Word count: 7,896
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any characters related to the Naruto universe. They belong to Kishimoto Masashi.
Description: AU She didn't know who he was, but read his notebook anyway. Is it possible to fall in love with someone based solely on how they write? ShikaTema
Temari sat in the school courtyard, absently combing her fingers through the long grass, waiting for her stupid brother to get done with his stupid drama club… thing. He was probably running late because of a girl, and if he hadn't already had so many girlfriends, Temari might have been interested in finding out who the poor girl was. Alas, Temari had stopped caring about her middle brother's pathetic love failures long ago. Now, if the baby of the family got a sudden interest in girls—which was highly unlikely—she'd be all over that.
With a sigh, Temari recalled why she was waiting alone today, rather than with her youngest brother. Gaara had come to meet her in the courtyard like he did every day, but only to tell her that he was going home right then, rather than waiting for Kankurou with her. He had predicted that Kankurou would be late again, and damn, she hated when Gaara was right!
Looking around at the other students, or more specifically, a group of girls who sat together on the far side of the courtyard, Temari found herself wishing that she had some friends. She and her brothers had just transferred from Suna Private Academy a couple weeks ago, and so far, Kankurou was the only one of the three who had made any friends.
Which was strange, she thought, seeing as how he had a quarrelsome disposition, was fascinated with Kabuki, and had a secret fetish for puppets. He was by far the oddest of the three siblings, and yet, he had found his niche in no time at all, and acted like he had been attending Konoha High since the first day of freshman year.
Gaara and herself, however, were nowhere near as lucky. They now had the school rushing them to join a club, as participation in a club activity was required of all students. Temari couldn't think of an activity that she enjoyed enough to have to do every day, though. She liked reading, but book club sounded like it would get really old, really fast. She liked sports, but got enough exercise in Gym class, thank-you-very-much.
She sighed again, looking enviously over at the group of girls, this time picking out which girls she actually recognized. The dark-haired one with big, clear eyes was Hyuuga Hinata, a first year, and a member of the book club. Sato Tenten, the poor girl with the ridiculously common last name, was a second year, and president of the girls' kendo club, as well as a member of archery, track and field, softball, and tennis. The girl did pretty much everything as long as it required wielding a stick or a racket of some kind.
On the other side of Sato-kun, was Haruno Sakura, a first year with bubblegum pink hair. She was a member of student council, the newspaper committee, and she tutored other students in her free time. She wasn't even all that ugly, either, and was hailed as the brightest girl in school by every teacher that she came across. Although, she always scored second in the overall test scores for the first years. After Haruno was her best gal-pal and fellow first year, Yamanaka Ino. Yamanaka was the president of the flower arranging club, as well as a member of tea ceremony, and sewing club.
The rest of the girls were unknown to Temari, so she stopped staring at them and turned to look at the clock on the courtyard wall. Now Kankurou was almost fifteen minutes late, she noted with an annoyed groan. Standing up, finally irritated enough to leave him, she stomped back inside the school, making her way toward the front entrance. If she hurried, she wouldn't have to wait at the station for ten minutes until the next train home came. Kankurou didn't like her riding the train alone because of molesters, but if it really bothered him so much, he should have been there to meet her on time. She huffed in outward agreement with her own thoughts, still stomping through the halls.
"Sabaku-kun!" called a voice behind her, making her stop and turn toward the approaching teacher. This teacher also happened to be the person in charge of seeing to it that all students were in clubs, and while Temari knew that the guy was just doing his job, she found it really irritating that he just kept nagging her about it.
"Sabaku-kun, have you chosen an activity yet?" he asked when he finally caught up to her. She scowled at the floor.
"Not yet," she answered moodily, "I can't find one that interests me." He pushed his glasses up his nose and then peered down at her through the tinted lenses.
"Might I suggest something like Cooking?" he asked, making her scowl deepen, "Or perhaps Drama Club? You brother seems to enjoy-"
"I don't cook and I'm allergic to cheap costumes," she interrupted, "Sorry." She tried to walk away, but he stopped her.
"If you can't choose a club for its activity, why not choose one that you have friends in?"
"I don't have any friends," she tried not to snap at him. "I'm very busy with my studies."
He nodded, "As much as I respect that, I can't help but notice that your last test scores seem to say otherwise." She grunted, irked that he had called her on her lie, but remained silent as he continued.
