I OWN NOTHING! Its just a story, that i like and has been tickling my brain.

Gently Falling

Chapter 1

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It had been three long years, since he had been back in this place, his home. Naruto couldn't stop smiling as he strode through the gates of Konohagakure. An overwhelming sense of peace and belonging suddenly flooded him, and he felt a weight leave his shoulders, and his attitude brightened. He set down his pack and jumped up the pole, and stood atop it, and announced to the world. "UZUMAKI NARUTO HAS RETURNED!" He scanned the streets and spotted a familiar pink figure. A joyous smile lighting up his face he dived off the board and straight to the ground.
"SAKURA-CHANNNNN!" he cried aloud, as he landed. Sakura ran up to greet him.
"Naruto!" Naruto snatched her up into a big hug and swirled her around a couple times, smiling all the more when she giggled. The sound of her voice was soothing to him, and it made him truly feel at home.
He let go of her, and stepped back to look at her. She, had gotten taller, and was starting to blossom into a truly beautiful woman. He could feel his grin stretching even wider, as they talked.
"Naruto! Are you taller than me now?" She said it sounding very shocked. He blinked twice, then checked his height to hers, and realized she was in fact right. He gazed just over her flamboyant hair. He snickered at the now obvious height difference. He smiled, and tried to compliment her back. It was good to be back home, he thought. Jiraiya interrupted then.
"If you two are done, catching up? Then we should head over to the Hokage Mansion." Naruto glared at him over his shoulder and then shrugged, as if it was all moot. But then continued up the street with Sakura. Jiraiya, began to chuckle to himself, watching those two he began to feel nostalgic.

Hinata was late for training. She was trying to hurry down the street, to get to the training field where Kiba and Shino were waiting for her. She was just about to give up on running and try the rooftops, when she heard a familiar boisterous laugh. She spun on the spot and looked back.
"Naruto-kun" She whispered reverently, as she spied the ostentious youth. His blonde hair shone like spun, gold and his blue eye blazed like fire. Just seeing him across the way after so many years was enough to stop her and take her breath away.

Naruto was in the middle of telling Sakura a story, when he looked over to his left, and paused. At the edge of his vision, a girl with midnight hair, and pearl eyes made his brain go blank. He stopped for a second, just to stare. He blinked and shook his head, then looked back she was gone. He frowned. "Naruto?" Sakura was looking at him funny. He turned back to her laughing, but he couldn't quite rid himself of the image of the beautiful girl, who was both familiar and strange. Who was she?

Hinata had been frozen in place, locked by those eyes, when she remembered her team mates and dashed up the building, and off to meet her now impatient, team members.

The next day.

Naruto was happily making his way towards Ichiraku's ramen, when he ran rudely into someone, knocking them over. He stood there and rubbed his face from where he got nailed in the face, and stammered out.
"Annou, Are you OK?" Then he looked down to see who it was, and froze. It was the girl. The girl with midnight hair, he reached down and helped her up, and once again gawked.
"Hinata?" Hinata turned several shades of red, before settling into a deep beet red shade, and answering.
"Naruto-kun." Then, He remembered he just knocked her down.
"Hinata-san! Are you OK!" She nodded, and smiled gently for him. For some reason looking into her big pearl eyes and seeing her smile made his heart jump a little. He frowned confused a little bit. Hinata looked up at him in sudden concern.
"Naruto kun! Are you alright?"
"Huh" was his reply, "Oh, yeah I'm fine. I just had a sparring session with Kakashi-sensei. Me and sakura won, sakura had to go help Shizune and tsunade with some stuff, so I was going to go celebrate with some long awaited Ichiraku Ramen." He delivered her one of his best Naruto smiles, and was rewarded with another one of her deep blushes. For some reason realizing he was able to cause such a reaction in the girl left him quite happy.
"Annou sa, Hinata! Wanna come get some Ramen with me?" Again she blushed deeply, before nodding. He proffered his arm and she hesitantly took it. Somehow everything she did, seemed to amuse him, and make him want to smile. Then, when she gave him, a small nervous smile his heart jumped again. He mentally frowned.
What was wrong with me? Why is her smile so... He stopped his thoughts completely. Hinata was his dear friend. One of his precious people. He shook his head, and pulled out a seat for Hinata right next to him.
"Oi! Ojii-San! I'm Back!" The Old Man, came in and smiled and struck up a conversation, with Naruto as he began making their ramen. Then, Ayame-chan, popped out from the back.
"NARUTO-KUN!" she yelled and grabbed him a tight hug. Then, she saw hinata sitting next to him. Her eyebrow shot up but said nothing. Then, Naruto turned back to Hinata, and began asking all sorts of questions. She answered to the best of her limited abilities. Then, when he stopped talking, she asked him a question.
"-kun... Why were.. y...you and S...sakura-san sparring with K...kakashi sensei?" Naruto, looked like he was just pulled out of a deep thought, shook his head and answered.
"I just got back, and Obaachan, and Ero Sennin, wanted to showcase our growth, and test us." he shrugged. He kept smiling at her, but couldn't help but be worried, he kept looking at her and getting lost in some part of her beauty, most often her eyes... With that the ramen was served and they let their conver sation dissolve into a comfortable silence as they ate. Naruto, found himself sneaking glances at this new hinata, then turning away just as quickly as not to get caught. Little did he realize that Hinata was doing the exact same thing. Ayame and Teuchi-san, watched the two in an amused silence. Finally, when they were finished eating. Hinata whispered a quiet thank you and began walking away. To her surprise, Naruto jogged up to her side, and flashed her a smile.
"Hinata, would you like some company as you go home?" He said it quickly and nonchalantly, but he couldn't believe what he had just said.
What am I aiming at? He furiously questioned himself. Hinata seemed genuinely surprised and lit up again, but still she nodded. And Naruto proceeded to escort her home, he filled the silence with funny stories of his time with Jiraiya, and the many things he had learned from his training. The time seemed to pass by quickly and they laughed together, as they walked. Hinata stopped at the entrance to the Hyuuga compound. Smiling and still blushing, she gave Naruto a quick bow and thanked him for escorting her home. Then she slipped passed the front entrance.

