandoned her – again – and then she would be sad. And he would hurt her yet again.

But he felt that he had another responsibility, for the others had been giving her so many flowers that her room was smelling like it, but he hadn't. He hadn't brought her anything.

That was why he was going to Ino's.

He was hurrying her along as he chose the flowers with as much care as he could on as little time as possible, and she send him more than one scathing glare.

"Thank you, Ino!" he shouted back at her as he ran through Konoha to the hospital with the flowers he wanted to deliver.

He put his flowers in a vase on the table next to her and put a little note that said from Naruto.

He'd asked from Hinata to be the one to give her her dinner, and she'd let him. He did everything that he possibly could for her. He turned her cover every half hour, and he straightened out her pillow when he thought it needed to – which was about every ten minutes – and he turned her from one side to another so that her body wouldn't ache from lying still all the time. If he thought her forehead was the least bit warm, he got some water and cooled it. If he thought she was too cold, he brought more covers to warm her and tugged them nicely around her.

It brought a deep happiness to be able to do these things for her. He hoped that she knew, wherever she was, that there was someone thinking of her like he did.

He hoped that he could help her come back by thinking about her, too. Every other minute he would look at her face and imagine her opening her big, white Byakugan eyes. They would be tired and groggy at first, then maybe confused. She would look around the room, and she would see him. A furious red would spread across her cheeks, and he would grin at her, finally knowing what it meant. She'd say "Naruto-kun", but before she could say anything else, he would apologize and tell her how sincerely sorry he was for what he had done to her. She would blush deeper and look away, with a faint smile.

As time passed, those imaginations turned to her hugging him, thanking him for his apology. Then she would tell him that it was okay and that she didn't hate him.

In another version, she would say that she still loved him.

In the next version, he'd tell her that she meant more to him than she could imagine.

And in a later version of the imagination, he told her that he loved her, too, in the very beginning of the scene. They'd embrace and he'd breathe in her scent as if it was a drug he needed to live.

He didn't realize what he was thinking before the dream was at an end.

He widened his eyes and stared at Hinata's innocent face. She was still asleep. In coma.

How had his feelings changed so much in such a short time? Or had that short time just helped him realize that he'd always loved her? Had he started loving her when she confessed about her own feelings? Or did it go further back than that?

He soon accepted that he was even stupid enough not to know his own feelings. He started cursing himself for having hurt Hinata by not knowing himself, and then he started cursing anyone who had ever hurt her – very much including Uchiha Sasuke.

Then he thought about laying an arm around her shoulders and hug her to his chest. There didn't go many hours after that before he hesitantly put his arm around her. He stroked her hair back and pondered upon the beauty of her.

That was when he thought about lightly pressing his lips to her forehead. Her skin would be smooth against his, and maybe it would help her … Maybe she would wake up.

It didn't take him long before that dream, too, was a reality.

Her scent was more delicate than he had imagined, which he hadn't thought possible. He had to pull away quickly for his head not to swim too much.

When the image of him kissing her unmoving lips came up, he jumped away and took in deep breaths, knowing that would be far over the line.

When Sakura and Ino for the third time came to give her a bath, he once again thought about his feelings. When – if – Hinata woke up, would she still feel the same? If she did, what would she say when she found out he felt the same way? What would Kiba, Shino and Neji say? If he found out about it, what would Hiashi say? What about Sakura? And everyone else?

He shook his head. These feelings were so complicated.

On the tenth day of Hinata's coma, Sakura announced that she was feeling much better, and that she was stabile now.

Naruto's heart sang so loudly, it came out of his lips in form of an uncontrollable giggle. He grabbed Sakura's hands and danced around with her, and then he went to Hinata's side, whispering to her: "Did you hear that, Hinata? You're okay?"

As Sakura watched the look in his eyes and heard his words, she realized what had happened.

Naruto … she thought. You've changed. She smiled a sad smile. Naruto was always changing.

It was a cold night when the first sign of Hinata's awakening showed.

Naruto knew it was going to be a cold night, and he'd given all his covers to Hinata. He was sitting in his chair, resting his head against her bed, his teeth chattering so loudly he could barely hear himself think.

That was why he didn't notice the other sound in the room: another set of chattering teeth.

When he finally realized it, he sat straight up instantly, grabbing to his right for Hinata.

"Hinata," he murmured, but there came no other response but the chattering.

He had nothing more to give her; no more covers. He didn't dare go look for others in the dark.

So he did the next best thing; he crawled up beside her and put his arms around her.

A few minutes later, her tightened body relaxed, and the chattering stopped.

He smiled. He'd gotten to do another thing for her.

-

It was early morning when he awoke. He wasn't in a very comfortable position – he'd been laying the same way all night. He pulled himself a bit up without removing his arms completely and stretched himself.

