First, this is a gift to my good friend, Suzaku18. AKA: Ice-Suzaku.
Second, I would like to thank Askerian, AKA: Asuka Kureru, for proofreading this and for giving me suggestions for keeping this fic true to Canon and proper characterization.
Third, I admit that I really don't know a whole lot about Naruto. I have probably skipped about 50 or more chapters of the Manga. I don't know anything about the "Akatski." This is why I am very grateful to Asuka-san for being so kind as to give me some constructive criticism and for giving me some excellent suggestions.
Fourth, I wrote this fic with the intension that it takes place in the future, after all of the stuff that is currently going on in the manga between Danzo, Sasuke, and the Akatski, has been resolved. It is, also, obviously, Naruto's answer to Hinata's confession from Ch. 437.
Fifth, I will not be continuing this fic in any way. I do not know enough about Naruto to accurately write a fanfic series on my own.
Disclaimer: Naruto and all of the characters and the setting in this fanfic belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
Even though he had finally earned the title of Hokage, Naruto was neglecting his office duties. Konoha was still in partial ruin, but it was still the duty of the Hokage to accept and assign missions. At this particular moment, however, Naruto had foisted his responsibilities off on Sakura and was in the process of carrying lumber that would be for the reconstruction of part of the business district. It was a hot and sunny day and Naruto wore only his pants and sandals. Sweat glistened off of his bare chest and arms and his muscles flexed under the weight of his load.
As he neared a cross road on the street, Naruto was forced into a sudden halt when someone walked out in front of him. Shifting the load on his shoulder, so as not to drop it, he blinked with surprise to find a pair of solid white eyes staring up at him with a fearful expression. Naruto's breath caught. This was the first time that he had seen her since she had nearly been killed trying to protect him.
"Na…Na…Na…" Hinata stuttered over his name and stumbled back, away from him.
Naruto wondered if that was her nickname for him. She seemed to call him that a lot. He tilted his head slightly and stared at her. He remembered assigning Team 8 to a mission, but Hinata had not been there to accept the assignment with Kiba and Shino. They told him that she was helping her family rebuild their home. It was understandable, so he didn't question the excuse, and... his eyes went wide as he remembered the dramatic confession of love that she had made. At that same exact moment, she wobbled on her feet and her eyes closed nanoseconds before she started to fall towards the ground.
In an instant, Naruto dumped the load that he was carrying and moved to catch her, just in time. "Oi! Oi, Hinata!" he exclaimed. "Not again," he said in exasperation as he looked upon her fainted form.
The sound of someone chuckling forced Naruto to look up and find Kiba and Shino watching the entire scene with amusement. "Ummm…" he said, and stood with Hinata cradled in his arms. "Is she alright? Was everything okay on the mission? Is she exhausted? Does she need to go to the hospital?" he spewed out the round of questions nervously. He realized that this commonly happened to her, and it worried him.
Kiba smirked and wondered how Naruto could honestly be so dense. He looked at Shino, and they both nodded before moving towards the pile of lumber that Naruto had dumped in the middle of the street.
Naruto stood there, holding Hinata, unsure of what he should do with her. He wondered why her teammates hadn't answered any of his questions. "Ummm…" he muttered again, when Kiba and Shino started to gather the discarded pile of 2 x 4's.
Kiba looked at him as he stood with the largest bulk of the lumber rested across his shoulders. "Just hang on to her for now," he said smugly. "She'll wake up soon. Look, we'll take this for you," he added, referring to the lumber. "Where does it need to go?"
Naruto shifted on his feet, unsure of what to make of Kiba's demeanor. "W….what should I do with her?" he asked after swallowing the knot that had formed in his throat.
"Take her over there," Shino pointed to a small grove of trees not far off of the road, but secluded enough that no one would likely spot them there without actively looking. "Sit down with her and wait for her to wake up," he ordered in his usually cool manner.
"R…right," Naruto said obediently, and complied with the suggestion.
Kiba and Shino watched him leave and then looked at each other with a smirk. "Hinata's going to be angry at us," Kiba said, barely suppressing his laughter.
Shino shrugged, "How will she know?"
Kiba chuckled and turned in the direction that Naruto had been heading before their encounter. It should be obvious enough where to take the boards. They just had to look for a building that was under construction.
