A/N: I realise that starting another new multi-chaptered story is probably a mistake, especially given my irregular updates. But this idea just came to mind recently and wouldn't leave me alone. When my holidays rolled around, I felt compelled to write it. I don't really plan on dragging on it for too long though, so hopefully it won't be too much of a burden.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. It's kind of a modern day AU take on the series.
Chapter 1: The Usual
Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary today; at least not to one Haruno Sakura.
They all arrived at their usual hangout, the cafe, at the same place, and the same time. Just like any other day.
The young woman shot Sasuke a number of suggestive and lingering gazes as she spoke, the majority of which were seemingly ignored by the young man brooding quietly in the corner. Shikamaru scowled in frustration across from Ino as she spoke with Sakura animatedly. The young genius was chastised by his blonde childhood friend, as he grumbled lowly about how bothersome the situation was, and how he'd rather be napping or watching the clouds right now. Across from his best friend, Chouji munched contentedly away at a packet of Barbeque chips. While at the entrance, Kiba could be heard arguing furiously with the manager as his canine companion, Akamaru, was once again, denied access to the cafe. Shino stood across from the brunette in silence, his face obscured by the hood of his jacket and the sunglasses he always insisted on wearing, even when he was indoors.
And, like always, the much older, more mature and confident, Hinata was reduced to a stuttering, blushing wreck at the mere presence of a certain exuberant blonde male. Who, just like he would on any other day, remained completely oblivious to the obvious, admiration the young woman showed him.
Sakura sighed in frustration, her hand massaging tenderly at her forehead as observed the pitiful exchange between the two. They really were a lost cause.
In spite of how friendly and talkative Naruto was, he really was incredibly socially challenged, and seemed to have a lot of difficulty reading people. Well, she assumed so at least, as he appeared to have missed basically all of the hints that had been dropped by accidentally-on-purpose by her the rest of their friends about the shy girl's feelings.
She supposed she couldn't blame him, though. He'd grown up an orphan, and was ostracised by most of those around him for as long as he could remember. He'd never really had friends or any kind of genuine, intimate bond until he was well into his adolescence, and those were relationships he'd had to fight tooth and nail to gain. How could he possibly recognise love when he'd spent such an integral part of his life largely without it?
Hinata, on the other hand, seemed to lack even the smallest fibre of self-esteem and confidence around her crush. Sakura, for the life of her, could never really understand why. Hinata was gorgeous! Small, lean and petite, yet full figured and womanly. She was a kind, gracious and intelligent individual, one of the few and first people who'd been able to look beyond the wayward delinquent Naruto had once been, and to witness and embrace him for who he was. She had grown and matured so much over the years, yet all that development in her confidence was rendered useless beneath that familiar, mischievious cerulean gaze. Naruto would be lucky to be with someone like her.
If only he could see it.
There was no doubt in her mind that Naruto valued Hinata dearly as a friend, but that was it.
There was no chemistry, no spark between them, absolutely nothing.
In all the years she had known him, Naruto had not shown even the slightest sign of attraction towards her. Verbal, or... Otherwise.
As much as it pained her to admit it, they were friends and nothing more. If history was any indication, that would be all they would remain.
"Seriously Hinata, are you sure you're okay? You're face is really red!" She suddenly heard Naruto exclaim, concern evident in his voice. Snapped from her reverie by the loud, intrusive voice, Sakura's attention was then drawn to the sight of Naruto, delicately brushing Hinata's bangs away from her forehead and placing his hand gently against it. The poor girl could only stammer uncontrollable in response.
Kiba, who had finally given up arguing and agreed to leave Akamaru outside, took a seat across from Sakura. He shot her a look of disbelief upon noticing the typical scene before them, unable to comprehend how one person could be so dense.
'I know,' she mouthed back in response.
"You do feel kind of warm," Naruto spoke, completely unaware of his friend's disparagement of him. Hinata squirmed uncomfortably at the man's ministrations, apparently struggling to remain conscious. "Why don't you go to the restroom? Maybe some water will help cool you down."
"O-okay, Naruto-kun." Her barely audible voice trembled, as a warm, calloused hand surrounded her own and tenderly pulled her to her feet.
"Alright you guys, I'll be back in a minute," Naruto stated to the rest of the group, his eyes never leaving the young woman in front of him.
