Disclaimer Don't own Naruto, nor anything remotely associated to it.
Gaara hated Fridays.
It wasn't the fact that it was the weekends, the beginning of more work for him instead of less because he didn't have a normal sleeping schedule like most people and usually worked more to keep from being bored. It wasn't the fact that he was usually left alone to mind the family tattoo parlor, because he liked his solitude. Even if he tolerated his elder siblings' presence as well as one could, being as his brother still played with dolls and his sister was more manly than his brother, solitude was still better. It wasn't the fact that he had nothing to do on Friday nights, because he considered working and making money doing something. No, Gaara hated Fridays because Fridays was the one day of the whole week when he was left alone at work when twice the usual range of giggling girls would somehow find themselves in a tattoo parlor.
Don't get him wrong, he didn't dislike girls, though he didn't like them either. Most of them showed up, batted their eyelashes and usually asked if he tattooed genitals. Excuse him while he quickly put on his disposable gloves so he could bitch slap each one of them into common sense. It didn't help that most of them wanted butterflies. Was there anything sissier, more girly, and more utterly despicable than fucking butterflies? Gaara didn't think so.
It was always the same with these girls, whom Gaara liked to call 'butterflies' after the most popular tattoo with the crowd. Tattoos were a way to make a statement that they too, conformed to the normal way of society by getting something that was supposed to set them apart. They didn't bother to think of the long term affects of tattoos, and most seemed to think the tattoo would be able to be rubbed off in a week along the same time their current boyfriend dumped them or whatever.
Gaara was sick of tattooing butterflies on the small of the backs of giggling girls who seemed to find him attractive. If Gaara had given a rat's ass about how cute he was, he probably would try to get more sleep to improve his pale complexion and diminish the black bags under his eyes that he hid with excessive amounts of eyeliner. Not because he was ashamed of his appearance without them, mind you, but he found that excessive eye makeup would usually send those butterflies twittering back to whoever's mouth they'd been attached to last.
The women who bothered to stay usually had more challenging things for Gaara than butterflies. In fact, the last woman who he tattooed had gotten Gaara to give her a custom made tattoo, which couldn't have made Gaara any happier. That is, if Gaara had bothered to show it. Along with excessive eyeliner, Gaara found that glowering at people who displeased him or would displease him would send his target running with their tails tucked between their legs.
Of course, his elder sister Temari scolded him when she had the nerve, telling him that it was only bad for business, and that glaring at everyone wasn't going to work forever. Kankuro, his elder brother, would say sternly things about how business would plummet, especially since Gaara was usually left alone in the shop to do most of the tattooing. Kankuro was better suited for an office and Temari, when she showed up, would often patronize Gaara until he either left or he broke a few things. Since neither one was good for business, Temari only opted to work when Gaara wasn't around, since quite frankly, Gaara's unpredictable temper scared her. The thought brought an evil smirk to his lips. As his behavior should.
Gaara let his elbows rest easily on the black counter, idly flipping through his own artist's portfolio, feeling a strange welling of pride as he let his fingers twitch over the pictures, remembering how long each tattoo had taken, who had gotten it, and admired how each tattoo had turned out. Usually, when someone asked to see his artist's portfolio, Gaara would simply point to his own forehead, where the Chinese character for love was engraved in what looked to be the color of blood.
Even though Gaara would never tell anyone why or how he had gotten the tattoo, not even his family, Gaara had done it himself. He had carefully outlined the character in the mirror, taking extra care to make sure that it wasn't backwards. He had lovingly cleaned the skin, sterilized the needle, put on his disposable gloves and started. The whole thing had taken about an hour, but only because he had made sure to do everything slowly and perfectly. It was his tattoo, and no one else's. Most people seemed impressed with that amount of skill, and few bothered to see the other tattoos he had bestowed upon people.
Unconsciously, he rubbed his forehead where his tattoo was, as if to remind himself of the message he had hoped to engrave into his mind forever, in both ink and something else. It was his only tattoo, if mostly because he didn't trust anyone else with a needle. Besides, further marring of his body was unnecessary. He was perfectly fine with his own as of late.
He was broken out of his revere when he heard the jingling of the door, signaling that someone had entered. Temari had insisted they get one so it would 'feel like a real store' and not some 'back alley tattoo parlor where prostitutes got tattooed'. If prostitutes ever got tattooed, Gaara would never know. With that lifting thought in mind, Gaara first glimpsed her.
