Upgrading Chapter 10

Public Announcement: Try not to wake anyone up if this is the middle of the night for you.

-x-

Genma walked into the room, held up his hands for attention, waited until Kisame and Kyuubi paused in their work, and then crossed his arms. “Kakuzu is taking a sick day. What the hell did I miss, Kisame?”

“Uh… Lots.” Grinning, the blue teen canted his head to the side. “Hyuuga Neji picked a fight with him. Kakuzu won, but still got a busted arm. That was last night.” Looking up at the ceiling, he thought for a moment. “Must have gotten home around midnight high on meds.”

“Hell. What is it with that guy?” Genma shook his head. “Didn’t he lose to Hidan a while back too?” He headed over to check on Kyuubi’s progress with the miniature gallows that weird fellow with the ambitious name had ordered. “How’s this coming along?”

Dusting off metal shavings, the redhead lifted up the two sides that he was putting together. “Rather fast,” he said with satisfaction. “The client really knew what he wanted and the schematics are very easy to follow. I’ll probably be done by Friday morning.”

“Perfect,” Genma said, eying it, and grinning at his partner in crime. Then he turned toward Kisame. “What about you?”

Tapping a gloved hand against the long aluminum strips, Kisame hummed. “Not bad. We’ll have it done, yeah, but I don’t think the design is best Kakuzu has come up with.” He shrugged. “There are some parts that seem superfluous. We don’t have time to change it though, and frankly I don’t want to mess with it since Hakumoto signed off on the blue prints.”

“Well. We’ll just hope the kid knows what he’s doing,” Genma said, before turning toward his own station. He had a project of his own he needed to get done by Sunday.

xXx

Five to eight, Hinata stumbled in through the door and slumped into her seat next to her class partner. “Shino?”

The reticent teen turned his head toward her, and blinked behind ever-present sunglasses (apparently bright light hurt his eyes, or that’s what he told the teachers). “Good morning, Hinata.”

“Good morning. Could you please do me a favour?” She opened up her pack and pulled out her textbook. All without opening her eyes. “When I fall asleep, please wake me up.”

“Opening your eyes would be advisable,” he suggested mildly. “I also suggest coffee. I believe Karin has some, if you make it worth her while. Or perhaps you can bat your eyelashes at Kaka-sensei. He is susceptible to the feminine whiles. Why? Because he’s a pervert.”

Hinata cracked open one eye to stare at him. “Shino… that’s disturbing and horrible advice. Can you imagine what my boyfriend would do?” She giggled and leaned into his shoulder. “But I’ll go talk to Karin. Thank you.” And with that, she was gone, weaving between the tables heading for the mentioned redhead.

xXx

It’s next week.”

Deidara lifted his head, blinking sleepily at the two whispering nearby.

Naruto looked vaguely queasy as he continued. “You know what I’m talking about.”

“This news disturbs me greatly. Why? Because I recall last year.”

“Exactly!” The boy flailed a little, drawing looks from several others in the second period Calculus class. “That thing! It was a disaster! Jiraiya didn’t recover for a month!”

Deidara blinked, and reached out, grabbing the back of Naruto’s hoody and jerking. The other boy flailed and fell out of his seat. “What are you talking about, un?”

Shino looked very serious as he turned toward the artist. “The Two Hours of Doom.”

Understanding dawned, and Deidara paled. “WHAT!?”

xXx

That was it. Sasuke took his second favourite eraser, reared back, and pinged it off the back of a blond head. “What the hell is wrong with you?” he hissed as the guy yelped and spun around in his chair. “You’ve been whimpering and muttering and driving me insane!

The boy in question scowled angrily. “Driving you insane, un!? Do you have any idea what sort of hell we’re in for!? The THD is next week!”

Nearby, Lee yelped and fell out of his seat.

Sasuke gaped at him. “It can’t be! Already?”

Students all around in a four-desk radius paled.