Naruto's only acknowledgement was collective grunt of apathy from the group, who were otherwise ensconced in their own conversation to notice.
Out of the corner of her eye, however, Sakura could've sworn she noticed something unusual about Naruto's demeanor. His eyes to hold a mischievious air, as he led Hinata to the restroom, a look not unlike the one he would get when he was scheming. Sakura wrinkled her nose in confusion. Could Naruto and Hinata have both been in on something they weren't aware of? One of Naruto's pranks, maybe?
No, that didn't seem likely. While the two bonded that would be far too out of the ordinary. Hinata didn't seem like the type to waste her time on immature jokes like Naruto's. She was a Hyuuga and had been raised much better than that.
"Sakura, are you even listening?" Ino spoke suddenly, snapping the young woman back into attention.
"Oh, sorry Ino," she apologised to her friend "I was miles away."
They didn't have a lot of time.
Sure, it wasn't exactly the most intimate of settings, but the two rarely had a moment alone together, and every second they could harness was crucial.
Normally, under different circumstances, Hinata might have considered the gravity of their current situation and stopped. After all, they were currently standing in the middle of a public bathroom, one that anyone could really walk into at any moment, maybe even one of their friends! However, the fervent caress of Naruto's soft, warm lips against her neck was more than enough to distract her, as she bit her lip to muffle the moan that was threatening to erupt from the back of her throat.
It wasn't long before she found herself backed up against the bathroom wall, as the weight of his bare chest pressed firmly against her own, and his strong, tanned arms surrounded her.
In that moment, as far as they were concerned, right here and right now was the only option.
They had decided to keep their relationship secret, for a number of reasons. The main one being, if word got out to Hinata's father, Hiashi, he would kill Naruto. Several other men had already suffered similarly horrendous fates for even looking at the stoic man's precious daughter in the wrong way.
Her cousin, Neji, on the other hand, was fortunately, less of a problem. He was Naruto's friend. Naruto had earned the older man's respect, and even offered him a much more free, optimistic outlook on life. If he were to find out about their relationship, he would at least give the blonde a five minute head start.
They were both very socially awkward people, in completely different ways. But when they were together, there was something about it that just seemed... special. They found comfort in one other. Hinata found a great sense of confidence and strength in this man, who continued to battle on through his life in spite of the many adversities he had faced. While Naruto felt as though he could open up to her and reveal the doubts and insecurities he felt about himself, allowing for once, his normally upbeat facade to crumple away.
"Hinata," he groaned, his voice a low, deep rumble against the skin of her collarbone, as his lips descended further down the pale column of her neck, sensually. His teeth gnawed hungrily at the zipper of her jacket, fighting to expose more of her luscious, smooth skin, as his hands... Oh god, his skilled, talented hands, explored every nook and crevasse of her lower body, gripping at her shapely hips, running teasingly over her curvaceous backside. She could feel her knees growing weak as she melted in his arms.
"Na-Naruto-kun," she could only whimper in response, leaning further back to allow the man more access.
The mind-numbingly pleasurable torture ceased however, at the sudden and very much intrusive rapping of knuckles against the wooden door of the restroom. Naruto's eyes widened notably and his hands stilled, as his neck turned in the direction the sound had come from.
"Oi dobe, are you in here?"
"Shit, it's Sasuke," Naruto cursed under his breath, turning back to glance at the woman in his arms. "What are we supposed to do?" He panicked, his voice a low, desperate hiss.
Hinata, her hair unkempt, eyes still hazy with desire and clothes only half covering her body, could only shrug in response.
"Yeah, I am. Just give me a minute, teme." Naruto answered, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.
"You should hide," Naruto decided, after a pausing for a moment. "After all, this is the men's room... And he knows I'm here now anyway, so I'm going to have to open the door."
Naruto certainly could harness a significant amount of initiative and decisiveness when the appropriate situation arose.
"You just wait and hide in the stall until he's gone," he instructed after examining the room for an appropriate hiding place. The stall was the best option.
He hastily scrambled for the door handle and pulled it open clumsily. Leading Hinata inside, he lowered the toilet lid, before allowing her to sit down upon it.
"Keep your feet up." He instructed simply.
"What if he needs to use it?"
"Trust me, he won't." Naruto answered, his lips suddenly lifting into a mischievous grin "You didn't hear this from me, but Sasuke's always been a bit reluctant about using public restrooms. He never goes in one if he can avoid it."
