Notes: For the 50alternates LJ Community. The theme was "stage". I really wanted to do a rock-and-roll kind of work.
Edit: Just to respond to reviews, no there isn't a real song mentioned, I just thought those were pretty words so I put them together. :3 If anyone knows a song like that, please mention it, I'd love to hear lyrics like that ! (:

Broken Hearts and Mending String


She had been loitering on a bench in the park, the sounds of Tokyo distant as night hung heavily overhead. She couldn't see stars here. She threw her arms around the edge of the back, her fingers curling into the wood, staring intently at the sky as if there were fireworks bursting overhead. The lone waning crescent was obscured by the trees, and she lifted a hand to wipe the cut trailing from her temple. It hadn't healed yet. It was cold out, and her breath came out in puffs of vapor, and her skin must have been full of goosebumps. Instead, she opened her mouth and sang.

It was a song by an American band that never successfully, a song she had found by accident on an indie label in the back of the CD store. It was about broken hearts and mending string, rough fingers and fabrics of silk. When her song finished and she wiped her mouth with her sleeve, she lifted her head to find a tall blonde staring widely at her, hands shoved in his pockets by the cold night air, one foot still in the air.

"…Wow," he breathed.


"My name's Tenten."

"You got a last name?"

Tenten shifted her weight and looked steadily in the bored black eyes.

"I don't got anything."

Shikamaru dropped the hand holding his hand, hands tapping on the wood table, "None of us do either, that's why we're together."

"I never agreed on singing for you guys," Tenten said curtly.

"Our former singer quit two weeks ago," the man in the corner said, his sharp profile visible. He wasn't looking at her, sitting with his eyes staring out the window, hand resting on the desk. Tenten glanced up at the baritone voice, a deep rich sound that filled her ears.

The blonde rolled his eyes, "All because of Shikamaru."

Shikamaru, the one Tenten supposed was the bored man in front of her, didn't even flinch, "Ino's got better things to do."

"You broke her heart," Tenten said quietly. Shikamaru turned his gaze to her, and replied smoothly, motioning towards the cut across her temple, "He broke yours."

Tenten's hand instantly shot up and she frowned. The bleeding had stopped, but there was still the noticeable red line right above her eyebrow. The knife had hurt, and when she touched it, it still did. She wondered why she was still alive.

"There's not much risk in it," Shikamaru continued, unfazed at Tenten's glare, "We'll offer you a chance at fame."

"I don't particularly care for glory; I've lived this long without it."

"We'll offer you a home, company, and money."

Tenten's hand dropped, the impassive voice in the corner giving her a deal she shouldn't refuse. But dignity was a price she refused to sell; dignity was the reason why she had left that bastard of a man.

"Our show's in three months."


She learned later that only Naruto had nothing, and lived across the city with a girl named Haruno Sakura, who worked at a hospital and helped out the best she could. Shikamaru was still in law school, which he attended most of the week and spent his afternoons with them. Being that she was living with him for the time being, Tenten cleaned up after him and cooked the meals they ate in silence. None of them really had any time to spare, Naruto coincidently worked down the street from the CD store she was at, and had been a frequent shopper.

And Hyuuga Neji had connections to the most influential music corporation in Tokyo, such good connections he could get the easy way into the musical business. Why he was hanging around with them was beyond her comprehension, but she left it.

He was the one that handed her the guitar, a remarkable crimson thing with smooth edges and amazing tight strings. He told her offhandedly it was one of his old ones, and she could use it for now, until she invested in her own. She learned later that it was a brand new one, and that he had intended for her to keep it.

When she had managed to play a shaky version of an old hit song at the end of the first day, Shikamaru had said she had potential. Since she should know how to play the guitar, not the bass Shikamaru specialized in, she took lessons from Neji. He was a stern teacher, and she would play until her fingers bled, before he bandaged them quickly and told her to play again.

He had impressive talent, his fingers would strum over the strings easily and almost gracefully, his voice the sound of dark chocolate. He softly sang the melodies to her, and she would lose her train of thought as his fingers brushed against her own. His notes were the works of a genius, flowing smoothly together and harmonizing with the bass.

