Hello! This is a just a little...well, it's not very little...something I wrote over the last few days. It started as just a ramble, and eventually I got a plot thrown in there and everything! Just a little dose of ItaHina, rated teen since it doesn't get too nasty or anything. Hope you enjoy! (It's better than the summary, I promise...at least, I think it is!)
*EDIT* I have gone through and done some editing...nothing major, just some spot cleaning where necessary – changing some words, fixing grammar and spelling...no major changes, promise! I'm certainly not perfect when it comes to checking for stuff like this. I was ashamed at how much I missed...thank you to all who pointed things out, it really helped! I just feel bad I posted it while it was still so sloppy...I just wanted to get it out there! So, hopefully it's easier on your eyes now, and keep pointing out anything I missed! Thanks so much!
Summary: Hinata is a girl who needs a dose of confidence and spice in her life. Can a mysterious blogger help her break out of her shell?
Rated: T for brief language, alcohol references, and anything else that warrants it.
Characters: Hyuuga Hinata, Uchiha Itachi
Warnings: AU...they might be a little out of character...but I tried, honest. Just a drabbly thing, really...it drags on a bit XD
Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to other people – I'm just borrowing it for a bit. Please don't sue me!
Evenings are Hinata's favorite time of day. Not quite night when she should be sleeping, resting up for her nine to five job at the grocery market, but not early enough for people to drop by unannounced and interrupt whatever she is doing. Yes, evenings are indeed her favorite time of day.
She can work on whatever book she's currently reading, check her email, cook something (which is a bigger hobby of hers than many know), or just laze about and enjoy her time off, when she doesn't have to face her current employment arrangement.
Not that she's complaining. There are many people who would kill to have her job, any job...the small city she lives in is seeing record unemployment, just like the rest of the country. Sure, it's tedious standing behind a check out counter for hours everyday, but she utilizes her naturally patient nature and positive outlook on life to breeze through even the toughest of customer relations. From an item that won't ring in at it's sale price to a woman who pays in change to an old man who can't hear or see the total, and demands a complete refund for his trouble, she handles it all with stunning grace and ingenuity, never letting her smile falter. She takes a half an hour break during which she enjoys a small home-cooked meal she brings with her, something different every day if she can manage it. All in all, the job is one she can and does handle perfectly.
But one can't help but be bored when they aren't pursuing their passions.
Sure, cooking is a great hobby that she is fairly knowledgeable and proficient in, and she loves to read the newest books she finds through an excellent blog writer online, and her job pays the bills, but none of that compares with her true soul's calling:
A girl with an amazing range and natural sense of pitch is she. Let her hear any song a couple of times and she will outdo the original artist a thousand fold. Music speaks to her in ways that nothing else can. It's as though it breathes its purpose and message into her very veins, pumping through her heart and filling every cavity of her body until it soaks into her soul, emerging as it was meant to be heard from between her cherry lips. Melodies and rhythms and lyrics all come together inside her to emerge complete and perfect from her vocal cords. The very air around her cries with joy and wonder at her song.
But no one hears it. And she plans to keep it that way.
She isn't merely shy. A complete lack of confidence and self worth keep her songs from strangers' ears. The one time her father had caught her singing...that was the last time she let anyone hear her singing voice. After years of belittlement from her father, her only parent, she is a shadow of herself, not believing in anything she does. Everything she attempts she does so "knowing" that it will amount to nothing, just as her father said. And when she refused to go to law school and instead proclaimed her choice to study music, that was the final straw. She was disowned, penniless, and utterly alone. But somehow she picked up the pieces and worked her way from the ground up, finding an apartment, scraping up a job with her natural charm, and managing to keep her head above water. And when she is alone, she sings, lamenting Fate's cruel turn.
That is truly the reason she loves evening. She can sing by herself, weaving together melodies that warm her heart and soothe her soul.
But her life stands still, because nothing can come of it.
"Good morning, Hinata."
"Good morning, Ino. H-how was your party last night?"
"Oh it was great!" Ino, a blonde-haired blue-eyed coworker, spins around to tell the reclusive indigo-headed female all about her twenty-first birthday party. "Sai took me to this adorable little restaurant to start things off, and then took me home to a party with everyone I know! Sakura was there, and she managed to bring Sasuke, and he dragged Naruto there, and of course Naruto brought Shikamaru who brought Temari, and Neji who brought Ten Ten, and things just spread around until everyone was there!"
Yeah...everyone but me, Hinata thinks, keeping up her straight face. "I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Ino."
"Oh, I wish you could have come, Hinata! It wasn't the same without you!" The blonde pouts heavily. "I'm so sorry you felt sick after work..."
"It's fine, I just get a little n-nauseous sometimes. I would have been a real d-downer if I'd tried to show up." Tying on her smock, Hinata tries to walk away from the busty blonde. If there was anything Hinata hated, it was lying, but...being at a party with rambunctious people and alcohol...it just isn't her scene, so she faked sick and spent the night singing a new song she'd found from her favorite blogger. "Anyway, I better get going...Anko will be m-mad if I'm not at my station on time."
