Sorry, it's been a while since I've updated anything... again...

And since then, I've noticed -as I'm sure all of you have noticed – that FF has been pretty busy lately...

What the hell is up with all this deleting crap? Don't be assholes, FF admins, why would you make a website giving us the freedom to write and share our stories when you're only going to censor us and make us watch what we say or what we do with our stories... True, we shouldn't purposely offend anyone but who gets offended with a some sex or violence? We all have our preferences, some more intense than others... So what if we have kids running around ff? Why should we censor ourselves to such an extent when it should be the parents' job to censor the world from their kids... Why should we suffer just because Daddy and Mommy can't say no to Johnny? Can't control him...

And it's not like it's all jumbled up... That's what the rating system is for...

"Rated MA/M/T? Oh, I know, that means its for mature audiences! Not for me," says ten year old Timmy...

But because we don't live in a perfect world and I'm not so naïve, I know there will be kids who'll say "Screw it" and read anyway... There are more – and better – precautions FF could've taken than to just delete stories willy-nilly, as if they were the ones who made the story, as if they slaved over the story and threw their very best into it... Sorry FF, but doing that is unforgivable... I know it hasn't happened to me – thankfully – but to hear others who've suffered the loss of a story, a creation they worked hard to bring to life, it really doesn't sit well with me...

So please, my readers, we need to do something about this! We can't be silent and watch as our favorite stories as erased from existence, never to return again...

There is this website (Change. org petitions/fanfiction-net-stop-the-destruction-of-fanfiction-net#) and you can "sign" your name down in the petition, to stop FF... We need to put up a fight... No matter how hopeless our fight might seem, how fruitless it might be, we need to fight against this because who knows who'll be next...

It could be you...

I can't say I'm surprised by FF's actions, but I can say that I am disgusted...

Anyways, that's that...

Hope this chapter entertains you...


"Nee-chan?" Naruto softly rapped his knuckles against the closed door, but no sounds could be heard in the room. It was almost nine in the morning and typically, the blond hanyō would still be asleep until ten, but he heard something odd come from the room that woke him up. It sounded like someone was crying. "Nee-chan?" he called out, a little louder than before.

Still nothing.

"I'm coming in," he warned yet hesitated to open the door. He swallowed the fear in his throat and slowly opened the door. He prepared himself to duck, block and/or run away, should the situation call for it. When he got the door completely opened, his eyes widened to see that the room was empty. And not empty in the sense that no one was in; nothing but the bed, dresser and nightstand remained in the room. He slipped into the room and looked around and knew it wasn't a sick joke or Genjutsu. He ran to the closet and swung it open: nothing. None of Kagome's clothes were hung or folded in there. He checked the entire room but the only thing she left was her scent.

Naruto's eyes snapped at the feel of a breeze and he turned to the window, finally noticing that it was open. Did she... leave? Run away?

"What's going on?" he thought to himself as he sat down on the bed. He stayed that way, his mind racing to come up with a solution. Should he go to the old man? Technically, she was an adult and she could do whatever she want; the old man had no say so long as she didn't break any laws.

"Naruto-kun?" Naruto looked up with a smile, but it faded slightly when he saw it wasn't Kagome.

'Oh, hiya Hinata-chan," he said, a little deflated. Hinata was a little hurt at the change of look on his face when he saw it was her. Was he expecting someone else? He saw the expression on her face and he wanted to slap himself. He jumped off the bed and wrapped his girl in a hug before she could do or think anything else. "I'm sorry, Hinata-chan, I just thought you were nee-chan," he told her.

She looked up at him with curiosity in her eyes. "What happened?" she asked. Naruto shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm not sure. I know she came home yesterday and fell asleep here but when I woke up... she was gone," he answered and Hinata looked around the room, at the closet and into some of the drawers Naruto left open during his search. Naruto's eyes locked on to the open window. Hinata noticed his line of sight and what it implied.

"But, where would she go?"

Naruto blinked but his eyes never the window. "I don't know, but I got a bad feeling about this."

