My story starts off when Team 7 are about to undergo another "D" rank mission, but Naruto refuses, stating he wants to try something harder. I hope you enjoy the story! Please let me know what you think at the end!

"No way! I'm not doing another D rank!" A voice accused from behind the Hokage's door.

It was soon followed by a harsh lecture by Iruka about being disrespectful to the Hokage. A tirade was in full swing to the dismay of Hinata Hyuuga.


A messenger had sent for her to report to the Hokage's office for a sensitive matter. When her hand was poised over the door to knock a very familiar loud voice stopped her. Slowly...carefully she walked backwards till she felt the wall on the other side of hall press against her back. She felt like her breathing was too loud, her heart was thundering like an elephant stomping, and she was sure the trembling fingers were making some kind of racket that she had to be scolded for. When she waited long enough to be sure she was about to be banished for embarrassing herself yet again, she decided it safe enough to tap her fingers together...quietly.

Still, what would it hurt to listen to the door a little closer?

She took a tentative step, positive that as soon as her foot touched ground Naruto and everyone else in that room were going to laugh at her for being nosy, pathetic, and weak. Eyes closed tight, shoulders hunched, and hands covering her mouth to keep that darn breathing under control, she put her full weight on her first step.

Nothing happened. Naruto was in a deep debate with his team mates about ramen while Iruka was scolding him yet again for not paying attention.

She giggled into her fingers, braving yet another step. Naruto-kun, you're being silly.

Finding an insurmountable amount of bravery she took several steps at a time. She wanted to hear his voice again.

She pressed her cheek against the plain yet heavy door, her fingers tracing a knot in the thick wood. Naruto's voice, though boisterous and loud, was full of energy and confidence. Knuckles and fingers covered her mouth again, stifling a chuckle that Naruto-kun would get so excited about something like a mission or ramen.

"Fine. I think it's safe to give your Team a C rank mission, Kakashi." Sarutobi said in his gruff but fatherly tone.

What was that? Had she heard correctly? Naruto-kun is going to be on a C rank? She had to hear more.

She pulled her hair away from her ear and pressed her cheek even closer to the door to hear better. The fabric and fur of her jacket brushed ever so lightly against the frame when the door opened quickly, causing her to fall flat on her face with a startled "Eeep!"

When she looked up, Kakashi still had the knob of the door in one hand and the naughty book Kurenai had warned the boys in her team about. It was rather amusing to watch Kiba squirm when those scarlet eyes of her sensei narrowed on him about what would happen if she ever saw that book in her presence.

He smiled down at her with his one visible eye and called out, "Yo!"

"It-itai," she squint one eye and rubbed the front of her of her head with the heel of her hand. Bracing herself into a more dignified position, she felt him squat down next to her. She didn't dare turn her head, however her eyes had more courage and their own mind to do what she was consciously unwilling herself to do. There they were...that kind of blue, that perfect mix of dark and light that held so much strength, so much courage, and so much willingness to give and care. Those eyes had hypnotized her so often that she felt like she was being cruelly jested upon by some deity for giving her such a weak heart and even weaker spirit to talk to him, approach him. Everything, anything she ever did to try and show her interest in him was embarrassingly snuffed out by her inability to talk or even as this moment was about to prove...

"Don't you hate it when that happens?" Naruto chuckled disarmingly, his lips pulled back in an earnest and warm smile. He offered her his hand to help her up, but his countenance changed when his eyes followed the ever increasing blush on her cheeks turn darker and darker till eventually her elbow buckled under her. stay conscious when he so much as got within talking distance.

Naruto watched the Hyuuga girl with concern, turning ever so slightly to his sensei for some kind of answer.

"Are all girls this weird, sensei?"

The spike of killer intent make the small hairs on his neck curl.

"Naaruuutoooo!!!" Sakura growled.

He didn't even get a chance to turn around when Sakura successfully had him choked and gagged in an impressive headlock. Sasuke gave the scene a brief glance before he turned his attention to an annoyed Iruka, an amused Hokage, and an aloof sensei who just turned another page in his book after closing the door.

