Disclaimer: I still don't own Naruto or any of the people/places found in his homeworld.
Author's Note: Happy first day of Fall, everyone! As a celebration, welcome to the first chapter of Fangrlz II: Legends! I know you all have been waiting for it, so here it is! Before all this gets going, though, I want to tell you all that I'll probably be updating this every other week, since college is a pretty heavy load right now. I'll do my best to keep that schedule -- and keep ahead of it, too, so I'm not scrambling to write like I was in the end of Fangrlz. Well, without anything more, here's the first chapter! Enjoy!
Chapter 1: One Last Dance
Only you could be my one love forever.
Just tell me you'll stay,
And the two of us will dance the night away.
--Lionel Richie ("Dance the Night Away")
It's the day after the last day of school for the senior class -- which includes me -- or night rather. I brush the fringe of my bright red flapper dress into place, tapping one bare foot deftly against the grass to the beat of the music that vibrates through the tent. I would be dancing, but rap isn't exactly my thing, and neither is the style of dancing that often goes along with it. Call me a prude if you want, but I find it quite repulsive and I'd rather hold on to my dignity, thank you very much.
This is the mini prom thrown by some friends of mine for what some might call the "in" crowd, though what we're "in," I don't exactly know. I describe us more as the kids that hold ourselves to higher standards -- but that sounds a bit . . . I don't know . . . stuck up? Still, it's a good group of people, and we're having more fun than we would have at the formal prom hosted by the school. None of us agreed with the choice of prom theme and decorations made by the majority of the student body (we suspect vote tampering), so we decided to have our own.
The rap song comes to a close and those kids dancing retreat from the portable "stage" to get something to drink. There's absolutely no air movement in the tent, and after a dance or two, it gets a bit hard to breathe. I've already had to retreat outside a few times for a breath of fresh air. It's amazing the wonders just sticking your feet into a pool can do for your entire body temperature. That's kind of what's kept me going so far tonight.
I smile at one of the girls passing me, and she pauses at my seat. "Having fun?" Lauren asks brightly.
I nod. "Yep, it's great!"
She tosses her dark head toward the dance floor. "Why aren't you dancing?"
Shrugging one shoulder, I reply honestly, "I'm waiting for the right song -- one that, uh, moves me." Though not like that, thanks. Wow, even mentally that sounds rather mean. What's wrong with me tonight? I'm usually not this spiteful.
Lauren laughs, oblivious to my inner debate. "Fair enough," she says before continuing on toward the water cooler on the other side of the tent.
Old-timey swing music is next to blast from the speakers, reflecting the "Roaring Twenties" theme of the party. I don't know the name of the tune, but I recognize it from somewhere. It's a catchy tune -- big-band music without any words. I'm starting to bounce slightly in my chair in time to the light beat when I feel someone lean over my shoulder.
"May I have this dance?"
I freeze, blood running cold as I recognize the voice. Slowly, almost afraid of what I'm going to see, I turn my head to look at the speaker. There, standing in a vintage tuxedo -- mask off and hair as spiky as ever -- is Tobi. My eyes flick over the familiar features of his face, smooth and youthful yet somehow so ancient with the familiar scar crossing his left eye.
My heart thunders in my chest as my gaze flicks anxiously around the tent. Don't panic. Don't panic. Though I had been kind of lonely and missing them before, now I'm a bit thankful that none of the cafeteria crowd is here -- none of the girls that were involved in our little adventure in the Naruto world. If they saw him, much less saw him talking to me, I would be in big trouble.
I meet Tobi's eyes -- silver blue to jet black -- and realize that his Sharingan is not activated. Can he even turn it off? I mentally shake myself. It's not the time for questions like that. There are other, more important questions to be asked.
"How did you get here? What are you doing here?" I hiss, trying not to tip anyone off that something might be wrong. I have so many other questions, but I bite them off before my voice becomes too loud and draws attention to us. That's the last thing I need.
"That doesn't matter," Tobi answers simply. He holds out a gloved hand. "Tobi came to dance with you."
"But -- I --" I sputter incoherently as he grabs my hand and all but drags me onto the dance floor. "I don't know how to swing."
Tobi laughs. "Koneko, dearest, you are what you are. With your reflexes and ability to read people as you do, you shouldn't have a problem. Just follow Tobi's lead."
So he leads, and I dutifully follow, faintly wondering where he learned to swing dance. I highly doubt it's part of the curriculum for any ninja academy, seeing as it's a dance from this side of the portal.
At first, my steps are tentative and fearful, but my confidence builds and I give myself over to the music. Together we twirl and dip, not missing a beat -- not missing a step. I become lost in the dance, and before I realize it, the music is done and I find myself in a deep lay-back, my entire weight resting on one of Tobi's arms. My toes point naturally as my ankles cross -- a reflex from my years as a baton twirler and crash-course dancer.
He brushes my cheek with his free hand and I blink in surprise. "See?" he queries gently. "That wasn't so hard."
Tobi straightens me up and I become aware of applause. Someone even whistles and cat-calls. I blush profusely, ducking my head. So much for not drawing attention to us . . .
Tobi bends his head to my ear. "We'll talk later."
The words seem strangely ominous, and a chill runs down my spine. When I turn to look at him, however, he's gone. I float through the rest of the night, hearing awed voices complement me and disappointed ones wishing they had been in there to see. No few people ask me who my partner was. I can only smile faintly and reply, "An old friend." I don't see Tobi the rest of the night, and no one seems to know where he disappeared to.
I get home about midnight, tiptoeing to my room and then the shower. It takes me a while to wash off my makeup and the red dye from my sequined headband that had melted off onto my forehead with the mixture of heat, humidity, and sweat. Gross, much? Finally, I get out, dress in my summer pajamas, and stumble off to bed.
