Here's chapter five featuring Illusion by Zedd.
Take me to a place with real-life love
I need a break from this broken-down fantasy
Show me a place I can realize love
Not your illusion
If she were completely honest with herself, she was quite enjoying Deidara's very random texts this past week. Even in the middle of class, Sakura got a kick out of his sudden messages even though she didn't exactly encourage them. If she received a text during class, she made sure to reply after dismissal.
They also had each other's e-mail addresses, friended each other on Facebook and followed each other on Twitter.
So far, they'd only been teasing each other based on their stereotypes and updating each other whether they were in class or busy or whether their professor looked like a praying mantis or an ant eater. Sakura tried not to laugh at his latter comments since she'd seen the professors he'd been talking about around campus.
Ino caught her once or twice laughing at her phone but never bothered to ask. Of course, when Sakura finally told her roomie that she was classmates with Deidara, her BFF was more than eager to shake her for details but nothing more than that.
However, for the most part, she'd been trying to reply minimally. Sakura had a lot of reading to get done and a lot of video submissions to complete. Deidara understood and didn't bug her as much when he knew she was busy but that didn't stop him from texting anyway. A reply wasn't expected from her, of course.
She discovered she liked Deidara as a person even though they'd only been texting. She found that he was funny and quick to come up with a witty response and he always spoke his mind.
As a student, Sakura wasn't exactly enthusiastic to work with him this coming weekend. He was the kind of student who liked to wait for the last minute and squeeze his brain dry to meet the deadline so she doubted he even bothered to open any of the links she'd sent him over the week.
Sakura was in Sasuke's car on the way to Indulgence—the café where she and Deidara had coffee in the middle of the night. They agreed it would be a good place to do their paper since, to Sakura, it was far from the immediate area of the school and wasn't swamped with students and, to Deidara, it was close to the Valkyrie.
Her mind was brought back to the present when I Wanna Know began playing and Sasuke reached to switch the radio station. Sakura slapped his hand and Sasuke glared at her from the driver's seat.
She could remember him looking over at her on the passenger seat with a different expression on his face. Almost a year ago, he would either be smirking at her or looking at her with hunger whenever they were in the car. But times have changed and now she was sitting next to him as a friend.
"Since when did you like this music?" asked the raven, giving Sakura an appraising look.
She frowned. "Eyes on the road, hotshot," she said pointedly. "And what's wrong with it? It's got a nice tune and I wouldn't mind driving all the way to the Capitol City with this song on the radio."
"It's just weird," he said, not commenting anymore. Of course, if he did, he would have to bring up the fact that she blatantly despised this genre when they were dating. After a while, he spoke again. "Why is it you're even traveling this far to write your paper?"
"Well, my partner works near that café and I didn't wanna be too much of an inconvenience," she said evenly.
Sasuke looked at her from the corner of his eye before he focused back on the road. "If I wasn't going to visit my brother in the studio, how did you plan on going anyway? A cab?"
Sakura shrugged, not bothering to answer because judging by the frown on his face, she was aware that he was going to lecture her about the dangers of riding a cab alone. That was the last thing she wanted to hear from her ex-boyfriend right now—his concern.
After a few minutes, Sasuke pulled up in the middle of the business district and dropped her off. "Should I pick you up here after I finish setting an appointment?"
"No," she said. "I'll have Ino pick me up. No cabs. I swear it."
When he was satisfied, he drove away in the general direction of the heart of the business district. Sakura, on the other hand, went on ahead and entered the café, spotting Deidara immediately back of the establishment in a booth.
He was in a black university shirt and jeans and—surprsingly—a low ponytail. It was weird but with his usual bangs out of the way, she was able to appreciate his young and boyish features. And those blue eyes were so much more beautiful without his hair in the way.
His headphones were in place as he concentrated on his laptop. Sakura noted the tapping of his feet and the way he would drum his fingers on the edge of the table before he hit the space bar and went to work again. No doubt, he was in the middle of mixing.
She approached the table, dropping her pack to the floor carefully, secretly hoping that he would soon close that program once they began working on their paper.