"Hn," he voiced to no one. These people were not going to help him get stronger. He needed power and this was just proof that the obstacles in his way were many.

"I do not have a dumb face! Let me hit him, Kakashi-sensei! Just once! I'll knock the booze right out of his breath!" Naruto roared in his high pitched growl, arms flailing wildly to break Kakashi's grip and do damage to an older man who obviously had a lot to drink...and was still drinking.

What happened to me? Hinata's consciousness slowly surfaced. What is going on? Is that Naruto's voice? Hinata's eyes peeked open, her dark lashes eventually brushing the bottom of her thin eye brows. She felt something covering her like a blanket. It was thick and slightly cumbersome, but it was also warm and had the faintest scent of something masculine and...ramen?

She moved her hand to her head and looked down at the blaze of orange and blue jumpsuit top with a very high white collar.

This is Naruto-kuns...Naruto-kuns...!

She stifled a squeal by pressing the jacket closer to her mouth, all but suffocating herself to ensure she didn't make to much noise. When she inhaled, her eyes rolled underneath her lids with pleasure.

He even smells safe, happy...and...mmm, smell nice.

The jacket fell away from her mouth long enough to sigh contently.

"It looks like our Hyuuga has woken up." Kakashi announced loud enough for Naruto to stop his windmilling of legs and fists.

It was like watching someone turn off a switch in him. Just a moment ago he looked furious and barely restrained, but as soon as he heard that the weird girl had became aware he stilled and turned his attention to her as if everything else was so unimportant that it was trivial.

With a firm shrug, he dislodged Kakashi's grip on his shirt with so little effort it even surprised Kakashi. The Hokage also noted it with a raised eye and exhale of smoke.

Hinata's large eyes quickly got all the wider, realizing she just made herself the center of attention to everyone again...especially him.

He grinned down at her, hand on the back of his head in an apologetic gesture. "I hope I didn't wake you up. Did you know that sometimes adults are really annoying? Well, he certainly is."

He glared pointedly at the old man with a bottle tipped back in a full chug.

Hinata's eyes squinted with humor, her hands clenching his jacket close to her mouth. She gave just the barest nods, acknowledging his comment.

"Imagine! Him calling us squirts and thinking we can't do something as simple as babysit him from here to there. Hmph! We'll show him, right?" he grinned eagerly, waiting for her approval.

She looked away, unable to maintain that look of such positive self assurance, such infallible security in one's abilities. She offered a demure shrug. Her eyes lost whatever joy she had at his closeness. For her to openly admit that she was not going to fail in this mission was not realistic. She knew she would. She always did.

Naruto saw her demeanor change, curious and even a little frustrated that she was so...sensitive? So...closed off? What a dark weirdo. Still, she had pretty eyes when he was sure she was hiding a smile behind her hands and jacket.

Naruto was about to ask another question, when Kakashi firmly placed a hand on his shoulder. "Naruto, would you mind leaving her alone for a moment? She is also here for a mission."

"No way! You have your own mission!" He opened big blue eyes at her in wonderment, thrilled and even a little jealous of her. "That's so cool! You must be the greatest gennin here! Oh, oh, what's the mission? What's the mission?"

He saw her shrink all the more into his jacket, even so much as throwing it over her head to hide from him, legs curled into a tight ball, turning away.

Doesn't he know what he's doing to me! I can't take this...this much attention! I can't breathe..I can't think...I can't...I can't...

"Hyuuga Hinata," The Hokage called slowly, ensuring she heard him and also cut off Naruto rant to get her attention. From what everyone also could tell, it was only another few seconds or so before Hinata all but passed out again.

"H-hai!" She sat bolt straight, eyes locked wide on the red and white hat of her Hokage.

He waited a few moments, allowing the girl to catch her breath and, to her dismay, give the jacket back to Naruto who gave her a wide grin of thanks. She stood before the Third with her feet turned inward, eyes lowered and fingertips tapping nervously.

