A Little Harmony
Humour, romance, a bit of angst, fluff, eventual lemon, language
Disclaimer: You know the drill...
- - -
"Hurry up, Shikamaru!"
"Yeah, yeah… I'm coming, Ino."
Argh. How troublesome is this? When I agreed to go with her to this concert, I didn't think she'd be this excited. Shikamaru looked around. Everywhere, people were jumping up and down… worshipping the ground the "great" Sabaku group walked. Shikamaru sighed. I don't even like rock music. He never did understand the entertainment these simpletons seemed to enjoy every time a band member played a random chord on the guitar. Regardless of the fact that it sounded more like noise than anything else and had no musical sense whatsoever, people still thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. Furthermore, a simple look or grunt seemed enough to elicit screams of excitement. Ino made that clear enough when she suddenly noticed a big banner of Gaara – the lead guitarist – flying prominently near the front entrance.
Shikamaru was sure that squeal of undying love signalled the near end of his poor ears.
Yes, no matter how he thought about it… women were pains in the ass. And annoying.
"Chouji! Will you please pick something to eat already!" Yamanaka Ino practically screamed. "The show's about to start!"
Chouji merely waved her away, "Calm down, Ino. There's still another hour left to go. There's a reason we came here early, you know."
Ino turned to Shikamaru, a pleading look in her eyes, "Nara! Do something!"
Shikamaru looked at her, expression unchanged. Like hell I would… "Ne, Chouji, what do you think I should get?"
Ino raised her hands in exasperation. She turned away, muttering something about how useless and hopeless men were, and brightened when she saw a familiar pink head, accompanied by a bright yellow and dark raven one.
"SAKURA!" she squealed. Sakura did the same and the two girls hugged each other by way of greeting. Shikamaru found the whole thing amusing. Back then, the two girls fought each other incessantly. He wasn't entirely sure what happened between them, but now they were close best friends. Well, as close as you can get, I suppose. He didn't fail to notice the slightly strained smiles, and the prolonged embrace that seemed out of place. Then again, he never really failed to notice anything.
Uchiha Sasuke nodded at Shikamaru and Chouji, seemingly uncaring that he was being stared at by a ravenous-looking group of girls. Uzumaki Naruto, meanwhile, had a grin on his face Shikamaru figured would earn him a Guinness' World Record if anyone bothered to actually mention it to the committee. This troubled Shikamaru. Why would Naruto, of all people, actually be happy to be here?
Ah. Of course.
"How much did she pay you, Naruto?"
"Two weeks worth of ramen," he grinned, heaven and luck on his side.
How fortunate was he that Sakura worked part-time at the local ramen place?
Now, why didn't Shikamaru think of that? He could've asked Ino to bribe him. At least then he'd have gotten some sort of reimbursement for the pain and torture he was experiencing, the effort he was being forced to make, and the future medical bills he knew would be imperative if all the girls present didn't realize Sabaku couldn't hear them from wherever the hell they were so there was technically be no point screaming out their names in between endless KYAA!'s and OH-MI-GOD-PLEASE-SLEEP-WITH-ME!'s.
Shikamaru took a breath.
He didn't think hearing aids were cheap.
"Come on guys!" the girls squealed in unison. Yeah, that's right. Squealed, not said. Squealed.
The boys moaned and groaned, but followed anyway, knowing they didn't have much of a choice. Shikamaru wondered why the girls didn't just come on their own. After all, they, more than anyone else, knew that this particular group of guys much preferred showing off their manliness at an arcade somewhere, rather than bear through a rock concert. Looking around at the group of jittery and excited girls, it dawned on Shikamaru that Sakura and Ino probably didn't want to look like they were "trying too hard". He couldn't help but chuckle at the thought. The girls were demented if they thought Sabaku would even notice their existence tonight, let alone judge whether they were trying "too hard" or not.
