A Stupid Excuse for a Fairy Tale
Ch.1:Sometimes Jobs Don't Totally Suck
A/N: I'm not entirely sure I like this story. I started writing this about…five months ago, and it's dominated most of my writing time. (Well this story and a different GaaHina one which may never see the light of day.) I've mostly finished this fic and since it is pretty much finished I figured I might as well post it up. So this one will be updated regularly, whenever I get around to spell checking and looking over my grammar and style. I don't ever have anyone check my stories so I do all that stuff myself –shrug– to lazy to get a beta. I would guess I'd have a new chapter up at least once every two weeks. Okay so this story is set in like modern times and it's during summer vacation I guess. The kids are in high school but not currently in high school if that makes sense. Or maybe they're in college. I don't really have a time setting, just that they're teenagers. So, yeah.
Oh! And a number in a bolded parenthesis signifies a footnote. --IE (5)
Tap, tap, tap.
Temari sighed, and stopped counting the ceiling tiles to look at the irked customer. "Yeah?" Not that she really needed to count. She'd counted them a few times before. As far as she could see, there were 137. There would probably be more if she could walk around the entire store and count them all, but she was stuck behind a counter.
She really wasn't a people person; the manager must have been drunk when he decided to stick her in that particular detail. She could deal with being a cashier, stock person, hell she'd even live if she could be one of those idiots running around asking if anyone needed any freaking help. But she just had to be in customer service detail.
Before her was a slightly irritated blonde, with shiny pink lips pursed, and eyes narrowed. She slid a pink tank top across the counter. "I want to return this." The blonde was chewing bubble-gum so her words slid out slightly mushed together.
Temari was sure some hormone-crazed boy would find the blonde's slur attractive. Temari on the other hand, found it frustrating. "Why?"
"Why do you want to return it?" Temari asked disinterestedly. She'd long since given up trying to sound nice. According to her brothers (who continually came into the store just to poke fun at her) she sounded like those irritating women on those shopping specials that had those disgusting smiles plastered on their faces twenty-four-seven and their voice was so sharp it could pop a balloon. Really, could you get any more fake?
"Because I don't want it."
Obviously. "So, it's that just…you didn't like it?" Temari questioned stifling back a yawn.
The blonde flicked her bangs back. "Duh."
Lord, these little girlies were annoying. My hair is so perfect, my clothes are top-notch; you just want to be me or be with me. Seriously. She tended avoiding people like these on a daily basis and here she was being forced to interact with them. "Do you have a receipt?"
The blonde leaned forward. "See," Her eyes roamed over to Temari's name-tag, a fake smile spread across her glossed-up lips, "Temari, one of my careless friends was just stupid enough to toss the receipt, so I—"
Temari glared at the blonde woman. "No receipt, no returns."
The woman pursed her lips. "But—"
"I don't want to repeat myself."
The blonde woman harrumphed and snatched the shirt from the counter.
Temari could swear the blonde was cursing her out as she stomped off.
Temari turned her head to the left. She leant against the counter propping her head up on her hands. A spiky-haired blonde boy was playing with that stuffed-animal crane machine. The boy growled and shoved his hand in his pocket rummaging about inside it for some change. Temari smirked. He'd been there for over an hour now. The boy really was horrible at the game. The boy scowled upon pulling out a few rumpled dollar bills.
He walked over to her counter. "Do you have change?"
Temari took the horribly wrinkled and worn dollar bills from his hands. "Yeah, give me a second."
The boy squinted at her. "Do I know you?"
She thought she should know him. Gaara knew him at least, but Temari couldn't remember his name. "You know my brother." She opened the casher changing his three dollars into quarters.
"You're Gaara's sister?"
"Yeah. Not much of a resemblance, I know." She handed him the quarters.
"You work here?"
Temari smiled a bit. "I have for awhile."
"Really?" He paused, his blue eyes scrutinizing the top of her head. "Your hair's weird."
It didn't sound like much of an insult coming from the blonde boy. He just seemed to be saying what he thought. Temari absentmindedly pulled at one of her ponytails. She shrugged.
"Temari." She paused. "What are you trying to get? You've been feeding that machine quarters for awhile now."
The boy grinned sheepishly. "There's this animal that a girl I like made a fuss over yesterday. I thought if I could win it for her, she might go on a date with me."