"When Tazuna put in a request for this mission, I got the impression that things were not doing well in the Country of Waves. I noticed that until now we have not received any mission requests from them for the past year. I also noticed they had not put in a request from anyone in any of the other hidden villages. I find that a little odd, don't you?"

Hinata turned away, biting her lip as she considered her Hokage's words. She nodded, just the tiniest bit of her head in agreement.

"Hinata-san, your Hokage is asking for your answer. You should answer him with a 'Yes or No, Hokage-sama." Iruka chided gently. He knew the Hokage or anyone else, but Naruto, was not blind to her shy and quiet nature, but decorum demanded some correction on his part.

"Y-yes, Hok-k-kage-sama." she bit out painfully behind her hands.

The Hokage waited, allowing the girl to compose herself some more. He turned his eyes when he heard Sasuke make a rude noise, clearly showing his displeasure at another weak person. Sakura seemed to try to catch Sasuke's eye by tilting her head, playing with her pretty pink hair...she even tried to openly pose with a hand behind her head and one on her hip.

"You look really pretty, Sakura-chan," Naruto tried to whisper to her, but she turned a very annoyed shoulder to him. He winced at her cold demeanor and even more so at the heated whisper, "I'm not doing this for you, baka."

He let out a small painful whine that barely made it past his lips. Shoulder's hunched, he tried to look away.

Hinata saw all this at the corner of her eye, but still kept her face forward. She was pained that Sakura was so mean to him, but it also hurt her to know that he openly thought she was pretty.

Why does this surprise me? He has always thought so. I'm not even worth looking at. I bet that plant on the side of the room as a better chance getting a date with him then I would...I'm so pathetic. I would do almost anything for him to tell me I'm pretty...Then again, I don't even think I could tell him I think he's handsome...and...that his eyes are most beautiful blue...and that he smells of happiness, security, and...and...well, I'm sure that he already knows he smells like ramen.

This brought a slight smile to her lips that she quickly hid behind with her small fists.

"The Hyuuga have always held political ties with many of the local countries or smaller villages. I was told that during your time at the Academy you studied local and foreign economics. Your father is one of the greatest ninja, ambassadors, and liaisons the Country of Fire has ever seen. He has personally worked for myself, the Fourth, the founding clans, the Daimyo and their family on several treaties and projects. I couldn't help but think this would be a great chance to offer you an opportunity to get outside the gates and explore just a little bit of what your family and your father has done for our great country. I will also ask for you to help me understand a little of why the Country of Waves must be doing so well if they are not asking for help of ANY kind from anyone else. I'm sure there will be nothing to worry about, right Tanzuna-san? My shinobi will not have to worry about anything more then little riff raff from here to there, right?"

Tanzauna swayed precariously, flicking his hand dismissively. "If they kin~hic~shurvive da playgroundsh...d'en...~hic~no shweat."

"Excellent," he turned to Kakashi, "I'll consider this a separate 'c' rank mission. Which reminds me, how are your team mates?"

Hinata turned her eyes to the side, a small grin on her lips. "Kiba-kun is with Akamaru-kun at family reunion. He's getting ready for a competition that they have once a year. Shino-kun's kekei bugs are also in the middle of a cocooning stage that requires a lot of environment control and constant maintenance, which he's very excited about it. Kurenai-sensei was asked to help Asuma sensei with something. She didn't say what it was, but she was really looking forward to it."

Hinata's lack of stutter brought a nod of approval from both her sensei and the Hokage. Naruto gave a supportive grin that made her blush.

The Hokage nodded, taking another pull of his pipe. "Good, good. I'll expect you all to be ready to leave early morning tomorrow. Kakashi," he turned steely eyes over his pipe, ensuring he had the elite jounin's attention. Kakashi even lowered his book. "Don't be late. I would hate to have to merge Team 7 and Team Gai so their sensei can give you and your gennins a lesson on 'powers of youth' and fashion sense."