"Oh, boo that old hag...she's such a -"
"Mornin', Ino!" a familiar voice rings out. "Talkin' about old hags, huh? Yeah, they're pretty bad...but don't get me started on gossiping, back-stabbing blondes! Now those I cannot stand!" Mitarashi Anko breaks out a lopsided grin, putting her hands on her hips. "Now, I believe the floral department manager will be looking for you if you don't hurry along!"
Paling considerably, Ino mumbles, "Y-yes ma'am..." before skirting around the feisty female to her work area.
Dropping the grin to her usual scowl, Anko mutters, "Damn that girl...if she wasn't such a brilliant flower arranger, I'd can her in a second...I don't know how you stand listening to her babble such nonsense, Hinata."
"Oh, I'm used to it," Hinata replies breezily. "I do much more listening than t-talking. I really don't mind..."
"Well, I appreciate you trying to sneak away to your station," Anko says earnestly. "She just needs to learn when to shut up and do her job."
"It was partially my fault. I asked her how her party went...she turned twenty-one yesterday."
"Oh boy...the world better watch out for that blonde bombshell. But I thought you'd know better than to egg her on!" Tossing Hinata a grin, she adds, "Anyway, off to work with you. Help the world one aggravated customer at a time."
"W-will do, Anko." Giving her boss a mock salute, the dark-haired woman walks out of the break room to take her post at her usual check out counter.
It's Wednesday, Hinata's least favorite day. Wednesday is the day their competitor on the other side of town has its weekly specials, dragging away a good deal of their consumer population and leaving the store mostly deserted...which leaves the check out staff with hardly anything to do. Luckily Hinata has learned to adapt. When no customers are in sight, she pulls out her newest literary treasure pointed out by her blogger and sneaks in a couple of pages before another person interrupts her to pay for their groceries. This week it's a horror novel, and despite her mostly-innocent disposition, Hinata can't put it down. Each chapter brings about new characters, new killings, and new cliffhangers that drag her into the next. So when a slight cough is heard she squeaks loudly, immediately blushing a bright crimson.
"I'm s-s-so sorry!" she stutters, fumbling to put the book beside the register and managing to knock over her cup of pens. Ignoring the new mess, she brings a hand through her hair. "I was so, I m-mean there was just, I -"
"Please, do not apologize. I wasn't waiting long." A man stands before her, a small smile on his face. Done fretting, Hinata takes in his features. Long raven hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, dark lines under his black eyes (revealing some kind of sleep trouble perhaps?), a well-put-together outfit and pale skin all add up to a very attractive male. Feeling her blush increase in intensity, she averts her eyes and begins scanning the few items he's brought with him: coffee grounds, a loaf of bread, creamer, a small carton of eggs, and a pack of AA batteries come to a total of $19.81 which he pays with a check. Snatching his receipt and putting it in the single paper bag, she murmurs, "Here you go...again, I'm s-sorry about -"
"Please, I understand. That's one of my favorites, actually. I know just how hard it is to put it down." Offering another small smile, he adds, "Have a nice day," before taking his leave.
Heart still hammering from her embarrassment and immediate attraction, Hinata breathes a deep sigh. That was a catastrophe. But at least it's over now. Praying that she'll never have to wait on that man again, she picks up her book with a slightly sheepish look, turning to the dog-eared page to see just what horrors await the remaining cast.
Her keys make a loud clank as she drops them on the table by the door. Groaning slightly, she lets her purse fall from her shoulder into her hand, which drops it on the floor under said table. The rest of her day hadn't gone much smoother. The few people who decided to show up were cranky for some reason, and decided to make it their new mission to pass on their troubles and frustration to her. Letting her lips fall into a pout, she checks the message machine which flashes a small two at her.
"Hello Hinata, this is Anderson Dentistry. We are calling to remind – BEEP."
"Hinata, this is Neji. I just thought I would call and see how you are doing. I have not had the opportunity to see you in quite – BEEP."
Done deleting, she wanders over to her laptop in the living room, clicking the power button before dragging her feet to the kitchen. Not exactly feeling like cooking up a storm, she settles for a cup of tea and a bowl of instant tomato soup. And, just to nurse her injured mood, she snags a cinnamon bun – her favorite – and takes it with her to her now fully-operational computer. Click, click, scroll, log in, new email.
Sorry I missed your call, I had to work late. I know you are probably asleep now, so that explains the email instead of a return call. We'll have to set up a day to see each other soon. Hope everything is well. Tell Ten Ten hi for me!
Click, send. Open bookmarks, click, loading, loading, done. Newest entry from Weasel's Weekly Review...darn, he hasn't updated today. Pouting further, Hinata goes back to the page he introduced his latest book pick, the horror she managed to finish at work. Rereading the post, she finds she agrees completely with his views on the book, now letting herself read the spoilers and finding that all of his opinions on scenes, characters, and the ending match hers perfectly. Comments show various agreements and disagreements, and she decides to add her own blurb.