Deidara looked up at her and grinned. "Hey," he greeted as he pulled the headphones to hang around his neck.
"Hey," she greeted back. Sakura bent under the table to pull her laptop and set in on the table along with her big ass notebook and her pens. "So how do we do this? I've got a copy of Ebisu's first lecture from a friend a couple of days ago and I've already read through them so if you want, you can read through these too while I start on my part and then—"
"Sakura," interrupted the blond. He held Sakura by the wrist with one hand while the other hand told her to slow down. "What's the rush? We've got all day, yeah. Have you had lunch yet? The grilled ham sandwich here's not that bad."
Sakura blinked once. Then again. Unbelievable. Seriously? Yeah, sure she knew they had all day but that didn't mean they didn't have to start right now. The longer they would put this off, the harder it was going to be to meet the deadline.
She shook her head. "I had lunch, thanks," said the pinkette before she opened her laptop. "So, I wanna get this started as soon as possible. You read those links I sent you, right?"
"Yeah, yeah," he said as he waved his hand at her. "Tell you what: You wanna get this started and done immediately, right? How 'bout you do your half of the paper and I'll worry about my half a bit later?"
"What? Why? Are you busy or something?"
He shrugged. "Not much. I swear I'll work later. I just gotta finish this bit of the song so I at least have something to play tonight at the Valkyrie, yeah."
Sakura willed herself not to glare at him and just pursed her lips and forced a smile before she muttered "Okay" under her breath. She started perusing through her notes and from peripheral view, she saw him put on his headphones again so she did the same and plugged in her earphones.
While writing, she stole glances at Deidara who was too focused on whatever he was doing and it was starting to piss her off that he hadn't even bothered to touch the notes she'd handed to him.
One too many times, she'd seen this style. Yeah, they were going to show up when they agreed to "work" on the project but they would end up just throwing in ideas that weren't even related to the subject. Or worse. Paraphrase everything she'd done which only made the whole paper redundant.
Deidara was the same.
Her phone vibrated on the tabletop and both of them eyed it for a moment while Sakura unlocked it to read the message before she locked it once more.
"Aren't you gonna answer that?" she heard him say for the first time in fifteen minutes.
Sakura shook her head once. "It's only Ino and she knows I'm busy today. Can't afford to be distracted. I'm in the middle of an intellectual gold mine here."
Deidara didn't comment anymore and just resumed whatever he was doing and she did the same.
A little later, her playlist on shuffle started playing Hey Monday songs—a band whose songs she hadn't played in a while. Absentmindedly, she started singing to the songs, the lyrics still deep in her subconscious even though she hadn't listened to them since she was high school.
"Blow the candles out. Looks like a solo tonight," sang Sakura, keeping her voice in a soft falsetto because she knew how earphones deceived her own ears of the real volume of her voice.
From the corner of her eye, she saw him move and thought he must have scratched his cheek or something. Little did she know that he actually adjusted one side of his headphones to be able to hear her voice a little better. Sakura was too immersed in her task that she didn't know he'd heard her singing through half of her playlist.
He was no expert when it came to things like these but he thought she had a nice voice. Well, he wasn't sure. But she knew how to carry a tune. And with the way she stopped typing every now and then was proof that she was easily distracted by the music.
"Hey Monday, right?" asked Deidara.
Sakura lifted her eyes from the screen, noting her last trail of thought before she fully focused on Deidara. "Yeah. You know them?"
"Liked them better than Paramore, actually," he said easily before he shut his laptop and pulled his headphones from his ears. "Their vibes are way different but I do like Cassadee's timbre better. Shame they stopped making songs."
"Yeah, I loved them too," she sighed.
Before she could even continue what she was doing, he spoke again. "You know, if you wanna focus on what you're doing, you should really listen to instrumental music—preferably classical. You're not really focused."
Trying not her best to scowl at him for lecturing her while she was working and he was not, Sakura nodded once and said "I'll remember that," before she turned back to her task but he wasn't quite finished yet.
"I like your voice, yeah," he commented.
