Description: The famed trio of Hinata, Natsu, and Sakura all meet up after school at one of their favorite cake shops to chat about recent events. The topic inevitably turns toward the recent fighting debut of Hinata and Sakura, with the pair encouraging Natsu to get into the game with them.
If one were to ask Hinata Wakaba what the most important part of school life is, she'd respond by telling them that, above all else, friends are the most important thing. She'd would potentially also add that one of the most important parts of friendship is the simple routine of hanging out after school.
For the trio of Hinata, Natsu, and Sakura, that ritual has long manifested itself in meeting up at various local cake shops when they finish after school activities, and they teenagers had long become popular customers at the few tea and cake shops that happen to be between Taiyo and Gorin High.
Another important part of this ritual is the fact that, unless one of the school clubs has an extremely pressing need of her innate talents, Hinata is typically the first to show up and claim a table. This, along her her infectiously cheery disposition, has led to Hinata often ending up with free cake or tea while she waits for her friends to show up, making upbeat idle conversation with the store staff.
"...and it was really fun to see just how happy all those kids were at the end of the night." Hinata finishes up talking about her recent televised fight experience with the friendly, middle aged store owner behind the counter.
It's been something of a crazy week for the three friends, what with the Halloween festivities turning what was a friendly festival jaunt into a trial of concern for Natsu. She'd come to the festival with Sakura, of course... and was forced to stand by the sidelines as the young prodigy was thrown together with the deadly rival of her current idol. Natsu had secretly hoped that Sakura would get out of this whole 'fighting' phase before she got hurt, but... well, she had to go and get hurt, didn't she? Natsu and Kei both been right alongside her as soon as the EMTs had finished up, and... really, Natsu's been worried sick ever since.
She's much too nice to actually -say- what's on her mind though. Despite the volleyball player's tendency to wear her own emotions on her sleeve, she has more than enough tact to keep opnions on others to herself, unless asked. But she has been a little... quiet, for the last couple after-school bakery visits.
The door chimes ring as the tall Gorin student enters the shop. Still in her Gorin uniform, she pauses just inside the door, squinting as her eyes adjust to the more subdued lighting. But in the meantime, it's easy to pinpoint the sound of Hinata's sing-songy tale. "Hina-chan!" Natsu nearly jogs to the table she's seated at, bowing politely to the store owner before taking her seat next to Hinata. "Club ran over... You didn't clean out the whole store again, did you?"
Sakura would probably have joined any number of clubs--the Tennis Club, the Anime Club, the Light Music Club--if she hadn't decided to dedicate herself to the martial arts. She probably would've joined -all- those clubs. But she made a decision and, if there's one thing Sakura defintely does, it's sticking to her decisions. So she didn't have club to go to, unlike Natsu--but Sakura took some time after school to do some training.
Mindful of the time, when she arrives at the shop, she's wearing training clothes--maroon warmup jacket with three white stripes down each arm and elastic wristbands, and a pair of warmup pants and sneakers. She jogs in, hopping from foot to foot, then settling down as the door jingles to announce her entrance.
"Natsu-chan! Hina-chan!" calls Sakura, naturally sounding cheery and friendly, as she almost always does, fishing around in a pocket for her wallet--ah, yup, there it is.
"Is it cake time?"
Hinata's face brightens (even more) when the door opens and the unmistakably tall figure of Natsu steps in. "Natsu-chan!" She cries out in greeting. Her face quickly shifts into a light frown with the accusation. "I only had one piece, and it was a gift because I'd had my first professional fight and won." The little exchange draws a friendly chuckle from the shop's owner as he gets ready to fill their inevitable orders.
Then Sakura shows up, and any argument, no matter how playful it was, goes away. "Saku-chan! You got beat by Natsu-chan this time." A teasing smirk spreads on her face as she tops it with. "Maybe this time Natsu didn't stop by Shoma's baseball practice before coming to meet us."
Natsu looks over to see Sakura jogging in. Training. =Sakura=. Guess this isn't one of her 'phases' after all, Natsu considers with a bemused smile. "Oi, Saku-chan~" calls out the tall Gorin student, rising to her feet and ambling over to the display counter. She'd have even given Sakura a gentle prod of her own, if Hinata hadn't stolen her thunder.
