Black Fingernails, Red Wine

This story was originally posted into two parts, but when I decided to rewrite it after its tenth anniversary, I chose to combine them to make it one long fic. The rewrite fixes and adjusts things that I felt didn't flow very well with the version of the story when I first wrote it and, I believe, it is now three chapters longer than part one and two originally. In addition, this story's name has been changed because I grew tired of it being associated with a certain YA book.

I hope you enjoy the new version; let me know what yall think~

~ Shullie Q ~

Chapter 1

Summer was drawing to an end, fighting violently against fall for more time that year. Despite it being mid-October, the weather was painfully warm. The sun beat down on the heads of those on the ground under its rays as they went about their daily business. Those owning cars had the benefits of a roof and air conditioning, but those that walked loathed the transfer of buildings they required to go through their day. They were the ones that acknowledged the sun most, glaring at it angrily or simply complaining to those suffering with them. Green was nearly finished being overtaken by the warm colors of autumn and all anyone wanted was to hide indoors or relax in a body of water to regain the liquid lost from sweat. Students filing into the parking lot of the high school didn't bother to look at the beautiful colors around them in their hurry to get out of the sun.

A black Mazda rolled into the parking lot, quickly finding a spot and claiming it. Several heads turned to stare at the beautiful car, ogling at its make, the sound of its engine as it was cut off. More heads turned to watch the two brothers that got out of the car. As it often happens, the combination of rich and pretty meshed together formed the two sons of the head of police, Uchiha Fugaku, and his wife Mikoto. Both boys top of their classes and involved in many school activities. The older of the two, Uchiha Itachi, was a senior and in his last year; universities all over the country were begging for his attendance, offering scholarships of incredible amounts. The younger of the two, popular among the freshmen just starting their years in high school, Uchiha Sasuku gave his brother a grin in thanks for the ride and strode off to meet his group of friends before hurrying inside away from the heat. Itachi walked in alone, widening his stance as a few people tried to greet him like they did his brother. He wasn't as social as his brother and ducked quickly into the cafeteria to grab orange juice before the bell rang.

The large cafeteria was almost was almost chilly compared to the heat outside, rows of long tables with benches connected to them were laid out neatly up and down the tiled room. It was empty except for a few people studying and a group of teenagers at one of the few round tables near the food counters. He glanced at them as he got in line, nose wrinkling slightly in distaste. There were three boys and four girls – no wait, four boys. One of the boys had fair androgynous features with long, unnaturally blond hair, but deep voice gave away his gender as he laughed at something one of the other boys said. One of the girls leaned across the table and whispered something in a seductive tone, which he brushed off. Irritated, she tossed something on the table top which the blond picked up, flipped through the roll of bills before sliding her a small bag which she thanked him for sarcastically, slipping hit under his school uniform jacket. Itachi scowled and glanced towards the food counter, but no one was watching. A glance up showed no cameras pointed at this particular table. Dealing drugs on school grounds, in public. He debated informing administration, but decided it was too early to deal with it, he bought his orange juice and went early to his homeroom.

The day passed without mishap or malfunction, Itachi took notes on what his teachers lectured about in a bored manner. He could have slept through the classes and still passed with top grades. High school felt like a waste. Sometimes he regretted not skipping grades to advance to university early, but appearing to be a hard working genius among peers put a lot dimmer spotlight on him than a hard working child genius among adults. A few more months and he could enter college and could meet challenges properly. The schools he'd be applying to after winter break would be law schools. Everyone on both sides of his family was involved in law. If they weren't officers, they were lawyers or doctors. Itachi was expected to do the same and he never argued. The schools he planned on applying to were the top in the country and many had already sent letters to him with invitations.

Someone commented that they were happy tomorrow was Friday. Friday. Another beginning to a weekend he would rather be outside his house. Perhaps he could come up with an excuse to go to the library. With his first glance at the clock, he noted that it was nearly time for sixth period to end. How fast the day passed by when you're not waiting for it to end. PhysEd was next, he noted with mixed feelings. The last class of the day, yes. A chance to work out, yes. But the day was still horribly hot outside, which meant the gym was going to be brutal. The school authorities claimed the gym was air conditioned, but no one believed them. How could they as the second he walked in, he was met with a wave of heat and the smell of sweaty bodies from years of previous classes. Entering the locker room, he went to his own four rows down and began changing into his gym clothes. The familiar smell of nicotine reached his nose, making him crave a cigarette suddenly. Going down a few more rows, he found the same blond boy from the cafeteria sitting against the wall on the floor smoking. Irritated, Itachi snatched it out of his mouth.

