Ch 4

Despite the terribly embarrassing examination, Naruto fell into a rather deep sleep, and was still unconscious when Hinata returned to the cabin. Seeing this, she decided to allow him to sleep, and went about setting up the furniture she had purchased.

This time was also used to help her deal with all the mental images that had been brought on by Kiba's description of 'the works.' Her crush on Naruto being what it was, she kept imaging herself doing all the things he mentioned to a human Naruto, and almost passed out when he mentioned the testicle check. Once she had recovered from that, Kiba had listed off the samples that were normally taken, and the methods involved with acquiring said samples, and she really passed out that time.

It had taken her quite a while to regain enough focus to finish her shopping, and she was grateful that her teammate didn't try to continue their previous conversation any further than it had gone already.

She didn't think she could handle it.

Fortunately, Kiba had hung around while she recovered, and helped her to gather the things she needed to make up for the fact that he made her pass out. He even offered to help her set it up in the cabin, but she was able to convince him that she would be alright.

And she would be; the real reason was that she didn't want him to be around while she and Naruto were being awkward around each other, something she knew was going to happen.

She was actually a little relieved when she found him sleeping, as it would allow her more time to prepare herself for the coming awkwardness.

Xxxxxxxxxx

Naruto awoke to find the time near dusk. He also noticed a rather pleasing smell in the air, which he quickly identified as some kind of vegetable soup. He was about to go charging in to the cabin to find out more about the delicious scent, but stopped right before the door as his nose picked up another scent.

Hinata.

A person who knew what kind of utterly humiliating exam he just went through.

A person he was bound to be very awkward around.

A person-

"Naruto-kun? Why are you standing right in front of the door?"

A person who just asked him a question.

"Huh?" he called, looking around as he tried to regain his bearings.

The door then opened, revealing the slightly blushing form of the young woman currently taking care of him. "C-come in, dinner is almost ready."

Naruto just threw her a quick glance before entering the small building, not wanting to give rise to the inevitably approaching awkwardness.

Hinata, on the other hand, was trying not to pass out from hyperventilating.

'Come in, dinner's almost ready? I sound like a wife. Eeeep! I sound like Naruto-kun's wife!'

She was then saved, oddly enough, by the very person causing the problem, as Naruto chose that moment to ask her what she was cooking.

"O-oh. Just some vegetable soup, why?"

"It smells good," he replied, taking in the sights of the new furniture.

The remains of the old furniture were gone; a small table and four chairs near the woodstove in the kitchen area, and a couch and coffee table on the other end of the room having replaced it. The room was also much cleaner, though he couldn't smell any chemicals.

Inspection over, Naruto turned to see Hinata ladling some of the soup into some bowls, one of which he noticed had little grippy things on the bottom.

Letting out a shaky sigh, he wandered over to the kitchen as she gently set the bowl on the floor for him, before sitting at the table.

He just stood in place, eyes locked on his bowl of soup, listening to Hinata eat. Try as he might, he just couldn't force himself to eat it. Not while she could see him. Not while she could see his shame.

His ears picked up the sound of her spoon landing on the table, and he looked up her, only for her to drop next to him and put her arms around him. When she pulled back, he could see the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.

He tried to speak, but he just couldn't get the words to come out. His feelings were a jumbled mess, and he had no idea how to even begin to deal with them. Eventually he turned away from her, not wanting to burden her with the shame he felt, that he was sure was written all over his face.

"You don't want me to watch you eat, do you?" she asked quietly. "You feel ashamed that you now have to eat off the floor, right?" Naruto just kept his face turned away, and flinched as if he had been struck. "Would it help if I went outside?"

Naruto just shook his head. "You still know," he whispered, his voice heavy with emotion. "Nothing can change that."

She just continued to hold him for a moment, before slowly letting go. Still looking away, he heard her clothes move, the bowl slide across the table, and the spoon be picked up. When he heard the bowl get set on the floor, he finally turned to face her.

She had gotten down on her stomach, with her bowl of cooling soup on the floor in front of her. Surprised at her actions, he also noticed that if he were to go over to his bowl and start eating that she wouldn't be able to see him without turning her head.

"Will this help?"

He just looked at her for a few moments, before slowly walking over to his bowl, ears and tail hung low. "Just…just don't watch."

Xxxxxxxxxx

The rest of the night passed in silence. Hinata went to bed shortly after cleaning up after dinner, and Naruto curled up on the couch, trying to convince himself that he couldn't hear Hinata crying softly from the other room, or smell her tears.

An hour or so later he finally gave in and decided to go check on her. Nudging her door open, he saw that while she had actually fallen asleep, the tears hadn't stopped. Creeping slowly, he moved to the edge of her futon, and gently pushed his nose against her hand.

Her eyes opened almost instantly, and she immediately looked at him as he hesitated, and then met her gaze. His shoulders were slumped, his tail was dragging behind him, and his ears lay flat on his head.

Even without all the experience she had with Akamaru, she could tell that he was sad. She tried to smile for him, but they both knew that it was forced.

"What's wrong?" he asked quietly.

She just shook her head. "I'm fine," she whispered, and she immediately knew he could tell the lie.

Naruto just kept looking at her with his forlorn expression. "Then why have you been crying since dinner?" he whispered.

"Because you aren't fine," she replied eventually. "You're hurting inside, I don't know how to help you, and that makes me feel bad."

"You don't have to feel bad for me. I'll be fine."

"I can't help it," she replied with a wry smile, "I care about you too much for that…and you don't have to pretend to be fine around me all the time. You don't have to keep everyone at a distance."

She could see his emotions fighting with each other, a lifetime of keeping everyone at arms length so they couldn't hurt him warring with an almost desperate need for someone to hold him and tell him that everything will be okay.

She remembered the looks he threw at the other kids in the academy when their parents came to pick them up at the end of they day, or drop them off in the morning. She didn't understand them at the time, but looking back now she could see the longing in his expressions; slumped shoulders, his face turned towards the ground in front of him, eyes stealing quick glances at the happy families.

Ever so gently, she pulled him towards her, and once he was close enough, she gently wrapped her arms around him. "You don't have to hold all your pain inside. It's okay to let it out."

She could feel the tension in him as he tried to retain hold on his emotions, and wondered if anyone had ever held him while he cried before. "Let it go, Naruto-kun. I'm not going anywhere until you do."

So he did.

He curled up in her arms and wept. For all the times he failed, for all the mistakes he made, for the childhood he never really had, for everything he kept bottled up inside, he wept. For the first time since his early childhood he wept, and for the first time, there was someone there to hold him while he did so.

Xxxxxxxxxx

It took almost four hours for Naruto to cry himself to sleep, and every sob and hitched breath broke her heart just a little bit more. Her tears continued to fall though, as she tried to comprehend how he must have felt while growing up.

It was at that moment, as she held the distraught form next to her, that she vowed to do whatever it took to always be there for him. So long as she drew breath, she would show him the love he had missed out on so far in his life, consequences be damned.

AN: yes, i know its been forever since i've uploaded anything. yes, i know that this is really short. yes, i know that you all probably want to kill me.

anyway, this chap is short because i felt that it should end where it did. nothing i added to it felt right.

also, i think im most of the way through the angsty part of this fic. next chap or so it should start to liven up a bit ^^