Hi guys! This is my first story EVER… So please no flames! If anything, give some constructive criticism? Thanks! Please review, favorite, or follow to encourage me to write more? :D

Disclaimer: Simply don't own Naruto…

Italics : Thoughts

"_" : "Dialogue."

It's three years after the war. Guilty of avoiding Hinata's confession for so long, Naruto confronts her and they both agree to stay just friends. Hinata makes her new goal to help Naruto reach his dream of becoming Hokage, and also to become ANBU captain. The two decide to train together, and they grow closer and stronger together. A new ninja joins Konoha, and quickly becomes Naruto's rival in becoming Hokage. Not only that, he seems to be interested in Hinata! Did Naruto make the right choice in friend-zoning Hinata? Is it too late to fix his mistake?

Please enjoy! ~

Naruto lay there, unable to move. Pein had trapped him with his chakra rods. Stupid chakra rods, I can't move… Pein is closing in… This is it… It's actually…over…

BOOM! Somebody had intercepted Pein.

Naruto was somewhat relieved, but he was more worried than anything. That brave fool was going to get hurt. He/she has to get away, quickly! An figure lands in front of him, facing Pein with a defensive stance and a piercing glare. Her long, midnight blue hair flows from the force of her attack.

"I wont let you lay another finger on Naruto- kun!" She shouts fiercely at Pein. She then turns to give him a sideways glance, her pearl eyes strangely calm. Hinata..!?

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE! RUN!" He hollers, but she ignores him.

"I'm here on my own free will." She says softly, "I'm just being selfish. I just wanted to over take you, to walk beside you, to be with you." She then looks directly into his eyes and smiles at him. "Your smile saved me! So I'm not afraid to die protecting you, because I... love you, Naruto- kun!" It was as if time froze. Naruto could do nothing but widen his eyes in utter shock.

She faces Pein, preparing to strike. Suddenly, she turns around and strikes at Naruto's chakra rod, something not even Pein expected. He reacted quickly, and sent Hinata flying in the air.

"NOOO! STOP!" Naruto cries, although he knew it was useless. Hinata lands onto the ground with a crashing thud. Blood drips down her forehead. Regardless, she stands up, and shouts,

"Juuho Soushiken! (Gentle Step Twin Lion Fists)" Too chakra lions form from her fists, power emitting from them. She charges at Pein, attacking him ferociously, to which he simply dodges effortlessly. Suddenly, he freezes, and she strikes him at the head. In his moment of hesitation, she charges over and strikes down a chakra rod. Pein quickly sends her flying again, and she plummets to the ground like a rocket.

"STOP!" He shouts again, but to no avail. He felt helpless. His friend was lying over there, hurt and broken…. And he couldn't do a thing about it. Hinata gets up again; somehow still having some fight left in her. She crawls over to Naruto. Pein watches her intently as if trying to figure her out. She grabs onto a chakra rod and tries to pull it, with the little to no strength she had left. She smiles down at Naruto. Her face was bleeding, beaten, bruised. Yet her face still radiated with kindness and warmth. Her eyes full of resolve and...love? When did she look… So beautiful? He hears Pein speak,

"Why do you still fight… Knowing you don't stand a chance?

"I stand by what I say… Because that is my nindo, my ninja way." She states confidently. 'My nindo…' Naruto thought, 'She is just… Like me.' Without a second thought, Pein sends her flying, limp as a rag doll. She crashes down with a deafening bang. Pein walks over to her, and takes a chakra rod… and strikes her at the chest… Blood leaks from her lifeless body. No, no, no, no, Naruto's mind repeated like a mantra.

"It was like this… that my parents were killed by Konoha Shinobi…Right before my very eyes…." Pein states, looking directly at Naruto. He could not move… Could not breathe… Could not think… He only knew one thing then: Pein must die. Then everything went black.

Naruto woke up with a start. He was sweating profusely, and his breathing was jagged. His heart thumped like a beating drum. Oh, it was just a dream, he thought, calming down a bit. He just sat on his bed, deep in thought. Why did he still have nightmares about this? It's been three years already since then. He was one of Konaha's choices to be the next Hokage, and he's brought Sasuke back to Konoha. Life was good... So why does he constantly dream about the Pein incident... And her confession?...

Huh, now did he think about it... He's never thanked her, never replied to her, never even mentioned the incident to her. Heck, he's barely talked to her at all these past three years. Maybe it's the guilt of avoiding her sacrifice... And her heartfelt confession.

That's right, Naruto thought, I've been avoiding her since then... Keeping myself busy with other things. But what would he say? That he loved her back? No, he loved Sakura. He always had, right? But how would he reject her without hurting her feelings? But maybe if he confronts her the nightmares will go away and stop haunting him? It's worth a try. But love was foreign to him, something that has never been really given to him… Something that has never been said to him… Before Hinata, that is.

I need some counseling on this, what if I do this thing wrong? He thought, if I break kind Hinata's heart, I could never forgive myself! Maybe Ichiraku or Ayame could give him advice on putting a girl down nicely! Yeah, that's a good idea. He nodded to himself in affirmation.

"Time to get some advice!" He announced, fists pumped into the air. Grrrrumble, his stomach growled. "And some Ramen while I'm at it!" With that, he got ready and dashed out the door.

"Ha!" Hinata yelled, striking at the log post. Ever since the war ended, she had been training endlessly. Maybe if she had been stronger, she would have actually protected him from Pein and not get brutally beaten. Maybe if she was stronger, Naruto would notice her, and look her way... Even after my confession, my sacrifice... It's been 3 years, and He hasn't said a word regarding it...

… Why? Did he forget?! She hit the post harder... Faster... angrier. SNAP! The training stump broke in half. Huff, puff, huff, puff. Hinata breathed heavily as she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. No, he couldn't have... It was too big an incident. She poured her heart into those words, and fought her very hardest against Pein!

Maybe she just means so little to him, that he just didn't care. She bit her lip so hard it began to bleed. Then she remembered how he had believed in her when she fought against Neji, and how he said she was strong when they were fighting against the White Zetsu. She scolded herself for thinking that way. Naruto-kun's not that type of guy. He may be somewhat dense, blunt, and oblivious, but he was never cruel.

Most likely... He just doesn't know what to say. He loves Sakura-chan after all, she smiled sadly. He's probably just avoiding rejecting me. She looked down at her hands, which were bruised and splintered, roughed up from her intense training session. It's not Naruto's fault, she thought sadly. It's me. I'm too timid. Too weak. Too unconfident. Too plain. If I was a guy, I wouldn't like me either…

"I like people like you!" She suddenly remembers Naruto saying. She faintly smiles, now renewed with hope. Naruto may not like me that way, but he gives me so much hope... So much confidence, she thought. I know I can't force him to love me, but I do know I want him to be happy. If he's happy, I'm happy. If he's happy being just friends with me, then so be it. It'll be hard… But I must get over him.

Right now, Naruto is probably still conflicted with how to reject her nicely, knowing him. I'll go find him, she thought, and tell him I'm okay with being just friends. I'll save him the trouble and guilt that way. Besides,there's no need to keep this awkwardness between us. This must be settled once and for all! Nodding affirmatively to herself, she set off to find Naruto, leaving behind the busted training post.

#chapter end


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