They reached the auditorium and the girls dragged them along to grapple for the best spots nearest the stage, along with the rest of the bloody audience. Shikamaru tried fighting Ino's vice grip, but the girl could latch onto a person like Naruto latched onto his ramen. God dammit, it hurt. Shikamaru made a face as Ino firmly positioned him next to her and followed the rest of the world in waving their arms and added the little extra of screaming at the top of her lungs as if just screaming really loudly wasn't already enough.
Shikamaru watched her and asked himself, not for the first time, why in the hell he was dating this girl.
They'd been childhood friends, and she'd shown nothing but dislike for him since they were little. It came as a total surprise to him (and the rest of the school, really) when she asked him out two years ago. He deduced a little later that it was to somehow make the Uchiha – her and Sakura's childhood crush (read: Love of Their Lives) – jealous. Shikamaru had laughed outright at the stupid thought. Putting aside the fact that Sasuke barely knew they existed, let alone their feelings of undying love, he knew precisely why the Uchiha would not show any interest in the girls.
Or any girl for that matter.
And he thought girls were supposed to be the more... sensitive of the two sexes. If they haven't realized by now why the Uzumaki and the Uchiha were always together, they were either much too love-stricken, or just really slow. Shikamaru mused it was the latter.
An assumption he knew was partially ridiculous as Sakura herself was rather intelligent, but he couldn't help himself as he watched the girls unashamedly flirt with Sasuke like they'd been doing their whole lives without success. Shikamaru was jealous of the drive these girls had... where'd they get all that energy and that desire to repeatedly prostrate and demean themselves in front of someone who'd rejected them 210 of the times they'd offered their undying and eternal love?
Regardless of the fact that Shikamaru knew Ino had no real emotional interest in him and was – if phrased without thought of decorum – using him, Shikamaru hadn't bothered breaking it off with her, especially because she had yet to let go. It was too much of a pain to argue with her. Ino being Ino, he knew she wouldn't stand being the dumpee. If anything, he just had to wait for her to finally assume the role of dumper. He didn't really care nor mind. It was too troublesome to bother.
In a way, Shikamaru was in awe at how long Naruto's and Sasuke's relationship lasted. Then again, it was probably because the blonde was too dense and therefore had no capacity to get jealous, and the Uchiha really wasn't attracted to girls no matter how many times they batted their painted eyelashes at him. Shikamaru wondered what the Uchiha saw in the blonde... but decided not to bother going into that train of thought. He'd probably just get a headache trying to figure Naruto out.
The lights dimmed and the hall suddenly grew quiet. Finally. Shikamaru almost sighed out loud in relief. Three beams of light shone down on the stage and three forms suddenly appeared out of nowhere as stage steam – probably made from dry ice – floated out of invisible holes in the ground. Shikamaru thought that in the yellowish light, the steam looked like swirling sand.
SabakunoGaara started a depressing a cappella solo – something about being alone, hated and isolated. Shikamaru had to admit, the boy could at least keep himself in tune. He does much better than both Ino and Sakura at the very least, and that would somewhat justify their admiration for him. Somewhat. Shikamaru watched, slightly amused, as the boy gripped the microphone and sang into it, knuckles growing paler and paler. His right hand brushed away his red curls so the whole world could see the blood red tattoo he had on his forehead. Shikamaru looked from his dark eye make up, which made him look more like a panda than anything else considering the kid's pale complexion – and his mother told him he needed to get out more? Sheesh – to his strange, blood red outfit. Shikamaru couldn't help but chuckle.
What an emo.
Drums started and Shikamaru focused on Sabakuno Kankuro, the figure in the light beam in the middle. He looked passionate about the drumming and he devoted his whole self into the instrument. Shikamaru admired that... and he probably would have admired him much more if Kankuro hadn't worn the strangest set of clothes and make up Shikamaru had ever seen. Why anyone would want to coat their eyes and lips with that much purple was beyond Shikamaru's comprehension... and that didn't happen very often. Shikamaru decided to file that away and never return to it. He didn't want to have to stop by a convenience store on the way home and buy pain reliever. His head was threatening to throb as it was. Hmm, maybe he should just toss that file to the shredder completely.