Her head shot up and she frowned at him. It wasn't the first time she'd heard it but she never knew how to respond to compliments so she just pouted and went back to hitting the keys furiously.
Deidara moved his chair and sat beside her to read what she'd been writing and Sakura covered her screen only barely with her small hands.
"What? You think I'll copy off of your work?" asked Deidara, looking slightly offended with a raised brow. "Give me some credit, Sakura. I just wanted to see what you were writing on so I know how to oppose it."
She turned to Deidara who had been sitting closer to her than she expected. "Oppose? Isn't this supposed to be a collaborative paper?"
"Uhuh," shrugged the blond. "But if chose to support your statement, wouldn't that just be me repeating everything you say? You might as well just write the whole thing yourself, yeah."
Taken slightly aback, she regarded him for a moment. Well, she certainly wasn't expecting that. Maybe she was wrong about him and she almost never liked to be wrong. But in this case, she was happy that he reached across her and borrowed her notes, her work music completely ignored.
Sakura went back to finishing her part of the paper while she let Deidara read beside her. Every now and then, Deidara would ask her something and she was more than happy to explain it for him… Well, until he'd wave a hand and say, "Yeah, okay, I get it now."
But she supposed that was better than him not asking at all.
An hour went by and he offered to buy her something and she requested a slice of apple pie. Before leaving, she could see the wicked smirk on his features and immediately made the connection of her order to an infamously dirty movie.
While he was waiting in line, Sasuke texted her and told her he was on his way back to OU but she told him she was going to be just fine going home on her own.
By the time Deidara had returned to the table with her apple pie and his milkshake, she was finished with her part, summarizing everything she had written by the fifth page.
"Do you wanna write it on my laptop or should I just send it to you?" she asked, saving her paper with a quick Ctrl+S.
Deidara was setting the contents of the tray on their table when he answered. "I'll just finish it on your laptop. Shouldn't take too long. How many pages did you do?" When Sakura answered, he nearly spilled the milkshake on the table. "Five? Seriously?"
Sakura flinched a little when he nearly spilled his glass. "Yeah. Problem?"
"Nah," he answered before he set the tray on its side on their table so it was resting against the wall. "Though I can't promise that I can give as much as you can."
"As long as you input something original," she muttered almost to herself before eyeing her apple pie and his shake which was topped off generously with whipped cream and a cherry. "Is that shake vanilla?"
Deidara took his seat beside her and removed the bendy straw from the plastic and offered it to her. "Yeah. You wanna?"
She didn't turn down his offer and stuck the straw into his drink before taking a testing sip of it and then another when she realized how good it was. "Thanks."
Her fingers let go of the straw and the second she pulled away, she noted the way Deidara reached for the cherry by the stem and pulled the fruit in his mouth. Well, at least he wasn't kidding about his love for cherries, she mused.
Deidara promised to get to work as soon as he finished his drink. It helped that he was letting her take a few sips so in return she offered him her apple pie. Well, at least, the apple pie he ordered from the place.
However, just when he and Sakura were about to switch seats so he could begin working, his phone rang. Almost irritated at the unexpected call, he pulled his phone out and held it to his ear closest to Sakura.
"What is it?" He ground irritably while Sakura tried in vain to make out whatever the man talking loudly on the other line was trying to say. "Yeah, I'm close by but I'm a bit busy right now? And I have the opening stage for Valkyrie. Yeah, I know but—wait, seriously? I'll think about it, yeah. What?! Alright fine, I'll see if I can do anything."
As soon as he locked his phone and shoved it in his pocket, he turned to Sakura who was looking the least bit amused by his phone call and he rubbed the back of his neck, unsure of how to explain it to her.
Sakura glared daggers at him. "You're leaving."
Well, at least he wouldn't have to explain that part.
"Sorta," he said, dragging his eyes to the side as he scratched his chin with the same hand he had on his neck. "Well, this band scheduled to play for the afternoon bar at Bottled Royale backed out the last minute and they need someone to fill in."
"You're not a band," she said, making a face.
Deidara raised a shoulder. "Well, it's not exactly exclusive to bands. They just need any musical act to fill in and they said they would double whatever they were supposed to pay the band, yeah."
