Hey! Long time no see! I decided that as long as I've been writing these stories, I'd come back and do some revisions on some older ones because let's face it...my writing from back then kinda sucks now and makes me cringe. >< I decided it would make more sense to log in here and edit this file than to repost the whole story since these are already in the NaruNozoShippers club. So yeah. Have a nice, freshly revised oneshot!~ =3
"Valentine's Day." Nozomi smirked and rolled her eyes. "What a stupid, pointless day. I mean, it's only around so couples can rub it in to people like me that we're single." The cat girl sighed softly, a melancholy look on her face. "Hard to believe it used to be my favorite holiday." The girl sighed again, her legs dangling from the top of the building she was sitting on.
"What is it with you and rooftops, anyways?" came a nearby voice. “Also, did you know that you talk to yourself a lot?”
Surprised, Nozomi glanced up, her gaze landing on none other than Naruto Uzumaki, her fellow teammate. The brunette’s ears sprung upward, eyes widening slightly in surprise. How long had he been sitting beside her and why hadn’t she sensed him before now?!
"Naruto! L-listen, this isn't a good time...I mean, I would really like it if you could...err.." There was a pause as she struggled to think of something, anything that would make him leave. When she couldn’t think of something to say, nerves got the best of her and she changed the subject, "What are you doing up here anyways?!"
Naruto snickered, amused. She always got so jumpy when he was around! "I was looking for you," he began, "and I figured this was a good place to look since you seem to love rooftops." He glanced at her curiously. "Why do you always come up here?"
"Oh, no real reason." Nozomi said, staring down at her toes. "I guess it’s related to housing a cat demon...or it could be that I find it peaceful up here." she smiled slightly, looking at the sky; a brilliant mixture of reds and oranges silently promised that night time would be upon them shortly. She should probably get home before it got dark. "I come up here to think about things, and I like that I can be alone since nobody ever cares to follow me."
"At least," Her smile faded as she turned her attention back to the blond haired boy, "I thought I was alone up here...how many times have you followed me?"
A sheepish grin spread across Naruto's face as he rubbed the back of his head. “Oh, just a few times really.”
Nozomi raised a disbelieving eyebrow at the boy and folded her arms across her chest. “Really? Why don’t I believe that…?”
“Well, because…” Naruto laughed sheepishly. “I’ve kinda been following you ever since I realized you came up here.”
"Stalker!" The brunette groaned, face palming. “I don’t get it, Naruto. I’m not a nice person...heck, I don’t even like to socialize. Why the heck do you find me so interesting?!”
Naruto hesitated for a moment before answering. “Well...I’ve met people like you before. They closed themselves off because of some deep rooted problem in here.” The boy pointed to his heart before shrugging, giving a small smile. “I’m interested in you because I want to help. What’s your problem?”
‘Oh, if you only knew.’ The cat girl rolled her eyes upward, laughing dryly. “Trust me, kid. You’ve never known anybody like me before. No matter what you think.”
“Hey, I’ve told you before that my name’s Naruto!” The spiky haired boy protested, irritated. “Besides, you and I are the same age so stop it with this ‘kid’ business!”
The brunette shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly, muttering. “Whatever.” Shaking her head, she returned her gaze to the sky.
Naruto watched her face, shifting uncomfortably. He’d never liked the silence. It just felt so...lonely. Especially when there was somebody to talk to. The spiky haired boy shifted once more, clearing his throat, attracting the brunette’s attention once more.
“Oh, you’re still here?” She mumbled, disappointment flicking in her eyes.
Ignoring her rudeness, the genin spoke, grateful to end the stifling silence between them. “So, uh...what happened, anyways?”
"Hm?" Nozomi’s brows knit together in confusion. He didn’t really think she was just going to spill her life story to him right this moment, did he? She scooted away from him, looking down at the roof evasively. "I'm not sure I understand your question."
Never knowing when to quit, the blond followed her move for move, leaning close enough that she’d hear him whisper even if she didn’t have those big cat ears. "I mean, why don’t you like Valentine's Day?"