"We should go, Naruto-kun," Hinata said after giving Naruto some time to think. "Kakashi-sensei is waiting for us."

He looked at Hinata in shock. "He's waiting... for us?" she nodded, also surprised when she first saw Kakashi, waiting patiently along side Sasuke. Naruto sighed as he lead Hinata out of his apartment. "Something tells me today is not going to be a simple day."

*.*.*

Naruto stared at Sasuke as he and Hinata came up to the Uchiha. Sasuke just returned the stare. Their talk from the night before still fresh in their memories...

"Are you serious?" Sasuke barked in disbelief after he swallowed the ramen in his mouth. Naruto barely got to the ramen stand just in time; Sasuke was on his way out when Naruto arrived.

"Come on, you know that Hinata's right," Naruto rebutted, licking his bowl clean before moving on to his next bowl. Sasuke scoffed as he tried to look away from the eating frenzy Naruto was in but it was hard. When Naruto got like that, it was a horrible thing to watch, however it was like a train wreck; its so horrific that it's hard to look away.

"She's just worried, but I'm tell you, we'll be fine!" Sasuke assured Naruto for the tenth time within the last ten minutes. When the blond didn't reply right away, Sasuke growled as he stood and dragged Naruto out of the stand by the back of his collar. He tossed his back and sweatdropped when the blond brought his bowl outside. Sasuke was about to snatch it from the hanyō's hands but Naruto put his left hand up to stop him and chugged the rest of the bowl. Sasuke was morbidly amused when tears streamed down from his eyes.

Naruto sighed in pleasure and pain as he brought the bowl away fro his mouth. He tongue lolled out of his mouth and the black-haired preteen was amazed when steam came off his tongue.

"Burned tongue?" he asked with a raised eyebrow and smirk. Naruto nodded. "Serves you right."

After a second of letting his tongue recuperate, Naruto shook his head and met Sasuke's eyes. "So what now?"

"What do you mean, dobe?"

"We can't really decide if we're entering the exams now, not without Hinata-chan," Naruto answered. "So what are we going to talk about?"

Sasuke shifted his weight on his right leg, let his left leg relax and crossed his arms over his chest. "I want to know why you're so against this," Sasuke lifted his left hand to stop Naruto from interrupting him. "And don't say 'Hinata-chan's right' because that's bull."

"Is not!"

"We have our dreams," Sasuke quickly said, throwing Naruto off. "We made a deal, you help me with mine, I'll help you with yours. This will help us get closer to our dreams, can't you see that Naruto?" Naruto clicked his teeth and looked away. "And I haven't forgotten about Hinata, either. She has her dream, a dream that we can help fulfill, but only if we take this exam!"

"Why now?" the blond interjected. "We can wait till the next exams, when we're more experienced."

"We have as much, if not more, experience than most Chūnin in this village, than most villages," Sasuke countered and Naruto shook his head.

"I don't want to lose any of you," Naruto told Sasuke. Sasuke blinked.

"What?"

Naruto sighed. "What Hinata-chan said... we can die from this."

"And not out there, doing missions?"

"Well, no..."

"Naruto," Sasuke placed a hand on Naruto's right shoulder. "We have each others' back. I trust that you'll be there for me just as much as Hinata will, just like I will for you two," Sasuke broke eye contact but his hand didn't move. He struggled to find the right words but Naruto wasn't in a hurry, he was too surprised. "What life throws at us, I know we'll get through this as a team-no, not as a team," at this, Sasuke looked back at Naruto and smirked confidently. "As a family. Together, the three of us, along with Kakashi-sensei and Inuyasha and Kagome, nothing can stop us from achieving out dreams. Nothing."

Naruto was at a lost for words. He believed in them that much? Sure, Naruto had no doubt in his mind that Hinata and Sasuke would assist him in a fight when he really needed them. But would he jump in front of a flying kunai aimed at Sasuke? At Kakashi-sensei? Aniki? Kagome?

Hinata?

He knew his answer before he could completely contemplate it.

Still, he looked away. "I need to think about it."