The pinkette looked away, not wanting him to see her roll her eyes. "So what are we gonna do about this?" Demanded Sakura, her voice slightly raised as she gestured to her laptop. "You're gonna be busy this afternoon until later tonight. This is due tomorrow morning."
"Look," he started calmly. "I just have to go, okay? I need the money more than I need good grades but I promise I'll do it after my gigs and print it for tomorrow morning. Just send it to my e-mail."
"Send it to me before 2 in the morning," insisted the pinkette.
Deidara had to rub his temples with one hand before he huffed. "Hey, I said I was going to do it, didn't I? What? You trust me enough to take you out while you're drunk but you don't trust me with this stupid paper, hm?"
"This paper just so happens to be 30% of our midterm grade," Sakura ground out, her irritation growing rapidly by the second.
"Sheesh," he responded bluntly. "Are you always this controlling?"
Sakura didn't answer as her body tensed at the familiar word. Instead, she slammed her laptop shut and stuffed everything back in her bag. The blond only watched her as she pushed her seat away from the table and slung her bag over her shoulder.
"I'll just send it to you," she said, her tone far serious this time. "Good luck on your gigs. See you tomorrow."
Despite her promise earlier to a certain raven, Sakura hailed a cab to return to the university. During the whole ride, she couldn't help but feel infuriated at how reckless Deidara was as a student. He put his party life ahead of his academic standing.
Of course, she couldn't blame him. He said he needed money but still. His education was just as important…especially when his grade for the paper would also serve as hers.
When she returned to her room, Ino had just come back from the shower and was still clad in her purple bathrobe. Her roommate looked quite surprised to see her back.
"I thought you were on a study date?" she heard the blonde ask while she threw her pack carefully on her bed and fell on her stomach beside it. "I wasn't expecting you to be back until a little later."
Sakura raised a brow with her face still pressed on her mattress before she flipped herself over. "You got company?"
"Nah," answered Ino who was struggling to squeeze her still damp legs into her denim skinny jeans. "But I am on my way out. Chouji, Shikamaru and I are going to that karaoke place near Miss Marta's. So, how'd the date go?"
"He had to leave early," she drawled lazily to sound uncaring.
"At least you got to finish your little paper, right?" Sakura jolted into a sitting position and frowned at Ino. The blonde's expression twisted in worry. "Oh, Sakura. You didn't go all freaky at him, did you?"
"And what's that supposed to mean?!"
Ino shrugged retrieving her phone from her bed to check her new message. "Well, you have a tendency to freak out when things don't go your way."
"Well, I did."
"Well, you can kiss your little hottie goodbye. And speaking of leaving hotties," she segued as she pulled on her shirt. "I gotta jet. Chouji's already downstairs. I'd ask you to come with but—"
Sakura waved her hand. "It's fine, bitch. Have fun, okay?"
Ino stuffed everything she needed into her small purse and slipped into a pair of doll shoes and ran out the door. Sakura was left in their dorm room, looking at nothing in particular before she snapped out of it and changed into a white tank top and red shorts.
For the next few hours, Sakura stayed in bed, scrolling endlessly through her Facebook feed and frequently updating her Twitter. She planned on looking for Naruto in their room but according to his Twitter, he's out with Hinata and she could only hope they weren't out in the bathroom again because she was itching for a shower.
The showers were safe and by the time she returned to her room, it was already a few minutes past seven. She only had several more hours to kill until she could bother Deidara again about their paper. Yes, she despised him at this very moment but not enough to ruin his career.
A movie or two should help her pass the time. She hadn't exactly gotten around to watching that Gloomy Sunday movie that one of her professors required them to watch for her Film subject. And then afterwards, she could do some advanced reading on Digital Media.
Yeah, that should do it.
A little over two hours later, after being simultaneously intrigued and disturbed by Gloomy Sunday, Sakura grabbed her textbooks and headed over to the Concentration Zone of the dorm and spent the next few hours there. She never bothered checking her phone for the time.