"No smoking on school grounds," he told him, keeping his voice disinterested. Crushing the end against the lockers, he tossed it into the trash.

"Fuck you," came the response, against surprising him by the deepness of it. It didn't quite fit him. "Those aren't cheap, rich boy."

Itachi twitched at the name, glancing down at him a brief moment, before turning his back on him. "I'm sure you received enough for your drugs this morning to get another one," he stated and walked away. As he turned the corner, he saw the blond glaring at him, but didn't say anything, tilting his nose up in a judgmental manner. What an asshole.

The teacher entered the locker room as he was leaving and watched him hurry over to the laundry room door between the girls and boys where the blond boy was trying to pick the lock. "Deidara," the teacher scolded sharply.

"What?" the blond said defensively, bending down to pick up the lock pick he'd dropped.

"You're not skipping out on gym. Get dressed."

Itachi left the locker room to join the other students and warmed up until the teacher and blond came out, the teacher complaining in an exhausted manner about the blond wearing long sleeves under his gym uniform. The blond just tied his long hair back and joined the mass of walking and running students warming up. The class played basketball for the remainder of the time in teams of four. Itachi was pleased, though he kept his face stoic. He liked playing basketball almost as much as he liked running track. They played the rest of the class period, the gym filled with the sounds of teenagers playing and the smell of sweat until the teacher's whistle blew to call them all over to him. Next to him was a grey cart with stacks of folders and papers on it.

"I have an assignment for you all that is due next week," he told them, closing his eyes slightly at the loud groan that irrupted in one chorus from the students in front of him, "that you will do with a partner," several murmurs came as some people began telling their friends that they'd of course work with them, but then the teacher finished, causing another groan of protests, "of my choosing. You will be partnered according to your records so far this year, and I have designed the assignment so that BOTH of you need to contribute to this." Ignoring the groans again, he began calling out the names of partners to come and get the assignment, the sent them to get showered and changed.

As he rose to collect the assignment, Itachi glanced around for his partner, his eyes narrowing slightly at the blond who rose at the same time. Deidara. Great, just his luck. He watched the blond take the paper from the teacher and head for the locker room, dropping the paper in the trashcan before entering. He scowled. This idiot was not going to ruin his perfect record because he didn't do his part. Following after his new partner, grabbing the discarded paper as he went, he caught him as he was stepping into the shower room. Spinning him around, Itachi shoved the paper into his chest.

"You are going to do your part," he said darkly, threat sewn into his voice.

"Get the fuck off me, un," Deidara snapped, grunting in distaste as he tugged his arm from Itachi's hold. "You can't me do a fucking paper," he informed him, a cocky smirk sliding onto his face. "Very threatening voice though. Props for trying."

Once he was inside the tiled room, Deidara shut and locked the frosted glass door before pulling his clothes off. The hot water on, he slipped under the stream and sat down on the floor. The whole day had been a waste of time, Deidara decided, resting his head against the side. Well, not really. The air conditioning in the building was better than curling up on his floor by his fan. Glancing down at his arm, he squinted trying to read the things he'd penned there to remember later, but the water was already smudging them. Writing on your arm was frowned upon in the school, but most didn't mind so long as he kept his sleeves down. They frowned upon wearing winter uniforms in the summer too, but what he wore didn't matter in his mind. Finally getting up to wash his hair and body, he closed his eyes in contentment at the feeling of the water. The bell sounded through the hallways indicating how long he'd been in there, making him hurry to turn the water off and grab the towel from the shelves. He did have things to do tonight. Staying in the shower all evening wasn't on his high end list of things to do. With his hair pulled into a low pony tail at his neck, he pulled his regular clothes on, balling his school uniform to stuff into his messenger bag. Dressed in dark green camouflage pants and a band tee, he grabbed his leather jacket and tossed the gym clothes into the laundry bag with the rest. Taking the stairs two at a time, he made a quick stop at his normal locker to grab his helmet and went outside to face the heat.

