A/N: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters.

"Oh, man! Am I hungry!"

Naruto walked through the village toward Ichiraku Ramen after another long day of patrolling Konohagakure. This had been his job since the end of the Fourth Great Shinobi War. He had beaten Tobi and sealed him away in an alternate dimension, but not before he tried to attack Naruto once again. His attempt to summon the Ten-Tailed Beast had ended in failure, proving he needed the whole Eight-Tails and Nine-Tails in order to complete the ritual.

Naruto fought tirelessly for a whole day, giving Kakashi and a few others enough time to design a seal that would trap Tobi with no chance of escape. Naruto used his blood to finish the seal, and the instigator of the entire War became trapped forever. Since then, the Five Great Nations had reached a greater understanding with each other, allowing for more peaceful negotiations to be conducted among them.

Naruto was glad he had accomplished what he did, but he still felt a terrible sadness in his heart. He thought about his life up to his current point. He was eighteen, had no family of his own, a lot of friends, but no real person to love in his life. He still had a small crush on Sakura, but as far as he knew, she didn't have those feelings for him.

As soon as he arrived at Ichiraku, he did his best to hide his disappointment at his life as he smiled and said, "Hey, Old Man! How's it going?"

Teuchi looked up from his stove and said, "Well, if it isn't the great hero. What'll you have, the usual?"

"Yeah, four bowls of pork ramen, please!"

"Comin' up." As Teuchi cooked Naruto's ramen, he said, "You know, with your recent achievements, I wouldn't be surprised if you became the next Hokage after Lady Tsunade."

Naruto's smile dropped a little as he said, "Yeah, one more dream realized."

"Still gonna come here when you make it to the top, or will Ayame and I have to find someone else to sucker into eating as much ramen as you do?"

Naruto laughed and said, "No way I'd forget about this place! I'll still come by often. Oh, by the way, where is Ayame?"

"She had a few deliveries to take care of and left just before you came in. She's going to be out for a while, though, so I wouldn't recommend waiting around if you're in a hurry."

"Oh, okay."

"Anyway, here's your ramen."

As Naruto began eating, Teuchi looked up and smiled, saying, "Hello, ma'am! Welcome to Ichiraku Ramen. How may I help you?"

"Um, I'll just have a miso ramen, please," came a nervous female voice behind Naruto. He turned around to see Hinata Hyuga take a seat right next to him. "He…Hi, Naruto."

"Hey, Hinata. What's up?"

"Um, no…nothing."

In her mind, Hinata thought, "Okay, come on, I can do this! He probably forgot about my confession during Pein's attack, so I'll just have to tell him again. I hope it works out okay!"

Meanwhile, deep in Naruto's subconscious, the being known as Kurama (or as it's commonly known as, the Nine-Tailed Fox) observed the scene and thought, "Well, well, it's that Hyuga girl that's always stalking the kid. So she finally got the courage to get next to him on her own, huh?"

Hinata nervously ate her ramen while staring at Naruto. Soon after, they walked toward the park and sat down on a bench. After a brief moment of silence, she asked, "So, um, how…I mean…what's new?"

"Eh, nothing much," Naruto said. "Just thinking about my life."

"Oh, that's…interesting," Hinata said. "What about your life?"

"Just about the fact that I've been alone all this time. I know I have great friends like you, but you all also have families that cared about you and helped you grow during your childhoods. As far as I can remember, the closest thing I've had to family is Old Man Teuchi and Ayame at the ramen stand. They were the only ones to support me as a kid."

Hinata stared at Naruto and thought, "Oh, Naruto, you poor thing!"

"Also, the only reason I pulled pranks all over the city when I was young was so someone would pay attention to me. However, the only thing it got me was beaten up, with everyone calling me a demon until I learned how to hide like a ninja. I didn't know about…you-know-who inside me back then, so I thought everyone just hated me because I was alone."

Hinata continue to stare at Naruto, this time with a pain in her heart. Without thinking, she silently whispered, "Naruto, I really wish I could've been your friend back then. My parents forbade it, however, probably because of the fox."

"Really? You would've been my friend?" Naruto asked, not knowing she meant to say that to only herself.

At his question, Hinata quickly became flustered and said, "Oh, um, I mean…that was…ye…yes, Naruto. I would've."

Groaning at the display, Kurama thought, "This is just too pathetic to watch. Anyone can see she has feelings for him; she even confessed to him, for crying out loud. If she wasn't so damn shy, she could have him eating out of her hand in no time." Kurama then got an idea and wickedly smiled. "Well, I think it's time to change that right now."

