Honestly, there is little characterization, dialogue, or... much of anything. I was just doing laundry, singing "Smooth" by Carlos Santana, and wishing summer would arrive.
So, in preparation for the summer heat, I give you this. Enjoy and please, pretty please, review.
(And I've never lived in Spanish Harlem, but I'm sure it's a lot like the ghetto I live in in Manhattan.)
He did not go to the Laundromat on purpose.
In fact, it physically pained him to be there. If he had known that living in a studio apartment in the bustling ghetto of Spanish Harlem where the closest Laundromat was three and a half blocks away, he'd have renounced life altogether and hid in a cave somewhere in Central Park.
Or he'd had stayed home, in the quant little houses of Queens, New York, instead of venturing into the dangerous streets of Manhattan.
But he was there, now. There was nothing he could do, except perhaps give up his social life and live in his own filth forever, or until his landlord kicked him out for the stench. Somehow, he knew Ino would never let that fly, and he was Chouji's roommate; the least he could do was throw all his dirty things into a bag and haul it a few blocks to get it cleaned.
Shikamaru figured that the only real reason he was so positively grumpy was because it was blazing. He couldn't have been bothered to check the temperature, but he was sure that it was probably over 100 degrees plus humidity. Heat ripples had their own heat ripples; taking a shower was deemed unnecessary because once you stepped outside, sweat had already drenched your clothing in a puddle of yuck.
He hated summer.
And he hated Laundromats even more.
He fanned himself rather pathetically with one of the flyers the Laundromat kept on one of the counters. Everyone in the place sat languidly on the available benches, watching the clock tick its way into oblivion, waiting for their laundry to be done. He hated summer, he hated Laundromats, and he hated watching time go by.
It was at that moment that she walked in.
When Naruto and Kiba came around to visit Chouji and him, they'd always gawked at the eye-candy that seemed to thrive in the neighborhood of Latin beats. Especially in the summer. Something about humidity and near-Caribbean-heat-waves sent the women into an all-baring splendor. It was easier to count how many women kept their decency intact than to count how many did not.
And there was something about women and Laundromats that practically begged for indecent exposure.
She was possibly the most gorgeous, terrifying, exotic thing Shikamaru had ever seen. Blonde hair, the color of straw (or the sun), piled into a messy bun at the top of her head, dangerously tan skin glistening with perspiration. The woman had strange eyes, like if someone had taken blue and green and ground them up together. Her chin jutted up a fraction of an inch, completely on purpose, as if she were constantly asking someone to defy her, just dare. She carried her laundry in a plastic bin, with her thongs and bras peeking out through lacey white shirts and short denims.
She caught him looking and flashed him a dangerous smile, all teeth bared, feral and frightening. She moved towards an empty washing machine, gracelessly dumped her things inside, and pushed a few quarters in.
"What're you looking at?" she asked, turning to stare at him.
Shikamaru was caught off guard. He looked up at her blankly, unaware of what to say. He could swear that almost the entire world had melted at those words, and she was the only thing remaining, calm, cool, and collected, even as the oppressive heat weighed everyone down and made them into puddles of sweaty human flesh and bones.
She stared at him a while longer before shrugging away, turning her head upwards to watch the ceiling fan continue its pathetic attempt in cooling the place down, a smile pulling at her lips.
The following week, he went back. There was less laundry this time and more of an excuse to see the exotic woman again. Ino said something about effort, but he ignored her for the most part.
Shikamaru was surprised to find her there, really. He'd been hoping to catch a look at her, if only to reassure himself that she was not only completely out of his league, but a total waste of time. He didn't actually expect to find her there, tan legs akimbo as she leaned against her washing machine.
"You're back," she said, and it made goosebumps rise along his skin, despite the summer heat that made sweat drip down his neck.
He tried not to pay too much mind to her but found it almost impossible, what with the way a sweat droplet made its slow descent along her neck, down to her collarbone, and then plummet its way between her breasts.
"It's rude to stare."
He scowled at her and threw his things into the washing machine beside hers. "Then you probably shouldn't wear tank tops that leave little to the imagination."
He heard her laugh. It was enough to send him into a mental state of aksdfkjasdf as he hurried to a corner, away from her, away from her skin, and away from the smile that graced her face.
Shikamaru didn't know what made him do it. Ino noted that he barely had anything in his laundry bag as he made it out of his apartment and down the three and a half streets to the Laundromat. He feigned disinterest when he saw her sitting on a bench, a bikini top clearly visible beneath her skin-tight shirt.
"You should really think about wearing clothes," he said as greeting.
The corners of her mouth pulled downwards as she regarded him with half-lidded eyes. "And you should really stop trying to find excuses to come out to the Laundromat to see me."
It took all his willpower from flinching and gawking at her. Thankfully, his laziness for the past twenty-three years of his life meant he had a lot of reserve willpower at his disposal.
"I wasn't made to chase after a maneater like you. Frankly, I like my women meek and conservative."
He was shocked to see her visibly bristle at the insult. "At least you can fully acknowledge that your chances with me are nil."
"I hadn't even been thinking of my chances, but if you want to play, I doubt I would have really wanted to date you, anyway." Shikamaru pulled open the door of a washing machine, and without much consideration of separating his whites, blacks, and colors, threw them all in.
The woman's eyes, in all their brilliant glory, narrowed dangerously as she crossed her legs and glared down her nose at him. "Oh, trust me, you would want to date me."
And by the way she said that, he had no doubt that indeed, he would.
She stood up suddenly, removed her things from the dryer, put them into her laundry bin, and walked out, her hips sashaying back and forth in the most hypnotic manner. He could almost feel the world slowly tumble off its axis as the door jingled closed behind her.
Shikamaru swore that the air around him dropped a few degrees.
This time, he made sure he was prepared. He stole some of Chouji's laundry, saying something about repaying his debt as a friend, and hurried to the Laundromat. She was already inside, watching the door, as if she'd been waiting for his arrival.
He ignored her completely, crossing straight to one of the washing machines. Some of the other regulars had decided to sit along the back, as if the front benches were reserved for the human Venus flytrap sitting in a skimpy skirt and dangling a flip-flop from her toe.
"You could just ask for my number."
He felt a shiver run down his spine at her words. He blamed the way her voice was low and seductive, raspy even, and the way his mind interpreted her every word as if she were actually saying his name.
"I'd give it to you."
He heard her shrug. "Well, that's all I could really offer you anyway.
He turned around, taking in her sun-kissed skin and the glistening of her forehead. "Shikamaru," he said.
Her eyebrows furrowed together and her mouth quirked in confusion. "What?"
"My name is Shikamaru."
She stared at him for a few tensing moments before grinning.