The weather had been awful the previous day. The ground was still muddy and soggy, mushy from the hard downpour the thunderstorm had let loose upon Konoha. The winds had managed to uproot several electricity poles throughout the city, and tree limbs dotted the streets like decorations.
So it was with great difficulty that Hinata managed to maneuver her way through the wreckage to
The only happy ones about this are the plants, Hinata thought somewhat begrudgingly. It was no easy feat, getting around numerous fallen branches and splashing through tons of puddles. Hinata's feet were soaked, and as she parked her bike y the side of the school and walked in, they squished and squelched against the ground with every step she took. And she took a lot of steps. Because, you know, short people need to.
Hinata, needless to say, was not in the most pleasant of moods that morning.
But once she walked inside the building, she felt her edginess ease slightly. The almost-regal appearance of the interior of the school -- high, Roman columns extending from floor to ceiling, newly-polished tiles, sleek, glass frames holding trophies and posters -- brought with it a sense of calm, despite the noise of hundreds of students echoing down the hallways and up the staircases. Hinata inhaled deeply, enjoying the moment, and then walked to find her locker, her feet squilching unceremoniously against the floor as she went.
It was after she had put her things away and gathered her materials for first period that the intercom clicked on.
"Hinata Hyuuga, please come to the office."
What...? She did not finish her thought, instead heading to the office.
Shizune, the secretary, waved her into the Principal's office, where Tsunade sat at her desk among piles of paper.
"Jiraiya tells me you haven't signed up for a booth for the Spring Fling yet."
Tsunade always was rather to-the-point. Hinata blinked, then swallowed. She had hoped no one would notice that she hadn' bothered to fill her name in on the sign-up sheets passes around in classes and during extra-curriculars...
"I--" she began. Tsunade raised a finger, effectively silencing her.
"This is serious! You do realize the Spring Fling is tomorrow? You've had two months now to have signed up, so there are no excuses," said the Principal. "Every student is expected to contribute in some way by volunteering their services. You are not an exception, Miss Hyuuga." Tsunade pulled paper down from th top of one of the piles on her desk. Hinata caught a quixk glance at it as she did so, and realized it was a sign-up sheet. "Jiraiya has informed me that the Farmers of America club booth has extra slots."
Hinata felt her stomach drop.
"Ah, I don't thin--"
"You are a member of Farmers of America, are you not?" asked Teunade sharply, cutting Hinata off easily.
Hinata gulped and nodded slowly.
Darn you, Naruto! Hinata thought. I'm only a member because you joined that stupid club!
"Then it's settled," said Tsunade, lifting a pen and scribbling Hinata's name on the sign-up sheet.
"Y-you want me to...?"
"Hinata," she said, "You're taking the first shift for the kissing booth."
To say that Hinata was upset was an understatement. In fact, she was utterly livid, but she knew better than to argue with the Principal. She wen through the rest of the day in a haze of anger and increasing dread.
She was going to do the Kissing Booth.
Ki. Ssing. Booth.
As in, a booth for kissing. She was going to have to kiss. She was going to have to kiss BOYS. Maybe girls, too, but she didn't want to think about that.
This was possibly the worst thing that could ever have happened to her. Even worse than when that one pig bit her hand. She cursed her involvement in her after-school farming club yet again.
Why couldn't Naruto have joined something normal like soccer or debate or something? she wailed to herself. She knew the answer, of course: He wasn't into those kinds of things. He was different.
And how she hated him for it. Right now, anyway.
The next day was Saturday. As soon as she woke up, Hinata let out a moan and turned to her alarm clock.
She had three hours until the booth opened.
She spent the first hour and a half getting ready: she showered, she ate, she did her hair, she painstakingly applied makeup (which she exclusively reserved for special and/or desperate situations; Hinata figured the latter applied) and she attempted to convince Neji to trade booths (it didn't work).
Then she hopped on her bike and made the journey to school, the butterflies in her stomach growing.
When she arrived at school, it was like an entirely different place. Moonwalks were EVERYWHERE, as were discarded shoes; intoxicating food smells mingled together as she walked through the crowds of people, making her mouth water longingly. Students manning game booths and shops yelled into the crowds, advertising amazing prizes and amazing prices. Hinata caught sight of Kiba sitting aloft a dunking booth, taunting those trying to knock him in; she couldn't help but smile when she notices he was already dripping wet. She saw Ino weaving a crown of flowers for a little girl who sat excitedly in a chair beside the blonde. Even Shikamaru was doing his part: he watched over a game of shoji, clearly acting as a judge. In the sky, kites were flying, balloons were swishing, and decorative lanterns were hanging.
Hinata's yes landed on Jiraiya, who was waving her down. She slowly walked towards him.
"Ah!" said the older man. "You're early! That's great, it means we can open up early!" Jiraiya grinned at her, unaware of Hinata's nervousness.
