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13 March 2007 @ 11:18 pm
[AIM RP] Relationships and Food [Hana and Hinata]  
[[Wow, I so lose. This is from almost two weeks ago, I just got totally distracted and forgot to post it. So sorry Hana.]]

It'd been a long, though reasonably pleasant day at work. Hana changed out of her clinic lab coat and into more comfortable clothes before heading two doors down the hall to apartment seven and knocking on the door. This particular appointment seemed overdue to her, and since her brother seemed to be having a hard time bucking up, Hana decided to do the job for him. She knew Kiba well enough to know that he didn't mean to cause Hinata any trouble, but still, the younger girl felt his absence, and it bothered Hana to no end.

Silently she waited with her hands in her pockets, rocking on the balls of her feet. Hopefully this would go over well and things could work out in the end for everyone involved.

Hinata paused when she heard the knock, frowning thoughtfully. It wasn't often they received visitors, and no one had said anything.

"Just a minute."

She put the vegetables she'd been peeling into a bowl and dried her hands, then went to open the door, not quite able to hide her surprise at who stood there. She hadn't talked to the older woman in a long while--it had felt too awkward to do so, and Hinata couldn't think of any reason Hana would be here now.

...It was nice to see her though.

"Hello. Please come in..."

"Thank you," said Hana as she entered the apartment. "How've you been, hon? I haven't seen you in forever. You're looking well, though." She smiled at Hinata and brushed her hair over her shoulder.

"I hope I haven't come at a bad time. You're not busy, are you?"

"Ah, no, I was just starting supper though. Would you like to have some?" It was good to have something to focus on to stave off her embarrassment and nervousness. Seeing Hana was a nice surprise, but Hinata couldn't help worrying.

Had something happened to Kiba?

"A-and I've been well. How have you been?"

"I've been doing great, really. Can't complain." She looked perfectly at ease, too; confident and relaxed. Hana hoped she wasn't giving off bad vibes, since she wanted Hinata to be comfortable too. "And if you're offering me food, I'd be happy to accept, but only if you let me help you cook?"

Hinata smiled and nodded. "If you want to you can." Usually she was adamant about guests not helping, but with Hana she knew that would be pointless. They were stubborn, Inuzuka were.

She returned to the counter and took the vegetables back out of the bowl, handing some to Hana. "I'm making soup, so I just need them cut up. ...Is there anything special you'd like in it? I don't have much but I'd be happy to do what I can."

Hana shook her head, pulling an elastic band out of her pocket and tying her hair in a loose ponytail before accepting the vegetables from Hinata. "I'm not a picky eater," she said. "I'm sure that whatever you have already will be great." She quickly located a knife and a spare cutting board, and began to slice the vegetables.

"So tell me, how've you been? It's been a while since I've heard from you."

"Alright." Hinata started in on the vegetables once she was sure Hana had everything she needed, but paused at the question. "...I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch. I just...didn't know what to say." She started chopping the vegetables again, paying a little too much attention to the task.

She really needed the distraction.

"But I've been well. Working and school. A-and I've made some friends so...it's not too bad." The sound of the knife hitting the cutting board seemed loud. "...Things are fine with you...?"

Hana nodded. "Yeah, things are good. Work is the same old, and everything at the apartment is pretty peaceful, too." She glanced at the nervous girl and smiled sympathetically. "I'm glad you've been making friends. It's always nice to have people you can talk to and spend time with." Like Shuuhei, for example, but Hana hadn't come to talk about her own love life. However, she knew that the subject of her brother was probably a pretty touchy thing, and she didn't want to be indelicate when broaching the topic.

"So, where do you work now?" Hana asked, thinking that perhaps she should have planned this out more beforehand.

"...The same place. I haven't found anywhere better yet, and it works for while I'm in school." Not that she'd really been looking for any other place to work. Her job didn't pay very well, but it wasn't terrible. It would make due until graduation. "And it's close by, so I don't have to worry about transportation or walking alone."