She was short, since she was only a few inches shorter than Gaara, and Gaara was considered to be a shrimp. She had a smooth complexion with peachy skin with a healthy glow that perhaps Gaara could have if he bothered to sleep regularly. There was a slight swelling of curves in the right places that sloped gently along her body, proportioned perfectly to make her look like a model, if only a miniature of one. She had cotton candy pink hair, spilling to the nape of her neck, where it was brutally cut off as if some slightly sharp object had been yanked through it. Gaara let a brief thought flow through him, wondering if it was natural or if she was rebelling against some over loving parents. It was the hair that startled him at first, but then he turned his somewhat bored gaze to her face, he was slightly amused by her lips the same shade as her hair, a pert nose that was probably cute even when she wrinkled it, and her bright green eyes, so wide as to seem almost childish. To sum it up, she looked like a kid. It didn't help that she was wearing a spaghetti strapped pink and white dress, matching sandals, and a white ribbon in her hair. Looked like another butterfly had fluttered into his shop again. And what was more, she was intoxicated. He could smell her all the way from the counter, which was a good few feet from the front of the store. This was going to be fun.
"We don't tattoo drunks," Gaara told her flatly, "especially not ones under sixteen. Come back with mommy and daddy in a few years." He didn't even bother to look at her anymore. Most of them left after that speech and his trademark 'Leave before I kick your ass' glare that sent grown men cowering. Most.
"Like hell I'm under sixteen." She said angrily, and if it wasn't for the pretty drunk flush across her pale cheeks, Gaara would have thought she was sober. She once again confirmed how drunk she was by not being able to walk in a semblance of a straight line to his counter. As soon as she made it the excruciating six feet to the shiny counter, she promptly fell against it, sighing as she rested her cheek against the counter. Her eyelashes fluttered closed, and Gaara noted that they were also pink. Guess that explained if her hair was natural or not. "You… you don't look much older than me." She told his left shoulder somewhat vaguely, and she blinked at him owlishly, as if she had just woken up. Without another word, she dug around in his purse, also pink Gaara was somewhat disgusted to note, and pulled out an ID.
Gaara only gave her a piercing look that usually sent drunks like her stumbling backwards on their bottoms, apologizing over and over again before they quickly fled the store. Sakura Haruno, if her ID was in fact correct, didn't even bat an eyelash. Instead, she took one look at his scowling face that seemed to amuse her so much as she burst into hysterical fits of laughter.
"Picture looks that bad, huh? I thought so too. Which is why I cut off all that hair." Sakura gestured vaguely to her skull, before resting it heavily on the counter. "Showing my big fat forehead…" She mumbled unhappily, leaving Gaara to once again wonder why all the butterflies decided to show up on his shift. And drunk no less.
"No tattoos for the intoxicated." Gaara told her in his flat voice, wishing fiercely that perhaps all these woe begotten girls showed up at Temari's shift. At least she'd be able to bitch slap them back into reality. Gaara had to be polite, because he was a male. And because of the extra appendage between his legs, if he so much as looked at a girl funny, he could be slapped with harassment and sent to jail. Again. And if he was going to be sent to jail, there was no way in hell the girl would get off scotch free. There was a perfectly good reason that most people edged away from him. Something about him was like a toxic cloud, spewing out some sort of black bestiality that most people managed to keep caged in their skins. Not Gaara. Even though he just happened to be spewing twice his normal amount of toxin, the girl didn't even bother to look a bit frightened. In fact, she seemed to be looking at him as if he was something extremely fascinating and not that all scary. She should just be grateful that there was a counter separating them.
"Why?" She turned her wide green eyes back up to him, using a sugary sweet voice. Gaara mentally tried to recall a nice place, one without butterflies. All he ended up with was a bloody desert with some corpses strewn about and a liberating knife in his hand. Moving on…
"Because alcohol thins the blood and makes you bleed more if I jab a needle into you." Gaara knew a few spots he'd like to jab a needle into butterflies like Ms. Sakura Haruno. And nowhere pleasant.
