Method: Set my iTunes songlist to "random" and hit Play.
Excuse: I had writer's block.
1) Got No Love (the Kooks)
The ground was soft from the recent rains. It was going to make this spar a pain in the ass, she reflected.
“Are you okay?” she asked, not really expecting a response. At least, not expecting an honest one.
And that was the response she expected.
“It was nothing. Just clan business.”
They were supposed to meet at eleven, but he had been late. She knew he had been called away at the last minute for a meeting with his uncle. Anyone else would have shelved the thought and gotten on with the necessities of life – training, namely – but she couldn’t. She knew that attitude – he had dulled himself to the world, and now it would be impossible to talk to him about anything but work.
He stood without moving on the training field while he waited for her to warm up.
She hated this. The more upset he was about something, the more he closed himself off. And Neji wasn’t exactly an open book to begin with. Finally she came to a decision. She took the bo staff she’d retrieved from one of her scrolls in preparation for the spar and stuck it firmly in the ground next to her. She noticed briefly that the sun was at its zenith – the staff barely cast a shadow.
She folded her arms, cocked her hip, stared at him, waited.
Neji never did well in the face of her obstinance. But he kept his expression passive when he said, “I’m not trying out for ANBU.”
She felt like she’d taken a blow to the stomach. And she was much worse than he was at containing her emotions. “That’s bullshit. They can’t control you like that, it’s not fair. They can’t go around telling you…”
“Yes, they can.”
She stared at him helplessly. Every time something like this happened, she knew she lost him a little, and he saw himself a little more clearly as the tool of his people, to be used and discarded as needed and nothing more.
She turned away from him and yanked her bo staff out of the mud. She paced around, listening to the ground squelch under her feet. “I’m not trying out for ANBU either,” she said.
“Yes you are,” he said coolly.
“No, I’m not. Not if you can’t.”
“That is not an acceptable reason not to.”
“I don’t care. I’ve made up my mind and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t make me try out for ANBU, Neji.”
She tried to stare him down but gave up after a few seconds. She didn’t know what would hurt him more – seeing her advance her career without him, or her letting herself be held back by the Hyuuga. But she knew what would hurt her more.
2) Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043: III Allegro (J.S. Bach/ Hilary Hahn, Jeffrey Kahane, LA Chamber Orchestra)
She moved too fast.
It wasn’t that she was bad at what she did, exactly, just that she didn’t seem to have the patience or maturity to learn everything she could about a single move, jutsu, or weapon. She wasn’t like Lee, who would spend weeks perfecting the same kick and end up improving it in ways that were only noticeable to him. She got the flash she was looking for from a weapon, smiled, and put it back in her scroll.
It was unprofessional, and it was definitely not how their sensei had trained them. It wasn’t how a real ninja should operate. But for some reason (he smiled on seeing her throw a sword in the air, watching it glitter in the sunlight), it seemed to work for her.
3) Gnossiennes: No. 3 - Lent (Satie / Pascal Rogé)
“It’s not that she didn’t want to marry my father, or that he didn’t want to marry her, it’s that they couldn’t.”
Neji’s forehead creased. “His clan would not allow it because of her… class?”
He was sitting on top of the tree. The canopy of the forest was all he could see laterally, the sky, criss-crossed by boughs, was all he could see above. Having figured out how to climb the tree by gripping it with chakra through his feet, he had decided to sit up there and meditate while his new kunoichi teammate tried to climb her own tree a few yards away. (She made it another few inches with every try, but progress was slow.) But instead of meditating, he was actually having a conversation.
“No,” she said, sideways with her feet gripping the tree, trying to shimmy her way up, wiping sweat off her forehead with the back of her arm. “It’s not like that. Her Dad was actually really rich, but she was… I don’t think there’s a word for it in our language. The priests… well they’re not really priests, but again I don’t think we have a word for it… they decided that she was one of the ones who would never know… you know…” With a grunt she lifted one foot off the tree. “…enlightenment.”
She lost her balance, which distracted her enough that she lost her grip of chakra on the tree, and she fell. It was twenty feet to the ground. She was smart enough to twist her body in the air so that she landed on her feet in a crouch. She panted for a few seconds before standing up straight.
“It’s like… it’s fate. Some people can achieve enlightenment, and some people are born without that ability. And if they say you’re born without that ability, there’s nothing you can do about it. See, they said that all of humanity was created by god, but god wasn’t perfect, so god didn’t get us right. And some people are, like… better than god, and so they can recognize their own imperfections and transcend their imperfect bodies, mentally. Anyways, my mom was told that she could never do that, but my dad could. It made her pretty much a second class citizen in that place. My dad wouldn’t be able to marry her cause it would be like marrying a dog or something. And there was nothing she could do but hope she’d be born into a better body in her next life.”