Hinata leaned up against the wall, she could still see Naruto smiling into her eyes, talking to her, and smiling only for her. She tried to get her breathing under control, when she sensed a presence steal up to her. She narrowed her eyes, and breathed out.
"Neiji..." He leaned up against the wall next to her, and gave her a small look. she smiled, and told him all about her night with Naruto. She was breathless by the end of it. Neiji, stood up , then he turned back to her with a smile, and hugged her.
"I'm glad you had a good night." then he stood back, and gestured for her to go inside. She smiled again, and thanked him. She made a beeline straight to her room and dropped into her desk and began to madly scribble in her diary. Neiji, stood by the main gate of the Hyuuga Compound, looking out he saw a small orange figure slowly leaving the area, He smiled again. Naruto was still looking back at the compound.

Naruto couldn't stop himself from just standing there and watch Hinata slip past the gate and enter the compound. He stood there for a while just wondering what was wrong with him.
They had just had dinner together, he told himself, friends eat together all the time. They also make sure that they get home safely. Yes that's it... She is just one of my precious friends.He shook his head to try and dispel all the uncertainty he was suffering, and he began to walk back home. Even though he told himself not to, he turned around once more to look back at the compound, then blushed, and ran back home.

Hinata was training in her usual corner, when Neiji snuck up on her. He was watching as she performed Jyuuken at an almost eye pooping rate upon a wooden post. A proud smirk lit up his face, as he crossed towards her. Sensing his coming, Hinata deactivated her Byakugan and stepped out of her battle stance to welcome him. He gave her a quick hug, and then backed up. She smiled. Even though they had become closer over these last years, he was still slightly wary because of their station. She sighed, and he smiled at her in return. He patted her head.
"Hinata-sama, I'm leaving on a mission with Ten Ten, Lee, and Guy. We are Going to the Land of Rivers to act as support team for Team Seven, as they attempt to rescue the Kazekage." He said it quietly and slowly. She stood stock still as she recieved the news. She was shaking, when she finally was able to say something.
"Be careful, Neiji-niisan..." He smiled for his timid cousin.
"Always." He said brightly. Then, he jumped up the wall and began to run towards the village gates.

Hinata let loose a shaky breath, and sat down leaning against the post. Her sudden worry was eating her alive, rescuing the Kazekage? Hadn't he been taken by Akatsuki? Why team seven? Her worries were destroying her ability to think, so she got up slowly and began to walk through the compound seeking to calm her nerves. She was walking through the small grove of trees set apart for meditation, when she let up into a tree, and closed her eyes, centering her thoughts, her mind only came down on one thing, the smiling face of a loud blonde boy, his blues eyes sparkling like sapphires, and his happiness so overwhelmingly contagious that even in memory form, it began to abate her fears.
"Naruto-kun..." She whispered to the winds and heavens, "Please, be safe."