paper moons and cardboard seas
but it wouldn't be make believe if you believed in me.
I have a problem. It's not a really big problem, but it's still a problem.
See, tomorrow's my first day of work as a surgical intern. Tomorrow, I'm a doctor. As of tomorrow, I'm going to be saving lives by cutting people up. (Well, watching the actual surgeons cut people up. But how cool is that?)
So here's the problem: I look like shit.
Well, I don't look like shit. My hair looks like shit. My skin's clean, I'm fit (I mean, I am being a doctor; it's necessary), but…my hair just doesn't work.
So I need to find a good hairdresser, now.
"Forehead, don't call me in the middle of sex." I blink and hold the phone closer to my ear, and sure enough, I can hear Ino panting. And some foreign, manly voice in the background.
"Why are you even picking up during sex?"
"Because—stop that, I can't concentrate—I know that you'd only be calling me at a crucial time like this because it's an emergency. Please tell me it's an emergency? Because you interrupted at a rather…crucial ti—ah, ah, stop!—time." I'm not sure whether to be touched or disturbed.
I shake my head, trying to get rid of those nasty thoughts. "Okay, Ino. You're fashionable, right? And you always look good."
"Damn right I do."
"Do you know any good hairdressers? Because I look like shit and—"
"Spare me the details. I don't need them right now. Um, I heard from Hinata that the one across Ichiraku's is pretty good. She goes to it all the time, and let's admit it, her hair is gorgeous."
"Oh, okay. Thanks. Um, you go back to your sex now. Bye." I hang up as quickly as I can, because I could already hear the panting and grunting starting up again.
Great, now I can't get the image out of my head.
The place looks clean and shiny and smells of shampoo. When I open the door, a little bell tinkles, and a man comes up, wiping his hands on a small red towel. And oh my God, I think he's beautiful.
"Did you make an appointment?" His voice is deep and sends shivers down my spine.
"Uh, no," I say, clearing my throat and trying to grab hold of my dignity. He's just a good-looking man. Big deal. There are good-looking men everywhere.
"Then please wait over there," he said, gesturing to the waiting area, where there are chairs and magazines. "I'll be with you in a moment."
I smile. "Okay." So I make my way to the waiting area and sit in a seat, picking up a magazine and trying to look mature and lady-like. Except, it's not really working in my favor, because Mr. Hairdresser already disappeared to tend to someone else's hair.
Oh, woe is me.
Apparently, in his terms, "I'll be with you in a moment," means "I'll be with you in half an hour." Because he only reappeared before me after half an hour.
"Running a little behind schedule?" I ask lightly, smiling at him and hoping I look charming.
"No. I just don't take unscheduled customers into account." Oh. So he's a cranky one. All of the good-looking guys are assholes.
"Oh. Sorry," I say, embarrassed. "I just didn't realize I was going to get a haircut until a little while ago, so…yeah. I'll make sure to schedule an appointment next time!" Because there will definitely be a next time. Hell yeah.
He led me into the main area, where there were a bunch of unoccupied chairs and one mirror to go along with each one. Bringing me to the back, where sinks and more chairs were, he took a red towel and tucked it around my neck. "Please sit." Oh. So he had manners. Yay!
So for the next five minutes or so, I sat in bliss as he ran his hands through my hair.
"Is this dye permanent?" I heard him ask as he sat me down in front of one of the chairs paired with a mirror.
I blinked. "Huh?" Smooth, Sakura. Smooth.
"The dye in your hair. Will anything affect it?"
"Oh. That. Um. It's natural."
There's a pause. "I see."
"People always ask me that. Is there something wrong with pink hair? I mean, I know it's uncommon and stuff, but I didn't think it was necessary to ask. I mean, not that it's wrong for you to ask, since you're dealing with my hair, and all." Crap, I'm babbling. Shut up, Sakura. Shut up.
"How would you like it cut?" he asks flatly, combing my hair.
I shrug. "You're the one doing it. I just know I look shitty, so do whatever it takes to make it look good. Tomorrow's my first day of work, actually. I'm a surgical intern."
"I'm really nervous, actually. What if I accidentally kill someone, you know?"
"You're not very talkative, are you?" You know how, when you usually get a haircut, you're focused on what the person is doing to your hair? You're always looking at how it's being cut and all. Unfortunately, I have no idea what's happening to my hair, because I'm too busy discreetly ogling my hairdresser. "What's your name, by the way? So, you know, I know who to ask for the next time I come."
"Uchiha Sasuke." Something about his tone makes me think that he doesn't want me to come again. How offensive.
