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Old 01-13-2009, 11:57 AM   #1
thegodfather2450
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n+s+h

Uzumaki Naruto never once imagined himself getting married to a Hyuuga. Everything went so fast that even he himself could not keep up.

A week ago, Hiashi called him at the Hyuuga compound and told him that the head of the Hyuuga chose him to be Hinata’s qualified future spouse. He did not believe it at first, thinking that there was no reason for him to marry Hinata. To begin with, they were not even going out since the girl always fainted at the sight of him. Also, there was the fact that there were many people out there that deserves Hinata more than him… an orphan with no special bloodline and a vessel to a powerful bijuu.

When he was young, people looked down on him, showing their nastiest sneers and would whisper in groups just to let him know how much the entire village hated his existence. But as life went on and time flew by, new faces appeared in his dreary life. Coldness replaced with warmth at the memory of those people who gave him light, hope and trust.

Perhaps they saw him as a changed man and not the child they once despised. But still it was doubtful that they chose him, of all people, to marry the heir of the Hyuuga clan.

When the elders summoned him, he felt like trash, and the regality of the people surrounding him suffocated him. He didn’t want a life with these royal asses, no pun intended. And getting married to Hinata meant only one thing; he would tie himself to the boring life of aristocrats. Something he was not looking forward at.

Naruto did not hesitate to ask Hinata’s father why he chose him. And this was his answer:

“Achievement is an understatement for a man who once defeated the Akatsuki, and even convinced a certain missing-nin to return to Konoha and repent for his sins.” He said this with his eyes closed in a meditating manner, “If there’s one man whom I want to carry the duties of a Hyuuga, that would be you, Uzumaki Naruto, for I, and the rest of the council was impressed with what you have achieved. I will not hesitate to entrust Hinata to you.”

Naruto was upset when they didn’t even ask him if he wanted the engagement or not. Every time he tried to refuse, it was either Hiashi would interrupt or Hinata would look like she’s hyperventilating. By the end of the day, he was exhausted and went home without realizing that he, in fact, accepted the deal.

The next day, it was announced, leaving him with no option but to go with flow. He had this hollow feeling in his stomach that if he refused the accusations of getting married to Hinata, Hiashi would hunt him down like a dog and pull his guts out. Now, that was something he didn’t want to happen.

He planned to see Hinata that day and explain to her that there was a misunderstanding. He would ask her if it was possible to cancel and the engagement in a peaceful manner without him losing any internal organs in the process. Alas, his knees shook and fear washed over him.

Hiashi would be upset if Hinata falls into depression and not to mention Kiba, whom as far as he knew, was head over heels in love with her will not hesitate to gut Naruto himself.

So, there he was, celebrating his upcoming wedding, much to his dismay.

“Hey, why the long face? You’re getting married, man, cheer up!” Shikamaru tapped his back before disappearing through the crowd of drunkards.

“You’re not enjoying the party, dobe.” Sasuke suddenly appeared beside him, apparently the only sober male around the room.

Naruto sneered, “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” he ran a hand down his face and growled, “What will you do if you were in my shoes?”

Sasuke shrugged his shoulders, a smirk ghosting his lips, “Well, I don’t want to find out.”

“You’re one useless friend.” Naruto grumbled disappointedly, “Where’s Sakura when you need her?”

“I heard she just got back from her mission.”

“So basically, she has no idea what’s going on?”

“Yeah.” His eyes darted suspiciously at the blond Nin, “Why?”

“I have this feeling she’ll be pissed.” Naruto shuddered.

Sasuke arched an eyebrow and scoffed, “You’re too full of yourself.”

Naruto grinned widely, but the smile doesn’t radiate happiness as it used to, “I’ve been chasing her around since 12. I wonder what she’ll feel when she finds out.”

“Relief?” Sasuke replied in wonder.

Naruto’s face turned sour, “Stop making my night worst.” Before Sasuke could make a comeback, Naruto’s attention quickly diverted. He just saw Hinata enter the room. “GahOi! Hinata!” he quickly maneuvered himself towards his future bride.

Sasuke just shook his head in pity and went to join the drunken lot. If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

When Naruto reached Hinata, the girl was already fidgeting.

“N-Naruto-kun!” Hinata tried to keep herself together, wishing that her face were not flushing like a ripened tomato.

“We need to talk.” Naruto said to her solemnly, which effectively made the girl’s heart skip a beat. Naruto knew he had to make it quick since Hinata’s turning blue. He quickly grabbed her hand and dragged her toward the back door. Outside, Naruto turned and faced the flustered girl. “I want you to explain what happened yesterday.”

Hinata’s porcelain eyes widened as her breathing quickened, “I-I’m so sorry if my father s-scared you. I d-didn’t know he’ll react that way.” Her voice turned softer at the latter as her eyes quickly averted to avoid Naruto’s questioning gaze.

“What brought that sudden meeting, Hinata? I barely know your father… we’re not even talking to each other. I want to know why he chose me to marry you. And I don’t buy that ‘Achievement is an understatement’ speech!” Hinata cringed as Naruto raised his voice. The blond noticed this and quickly apologized. “I didn’t mean to—gah! Please, just tell me what’s going on?” he tugged at his hair out of frustration, and then realizing that it was scaring Hinata more. Instead, he crossed his arms and waited patiently for Hinata’s explanation.

“M-my father told me that I had to marry soon, since it was a tradition practiced by our family for generations… I, myself, was stunned when I heard of this and I had no idea what to do when he asked me if there were any man, I’d want to marry… If I didn’t come up with a name, he’ll arrange my marriage with some stranger whom he deemed as worth it. S-so I… I…”

Naruto could feel his stomach descended into his shoes. “You?”

