The Substitute @wasabisugar
Her Gift

Once again, thank you so much for all the positive feedback. Reviews, as well as follows and favorites mean the world to me. It's really what drives me to keep working on stories like this. Supply and demand - y'know?

Disclaimer: No, I don't own Naruto, but thank you.


Her Gift


"Geez, who kicked you in the ass?" Choji put a hand in his chips bag as a clearly vexed Kiba slammed the door behind himself and dropped into his seat, arms crossed. "I mean, you messed up, but shouldn't you be more concerned rather than angry?" Kiba rolled his head back and cried out in frustration, clutching at his face and disheveling his hair, then glanced at Hinata in her seat.

"You really don't pass on the opportunities to feast your eyes on her..." Sai sighed, watching his friend in confusion.

"Don't say it like that! You make me sound like such a creep!" He finally put his anger into words.

"Maybe, just maybe…" Sai leaned forward to his hotheaded friend. "That's the point."

Kiba grabbed his collar and pulled him into a headlock, wasting no time to choke his weak classmate. "Say that again, I dare ya!"

"Guys!" Sakura moaned in irritation. "Is it really that hard to keep your hands off each other for five goddamn seconds?!" But even though her voice was loud and clear, Kiba and Sai continued to wrestle until the teacher returned from having retrieved some papers.

Kiba pressed the pencil hard against his paper while the teacher spoke, his thoughts distracting him from his surroundings. Why did I have to mess up so bad with Hinata?! Why did Uzumaki-sensei have to appear right when I was gonna chase after her? Why did… Why did everything have to go so bad… He looked at Hinata for the tenth time that minute and watched her as she struggled to keep up with her own note taking. Surely, she knows now... He rested his head on his desk in defeat and let out a long sigh. Luckily, the teacher didn't catch him.

When the bell rang, chemistry class was finally over and the day sailed on smoothly until it was time for lunch. The last lesson for the day was English, and even though Hinata had been searching throughout the entire school on her way to buy bread, she couldn't find her teacher anywhere. After coming back and having eaten, Hinata fished into her school bag and discreetly pulled out the note she'd found in her locker to study it.

Eyes cold like winter

You gaze out of the window

I could watch you forever

She blushed. Was this really for me…? It couldn't be… They might've just placed the note in the wrong locker... Curious, she turned the paper over in hopes of discovering a name, but all she could find was a "1" written on the back. The paper seemed like it'd been ripped from a notebook, at least the bottom part looked to be missing. Lined paper…

She thought back to the shoe lockers when she'd been caught late for class by Naruto-sensei. His tone was uncharacteristically cold. She wondered if she'd done something to make him that way, or if he was really just sensitive about students not being on time for class. Her gaze dropped to her lap and she let out a small sigh. I wonder who it could be… The blush that had developed earlier started to fade. I could only dream that it was Sensei…

"What's wrong Sakura? You've been acting a little out of sorts today, were you hoping that Gai-sensei would give you a rose or something?" Ino giggled at her own joke and Sakura rolled her eyes.

"Ew, no. Unlike you, I was thinking." Ino faked a laugh and stuck her tongue out at her pink haired friend. "I was thinking about when I should give Uzumaki-sensei my chocolates."

Hinata's heart skipped a beat at the sound of his name. Uzumaki… Sensei… She put the note away and looked into her bag at the chocolates she'd made for him. There's no way mine'll be received any differently than the others… Besides, he probably has a girlfriend… All the high school girls confessing to him today must be a nuisance at this point. I'm no different.

"Hyuuga!" Hinata gasped quietly at the sound of someone calling out to her. Is it…? She slowly turned around to see Sai pointing at Kiba, who had just woken up from a momentary nap. "Don't leave him hanging!"

"Huh…?" Her eyes slowly widened. "Hanging… What do you mean?"

"Huh?" a groggy Kiba mirrored her words and sat up, turning to Sai. "What're you talking about?"

"He sent you down to the shoe lockers, remember? It's rude to not re-" Kiba quickly threw himself over his friend and successfully covered his mouth before he could continue.