"My name's Sakura. Haruno Sakura." I laugh. "Fitting, isn't it? My mom told me she had to name me that the moment she saw my hair." This time, instead of giving me monotone answers, he decides to ignore me instead. Well, that's okay. I'll bask in my newfound information.
Sasuke. That's a nice name. Uchiha Sakura. I like that.
Not like we're going to get married, or anything. I'm just broadening my horizons. Taking everything (or everyone) into consideration. Yeah.
He doesn't say anything for the rest of the time he's cutting my hair, and I keep my mouth shut, in fear of embarrassing myself more than I already have. I usually make a fool out of myself in front of people I like—I don't know why, though. Sai said he thought it was very endearing.
…Well, that was before he broke up with me. But yeah.
When Sasuke's done with rinsing and blow-drying my hair, he holds a mirror behind me so I can see my hair in the back. "Does it look alright to you?"
"Does it look alright to you?" I ask right back at him. "I mean, people are going to see it more than I am."
"I would appreciate it if you evaluated your appearances in the mirror in front of you instead of mine." Oh. So he noticed. A sharp one, he is. I look in the mirror, and I literally gasp at myself. I look…I look good! (Well, not that I usually look bad, but I usually don't look this good. This man has the hands of a true artist.)
"Wow. This is…wow." After he takes off my apron, I stand up and brush at my bangs. "It even looks like my forehead shrunk a little without making it obvious!"
"Oh, I've been told that I have a really big forehead. I even used to be teased for it back in kindergarten." I push my bangs back. "See?"
Is it just me, or did he just cringe? "I see."
"I feel the need to hug you." I turn around to face him and beam, holding out my arms. "Can I hug you?"
I feel like a part of me just died.
I've been a surgical intern for two months. I've been scrubbing in on surgeries, working in the ER, and prepping cancer patients for surgery. Life is good.
Except it's not.
I miss Sasuke. Which is stupid, because I've only met him once. And even though he's insanely gorgeous, he has a problem with keeping a conversation going. It's quite sad, actually. And he deals with people's hair for a living. I mean, I can do way better than that. I'm a doctor. And one day, I'll be a surgeon. I don't need to date a hairdresser.
(Not that he'd date me, anyway. That's what degrades me. I despair.)
Six months later, I go back.
And it's not because I insanely miss him to the point where I dream about him and mourn over the fact that I can't quite remember the contours of his face or his aristocratic nose (yes, his nose is aristocratic), and eat ice cream while complaining to Ino that I never get the good ones, unlike her.
No. Of course it's not that. It's just that my hair is grown longer, and it gets in the way. I'm sure a patient of mine wouldn't appreciate a strand of pink hair pressed to his heart after I sewed him up.
So I return.
Sasuke looks the same, except he's wearing a black dress shirt this time, instead of a black t-shirt like the last time I saw him. (Yeah, I remember. So shoot me.) He looks really good in dress shirts. Really good. Especially if it's casual, like the way he's wearing it now, untucked and with a pair of jeans.
God, he's beautiful. Why do I even try denying it? He's absolutely beautiful. And it sucks when a guy is more beautiful than you. Seriously.
"Sasuke!" I hope I don't scare him with the first name basis. "How are you?"
"Fine." He's tending to another customer. "You're fifteen minutes early."
"I know." I shift from foot to foot. "I just had nothing to do, so I decided to come. It's not a problem, right? I mean, I'll just wait in the waiting area…" He looks at my flatly. "Right. So I'll just be in the waiting area…waiting…" And I disappear from his line of vision.
That didn't go as well as I hoped it would.
Exactly fifteen minutes later, he comes back to fetch me. The routine repeats, and he washes my hair (mm, it feels so good) and asks me how I want to cut it again. And again, I tell him to do whatever he thinks should be done to make it look good.
This time, he talks, though. I try to hide my smile, but the mirror in front of us clearly says otherwise. And I'm pretty sure he's noticed.
"You're a surgical intern, right?" he asks me.
Those words seem to call on my inner self to rub in my face how tired I really am. I've been working eighty-hour weeks. It's really tiring. "Yeah."
"You seem worn." And when I study myself in the mirror, I realize he's right. I never really have the time to inspect myself; I'm always inspecting my patients instead. And usually, it's not for the appearances.
"Well, being a surgeon isn't exactly a walk in the park," I tell him, trying to sound enthusiastic. The last thing I want is for him to think I'm lazy.
"I was considering being one." Okay, that catches me off guard. I raise my eyebrows.
"It was either this, or being a surgeon. I excelled at the sciences, but did hairstyling as a hobby."