“I… I TOLD HIM THAT I LIKE YOU VERY MUCH NARUTO-KUN!” once that was out of her system, Hinata’s eyes widened, and her face flushed and her breathing became shorter. She clamped hard on her mouth and looked at him in fear. She didn’t know where that courage to confess came from, but she knew the result most likely damaged Naruto’s brain.

It had to be, because the blond just stared at her silently before he collapsed onto the ground with a thud.

Hinata panicked and quickly bolted next to Naruto’s still form. “N-Naruto-kun! Naruto-kun! Wake up! Oh no—what am I—Oh no, somebody—Naruto’s—”

Her mumbling eventually woke Naruto, but he remained lying on the ground. When he opened his eyes, he found Hinata fidgeting above him, looking very worried. When she noticed him gaining consciousness, she began barraging him with questions, most of them sounded like a buzz in his ears.

But Naruto cut her rambling short and asked, “How long?”

“H-huh?” then realization hit her straight in the head, “Oh… well… since Chuunin exams, I guess…”

It was Naruto’s turn to widen his eyes, “That long??” he sounded obviously surprised.

Hinata was blushing ten-fold; “Y-yes…” she could feel the heat radiating from her cheeks. This was so embarrassing.

“No shit.” Naruto whispered breathlessly, feeling exhausted. All the things that happened since yesterday was giving him a headache and Hinata’s confession made it all worse. Now, how was he supposed to reject her after knowing that she liked him for so many years?

This was getting more difficult than he expected.

“Naruto-kun?”

He looked up and saw the worried look on Hinata’s face. It’s not as Hinata was not likeable or anything. She’s probably one of the most desirable girls around Konoha. The only problem was… he doesn’t reciprocate Hinata’s feelings. He was nowhere near infatuated with the girl.

So what was he supposed to do now?

He pushed himself off the ground and sat up, staring blankly ahead. Hinata was still crouching beside him, waiting for Naruto to say something.

“Hinata, I’m…” briefly, flashes of his early death in the hands of Hiashi, Neji and Kiba crossed his mind and he quickly shook his head. The vision of Hinata crying, looking disappointed and heartbroken overtook his over-imaginative mind, making him feel more upset at himself. He turned and looked at her, swallowing thickly. “I…” Hinata’s eyes were almost brimming with tears. Naruto sighed while inwardly hitting his head, “Let’s go back inside. It’s… cold out here.” He finished lamely.

Hinata expected words of rejection but instead watched Naruto stood up and offer his hand to her. “O-okay,” she took his hand and felt elated when he helped her up. Hinata never felt so happier.

oOo


__________________

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The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:59 AM   #2
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Re: n+s+h

“I’m screwed.” Naruto dropped his head on the table in defeat.

“I agree.” Sasuke remarked bluntly.

Naruto lifted his head and looked desperately at the raven-haired prodigy, seeking some form of comfort, “What am I going to do?”

“Dump her.”

“It’s not easy.”

“Then marry her.”

“I don’t want to!” Naruto was no longer a child, but a good-looking man with a body that was chisel through years of vigorous training. But pouting seemed to be a habit that never left the blond. He did purse his lip but did not act too childish by slumping on his chair and sulking like a five-year old.

Sasuke wanted to laugh at his friend’s demise, but ended up spewing his beer when he saw a familiar pink-head walking towards their direction. He jabbed Naruto at the side, making the blond jump in attention.

“What?” His mood changed abruptly when Sakura strolled near. His mouth widened into a smile as he loudly greeted, “Yo, Sakura-chan!”

The medic cocked an eyebrow at the over-zealous greeting and made a small wave back. “Hi.” She looked at Sasuke and inquired, “What’s with him?”

Sasuke shrugged and bluntly answered. “He’s getting married.”

Sakura stilled, “Ah, yes… I’ve heard about it.” She leaned closer and whispered, “Is it for real, though?”

Sasuke again gave a non-committal shrugged.

Naruto, unaware of Sakura’s turmoil, just did a thumbs-up and grinned like the boy Sakura could remember during the Chuunin exams.

She smiled at his embarrassing pose, but soon it slipped into a small frown.

That was the first time she realized that a barrier was beginning to surface between her and the blond idiot that was sitting before her.

“What are you doing here?” Sakura cocked an eyebrow at him, her fingers stilled on the carrots she was cutting. Naruto rubbed the back of his neck, an apologetic smile easily spreading on his face as he entered the small kitchen of Sakura’s apartment.

“Aren’t you happy to see me?” Naruto grabbed an apple at the table and munched. He was still a little tired from the celebration last night but he thought of visiting the only person he wanted to see first thing in the morning before going to work.

Sakura smiled a little and proceed on chopping, “You have a briefing this morning.”

“You left the party too early.”

“Well, I have to be at the hospital around eight so…”

“So do I… in the HQ I mean.” Naruto clarified, “You missed a lot, you know? You should’ve seen Kiba’s stunt last night. I doubt he’ll ever show his face to anyone for awhile.” The memory was still fresh and he couldn’t stop snickering whenever it crossed his mind.

Sakura, done with chopping, threw the chunks on the boiling pot of soup and then secured the lid before facing the blond, arms crossed, “I was getting lonely, so I left.” She said with a shrug of her shoulders, her eyes watching him intently, wondering if her words sunk in his pretty blond head. Last night, Naruto was too busy socializing with everyone that he barely had the time to hangout with Sakura.

“Psh, you, lonely?” Naruto scoffed at the very idea, “Hot-blooded men swarmed you like bees in a hive.” Naruto sounded strange but he quickly looked away to cover the slip before Sakura could notice it.

Sakura was grinning. She looked practically smug, “Why, are you jealous?”