Gaara suddenly struck a chord on his way too distorted guitar and the crowd started screaming, the spell of Gaara's voice finally broken as they recognized one of their songs... Wow. Now they can sing along. Shikamaru never did understand why people felt compelled to sing along during concerts. You never see this kind of behaviour during an orchestra performance or a classical music presentation. People pay – big money, mind you – to watch someone perform... and yet, when they do come over and begin "performing", the whole world feels compelled to ruin said performance with their own crappy singing and half-made-up lyrics.
It was ridiculous. And annoying.
Shikamaru didn't notice when the bass started, but heard it now. He looked up to watch Sabakuno Temari play a kick ass solo. He had to admit, she was pretty good. Besides that, out of the three of the Sabakuno siblings, she was the only one who looked... remotely normal. He couldn't say her outfit was totally normal, but at least she didn't have "emo!" screaming out from very pore. She had minimal, if any, make up on giving her a sort of natural, mature beauty. But, she looked way too... strong, was the only word Shikamaru could find to describe her. She had a strong jaw, a strong face, a strong forehead, strong-looking arms and legs, and she exuded an aura of hidden strength. A sort of mess-with-me-and-your-cock's-mine-and-I-mean-that-in-a-bad-way aura radiated around her. Shikamaru concluded she was the kind of woman he really needed to avoid.
But he couldn't help being intrigued by her strength.
Truth be told, this was the first time he'd ever really listened to the Sabaku – an interesting name for their group, Shikamaru noted. It was probably a word play from their last name: Sabakuno. After all, Sabaku no Gaara meant Gaara of the Sand. It was, really, rather clever – and he had to say...
He hated them.
He had never heard such noise in his life – this was music? Surely the world was going to end at any moment.
And with the way his head was throbbing, he wanted it to end.
Or at least let the bloody ground open up and swallow him.
He stood there, unimpressed, unmoved and undeterred by the surging crowds around him. He merely continued looking around for something more interesting to watch – and quite often, whether he noticed it himself or not, he'd look up at the intriguing bass player and contemplate what exactly it was that intrigued him about her. In some ways, she looked familiar... and in others, she looked like a complete stranger.
He probably didn't notice himself watching her every time she had a solo.
- - -
Temari tried to swallow a yawn, but failed. Honestly, she didn't see why her father had to insist they all watch this crappy – and infinitely boring – concert. It had been three years since their last visit to Japan, and four years since they'd last seen their father... however some things never changed, she supposed. She really would have preferred to stay in their hotel and sleep, or at the very least do a nice brunch with their father to catch up on old times. Oh but no. He had to insist to take them to a bloody orchestra concert.
Apparently, this was one of the amateur orchestras that her father sponsored. He was a classical music buff, their father. It irritated Temari and her brothers a little that he was supportive of some random strangers who pulled strings but adamant about their vision. Temari reasoned it was probably difficult for him, a retired (and once famous) conductor and present businessman, as well. After all, as children, he had trained them to be classical musicians... but instead they opted to go the "way of the devil". Temari never understood where her father got the idea that his children were at all interested in classical music. Maybe he just had no where to direct his energies and sadness when they lost their mother sixteen years ago.
She looked at Gaara and felt crushed at the obvious animosity that existed between father and son – they were sitting together, but not once had they exchanged a form of friendly greeting, nor anything at all that would give away their father-son relationship. Kankuro and she had accepted long ago the fact that their mother had died at childbirth and that it was not Gaara's fault... but it seemed their father couldn't let it go. Kankuro reckoned it was because to an extent, their father blamed himself and rather than destroy himself with guilt, he preferred to take out his anger on Gaara. Temari thought the whole thing ridiculous and hated her father for turning Gaara into the quiet, reserved (and somewhat emo) boy he was now. Oftentimes, she'd wanted to embrace him and make the hurt disappear... but frankly, the way he stared at the world as if he hated it and it hated him was a little scary. Yeah, just a tad.