Deidara nodded. “I heard last period from your stupid friend, un.” And no one questioned Naruto’s knowledge of Sarutobi’s machinations. He was always nosing about that man’s office (when not pranking people, running away from people he’d pranked, or being forced to attend classes).

Sitting back, Sasuke passed a hand over his face. “Maybe I can arrange a mass food poisoning…”

xXx

“… and so I was wondering if I could get a moulding of your most excellent posterior for practical appliance,” Sai finished, empty smile in place, putty in hand and so very serious.

The earnestness of his request was all that was saving him from a face plant into the wall… however, it was doing nothing to help his maybe-model recover from her shock.

“Sai-kun…” Tenten began, stopped. Shook her head. Started again. “If you get me extra large coffee with a double shot of espresso, I will consider it.”

He lit up like Christmas, and tucked the box of putty back into his leather bag. “I will return! If the teacher asks, take no responsibility. I’ll take the detention.” Eagerly, he spun away and took off through the mass of students hurrying to class.

Five feet away, enjoying the luxury of fourth period free, Tobi grinned widely. “Tobi finds it so refreshing to see Sai-kun making such special friends!” he gushed.

xXx

The world around him was a mimicry of life. All the students plodding through the motions of heading to fifth period classes. By now there were so very few who didn’t know the truth. Those poor naive idiots. How Kiba envied them.

“I wanna die…”

When he turned to go into his next class, he nearly knocked into a girl—oh, Haku. “Oh excuse me…. Kiba-kun? Are you alright? You look… ill…” The poor guy was so clueless, it was obvious. He didn’t have the same look of dread on his face as everyone else.

“I’m not alright.” Suddenly, he had an idea. “You work with foods right? Do you know poisons? Something that can mimic death for just two hours?” Kiba surged forward, hands up to reach for Haku’s shoulders… but no… Haku was already shaking his head. Hope dies so fast…

“I don’t know why you would want such a thing, Kiba-kun, but I don’t think it exists anyway.” Haku tilted his head. “Maybe you should go sit down somewhere… Why are you so upset?”

For a moment, the halls had colours, sounds, dreams… Kiba sighed. “Nothing I do now will change what will come. We are all going to suffer. Suffer so very horribly.” He snapped his gaze up to Haku’s worried face. “And the men will suffer the most. Why is that, Haku-kun? Why?”

The pretty male blinked at him, bemused, until somewhere down the hall someone let out a shriek of horror and started banging their head against the wall. He turned to look. “Oh dear… wait… Kiba-kun…” He turned back to blink at the Inuzuka. “Is this about that silly assembly?”

“Just tell me how to die… that’s all I need to do now…”

The other male reached out then, and clasped both of Kiba’s shoulders in a gesture no doubt meant to give comfort, or solidarity. “Cheer up! Sasori-san and the Akatsuki gang are gone. How bad could it be?”

Kiba took in a shuddering breath. Looked Haku dead in the eye. And burst into tears.

xXx

“… so he brought you a coffee?” Deidara looked incredulous. He’d already been sitting with Hinata every day, and saw no reason to change that even though Tenten wanted ‘space to think’. And so they were talking. “I mean, he actually went down… and bought it… and brought it to you by the next period, un?”

“From the specialty shop where Sakura-chan works at on the weekends, no less,” Tenten replied, a little dazed. She let out a helpless little laugh. “Crazy, neh?”

Beside her, Hinata was busy pillowing her head in her arms and laughing. “You said…” she choked out, “… that you’d think about it?”

“If you go on any longer,” Tenten deadpanned, “others are going to label you as one of those who cracked under the threat of THD.”

Deidara cringed away from her at that. “Shut up!” he hissed, looking horrified. He glanced around briefly, and shuddered. “I heard that Uchiha snapped in fourth period and started trying to choke Akamichi.” He shuddered again. “And then… Vomit, all over the tables…”

Rolling her eyes, Tenten reached over and playfully shoved Hinata, who was only now recovering. “If Sasuke-kun was going to do anything, he’d do it to himself, not others.”

