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Concluding Subtleties

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Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto

Naruto x Hinata


Uzumaki Naruto wasn't quite the perceptive type. This was rather well-known throughout the entire Hidden Leaf Village. He was, after all, the most boisterous shinobi amongst the others—famous for his simple-minded ways and straightforward, oftentimes reckless attitude (except in battles, perhaps, where the lives of his precious people were on the line; he never allowed himself to be clumsy in protecting those dear to him). But outside the battlefield, normally, he wasn't the observing sit-on-the-sidelines, attentive kind of guy.

Normally, noticing subtle things or fleeting moments did not come naturally to him.

It was probably why he didn't realize that Ayame had been engaged, completely missing out on the joy that had practically filled the room. The little delighted movements she had made that autumn day as she delivered his freshly cooked, miso-flavored ramen lunch, went unnoticed. He had only known three days later when Teuchi mentioned the silver ring on her left hand finger.

He was also the last person among the other rookies to know that Sakura-chan and Sasuke had decided to try "establishing a new relationship", as they called it, which was quite a bit more than platonic. He thought it wasn't completely his fault, though, since neither of them displayed much signs of developing romantics that he could catch on and didn't say a word about that certain topic to him. He knew of their feelings since a long time ago, sure, but there were things that he simply didn't notice about the more romantic side to his two best friends' bond.

It was only at the end of the celebration party a few days after he became a Jonin that he knew how it all had happened (which was coloured with lots of gaping along with shocked exclaims: "A week already?! Really?! Why don't you tell me earlier?! I'm supposed to be the first to know this!" ). Sakura sighed and scolded him for being too loud while Sasuke flatly explained that the reason was probably because you're an idiot.

Uzumaki Naruto had come to realize, then, that he was somewhat oblivious and was probably just as dense as the Hokage Mountain, and he had come to accept that fact.

Yes, he was not quite the perceptive type—except when it comes to that-thing-he-couldn't-name.

In all honesty, he couldn't even quite pinpoint just when he had begun to notice the presence of that-thing-he-couldn't-name. He didn't even know what that-thing-he-couldn't-name exactly was, since it was odd and new and it stirred his senses in ways he had never experienced before. Also, quite strangely, it only occurred to him in certain moments where she was concerned.

He found it baffling how when she was near he became not quite the inattentive, brash, dense guy everybody had known him to be; he became somewhat sensitive.

This was probably not out of place, he thought, because she really had made one of the biggest impacts to his life. She was the first to say the three words he had always wanted to hear and she was the one who reached out to him when he had lost any remnants of hope; that lifted both of them out of despair and reminded him of the life he shared along with the bonds he cherished. He recalled her standing before him, her ankles right in front of his bright blue eyes, her back so small yet so wide. His heart was frightened as it pounded right out of his chest, fearing for her life, helplessly wanting her to just stay alive, stay away from here.

It was quite a long time ago already, but he remembered it like it was yesterday, and he regretted that he had not replied to her bravest actions yet. He didn't even know where to start. She did not push him, however, and after the war is over he found himself getting along with her well as friends. He thought it was great, things were great; she was great.

But then there was this thing that happened to him every time he saw her.

He remembered that celebration party which the rookies along with their sensei had arranged to congratulate him on being a Chuunin. Even the Hokage had been there (though he wasn't sure if she really was there to celebrate his promotion or for the luxury to drink sake). It had been a fine night and the weather was perfect. Everybody had had a great time; some are drunk, but that was fine. He had been truly happy; grateful for the company of his most precious people on a very special day.

The stars were shining brightly as the party came to a close end. Shizune had left the earliest because by that point her Hokage had already been lying unconscious on the floor with more than five bottles of sake beside her. Chouji then excused himself because he wasn't feeling quite well after eating too much beef, and in his company was Ino who was worried that he might pass out on the streets. One by one started to head home after that, since it was already late and they needed to catch some rest.

Naruto was waving Lee and Tenten goodbye when he noticed her standing beside him. It came as quite a surprise, as he realized that he hadn't talked to her much at the party and that she was the last person who stayed. He greeted her with a big grin although his heart was beating quite erratically and he had no idea why. He told her that he was relieved to see her still sober. She laughed softly.

"Are you not heading home, Naruto-kun?" she asked.