"Then pick a club that is overseen by a faculty member that you like," he suggested firmly, leaving no room for an argument, "For example: Yuuhi-sensei is in charge of tea ceremony, Hatake-sensei is in charge of the book club and the baseball and softball teams, Sarutobi-sensei oversees both the writing club and computer club, and Maito-sensei leads the karate club, track and field, and the dance club." Unbeknownst to the other, both of them resisted a shudder at the memory of the man who wore green tights at every chance he got.
"But I…" she groaned.
"Go see Sarutobi-sensei in the writing club's room. He's got a way of making people want to join his clubs after he's spoken to them."
With a sigh of defeat and a nod, she did as she was told, turning on her heel and making her way to the stairs. On the second floor, she found the room, and reached for the door, only to have it open and be standing eye-to-nose with someone. Tilting her head, she leaned back a little to look at him.
He had dark hair, pulled back into a messy ponytail, and wore a bored expression. And was that… an eyebrow piercing? Weren't they against the school dress code?
He continued to look down at her, slouching lazily. "You're a little late," he said, moving to step around her, "If you're not gonna show up on time, you might as well not show up at all. Don't come after it's over and expect to feed him any excuses; they don't work." She bristled at his condescending tone.
"What?" she bit back, "Know from experience, or something?"
He ignored her, going to the stairs and descending them until he was out of sight. She growled at his no-longer-there back and shuffled into the open door, grumbling a, "what an ass." Now she was irritated all over again.
"Hello," greeted the teacher inside, as he moved around the desks, making sure the room was clean.
"That's me," he said, turning to her, "What can I do for you?"
"I was instructed my Ebisu-sensei to come see you," she answered, "It's about me not being in a club." His polite smile turned into a grin at this.
"Ah, another one," he said, "Okay, well, as you can see, this is Writing club. We meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It's actually a lot like study hall, the main focus being writing. You can write whatever you like here, and when you get stuck, there's about ten other members to help you out. I'll tell you a secret, though: most of them don't even do any writing."
"So this is just a pretend club?"
Sarutobi shrugged, "Well, I encourage them to write, but if anyone asks, the slacking is part of the artistic process." He paused then, as if thinking about what he had just said. "Actually," he corrected himself, "There are a couple people that I don't allow to slack, because, well, talent like that shouldn't be wasted."
"Oh, nothing. Anyway, the other club I head is Computer club, which meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It's just like writing club, except it's in the computer lab."
"So it's a pretend club, too."
"Artistic process," he said simply.
She rolled her eyes, "Something tells me that you just like throwing those words around."
"It's a good excuse for lacking structure," he said, shrugging once more, his matter-of-fact tone making her laugh.
"Can you do something for me?" he asked after a moment.
He moved to usher her out the door, "I'd like you to go home, sleep on it, and come to the computer lab after class tomorrow. If you decide that you don't like it, you won't ever hear a word about it from me again, okay?"
With a nod, she gave him a polite bow and left, making her way to the staircase that she had come up to get there. Three steps from the first landing, she stepped on something slippery, which slid out from under her foot, causing her to go tumbling down those last three stairs.
Now in a painful heap on the first landing, all she could do was be thankful that nobody had seen her display of clumsy acrobatics, as she turned to give the thing that had caused her fall particular hell. The blue spiral notebook just sat there looking innocent, as she berated it for sitting on the steps, only to stop herself a second later, realizing that she was yelling at an inanimate object.
"Oh, for the love of…" she muttered, picking up the offending object and opening the front cover. "Who do you belong to?" she asked it, searching for a name, but finding none on the front cover, back cover, or either of the inside covers. There wasn't even a name written in the upper corner of any of the pages, which were otherwise full of writing. With a snort, she snapped it closed, looking around for a potential owner, but not seeing anyone. It could have been there on her way up, as she had been walking on the other side of the stairs, and by the writing inside, it probably belonged to someone from the writing club.
Not debating what she should do, she began to walk down the steps once more. She would be going to Sarutobi's other club the next day, so she could give it to the man then, and he could return it to whichever student it belonged to. Yeah, that was a good idea, she decided. Beyond that, it wasn't her business, and she didn't intend to treat it like it was.
When she got home, she was met by a very angry Kankurou, who attempted to mask his worry by yelling at her, while Gaara watched seemingly indifferent, but she could tell that he agreed with his older brother. Admitting defeat against them, she retreated to her room, where she locked the door and sat at her desk, pretending to study. Emptying the contents of her bag onto her desk, she noticed the forgotten blue notebook and almost hissed at it, finding that blaming it for her troubles was a good way to relieve stress.