Temari's mouth formed into a small 'o'. She smiled widely. One of her rare true smiles. Who knew males like this one existed? "She must be really special to you."
Naruto opened his mouth to speak, but ran back to the contraption as another walked in the machine's direction. "I'm playing!" He said to the newcomer.
The other one, a bored-looking boy with black hair pulled into a tight ponytail yawned. "I wasn't going to play that stupid thing anyway, Naruto."
Temari looked at the blonde boy and his apparent friend. Naruto seemed like a very sweet boy. Who knew there were still people who would be willing to do things like that? After all, the boy had probably wasted more money trying to get a girl a stupid stuffed toy just because she liked it, other than just buying her something impersonal like a necklace. There was something deeply adorable about the fact that he would waste so much time and put so much effort into getting a girl a small gift.
Actions speak louder than words, she mused.
"Naruto," the new boy drawled, "how long have you been at this?"
Naruto grumbled incoherently, as the toy he was trying for eluded him once more. "I dunno. Ask Temari. She probably knows. I've been on here around the time she started her shift."
Temari started. She'd have figured the blonde would've already forgotten her name.
"The blonde." Naruto explained as he fed the machine another quarter. "Customer-service."
The lanky boy's eyes roamed over to her. She was surprised to find that he didn't look away quickly, or avoid her eyes like most did when they looked at a stranger. Instead his dark eyes just met her own and held there for a bit. Then he re-directed his attention to Naruto. "You've been playing this machine for about an hour and a half?" He asked incredulous.
Temari blinked. How did that one estimate the time so well? Surely he didn't just happen to know her schedule…
"Yeah, what's it to you?"
The boy leant against the clear plastic of the crane machine. "You're not doing this shit for Sakura are you?"
She could see his wide smile. "How'd you know?"
The other, slightly taller boy, rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't waste your time."
Naruto ignored him.
"You've probably fed that machine more money that it would take to buy her fifteen small stuffed animals."
"So?" Naruto scowled as he missed again. The boy stuck his hand in his pocket then pulled it out empty. He scowled. "I'm out of money." He turned his blue eyes onto the lanky one.
The lanky one in turn scoffed at the blonde. "No way, Naruto. I'm not giving you money to waste on this rubbish."
Naruto scowled. "Great."
Temari sighed. She opened the cashbox and took out eight quarters. "Naruto!"
The blonde boy turned to look at her.
She held out her palm filled with shiny silver quarters. "Here."
Naruto skittered over to her happily. "Are you serious?"
He took the quarters from her hand. "Thank you, Temari! You're the greatest!"
The lanky one rolled his eyes again. "You shouldn't have done that, you know." He said to her as Naruto started feeding the thing quarters again.
"And why not?" She snapped.
"Two reasons." The boy yawned. "He'll bother you now. Once Naruto decides you're an okay person he won't leave you alone. And two, what he's doing is pointless."
Pointless? It was – It was – It certainly wasn't pointless. It was nice. She'd rather have a boy win her a dumb stuffed animal worth a quarter than have a boy give her an expensive pretty anything. Then again, her brothers constantly called her weird… Weirdness had to be more fun than being average anyway, she reasoned. Normalcy is so overrated.
Temari tried to convince herself that throwing something at the boy's head would be a bad breech of her 'cordial' customer service persona. She might get fired after all. Temari pointedly ignored him.
The lanky boy smirked.
Naruto sighed as he looked at his last quarter. The lanky one rolled his eyes and snatched the quarter from Naruto's hands. "Oh, move over."
But before Naruto could mutter another word in protest the lanky boy was moving the crane about flawlessly. The metal arms closed around the small stuffed lion Naruto had elusively tried to obtain.
"No way!" Naruto said in astonishment. "How did you do that?! I've been trying for ages!"
Shikamaru bent down to receive his prize and tossed it to Naruto. "It's not that hard."
Naruto held the lion in his hands, and rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah, everything is easy for you, genius." Sarcasm dripped from his mouth at the word 'genius'.
The lanky one – Shikamaru apparently – rolled his eyes.
"What're you doing here anyway?" Naruto pressed.
He shrugged calmly, looking completely disinterested in his surroundings, "Better than being at home. Yoshino has got in her head that the house needs to be redecorated; if I'm around she'll put me to work."
