I do not own Naruto.
I'd like to say thanks to AbaraiSuki for helping me write this. I truly appreciate all of the help and support you've given me XD Never could've done it without you :D
Chapter 1: Do You Love Her?
She was the most stunning woman he had ever seen. Even in her normal clothing she was something else but tonight, dressed like this…Naruto wondered how she didn't have every eye around staring at her. Perhaps they were staring, but he couldn't pull his eyes from her long enough to notice. Her dress showed off her lithe figure, emphasizing her curves enough to make Naruto suck in the tiny bit of drool he felt escaping. Her hair done up that way showed off her neck in the most tantalizing way. She was the very definition of beautiful, even captivating the 6th Hokage like this. Her presence, no matter how far away, always held his attention. And it killed him on the inside.
'Dammit, why can't I take my eyes off of her?' Naruto thought gloomily, drinking a shot of sake. He cringed, remembering his dislike of the horrid drink. 'How the hell did Baa-chan ever like this stuff so much?'
Unfortunately for Naruto, his thoughts now found their way back to the rosette medic-nin, who was now deep in conversation with Ino Yamanaka about some village gossip. Naruto sighed. He just couldn't get her out of his mind. He didn't want to think about her. Not in this way. He had put these feelings away, burying them deep within his heart. It had been 10 years since the start of the 4th Shinobi War. 8 years since he had last allowed himself to feel this way. To look at her like this. But tonight, something had uncovered the feelings he had for her.
That something was a conversation with Hinata Hyuga
Earlier that night, Naruto and Sakura had arrived at a party to celebrate Hinata's position as clan head of the Hyuga Clan. When the Hokage and the head of the Hospital arrived together, questions had been asked. It was inevitable in a way. Of course, a single denial wasn't enough for Ino Yamanaka. She quickly grabbed a hold of Sakura and hauled her off for questioning. Naruto had ignored the pleading looks Sakura had thrown him. There was no way he was getting in between Ino and her gossip. She could be scary at times. As he walked among the other guests, a small voice caught his attention. "Good evening Hokage-sama. I am glad you could make it"
Naruto turned to see the smiling face of Hinata Hyuga. "Ne, Hinata, why are you addressing me so formally? You know I hate that"
Hinata just shook her head. "I'm sorry Naruto-kun, but I find it hard to talk to the Hokage so informally"
Naruto grinned back. "What? You're a friend Hinata. It wouldn't be the same if you stopped speaking informally to me"
Hinata smiled at him, a small blush still present in her cheeks. She had long ago gotten over her love for him, but she still blushed at times, mostly out of habit. The two of them had spent a good while speaking, mostly about the things that would change in the household now that Hinata was the head. It was pleasant and Naruto had been having a good time. But eventually, Hinata's expression turned serious as she said, "Naruto-kun, I would like to ask you something. In private"
Naruto sensed the seriousness of her tone, and followed her out immediately. Had he known the exact topic she wanted to discuss, he might have taken the chance to run.
As the two walked away from the party, Hinata sighed and turned to face Naruto. "Naruto-kun, I want to ask you something, and you must be completely honest with me"
Naruto nodded, still unsure exactly what could be so serious that she had to speak to him alone.
"Promise?" Hinata asked.
Again, Naruto nodded.
"Do you love Sakura-san?"
Naruto's jaw dropped. His mind was unable to comprehend what Hinata had just said. After a few moments, Hinata began to look a little worried. "Naruto-kun?"
That had brought Naruto out of his confusion. Finally, he said, "No, I don't love her". As the words left his mouth, he felt a small pain in his chest, gripping his heart. It happened whenever someone brought this topic up, and he wasn't fond of the feeling.
Hinata raised an eyebrow, clearly unconvinced. "Really? You promised to be honest"
Naruto sighed. "Yes, I am serious about not being in love with her"
Hinata looked away, a little embarrassed. "Naruto-kun, you used to love Sakura-san so much. What happened?"
Naruto eyed her suspiciously. "Why do you want to know this? Is this about Sakura and I arriving together? If that's it-"
"No, that's not what this is about" Hinata said, interrupting him before he could explain himself. "No, this is not about that. I mean, sure, that could mean something, but this wasn't something that I've thought about for a while now"
Naruto just gave her a look of confusion, unsure exactly what to say to that.
Hinata looked away, a little embarrassed now at her outburst. Without looking at him she continued. "Naruto-kun, what happened? You used to love her so much. You would never have denied it in the past"
Hinata's hands began to rub together, one of her old nervous habits showing through. "And no matter what Sakura-san says, I see the way she is around you. The change in her when you leave her. It's like a part of her is missing. She..She lov-"
"She doesn't love me" Naruto interrupted, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. He wasn't in the mood to talk about this. He had buried these feelings a long time ago. Anything to keep the pain away.