I simply adored this book, and I couldn't put it down – I even had it with me at work! The plot twists and character developments were perfect, and your analysis matches them to the T. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even had a customer agree when he recognized it. Thank you so much for introducing it to us!
Smiling and finding herself in better spirits, Hinata sips her tea. She is one of the hundreds who follow Weasel and his reviews on books and music, and has enjoyed nearly every post he's published. Though she has never seen him or actually spoken with him, she feels that they have a connection...that their interests and opinions are so similar, they would be great friends if given the chance. "Thanks, Weasel," she murmurs. "You help me get through this boring life of mine." Feeling like a foolish schoolgirl with a ridiculous crush, she powers down the computer, taking her dishes back to the kitchen to be washed before bed.
Thursday is her day off. Well, one of them. As the underdog, she has the most ridiculous schedule, with Thursdays and Sundays off. But a day break is a day break, so she makes the most of it, usually going into the market anyway to get her own groceries, as well as getting anything else out of the way that needs doing – housework, bill paying, and usually some web surfing. Once she completes all her mundane tasks, she returns to the computer in the early evening to check her mail.
One unread message from Hyuuga Neji.
Ah, I see. I'm sorry you had to work late – hopefully it will be worth the extra earnings. We do indeed need to take a day and catch up. I saw your friend Ino the other day at a party of hers – I was saddened you weren't there, but she explain that you were sick. I hope you are feeling better now. Ten Ten says to also give her regards.
Smiling, she types a quick reply promising a meeting soon and explaining the real reason for her absence, then taking the digital letter and stowing it away in Neji's file. Going back, she filters through the junk mail until a familiar website name pops out at her. . Frowning, she opens the message and scans the few lines within.
Hinata1227, you have received a return comment from Weasel's Weekly Review. They said:
I appreciate your comment, Hinata1227. I do my best to spread good literature and music across the internet, and it brings me joy that you found this particular title to your liking. This fellow who agreed with you must be quite well-read to know the title on sight. I can only hope it gets passed further so that more people can enjoy it.
Bug-eyed, Hinata stares at the screen. The Weasel replied to her comment? Out of hundreds of people and just as many comments, he replied to hers? He can't possibly reply to all of them...it would take far too much time. So, what made him pick hers? Bewildered, she decides to ask. If he bothered to answer to her comment, wouldn't he bother to answer a question? Logging in and going back to the page, she replies to his reply.
I in turn appreciate you replying to me! I can't imagine you replying to every one. Is there a reason mine caught your eye?
Excited at this small interaction with a stranger she so greatly admires, she closes her laptop and begins humming, eventually singing full volume around her small apartment as she lets Weasel's comment lift her spirits even further. Who knows? Maybe there are some little things in this life of hers that make it worthwhile!
Friday morning she wakes fully rested a half an hour early. Remembering the events from yesterday she eagerly turns on her computer, bringing up her mail inbox.
No new messages.
Her heart sinks slightly. But of course, he wouldn't have had time to reply by now, would he? Last time it took at least twenty-four hours...and besides, maybe he just won't reply at all. What are the odds of him talking to her, her of all people, twice? Sighing lightly, the indigo-haired woman shuts her computer and begins getting ready for work.
The day is busier again, helping her take her mind off of Weasel for a while. She deals with several disgruntled customers, keeping her smile in place. Thank goodness for her pleasant disposition and monumental patience. Once a break in the lines comes along, she takes a deep breath, stretching her back a bit.
"No time for reading today?"
Glancing to her right, Hinata reddens instantly when she sees the man from yesterday. "Oh! Um, no...not today." Laughing a bit awkwardly, she averts her eyes again.
"Tell me, do you get your books from Weasel?"
Shocked, she stares at the man. "Uh, yes. I read his post every week. I um...I'm a very big fan of his. I love the books he suggests – they all keep me immersed completely. And the music he reviews is great, and I love singing -" Realizing she's rambling to a stranger, and a customer no less, she clamps her mouth shut. And she admitting to her singing! No one knows about that...not even Neji!
"You're a singer?" The man's eyes light up a bit. "I see. A girl who reads and sings...quite the combination. You must really be Weasel's biggest fan, given the intensity you had a moment ago. There's no need to be shy, really. I'm also a big fan of his." A small smile tugs at the man's lips. "Anyway, I better get out of your hair...I'll take this, please." Picking out a small pack of gum, he lets her ring it up and hands her the money. "I'm sorry to keep bothering you like this, but you seem to be an interesting person. Do you mind if I ask your name?"
"Oh, sure...it's Hinata."
The girl swears she sees a twinkle in the man's eyes. "You don't say...well, my name is Itachi. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"L-likewise." Giving a small awkward wave as Itachi leaves, she mentally groans. Oh boy...
"Hey, Hinata! Earth to Hinata! Hello!" Ino waves a hand in front of the Hyuuga's face. "You in there?"
Startled, Hinata stutters, "Uh, y-yeah. Sorry, I was thinking..."
