Here's the fic for the winner of my poll :) I was surprised to see Genma winning, but hey, I'm not complaining. I love that senbon-chewing man lots with Hinata.
Anyways, the poll's still going on. I think I'm just going to do the top three or so winners. And well... this idea suddenly popped up, so I wrote it, hah. Well, I do hope you guys enjoy :)
It was strange, thought Hinata, how she kept running into the same brown-haired, older man everywhere she went today.
She'd first ran into him at the coffee shop, when she was starting her usual morning routine. He'd handed her the hot French vanilla cappuccino she'd ordered, and she'd given him the exact amount of cash and change. Their fingers had lightly touched during the exchange, sending a static shock through out her hand. "Sorry," he'd muttered.
Their next meeting had been at the convenience store during her lunch break. She hadn't packed a bento that day, due to her running later than usual, so she was forced to buy a meager meal of store onigiri and canned green tea. She'd been surprised to reach out her hand for the last pack of onigiri, only for her hand to bump into another, darker hand. Light brown eyes connected with her own pale ones, and both instantly recognized the other. Withdrawing his hand awkwardly, he coughed and let her take the pack, grabbing a bag of potato chips instead. Feeling extremely guilty, she'd run after him after paying for the meal and handed him two of the four rice balls. He gave her a gruff "Thank you," and handed her the half-eaten bag of chips before leaving.
She'd spent the rest of her work day thinking about the way his eyes had widened in surprise when she handed him the two rice balls and how the long toothpick he'd been chewing on had bobbed up and down with his two simple words.
After finishing with work, she decided not to take the bus since it was such a pretty day out, and instead walked home. Somewhere along the way, the clouds darkened and thunder started to rumble in the sky. Even with her quick pace, she hadn't managed to avoid the drizzling rain that eventually turned into a massive downpour. Taking off her heels, she'd run through the empty streets with her arms clutched protectively around her purse. Not being able to see through the sheets of rain, she was shocked when she ran smack into a solid and warm frame. Falling onto her bottom ungracefully, she'd been surprised to look up, only to feel no rain falling on her.
A blue umbrella held over her fallen frame, a familiar hand grabbed her own and pulled her up with surprising strength. Caramel brown eyes widened when they saw her face, but he didn't say anything. Keeping his hand in hers, he pulled her gently down the street. Not knowing where they were going, but inexplicably trusting this man, she'd let him lead her.
And somehow, mused Hinata, they were now sitting across from each other in an empty coffee shop as they waited for the storm to die down.
"T-thank you, for helping me up," she said quietly.
The man's honey brown eyes stared into hers before he sighed and ran a hand through his dripping sandy-brown hair. "No problem."
A cold draft blew at her from the vent, making her shiver. The man noticed this and stood up. He shrugged off his semi-dry vest and threw it at her before walking behind the coffee counter. "You like French vanilla right?"
Hinata nodded uncertainly as she poked the vest lightly. "It's for you to wear so you don't catch a cold." Hinata jumped, not knowing that he had been watching her this whole time.
The man chuckled at her reaction, making Hinata blush in embarrassment. Hesitantly, she took off her wet business suit and set it on the table before turning her attention to the forest green vest. She put it on slowly and marveled at how well it kept heat, even with it slightly soaked.
She sat there a few moments, listening to the sounds the man made as he worked behind the counter, and reveled in the warmth and smell of coffee in the making. Before she knew it, the man was setting a cup in front of her, the heat from the coffee sending lazy spirals in the air.
"Thank you," she murmured and reached into her purse to grab some change.
The man watched her with a confused look on his face. "What are you doing?"
Hinata blushed under his gaze and answered. "I… I'm paying for it?" It came out as a question for some reason.
The man rolled his eyes before raising his own cup to his lips. "You don't have to. It's free, on the house, given to you out of the goodwill of my heart," he said, almost sarcastically.
Blushing darker at his tone, she managed to pull out a few coins and set it on the table. "I want to. It's only right, after all." Having morals and justice pounded into her her whole life, she had to pay, had to give him something in equal exchange.
The man grabbed the coins and threw it in the trash can beside him. Hinata's eyes widened and her jaw dropped in shock. "I'm not accepting it." He focused his brown eyes on her, a fixed look on his face. "I told you it was free."
