Sparks Fly @sparky86
Chapter 8

Series: Naruto

Pairings: NaruHina

Author: Lynns

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi

Type: Alternate Universe/Romance

Sparks Fly

Chapter 8

Naruto sighed heavily.

He wasn't sure what had persuaded him to tell Hinata to go after Kiba; to be truthfully honest he was now regretting it deeply. At first, he wanted to call her back, his hand instinctively reaching towards her retreating back. However, the words he wanted to shout died in his throat and all he could do was watch as she disappeared amongst the sea of parked vehicles.

"Damn it . . ." he huffed, leaning back heavily against the truck behind him.

He let out another sigh before tilting his head back to stare up at the full moon. The memory of kissing Hinata a few moments ago came crashing back into him; her body pressed up against his, her fingers clutching the front of his coat and the hot feeling that had cascaded down his body while they were in that moment of passion . . .

I didn't want to stop . . . I wanted more . . . I still want more . . . I want . . .

Naruto let out another sigh; his hand hitting the front grill of the truck in frustration.

He wasn't sure how long he stood there for, his mind running around in circles at what had just happened between him and Hinata, to Kiba finding them and then to wondering why in the hell he told her to go after her friend. The greedy and selfish part of him had wanted her to stay; keep Hinata by his side and continue kissing her until his lips hurt. He had been wanting to do that with her for years, and yet the moment the opportunity presented itself . . . the second he was flying high on cloud nine they were interrupted and he foolishly told her to leave.

A part of him wanted to stay in that parking lot, perhaps hoping that any minute now Hinata would change her mind and come back to him. But he knew that wasn't going to happen; she was the caring type and probably wanted to clear the air with Kiba sooner than later. Naruto couldn't deny that he was slightly worried that perhaps Kiba would try to pull the moves on Hinata; forcefully kiss her or try to convince her to be with him instead. Although, he knew that was most likely not going to happen; this wasn't like a romcom movie come to life, and he did know Kiba pretty well after all. Perhaps it was just that protective boyfriend instinct that labeled any man aside from him a threat to his girlfriend.

Trying to shake the anxiety that was creeping into his mind, Naruto grabbed his bag off the hood of the truck and started to make his way back towards the camp; making sure to take the long way around so he wouldn't run into Hinata and Kiba while they talked.

Naruto marched towards the entrance, trying to focus on the dinner he was supposed to have with his parents tonight. It had been two weeks since he had seen them last and he was looking forward to chatting with them. Even though he still lived with his parents, the only time he was able to see them over the past four years was at camp.

While it wasn't ideal for a 24-year-old man to still be living with his parents, the system they had come up with was certainly beneficial for everyone involved. On his days off he was able to look after the house while his parents were at work; something he had been doing since High School when his mom went back to the oil field with his father. He paid a small amount of rent, saved money, and while he was gone at work that is when his parents returned home to their clean, quiet home. The only rules he had to follow were no parties and no bringing women over; which were very easy to abide by. If he ever did go drinking with his friends and co-workers, the party was either usually at a bar or at someone else's house that was usually close enough for him to stumble home or he would crash on Kakashi's couch for the night.

He paused for a moment. With his new relationship taking off with Hinata, the 2nd rule that he had followed religiously for years was going to be a problem. Naruto wasn't sure if Hinata also still lived with her family, and if they were going to become more intimate as a couple then they were going to need someplace more private. Naruto shook his head, marveling at his own stupidity for not thinking to ask Hinata where she was currently living. He knew that they both lived in the same city, but her exact location of residence was unknown to him. Perhaps tonight he could talk to his parents about making an exception for Hinata since she just wasn't some woman, but his girlfriend. Or at the very least, talk to Hinata tomorrow about where she lived.

Glancing down at his phone to check the time and he couldn't help but frown at the familiar 'No Service" that was still present at the top of the screen; otherwise, he would have at least sent his mom a text to let her know he was on his way. It was only now that he was starting to realize just how cold it was outside. A shiver ran up his spine and he had lost feeling in both his ears and nose. Burying his hands deeper in the coat pockets, Naruto picked up the pace and tried to hurry towards the warm boot room.

A small group of people was gathered around the smoke pit, but Naruto didn't pay any attention to who was there. He had too much on his mind and was so lost in his thoughts that he almost missed hearing his name being called.

"Hey, Naruto! Slowdown will you!"

Naruto paused. He knew that voice!

A huge smile spread across his lips when he turned around to see Jiraiya walking towards him. He was a little confused at first with why the old man was here, but questions like that could be answered later on as Naruto headed towards his old mentor and gave him a huge bear hug.

"I knew that was you speed walking towards the doors! But Christ boy, your hands and face are freezing! What the hell have you been doing outside with no mitts or toque on?! Come on, let's get you inside. You're already fashionably late for dinner with your parents."

Naruto let out a little laugh, "I got a bit preoccupied in the far parking lot. Was looking over some things for tomorrow while the other vehicles were parking and lost track of time. With both shifts being here traffic was a complete nightmare and so was parking the truck." It was a little white lie, but at this moment Naruto didn't feel like telling Jiraiya about Hinata just yet.