Even moreso, if she didn't call attention to Shoma. "Wh-what? N-no!" Cheeks staining to a hue nearly matching Sakura's warmup jacket, she insists, "I told you, Hina-chan, club ran late! W-we had to talk about plans for this month..." And while that is, in fact, true, Natsu's doing a terrible job of selling it in her flustered state.
The volleyball prodigy realizes she'd been baited into revealing a -different- truth, and turns her lower lip up in mock indignation. "Mou..." Perusing the cake displays, she indicates two selections from the glass, nodding to the store owner with a grin. She pays for it with a note retrieved from her wristband, then asks over her shoulder, "So, anyway, how are things at Taiyo, you two? It's been quiet as a dormouse for us..."
Sakura kind of half-shrugs with a smile. "I took an extra-long circuit today. It's a nice day for a run!" She gives Hinata and Natsu half-skeptical looks.
"I'd have to run flat out to keep up with Natsu anyways," she remarks, gesturing at Natsu's long-legged frame. Of course, Sakura being Sakura, she actually looks like she thinks she could do it. And she'd love to try. Stepping towards the case, she peruses the various cakes on display, her gaze entirely for them for a moment. She might be some weird prodigy kid but she does love some cake. "I'll have a slice of the strawberry cake," she tells the proprietor, then turns to Natsu. Diplomatically, she doesn't mention Shoma.
"We've got some new people at our school. They're kinda..." She gestures, as if not sure how to put it.
"Kinda weird. But they seem okay...."
When Natsu falls for the Shoma bait, Hinata just smiles at once again trapping her friend in that awkward space where she keeps trying to deny her feelings. Maybe if she keeps it up, someday she'll actually be able to get the two to agree to at least a date.
Having already been offered her free slice of strawberry, Hinata decides to make a slightly different selection for her piece with friends, which leads to an intense furrow of her brow as she looks over the offered selection, knowing the importance of this choice. "I'll take... a slice of the genoise, please. And another red tea."
With her order in she turns back to the conversation at hand. "Well, one of them was apparently home schooled and really kind of... awkward, but I haven't seen him for a few days, so he might have had to transfer again. The other two transfer students..."
A thoughtful pause as she rubs her chin, "Well, their first day wasn't so great. They nearly hit a boy from Gorin, he was an American, I think. Brett Neuer? They started to get really rude to him and refused to apologize when I told them they were making our school look bad." It's not a typical expression for the normally bright faced schoolgirl, but the mixture of anger and annoyance is obvious. "The guy, his name is Jason, he's apparently kind of a butthead. He's on the football team, and from rumors they might have gone on a panty raid at Seijyun."
Her expression lightens a bit as she changes subjects. "The other girl, Ashley, she seemed really mean at first, but later she came up to me to apologise. Jason's her boyfriend... or was, at least. Apparently she gets sort of mean around him and was sorry. We've been hanging out after school because she came up with this great idea to host a friendly fighting tournament for all the schools in Southtown! There's been a lot of planning, and she's had some great ideas." As she goes on, Hinata's practically beaming with excitement.
Natsu didn't really have any particular taste in mind when she made her selections. Part of the joy of these sorts of outings is the pleasant surprise of the first bite, and that's why she'd made two particularly exotic choices. She'll find out how they taste in just a moment, of course.
She chuckles softly as Sakura mentions her running. Yeah, Natsu probably -could- win an extended race, but only if Miss Hinata McLightfoot weren't involved. Again, something she might voice, if she weren't so resistant to this whole 'fighting' current running through her friends' veins.
As she now has two slices of cake and a glass of milktea, she seats herself at the table once more, listening intently to Hinata's narrative of the recent events. "... Gorin, really?" she inquires, and then furrows her brow as she tries to place the face to Brett's name. "... I... know of Brett. I may try to find him, then." With a bright smile, she adds, "I'm sure I can convince him there's at least two good students at Taiyo."
Sipping at her milktea, she raises an eyebrow, sharing some healthy concern at the notion of a tournament. "... Hmm, well... it's good you're making friends with at least one of the tenkousei..." she muses.
But then she looks over at Sakura, brow furrowed just a bit more. "Ne... you two... seem to be taking this... fighting pretty seriously, lately! I mean, the training... and the fighting for crowds... Are you thinking about going pro?"