Sasuke sighed but nodded nonetheless. "Fine. It's not like it's tomorrow or something." Naruto smiled and placed his right hand on Sasuke's shoulder. Sasuke returned the smirk.

"Thanks for paying," Naruto said before disappearing in a blur of blue, orange and yellow. Sasuke blinked, registered what just happened, and scowled.

"I'm gonna get you back for this, dobe."

Sasuke's stare turned cold and Naruto couldn't help but smile sheepishly as he stood in front of the Uchiha.

"Where's Kakashi-sensei?" Hinata asked, seeing the tension between her male comrades. Sasuke's icy stare went down a few notches as he turned to Hinata.

"He went to get our client," he answered and Naruto blinked.

"We have a mission? Already? We usually get our missions together," Naruto said, prompting Sasuke to scoff.

"Not this time. He said the Hokage personally gave him this mission this morning."

"Did he mention what type of mission?" Hinata inquired. Sasuke shook his head.

"Hm, that's odd," Naruto commented, earning nods from is teammates.

"Yo," came the typically greeting of the gray-haired Jōnin. His three charges turned to him, confused as to why he was traveling alone.

"Where's our client?" Sasuke asked flatly and Kakashi sweatdropped with a shameful eye-smile.

"She's... a little busy," he answered hesitantly. "She's just getting her things together so she's prepared for the journey ahead. Speaking of which, I'd advise you three do the same."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down, Kakashi-sensei! One thing at a time," Naruto said, taking a moment to breathe. "Who's the client, what's the mission, where are we going and for how long?"

"Well, our mission is to escort and protect our client to a small village near the edge of the Land of Fire's border. The trip there will be three days and we'll stay for a festival they're having for a day, to make sure nothing goes wrong. The trip back should take two days, one if we hurry," Kakashi briefed his students, picking his words wisely. "So go pack accordingly," he ordered.

"But, you never said-"

"Naruto, it's best if I don't say anything now," Kakashi interrupted him, his response surprising the blond hanyō.

"Uhm... okay..." he said and Kakashi sighed.

"We leave at noon, so you have two hours to kill after you pack. Dismissed," Kakashi told them before disappearing in a whirlwind of leaves. The three didn't move, they were too busy wondering what was up with Kakashi. Hinata was the first to go, opting to pack as fast as she reasonably could so she could meet up with Naruto. Sasuke went next, leaving Naruto alone to his thoughts. Soon enough, before he was consciously aware of it, he was heading home.

'Could today get any weirder?'

"Naruto-kun," his hanyō ears twitched at the sound of Kagome's voice and he turned to her with a smile, and indeed, it was her.

"Nee-chan!" he exclaimed happily and wrapped her in a hug. She giggled and patted his head. "Where did you go? Oh, what happened to your stuff? Did you sell them?"

"Slow down, Naruto-kun. You're going to fast," she laughed and Naruto laughed as well. "What are you doing now?" she asked and Naruto blinked, completely forgetting himself.

"Oh! I'm going home, I need to pack for a mission that's coming up," he answered. Kagome's eyes widened a bit but relaxed before Naruto could catch it.

"I see. Do you want me to help?" she asked and he nodded eagerly. She giggled cutely at his overwhelming energy and walked with him to the apartment. He talked animatedly about the events that transpired the day before, blushing furiously as he recalled the moment in Hinata's room. By the time he came to this part, they were already in the apartment, packing his stuff.

"So... you guys are finally a couple?" Kagome asked expectantly. It almost seemed like she was about to blow. Naruto blushed a new shade of red that it would've made Hinata laugh and jealous at the same time. Kagome enveloped the blond in a ferocious hug and squealed. "That's so cute! I was wondering when you guys would get together."

"Neh, nee-chan, it's nothing to get excited over. Really," he told her but she shook her head.

"But it is, Naruto-kun," she pushed him back so she could see his face, which was still blushing. "This is a very important step for you. Your first girlfriend! You'll learn so much when you date. Usually, couples don't last very long," she said, scaring Naruto a little.

