A/N: So here I am again, writing a Naruto chapter fiction.
This one IS an AU fic. I suppose Chords could be classified as one also, but this one is a TOTALLY human story. You can relate a lot more to the plotline.
I am hoping that it will be liked!
Tenten groaned and rolled over to slam her hand down over the persistent alarm clock. It vibrated under her hand and slid towards the end of the dresser, and finally, fell off. It stopped ringing. She sighed in relief, her face buried into her pillow. Her brain felt slow and muggy. Sunlight was heating up the back of her neck. All of her hair was loose and all over the place.
"Tenten! Time to get up!"
She promptly clamped the pillow tighter to her face. This is truly an ungodly time of the morning.
Into her pillow, she mumbled a babyish "Go away!" There was a pause, footsteps coming up the stairs, and then a slight creak when someone pushed open her door and walked across her room towards the bed. Her ears perked up. Then there was a swish as the somebody threw back the curtains and fresh sunlight flooded the room.
"Ohayo!" said her mother cheerily.
Tenten felt like screaming in irritation. She sat herself up, and caught a look of herself in the mirror across the room. Her hair was looking like it could eat Godzilla without much trouble: it stuck out in spikes in all directions. There were purple bags under her eyes.
"Need. Caffeine," she groaned.
Her mother, Aki, put on a stern face. "Tenten, it is nine in the morning. You need breakfast, not coffee."
Tenten glared at her mother from the bed, and rubbed her temples with her fingers. "I didn't get to sleep until past midnight last night."
Her mother raised an intrigued eyebrow, wearing an expression that said, do tell, because then I'll have a valid reason to ground you for staying up that late.. Tenten had been aiming for a more worried and sympathetic demure.
"Oh? What for?"
She paused. "Homework," she spat out.
Her mom snorted. For a woman past her forties, she had a strange understanding of the teenage mind. Perhaps it was what being a psychologist did for you: her mother probably understood the cogs of Tenten's complicated brain better than Tenten herself did.
"I'm supposed to believe that?"
"Kaaaa-saaaan," Tenten whined.
Her mother sighed. "I have to get to work, Tenten. Behave yourself." She walked forward for a hug, but Tenten just threw the blanket back over herself. Her mom sighed again and walked out of the door. Tenten peeked around the blanket. Safe.
She went down for coffee.
"So, guess what?"
Tenten blinked wearily at her mother as she entered in through the front door, still watching the TV screen out of the corner of her eye. "What?"
"Guess!" her mother insisted. Her face was glowing. Or it could have just been the light from the TV.
"You got a raise?" Tenten suggested out of nowhere. Her mother laughed.
"I wish. They're letting me go on vacation! A new family moved into our neighborhood, and the father's a psychologist too! They think he can take over for me early this year." She beamed. "Isn't this great? We can get some quality family time in."
"What family?" Tenten said airily.
Her mother gave her a dangerous look. "Tenten."
"Okay, okay," Tenten sighed, and flipped off the TV. "Where are we going on vacation?" Her mom shrugged.
"Sky's the limit."
"How about Las Vegas?" Tenten suggested randomly, images of many gambling machines and skylights popping into her head. She would like to see some of those grand hotels. Maybe watch a few shows. Sneak into a casino…
"No," her mother said firmly, crushing her imaginations.
Tenten shrugged and got up from the couch. "Well, I feel like staying home this summer anyways."
Her mother raised her eyebrows. "Tenten, you are nowhere near responsible enough for that." Tenten scowled and crossed her arms.
"I know karate. I can cook…somewhat. I can take care of myself," she argued.
Her mother sighed, and ran her fingers through her hair. "I couldn't sleep easily if I went on a vacation and left you all alone in the house." Tenten sighed.
"I'll think about it," her mother said slowly. "I still don't think it's such a good idea."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"So, kaa-san…" Tenten said over her cereal the next morning.
"Yes?" said her mother, sounding distracted. Her face was hidden partially by her brown bangs, and her shiny white name tag, labeled AKI in sharp black font and with smiley faces on either end, perched jauntily on her coat jacket. Tenten realized with a jolt how purple the bags under her mother's eyes were.
"What do you think about leaving me alone here this summer?"
Her mother squinted her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose as if blocking a rather unpleasant nosebleed. "Tenten, I don't know about this. We're going to be out on vacation for a while. What money would you use?"
Tenten smiled. "Your credit card."
Her mother raised her eyebrow, as if to say "very funny", and continued. "Who would cook your meals?"
"Thank God that we have take out."
"Absolutely not! Take out is horrible for your mental and physical health," her mother reprimanded. Tenten sighed and pretended not to hear her. Her teachers often complained about this one behavior of hers: her head usually wondered off in class, usually dreaming up new plots for one of her farfetched fantasy stories. She absently picked at a scab on her elbow and stared at her soggy cereal.
"I'll survive," she muttered.
"Tenten, I really don't think it's the best idea."
"Would it make you feel better if I stayed with somebody else?"
