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Hidden Acknowlegement

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Prologue

It was a beautiful day.

Bright white clouds floated in the air, drifting west in the pale blue sky. The rays of the afternoon sun was gentle, a soft golden glow that was illuminating as it flitted through black shadows.

The weather was pleasantly warm with periodic cool breezes blowing about mildly.

The villagers of Konoha were walking around with smiles and cheerful chatter as they completed their errands. Shinobi walked leisurely without the need to project a professional image that was usually applied to their missions.

The atmosphere was absolutely peaceful.

"NARUTO!"

The shout made heads snap abruptly towards the direction of the yell.

Among the tall rooftops that stood underneath the stone figures of the hokages on the mountain, a small orange blur sprinted from one roof to another.

Another blur, taller and dark blue, chased after the orange blur. With dark eyes, hair, and his signature scar across his nose, Iruka Umino bellowed.

"NARUTO! GET BACK HERE! YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PULLING PRANKS AND SKIPPING MY CLASS! STOP RUNNING AROUND, NOW!"

The volume of his scream echoed, spreading throughout the village.

The villagers, resigned to this sight, turned back to continue their previous actions before the interruption. Some scowled while the rest shook their heads in exasperation.


"NARUTO!"

Naruto Uzumaki grinned widely and ran the moment his "special surprise" was complete. He knew that Iruka-sensei will find him soon and punish him for skipping.

He laughed and fled to the rooftops, the muscles of his calves flexing as he leaped away from the scene.

In moments, he was found and the chase began with Iruka-sensei at his heels.

"NARUTO! GET BACK HERE! YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PULLING PRANKS AND SKIPPING MY CLASS! STOP RUNNING AROUND, NOW!"

Naruto vaulted into the sky and twisted his body so he was facing his sensei in midair. With a smug grin, he hollered back, a hand curved on the side of his mouth.

"YOU CAN'T CATCH ME!"

He rotated his body again and landed safely on the next rooftop.

He ran, increasing his speed to avoid his capture.

Iruka-sensei narrowed his eyes and focused his chakra to enhance his speed as well.

Since Iruka was following Naruto from behind, he was completely ignorant of the expression Naruto made that portrayed a deeper character of a trickster.

Naruto was never taken seriously due to delinquent behavior.

His looks didn't help either.

There was exaggeration in his expression when he smiled, which was almost always. His eyes were shut, mischievously shaped in an upside down U and his whiskers looked thicker when they were stretched. His smile widened from ear to ear and looked comical when all of his teeth showed.

No matter what happened, he'd just smile like an idiot who was incapable of understanding the villager's distaste of him.

The look he had on his face was foreign and it completely changed who he was.

Eyes, color of a sunny sky, glowed in a way that the villagers have never seen. It wasn't fierce or angry from his determination to prove himself to others. They were wide open, bright and innocent from an unknown joy. He didn't have them shut, hiding the pain when people continuously rejected him.

His smile was different as well.

The corners of his mouth lifted slightly, showing happiness in a simple, breathtaking away.

The lack of his usual and hyperactive energy softened his face dramatically.

It was as if he at peace with himself and the world.

His face would have reminded the villagers of someone who had a similar resemblance they admired had they bother to give a chance.

It was a shame that most people were too late to see it.

Naruto abandoned the roofs and ran in the streets, darting past small groups of people and individuals.

As he dashed past a corner and Iruka-sensei following, a soft and sweet laugh floated from the winds to his ears as he ran.

He could hear his heart pounding.

The voice was familiar to him and he felt like he was soaring in the sky when he heard it.

It was a sound that he didn't hear often enough and he was pleased to know that he was the one who made it happen. The person who had always believed him and supported him from the shadows was happy for another moment in her life.

Another success in his mission.


A small, porcelain hand tried to cover the mirth that threatened to spill out of her lips, but it was futile.

She never knew that it was on purpose, that he would do anything for her when he acknowledges her presence all those years ago.

Chapter Text

She was known as the shy one.

It was a premise that had many people believed that she was weak.

She wasn't considered courageous as she lacked confidence to speak up to people, even if it was defend herself. She was too kind to everyone, unable to say no to favors and forgive those who didn't deserve it. She was the type of person people took advantage of and it seemed that she was incapable of taking care of herself.

Those close to her always do their best to keep her sheltered and protected.

Therefore, she was weak in the eyes of the village.