Temari couldn't help the indigenous snort that escaped from her. Naruto and Shikamaru looked at her. The lanky one—Shikamaru looked at her like she was an insufferable snoop. Okay, so she was listening to their conversation, but hey, anyone would if they were stuck in customer-freaking-service. Hardly anyone even looked twice at her and the only time she could converse was with annoying little twits who looked down their noses at her. So she worked, big deal. She would've replied to them, but at that exact moment some boorish old man dropped some item on the counter.
Gag. How she hated this job.
About ten minutes later, she'd finally gotten the man straightened away. Complainers, complainers, all these people did was complain about things that was not the store's problem. Much to her added depression, she saw the Naruto and the lank—Shikamaru were no longer by the crane machine.
Temari scowled. She normally wasn't a very social butterfly. Mostly because she just tended to have a very nasty temperament. Most people pissed her off, and in turn most people were just annoyed by her; so social interactions weren't too high on her list of things to do, they also weren't that important to her either. But she was just feeling like an all-around social outcast lately. Okay, so they did only move here a few months ago, but really, even Gaara had friends – and that boy was even more anti-social than she tended to be.
It was her attitude, she knew, but it wasn't her entire fault. She didn't want to move to this freakishly green and humid area anyway.
She sighed and raised her eyes back to the ceiling, ready to begin counting once more.
She needed a hobby.
Or a boyfriend.
Temari winced as that last thought ran through her head. Boyfriend? Ugh, get real. Boys were stupid. The problem with this consensus of hers, was that secretly she was a romantic. Secretly she wanted a chivalrous guy, she wanted to be hugged, she wanted a boy to give her something that meant something – not some stupid gift that someone told him a girl would like. Secretly, Temari wanted her very own prince charming.
Unfortunately, those were pretty much extinct.
And the ones that did exist doted upon those picture-perfect normal girls. And that, she most definitely was not.
Temari blinked suddenly, as out of the corner of her eye, she saw a hand push something at her. She looked down to find a warm, fantastic-smelling, chocolate-chip cookie on a white napkin. She looked over to the person who'd slid it toward her.
It was that Shikamaru. He was leaning lazily against the counter, to the side of her so he was diagonally across from her. In his hands he held a similar cookie. He took a small bite out of it and looked at her. It wasn't a very curious gaze or scrutinizing, or even interested. In fact, as his dark eyes looked at her – at her, not over her – he looked completely jaded. Now that he was closer, she saw he wasn't quite as lanky as she'd perceived. He was pretty tall, and thin, but not obtrusively thin. Upon closer look, Temari might venture to say he had muscles – nothing that would label him as bulky, but she could see the beginnings of muscles. His eyebrows were rather thing – comical almost, she wondered absently if he plucked them. His hair, she saw now, wasn't black, but rather a dark brown.
She looked at him and then back at the cookie before her. This was probably one of those time when she should use her voice, but she simply couldn't think of any words, and she didn't want to risk just opening her mouth to talk – she might just gargle out some inhuman sound.
"You looked hungry." He said slowly, dispassionately.
She looked at the cookie. My, it smelled delicious. She just couldn't bring herself to pick it up. She looked back at Shikamaru. What was with him? Normally most people tended to avoid her; Kankurou said it was because she just happened to always look pissed off.
She saw the edge of his lip twitch, as if daring to rise into a smile. "I didn't poison the cookie, you know."
"How am I supposed to know that? I don't even know you. For all I know, you could've." She said without thinking.
This time he did smile.
Temari was oddly comforted by this fact. She didn't think this boy smiled often. She picked up the cookie. "Thanks, I guess." She tried hard to not to moan in appreciation. She loved cookies. She raised it to her mouth, then paused, "That is, if you didn't poison it."
"I guess we'll see."
She took a small bite and eyed him critically as she chewed. "What're you doing here?" She wanted to bite her tongue as she realized how that had come out. Jeez, first she's upset that she can't really talk to people and then she acts like some rude bitch to the first person who tries. No wonder she doesn't have any friends in this stupid town.
He didn't appear offended at all. "Like I said to Naruto, I don't want to go home. This is one of the few places to go in this town."
"Redecorating can't be that bad." She muttered absent-mindedly.
He scoffed. "It is when Yoshino is concerned. Most of the town is terrified of her."
"Ah." She took another bite. One that was probably too large to be lady-like on her. "I still don't think it can be that bad."
