A/N: Possibly the most cliche one-shot I've ever written. But, it won't leave me alone - so here it is. Warning of OOCness. It's just meant to be entertaining, nothing too serious. It's way out of season for it, but oh well. Fangirl madness lies this way. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Naruto, nor do I to any of Disturbed's lyrics. ((The ones in italics, when Sakura's takes a turn) This is just for free entertainment to be had by one and all.
Title: Into The Night
Suggested Listening: The Night, by Disturbed
Rated: M (for use of language)
The clink of crystal, and thrum of happy and merry voices reached the somber pinkette, but didn't manage to penetrate the barely disguised depression. Sakura didn't even bother to pick up her cosmopolitan. No, instead of drowning the turmoil of emotions that had rolled together into a tight ball in her gut, she preferred to stay sober. The last thing she would need is for the drink to loosen her tongue, causing her say something that she would regret.
Ino watched her friend with concern marring her features. She leaned back in the chair and eyed Sakura, "You need to relax. Sasuke is on the other side of the room. If he comes over to say something, I'll fucking beat the shit out of him."
"And what? Get arrested and lose your job?" Sakura shook her head, "It's not worth it."
Strains of off-key Christmas songs barely registered on Sakura's radar. She shouldn't have let Ino talk her into coming to this stupid corporate Christmas party, given by the owners. The Uchiha Firm had set up a nice little karaoke stage, along with a bar set up complete with barkeeper and a refreshment table crammed full with sugar cookies and all the eggnog you could drink until you puked.
Which Sakura felt like doing at the moment.
She tried to keep her gaze from straying to the Uchiha brothers sitting idly in the back, with their respective dates. That was the problem.
A few months ago, Sasuke had approached Sakura with flirtatious advances. It had been obvious from the get go, that he was interested in dating her. At first, she'd been flattered. Who would have thought the rich, powerful, and handsome younger brother would even bother to look her way?
Knowing his reputation, she had continually rebuffed his advances. But, he had eventually broke through her defenses. He had continually played the charming gentleman, until she succumbed to his charismatic manner. The good girl, being drawn like a moth to flame to the bad boy behaving as if she was the only woman in the world he wanted.
Hah! She was such a fool! She should have known better. She was Sakura freaking Haruno. The nerdy, introverted kid who had gotten made fun of for her large forehead all through school. The only thing that stood out about her, was her naturally pink hair. Other than that, she could honestly say that she was no beauty.
She had been like a little lamb led to the slaughter.
That wasn't even the worst part. The bastard had broke up with her, because in his words, she was a frigid bitch who wouldn't put out.
Ino had warned her from the get go to tread cautiously. She was glad she had taken her friend's advice. It didn't help that he had taken up with Karin, not even three days after. Knowing him, he had probably been seeing the redhead on the side.
In the end of it all, she felt humiliated more than anything else. However, she had salvaged the scraps of her battered pride, and walked through the halls of her workplace with her chin held high. The weight of the gossip, and the glares filled with an odd jealousy she couldn't quite understand weighed down on her like a ton of bricks. She hadn't even cried. It was almost like, if she allowed tears to fall, that meant he had broken her. Sakura refused to allow him that victory over her.
Her coworkers assumed she had slept with him and then was dumped for the next best and newer model.
Even now, she could feel several pairs of eyes darting her way once in awhile to gauge her reactions and behavior.
Finally, the night was starting to draw to a close and they only had a little longer to listen to their drunken coworkers sing horribly. Why couldn't the Uchiha's hire a damn DJ or something?
When the final person stumbled off stage, Sakura was ready to bolt.
"Don't let it get to you okay? The night's still young. We're here to have a good time. Why don't you dance with Genma, or Kiba?" Ino suggested, a faux smile stretching her lips.
"Eh… no thanks."
Ino was about to speak again, when Kiba Inuzuka stepped up onto the stage next, flashing a large toothy grin at everyone.
A few raucous cheers echoed in the rented hall.
He winked at a young blonde woman sitting at one of the front tables, sitting close to the stage.