After creating a reviewer for two whole chapters in advance, she returned to her room, passing by a very drunk Kiba who no doubt is only on his way to his third party tonight in the fraternity house.
When she got back in her room, her phone read 12:30 a.m. Ino would be back any minute because she knew the karaoke place her roommate was talking about closed at midnight.
As expected, the door slammed against the wall as it swung open. But she was so sure she'd find a blonde woman wobble into the room. Instead, a guy with black hair in a ponytail peeked into the room and froze when he found Sakura sitting on her bed and looking right at him.
"Hey," he greeted rather awkwardly.
Sakura could only roll her eyes. "You got her to drink beer again, didn't you?"
Shikamaru shrugged. "She tolerates strong drinks well but she's troublesome when she drinks beer."
"Just throw her into bed," she said nonchalantly as she walked over to Ino's bed and rearranged the pillows. "She'll automatically get up after a few hours and puke and then she'll change and go right back to sleep. I've seen it enough times to memorize it."
One too many times, in fact.
It wasn't the first time Ino had been dragged back to her room by her friends. Shikamaru had carried her back a dozen times before and some of Ino's girlfriends sometimes knocked on the door and asked her for help to get her roomie into the elevator.
Ino was a strong drinker but it just so happened that she liked to drink a lot and test her limits when it comes to hard liquor. However, it would only take her two bottles of beer to pass out on the table.
Sakura helped Shikamaru carry their mutual friend into the room before they dropped her on the bed. After which, she thanked him for getting Ino back safely and he went back to his room which was one floor below.
When Sakura was sure Ino wasn't going anywhere, she opened her laptop and waited for the 2 a.m. mark. If Deidara failed to submit it by then, she would head to the printing station in the small library downstairs tomorrow morning and print the one she had on hand.
With only her name on top.
One hour later, her inbox was update-less and she texted him before turning in for the night.
Message: I'm going to bed. Goodnight.
Deidara was functioning on three cups of black coffee. He'd forgotten he already finished his supply of coffee creamer and putting an excessive amount of sugar in his coffee just to improve the taste was too unhealthy even for a guy who had been living off of canned goods for the last five years.
He got home at one in the morning due to a dispute at the studio and he barely had enough time to write his part of the paper in time to send it to Sakura. But that didn't stop him from forcing his brain to function faster.
An hour later, he received a text from her. Didn't take a genius to see she was pissed. Nevertheless, he was set on finishing it and he'd simply have to print it himself and submit it tomorrow morning.
He'd seen the way she looked at him. She probably thought he was one of those students who loved slacking off and went by leeching off of the work of others. She wasn't wrong if she assumed that. He just wished she'd put a little more faith in him.
Deidara had seen her in the classroom only once but it was enough to tell him how important her grades were to her and he didn't want to pull her down. In fact, he wanted to help so he pulled out all those other old notes that he borrowed from other students. He even did his own research.
Four hours later, he finished his input on their paper which now totaled nine pages. He was one page short from matching her input but it was five in the morning and he had to be in school in two hours. Sleeping wasn't an option because he was sure he would oversleep and miss the class.
After he printed the paper, he took a bath to remove the stench of smoke and alcohol from his hair and put on the first things he found on top of his cabinet—a navy blue long-sleeved shirt and a washed out pair of denims.
While he was pulling his hair into a top-knot, he passed by his workbench and stared at his unfinished work which was still currently just a big lump of clay. He stopped in the middle of the room and considered it for a while. It really was just a 2 ft. tall lump of clay. He forgot what he even planned for it to be.
He thought it was high time he figure out where he wanted to go with it and took his sketchpad from the top drawer of the workbench. After sliding it into his backpack just behind his laptop, Deidara switched off the lights and the main breaker and left.
A few minutes before seven, he managed to quietly slip in the back of the classroom and settled himself by the aisle again at the last row. Students were slowly filling the classroom and it wasn't long until the professor entered.
Ebisu began calling the class roster alphabetically and he only hoped Sakura would make it on time because he didn't feel like speaking out in class to defend her. Luckily, the pinkette, who looked as if she'd just gotten out of bed, managed to sneak into the classroom before the professor even finished the B's.