No one ever really knew how they even got together, how it was even capable.

There was something unexplainable to their bond, but no one could narrow it down.

She was the type to slip into the background far too easily and he should have never notice. Someone loud and determined as him should have never been able to turn around and be aware of her presence. Opposite in their appearances and dispositions, they weren't meant to meet and communicate in the way that they did, but it happened.

Of course, people also couldn't understand how it was she that took the first step in their journey.


She had disappointed her father and clan again.

She wasn't fast enough, she didn't have enough power, and she didn't have enough control in her movements.

Everything about her wasn't good enough for the clan.

She was weak in their eyes and as she ran away from the household, she wondered if she'll ever be more than what she was now.

She entered a forest, easily maneuvering over large roots and branches.

Her destination was near.

After passing by a particular set of branches, she headed for the tree where its roots entered into a pool of water. Sitting with her back against its trunk, her head leaned against folded knees and her arms wrapped tight around them.

She concentrated on breathing properly, breathing in and out.

The rhythm slowed her heart, its beats thumping more steadily.

When she regained her composure, her head lifted and she smiled when she took in her surroundings.

Whenever she failed during training, which was always, she ran away to a quiet area in the woods. Her secret spot consisted of a small lake in an open field, with trees tall and wide that barricade the area. Its silence was only disturbed by the creatures that lived in the forest and its tranquil air always brought her mind to peace. Uninhabited by any person, the warmth from the sun's rays and the soft breeze was bittersweet as they brought memories of her mother's embrace before she had passed away.

This area in the forest was the only place where she could hide from the world and be herself again.

Free from the hate, the pressures, and pain, she found her serenity as she lay down on the cool ground and slept, safe and content in the forest.


It was late afternoon when she woke and it was time for her to return home again.

She took the long way, leaving the forest and entering into the center of the village.

It was crowded, full of people filling the streets due to the numerous numbers of stores and restaurants.

While she walked down the street that led her closer to home, a scene had caught her attention.

A large crowd had gathered in front of a restaurant. Interest grew in her lavender eyes as she walked towards the crowd. Slipping through their legs carefully, she saw a man in an apron, pointing and shouting at a young boy who was around her age.

His spiky, blonde hair was the first thing that her attention.

His back was turned so she could not see his face. However, she could see that he was wearing a white shirt and blue shorts and sandals. He was waving his arms as he shouted right back at the man.

As she listened, she found out that the man wouldn't let the boy in and serve him food.

She was puzzled. Why wouldn't he let a little boy in?

As if someone was listening, the low murmurs of the crowd that surrounded her had answered her question.

"Laughable."

"…like the demon brat should have the privilege of being served."

"What is he thinking?"

"Why can't we just kill him already? After all he has done, he doesn't have the right to live."

"…It's not fair. Why is Hokage-sama protecting that piece of trash?"

"Let's just kill him while he's vulnerable."

"Shh… don't forget about the law. We're not supposed to talk about it."

Hinata was confused, her brows furrowed.

Demon?

Why was he called that? And why are they so cruel to him? What did he ever do?

She turned her attention back to the scene and gasped.

The man had punched the boy directly in the stomach and left him sprawling on the ground. He began walking back into his restaurant and shouted at the boy, "DON'T EVEN THINK about coming back or I'll beat the shit out of you! You will never, ever, be a customer of mine! Not after all you've done!"

"Good riddance."

"…I wished I got to do that."

She looked at the crowd around; she saw many of them nodding their heads in agreement of what was said.

Their eyes had gleamed with satisfaction as they stared at the scene.

The look in their eyes left her shivering, chilled to the bone.

Why did they hate him so much?

Lost in her thoughts, she did not noticed the crowd leaving until it was who only she who stood at the scene. Blinking, she looked at the boy in front of her. He was slowly getting off the ground, dusting his shorts. When he stood straight, he waved a fist to the sky and shouted to everyone turning their backs on him.

"OH YEAH! WHEN I BECOME HOKAGE, I'LL MAKE SURE YOU'LL RESPECT ME AND BEG FOR ME TO COME BACK! AND I WON'T BECAUSE NARUTO UZUMAKI DOESN'T NEED YOU! IT'S NOT LIKE YOUR FOOD IS ANY GOOD!"