He waved to a few friends as he pulled his jacket and helmet on and climbed onto his motorcycle. Kicking into gear, he backed out of his spot and zoomed off towards the road, cutting off a black car that was about to turn out as well. He smirked at Itachi's Mazda RX-7 behind the visor of his helmet and continued on without pausing.

Itachi glared after the bike. The bastard was lucky he had nice breaks. He had the sudden urge to chase the pretty bike down and run its rider over, but he calmed himself down and decided that it wasn't a good idea. He didn't go straight home, stopping at the bookstore to pick up something for his AP Psychology class. With Sasuke planning on catching a ride with his friends, he didn't have to worry about getting home until four to make it back before his father returned. Sitting down in one of the stuffed chairs, he began reading the murder mystery he'd purchased along with the school book. The whole idea of the murderer's mind enraptured him, making him wonder how he thought, what made him do what he did. Itachi enjoyed reading books like this to get into the mind of the antagonist to attempt to solve the puzzle before the characters did.

It wasn't until his phone beeped from a text message that he looked up from the pages. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he saw his brother's name and opened it.

'where are you?'

Frowning, he started to text back that he was in a bookstore and ask why, but he froze seeing the time. So caught up in his book, he hadn't realized that nearly three hours had gone by and it was nearly dinner time. Jumping up, he grabbed his books and darted to his car, driving as fast as he could to get home. Pulling into his street, he felt his heart that had been stuck in his throat fall down through the seat and drag on the street a little. The Volvo C40 was sitting in in the driveway, but his mother's Porsche wasn't. He wanted so badly to just keep going and find somewhere else to spend the night, but that would only make it worse later. Pulling into the drive, he turned off the car and got out to walk slowly up the front door. No one was waiting for him…

Sliding his shoes off in the foyer, he snuck up the stairs as silently as he could, going into his room and putting his bag and new books down. Hope crawled back with the silence in the house, until a voice came from his doorway. "You're late."

Swallowing with a clenched jaw, he turned to face his father with forced calmness. "I'm sorry father," he told him. "I stopped to get a book for school at the store."

"Did you ask permission?" Fugaku demanded, seeming to take his calmness for arrogance.

"I didn't think I needed to," Itachi said, unable to keep the scoff out of his voice. "I'm seventeen."

He should have kept his mouth shut, but he couldn't help it. He paid for it as his father's anger lashed out. Nothing would have happened if his mother had been home. No one knew the life of the eldest Uchiha brother outside of school save for his brother. Not even his mother was aware of it. Later, as always when his father took his anger out of him, Sasuke had come into his room with a sandwich and drink for him and asked if he needed anything. Itachi, studying as though nothing had happened, told him he was fine and to go to his homework. His mother came home even later and brought him a mug of tea, reminding him as she turned the light on not to strain his eyes. She kissed the top of his head and asked if he needed anything. He told her no and she left him, his shoulder throbbing slightly from her light touch on a painful area. He hoped she would never find out.

The next morning, Itachi felt sore, but tried not to show it. Those in the world who shared similar lives and wish to hide it understood the processes one goes to cover the evidence. If it was bad enough, make up was easy to acquire and only a little usually needed to hide anything on his face. If not, excuses piled on depending on the person receiving them. A fight, school accident. Thankfully he didn't need to use any of those methods today. Nothing from last night could be seen.

The day went by slowly today, perhaps because it was Friday, perhaps because Itachi dreaded trying to get his partner to do his assignment. Itachi had easily finished it last night. There was no way the blond couldn't have done the same.

He was disappointed however, for when he arrived to his gym class, listening for the teacher to call order among the students for a head check, the teenager wasn't there. Shaking it off, he went about the class as he was supposed to. When it was over and he was showered and ready for the ride home, Itachi went to the teacher and asked where Deidara lived so he could talk to him about the assignment.

"I'm sorry, Itachi," he told him, looking apologetic. "I can't give out student information, and I don't remember exactly anyway. Just that it isn't in the best part of town."

"Does he have a number on file I can call?" Itachi pushed, crossing his arms loosely. "I doubt he'll do the assignment without someone pushing him." He gave the teacher and expression to remind him that he had put him into this hole with his partner assignments.