Hinata continued to stare at Naruto, but was thinking to herself, "Idiot! Why did you say that in front of him?" Before she could chastise herself more, however, she noticed Naruto's eyes changing. "Wha…what's going on?" she thought as Naruto's eyes became like those of a fox, only retaining his blue color. "Is this something dangerous? I need to tell Naruto tha…Naruto…Naru…to…" She quickly became lost in his eyes, her own becoming like glass.

Naruto failed to notice this detail as he smiled and said, "Thanks for saying that, Hinata. It's nice to know someone who's honest about their feelings."

"Honest…feelings…" Hinata thought.

"Given time, I think we could've been boyfriend and girlfriend. You certainly act like someone in love."

"Love…boyfriend…Naruto…" Hinata thought.

Naruto didn't notice when his eyes returned to Naruto and Hinata regained life in her eyes.

Kurama, meanwhile, chuckled to itself and thought, "Enjoy yourself, kid. This is long overdue."

In the real world, Naruto hung his head and said, "But I've got to face facts. Everyone in the village probably only supports me because I keep them safe. If it wasn't for the War, they most likely would still hate me because of the Fox. They wouldn't truly care about me. Sometimes, I think I probably would've been better off alone."

"No! Don't think like that!" Hinata said, surprising Naruto. "I won't let you think you'll be alone the rest of your life!"

"Hinata, are you okay?" Naruto asked, still shocked at Hinata's sudden outburst.

Hinata got to her feet and grabbed Naruto's wrist. "Come with me. I need to tell you something, in private." Naruto followed as Hinata led him back to his apartment, dragged him inside and locked the door.

Naruto turned to Hinata and said, "Hinata, what's gotten into y—" He was cut off when Hinata pressed her lips against his, locking them in a deep kiss. During the kiss, she reached up and unzipped her jacket, letting it fall to the floor and reveal her mesh-covered torso.

Naruto pulled away from Hinata and said, "Hold on, Hinata! What's wrong with you? Are you sick and it's messing with your emotions? You should go to Grandma Tsunade and—"

"Naruto!" Hinata said, making him stop in his place. "There's nothing wrong with me. I'm just tired of keeping these feelings I have from you."

"What feelings?"

In response, Hinata grabbed Naruto's hand and forced it over her heart. Naruto blushed and stammered, "Wha…wha…what are you—"

"Naruto, please. Just feel my heartbeat." Naruto calmed down enough to notice how fast her heart was beating. "My heart's racing like this because of you. I was too shy to tell you about this before, but you're the only boy I've ever felt a connection with, more than just a friend. I can't stand the thought of you not being in my life; I don't want to live with any other boy than you. The truth is, Naruto, I love you with all my heart and soul."

Naruto stood where he was, unsure of how to react. He then remembered when Hinata confessed to him during Pein's attack on the village. "Man, I really am an idiot!" he screamed at himself.

Naruto brought Hinata into a hug and said, "I'm so sorry I've ignored your feelings for so long, Hinata. Thanks for believing in me, even from the shadows."

Hinata blushed and said, "It's okay, Naruto." She then began to kiss Naruto again, this time with him returning the kiss.

Hinata broke the kiss and said, "Naruto, do you want to take this relationship to the next step?"

"Next step? What are you—" Naruto stared at Hinata, who was slowly walking toward Naruto's bed. As soon as she took a seat and crossed her legs, inviting him to join her, he said, "Wait, you mean "that"? No, no, I mean, what would your parents say? You're the Hyuga heiress and all, so shouldn't you—"

"Naruto, I don't care about that," Hinata responded. "I only care about you and making you happy. Please, Naruto, I want to do whatever it takes to keep you happy, even give you my body."

Naruto did eventually sit next to Hinata on the bed, but instead said, "Hinata, I just don't think I'm ready for that yet. You can still spend the night, but as far as…sex, why don't we hold off until I feel like it?"

Hinata looked at Naruto for a while, then smiled and said, "Okay, Naruto. This is as good a start as any."

Naruto went over and turned off the lights, then got in his bed and snuggled with Hinata laying next to him. Naruto lay awake for a few hours after Hinata had fallen asleep.

He thought, "Why would Hinata suddenly do this? I should ask her what happened while we were talking when she wakes up. This is totally different from how she usually is." He then looked over at Hinata sleeping comfortably on his chest, a content smile gracing her face. Naruto laid back and thought, "Well, maybe this isn't all that bad."