"What do you mean?"

"Well... sometimes, the two eventually fall out of love or just lose interest. Some people just date to date, not really looking for a serious relationship."

Naruto blinked. "But I'm not like that."

"I know you're not but that doesn't mean that you won't fall out love," Kagome said and she saw the look on his face. "I'm sorry to say that but you need to know that it's not always a fairytale."

"I know, nee-chan," he smiled sadly at her. "Thank you."

Kagome bit her lower lip before a thought popped into her head. "Do you want me to tell you something my mother once told me?" she asked and Naruto nodded patiently. "Since the dawn of ancient times, men and women have striven to find the perfect mate. And once in a while, a couple will meet, and spark a passion that is so powerful, a thousand armies could not pull them apart. For a while, I thought she was just making me feel better. You know, telling me that maybe one day, I'll have that kind of relationship," she placed an arm over Naruto's shoulder and held him close. "But I see now. That is what you have with Hinata. Maybe not now, but you will as time passes."

"How can you be so sure?" he asked, making Kagome giggle.

"Because I have woman's intuition," she answered and Naruto smiled and held her. After holding each other a while longer, the two quickly finished packing his stuff and were out the door.

"Let's get ramen!" Naruto cheered as he swung his pack onto his back and Kagome agreed, though she had to think it over first.

Before Kagome knew it, they were standing in front of the ramen stand with Naruto pushing aside the flap as he entered. She followed after him and smiled in greeting to the owner, Teuchi, and his daughter, Ayame, before taking a seat to Naruto's left.. Kagome giggled as Naruto's furry tail fanned her back from his excitement. It amused her to no end when she saw Naruto waiting expectantly for his ramen. It was like watching a child eying the presents under a Christmas tree.

"Neh, neh, nee-chan, guess what? I'm going on a mission today, -ttebayo!" Naruto swung his legs side to side, his body appearing as if it was going to explode with his pent up energy.

"Really now? You don't say? What are you going to do?" she asked, feigning ignorance. Naruto blinked, before humming to himself in thought.

"An escort mission. But Kakashi-sensei hasn't told us who or to where. Just that we need to take some lady to some place near the border for some festival," Naruto shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, the lack of information mattering less than nothing to him. Kagome nodded, not wanting to provoke the blond or set him off. Soon enough, his meal arrived and he dug in, albeit a lot calmer than he usually did, catching Kagome off guard.

"Kagome-sensei," a soft, polite voice greeted behind her and when she turned, she was delighted to see the semi-blushing, fully-smiling face of one, Hinata Hyūga. She motioned the Hyūga to enter and she sat beside Kagome.

"Hiya Hinata-chan," Naruto greeted docilely as he paused to greet Hinata. Said girl looked at the boy in confusion, before smiling.

"Hello, N-Naruto-kun," Kagome looked at the two interact and inwardly laughed; Naruto knew Hinata was near and didn't want to pig out in front of her and Hinata didn't think she knew of their new-found relationship.

"So, Hinata-chan, you look extremely happy to see Naruto-kun today? Why is that?" Kagome asked innocently, and Hinata looked at her with widened eyes.

"W-W-Why?" she received a nod from the elder female and turned to Naruto for help, but found that he was too entranced in his food to pay any mind to the two. Returning her gaze to her sensei, Hinata swallowed the lump in her throat and forced a less-than-convincing smile. "B-Because, I... missed him?"

"Missed him? But didn't you see him earlier?"

"W-Well, I-"

"And what about Sasuke?"

"A-Ano-"

"What's so special about Naruto-kun?" she blinked before turning to the blond. "No offense." Naruto just waved it off, his mind too occupied to really care.

"H-He's very s-special," Hinata was getting redder as time passed and Kagome felt her joy start to dwindle as she watched Hinata's body beginning to sway ever so slightly.

"Relax, Hinata-chan," Naruto said, having inadvertently dropped his chopsticks as he rushed to her side. Her eyes fluttered before looking up to Naruto, noting that he was suddenly at her side. "I told her about... u-us already," even though her passing black-out, she still giggled at seeing the pink tint painting his tan cheeks.

