Hinata had never been so close to Naruto for such a long time in one day and honestly, she'd never been so exhausted. He had her running around from place to place all day, from the Hokage's office to small locals in the middle of Konoha such as Ichiraku.

The fox and the heiress sat defeated on grass that surrounded the narrow and busied roads of Konoha. They both had small beads of sweat on they foreheads, disheveled clothes and jaded eyes.

"I'm sorry." She spoke first.

Naruto was surprised to hear her voice - she had barely spoken a word all day. He thought she disliked him, "For what?" He blinked at her, trying to imagine what she was referring too. She fumbled with her fingers, he couldn't quite see her face, her hair always guarded her features like violet curtains.

"I know I'm not much of c-company. I know you wish you would've been hand-cuffed to someone closer to you. Someone you could conversate with." She spoke quietly and slowly, as if she wasn't sure what words to use with him. "No, no. Hinata, it's not your fault. It isn't either of our faults. Its Ino's. " He laughed wryly, suddenly sensing he'd offended her greatly.

Silence fell between them. He looked over to her, she sat solemnly next to him. Their hands weren't very far from touching. She had stopped fumbling with her fingers.

"And as for being hand-cuffed to another person..." He continued, trying to look her in the face. He was unsuccessful, she was hiding behind bangs. "I don't mind being around you. You're a kind person, Hinata." He spoke more confidently with his last sentence. There wasn't much of a response, she merely flashed him a faint smile.

There was that silence again, it was like a glass wall separating them.

There was always this awkwardness with Hinata, Naruto recalled now. He wanted to understand her, but he couldn't. She was weird, really. But he had grown to accept her awkward and gentle nature. She had trouble talking to him, but Naruto always felt that she wanted to say more and the words unspoken lingered in the air like clouds between them.

She blushed at the most abrupt times. Maybe it was just another 'girl thing' Sakura spoke of so often. Naruto is impatient enough as it is, he figured now that they were stuck together, he might as well get to the bottom of it.

"I've always felt that you didn't like me, Hinata." He broke the silence. What he got in response surprised him, Hinata turned quickly to face him. Her expression showed genuine shock and maybe even...sadness. "No, no. That's the not true." She shook her head energetically, her hair danced on her shoulders. It was then for a moment, when Naruto saw her whole complexion. Big, bottomless eyes. Pearly white skin, dark eyelashes that contrasted against her skin.

He was so used to seeing blonde and light eyelashes like Sakura's, or Ino's. Hinata was different. But the moment quickly ended and those velvet curtains hid her face once again. "I could never...dislike you, Naruto. You're so heroic and ambitious." She spoke as quiet as a mouse but you could tell she was having a hard time confessing this. Suddenly, Naruto felt his face warm.

"Ah, if you keep saying things like that to me, my head might grow too big." He laughed, using his free hand to lightly scratch the back of his head - a nervous tic of his. He was happy Hinata wasn't aware it was a nervous tic, he was often made fun of it by his close comrades like Kakashi or Sasuke. This time her smile was genuine, and she stifled a giggle.

"Naruto-kun, you honestly thought I...d-disliked you?" She looked him straight in the eye, a rare find. He blinked, disoriented by so much eye contact with her. Small giggles soon grew into laughs, and he found himself blushing. Was his theory that far off? He finally found it safe to laugh, "Well...yes, I mean..." He shifted his eyes between his lap and her big opaque eyes.

"I feel like you avoid me when you see me, and you speak so little to me, I thought maybe you just didn't enjoy my company." She sighed, and her smile left as quick as it appeared. Had he said something wrong? It was going so well...please don't let it grow silent again...

"I'm s-sorry." She apologized again, Naruto looked over to her. He could finally see her face. "I'm...not g-good with words." She pursed her lips. Hinata glanced his way and met his eyes, her face suddenly grew erubescent, vibrantly exposing shades of pink along her cheeks.

She quickly evaded his gaze and started to fumble with her fingers. It was then, when Naruto realized that Hinata was...cute.

He felt his own cheeks grow in temperature, so he decided to look down to Hinata's fumbling pale fingers. The hand-cuffs both of their wrists were enclosed in were gray and oddly enough, tough to break even when using ninja magic.

Naruto suddenly noticed a long bruise along Hinata's wrist. He squinted his eyes, "Hinata can I see your hand?" He asked, "Eh?" She said, her face still colored peach. "S-Sure..."

Girl hands were foreign to Naruto, he'd never held a a girl's hand. With the exception of Sakura but Sakura wasn't a girl...she was Sakura. I mean, she was technically a girl but still. Hot-headed and obnoxious, just like himself. Not only that, but it was just one occasion. He studied her wrist, a purple bruise was growing in the exact spot the hand-cuff made contact with her arm.

