New story, new style. Don't fear the blocks of text or the short chapters. It's for the greater good.

Blanket disclaimer: I don't own anything someone else does.

Cover Girl

Med school is expensive, and if I plan to continue my education for the next eighty years and become a neurosurgeon like I dream, I'm going to need to get a job.

I received a scholarship throughout university, and along with the money I inherited from my step-uncle Asuma, I was able to get through just fine. But now I'm in my last year and nearly out of money. Mom won't support me and Dad can't. My step-brother Shikamaru is getting married soon and I can't rely on him.

It's too bad I can't do anything. I'm a horrible cook, a klutz of the first degree, and while I'm good with people, I'm too disorganized for any kind of secretarial work. Besides, I can't deal with a demanding job, considering I'd crash and burn with the already minimal sleep I'm getting.

Ino brings me the Want Ads every morning, already having circled jobs she thinks I could pull off. Hinata makes calls for me, and Tenten preps me for interviews. Temari and Shikamaru mostly just sit around and listen to me whine.

But in the end, it's not them who find my perfect job; it's me, when I see a sign from above – or maybe from the guy in charge, some Kakashi dude – while I'm waiting to see the Dean of my university's med school. Pinned up to the bulletin board in the hallway, it's large and faded green, and I take it as a sign although it probably isn't one, and is requesting uniquely pretty girls to come by some building. This would make me suspicious if it wasn't for a modeling agency.

So I write down the number, see Tsunade, and can't stop smiling. This job could be just what I'm looking for if the hours and pay are what they said when I called. Now I just have to land it.

She said, "If there's anyone that can do it, it—probably isn't me. But I'm broke enough to try."

I think I'm pretty unique-looking. Pink hair and wide green eyes aren't all that popular, and I get a lot of people staring at me. I'm on the short side, more skinny than curvy, and my forehead is too big, lips are too full, but I think I'm pretty enough. I managed to land three long-term boyfriends after all. One broke up with me for Tenten (though it actually didn't bother me so much, because Neji and I didn't have much in common), one discovered he was gay (whatever, he was a bit annoying anyways; he was always calling me a hag), and one moved away. I miss the last a lot. His name was Gaara, he was the hottest thing, and when he kissed me, I thought I might burst. We were together for only a year, but I thought he might be The One, before he left, and I didn't want to deal with the long-distance relationship. So I gave him a kiss for the road, he gave me one to remember him by, and things went a little farther than I had anticipated.

But then he left, and I don't think this ache in my chest will ever really leave, but I guess that's just life; it likes to make you impossibly happy before it screws you over.

I never told Gaara I loved him, and he never said it to me, but I think it kind of went without saying. And I don't know if I'll ever have something like that again, but I really hope so, because nothing scares me like being alone. Dad left us, Mom abandoned me, my step-brother's getting married, Tenten's going steady with Neji, Ino has a revolving door of boyfriends, and Hinata's being hounded by Kiba, though she thinks he's just overprotective and that's why he chases off every guy that comes near her. Poor girl is so oblivious and insecure, even though she's beautiful in that delicate, china-doll kind of way. Ino's kind of the in-your-face pretty, with long blonde hair and sky blue eyes and a figure to die for, while Tenten is more beautiful in the way she moves, graceful and confident and like a girl you want to know.

I would love to look like any of them, but I don't, and hopefully that won't ruin my chances. I almost didn't tell them about this opportunity, because I think if they tried out I'd have no chance, but Tenten isn't into modeling, and Hinata's too shy, and Ino's had her sights set on this really prestigious company for years, founded by this guy who doesn't like anyone, Ibiki. I think she's going to get it, even if it's basically impossible because Ino is just that pretty.

So I told them, and they all stayed up late to prepare my outfit and hair and make-up and Hinata made me breakfast, and Tenten hugged me and wished me luck, and Shikamaru drove me while Temari sat with me in the backseat and held my hand and smiled reassuringly.

But no one came in with me, and now my knees are wobbling so much I can barely stand, but I'm here now, and there's no turning back, even if I think I might collapse when I see the tall girls, the pretty faces, and the hourglass figures.

I thought I could make it, but maybe I can't, but I remember I was pretty enough to get the man of my dreams, and thinking of Gaara helps until—

Until he walks in, the prettiest boy I have ever seen, with spiky black hair and cool black eyes, and this time I collapse for real.

"I'm going to be a model."
"What makes you think you've got what it takes?"
"Desperation and pink hair."