Naruto laughed and finished his apple before throwing it straight to the bin, “Even I if I was, does it matter?” he regretted it immediately as it slipped his mouth. He looked back and saw her staring at him in a weird fashion, “I mean we’re platonic friends! I have no right to be jealous…”

Sakura sighed and shook her head. And here she thought he meant something else. “I was just kidding, you idiot.” She moved around and started cleaning up her mess, “Join me for breakfast? I made us some hot soup… it’ll ease the hangover.”

Naruto watched her silently, taking in the rugged look she had for the first time since he entered her apartment. She had her hair tied back in a high ponytail, a few strands framing her face and had an apron wrapped on her front, with a striped blue shirt and shorts underneath. This was his favorite Sakura-look. This outfit showed her laid-back side and not the busy, workaholic one that always moved in fast-pace. He always insisted that Sakura could use a day or two of rest but the pink-haired medic always refused the idea.

The trance he put himself into broke when she looked over her shoulder and raised a questioning eyebrow, “Naruto?”

“A-ah! I—of course, I’ll eat breakfast with you. That’s what I’m here for anyway.” When Sakura glared at him, he grinned, walked the few steps separating them and threw his arms around her, hugging her from behind, “And I wanted to see my favorite best friend in the world first thing in the morning—oof!” Sakura jabbed his ribs and released an irritated growl.

“Get off me, you’re heavy!”

“Aww, but Sakura-chan show a little love here, hm?”

Sakura was glad she was not facing him or he could’ve seen the faint flush on her cheeks when he said that, “Sasuke’s your best friend too. Get some love from him.”

“Ack! Don’t joke about things like that! That’s—eww-I think I threw up a little in my mouth…”

Sakura exclaimed her disgust and tried to shuck him away, but to no avail, the blond leaned more into her. She meant to yell, scream even, but ended up laughing too hard that she was almost out of breath… from extreme happiness and Naruto’s weight.

Sakura didn’t mind as long as Naruto’s wrapped around her like that, everything was fine.

oOo

__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:03 PM   #3
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Re: n+s+h

Happiness was something you should feel for the achievement of the person you cared for. But why does watching Naruto come and go made it so difficult?

Haruno Sakura had been friends with Naruto for more than a decade. He became something she had never imagined. As a child, her parents told her stories about the Yondaime and the battle against Kyuubi. It used to scare the shit out of her when she was a child and even needed her mother’s sweet nothings to soothe her fears. That’s why the first time she saw that blond boy, she decided she didn’t want to do anything with him. She didn’t hate him, no, not at all. She just felt a little awkward approaching someone who despised by so many.

But that was before when she met the real Naruto, not the vessel everyone called him. That idiotic blond somehow wormed his way through her life like no other. Not even Sasuke.

Ever since Naruto’s engagement, she barely had the chance to actually see and talk to him. He was always busy with missions and preparations for the wedding, thinning the chances of getting together on weekends. Sakura ignored it at first. But as this became routine, she realized that indeed, she was getting jealous. Naruto bathed her with attention all the time. So when that attention suddenly disappeared, she had to adapt with the sudden change.

Of course she was not some anti-social who disliked hanging out with everyone else asides from her best friend. Sure, her other friends were there to entertain her and work kept her occupied most of the time. But there was only one person who really understood her, who knew her like the back of his hand and vice versa. Sakura wanted nothing but Naruto’s attention. It sounded selfish, but Sakura was not a hypocrite to deny it.

If Sakura had a childish crush on Sasuke when they were twelve, Naruto had the same thing with Sakura, only Sakura chose to ignore it and converted it to friendship. Naruto agreed with the arrangement and told her that he was content with the idea as long as he was close to her. This idea pampered the pink-haired nin and the thought of having Naruto’s affection and attention all to herself swelled her pride.

But that was years ago. Today was different. He was engaged to Hinata. It was no surprise that Hiashi chose Naruto to marry his daughter. Naruto had a crowd of fawning girls following the very path he was walking on. He dated and had slapdash flings from one girl to another. Sakura too dated a couple of guys, one was a jounin and the other was a medic she was working with in the field. They both respected each other’s personal lives. But their partners alike did not appreciate the fact that Naruto and Sakura were almost attach on the hip, inseparable. Sometime they almost misinterpret the closeness of the two, leading to broken hearts and break-ups.

But none of Naruto and Sakura wanted to stay away from each other just for the sake of maintaining an intimate relationship with other people. They decided that if they can’t accept their friendship, then they’re not worth their time.

It was amazing how Sakura could tolerate Naruto’s brash behavior. It 's miracle how these polar opposites managed to form a bond that was stronger than friendship without crossing the line.

oOo


__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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Re: n+s+h

“Naruto?”

Sakura just got back from the hospital and was surprised to find the blond outside her terrace, sitting at her hammock while swaying it lazily with his dangling feet.

Naruto didn’t look up and remained staring at the sunset before him, “You’re early.” He told her.

“There’s a fireworks festival tonight, why aren’t you there?” there was a festive going on at the center of the village and as far as she knew, important people, such as Naruto, Hinata’s fiancé, should be there and celebrate it with the rest of the Hyuuga’s. Instead, the blond idiot was here, in her apartment, rocking in her hammock.

“I told them I’m not feeling well. Tsunade-baachan knew I was lying but let me off saying that I could use a time off.” Naruto was still adjusting from the changes of being engaged to an important figure in Konoha. As far as Sakura could see, Naruto was still not ready to give up his freedom.

Sakura frowned at this and approached him, “Well, why are you here?”

Naruto finally turned his head and smiled at her. “I wanted to watch it with you.”