"Just one itty, bittty tattoo, please! Just a tiny one! It won't take a minute!" She paused, and then snorted out more laughter that sounded like painful sobs. "I don't mind the bleeding. I already feel it here." She placed a hand over her heart, smiling goofily like it was the funniest thing in the world. The gesture seemed terribly sad to Gaara, but he offered no comment and stared at her impassively. "It's not even going to be anywhere nasty! Just here!" Without further ado, she tipped herself over the counter, and pointed to her left shoulder blade. Or at least tried to. Instead, she ended up missing and hitching up her dress instead, until it was almost indecent. She seemed confused as to why pulling up her dress didn't automatically point to her shoulder blade.
"Where's your boyfriend?" Gaara snapped instead, frowning at her. Anything instead of looking at her thighs. Girls like her usually had their boyfriends within their general vicinity, just because they liked to have something to hold on to. She didn't so much as flinch at his glare, but instead slumped down even more, feebly glancing at him from below the counter. She looked as if his glare had wounded her emotionally, but not scared her.
"I don't have one." She all but sobbed, and Gaara inwardly rolled his eyes. Great. Then who was going to get this fucking butterfly off his counter? "See, I was going to tattoo his name right here, but he… he…" With this, she gave a slight sigh, as if trying to remember her train of thought. And then she brightened. "Oh, he told me I was a hindrance to his life and happiness. But I still love him, see? So I was going to get a tattoo to remind myself that love hurts. Right here." Again she tugged vaguely at her dress, almost as if she was scratching an itch or how Gaara rubbed his tattoo sometimes without knowing it. "He has one there too, you know. A tattoo. It's like a swirl." She executed a half-turn as if to prove her point, but stumbled halfway.
Gaara wasn't sure on how to answer that, mostly because what she said hit so close to home that it bothered him. He had gotten his tattoo to remind himself that he only needed his own approval, no matter how twisted that it might be. That love was only an illusion that people used to their advantage like wealth or power. He wanted this butterfly gone, and he wanted her gone now. Since when did they start noticing that love was a fake? If the butterflies figured that their boyfriends didn't really love them, then he'd be out of business. Having tattoos of boyfriends' names and covering them up was the bread and water of the tattooing business.
"Your mom then. Where's she?" He said snidely. He didn't feel like dealing with a drunk, especially not one who was insightful.
"At home. She thinks I'm spending the night at Ino's." Sakura leaned forward so that the stench of alcohol breathed off her in a cloud. "But I'm not." She told him in a conspiratorial whisper, as if it was the biggest secret in her shallow life. Promptly, she burst into more giggles, no doubt of her cleverness. When Gaara simply glared down at her, she laughed harder. "You look just like him! He always glared at me like that!" Sakura straightened so abruptly that Gaara would have taken a few steps back in surprise if he hadn't been anticipating strange things to happen. "And then he'd say in that really deep, sexy voice of his," she paused as if for dramatic effect, "'Sakura, you're annoying.'" This seemed to bring her even more perverse pleasure as she promptly laughed so hard she fell backwards. Fearing that perhaps she might crack her skull all over the ground behind her, and thus giving him more to clean up, Gaara caught her wrist and hauled her back up. Sakura looked up at him tipsily, smiling. "Thank you…" She paused, squinting at his nametag. Gaara hated anything that encouraged costumers to become the least bit friendly with him, but he tolerated the nametag because Kankuro paid him extra to wear it.
"Gaara." He told her, mostly so she would shut up and partly because he was still holding her wrist and it seemed like the polite thing to say. Abruptly, he let go, scowling at himself. Polite thing to say? Fuck, he was becoming a regular nice guy. Next thing you know, Gaara would be opening doors for you and taking your coat. Yea, right after he slit your throat.
"Gaara," Sakura said dreamily, "ends with an 'a'. Like my name. Maybe we're soul mates." Gaara didn't think so, and it must have shown for a split second on his face, because Sakura's eyes started to water. "Or not. You're probably a huge, unloving bastard like Sasuke. You probably don't give a flying shit about me." More tears. Even if Gaara, self-proclaimed monster and didn't give a damn who knew it, hated to see women cry. It must be a guy thing, he reasoned, because even if he really didn't give a flying shit about Sakura, he didn't want her bawling. All that snot and spittle and tears… he was going to have fun cleaning this place as soon as he convinced her to leave. Hopefully she didn't vomit like the last one.