He moaned and yawned at the same time. He hadn't slept properly in too many days, and he had been excused from duty in a very long time.

He heard a breath that sounded much like a squeal, and he turned so fast he felt his head spin. He studied the face that lay next to him. It was quiet, as always, smooth, as always. But there was something different …

The lips were trembling just the slightest, if he looked very closely, and he brows were pulled upward.

"Hinata," he called. "Hinata, are you awake?"

Her lips tightened the tiniest bit.

"Hinata!" he exclaimed and grabbed her shoulders. "Hinata!" He was desperate for her to wake up so he could make sure she was okay, so that he could tell her that he was sorry, so that … Well, he didn't know. So that a miracle could work wonders.

"Hinata, it's me, Naruto! Are you okay? Please, Hinata! Please wake up."

He was just about to get up to go get Sakura when he saw her open her eyes the slightest.

Even though her white eyes were narrowed, he could see them, and he was overwhelmed by a warm feeling that spread through his entire body.

"Hinata," he said with all of that feeling in his words. "You're okay." The words came out in a choke; it was such a relief to finally be able to say them.

"Naruto … kun?" she whispered.

Instincts pulled his body into action, and he put his arms around her and hugged her tightly. She gasped and froze in his arms, but he was too happy to notice.

When he pulled back he saw that familiar blush on her cheeks, and he laughed.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

Her lips moved without a sound coming, and his brows furrowed. Was she not okay, then? Had something gone wrong?

"Confused," she finally gasped out, and realization hit him. Of course, she didn't know what had happened the last many days. He could hear Sakura's words: "Baka!"

"Sasuke's chidori hit you really bad, and you came back to Konoha. You've been in coma for ten days now," he explained. She still seemed as confused as before. "Do you want me to get Sakura?" he asked, concerned again.

"N-no, it's o-okay," she stuttered, flustered over his concern. A deep blush danced over her cheeks.

Naruto frowned. So the stuttering was back.

"Ano … Naruto-kun?"

"Yea?" he asked.

"Wh-what are you doing here?" She seemed like the question was really bothering her.

That was when Naruto realized he had yet to tell her the change of his emotions and how sorry he was for ever, ever hurting her.

"Hinata …" he murmured, and his cheeks warmed up to a degree that was impossible to count. "I'm … I'm sorry."

She widened her eyes and then blinked several times. "Ano … What?"

"I acted like a jerk. I'm so sorry. And I'm even more sorry for being the reason that you got this hurt."

His arms were still around her, and they were close enough that he could feel her breath, but it didn't seem to mean anything for the situation. Hinata was probably too preoccupied with his words, and to him, it was starting to feel too natural for him to be uncomfortable. A sudden fear that he wouldn't get to hold her again, like this, shot through him.

"Naruto-kun," she breathed, and another light blush warmed her face. "I don't understand. You didn't … You didn't cause this."

He could hear her edit her own words, and he narrowed his eyes as he calculated the real meaning. She had edited herself in saying "you didn't hurt me". So she admitted it …

"Hinata, don't make up lies. We both know what a moron I've been, and I'm gonna make that up to you in every possible way I can think of!" Then Sakura's voice echoed in his head, as if she was standing right behind him: "Hinata needs sleep, baka!"

He grinned. Maybe he was a bit smarter than he used to be. "But right now you still need to rest."

"Actually, N-Naruto-k-kun, I'd like to move around a little bit." Her eyes took in the parts of the room that Naruto didn't cover. "Just around the room."

He thought about it for a moment, but then he remembered that she had been sleeping for ten days.

He pulled back from her – with much restraint – and let her stretch her arms, her legs and her neck, before she tried to step out on the floor. She moved hesitantly, as if she feared she might fall any moment.

She began to walk around the bed shakily, but after a few steps, it seemed as though she was okay. Naruto grinned widely, happy that she was back.

"Kiba and Shino will be so thrilled!" he decleared clapping his hands together. "And Sakura-chan and Tsunade have been so worried. Not to mention Neji! But everyone's amazed that you even survived!" His eyes turned warm, and she looked away. She tried to hide herself behind the bed. "Sasuke really got to you." Then his face turned into a frown.

"What is it, Naruto-kun?" she whispered. He noted that she still looked confused.

"I should go get Sakura-chan," he responded. "But are you going to be okay?"

She froze. She stared at him with her white eyes. As he stared back, he noticed that they were not all white – there was a bit violet in them, too.

"You mean … You'd leave?" she asked. She seemed torn somehow.

"Yea," he answered, before he hurriedly added: "But I can stay! If you want me to …" He felt his cheeks turn slightly warm at the prayer in his voice.

"I … I … I'm still tired. I want to lie down," she whispered. She found her way to the bed, and she laid herself shakily down. She sighed.