"When will you learn to keep your stupid trap shut?! I thought mimes didn't talk!"

"Ah!" Hinata seemed to remember and Kiba froze in his tracks, unable to turn around to face her. No… She knows it was me… Is she really gonna take it here? In front of everyone?!

"Kiba-kun…" She bowed lowly, a small smile on her face. "Thank you for your-"

"Not here!" Kiba cried desperately. "Can't we take it outside… Or something?!" Come on, you don't gotta reject me in front of the whole class!

"Uhm.." Hinata seemed confused. "I-I was just going to say thank you for your concern about the locker, but I checked and it really was locked."

Sai dropped through the floor while Kiba's eyes shot out of his sockets. Ino and Sakura facepalmed in unison. They all thought the same thing, though. She can't possibly be this dense.

"You…" Kiba said, turning. "You sure…?" Hinata cocked her head to the side, a question mark appearing above her.

"I… I'm quite sure…" She hesitated.

"Anyway... " Ino interrupted, unimpressed. "Hinata, you really are clueless sometimes."

Sakura sighed and leaned back in her seat, yawning and stretching her arms in the air. "Guys will be guys."

After lunch ended, the day passed unnaturally quickly as Hinata struggled to find a window of time to seek out and give Naruto the chocolate she'd made him. Even Sakura had managed to give hers to him, although only through throwing out some "trash" (other girls' chocolates) from his pigeon hole and placing hers there. Hinata admired their determination and fearlessness, knowing she herself lacked those traits.

She knew that giving it to him would basically imply that she was confessing to him. She glanced at the chocolate while the teacher was talking and gulped at the thought of how much they would mean to give to him. She pictured his reaction in his head a million times, ranging from shock and disgust to a smile and a "thank you", to rejection. The truth was, she had no idea how he was going to respond to the gift, but even though she was afraid of rejection, a part of her would feel relieved once they were handed over to him and he knew how she felt. Am I putting too much thought into this..?

Her hands trembled in her lap as she continued the day thinking about what he would say to her and, without realizing it, she was building the event up so much that, at the end of the day, when the guy she'd been thinking so much about finally opened the door to the classroom and entered, she immediately had to hide her face in her hands to conceal her deep blush. He's here…!

Naruto rubbed his left eye tiredly and placed some papers down on his desk. He then scanned the classroom, eyes momentarily stopping at Hinata while she was hiding herself, then moving on to the rest of the class. He raised an eyebrow to himself as he organized the things before him.

"Okay so, I know it's Valentine's, but I've finished checking your test exams and will be handing them out to you at the end of the lesson. Almost everyone has improved their score, so good job on that. The finals will be a piece of cake for all of you." Hinata's chest tightened at his words. The test… When I… The stress of having messed up at the exam when she was sick started to surface and she felt herself grow warm. After all the studying I'd done this term… I'm really just not good enough. She couldn't bring herself to focus during the lesson and instead stared out of the window and watched the class outside as they had their PE lesson.

As Naruto started handing back the papers, each student seemed happy about their results. He paused for a moment before placing the sheet down face flat on her desk and moving on. She felt her heartbeat quicken to the point where it started to affect her breathing as she turned the paper over.

It wasn't the test, just a sheet of paper that read:

Forget about this test and do your best next time. I know you would have had a perfect score if things were as they normally were, so don't put too much thought into this one incident.

If you want an empty test sheet to revise with, come to my office after class and I'll help you out.

/Uzumaki

Hinata turned the paper back over and rested her head in her hands. He didn't make me look at my failure and instead encouraged me to look ahead…

"Thank you…" She whispered through her clenched jaw, trying to hold back tears. "Thank you…"

"How'd you do, Ino?" Sakura stood up from her seat and turned around, expecting to see a gloomy blonde crying in her seat.

"I'm…" Ino's hands shook. "I got an 86!" She cried out in happiness, throwing her arms around Sakura, who was too shocked to respond.

"Wha…"

"Can you believe it?! I'm gonna frame this!"

Kiba silently put his papers away and stood up in his seat to leave. Sai traded papers with Shino to compare their results while Naruto gathered his materials with a soft smile on his lips.