"Thinking about that hot hunk of man that just walked out the door?" Ino gives her friend a coy look. "Oh come on, I saw you practically drooling! Your face was so red...but I can't blame you...he was one fine specimen! So, what's his name? Did he ask for your number? You know, it's about time you get a man in your life, I mean, how long has it been since -"
"Ino, please," Hinata puts up a weary hand. "It's not what you th-think. Sure, he's good-looking, but we were just t-talking...he's not interested. We happen to have the same literary interests, so -"
"You were talking about books?" Ino perks an eyebrow. "Fascinating. Anyway, our shifts are over, and I was wondering if you'd like to go out for a drink! You know, since I'm legal now!"
"Um, well...I'm not legal for another two months, Ino. I'm sorry. Maybe we'll go after my birthday, okay? Besides, I'm tired, and I just want to go home..."
Ino pouts. "Well, alright. But I'm worried about you Hinata...you hardly ever go out anymore – you're always cooped up in that apartment reading. You need to get out and live a little, maybe meet a guy! I worry about you being alone all the time, you know?"
Smiling, Hinata replies, "Thanks Ino...we'll get together another time, I promise."
"I'm holding you to it, Hinata! Catch you later!"
Once home, Hinata resists the urge to turn on the computer. Instead, she tidies up her kitchen, starts some laundry, cooks dinner...anything but turn on the laptop. Sitting on her couch, she stares at it. He's not going to reply...it was just a comment he randomly answered so he doesn't look completely uninvolved with his readers...that's all...just a coincidence. But Friday is the day he usually posts, so she convinces herself to simply check his new article, and reply to Neji if he wrote. No lingering in her inbox to see if he's replied. No way. Not going to happen.
She opens her inbox first and finds one message from Neji. Shaking her head she tells herself, See? Silly.
I'm not busy this Sunday, and Ten Ten is going to be out of town visiting her parents. Would you like to meet up for dinner? It's been so long since we've had time to just sit and talk, catch up. I know a great place downtown.
She agrees, sending off the reply across the web. Going back to move the letter to his file, she sees it. One unread message from BloggersDome. Biting her lip, she opens it.
Hinata1227, you have received a return comment from Weasel's Weekly Review. They said:
It's true I cannot reply to everyone. In fact, I pick a few random messages from each post to answer. Tell you what – you seem to be a very devoted follower. Perhaps I could interest you in an interview? I could post it as a special mid-week article for the other readers to see. Would that be okay, Hinata?
Hinata stares at her screen. An interview? How? Through messages? Feeling trapped, she replies.
Sure, that would be wonderful! Just let me know how we'll go about it, and I'll make it happen!
She logs off, feeling like she's getting into something way over her head.
"So, have you had a chance to talk to the guy yet?" Ino asks Saturday morning, nudging Hinata teasingly. "He is such a looker – you just HAVE to go after him!"
"Ino, I'm not really looking to...'go after' someone right now...I'm happy the way I am," the girl replies, tired of defending her lack of advancements. Besides, she just learned his name yesterday! And not even a surname to go with it. The man made it clear he was just small talking with no intention of it going any further.
"Aw, you're no fun Hinata...sometimes you just have to take a chance! I wouldn't be with Sai right now if I hadn't acted when I saw him eyeing a bouquet for his grandmother's funeral! If Life decides to introduce you to a fine looking man, you need to act!"
Hinata doesn't remind Ino of how she made an opportunity of something related to a person dying. "Maybe...I'll think about it, okay? Now, you b-better get to your post...Anko hates it when you're late."
"I know, I know...see you at lunch."
Taking her usual post, Hinata can't help but wonder if she'll see Itachi again. He'd come to talk to her on purpose once, why not twice? Just like Weasel, he seemed to notice her for some reason. Blushing lightly, she begins tackling a line of customers, keeping her smile in place.
When things quite down an hour later, she gets a new surprise. Looking down her lane, she brightens at a sight.
The brunette smiles at her, hands in his slacks pockets. "Good morning Hinata. I know it isn't Sunday, but I thought I'd come see you. Ten Ten decided to leave this morning to make a better trip of it, so I figured we could have our lunch date today so you can make better use of your time tomorrow."
"Oh cousin, I'd love to spend my Sunday with you! But if that's what you want, that's great. I'll let Anko know I'm going out for lunch...maybe if she's in a good mood she'll let me out for a bit longer than usual!" Sliding out from behind her counter, she motions for her favorite cousin to wait a few minutes while she checks.
Knocking on the door frame, the shy girl inquires, "Anko?"
Looking up from a stack of paperwork, Anko smiles at her. "Come on in, kid. Something up?"
"Well, my cousin dropped by, and he wants to take me to lunch today..."
"Ah, I see. Well, I'm feeling nice since Ino was actually on time today, so go ahead and take an hour lunch today. And tell him hi for me – it's been a while since I've seen the strapping young man!" Winking, Anko dismisses her, and Hinata walks back to her post with a bounce in her step.
When she comes withing sight of it she pauses.
Neji is speaking with Itachi, and has his, "Why are you wanting to speak/look/breathe at my cousin?" look on his face. Suddenly apprehensive, Hinata stalls. But before long Neji glances at her, apparently tired of waiting. "Ah, Hinata – there you are. What time do you want me to come back to pick you up?"