Jiraiya gave him a questioning look. "Preoccupied huh? Hmm, you sure about that? My guess is that you were making out with some girl and just lost track of time!"

He froze and his face turned beet red.

How . . . How does he . . .

"Ha Ha Ha Ha! I'm just joking Naruto! No need to get embarrassed like that! How've you been my boy? I tried to call and text you a few times; was getting a bit worried when you didn't respond. But as soon as I got to site I was told about the cell service problems you guy have been having up here for almost five days now. I know your parents were worried too."

Naruto swallowed the lump in his throat and he almost sighed with relief that his pervy mentor hadn't been spying on him and Hinata in the parking lot. "Y-yeah it's been a real shit show up here. It's even effected the internet service around site too; the only thing working fine was the landlines."

"Heh, I know I've told you this many times, but you should have seen how things ran up here before cell phones and the internet; it was certainly a different time. You had conversations with the client face to face instead of over the phone." Jiraiya paused and opened the door to the boot room. "And don't even get me started on what the camps were like back in my younger days! Room of four guys sharing bunk beds and one toilet between all of us!"

Naruto smiled. "Yes, yes Jiraiya I know."

The two men placed their boots on the rack and started to head towards the dining hall. With it being closer to 7:15 pm now the area was still very crowded, but Naruto was able to find a spot close to the door for him to hang his backpack.

"Your mom and dad already grabbed their dinner and are sitting in that corner booth." Jiraiya pointed across the hall. "Grab yourself some food and come join us!"

Most of the seats were taken, but as Jiraiya had pointed out, his parents and Kakashi were sitting in a booth along the wall. Briefly saying goodbye to his mentor, Naruto walked towards the buffet line to grab his supper. His stomach was growling loudly and for once he didn't care what was on the menu tonight so long as it was hot and tasted decent.

Once his plate was full and two glasses of milk were on his tray, Naruto made his way towards the booth. Kakashi slid out of his seat so Naruto could sit down. His parents and Jiraiya sat across from him on the other side of the table, all of them smiling at him as he got comfortable in his seat. Naruto silently ate his food while his parents, Jiraiya and Kakashi continued talking and catching up. Many years ago when his father had only been a lead hand with Hyuuga Electric, Kakashi had been one of the apprentices under his wing. His boss was not only a good friend to both him and his father, but he was practically part of the family too. Jiraiya on the other hand had been his father's mentor first, then Kakashi's, and then finally his. Naruto could remember countless nights of playing card games with his father, Kakashi, and Jiraiya when he was younger; which to be fair still happened today except there was beer being passed around.

As Naruto finished up his dinner, Kakashi glanced over at him. "So Naruto, everything go smoothly this shift?"

He nodded and swallowed his last glass of milk. "No problems what so ever. Just that the weather got a little nasty for a few days, but on our pad, we are still ahead of schedule."

His boss smiled. "I'm glad to hear that."

Naruto turned his attention over to Jiraiya. "By the way, what are you doing up here? I thought you would be enjoying your retirement and chasing women on the beach."

Jiraiya laughed. "Well, technically my retirement begins at the end of the month. I was just supposed to stick around at the head office and wrap things up there for the next few weeks, but Kakashi asked if I could come up just for a few days. They plan on turning over the newly finished steam generator building over to the client and Onoki is going to be in charge of the walkthrough. He's a bit of a nitpicky bugger, but I can usually sweet talk to him into not making things into a big deal. So I'm just here to make sure there's no drama on the walk tomorrow and then I will be heading back home the next morning."

"Last time we had a walk down, Onoki almost lost his mind over the position of some of the lights; even though we put them exactly where the drawings told us to. Jiraiya just has this magic way of calming him down and just for everyone's sanity, I thought it would be best if he could help us out tomorrow." Kakashi added, taking a sip of his warm tea.

Naruto pushed his plate off to the side now that it was empty. "Well good luck with that. If you're not too tired tomorrow night we should play a round of pool; you know one last time before you retire."

Jiraiya laughed. "Sounds like a great idea."

Suddenly, his old mentor's face became serious and he was looking around the dining hall as if he was making sure no one was close by. It was now 8 pm and while the buffet was closed down for the night, the only people left were a few stragglers finishing up their meals far away from them.

Jiraiya glanced over at his parents who gave him a nod of approval. Kakashi also turned so that he was fully facing Naruto; everyone's faces were so serious . . .

"W-whats going on? You guys look as if someone just died or something."

His father let a smile slip and shook his head. "Oh no, nothing like that son. It's just . . . well, we have something very important to talk to you about. You're not in trouble or anything like that . . . but, Jiraiya, why don't you tell Naruto what we were discussing earlier before you left for a smoke."

Naruto turned his head towards Jiraiya, who pulled out a business card from his pocket and handed it over to him. He was very confused and looked down to read the name on the card. "Orochimaru, Electrical Engineer with Akatsuki Electrical. Oh, I remember him . . . you went to trade school with him and Tsunade back in the day."