"I'm really sorry, Hinata-chan; I couldn't resist," Kagome apologized wholly, and Hinata nodded, still holding on to Naruto.

It continued on like that, with light jabs at Naruto and Hinata's relationship and laughs full of cheer and unadulterated happiness. Naruto and Hinata soon remembered their mission and reluctantly began to say their goodbyes to Kagome.

"Don't say goodbye just yet, I have to go that anyway," she said and Naruto and Hinata were glad to hear that. With a skip in their steps, the two younger preteens walked on both sides of the elder teen as they made their way to the front gates. Even though none of them said a word, they enjoyed each others' company all the same.

As Naruto spared a sideways glance at the two most important females in his life, he couldn't help but frown. Something just didn't feel right. His stomach seemed restless – and not from something he ate. He turned his azure eyes down to his stomach and placed his right hand over it.

"Naruto-kun?" Naruto looked, surprised to meet lavender eyes staring back at him, full of concern. Why was she concerned?

"Eh?"

"Why did you stop?" Hinata asked worriedly. Naruto took a second to register what she said and noticed that he did stop, and saw Kagome a couple of meters ahead of him, staring at him as well. He laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head.

"Oh, I didn't notice," he said lamely. Hinata accepted it, even though she knew better. The small group continued forward, almost to there destination. Within minutes, they were able to make out two figures standing in the middle of the entrance of the gigantic gate.

"See ya, nee-chan!" Naruto said with a wave as he and Hinata began to ran towards their team. "So, Kakashi-sensei, where's our client? It's almost noon," Naruto asked after stopping in front of the living scarecrow. Kakashi raised his right eyebrow. He looked up and it dawned on him.

"Actually, she should be here within the next minute," Kakashi told them and Naruto blinked. He looked around; if she was, in fact, within a minute's distance away, that would mean she was within sight – or just that quick, but he highly doubted that. The only person he saw within eyesight was Kagome. Wait, was she walking towards them still? "Ah, glad to see you made it on time," Kakashi mused halfheartedly. Kagome glared lightly at the masked Jōnin before focusing on the rest of the team. Quite frankly, they all looked surprised; Sasuke was the least surprised but the look on his face was not something she saw often.

"Wait, whoa! Time out," Naruto swung his arms horizontally in front of him. "What's going on here?" he asked, hoping to get a answer from anyone, but his eyes remained on the raven-haired teen in front of him. Whether it was from shame or from the intensity in his stare, Kagome could not meet the hanyō's eyes. She wasn't fairing much better with Hinata, who seemed crest-fallen after connecting all the dots. Sasuke wasn't much farther as he bore the look of a bitter child having been denied his favorite toy.

"Tell me there's some sort of mix up, nee-chan," Naruto said, borderline pleaded. His voice tug on her heartstrings and she lost her voice. All vocabulary she possessed at that point just disappeared, so she could do nothing but nod. Naruto just stared at Kagome, his mouth left agape and his tail motionless behind him. Kakashi noticed his reaction, so he decided to release the tension. Or at least get the mission started.

"We don't have time for this," Kakashi said, his voice filled with authority. Everyone save Naruto turned their attention to him, slightly taken off guard of his sudden attitude change. "We need to get going."

"Where?" Naruto asked.

"Naruto, I already told you where we're going. This is the end of this discussion. Not another word," Naruto's eyes shifted to his sensei's lone eye. He blinked and a second later, he was staring at his feet. He might not be happy but Kakashi was sure he wasn't going to do anything else for quite a while. "If we're ready-"

"What about Aniki?" Naruto mumbled, too low for normal ears to pick up, but Kagome heard it.

"He's on a mission. He won't be back until tomorrow," Kakashi answered sympathetically not bothering to look at Naruto. "Let's move, team."