She then began to read her history book, deciding to ignore the notebook, but finding it increasingly difficult, as her mind kept drifting back to it. Finally, she snapped her textbook closed in frustration, picking up the evil little notebook and taking it with her to sit on her bed.
"There's probably nothing but crap written inside of you, anyway," she said to it, turning it over in her hands. "It's not like anyone will know if I read it, though," she hummed, mulling over whether or not reading it would be an invasion of privacy.
Making up her mind, she held it out in front of her, and dropped it onto the floor, quickly looking over the edge of her bed to see it. She growled when she saw that it had landed on its front cover, the back cover facing up toward her. She picked it back up and tried again, this time having it land open, but face-down. With another growl, she tried again…
And again, until in finally landed open in such a way that she could look over the side of her bed and read its contents. This way, she could honestly say that it had fallen open, and that she hadn't meant to read it, it had just been there. Starting at the top, she read:
"… And for some reason, it annoys me that they keep looking at me like that. That they expect so much out of me, like I'm have some kind of untapped power that makes me somehow better.
"And then he's looking at me again, and asking if I remember what we talked about, and all I can say is, 'yeah,' even if I don't want to remember. He knows that I'm a perfectionist in my own way, and he likes to exploit it…."
She stopped reading, feeling odd about reading what seemed like a journal. But, she found herself going back to it, now turning back to read from the beginning.
"He gave me this. It's my first damn day, and he's already trying to push my buttons. 'Here you go,' he says, 'Your favorite color, too.' Bastard. He knows I hate blue, and he knows that I hate writing, and he gives me a notebook anyway and says, 'Write something.'
"I didn't even want to be in this stupid club. Damn teachers, acting like it's the end of the world if you aren't happy about being at school every freaking day. The worst part is how hard they push you to so-called excellence. Like they think you'll become rich and famous, and you'll win awards and while your thanking your parents and all of the people who helped you get there, you'll throw in a, 'And I want to thank my high school teacher, so-and-so, for never letting me make my own decisions, because I'd be pumping gas right now if not for him!'
"If they're so right all the damn time, then why the hell are they making less money than starving artists, teaching a bunch of kids how to be their brand of intelligent? I don't see the point. And he's going to read this, and he'll probably laugh at me, that damn Sarutobi. I don't even like writing.
"Nobody else really writes, except for me and the other couple saps that are forced to. The president of the writing club does nothing, while everyone else does even less than that. Kiba sits in back and sleeps, Naruto seems to be trying to write, but every few minutes, Sai leans over and tells him how badly he's doing. Sai's one to talk. He draws the whole time. Apparently art club kicked him out because he told all of the other people that their projects sucked. And then there's that Tayuya chick, who rarely shows up, and when she does, she just sits around with that damn annoying flute of hers. Apparently, she got kicked out of Band for punching a clarinetist out for playing too loudly, or something stupid like that. It's like we're all just a band of misfits. I don't really care to know anybody else.
"Outside of this club, my life is the same as always. I still don't talk to anyone, except for my very short list of close friends, who I refuse to write anything about, because I know that he'll find a way to include them in my torture…"
She turned the page, but before she could read anything, Kankurou was pounding on her door.
"'Mari," he called, "Dinner's ready."
"I'm not hungry," she said flatly, trying to go back to reading, but her brother persisted.
"Look, I'm sorry," he said, dropping his voice down a little so that nobody else could hear him humbling himself, "I shouldn't have yelled at you earlier. I was just worried, but I should know that you can take care of yourself."
"I'm not upset about that, but thanks for apologizing, anyway," she said smiling even though he couldn't see it, "I'm actually just really into this… book."
"Really?" he asked, still in the hallway, "What book is it?"
"What do you care?" she retorted teasingly, "You can't read."
He grunted, but shrugged it off quickly, "Well, I'm gonna go eat. See ya."
With that, he was gone, and Temari had her nose pressed firmly back into the notebook.
The computer lab was still pretty empty when she got there, yawning for the hundredth time that day. She had stayed up until two, reading, and had gotten only three hours of sleep—she had to get up so early for that damn train. She approached Sarutobi-sensei as soon as she saw him, but hesitated just before saying anything to him. Should she return the notebook? She had said she would, after all, but…
He turned, as if sensing her presence, "Sabaku-kun, what a nice surprise."
"Uh, yeah," she said absently, "I'm here."
