Upgrading Ch 5: Events & Circumstances

“So, what’s it like?” Taka Karin asked excitedly as they were left to their own devices. It was first period Calculus on Monday morning, the second week of school, but most had already settled into their new routines. She was especially interested in the Hyuuga’s new residence with everyone’s not-so-favorite Jashin.

Hinata looked up, blinking. “What is what like?”

The redhead tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Living with the Zombie Brothers!” she chirped. “Is Chuushin really scary? How do you survive!”

“I pay rent on time and I don’t eat the chili surprise,” the other girl answered calmly. “They’re fine.”

“It is unnecessary for you to stick your nose into Hinata’s business,” Shino added from the girl’s other side. “Why? Because it’s rude.”

Karin wrinkled her nose at him. “I’m just curious, geez.”

xXx

Second period Biology was going pretty much as expected…

“Naruto-kun!” Iruka-sensei called across the room. “It’s wonderful that you’re so excited to share information during class, but it better be about the diagram on the board.” A sharp tap of chalk on board reinforced the threat.

Jumping, the blond snapped his head around. “Hai, sensei!” Then his eyes actually focused. “Is that someone’s wanger?”

A couple seats behind him, Deidara burst into loud laughter as the teacher frowned at the younger blond. “Oh yeah, it totally is, un!” he cackled.

Naruto’s lab partner—Shino—frowned at him. Though, considering his choice of dress, no one could tell. “Naruto-kun…”

Pointing at the board, Naruto swallowed his words and blinked at his friend, arm lowering. “Yeah?”

“Perhaps it’s best to not press your luck,” Shino replied. “Why? Because Iruka-sensei is glaring at you.”

And Deidara was still laughing.

xXx

Third period Art…

“Shikamaru! … NARA, WAKE UP!!!”

Also as expected.

xXx

Meanwhile, in third period Physiology…

“Ne, ne, Tenten-san’s absent!” Tobi squawked, waving his arms around. “Hey, Neji-chan! Where’s your girlfriend?”

The rest of the class was treated to a stony silence. And if that wasn’t answer enough, the teacher then went on to explain that Tenten had dropped the class.

Haku blinked at the information, and curiously eyed the Hyuuga as Fukumen continued to pester him. Trouble in paradise? he mused, then shook his head. Wasn’t his business.

xXx

The start of fourth period found Kiba shaking his head and grinning. “Naruto, there is no way Iruka-sensei had a chalk drawing of that on the blackboard. I had his class last year; I’d remember shit like that.”

“Hey! I know what a wang looks like!” This outburst had several heads turning, but it wasn’t like the blond cared. “Sensei may have said it was a mollusk, but that’s a friggin’ shellfish.”

“Hai, hai,” Kiba drawled, patting his friend’s shoulder. “Anyway, catch you later! Hey Sasuke.”

The black-haired Uchiha nodded in greeting as they passed each other in the doorway. “Hey.”

“Sasuke-teme! Guess what Iruka-sensei was teaching us all about this morning!”

Something had to be said for the sixth sense of the Uchihas, because Sasuke quickly interrupted. “Don’t care. I’m hungry. Move it.”

xXx

“… could expand the application to include–oh, hello, Ino!” Sai blinked innocently up at the blonde girl as she came across he and Deidara huddled together.

She propped her hand on her hip, standing there with her tray in hand. “What are you two up to?” she demanded suspiciously.

Deidara kicked Tobi under the table when the mouthy male opened said mouth to answer her. “Games, un.” He grinned. “Pervy games.”

Predictably, the girl’s nose wrinkled. “Ewww. Don’t want to know!” she said, and took a seat next to Tobi. “If you touch me, you gross little pervert, I’ll sic Sakura on you.”

To her disappointment, Tobi just looked delighted. “Bawww, Sakura-chan! Tobi would very much like to see her again…”

Ino punched him out this time.

xXx

Absently, Tenten listened to the bald teacher call out directions, but really, all that mattered to her was that in ten seconds, she was going to run her heart out. Maybe leave it somewhere behind her.

She had her soul-deep talk already. Forty-five minutes of anger, grief, desolation, and self-doubt.

Hinata had been surprised to find her waiting outside the Hyuuga’s Social’s class at the end of period two. They ended up to the roof where Tenten talked until her throat was raw.

Hours later, she still felt like a mess, but at least in PE, she could try not to think.

She also hadn’t seen Neji all day.

xXx

Sixth period passed in relative quiet. When Deidara spotted the two girls wandering onto the quad, he raised an arm. “OY! Saved a seat, un!” he called out cheerfully. It was his free period, and he had nothing better to do… Besides, Hidan had wrangled promises out of him to keep an eye on the girl.

And anyway, she wasn’t all that bad to hang out with. Her companion—Tenten or something, Deidara thought—was less familiar to him, but he had no objection to her presence either.

After a quick word to the taller girl, Hinata waved back. “Coming!” she called out.