And without another word, Kakashi took a step forward. With his head bowed, Naruto brushed past Kagome, not sparing her one more glance. Hinata followed after him, her left hand hesitated to grasp his right hand after seeing the look on his face but she swallowed down her fear and gripped his hand tightly. His eyes turned to her and softened at seeing the concern etched on her slightly flushed face. He still felt some anger in his heart, boiling over to his stomach, but his ire had to take a backseat for the moment; his hime was there to distract him.

He slowly mouthed a thank you, causing the fair-skinned preteen's face to darken. She nodded in response and was glad that she could be useful to her boyfriend. Her blush deepened and she barely contained the joy overflowing in her chest at thinking of that; no need to show Naruto how much of a spaz she was, especially when they just started going out.

Maybe after half a year it'd be okay, but not now.

Sasuke watched their interaction observantly, his left eyebrow raising at the hand-holding and the silent words they shared. He gave the two their space, instinctively knowing that he should stay in the background as he followed after them. A smirk crossed his lips as he finally connected the dots.

He was driven out of his thoughts when Kagome appeared beside him, walking in sync with his footsteps.

"They make a cute couple, don't they?" Kagome said under her breath. Sasuke eyed her warily, as if he expected her to randomly attack him. There was a sort of far-off look in her eyes and it was shown by the tone she spoke in. The young Uchiha didn't answer, he just returned his gaze to his comrades. It wasn't really awkward; at least, not to him. He had grown up ignoring the other gender – even when they were too close for a normal person to ignore – for most of his life, opting to imagine killing his brother in multiple scenarios and ways instead of trying to convince the fan girl that simply did not know the meaning of the words "subtlety" and "personal space" that he did not want her there.

He blinked when he retracted from his musings and heard Kagome talking. His eyes scanned the left side of his peripheral and saw her mouth moving.

"-and, I just wish I could to him," she concluded with a sigh. She turned to him. "What do you think?"

"That maybe I should just live in a plastic bubble," Sasuke mumbled to himself, causing Kagome to blink when she heard it. She shook her head.

"What did you say? I don't think I heard you right," she said and the black-haired preteen sighed.

"Things happen for a reason, whether seems good now, or not," Sasuke stated before walking a bit faster, surprising Kagome. With his back to her, she couldn't help but just stare at it, her eyes never moving. Suddenly, something clicked in her head and she glowered at the young man, even though he wasn't paying attention to her.

"He wasn't even listening to me," she stated to herself in a huff.

*.*.*

The day passed quickly for team 7 and the three young Genin found themselves preparing for sleep.

Sasuke was disturbed when he told Naruto to set up the tent and the blond simply nodded without complaint. Naruto and obedience was a very odd combination, at least obedience to the degree he was displaying. It was the equivalent of having Hinata running around boldly – without her trademark jacket on – and yelling out conceited things about herself, every once in a while accompanying her words with a speaking tic, like "believe it!" or something worse.

It wasn't necessarily a bad thing if she suddenly had confidence, just like an obedient Naruto wasn't a bad either; it would just be wrong, so uncharacteristic of them.

"It's done," Naruto mumbled and Sasuke stared at the tent Naruto put up. It was decent, nothing special but it'd hold up and that was really his only concern. With a weak yawn, Naruto mumbled a "good night" to everyone, with the exception of Kagome.

"Naruto-kun, do you mind helping me get more firewood?" Kagome asked him, just as he was getting ready to give his "good night" to Hinata. He paused in his steps, not looking at her. His eyes traveled up to Hinata's and a sort of pleading look gleamed in her beautiful lavender orbs. With an exasperated sigh, Naruto nodded and followed behind Kagome, dragging his feet and looking at every which way.

Hinata watched the two go and prayed to a greater being that they returned with their issues resolved. As much as she could empathize with Naruto, she harbored no ill-will towards Kagome for having dropped such a devastating metaphoric bomb like she did. She didn't like it, but she surely hadn't and wouldn't ignore the elder to the degree Naruto had. During the whole trip, Naruto hadn't said a word to her. Hell, he barely spoke to Hinata, with the exception when she coaxed him to. Even then, his words were far and few in between and one syllable long.