Although she did miss the way Kiba used to walk her. It had made the walk much more comfortable.

"H-how are the dogs? They're still here, right...?"

"Oh yes. Still getting fur all over the place. Though, slightly less since Akamaru's been gone." There. The subject had officially been broached, though perhaps that was more indirect than she'd intended. Ah well, Hana figured she'd just try and gauge Hinata's reaction and go from there.

The mention of Akamaru made her pause in the middle of cutting up a carrot, and even though she tried to hide her reaction Hinata was sure the other girl had caught it. She noticed things too easily.

"I-I see. That's true, I guess." Focus on something else. "...How are they doing, anyway? I haven't really heard anything." She hoped she didn't sound as hurt as the words made her feel. It had been a long time, it shouldn't still matter.

Hana had to refrain from sighing deeply, frustrated with her brother and the situation as a whole. "Kiba... he's doing okay. He's actually taken an internship at the clinic where I used to work back home." She shared a weak smile with Hinata as she continued to chop the veggies. Hana couldn't imagine why Kiba hadn't called or written her, but then again, she knew her brother wasn't that great at keeping up correspondence with people.

After a brief moment of silence, Hana finally finished cutting the vegetables she'd been given. "Um... do you want to talk about it?" How lame did that sound? Good job, Hana. "I know that me being Kiba's older sister makes things kind of awkward, but I still am glad to listen to you and I'll give you whatever advice I can."

Hinata didn't say anything for a few moments, just focusing on finishing up with her vegetables. When she finally set down the knife she still didn't look over at Hana, though.

"...There's not...really anything to talk about, though." That was more apparent now than ever. His few letters had become so sparse she hadn't even known what he was up to. Telling herself he was simply too busy just wasn't helping anymore, even if it was true. "...But thank you." She forced a smile and looked over at Hana. "I'm fine, really."

The soup wouldn't be if she didn't get moving, though, so she grabbed the bowl and proceeded to toss all the cut vegetables into it. Giving herself something to do usually helped.

This time, Hana didn't hold back the sigh. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. Really, I am. Kiba doesn't think sometimes, and I know he's hurt your feelings." This didn't seem to be going as well as Hana had initially hoped, but things could still be salvaged.

"Look," she said, "Kiba might not be coming back for a while but I'm absolutely sure that he would want you to be happy, okay?"

"...That's what Ino said, too." She looked away, picking up the bowl and putting it in the sink, rinsing the vegetables off. "B-but I am happy. Really. So...you don't have to worry."

What she'd said about him not thinking, though... Hinata knew Hana meant it as a reassurance, to let her know that Kiba hadn't just ditched her, but it still hurt. It didn't matter that Hinata knew the words were the truth--goodness knew Kiba didn't have the best attention span--but that didn't matter.

"...Thank you for telling me, though. About what he's doing. I'm glad he has a job in a field he likes."

Even though Hinata assured Hana that she was happy, the older woman wasn't sure if that was entirely true. Hinata didn't really seem happy, though Hana didn't know her well enough to really be a great judge of her moods. "It gets better, hon, I promise. I'm speaking from personal experience here. It hurts at first when someone goes away, but it will get better."

Hana gave Hinata a solid pat on the back and firmly dropped the subject. If Hinata wanted to talk about it more, she would, and it wasn't like she lived too far away. "So, what else goes in the soup?" Hana asked, glancing around the kitchen.

That the older woman had dropped the subject made Hinata very happy. She wasn't good with those kinds of conversations, and while she felt guilty she couldn't help being relieved. Maybe someday she'd be able to talk about this more easily, but not right then, when her chest felt tight and she wanted to go curl up on her bed.

"Ah, I was thinking some chicken... I only have boneless, though, so I can't make a very good soup like you can with the bones..." She wasn't the best cook, not by far, but she was at least trying. And Neji was always so busy she thought he deserved something good to eat when he came back. Now that Hana was there she was sure the meal would turn out just fine.

