a/n: I've been really fascinated with divorce recently, mostly for all the reasons listed here. like, being in love with someone and yet not being able to stay with them. like, in a break up you can just walk out. but in a divorce (if you're not an asshole) you HAVE to have no other option. idk, i think it's an interesting dynamic to explore. i mean, they were so in love they got married. so...idk. anyway, this isn't as sad as I'm making it sound. And the prompt was inspired by a much under-appreciated kdrama, Alone in Love. So please read and review!
"You can say I died next year and come with a boyfriend," Shikamaru offers, finishing his food.
"I don't think they'd continue to give me the coupon. Wipe your mouth."
He does so. "Cash it in for another day."
She doesn't respond again and finishes her champagne.
Shikamaru puts his chin in his hand and watches her. Getting married is significantly easier than getting divorced, he thinks.
And they did both, so it's not like he's lacking the experience to make the claim. It is not worth lawyers and payments and address changes and bank statements and notifying friends and family and burying yourself in work to get out of the utter loneliness that comes with divorce. If you can work it out, you do. And if you can't... you can't.
And they couldn't.
Sometimes two people just can't stay together, no matter how much they love each other.
And so Shikamaru goes back to not sharing his surname and renting his own one bedroom and not cleaning the toilet twice a week.
It's possible, he figures, to not see your ex-spouse post-divorce. It's probably easier than sitting across from your ex-wife on a dinner date, as he is at the moment. But that is only if one or the other moves out of the country. Otherwise, on the nights other than the annually planned outing, they see one another often. After all, both he and Temari are admittedly too stubborn to leave their own city. And they hadn't had a particularly bad break up, so it isn't bad to see her. Difficult, maybe, but not horrible.
And he sees a lot of her on nights other than tonight.
When correcting alimony checks over coffee. Or returning old panties he'd somehow found in the tupperware cupboard. Or when she got back at him by returning his favorite porno when the waitress would come to take their order at the diner.
And they still each frequented the same bar. Sometimes in the same party-after all, they still had the same friends-but more often both arriving with other groups and sitting on opposite sides and waving and then ignoring.
But they do meet purposefully once a year. It's only for an hour or so, and it means nothing. But still, she puts on her nicer perfume and he chooses one of his few ties she has ever liked, and they come to the same hotel and sit in the same seat and use up the same annual coupon every fucking year.
"Wouldn't it be more apt to meet on the day we split up?"
"There is no fucking way I am spending Christmas Eve with you." She answers.
They are silent as a party walks past their table.
Eventually Temari finishes her steak and leans back in her chair. "Do what you normally do on Christmas Eve."
He knows what she is getting at, but asks for the clarification anyway. "And what would that be?"
"Find some single women with big tits in the bar and spend it with her."
He shrugs again, "Temari," he goads, "the woman doesn't need big tits."
"They're your favorite."
"I wouldn't say that," he sips his drink, "yours are crooked."
She doesn't roll her eyes or glare or rise to his bait like she used to. She always has a sort of patient reluctance around him these days.
In the elevator she gets her own retribution by paying her half of whatever the coupon didn't cover in front of older couple who in turn scowl at Shikamaru. He just accepts her money and they hold hands on the way out of the hotel.
"Do you remember the first time we came here to scout out a place for the wedding?"
"Vaguely," she responds, but he is sure she remembers it as well as he does. That was a long time ago though.
The doorman hasn't changed since the first day they came here and he always recognizes them, which is one of the reasons neither ever come here without the other. They have really good steak, Temari always justifies as their continued use for the coupon, and so Shikamaru continues the show. He doesn't really mind it though.
They say goodnight to the doorman and slip in the cab together.
As soon as the car turns the block, Temari pulls her hand out of his and slides to the opposite side of the car. "Are you going to the bar?"
He answers by giving the driver directions and then settles back against the window.
"I'm so full." She complains, groaning and leaning her head back against the seat.
"Don't eat so much."
"I'm not gaining weight."
"Women tend to begin losing their natural muscle around your age," he comments.
"You're only natural muscle is your anus."
Shikamaru looks at her incredulously, then exhales and leans back. "At least my body still looks good naked." It's a short jibe and not in the least bit true.
Temari only rolls her eyes and looks away from him anyway. "And yet, you keep thinking about it."
"Everyday." Temari is still looking out the window and the only sign that she has heard him is that she stops breathing for a split second.
They stop at a red light.
It isn't so much that he does actually keep thinking about her body, not even really about sex. He's not eighteen anymore. He can control his libido. She would know, she was always happy to make light of the gaining time of his refractory period as he aged.