Sakura blinked and then a rush of heat suddenly bothered the young medic. Was it possible that Naruto looked more dashing when he’s smiling that wide? Sakura thought it was probable since she could feel her cheeks flushing and was humiliated at the fact that Naruto was there and saw everything. He practically enjoyed the reaction he got from her but decided that it would be much nicer if they could sit together in the hammock before the fireworks display starts.

“Come sit with me.” He scooted and was glad that Sakura took the invitation without refute.

They found a comfortable position, with Sakura flushed next to Naruto, her head resting on his shoulder with his arm wrapped securely around her to keep her from falling. The moment the sun disappeared in the horizon, fireworks began flourishing the night sky in various shapes, making her watch in awe.

It’s sad that she had to turn her attention away from the awesome display. Naruto’s scent, his proximity and the way he nuzzled her hair was difficult to ignore. Especially when she mistook the kiss, he laid on her forehead as whispered words of a love confession.

Or was it?

oOo

__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
Proud member of The Three Legandary Sannin Fanclub.
Proud member of the Jiraiya Fanclub.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:08 PM   #5
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Re: n+s+h

Naruto tried to control himself… he really did. But when he saw that… that slimy guy touched Sakura’s hand, he nearly lost it. He grabbed Genma by the collar and asked if he wished an early death.

Recognized for his playboy image, the senbon-addict viewed Sakura as a forbidden fruit he had not touched so far.

They were at the bar, the three of them, Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, celebrating Sasuke’s birthday, despite of the prodigy’s reluctance to any form of social event. Genma was there and blatantly eyed the pink-haired medic across the room. When he sat on their table, right next to Sakura, Naruto was uncomfortable. When he whispered at Sakura and made the girl blush ten-fold, Naruto was annoyed. When he whispered and none-too-subtly grabbed Sakura’s hand, Naruto was livid. So when he grabbed Shiranui Genma and yelled at his face, the room went still. Sasuke’s eyes were wide but he chose to remain silent. But Sakura… well, Sakura stood up, grabbed Naruto by the arm and pulled him away from the disturbed crowd.

Naruto released his hold on the older jounin, who was stunned as everyone was and reluctantly followed Sakura outside.

“What the hell is your problem??” Sakura whipped around and yelled at him.

“I was just trying to protect you.” He answered lamely in his defense.

“Why?”

“That guy’s molesting you, can’t you see?”

“I know what he’s doing and I’m old enough to decide whether he’s crossing the line or not!” Sakura really wanted to punch him for being… such a clueless idiot but held back and fisted her hands on her side instead. “Do you realize what you did back there? What is Hinata’s family finds out?”

Naruto felt bitter and angry, not with Sakura but at himself for being careless. Of course, he didn’t give a damn on what the Hyuuga’s might think of him now. But the thought of hurting Hinata and damaging the dignity she deserved left a bitter taste in his mouth. But Genma’s stunt really got on his nerves. “Do you think I give a shit about that?” and the next thing he knew, Sakura’s hand slapped him hard on the face. Naruto held his face; Sakura’s handprint burned as he turned his head and stared at Sakura in disbelief.

“You wanted this, didn’t you?” her voice was shaking, “I—I can’t let them think bad of you—not now when you’ve finally gained recognition… not when you finally found someone who really deserves you. You—”

Naruto interrupted when she refused to continue what she wanted to say, “Sakura…”

Sakura released a tired sigh, “Look, I—we need a time off. Until you sort out your feelings, don’t come see me, do you understand?”

Naruto frowned at the unexpected ultimatum, “What?”

She frustratingly bit her lip hard. It’s disappointing how Naruto could be so dense sometimes. Letting out an angry growl, Sakura huffed and stomped off. A swell of pride washed over her as she felt Naruto watch her leave foolishly.

oOo

__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:10 PM   #6
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Re: n+s+h

The words Sakura left him still stung. So when he went and met up with Hinata’s father and the elders of their clan to discuss the wedding plans, he did not hear anything the group discussed.

“Uzumaki Naruto, are you alright?” Hiashi questioned the glassy-eyed boy across the quiet main room.

The blond woke up from his stupor and acknowledged the irked looking old man, “Um, what?”

Hiashi sighed tiredly and massaged his temples, “You are probably tired. I suggest that we end this meeting and you go take a rest.”

The idea of being dismissed was enough to wake the blond. He quickly excused himself and went out of the stifling room. Up until now, he was still trying to figure out how he was supposed to get out of this engagement. He didn’t want to hurt Hinata but also the thought of marrying her did not please him. Hinata was his friend, almost like a younger sister to him, a reason why he thought marrying her was plain sordid.

“Naruto.”

He inwardly groaned and reluctantly turned to find that person who called his name.

Hyuuga Neji stood by the gardens outside, looking at him.

“Oi, Neji.” He greeted in a testing manner. Ever since he and Hinata’s engagement was properly announced, her cousin suddenly acted distant and cautious around him.

Naruto went rigid when Neji walked towards him. His hand landed on his shoulder and gripped him not too tightly. Those pearl-eyes gave him a side-long-glance that made Naruto’s mouth dry and his stomach do flip-flops.

Neji can be scary when he wants to.

“Hurt her and I’ll tear you limb from limb. Do I make myself clear?”

Naruto knew how protective Neji was with his cousins, especially Hinata. But this threat was far overboard. Naruto actually felt a hint of fear from looking into those glaring pearl-white eyes. “Okay.” He managed to say after swallowing thickly.

Neji made a soft ‘hn’ before removing his hand and left the stunned boy behind.

He was in deep shit all right. And he had no idea how to get himself out of it.

oOo
The next day turned out to be a complete twist when Naruto showed up in Tsunade’s office after receiving an unexpected summoning. When he got there, the building was quiet… too quiet that it actually felt eerie. His fears abated when he saw Shizune approach and lead him inside the old hag’s office.

