Here's a sort-of omake one-shot that has no relation to the main story line of Laterality and exists only for fun! Takes place some random time before the picnic with Obito and Rin in ch 31. Nothing serious, just general light-heartedness. Written in April.

Good Food, Good Friends

"Kushina…I think this is too much food."

"Huh? What're you talking about, Namie-brat?" The redhead whirled around with both hands set on her hips, a spatula dangling from one, squinting in confusion. "This is perfectly enough food for the both of us!"

Namie eyed the various dishes spread out across the entirety of the tabletop, grimacing slightly. Sure, it would be enough for them if they were both sumo wrestlers. Or if they were the equivalent of four grown adults, instead of a child and a teenager.

She hadn't really noticed the output of food while they were making it, too focused on getting things just right. But, now that all was said and done, well… just whatwere they supposed to do with all this? She did love food, but some things just weren't physically possible. This was a buffet.

Not only that, but there was a clear difference in their skill. Kushina's dishes were all arranged nicely and appetizingly, almost like perfect photo shots out of a weekly cooking magazine, while her own were…definitely novice, with some looking more questionable than others. At the very least, they were edible. Mushy, maybe (definitely) a little bland and slightly burnt, but edible.

Kushina assured her it was fine—that everyone had to start somewhere. But seeing her pro-level cooking made that hard to believe.

"Well, you take half of it all and I'll keep the rest," Kushina continued on, bringing out the storage containers (which were all in the largest size possible).


"That's right! We both helped out with it all, so a split's in order."

Even if she did take her share, she wasn't sure how long it would take to consume it all. Just what did Kushina plan on doing with all of it? Putting it in storage for the whole week? No—with as much as she ate, it probably wouldn't last half that long. The girl had the metabolism of a cheetah thanks to the tailed beast chakra contained within.

"What a good day's work, too. Y'know, you're not half bad at this, Namie-chan." She snapped the lid onto the final tupperware container with a satisfied smile as the blonde did the same with hers. In total, they had six dishes, all filled to the top in piles—some forcibly smashed down by their lids.

Carrying it home was going to be a pain.

"Was it really? Even if I messed up the rice the first time?"

"Aha, don't worry about that, 'ttebane! When I tried to clean rice for the first time I turned it into soup, too! It takes a really delicate touch."

Somehow, Namie could perfectly picture the redhead pulverizing the poor tiny grains into dust while attempting to wash them. Delicate wasn't a word that really matched with her, after all. It was a wonder she'd figured out how to withhold enough of her strength to properly fix up a rice dish. But still, she'd worked tirelessly and she'd come this far. It was inspiring.

"So, Namie-chan, whaddya say we do this again next week sometime? I know you're busy, but…it was fun, right?" Her tone was light, and there was a hopeful expression on her face.

"It was fun," Namie agreed, lips quirking into a smile. It was different than their training days, but just spending time with Kushina in general was always enjoyable. "If I get the time, I'll definitely tell you." But she wasn't quite sure she'd be able to finish these leftovers before then. On her own or with Minato and Taji.

Well, there was always Hiroto, too.

Even when she was a part of Team One, Namie had never seen Hiroto eat a meal. Not even a snack. She was certain he did eat, because he was only human and soldier pills could only take a person so far, but he'd never done so in the presence of the three genin. Not even now, when it was only the two of them.

She always made it a point to bring either a full lunchbox or at least a sandwich along to training because there was no telling how long the sessions would run from time to time, but he never bothered to bring so much as a simple rice ball. Even during breaks, all he did was sit there under a tree reading through scrolls and notebooks, occasionally flipping through a magazine or book (nothing shady like theIcha Icha series, since Jiraiya had yet to write them, thank god). It didn't worry her—more than anything, it was amusing. Mysterious. A little strange.

Maybe he was just uncomfortable eating around others—she'd been the same, once. But…food always tasted better in company. That was one thing she'd come to learn in this world.

Just outright asking him if he wanted some of her lunch that day was difficult, however, even though she'd packed enough—maybe even more than enough—for two people. He would think it suspicious, if she up and offered it out of the blue. Hell, she'd be suspicious if someone did the same to her, especially given their semi-antagonistic, but mostly supportive, relationship. Poison would be the first thing that crossed her mind.


Namie didn't realize she was staring like a moron until he spoke that gruff word—didn't even phrase it as a question—and when Hiroto looked up from his weapon catalogue, she was sure he caught her staring like a deer caught in headlights. His expression didn't waver, though. By now, he was used to her sporadic bouts of oddness.

"Um—" she inwardly cursed herself as she stammered. Doing something kindly was pretty difficult, when this guy was concerned. They weren't family. They weren't friends. They weren't even colleagues. He was more like her pissy P.E. teacher.

Maybe…maybe asking something like that was crossing a line or something.

She fidgeted, not quite nervous, but uncertain, with the lid of her bento box before just tearing it off to display the menagerie of food that was crammed inside—a mixture of Kushina's and her own cooking. "Do you want some lunch, Hiroto-sensei? We've been out here for hours and I haven't seen you eat anything—I mean, do you ever even get hungry?"

After briefly meeting his eyes, she returned her attention to the meal, just to make sure it didn't look like some twisted, miniature Eldritch horror. It didn't. Just a lot of noodles and rice; piles of vegetables and beef, all thrown together like it was take-out or some bizarre Russian roulette between her and Kushina's cooking. Completely edible. But maybe she should've asked Kushina for pointers on arrangement appeal.