They had taken two steps towards him, when a wail cut through the air. “Oh Tenten! My heart aches for you! I have denounced–”

Pale and evidently pissed, the Chinese girl had turned and slapped a hand over the bowl-cut boy’s mouth. “Lee! Hush!” And then she half-dragged, half-marched the flailing boy out of the quad.

Deidara blinked after them, then gave Hinata a curious look, before shrugging it off. “Loooppyyy, un,” he drawled. “Sup?” He waved for her to make herself comfortable.

Sighing, the Hyuuga girl sat down. “Lee is… always very enthusiastic,” she said with a pained expression. Looking around, Hinata set down her lunch box. “It’s strange not having everyone here.”

“Right?” he said, poking at his food. “Last year, Itachi and Kisame sat with me at lunch, un. Gonna be weird without them.” He paused to take a bite, then talked through it like a pig. “Well, least it’s only a year!”

Humming, Hinata nodded. “Yes, and then you’ll be gone, Tenten too.” She sounded a little morose actually.

“Yeah, but you’ll have your other friends, un,” he replied. “Whatchya got to eat?!”

xXx

The peace was broken in seventh period, when Naruto got into a fight with Neji. It was brief, but the blond got in a good face hit, while Neji got the younger boy in the stomach. Kakashi and Choji dragged them apart before it went any further, and walked them to the office.

Sarutobi was less than amused. “What brought this on, Naruto-kun?” he asked with a sigh.

“The bastard was saying mean stuff about my friends!” Naruto said, scowling.

The principal’s brows lifted. “Oh? And what would that be?”

Naruto slumped in his seat and mumbled something. “Hoh? I can’t hear you. My old ears are really very bad,” Sarutobi began, and bit back a smile at the blond’s sulky pout.

“He said Hinata was a disgrace, and he didn’t care what happened to Tenten! All I asked was why I didn’t see them hangin’ out anymore!” the blond growled.

Sighing, the principal wondered why the students couldn’t go at least another week before stirring things up.

xXx

Walking into her eighth period, Hinata blinked. Was that… “Tobi-kun?”

The boy in question was one of five other students, and he grinned at her widely. “Hinata-chaaan,” he sang out in greeting. “Come sit with me! We can be buddies!”

Not really seeing a reason not to, Hinata nodded and sat down in the desk next to him. “Politics?” she asked hesitantly. “I didn’t expect to see you in here.”

“Ehhhh? Why not?! Tobi’s a good politician!” the boy protested, flailing his arms.

Biting her lip to stop from smiling, the girl held out her hands, making calming motions. “I’m sure you are!” she agreed, “but you weren’t here last week. Did you just transfer in?”

He nodded. “Mmhm. I had a different class this period, but decided I wanted to change. It was too noisy!”

Frowning slightly, Hinata took a guess. “Woodworking?”

“Naaahhh. Drama II,” he replied, leaning back in his seat. “Naruto-kun and Kiba-kun kept yelling, and Sai-kun was just egging them on all the time! Tobi didn’t like it much. Tobi likes quiet better.”

Hinata blinked again. It made sense when she considered the people Tobi usually dealt with. For all her deadly temper, Konan wasn’t a loud one, nor Pein. Zetsu was as talkative as Shino… Tobi himself was probably the ‘Naruto’ of his group. Loud and energetic.

“I like quiet too,” she said, arranging her papers and textbook between them. “Have you had a chance to look over the material from last week?”

He nodded quickly. “Yup! Just a glance, though.”

Pushing some of her notes over, Hinata smiled at him. “Better take a better look. Kurenai-sensei runs on a strict lesson plan.”

“Haaiii!”

xXx

Have you seen her yet?” Gaara’s voice asked in his ear. “You’ll tell me when you do, right, Kankuro?

Rolling his eyes, the older brother waved absently at the scattered farewells he received as he left his new workplace. “Yeah, yeah. I will.” He paused as he held the door open for another staff member–she mumbled a quick thank you and darted inside. “You know, last I heard, she was expecting you to call her.”

Gaara growled at him. “I know. I will. Soon. I just wanted to make sure- well. Yeah. Anyway, have you settled in alright?

“Uh, yeah. The apartment’s okay. Smaller, not as well kept as home, but it’s my first place, so I won’t complain.” Kankuro unlocked his car door and slipped inside. “How’s school?”

School. For some reason, Sakon and Ukon have decided that I’m approachable. They won’t leave me alone now.” That was quite a load of irritation in his brother’s voice!

Grinning, he started up the car and cranked the heat. “You mean they harass you or just want to be friends?”

They harass me. Constantly. I’m tempted to dump their lifeless bodies in the desert.” Pause. “Except Temari keeps following me around.

Kankuro snorted. “You two are hopeless without me there. Next time I talk to Tem, I’m telling her to get a boyfriend.” He checked over his shoulder. “Hey, I gotta go. Need to find something to eat.”

His brother sighed. “Yeah, okay. Later.” The call ended.