Naruto was not amused with Kagome's little ruse. Of course she would ask him to join her when Sasuke, Hinata and even Kakashi-sensei were perfectly able to accompany her.

"Naruto-kun," she called out to him, as she crouched down to grab a relatively large piece of bark she found at the base of a nearby tree. She rose and turned to him, just as he moved behind a tree. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about this earlier. I couldn't, I didn't know how," she explained, hoping to get Naruto to talk back. She gave him time to gather his thoughts and to reply; unfortunately, only silence remained.

"Come on, Naruto-kun. Talk to me," she was on the verge of tears at having her surrogate brother ignore her. She heard her voice, so raw and pathetic, pleading like a small child. Still, she couldn't help herself. "Please."

And yet, he still didn't reply. Was she going to be subjected to his silence for the remainder of what little time they had left?

"I don't know... what you're trying to pull," Naruto began, at first, quietly. Then, his voice slowly started to get louder as he progressed. "You come into my life, and now, you're suddenly leaving? Without a heads up?" he was close to snapping and yelling at the black-haired teen standing in front of him but he couldn't bring himself to actually do it. "I've had people abandon me before; this is nothing new. But it doesn't hurt any less when it happens."

"But Naruto-kun-"

"I don't want to hear it, ne-" he stopped himself, pausing to keep himself from falling apart. He held up a hand to let Kagome know he wasn't done. "Just, don't talk to me for the rest of the trip," he told her in a no-nonsense tone. He turned and headed back to camp, not giving her a chance to respond. He didn't want her to consul him or to make him realize how unnecessarily stubborn he was being. Sometimes, he doesn't want to feel better, to be put back together whenever he cracks. Sometimes, he wanted to be left alone to wallow in his depression. He couldn't be strong all the time and he found it incredibly selfish and unreasonable to be asked to be strong all the time.

Kagome watched him go, her heart sinking into her stomach.

When Hinata saw the look on Naruto's face, she had the strongest desire to run up to him and hold him, to care for him, to do anything to make all his worries, his stress, and his problems all go away. She could see herself comforting the young hanyō; she felt obligated to do so, as his teammate, as his first friend outside of his older brother and most of all, as his girlfriend.

Ignoring the heat accumulating in her face, she steeled herself to consul the object of her affection. She just hoped she wouldn't screw it up.

"Hinata-chan, please," Naruto had seen her roughly at the same time she saw him and he could tell, just by the look on her face, that she was going to try to make him feel better. It was just one of those times and she had to learn to respect it. "I'm not in a good mood."

Hinata certainly wasn't expecting that as his first response but she didn't let that deter her... too much.

"O-Oh," she inwardly chided herself for appearing weak in front of Naruto, especially in a moment like this. "Well, m-mind accompanying me?" she asked kindly, offering a warm, sincere smile to trying to assure him. Naruto stared at her for a while. Normally, he would've accepted her offer without thought, but he didn't want to appear bipolar. So, he settled to hum to himself, then shrug nonchalantly before placing himself to her left on a log they had found lying around. He was a good foot away from her and he wanted to be as close to her as possible. So why wasn't he? He wasn't quite sure.

Hinata longed to feel his touch once more, but she didn't want to upset him. He sat a good distance away for a reason, right? Surely, he had his reasons and she respected that. And suddenly, the two found themselves in a fog of awkward silence. Hinata fiddled with her hands, poking the tips of her index fingers with each other, desperately trying to think of something to say. Naruto wasn't too far behind her line of thought.

"So... I'm hungry," Naruto blurted out the first thing that came to mind. He had to sweatdrop at that; even he knew that was sad; he just wanted to palm his face so badly. Seeing the look on his face made Hinata to smile, giggle even. Naruto blinked as he turned to Hinata, watching her giggle uncontrollably at his side. A smile appeared across his face; slowly, but it was growing with every passing second Hinata continued to giggle. Her giggle was quite cute, innocent; he'd even go so far as to call it pure.