Sakura rolled her eyes, and reached for the cookie sitting on the platter between her and Ino. She broke off the star of the Christmas tree shaped confection, and popped it into her mouth. The super sweet dessert barely registered on her radar.
"Yosh! I know this is what everyone's been waiting for! The final act!" He turned and gestured for the blonde who he'd winked at before to come forward.
The woman picked up a big black hat sitting on her table, and brought it up to the stage.
"I'd like to thank all the volunteers who came up. Now, it's time for the last participant to step up on the stage, only this time, we're going to pull a name from the hat. Whoever gets pulled has to come up and perform the finale of the evening," Kiba spoke into the microphone still grinning from ear to ear.
Ino leaned over, growing quickly irritated with the levels of cheesiness that the corporate party had risen to.
Sakura glanced over at her best friend. She was about to agree when Inuzuka suddenly guffawed so loud that the microphone squealed. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to plug her ears, but by then, it was already too late.
Nodding, she started to agree, "Yeah, let's get the…"
She froze mid sentence when Kiba announced, still chuckling at the outcome, "Oh boy! This is interesting! It's none other than our favorite resident pinkette, Sakura Haruno."
In the background, Sakura heard an eruption of hushed giggles, and discordant whispers. In the foreground, dozens of eyes honed in on her within a split second. The din rose and swelled, the noise rushing past her senses like the sibilation from a spiral conch shell.
"You don't have to do it, Sakura. You can just tell him to fuck off," Ino leaned over and hissed out between clenched teeth.
To the side of her, coworkers at the table to their left giggled in barely disguised whispers, "I bet she'll sing something sappy."
"Heaven forbid, we actually have to listen to it!"
Before she knew it, she rocketed to her feet. Her features contorted into a mask as hard as diamond flint. A part of her screamed at the insanity of taking part of the party festivities, another side of her wanted to throw a tantrum and denounce the black marks against her character.
Mind reeling, she lurched forward, swaying almost dangerously on her feet. To those around her, she looked tipsy. However, she was stone cold sober, and coming to regret it. After tonight, her humiliation would be complete.
Striding through the aisles, past the other tables, she passed the Uchiha's table without so much of a eyelash flicker. She heard Karin ask Sasuke loud enough for all to hear, "Oh, isn't that your ex-girlfriend?"
Sakura felt more than heard the oozing venom dousing the other woman's query.
She tuned out Sasuke's response. It didn't matter. She already knew that it would hold a measure of maliciousness. Instead, she heard the laughter ensuing his reply.
Sakura was drowning in the voices. With every step, it was more of a struggle to keep her head held high, and her green eyes pointed straight ahead.
Back at the table, Ino let her forehead thump against the table. Oh, she knew this wasn't going to go well. Sakura was a teakettle that was holding in the steam.
When Sakura reached the thinly carpeted steps leading to the small platform, Kiba held out his hand to her, offering assistance. She glanced up into his face, and recoiled on the inside. She loathed the pity she seen in the brown depths, but she also appreciated it. Placing her slender hand in his larger palm, she offered him a tiny, shaky smile.
Taking in her pale features, Kiba was mentally kicking himself. He should have lied, and called out another name instead. Although, when he peeked over Sakura's shoulder to Karin's smug face, he had the feeling that this was probably set up. She could do it and get away with because her father was CEO of the Uchiha Corp's, sister branch.
Kiba cleared his throat, drawing Sakura's attention to his face, "Do you know what you're going to sing?"
"I-I don't know yet."
This brought on another eruption of barely stifled laughter.
He ran an agitated hand through his shaggy brunette hair. All night, people had come up here, acted drunker than what they really were and sang stupid songs. It had gone on for the better part of the evening and practically no one, but a few people had paid any attention to them.
Yet, the moment he had called Sakura's name, the whole room had turned to stare. What had been thought up just for shits and giggles, had now turned into a veritable minefield. Unfortunately, he was in the line of fire.
"May I see what you have first?" Sakura gestured to the stack of CDs sitting next to the karaoke machine.
Kiba nodded and jerked his head towards the haphazard pile, his expression strained.