"So you chose this?" I ask incredulously. "If you're a surgeon, you could've retired at, like, forty-five! Now you have to retire at…well, never!"
"I don't mind if I'm doing something I enjoy," he says blankly.
Oh. Well, that's true, I guess. I wouldn't mind being a surgeon for the rest of my life, even if I could retire at forty-five. Is it weird that I like cutting people up? It's not weird, right? I love cutting people up! Finding the problem on the inside and fixing it before suturing them back together—it's fun stuff.
(I'm not crazy. Really.)
"Do you work all seven days a week?" he asks, snipping off another inch of my hair.
"Usually," I say. "I get a day off about…once every two or three weeks. I don't really notice, though, 'cause I usually spend those days sleeping."
"If you needed to have a day off, would you be able to get one?"
I frown. "Well, I should…I've never tried, and neither have my coworkers, so I'm not sure. Being an intern takes up all of your time, you know. Why do you ask?"
"So, Sasuke." My voice is cheerful. "What do you like to do when you're not working? Because God knows you don't work forty-eight hour shifts like me." I really like the image of him working with my hair. I don't know why. It's just somehow so…soothing. I could just fall asleep with him doing this—but I shouldn't. Who knows when I'll see him again.
"I often enjoy taunting my self-proclaimed best friend and attempt lowering his self-esteem, when clearly it's impossible because said self-esteem is a geyser that never stops gushing."
I wait a moment before I speak. "Uh, that was a joke, right?"
He wisely waits a moment as well. "Yes."
Well, this is awkward.
When Sasuke's done with blow-drying my hair, he brushes my bangs to the side. "I opted for shorter bangs this time, because last time, you said they hid your forehead." I kind of look like a little girl. I'm still debating on whether or not that's a good thing.
"Well, hiding my forehead is a good thing," I say. "I got teased, remember?"
"It's unique about you. You should be proud of it." I'm a little touched, because that's the same thing that Ino told me all of those years ago. His fingers on my forehead (that's the size of Russia) make my stomach do flips. His touch is so warm and light.
"I suppose. This will take some getting used to, though." My hair reaches the bottom of my chin again. I like it this short.
"Are you unsatisfied?" I think I hear some concern in his tone, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.
"Oh, no!" I shake my head hastily. "I like it! It's just, I don't adjust to change very quickly, so…yeah. But it's great. You're a really good stylist."
He looks at me for a moment, and I'm dying to know what he's thinking in that one moment. "Thank you." His eyes are dark—just like a smoky charcoal. They're so captivating. And blank. They're also blank. "I'm sure you're a good surgeon."
"Oh. Hah. That." I scratch the back of my head sheepishly. "I haven't actually operated on anyone…I've just watched."
"I'm sure you'll become a good surgeon one day."
"Thanks," I say, smiling. "I hope so." So Sasuke has the ability to praise people too! I feel special. Very special. Well, I don't know, maybe he praises a lot of people, but this is the first time he's praised me, which means he recognized my worth! Feeling very satisfied, pay him and head towards the door.
"Excuse me, Haruno-san." I turn around in surprise. "May I have your contact information?"
I raise an eyebrow, because could this be? Is he finally coming to his senses and planning to ask me out? "Why?"
"Protocol. In case you make an appointment and something comes up."
I'm sure that's just an excuse. Because who wouldn't want to go out with me, right? The chick with the (beautifully styled) pink hair and green eyes? I proceed to give him my cell phone number and address, before flashing a smile, saying goodbye and leaving in what I hope was a graceful manner.
"And Sakura," I say, popping my head back in. "Please. Call me Sakura." He's writing something on his notepad, but he gives me that long look again, before nodding.
He doesn't call me, though. Which really sucks. Maybe it actually was protocol. How disappointing. Disappointment is a cruel mistress—did you know that?
Two more awesome weeks of cutting people up and saving lives and all that snazzy stuff pass. Life is good. Life would be great if Sasuke, y'know, called. But I suppose I'm just another customer to him. Why do I always get my hopes up? I never get the beautiful ones.
God, he's so beautiful.
After I've changed out of my scrubs to get ready to go home, I check that I have a missed call on my cell. It's not a number I recognize. The person left a message, so I call voicemail.
Oh my God. It's Sasuke. Sasuke called me and left a message.
"Sakura. It's me. I was wondering if you're free tomorrow—it's important. Would you get back to me as soon as possible? Thanks." He proceeds to list his number, but I'm so excited, I have to listen to the message once more before I'm able to remember it and call him back.
I'm beaming by the time he picked up. "Hey, Sasuke? It's Sakura."