Kakashi paled so badly he dropped his book.

"Y-yes, Hokage-sama." Kakashi could not keep his hands steady.

"You're all dismissed."

"Sakura-chan! Sakura-CHAAAAAN!" Naruto bellowed down the hall, stopping the cherry blossom in her tracks, fist clenched in annoyance at her side. She was trying to hurry up and offer Sasuke to have dinner with her. He had ran off as soon as they were released.

"What?!" She barked at him, clearly annoyed at his inability to be sensitive to her pursuit.

"Ne, ne, Sakura-chan," he ran up, teeth and eyes glowing with expectation. "Lets go have something to eat! I know a really good ramen stand. They have a really nice cook and his daughter makes excellent-"

"Shut up already about ramen and going out!" She raised a threatening fist to him, eyes blazing with fury. "I'm not going out with an ugly, short, stupid, annoying, loud baka like you! EVER! Now leave me the hell alone! Just because we have to be on the same team doesn't mean we have to do everything as a team when we're not on mission. If you want to do something go pick on someone else or become more like Sasuke-kun. Until then, go away!"

He had ducked under her verbal assault as if each word was some kind of jab that hurt him physically. His eyes teared slightly, heart shattered with her blunt outburst. "Sakura-chan...gomen..."

"Hmph!" She turned away from him with a righteous air, "Sasuke-kun! Matte, Sasuke-kuun!" She was soon chasing in the direction she had last saw him take off.

Hinata peeked around the corner, her hand on her heart as if the physical pressure could loosen the knot that seems to be growing tighter. Her lip bit almost painfully, wanting to call out to him, help him...but couldn't. She just didn't know what to say, how to say it...afraid to say it. Her hair was failing miserably at trying to conceal herself. She wanted to tell him that she felt every one of those words as if they were directed at her. How often has she heard something similar but with not as much volume? Neji-ni-san and Oto-sama were particularly eloquent when they told her of their disappointment and what she should do with her time. She found out how with so little fluctuation of their speech and with little more then a glance they could crumble anything that was left of her feelings.

They were getting really good at letting her know she was a failure that did not represent their family well.

"Are you okay, Hinata?" Naruto peered at her from around the corner.

"Eep!" Hinata flailed backwards into a small table that held a lamp and a bowl of potpourri. Two crashes and mixed fragrant petals still floating all over, Hinata turned away from him and pulled her hood over her head, trembling and whimpering into a tight posture.

She waited for it. She knew it was coming. The barrage of insults, the mocking, slight tone of disapproval, maybe even the bark for her to just get out of the way and let the 'real' Hyuuga's do the family work...she the sounds moving?

She peeked her hood open to see Naruto picking up the table and placing the awkwardly bent lamp shade back on the lamp with a broken bulb. He tried to fix it, placing it this way and that with his tongue sticking out to the side. He frowned at the odd angle it sat at and eventually shrugged. Turning his gaze to Hinata's subdued form, he sent her another grin, but quickly sighed plaintively when she turned away fearfully.

"Gomen, Hinata. I didn't mean to scare you. I saw that you looked sad and I ...well...nevermind. I bother everybody." He knelt down and started picking up pieces of broken pot and placing them on the table. "Wouldn't want someone to cut their foot, ne?" He tried to smile at her when she turned to him again, her hands fisted carefully under her nose.

Trying to offer another friendly smile, he accidentally cut his finger when he wasn't paying attention. Hissing slightly, he stuck his finger in his mouth and watched her wince at his pain.

"I need to be more careful, huh? I...well...I'll go now."

He started off dejectedly, one hand in his pocket.

"N-nar-ruto-kun." She called out at her highest whisper, her face dark red at her shamelessness.

"Eh, Hinata?" he turned around, curious.