“Maybe he’s testing out poisons?” Hinata offered between short tightly controlled breaths. “I hear that’s the preferred method for this year.” Her voice wobbled at the end and she held her breath.

“Yeah, running didn’t work last year,” Deidara said sadly. “Personally, I’m considering blowing up the basement with myself inside. If I survive, I’ll be a hero for escaping the horror, un.”

Both girls turned their heads, frowning at him. “If you’re going to rig something,” Hinata said severely, “then take out the projector, not yourself.”

Blue eyes blinked. “I tried that Freshman year, un. They replaced it.”

“That was you?” Tenten burst out laughing. “Not only did they put up a new one, but they wheeled out a third just in case! And then Tsunade had two slide shows going at the same time!”

“Yeah. Tried distracting them too, un. Remember the bathrooms the year after that?” Deidara asked, grinning. “That was me.”

Shaking her head, Hinata piped up. “Don’t be too proud to say that so loudly, Dei,” she cautioned. “I’ve seen Ibiki-san march through the quad on occasion. I think he misses chasing Kisame and Hidan.”

Deidara glanced around and shuddered. Again. “That guy’s a sadist, un,” he whined. “Freaky as fuck.” He paused. Blinked when his phone went off. After checking it, he grinned. “Yes! Plan B is a go! I could kiss her, un! Except… Itachi would kill me.”

Frowning, Tenten glanced at Hinata who was tilting her head in thought. “I feel like I should know this,” the pale-eyed girl admitted. “Something about fireworks?”

“Okay, I’m warning you two, un. Try to sit on the east side of the gym,” the blond said, firmly, and grinned. Evilly.

Two pairs of dark eyebrows shot up. Then both girls nodded in unison. It was best just not to chance it.

xXx

“Neh, Ino? You’re my friend right?”

The blonde girl blinked. “… when you’re not being obnoxious, yeah, sure,” she said, brows arching.

Shifting a little closer, Naruto nodded. “Oh, not being obnoxious right now at all. Actually, I’m desperate but determined. See, I know what’s coming up.”

She frowned at him in confusion. “What?”

“I believe I need to die. A single sacrifice to save all the students in this school.” He waved a hand at the rest of the class and beyond. “And I think Sai would agree,” he paused to gaze into her beautiful eyes, “it would be an honour to die of suffocation between your perfect breasts.”

A beat passed, as Ino drew in a slow breath. And then sent Naruto flying into the wall. “PERVERT!”

xXx

There was a foot, nudging Shikamaru’s hip. He tried to ignore it, but it only became more insistent. One grey eye opened, meeting blue. His harasser smiled. Widely. “Nara, you’re comin’ with me, un.”

And then he was being kidnapped.

Good thing he had free the last period of the day.

xXx

When Deidara waltzed into the store, with his not-quite-boyfriend, Kisame’s brows furrowed. He wondered what the blond was up to, but Deidara didn’t approach him. Instead, he dragged the Nara toward the back of the store, where the lizards and bugs were kept.

Shikamaru only barely managed to glance Kisame’s way before he was out of sight. What the fuck are they up to? No way Dei knew I was here… Mikoto called in sick just two hours ago.

A little while later (roughly five minutes), they came to the desk. With a bunch of tarantulas. “I want to buy these, un,” Deidara said, with the kind of unarguable firmness common in men on a mission.

Beside him, looking fully supportive of this, Shikamaru nodded. “He needs to buy these,” he reinforced the statement.

“Uh huh. What the fuck for?” Kisame took the small cages from the blond, carefully lining them up on the counter. Poor bastards.

Deidara blinked at him. “What the fuck do you think for? I wish to love them and hold them and pet them and teach them to demolish and destroy-”

“It’s to avoid the THD. We’ll pay double,” Shikamaru interrupted, rolling his eyes.

Yep, poor bastards. Ringing the whole lot of them through, Sharky gave Deidara an expectant look. “You’re buying every single one of them lasers and sending me the videos, right?” To Shikamaru: “What are you, stupid? Don’t pay for something the idiot’s going to cover.”