Just as Naruto stopped yelling, the door slammed opened and the man returned with a red bucket. He stomped his way towards the blonde haired boy and turned the bucket over. Some red liquid substance with thick white chunks was poured over him and Naruto screamed in disgust.

"HEY! WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?"

The man snarled. "Get off of my property brat. Your yelling is disturbing my business."

Then he and the empty bucket returned to the restaurant.

The boy, Naruto, grumbled as he began to fix his clothing.

Hinata, on the other hand, froze at the mistreatment and was still standing at the same spot.

Her eyes were wide as she stared at him.

He began looking up.

"Eep!"

Avoiding attention, she ran to the side of the building. Her back laid flat against the wall and she tilted her head to his direction. She began poking her index fingers together and stared at the ground, her lavender eyes distressed.

What should she do after witnessing the cruelty she had seen?

She wanted to go up to him and… then what?

She was too shy to even speak up, let alone take action.

How could she help him when she couldn't even help herself?

She should leave.

Her father was already angry today.

He would yell at her for staying out so long when she was weak and vulnerable, especially when the kidnapping incident with the Kumo was still fresh in her clan's minds. She should have been home a long time ago.

Hinata decided that should leave and ignore the boy like everyone else was doing.

She would forget everything she saw and continue on despite how unfair it was for the boy.

Her resolve strengthened, she stepped out of the alley.

Just as she turned and started walking away, the boy turned his head and cerulean blue eyes met pale lavender.

Their gazes were locked together and the world became silent for one moment.

It was in that moment that she lost her heart to another.

She was mesmerized with the emotions that quickly fleeted through his eyes.

The anger, the embarrassment, and determination were held in those blue orbs of his.

A storm rioted in darkening blue eyes and the intensity drew her in deeper and deeper into a daze. As she stared longer, she saw the reflection of her soul gazing back at her, all within a different shade. The despair and loneliness spoke to her with such familiarity in his eyes before he looked back down in embarrassment, awkwardly and fumbling to clean up his shirt.

Breathing became something harder to do.

He looks so alone, standing on his own without anyone or any idea how to fix things that were out of his control.

No one bothered to help him, like no one cared for her.

As she watched, she started to understand him a little more and felt an affinity with him.

The boy standing in front of her was determined to be strong and ignore everyone, but the sense of alienation was clear to her. It was the same feeling when she stood amongst her clan. He probably wondered why they were doing something like this to him, just as she wondered why her clan treated her so.

She wanted to know as well.

What did they do to gain so much hatred and disappointment when it was obvious that they didn't care?

What made them so different from everyone?

Even she was no exception.

She, too, was about to leave him but the look in his eyes stopped her from doing so.

She felt a sense of kinship to him.

She knew what he felt; at least when it came to being an outsider and she wanted to do something, anything that could ease his pain, even if it was a little. She wanted to help him because she knew how much she wanted someone to help her when there was no one else.

He felt what she felt.

And without her notice, she began her first steps walking towards him.

Chapter Text

Ever since the beginning of his memories, hostile eyes were cold, accusing when they stare at his figure before he understood their meaning. Sneers and scowls of disgust had twisted human faces into a crowd of monsters that surrounded him every day of his life.

They were the villagers of Konoha.

They were proud citizens, and stood together against harsh obstacles not only for themselves, but for each other for their love of the village. They were also the people that stood in crowds against him, watching him from the distance, and trying to ruin his life despite being outcasted already. Words full of cruel intentions sprouted from their lips and stood in his way to prove his existence. The pain and anger he felt from their hypocrisy almost influenced him to let go of his humanity and released Kyuubi, the demonic entity who was the real cause of everyone's rage and misfortune.

At a young age, he already knew of the demon's existence, who wanted to release its power of death and destruction once more. Dreams had filtered into his mind as he slept and every day, he was tempted more and more to get revenge from every accusation many villagers.

It hurt a lot to face them every moment he stepped out into the streets. There was incidents that made that enticement grew, but she was always there in the shadows, quietly supporting him and soothing the hurt away.

He could still remember the day that he first met her.


Hunger grumbled loudly in his stomach and he decided to go to a shop and pay for a meal with his own money for the first time. The third hokage, affectionately known as jiji-chan, was the one who helped him to where he was now. It was he who had saved Naruto when the orphanage had kicked him out. He had given him a home when no one else cared and it was jiji who had also given him his first allowance after settling him for the first time.

The hokage was the most important person in his young life.