So he wasn’t asking for her life story then? Nozomi relaxed a little bit, exhaling softly. Still, she hated to dredge up the past and that was exactly what he was doing. "...I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you overheard that." Not in the mood for a stroll down memory lane, the brunette gave another shrug, folding her arms tightly over her chest. "Sorry, but it's none of your business."
"Aww! C'mon, Nozo-chan! Please?" Naruto begged.
Nozomi raised an eyebrow at him. "Why do you want to know, anyways?"
"I'm curious." The boy gave a cheeky grin. “Besides, teammates shouldn’t keep secrets from each other, right? Do it for the good of Team 7!”
All he got was a long, blank stare before the brunette shrugged her shoulders yet again. "Sorry." She gave him an “I’m-not-telling-no-matter-what-you-say” look before shifting her gaze.
Still refusing to give up, the blond gave a pouty face, puckering out his lower lip. "Aww, please? If you tell me your reason, I'll tell you mine." he said cutely.
“Pfft.” Nozomi rolled her eyes again, wondering just how much longer she’d have to put up with this guy. Couldn’t he see she wanted to be alone? She was about to tell him off when she realized what he’d said and she looked at him in surprise. "You don't like Valentine's Day? How come?"
"I'll only tell you the reason if you tell me yours first." Naruto repeated, a self-satisfied smile creeping onto his face.
"Ohhh! Fine!" The brunette sighed and sagged her shoulders in defeat. It was true what they said. Curiosity really DID kill the cat. In this case, anyways.
Naruto just grinned and watched her, waiting for her to begin.
Nozomi took a deep breath and lowered her head, shadows casting over her eyes. "...When I was three, my Mom caught pneumonia and just...couldn’t get better. I always blamed myself since she got sick chasing me outdoors in the rain.” Her voice cracked and the cat girl shifted, avoiding his stare as she fought off the tears welling up in her eyes. When she felt okay again, the brunette continued. “I think my father knew that I blamed myself. After Mom died, he did everything he could to make me feel special.”
A soft smile found its way onto her face and she closed her eyes, reliving the memories of days she’d cherished. “On Valentine's Day he would go above and beyond, treating me like a princess. He took me out to eat, surprised me with chocolate candies and constantly told me he loved me. Even when the whole clan watched us with disdain. He made me feel like it was okay to be me and for that I worshiped the ground he stood on. I’d have done anything for my Otou-san." The smile on her face widened for a moment before it began to fade and she glanced down at her hands on her lap. "Of course, life just couldn’t let me be happy for once. Things had to get ruined somehow."
By now the tears she’d managed to keep at bay were streaming down her face freely, and the brunette had to turn her head to the side. Disgusted with herself, she swiped a hand across her face, drying the tears. Crying in front of somebody else (even if that somebody was a fellow teammate) went against her number one rule, and that was to only cry in private. Tears were a sign of weakness and she’d forced herself to grow strong, rarely showing those feelings to others.
Unfortunately for her, Naruto actually cared. She wasn’t used to that. Back where she came from, nobody cared enough to noticed if she showed any sort of emotion. She simply didn’t matter enough. That, however was not the case at this moment.
Naruto tilted his head when he noticed that she’d stopped talking for some time. That wasn’t the end of the story, was it? He supposed it explained some things but it didn’t really tell him why she hated this day so much. Frowning, he touched her shoulder lightly. “Nozo-chan?”
To his surprise the girl simply shrank away from him, inching away ever so slightly. Had her shoulders just heaved or was he imagining things? Watching her closely, Naruto was certain he hadn’t imagined it. “Nozo-chan, what’s the matter?” He matched her movement, closing the space she’d tried to put between them again.
“Nothing. I’m fine.” The cat girl’s voice was muffled, leading Naruto to believe otherwise, but he remained silent even though he was dying to know what happened next. Forcing himself to be patient, the boy shifted in his seat, watching his friend.