Sakura wondered for a moment, what the hell was up with him now? He had been so frustratingly jolly just a few minutes ago.
Walking over to unorganized discs, she thumbed through the assortment, frowning when she realized that everything was mostly corny Christmas songs, or sappy love tracks. Exactly what the crowd behind her expected her to sing.
"Hurry up!" A male voice she faintly recognized shouted from behind her impatiently.
Another. One of the department managers, distinctly female added, "Yeah! Just sing your shitty love song already."
This sent a few others into another fit of guffaws and giggles.
What the fuck? Were they seriously telling her to hurry up, just so she could humiliate herself so they could get their jollies? She should have just listened to Ino, and told Kiba to go fuck off. It would have probably sent everyone into gossip mode again, but at least it would have felt good for a few short seconds.
Prude. A voice whispered, the single word echoing across her mental landscape. His voice.
Her face scrunched up, as the emotions begging to surface pleaded with her to let them loose.
With renewed determination, she perused for something that she would want to sing. The assholes and jealous bitches could just wait.
Slut… The accusation asserted itself. They had called her that behind her back, but loud enough so she could know exactly what they thought of her.
Not good enough. He had told her, frustrated by the wall he had never been able to surpass.
In that moment, something inside her snapped. To her it was an almost audible crunch that reverberated in the vicinity of her eardrums. She glared at the offending CD titles. They seemed to mock her with their absolute inadequacy. If she couldn't find something, she would just sing something a cappella.
When she was about to give up, and tell them all to go to hell, she found it. The one. The band's name itself, described exactly how she felt. Wiping the dust off of the sleeve cover, she flipped it over, her eyes scanning the list of tracks. Green eyes riveted the moment she found the perfect song for her purposes.
All the while, a dangerously malicious grin stretched her lips.
When she handed it to Kiba, his eyes widened and his head shot up. He mouthed to her, "Are you serious?"
The determination on her face was his answer.
With a shake of the head, and a sigh he strode over to the machine, and slipped the CD in. He cleared his throat, "What number?"
He nodded, and switched the music on and stood back.
Confidence filled her. She could do this! Striding over to the microphone stand with purpose, she gripped the metal until her knuckles turned white, and her skin grew slick.
The thrumming chug of electric guitar, and the pulsation of the bass drum washed through the room like a tidal wave. She took the barrette out of her hair and let it cascade down her shoulders. The hair piece fell forgotten to the floor. She started to bang her head in rhythm with the thundering melody.
Sakura lifted her right hand in the telltale 'rock on' sign, for the first time in years. A shadow of the bygone era of her teen years.
The malevolent grin still on her face, she belted out with the lead singer, "What has come over me? What madness taken over my heart? To run away, the only answer… Pulling me away - to fall into the sight."
If she had witnessed the jaw dropping effect, that her almost primal guttural rendition of the famous song sweep through the hall her evil grin would have only gotten larger.
At the table, Ino stared at her best friend in complete shock. Sakura was like a wild animal that had broken free from the confines of her prison. Her growling alto voice, held the whole room in suspension. It wasn't that she was good, for the most part it was alright, but she went off key often. However, that didn't matter. It was the raw emotion that came pouring through each word. It was almost like a jackhammer that stabbed through Ino's chest.
The sorrow, the frustration, the pain all came through. It was leaving her feeling almost haunted by her friend's display. It was like Sakura's soul was screaming through the melody, but not of heartbreak, instead it hinted at something darker.
"For saving me from all they've taken. Letting my armor fall again." At the next line, her eyes passed over Sasuke and riveted with Karin's stupefied gaze, "Giving me the strength to face them… Feeling it taking over now!"
In this, Sakura almost felt like she was going to the war. She was taking the battle to them and leaving it at their feet. What they did with it, didn't matter. Instead, she let the emotions that she'd pent up, lend her their strength. All those who had laughed at her, couldn't understand what it was like to be in her position. If they had, they would have broken like the reeds in a sandstorm on the banks of the Nile.