Jiraiya nodded. "That's right. I was talking to him a week ago and he wants a young, bright, Journeyman to accompany him to his next project. He travels around the world and when he told me he was looking for someone to come along with him, I mentioned you. I know you've told me before about possibly getting your engineering course, and I figured what better way to learn and see if that's what you want to do."

He was speechless and didn't know what to say. His mind was spinning about the opportunity to further his career, but there was also the guilt of leaving this job behind.

Naruto turned his head to look at Kakashi, who apparently already knew what he was thinking.

"I know what you're going to say, but hear me out Naruto. Right now we are busy, however, come around March next year we are going to be slowing down for a bit up here. We are unfortunately going to have to release a few guys from site, but that's the nature of the beast. As for what we had planned for you, well you would just keep doing what you're doing as a lead hand on the projects we have lined up. Most likely Kiba would be demoted back to just a regular Journeyman and he would be on the tools for a bit. I wish we could say that I have more options for you up here, but for the time being, we do not.

"If you want to try and experience something different, then this gig with Orochimaru is a huge opportunity. And it just wouldn't be him you would be traveling with either if that makes you nervous. He does have an assistant named Kabuto, who I'm sure you remember was a lead hand up here six years ago when you were still an apprentice."

Jiraiya jumped into the conversation. "Kabuto also has his engineering degree, but he handles more electrical maintenance. Pretty much this duo travels around the country to these remote smaller sites that are tough to get to, Kabuto checks the electrical circuits and devices to make sure they are working fine, doing the job it's required to do and repairing any minor issues, while Orochimaru sees if the system is still good, or he needs to draw up new plans to get it replaced. The two have been working like mad the past year and are wanting to bring another person on board, maybe even two. I think it would be a wonderful way to experience something new and even see how electrical is done in other countries."

There was a moment of silence around the table before Kakashi spoke again. "Now as your boss Naruto, I really shouldn't be telling you to leave Hyuuga Electric to find other work . . . but more importantly, I'm your friend and I want you to be able to spread your wings to try different things. I already had that opportunity when I was young, and right now I'm content with just being a project manager here at Konoha Energy."

At first, Naruto was filled with excitement. Travel around the world, experience an opportunity where it would further his career as an electrician, and not to mention it would be with people he kind of knew. It felt like he was at the beginning of a rollercoaster ride; he was just climbing higher and higher and this dream job seemed too good to be true. However, that's when the wheels started to turn faster in his head, and reality plunged him straight down that it made his stomach drop.

"So . . . that means I would be gone for a while, right? I mean, how long does Orochimaru want help for?" asked Naruto in a soft voice.

The four older adults looked back and forth at each other for a few seconds before Jiraiya spoke.

"A year at least, maybe even 18 months. Orochimaru said that next year he would be heading to Saudi Arabia first, and then after that, it depends on which job requires his attention first and which one is more important. I'm not going to lie to you, Naruto . . . but while this job does have its pros, it also has a list full of cons too. For pretty much a whole year you would be gone; not being able to see your friends and family, missing out on holidays and family events, and if you did come back home it would only be for at most a week and then you would be gone again."

Naruto felt a lump in his throat and he was starting to find it difficult to breathe as his eyes stared back down at Orochimaru's business card. It felt like he was being torn in half trying to decide what would happen if he accepted or declined this offer. He was so lost in his thoughts that he almost didn't hear his father speak.

"We also want you to know, Naruto that if you do decide to take this job and you are gone for a year and a half when you return home there will be plenty of work back here if you wanted to come back. By that time Konoha Energy is planning to build a second plant, Phase 2A they are calling it and it's going to be huge. I've been talking about it with the other operators and it is going to be a massive project. I imagine by then they will be needing more Foreman's on-site, which I could see them offering you a position if you want it."

To say that he felt overwhelmed was an understatement. At that moment Naruto just couldn't seem to comprehend what was going on around him. It felt like he was underwater; not being able to hear properly and he couldn't tell which way was up or down for him to swim to the surface.

He almost jumped when his mother reached forward and grasped his hand.

"I know this is a lot to take in sweetheart and we want you to think about it carefully. Don't even worry about your father and I; we can find someone to check on the house while we are gone. Also, we're not kicking you out or anything like that. If you choose to take this job, your stuff can stay in the basement and will be there when you get back."

Naruto stared at Kushina for a moment, her warm grey eyes filled with love and encouragement. For a moment he felt at ease; like no matter what decision he chose his parents and mentors would support him one hundred percent.

"I'm sorry this is a lot to unload on you Naruto, and I wish I could say take your time in thinking about it. However, I would like to get an answer from you about this by tomorrow. If you are serious about going with Orochimaru, we need to get the paperwork started right away; you can't just start working in other countries on a whim; there are a lot of documents to fill out. For you to get the right visa's could take a few months, but I do have some connections that could get the paperwork done a little faster than normal. But like I said, I'm going to need an answer sooner than later. Why don't you sleep on it tonight, think about it during the day and then give me an answer after supper? Sound good?" asked Jiraiya.