Finally, after a few of the longest minutes Naruto had ever had to sit through, the brunette heaved a sigh, turning to face him again. “Sorry, it’s just a hard story to tell, and I…” She trailed off before clearing her throat, shaking her head. “Anyways, things were great for a few more years. Then, a few days after my seventh birthday, our clan was attacked and raided by enemy shinobi. I don’t know everything that happened because I was forced to hide during the battle, but when I came out, my father...was dead.” She shook her head again, wrapping her arms around her middle for comfort. “Things were never the same again after that. Nobody cared what happened to me and the other kids began to beat me up on a regular basis. It got to the point that I dreaded even getting out of bed, I hated my life so much. I hated Valentine’s Day the most, because the memories I’d once shared with my father hurt worse than anything my clan could do.”
Finally she’d gotten to the point of her story and though there was plenty more to tell after, Nozomi went silent. He’d only asked why she hated this day; nothing more and nothing less. He should be fine with her explanation. The silence from beside her confirmed that she’d told him enough, and possibly even too much, if the look in his eyes was anything to go off of.
"Nozo-chan, I'm sorry.” He looked away awkwardly, grasping for the right words to say. He hadn’t expected such a heavy story to be the reasoning. Really, what could he even say in response to that? His own reasoning paled in comparison to hers. “What happened to your dad really sucks...you didn’t deserve it.” He paused before adding, “About your mom though, I’m sure he didn’t blame you for her death.”
The only response he got from the girl was a nod and a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Naruto sighed, realizing she hadn’t believed him, but wasn’t sure what else he could say to convince the girl so he just stayed quiet, watching her. The conflict on her face was apparent, and he found himself wondering just what she could be thinking about. Before he could ask, she broke the silence.
“Anyways,” Nozomi sighed softly as she stood up, turning her back to the blond. “Now you know why I hate Valentine’s Day.”
“Yeah…” Naruto got to his feet as well, looking up at the sunset. For awhile, neither of them spoke, both the teens mesmerized by the various colors in the sky.
“Well, your dad’s not here anymore, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t do it, right?”
Nozomi blinked, snapped out of her trance by Naruto’s words and she glanced back at the boy in confusion. “I don’t understand. What are you trying to say…?”
“I’m saying someone else could still make you feel special even if your dad is gone, right?”
“Um….right, I guess…” The brunette raised an eyebrow, not exactly sure what to make of this discussion. The only thing she knew for certain was that he was beginning to freak her out. Especially the way he was looking at her. What was with him?
“Then I’ll just have to do it!”
Naruto’s triumphant declaration left Nozomi feeling more than a little bit stunned, and she stepped away from him nervously. "Wait! What?" A drop of sweat rolled down her head as she eyed him with something akin to fear.
"I said I’ll take over for your dad!" Naruto stepped close enough to give her a hug, causing the brunette to go rigid.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She hissed at him, eyes narrowing in suspicion.
“Oh c’mon, you know what I’m doing!” Naruto crowed, grinning widely before dropping his voice so only she could hear him. "Nozo-hime."
Her fear was confirmed by this and the brunette resisted the urge to face palm. “No, Naruto! You don’t get it at all! You can’t do what Otou-san did for me-- don’t make this your business!"
Naruto just grinned at her. "What do you mean? It would be just as easy for me to take you to eat and buy you candies and tell you I love you! So why shouldn’t I?”
Nozomi’s face had gotten hotter and hotter as she listened in horror to his reasoning and she fought the impulse to throw her hands up and scream in frustration. Did he seriously not understand?! “Why?! I-I’ll tell you why-- because those things come across waaay different from you than it would from my father, that’s why!”
“How does it come across any different from me?” Naruto tilted his head to the side, looking at her curiously.
Once again, the urge hit to facepalm and this time Nozomi let it happen, groaning inwardly. This kid really was hopeless. Sighing heavily, the brunette forced herself to look Naruto in the eye. “Look, Naruto. The kind of special a father makes a girl feel and the kind of special a boy makes her feel are two completely different things. For example...”