Stepping inside, the sight of a very stern looking Hokage, Sasuke and Kakashi stood not too far from her desk greeted him. Even Iruka looked upset for some odd reason.

Trying to lighten up the mood, Naruto began to whine his protest, “Why such short notice? It was my day off. I’m trying to get some decent sleep for once.”

“Quiet brat, there are far more important matters than your sleep.” Tsunade was in a foul mood. Correction, fouler.

Naruto however did not take the hint, “Oh yeah? What is?”

Sasuke only shook his head while Kakashi reached and tapped his shoulder, “It’s a serious matter, Naruto. Try to stay put and listen.”

When he heard his former sensei say those words, Naruto shut his lips and sternly returned Tsunade’s frown. “So… what happened?”

oOo

__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:13 PM   #7
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Re: n+s+h

He was a dreadful scenario where he have to tell someone a really, really awful news. This morning the Hokage received a message from Rain, telling him that jounins and commoners killed while finishing a retrieval mission. As Tsunade read the list of names of those who died, she found particular name that almost brought her heart up to her throat. It was unexpected and sad. She didn’t know if she could even tell this to the person, they left behind. That’s when she decided to call for reinforcements.

By the end of the day, everyone voted for Naruto to do it. The poor blond could not refuse, much to his chagrin.

Naruto felt a sinking feeling in his guts as he tried to figure out how he was supposed to break this news. It was very difficult dealing with situations dealing with people leaving their loved ones left behind. It was very frustrating that Tsunade had to choose him, of all people to do this.

So as Haruno Sakura stood by the front door of her home, looking apprehensive with a hint of curiosity on her face, Naruto tried to his best to look neutral as much as possible.

When he told her that her parents was slaughtered brutally with their remains burned to ashes, Sakura stood still and was just looking at him, her face paling. Naruto hated that look and never wanted to see it again, wishing that this would be the last time. The urge to throw his arms around her to comfort her was so strong he almost crumpled the scroll he was holding.

It was surprising that she did not cry. Girls were soft… they were supposed to cry, especially at the loss of you’re your loved ones.

But Sakura shown no weakness and took the news calmly.

This scared him the most.

Because he knew, right at that moment, he just broke her soul.

oOo

Sakura was not made of stone. She did cry, but not in front of everyone else. Not even Naruto who was pounding on the door of her apartment for hours. She refused to let anyone in, locking herself in her bedroom and crying the tears she was not able to shed and will not be able to release in the future. She was a strong, independent woman and crying was a sign of weakness. So she allowed herself to be vulnerable for a day, just to honor the souls of her parents. In those hours of mourning, she thought to herself that she was all she got in this world. It emancipated Sakura… for real.

Fresh tears began to burst at that idea.

oOo

Naruto was disappointed that he was not able to say his condolence personally to Sakura on her parent’s funeral. He went there to pay his respects and was immediately pull out when an emergency call from Hinata’s twisted family, which required his immediate attention came. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to talk to Sakura. He wanted to know what she was thinking because she was acting so normal these past few days, it was scaring him.

But his Hiashi’s posse was adamant and forced him out of the funeral service. Naruto wrote a note and told Ino to give it to Sakura.

An hour later, Sakura stood there under the rain, her eyes absently staring at the two lumps of soil before her.

The paper lay forgotten on the ground, soaked and meshed with the grave

oOo

It was sad how things turned out for them. The foundation of the friendship they built for years was slowly vanishing from the loss of communication. Sakura appeared as if she had moved on from the incident and was able to maintain her living while Naruto remained in the cage of his office.

Everyone else noticed the changes as clear as the light of day. Ino was the first one to acknowledge the odd situation.

“Are you and Naruto fighting again?” Ino asked curiously, as she watched her friend move around the clinic, arranging medical supplies.

“No. He’s too busy.”

“Eh?”

“I mean, he’s too busy that even fighting with him is impossible.” She smiled bitterly.

oOo

“Have you talked to Sakura lately?” Kakashi offhandedly threw Naruto that question.

The blond shrugged it off while reviewing the report he was supposed to pass by afternoon, “Nope.”

“Why?”

“She’s busy with her work.”

“The more reason you should see her then.” Kakashi bluntly advised.

Naruto looked up from the scroll and arched an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

Kakashi closed his book and neatly placed it in his breast pocket. Sighing, he replied, “She just experienced a traumatic loss and she’s acting normal.”

“Isn’t that supposed to sound good?”

“No one can recover that fast… Ninja or not.”

Naruto just shrugged his shoulders, “Well, we’re talking about Sakura here. She’s a strong girl.”

“You’re still dense as ever, are you?” Kakashi crossed his arms and returned Naruto’s glare, “You’ve been drowning in this ‘getting married with a Hyuuga’ fame that you’re finding a hard time seeing through things.” He turned on heels and meant to leave when Naruto’s booming voice stopped him.

“What did you mean by that?” Naruto was now standing, both hands planted on the table with a look of stricken confusion on his face.

“You don’t have to be perfect for them, Naruto. Nobody does. Try to discard some responsibilities and focus on the things that are most important before you regret anything.” With that said, Kakashi exited the office, leaving an exhausted looking blond slumping on his chair.

oOo

“Haruno-san, are those bags under your eyes?” Riza, a medic trainee mused loudly as she looked closely at her superior’s tired-looking face.

Sakura waved it off, “I slept late last night.”

Jun, another medic commented, “That’s the same thing you said the other day.”

Kazu, the read head furrowed her eyebrows out of concern, “Are you getting any sleep at all?” they all knew what happened with their mentor’s parents. But Sakura didn’t show any signs of depression before so this insomnia thing was a surprise to them.

