She wasn't sure how to describe how she felt. Angry. Betrayed. Disappointed. Hurt beyond believe. Maybe they all fit. Nobody ever said feelings were always logical. Sometimes they just existed to emphasize one's confusion. She smiled as she and her cousin discussed the science project that was due but her eyes would flick over to watch him. And her. She was a romantic at heart. She had grown up watching all the 'happy ever after' classics in her younger days. She had a huge collection of those romance novels that women seemed to love. Yet the sight of the lovey-dovey action going on across from her was making the cold pizza she'd just eaten turn in her stomach. Neji touched her arm.
"Do you want to go home now?" he asked.
It wasn't an out of the way question. She had he had always been close. He was the only male, apart from him that she was really, really close to. She nodded and took up her books, ignoring the sympathetic glance from Neji. She didn't want the pity. She wanted her quiet world to return to normal. She wanted the days when it was the four of them – herself, TenTen, Neji and Naruto. But high school was a killer on the life a times. TenTen had ended up in a different school and much to Neji's despair; she was the most sought after. She had an album of boyfriends to prove it. Luckily, or unluckily, she ended in the same school as Naruto. Lucky in the beginning because they were best friends. They did everything together. And she meant everything. Unluckily because now he had a girlfriend and she didn't have the luxury of being in another school to hide from the torment. She looked at the couple who didn't even notice they had risen to leave. Normally, she would try to get his attention, to let him at least notice her, but she didn't today. She couldn't bear it. She wanted the days when she was his world. She sighed and she had Neji headed home. The distance did not help to erase from her mind the public demonstration of affections. The touches. The kisses. The hugs. She swallowed against the threat of tears.
He had been her everything. Inseparable since the day he collided into her in a park at the age of five. It had been a painful encounter that she didn't regret until now. He had been her firsts in everything. And she meant everything. He had been the first boy she showed her underwear to at the age of six. She remembered how he pleaded to see it and then how he touched it as if it was the eighth wonder of the world. He had been the first boy to touch her newly developing breasts at ten. She was an early bloomer. He had been the first boy to see her completely naked. Now that had been an experience.
"Hinata! Are you in here?" he called. He swung the door open to see a mortified girl trying to cover up with the sorry excuse for a towel. Instead of walking out like most boys his age would do he walked in and closed the door.
No matter how she had tried to convince him to go out and let her get dressed, he managed to convince her to let him examine her body. So he went back and turned the key, effectively sealing them in and returned to help her stretch out on the bed. She was aware of the red hue her whole body assumed but she let him examine away. At twelve years old, she had the body of a fifteen, maybe sixteen year old. Even if she was short with it. She remembered how he traced her soft curves and played with her breasts asking questions about how it made her feel and if she wanted him to stop. She answered truthfully. She didn't mind him looking. Or touching. It was Naruto. They used to bathe together at six years of age. She remembered when his hands and ventured between her thighs and the instinctive reaction to tense. He'd stopped. She didn't want him to. So, genius that she was, she suggested she'd feel better if he was naked too. He didn't hesitate. Soon they were both touching and exploring. It was interesting to say the least. The innocent touches to her most private area had been embarrassing to say the least. She didn't really understand why she was so wet then. He'd been embarrassed too because of his state of attention. Eventually they got dressed. And didn't speak of it again. But it had been a turning point in their relationship.
Naruto would come to her for everything. At thirteen, when he had his first girlfriend, he had asked Hinata for advice. That was how she ended up in this horrid state of affairs. The girl had been more experience than him and so Hinata became his test-drive dummy. Back then she didn't really see him as more than her curious best friend so she was happy to help. At thirteen, her newly teenage mind was susceptible to his growing charm. He'd always had charm. But now he had teenage charm. They would have practice sessions of what to say, how to act, how to touch and eventually she got used to seeing herself as the girlfriend. She supposed some part of her always expected that when the relationship ran its course, he would come to her and then her fairytale would begin.