"What's up?" I sit down on the floor against the lockers, grinning like a lovesick schoolgirl. Maybe because I am a lovesick schoolgirl. This is pathetic.
"I was wondering if you could do me a favor." I could imagine him rubbing the back of his neck right now. "Tomorrow is…the annual hairstyling competition, and I don't have a model. I was wondering if you could…"
By now, my eyes have widened, my skin has paled to a sick color, and my heart is beating so hard, I'm afraid my ribcage is going to break. "Seriously?"
"Seriously. Do you think you could get a day off tomorrow, or…?"
"Yes!" I'm already grabbing my bag and racing out of the dressing room to ask if I could have the day off tomorrow. I'm so excited! Being Sasuke's model? I knew this pink hair would come in handy someday!
"Alright. Please be at the salon at ten o'clock—I need to get ready and experiment."
I could die after tomorrow and be perfectly happy.
I wake up at six (out of habit, I swear) and proceed to get ready for the next three hours.
I change my outfit at least a dozen times—and realize that the majority of the clothes that I own belong to Ino—shower thoroughly and wonder how I should style my hair, before remembering that Sasuke will be the one doing it. It's ridiculous how excited I am. I suppose I just feel special, because he chose me. He chose me, over all of the other girls that must be pining for him.
(But I am so not pining for him. At all.)
When I finally show up at Sasuke's salon at ten o'clock sharp, I feel undefeatable.
He doesn't even greet me when he passes me to slide the key into the keyhole. He opens the door and steps in before looking back to see me standing there in vague confusion, before asking me, "Are you coming in, or what?"
So much for feeling undefeatable.
Sasuke then spends the next fifteen minutes dressing me up (I feel like a Barbie doll—not that I'm complaining) in countless of different outfits that I could only dream of buying, despite being a surgical intern and earning enough to buy myself a lot of chocolate. He finally goes with an elegant green dress (which is a little disappointing, because I was hoping for the jeans and the awesome hat), and then proceeds to mess with my hair for the next two hours.
It must be hard, being a hair stylist. And I thought being a surgeon was hell. You could study your way through medical school—but you couldn't study your way through hairstyling. You needed to have the talent and the potential.
(Both of which I do not have.)
When it's nearing noon, he finally stops styling my hair, and rinses it out. "You should change back into your clothes. We'll have lunch, and then head to the competition."
I smile a little at the thought, because yes, I'm having lunch with Sasuke!
I catch him giving me an odd look as I leave the room, but I'm so happy, it doesn't even matter to me much.
"You're oddly cheerful today." Sasuke stirs his class of iced tea idly.
"You haven't seen me enough to know how cheerful I have to be before it's odd," I chide, smiling.
But it's true. I'm having an incredibly good day. I got more than four hours of sleep last night, I don't have to work, and I'm spending the entire day with Sasuke. Alone. Who happens to be absolutely gorgeous, and runs his hands through my hair about ten thousand more times than the average person.
If that isn't bliss, I don't know what is.
The ghost of a smile passes his lips. "I suppose so."
Sasuke isn't much of a conversationalist—I've learned that much while spending time with him. So I'm comfortable as we eat our lunch in silence, watching the people pass by. I don't miss the way many girls whisper as they pass and glance at Sasuke, and then frown a little at me.
Hah. I get the gorgeous guy, and they don't. In their faces.
"What?" I ask through a mouthful of sandwich (I am so flattering) when I catch him looking at me.
He waits for a moment before answering. "I'm still not quite sure what style to go for. You're a bit different to work with."
I frown. "Is that…bad?"
"Not necessarily. Being different means you're unique—you'll stand out in comparison to the other models. But that means it'll take means other than the usual to make the beauty stand out." Is he implying that I'm not beautiful to begin with? I mean, I understand my forehead, but…
That's just mean.
"I…see," I say uncertainly. Well, stare at me all you want, then. It makes me feel pretty. Even though I'm apparently not. "Hey, just out of curiosity," I lean in as if I'm telling a secret, "do you have a girlfriend?"
He looks at me like I've just committed blasphemy. "No."
I pause. "Are you gay?"
"Oh. Okay. Thank God." I sigh in relief and lean back in my chair.
I open in my mouth, in attempt to fix my slip. "Well, I mean, thank God for all of the girls out there. It would suck if you were gay, 'cause there are less gay guys than there are straight women out there. If that makes sense."
He raises an eyebrow. "I was aware you were attracted to me, Sakura, but I didn't know that I had the ability to make you stutter."
"Well, I don't talk much around you," I mutter, staring at my drink. "Wait. You knew?"
