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Library Love

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Madara glared at the white head almost obscured by textbooks from where she was leaning on the check-out counter. She’d taken the job at the library because it was on campus and the only place, apart from the coffee shop, that was hiring and she’d desperately needed the cash. The Uchiha had known from the start she wouldn’t love it, but she hadn’t counted on this particular annoyance when she’d taken it. Over all the job wasn’t the worst, re-shelving books was boring but kept her away from people and even check-outs were usually fast and efficient since the other students just wanted to get their books and get out of there to finish their projects. She was allowed, even expected, to snap at anyone being loud, annoying, or goofing off. She could even give herself priority access to any books she might need for her classes, and if things were slow her bosses were fine with her reading and doing homework behind the desk during her shift. Really, the job itself was pretty fine-except for one particular thing, or well, one particular person.

That person was the white-haired girl currently camped out at her usual table near the front desk, almost invisible, lost as she was in a sea of textbooks and papers. As always. There was also a large number of used coffee cups scattered around her. As always. She was the first one there in the mornings and was the last to leave at the end of the day. Every day, or at least, every day Madara was there. Madara was pretty sure that if the library was open 24/7 the other girl would have moved in. She wasn’t even completely certain the white-haired girl left to attend the classes she studied so furiously for. It was concerning.

Madara knew, knew, that it wasn’t really any of her business, but she couldn’t help but worry about the other girl. No, she wasn’t a friend or even an acquaintance. Hell, Madara didn’t even know her name, but she knew that living like that couldn’t be healthy. Constantly either reading or working on her next project, or paper, it exhausted Madara just watching her. The other never even seemed to talk to anyone! In fact, Madara had never seen anyone else so much as wave at the white-haired girl, let alone actually say hi or sit with her. It didn’t sit right with Madara. Izuna would say it was Madara’s intense mother-hen instincts coming out, not that her little brother had any room to talk, she thought with a scowl.

In any case, it had been bothering her for months, the sad state of the other girl’s life, and she had finally had enough! Clearly no one else had any plans of intervening in this slow death by school work so Madara would have to do it herself. The white-haired girl was just too pretty to be left to such an end. Not that Madara thought she was particularly pretty or anything, but well, the Uchiha had eyes and so could therefore see fine the girl’s features were. Nodding to herself at her own impeccable logic, Madara went back to work sorting books and trying to think out a plan to save the girl from herself.

Ultimately Madara decided to start small, because even she knew that telling off a stranger about their life choices would come across and creepy and kind of stalkerish. Also, and more importantly, her boss would fire her for bugging library patrons who weren’t breaking any of the rules and Madara did need this job. So, yes, starting small was likely the best approach. Plus, if she was lucky the small disturbances would be enough to startle the girl into reality and taking stock of her life style and improving it without Madara having to ever actually talk to her. Which would be fantastic, and not disappointing at all-shut up Izuna!

Plan, or some semblance there of, in place she saw no reason to delay in implementing it so the next day she slipped a granola bar onto the table by the girl’s coffee while the other looked particularly preoccupied with one of her many books. She does so as she walks by with a load of books to re-shelve, and a quick glance once she returns from doing so shows that the other girl is actually eating it. It’s one of the few brands of such products that Madara actually likes. The only one to, in her opinion, have managed the near-impossible feat of being both healthy and tasty. So, overall, she counts her first step as a in, even after she’s forced to duck quickly into the back so no one will notice her laughing over the face the white-haired girl had made once she finally registered she was eating something and had no idea where it came from. It had been a perfect blend of shock, confusion, and overall befuddlement. Madara would even go so far as to say it was adorable (no she didn’t think the girl was cute, shut up Izuna!).

Madara continued to slip granola bars to the girl on an utterly random schedule. After a couple weeks of that, when the other continued to maintain her ridiculous study patterns, she decided to step it up a bit. She began to alternate between leaving the bars and various types of fresh fruit, keeping an eye out for any preferences or allergies (not because she cared or anything-shut up Izuna!). Thus far though, the puzzled white-haired girl had seemed equally happy with all her offerings. The speed at which they were eaten both amused her and made her worry even more, but as she reminded herself often, she was already doing something about it.