It didn't happen. It all went downhill for her when he got his second girlfriend at fourteen. He was now an expert of how to do most of everything else. Except kissing. He'd never gotten that far with the first girl because she had been jealous of Naruto's relationship with her. So when he climbed through her window in the middle of the night – a natural occurrence – she only moved back the covers and made room for him. Normally she would give him her back and he would drape his arm over her. Tonight he pushed her onto her back. She remembered being irritated since she was tired. It was the middle of the night. Then he made his request. They had argued a little since she had never been kissed either. She didn't know how to help him with this. Like always, they'd worked out a compromise and had shared their first kiss. It hadn't been like she pictured. It was clumsy. Awkward. And it took a couple of tries to get it right. To actually enjoy it. It had been sort of surreal after that. Instead of saying thanks and heading back to his room, he continued to kiss her, to touch her. They started touching places they hadn't touched since they were twelve. And others he would only touch in his practice sessions. When his hand slipped under her t-shirt, one that she'd stolen from him, then into her underwear, alarms went off in her head.
She had pulled away from him then. Pushing him away at the same time. He had sighed and covered his face with his hands and apologized. She wouldn't accept it. Stupid her. She told him it was just practice. He had stayed until she fell asleep. The next day they continued as usual. Until she did the most idiotic thing just three weeks later. His second relationship had lasted longer than it expected. In fact, it was this second relationship that was driving her nuts. With her. She had just accepted an invitation to dinner from a boy, Kiba was his name, and was trying to decide what to wear the night before. She had consulted TenTen and Neji. But Naruto always had the final say. After choosing an outfit for her, they sat down for their regular talks. Neji and TenTen had already closeted themselves in the former's room. Distracted by the action of checking her email, she only barely heard his request. When it settled in her mind what she had agreed to, she did a full reverse. Another argument ensued. This one was bigger. Louder. They didn't talk to each other for a month. When they did end up talking, she agreed to help him. Even though she had been seeing Kiba for a month, she agreed to have sex with him. She broke up with Kiba the next day.
She shook the memories from her head and decided to try and numb her senses with candy and loud music. Even if the music was classical music. She stretched out across her bed, idly chewing on a snickers bar, her eyes glued to the window. The window had been unused ever since that mistake of a night. Two years. That's how long. She was sixteen now. No longer a virgin. And missing a piece of her heart. A piece she didn't really know she had given away. She stuffed the rest of the snickers bar into her mouth and grabbed another. She increased the volume on her headphones and turned away from the window.
To say she was scared a few minutes later was an understatement. She was sure her heart had stopped ten times in the split second it took for the hand to touch her shoulder. Then it stopped ten more times when she recognized the owner of the hand. Naruto.
"You scared the life out of me." She said.
"I can see that." He wiped a bit of what she assumed was chocolate off her mouth and put it in his. She cursed how sweet he could be to her and not even know how it was tearing her up inside.
"What are you doing here? There's nothing more I can teach you." She said bitterly and flopped back onto the bed.
"I just came to talk." He said as he stretched out beside her. Automatically, she moved away.
"About what?" He reached to touch her cheek and frowned.
"About this. Why are you ignoring me?" She knew her mouth hung open at the question. "You won't even let me touch. What is up with you?"
"There is nothing up with me." She said stiffly. Her disbelief and quickly given way to anger. She couldn't believe his nerve. She moved to get off the bed but he pulled her down and pinned her with his body. Under any other circumstances she would have been thrilled. But she was upset and she had no doubt that her pale lavender eyes showed her fury. They scuffled around and still, he managed to keep her pinned. "Get off." She said threw gritted teeth.
"No. We're gonna solve this now."
She knew anger was making her irrational but she didn't care. His proximity was not good for her and his demands on her were making her angrier than she had ever been at anyone. She wanted him gone. "Get off." She said more firmly. "I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to solve anything with you. I just want you gone. I want you to leave me alone." She hadn't yelled and maybe that's why he reacted so quickly. He sat up freeing her hands.
"What's gotten into you? You haven't said two words to me in months and now you're telling me you want me gone? You want me to leave you alone?" She saw the hurt in his eyes and a part of him was glad that she hurt him. The other part wanted to hug him and tell him everything was alright. This hurt her. She pushed him away from her and walked to the other side of her room.