"After being flocked by girls all my life, it's hard not to catch the signs."
"So wait." I hold up a hand. "You knew, but you asked me to be your model anyway?"
"Being my model and being attracted to me are two irrelevant matters, and they will remain irrelevant. I chose you because of your unique features."
I'm a smart person. I mean, I'm going to be a surgeon one day. I've been trained to see underneath the underneath. "But that might also mean that you're giving me a chance!" I exclaim, excited. "Are you giving me a chance? Do you like me too?" (And I realize that this is something completely stupid and embarrassing to say, but he's always had a way of making me say, do and feel things that I've never said, done or felt before.)
Sasuke avoids my gaze. "Shut up."
Oh my God. I think that's a yes.
I beam the entire way to the competition.
"Wait. Am I supposed to walk a certain way? Do I have to strut?" The nerves hit only shortly before the competition starts.
"Just don't fall," Sasuke says lightly as he puts the final touches on my hair. We're in this huge room, where all of the stylists and models have gathered. Everyone has their own spot with a mirror and those light bulbs around it (I feel like a celebrity, or something), but you could still feel the tension growing.
"Oh. That's bad." I play with my fingers. "When I'm nervous, a trip a lot."
"So just don't be nervous." Another round of hairspray.
"Easy for you to say," I grumble. "You're not the one going out there."
"I know. That doesn't give you an excuse to fall, though."
You know, for someone who likes me, he's being awfully mean. I wonder if this is the extent of how nice he can be. I pity those who come across him on his bad days.
"Oh my God, Sasuke, I can't do this," I whisper furiously to him as I stand up, wobbling precariously on my heels (that aren't even that tall). "I mean, look at all of the other models." I see a redhead with an odd, half-and-half hairstyle, a young woman with a paper flower set into her blue hair, and—gosh, I'm feeling dizzy.
"Sakura." Sasuke places his hands on my shoulders and turns me so I'm looking directly at him. God, he's gorgeous. It feels like he can completely see right through me.
I bite my lower lip. "I can't do this."
"Sakura," he says again, firmer this time. His grip tightens on my shoulders. "Who is your stylist?"
I swallow. "You."
"And for the record, I won the last three competitions. In a row." The models are all lining up at the door now, getting ready to go on stage for the judges to see. I think I might even be on TV. (Ino's going to be so jealous.)
I hope my mouth, but I'm not sure what to say. "Oh."
"So go." He gently turns me around and gives me a small push towards the line. I look back at him with unease, and he sighs a little. "You look good, okay?"
…Whoa. He thinks I look good!
I beam. "Okay!"
I'm pretty sure he's exasperated with me, but hey, who cares? He thinks I look good.
We got second place. Which I think is a total fluke, because the model that won first place was that redhead. I even caught her eyeing Sasuke a couple of times. Bitch. He's mine.
Or maybe because she's red and I'm pink, and I'm just a washed-out imitation.
Is that looking a bit too deep into things?
Ahem. Anyway. The important thing is that I've gotten flowers, Sasuke's gotten lots of attention, and I also got a peck on the cheek. From Sasuke. (But that might just be for the paparazzi as we got our pictures taken.)
But who cares? I got a peck on the cheek.
(I know you're jealous. It's okay. I would be too.)
He drives me home and tells me I can keep the dress. (Which I will, until my dying day.) He even walks me to my door.
And it kind of reminds me of first dates during high school, because we just stand on my doorstep awkwardly, in silence. Like we're waiting for something. I just want to spend every last second with him, but I don't know what he's waiting for.
And then suddenly, he just roughly grabs my chin and pulls me into a smothering kiss. It's abrupt to the point that my entire body just freezes in absolute shock and disbelief. My hand squeezes my bouquet of flowers so tight, I'm sure the flowers are dying from the lack of blood circulation. Er. Water circulation? I don't know.
I can't exactly place what Sasuke tastes like, but if I were to be poetic and pretty, I'd say he tastes like the aftermath of the rain. Fresh. New.
He pulls away all too soon for my liking, but I don't think he had a choice, because I'm not sure if I kissed back or not. That's how stunned I was. I swallow, and stare at him. I'm sure my cheeks are flaming red by now.
He clears his throat. "Next Saturday. Seven o'clock. I'll pick you up." And then he turns on his heels, walks away, gets in his car, and drives away.
Five minutes later, I snap out of my stupor, gather my thoughts, and go inside.
notes: guess who's finally started watching grey's anatomy? oh yeah.
p.s. i just reread raindrops falling up, and holy crap, i wrote that? it's so good! how come i don't come up with fics like that anymore? -sad-