"Go on without me you guys." Sakura quickly said after having congratulated Ino on her results and hurried out of the class together with the other people who wanted to get out of the school as quickly as possible.

"O-kay… Wonder what was up with her…" Ino slowly put her coat on and picked her bag up, motioning for the door. "Maybe an emergency bathroom break. Hinata, are you coming?"

Hinata shook her head, still in her seat. "I… I have some things to do. I'll see you tomorrow, Ino-chan."

"What, you too?" Ino seemed disappointed. "Fine, see you tomorrow!"

After most people had left, Hinata put on her coat, picked her bag up and headed for Naruto's office with the paper in her hand. She could feel her hand trembling as she walked down the hallway through the groups of people. The only thing on her mind right there and then was Naruto. She needed to give the chocolate to Naruto.

But when she took her last step up a set of stairs, she spotted Naruto already standing in the hallway, facing away from her.

"Ah, U-Uzumaki-se-" She was cut off by the sight of someone else before she could even approach him.

Only a few meters from him was a girl from the year below her. Hinata knew of her because the guys in her class sometimes talked about how cute she was. Apparently, she was working as a model for a Liz Lisa (Note: Famous clothing brand in Japan). Hinata took an awkward step back and hid behind a wall.

"I… I like you!" She cried out. Hinata's eyes widened. A… Confession? Should I really be standing here? I don't want to eavesdrop…

"I appreciate you telling me your feelings, but I'm your teacher. You're a student, Yoshioka-san. A relationship between a teacher and a student isn't allowed. It's not happening."

"S-so… If… If you weren't my teacher… Would you consider dating me then?"

She heard him sigh.

"Please understand. It's not going to happen." He turned to walk away, but his walking was interrupted. Hinata glanced out to see her arms wrapped tightly around his waist. She couldn't read his face, but his head was tilted downwards, his lips drawn in a straight line.

"Please don't go..! You're only five years older than me, we can… We can make it work…" Her voice trailed off, descending into gentle sobs. Hinata pressed herself against the wall as hard as she could, trying and failing to disappear into it. I really, really shouldn't be here!

"I won't let go!" She sure is persistent… Hinata smiled awkwardly to herself, pushing her back harder against the wall. This is so embarrassing. Remaining against the wall, she slowly crept away from the corner until she was out of hearing distance. How do I give him my chocolates now… Though it makes sense, I'm not determined like the other girls are. They're strong-willed and have plenty of courage to talk to him. I could never throw my arms around him and say I have feelings for him.

As she walked, she looked out of the window and spotted Sakura alone between the gym and main building. Sakura? What is she doing there? After a moment, she spotted Kiba approaching her. He was in his gym clothes. Kiba...kun?

"What are you still doing here?" She heard an unfamiliar voice speak to her and slowly looked up. In front of her was a tall man in his early thirties with neat, silver hair and a facemask, even though he didn't sound like he had a cold. He was well-dressed in a suit, but sounded stern when he spoke to her. Hinata's eyes were wide as he regarded her disapprovingly.

"Huh..?" Was all she could say.

"Do I need to ask again?" He threatened. Who… Who is this guy?

"I was… G-going to… Speak to Uzumaki-sensei…" He rolled his eyes, one hand on his hip.

"Great, another confession, I take it?" His eyes motioned for the chocolates clearly sticking out of her bag. She quickly hid them, a blush quickly spreading across her rosy cheeks, and looked up at him with wide, determined eyes.

"N-no! It's about… My test…" He seemed surprised by her response and cocked an eyebrow. His fingers were long, slim and his eyes scrutinizing. Something about him made her feel uneasy, though she couldn't say quite what it was. Instead, she hurried to elaborate on her point. "H-he… He said I could c-come b-by…" With his eyes boring into hers, she felt her courage melt away and averted her gaze to the floor. "T-to his office…" The man let out a scoff and straightened himself.

"Do you have anything to back that up with?" She thought for a moment, then handed him the paper she'd received from him. He took it, read it and paused for a moment before turning on his heel and walking in the other direction.

"Come." He muttered.

