Disclaimer: I do not own any Naruto characters.

Timeline: Set roughly a year after the end of the first story arc.


Hinata stared at the eggs, salt, and sugar set out before her. She had seen Risako make this before, and always remembered it to turn out beautiful. But . . . when Hinata had test made it earlier that week it hadn't looked quite right. That was to say Risako was forced to buy a new skillet thanks to her. Hinata was still apologizing to her for that. And now, here she was with the new skillet and more than half a worry Risako should have bought two.

"Hinata, is there a problem?" Shino asked from his place at the table only a few feet away.

Her hands waved before her, quickly dismissing the notion. "I am fine, Shino-kun. It will . . . just be a few . . . few minutes."

It was supposed to be Shino, Kiba, and Akamaru joining her that day, but Kiba's mother required him to come home immediately after their training. He didn't say why. Which meant it was only Hinata, Shino, and the taunting food she was about to try and make. Well, nothing would happen until she tried.

She carefully cracked two of the eggs into a bowl and beat them. She glanced at the small recipe card Risako had left her. The sugar needed to be added while she beat the eggs. Hinata looked at the sugar bowl left out for her. She would really have to thank Risako for helping her prepare. But how much sugar was she supposed to add? The directions said three or four spoonfuls, but that simply didn't look like enough. Hinata always remembered this to be a very sweet dish, and there was a lot more sugar than just three or four spoonfuls per two eggs there. She would just, add a little more. It wouldn't hurt anything.

She carefully poured a little of the egg mixture onto the skillet and waited for it to start cooking. She was supposed to add it slowly, that much she remembered from the last time. After a minute had passed she was starting to get concerned. Why wasn't it cooking?

"Hinata," Shino said, pointing to the stove. "You need to turn it on."

Crimson embarrassment covered her pale face. It would help if the stove was on. She leaned down and turned the knob for the gas stove to light. She didn't cook often, so was fairly unfamiliar with it, but she remembered Risako saying not to turn the flame up too high. It wasn't lighting, though. Her blush grew brighter when she realized why: She had to turn all the way, then back down. Her fingers spun the knob completely to the left. There was a click and then . . .

Shino was standing behind her within a moment of the flames billowing out from beneath the skillet. Her hands flew in furiously in front of her face as she tried to shake the sudden burst from her eyes.

"Are you alright, Hinata?" he asked in serious concern. She felt him steady her and pull a chair out for her to sit.

"I am fine, really." And definitely knew never to do that again. "Please, Shino-kun, I am fine."

He looked like he normally did, idly bored, but she could tell he was still worried. She had learned how to read him long ago. She was about to smile and reassure him when a crackling sound filled her ears. The food!

Her feet couldn't bring her swift enough to the overheated skillet, in which the eggs had already begun sticking to. She had forgot to butter the pan also. Feeling even more like a failure than when she had ruined an entire skillet, Hinata turned the stove off and walked the unrecognizable mess to the trash.

"Cooking in a kitchen and over a camp fire are two different things. Many never learn one, and some fail at both. You can survive on missions. Here others cook for you. You shouldn't let it bother you too much."

A gentle smile graced her lips. Somehow Shino always knew what to say to help her. Still . . . "I was hoping to cook for everyone else for once, even though only you showed up, Shino-kun."

"Then you should," Shino replied, earning a confused look from the young Hyuuga. "I can help you since you are inexperienced."

Hinata was sure her father would have scolded her for how easily her shock filled her face, but Shino could cook?

Obviously she was right on her expression since Shino looked away a tinge of embarrassment crossing his face. "My mother insisted I learn."

Hinata felt her hope raise once again and couldn't help but fill the room with a light, warm laughter. "Thank you, Shino-kun."

He straightened up and took the skillet from her, heading to the sink to wash it. "Will you get some butter, Hinata? You will need it to keep the egg from sticking."

She grinned and hurried to retrieve the butter from the refrigerator. Shino wasted little time in cleaning and returning the skillet to the stove. He motioned for her to prepare the eggs again and carefully observed her. For some reason Hinata didn't feel as worried as she had when she was cooking just few minutes earlier. She was about to add the extra sugar when Shino stopped her.

"Too much and it won't cook properly. You need to add the salt also."

That was right. She had completely forgotten salt was a part of the recipe. Hinata lowered her head slightly as she beat the eggs, sugar, and salt together. Shino had already turned on the stove and melted the butter by the time she was ready to pour it in. She very carefully watched the cooking process, grabbing a pair of chopsticks to begin the folding. She was supposed to fold it over and then add more egg, repeating until all of it was used up. But as the chopsticks touched the thickened mixture it tore open and refused to turn into itself.

"You need to go slower, Hinata." Shino stepped up behind her and held his hand over her own, guiding the chopsticks in slow movements along the egg. Hinata felt her hand relax beneath his grip and her body almost leaning back against his. Almost. She felt stronger with him, surer. The only other time she had felt like that was when Naruto had called out for her. For some reason the realization made her blush return to color her cheeks a subtle pink shade.

He moved with her through the rest of the cooking, never pressing her movements, but always with them, making them swift and easy. When they lifted the finished product from the skillet, Shino finally released her to turn off the skillet and move back to his place at the table. This left Hinata with the task of cutting the dish, but she was simply happy it looked the way it was supposed to, and not like its burnt counterpart in the trash. She returned to the table with the food and two sets of chopsticks.

"Itadakimasu," Hinata called out in a quiet cheerfulness. Shino, in his way, merely nodded. They both took a small piece and tried out their cooking. It wasn't truly better than Risako's cooking, but to Hinata it was divine. She had actually made it right. Her gaze rose to find Shino watching her. There was a slight smirk on his face, one that showed he was proud she had not given up. She just needed a little help.