"I-I don't really feel comfortable doing this..." Hinata mumbled. Jiraiya waved his hand dismissively at her.
"Then don't do it next year," he said. "Follow me!"
Hinata would have made a break for it had her teacher not put an arm on her shoulder, guiding her to a nearby booth. It was decked out in bright colors, and a big, gaudy pair of lips sat atop the booth's roof. Jiraiya pointed to the stool inside.
"You just sit there and peck people, it's real simple. Just take their tickets and put em in the box by your feet." He led her inside and gestured; a simple wooden box sat below the desk-like structure of the booth. "No ticket, no kiss! Be sure to smile and thank them for coming!" With that, Jiraiya strode off, leaving a stammering and blushing Hinata behind.
She HATED that man.
But not as much as she hated her life at the moment.
She hesitantly slid onto the stool, nervously placing her hands on her lap.
Please, God, she prayed silently, Don't let any old men or creepy perverts come here!
Hinata sat like that for a good five minutes. She was almost relieved, but she knew it was probably only this way because no one had noticed the stall was open.
Sure enough, a freshman approached shortly after, his friends teasingly pushing him forward. Hinata felt her heart leap; he was holding a ticket!
She tried not to panic.
I don't want to kiss anyone! I still haven't had my first kiss yet, and I DON'T want to lose it to some fish who--
"Hey," said the kid, raising a hand and waving. Hinata, flustered as she was, managed to return the gesture. She plastered a smile onto her face.
"H-hello," she said.
"Look, here's the deal," said the kid, leaning onto the desk; Hinata instinctively leaned back in her stool. "My friends are too chicken to ask, but is it possible to reserve a kiss?"
"Uh-Uhm," she began. "I..." She shook her head. "I don't think so."
The kid laughed.
"Okay, thanks!" he said. "I was asking for a friend, is all."
Hinata doubted this, but said nothing as the boy retreated to his two giggling friends and tromped off.
"What, no line?"
Hinata started. She turned and saw a grinning Naruto, who had pink glitter in his hair for some inexplicable reason. She blushed.
"I-I didn't even sign up for this..." she mumbled, and then let out a frustrated squeal. "I don't wanna do this!"
"It's just a kiss," he said. He smirked mischievously. "And you know you can cheat, right?"
Hinata looked up at him, curious.
"Oh? How so?"
Naruto slid a ticket onto the desk.
"I'll demonstrate," he said. "I'll be the big, ugly pervert, and you can be you." Naruto cleared his throat, then spoke in a raspy voice. "Pucker up, pretty little girl!" He sucked in his cheeks and stuck out his lips, making kissing sounds, and Hinata laughed.
"S-So how do I g-get out of k-k-kissing you?" she asked.
"Turn at the last minute and make him kiss your cheek!" said Naruto excitedly. "Then send him off!"
Hinata's eyes widened.
"B-But I thought had to actually KISS pe-people," she said, pressing her fingers together nervously.
"Not if you don't wanna!" replied Naruto. "But kissing on the cheek is fine, right?" he asked. He leaned closer. "Try it!" he said, turning his face. Hinata could see the whisker marks on his cheeks.
She felt her face flush and quickly pecked him, then put her face in her hands.
"Th-that was em-embarrassing!" she cried. Naruto patted her head reassuringly.
"Aw, I'm not THAT bad-looking," he said jokingly. "Besides, you did it, didn't you? So now you can do that for everyone!"
Hinata looked up to thank him, but he was already running off somewhere else. He seemed to be in a hurry.
Pribably to see Sakura wherever she's at, she thought somewhat bitterly. She had no problem with Sakura, but she knew Naruto liked her. Had, anyway. According to Ino, who was gossip central, Naruto had told Sasuke that he only loved Sakura as a friend these days. Hinata doubted this, however; it wasn't that easy to just stop loving someone and move on.
She was brought out of her reverie by Kiba, who approached waving a ticket.
"So do I get a picture, too?" he asked teasingly, handing her the ticket. His hair was still wet; he must have just finished his shift at the dunking booth. Hinata shook her head, taking Kiba's and Naruto's tickets and dropping them in the little bucket.
"Just a kiss," she said. Kiba grinned at her.
"I would feel bad about making you do this, but the look on your face when you saw me holding that ticket was priceless," explained Kiba. "All right, smoochie-smoochie time!"
Hinata leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"Smoochie-smoochie," she said, smiling innocently at her friend. He blinked a few times, then howled in laughter.
"HINATA, YOU'RE HILARIOUS!" he yelled. "Wow, what a con artist!" He grinned again. "I LOVE IT!!! You're gonna disappoint a lot of guys!"
Hinata shrugged, blushing a bit.
"I don't want to kiss people for real..." she murmured. Kiba heard her and shrugged, still grinning.