He was also the first member to become part of a family he never had.

Life was starting to be great and it was going to get better, especially when he plans to sign up for the academy in the future. He will become hokage one day and become unbeatable. Like jiji, he was going to be the strongest and make sure no one could pick on him anymore. The villagers will accept him someday and he will be able to help people the way jiji had helped him.

He would make his most important person proud of he would become.

No one will stop him.

It was a new beginning in his life and he was going to start it with his first paid meal.

Instead of eating scraps or gruel he had from the orphanage, he was going to eat meat and rice and whatever he could find. It would be fresh, properly cooked, and actually fill his stomach. He didn't have to go hungry anymore.

It made him excited.

He ended up standing in front of a butcher's shop.

There was a menu taped at the window, showing a list of food choices and their prices.

Racks of roasted pork, ducks, and other things he didn't know were displayed. The faint scent of marinated sauce and cooked meat filled his nostrils and the anticipation of eating them filled his mouth with saliva. Grinning widely, he walked to the door with a bounce in his step.

He couldn't wait to eat.

The bell hanging above the door jingled as he pulled the door open and entered.

The shop was designed in a way that most people would expect. It was small and narrow. A tall counter stood near the entrance in a corner with the racks of fried and roasted meat was held. The tables were small and squared, leaning against the wall past the counter. A strip of space was left open, leading towards a set of steel doors of a back room.

It was simple and ordinary, but it made Naruto thrilled.

His first few steps of independence were starting.

He looked around for someone so he could order, but one was there so he called for help.

"Hello! Is someone there? I want to order."

A moment of silence passed and someone answered.

"Just one moment; I'll be right there."

The voice was male, low and gruff, and Naruto assumed that he was in charge and the owner. He was a little impatient since he was starting to starve, but there weren't any waiters or waitresses to take care of him like he saw in other shops he passed by. The man was probably on his own so he felt a little lenient when he answered back cheerfully.

"Alright! Take your time."

Trying to pass by the time, he picked a seat closest to him, climbing onto the chair with somewhat difficulty. His short stature forced him to struggle a bit before he sat in a more comfortable position. He sat with his hands on the sides of the chair and began kicking his feet back and forth, back and forth. He also started humming a simple tune as he swung his feet along.

After a minute or two, he heard stomping footsteps approaching the steel door. The volume of the stomping increased until the bang of an open door revealed a tall, plain middle aged man. He was wearing a dark navy blue top and pants with a stained, white apron on top of his outfit where it tied behind his back and neck. He had dark eyes and hair, his body still lean with some muscle. His skin and his face was tan and somewhat weathered, depicting his age.

He looked ordinary.

His eyes were warm and gentle to welcome his customer from the wrinkles in the corners of the eyes to the light that brightened his face. His lips were closed, curved slightly in a smile. The doors behind him slammed as he walked towards Naruto and his mouth opened to speak.

The man froze as his eyes landed on Naruto's figure. His feet stopped moving and he took in the wild, blond hair, the innocent blue eyes, and the thick whiskers on the boy's cheek.

The man's brows narrowed his eyes darkened in his glare at the boy. He scowled and started stomping his way to him, his arms swinging at each step. His hands clenched into white fists. Stepping in front of Naruto, he placed his hands at his waist and glared harder. The boy was not welcomed and he questioned the boy in a very rudely tone. His voice was cold and dark, reminiscent of a frosty winter in his displeasure of the boy's presence in his shop. He wanted the monster out of the shop.

"What are you doing here?! You are not welcome in my shop!"

The shout made Naruto step back with startled eyes, looking up at the man who stared back with malice. Hate dripped like black venom from the owner's lips and tension thickened in the air of the shop.

Naruto was feeling a lot of things.

His throat had swallowed and something fluttered in his stomach.

It was not a pleasant feeling and his limbs were twitching ever so slightly in his tremble.

His body felt empty of oxygen, leaving him heavy like lead.

What did he do to be treated like this?

He had barely said a word and the owner was in his face, yelling for no reason.

There was no question that the man hated him.

He acted a lot like the caretaker in the orphanage who never cared for him fairly. She gave him dark looks whenever she saw him and she always gave smaller portions when food was passed out. She ignored him when he had a question or needed help.

This man was the same.

He and every other adult glared or shouted at him anytime he got close.

It was as if they deemed him a criminal!

Why?!