Itachi leaned back in his chair, the other occupants forgotten. Was that really the mousy, quiet woman that Sasuke had taken to dating? He personally wouldn't have remembered her, but her telltale pink hair was unforgettable.
He could see the lines of determination quivering through her slender, and petite frame.
He recalled vaguely when Sasuke had introduced her to him, one evening, before the then couple had set out on a date. He had sensed her reserve from the get go. Itachi had thought even then, that his brother hadn't the patience for dealing with a woman who kept her walls so high. She had worn a pretty mask, but he had seen the wariness in her vividly, almost eerily so, malachite eyes.
When she hit the chorus with momentum, a chill ran through him when her eyes momentarily locked onto his and held, "In a world beyond controlling. Are you going to deny the savior, in front of your eyes? Stare into the night! Power beyond containing. Are you going to remain a slave for the rest of your life? Give into the night!"
Somewhere, he heard Genma yell out, obviously three sheets to the wind and drinking his way to four, "FUCK YEAH! Finally! I was tired of that Christmas rocking around the, what the hell ever shit already!"
A couple people around him laughed.
Strangely enough, that caused the corner of Itachi's mouth to curl up into a slight half smile. To the others around him, it looked like a smirk.
Just watching this woman, he witnessed her pretty mask coming off, and her armor falling away. A moment's glimpse beyond the walls she kept erected so well. She was coming at the crowd who had taunted her on her own terms. A grudging respect, lodged itself somewhere in the vicinity of his chest. She was a warrior in her own right, forging battle, in the way only she could. He realized with a start, Haruno was wasted in her position. This woman had an iron clad will. She had been squandered on someone like his foolish little playboy sibling who never thought to look beyond himself.
He sent a surreptitious glance over at his younger brother, noting the somewhat dumbstruck expression. Hm, interesting. It was as if Sasuke was actually seeing the woman for the first time.
"This self discovery. Redemption taking hold of my mind, a serenade of haunting voices, calling me away…"
When Itachi looked back at the almost crazed secretary, his eyes narrowed slightly when he could see rivulets of tears streaming down the curve of her cheeks. Yet, her face wasn't scrunched up into a sobbing mask. The emotion was there, but she didn't allow it to over take her.
Ino watched Sakura erupt. She sighed, shaking her head. Freaking, stubborn Forehead. So, it was as she suspected. Sakura had never cried over the situation before. Deciding just to roll with it, she dug into her purse, and pulled out her lighter. Lifting it into the air, she waved it almost half-heartedly.
She was surprised that the strength of Sakura's off-key alto didn't crack. Instead, with each pounding verse, she continued with the motion of a freight train out of control.
As the song ended, Sakura released her death grip on the microphone. She almost felt redeemed, released and set free from the chains of depression that had held her down. The silence to ensue her strange performance, was almost deafening.
Her green eyes, honed in on her best friend. She smirked, through the drying tears staining her pink flecked cheeks. She looked like shit, but fuck, she felt so damn good now!
Striding like a wounded soldier to the table, she grabbed up her purse and with Ino, she left the onlookers gawking after her. She had done the impossible. She had shocked them into silence!
Outside, Ino asked, "What were you thinking? You're not ever going to live that down."
To that Sakura only smiled.
What the hell did it matter? She was going to put in her resignation. Screw the two week's notice. They could go fuck themselves for all she cared. She was better than that, and better than them. Hell, she almost wanted to go shake Karin's hand. The woman had done her a favor.
Still grinning like a mad woman. She was already looking forward to Monday.
A/N: If you hate the band or whatever, then oh well. I'm not going to apologize, because I freaking adore them. It just fit the whole scenario the best for me. I've always wondered at the jealousy of the fan girls present in josei manga, even when it's supposed to be about an adult work place. Yes, I know it's a bad idea to date at a job, as Sakura found out, and hella cliché. That's how I sort of meant this to be, a bit of an irony for me. That's how my humor rolls. And the karaoke thing, just takes it over the top for me. I would have marked it humor, (of a sardonic sort) but Sakura's emotional rollercoaster wouldn't allow that.