He laughed at her and motioned around the room, "Any spot you want, Sabaku-ku-"
"Any spot you want, Temari-chan," he corrected himself, smiling at her pleasantly. She nodded, moving to sit at the computer in the farthest back corner.
It was a fairly remote spot, which probably made it quite popular among the less social students. With this moment of downtime, she took a second to think. I'll finish it tonight, she thought, then I'll return it to the writing club tomorrow. She wondered who had written it, but couldn't very well ask Sarutobi-sensei which students were being forced to write without one, admitting she had found the notebook, and two, admitting she had read the notebook.
Still, she wondered who it was. It was a boy from the writing club, judging by the passage she had read about how much the mystery writer dreaded being in the showers at the same time as Hisakawa Sai. This boy was one of perhaps three students who were being forced to write by Sarutobi-sensei, and he was cynical, and maybe even a little antisocial. Too bad she knew of quite a few cynical, antisocial guys in this school, her own youngest brother being one of many.
She'd never actually met the Uchiha, but they said that he had that kind of an attitude. She hadn't met Hyuuga Neji, either, knowing him better as 'Hinata's cousin,' but he fit the description, too. That Aburame guy from first year, too, come to think of it. There wasn't a group of friends in this school that didn't have at least one guy like that.
Apparently, the guy felt a lot of pressure, too, which didn't weed out any of the aforementioned candidates. She heaved a sigh, head falling down onto the keyboard in front of her, making the computer beep over and over, in the beat of a pulse.
"I don't think you're doing it right," sounded a voice sarcastically behind her. It was that same jerk that she had run into the day before.
"Shut up," she muttered over her shoulder, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. He just shrugged and sat to her right, lounging back in his chair.
"Ugh," she growled, "Go away. Why are you sitting here?"
"Because you're in my spot."
"I don't see your name on it."
He rolled his eyes, "Real mature. You come up with that one all on your own?"
After that, they didn't speak to each other for the rest of the day, and nobody else spoke to either of them. Once everyone had left, the jerk from yesterday being the last one to leave, Temari stood and approached Sarutobi.
"How can I sign up?"
"…I've always hated biographies, especially autobiographies. As if a person is saying, 'I'm so important and accomplished that I think other people need to know every little thing about me.' It takes a lot of nerve to think like that. That's why I hate this. It's my autobiography, but at least I can say that I'm being forced to write it, and I intend to burn it as soon as I graduate. I was told to write, and so I am, but that doesn't mean that I like it. And I can sleep at night, knowing that nobody besides Sarutobi will ever read it…"
Temari snapped the notebook shut, tossing it onto her desk and flopping back onto her bed, bouncing twice before the springs and her body both stilled. It was like this guy was trying to make her feel bad for reading it. After a moment of pouting, though, she sat back up, taking the notebook back into her lap.
She opened it back to the page she had been on, but then decided to skip the rest of the page, and flipped to the next.
"…When he gave this to me, he told me to write. So I did. But you can only write so much before you run out of things, so then he says, 'write the truth.' So I did. These pages have been noting but truth. Nothing but me following the rule of, 'write what you know.'
"I'm out of what I know. I'm out of truth. And so, thus begins an era of lies, I say. I like school. I like teachers telling me that I'll never succeed unless I follow the rules of modern society. I like gym class. Everybody likes gym class. It's a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, which is accented so well by the delicious and nutritious meals served in the cafeteria. I like going home and having my mom ask me why my room isn't clean, and asking why I don't have a girlfriend, and asking why the teachers have to keep calling her because I failed to turn in yet another assignment. I like how the days repeat themselves so dependably, because I don't know what I'd do if something new happened around here…"
Temari didn't return the notebook at Writing Club the next day. She hadn't expected it to be so full. Where a normal person could write maybe a hundred words, this guy could fit in two hundred words in the same amount of space. Plus, each page was written on front and back, and when she checked, there were only two empty pages at the very end of the notebook. She decided to keep an eye out for her mystery writer. The jerk from the previous days had beat her there, and seemed to be napping on his desk already.
As she walked by his desk, she pulled out her own notebook, hitting him over the head with it as she walked by. She didn't really know why she had done it. As she chose a seat in the middle of the cluster of desks, she happened to glance at him, seeing the glare that he was shooting at her from under his arm.