Sakura scowled at her nosy students and pointed out, “Why don’t you concentrate on your antidote brewing and leave my sleeping habits in peace?” her students grunted in response but did as what they were told, which Sakura was thankful for.

The truth was, Sakura was snappy because she didn’t get any sleep irregularly it was frustrating.

oOo

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:15 PM   #8
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Re: n+s+h

Seeing the Naruto privately was almost a privilege. So when she found him standing at her doorstep, looking like a kicked-puppy, Sakura was speechless.

“Sakura,” his voice sounded sad and strange at the same time. It’s been a long time since she heard him say her name like that. Again, she felt her heart wrenching.

“Naruto,” she greeted stiffly, which brought a scowl from the other.

“I thought I’ll never hear you say it again,” and then he smirked meaningfully, making Sakura’s heart skip a beat at how his smile shown so much brightness into the dark recesses of her apartment. “You’re really making a happy camper out of me here.” He thought that would lighten the mood. But his smile dropped when he noticed Sakura looking like she was waiting for him to say his purpose and then leave. It was rude and Naruto was hurt because he expected a warm welcome. But then again, this wasn’t the same Sakura he fell in love with way back when he was twelve years old. She looked paler, skinnier, and there were evident bags underneath her eyes. Her green eyes were lackluster, and her lips tightened into a glower as if she was angry at something.

“You should’ve called first before coming over.” She told him casually, trying her best not to look like she was glad to see him. He deserved the cold treatment after giving her one for the past few weeks.

“Since when did you pose those rules? Will you let me in? It’s kind of cold out here.”

Like he was the first person to introduce her to that courtesy, Sakura moved and let the blond enter the apartment he once called his second home.

He sat on his favorite spot on the couch as Sakura stood across him, her arms crossed, foot tapping, patiently waiting for him to say what he have to say.

“Well?”

“How are you doing?”

”Fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Seriously or are you just on some weird diet regimen, cause you look too skinny?”

“If you’re just here to insult me then you’d better leave.”

Naruto raised his hands in the air in surrender, “Geez, don’t get your panties in a twist, I was just joking.” And then he shook his head, “No, I mean, I was worried.” He stood up and approached Sakura, who flinched as he neared her. “Sakura, we’re supposed to be friends… you can tell me anything.” His eyes softened, his voice sounded sympathetic.

It irked her even more because the last thing she needed from him was pity.

“I’m fine.” She repeated tiredly.

“You don’t look like one.”

“Stop judging me!”

“I will if you stop bitching on me!” Naruto looked outraged, “God, what is wrong with you? You’re acting strange!”

“I’ve always been like this, maybe you were just too busy to notice?”

“I’m not—” it was painful to hear Sakura accusing him of negligence… negligence over their friendship. Yes, being Hinata’s future husband had caught up with his personal life. But that doesn’t mean he forgot those people he cared most .How could Sakura, of all people think such a thing about him? He may have been not able to visit her frequently since his engagement but that doesn’t mean he didn’t try to. It wasn’t as if he was ignoring her on purpose. He would never do that to her. “Look, I’m not here to argue. I just want to say I’m—”

“If you’re here to say you’re sorry then stuff it.” Sakura icily told him, not having any idea to which she was referring. Was it about her parents or about her endangered friendship with him?

“Let me finish what I have to say, will you?” Naruto sounded desperate and acted like one as his hand rose and gripped her shoulders steadily. Sakura squirmed, trying to get away but Naruto remained adamant. “Sakura, look at me.” When she didn’t, he lost his patience, “Look at me!” that caught her attention and she reluctantly, albeit fiercely met his gaze. Naruto felt his body weakening as he saw nothing within Sakura’s eyes. “Sakura… what happened to us? We’re friends, aren’t we? We’re supposed to care for each other.”

The word ‘supposed’ made a strange ring in her ear and she was able to free herself from his grip. She crossed the room and stood at the far corner, unconsciously protecting herself

Naruto fisted his hands in annoyance and confusion. He didn’t know the woman standing before him anymore and he hated himself for letting this happen. But what was he supposed to do? He was the Hyuuga’s future son-in-law and has the entire clan and village on surveillance. He thought Sakura wanted him away from her and could survive on her own so he kept his distance and waited. But that time where Sakura was supposed to seek him never came.

It was understandable that she was shutting out everyone. But Naruto couldn’t handle the fact that he belonged to that group.

His head was already hurting from all the rationalizing and so he decided to give Sakura both more time and space. “Fine, you’re not ready to talk yet. I’ll… I’ll come back when you’re calm and not hostile.”

Sakura refused to watch him leave and shut the door firmly behind him.

oOo

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:17 PM   #9
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Re: n+s+h

Today had been a busy day for Haruno Sakura who worked 48 hours shift in the hospital. Her back was aching and she could feel her legs cramping from standing up for almost half of her duty hours. She couldn’t understand why she felt so tired today when she’d been doing this for years. Perhaps it had something to do with the sudden rise of morbidity rate during the past few months. Tsunade had been sending out ninjas in very difficult missions lately and Konoha’s general hospital’s the receiving end. The desire to go home and take a long hot bath before hibernating for the rest of the day overcame the young medic and eventually ended up daydreaming it while on the job.

“Your intern just set my patient’s hair on fire.” Yoshi, a senior medic in his mid thirties, grumbled at Sakura’s side at the nurse’s station while flipping through charts.

Sakura smiled lopsidedly, “Great. More problems, thank you very much.”

Yoshi grinned and shut his chart, “I thought it was more of an ice breaker.”

Sakura ran a hand down her face, “I look terrible.”