"Not yet. How about you? It's pretty late. Won't Hiashi-san be mad or something?"

She shook her head and smiled, "No, probably," she paused briefly, wearing a thinking expression, before continuing, "I hope."

Naruto chuckled. "I hope so, too. You know, his anger could probably tear down Tsunade-baachan's office."

He feigned a shudder and she laughed, which made him somehow feel pretty delighted.

They talked about a lot of things, then, catching up on the days where they hadn't seen each other. He found out that Kiba was planning to open an animal shelter with his sister, while Shino had been helping out Kurenai-sensei with her baby (although the image of a babysitter Shino made him want to cringe and snicker at the same time). He told her about 'The Kakashi-sensei Incident' that happened yesterday, which involved some kind of thievery and the rare Icha Icha Paradise: Limited Edition. They both laughed until their stomachs hurt.

It had been really nice, talking with her, but there was just one problem: he could not stop noticing every little detail.

His attention was somehow completely occupied on every word, every little movement like tucking strands of her hair behind her ears or the slight blush that spread on her cheeks. He felt like studying her (which was not his intention, really, but that was the impression that he got).

In front of her, he became aware of subtleties and fleeting moments and he wasn't quite sure how to stop.

Then it was time for her to leave. There was a small part deep in his gut that voiced please don't leave just yet, but he wasn't quite sure. He couldn't feel sure of anything at all. She looked at him and smiled and he couldn't help himself from feeling ticklish all over—not quite the kind of ticklish feeling that crawled upon his skin, but a ticklish sensation that spread inside his body.

She bowed and bid him her goodbyes, but just before she left, she caught him by surprise by holding both of his hands while looking earnestly into his eyes.

"Congratulations on being a Chuunin, Naruto-kun!" she happily told him. There were gleams in her moonlit eyes. "I'm sure you can achieve your dreams."

And as he let her words sink in, he felt her hands slip from his, letting go in slow-motion. He could feel her fingers tracing the skin on his palm. He became aware—fully aware of the slightest touch and it was dangerous, he thought, because it somehow burned.

As she left into the dark of the night, Naruto found himself staring into the distance with hands on his heart.

Her touch lingered.


It took him quite a long time to figure out what it was, that-thing-he-couldn't-name, and he had found the answers in a brief moment in-between his normal, casual conversation with Iruka-sensei. They were spending some time eating and chatting at Ichiraku's, just like the old times. Iruka-sensei were telling him stories about his everyday life; about his caring yet clumsy wife as well as his baby boy's first steps (which was achieved by a quite peculiar teaching method that included luring the child with a rubber ducky).

"—and he reached her! My wife swept him up in so much excitement; I couldn't help but worry for the kid's safety."

Naruto laughed at the remark, "She couldn't be that dangerous."

"Well, yes," Iruka-sensei smiled, "when she's not burning something in the oven or accidentally leaving soap on the bathroom floor, she's pretty harmless."

Hearing that made Naruto let another laugh escape his ramen-filled mouth. He listened to a few more stories from Iruka-sensei and by the time his teacher finished, his own ramen bowl had already been empty. He enjoyed the anecdotes that Iruka-sensei told him with funny expressions as well as lights in the older man's eyes. He simply couldn't mistake that warm, honest affection emanating from every word Iruka-sensei had said.

"It sounds really nice, sensei," Naruto uttered. "You make me feel real fuzzy inside, now."

Iruka-sensei laughed, and then looked at his student with a kind air, touched with a fair amount of surety in his eyes. "You're going to build a family one day, too, Naruto."

Naruto gave him a surprised look, wide-eyed and all, before awkwardly laughing, "Probably not so soon, though." It was the most suitable, most honest response he could give because, he thought, he still had other things he'd like to pursue and romance wasn't really at the top of his list.

"But you will," his teacher said. With his usual kind smile, he talked to him while playing with the chopsticks on his hand, a far-fetched expression in his eyes.

"Sometimes it comes to you when you're not looking, you know, in unexpected ways, places, person; anything. Sometimes it might have been there all along without you really noticing. Personally," he looked at his fellow student, grinning, "I think you're on your way to finding her—that person you could see yourself building a home with."

Naruto found himself quite stunned, then, because if he were to close his eyes, he thought he really could see.

