Disclaimer:I do not own Naruto or any of it's characters. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto.


Spiders, heights, death, rejection – Naruto knew those were just some of the countless things people are afraid of. How can it be that when there is someone you care about, all of those terrors seem to disappear? If they were protecting something precious, anyone could take on the risks and emerge triumphant, no matter how heavily the odds were against them.

When a person lets go of their fears anything is possible.

Hinata Hyuuga wasn't fearless though. Yes, he could describe her as courageous for doing what she did, but what drove her to try and save him was, indeed, fear. The fear of losing him. When that took over her, it was relentless. Everything else seemed to disappear from her mind. Even when she lay dying on the ground, she could still only think of him.

She was still afraid that, after everything, she could still lose him.

So, how was it that Naruto could be so terrified of going on a simple date with her?

Chapter One: An unexpected epiphany in the Men's room

The blond's hands were fidgeting with the delicate chain of the necklace he held, as his thoughts spun around nervously. This was his first date, and with Hinata of all people. He didn't have any idea of what to do.

He hated to think this, but he barely knew a thing when it came to Hinata. Sure, he knew she was shy (at least around him). He knew about her family problems – to a certain extent. He knew that she would never go back on her word... that she had been watching him all this time... that she was in love with him, Naruto Uzumaki.

He felt his face heat up at just thought. How could he not have realized it until she was standing in front of him, ready to give up her whole life? It was unbelievable – yet so obvious. Sakura was right; he really was stupid.

Naruto's mouth twisted into a grimace. The worst part was that he had been ignorant of her feelings for so damn long. She had loved him from afar for years,yet he had never seemed to go out of his way to talk with her before Pain attacked the village. And after what had happened, he hadn't even spoken a word to her up until yesterday. Again, stupid.

Naruto ran a hand through his hair, frustrated with himself. He wanted to talk to her… but the words just wouldn't come. She had looked so confident, amazing, beautiful and... fearless. Her heartfelt words and actions left him truly stunned. How could he respond to her after what happened, when it felt as if he didn't know anything anymore? He didn't want – no he couldn't deal with the thought of him saying the wrong thing and losing her again.

Naruto chewed the inside of his cheek. He didn't know if he, you know, loved Hinata, but he knew that she was his precious friend, and losing her once made him lose his mind. He couldn't let that happen again just because of him saying something stupid.

So, he did the next most idiotic thing, to not say a word to the girl. He saw her happy tears when he returned to the village and he saw her worried glances when he was in over his head with Sasuke and Madara. He even saw her again on the battlefield, fighting for him and the people of the world. Everything had just happened so quickly, his mind couldn't even try thinking about what to do. It was far easier just to put it off, and that's exactly what he did.

Naruto thought of other things. Things he told himself were more important; there was a war going on after all. But the longer he waited, the guiltier he began to feel. Eventually, those things began to sort themselves out and, bit by bit, his life began to settle down. He was able to stop Madara, and drag that Sasuke-bastard back to Konoha with Sakura at his side. Despite that slimy creep Kabuto still sneaking about who knows where, the ninja world seemed to be in a state peace. Even the reconstruction of Konoha was practically finished.

All that was left was a certain girl with pale lavender eyes, who happened to be in love him.

But Naruto had been rudely awoken from his state of self-denial by the most unlikely of sources; none other than his old teammate and rival Sasuke Uchiha. It happened during the celebration with the Rookie 9 (plus Team Gai) at the rebuilt barbecue restaurant – after three months and eleven days of Sasuke being interrogated and withheld, he was finally let out into the streets of Konoha, albeit under careful watch.

Sasuke had stayed at Naruto's side nearly the whole time, barely saying a word. Naruto had laughed and talked with (almost) everyone, making jokes and having a good time. The evening grew late, and Naruto had – loudly, of course – excused himself to use the little shinobi's room. The last had Uchiha followed.

"You have to piss too?" Naruto turned his head, looking back at his friend.

"Hn," Sasuke grunted. The blond took care of his business.

Finishing, Naruto walked over to the sink – thankfully remembering to wash his hands – and felt the Uchiha's eyes on him.

"What's with you? If you've got something to say to me then say it!" Naruto snapped, turning to face him, eyes glaring.

Sasuke's black eyes looked away from him, annoyed with the boy. Silence.

Naruto's eyebrows furrowed, trying to think of what his problem was. "Spit it out, bastard!"

The other boy sighed, directing his eyes at Naruto once again. "... I'm trying to figure something out," he commented.

"What? C'mon, just tell me." Naruto pleaded.

"... I'm trying to figure out what happened while I was... away... that would have made you dislike her."

Confusion swept across Naruto's features. "Huh?"

"That Hyuuga girl." Naruto froze. "You were friends with her right? I just don't see what would make someone like you be so cold to her. I noticed that she's kept glancing over at you the entire night, and yet you... you haven't even said hello. And whenever she was talking, you got strangely quiet. Even I can tell how much its hurting her. Something has got to be up."