Shaking his head, he dropped his cell into the cup holder and buckled up. Gaara still needed to learn social graces. Kankuro snorted. Well… maybe after college.

xXx

Tenten was on her second beer when the guy–Haru–came up with the nerve to ask for a second time if she wanted to play pool with him. Considering there were at least two other college boys watching him ask, it wouldn’t be a private game. He had at least that on his side.

Shaking her head, the Chinese girl refused him again. “Sorry, Haru. I’m still going to pass.”

He bit his lip and took a breath. “Look, you just look bored over here,” Haru said in a rush. “Are you waiting for someone? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you just entertained yourself while you wait.” His words had the rehearsed cadence of a memorized line.

Blinking, she regarded him for a moment. “I’m not waiting for anyone,” she finally replied. I’m not… at least I don’t think so. “Just relaxing.” By myself, in a bar, drinking. Oh yeah, I’m definitely the rare gem. “Have fun, Haru.” Without me.

The shaggy-haired teen looked over his shoulder at his friends. One of them must have made some kind of signal, because Haru’s jaw was set when he turned back. “Maybe just hang out? I’ll buy you another drink.”

I’ve been here for over an hour and I’m only just starting my second beer, do I look like I want to get drunk? She shook her head and tapped a fingernail against her small tablet. “I’ve got stuff to do. Please, Haru, just drop it, okay?”

Kakuzu was suddenly sliding onto the seat beside her, scowling at the kid like the money monger was personally insulted by Haru’s existence on the planet. “She means get lost,” he growled, and motioned for the bartender to give him his usual. How the large male had gotten so close without either of them noticing was a mystery.

Not that his presence wasn’t appreciated… but his timing was awful. Tenten groaned and glanced up at the teenager. Yup, there was hurt, bruised pride, and confusion stamped all over the boy’s face. How had he survived to college?

“You could have said you had a boyfriend!” Haru complained before hurrying away.

Tenten dropped her face into her free hand. “Damnit.”

“Idiots,” Kakuzu muttered, taking his drink and opening up a tab. “Why are you letting him pester you?”

“He wasn’t,” she replied, shaking her head when the bartender asked if she wanted another. “Really,” she insisted when her… acquaintance gave her a skeptical look.

He scoffed and sipped his beer. “Looked like it. Why the hell d’you think I came over?”

Shrugging, she glanced over at the three college guys who were clustered around one end of the pool table. “Because you wanted to con him into a game?”

Kakuzu gave her a disappointed look. “No. But now that you mention it…” He gave her a sinister smirk and got up.

“Don’t use me as a bargaining chip,” Tenten muttered, and turned back to her reading.

Ten minutes later, he returned to his seat, counting his newly acquired money as the boys decided to call it a night. “That was a surprisingly profitable outcome. You should choose my victims more often.”

She snorted, scrolling down to read the next page. “Ah, but then I’d have to ask for a cut. And you wouldn’t like that.”

“Business is business,” he replied vaguely, and pocketed the cash. He eyed her in silence for a moment. “Homework?”

“Yup.” Turning her head, she arched a brow. “Are you in college now or freelancing?”

“College, mostly,” he replied, and shrugged. “Couple jobs.”

Tenten shook her head. “You’re working and going to school?” She tilted the tablet for a moment. “I wouldn’t be able to stay sane.”

The older teen hummed thoughtfully as he sipped his drink. “It’s… it makes things very full,” he admitted.

“Do you sleep?” she asked, half laughing. Full, he says. I can barely keep my head straight this semester. Then again, Neji had certainly turned everything upside down.

“Sometimes,” he deadpanned, and took a pull of his beer. At her look, he smirked. “Not a lot.”

Saluting him with the bottle, Tenten took another sip. “Hmm, where’s Hidan? Isn’t he usually with you?”

“Work,” he replied with a shrug. “He works at the junk yard Sunday through Thursday.” He slanted a glance her way. “Haven’t heard as much from Hinata?”

Touché. Tenten shook her head. “We’ve been talking about other things,” she admitted. “Mostly about her job, school… and my situation.”

He hummed in understanding. “Your ex?”

“Yeah.” One more pull from the bottle emptied it. “You were the first I told, funny enough.”

Blink. He tilted his head. “Aa… really? Interesting.”

She snorted. “Not that interesting. I’m trying to get over him; beating my head against a blunt object seemed to be the best way.”

“No, generally all that does is get you hospitalized,” he replied, smirking, and finished off his beer.

She mimed throwing her bottle at him. “Not what I meant,” she grumbled, though she was still smiling.

Shrugging, he got up. “Game?”

Casting her eyes down to the tablet, Tenten bit her lip. The reading wasn’t due until Thursday and she was more than halfway through, despite the interruptions. “Sure.” And maybe this time she’d actually win.

xXx

Chapter 4 | Table of Contents | Chapter 6

A/N: All those names in the tags… I can’t keep up. I don’t mean to say those who aren’t tagged aren’t important, just that… well, they aren’t the focus. As much as this rambling monster of a story can focus. Or I mean us. As in the writers. >.>

PS – Again, I restate, we’re completely ignoring the age of majority.
Beer is necessary dammit!

I’m going to shut up now.

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