She paused, trying to think of how to word her explanation. The last thing she wanted was to have to really elaborate. “When a father takes his daughter to eat and surprises her, it’s because he loves her. He wants to take care of her. But...when someone like YOU does all that...it’s like you’re telling the girl ‘Hey, I want to be your boyfriend!’”
The minute the words left her mouth, Nozomi regretted it. Just from the look on Naruto’s face she was sure he hadn’t understood her at all.
“So? What’s the problem?” Naruto stepped into her personal space, a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. “Even if that IS the message that comes across...well, how do you know I’m not trying to tell you something like that?”
The cat girl immediately stepped back, grimacing as she realized she couldn’t go any further without stepping clear off the building. “Excuse me?” She frowned, hating the heat that was creeping into her face.
Naruto’s smirk only grew as he realized he basically had her cornered and he took a step back, merely to give her a moment to calm down. “What I’m saying is this: I like you, Nozo-chan! We have a lot in common, so maybe we would be a good match!”
“...You’ve got to be kidding me.” Nozomi retorted, folding her arms across her chest. “There’s no way I’m going out with you.”
“Aww! Don’t say no without at least giving it a chance!”
Before the brunette could say anything else, he moved in and pulled her close, pressing his lips gently on hers. He grunted softly, wincing when he felt the girl’s claws dig into his arm, his eyes widening when he realized she was kissing him back.
At the same time, Nozomi seemed to notice her own actions as she released his arm and broke the kiss, pushing him hard enough that he fell backward. Despite hitting his head in the process, the blond sat up immediately, grinning like an idiot as he stared up at her.
His eyes on her made the cat girl even more self conscious and she shot him the nastiest glare she could muster. "Wh-what kind of cheap trick was that?!" She sputtered, her face bright red.
Naruto’s grin didn’t even falter as he stood back up, chuckling softly. “It wasn’t a trick at all- that kiss was special to me.” He insisted, giving her a tender look. “You're special to me, Nozo-hime. I care about you."
'What's wrong with me?! Why is my heart pounding so hard?!' Remembering that she was already on the edge of the roof, Nozomi ducked her head and shut her eyes. Since when did she get tongue tied?! She couldn’t even think of an insult in this moment! ‘C’mon, think! There has to be something I can say to diffuse this situation!’
Suddenly a light bulb went off in her mind and she grinned in triumph. She had it! Raising her head to face him again, the brunette gave what she hoped was an indifferent scowl to the boy. "So anyways, what’s your reason? For not liking Valentine's Day, I mean."
“Huh?” Naruto blinked, confusion flickering in his eyes before he remember and a laugh erupted from him. “Oh yeah!” He smiled. “Well, the reason I don’t like Valentine’s day is because nobody ever wants to be my Valentine!”
A vein popped on Nozomi’s forehead as she glared at him. "That’s it?" He’d made her relive all that pain just so she could find out he had no luck with women?! How the heck was that even fair?! She was just preparing an angry retort when the blonde winked at her, nodding.
“Yeah! Though...that doesn’t seem like it’ll be a problem anymore after that little moment we just shared, eh, Nozo-hime?”
Nozomi's face went scarlet red as she stared at him, mortified. What could she say? Not even SHE knew what she’d been thinking to have returned the boy’s embrace! All she could do was glare at him, frustrated. She knew that without an explanation for her actions there was no way she could discourage him enough not to pursue her. “...Shut up.” She muttered loudly, glancing off to the side.
“Hahahahaha! You’re so funny!” Naruto lunged forward, catching the girl by surprise as he wrapped his arms around her in another hug.
“I’m not TRYING to be funny!” Nozomi protested, gritting her teeth. “No, really-- leave me alone!" she growled, trying to free her arms, which he’d pinned to her sides in his sudden hug. “Naruto I’m not interested so just let me go already!”