From this position, she could observe every person in the room fairly well—the people behind her being the only exceptions, but they ended up being only Inuzuka Kiba and Hisakawa Sai. The other members of this club were the people mentioned in the notebook (Uzumaki Naruto, and Oto Tayuya) as well as a few who weren't mentioned, one being first year Aburame Shino, a possible candidate for her mystery writer. He was quiet, so it was hard to tell what he was thinking, but he could have been cynical, and he certainly seemed like a perfectionist of sorts. He was also really smart, so there was a possibility that he felt pressured by teachers and his family.
It was well into the club activity period when the door slid open and in walked Rock Lee. He bowed at the front of the class, and issued a formal apology to everyone for being late—not that anyone really cared.
Temari raised an eyebrow. She hadn't realized that Rock Lee was even a member of Writing Club, as everyone knew that he was mostly interested exclusively in the clubs that Maito Gai supervised. What she heard next nearly killed her.
It came after a longwinded plea for forgiveness, but it was uttered nonetheless: "I have been searching for my notebook, so if you find it, please return it to me. It's blue." He then bowed once more, taking up a handful of plain single-sheets and finding an empty desk.
Temari went home that night, but was unable to bring herself to read anymore of the blue notebook.
Temari was distracted the next day. She had never paid much attention in class, but today she paid even less. Was it a terrible character flaw to be crushing on a cynical mystery writer one day, only to drop it the moment it was revealed that he wasn't attractive? She knew the answer must have been yes, and she felt like an awful person for it. It just didn't seem likely that a boy who appeared to be so bubbly, could actually be so against everything society felt was necessary. Surely there was another explanation.
"Don't think too hard; you'll hurt yourself," muttered the jerk with the ponytail, sitting in his usual spot beside her (as she was once again at the computer that he had claimed was his).
"Shut up," she replied, but it lacked its usual fire. He seemed to note that something was wrong, but he turned to his screen, opting to ignore her.
"What do you do when you find out that the person you like… isn't the person you like?"
He raised a pierced eyebrow, "I doubt I'd have an answer even if that question made sense."
She sighed dejectedly, "Say you had someone writing secret notes to you, and you sort of started liking that person based on those notes." Temari paused, trying to think of an analogy that didn't sound like an analogy. After all, she couldn't come right out and say that she had stolen Rock Lee's Writing notebook. "And then you… met that person, but he wasn't like what you had pictured in your head."
"So you're shallow. Big whoop," he muttered, logging onto an MMORPG of some sort.
"I'm not shallow, okay?" she defended, knowing that he was at least half right. "I just can't get my head around it. They seem like two different people," she muttered, more to herself than to him. Either he heard her and picked up on the fact that it wasn't said for his benefit, or she had said it too low for him to hear.
In any case, he didn't respond.
After school on Friday, Temari decided to return the notebook to Rock Lee in Writing Club. She hadn't bothered to finish it; somehow, it was less interesting without the mystery.
Since it was no longer necessary to observe the room, she decided to take the seat that she had seen The Jerk sitting in two days prior. He was fun to piss off.
"I take it you took my seat on purpose this time," he noted, sitting in the desk behind her.
She smiled in self-conceit, perhaps a bit too proud of herself. "That's right, Yanki," she goaded, "What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing, Ganguro," he shrugged, slumping down onto his desk, "You win."
"G-ganguro?" she shrieked indignantly, feeling terribly victimized. So much for winning. His last words had done more to upset her than the loss of his spot had done to him.
It was well into club activity time when Temari looked around. Rock Lee wasn't there, and it was too late for him to even be late. Spotting Uzumaki, she leaned over to tap the blond on the shoulder.
"Uzumaki-san," she inquired, "Do you know if Rock Lee was in class today?"
He tilted his head, "Bushy brows? He only comes once a week, on the day when Gai-sensei has no club duties."
She nodded gratefully, turning back to her own desk and tapping her eraser against an empty sheet of loose-leaf. So she would have to wait until next week, she supposed.
"Do you have to make so much noise? It's distracting."
She glared at him over her shoulder, and sure enough, he had a piece of paper in front of him, already a third of the way filled with words. She couldn't actually read them, as they were nothing but inky smudges on the edge of her vision. "Interesting that you care," snapped Temari after a moment. "I assumed you only came for the sleep."
"It's stupid to join a club if you're not going to at least pretend that you like the subject," he responded mechanically, now ignoring her and back to his lined page. She couldn't tell if he was really so engrossed, or if he was just being sarcastic.