"This friendship isn't healthy. I'm going nuts." She said running a shaking hand through her hair. "I can't be your friend anymore." Silence reigned supreme between them for five minutes. She knew because she had been watching the clock on the wall behind him. He stood up slowly and walked just as slowly towards her. She didn't try to move away because he could never hurt her physically. So when his large hands clamped down on her, the pain was shocking.
"Are you out of your mind? Not be my friend anymore?" he shook her and her teeth clicked together painfully. He suddenly released her and she fell into the rolling chair behind. The momentum sent her into the computer desk, knocking over a few picture frames. He was already back on her bed, head in hand. "I don't understand." The anger was already gone. He never could stay angry for very long. He was a naturally cheerful person. "Why?"
"The fact that you don't even see what you're doing to me proves my point and that I'm right."
"Hinata, I don't understand. Please-"
"No. Let's just leave it at that. I can't hang around you anymore. Don't come through my window anymore. Just ignore me. Like you've been doing for the past two years." He seemed genuinely confused. "You should go." He looked like he wasn't going to budge. Something she was familiar with. They were times in the past when they would fight and she would send him away. He'd stay put until she started talking to him again. She couldn't let that happen now. She got up. "I'm gonna sleep in Neji's room tonight and every night until you finally get it." She left him there, pretending not to see the tear rolling down his cheek. "Goodbye."
He returned to her room every night for two months until he gave up. He didn't pressure her at school. He was too private in that regards. She was relieved when she saw the end in sight. She got back together with Kiba. They dated until graduation when they both decided that a long distance relationship wouldn't work. He was going overseas. England. She was going – regrettably – to the same school as Naruto. She could have changed but this was her dream school.
"I'll miss you." Kiba said hugging her. She rubbed her face into his shirt to get rid of the tears.
"I'll miss you too." She stretched up and kissed him. Desperately. And why shouldn't she? He'd been her rock in those few years left of high school. Even if he didn't know it. "Be happy in life Kiba. Don't hold out thinking you have to because of me. I'll miss you like crazy. And I wish you didn't have to go. But if you meet someone else…"
"Ssh." He said and kissed her. "No talk of that. Let's just enjoy this moment. Only a few minutes until they start calling my flight." So she sat in his lap and cried silently into his shoulder, kissing his neck every now and then. Their last kiss was wet from her tears but sweet. And then he was gone.
College life was just as bad as high school. Or maybe worse since her little group was back together again. But things were different. Very different. TenTen was wearing an engagement ring. Neji's. Sakura-even in her mind she stumbled over the name. Yes. Sakura was Naruto's girlfriend. She was a constant in the group. With her came Ino, her best friend. And Shikamaru. Ino's bodyguard of sorts. Though she didn't need one. Ino's boyfriend was a monster of a man. Chouji. Hinata didn't mind the additions since it was a distraction from actually talking to Naruto. Which she never did. If anyone noticed, they didn't say anything.
Life took an interesting turn when she met someone in her botany class. A guy. He was insufferable to say the least. But he was her lab partner for the rest of the semester. She could deal. She managed to pry out him that he had a younger brother in the other botany group. She learned that his first name was Itachi and not Uchiha as everyone called him. And she learned he was a really good kisser. The first time it happened had been surprising. But she consented. It was nice. He was nice. When he wanted to be. But they weren't a couple or anything. Just kissing partners. And it never went further than kissing. She even managed to pry out of him why he liked kissing her. He whipped out a photograph of a girl. It was his fiancée. She was studying in Africa and he missed her. Hinata noted that except for the dark hair and pale skin, she looked nothing like her.
It took a few more weeks for her to realize she'd found herself in the same boat she had jumped out off in high school. She asked that he stop kissing her and she explained why. He smiled. He was older than her. By maybe two years.
"You're a sweet girl. Maybe I should set you up with my brother. He's single." She agreed to meet said brother.
We didn't hit it off. In fact he was worse than Itachi. Sasuke was a jerk above all jerks. But they meshed out a reasonable friendship. She even inserted him into the group. Neji hated him. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. They were so much alike, they tended to clash. The girls couldn't keep their eyes of him. Especially Sakura. It irked Hinata. 'Was she after every guy in my life?' Hinata wondered.