He eyed his own hand, he didn't have a bruise because his wrist was wide enough to snug inside the cuff. While Hinata's wrist was small, which meant everytime Naruto tugged so violently on her cuff, it must have hurt her. Guilt washed over him. This was his fault.

Naruto was acting like a moron all day, panicking because he wouldn't be able to do his mission today because of this hand-cuff setback. Later, Naruto would just be replaced with Shikamaru on the mission. Earlier in the day, Naruto ran from place to place trying to find some way to break the handcuffs. Asking Sakura, Rock Lee, Temari.

Hell, he even asking Sasuke for help. He didn't even stop to think about Hinata, who was silently being dragged by him. He must have tugged her harder than he thought - often times he didn't know his own strength. She didn't complain once.

"N-Naruto-kun?" She quietly called. He forgot he was holding her hand. He frowned, "Why didn't you tell me I was hurting you?" She blinked at him, dumbfounded. Her face had cooled down, though he could still notice undertones of red on her cheeks. "W-What are you talking about?" She asked.

He pointed at her bruise, she stared at it. She smiled sheepishly, "I..." Her face began to color again, "I was happy to be with Naruto-kun, despite being hurt a little by being pulled along by you..." She bit her lip, "It was worth it...walking along side of you."

Naruto stared at her. The feelings he felt after she'd said that, it made his heart swell. "Hinata..." He blinked, in awe. Did Hinata...have feelings for him? No, that couldn't be it. He was viewed as obnoxious and impulsive by most people he knew. He was the Kyuubi, after all. Could it be possible? She quickly withdrew her hand, violet curtains hiding her again.

Don't do that! Why did she do that when he wanted to look at her the most?

"You must think I'm a f-fool..." She said solemnly.

"No, Hinata..." He furrowed his brows, suddenly panicking to find the right words, "I-" He paused, "It's just-" another pause, he fumbled over his words. He was blushing just as much as the Hyuuga.

Suddenly, he felt himself mimicking her. The blushing, the stuttering, could it be possible she felt the same strange fluttering feeling inside the pit of her stomach like his own? Or maybe she was feeling this all along. All this time.

"That was very heartfelt. I'm really flattered." He smiled genuinely, flashing her an apologetic look. "It seems I'm not good with words either." He laughed.

She laughed along with him, but this time when they both stopped, neither of them could stop grinning.

"There you are!" Ino came running like a maniac, waving her arms. "Where the hell have you been?!" Naruto wailed, "Hinata and I have been waiting for you all day!" He growled, pointing at the other blonde heading his direction. She halted to a stop, breathing heavily.

"Oh, be quiet." She waved him off. "Hinata, I found the key!" She smiled, happy to see her close friend. She buried Hinata into a hug, not caring if it meant trapping her between her chest and the ground. "That's great!" Hinata's voice was muffled by her Ino's hair.

"Hey, back off!" Naruto protested, Ino and Hinata stared at him with weird looks, "Why?" Ino asked, giving a blank stare.

Naruto pursed his lips, "She's...she's injured..." He huffed, trying to ignore the warmth that crept along his upper cheeks. "You're injured?!" Ino whined, "Hina-chan, where does it hurt? Tell me! I've started medic training." She proudly announced.

Hopefully you're medic training is better than your magic tricks...

Soon enough, Ino unlocked the hand-cuffs. Naruto pressed his hands along his wrist, and eyed the Hyuuga's arm. It was less purple but not fully healed. He studied her face, she smiled when Ino spoke to her but her eyes looked sad.

Naruto couldn't deny his own feeling of sadness, he didn't want to separate. He wanted to find out more about Hinata, to make her laugh again. Ino suddenly left, she'd said she was supposed to be running an errand at the moment but she had found the key, so she rushed to find Hinata and himself as soon as possible.

But she'd gone now, and it had grown quiet.

"Well, I suppose this is goodbye." He said, his nervous tic acting up again. Its funny how it would usually make him seem less awkward, but it didn't work with Hinata. "I s-suppose." She solemnly agreed.

She stood across from him, fumbling with her fingers, looking at him with innocent eyes behind her bangs. Unspoken words lingered among them once again. They went there separate ways.

Within the first ten steps, Naruto looked back. Hinata had walked a bigger distance than expected. Her long hair danced in the cool breeze of the night. She suddenly paused, and looked back as well. The face she made when she saw him couldn't be described. She looked so...happy. She smiled brightly, he couldn't help but smile back. In unison, they waved goodbye.

He had a feeling those words that hung in between them would once be said, and this was not the last time he would hold her hand.