"Hey, it's all good," he said. "No one's gonna hold it against you." He looked over his shoulder. Then raised an eyebrow. "So anyway, I'll see ya when you're done. I'm holding up the line!"
Hinata paled as Kiba walked off.
There WAS A line. A VERY long line. Consisting of many of her male classmates. She inwardly groaned, but outwardly smiled and waved them forward.
And so it was that she spent the next hour kissing young men on the cheeks and giggling at the more surprised and affronted faces.
Hinata waved to Choji, who waved back as he retreated into the crowds. So far, everything had gone well; her shift was almost over, and she still hadn't had a first kiss yet! She had never been more relieved in her life.
She looked up and saw the freshman and his friends standing near the booth again. She waved and tentatively motioned for them to come near. The boy who she had spoken to earlier approached.
"We're not in line," he said, "Just waiting for our friend to show up."
"Is he working a booth?" asked Hinata. The boy shook his head.
"No," he replied. "His shift was earlier. He worked the Princess booth."
Hinata had to wonder what boy in his right mind would sign up for something so flagrantly girly.
"Well," she said, "If he wants a kiss, he needs to show up soon." She glanced at the watch on her wrist. "Im done here in five minutes."
At that moment, a group of sophomore boys approached for kisses, and as she was occupied, Hinata did not keep track of the freshman and his friends.
When she had dealt with the sophomores and sent them on their way, she continued speaking.
"He's actually got about a minute now."
Hinata's eyes widened, and she glanced up to see Naruto smiling at her.
"O-oh," she stammered. "A freshman wa-was saving a spot in l-line for his friend, but he didn't show... A-And my shift is nearly over."
Naruto's smile grew.
"You mean Konohamaru?" asked Naruto. "Nah, he was just holding onto a ticket for me so I wouldn't accidentally spend 'em all."
"I... I don't follow..." she said. Naruto scratched the back of his neck.
"I'm the friend he was waiting for," he said.
Ah. That explained the glitter, then.
Hinata felt... Well, she couldn't even describe what she felt... It was a mixture of the walking-on-air feeling and the I-feel-like-a-piece-of-poo feeling: Naruto had been saving a ticket to use at her booth, but Naruto wanted a kiss!!! The thought both scared her and made her want to burst out in a happy song.
It didn't help that she realized she had unknowingly insulted his manliness just a short while ago.
Naruto slid the ticket his friend had saved for him onto the booth's desk.
"So... Pucker up!" he said jokingly.
She didn't know why she did it. It was almost like the puppet theory, as if she had no control over it, but it happened.
She leaned forward and missed him.
On the lips.
For several moments.
She had closed her eyes, but she was sure he wore a surprised expression. She felt like slapping herself, and quickly pulled away, ducking her head, eyes wide and trained on her fingers, which were for once not twiddling.
"Sorry," she blurted out. She felt her eyes watering. Why had she done something so stupid?! Now he would hate her, and oh God, he would HATE her--
Well. She had expected something along the lines of "Aaaah!" and "WHAT THE HELL," not "Wow." Was "Wow" even a good thing? It was definitely unexpected, so that probably meant it was a bad thing. Great. Just great.
"Sorry," she whispered, feeling a tear slide down her cheek. This was it. She knew it. He would never look at her again. She wouldn't blame him. After all, she had--
Something brushed her tear away. It took a moment to register that it was a finger. She felt herself trembling, and slowly lifted her chin.
Naruto was staring straight at her, concern written all over his face.
"Was it really that bad?" he asked, wiping more tears away; she hadn't felt them fall, but now they were streaming down her face.
He grinned and leaned in, kissing her.
It caught her completely unawares, and she was stunned for a moment before she melted. Into a pile of goo.
Naruto was kissing her.
Naruto was kissing her.
NARUTO WAS KISSING HER!!!
She kissed back.
After a few moments, they pulled apart. Hinata wiped her tears away, cursing her darned emotionalness, and then looked up at Naruto.
He was beaming.
She smiled back.
"Oops," she said sheepishly. "I wasn't supposed t-to give any freebies."
"You didn't," he replied. "Your shift's over."
"Oh," she responded. She silently dismounted from the stool and left the booth, joining Naruto.
He grinned mischievously and grabbed her hand, pulling her in for a hug.
After a sharp intake of breath, Hinata relaxed, hugging him back.
In her peripheral, she saw Kiba approaching.
"Whoa!" yelled her friend. "Get a room, you two!"
Hinata blushed and pulled out of Naruto's arms hastily. The blonde pouted.
"Way to ruin the mood, Kiba," he grumbled. Hinata giggled euphorically.
"It's fine," she said. Naruto shrugged, then turned excitedly to her.
"Have you grabbed anything to eat yet?" he asked. "'Cuz I haven't!"
Hinata shook her head.
"Then let's go!" said Naruto. He pulled her along with him, and smiling, she followed.
Thank you, God, for kissing booths!