The blond loosened his grip, frowning up at her. “If that’s true, then why’d you kiss me?”
There was the question she’d been hoping to avoid, staring her right in the face. Unable to give a sufficient answer, Nozomi gathered all her strength and shoved against the blond, knocking him over backward- and unfortunately, causing him to take her down with him.
“Oh wow, Nozomi.”
Dazed, the cat girl lifted her head and screeched loudly as she realized where she was. Hastily, the brunette climbed off Naruto’s lap and scrambled to her feet, brushing herself off and turning to leave. “That was an accident and you know it so just drop it!”
“Yeah, sure.” Realizing her intention to leave, the spiky haired boy jumped to his feet as well. “Hey wait, where are you going?”
“Home, where else?” The brunette turned and gave him a pointed look. “Or have you not realized that it’s getting dark?”
“...Oh.” Naruto glanced up as the girl pointed toward the sky, which was taking on a dark blue hue. Tiny white stars were beginning to peek out of its mass. “I guess it IS time to go home then.”
“See ya at the next training session then, yeah?”
“W-wait!” Naruto reached out, grasping for her hand, only to grab onto her tail instead, and the brunette turned on him, glowering at him.
“Hey! Paws off the merchandise, Ramen-breath!” She jerked the furry appendage out of his grip, nearly knocking him onto his knees.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to--” Naruto sputtered awkwardly, breaking off as her name for him registered. “...Ramen-breath?” Now it was he who raised an eyebrow at her, a small smirk beginning to form on his face. “So, is that what it tasted like?”
His question startled the brunette and she took one step backward, her stare darting down to her shoes as she blushed. Why had she called him that? “I-I...uh…” She stammered, grasping for anything she could say.
The blond stared at her for a long moment before surprising her again by breaking out in laughter. “Ohhh! It’s a nickname, right?” He hugged his sides for support as he grinned up at the brunette. “Well...if I’m Ramen-breath...you have fish breath...uh....I’ll just have to call you Kitty-cat!”
A loud clap was heard as Nozomi facepalmed for the second time that evening, groaning. Great. Now he’d given her a nickname? Things just got better all the time, didn’t they?! The longer she stood there, listening to the boy, the more mentally exhausted she felt. “Well. I’m going home now, for real.” She announced, rubbing her temple tiredly. “Good night.”
“Aww, okay…” Naruto deflated, watching the girl leave. He really hated the night time. It made him feel so alone going home to an empty apartment. Maybe he could delay it just a little bit longer. “Uh, wait up, Nozo-chan!” He called out, running to catch up to the brunette, who had already managed to get back onto the ground.
She looked up at him impatiently, folding her arms. “What is it?”
Naruto jumped from one ledge to another until he was safely on the ground, and hunched over, hands on his knees while he caught his breath. After a few minutes, he looked up at the annoyed cat girl hopefully. “I was wondering if I could walk you home!” He gave his most irresistable smile.
“I would tell you no, but something tells me that you’d just follow me anyway.” Her ears flattened against her head and she sighed heavily in annoyance. “Fine, but on one condition.”
“Awright!” Naruto pumped a fist in the air, grinning widely and Nozomi briefly wondered if a simple whack to the head would be too much violence for the situation.
“Naruto. You didn’t even listen to the condition yet!”
“Oh.” the boy stopped his cheering, looking back at the brunette intently.
“You can walk me home, but you have to promise to stop following me all the time- it’s beyond creepy!”
“Aww..” Naruto pouted, his reverie over. “But what if I want to talk to you?”
“Then approach me like a normal person would. Don’t track me like I’m some kind of animal.”
Naruto opened his mouth to say that he’d tried that, that she’d brushed him off, but he stopped himself. They could always deal with that later. For now, he wanted to walk her home and this was the only way she’d let him. Giving a slow nod of his head, the blond smiled softly. “Okay. I promise not to follow you around.”
“I’ll hold you to that promise.” Nozomi turned on her heel and began to walk at a fast pace. “Alright then. C’mon, let’s go.” She muttered.
