Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and do not profit from this fanfiction.
Sugar Me Sweet
Chapter 3: Mystery.
The warm smell of baked goods mixed with bitter coffee and subtle tea engulfed Tenten. It was a strange mixture of scents but oddly enough, they blended well together. Tenten gazed around herself, taking in every detail of the sweet shop. The walls were covered in peacock blue paint, black designs and patterns swirling and crisscrossing across the walls, the mahogany wooden floors were irritably sparkly clean; soft wooden table and chair sets were arranged in simple patterns, most against walls and a few in front of big rectangular windows. The setting was serene, quiet and peaceful. Tenten watched as the waiters and waitresses scurried past her, putting down plates of cookies and tarts, slices of cakes and pies, mugs of steaming hot tea and just-made coffee. They were all dressed the same, white shirts with grey pants and a deep red apron tied at the neck and waist.
The place was cozy despite it's girly exterior, it was enticing, comfortable and nice.
Tenten set herself down at a table for two in the corner, she looked around again; noticing how no other student from her school was there and relaxed.
She wasn't one to shy away from familiar faces but she was one to know it was better if she didn't mingle and make friends like any other person would. And that was why she was weird, she was one of them who had a bad past and were constantly looked down at. She hated feeling like that, hated feeling like dirt and garbage being kicked around. She couldn't take it but she would because she was that kind of person, because she had gone through too much to let it all go, she wasn't going to be on stage mask-less when the curtain went up. She was going to be masked and hidden. She was careful, she fretted over all the small things just like her ex-best friend did and she hated that she had learned from them, hated that she had been betrayed by them but the past was the past and you couldn't change it even if you could turn time back.
Tenten was so depressed as she sat, no word slipped through her lips, no emotion graced her features; she scared the countless staff members away. She was a stone cold statue that was stuck in the past that tore her life apart. She didn't say anything as she stood up from her seat, the chair nearly falling over from the force exerted. She didn't bat an eyelash at it as she strode over to the cash register.
The cashier was pretty she would have to say, her hair was wine red, her eyes a dark crimson. Dark glasses framed her eyes as they stared at her. The girl retied the red apron around her waist while she hopped from one foot to the other, she wore a black sweatshirt instead of the standard white shirt, silver skinnies instead of the grey. She was the one that stood out but even that wasn't enough for Tenten to carefully glance her over.
"You hiring?" Tenten asked, her tone clipped and strained.
The cashier looked at her, a brow raised, "Yeah...we are."
Tenten gave a quick nod, "Could I leave my resume with you then?"
"Sure, I'm Karin, the manager; I'll be the one looking it over." the cashier said slowly.
Tenten didn't seem fazed by the fact and dropped off the papers on the counter. "Thanks." she murmured and then she was out the door.
Karin stared after her, thin eyebrows raised and a slow smile playing on her lips.
Tenten trudged through the crowds that had amassed on the sidewalks and to her car. She glanced at her silver watch and sighed in exasperation, barely an hour had passed since she left the school parking lot and more than four hours remained.
With time to spare and a great distance from her to her car, random thoughts drifted in and out of her mind; she thought about all the most useless and all the most valuable things in life. Her education was one of the important things to her but she couldn't stand being in such an enclosed space filled with so many unwanted memories. Memories and dreams that had been formed with people who wouldn't be playing roles in her life anymore, their adjoined hopes of getting jobs at the same places, having fun gossiping at work; it was like a Mary-go-Round that spun round and round forevermore.
Tenten couldn't stand it, all the pressure that seemed to gradually increase rose to higher peaks and she soon found herself in her car, driving towards one of the many places she had sworn never to set foot again in. Her elementary school playground.
The playground was small but comforting, twin swing sets bordered the grassy land and a sand box sat at the center, twin slides flanking it. It was simple and best of all, no little kid was out at this time of day.
Tenten perched herself down onto a swing, swaying back and forth. The playground was her thinking place, her daydreaming place, it was where her...ex-friends knew where to find her, it was their secret to meet here anytime there was something to discuss. It was where they hung out, where they met, where all the memories started and where they ended.
The wind picked up and blew her chocolate brown bangs behind her, she wasn't the least bit affected by the rush of air, too engrossed in her daydreaming.
She didn't notice the form that sank into the swing next to her.
The rusted metal squeaked as the swing moved forward and backwards, consistent.
"I knew you'd be here." a soft familiar voice said from beside her.
Tenten looked up in surprise, her hazel irises narrowing as she caught sight of the pink hair. "What are you doing here?" she sneered.
"Shouldn't you be in school like the good perfect girl you are?"
The girl flinched at Tenten's choice of wording, "Things change, Tenten."
"No, they don't. Despite how beings want to change, they will never fully shed their old natures; instead, they will hide behind lies. It's what everyone does."
"Forgive and forget. You have to let go of things. Mistakes happen."
"Don't tell me what to do. Don't give advice like you know everything. You lost that privilege a long time ago, Haruno." Tenten snarled at the girl.
"You're right, I don't know everything; that's why I'm trying to learn. Let go of some things and maybe you'll find that it benefits you more than you can imagine. It was a mistake...and I'm sorry. I did stupid things, we, did stupid things; I know that, that's why I'm trying to change. Just listen to me...for once Tenten, don't be so bitter, don't dwell on things that happened so long ago."
"I don't want to listen to you, or to anyone for that matter. People. Don't. Change. Get it through that thick skull of yours, Sakura. That's how life is and how it'll always be."
Tenten pulled off of the swing and tore out of the grounds, leaving the troubled girl alone, swinging back and forth on an old rusty memory.