"Ano..."she dug into her many pockets, frantically searching for her medicine and then finally produced it. She reached up, still sitting on her shins, head meekly low and offered it to him in an almost half bow. "Mph." She pushed it towards him again, her eyes fluttering, struggling to keep conscious.

"Nani?" He took it from her, taking a whiff of its creamy contents after opening it. "It smells like salt and flowers. What do I do with this?"

"I-it's an oin-ointment f-for cu-cu-cu,"she stammered.

"Cuts? You are giving me medicine for my cuts, Hinata?" He asked curiously, almost suspiciously.

She nodded, her fingers trembling and tapping each other.

He dipped his finger in it cautiously and winced at the slight sting, but was soon smiling when he felt the wound all but disappear with a hiss of smoke.

"Wow! This stuff is awesome, Hinata! Arigato!" he offered it back to her, but she shook her hands in front of her frantically.

"I-I've g-g-got pl-lenty, Na-nar-naruto-kun. I-I'll ju-just ma-ma-make m-m-more," she tried to finish but her breathing felt restricted, her heart was beating so fast and he was so happy at her...she wasn't ready, she couldn't be ready for his approval.

"You made this, Hinata?" He pushed himself closer to her, eyes level with her own. He looked at her with unrestrained awe. "You're so cool! You must be really smart to be able to make this! Thank you very much, Hinata. Say, would you like to-"

He quickly reigned in his excitement, turning his eyes away in self depreciation. "I guess you wouldn't be interested. You probably have a lot of other things to do then come out to eat ramen with me, huh?"

Naruto turned his head and eyes away, missing her vigorous nod. Several steps down the hall, he waved the small container of ointment. "Thanks again, Hinata. I'll see you to..Nani?"

She had scrambled to her feet, a small whine escaping desperately.

He blinked curiously at the dark haired Hyuuga. Her hands were fidgeting her fingers into literal knots. Rosy flushed cheeks and wide eyes expressed more then she could with words.

"You want to eat ramen with me, Hinata?" he asked doubtfully.

She clenched her fingers together, nodding with all her might that she did.

A slow, warm glow curled his lips favorably, eyes beaming with utter delight.

I would eat ramen with you everyday to have you smile like that at me, Naruto-kun, she thought.

He rolled his eyes playfully at her, encouraging her to join him. "Well, the ramen doesn't cook itself. C'mon. I want to introduce you to some of the greatest people I've ever met other then the Hokage and Iruka-sensei."

She shuffled next to him, blushing different shades of scarlet and crimson. Eyes lowered bashfully, she couldn't help but wonder if she'd screw this up and have him get annoyed with her after the day was done. When she got as close as she dared, she saw his eyes look at her deeply, carefully. Why did they have to be so blue? Why did they have to look as if his very soul was there, vulnerable and unshielded? How can he have so much caring when he was so easily hurt by what people say or do? Is it because he's so brave and stronger in spirit then me, then anyone?

"Hinata." he said softly, an amused smile turned playfully at her. He reached his hand to her, about to touch her face.

He's going to touch me! Is he going to kiss me? Oh my god! Oh my god! I can't...I...can't...

He picked off a piece of potpourri from her indigo locks, showing it to her. "I think you look a lot prettier without leaves in your hair."

Hinata paled at the idea that she was so wrong about him wanting to touch her...but tinted pleasantly with the idea that he HAD thought she was pretty. She was just so confused...and thankful for it.

"Ne, the old man Ichiraku and his daughter Ayame are so nice! When I was little no one would allow me into their restaurants. So I just-" he started down the hall, telling his story of childhood with large hand gestures and louder then necessary tone. She hovered near him patiently, thankfully to be allowed to hear whatever he wanted to tell her.

I'm going to have dinner with Naruto-kun. It's almost like a date... she squealed mentally, thankful she was able to get over a hurdle she was positive she would never been able to in her whole life.

Let me know what you think!

To my readers who had followed me during my Allies and Enemies a World Away, this is my second attempt with some of the same characters of producing a story more to my liking. I hope you like it.

Your Mistress.