While he watched, something changed in her face, and he could tell she was realizing something important. A second later she started up the tree again, at a fast but steady pace, and he could see that she had finally figured out the exercise. A few seconds later and she was sitting in her own tree as high as he was. She panted a little, then heaved a deep breath with satisfaction. “So anyway, my mom said, screw you losers. And she took me and ran away to Konoha.” She heaved another breath and looked around at the canopy. “She gets sad about it sometimes. I can tell she still misses her home.”
Neji was quiet. There was a lot he could say to the idea of fate holding you back.
“It’s weird,” she said, suddenly smiling over at him. “Nobody’s ever asked me about that before.”
4) Ask Me Why (Beatles)
He watched her, mesmerized, as she stirred her vanilla milkshake with a straw, then pulled it out of the glass and playfully cleaned it off with her tongue.
The friend who was sitting next to her in the booth elbowed her in the side, giggling. “Stop being dirty,” she whispered, too loud not to be heard.
She looked over at him and winked. He pretended not to see and went back to staring at his coffee. The waitress on the other side of the counter rolled her eyes at him. “You gonna drink that before it gets cold, honey?”
5) Effect and Cause (White Stripes)
She stared in horror at Lee’s unconscious body. “Neji, you idiot!” she screeched. “We’re supposed to be a team, you know!”
“It was a spar. This is one of the possible outcomes of a spar.”
“Oh shove it. We have to take him to the hospital now, you realize, we’re going to be late, and Gai-sensei is going to be so pissed!”
Neji smirked. “Maybe you shouldn’t have encouraged him to fight me.”
She was speechless for a second, probably realizing that he was right. Didn’t make her any less furious. “Maybe you could stop being an arrogant prick for a minute!”
6) Nocturne No. 7 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 1 (Chopin / Vladimir Ashkenazy)
Everything these days was a different color. The odious green of his sensei’s jumpsuit was just as ugly, but it brought out a whole different set of emotions than before.
Things tasted different. Things felt different. Any moment of happiness was shaded by it. Even perfectly unrelated things, things she had never touched. When he saw his cousin’s baby for the first time, ‘bittersweet’ wasn’t even a good enough word for what he felt. It was the most innocent pleasure in the world to see that child and to feel the perfect, unmarred skin with the back of his finger, but somehow it made him more miserable than anything else, because that was something she had wanted out of life, something she would never have.
He only found peace when he was running or fighting so hard that he couldn’t think about anything at all.
7) Springtime for Hitler (The Producers, OBC)
8) Is This It (Strokes)
She sat awkwardly next to him on the couch. “Want some tea?” she said out of the blue.
“No, thank you.”
She fidgeted, kicking the coffee table with her foot. “Want some sake? I bought a bottle yesterday at the farmer’s market.”
“No, thank you.”
She crossed her arms. Probably wondering how to get rid of him, he mused. “You must be really tired – shouldn’t you be getting home?”
Now she was clearly annoyed. “Then what the hell do you want?”
9) Skullcrusher Mountain (Jonathan Coulton)
“Bon appetit,” his hunchbacked butler Scarface said, lifting the lid off her platter.
She looked at the plate in front of her on the dinner table. Then she looked at the glass of wine. It’s possible, he mused, that she’s noticed that the wine is bubbling in her glass.
“I am not drinking that.”
His face did not betray the disappointment he felt. “Scarface prepared it just for you,” he said mildly.
She shifted uncomfortably in the pink puffed sleeves of the dress he’d gifted her that afternoon. “Scarface also prepared the poisoned ice cream that was served to me yesterday afternoon.”
“That was an accident, which I believe I have already apologized for.”
“Is that why he cried ‘die, foul temptress,’ when I ate it?”
“Ah, he does have an unfortunate tendency to get emotional,” he said, sipping his own wine to cover up his embarrassment.
“Yeah. I’m not drinking this,” she said, pushing the glass away from her.
“But I promise you it will not harm you. It is a perfectly innocent concoction created only to be pleasing to you while its chemical properties simultaneously lower your reserves and encourage the release of endorphins in such a way as to make you more accepting of my advances.” He paused. “Perhaps I have said too much.”
She grabbed a knife off the table. “That’s it! I am out of here!” She brandished the knife at Scarface, then turned and fled the dining hall.
“Shall I go after her, master?” Scarface asked.
“No,” he said, staring at his wine glass sadly. “Soon enough the wolves will catch her scent and begin their pursuit. And if she decides to come back instead of being torn limb from limb, I will know how she really feels about me.”
10) Alice’s Restaurant Massacree (Arlo Guthrie)