Amazed by his brash action, Hinata could only sit there mutely, not comprehending this strange man in front of her. What kind of man would turn down money?
"Your coffee's getting cold."
Hinata looked at the man and his nonchalant face before looking down at the cooling cup of coffee in front of her. Deciding that, maybe for once in her life she'd forget about manners and etiquette, she grabbed the cup and drank a large mouthful. It went down, scalding her lips, burning her tongue, inflaming her throat. She placed the cup down quickly and placed a hand to her chest as she coughed harshly, her eyes watering from the intense heat.
Loud chuckles in front of her interrupted her coughing fit. Hinata looked up, feeling uncharacteristically bitter, and stared at the man who would actually laugh at a person was coughing in front of him.
The man caught her indignant glare and bit his lip in an attempt to calm himself. His laughing died down, but his lips continued to twitch upward before he would school his features, only for his lips to curve upward again. Hinata pouted and just stuck to holding the warm cup in her hands.
It was quiet for a few minutes as the two sat there, both not having anything to say. Hinata kept herself occupied by listening to the storm rumble and the way it sent booming cracks through out the area. She had been staring out the wide glass windows for a while when she suddenly felt eyes on her. Turning her head slightly, she looked at the sandy-haired man and caught his eyes, a curious look in them. Hinata raised an eyebrow lightly, wondering why he was staring at her.
The man grinned at her questioning look before he opened his mouth to speak. "I thought you'd be a jumper or something."
"What?" asked Hinata, not too sure she had heard his words right.
He chuckled before speaking again. "Most girls jump when they hear thunder. When the thunder claps, you, however, hardly bat an eye. It's interesting, considering your... image."
Hinata pinched her eyebrows together. "I'm not quite sure I get what you mean."
"You look like the type of girl who'd be scared easily," he said with a shrug of his shoulders. Hinata frowned slightly. Was that what others thought as well? "But I guess you're not," he continued on. "It's almost like you enjoy it."
Startled by his surprisingly accurate conclusion, Hinata looked at his inquiring gaze. Picking her words carefully, Hinata spoke. "I... guess you could say that. I do enjoy the rain..." She bit her lip before continuing, wondering if he'd think she was weird. "But I like rain storms the best."
The man blinked slowly before speaking. "You do?" he asked in a curious tone.
Prompted by the curiosity in his voice, Hinata nodded. "Yes, I do. It's loud and... comforting... in a way. It's like... when it storms so loudly, I feel a bit more at ease with myself." She said this slowly, quietly. She had never admitted this to anyone before. Never. It was strange how she could say such things to a stranger, but... this whole day she had felt such a... connection with him... for some strange reason.
The man considered this for a little before smiling crookedly. "You must have had an unhappy childhood then."
Hinata looked away from the man's smiling face, not finding it in herself to deny what he just said.
"You did?" he asked quietly.
She licked her lips nervously, not knowing how to respond. The man didn't say anything, didn't ask anything more of her... and maybe that was why her lips started to move, started to tell him about her unhappy life.
"I... I was born into an ancient and proud clan. I was born... the heiress." She took in the man's surprised face as he jumped slightly. "I was a disappointment as an heiress. I coudn't hold up my head proudly, couldn't command naturally. I was a failure, a reject... My family couldn't stand it. My father..." Hinata closed her eyes tightly before continuing. "My father... was the most disappointed. He forgot about me when my younger sister was born... and she became everything I wasn't. She was strong, smart, intelligent, proud. And I disappeared into the background." Her eyes opened and she took a sip of the cooling coffee.
A stifling silence settled in the empty and dark room. Hinata sipped slowly, wondering what the brown-haired man was thinking. She was surprised when she heard him suddenly speak.
"But you're here now, aren't you?"
It was said in a curious voice, a light tone. Hinata stared at the man, stared at the way he was currently smiling softly at her, his eyes a light caramel brown.
"I don't see someone in the background at all. All I see is a confident young woman who's gone through horrible times... and is now a beautiful and stunning person."
Hinata's lips parted slightly at his words. She blushed when she realized that he had called her beautiful. No one had ever called her that before... She raised her eyes to look at him and saw him grinning at her. Feeling a sudden confidence flood her, she stood up and bowed her head.