Sakura gets her cake--two slices of the strawberry, actually, and a cup of milk--then joins her friends. She's really just in time to hear most of the conversation, and her brow furrows. "I hadn't heard that about the new people, Hinata," she comments, as she slides into her seat, breaking out a fork. She pauses before cutting into her first piece, though, and turns thoughtful eyes on her friends.
"Maybe I should meet this Ashley girl," she muses, half to herself, "and this Brett guy... I dunno. Maybe I'm just being paranoid?" Cutting into a piece of cake, she takes a mouthful of whipped cream, sugared strawberry, and vanilla cake, relishing the rich, sweet flavors on her tongue for a long moment. Cake this fine doesn't require much in the way of chewing, so the mouthful practically disappears moments later.
"Huh? Am I... serious?" She looks at Natsu, her expression serious, thoughtful.
"Yeah, I think I am. It's--" She gestures vaguely, not quite sure how to put her thoughts into words. "--it's fun. But more than that... I feel like..."
Her expression reddens a little, her voice dropping just a tad. "I feel like I'm looking past myself and into the world around me. Like I'm seeing more than I did before..."
When her cake arrives, Hinata lets the conversation fall into the background; it's not that she's not listening, it's more than at the moment her priorities are far more focused on taking a bite out of this new sweet than they are on continuing to talk. And as much as people might tease Hinata for her little obsession with cake, she refuses to actually shovel it into her mouth. Each bite she takes is to be savored; quality supercedes quantity... although having both is nice.
By the time she's finished, Sakura has returned to the conversation. Even if her mouth is full, she's taking in everything her friend has to say on the matter while taking a short sip of her tea.
"If that's what its like for you, Sakura, then you should keep going for it." The brilliant shine of her smile honestly tends to have a rather convincing effect on people; it's difficult to turn down such intense optimism. "When you find something you like, you've got to keep going, you know?"
Hinata follows it up with a more casual wave of her hand when it comes to her turn on the discussion. "Personally... I just think it's a lot of fun to learn about all the different fighting techniques. Also, people get really excited and happy when you put on a good fight, and it gives you a way that you can help stand up to any bully that tries to treat your friends badly." Emphasizing that point, she punches her right fist into her open left hand.
Then, just as if it were the most casual afterthought, she adds, "Also, Sakura totally needs to have a rival if she wants to be the best, so why not have the rival be one of her best friends?"
Natsu takes a tentative bite of her cake as she listens to Sakura. Considering for a moment, savoring the flavor... she nods with approval, lips curving into a smile. That's the best part about these little soujourns -- not so much the idle conversation itself, but being able to enjoy delicious cakes while commisserating.
"It's just as Hina-chan says, Saku-chan. I'm glad you've found something you really enjoy!" Natsu doesn't have to boast about her own hobby, after all -- she'd funneled her interest into volleyball long ago, after all, and while she would certainly be happy if they partook of the same sport, she's perfectly happy to know that her friends may have something similar.
Hinata does touch on a point, though, which Natsu feels is worthy of mentioning. Two things, really. "... Rival? Really?" Natsu breaks into a healthy chuckle. "I thought rivals were supposed to be cutthroat and mean to one another, and I just don't see the two of you ever managing -that- level of contempt..."
She impales a piece of cake, and wags it at her friends. "But still, I... you know, you have to be careful out there! I... I've had to help take care of bullies before, but if you keep pushing yourself... well, I know you two like to bite off more than you can chew!"
To demonstrate, she relieves the fork of its cargo.
"Is it really fun, at least? I... I've considered joining you two, you know. Like we don't do -everything- together already..." Maybe that's why she felt like contesting the definition of a 'rival' -- three-way rivalries are not unheard of, but it's kind of hard to diagram out, isn't it?
Forkfuls of cake disappear into Sakura's mouth at pretty regular intervals, listening to her friends talk about fighting and rivalries and things of that nature. "I think I am," she says, after a sip of milk to help clear her mouth of some of the richness of the cake. As for the subject of rivals, though, Sakura frowns.
"I don't think rivalries work like that, Hina-chan. Besides, we don't have to be -rivals- to challenge each other to be better! We can just train together and be..." She considers her words for a moment.
"... partners. And you, too, Natsu-chan. You're naturally athletic and I bet you'd be a great fighter, too! We can train together and all that. I don't know if you'll find it fun. It... it isn't always fun," she adds, thinking back.
"But even when it isn't fun it's... enlightening. Like, getting the cheers from the crowd is great but when I fought Asamiya-san the crowd was definitely on her side... but I still learned a lot from that fight."