Her brother was an emo... and she couldn't do a single thing about it.
The worst thing was, Kankuro didn't give a shit either.
Kankuro at least cared about Gaara, unlike their father, this she knew. But he preferred staying in his room with his blow-up dolls (yes, she knew about his nasty habits... she wished she wasn't so observant... but she was) than to care about the world. About the only thing that interested him other than his little "friends" was the drums.
The three of them shared a passion for music. Punk rock, in particular. She felt the raw, loud and distinct sound of metal and the fast beat of the drums intoxicating. She recalled performing on stage for the first time with her bass – it was like nothing she'd ever experienced before. Many times, she thought it was better than sex. The afterglow, satisfaction and high lasted much longer and definitely hit much harder.
Now, don't get her wrong, she knew there were all sorts of music and hers wasn't only one kind... however, as far as she was concerned it was the only real one, and therefore the only one that mattered. This brought her back to the present and she sighed as the endless Concerto in C continued on. Bloody hell, this same song – or rather, piece, was it? – started thirteen minutes ago. Why were classical pieces so long? And so god damn repetitive? She looked around at the crowd, almost surprised to find no one nodding off just yet. The first two minutes were cool and everything, but hell... end the bloody song already. Or piece. Whatever the fucking hell you want to call it.
She didn't really have anything personal against Mozart or Chopin... but... you know. They're boring.
Her eyes lazily travelled across the amateur orchestra, noting how completely dorky half of them looked. She shivered. Their father had wanted the three of them to be one of these freaks. Her eyes continued their lazy trek over said freaks and paused when she saw one of the violinists. His hair was spiky and messy, as if he hadn't bothered fixing it up this morning, and he was playing his violin as if it were only the two of them on the planet. She was intrigued by the lack of effort he seemed to exert while playing the violin, and yet, as principal violinist – she knew at least that much from her childhood training – he had to be pretty talented. Ah, he was one of those genius musicians, wasn't he?
She had started to look at other people when realization finally dawned on her. He did look familiar! Her eyes swivelled back to the principal violinist. That's the annoying freak from the other night! He'd stood there in crowd, sometimes staring at her – she was used to being stared at and appreciated... but the way he looked at her was different... it looked as if he was studying her or something... like she was some sort of specimen in a laboratory... it was a tad unnerving – looking totally uninterested... even... bored. She was floored.
No one, as in no one had ever been bored at one of the Sabaku's concerts. Ever.
She almost laughed out loud at the irony. Here she was wanting the heavens to open up and pour hot melting lava on them all so the torture would end, and there he was, the guy who was probably thinking the exact same thing at their gig two nights ago, playing in the bloody orchestra – concertmaster, no less – that wouldn't shut the fuck up.
Ha-ha. It was funny.
Hey, at least their songs each lasted only a maximum of three minutes. Not three hundred.
She hoped never to have to meet him in person, otherwise she'd probably burst out laughing. Or sock him one. Either way, it would be a bad thing to meet a guy like that. But... she looked to her right where her father sat... knowing her father... he'd probably introduce them all to the orchestra members, one by one. Just so, you know, he could rub it in how perfect they were and how utterly imperfect his own disrespectful, rebellious and insensitive children were. Her father was the kind who just had to make contrasts and comparisons. It was irritating and annoying (not to mention hurtful)... but you got used to it after the first million times. Well, sort of.
Temari stifled yet another yawn and prayed the night would end before she really did nod off.
Ay, never mind.
Next thing she knew, Kankuro was discreetly nudging her as they all stood up, following their stiff suit father. Temari stood up, expression unchanging. Oops, she hadn't meant to fall asleep... but oh well. It wasn't like their father noticed anyway. What did it matter? She had the same facial expression as her brothers – grave, unfeeling and screaming "what the fuck am I doing here, anyway?", as she made her way to catch up with her brothers and father.