Hinata hurried after him, her legs almost getting tangled up in each other as she struggled to keep up with his pace. What's with him, and who is he..?

When they got to the teachers' office, there was a sign that read "Closed for the day" on the door, but the man simply disregarded it and entered anyway.

"Go sit in his seat and wait for him." Was all he said before walking over and seating himself at his own desk. A small metal plate next to him read "Hatake" and something clicked. Oh, so he's the new math teacher! He shot her a glance, as if to say hurry and sit before I regret letting you in so without putting too much thought into her recent discovery, she shuffled over to Naruto's desk and plopped down in his chair. With her hands neatly placed in her lap, she waited for her teacher to arrive.

His desk area was surprisingly devoid from anything personal. No signs of family or anything of the sort. Just heaps of papers - some related to his teaching - some to his own schoolwork. She picked up one of his papers, making sure that the grey haired teacher didn't see, and had a look. It seemed like physics. Whatever it was, it wasn't English.

Unversity of Tokyo, the top of the paper read. So he attends Tokyo University... He's so mysterious… Wonder where he's placed all of his chocolates… I mean, there must be over fifty bags!

She glanced at the clock.

5:32 P.M.

Eventually, she laid her head down in her arms on his desk and stared at a small box behind his monitor. After a moment of contemplation, she reached forward and opened it a little bit. With her eyelids growing heavier and heavier by the moment, she took out a small piece of crumpled up lined paper and studied it. She could barely make out a 2 on it without opening it up.

"Lined… Paper…" She whispered, resting her eyes for a moment in wait for Naruto. Talking to that girl sure is taking long…

"Hyuuga? What are you doing here?" Her head shot up and she caught sight of Naruto slowly closing the door behind him with a cup of what seemed like green tea in his hand. "It's late, shouldn't you be at home by now?" It was then that she noticed that all natural light had disappeared and the room was instead lit by desk lamps and window lights.

All the people that had previously been there were gone. Even the grey haired man had gathered his things and left without saying anything to her. She looked at the clock. 6:49 P.M. Did I… Did I fall asleep?

"Did you fall asleep?" A smile made its way onto his lips and he chuckled lightly. "You have paper marks on your cheek." He placed the drink down and pulled a chair over to sit in. "So, tell me, why are you here?"

"I was…" She found herself unable to rip her eyes away from his. "I… I waited for you…"

His eyes widened. "You did? But… Why?"

"I…" I wanted to see you… But the words never materialized.

As she tried to find her words, Naruto's eyes landed on the box behind his monitor, then to a piece of paper in her hand. "What's that?" His voice grew cold.

"Huh?" She looked at the piece of paper, then blushed nervously. "Oh… Oh um… I-it was in your bo-bo-" He grabbed the paper from her hand, then spoke harshly.

"Don't touch my belongings." His voice stung like venom. Hinata's eyes dropped to the floor in a mix of shame and embarrassment.

"I-I'm so sorry… I-I ju-just…"

"Go on..." He pursed his lips and crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair.

"I-I… Wanted to… K-know mor-more about you…" She shut her eyes tightly and felt her face grow hot. What am I doing?! I'm digging my own grave!

She couldn't see his expression as she struggled with her inner conflicts, but the next time he spoke, his voice was gentle again.

"Oh, so that's all it was." He lifted a hand to his mouth, seemingly thinking. Then, after a few seconds, he laughed airily. "You're weird!"

"Uhm…" She watched him laugh, confused. "I-I am..?"

"What was it you wanted, Hinata?" He dropped the honorifics and cut to her first name, catching her off-guard. Hinata felt her body grow warm from the inside out and tried to stop herself from turning red. He said my name… Oh, my god, he said my name..! Come to think of it, this is the second time he did this...The first time was this morning, by the lockers… I love the way he makes it sound… I wish I could hear it as a whisper...

"I…" She started. "Di-did you… Have any test paper I could… U-use to-to re-r-revise with?"

"Oh, yeah!" He reached forward, past her and dug around among some papers to find it. He's… So close…. And his smell.. She inhaled silently, closing her eyes and embracing her blush. He smells so good… She found herself looking at his shoulders, so wide and lean, not like the boys in her class - except for maybe Kiba because he worked out so much. But she enjoyed Naruto's frame much, much more.