Naruto carried Hinata, delicately, to the small grove. He looked around for somewhere to set her down, but setting her on the ground seemed too harsh. For some reason, he couldn't help but to handle her as if she were fragile and about to break. What had Kiba told him to do? 'Just hang on to her for now?'
'Well, alright, if you say so', Naruto thought, and sat down to lean back against a tree with Hinata still cradled in his arms.
With Hinata's head resting against his chest, he looked down and studied her features. Sure, he had noticed before, a long time ago, that she was attractive. She was always trying her hardest and looking at him with kind and gentle eyes. He remembered all of the times, throughout the years, when she had been kind to him. He also remembered all of the times when she fainted at the unexpected sight of him.
Her confession replayed through his head. She had seemed so strong and so bold. The memory of it pulled at his heart, and he remembered that she had nearly gotten herself killed, for his sake. He slowly raised a hand to brush her hair away from her face. She let out a tiny moan and unconsciously snuggled closer against his chest. Naruto swallowed, hard. His body became stiff and his heart pounded in his ears. This feeling, a tingling in the pit of his stomach, wasn't something that he felt around Sakura.
Hinata's eyes slowly fluttered open. Naruto, unknowingly, held his breath, unsure of what to expect. As she focused on her surroundings, her hand drifted up to rest against his hard muscled chest. She slowly brought her eyes up to his face. They went wide and filled with recognition as she realized the position she was in. She snapped her hand back, as if she had been burned, and gasped in horror.
Naruto wasn't sure of how he should take her reaction, but he recognized the signs that she might faint again at any moment. With one arm still around her shoulders, he shook her animatedly. "Oh Geez! Hinata! As your new Hokage, I forbid you to faint again!" he demanded.
Hinata blinked a few times, and slowly seemed to focus. As she became aware, again, of her position, she scrambled out of his arms and knelt in front of him. She bowed down and apologized in a quiet and fearful voice.
"Oi!" Naruto exclaimed suddenly. He was made uncomfortable by her actions. "I…it's fine, there's no need for that," he stammered. "Please don't do that?" he asked, and reached his hands out to grip her shoulders and raise her back up into a sitting position. He could then see how red her face was. He almost reached his hand out to touch her forehead and feel for a temperature, but thought best against it. He wondered how he could have missed, for so long, that she liked him. "Hinata?" he spoke her name quietly, to draw her attention.
She slowly raised her gaze to look at him.
"How long have you liked me?" he asked, causing her face to turn purple with embarrassment.
Hinata dropped her gaze back to her hands, which she wrung together nervously, and took in a sharp breath. "Since before we became shinobi," she admitted quietly; so quietly that Naruto almost didn't hear her reply. He stared at her for a long time, speechless. All of the memories that he had thought about when she was unconscious, flooded his mind. He had always been too busy to notice how she truly felt. His life, up to now, had been full with thoughts of getting Sasuke back. He hadn't had the time to think about her as more than a friend. What was not to like about Hinata, though? She was strong, in her own way, capable, caring, a good cook… even if it was a little unnerving eating a rice ball that resembled his appearance…, and she was beautiful.
When he finally blinked out of his daze, he found that she still looked down at her lap, where she continued to wring her hands. He moved forward, onto his knees, and inched closer to her. "Hinata?" he spoke her name to draw her attention. She looked up and was a little startled to find how close he was. Before she could move, he took hold of her hands and pulled her forward. Accidently, their lips met. Hinata was so shocked that she jumped away from him and covered her mouth with a gasp. Naruto figured that he should make his next move quickly, before she fainted or something. "I like you too, Hinata," he confessed. Hinata stared at him with unbelieving eyes. "I'm sorry that I never noticed your feelings. I can't say that I love you, but that doesn't mean that I won't fall in love with you in the future. So, why don't we see where this takes us?"
Hinata dropped her hands from her mouth and fell forward. Naruto caught her effortlessly and pulled her against him, thinking for a moment that she had fainted again. It was when she clung around his sides that he realized she was still conscious. He pulled her away enough to look at her and found tears rolling down her cheeks. This startled him and he instantly began to fuss over her. "What's wrong? Are you ok? Why are you crying?" He asked in a rush.
Hinata shook her head and rubbed her fists into her eyes. "I'm just….so happy," she whispered between sobs.
Naruto didn't understood what she meant, but there was a lot about her that he still had to learn. For now, he pulled her back into an embrace and was content to hold her and let her cry until she realized that the dream she had for so long finally had the chance to become a reality.