"Okay," Hinata responded, biting her lip nervously, slipping her shirt back over her head. At her obvious hesitance, her face was framed reassuringly by a pair of callous yet gentle hands.
"Don't worry, I'll make sure everything works out." Naruto spoked reassuringly, the penetrating gaze of his deep blue orbs calming against her own lavender irises.
A soft blush dusted Hinata's features, as his lips brushed softly against her forehead in a short, chaste caress. Naruto then released her and headed to the restroom door as his friend's impatient knocks grew louder.
"Finally! What the hell were you doing in there?"
"Oh you know, the usual." Naruto responded sarcastically. "Catching up on the news, checking my email; what the fuck do you think I was doing?"
"Whatever, dobe. Sakura's already left, she wanted me to tell you she said goodbye."
"Oh, did she? That was nice of her."
A palpable silence lingered between the two, broken only by the sporadic dripping of a tap. Hinata heard Sasuke sigh through a low, frustrated breath before speaking once more.
"How long are things going to stay awkward with you guys? I resent having to play messenger boy for you two. You broke up months ago!"
"I know, it's just... It kind of ended on bad terms."
Hinata knew Naruto was likely kneading at the back of his neck as he spoke. It was a typical gesture of his, one often elicited by uncomfortable situations.
"Bad how, exactly? You're still friends aren't you?"
"Look, I had my chance already and things didn't work out, that's all there is to it."
"You broke up with her."
"Yeah, I didn't really want to though... At least, not at the time, anyway. Sure, I'm over it now, but I did it because I knew she was interested in you."
"Tch," Sasuke sneered "Funny that you were able to pick up on that."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, nothing at all."
"Anyway, you better get going. Don't you have work?"
"Yeah, I know. Thanks mom."
The hollow echo of footsteps against the tiled floor. The resonant shudder of the closing restroom door. A sigh. The tap was still dripping.
"Okay Hinata," Naruto began "You can come out now."
The woman in question opened the door slowly, hesistantly before stepping out to him. Gone was Naruto's typical cheery demeanour. Instead his expression appeared almost unreadable, his lips pursed in a fine line. His normally unruly mop of hair somehow appeared even messier than usual. She could just picture the young man clawing at in frustration as he spoke to Sasuke.
"What were-," Hinata began, before biting her lip apprehensively. She shouldn't bring it up. It wasn't her place to her ask. Naruto however, squeezed her hands with his on softly, encouraging her to continue. "What were you and Sasuke-san talking about?" Hinata managed eventually.
There it was again. His hand massaging tenderly at that exact same point at the back of his neck.
Either this was an awkward subject for the blond to discuss, or he was in dire need of a chiropractor.
"Look, don't worry about what he was saying... I mean, it was months ago."
Hinata felt herself gnawing unconsciously at her lip once more, as he spoke; uncertain about how to comprehend the situation she was facing. Naruto had apparently ended his relationship with Sakura, in spite of the feelings he harboured for her, because he felt she only had eyes for his best friend. This was just a few weeks before the she and Naruto had started... being intimate with one another. Hinata flushed at the thought. Afterall, it was still a notion she was struggling to wrap her head around.
She loved being with Naruto, she really did. Her heart had longed to have an intimate, significant connection like this with him for as long as she could remember, and now that she had attained it, she was simply ecstatic. However, she didn't know how she would feel if what had been some of the most overwhelming, joyous few weeks of her life were sullied by the discovery that she was simply a rebound and Naruto still pined hopelessly for Sakura.
She had been meaning to ask the blond what exactly he was doing with her, and what this meant to him, but an appropriate time had never come up. Whenever they were together like this it was generally a swift, frenzied affair, due to the two having to harness any window of oppurtunity they could. However, she couldn't exactly bring it up while they were around friends for fear of being caught out.
"Anyway, I really do need to leave for work." Naruto spoke, his eyes flickering to his watch. A convenient alibi.
"O-Okay, Naruto-kun." She responded, unable to hide the slight tremor in her voice.
"I'll see you later, Hinata-chan." He said, after moving to place another chaste kiss upon her lips.
She still wasn't entirely convinced.
A/N: As I'm sure you've guessed, yes, the title is a reference to the video game Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. ;) Anyway, what do you guys think? Worth continuing?