Her next escalation was to add a bottle of water to go along with whatever snack she had brought the other. This made sneaking them onto the table without being seen slightly harder, but Madara was nothing if not determined. The white-haired girl did take occasional breaks, usually to return some of her books, find new ones, or to go get more coffee, and Madara used these breaks to her advantage. Soon this escalated even more to slipping the other more substantial snacks. Before Madara knew it, it had been almost three months and she was practically giving the other girl full lunches several times a week. (She was not overly invested in this-Shut up Izuna!) And, though she would never admit it (especially to her brother), the smile her offerings got, small and always clearly delighted, made butterflies flitter around in her stomach. Those smiles quickly became her favourite, and most looked forward to, part of the day. She’s aware that she won’t be able to keep this up forever, but for now…for now it was good.

It was the other girl who changed things up next, somewhere in the middle of month four, teaching Madara her name in the process. It was a Tuesday and the white-haired girl had left her table, heading in the direction of the coffee shop which was Madara’s cue to sneak over and leave her gift as usual. Except, in the spot she usually left them (a spot which was now almost always clear of debris and waiting for her offering) was a small note.

To My Gift-giver,

       I just wanted to say thank you. I appreciate the food, though you really don’t need to trouble yourself every day for my sake.

                                               ~Senju Tobirama

Madara ended up taking the note with her after leaving the food and kept glancing at it periodically all day when no one was looking. Tobirama’s writing was small and simple, but neat. It was legible and pretty without wasting time on any sort of fancy flourishes. From what she had observed of the other Madara felt it suited her perfectly, as did her name. Unusual, unique, and really quite beautiful-just like the girl herself (okay, so maybe she had a small crush-Shut. Up Izuna!). Madara wrestled with herself for the next day or so, but ultimately decided to leave her own note in reply the next time she left food.

Tobirama,

      Considering I’ve never seen you eat anything except for what I give you I really do. Wouldn’t want you to end up fainting in the middle of the library.

                                          -A Concerned Citizen

The note was perhaps a bit…caustic, but then so was Madara herself, and she had no intention of changing who she was for anyone-no matter how cute their smile. If Tobirama couldn’t deal with a bit of attitude then it was better to find that out now before she got even more invested (so you admit you’re invested! Shut up Izuna!). It would be a disappointment, but still better than the inevitable blow-up that would occur otherwise. Still, Madara spent the rest of the day restless and trying to convince herself she wasn’t on edge because she was worried about how Tobirama would react. She took the first chance she saw the next day to slip Tobirama her food, hoping to find another note-and couldn’t help the ecstatic smile she gave upon seeing there was one waiting.

Dear Concerned Citizen,

       How sweet, but given I managed to survive just fine until you came along, I would say that your concern lacks merit. If anything, accepting food from someone whose name and identity I still don’t know seems more likely to end up causing me harm.

                                               ~Tobirama

Madara’s (slightly besotted) smiled turned into a true grin once she got the chance to actually read Tobirama’s note. Not only did the other girl not seemed turned off by her attitude but she was showing one to match, not seeming cowed in the slightest. It wasn’t a guarantee that this, that they, would work, but is was a start and a pretty good one at that. Madara didn’t quite feel ready to reveal herself and give up the game yet, but she was more than happy to keep the exchange going.

Tobirama,

      You may have a point, but if you are so concerned about the potential harm I could do to you with my offerings then why do you keep eating them? As far as you know they may have been safe so far only because I’ve been working on luring you into a false sense of security. A ploy, which if such were my intention, seems to have been working nicely I might add. Which only gives me more reason to be concerned about your health.

                                          -Your Lunch Maker

Dear Lunch Maker,

       It’s a public space and I have samples of your handwriting in notes admitting to giving me the food, you can’t harm me without bringing yourself down as well. Unless this is all a complicated scheme to get yourself some jail time it seems a rather flawed plan. If it is your way of getting yourself sent to jail, I would like to remind you that there are many more straightforward ways of doing so and would request you leave me out of it.

                                               ~Tobirama

Tobirama,

      You need not worry too much on that account. I am far too busy to go to jail right now. Not as busy as you always seem to be, of course, but that hardly means I have nothing to do! Besides, if I were to ever wind up in jail it would be for something far more dramatic and impressive than poisoning one person’s lunch!

