Although she had said not a word in response to his greeting, Shunpei had always known Mitsuko to be quite quiet. He couldn’t say it was a trait shared by he and his usual company, but it was one he could appreciate, like coming home for dinner after a long day of play. He wasn’t concerned about her silence.
What he was concerned about, however, was how she had so suddenly become flush with color! Usually Mitsuko was all pale and light, like a Hyuga ought to be, but right now she was more like a beet.
Despite Shunpei’s social intuition, Mitsuko had always been a hard one to read. Her emotions were like a tranquil sea, and even after years of being her friend, he couldn’t be completely confident in his ability to pierce the depths of her heart.
He was also kind of dumb, which might have played a not insignificant role in what he did next.
When the farm boy saw his friend’s face flushed a deep red, he did not think about the possibility she was simply embarrassed. He did not think about the possibility this could all have been his fault. What he did think about was today: the day they graduated, the day they met their sensei, and the day that began with torrential rainfall. “Are you sick or somethin’?”
Shunpei asked innocently, “You’re lookin’ awful red there…”
The farm boy would have continued pondering on the exact nature of Mitsuko’s condition if it weren’t for Tsume’s... not-inaccurate-but-also-not-accurate introduction of the two to their sensei. He’d even caught the side comment, unfortunately. "Erm... Tsume-san, uh... My name's not Shunichi..."
the Hatake pointed out, “It’s Shunpei.”
Now, even though she hung out with Fukushu and he hung out with Tensai, Shunpei didn’t have anything against Tsume. Sure she was loud and reckless and couldn’t read a room for the life of her, but she wasn’t a bad person as far as he could tell. Heck, Shunpei could even appreciate her attempt at keeping her snide thoughts between the sensei and herself (which in and of itself was indicative of the issue she had pointed out).
But it still really hurt knowing that one of his beloved classmates couldn't even remember his name
even after several years. It just went to show how much of an impact he had made in the minds of his peers. How utterly depressing. “Haha...! But don’t worry about it,”
Shunpei laughed. It was an awkward, anxious and inelegant, but it nevertheless held a touch of sincerity. “I reckon you’ll remember real well when I become Hokage. Then ya can be like sensei over here! Heh… Heh...”
He let that statement stand, partially because he couldn’t think of anything else to say, but mostly because he couldn’t possibly belt out another line like that. He really just wanted to curl into his stomach. It was too embarrassing now that he heard it out loud!
Shunpei promptly turned to watch the other teams depart, which gave him time to smile and wave. The fact it meant he was looking away from his team was a happy accident. Once the heat had left his face and his last former-classmate had left the building, Shunpei directed his attention back to the team.
According to the jonin, they were going to the hospital, which was weird. Everyone else was going off to training grounds, which made sense. What business did they have at the hospital?
At the risk of seeming like Kimura, the Hatake began speculating.
Surely their sensei wasn’t planning on having them train there; that would cause such a ruckus! Maybe he was planning on having them help out there instead, but as far as Shunpei knew, Mitsuko was the only one on the team who knew much about medicine. Tsume was always more a punchy-type, and his own talents were also not (in generous terms) medically-inclined. Were they really that strapped for people?
Oh! Maybe they were going to visit an injured shinobi contact and go off on a super cool mission! That’d be sick--not the same kind of sick that Mitsuko was, but sick
But that was putting the cart before the horse. First they had to find somewhere to eat that was relatively close to the hospital. But where?
At that moment, Shunpei hammered his palm. “Oh! Kitanai-sensei!”
the genin bounced, eager to be of use. His had arm shot into the air as if he were going to wait for his sensei to call on him, which he did not. “I know a place we can go. Follow me!”
And so, Shunpei sprinted off into the rain-soaked streets of Konohagakure.
Location: “Food Stall”, Konohagakure, Late Morning
As excited as the Hatake had been, the destination was not very impressive. Shunpei’s path brought Team Kitanai to a hole-in-the-wall ramen stall in Konohagakure’s minor clan quarter. Most people going about day to day business in the village wouldn't stumble across this place unless they knew what they were looking for, and the design reflected this. The prices advertised were hilariously low; one could live off of the food here on an orphan’s stipend if they so wanted to. The stall only had enough seats for six people total, one of which was occupied already. Emblazoned on the dirty noren was red kanji spelling the shop’s name.
Shunpei pushed aside the noren and stopped in his tracks. He cast a look over his shoulder to see if the other two were still behind him, which they were. But if that was the case, then this was really weird! “What in tarnation?”
Shunpei scratched the side of his head, ”Kitanai-sensei, what’re-- How’re you able to get her so quick? I didn’t even say where we were goin’!”