"Good, now gently knead the bread," Jin ordered as the others watched on.
"Okay!" The koala exclaimed as she raised her hands and propelled them towards the innocent loaf of dough. "No!" Jin yelled as her fists came in contact with the dough.
The rest of the group had gathered in closer to watch the process of kneading the bread that they had planned to eat, now all over their faces and aprons. MeiMei was too close to the center of impact and the force of the dough colliding with her body made her thrown out of the classroom door.
As she lay there panting with happiness and blushing in the face, Jin was yelling at the Koala, and Ranka was busy trying to lick everyone's faces clean. As the pack boss, it was her job to make sure that everyone was as clean as possible, and the best solution just so happened to be the one that she liked to perform the most.
At a glance, this seemed like a perfectly normal meeting for the history cooking club. But past the surface, there was a small hint of a difference in the group, something that all felt, but no one except Jin and Hitomi knew exactly what.
As Jin brought up a second batch of dough that he had made in case of this event that he fully expected would happen, he motioned for MeiMei to do the kneading instead.
Grumbling at having to do something, she only got to it when Jin scolded her to do so. Against the protests of her manager, she went ahead and eagerly kneaded the dough.
"You okay?" Jin asked Hitomi as she tried to wipe off the mess for her face.
A muffled sound that appeared to be a yes, came out. Jin took up two of the many different kitchen towels, giving one to Hitomi's free hands.
With the other, he gently started to wipe her face off with the towel. Using his other hand, he tossed the dough into the trash can and continued to clean up the mess.
Hitomi blushed as soon as she saw Jin's face so close to hers. It had been the first time since Wednesday that she had seen him. When she had entered the room that day and saw him again, he was stretching out Ranka's mouth with his hands as he pinned her to the wall.
He immediately noticed her enter and abruptly stopped, exclaiming that he was simply training her to stop licking him so much and that she had simply lost control.
Apart from that outburst, he had been his usual self. Still, she couldn't help but feel that there was still something wrong.
Even though he acted as nothing had happened, there were little moments that made her notice a certain change. His occasional glances at her, him smiling a bit too much as if he was compensating or covering up something on his mind.
"Uh Jin?" she said nervously, gently pushing him away. "Can I have the other towel?"
"Oh sure!" he said quickly and handed her a fresh one, before turning away and getting to clean up Miyubi, who had come back to life again after feeling overwhelmed by the dough on her face. Brushing the remaining dough from herself, Hitomi watched as Jin carefully made sure to remove every last bit from the sloth.
After the clean-up concluded and the bread was in the oven, the group got bored with waiting, so Meimei had brought along a few games for them to play. They all started to play Monopoly, with Jin declining to join, as he had homework to finish ahead of time.
"I want to have a clear mind for the sports festival." He cited as his excuse. Hitomi glanced over occasionally as the game continued.
Distracted by the constant nagging in the mind, she was the first one to run out of money. Giving her properties to the manager, who agreed to the role of a banker, she went over and sat in a chair a few feet away from Jin.
He continued to focus on his homework, intensely writing out equations that his professor had hinted would be vital for the final exam. Several minutes passed and not once did he look up from his work. Knowing that she had only a few minutes to speak her mind, Hitomi got up and prepared herself.
"Jin, can I talk to you for a moment?" She asked quietly.
"Sure! What's up!" Jin asked cheerfully. "Too cheerfully," she thought.
"I wanted to know if you were okay. I haven't seen you since, you know, that day and you were acting a little weird." She spilled out as much as she could that was on her mind. She made sure to keep her voice down enough to prevent the others from hearing them.
"What do you mean you won't pay the taxes?! You have to!" MeiMei yelled at Ranka, who had landed on a luxury tax spot.
"Government is not the boss, I am and I say I don't have to pay it!" Ranka declared. "You will do as we say, or we will execute you!" the manager yelled in his best banker voice, a rich and pompous accent with an air of contempt. Maybe they were too focused to notice how Jin and Hitomi were speaking.
Jin sighed and put down his pen. Motioning to Hitomi, she sat down in a chair next to him that was overlooking the window. Being on the second story gave them a beautiful view of the campus on the left and forest edge on the right.
Somehow, Jin had managed to pick one of the most scenic classrooms that the school had, with a view that one would look at and feel tranquility. Even Hitomi was slightly less nervous as she saw the contrast between wild and civilized, school and forest. It was a pretty sight in her eyes.
"You have nothing to worry about," Jin affirmed. He gave a serious look like the thought carefully about his next words. "Should I be soft and simply tell her to stop worrying or be honest and detailed?" he considered. Going with honesty, he looked up at Hitomi.
"It's just that, it was a bit of a shock to me. I had loved you for four years and the answer of no was not a pleasant thing to put it simply."
"Jin," Hitomi said sternly. "If you think that making me feel guilty will somehow get me to fall for you or that-"
"Oh no, I didn't mean it that way!" Jin scrambled to clear up the mistake.
"I have accepted your answer," he continued. "I cannot force you to change your mind and I don't want to do it. I was only saying how I felt to explain why I am acting this way."
He gave her a small smile. "Just give me some time to process and get over it. You can't forget four years of feelings in a few days. But," he said as he gingerly reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We will still be friends, and things will go back to normal. I only need some patience."
Hitomi suddenly threw herself at him and hugged him tightly, catching Jin by surprise. His words had made her fears crumble into small particles of their former selves. Now, she was deeply relieved that she hadn't lost Jin. "Well, as normal at this group can get," she chuckled.
"Jin! How can you cheat on me so brazenly!" Ranka yelled as she turned and noticed the two humans in a close hug, too close for her own tastes. "I am not! It is only me hugging Hitomi in a friendly way! Besides, we are not together that way!"
Jin yelled back. "I know! That's the joke!" Ranka smiled at him and turned back to the game. It was not between herself and Miyubi, who had somehow gotten all the green, red, purple and railroad properties of the board.
"Huh, that mutt is learning?" Jin wondered to himself. "Only a couple weeks and she already knows to restrain herself."
"Don't lick him, don't lick him, don't lick him." Ranka's mind repeated, over and over again. It took all her focus to look at the gameboard and not at Jin. "Wonder why they were hugging and acting so weird today?" she thought, as Miyubi bankrupted the young wolf.
The oven rang out and the bread was carried out on a sheet to cool for an hour, another round of Monopoly was started. This time, it was all down between Jin and Miyubi.
Everyone except Ranka was cheering for Miyubi, as the pair duked it out for bankrupt one another. Properties switched hands one by one, and the game was no closer to finishing.
"Send a hurricane to take down her hotels Jin!" Ranka yelled out.
"That's not how this game works!" he yelled as Ranka leaped up and dove onto the board, sending everyone and the game pieces flying.
"Well, I guess that's a tie!" the manager declared as the others recovered from the pink hurricane. "Now, who's ready to eat?"