Sasuke became a really good friend even if he hardly talked. But what shifted things was the fast bond he formed with Naruto. It took her weeks for him to warm up to her and in one day, he and Naruto were inseparable. Though neither would admit. Hinata found herself spending more time with Naruto and Sakura on double dates. Sometimes she would be left alone with Sakura. There are no words to describe the discomfort. One day, the pink hair girl tried to make friends with her.
"Hinata-" Hinata didn't allow her to continue.
"Look, under different circumstances we could have been friends but I screwed that up myself and so did your boyfriend. You're nice. No doubt about it. But I can't pretend to want to talk to you. You're a reminder of something that I lost because of my own stupidity. Having said this, don't do anything to hurt him. I've seen you looking at Sasuke. I can see the attraction. If you can't control yourself don't cheat on him. Be upfront. Don't ruin their friendship out of some idiotic view that you don't want to hurt either one that you can't choose. You'll just end of hurting everybody you care about."
"Maybe one day I can get over this whole mess and actually accept your friendship. But right now, I can't." She got up to go find the boys but Sakura pulled her back down.
"I've always know you were in love with him. To be honest, there were times I thought he'd leave me for you. And I would have been pissed. But I knew if he ever did, I couldn't stop him. Some part of him knows that he's completely in love with you. In high school, he was so devastated when you cut him out of your life. I didn't know what to do. We even fought about you. I sent him to you some many times. But he'd never go. He'd just cry. I've never seen anyone so broken. I think that's when I stopped being his girlfriend and started being your replacement. I was sort of relieved. We still kissed and stuff but never like in the beginning."
"You don't need to tell me any of this."
"You need to hear it. Please just listen. Just after graduation, I told him we should break up officially. We haven't been together since summer." She tugged at her pink looks. "He only invites you and Sasuke on these double dates because I told him I was interested in Sasuke. And so he can spend time with you. But you haven't said a word to him in the five dates we've been on. I don't know what exactly happened between you two but he misses you like crazy. Right now just seeing you is keeping him from plunging into depression."
"You wanna know what happened between us?" Hinata asked after a silence. She had never felt the urge to tell anyone this. But she wanted to. Sakura nodded. "We were as close as two people can be. We did everything together. A point that cost him his first girlfriend. But you stuck. He was so careful about everything. He never did anything without trying it out first." She sighed as she decided to just spell it out. "We were each other's first everything. Anything he ever did with you that was remotely intimate, he probably did it with me first. I'm saying this to hurt you or anything. It's just his way. He wanted things to be perfect for you. He didn't want to mess up. So we would practice how he should treat you. How he would touch you. How he would kiss you. How he would have sex with you. I got used to being the stand in girlfriend and sort of expected him to leave you one day. But when you two got closer, I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I needed out or we would have destroyed each other. The relationship wasn't healthy and it was unfair to you. So I cut him loose." The breeze was the only thing that stirred after her speech.
Then Sakura spoke. "It's good that you did that. You both needed the distance. I can't say I'm pleased about the fact that you two were cheating behind my back-"
"Guess you could call it cheating. But it's not like we were having a fling. I was sort of his classroom instructor for the real world. His experiment subject."
"Maybe to some extent he did see you as that. But maybe some part of him really wanted all his firsts with you. Only he knows. But there's something you should know. He and I never even came close to having sex." Hinata's head snapped around to look at the blushing girl. "I never allowed myself to be alone with him. I don't know why he thought we would have sex. Or why he needed to practice. I mean we talked about it but that was way back in the beginning. I told him I didn't plan on having sex during high school. Maybe not even before marriage. He never pressured me. I don't know what he said to make you think it was for my sake that he wanted to have sex."
"To tell you the truth, he never even said it was about you. Not like the other times. He just sort of told me he wanted to have sex. That dirty rotten bastard. He was using me. He took advantage of me."
"You two should have a talk. And maybe give him a good punch or two for me." Sakura said.
"Count on it."
She couldn't say who was more surprised when she told Naruto that he was driving her home. She didn't give him a choice.
"Come on. Sakura and Sasuke need time alone." She said and dragged him to the black Nissan he called his baby. She didn't look back at the couple behind them. She was more focused on getting Naruto alone.