He never did anything to be treated like this. He was just an orphan. No one should have cared about anything about him. They didn't care about the other kids who lost their parents.

Why was he different?

It was supposed to be better, Naruto thought.

He wasn't just a nobody anymore, considered worthless as if he wasn't human.

Why wouldn't anyone let him prove it?

The despair and frustration began piling up and filling his soul. His body felt like weighted lead. His head drooped forward, his eyes covered by the long, blond bangs that were pulled down by gravity. His fists clenched by his sides and shook.

Naruto shouted in his mind, 'it was supposed to get better!'

His head shot up and sky blue eyes were fierce from a face of determination. The words poured out from his mouth without hesitation or thought.

"Old man! I am a customer and you should give me some respect!"

The man scoffed.

"You are not a customer of mine and you will never be! Leave, you won't get anything else from me you monster!"

'Me, monster? I'll show him who's the real monster!'

"FINE! I'll leave. And I'll scream down the whole street and tell everyone that you and your food stink! You're so rude, no one will want to come when they find out this is how you treat someone who is innocent!"

The man stalked forward and his height intimidated Naruto. Naruto stepped back and back as the man continued advancing. Naruto felt his back hit against the door and the man started hollering.

"YOU!"

The bell jingled merrily as the door was pushed back.

"ARE!"

The wind blew coolly as it caressed the flush skin of the back of his neck.

"NOT!"

Two hands, big and squeezing tiny shoulders harshly, pushed him to the ground.

"WELCOMED!"

The whoosh of the wind was barely heard as his back hit the cement floor.

"HERE!"

His ears were ringing from the roar and his back was in pain.

The man had bellowed out the sentence and Naruto was pushed out of the door and onto the ground. His ears were ringing with the owner's bellowing echoing in his ears.

The commotion started attracting people's attention nearby. A crowd was quickly forming. They were tall, standing above him and barricading the shop, leaving him in the middle without escape. He could hear the jeers and taunts whispering around him while he stood up and attempted to stare down the man.

Naruto felt detached from the scene. He could hear the man started yelling again, using vulgar insults supported by the crowd. Naruto was vaguely aware he was shouting back, stating his rights as a customer, but he knew it would mean nothing.

They were all the same.

No one would help when they all thought he was a monster.

In the background, he could hear two women speaking at his right.

"Look, it's that boy."

"What's he doing now?"

One of the women scoffed.

"Looks like he's trying to get a meal and service."

"Like the demon brat should have the privilege of being served."

This conversation was tame compared to the other whispers.

The rest wanted him to die.

He turned his head to glare at the villagers and missed the owner approaching. The punch the man threw directly hit his stomach and Naruto was in pain as he fell to the ground again. Moaning with a hand to his stomach, he stared at the owner in a daze.

The man pointed at him.

"DON'T EVEN THINK about coming back or I'll beat the shit out of you! You will never, ever, be a customer of mine! Not after all you've done!"

He turned around and returned to his shop.

Naruto squeezed his eyes shut and got up slowly, ignoring the satisfaction he felt among the crowd that still surrounded him.

"Good riddance."

"I wished I got to do that."

He ignored that too.

Naruto felt very frustrated.

What did these people want from him? He knew it wasn't right to be treated like this. And how were they any different if someone blameless as him was hurt like this? He saw some of them grinning and his temper grew. He brought his fist shaking in the air when he saw them leaving like the owner.

"OH YEAH! WHEN I BECOME HOKAGE, I'LL MAKE SURE YOU'LL RESPECT ME AND BEG FOR ME TO COME BACK! AND I WON'T BECAUSE NARUTO UZUMAKI DOESN'T NEED YOU! IT'S NOT LIKE YOUR FOOD IS ANY GOOD!"

The door of the shop slammed open and the man returned. He carried a red bucket and stomped his way to Naruto, dumping its content of him. It was red like blood and white chunks.

It was absolutely disgusting and he was drenched.

Naruto screamed in disgust.

"HEY! WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?"

The man snarled. "Get off of my property brat. Your yelling is disturbing my business."

Then he and the empty bucket returned to the restaurant.

"Ugh..."

His nose scrunching at the smell, he began tossing the white chunks to the ground. He looked up and thought he heard a sound, but there was no one there. Turning side to side, he couldn't see anyone. Shrugging, he continued to clean up as much as he could, squeezing the liquid from his shirt.