That was when he caught himself, slowly inching towards her. She had yet to catch him in the act, what with all her cute giggling and all. She didn't even consciously realize he had moved at all, even as she laid her head on his shoulder.

"What are you giggling about?" he asked, though there was no malice in his voice. He was actually pretty entertained at watching his girlfriend giggle herself silly. After her giggling subsided, she sighed contently and snuggled against his shoulder, making the blond blush brightly. She wrapped her arms on his right arm and was welcomed by his warmth. She offered no explanation for her random giggles, she was content on just enjoying the moment she was in now. Deciding not to ask any more questions, Naruto joined Hinata in enjoying their time together.

"Thank you," Naruto mumbled under his breath, barely above a whisper. Still, Hinata heard him and her smile softened.

"You're welcome," she whispered back. Eventually, she fell asleep and Naruto had to carry her to her tent. It still surprised him how light she was, much lighter than he first thought. Maybe it was him; he wasn't exactly weak to begin with, especially with his hanyō blood giving him a boost in strength, chakra and senses, just to name a few. With the help of a Shadow clone to open her tent, Naruto gently placed the sleeping Hinata on her sleeping bag and would've left her like that, if It wasn't for the fact that she still had her sweater on.

"That must be uncomfortable to sleep in," he thought out loud and then proceeded to unzip her tan jacket. When the zipper was at the bottom and to one side, Naruto opened the jacket. His eyes bulged, threatening to pop out of his sockets, and he closed her jacket again. Red painted his tan cheeks and he was doing all he could just to remember how to breathe again. He looked down at Hinata, at her sleeping face and felt his heartbeat slow down. Then his eyes traveled lower and he began to sweat.

'She's so... developed,' he thought with a darker blush and swallowed the fear hitched in his throat as he began to remove her jacket. And just so he wouldn't stop, he kept his eyes trained on Hinata's face. 'For Hinata-chan, for Hinata-chan, for Hinata-chan, for Hinata-chan, for Hinata-chan...' he chanted to himself. For the most part, it worked; his eyes never shifted to anything besides her face. His movements were as gentle as a falling feather and it took a lot of effort for Naruto to get her arms out of the sleeves without waking her up. Then again, he wasn't one of the best miracle workers in the world because he was lucky; he was that damn good.

Naruto folded her jacket neatly and placed it beside her. He moved to kiss her forehead and she smiled at the feel of his lips. One last glance at his girlfriend's face and Naruto began to exit the tent. Unfortunately, Hinata stopped his exit when she wrapped her arms around his head and brought him in for a hug. And that wasn't the worse part, she had his head buried in her chest. The blond was worried; what if his blush was so bright, it woke Kakashi and Sasuke?

And yet, Naruto made no move to leave her hold. She was so soft and he felt as if he was pressed against two comfortable pillows. Was this the reason why women had breasts? So guys could sleep on them like pillows? Why else would they be so soft, round and warm?

Eventually, Naruto felt sleep start to come to him and he began drifting off.

His eyes snapped open as his mind completely caught up with the situation. If Kagome came into the tent with him in the position he was in... he didn't want to think about how embarrassing it would be...

So, he put his hands on either side of her and began to lift himself up, only, Hinata still wouldn't let go. In fact, she freed one of her hands just so she could rub and scratch his left ear. That was it, the knock-out move. All of Naruto's strength left him and he smiled like a goof as he tail swung lazily happy behind him. Already sleepy, and now having Hinata scratch his ears, Naruto began to close his eyes, telling himself that he would get up and leave when she stopped doing that nice thing to his ear.

The next time he woke up, he would face his two male teammates with a blush and an explanation.


Well, that's the end of this chapter. Hopefully, I can get the next one out quicker...

*As a side note, do you mind taking a moment of your time to go read BLU3LUNA's story, Esse Patre, please...

Its an awesome, fluffy story... Its not much for violence but it makes up for it in fluff!

Here's the summary:

I can adapt to any situation when I need to. A
s a ninja, I'm trained to be very versatile.
But this... you can't be trained for this.

Thanks for at least reading this...

See ya...