"…I just wish people would stop treating me like they know I can do better. How the hell do they know if I can do better or not? Who decided that I was a freaking genius to begin with? Maybe I do have a higher capacity than most people, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to automatically know what year the civil war of Luboria ended. And since when is memorizing something just long enough to take a test called 'education'? There's only one teacher in this whole school that makes it worth coming…"
She blamed a combination of curiosity and boredom for her return to the notebook that weekend. She had originally sworn not to touch the thing and just return it, but she was almost three-fourths done with it by that point, so she really didn't see the harm in finishing. Apparently her willpower was not as strong as she would have usually accepted praise for.
She locked herself in her room all Sunday, being the only one in the house as the rest of her family spent the day on individual hobbies. Even Gaara had gone out for the day—Gaara! When her surly youngest brother was being more social than her, there was clear cause for alarm.
She read the rest of the notebook, being able to attach herself to the writer more now than she had when she first started reading. In the beginning, she felt that she was an observer, watching scripted scenes and fake sets as if it was no more real than television. Now, however, she found herself able to cry during the parts that were written in distress, and laugh when he made witty observations about teachers or classmates.
She still couldn't even compare this person to the green-loving, Gai-obsessed boy who had claimed to have lost it. There was no way this was how Lee really felt. Maybe he was letting his Hyuuga friend (said friendship being one of the most baffling things she had ever seen) write for him, or channeling a spirit from beyond the grave whenever he held a pen.
The thought caused her to snort with laughter. The mental image of Lee sitting in a candlelit circle, performing voodoo rituals in his basement was a ridiculous one. Especially when a person simultaneously pictured his customary smile.
She was given no more time to dwell on it, as Kankurou came pounding on her door to see if she was okay, followed by further scolding upon finding out that she hadn't even bothered to feed herself all day.
She held on to the blue notebook until Wednesday, when she caught Lee alone outside of the club room. She would do this quickly, she decided. She would, under no circumstance, admit that she had kept it for more than a week in order to read it. Even if he asked. This in mind, she bowed politely, extending the notebook toward him.
"I found this," she mumbled sheepishly.
He looked at her blankly for a minute, before beaming at her and pulling out an identical blue notebook. Well, identical except for the doodles and 'I love Sakura' messages scribbled all over the cover. "It's not mine," he stated the obvious. "I found mine last Saturday."
She squinted at it as if it had committed an offense against her. He squirmed under the gaze, apparently feeling as if she was demanding proof.
"I write poetry," he explained, flipping his notebook open to a random page. True to his word, sprawled across the paper in no particular order were bizarre limericks and haikus with too many syllables.
She waved the blue notebook in her possession at him. "Then who…?"
"I'll bet it's Shikamaru-kun's," he surmised, "He has a blue notebook just like mine." With that he ran into the room before she could say anything.
Shikamaru, she mused. The name certainly sounded familiar, but she wasn't sure where she had heard it. It must have been one of the people in the writing club that she hadn't met yet.
She was a few minutes late by the time she had gathered her thoughts enough to go into the club room. Looking around, she noticed everyone was in their usual spots, except the Yanki jerk, who had once again taken the seat behind the one she had stolen from him. She smiled. Was it a hint that he wanted her to sit in front of him?
She sat sideways in the desk, looking over the back of her chair at his paper, which he promptly covered with his arm.
"Do you mind?" he asked, peevishly, "I don't read over your shoulder."
Temari jutted her lover lip out. "Whatever," she said, then after thinking about it for a minute, "Ne, do you know a Shikamaru?"
He raised an eyebrow at her, "What? You don't know?"
"Obviously not, or I wouldn't be asking."
He went back to his paper, not bothering to answer her.
"If you don't know, just say so!" she snapped, turning moodily back toward the front of the room. She might have heard him grumble a 'troublesome' behind her.
Four-thirty rolled around quickly, and Temari decided to wait around for the room to clear a little before she approached Sarutobi.
"Ah, Temari-chan," he greeted her, collecting a stack of papers, "Do you need help with something?"
"You remember my name?"
He hid a grin behind his hand, and Temari wondered for a minute what he might have found so amusing. "Let's just say that I hear your name fairly often," he replied cryptically.
She didn't think she could get any more information out of him as to what he meant, so she went on with her question. "Can you tell me which student is Shikamaru-kun?"
His eyes widened for a fraction of a second, "You mean Nara Shikamaru?"
She shrugged, "Are there many other Shikamaru's?"
"The boy you sit next to in both Computer club and Writing club?"
She furrowed her brows, "You mean that Yanki jerk?"