Hana sincerely hoped she hadn't made the situation worse, but she was glad she'd been able to say what she'd needed to say. When Hinata was ready, they would talk, but Hana knew that those things tended to take time. In the meantime, she'd help Hinata cook dinner.

"Boneless is fine... have you ever had dumplings or rice in chicken soup? That would help thicken the broth some."

"Ah...no. I'm not very good at making dumplings..." And she hadn't even thought of rice, which surprised her. Growing up in her family that should have been one of her first thoughts. "We could put rice in it."

She opened a cupboard and pulled out the bag, setting it down on the counter.

"Could you measure out however much you think we'd need? I'll start on the chicken."

"Sure thing. I'll have to make you some chicken and dumplings sometime, though, I think you'd like it." Hana poured out rice into a cup before adding it into the water and stirring it in with the vegetables. "That looks like it'll turn out great. I'm sure your... cousin, right? I'm sure he'll like it."

"Cousin, yes." Hinata took the chicken out of the fridge and started to cut it up, feeling better now that the conversation had turned more towards less upsetting things. She knew she was being a coward for backing out of the earlier conversation, but right then she didn't think she could handle it.

"And I'd like to have some. You're a very good cook, Hana. Your room must be full of good food, between you and Mr. Chouji."

Hana shrugged, fiddling with some of the spices that had been set out on the counter. "I do okay, but Chouji is really the best. When I was growing up, I would help Papa cook, 'cause Mama hated to, for the most part, and would burn things sometimes." She grinned at the memory as she added some seasonings to the soup. "I took over most of the cooking when Papa died."

"Ah..." Hinata finished with the chicken and looked back over at Hana. "I took over my mother's garden when she died. Not quite as useful a thing to learn, I think." She smiled softly though. "But I like it." She turned back to the chicken, made sure all the fatty parts were cut off, and tossed the meat into the soup mixture.

"Hopefully dinner won't take too long. I'm glad I could make something for you after all the help you've given me."

"Gardening can be fun, but I like potted plants just as well. Fewer weeds to pull, you know?" Hana put the lid on the pot and set the timer on the stove. "There, that shouldn't take too long."

She gave Hinata another friendly pat on the back before washing her hands. "And it's like I said, if you ever wanna talk, I'm just down the hall. I live with a bunch of boys, so I don't get to have 'girl-talk' time much, you know?"

Hinata laughed softly. "I would think Ino would talk with you a lot." Goodness knew that Ino was Hinata's source of girl-talk. Without her friend the shy girl didn't think she'd even know how to talk about any of those things.

Not that she was particularly good at it, but still.

"I might stop by; I like talking with you."

Hana laughed too. "Ino's been a life saver a few times. She's my beauty-sensei, if you will. Sometimes the girl-talk turns into boy-talk, if you know what I mean." Not that Ino's boy-talk hadn't helped a few times, but facts were facts. Then again, most girl-talk was about boys anyway, but Hana figured that was splitting hairs.

"Feel free to drop by anytime you like. The dogs and I are always happy to see you."

She knew all about Ino's talks. The one from Valentine's popped back into her mind and she blushed darkly. That was something she was still trying to figure out and she didn't really want to trouble Hana about.

"...I'd like that. I've missed the dogs, although Snuggles hasn't." Her cat had always been wary when Hinata came home with dog scent trailing behind. But as much as Hinata loved her cat, she did love those dogs, too. It was sad she'd missed out on visiting.

"I guess that's why Snuggles never liked me, huh? I probably smell more like a husky than a human, I bet." Chuckling, Hana nodded and leaned back against the counter. While their little talk hadn't gone quite as well as she'd hoped, it'd gone better than expected and, really, that's all she could ask for. She was glad to sit and have a nice dinner with Hinata, and to talk about kittens and dogs.
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