"Here you go." He handed the sheets to her. "If you just sit down with it and promise not to check your notes, I'll check it for you and hand it back in like a day or two."

"Th-thank you…" She took the papers, her fingers briefly brushing against his. Her eyes shot up to meet his and their eyes momentarily locked.

"A-anyway, was there anything else?" He pulled his hands away and straightened himself.

"Uhm…" She thought about her gift, but her anxiety took over and she forced a smile. "N-no..!"

"Okay, well see you tomorrow then." He half-heartedly returned the smile and she stood to her feet and distanced herself from him a little bit, allowing him to take his true seat and start gathering his things to leave.

"Se-see you tomorrow…"

After a few seconds of her not moving an inch, Naruto glanced at her and laughed uncomfortably.

"Hyuuga..?" He asked. "Was there anything else?"

I can't move… I can't leave yet…! As Hinata battled with her inner demons, Naruto fretted over how the situation was similar to when news anchors try to end the live broadcast but the cameras won't turn off.

"I…" She clutched her bag closer to her chest and took a deep breath. "I-I…" I have to give them to him now, this is my only chance!

"Hm?" She felt her hands beginning to shake as she struggled to find her courage to speak. Come on…! Come on! Come... On!

"I-I know… It's… Pr-probably… N-nothing special… T-t-o-to y-o-you…" She began, hiding her face behind a bowed head. "B-bu-but…"

She quickly pulled out the chocolate and thrust her hand forward to give it to him.

"H-ha-ha-happy Valentine's Day!" She squeezed out, her voice cracking what felt like ten million times. Naruto's eyes widened substantially as he watched her trembling figure hold out the chocolate she'd made on her own to him, and he froze.

"Oh… Thank you..." He reached out and she quickly dropped the bag in his hand, turning to escape from her embarrassment. I did it… I can't believe I did it!

Without hearing anything from him, she reached out and turned the handle, only to find that the door was locked. Wha… Why won't it open!?

She tried opening it again and again, but to no avail. How embarrassing… I was going to make my grand exit… But why is it even locked in the first place…? Just as she was about to give up, a shadow extended over her and she turned around to see Naruto towering over her. He placed a hand on the wall behind her and rested his weight on it, his eyes calm and collected like only the ocean could be.

"Say," He began while leaning down towards her, his surreptitious eyes capturing her gaze. His breath cascaded upon her face as he spoke in a low voice, a near whisper. "Would you like to walk to the station with me..?" Walk to the… Station with him..?

"U-Uhm…" She felt her heart pounding wildly in her chest but tried to keep her cool to mirror his own demeanor while hoping to whatever god there might be that he couldn't hear her heart. It felt like time stood still as they stared silently into each other's eyes, the distance between them so small that she could feel his body heat mingling with hers. As the tension between them grew, so did her heart rate. If I don't speak… I might faint…

"Okay…" Her voice was so weak, it only came out as a whisper. Naruto smirked in response, his eyes giving nothing away as he took a step back from her and returned to his desk. He put his bag up on the desk, picked the paper that she'd been holding up and placed it back in the box and packed some documents into his bag. Hinata remained still in her spot, watching him with only her eyes as he moved around at his own pace. He… He was so close… I could almost taste his breath…

She shut her eyes tightly, trying to calm her thoughts. He's… He's so hot… I can't find the words to describe how, but I'm so… So very attracted to him.

"Okay," He said, throwing his bag over his shoulder. "Let's go."

He calmly unlocked the door and stepped out of the cozily lit offices into the darkness of the hallway. Hinata followed closely behind him. All she could think about was how close he'd gotten to her and how attractively inviting he smelled. Hinata wasn't the type of girl to go crazy about guys, she'd never even had a boyfriend! She didn't know what it was like to hold a guy, how their bodies felt compared to a woman's - she didn't even know if it was different. Her heart pounded loudly in her chest as she continued to think, her body growing increasingly warm with every passing thought. She imagined what it would've been like if he'd wrapped his arms around her, if he brushed her hair aside from her neck and kissed her below her ear. She felt the area grow hot and with one hand captured the hair that fell next to her face and pulled it behind her ear. She blushed upon touching the skin she imagined he'd kiss.