He still couldn't find his voice. It was as if he had forgotten how to talk all of a sudden; so the only thing he could do was nod his head in agreement.

The other adults smiled and the briefly discussed amongst themselves about how late it was and that heading back to their rooms for a good night's rest was the best course of action.

Everyone slowly crawled out of the booth and grabbed their trays with the dirty dishes on them; all of them still chatting together while Naruto remained silent behind them, still staring at the business card in his hand. He didn't even realize that his father had taken the tray out of his other hand and placed it on the dirty dish cart which was located by the door. His mother and father gave him a hug, while both Kakashi and Jiraiya gave him a hard pat on the back as they wished him a good night and to get lots of rest. He watched as his family walked down the hallway towards their rooms for a moment, and then turning around he grabbed his backpack off the hook and slowly walking towards his room.

Naruto wasn't sure what to do. If this offer had been brought to his attention last shift, he would have said yes in a heartbeat.

Sure I would have been uncomfortable or even nervous about leaving Hyuuga Electric and Konoha Energy . . . I mean, this place and these people are all I've known for the past seven years. But still . . . I would have jumped all over this job if Jiraiya had said something last shift. I'm not going to lie, it would suck to be gone that long without seeing my friends and family, but I would have endured and dealt with the loneliness of being away for that long. But now things are different . . .

Hinata's face flashed at the forefront of his mind and suddenly the thought of leaving for this new job just made him want to throw up.

I finally have Hinata back in my life . . . and just when things were starting to look amazing with her, now our new relationship is being ripped out of my hands if I choose to accept this new position.

His body was on auto-pilot as it went through the motions of pulling out his room key, swiping the card reader to get into his hallway, and making his way down to his room. Soon he was in the small dark space of where he only slept and showered, not even bothering to turn on the light as he took a seat in the chair by the desk.

As he pulled the contents of his backpack out, his mind just kept going in circles; debating the pros and cons if he accepted or declined the new job offer. The opportunity of a lifetime that would advance his career with the possibility of losing Hinata while he was away, or staying right where he was with Hinata by his side, but staying as a lead hand for over a year with the possibility of maybe getting the foreman's position in the future.

When he glanced at his phone to check out the time, it suddenly dawned on him that the "No Service" had disappeared from the top left-hand corner. With there being no service he had put his phone on silence and was only using it as an alarm clock, but now he could see four solid bars and the service providers name along with a whopping total of 30 missed calls and 40 text messages from various people over the last five days. The most being from his parents wondering why he wasn't responding and asking if he was mad at them for some reason.

Just as he was about to read the messages and go through the missed calls, a new text suddenly appeared.

Good Evening Naruto. Hope you had a great time with your parents! We finally got cell service back!

Naruto stared at the text message from Hinata. He wanted to tell her what he was going through, he wanted to talk it over with her and figure out if they could keep their relationship going with long-distance for a while. Or if it was something she was completely against and they would have to break up already.

His mind went back to the kiss they had shared in the parking lot, and how right it had felt being with her like that. The thought of another man being intimate with her in any way just made his blood boil and brought on an anger level that he didn't even know he could possess. He was never the type to get angry over little things, but the image of someone other than him putting his hands on Hinata made him want to roundhouse kick someone in the face.

He paused as he thought of what to type back to her. It was almost 9 pm, which was way too late for him to ask her if they could meet up. With that said though, he didn't want to type anything that would upset her or have her worry if he mentioned that he needed to talk with her as soon as possible.

After taking another few minutes, Naruto finally decided on what he should say back to her.

Hey Hinata. I'm surprised they got cell service back this quickly, it wouldn't have shocked me if we didn't get it back until the next shift. It's getting late, but I hope tomorrow we can do the same thing again and drive back together like we did tonight after work. Hope you have a good sleep and I will see you tomorrow.

He waited anxiously for her response, hoping she would agree to ride with him again so that they could have some privacy.

I would like that. Have a good night Naruto. I miss you already

Naruto blushed as he read her words; a smile spreading across his lips from how cute she was being. He put his phone down on the desk so he wouldn't be tempted to text her more and decided it was best just to have a shower before heading to bed.

Tomorrow was going to be a long day and he was going to need all the sleep he could get.

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The electrician's trailer on Pad #12 was extremely loud and crowded as both front and back shift tried to make room for each other. Normally the trailer was at a regular temperature, but right now Naruto was pretty sure he and the other lead hands were going to cook to death; the rest of the crew were in their regular coveralls, while the lead hands had their full winter gear on. Brushing the sweat off of his forehead, Naruto prayed that Shino would start the morning meeting soon so he and Sasuke could give Kiba a rundown on what had happened over their days off on the pad. Naruto tried to smile and greet the back shift workers, however with what little sleep he had gotten the night before and the extreme heat in the trailer, he was pretty sure if he even closed his eyes for a second he would pass out.