Aki sighed and smoothed back her stray bangs. "There is nobody here that would take you on for more than a month. And even if they agreed to, it just wouldn't feel right pushing you onto them at such short notice. Wouldn't a vacation be fun?" Her tone sounded pleading now.
Tenten rolled her eyes again. "There's a boarding house about five minutes drive from here."
"There is?" her mother looked surprised for the first time.
"Yeah…" she said slowly, carefully calculating her mother's expression. Maybe there was hope. "It just opened a few months ago. Relatively new. The owners are pretty trustworthy." At least, that's what the reviews online say.
"I have my allowance," she hurried on. "I could pay the rent. It's not so bad. I might have to share a room with other people…" Her mother looked skeptical again. "Gender separated, I promise," she added quickly. "All girls."
"Well…" Aki contemplated her only daughter's face thoughtfully, and Tenten thought she detected a trace of doubt. She felt a tightening feeling in her stomach. Am I really that much of a disappointment? Since when did I care?
She paused and waited for it to sink in. "HONTO?!"
Aki smiled and laughed. "Yes. Pack your bags."
Okay, this isn't half bad.
Tenten smiled at the room that she dragged her large, economy-style green suitcase into. It was furnished simply: two bunk beds, a nightstand, a lamp, a chair, and a few other simple things like pictures to decorate the walls. The beds were all stripped of sheets. She smiled wider. At least she would be able to stamp her personality all over the place.
She chose the bottom bunk of the bed nearest to the table lamp, since she loved to read so much. Just as she threw her trunk onto the bed and managed to unclasp the locks, there was a gasp at the door.
"This place is tiny, kaa-chan."
Tenten turned to see a tall, platinum-blonde haired girl, her blue eyes wide and her lips set into a babyish pout. She crossed her arms and made a disappointed face at her mother, another pretty blonde woman but with darker hair. "It is so not worth the arm and leg that we paid."
Tenten furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. She had thought that the price seemed fairly reasonable.
"Ino, calm down," the older blonde woman soothed, giving her daughter a slight push into the room and smiling graciously at Tenten. "It can't be so bad. It's only for a few weeks. Hello there. How are you?"
"…Fine," Tenten said uncertainly.
"Well, I'm so glad that Ino here has a roommate!" the strawberry blonde beamed. "She can get so lonely for girl time cooped up in our house with her little brother."
Girl time?! I didn't sign up for this!!
"Uh…yeah…that sounds…" she paused. "Wonderful." She tried to smile and strongly suspected that she grimaced instead.
Ino rolled her eyes, and picked the high bunk from the bed that Tenten was not occupying almost immediately, swinging a hot pink duffel bag over the slats and climbing up with agility that rivaled a monkeys. Tenten raised her eyebrows at her as Ino immediately pulled out a handheld mirror and started to apply mascara.
"What?" she said indignantly when she saw Tenten staring. Tenten shook her head.
"Nothing at all."
"Oh, honey, come give me a hug," gushed Ino's mother. Ino smiled and leaped back down from the bed, landing without so much as a thud, and ran to give her mother a very cheesy hug. Tenten turned away. Her own mother had hardly stayed to see her get settled in. She had left once she made sure that the reception lady and her husband were not drug dealers.
Ino's eyes were teary once her mother had left the room. Waterproof makeup, Tenten noted. She hoped that this little fact did not imply that Ino was a drama queen who cried often.
"I've never been on my own much," she admitted, sitting on Tenten's bed. Tenten opened her mouth to protest, and closed it again. She was feeling a bit homesick herself.
For the first time, Ino seemed to take in her new roommate. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "What is that smell? And how can you wear those hideous shorts?" Tenten immediately took a defensive stance, and pinched the blue fabric of her basketball shorts. She was rather fond of them.
"What smell? What's wrong with my shorts?"
Ino sniffed her. Tenten recoiled, giving her a glare. "You stink like wet dog," Ino accused.
"I do not!" Tenten blurted without thinking, only realizing that it sounded babyish once the words were completely out of her mouth.
"You do," Ino said. "I should know. I used to have a dog-" She stopped abruptly, and shook her head. "Nevermind."
Tenten squinted at her. "Get off my case, alright? I don't care if you've got some obsession with fluffy pink things, but lay off of my stuff." She began to unfold her army green sheets and her simple black and white checkered blanket that she used only for summertime. Ino rolled her eyes.
"Ugly," she muttered under her breath.
Tenten sighed. This was going to be a long summer.
Oh, please, please, please let me be dreaming.
Tenten groaned and sat up, rubbing her eyes. The alarm clock next to the table, digital, read 6:45 in blaring letters. This time, however, it was the cheap phone that rang. She picked it up, feeling something odd tasting in her mouth.
"Tenten, oh, thank goodness," said a voice that she didn't recognize.
"Uh…um…" Her mind wasn't coherent enough yet. "…May I ask who's calling?"