He seemed to be holding in laughter, "I guess that's one way of describing him…"
Temari stared at him as realization slowly dawned on her. Without a goodbye, she tore from the room, suddenly desperate to catch up with the boy that she only now knew as Shikamaru. Happily, she found him before she even got down the steps.
He was lounging in the staircase, three steps from the first landing, in the exact place that she had found the notebook nine days before. Tilting his head back, he looked at her lazily from his upside-down viewpoint.
"Why didn't you tell me it was you?" she tried not to sound too angry.
Giving his neck a rest, her opted to turn his whole body toward her rather than continue to crane his head back so far. "You never cared what my name was before. Why suddenly start now?" he muttered resentfully.
She stomped down to the first landing, where her standing position and his sitting position three steps up almost evened out their heights. Biting the inside of her cheek, she pulled the blue notebook out of her bag and extended it to him much like she had done to Lee, except this time, she didn't bow. "I wanted to return this to you," she heard herself say, voice strained through her pride.
He snatched it from her, bored expression taking on an angry one now, "How long have you had this?"
"A week and a half," she answered honestly, refusing to look away from his eyes despite how badly she wanted to avoid those dark orbs.
Instead, he was the first to break their eye contact. "What?" he asked mockingly, "You couldn't turn it into the lost and found like a normal person?" The way he glared at the floor tiles indicated that he knew she had read it, and now he was waiting to see if she would confess it to him.
It was a family trait that apologizing didn't come easy, but Temari tried anyway. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she took a deep breath, "I'm sorry-"
He stood suddenly, now glaring at her and giving the innocent tile a rest. "I don't want you to talk to me again," he said, somehow sounding very calm about it, before turning to walk away.
"Nara!" she called, running after him and circling to block his path. "If you want me to leave you alone, I will, but you have to listen to me first," she negotiated. "I'll admit I had no right to read it, but I'm glad I did. You're more than you think you are," she tried not to blush, but she was sure that she failed as her final words came out in a whisper, "You're amazing."
His look did not soften, the opposite in fact. The black eyes that shimmered whenever he was amused (even when he was trying to hide it) became dull, as he snorted in bitter disbelief and stepped around her.
Temari's heart clenched in the recognition that they would probably never speak to each other again.
Temari went to Computer Club to find that their usual corner was empty. Shikamaru had chosen a seat next to a girl with a long blonde ponytail—Yamanaka Ino, Temari faintly recognized once more. While a part of her wanted to call him a baby for avoiding her, her more rational (and less listened-to) side reminded her that he was technically the only one of them with the right to be angry.
The keyboard creaked under the weight if her head as said cranium made violent contact with it a few times.
The next day, Temari entered the Writing Club room to see that he had beaten her there. Just like in the computer lab, he left their usual area alone and sat on the other side of the room. This put him right next to Oto Tayuya, the crazy flutist, and Temari knew from reading his notebook that Shikamaru hated the redhead with a passion.
Temari didn't know what was more annoying: him pointedly not looking at her, or his own self-punishment in a glaring display of evasion. Either way, if he expected to guilt trip her, he had another thing coming. With a huff, she focused her eyes on her own paper, even though she never wrote anything, anyway.
She didn't look up until a familiar blue notebook was slapped down onto the desk before her, at which point she raised her head to meet with the bored expression of the very boy she had been thinking about.
"What's this?" she asked, turning away from him petulantly.
His expression didn't change as he answered simply, "Don't you want to see how it ends?" The conversation ended there, and he walked away, not expecting an answer.
She discreetly watched him leave the club fifteen minutes early. A glance at Sarutobi told her that the man had given Shikamaru permission, as the only reaction she got from him was a knowing smile. Giving up, she opened the notebook to those last two empty pages and began to read. The front and back of the first page had apparently been written the day before, and it was a rant about personal property and what-not. She mostly skimmed through it until she got to what had been written not more than half an hour ago.
"…It's annoying to see people pining after other people, especially when they don't have a chance. Guys are the worst, though. You expect girls to be that way. They all want boyfriends enough to give up their left thumb for one. It's pathetic, but at least it's expected.
"Then you have those poor saps who decide they've fallen for a girl, and they can't figure it out that she'll always like whoever's on top. The guy with the most money, and the largest fan base, and the best hair will always win. I figured it out a long time ago. I just decided that I wanted things to be simple. A girl who wasn't too ugly, or too pretty, and who definitely didn't have a temper. That's all I wanted.