The drive leans back to confirm the street they're going to. Temari answers, leaning up to the partition.
"You're an idiot." She responds to his earlier comment as her torso falls back against the seat.
Shikamaru shrugs. The words were more or less true. When he thinks about sex, he thinks about sex with Temari. Every time. It's hard to fuck (or spend time with or work with or enjoy) another woman when you're constantly comparing her to someone else. Temari was like the One That Got Away even if she never left, (even if he was the one that left).
"Are you going to Choji's next week?" Temari asked as the cab rounded the corner to their stop.
"What's next week?"
"Right," Shikamaru pulls out his wallet and slips her a few bills. "I think I'll skip it."
"It's something for work."
"Are you and Ino going?"
"I think she is. I have a presentation due Friday, so it depends if I finish in time."
"Let me know how it is."
Temari gets her change from the driver and then opens the door, holding it for him to follow. They stand outside for a second and she slips her hand onto his shoulder. "Thank you for coming tonight."
"I'll be there every year."
He knows she wants to ask Really, and he'll say Every Year, Even When I'm Remarried, I'll Be There, and she'll ask Why, and he'll say You Know Why and then they'll look at each other but pretend not to because they both know.
But instead she just says, "Good."
And that's all and she leaves him on the pavement to walk into the bar. She doesn't hold open the door.
Shikamaru sighs glances up at the sign. They moved in together when they were too young, living in what had technically been her apartment until he started offering half the rent. But it wasn't until they moved into their first place together that they'd first come to this neighborhood and to this bar.
Inside, Shikamaru stops to look around and see if Ino and/or Choji is there, because if so he'd go sit with them, but Temari is at the right end of the bar, the tender dropping a whiskey-always-in front of her, and so he suspects that their friends aren't there.
He thinks they've gotten the memo by now: that these annual nights usually end with much drinking, silence, and moping. Almost solely on his part, as he usually sees Temari go home with someone (although this happens on a variety of nights, not specifically this one).
Slowly, Shikamaru makes his way to the opposite end of the bar and takes a seat. He orders his own drink and leans his elbow on the wood. When he gets his glass, he orders a free refill for Temari on his tab.
Sure enough when he looks over at her, a tall man with graying hair is occupying the seat next to her. He isn't surprised it was so easy (he never is, she attracts anyone with any sort of sex drive).
But tonight she is wearing a slinky dress that is loose and leaves much to the imagination.
It's nothing he has to imagine.
Not the body nor the dress. He doesn't know that dress, she didn't own it when they were together, but he can imagine it well enough. Where this new man is probably seeing perfect, bigger things and smaller, tighter things, he knows every curve and line and mole on her form. It is odd, for everyone really, to be sleeping with someone-to be lovers whom spent hours in bed on top of one another with nowhere to go and nowhere they'd rather be-to being acquaintances that only say hello half the time.
Shikamaru runs his fingers over his own glass. He tilts it and watches the liquid swirl around. When he looks up again, Temari's glass has been refilled and she raises it to him.
to a night well spent. to their anniversary. to their marriage. to their child. to their divorce. to them.
Shikamaru smiles at her and nods and he thinks he can hear her say Friend to the man she is now with, but he isn't sure. And he isn't her friend.
After a few more minutes, Temari slips off her barstool and reaches for her bag, slipping the strap over her shoulder. The man she is taking follows her out the door. Shikamaru doesn't watch her leave, but knows she looks back to see if he is. Just in case.
Or maybe she is only pretending to.
He finishes his drink and orders another one. She left quickly tonight, but he doesn't think much of it. He's not jealous and she's not trying to make him.
And he'll see her soon. If not next week, then the week after when they both show up at the grave.
If he is being honest, tonight is never the worst night. There is the night he left, the night their papers were signed, the night she moved out, the night in the hospital, the funeral. Then there is the day they met and the first day he kissed her (or rather, she kissed him) and the first time they made love and the first time he knew that was it and that she was The One and he would never love someone the way he loved her.
Divorce is final, but that was okay, because that never meant that it was permanent.
Shikamaru finishes his drink.
okay so i'm writing a new long one-shot that is like a hard throwback to my earlier (and really generic shikatema) works about kind of having sex before a relationship, which is odd because i've recently been only writing the opposite, but yeah. just btw, i'll publish that soon, hopefully.
and prompts for tsaf are ALWAYS taken!
(p.s. has anyone else figured out how to get ff notifications on gmail?)
pps. anyone down for valentine day drabbles again? lmk if you want to do it!