In what seemed like forever, Shino finally got the morning meeting underway. "Good Morning everyone. Backshift, welcome back to the pad; and front shift, this is your last full day. Now, normally I would be teaming you all up with someone on the front with the back shift so that you can explain to them what task you were working on for them to take over. However, the new pad north of here, Pad #15, we are going to be doing a high voltage cable pull there. So everyone, get your arms ready for a good morning of pulling cable because this one is a long pull and will probably take up most of the day. Since Sasuke is going to be the head lead hand on that pad, he will be in charge of today's pull; so if any of you have questions that you would like to ask, please direct them towards him. While you are all prepping for the pull, Naruto I want you to take Kiba around Pad #12 here and show him the progress we made."

Naruto tried to smile and nodded his head towards Shino; however in reality he was screaming internally. Shino continued to talk, but he had pretty much tuned his foreman out. He had been half-hoping that Sasuke would be the one to update Kiba while he dealt with the tasks for the crews. However since Sasuke would be leaving soon for Pad #15, which would leave him as the only lead hand on Pad #12 for the front shift, it made sense that his friend wouldn't be able to update Kiba on what was going on.

As the meeting came to an end, the rest of the crew slowly filed outside to do morning stretches while the lead hands gathered around Shino.

"So, how long will it take you to get everything ready for today's cable pull?" asked Shino, turning his head towards Sasuke.

"It won't take too long. I have already planned a route for the cable to go and I was going to ask Naruto when the time came to help me layout the cable cones so that everyone knows the path to pull the cable. However, if Naruto is busy with Kiba then it's going to take me twice as long to lay the cones out. Both back and front shift will be busy with writing their FLHA's and getting geared up for the cable pull, so I could take both Naruto and Kiba to help me set up cones; would certainly be faster and we can kick start this pull sooner than expected."

Shino was silent as he pondered Sasuke's opinion, to which Naruto prayed he agreed with. He was not ready to be alone with Kiba at the moment, and feared the awkwardness that would be between them if the two were left alone; it was already uncomfortable being in the same room with him. Kiba on the other hand had yet to speak or even look at him.

Kiba seemed to agree with Sasuke. "Or just you and Naruto can go set up cones. I can just look over Naruto's notes on what happened over the shift and figure it out from there, Shino. I don't need to be babysat."

Shino looked back and forth between the three lead hands. It was always hard to tell what their foreman was thinking since he always had a straight face and the shaded safety glasses he wore. After a few more seconds of silence, Shino made a decision.

"Sasuke, after the crew is done stretching I want you to grab Konohamaru and Udon. Those two I know finished their task yesterday and will need a new one today; they can help you place the cones down. Naruto, I want you to show Kiba what was done while he was away. I would rather it be a face to face talk between the two of you. If Kiba is just looking over your notes there may be something he doesn't understand or perhaps he has more questions about. I know it won't take long and then you two can also get ready for the cable pull. As I said, this pull is probably going to take the whole day, and if so I don't want tomorrow to be a scramble trying to make sure everything is in order; especially since it's a half-day for us and we have a safety meeting as well. Understood?"

Naruto bit his tongue and tried not to show the disappointment in his face, but instead nodded his head. Shino headed back to his office with Kiba hot on his heels, while Naruto and Sasuke headed the other direction to grab their radios and clipboards.

"I did try . . ." mumbled Sasuke, clipping a radio to his winter coat.

Naruto sighed, "And I greatly appreciate it. I'm not sure if he will bring anything up with me dating Hinata, but I just have this gut feeling he is going to want to say something to me about it."

Sasuke glanced over his shoulder at the now-closed office door. "Are you concerned that dating Hinata is going to affect how those two treat you? They are her best friends, but I'm sure they are mature enough to know to keep work and personal issues separate . . . or at least I sure as hell hope they are."

He grabbed his clipboard. "I know Hinata talked to Kiba about it, but . . . damn the look he gave me last night when I saw him . . . I'm pretty sure he would have gladly beat the shit out of me had Hinata not been standing there too."

Sasuke grabbed his hard hat and leaned over to Naruto. "I'm fairly certain you are just overthinking this situation. Just do the usual routine of showing him what happened this shift, and if he tries to bring up you dating Hinata, then just walk away. It's none of his business."

Naruto nodded and started to head towards the exit.

"Uh, Naruto? Your hard hat? You might need that if you are going outside."

Sighing in frustration at his own stupidity, Naruto turned around and walked over to the desk where his hard hat was still sitting.

"Are you alright? Is this issue with Kiba really bothering you? You've been acting weird all morning. You almost drove out of the parking lot without wiping the snow off the windshield."

Naruto let out another sigh but thought it best not to bring it up to Sasuke right at this moment. He had a lot on his plate with all that had happened last night and now was not the time to discuss it. They already had a long day ahead of them and he didn't want to bother his friend with the huge dilemma that was going on in his head.