Nervous at Itachi's presence, she mutters, "Um, I get off at twelve-thirty – Anko said I could take an hour lunch today."
"Wonderful. I'll see you then." With a glance at Itachi, Neji nods his farewell to his cousin before taking his leave.
The remaining pair stand awkwardly for a few minutes before Itachi breaks the silence. "So, he seems very protective of you." He keeps his face and tone perfectly neutral.
Remembering Ino's words, Hinata replies, "Yes. He's my closest cousin, and he takes pride in protecting me. We're meeting up for lunch later – he wants to c-catch up since we haven't seen each other in a while."
Though he doesn't change physically, Hinata feels Itachi relax slightly. "Ah, I see. I thought I would come bother you again, but I nearly got a full-fledged interrogation." The smile is back in Itachi's eyes, and Hinata can tell he isn't offended.
"Sorry. He did like my father wanted and went to law school. He's a tough lawyer, and can be intimidating when he wants to be." On a whim she flashes him a small smile, trying her best to appear open and friendly. Darn it, Ino...now look what you're making me do...
"That's quite all right. I suppose I can bother you for a bit until you need to get back to work." He waits for her to slide back behind her counter and then strikes up conversation about the book he caught her reading.
"So when the main character was stabbed, I thought for sure she was done for," Hinata says several minutes later. "But then she took the knife out of her shoulder and and stabbed the killer in the back when he walked away, and I was amazed! I didn't think she had it in her!"
"Yes, that was quite the shocker...not many would be capable of such an act, but when you reflect on her true character, you realize that she has the will and the guts to do so," Itachi replies, now leaning on the counter in a relaxed manner. "That's what I like about her. She's quiet, but when it comes to fighting for her own, she has a fire that many would think impossible for her."
"Yeah..." Smiling, Hinata adds, "That's exactly what Weasel thought. He said she was his favorite character, right above the killer."
"He has well-thought opinions on the matter," Itachi agrees. "I'd have to say I agree with him."
"Oh! Speaking of him, he asked to do an interview with me!"
Eyes sparkling, Itachi replies, "Really? That's wonderful! How are you going to do that?"
"Well," she casts her eyes downward. "I'm not sure yet. Probably through messages, or maybe in a chat. I just don't know what he wants to ask me about!"
"You seem to be a very devoted follower," Itachi offers. "I'm sure he wants to get to know and interview someone who shows such interest in what he has to say."
"I can't wait!" Hinata feels her cheeks redden. "We think so much alike when it comes to the things he reviews...and he introduces me to all these wonderful stories and songs...I just want so badly to meet him, I can hardly stand it!"
"I'm glad you get this opportunity, Hinata." Standing back up straight, Itachi adds, "Now, it's almost time for your break, so I'll head out. Sorry I didn't buy anything today."
"Oh that's fine with me," Hinata replies. "Just d-don't tell Anko and we'll both stay our of trouble."
Giving her a smile, Itachi says, "Have fun with your cousin. Tell him I meant no harm."
"Thanks, and I will. Goodbye!" She watches as the raven-haired man leaves, sighing lightly to herself. He is pleasant to talk to, and seems to share as many similar opinions with her as Weasel does. In a much better mood now, she waits a few minutes for Neji to show up.
"Are you ready to go, Hinata?" he asks when he arrives.
"Yes. Listen, about that man, Itachi...he's just a friend. You d-don't have to get all defensive around him – he's really a great guy, and a splendid gentleman."
"Perhaps...I'm just protective of you, that's all." Giving his cousin a rare smile, he offers his arm. "Well then...shall we?"
Giggling, Hinata lets him lead her to his car, taking her off to his favorite eatery.
A small Italian bistro greets them as they pull to the curb, Neji leading the way to their table. They order their dishes, then start talking about what the other has missed in their absence.
"I finally got hired on to the Sarutobi-Yuuhi firm," Neji says, taking a sip of red wine. "I've been dying to hear back from them. Ten Ten is pleased, of course...she's already talking about the house we're going to buy once I start making more money."
"That's great, Neji!" Hinata praises, taking a sip of her water. "I know that Ten Ten's wanted to settle down for a while...when do the two of you plan on finally making things official?"
This brings a small blush to her cousin's face. "Well, actually...I set her up to go to her parents' this weekend so I could make some plans for when she gets back...I've already got the ring, and I want to get a situation set up with some friends of ours from college."
"Oh Neji, that's wonderful!" Hinata claps her hands together. "Let me know when you plan on doing it – I'd so like to come!"
"Of course – you'll be the first to know." Neji smiles at her over the rim of his glass. "Now all we must do is find you someone to settle down with. You know everyone's waiting for you to get into something serious. You haven't dated since Uzumaki in high school."
Hinata squirms a bit. "Yeah...I just don't know if I'm r-ready for that. I mean, I wouldn't object if the right guy came along, but...I'm not looking for someone right now. It's just that...I feel like I'm stuck on autopilot for a while. Maybe when I feel like moving on to something different I'll start looking, but for now I'm content where I am."