"He doesn't deserve you." Gaara told her unemotionally, if only to shut her up. For all he knew, this Sasuke could be the wronged party. Gaara certainly felt wronged, having to put up with a drunken butterfly who probably wouldn't stop crying unless Gaara sat down and hugged her. Which would happen when hell froze over and Kankuro came out of the closet.
Sakura snorted, and unlike what Gaara had hoped, the tears continued to dribble down her face, collecting like dew at her chin. Despite himself, he was fascinated by her tears, if not uncomfortable. Temari never cried, as was the tomboy way, and the last girl who had cried in his presence had been one of those butterflies, whom he really hadn't given a flying fuck about and she had cried because he had told her, quite frankly, that he wasn't interested. But at least she hadn't stayed and wailed, like Sakura was probably about to do. If only to pacify her, he shoved some Kleenexes at her from behind the counter, as one would toss meat to a lion in hopes of deterring it from eating you as you ran. Sniffling, she took a handful and wiped her eyes, then blew her nose rather noisily. She glanced around, seemingly not sure what to do with them, and seemed now in the right of mind not to toss them back at Gaara. He produced a trashcan from behind the counter and she gratefully threw them away.
"You're right. I deserve better than a heartless jerk, right? I mean, I've loved him since I was six. I've always been there for him, always supported him, and I've always gone out of my way to change for him. I even grew my hair out for the jerk when I heard he liked long hair. And I hate long hair. It makes me look like some prissy princess from candy land." She took another tissue and blew her nose harder. Gaara tried not to make a sharp retort on the pink hair comment, for he had nothing nice to say. And he decided that since she was stabilizing, it was probably not a good thing to provoke her. "I mean, I even begged my parents to let me go to his school, even though it was a private one and we had to wear these dumb uniforms. Even if it meant that I had to be separated from my friends, I wanted to be with him." Gaara was beginning to wonder if perhaps that this Sakura was a stalker. As if sensing his thoughts, she frowned angrily at him. "But of course you wouldn't understand! You don't know me at all! You probably only think that I'm some delicate little shallow girl who only thinks about herself!" That was exactly what Gaara had been thinking. "Well, fuck you! I don't give a shit about Sasuke anymore! In fact, I purposely didn't go to his birthday party today. Not that he even noticed…" Gaara watched her passively, wondering why he was even bothering to listen. Maybe it was because she had used the word 'fuck' and it had been somewhat amusing to hear such a vulgar word coming out of such a pretty, preppy, pair of pink lips. She buried her face in her hands, giving a slow moan, as if something was clawing its way from it stomach to her throat, not a happy sound, but one Gaara recognized. One of pure lost, hope, and despair. Despite her childish appearance, it was apparent that this Sakura had more to offer than meets the eye. "I gave him everything." She whispered brokenly, and Gaara could only wonder what this sudden ache was in his chest. Was it… sympathy? For stalker Sakura? Hell no! But there was something about the way she looked when she took her face away from her delicate hands, as if someone had eaten everything on the inside and had spat out all the waste. Gaara recognized that face. Gaara understood her emotions. He had gone through them once… a long, long time ago. And he was a stronger person because of it.
"Ditch him." They were both surprised at the words that Gaara said, none more so than himself. He wasn't supposed to concern himself with stupid, shallow things like butterflies. They died within a week or two. But something about her, the way her eyes were devoid of anything, as if life had just beaten the spirit out of her. It was a look Gaara knew well.
"I know, I know. But I've tried!" She sighs desperately, grasping his hands in earnest as if to convince both of them, and Gaara almost pulled away but her eyes are pinning him. Something within her cried out, reached for him, and touched somewhere in the dark attic of his mind where he doesn't care to remember.
His only companion a one eyed bear with stuffing instead of a heart…
He was tired of being alone and drifting…
He shook the thoughts off, but couldn't do the same with her hands.
"It's hard… when you've loved someone forever that it feels like losing an arm to cut him off." She paused, her hand drifting to her bubble gum pink locks, Gaara's eyes following. "Or hair." She mused lowly, before turning those startling green gems back at him. He still hadn't moved, even though he was screaming at himself to. It's not good to get caught up in the affairs of butterflies. They were insubstantial… shallow… they died within a week at most. But somehow, he wanted to know.