"I'm sorry, Itachi," the teacher repeated, shaking his head. "You could try the park downtown. From what I've heard, Deidara and his friends go there a lot to play on the skatepark there." Reaching out, he placed a hand on Itachi's shoulder, giving him a piteous look. "Please be patient with him," he said. "Deidara's a smart kid when he wants to be. He just has…the most irritating personality in the world."

"Great, that makes it all better doesn't it," he snapped, turning on his heels to head towards his car. His body was sore from working out during gym despite his tender torso, it was just as hot as it had been yesterday and he was angry he had to deal with the blond. He didn't want to, but to keep his record perfect, he had no choice.

When he stepped out of his car onto the skatepark's parking lot, he cringed. He couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind would want to be outside let alone be active in it. The sounds of people playing behind the chain link fence grated in his ears. He would force that brat to do the assignemtn, even if he had to drag him to his house and torture him until he complied.

He shouldn't be thinking like that.

How could they be so active? He thought again. He had only ever driven by the park, having been told the place was dangerous when he was a child. From where he stood at the entrance, it didn't look very dangerous, just a playground for young adults. Concrete ramps were scattered over the park as were a basketball court or two and flat places to play. People were skateboarding or biking on the ramps, some were watching them, several people had a game of basketball going and a few people had brought their younger children to play with each other, chalking on the sidewalks under the watchful eyes of their parents. It didn't look dangerous, but it also looked like a place full of delinquents and drugs.

It wasn't long until his new face and nicer clothes were noticed by the people watching the skateboarders. Some stared without care, others whispered comments to one another, taking him for some rich kid looking for dope. Itachi finally spotted the unmistakable blond hair of Deidara, standing on an extremely high ramp, shouting down at the boy who had just finished, laughing with the others. His jeans were torn and he wore a hoodie despite the heat, though it was unzipped. He wasn't wearing a helmet or pads. What a nutjob.

"Whatcha lookin for man?" someone near him asked.

"Him," he said, nodding his head. Deidara shouted something he couldn't understand and threw his arms up, receiving a shout of encouragement from the people below. Their response seemed to please him as he dropped down the high ramp, his skateboard under him.

Itachi's answer seemed to amuse many of them, a few snickering quietly. The blond was showing off very unnecessarily on his skateboard. He would barely function during gym class, but out here in the sweltering heat, he was clearly athletic on the board. Itachi scowled. The blond was obnoxious and just so wrong. He looked so feminine, yet he had such a deep voice. He acted so lazy at school, yet was the center of attention among these people. What the hell was so special about him that all these people were cheering for him? He was clearly good, but they cheered for him more than the others.

That cheer rose even more as Deidara finished, jumping back up to the starting point, lifting his board over his head in salute to the onlookers before sliding down the ladder to join the crowds, receiving pats and congratulations as he passed people. He didn't notice Itachi until the brunette spoke up. "They say cockiness is a display of an empty life," Itachi commented loudly.

The blond glanced over at him, looking defensive and annoyed, but a few others stepped between them, reproaching him for talking down to Deidara. He felt the same defiance he felt when he faced his father rise up and smirk at their anger. "What the fuck is wrong with you, asswipe?" one snapped, giving Itachi a short shove.

"You deaf?" Itachi questioned, standing his ground.

The teenager shoved him again. "Don't fucking talk to Deidara like that," he snapped.

"I'll talk to trash how it should be talked to," Itachi stated, batting his hands away from his chest. There was a loud uproar around them and he saw the man in front of him clench his fists to hit him, but Itachi was faster. His fist smashed into the other's nose, knocking him into the concrete. "Oops," Itachi smirked at Deidara who was back in view, looking outraged.

People advanced on him, grabbing to repay what he'd done, but a sharp voice called out, stopping them. The crowd parted slightly as Deidara pushed his way through to him. Deidara's blue eyes – was he wearing contacts? – were sharp as he stormed up to Itachi.

"What the hell is your problem?" he demanded. Itachi never noticed how short the blond was compared to him. He looked so tiny and angry, he almost wanted to laugh. He didn't.

"What?" Itachi asked, looking down his nose at him. "Can't I join in your fun?"