"I see...well, if you're not careful, I have a feeling that Itachi fellow wouldn't object to changing your mind."
The girl blushes. "W-well, he's very kind...and he's been a g-great gentleman so far, and been fun to talk to...but I just don't know if I deserve someone like him...he seems so well-bred and high class."
"Hinata, my cousin...you know that I think highly of you, and it's not without due reason. You are kind, caring, compassionate, talented, beautiful, and many other wonderful things. If anything, there is hardly a man who deserves you."
Hinata's blush darkens at the compliment. "Thank you...maybe if it comes around to it, I'll see what happens with Itachi. But I won't instigate anything for now."
"As you wish."
After her lunch date with Neji, Hinata breezes through the rest of her shift, ready to get home and check her mail for something from Weasel. She isn't sure exactly how he wants to go about their interview, and is dying to find out more. Tossing her purse and keys on the table, she boots up her computer while grabbing an apple to munch while she waits.
"Come on, come on..." she murmurs, watching the opening sequence and tapping her foot. A few clicks later she's at her email inbox, opening Weasel's response.
Hinata1227, you have received a return comment from Weasel's Weekly Review. They said:
Well, after doing a bit of digging, I discovered we actually live in the same city. If it isn't too big of an inconvenience, I'd like to try and have our interview in person. How about I let you pick the date and place to make it even?
Blinking at her screen, Hinata thinks, Wait...we live in the same city? No way! What are the odds... Suddenly, she feels nervous. He wants to see her in person? Oh dear...what if he finds her unattractive? Or annoying? Could she even handle being in the same room with her idol? Flustered, Hinata leans back in her chair, unsure. Well, he did invite me...so...I guess I can't complain either way... She makes up her mind, sending a reply.
Wow, I can't believe we live in the same city! Anyway, that sound great – I know a great little cafe on the corner of West Brunton and Cascade, if that works. I have Sunday (tomorrow) off, so maybe noon that day, that place? Let me know, I guess!
Crunching into the taut flesh of her apple, Hinata smiles. This should be fun! It's not every day one gets to meet their favorite writer. I wonder if he's cute... The thought makes the little Hyuuga blush. Ugh...Ino is starting to rub off on me.
Sunday morning finds Hinata nervous as hell. Up at six in the morning, she groans. What am I going to wear? Should I bring something for him to sign or is that too fangirl-ish? Deciding she might as well get out of bed, she puts her feet on the floor, starting her usual morning routine. Her email box is empty this morning, and she spends her free time until 11:30, her predetermined time to leave, surfing other parts of the web, singing a small song all the while.
In the end she decides on a black pair of jeans, flared at the ankles with some plain sneakers. A light lilac top with slight ruffles around the collar complete her outfit. She leaves her hair down, having nothing else to do with it. And at 11:30 sharp, she grabs her keys and leaves her apartment behind.
The drive to the cafe, which is owned by her friend Sakura, takes only ten minutes in the fairly light traffic with her little light blue Honda Fit. It was the last gift of any kind from her father before he disowned her, and she loves it to pieces. A little stuffed panda hangs from the rear view mirror, jiggling whenever she hits one of the many potholes riddling the roads of her home city.
She ends up parking across the street, jogging over once someone decides to let her pass. Clinging to the strap of her purse, she glances around the small cafe. Ugh, stupid...you don't even know what he looks like...
"Hey Hinata!" Sakura calls her from behind the counter. "What are you doing here?"
"Um, I have an interview," she replies, approaching her friend slowly. "Only...I don't know who I'm l-looking for."
"Oh, well...why don't you go take a seat somewhere, and I'll let you know if someone asks for you, okay?"
"Thanks." Taking another look around, she decides to take a booth toward a corner in order to get some privacy. Folding her hands in her lap, she wonders what to do while she waits. I wonder what sort of things he'll ask me...
Minutes pass by with no word from Sakura up front, and Hinata begins to fidget. He never did reply...what if he isn't coming? Suddenly feeling foolish at not making sure it wasn't too short notice, she drops her forehead to the table, muttering to herself softly.
"Excuse me...are you Hinata1227?"
Snapping her neck up at speeds worthy of whiplash, Hinata stares at her new companion in disbelief.
The man smiles at her warmly. "I apologize for my tardiness – I've never been here before, and had to figure out where to park."
"Oh, I'm sorry – I'm so used to it, I f-forgot to warn you." Watching the man slide into the booth opposite her, she adds, "Why didn't you tell me you were Weasel? I've always wanted to meet you!"
Itachi keeps his smile on his lips. "I thought it would be interesting to see if you could figure it out. I put a few clues out there for you to watch for, but in hindsight I can see I didn't give you enough for it to be fair."
A sudden realization comes over the Hyuuga. "Oh, wow...Itachi means weasel in English...I feel so silly now..." She giggles lightly at her obliviousness.
"Yes, indeed. Anyway, I'd still like that interview if you wouldn't mind."