Growing up with a bunch of guys had taught her to be tough. She sparred with her brothers like it was the most natural thing, and more often than not, Kankuro had made fun of her saying she was probably a guy born accidentally in a woman's body. Gaara – in the few times he did talk – once questioned her sexual preference. She was mortified... and made up for her lack of feminity by dressing as scantily and as "feminine" as she dared. As she grew older, she received the appreciative glances of several guys... especially because of the toned and rather attractive – if she said so herself – body playing football on a daily basis gave her. That, and she was a mighty fine fighter. No man who tried to touch her lasted three seconds.
She was strong.
It was only natural she wanted a strong man.
That was really the only reason why she'd never seriously dated anyone. She wasn't, god forbid, lesbian.
She smirked as a couple of boys – yes, that's right, boys – gave her appreciative glances. Honestly, these boys were much too young for her. Sometimes she couldn't help but feel disgusted at the way they looked so hungrily at her. Every boy she'd ever met looked at her with those same eyes – it was most excruciatingly nauseating. It took most of her willpower to keep her breakfast down.
Their father stopped in front of a group of young gentlemen putting away their string instruments. He coughed, catching their attention. Some merely glanced his way and nodded, while others stood up and shook his hands. Temari was momentarily disgusted at the fake respect these boys gave her father. Then again, he was the one paying for their pitiful hobby. They needed to suck up to him every now and then.
"Kankuro, Temari," their father said. Temari did not fail to note the absence of Gaara's name. Temari doubted the boy did either. "This is the Konoha Kokou orchestra – they're well known all over Japan."
Temari had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. Oh boy, here we go. Konoha boys, eh? Their father always mentioned them the few times they met up. Always. It felt as if their father couldn't get over the fact that the Konoha's were better than his own children, no matter what he did. It was kind of sad, true... unfortunately for their father, they couldn't really care less.
"Ah... and here's the genius violinist," their father exclaimed, making his way towards the back of the group. The spiky haired, I-Didn't-Want-To-Go-To-The-Bloody-Rock-Concert boy stood up. Temari nearly smirked at his expression. She could swear he wore a face that pretty much said he would rather be somewhere else right now. "Nara Shikamaru, these are my children. Kankuro, Temari."
Again with the ignoring Gaara's existence. Temari was disgusted with her father.
It seemed the Nara noticed. He looked pointedly at Gaara and then looked at their father. Their father looked a bit taken aback and then turned around to look at Gaara. His eyes widened as if seeing him for the first time, and said awkwardly, "and of course, my youngest, Gaara."
Gaara nodded at Shikamaru who did the same. Temari was surprised, but impressed.
She'd give him that: the boy was brave.
Or maybe too stupid to realize he was endangering his sponsorship.
Their father continued with the introductions. Nara Shikamaru was a promising young talent, currently studying at Konoha Kokou – a prestigious and criminally expensive school – through a musical scholarship. Specifically, he played for the renowned (and apparently legendary) school orchestra as principal violinist and concertmaster, therefore also being the assistant to the conductor. Temari found it amusing how the said genius himself was looking bored throughout their father's little biography of him.
Temari also noted the fact that the Nara didn't seem to make a big deal about the fact that they were famous rock stars and that he had been to their concert just a few nights ago. This troubled Temari a little and unnerved her.
She suddenly felt the desire to grab his collar and ask him why in the hell he did not care they were famous rock stars. For reasons quite unknown to her, it really annoyed her. Especially the way he had looked at her.
It was at that moment that she realized he was looking at her now. The strange thing was, he was looking at her at the exact same way he was the other night – as if she was an interesting lab experiment.
He wasn't looking at her hungrily or with lust-filled eyes... he was looking at her as if she was... interesting.
It was distracting.
What was it, dammit! What was so god damn interesting!