"Just . . . a lot going on right now. Not just with Hinata but . . . other things too. I'll talk to you and Sakura about it later, right now we've got a cable to pull in before the day is done."

It looked as if Sasuke wanted to say something, but instead, his friend gave him a quick pat on the shoulder before heading out the door and called for Konohamaru and Udon so he could talk to them. Grabbing his hard hat, Naruto walked over to Shino's office door and knocked firmly on the wood.

"Hey Kiba, I'll be waiting for you on platform #1 when you're done talking to, Shino." Naruto didn't even bother waiting for a response and headed out the door into the cold dark morning weather.

The sky was still pitch black and would remain that way until probably 9 am. However, at least it was just a brisk cold temperature this morning with no snow or wind; which would also make the cable pull easier than if there was a howling wind or snow like last time. He said hello to some of the crew before making his way to platform #1, already reciting in his head what he needed to say to Kiba and what to show him around the pad.

I'll just make this walk down short and sweet. Then we can get on with our day and hopefully not talk about what he witnessed last night between Hinata and me.

Naruto sighed as he stepped inside the scaffold shelter on top of platform #1. Once again his mind replayed the memory of holding Hinata in his arms last night and feeling her lips against his own. She was pretty much all he could think about lately; her voice, the smell of her hair, and the urge to want to know more about her. For years he had wondered what it would be like to touch her, kiss her, spend time with her, and make love to her . . . the list just went on and on. At first, holding her hand had been exciting, but after last night . . . his mind felt like it was in overdrive.

If Kiba had not interrupted them, Naruto wasn't sure exactly what would have happened. Would they have stopped kissing? Would he have invited her to his room to take things to the next step? Would she have said yes? Or No? The dark part of his mind was telling him to just screw thinking about the consequences and just do what he had been thinking about for the past three years. Now that he had gotten a taste of her, his entire being craved and wanted more of her. However, there was the caring and thoughtful part of his mind that was singing a completely different tune. If he dived headfirst into this, there was a chance that he would ruin his relationship with Hinata. He didn't want to scare her away and knew that taking things slow was the best option.

His mind then suddenly switched gears to the possible new job offer with Orochimaru and Kabuto. Traveling the world and getting the hands-on experience that some electricians only dreamed of just seemed too good to be true. However, there was a fear of the unknown as well. Naruto was so used to working in construction, that the thought of leaving his position was both exciting and scary at the same time. He did love working with the crew and his foreman . . . but to further his career he would need to take a step out of his comfort zone. So many changes were happening all at once that Naruto just couldn't wrap his head around it. New possible job, new shift, new girlfriend . . . he just couldn't seem to fully comprehend what was going on around him right now.

While tossing and turning in bed last night, he had concluded that Hinata would most likely cheer him on and tell him to take the new job opportunity. She would have his back and tell him that she would wait for him; or at least . . . that's how he thought she would react. It had taken them over three years to get together, and what if this new job offer was the final straw? What if she was fed up with always waiting for him and would walk away from their relationship? The old English idiomatic proverb of "You can't have your cake and eat it too" seemed so fitting with how he was feeling right now. He was so distracted in his thoughts, that he didn't hear Kiba walking up the platform stairs or open the shelter door.

Naruto was leaned against the transformer as he tried to get his thoughts in order and nearly jumped out of his boots when Kiba finally spoke.

"You just going to stand there all day with that dumb look on your face? Or can we get this over with and start prepping for the cable pull?"

He accidentally knocked his clipboard over, which caused it to clang loudly against the metal grating; the top of it opening and scattering pages all over the place. Naruto cursed and kneeled down to pick up his notes.

"Ah, sorry Kiba. Just got a lot on my plate lately. So, the first thing you should know is . . ."

Kiba sighed and started to help him pick up his notes. "You can drop the charade now, Naruto. Shino already explained to me what happened this shift on the drive into work this morning and what needs to be done while you guys are gone on days off. I pretty much told him to keep the guys inside the trailer so I can have a private conversation with you. If I don't do this right now, then I'm not going to have another opportunity, or I'm going to change my mind."

Naruto froze and looked over at Kiba with a confused expression.

The backshift lead hand passed him the remainder of his notes and grabbed the clear pad of paper he kept in his clipboard; pulling a sharpie from his front jacket pocket.

"First things first, I'm sure you've already forgotten but her birthday is December 27. Don't just send her a text, your best bet is to call her that day. She prefers getting calls on her birthday instead of texts; do that and you will have immediately made a good impression to not only her but the Hyuuga family as well. Also, while a birthday cake is nice and all, your best option is to get her a package of cinnamon rolls; those are her absolute favorite."

Naruto was completely silent. His mind couldn't completely comprehend what was going on as he watched Kiba writing notes about Hinata on his pad of paper.

"If you thought of doing something special with her on New Year's Eve, I would cancel those plans immediately. The entire Hyuuga family gets together that day and it's a huge party for them. So unless Hiashi or Hizashi personally invite you, don't try and weasel your way in; it will not turn out well for you. The entire family spends the next two days catching up and ringing in the New Year; so if you really are serious about Hinata, just be patient and if you can show her family that you are a good match for her, then you will get an invite to join them."