Another bite of cake, and Sakura nods decisively. "You should try it, Natsu-chan. I'll be there to cheer you on!"
The fact that both her friends dismiss her idea like that leaves Hinata in a small huff, exhaling quite obviously through her nose while her eyes drift away from her friends. "All you need to have to be a rival is a desire to get better than each other. It's not like it has to be mean or anything." Her fork shears off another small piece of cake as she adds, "And it's more fun to say rivals."
She lets the conversation pass around her for a little bit after that, moving her fork up to her mouth, letting the sugar of the cake work its way back into her system and bring her back up to her normal level of cheerfulness.
It's hard to be upset when you've got cake.
"Fighting isn't that hard, Natsu," she chimes in after Sakura's encouragement, once again grinning as if the previous bit had never even happened. "I mean, you play a lot of volleyball, so you've got reaction time, body control, endurance, and all of that. You just need to practice some attacks, you know?" Of course fighting seems pretty easy when your two examples for new fighters are Hinata and Sakura; the progress they've made in the short time since they picked up martial arts has been rather remarkable.
Partners, yes. That word resonates much more strongly with Natsu, she considers, while making short work of the cakes in front of her. But... it's not worth aggravating a friend over. With a pleasant smile, she concedes, "Well, perhaps we can be rivals then, in your sense. If we all fight the same person at different times, or some such, haha."
Contemplating the words of her friends, Natsu can certainly appreciate the optimistic way in which her idea has been received. In a way, she'd been half-hoping they would try to talk her -out- of the idea, but with how synergistic Hinata and Sakura both are... haha, fat chance.
"... Maybe so, but I can't see myself hurling balls of energy around like you two. Volleyballs, maybe, haha!" Taking one more sip of her milktea, she adds, "Well, I suppose... as long as it doesn't leave me worn out for a game. The team still needs me at my best, after all! But I'm pretty sure that with you two training me, I'd be learning in record time."
Finishing off what's left of her milktea, she bows her head, clapping her hands togerher in apology. "Gomen ne... I do hate to eat and run, but my mom's out tonight, so I'd need to get started on dinner soon."
Rising from the table, Natsu scoots over to give each of her friends a brief hug. "It was good to talk with you two!"
Sakura returns Natsu's hug, and finishes her milk and one of her cake slices. Just as she's poised to drop the tines of her fork into the other one, her phone goes off, and she frowns, pulling it out and checking the message that was left. "Ahh... dang, I have to go, too. Mom wants me to buy some stuff from the store for dinner tonight."
Sakura slides out of the booth, waving to the proprietor. "Sir? Can I get this boxed up?" She takes her tray over, then walks back towards her friends, making an apologetic face at Hinata. "Sorry, Hina-chan. I just--I think it's too early to be talking about 'rivals' or anything like that. For me, at least. Right now..." She smiles.
"Right now I have to challenge the entire world! See where I really am in the scheme of things. Then maybe I can think about rivals. Right now, though... I'd really love to have some partners in this whole thing." The cake being boxed up, Sakura retrieves it, then leans over to give her own hugs to her two friends.
"We'll take on the world together, okay?"
"Volleyballs might be a good thing, Natsu. Sometimes you just want to throw off your opponents with something out of the ordinary," Hinata replies thoughtfully. "Personally, I've been working on this move where I kick my shoe at somebody... but Sakura blew up my shoe the last time I tried it, so I need to put in more work."
As both of her friends start to make their departure, a bit of the energy sags out of the sunshine girl. She's quick to return the hug and offers a wave. "We'll definitely find a way to help you turn your awesome athleticism into fighting ability, Natsu-chan. Then when the tournament I'm working on with Ashley starts, we can be standing on the top three spots of the podium!"
This leads to a thoughtful pause where she adds, mostly to herself, "Do they do top threes in fighting tournaments."
The thought is soon lost to time as both her friends make their way to the door. "I'll see you guys tomorrow," she shouts with a bit too much enthusiasm for being currently inside as she waves enthusiasticly.
Then she's left on her own, with a few other patrons and the store's owner. "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. After the fight, they let me keep the wand, and I've still got the costume the drama department made..."
And the scene drifts off.
Log created on 21:05:20 11/05/2014 by Hinata, and last modified on 00:36:49 11/06/2014.