Sometimes, she would wake up in the middle of the night to find Neji and Shikamaru working on the pieces with low tones. Shikamaru told her to go back to bed, but Tenten would clear the clutter of papers and sit down, handing both of them a mug of tea.

Music became her life after that, and she spent her times at the store listening to old used CDs to find a voice to style hers. She didn't pay attention to her surroundings until the jingle of bells and the tapping in front of her forced her to her senses and to Neji, who would accompany her to Shikamaru's apartment.

Tenten had never seen Neji's place, and they usually just practiced in the empty room at Shikamaru's, despite the complaints from other tenants. The weeks passed in a blur, the lyrics stuck in her head and echoed in her dreams, her fingers still strumming to the consistent music in her head.


There were to play at a local bar, a place Shikamaru had brought her to the week before at another show, the new band that Ino had recently joined. It smelled like cheap booze, sweat, and cigarette smoke, the crowd screaming by the stage. The music blared in her ears as the vocalist crooned, and Tenten realized that Ino was beyond average, a strong voice that hers couldn't compare to. She could feel Neji next to her and she shrugged, downing the rest of the contents of her drink before she watched Ino's eyes to sweep towards Shikamaru to Naruto to Neji and finally to her.

At the intermission, she had thrown her arms around Shikamaru, took a swig of his beer, and kissed him on the cheek, but the way her hands gripped too tightly proved she was still in love with him. Tenten attempted to smile when Ino's attentions instantly averted towards her, as she looked her up and down like a tiger would to prey and Shikamaru breathed Ino's name in warning.

Ino waved it off, offering fake words of luck, and Tenten had accepted them justly so. She had watched Ino pluck the cigarette from Shikamaru's mouth, putting it out under one heeled foot, and chiding at him for still smoking those cancer sticks.

Later, Neji had let her stay over at his place since Ino was going back to Shikamaru's place. It was the first time she had been in his house, a large apartment with neat lines and clean countertops. There were no paintings or decorations, only a simple black couch, a modern kitchen, and one bedroom overlooking the city. She could see the film line of dust on the tables and the television, Neji didn't spend much time in his apartment.

He had placed a mug of tea in front on her the way she used to when he pulled an all-nighter with Shikamaru. He settled next to her on the couch, both not speaking. Her eyes trained at a cup left on the coffee table from that morning, and she sipped quietly.

Tenten began humming, a habit she took up to help memorize the line-up, and Neji had spoken words of awkward reassurance, and she had let him to touch her and pull her into his arms, in the same hands that played the guitar hanging by the door. Then he leaned in and kissed her artlessly, and she kissed him back.

One thing led to another, and she was drowning in his scent, his voice, the feel of his fingers.

When the sweat was drying from their backs entangled in the sheets and her fingers strummed the notes on his chest, his lips had brushed across the scar across her temple and she could feel her heart burst.


She had straightened the hem of her skirt, the incessant tapping of Naruto's drumsticks by his side matching the furious beating of her heart. The crowd was larger than she expected, Ino must have spread the word. Shikamaru had taken it as a good thing, saying that Ino didn't know what was coming, and this would just backfire into her face. She could feel Neji's hand touch her waist and she tilted her head to smile, before there was the screaming of fans and Naruto walked onto stage first, the shrillness of voices just steadily increasing until Tenten had walked onto stage, nodded towards Shikamaru, and introduced their first song.

The noise had died down significantly as Naruto drummed out the rhythm and Tenten had closed her eyes and pretended she was back in the apartment, with Neji tuning his guitar and Shikamaru lounging on the couch until they started and then she was singing the words etched in her mind, about broken hearts and mending string, rough fingers and fabrics of silk. The stage seemed to vibrate beneath her as the crowd caught onto the lyrics and sang along, and she stared into the bright lights and took breathless gulps of air and when her voice died down, the cheering lifted her heart and gave her a sense of belonging.

She belonged here, on the stage, with the speakers blaring into her ears, the smell of cigarette and alcohol, the screaming of people below her, and with Neji by her side.

Notes: I hoped you liked. I haven't been a writing mood or do anything kind of mood, so I'm glad I got an update out.