"I'll get Sakura-chan," Naruto murmured, but she gasped:

"Ano, Naruto-kun. Co – Cou …"

"Yes?" he asked, looking as her entire face turned red.

"Never mind," she whispered, and he nodded.

He ran through the entire hospital and asked several nurses for help, before he found Sakura, and told her what had happened. They both hurried along back to where Hinata was placed.

Hinata was half asleep when they arrived, so Naruto didn't notice much of what Sakura did: he took the opportunity to just stare at Hinata.

Sakura tried to get in contact with the young Hyuga, but she only mumbled small responses.

"Do you feel pain?" Sakura asked at one point, and Naruto's brain was suddenly in a very bright spot.

"Mmh? A little," Hinata murmured.

"I'm going to give you a little for it. You'll feel a little groggy, but you can sleep if you want to, so it won't be a problem."

"O-kay," Hinata breathed and closed her eyes entirely.

Sakura turned to Naruto and smiled. "It's good you hurried to get me. I'm told to let the Hyuga clan know when she's better, so I'd better be off."

"I'd better leave soon, too, if Hiashi is gonna come here again," Naruto said. He shuddered.

She grinned. "Good idea. I'll see you later, then."

"Yea," he answered.

After Sakura had left, Naruto sat down beside Hinata in the chair, afraid to put his arms around her again.

"Naruto-kun," Hinata yawned, and he turned his face. She looked so cute, and his face lit up like a sun.

"Yes, Hinata?" he asked kindly.

"What do you mean … Hiashi?" she murmured.

"Oh …" His mind went blank for a few seconds, before he gathered his thoughts and found coherent words to use. "He was here to check on you."

"Really?" She sounded as if she didn't believe him.

"Yea." His eyes turned dark. "Seriously, Hinata, you can't believe your own dad would visit you in the hospital when you're this badly wounded?"

She tried to shrug, but she only succeeded halfway. "The Hyuga clan," she said was a response.

"Yeah," Naruto mumbled. "Neji already told me about it."

"I know."

Her breathing was slow and even. She was well on her way to falling asleep. She didn't stutter anymore. She must be too far way now to feel that self-conscious.

"Naruto?"

"Hmm?"

"Why are you here?"

"Because I'm responsible for you."

"Is that all?"

He heard the hope in her voice, and he felt part of him being shaken to its core. He was lucky that he had the same feelings as her. Turning her down would be killing her.

Hesitantly, he reached out for her hand.

"You're beautiful, Hinata," he murmured. He got up and put his arms around her.

She opened her eyes and looked at him with sudden wonder.

"Naruto-kun?" she mouthed; it wasn't even a whisper.

"Yea, I love you, too." He knew she hadn't said anything, but he could read it all there in her eyes.

He grinned at her. It had been easier to say than he'd expected.

He pressed his lips to her forehead, and she gasped. He heard her breathing speed up, and a smile spread over his face.

"Nar-Narut-Naruto-k-kun," she stuttered, and he laughed loudly.

"It's just Naruto, Hinata. That's what everyone else calls me." He looked into her brilliant eyes, and he saw her try to smile, but it was clear that she was out of it. "You should relax now, Hinata. Kiba and Shino will want to see you, Kurenai, too, and all the others. And then there's Hiashi and Neji. You're in for a whole bunch."

She sighed, and he laughed again. He felt strangely high. "I know what you're saying," he grinned.

"Will you be here … when I wake up … Naruto?" she asked, as if the question bothered her.

He looked seriously at her. "I'll try to be here when you wake up, but Kiba and Shino will probably get me out of here. I've pretty much been living here, and Kiba won't be here when I'm here. Same for Neji." She blushed, but there was a glint of anger in her eyes that amazed him. "But if you're asking rhetorically," he continued, proud that he was using such a word, "I will be here as long as you'll let me."

They stared at each other for a whole minute, and then she softly rested her head on his chest. "Thank you, Naruto-kun. Ano." He grinned. "But I hope you know … You'll stay … A very long time."

"I hope so," he responded.

"A lifetime," she squeaked, and he could hear the hope.

"Longer than that," he whispered in her ear, and a jolt ran through her body like a lightning.

"Thank you."

She soon fell asleep, and he put his hand on her head. For a few minutes they lay like that. Then he got up, kissed her forehead and went to the door. There, he turned and looked at her a little while. He hoped he would soon get to see her again. Anything else would be unbearable.

He smiled at the sleeping girl that he loved.

"I'm the one saying thank you, Hinata," he told her, before he closed the door and wandered down the hallway.

-

I meant to also have a scene with Neji and Kiba and Shino and Hiashi, but I ended on just this. I liked it, though. Do you? Please review!

And I think this was pretty IC ^^

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