"That was rude of me. I'm sorry. I'm Yoshida Saburo, from your mother's office?" He sounded unsure of himself. She nodded, not remembering that she was on the phone. He continued. "I needed to ask you something on the urgent side. I'm sorry if I woke you." He really did sound apologetic. She stifled a yawn.
"What is it? Shoot."
"Well, we're running short on hands over here since your mother and a few of the other regular staff left early on vacation. I was thinking that you could come over and help out once in a while. We'd pay you reasonably, of course."
She yawned, and this time, failed to stifle it. "What do you mean, 'once in a while'?" He coughed nervously.
"Er, how does three days a week sound to you?"
Her eyes bugged. "Three days a week? That's a lot more work than I was planning for How much will you pay me?"
She could almost hear his smile. "Enough."
She pursed her lips. "And if I refuse?"
"Well, I would say that this is an excellent opportunity for you. Don't all teenagers want summer jobs?" All except for me. I want to sleep. "Besides, a little extra money can't hurt you. Getting to know your mother's office and her coworkers will be good for you! Just think, how much of a surprise it'll be for her once she's back from vacation! She'll be so proud of you."
She winced. He'd hit her weak point. Tenten hadn't realized she wanted her mother to be proud of her until he mentioned it.
"What's the time to arrive?"
"Oh, around eight or nine in the morning is fine. It's not bad hours. Your mother says you're good at organizing things."
"Well…I'll think about it."
"That's all I need. Thank you. Good night."
The phone went dead. She glared at it. "Thanks for the wake-up call," she spat in the most sarcastic voice that she could manage. She fell back into the pillow, pitying herself and reflecting on why life had to always be a living Hell.
"I hear you got a summer job, Ugly."
Tenten swatted the hovering Ino from over her shoulder as she attempted to brush her teeth. As expected, Ino's toiletries were all pink: a pink toothbrush, pink comb, pink toothpaste, pink facecloth…Tenten made a face.
"Shut up. Who told you?" she said, irritated, as she accidentally brushed too hard against her gum. Crap. Blood.
"A little birdie told me," Ino smirked. "I'm surprised that someone as ugly as you, with no manners at all, could get hired so easily."
"You're just jealous. Stop calling me Ugly."
"U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi, you ugly, yeah, yeah, you ugly-"
"Shut up!" She turned around and shoved Ino, accidentally getting white toothpaste froth all over the protesting blonde's face. She narrowed her eyes.
"You shut up!"
"You started it! Get out of my life, blondie!"
"You want war? Then you'll get it!"
They stormed out of the bathroom.
You know, I could get used to this.
Tenten smiled, in a much better mood now, at the blue sky and the pleasantly warm sunlight that touched her face. She was in a baggy blue T-shirt and old jeans, but she figured that they would just be having her do filing and stuff, so nobody would care anyways.
Her old Nike sneakers squelched against the mud on the ground, as her mother's office building came into sight. She tensed. She hadn't been here since her father left.
Inside, the air conditioning was turned up so high that she was afraid that her joints would develop arthritis. Luckily, the receptionist told her to go up 2 floors and see "Saburo-sama", and she took the elevator. It was the type that played music while you went up. She figured it would be like that.
Yoshida Saburo was a pleasant-looking man, but one with an air of slyness: typical salesperson type. His smile was inviting when he beckoned to a chair that she should sit down in.
"Ah, Tenten. Just the girl I've been waiting for!" Another smile. She smiled stiffly back. All of her school portraits were nightmares. She hated her smile. "I've heard lots about you from your mother," he continued. She grimaced. Small talk was her enemy.
"Since it's your first day, I think you'll just be assisting Yumi, another one of the psychologists that work here. She's friends with Aki." As if out of nowhere, a brown-haired lady appeared in the doorway, with wide blue eyes and a clipboard in her hands.
"Hello," she said, smiling. Tenten was forced to smile back again. What was it with these people and smiles?!
"Come with me," she beckoned with one finger. Tenten realized that her nails were red and razor sharp. "You'll just be doing some filework," Yumi explained as they walked through several hallways. "Simple enough, once you get the gist of it. You want to keep clear of my office: I'm still taking patients, and some of them are a bit difficult if they are interrupted by loud people."
You think I'm loud? You haven't met Ino.
Yumi stopped abruptly, and smiled at Tenten again. Tenten didn't smile back this time. "This is the file room. Everything is kept strictly confidential, of course," she said, taking out a key ring and fumbling with it until the door at last popped open with a satisfying click.
Tenten gawked. There were thousands of manila envelopes. There was a printing machine and a copier too. It made strange, whirring noises.
"Sort the files in this cabinet in alphabetical order," Yumi instructed. "I'll come back to check on you at noon, and tell you when lunch break is. Good luck!" she chimed, and with that, was out of the door. Tenten stared hopelessly at the tall file cabinet as if it were an executioner's axe. It might as well be.
Now I really need caffeine.
A/N: So that was the first chapter!! I hope you liked it.