Author's Note: Oddly enough, this was one of my favorite chapters so far. Partly because it's longer and it was such a relief to write after having to keep all the other chapters so short and trimmed. (Remember every fifth chapter will be 1,000 words.) Also I think I liked it because I find it amusing to take characters from the original Naruto series and see how they fit into this alternate universe I created. I wanted to post this chapter today for all the people finishing up Nanowrimo. Good luck! And congrats for those of you who have already finished!
Chapter Summary: Hinata knew when she found him that he was the one for her.
Prompt: #48 footsteps (50scenes)
Word Count: 1000 words
Hinata smiled when she heard the car pull into the driveway and honk the horn once. She drained the rest of her sweet tea and put the empty glass into the sink to rinse out later. "I'll be out in a minute," she called out the open window.
She could hear a car motor running but no response from the driver. Hinata grabbed her purse and walking stick and headed outside. When Hinata reached the end of the sidewalk, she waited. She smiled when she heard Shikamaru open the door.
He grunted a reply and shut the door once she was safely inside. She waited until he climbed back into the driver's seat before speaking again. "They told me it's past Nockingham. How long of a drive do you think it will be?"
"Close to twenty minutes or so," he said pulling back onto the road.
The first ten minutes passed in comfortable silence. Shikamaru didn't seem to be much of a talker and Hinata didn't want to impose on the man. The last time he had taken it upon himself to help her out and show her around town, the locals at the diner started discussing his love life – a fact she gleefully related to him. Shikamaru took the ribbing good-naturedly, but she hoped it wouldn't cause any confusion for his actual girlfriend.
"How's the house?"
"You were right," she said with a careless shrug, "it needs a lot of work."
"Do you need the names of a few contractors?"
"I made a few phone calls already. One will be coming out tomorrow. He said he would take a look around and ballpark an estimate for me."
"You know most people have the construction done on the house before they move in."
Hinata laughed, "What can I say, I live to be different."
The scoff she heard could have been a laugh but she wasn't sure. She smiled in return anyway. In truth, she wouldn't have been able to call the construction place ahead of time. Gathering information about her mother's place was hard enough, managing to gather information without alerting anyone to her plans was infinitely harder.
She had wanted to confide in Neji about her plans but feared his reaction. Not to mention, she didn't want to put him in line with her father's wrath. Hinata loved her father but he had always been a hard, imposing man. She didn't want Neji to face his rage if she could prevent it.
So Hinata worked alone. Slowly she managed to acquire the necessary papers to prove ownership over the house and prepared things so that when she did move, everything could be taken care of on short notice. The problem was Hinata hadn't planned on making the move though for another few months.
Her father had planned on traveling to Germany after the holiday season had ended; she had hoped to sneak away then after one last chance to spend time with her family. Then her father's trip was rescheduled. Not wanting to risk losing the opportunity, Hinata moved up her plans.
Her father would be home by now though and would have discovered her absence. The question remained, how would he react?
Hinata doubted he would permit her to live outside the Manor. He had too much pride to allow it. Ever since she went blind, he kept her hidden from the world. In the world's eyes Hiashi's daughter no longer existed. Hinata went from being an heir to large pharmaceutical company to a wraith bound within the walls of her home. Few knew of her existence and no one was permitted to speak of it.
Hinata felt the car slow to a stop. She smiled gratefully as Shikamaru opened her door. "It shouldn't take more than an hour," she reminded, "for this one, I remembered to call ahead."
She could practically feel the man roll his eyes at her dry remarks and the thought made her lips twitch into a smile. She unfurled her walking stick and made her way to the front office. The receptionist said it would just be a few minutes wait and directed her to one of the lounge chairs. Sure enough, a few minutes later she heard the click of heels against the tile floor approaching her.
"Yes," she replied standing.
"I'm Hana," the woman said, "we spoke over the phone."
"It's nice to meet you," Hinata said reaching out her hand. The hand she shook was large and firm. She could feel faint callouses on her palm. Hinata wondered if the woman was an athlete perhaps; most musicians had callouses higher on their fingers.
Hana led her down the hallway careful to keep a slow, easy pace. Hinata also noted all the hallways were wide and free of the typical debris like tables, rugs or decorations that cluttered most offices. She supposed it did make sense given their line of business. Mostly she appreciated the fact Hana seemed so comfortable in her presence. She simply talked to her like a person. There was no awkward hesitation while she searched for appropriate words. No concern about saying the wrong thing and offending her. Hana didn't treat her as an invalid. Hinata felt normal in her presence.
It was refreshing.
Normally it took months of companionship for people to truly feel at ease around her. And some people like her father never did.
"Here we are," Hana said stopping. "I have to ask, are you sure this is what you want?"
Hinata smiled. "Positive."
"Good, he deserves a good home," she said unlatching a door. "In that case, meet your new roommate."
A cold wet nose gently nudged her hand followed by a cautious lick. Hinata giggled and knelt down. She set her walking stick on the ground within easy reach and reached out her hands searchingly.
"Hello there," she cooed. When her hands brushed soft fur, she grinned. "It's so nice to finally meet you, Akamaru."