Yoshi nodded without a question and clamped a hand over her shoulder, “A couple of hours more and you’re out.”

Sakura laughed, “You jealous?” unlike Sakura, Yoshi still had another 24 hours to go.

“Yeah, green with envy.” Yoshi clawed and roared, then waved, “Later.”

Just as soon as Yoshi disappeared into the elevator, a nurse approached her, a placating hand grabbing her arm, “There’s someone here to see you.” She told the medic with a knowing smile.

Sakura frowned and noticed a ball of yellow by the end of the hallway.

Green eyes met blue.

Sakura swallowed thickly. He never learns to give up, does he? Sakura sighed tiredly, thanked the nurse and then went to her not-so-unexpected visitor.

“Sakura!” Naruto’s greeting was a tad louder and overly zealous that brought much attention around the hallway. It had been a day since that incident in her apartment and he thought that perhaps he could give her some time to keep her temper at bay. Impatient as Naruto, he couldn’t wait for more than a day and a half.

Sakura sighed and shook her head, “How many times do I have to tell you to keep it down when you’re here. Many patients already complained whenever you’re around.” She then began massaging her head to provide temporary relief. “You never listen.” She tried to act angry, but really, she wasn’t. She couldn’t.

Naruto was glad and a little surprised that Sakura didn’t hit him for even showing up. That only meant one thing: Sakura forgave him for whatever he had done and they're friends again. That just made his day, his smile turning into a very wide grin. “Don’t care. Here,” he extended his arm and revealed a bouquet of flowers in his hand.

Stunned, Sakura blinked slowly at the different floras displayed before her. Never in her life had she received flowers from Naruto. And seeing it happening right before her eyes left the girl speechless, “This is…” she looked up and searched that handsome face that kept hunting her dreams every night. Naruto was smiling so wide, his eyes crinkling with mischief. He looked awfully cute, Sakura thought. “This is highly unnecessary…” she breathed out in both awe and misery. How can she ignore the odd feelings jumping up and down her throat when Naruto’s making it so much difficult for her?

When Ino suggested that he should give Sakura flowers as a peace offering, Naruto didn’t hesitate to take her advice. “It’s the least I can do.” He further pushed the bouquet towards her, “Take it.”

Seeing that it is rude to refuse his gift, Sakura took it deliberately, still trying to let the feeling sink in. “Thank you…” she told him truthfully. Now she had to change her priorities when she gets home. Find a vase, put flowers in vase and then take a hot bath.

“Are you done here yet?” Naruto asked while looking around the almost empty hallway.

“Around five I guess…”she answered while sniffing the roses. She was startled though when Naruto abruptly grabbed her hand.

“Ditch it. Come with me, I’ll show you something.” He insisted by pulling her towards him.

She could already tell she was blushing since her face felt hot, “B-but I have to finish my shift—”

“Guess not,” The blond jerked his head over her shoulders, “That guy seemed to have no problem about it.”

Sakura looked back and saw Yoshino giving them two thumbs-up. That was the ‘go’ signal all right.

A smile cracked Sakura’s face at the sudden turn out of events and actually felt happier ever since her parents passed away.

“Alright, give me five minutes.”

oOo

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:19 PM   #10
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Re: n+s+h

Sakura stretched out her arms and sighed heavily. She was sitting on top of a white fence facing the vast pasture near Konoha academy. It was the same place where she and Ino used to pick flowers when they were children and declare their love for Sasuke. Sakura grimaced at the latter and again, silently wished that that particular memory would disappear six feet under.

“And here I thought you were taking me on some fancy dinner.” Sakura tried to loose a few kinks around her shoulders.

Naruto had his hands behind his neck, watching the sunset with her by standing beside her and leaning against the fence. “You know I’m not that kind of guy…”

Sakura chuckled, “Yeah, one could only hope…”

Naruto looked up at her, “Seriously, do you want fancy stuff? ‘cause I could—”

Sakura scoffed and waved it off, “Come on, I was just kidding. I’m fine with watching the sunset with you. I couldn’t really ask for more…” the latter was more whispered than said aloud for the other to hear.

Naruto smiled, “Yeah, me too.” They shared a moment of silence in a shot amount of time before Naruto decided to break it, “So, you’re not mad at me anymore?”

“Hn,” Sakura shook her head, her eyes never leaving the orange sky, “I’m sorry for acting like an ass… I knew you were just trying to help… My actions were uncalled for.”

Naruto grinned wryly, “Yeah, me too… I’m sorry for not being there when you needed me the most.” He turned and faced her, not minding the sun anymore. What he had before him was much more beautiful than any sunset. “I really tried, but this whole engagement thing…”

Thank you so much for reminding me that. Sakura suddenly realized that this meeting with Naruto was highly inappropriate. He was getting married, and to a Hyuuga no less. She was probably interrupting some ceremony Naruto’s supposed to attend. The smile on her face was gone and dropped into a worried frown. “Is it okay that you’re here with me?”

Naruto’s eyes widened as he realized what Sakura was trying to imply, “Of course! I’m sick and tired of what those rich people do with their lives. I need some time off, you know?” really, he was getting tired of it all. Now, if only he could think of a way so he could get out of the engagement…

Sakura chuckled and asked out of curiosity, “Are they really uptight?”

Naruto made a face, “They all have stick up their asses.”

Sakura laughed hard and almost lost her balance. Good thing Naruto’s strong arms were there to catch her before her face meets the ground. Her flailing arms enveloped Naruto around his neck while the other lifted her around the waist, while trying to keep her sitting on the fence.

Out of breath, Sakura still laughed at how odd they looked and soon Naruto found himself laughing along with her. They stayed like that even until the sun was gone and darkness enveloped the vast hill.