"Thank you," she said quietly as she faced the floor. "Thank you so much."
"H-hey, you don't have to do that," he said in a shaky voice. Hinata raised her head to look at him and saw him half-rised out of his seat, a scared expression on his face.
Hinata felt a giggle rise to her lips. She tried to stifle them, but it was too late. She raised a hand to cover them, but stopped when she heard the man laughing with her. The two laughed together for a while, until their stomachs couldn't take it anymore.
Sitting back into her seat, she heard the man sit down as well. "Haven't had such a good laugh in a while," she heard him say.
Smiling softly, she nodded her agreement. A comfortable silence was drawn out between the two. Hinata marveled at how comfortable she felt with this man. Normally it took a while for her to adjust to new people, but with him... She smiled when she remembered their earlier encounters today. Their brief encounters had allowed her to see what a good person he was, how nice he was. Instinctively, she had just learned to trust him.
"Hey, it looks like the storm's dying down."
Hinata looked up, startled, and stared outside the windows. It was true; there was only a light drizzle of rain and the loud thunder claps had disappeared.
"I guess," said Hinata hesitantly. "I should get going..."
The man looked at her, a startled expression on his face, before he nodded slowly. "Yeah, you're right." He pursed his lips, reminding Hinata of his toothpick from earlier, before he moved out of his seat. He went behind the counter and grabbed his blue umbrella and handed it out to her. "Here."
Hinata stared at it before shaking her head quickly. "No, I'll be fine, really!" The man ignored her and walked up to her and grabbed her hand, instantly making her blush, and forced her hand to grab the umbrella.
"Take it," he said with a grin on his face. "You can just come by to get coffee tomorrow morning and drop it off."
Feeling a slow smile spread across her face, Hinata gripped the handle and nodded. "Thank you..." Her mouth dropped slightly. The man's eyebrow quirked, and he sent her a questioning look. Hinata smiled before answering. "I... I don't know your name."
The man looked shocked for a second before he laughed. "We haven't even introduced each other, huh?" He chuckled before pointing to himself. "I'm Shiranui Genma, owner of Lotus Cafe." He looked at her with a slight tilt to his head. "And you are?"
Hinata smiled at his antics before replying. "Hyuuga Hinata. It's nice to meet you, Shiranui-san."
The man shook his head and pointed to himself again. "Genma, and that's it."
Hinata nodded. "Alright... Genma."
Genma grinned and ruffled her slightly dry hair. "Good job. I'll see you tomorrow then, Hinata."
Blushing at the way her name rolled off his tongue so easily, she stepped out the door. "Good bye, Genma."
Hinata stepped into the brightly lit cafe and heard the bell tingle, signaling to its owner that she was here.
"Hmm? Oh, good morning, Hinata," said Genma as he wiped off the counter. "I think we're going to be busy today. Cafes are a popular place to go to during these holidays."
Hinata smiled. "Yes, I know." She said as she reached her hand into her bag and rummaged around.
Genma sent her a questioning look before turning his attention to some new customers. Hinata smiled when she found what she was looking for. Wrapping her hands around it, she pulled out the small, delicately wrapped box and placed it on the counter.
"Right, one decaf coming right up," said Genma as he turned away from the customer. His eyes landed on the small box and a sly grin made its way to his lips. "Oh? What's this, Hinata?"
Hinata blushed and pushed it towards him. "Happy Valentine's Day, Genma."
The man picked it up and tapped it against his chin, a thoughtful expression on his face. "You know," he began, "I think this is a confession." His lips pulled into a small grin. "Oh my, Hinata, I didn't know you felt that way about me."
Hinata looked away from the man's face, feeling her face burning, not finding words to deny it... or tell him he was right.
"Well, then, I accept."
She turned to look at him and was surprised to see his caramel eyes staring into hers. "Thank you, Hinata," he said, a sincere smile on his lips.
It was strange, thought Hinata as she stared into his eyes, how a few short encounters with a person had allowed such a beautiful friendship to grow. And now... it was growing into something more.
So tell me, what'd you guys think? Oh, and to some who may be confused, after the line, it's a few months after they've met. Yeah. :)