What did it feel like, to be loved forever by someone? He wanted to ask, but didn't care to. His mask was firmly in place. Nothing could set it aside without his consent. Least of all a pink butterfly. She glanced up at him, as if sensing his thoughts. Her eyes were tired, but there seemed to be some spirit lurking. Something light and alien, swimming beneath the seas of her despair and doomed love. Something that Gaara never saw in his own, cold eyes whenever he bothered to glance in a mirror. She sighed, slipping her grip from his, and Gaara was almost annoyed with himself that he cared she was pulling away.
"It's just that… I never knew how much he meant to me until I was ready to let him go. I never realized that I clung so much to him for my own happiness." She shrugged, tipping her head to the side to grin at him. "But I suppose you know all about that, huh? Love and loss. You look like the kind of guy who's been screwed over in the past." Gaara couldn't help himself. He smirked, which usually scared people away since his smirks were most often followed by bodily harm to the individual he was grinning at. He didn't know why he hadn't already maimed this Sakura Haruno, because she had broken all the social rules he had set for himself. She had touched him, she cried around him, and she was a butterfly. Perhaps not as delicate as he first thought, but still a butterfly. He didn't bother with her types. But why were they both still here? Gaara should just retreat into the back room and hope that she left before he found the bat that Temari kept around to threaten the bums who didn't get the idea to leave. Yet somehow, he didn't mind her presence. And that bothered him, because she was drunk, spilling out her life story, and she looked as battered and bruised as he often felt. And he hated her. He wanted her gone.
"Come back when the liquor wears off." He told her snappishly, turning to leave and go in the back to find that bat, when he felt her hand on his arm. He froze, mostly out of surprise. She was touching him again? And he hadn't bitten off that hand? He must be getting soft.
"Sorry. I don't usually act like a total ditz." When Gaara turned to glare at her, she only smiled and shrugged. "Okay, most of the time I'm not a drunk ditz. How about this, once this wears off, I'll get a tattoo from you. And give you a huge tip for your trouble." She smiled, a soft, hesitant smile, but a smile nonetheless. Despite himself, Gaara found himself forgetting about the baseball bat in the back, and instead let himself plant his feet firmly on the ground. He turned and gave her his fiercest glare, as if to see what she would do. If she flinched, he'd get the bat. If she didn't, well… she'd be the first. Surprisingly, she didn't flinch. In fact, her smile widened and her eyes softened slightly. She had said that he had glared like this Sasuke guy. Maybe she was replacing Sasuke with him. But even if that was the reason… Nobody bothered Gaara, and nobody bothered to befriend him. This girl though, seemed to be willing to stick around even after her buzz wore off. What was wrong with her? What was wrong with him?
"How much have you had to drink?" He asked sharply, and she blinked at him, almost startled by his rough voice, the way he yanked his arm away from her hand. But she was too used to being brushed off, and by in much colder ways.
"Um… about less than a pint…" Sakura said, tipping her head to the side, as if embarrassed to admit she had gotten drunk off such a small amount easily.
"You have to wait an hour before your liver works all the alcohol out. That is if it's healthy." Sakura looked interested, watching him with keen, intelligent eyes that were no longer glazed over by the alcohol or the despair. In fact she looked… radiant. She smiled again, a gesture that almost made him breathless. Then she stuck out her hand, smile softening to something… friendly.
"Well, I suppose if we're going to spend an hour together and then some, I might as well introduce myself properly. I'm Sakura Haruno. It's a pleasure to meet you." When he didn't show any signs of shaking her hand, she shrugged, letting it drop to her side. She didn't look at all perturbed, in fact, she didn't even seem the least offended. What a strange butterfly…
Gaara might have said something particularly biting, perhaps how it wasn't a fucking pleasure to meet her, but she was smiling at him again, a wide, friendly, open smile. Her eyes once shrouded in despair were shining as if the curtains of a window had been whisked away, leaving only brightness and sunlight. And somehow, he felt he was the cause of this change in appearance, and he… liked it. Even though he scowled at such thoughts, he couldn't help the next one that flittered through his mind.
Somehow, Friday didn't seem like the worst day of the week anymore, and perhaps all butterflies weren't terrible.
Author's Notes: Sorry for Gaara being terribly OOC and the plot being so stupid. Please read and review anyways.