                                          -Irritated at your Assumptions

Dear Irritated,

       I’m not as busy as all that, not really. I’ve been far more occupied many times in the past, though my brother often tells me I have a tendency to commit myself to too much. Still, I am not finding the load to be too onerous. I would, however, like to hear more about this “dramatic and impressive” crime you would be arrested for. To be so specific you must have a plan in mind and I find myself curious.

                                               ~Tobirama

Tobirama,

      I think your brother may have a point. I can’t say I know the specifics of your workload, but given the amount of time you spend in the library I would assume it is fairly large. Shouldn’t you be attending classes regularly anyways? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you leave for one, which does make me wonder. Have you thought of taking breaks, going outside, maybe getting some sun? I hear it’s healthy for you, though given the fact I seem to be your main source of food I still have very little in your care for your health.

      Also, I have no plans for crimes of any sort you menace! As I told you I am far too busy to end up in jail. Besides, who would feed you and remind you of your health if I were arrested? You’d miss me and these little notes, you know you would!

                                          -Not a Criminal

Dear Not a Criminal,

       Not that it matters, but I have an arrangement with my professors that allows me to attend them irregularly because of the number I’m taking. Also, I believe I have told you before that I survived just fine before you decided it was your mission to take care of me, a fact which I would like to once again remind you of. Not that I am ungrateful for your care, quite the opposite really. Your gifts remain very appreciated and you are quite correct that I would miss you if you were arrested, and as you insinuated it would not just be because of the lack of food! Also, there are plenty of supplements that can replace the need for sunlight. Despite this, I would be willing to venture out in it, for the right motivation-if you are not determined to continue to remain anonymous.

                                               ~Tobirama

Tobirama,

      I must admit that your insinuated request both thrills and terrifies me. Though I could not help but notice your beauty, I want you to know that this really did start from honest concern (no one should spend so much time studying!) and not from a hope of securing myself a date with you. I did not expect it to go on so long, or the note you left or the exchange that has followed. After all this I hope I will not disappoint compared to whatever image you have in your head of me.

                                          -Anonymous for now

Madara was forced to admit, to herself at the very least (Izuna was not to know), that she was a bit nervous. As her note to Tobirama had said, this had all started out of genuine concern for the other girl. Yes, Madara had noticed she was pretty, but so were a lot of other people who came to the library. But then, as the letters they had exchanged continued, as she’d found out Tobirama was smart, sassy, able to match Madara as very could and give as good as she got. Well, after learning all that she couldn’t help becoming a bit invested, hence the nerves-not that she was going to let that stop her!

She’d gotten to the library early, before it officially opened actually (her co-worker hadn’t minded letting her in) and had left her last note to Tobirama on the girl’s usual table, minus the food that usually accompanied it. That she had in a simple picnic basket along with a bouquet of wildflowers, because she refused to be so cliché as to ask someone out with roses. She was currently ducked behind her usual hiding shelf, just out of sight of the entrance and Tobirama’s table. All she could do now was wait for the other girl to arrive.

Thankfully the library was to open in just a minute or two and Tobirama was, of course, through the doors only moments after they were unlocked. Madara felt a sort of exasperated fondness at the sight, and the girl’s predictability. She watched as Tobirama made a beeline for her table only to pause nearby, clearly confused by the sight of the note. The white-haired girl glanced around before shrugging and picking it up. Madara watched as Tobirama read it, blushing slightly with a pleased smile that melted into a look of confusion and slight disappointment once she reached the bottom. Madara took this as her cue, and after taking a deep breath stepped out from behind the shelf.

“Hi, I’m Uchiha Madara. I work here in the library and I’m honestly a little concerned for your health because you never stop studying, so I’m hoping to convince you to take a break for once and come outside with me for some sun and food” Madara said, holding the flowers out and trying to look confident.

“Hi, I’m Senju Tobirama, over worked grad student and P.A. My health is fine, thank you, and I can take care of myself, but if you insist on making sure for yourself I won’t say no” Tobirama replied in turn, taking the flowers. The smile she had been wearing early had returned, even larger than before and Madara could feel a matching one grow on her own face and she finally got the girl out of the library, for a time at least.