"Now as for Valentine's Day, Hinata says the holiday is overrated and that she doesn't care if her boyfriend would ever bring her flowers or chocolates. However! Deep down I know she secretly would want a small gift; she just wants to feel a little bit of acknowledgment for the day. I know this because she always tells Shino and me that she won't buy us any friendship chocolate, but in the end, she does. So now we always know to have a gift for her on standby just in case . . . but as for you, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on a gift. I know Hinata would feel extremely guilty if you did that. A card and a chocolate bar from the Dollar Store would go a long way with her. And that goes with any other gift-giving holiday as well. So long as you get her just a little something, Hinata will be over the moon happy."

Is he . . . is he trying to help me out? But why? I don't understand what's going on here . . .

"If you ever get into a fight with her, just know that she will need to stew about it for a few days. She's not one to easily forgive and forget. Most likely she will be quiet over the next few days, contemplate what you two fought about, and then she will be the one to bring it up; either to apologize for being wrong or talk more about it with you. DO NOT and I repeat, DO NOT bug her about it. She may give you the silent treatment for a day, but trust me, it's better to just leave her be then try to bring it up. The argument will get resolved, but let it be on her terms, otherwise, you will see a not so nice side to her. Also . . ."

"Wait! Stop Kiba! This is . . . I don't understand. Why are you telling me all this? I . . . I thought . . ."

Kiba paused and gave him an annoyed look. The two lead hands stared at each other for a few seconds before Kiba sighed and stood up. "What? You were expecting me to quiz you about your relationship with Hinata? Or threaten you like 'you better treat her nicely or Shino and I will hurt you!'. Or something immature like that?"

Naruto opened his mouth to say something, but no words seemed to want to leave his lips.

"Look, Shino and I have known about Hinata's crush on you for years; even before your knucklehead brain finally noticed her the night of that Christmas Party. You don't remember this, but when you were drunk off your ass in the bathroom, you told me that night that you wanted to ask her out. So I know that you have had at least some sort of feelings for her. Both of you could never find the courage to speak about your true feelings, and I've felt guilty about this. If I had just given either of you a nudge in the right direction, I guarantee the two of you would have started dating a lot sooner. However, it is what it is and I can't change the past. So instead, I'm going to give you a few pointers about Hinata to make up for it; although I'm not going to tell you everything, because then where's the fun in that?

"And for the record, I'm not just doing this for you, I'm mostly doing this for Hinata so that her new boyfriend doesn't make a huge mess of things and make her sad. Because I will say this . . . if you do make her cry over something idiotic, I guarantee you Shino and I will be the least of your worries. I don't think you've ever seen Neji mad before and let me tell you this, it is not a pretty sight. So just do everyone a favor and actually think before you act or say something to her, you got it?"

Naruto paused. At first, he had been so grateful to Kiba for helping him out and even giving him a lot of good advice when dealing with Hinata . . . but what if it was all for nothing? What if by the end of tonight it was over between them?

"Look Kiba . . . I really appreciate what you're trying to do here, but things aren't that cut and dry between Hinata and I. I've got a lot going on right now and need to have a long discussion with her about the future. I don't know if she's going to like what I have to say on what I'm considering to do and, I'm just scared she's going to walk away from me." His voice was trembling and his entire body was shaking; Naruto wasn't sure why he was saying this to Kiba, but everything he had bottled up this morning just came spilling out of his mouth.

"I love her, I really do! I want to be by her side for the rest of our lives and be the kind of man that she can depend on. I've already had thoughts about marrying her and even starting a family together someday . . . but at the same time, I need to be able to provide for her and work hard so that she can live a comfortable life. What if the choices I make for our future aren't what she wants and she no longer wants to wait for my sorry ass? There's so much more I want to do with my career, and I want to take as many opportunities as I can and learn as much as humanly possible to better myself. Is it so wrong that I want that and Hinata to stay in my life even though she has to wait for me again?!"

Naruto turned around and let out a yell of frustration. With the roaring motors of the welding trucks and bobcats driving around the pad, his voice was lost over the noises around him and was only heard by Kiba who had remained silent during his whole rant. He was breathing heavily and was fighting the urge to just throw his clipboard off the platform, but knew if he did that it would most likely hit someone and he would have to file an incident report; trying to explain that one to Sakura or Ino was going to be awkward as hell.

Kiba let out a long sigh which caused Naruto to turn back around to his fellow co-worker. The look he was giving him clearly showed that he was annoyed, but there was something else there as well too. If Naruto didn't know any better, he could have sworn it was sympathy.

"Soooooooo . . . from what I got out of your little temper tantrum there, you might possibly have a new job opportunity that's going to teach you lots, but it's going to be somewhere far away so that you won't be able to see Hinata as often as you would like, and you're afraid she's going to dump you?"