Hinata looked at him, a little fear present in her eyes. Naruto blinked, before he looked away and muttered "Sorry"
Hinata nodded, but then regained her confident look. Naruto still didn't look at her, but she decided to continue on. "Naruto, please, just tell me why"
Naruto looked up at her now, and she could see a torrent of emotions hidden in those deep blue eyes of his. "I…I don't want to wait for someone…who will never love me back…at least, not in the way I want her to…"
Hinata's eyes widened. Neither spoke for a few moments. Eventually, Hinata spoke, quietly at first but she gained confidence as her speech continued. "Naruto-kun, I don't think you even know how to be honest with yourself. I see the way you look at her. And…the way she looks at you…You two always look so at peace with each other. Like you…belong I guess"
Naruto eyed her, his sadness beginning to be replaced by his bitterness. "She doesn't look at me in any special way. We're best friends. That's it"
Hinata shook her head and before Naruto could reply, she said, "No, I can tell. I can tell because…the way she looks at you…is the same way I used to look at you…"
That made Naruto freeze. She hadn't brought up her prior feelings for him in a long time. Not since she began dating Kiba. That had been around 8 years ago.
"And Naruto…I know the look you give her is full of love… because at one point in my life…I would have given anything for you to look at me like that…"
Naruto was speechless. He began to step back, nearly stumbling on each step. "I-I-I…I don't…" he stuttered, the feeling from before gripping his chest tightly. After a few steps, he spun around and swiftly walked back towards the party, not uttering another word. He could feel Hinata's eyes on him the whole way.
Naruto shook his head to clear the memory from his mind. When he had returned to the party, the conversation had replayed itself over and over in his head. He looked down at the bottle in his hand, and took a huge gulp of the contents. The sake burned in his throat, but he was hoping that if he drank enough, he could get both the conversation and Sakura out of his mind.
Of course, he was never that lucky.
As he sat there, taking another drink of sake, an exasperated sigh came from behind him. "Please don't tell me you're going to end up a drunk like Tsunade-sama?"
Naruto spun around, quickly hiding the sake behind his back. "Sa-sakura-chan, hey…what's going on?"
Sakura eyed him suspiciously. "That's what I should be asking you isn't it? Why are you suddenly so into the alcohol. I thought you hated that stuff"
Naruto shrugged, his fake smile trying to hide his nervous feelings around her. But Sakura knew him well enough to know the fake smile from his genuine smile. "Naruto" she hissed dangerously.
Naruto swallowed nervously. He wasn't ready to deal with this. Unfortunately for him Sakura came closer, their noses barely 10 centimeters from each other. Naruto was suddenly very thankful for the blush that the alcohol had given him. "What's going on?" Sakura asked. She was completely unaware of the discomfort that she was causing him.
Naruto looked away. He didn't want to look into her eyes. He knew that he could spend the rest of his life staring into her sparkling eyes. But then the pain would just come back.
Sakura sighed. She knew Naruto enough to know that he wouldn't talk about something that he really didn't want to. "Fine then. Don't tell me" Naruto eyed her now. That last sentence had come out a little bitterly. It wasn't exactly what he had expected. "Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I'm leaving now. I'll see you tomorrow for my report"
Naruto nodded, but still refused to fully look at her. As she began to walk away, the pain in his heart increased. 'Oh, for the love of…'
"Hey, Sakura-chan, I'll walk you home"
Sakura spun around to glare at him now. He flinched in fear as her eyes cast themselves over him. "I don't need you to walk me home you know. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself"
Naruto shrugged. Sakura hated to be thought of as weak. "I know you're strong Sakura-chan. I just want to spend some more time with you"
Sakura's eyes widened and she looked away quickly. "Oh…I see…" she said. The words had come out very softly, almost like a whisper.
Naruto tilted his head as he looked at her. She was acting pretty oddly herself. Of course, if he ever voiced these thoughts out loud, she might hit him. And he was pretty sure he would ruin the party if he was sent through a wall.
Keeping his thoughts to himself, he walked with Sakura to say goodbye to their friends. Eventually though, Hinata approached them. She smiled at Sakura and gave Naruto an odd look. "You two are leaving already?"
The two of them nodded. "I have to get a report to this baka early tomorrow" Sakura said while motioning towards Naruto. Naruto just smiled sheepishly while rubbing the back of his head.
Hinata nodded. "I understand. But before you go, could I have a quick word with Naruto?"
Naruto's eyes widened. Sakura didn't notice though. "Sure" she said, smiling innocently.
Hinata nodded and began walking towards the front of the complex, Naruto tailing her a few seconds later.
As they reached the front of the compound, Naruto decided to start the conversation. "Hinata, if this is about me and Sakura-"
"Naruto-kun, please just listen to what I have to say" Hinata interrupted, her unusual determination silencing him. "Naruto-kun, why can't you try to be happy? Why don't you just try to be with the one you love?"