So she could beat the crap out of him.
The first punch happened as soon as she closed the door to her apartment. She was grateful she lived alone. The second punch followed soon after. The third was followed by a pained yell from both of them. He yelled because she broke his nose. Or maybe bruised it really bad. She yelled because her hand was in a world of hurt. He cursed all the way to the campus clinic where the nurse clucked at the strange relationships people had today.
"You mind explaining what the hell is wrong with you?" This was said during the drive to the local hospital. Naruto's nose was just bruised and easily treated. But the nurse thought Hinata might have broken something.
"You are what's wrong with me, you pig."
"Dammit! I don't understand you. You end or friendship without explaining it to me and now, after three years you try to break my face."
"I thought we were friends, Naruto but you were just using me and I let you because I stupidly thought it was what friends did. And damn it all I loved you. And now I find out you were just using me." He pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket and then turned to face her.
"How exactly did I use you?"
"I let you have my first everything." Was all she said. She closed her eyes to battle the burning sensation in her eyes. She heard the dry chuckle from her companion.
"So that's what happened. I always wondered if that was the reason but you never seemed to have a problem so I couldn't understand why. But I see it now. I was an ass. No doubt about it. But you can't blame me alone."
"I don't. I should have said no to that kiss. I should have kept saying no even when you stopped talking to me for a month. I'm as much to blame. I can forgive you for the other stuff but you knew very well that you and Sakura had no intention of sleeping together. Yet you asked me to help me."
"So you hit me. Dammit, Hinata. You are so confusing. What exactly do you want from me? Please spell it out for me."
"Back then I just wanted you. Now, more than ever, I just want you to leave me alone."
"Never. I won't leave you alone again. I won't lose you again."
"What are you talking about "again"? You don't have me now to lose me." She said softly.
"Do you know how many years I have been in love with you?" he asked softly. "Nine years. Nine freaking years. When we were twelve and we had that show and tell in your room, I thought that were getting somewhere finally. But you brushed it off as if it was nothing. No matter what we did you just brushed it off. So I went out with the first girl that asked me. When she started talking about all her experience I decided I wanted my first times to be with you. And I wanted your first times to be with me. So yeah, I tricked you. But I told myself you'd come to like me one day. But you never gave any indication. But I kept coming back like a trained dog. That night when we had our first kiss-" he sighed and ran a hand over his face. "I couldn't stop thinking about it. And how much I wanted to do more than kiss you. I felt like a dog. I was dating Sakura and pining after my best friend. Then Kiba asked you out. I destroyed my room when I found out. Mom grounded me and I used it as an excuse to not talk to you. I wasn't upset that you'd told me you wouldn't have sex with me. I was pissed I was lose your first time to Kiba. I was upset that you would give it to him and not me. When you two were dating, it drove me crazy. I came crawling back and then you let me. You kissed me like I was yours and you let me have you. I thought I could die happy especially after you broke up with Kiba. Then you cut me off."
It was a long speech. And neither knew what to say to each other after that. So he drove her to the hospital. She'd broken her hand hitting him. Three fractures. Then he drove her home.
Things were awkward the next couple of months. The semester ended and they hadn't done anything to sort out their relationship. Sasuke and Sakura were going strong. It was winter break now and time for Neji and TenTen's wedding. It was a small affair. Romantic. Sweet. Then Naruto and Hinata were left alone.
They sat together in the living room. Silence mocked them. Naruto got up from his seat and sat beside her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his face in her neck. It was just as simple as that. She hugged him to her and they fell asleep like that. She had the crick in her neck to prove it the next day. It took a while for them to become best friends again but they got there.
College flew by rapidly after that. Routine bogged everybody down. Graduation rolled around and it was time to say goodbye again. Ino took over her family's chain of flower shops. Chouji enrolled in a culinary school. Shikamaru was recruited by the secret service but he declined. He became a rookie cop, complaining mightily about his troublesome partner. Temari. Sasuke and Sakura got married. He worked with his brother in the family corporate empire while Sakura went on to specialize in pediatrics. Itachi was finally reunited with his fiancée. Naruto travelled to Spain to study under a world famous architect. And Hinata was left alone.