Naruto felt his face redden. "What are you talking about?" He yelled, his frustration coming out in his voice. "This isn't the place to stick your nose in, bastard! And I'm not ignoring H-Hinata..." He struggled getting out her name. "What's it to you anyway? Why are you so offended, huh?"

Sasuke scoffed. "I'm not offended, stupid. I thought that girl was looking at me at first, but that didn't make any sense. I was able to put two and two together, and obviously she did something, for you, of all people, to not acknowledge her." He sighed. "Now can you please tell me? It's starting to get on my nerves."

Naruto backed up until his back hit the wall behind him. He looked towards his feet, unable to meet his friend's gaze any longer.

"Mhm... she did..." His hands ran through his hair nervously. After a moment, he finally let out a shaky breath, lowering his head and closing his eyes. "She – Hinata – she told me... she told me that she loves me."

Sasuke's eyes widened. He wasn't expecting that. He didn't know what he was expecting, but Naruto's love life was certainly not on the list. "... So you ignore her? Are you too afraid to reject her?"

Naruto's eyes shot open, glaring at the Uchiha. "What makes you think I would reject her?"

A black eyebrow was raised at his question. "Why else would you not talk to a girl after she confesses? It doesn't make any sense to avoid her if you actually have feelings for her."

The blond struggled for words, unable to find them to explain himself. What was holding him back now? Was there any reason not to talk to Hinata? She may have been shy, dark, and a bit weird, but a person like her... he really liked! There was no doubt in that.

After all the terrible things he'd been through, thinking about it now, he could even say that her feelings made him, well, happy. He could go as far to say he was even overjoyed about it, although still baffled at the idea of it all. Someone had been caring about him all of that time, when he had thought he was alone. He didn't know whether he returned her feelings, but damn it, after everything she'd gone through to try and save him... Why was he turning a blind eye and leaving Hinata behind again, not even giving her a chance?

Why wasn't he doing something?

Gritting his teeth, he abruptly came to a decision. Naruto rushed to the door, without so much as a backwards glance back at Sasuke, overwhelmed with the need to do something. He couldn't continue being so cruel to Hinata... so cruel that even that bastard noticed.

Feeling bewildered – as bewildered as an Uchiha can get, at any rate – Sasuke remained standing there only for a few seconds. struggling to get to grips with what exactly had just happened. Had he really just discussed... girls and love with Naruto Uzumaki?

Naruto made his way to where the rookies were seated, new found determination driving him. He realized he may be acting irrationally, but he couldn't stop himself. After waiting so long, it felt as if he had no time to waste. When he got there, he slammed his hands on the table, startling everyone and getting a few odd looks from people in the restaurant.

"Hinata!" He looked straight at her, paying no mind to the sharp glare he received from Sakura, who was probably getting ready to punch the idiot.

The dark haired heiress looked back, confused. "... yes, Naruto?" Surprisingly, her habit of stuttering wasn't showing itself.

Swallowing his nerves, the blond took a deep breath, trying to keep the blush from creeping up on his face.

"Hinata – will you go out with me?" The words poured out of him in a rush, like a burst damn. Naruto was sure he heard Neji choke on his food, but his striking blue eyes continued to stare straight into her pale lavender ones as he waited for her answer.

She blinked. Her hand reached up to tuck a piece of her long dark hair behind one of her ears. She looked down a moment, carefully in thought as her face was turning shades of red, and looked back up to meet his eyes again.

"Um, if you'd like to... "

"Mhm, I would," Naruto reassured.

A sweet smile graced her lips. "...I'd love to go out with you, Naruto."

There was a brief moment of silence, all of the rookies in awe and wonder at what had just taken place, before Naruto leaned back upright, removing his hands from the table.

She... she... said yes? Naruto backed away from the table, and blinked, her answer taking him off guard. How could her voice have sounded so completely certain, without even a fraction of doubt, after all the time he had made her wait for an answer? But even if he didn't fully understand, he couldn't prevent a goofy, relieved grin from plastering itself across his face. "Tomorrow then?"

"Tomorrow is good," she said, a light blush still dusting her cheeks.

"Tomorrow," he muttered to himself, and then again. "7 o'clock at Ichiraku's, meet me there?"

Hinata nodded her head in agreement. Not having any of what to do next, he turned himself around and took off into a sprint towards home, yelling a quick goodbye behind him.

Seconds later, Sasuke had approached the table.

"Do you... know what just... happened?" Ino had asked, dumbfounded.

"Beats me," The Uchiha had shrugged in response, taking a seat next to Sakura.

A chuckle slipped out of Naruto's mouth, as he remembered his half-insane actions and his friends astonishment, before he sheepishly shook his head to bring himself back to the present situation – his first date with Hinata. More specifically, the necklace he had bought as a gift for her.

Was he out of his mind for doing what he did yesterday? He didn't know.

Naruto fidgeted with the necklace in his hands.

Did he regret it? No – He didn't think so.

Was he scared? Yes.

Naruto Uzumaki was filled with fear.

But he wouldn't go back on his word; he was done with running away.

He feared losing her too much to do so now.

End Chapter 1