"This isn't fun," the blond glared. "This your sad little self looking for a fight." He turned and looked down at the groaning man on the ground. "Go get him patched up,"

Itachi watched in half surprise as the others obeyed his order. Why anyone would listen to this midget was beyond him. His eyes followed the movements with withdrawn intent, deniably curious to how these people lived and functioned. He never hung around what could be classified as lower class, or outright poor. His father considered them scum, and he himself had no interest in people who didn't work towards improving their lives. It never occurred to him that they might consider him scum for being rich. Itachi did consider his own family scum for their haughty ways, but that didn't stop their ways from leaking onto himself. He watched Deidara turn and face him again, an evil look about him. Not only him, but the others around them looked ready to jump him. He could see the buildup of anger about to explode out of the blond, but Itachi cut him off. "I need to talk to you," he told him.

"Like fuck I'll talk to you, un," the blond snapped. Itachi was going to fail this assignment because of this idiot. The two stared each other down, but Itachi, overwhelmingly frustrated, broke it first, turning on his heel to walk out towards the parking lot. It was due Thursday. He would get him later.

The parking lot wasn't more than a grass spotted pavement by the road. Crowded with cars and bikes, Itachi had to walk passed a few to get to his Mazda. A few cars seemed out of place for the area, his own included. It was rather odd, but the Uchiha bypassed the thought when he saw a group of people sitting against his car, looking at it like hungry wolves. Except these wolves didn't look like they just wanted to drool over the car or its modifications. Before he could yell at them, Deidara stepped in front of him, telling them to get off.

"I don't need your help," Itachi said, watching them step away from his car.

"I'd rather not have the cops swarming this place cause some moron decided to fuck up Uchiha's son's car, un," Deidara muttered. A few heard him, turning to stare at Itachi.

Itachi ignored their stares, not exactly proud and most would assume that he was the son of the great police head Uchiha Fugaku. Quite the opposite. He could see these people hated his father as much as Itachi did, but it didn't make a difference. He was looked at as though he were his father – though Itachi was certain that if his father arrived here, alone and with a nice car, he would have been jumped and his car stolen. Nothing he did would change how these people saw him. No matter what he did, expectations were always around and few could meet them. Top grades, top colleges. There was always people fawning over him, demanding things from him. It made him want to be alone, but as he looked around at these people here without those expectations, they seemed happy to be around one another. He looked at Deidara, still glaring up at him. This one didn't expect anything from him except what he seemed to assume. "Get in the car," Itachi ordered, unlocking it and sitting down in the driver's seat.

"What?" the blond demanded looking confused.

"Get in the car… please," he suggested, sarcasm laced in his words. He closed his door and turned the car on, waiting patiently for Deidara to make a decision. Much to his surprise, Deidara went to the passenger's side and leaned into the window.

"I don't get in people's cars for less than three hundred bucks," he smirked, patting the car and walking away to roars of laughter. Angry and confused, Itachi glared at the teen's back as he entered the skatepark again, going back to his games. Shifting gears violently, Itachi revved out of his parking spot, tires screeching as he turned into traffic, nearly colliding with another car.

Deidara glanced back and watched him go, his smirk fading slightly. He didn't get it. That boy… teenager… man – whatever he was – was relentless. Deidara knew exactly why he had come to the park. He wanted to try again to get him to do the assignment as if it was a huge deal. He couldn't get the Uchiha out of his mind all day, even with a steady amount of alcohol and drugs running through his system that night. He barely paid attention to the hands around his waist or the nips at his neck. Why was he chasing after him over a grade? His thoughts were finally interrupted by another glass of alcohol held in front of him. His fingers slid over the glass and finally turned to the person he was supposed to be entertaining for the night. They leaned into him, questioning over the music what was wrong. Forcing the thoughts of the eldest Uchiha brother away for the time being, he gave them a smile and said it was nothing. He couldn't work if he was thinking about that one's idiocy. Moving with the music, the flashing lights and moving bodies around in one fluid movement. It was ecstasy in itself, but despite the rush it wasn't enough. That's what real ecstasy was for and it was rushing through his system. It felt fantastic, like a thrill of a nice ride on an open road. It helped him forget what he was doing and why he needed to do it. He was just another body in the mass of swaying bodies, losing themselves in the beat of the DJ speakers.