"Oh, s-sure!" Feeling nervous all over again, she blushes. But knowing now that Weasel is her new friend Itachi, she feels a bit more comfortable.
Said man takes out a tape recorder. "I hope you don't mind?"
"No, that's fine."
Clicking a button, Itachi says smoothly into the mic, "This is the Hinata1227 interview, Sunday, September twenty-seventh. Now, Hinata...what led you to my blog?" He extends to mic to her, trying to look encouraging.
"W-well, actually...I was looking for a certain arrangement of a song...I think it was the remix of Silver Cranes by DJ Akari, and a link led me to your page on it and how much you liked it. I didn't know if anyone else had even heard of it, so I read your article and found that you had m-many of the same opinions as I did...so...I decided to bookmark it, and I've been going back every Friday since!"
Itachi laughs lightly. "Alright then, that makes sense. What would you say is your favorite article of mine?"
"Oh, that's easy. The piece you did on Yuzuki Ryoka's song, "Into the Pool of the Past" was my definite favorite. You really seemed to get the feel of the song, and I really felt you understood it."
"I see...you seem to have quite the interest in music," Itachi muses. "Do you listen to it quite a bit?"
Another blush conquers Hinata's face. "Y-yes, I do...um...I also sing a bit, but nothing very good."
"I find that hard to believe. Just listening to you speak is wonderful. Your voice is so sweet and light...I can imagine you being a great singer."
"No, I'm not...my father told me off once, and I haven't sung in front of anyone since then." Hinata pauses. Why did she just tell him that?
"Ah..." Itachi hits the button again, his face somber. "Hinata, I don't believe you. I know you'd have a beautiful tone. Sing for me."
"W-w-what?" Face now completely red, Hinata stutters, "B-b-but I just t-told you, I'm not very g-good! And we're out in p-p-public, for Pete's sake!"
The man across the table from her stares at her, obviously thinking hard. "Fine. We'll go back to my apartment. You can sing there."
"Itachi, please don't make me do this..." She lowers her head into her hands. "I'm t-terrible..."
The cushion beside her sinks down as Itachi settles his weight on it. "Hinata, please don't cry...I'm not trying to upset you. Now, let me ask you something...are you on good terms with your father?"
Wiping her eyes, she replies, "N-no...he was angry that I wanted to study m-music instead of l-law..."
"Well then, don't you think he'd tell you that you sing badly even if it wasn't true, simply to try and stave off your interest and try to conquer your dreams in order to get you to do what he wanted you to do? You can't believe the criticism of people who aren't trying to help you improve but only destroy your self esteem."
Hinata takes this in. He...he has a point...whenever I would do something Father didn't like, he'd do something like that... "Well, maybe..."
"So, what do you say? Let me hear you sing, and I can tell you – as a musical critic and a friend – whether or not you are 'terrible'."
Giving him a watery smile, Hinata murmurs, "O-okay..."
She follows Itachi out to his car – a Honda Accord, black – and slides into the passenger seat shyly. "Now, we'll come right back once I prove to you that you can sing," the man tells her, tossing her another smile. Turning the key, he pulls away from the curb and speeds off toward his apartment.
"So...do you make a living off of your blog?" Hinata asks.
"I thought I was supposed to interview you?" Ignoring her embarrassed blush, he amends, "That's fine. Actually it's something I do on the side...I work at a computer store downtown doing repairs mostly. It pays the bills, and the blog lets me vent about my passions – music and literature. It helps keep me sane and happy."
"That's great," Hinata replies. "I read a lot at home in my spare time, and sing...even though I really don't think I'm any good."
Pulling into his parking space, Itachi counters, "Tell me, Hinata...if you think you are so terrible at singing, why do you do it?"
Well, she's never considered that before. "Um...I guess it's because...I enjoy it. It makes me happy, and...it helps calm me and keep me from losing my mind at my job...kind of like your blog."
"I see. Now, let's get inside."
Itachi's apartment is basic, but well-furnished and decorated. Books line shelf after shelf, along with CD's and old-fashioned albums. "Go sit anywhere – I'll make some tea."
Feeling like an intruder, Hinata sits gingerly on a sofa cushion, as far toward the edge as possible. Taking in the décor, she notices a familiar face in a photo.
"Um...is that Uchiha Sasuke?"
"He's my little brother," Itachi calls from the kitchen. "He and I don't speak much at the moment...he's rather peeved at me most of the time."
"I went on to university at age thirteen. He's been unhappy standing in my shadow for so long. Our father has always favored me for some reason..." Setting a cup of tea on the coffee table in front of her, Itachi continues, "I miss talking with him...he really is my closest friend."
"I'm sorry..." She gently sips her tea, keeping her eyes trained on the brown liquid.
"Don't be. It's not your fault." Crossing his legs in his chair, Itachi nods at her. "Before you drink too much, I want to hear you sing."
"I can't believe you're talking me into this..." Setting the cup down, she fidgets. "What do you want to hear?"
"Whatever you feel like singing."