He could picture the cozy little house with a stone built-in fireplace, the wooden dinner table with warm tasty homemade dishes, the sounds of little footsteps of two—maybe three small kids, the hearty joy reverberating through the cream-colored walls, and her.

Her.

It was as if something had clicked, as if the intricate puzzle in his mind had finally come to a completion. It frightened and excited him at the same time, the simple thought of that. So as he quite hastily, clumsily thanked his company and excused himself (not before telling Iruka-sensei that he would love to visit the said man's family sometime, which made the teacher's face glow as he replied that his favorite student was always welcome) he couldn't help feeling his heart throb in an unsteady, fast-paced rhythm. His footsteps felt light as he ran through the streets, not really bothering to catch a breath.

His whole thoughts were occupied by one thing.

He wondered why he'd only known at that instant because he thought that the feeling must've been there for a long time. All the times he'd spent with her, the warm gestures, the attention to details, the small touches, all of it—all of it somehow made sense and the knowledge thrilled him to no end.

Naruto ran, and ran, and ran. He didn't really know where to go but he did know that he had to see her. So he kept running, searching the nooks and crannies of the village until the familiar view came into sight. The golden, orange hues tinting the skylines reflected a tawny shade upon the Hokage's faces on the famous rock mountain. The streets below them were crowded and when he saw her among the masses, the whole world pauses with him.

He could hear the clear sounds of sporadic heartbeats in his ears as he made way through the crowd, mouthing excuses and apologies when he inadvertently nudged people in his stride.

When he called out her name, his voice was hoarse and he felt a strain in his throat.

She turned around to look at him, pink streaks on her cheeks. She was about to say something, probably a warm greeting or a simple hello, but he didn't really give her the time to as he approached her with quick steps and looked straight in her eyes. His chest heaved up and down since he tried his hardest to breathe, to steady that uncontrollable beat of his heart.

And it was at that instant, when he found that he didn't know what to say or what words to choose, that he decided to just follow whatever his heart was telling him to do because right at the moment she was all that mattered. She looked concerned, which was understandable since he was so nervous and jumpy and he must have looked like he was chased by a boar or something.

"Naruto-kun?"

But he had to let her know.

So he looked at her kind eyes, breathless, uttering the words he so desperately wished could reach her:

"I love you."

His sentence was brief, coated with trembles while his voice was only above a whisper. He saw her eyes widened, her cheeks reddened, and there was a growing, light silence that seemed to weigh upon him. When he noticed the hanging mists in her eyes, he inwardly panicked, scared that he might have upset her or let her down, or that she might have fallen for someone else and he was too late—

He couldn't stand it.

"Hi—Hinata? Sorry, are you, um, sad? Please don't cry—"

But his dread was interrupted by the sound of her small chuckle, and when he saw her smile he could feel his chest swell. She looked at him, the horizon in her eyes, and smiled the loveliest smile he had ever seen.

"I do, too."

Suddenly, the world seemed ten times more beautiful. Suddenly, he thought, the air had never tasted so sweet.

He was acting purely on impulse when he wrapped his arms around her petite figure in a tight hug. He simply couldn't contain the happiness that rushed through his veins and he grinned as she let out a surprised squeal. He'd forgotten that there were people around them.

But at that time, he didn't quite care.


"Is this… a dream?"

He replied her question with a soft laugh. "I'm having a hard time believing, either."

However, as they walked together through the streets of Konoha under the shimmering shade of night, he figured they would have plenty of time to know that it was real.

And the warmth of her hand in his told him that it was real, indeed.

.

.

.

"Say, Hinata, do you like stone built-in fireplaces?"


Author's Notes:

Hello, there!

I honestly intended this to be a short drabble, but here it is: a full-on one shot! I have my muse to blame. :')

But I had so much fun writing this, and it is now two in the morning but I'm not sleeping because I have the need to finish this since I can't stoppp. /pleaseexcusemyramblings. I love the idea of Naruto imagining a family and a house and the only person he could see building a home with is Hinata. I love the two of them so much.

I apologize for any OOCness that might have occurred in the story, though! I hope it's not too much. Please let me know if there were errors or things I could improve and I will try my best!

Thank you lots for reading this! I really, really appreciate it. :)