Moments later, he heard something again and turned. It was a girl, short and around his age. She was leaving an alley and as she started turning around the corner, his eyes met hers. The girl suddenly stopped and stared at him. Her pale lavender eyes looked at him with so much intensity. Believing that she was staring at the mess he was, he looked down flushing.

She probably thought it was hilarious.

Like the rest of the kids who mocked or avoided him, she probably was laughing at him whenever the adults treated him like dirt.

Well, Naruto thought fiercely, if she was going to insult him, he'll show her too.

Naruto Uzumaki was not someone you could just make fun of.

He heard footsteps approaching him and saw her walking towards him. He studied his new opponent. Blue black hair cut in a princess style and large eyes staring back in in round face, she looked like a porcelain doll. She was walking like one too. Shoulders straight and walking gracefully with small, confident steps, she looked regal.

Even if she wasn't dress like one, she looked like one of those snobby kids from nobility.

When she was closer to him, he was prepared.

The girl reached for something from her pocket.

Thinking it was a weapon or something to throw at him, Naruto quickly placed his hands in front of him and widen the distance between his feet, ready to defend himself. He did not expect a folded handkerchief to be handed to him.

Chapter Text


Chapter Three

One of the disadvantages of being very quiet and shy is learning how to speak up.

~~~

“What was that?”

Hinata flinched, standing up with her head bowed before him, avoiding his penetrating gaze.

He spoke louder, as if compensating for her soft volume and her confidence took a hit as she bit her lower lip.

She could also hear the suspicion in his voice as he questioned her.

What should to do now?

It was taking her everything to throw the handkerchief in her hand at him to escape.

Taking a deep breath, she tried again.

Her arms were out and she couldn’t lift her head up, but she spoke again.

“This…is for you.”

Could he hear this time?

~~~

Naruto scowled and crossed his arms in a huff.

This girl was weird.

She didn’t seem like the others kids who were rude to him, yelling and pushing him away.

She was bowing in front of him.

He didn’t know how to respond in this situation and he couldn’t hear her at all either.

He didn’t know what to do, but shout.

“What did you say? I can’t hear you. Speak up!”

~~~

Frustration…and stress.

‘What did you say?’

‘I can’t hear you.’

‘Speak up!’

These were the most common phrases for someone who spoke quietly will hear in their lifetime.

It was also something that can come up from speaking with the same person in multiple conversations and it seems to define their very character in other people’s eyes.

It made a person to want to scream and shout at the world while they repeated what they just said and a little more loudly.

Why did talking have to be so difficult?

~~~

“Th..This…is”

Hinata bit her lip, cutting herself off from finishing her sentence.

She was stuttering again and he was getting angry.

Did he hate her for being weak?

At that thought, her head and shoulders fell down at the feeling of despair filling inside her.

Was this the end? Was this the best she could do and she failed?

But…there was no sound.

Hinata expected that there was more yelling and glaring that were filled with disdain.

A glare that she should have felt by now.

But…it was quiet.

Wasn’t he angry at her?

Indecisively, she peeked at the boy under her lashes and saw blue eyes staring at her in confusion.

There was no hatred or anger…not even annoyance at her attempts to talk confidently.

Her stuttering…he didn’t… mind?

Her hopes rose.

She still had a chance, to help and do something right for once.

This wasn’t the time to give up, right?

Taking another breath, she slowly lifted her head up and stared at the cerulean hues of the blond boy’s.