Naruto sighed before looking at her again. "Hinata…I'm sorry, it's just too painful. And Sakura-chan does not love me"
Hinata's eyes narrowed. An uncommon sight from her. "Naruto-kun, please don't be stubborn. Sakura-san really cares about you. Why won't you even give a relationship a chance?"
Naruto looked away now. "Hinata…I watched her for years. I gave her everything I could. She just never loved me the way I wanted her to. Do you know what that's like?"
Hinata looked a little shocked before a slightly sad expression crossed her face. "Yes Naruto-kun…I know very well what it's like to watch the one you love never return your feelings"
Naruto started, and look apologetically at her. Before the two of them could say anything, Sakura's voice called out to them. "Hinata, are you two done yet?"
Hinata sighed, before calling out "Yes Sakura-san, thank you for being so patient"
She began to walk inside, she whispered just loudly enough so that Naruto could hear. "Just give her a chance. She really cares for you"
Naruto didn't respond. He was afraid of saying anything even more insensitive tonight. Sakura walked out of the Hyuga compound and, after wishing Hinata a good night, walked up to Naruto. "Ready?" she asked with a smile.
He nodded, but kept his gaze on the ground.
The two of them talked most of the way to Sakura's. They talked about almost anything. Naruto had even nearly forgotten about all of the stuff he had talked to Hinata about. Nearly.
"So, what did you and Hinata talk about?"
Naruto flinched at Sakura's question. Noticing his displeasure in the topic, Sakura eyed him for a second, waiting to see if he would answer. When he didn't she sighed and look back at the road. "You don't want to talk about it?"
"Hn" Naruto grunted. He hated how Sasuke-ish that sounded. "I said something I regret I guess"
Naruto felt Sakura's curious gaze move over him. He sighed and said "It's nothing. It's just about…a long time ago"
Sakura's gazed moved away, down towards the ground. Naruto let out a sigh of relief. He was glad to be out of that topic. "Hey, Naruto, why did you never go out with Hinata?"
Naruto's jaw dropped. That seemed to be happening a lot tonight. He looked at Sakura, whose gaze was fixed on the ground. Sighing, he turned back to look at the road ahead of them. "I…I just didn't feel for her that way"
Sakura nodded, though he never saw it as his gaze was still fixed ahead of him. "Do you feel that way for anyone now?"
Naruto eyed her, before closing his eyes and sighing. He ran a hand through his hair, thinking about his answer. "Maybe…I'm trying to figure out my feelings"
Sakura nodded again. Naruto eyed her again before asking, "What about you Sakura-chan? Anyone you like?"
There was silence for a moment, before Sakura looked up at him and said with a shy smile "Yeah…there's someone…he liked me a long time ago so I'm not sure if I'm too late or not"
Naruto barely managed to keep the shock off of his face. Sakura turned her gaze back to the ground. Naruto smiled, though he could feel the pain gripping his heart. He couldn't help but feel the jealousy towards whoever the lucky bastard was. "I'm sure that whoever it is would be glad to go out with you Sakura-chan"
Sakura smiled, but Naruto thought he could see a small amount of pain behind the expression. "Thanks"
Naruto nodded before looking back at the path. "So…who is it?"
Sakura blushed and looked away. "It's a secret" she said, and stuck her tongue out at him playfully.
Naruto chuckled, though the pain was still there and was increasing by the second.
At last the two of them reached her apartment. Sakura turned to Naruto and smiled up at him. "Well, I guess I will see you tomorrow"
Naruto nodded. He watched as Sakura walked up the stairs to her apartment. And with every step she took, he could feel the longing for her increase. And as she reached the top step, she turned around and gave him one of the warmest smiles he had ever seen. When Naruto saw that smile he felt truly at peace. All of the painful feelings he'd had immediately ceased. It was like seeing her smile was the one thing that could always make him feel at peace. She was just so…beautiful. He raised a hand in a sort of mock wave. Sakura smiled before stepping into her apartment and closing the door. Naruto's hand dropped and he turned around and began walking in the direction of his apartment.
As he walked he went over that memory in his head over and over. He especially remembered the smile at the end. After walking for a bit he stopped. He looked up at the full moon overhead and placed a hand over his heart. He remembered the feeling he had felt as she mentioned the person she liked. It was a feeling he hadn't felt for a long time. Not since Sasuke was in the village. It was jealousy. He stood there, completely motionless, going through his memories of the night. And again, his mind settled on the memory of her smile. He closed his eyes in frustration. When he opened them again he stared at the moon as realization dawned over him.
He was still in love with her.
And no matter how much he tried to bury these feelings, he doubted that they would stay hidden this time.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this story. I sort of suck at intros so I hope this one wasn't too bad XD Please keep reading and I'll try to get the next chapter out as soon as possible.