Wait, what am I thinking? I know I'm attracted to him, but imagining these things… It's not like me to think like this… It's not like me at all..! Am I… in love? I wouldn't say he's a crush anymore… I like him more than that… But I'm also attracted to… The way he looks…

She watched his figure as he walked, his hands in his pockets and a deft, confident manner to his movements. How could I ever compete with all the girls at the school to get his undivided attention for the rest of my life…

The school had a different atmosphere when it was dark. After the janitor had left, all the lights were turned off and only certain people had the keys to get in and out. Naruto was apparently one of those people. It was hard to see without the lights being on, but they shone their phone flashlights and walked in the direction they both knew would lead them out eventually. Hinata bowed her head nervously, trying to think of something to say. If only I could make conversation flow with him… If only I knew what to say…

She glanced at him, but he didn't glance back. I wonder what he's thinking… Maybe he thinks it's troublesome that I gave him chocolate… Maybe he thinks I'm just like everyone else…

They continued like that until they reached the somewhat empty station. She hadn't even bothered to check her phone, she would worry about that when they parted.

"W-well then… S-See you tomorrow, Uzumaki-sensei." Hinata hesitantly spoke her words of goodbye and started to leave, but as soon as she turned around, she felt a strong hand take hold of her arm to stop her dead in her tracks.

"How do you…" His voice trailed off, but he quickly regained its strength. "How do you want me to interpret your gift?" Her eyes widened in shock and she slowly turned her head towards him. In his eyes she could see something that resembled hope and perhaps a bit of uncertainty, but the conversation with Yoshioka after school replayed in her mind.

A relationship between a teacher and a student isn't allowed. It's not happening.

I don't dare believe that I'm anyone special to Uzumaki-sensei… I don't wanna be rejected like she was.

"As…" She started. "As a thank you for taking care of me when I was sick." She put on the best smile she could muster and looked at him. I don't want to be a nuisance to him. If I say it's a confession, I… I don't know what he would think. But even though she'd played the safe card, she wished she'd gathered up the strength to admit the real reason behind them.

"Are you… Sure?" He let go of her arm and stood straight, clearly thinking about something. "But you really didn't have to go out of your way to thank me like that." She couldn't read his expression, but she could tell that the hope had faded from his face. He rather appeared... Disappointed.

"How… How did you want to… I-interpret them…?" She whispered, but not loudly enough for him to catch what she said. He took a step closer and leaned down to her level.

"What did you say?"

"H-How would you have… Wanted to i-interpret them..?" She repeated nervously. Is that too straightforward..? Naruto seemed surprised by her words. He took a moment to think, then shook his head.

"Nevermind. I just wanted to know." He turned to enter the ticket gate for his line and raised a hand to wave goodbye. "Thanks for waiting for me, Hyuuga. I'll see you tomorrow."

Wait…

That's not…

What I wanted to say…

A fleeting tinge of hope that the note in her locker was from him passed through her mind as she shut her eyes tightly and pressed her trembling lips nervously together. Please, let me get the words out..! I don't care if he rejects me, I want him to know how I feel!

She watched his disappearing figure as he passed through the ticket gate alone and suddenly dug her nails into her bag as she gathered herself. Her whole body tensed as she took a deep breath and called out.

"As… A confession!" She called after him.

"Huh?" He stopped walking but had no time to act before she continued.

"I-I gave them to you… Because I like you!" She smiled brightly, then quickly turned on her heels and hurried through her own ticket gate before he could have the chance to react.

"What..?" He spun around only to see her running off. "Hey, wait!"

Hinata giggled to herself as she ran down the stairs to the platform, not once turning around.

I told him… I really told him.


A bit of a longer chapter but now the tension is really starting to build up! How will Naruto respond to Hinata's words? What did the other note read? Why is Sakura acting weird?

Next chapter will reveal a lot so stay tuned!

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