"If you and your siblings stick around long enough, you'll see how bad she is."
Temari hesitated. "Why…Why are you talking to me?"
He raised an eyebrow. "What; am I annoying you?"
"No – No," Temari immediately replied, "I just…" She sighed. "Never mind. Forget I said anything." She pulled at one of her ponytails.
"You hate it here, don't you?" He questioned, still appearing apathetic.
She pulled a little too tightly at her ponytail and winced. "I wouldn't say 'hate'… It's just…" she wrinkled her nose. "It's so damn green and rainy here. It's damned unnatural. You know when I walk, my feet squish with the usual water splattered on the ground."
He smiled. "The green will grow on you."
"I doubt it. I miss dry sand and hot sun."
There was a flicker of something in his eyes. Something that disappeared as soon as it was gone. "What's it like? Where you come from."
She blinked, dumbfounded. "You really want to know?"
"I asked, didn't I?"
Temari crumpled up the empty napkin, already missing the sweet melty chocolate goodness. "Well, it's always very hot. Pretty opposite of this. It's also not the least bit humid. Very dry, but come night time it gets very cold. In the winters, it gets cold, but not too cold, and strangely enough, no matter what the weather is like, the sun never disappears from sight. It hardly ever rains. I think, in all my life, before coming here, I'd only seen the rain twice. It's also a much bigger than here. More stores and stuff." She pressed her lips together trying to figure out how to explain it. Sure it was more…urban, but the appeal was so much more aesthetic. The hardest thing to explain she found was explaining the splendor – to justify a beauty that didn't depend on the sparse, spiny vegetation that often looked half dead, a beauty that had more to do with the exposed shape of the land, with shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. She found herself using her hands as she tried to explain it. (1)
He leaned forward, still appearing bored out of his mind, but his posture said different.
"It was harder though, I think. To live there, for Gaara anyway." She shrugged. "Not many people liked him, and vice versa. Not that I mind too terribly. I wasn't very fond of the people there either. I guess I just liked the weather, and not having to drive for an hour to get to a movie theatre." She propped her head on her hand. "Better job selections too. And, the food." Her eyes closed involuntarily. "They had some very pleasant traditional dishes."
Her eyes flicked open as she heard a slight chuckle spill from Shikamaru. Indeed, he was quietly laughing.
"What?" She asked tersely, feeling very abused.
"It was something. You did laugh."
"Okay, it was something."
Temari narrowed her eyes. "And?"
She huffed. "You're really pissing me off, you know."
He smiled. "Good."
Temari rolled her eyes. She started as the sound of a phone ringing reached her ears. And it wasn't that nasally sound that the store's phone had, it was, shockingly the Mexican Hat dance song.
Before her Shikamaru blinked. She saw his eyes roll and he muttered something idly under his breath. The boy pulled out an old phone from his pocket and flicked open it.
"WHERE ARE YOU!?"
Temari winced. It was loud. Whoever was calling him was extremely and obscenely loud. And angry sounding to boot.
The tall lethargic boy muttered something into the phone softly, wincing as the woman (Temari thought it sounded strikingly like a woman) yelled something back at him. Temari couldn't hear what Shikamaru was saying, but she could see his lips moving ever-so-slightly, and a soft murmur of un-indistinguishable words spilling from his mouth. She found her eyes were tracing the way his lips moved. They barely seemed to move, but she was sure that whatever he was saying was clearly distinguishable, otherwise the woman on the phone would be yelling something else entirely. Another set of murmurs and he closed the phone.
He looked at her. "Yoshino."
His mother…Maybe she was as bad as he made her sound. Maybe…
"I'll see you around, Temari." She felt a slight of shivers engulf her as he said her name. The sound of his soft, husky, slurred words sounding out her name was very intoxicating.
She didn't even get to begin to think of a reply, because Shikamaru was already making his way out the store. What a strange person…
Temari glanced at the clock.
Good, she only had ten minutes left of this torture.
Though she had to admit today had been by far the best work day in her time working in this stupid little town.
A/N: So please review; this is my first try at an AU and I want to know if I'm just horribly messing this up. If you guys think it is bad, I won't post up the rest of this. By the by, in case you're interested, this was supposed to be a one-shot, but I've now written over 30,000 words on this.
(1) "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer – Ch.11 Pg. 232. (When Bella is describing Phoenix to Edward.)