Naruto was the first one to regain his composure albeit a little out of breath from laughing. His arms instinctively tightened around her, not planning to let go anytime soon. “Sakura, promise me one thing?” he murmured against her ear.

It tickled Sakura and made her flush from the sudden contact of his lips against her skin. It felt odd and it tingled, making Sakura hold onto him more or she’s afraid she might lose her balance again. “What?” his scent was so strong with her nose buried in the collar of his orange shirt. It had a calming effect since it somehow made Sakura feel cozy and comfortable. His warmth helped a lot with the cold night air blowing their way.

“I don’t want things to change, no matter what. Don’t shut everyone out because you’re not alone… you got me, remember?”

Sakura felt her eyes water and her nose suddenly felt stuffed. That was the sweetest thing she had ever heard from Naruto. And for some reason, with Naruto holding her like that made it more meaningful than ever. It made her want to hold unto him forever. Like a string of hope… a lifeline.

Naruto blinked when he received no response from the other. And then he started feeling wetness trailing down his shirt. “Hey, are you crying? Oof—!” no matter how feminine Sakura looked, she was still stronger than an average girl was. His breath caught up when she pulled him closer to her.

Unaware of this, Sakura cried silently and finally said, “Don’t leave me then.” She whispered against his skin. For once, she wanted to be selfish. She’ll want Naruto by her side even when he’s married to Hinata. The thought brought further sting into her eyes.

Naruto smiled, “Not until you promise?”

Sakura laughed and then pulled away, cupping his face with her hands, “Yes, I promise.”

Naruto felt his heart would explode just from how Sakura looked so vulnerable under the moonlight. He reached out and wiped her tears, hoping that this would be the last time he’ll ever make Sakura cry.

oOo

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:20 PM   #11
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Re: n+s+h

“N-Naruto-k-kun, c-can I speak with you for a m-moment?” Hinata warily looked around the household and was relieved to find the area empty.

She and Naruto just finished the tea ritual and was about to eat lunch together. It was fortunate that her father insisted that they dine together alone. She had been finding the best opportunity to talk with Naruto with no one watching every single move they make.

“Sure.” Naruto smiled at the timid girl. The thought of him marrying her was still not sinking in, she presumed, since it appeared like it was not bothering him at all.

Hinata once again gave the place a run-over before she grabbed Naruto’s hand and dragged him into an empty room. She closed the door quietly and then faced the baffled blond.

“Hinata, what’s going on?” Naruto asked somewhere in the dark. His eyes were still adjusting from the darkness.

“N-Naruto-kun, why w-won’t you say something?”

“Huh? Say what?”

“T-that you don’t want this marriage.” Her voice was still subdued but she sounded upset.

Naruto stilled for a moment, speechless. So it seemed that Hinata knew his feelings towards the engagement. “Shit, Hinata, I’m so sorry. I must’ve done something—”

“No,” Hinata shook her head firmly, “I-I s-saw you with her.”

Again, Naruto’s vocabulary failed him, “Huh?”

“S-stop it!” Hinata cupped her mouth shut, a little surprised herself at her outburst. She could tell Naruto was shocked too at the silence he was displaying. “I know what’s g-going on…”

Naruto shook his head slowly, “Hinata, I don’t understand…”

“The o-one you really like is S-Sakura-chan, am I right?” Even if it hurts… even if it meant that Naruto’s not destined for her, Hinata decided to accept it. Naruto was not interested in her. And the way he treated her was like she was his younger sister. It never felt like Naruto returned her feelings anyway… so what’s the point of pursuing a relationship that’s bound to be broken.

When she saw them last night, she knew she already lost. Naruto never looked at her the way he does to Sakura. His eyes worshipped everything about her. She could also tell that Sakura was unaware with Naruto’s true feelings.

Her assumptions was proven by how Naruto was upset the last few days he and Sakura had an argument. She could barely talk to Naruto and he rarely acknowledges anything that had nothing to do with Sakura or the ceremonies held inside the Hyuuga compound.

She was tired watching those two dancing around each other far too long. Though she never expected her abrupt engagement with Naruto would trigger what everyone seeing right before their eyes.

Hinata’s love for Naruto was unrequited and she will not allow herself to get hurt further. She will let Naruto go and be with the person he really loves.

“Sakura’s my friend.”

“N-no,” Hinata reached out and took Naruto’s hands. It was odd that having him near doesn’t have the same effect like before. Now she could tolerate his proximity while unlike before, she would’ve passed out cold by now. “She was… she is… y-your first love.”

Naruto stared at her in long silence and then swallowed thickly, “Hinata, I…”

Hinata’s grip tightened, her brows furrowing, “I-I will help you!”

“Hinata…”

“I will tell f-father that I refuse this m-marriage. L-leave it to me.”

He knew she was just acting brave in front of him because there was no way that Hinata would stand-up to her elders. She had so much respect for them and respectfully feared her father. Thinking of Hinata receiving the punishment of his foolishness doesn’t sound appealing at all. “You don’t have to do this. It’s my fault, I should’ve said something before it went this far…” he knew Hiashi will be upset and Neji would probably mutilate him for what he was about to do. But since the truth actually came out from Hinata’s mouth, he knew it was time for him to admit to himself that he was still, in fact, in love with Sakura. The feelings he felt for her never vanished… it was buried and unwarranted because he always thought he would never stand a chance for her affection. But after what happened last night, he knew there was still a chance. And ironically, Hinata’s opening the door for him.

“Naruto-kun.” Hinata knew there was no way of arguing herself through this. She could tell Naruto was finally determined to get what he really wanted.

Naruto decided to be selfish for once. And Hinata was more than willing to step aside.

End
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