Her strides were long and angry. Her fingers curled into themselves in fury. Her hazel orbs narrowed down, she was sick and tired of people telling her what to do, telling her to do this or to do that, telling her to change when no one can change, telling her to be someone she wasn't.
Haruno Sakura hadn't been like how she was now, she had been the bubbly, smart-ass girl that everyone knew, loved and for some, feared. She never gave advice unless it was for emergencies, she never told anyone what to do because she believed that everyone had their own choices to make and that no one could interfere with that logic. She was kind, she was loving, care-free, hot-tempered, passionate, friendly, trustworthy but most of all, she was loyal or...so it had seemed.
It hurt Tenten to think of how things had been, it twisted at her heart how much she wanted to believe Sakura's words. But she was determined to push it all aside. She was determined not to let Sakura get to her, she was determined to make it through one more year until her freedom took her away from this wretched place.
Tenten was a woman of her word and once it was said, it would be followed to the bitter end.
She walked for what was like hours, thinking and trying so hard to make all the encounters that day disappear from thought and memory. The sun began to slink down the horizon, rays of purple, red, orange, yellow and blue streaked the sky. Street lamps lit up, less cars drove by and soon Tenten found herself utterly alone in the dim darkness. It was then that she realized soft, quiet footfalls thudding behind her, a shadow lingering a few paces behind. Her breath hitched in her throat, hazel eyes widening in shock and fright, she curled more into herself as her pace quickened.
But it was to no avail, the footsteps moved at the same pace, being right where her footsteps were before, tracing her movements.
Tenten broke into a run. She sprinted as fast and far as her legs would go, they pumped harder, faster but the more power she thrust into her legs, the quicker she weakened. Fear rolled in the pit of her stomach as she moved but she had no sense of direction. She moved to anywhere that shone light, anywhere that had people around, she was scared so immensely that she didn't notice the crazy street that led rushing cars by that she was headed straight for.
She turned her head to look across her shoulder, the figure stared back with odd looking eyes and a slight grin that looked vaguely familiar but creepy all the same. She shivered in her hoodie as the wind blew wildly against her stray hair that was quickly falling out of her buns due to her running. Turning back to glimpse at the figure, she caught the worried look that crossed their features, their eyes widened in shock as they reached out to yank her backwards. She felt a scream freeze in her throat as a truck honked loudly in front of her and she fell.
Bright flashes of light blinded her as she fell and she sat unmoving on the ground, terror etched upon the scream that slipped through her lips.
The figure darted forwards and grabbed her around the waist and arm as they quickly hoisted her up and sprinted toward the other side of the busy street as the truck came roaring past, nearly hitting them. They gently set her down onto the sidewalk and kneeled before her, murmuring soft words of comfort and reassurance. None of them affected Tenten as she sat there gasping for big gulps of air, her hazel orbs traumatized. Around her, traffic went on and no body took a moment to glance down at her panicked form. She uncontrollably shook as she wrapped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth.
"Tenten. Are you alright?" the figure asked as he carefully placed his soft, warm hand on her trembling shoulder.
Tenten didn't look or acknowledge him, his words fell past her ears. She didn't stop to wonder how they knew her name but she didn't care, the only scene that seemed to process in her brain was the loud honking and the bright flashing of lights, the feeling of her legs collapsing beneath her and her frozen look of shock and horror was still fresh in her body. Silent tears trailed down her pale cheeks as sobs built up in her chest.
"Tenten. Please answer." the figure pleaded again, their voice was low and desperate as they lightly brushed away her bangs from her glassy eyes. "I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong."
She was silent for a few moments, "I-I'm sc-scared." she stuttered.
"There's nothing to be scared about anymore. You're going to be fine, you're going to be safe okay?" the figure whispered to her, gently and soothingly as they rubbed her back in small circles. "Shhhh. Shhhh. Nothing is going to hurt you."
And for once, Tenten listened. She listened to their soft tender words of comfort, the safety that revealed itself in their voice; she felt secure as she sat there, listening, obliging.
"Who are you?" Tenten asked once she was sure her voice would not tremble.
The figure glanced at her from the corner of their eyes, hesitant. "You know me very well..."
"Yes, you do, I'm not sure you realize it though."
"So then why don't you just tell me about yourself and I can guess?" Tenten suggested, as she pulled herself up from her perch on the sidewalk and straightened her skirt. "I've got to get to my car anyways."
"Aren't you scared that I'll hurt you when we're alone?"
She looked at him, narrowing her eyes down at the scenario, "If you were going to, you would have left me stranded on the street or you would have done so sooner. You wouldn't have bothered to comfort me or to listen and you wouldn't have answered my questions about your identity."
"Logical, but what if I'm going to kidnap you?"
"You wouldn't have taken the time to tell me about all these things and would have done it already."
The figure, from what Tenten could tell was male, from his broad shoulders to the sharp planes of his face, he had a black jacket zipped all the way up to his throat and a hood over his head, covering the soft layer of coffee brown hair.
"If you're done staring at me, could we go now?" he said as he gave a small smirk, her face reddened with embarrassment and she made to direct the way, all the way pondering about how familiar that smirk was to her.
"So... tell me some facts about yourself." Tenten inquired, as she looked beside her to his taller form.
"I'm seventeen. I don't like to talk a lot or socialize. I'm called a prodigy. I'm quiet. I'm overprotective. Others say I'm too uptight and too polite." he said, "Who am I?"
Tenten looked at him strangely, all the information sounded so familiar but she just couldn't place her finger on it. Who was he?
And that was the third chapter of Sugar Me Sweet.
I'm so sorry for the late update. I won't be updating until maybe late August or early September.
Thoughts about any improvement would be very appreciated!