"What?" Hiroto repeated, this time more emphatically as he looked at the large-sized, two-tier bento box in his student's hands. Naturally, he suspected something. A harmless prank, a joke, something that didn't involve offering him real, actual food, but… at the same time, he felt it would be improper to doubt her offer. There was a better, working trust between them now, after all—maybe this was just her way of showing gratitude, because he'd be damned if he ever heard a "thanks" or anything like it leave her mouth.

It was true that he never ate in the presence of his students. He'd never thought it a cause for concern, especially since none of them had brought it up in the past, but he was wrong to think it went completely unnoticed. He didn't underestimate her observational skills, of course, but the fact that she was the one approaching him with this… Well, there was no reason he shouldn't be a little wary. Especially when her body language came off as so reluctant.

"It might look weird because a lot of it is from a first attempt. I didn't do anything to it, okay? I just thought I'd ask. It's weird when I'm the only one eating lunch."

Still, she spoke in a contrary manner, looking unhappy as she offered the food.

But—what would sour her mood even further: his rejecting the lunch, or accepting it? Namie was a tricky one. He no longer suspected mischievous intent behind her offer, because she did know better than that, but if what she said was true, and that this was from her first time cooking, declining would probably wound her ego—no, that wasn't quite right.

She was a young girl, a ten-year-old girl—something he forgot at times, because her mental development and appearance were mismatched. If he said no, it wouldhurt her feelings, right? Because she was going to such lengths to reach out and share the food she'd made herself with someone she thought needed the nutrition. No matter how he looked at it, that was goodwill.

It was just so…un-Namie-like that he couldn't help but overthink it.

He was actually hungry.

Hiroto took a moment longer to observe the child and the lunchbox, noting the way that her face contorted in vague irritation as the seconds ticked by, before sighing and holding out a hand in acceptance.

Namie's eyes brightened in surprise and she immediately shoved the container into her teacher's hands with a grin before settling down to dig into her own meal. If things went like this every day, she would be rid of the excess food in no time! Itwas an ulterior motive, after all—but one that benefited everyone involved, really.

Now, Hiroto was burdened with the responsibility of carrying through his agreement and actually eating the food. She did say it was her first try at making anything—what if it tasted terrible? It did look edible enough, aside from randomly-sized chunks of vegetables, mushy-looking rice, and some well-done pieces of meat. But, still. What exactly had he gotten himself into…?

"I said nothing's wrong with it," Namie asserted, noticing his reluctance and narrowing an eye at him suspiciously. It was hard to tell whether the quality of her tone was pushy or affronted.

Hiroto held up his hands to calm her. "I believe you, Namie-chan."

It was time to bite the bullet.

Cautiously, he picked up something that looked like a fried shrimp (he hoped it was) with his chopsticks and—ate it.

It took all of his willpower not to spit it right back out. It was bland! And just—what kind of spongy, gritty, bread-like texture was that? Definitely not something that belonged anywhere near fried shrimp. No, in fact—he was quite sure, now—that wasn't a shrimp at all. It was a piece of a kitchen sponge that somehow ended up in the mix. Definitely. A kitchen sponge with a tail.

He knew far better than to criticize the quality, of course—Inori regaled him with tales of his wife's amateur cooking and the times he'd protested the taste, which resulted in upset confrontations and the blond man being locked out of his home to find better food because of it. The situation here wouldn't end up the same way, naturally, but he was definitely against finding out just how Namie would react if he were to give…constructive criticism.

"Geh, this is awful! Burnt, it's burnt…where's the seasoning?" Namie grieved as she gnawed miserably on a piece of beef, looking near tears. "Sorry, Sensei, the stuff I made is pretty bad. But the stuff that actually looks good, it is good—Kushina-nee made that, not me."

It was his chance to agree—to shove aside the questionable-looking pieces and just stick with the safe, normal-looking food, and for a moment, he nearly did. But—he would be digging his own grave if he did that, he knew. Inori mentioned a situation quite similar to this, too. It was in his best interest to say the opposite of what he felt, here, and to avoid saying anything against the girl's cooking.

But…was that really fair? This was her hard work. If he was dishonest, it would be…well, wrong.

This was Namie, after all. She could handle a little dissatisfaction.

"Well, it could be better," Hiroto finally yielded, watching her carefully, hoping he hadn't misjudged the situation and misread his student. Maybe she was at a delicate age, now, and would burst into tears thanks to his words—but he didn't expect that to happen until her teen years.

That wasn't the case. Her face was fixed in a careful, curious blank as she paused mid-chew to look his way, waiting to hear more.

"But," he reached for another sponge-like shrimp, this time with the addition of wormy noodles, "it isn't the worst." It took all of his willpower not to cringe at the sight of it.

A small grin crossed the girl's lips when he didn't intentionally avoid the food that was clearly prepared by her. Unlike anyone else, she could trust him to give her a completely honest evaluation, even for something as trivial as her cooking. Even if he was putting it lightly. Not only that, he was determined to finish the entire lunch, poor-tasting morsels and all. That in itself was admirable.

Now, with more confidence, she reached into her lunch and withdrew a shrimp to chomp into—and immediately froze. Swallowed it down, trying not to taste it, because—

"Sensei, you liar. This is really...really terrible."

—no amount of company could ever make her cooking taste any better at that moment.