It occurred to Shikamaru, during a dinner at home, that he was actually quite in love with the girl he met at the Laundromat. Logic, his closest friend, told him that it was much too soon to make such declarations, especially when the woman was feisty and a whole lot of trouble, but his heart let him know that the truth was plain and simple:
He was in love with Temari.
The woman in question looked at him from across the dining table, raising a slim eyebrow in question. He shook his head and concentrated on the ravioli she had managed to cook up, despite lack of prior experience.
They were dreadful, but Shikamaru could not bring himself to tell her so, as she seemed so very proud of her creation.
It was silent for a long time until the blonde beauty spoke.
"Do I look okay?"
The question surprised Shikamaru enough that he managed to choke on a piece of ravioli as he tried to sputter in response. Temari did not seem like an insecure woman, and in all the time he had gotten to know her (and he knew her very well), she had never voiced any self-conscious concerns out loud. In fact, with the way she would stare into the mirror and smirk at her reflection, she was far more vain than most women.
She frowned at his lack of sensitivity. "Do I look okay?"
"Where did that come from?"
She sucked her teeth and jabbed her fork at a lifeless ravioli that had stopped looking appetizing the moment she had decided to make it. "I don't know. Can't you just answer the question?"
Shikamaru, knowing that honesty was the best policy when it came to Temari, said exactly what he thought.
The answer did not make the frown disappear, however; instead, it only deepened, and she looked away from him, as if trying to hide.
"What's going on?" He could feel the edge of panic begin to creep into his voice. Knowing Ino for as long as he did, he knew that when women were fragile and sensitive, things did not ever bode well. And knowing that Temari was not a regular woman meant things could go terribly awry.
She shrugged. "Nothing. I'm being silly." She stood and pulled the plate away from him, even as he had been attempting to eat. "Let's order take-out; this tastes like shit."
She flashed him a smile, and as dazzling as it was, he could tell it was forced.
"Don't even try. I just wanted to see how long you'd eat it for." She dumped the contents on the plates into the trash, picked up the phone, and dialed the nearest Chinese place.
When she hung up, she turned to face him again, hands gliding upwards to draw her shirt straps down her shoulders. "Want to see how long it'll take them to get here?"
He didn't even answer. Instead, he went straight to her, arms outstretched, as her shirt fell to the ground.
She was asleep in the crook of his arm. Shikamaru stared at her, tracing the lines he saw with his eyes, taking in the way moonlight and dim street lamps bathed her in an otherworldly glow. He thought about how in the city, it was near impossible to ever get a good glimpse of the stars, but since he had met her, he figured that he didn't need to see them, anyway. Her eyes could easily replace them. It was pathetic and cheesy, but he couldn't help it. He remembered the stars in Japan, and they dimmed in comparison to the pools he stared into day after day.
He looped a piece of her hair around his finger, the blonde strands catching what light streamed in through the windows. He could already picture her in the morning, her hair a bobbing mass above her head, absolutely uncontrollable, a force to be reckoned with. But he couldn't help but think that the way it fell around her shoulders, the way the curls refused to be tamed, the way he could tell just how good the sex was by the state of her hair, fit her perfectly, and he was unsure if he could ever imagine her having any other type of hair without it clashing with her personality.
And her smile. Besides the sweat glistening down her body, he was almost positive that the first thing that made him fall head over heels was that smile. It made the world go warm all over. The sun hid in shame. He was positive that when she smiled at him in public, everyone around them would stop and stare at her, marveling at the immense beauty and honesty that lay there.
He was hopeless.
Hopelessly in love.
She stirred suddenly, blinking with those glittering eyes, staring at him with slight confusion. "What are you looking at?"
"Why? Is there something on my face?"
Her eyebrows furrowed together. "What is it?"
She snickered and patted his arm. "You're pathetic. Go to bed and stop staring at me like a creep."
"I'm being serious."
"Good night, Shikamaru." She turned away and closed her eyes.
She turned back. "It's like four in the morning."
"Five. I think you're beautiful."
"You've said that bit already."
"No, really. And I don't know what it was that made you feel all self-conscious—"
Her lips pressed into a thin line, "I am not self-conscious."
"—But you shouldn't change a thing about you. You're… perfect."
"This is the most you've ever spoken to me," she joked.
"I'm allowing my pathetic and romantic part reveal itself to you. You're perfect, just the way you are."
"Even my hips?"
"I think it's sexy."
"…Do you love me?"
He didn't even hesitate in the answer,
"Yes. I love you."
"Oh." She propped herself on one elbow, facing him fully, her lips already pouting into a kiss. "That's good. I love you, too."
"And you know you're beautiful."
She ignored him, moving in for the kiss.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and held her back for a moment. "Look at me. You're beautiful."
She snorted and shook him off, planting a wet kiss near his mouth. "Okay, okay, I believe you. But don't let that stop you from letting me know every now and then." She moved down to his collarbone, her hand already working at the shirt he wore.
As he let her divest him of his clothing, he made an agreement with himself. Temari, despite being a wholly self-confident woman well aware of her good looks, was like any other human being: prone to moments of vulnerability. He would, occasionally, have to reassure her that she was devastatingly gorgeous and capable of bringing a blind man to his knees. He would, occasionally, have to remind himself that just because she was beautiful did not mean she would accept the compliment easily, for she probably held herself to far higher standards than she did others. And as her boyfriend, as the man who was in love with her, he would have to tell her that if she was seeking perfection, she didn't need to change a thing. For she was perfect to him, and that was all that mattered.
I : Smooth, Carlos Santana
II : One Week, Barenaked Ladies
III : Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars
Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, this is kind of a collection of songfics. Except without the italicized lyrics and the shitty plots that follow the words line by line.
I lied. I totally do the last part.
If I hear a really good song and get an idea, I'll update this. Until then, leave me alone. Or at least read and review How the Prince Met the Girl, because reviews make me happy and this has totally been a really bad summer and I'm pathetic.
And if you think I was trying to make you feel guilty: totally was.