Naruto's eyes widened in surprise at how Kiba was able to figure that all out, but granted his co-worker had always been able to read between the lines.

"By the dumb expression on your face, I would have to say my guess is right on the money. Not sure why you spilled your guts out to me just now with what's going on in your life, and it's none of my business . . . however, I will say this . . ."

Suddenly Kiba marched straight over to him, snatched the clipboard out of his hands, and whacked him over the head with it; almost causing Naruto to lose his hard hat.

"If you think for one god damn second that Hinata is going to leave you because you want to better your career for a while, then you don't know her at all now do you?! She's loved you since our first year as apprentices, and if you tell her that you want to travel somewhere for a bit to better yourself, she's going to support you one hundred and ten percent. Don't you dare put her in the same category as those weak women who need a man by their side for every second of the day or think that just because you're gone for a bit she might get lonely and seek someone else out for attection. Quit playing these mind games with yourself and putting words into Hinata's mouth when you haven't even talked to her yet." Kiba whacked him again with the clipboard. "Just be honest with her, tell her what you want to do, and then see what she has to say. Quit being a fucking dim wit and assuming the worst-case scenario! Do you know how damn lucky you are to have her? I would have given up anything for her to look at me the way she looks at you!"

Realizing what he had just said, Kiba suddenly dropped the clipboard and took five steps away from him; turning around so that Naruto wasn't able to see his face. An awkward silence fell over the two of them, and Naruto had no idea what to say.

He stared down at the dented clipboard and thought hard on what Kiba had just yelled in his face. His co-worker was right in every way, and he needed to talk to Hinata properly where they wouldn't be interrupted. He needed to stop predicting what could possibly happen between him and Hinata. Kiba had gone out of his way to not only give him tips about how to make Hinata happy but also to quite literally slap some sense back into him.

He really is a nice guy.

"Ahem . . . look forget about that last part I said. She's never thought of me as more than a friend and that's something we cleared up last night. She only has eyes for you, and that's something you better never forget, got it?"

Naruto nodded his head and tried to hide the smile that was slipping past his lips.

"Good. So are we done now? I don't have a radio on me and by the looks of it, you didn't turn yours on either. We better head back to the trailer before Shino thinks I threw you off the platform and trying to hide your body right now."

He laughed softly and followed Kiba down the steps of the platform before making their way towards the lunch trailer where they could see everyone inside prepping for the cable pull. Naruto made a mental note to give Sakura a call on his coffee break to see if he could ride with Hinata again.

To say that he wasn't scared about the conversation they would have tonight would be a lie, however, he felt much better than he had before and just knew that everything was going to be okay.

To Be Continued . . .

Authors Note:

Almost exactly a full year since my last update. To say writing this chapter was difficult would be a complete understatement; it was so tough to write, it felt like hell at times.

So last year when I added Chapter 7, I was going to take a week break and then start working on this chapter. But, after my last shift at work, I wasn't feeling like myself; I was feeling more tired than usual and the camp food just seemed to be tasting more awful as the days were going by. When I got home, I found out that I was pregnant. The joy my husband and I felt cannot be put into words, we were ecstatic.

Obviously, with life taking such a dramatic turn, fanfiction writing took a back seat for a bit. My original plan was to write three more chapters and end it. However, I thought with me having a baby on the way, I wouldn't be able to find the time to write and should just wrap up this fanfiction with one more chapter.

Now I had started this Naruto fanfiction back in November 2014, when I was just dating my husband and still in my 20's. I was going to up the drama with this fic with Naomi and have the good old clich├ęs of misunderstandings that happens in every romance movies/tv-series/books. But after going on a five-year hiatus and being in my thirties now and married, the thought of doing that just made me roll my eyes and so I altered the story a bit. Turn the drama way down and wrap this fanfiction up in ten chapters instead of like twenty. Now here I was again trying to alter the story and wrap it up, but I just couldn't get it to sound right. I was writing when I could, sitting as long as I could sometimes, but then having to get up because my back was hurting or my unborn son was kicking me so much I couldn't concentrate.

Many times I would re-read the other chapters to get motivated and try to write chapter eight. However I was bouncing back and for between someone else's point of view, when usually I stick to one person per chapter. I almost had the chapter at 24 pages, wasn't even close to wrapping up the story, and where I was trying to direct it just didn't sit right with me.

After my son was born on June 11, I just didn't think I would be able to write anymore. I was about to accept that none of my fanfics would ever get finished and that I should just focus on being a mom for now.

But then, the other night I was out in the field baling straw for my dad and as I was driving back and forth my writer's muse came back full force. For the first little bit, I tried to wrack my brain on how to finish this story in one go, but that's when I decided that that plan was a terrible idea. I just couldn't do it without half-assing my story.

And so for the past three days, I was taking snippets from what I wrote the past year, but altering it to the way I had thought of writing it in the first place.

If you have read this far, thank you so much for sticking with this fanfic. My goal is to have it wrapped up by the end of the year, but I make no promises . . . hopefully, it doesn't take me another year for the next chapter.

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