Racking her mind for something to impress him with, she settles on one of her favorites. "Um...I love this song...it's um, Lilium from Elfen Lied." Taking a deep breath, she bites the bullet and begins to sing.
She forgets where she is. Instead, she lets her mind take her to the garden she and her little sister used to play in when they were young...before her father started pitting them against each other to see who would be the better daughter. There was a small brook that would laugh in the spring when the rains came. They could catch frogs on the banks and watch small silver fish glide through the water. Dragonflies would skim the water, and she used to dream she could too, lighter than air. She lets the pleasant memory of when life used to be fun and innocent for her, when she could let her walls down and just be a child without a care in the world.
When she finishes, she realizes she has closed her eyes and opens them to look at Itachi.
He stares hard at her, tea forgotten as his face goes blank. Oh no...was it really that bad?
She braces herself for the insults.
"That was...beyond words. I could feel your soul in your voice. It was like...you took that song into your heart and made it yours, setting it free back into the world as a beautiful work of musical perfection."
Shocked, she stares at her friend. "W...what?"
"Hinata, you can sing better than anything I've ever heard," Itachi tells her. "I've never heard a voice with more passion and natural beauty. Tell me, have you ever taken voice lessons?"
"Uh, no...Father wouldn't allow it."
"I see...Hinata, you have a gift. You have to get recognized. You could be huge if you got into the field. As a man who adores beautiful music, I must say you've snared me in your soul."
Blushing, Hinata replies, "Itachi, please...you've embarrassing me..."
Breaking out of his reverie, Itachi smiles. "Forgive me...I was just so swept up by it...but you really do have a gift, Hinata. I have a friend who could get you into a recording studio if you want. You could start out doing a few cover songs until you get some attention. I really think you could go far."
"Thank you, but...I need some time to think that over," she laughs. "For now I'm just happy you liked it."
"Liked it? I loved it. It was magnificent. Please, do another!"
For hours Hinata sings, completely losing track of time and forgetting the lunch she never had. After a rendition of Last Night, Good Night, she realizes that it's quite dark outside. "Oh! I should get home!"
"I'm sorry, Hinata...I should have stopped you earlier. I hope you don't mind my selfishness."
"Oh, not at all. I had a lot of fun." Smiling, she lets him lead her to the door. "We'll have to do it again sometime."
"I would thoroughly enjoy that."
Once Itachi parks behind her little blue car, Hinata unclicks her seatbelt. "Itachi...um...thank you...for proving me wrong."
This makes the man laugh lightly. "It was for your own good." Eyes twinkling, he adds, "Maybe next time you'll just take my word for it."
"Yeah," she laughs softly. "But really, thank you so much...it's been a while since someone's believed in me and told me to pursue my passions. And you've been a great friend, and we have so much in common, I love talking to you at the store...I'm rambling, forgive me."
"No, that's perfectly fine, Hinata." Itachi smiles a small smile. Leaning toward her, he adds, "I'm very glad I met you..."
As though pulled by a magnet, Hinata does the same. "Me too..."
Before she knows it, her lips finds his, locking them in a sweet kiss. They linger for a while, enjoying the moment. But then he pulls away, looking into her eyes. "I'm sorry, that was -"
"That was great," Hinata replies, surprising herself. "Maybe next time we'll actually have lunch."
Itachi blinks, apparently taken aback. But then he smiles. "I would like that. I'll see you around, Hinata."
Opening the door, Hinata slides out of the car and lets Itachi drive off, staring at his brake lights until they disappear, then remembering that she needs to get home herself. Once there, she opens her laptop and finds a new message from Neji.
I just thought I'd check up on you again and let you know that I've arranged for the proposal this coming weekend at the bistro I took you to. Once I get more details I'll let you know, but be sure to keep next Sunday open.
By the way, how are things with that Itachi fellow?
Smiling, Hinata clicks the reply button.
That's great! I can't wait to see the look on Ten Ten's face! I'm so happy for both of you! I'll definitely keep it open – I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Actually...they're going rather well...I'll tell you more later, when my head is a bit clearer. Tell me...is it natural to feel so light-headed when you kiss someone?
She knows the last bit will probably give her over-protective cousin a heart attack, but at the moment, the only thing that matters is the memory of Itachi's lip on hers.
Whoa...really long XD I dunno...I thought it seemed a bit dry in parts, but I haven't written any fiction in a while, so I blame that. Um...Review, pretty please? They really do make my day. But no flames, or I will throw fluffy bunnies at you. Anywho, it's not my best...but it's something. Hopefully you enjoyed it at least a smidge! Now, it's 1:30 in the morning...I'll post tomorrow. For now, I'm gonna crash XD
Luvz, and thanks for reading!
*EDIT* So, I've had several requests to continue this story...and I'm already working on it! I have no idea when anything else will get posted, or how many additional chapters there will be, but keep an eye out for it, I guess! Thank you all for your support – you are the reason I write this stuff XD The reviews are great, please keep them coming! They get me through the day and help motivate me to write more. Anyway, I'll keep working on the rest of the chapter(s), and post them as I finish!