Naruto hurried to keep up, beaming at the girl. As he’d expected, the walk was mostly a quiet one, the brunette’s eyes focused straight ahead.
Realizing he’d have to be the one to break the silence, the blond cleared his throat. “So, um...oh! Nozo-chan, you never answered my question earlier!”
“Really? What question was that, Naruto?” The cat girl muttered in response, never once turning to look at him as she walked briskly onward.
The boy grinned sneakily. “You know...about Valentine’s day?” He replied, “It looks like I have a sweetheart for the holiday!”
Nozomi stopped dead in her tracks, eyes going wide. “...What are you talking about?” she asked cautiously. Something about his words made her nervous and she hoped she was wrong.
“Well, since you kissed me it’s obvious you like me.” Naruto beamed at the brunette, his face coloring slightly. “So, what do you say, Nozo-chan? Will you be mine?”
The brunette felt her face heat up once again and she backed away from him, eyes widening even more as she stared at him, unable to speak. “I--you--what?!”
Her response made him smile, realizing she must be really flustered to suddenly be so incoherent, and Naruto laughed. “I’m asking you to be my Valentine, Nozo-chan!”
Hearing it for herself made her even more uncomfortable and the cat girl shook her head, glancing around wildly. They were in her neighborhood...If she planned things right, she could get inside without ever having to answer.
A quick glance to the left confirmed that she was close enough, and the brunette flashed a toothy grin before darting in that direction, running as fast as she could.
Bewildered by her lack of a response, Naruto tore off after her, frowning. “Nozo-chan, come back!”
“No!” The word slipped from her lips as she raced up the steps, her apartment, her sanctuary straight ahead. Naruto was getting dangerously close, despite the fact that she was running hard enough to break a sweat, and she pressed on, ignoring the boy’s shouts of protest as she finally reached her door and fumbled with her key.
“Naruto--no-!” The door clicked open and she backed into the apartment just as the blond reached the porch, panting hard. He reached out to her, his hand grazing the fabric of her dress, and she blushed at the contact before shoving his hand away.
“No!!” The door slammed in his face, the lock clicking into place, and Naruto was left to stand there, staring incredulously as he tried to figure out what had just happened. She’d seemed okay earlier, even after that kiss. That..amazing kiss...His cheeks grew rosy just thinking about it. She had gotten flustered over it but she’d still allowed him to walk her home. So why the sudden shut out? Was it because he’d asked her to be his Valentine? Blue eyes widened with realization and Naruto looked at the door with renewed interest. Could it be that Nozomi was...shy? That would certainly explain the reason she’d run from him!
His confidence returned to him almost immediately as he grinned widely, stepping back towards the stairs. “Okay, I’ll let you go this time,” he called out, his voice laced with determination, “but don’t think this means I’m giving up! I won’t give up until you change your mind!” His grin widened if possible. “That’s a promise, and I never go back on my word!” Even though he was sure she couldn’t see him, he gave a small wave. “Well, see ya around, Kitty-cat!”
Nozomi listened until his footsteps grew farther away and she sighed, sliding down against the door onto the floor. This was not good. Why had she gone and kissed Naruto? It was the single stupidest move she could have made and now she knew he’d never leave her alone.
Even worse than that, though, were the butterflies she felt fluttering in her stomach. No. It wasn’t possible. She’d promised herself long ago that she wouldn’t have anything to do with another guy so long as she lived. Which, ironically, she thought, wouldn’t be long at all. Still though, a part of her longed to possibly let Naruto in and see just what they might have if they explored their possibilities as a couple. He could be annoying at times, but he had a lot of redeeming qualities to make up for that. Not to mention his unwavering loyalty. She was sure that if she became his girlfriend, he’d never pull the crap that fool, Suoh had.
A frustrated sigh left her lips and the brunette banged her head against the door loudly, moaning. She could no longer deny it- she had feelings for her teammate. Feelings that she could never let him find out about.