“When I say ‘we’ I mean him and the money Naruto filched from him last week,” the Nara corrected, and shrugged when Deidara shot him a livid look. “Well. I didn’t say where I got the money…”

“Tch. Bastard. I’ll make him pay later, un,” Deidara said, eyes narrowed as he clenched his fists. Then he giggled, eye twitching, and Shikamaru stepped away.

Used to the blond’s mental issues, Kisame loaded the cages into two cardboard boxes and held out a hand. “Two twenty-five even.” He wiggled his fingers. “Pay up.”

Shikamaru and Deidara both pulled out their wallets and between them indeed paid up. “I’ll come by later for food,” Shikamaru said as he reached for one of the boxes.

“You just want an excuse to visit your boyfriend,” Deidara said, smirking.

The Nara choked.

Kisame just snorted. “Hey fucker. Get laid.”

Sticking his tongue out, the blond carefully picked up the second box. “He doesn’t deny it.” He sniffed and headed for the door.

If Shikamaru hadn’t been holding a box of spiders, he would have facepalmed. “… he’s lucky it would be too troublesome to destroy him,” he muttered irritably.

“Get Naruto to lift some more of his pocket money and pay Kakuzu,” Kisame drawled. “There, easy.” Finally cracking into a wry grin, he reached out and lightly nudged Nara in the shoulder. “You know, you can walk away from me. He’s not the only one who’s noticed.”

Blinking, the younger boy tilted his head and quirked a brow. “Nah. You’re not bad company. Besides, it’d be too much of a pain to replace you.” He grinned.

Kisame barked out a laugh. “Go me.” He waved a hand at the box. “Get those critters out of here. And talk to Kakuzu. He might give you a discount since it’s Deidara.”

“Good idea. I’ll give him a ring,” Shikamaru said, smiling. He shifted the box. “See you later.” And turned to leave too. (Especially since, divested of his own burden, Deidara had doubled back to glare through the window at him.) “I’m coming, I’m coming, damn girl…”

Grinning wide, Blue boy leaned back against the counter and cheerfully waved a middle finger at Dei. Despite appearances, the fucker had done him a favour by bringing up their status. Even after a few weeks, Shika was hard to read.

Speaking of Shikamaru… at the door, the boy paused. “You have any plans at about… 8AM next Thursday? I need somewhere to hide all day and pretend to be sick,” he said, frowning.

Impatiently, Deidara jerked open the door, took the spiders, and stalked back to his truck.

“I’ll be free,” Kisame said, tilting his head. Damn, old man Sarutobi hit them early this year. “Sooo glad I’m out.”

“Lucky,” Shikamaru said, smirked faintly, and went out to get into Deidara’s truck.

Five minutes later, a mother and a small girl walked into the store. Three seconds later, they hurried right back out after coming face to face with Kisame’s grin.

And the manager thinks smiling is good for business. Fuck that shit.

xXx

Five minutes to the end of the last period, the PA system crackled to life. Students across campus froze.

“Ahem.” Kakashi’s disembodied voice sounded ashamed. And that was something, coming from a single sound. “Hey, I’m really sorry for saying this. And I’m sure you all know my views on—Ow! Hey! I’m not—” *Crackle*

“—get on with it. Maah. Anyway. Yes. The rumours are true, the torture will comme—OW! … The Educational Assembly will be taking place next week on Thursday… If you don’t have your stashed doctor’s notes ready now, you had better—Eeee!” *Pop*

*Crackle* “—crazy woman… See? This is why you don’t haveOh crap. I didn’t mean to—”

Of all people, Shiranui Genma’s voice came on. “In any case. The Assembly is not optional. Please be advised that any attempts at avoiding this Very Important Event will be investigated, innocent or not. You have been warned…” And just before the PA disconnected: “You people still can’t do this right after all these years?” *Pop*

And that was the end of the announcement.

xXx

Chapter 9 | Table of Contents | Chapter 11

A/N: Can you tell how much we have missed writing ridiculous situations? *grins*

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