Until Kiba came back.
They picked up where they left off and continued for three years Naruto was away. Then She introduced Kiba to a cousin of hers could see the sparks flying. They argued right of the bat but Hinata knew they liked each other. So she broke up with Kiba using the excuse that she needed to travel to improve my writing skills. She heard about their quickie wedding when she was in Rome.
When Naruto came back she didn't expect to see him attached to a blonde bombshell. She was once again devastated. As she stood in the middle of the airport trying to decide if she should hide she discarded the flowers. This was a surprise after all. He didn't know she came to pick him up. She had just decided to run when he hugged her and she froze. Mostly because he was looking right at her. He smiled and released his companion. Her heart knocked painfully in her chest as she watched them approach her. She forced out a smile.
"Naruto!" she said hoping she sounded happy. His response was to sweep her into a hug. He always was a hugger.
"I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too." She said hugging him back, thinking it might be the last time
"I want you to meet Angelica." He said taking the hand of the other woman. "Angelica, this is Hinata."
"I've heard a lot about you."
"I wish I could say the same." Hinata said carefully. Angelica laughed.
"I'm not surprised. I only met Naruto in the airport in Spain. He was telling me how he was glad to be coming home to the lo-"
"Anyway," Naruto interrupted. "Angelica is a writer too. She said she read your books and was really excited to meet you in person."
"I hope it's not in bad taste to ask you to sign my book." Hinata didn't hesitate. She took the book and pen and signed rapidly. She even put down her email address. "Thank you so much."
"Feel free to contact me anytime. I wouldn't mind another writer's mind to bounce ideas off." Angelica practically gushed. She managed to say her goodbyes and then she was alone with a smug Naruto.
"You thought she was my new girlfriend."
"It's what I've come to expect." She said simply as she linked arms with him. He maneuvered the cart with his backs to the street.
"No trust, I tell you." He teased. "So you came to meet me huh?"
"No, I was meeting my secret lover but I had to play it off when I saw you." She said with a sigh. "We'll have to arrange to meet later, I guess." He bumped her with his hip and kissed the top of her head.
"Come on. Let's go celebrate at Chouji's. We'll get the whole gang together."
They did just that. And celebrated late into the night. Naruto had to stay at her place since he didn't have anywhere else to go except his mother. Said mother expressly told him she needed alone time with her husband so he could stay somewhere else. Naruto kissed his mother and hugged his father before lugging his stuff to Hinata's.
Hinata woke to see Naruto playing with a ring. "That's pretty." She said then watched as he jumped and fumbled it. She giggled.
"Don't scare me like that."
"Don't be such an idiot." She yawned. "So who's the lucky girl?" she asked. He looked at her as if she'd lost her mind then smirked. He slipped it onto her finger then examined it.
"It looks pretty good here. Don't you think? Do you think she'll like it?" He looked at her frowning face at the end of his speech.
"I'm sure she will." She said as she pulled back her hand to try and pry the ring off.
"Good. I'm not sure I could continue if I didn't know for sure she was mine." He said then kissed her. He didn't desist when she stiffened and tried to pull away. He pressed closer to her. She tried pushing at him but she was already drowning. The last time she kissed Naruto was back in high school when they had sex. Her traitorous senses were drinking it up like a dying plant in a dry dessert. "So what do you say?" he murmured "Don't try to say no. I'll just kiss you until you say yes." He said and even though it sounded like a joke she could hear the quiet fear lurking in his words.
"Well if you keep sucking up my air how am I supposed to answer?" he kissed her again.
"You just said a whole sentence. I need only one word." Then he pulled back and waited. She inhaled deeply and looked at the ring on her finger before staring into his eyes.
"Are you sure?"
"I wouldn't ask if I wasn't." His hands shook where they held her face. She smiled.
"Yeah." He sighed in relief and buried his face in her neck. "Naruto?"
"Can we do it tomorrow?"
"Get married." He chuckled but didn't answer her. As it was they didn't marry until three months later. His wedding gift to her was the plans to her dream house. Their dream house.
"I love you." She said.
"Good. Because I love you too."