She entered through the same door as he did and glared at him the moment she turned left. Deidara hesitantly scooted away from the aisle and allowed her some space. Sakura looked as if she was thinking about whether she actually wanted to sit beside him. In the end, she just went with it and slid behind the desk.
Five minutes later, her notebooks were already scattered on top of the desk and her pencil case was left open on one side of the clutter but not once had she said a word to him.
"You're really not going to talk to me," he said under his breath in her general direction. With the way Sakura was concentrating on jotting down everything Professor Ebisu was saying, he honestly thought she was going to ignore him.
But then she slammed her pen over her notebook with some impatience and turned to him with a sharp glare. "I said 2 a.m., didn't I?" Sakura pulled out the paper and set it on the desk and the single name on top of the paper did not go unnoticed.
"I don't have to explain myself to you, yeah," he said with an eye roll before he bent into the desk and reached into his bag to pull out his printed output and set it on top of the one on the desk. "Read it and weep before he asks us to submit it. And don't worry about your notes. I'll write them down while you marvel at our work."
Without waiting for her to speak, he reached over to her space on the desk and slid her notebook over to his side and clicked her pen open.
Moments later, Ebisu asked them to pass their assignments forward and gave them a new assignment. After she passed their paper in the front, she quietly asked for her notebook back and he watched as her eyes widened. Yes, he actually did take down notes for her.
For the remainder of the class, Deidara's forehead was pressed down on his forearm as he dozed off, catching up on an hour and a half of rest. Maybe he should just sleep through lunch time too.
Of course, there were times he felt Sakura watching him but he didn't want to assume. He didn't even want to care about her right now because damn it he didn't sleep last night and she was bitching about so early in the morning.
He wasn't sure how long he was out for but a light tapping on the shoulder woke him up and when he sat up again, he found Sakura standing on the aisle, adjusting her bag on her shoulders.
"Class is over," she said quietly.
Deidara said nothing, feeling in a worse mood than he had been before. Remembering that he hadn't even taken his laptop out of his bag, he pulled his bag from under the desk and quickly left the room.
Maybe skipping lunch wasn't a good idea. He wouldn't be able to sleep through his next class with an empty stomach so he decided to at least get a burger or hotdog in the cafeteria.
He settled himself on the two-seater table and placed his bag on the other chair when he noticed that a certain pink-haired girl had followed him here. Or maybe she simply wanted lunch but if that was the case, then she shouldn't be approaching his table right now.
"Can I sit with you?" asked Sakura cautiously. This was the first time he noticed that she was actually wearing a light blue dress and she looked a lot like a candy-inspired cartoon character.
Deidara shifted his gaze back to his tray tentatively before looking up at her again with a scowl and a raised brow. "Don't know. Can you apologize for bitching about the stupid paper?"
Sakura looked at him for a second, considering his words before she took a deep breath. "Fine. I'm sorry."
"That wasn't so hard, yeah," said the blonde before he reached over to the other chair to remove his bag. Sakura settled her tray on her side of the table. She was frigid and her posture was reserved. "I told you I was going to do it, didn't I?"
"I know, I know," she sighed. "I'm sorry. Your work was actually good…"
He made an amused sound at her. "It better be. I didn't get any sleep over that shit."
"I'm sorry," she repeated quietly.
"Will you stop apologizing?" Deidara ground out before he took the hotdog bun from the tray. "If there's anything you should be apologizing for, it's your dress. You look like something pulled out of the Disney Channel, yeah."
He looked up at her and noticed her body relax a little as she laughed at his comment.
Deidara didn't like it when she looked so afraid of him though he was really pissed at her just an hour ago. But he found it so much better when they were freely teasing each other. He wasn't exactly the type to forgive so easily but he found himself easily forgetting her attitude this morning.
Well, as long as she knows she was wrong.
"It was the first thing I found that didn't need ironing," explained Sakura. "How was your thing yesterday?"
Deidara tried his hardest not to frown as he remembered everything that happened last night. "Not bad."
Sorry this took so long. It took me a while to work out where I wanted this to go.
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