The house is quiet. Not even the dog stirs from wherever she's taken up residence for the night as I move down the hall. I'm grateful to find, though, that her chosen sleeping place is not a nest made out of my pillows. That way, I don't have to go through the trouble of evicting her. She's rather stubborn once she's gotten comfortable. Relying on my pretty good night vision, I close my door, turn on my overhead fan, and crawl into bed.
The events of the night continue to run circles in my head as I wearily watch my dream catcher twirl above me. What was Tobi doing there? How did he even get there? I have no answers, though and sleep evades me, no matter how much I toss, turn, and try to get comfortable. I've been lying there for several minutes when a voice whispers from the dark behind me. "That was fun. You really shouldn't doubt yourself, Koneko. You're capable of more than you think."
Jerking in surprise, I roll over -- though not very far. Tobi is lying on top of the covers beside me; I can barely make out his shape in the darkness, even with my night eyes. He seems to meld with the shadows, only his eyes -- now blood red with the Sharingan -- truly visible in the dark. They're mesmerizing, and I find myself unable to think straight.
"Tobi, what are you doing here?" I finally manage, fighting to keep my thoughts in order. "My brother -- my parents --"
"All asleep," he assures me, brushing the back of his fingers down my jaw line and sending chill bumps across my skin. "A little genjutsu guaranteed that."
I scowl, fighting back the joyful side of me that's ecstatic that he's here and batting away his hand. "You can't be here," I whisper, despite what he said about my slumbering family. Everything about this is wrong, but I can't form coherent enough thoughts to figure out exactly why.
He strokes my hair, sending my train of thought careening even further off its track. "Why not?" Tobi inquires innocently, though I'm sure he's fully aware of the effect he's having on me.
"Well, this is -- you can't just -- you don't --" I can't find the words and am left to grunt weakly in annoyance. Once upon a time, I had a way with words. I've given a few speeches before and been complimented on that skill. Now, though, I can't even form complete sentences.
Tobi shushes me and leans in to give me a light kiss on the lips. My heart flutters and the last of my objections fade away. "You worry too much," he scolds half-heartedly.
Before I can recover even the slightest bit, he rolls me onto my back and leans over me, locking his lips to mine. I can't breathe as my arms react without conscious thought, wrapping around his shoulders. A tiny part of me -- one that somehow managed to survive his mind-numbing presence -- yells that this is wrong wrong wrong, but I can't grasp the concept enough to even wonder why. Then, I decide that I don't really care, that I should just stop fighting him.
The Akatsuki member releases my lips and twists his head to kiss beneath my jaw line. I gasp for air and sigh, "I'm dreaming."
Tobi chuckles into my skin. "Yes, you are."
The alarm clock on my nightstand loudly announces that the time is 5:30am -- time to get up. I jerk upright in bed, one hand flying to the throat of my nightgown -- my nightgown? I look down at my watch -- at the date. Tiny numbers and letters tell me that it's May 30, the day before the party -- the last day of school for those of the senior class exempt from final exams.
I groan and flop back into the pillows, letting the alarm blare for a few more seconds before clicking it off. It takes me a moment to drag myself out of bed and down the dark halls for my morning routine. The telltale jangle of thin metal against thin metal marks my cocker spaniel's movement as she follows me through the otherwise sleeping house. Running mostly on autopilot -- and trying my best not to think about my recently-escaped dream -- I check to make sure the alarm is off before opening the back door to let the not-so-young pup do her business. While she explores the pre-morning darkness of the fenced-in yard, I shuffle off to do business of my own.
I have to keep reminding myself that it was just a dream. I woke up in a nightgown, not pajamas. My alarm was actually set, because I still have another day of school left. Our "mini prom" is tomorrow night. Tobi's not going to show up there. It was just a dream. Just a dream. It wasn't real. You were dreaming.
After washing my hands, I obediently let the dog back in, seeing as she's decided to start whimpering at the back door and I don't want that whimpering to wake anyone else up. The locks slide easily back into place and I bend down to scratch the sand-colored cocker behind her floppy ears. "You'd let us know if there was someone in the house, right, Sandy?" I ask faintly, suddenly suspicious of all the dark shadows around the house.
She merely wags her tail, bumping up against my leg and leaning her head into my scratching. I smile and rise, feeling a bit better. Cocking my head, I listen to the silence of the house, checking to see if anyone else is up and moving around. I've become an early riser during the school year, moving about before the sun, but only because it takes me longer to actually wake up and get moving. If I sleep in, then I'll be rushed through the morning and no doubt I'll forget something.
Sandy watches me with a dog's curiosity as I heave a soft sigh and return to the bathroom. After shedding my glasses, I carefully "put my eyes in", as my mom and I jokingly call the action of donning my contacts. Once they've settled, I quickly set to washing my face. I need to keep busy so my mind doesn't wander back to its previous occupation. I really don't want to envision where that dream was going.
I sigh again into the warm, wet cloth. "It's been months," I mutter to no one. "Why is this happening now?" Getting no reply -- not that I expected any – I refill the wash rag with cold water this time and splash it on my face. Wake up, girl. Move on with reality.
After wiping the moisture off my face, I open my eyes. The sight in the mirror makes me freeze, my heart throbbing unevenly in something akin to panic. A dark, mostly-formless shape looms over me, a single Sharingan eye burning in the inky black. Drawing a sharp breath, I whirl and choke down a scream.
There's nothing behind me.
Just an empty doorway.
I give a soft whimper, sinking to the ground and burying my face in shaking hands. Go away, Tobi. Why can't you just leave me alone?