She felt the heat rising in her cheeks and it took everything to not look away.

~~~

“This…is…for you.”

The words were really soft.

They were spoken in a breathless kind of tone and he blinked a couple times as they registered in his mind.

She was helping him?

No one besides the Hokage tried to help him before.

She wasn’t trying to trick him was she?

Naruto stared at the blue haired girl, stupefied.

The handkerchief in her palms was extended towards him.

Was this some kind of trick?

His throat was dry.

“Are you really serious? You’re not joking are you?”

Staring intently, he watched for signs of her lying.

Her cheeks were red as the girl nodded, but he couldn’t find anything else strange.

His hand trembled slightly as he reached for the handkerchief.

He pulled it and she did not make a protest as the fabric pulled slowly from her hand.

She wasn’t kidding.

He started wiping himself in an absent manner, trying to accept the fact that there was someone who didn’t hate
him.

He watched her face trying to understand.

Up closer, he found that she looked a lot different than he expected.

Her eyes at this distance were actually this really light shade of purple and she had no pupils.

However, her eyes also had this unbelievable feeling of softness and gentleness when they stared at him and he couldn’t help but relax under its gaze.

She also had really long lashes that accentuate her eyes too.

It was really hard to believe that she could be cruel with those round, purple orbs.

With her delicate features and eyes, he actually thought that she was kind of pretty.

Unexpectedly, there was a squeaking sound that came from her.

Blue eyes blinked as they watched her cheeks were turning really red again and it was spreading down to the rest of her face, neck and on.

Was there smoke coming from her?

Was she sick?

Concerned, Naruto leaned in, trying to see her face and he heard a squeak again before he got hit in the head as she bowed deeply and unexpectedly.

Naruto hissed in pain, rubbing his head and heard the girl speak again.

In that soft, whispery voice, she spoke in a rush, “I’m sorry!…Ex..excuse me, bu..but I have to go!”

Naruto was pretty sure he heard her squeal again before she ran away with her head down.

Huh, what a weird girl.

Very quiet too.

She seemed really nice though.

He wondered if he would see her again.

A breeze passed by and Naruto shuddered, feeling the wet fabric of his clothes sticking to him.

He sniffed and cringed; smelling the disgusting scent from the mess the old man threw at him.

Naruto started walking away in the direction of his new apartment to clean up.

He did not know that the girl ran off because he unknowingly spoken out loud the comment about her being pretty.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

Hinata ran as fast as she could, ignoring her red face and her sore head.

It was so embarrassing.

What that boy said; it couldn’t be true.

She couldn’t believe it, and didn’t have to strength to try and confirm.

And she ended up knocking their heads together and ran away like a coward.

She was sure that he would hate her now!

She had been so rude.

And she was torn between denial and hope that the boy’s comment was true.

Hinata continued down the street and she moved along the crowd.

Hinata tilted her head down, a small smile pulling her lips up.

As embarrassing as it was, it was an unforgettable experience and wondered if she would see him again.

She wondered if it was possible to be a little brave again.

She continue running through the streets until she heard a voice calling for her in the distance.

“Hinata-sama!”

It was Ko’s voice, her guardian, and she slowed down to a stop.

A young man in his teens was quickly approaching her and she smiled sadly to herself as walked towards him.

With all the excitement, she forgot all about her issues with her clan.

Smiling wistfully, she wished herself for the courage she gained with her encounter with the boy.

She had to face her father again.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

Love is not always romantic.

---

Humming and skipping, Naruto navigated through the crowd, disregarding how the people around him jeered or backed away from him.

Another day of ramen makes a very happy future hokage.

Naruto grinned at this thought and sped up to Ichiraku.

Not too long ago, jiji brought him to the restaurant and introduced him to the new members of his growing family.

Teuchi was like a kind uncle figure and Ayame was his older sister.

When they first met, they didn't yell at him and were smiling at him too!

When he couldn't understand the menu, they took the time to recommend dishes and answered all of his questions too.

They seemed very kind and it didn't fake either.

At least, they weren't cruel when jiji was with him.

The food was really good too.

The noodles were long, soft, but chewy and the broth filled him with warmth and flavor as he slurped it in his mouth.

The people around him were talking, smiling, and laughing.

The father and daughter pair were the only people he'd seen so far that seemed be truly kind to him and Naruto wished this was still true even without the hokage besides him.

So the next time Naruto came, he was on his own and tentatively hopeful.

With this next visit, Naruto had proclaimed to himself that there was a ramen god that took pity on him and cared for him.

Teuchi and Ayame were as kind as before and that bowl of miso ramen was the best he'd ever tasted.

The broth went down his throat and spread its warmth throughout his body and he will never admit that he had teared up a bit.

He’d only blinked a lot because the soup was really good!

He told them that it was the best food ever and they placed another bowl in front of him.

Teuchi stood in the front of him with his back turned, the pot bubbling as it continued boiling.

Ayame started pulling the flaps at the entrance to the side, letting the sun in.

The light peered through the space and heated his back and he could feel a light breeze blowing.

It was hot and cool at the same time and he shivered.

Concerned, Ayame questioned him and he answered quickly.

As he continued eating, the father and daughter continued with their questions, showing interest in his everyday life and Naruto started speaking up and started laughing for the first time in his life.