"And then I met the one girl who blew my old ideas out of the water. I guess it's nothing to my astuteness that I knew who she was right away. She was one of the infamous transfer students, and the only girl, too. It wasn't that hard to figure out. And I'm no Uchiha Sasuke, or Hyuuga Neji, so it makes sense that she wouldn't know me, but it bothered me that she didn't know my name. For almost two weeks, she didn't know my name, and she never asked. She was too engrossed in reading somebody else's private notebook, and deciding that she was gaga over that guy. And here I was, competing with myself.
"Like I said, it's only been two weeks, so I'm not going to jump right in and act like I want to marry her, but I'll admit that I'm intrigued. And I'll admit that the way she scowled at me when we first ran into each other was damn cute. And now she's making me use the word 'cute'. What have I become? One of those saps that I always pitied so much, that's what.
"And Sarutobi will laugh at me for saying it, but if she ever looks at me the way she did when she said I was amazing again, I think I'll melt into putty and let her turn me into whatever she wants. It almost makes me feel sorry for making fun of Naruto and Chouji and Lee.
"Anyway, I'm getting close to the end of this notebook, which means that I can leave Writing Club if I feel like it. That was the agreement Sarutobi and I had. All I had to do was fill a notebook, five hundred words per page, front and back, and then I was free to leave. I haven't decided if I want to leave yet. And I don't want to say that it depends on a girl, but it almost does.
"So, with 95 words left to this last page, I have a request to make to Temari. I want to walk her from the station to school every morning, and I want to take her back to the station every evening. I want to spend Sundays with her, going to movies and being dragged to malls.
"If she wants those same things, she should meet me in the stairwell by 5:00 this evening. A cowardly way to tell her I like her, I know, but I never claimed to be brave. And this, Sarutobi, is five hundred words."
Temari looked at the clock, but if she had been thinking, she'd have known it wasn't even 4:30-nobody had gone home yet. Her foot began tapping impatiently, and she couldn't recall a time when the seconds had ever ticked by so slowly. With a glance around the room, she met the gaze of Sarutobi, who still wore that same grin. In an instant, his head tilted toward the door, signaling his authorization to make her escape.
And escape she did. Much like when she had first learned his name, she ran through the hall, this time knowing exactly where he would be.
As expected, he was on the third step from the first landing, reclining back and looking out the large windows at the sky. Taking two steps at a time, she descended to that familiar landing, blocking his view for a moment, before falling to her knees on the step just below his. He sat up, putting barely six inches between their bodies, to look her in the eye passively.
Temari was panting from her sprint, but even once she caught her breath, she found that she had no idea what she was going to say to him. She ended up blurting the first thing that came to her mind, "I like you."
One side of his lip twitched and his eye got that glint from suppressed amusement. "I know," he drawled in his usual manner, "And I like you, too, I think." His eyes shifted to the blue notebook that she held in her white-knuckled grip.
"I know," she mimicked him with a smug smile.
With a thoughtful tilt of his head, he mused, "So I take it your answer is 'yes'?"
"My answer to what?" she asked coyly, feigning obliviousness.
Instead of answering verbally, he took more initiative than he ever had in his life, and leaned forward to press a chaste kiss to her lips. Temari was only surprised for a second after he pulled away, then gave him an impish grin and dropped the spiral notebook to wrap her arms around him. Needless to say, the kiss that she gave to him was a bit less innocent than their first.
Shikamaru did not quit Writing Club, though the pages of his new blue notebook filled decidedly more slowly than the last. This might have been because he was unmotivated, but a more believable reason was probably the blonde in front of him, who had to ask him for synonyms on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, Temari's pages filled faster than Shikamaru's ever had. She had a habit of embellishing the truth a bit, though.
More than once, when reading what she had journaled about a recent date they had been on, Shikamaru had to raise an eyebrow and ask, "And when did I say this, exactly?"
Her favorite answer was always, "You were thinking it," but sometimes she would only chuckle and rest her head on his shoulder or cuddle more firmly against his side.
A/N: Finally! This was swimming around in my head, and I wouldn't let me write anything until I got it done. So now it's done, and I can focus on Darling. This also marks my first Naruto fanfic, and it's ShikaTema, because... well, they're awesome. Probably really out of character here, though.
A note about the Yanki/Ganguro thing: Yanki means punk/thug, and she's talking about his piercings, and the way he acts and wears his uniform. Ganguro is a fashion trend in Tokyo, where girls get really tan (by use of a tanning bed) and then bleach their hair to light blonde or orange.
Thanks for reading!