Author's Note: This is the second place prize (from Dark Knight's contest) for Tsuuseki on deviantArt! :D She requested a high school AU in which Deidara needs a little…help. Well, I hope you enjoy it!

-.-.-

Deidara was failing.

It wasn't as though he was a stupid kid--far from it, actually--but it was just that he had a tiny, itty bitty problem with his art. He merely thought that all school subjects should have at least a hint of artistic beauty in them, to make them more pleasing. In most subjects, he got by.

But not History.

After all, History class was the exact antithesis of his art! It was long, was studied forever, and was boring. (At least in Math class they got definite answers, and then moved on with their lives. Fleeting little math problems.) If there was one thing Deidara couldn't stand in life, it was History class. Along with a lot of other things, but that was beside the point.

"You called him a what?" Tobi squawked, looking up in shock as Deidara announced why he'd been in trouble this time.

"I believe he said an 'old bastard, who wouldn't know art if it fucked him with a chainsaw'," Sasori replied for Deidara, not looking up from his notes. The redheaded student teacher looked up at the two seniors, glare even and flat. "…As a teacher, I should probably give you detention again just for hearing that."

"Yeah right. You're not a teacher, you're like some teacher's pet, yeah," Deidara snapped irritably.

"You can't talk to a teacher like that!" Tobi said worriedly.

"He's not a goddamn teacher, yeah! He's just Master Sasori, and he's a stubborn ass of a friend." Deidara was not one to be reprimanded when he didn't feel like it.

"…What is your punishment?" Sasori asked, instead of pouring oil onto the fire.

"Detention for a week and a written apology."

"Ouch." Tobi winced sympathetically, rubbing the back of his head. "Well, that's okay! If it's any consolation, Tobi has detention for two days next week, so we can serve it together--"

"How the hell is that a consolation?"

"Quit your babbling, both of you. It's giving me a headache. Deidara, I'm changing your punishment." Sasori ducked back behind his notes again. Tobi and Deidara looked at each other, the latter slowly breaking out into a grin.

"Yes! I knew you'd come through for me, Master Sasori, I--"

"In addition to a week's detention, you will also receive a tutor." The grin died a quick and painless death. The change was quite comical. "…You can leave off the written apology, though. I don't particularly like Orochimaru, either."

"Wait, what? Is this allowed?"

"For a teacher, yes."

"You're not a teacher yet!"

"But if you don't pass History, you will still be a senior by the time I am," Sasori pointed out maddeningly. Deidara sat back down in the empty desk, grumbling to himself. "Don't worry, Deidara. I don't hate you nearly enough to assign you anyone horrible. I think this will be a learning experience for you."

-.-.-

"Hinata, I think this will be a good opportunity for you. It won't hurt you to know a few more people, and I can always give extra credit if it's warranted." Tsunade's words were kind, warm even, but still the girl in front of her looked like a deer caught in the headlights. The blonde woman sighed and sat down behind her desk. She'd have to try a different tactic, then. "This isn't a punishment--for you. This boy is failing History, and I know you excel in it--why not look at this as a good opportunity for you to make a new friend?"

"I… Um…" Hinata poked her fingers together nervously, but at least she was still looking at the principal. That was a good sign, right?

Tsunade sighed once more. "It will only be for a week. An hour every day, and in total, you will receive one hundred points extra credit in your own social science class. Which one are you taking this year?"

"Psy-Psychology and G-Government," the sophomore squeaked.

"…How about fifty points for each class, then? That will be plenty, I believe." Tsunade nodded to herself in reply, mostly because Hinata wasn't doing much in the way of responses. "The tutoring starts on Monday. It's just in History, and it's very basic things. He's been instructed to bring his book and whatever notes he might've taken, so you'll have those to look off of if you get stuck. But I think you'll do fine."

Hinata nodded and got up, departing silently. Behind her desk, Tsunade sighed, again. Were all sophomores that shy? She certainly didn't remember being like that in high school… She reached over and pressed the button on her desk. "Shizune, bring me a drink."

"You can't drink on school grounds!" came the indignant reply. Tsunade set her chin in her hand, wondering what had possessed her to take this job.

-.-.-

"What are you being punished for?" Kiba asked. It was after school on Friday; all three of them were hanging out at the nearest ramen-serving restaurant, as per tradition. It had started in middle school, and kept even until then.

Unlike most other Fridays, Hinata wasn't craning her neck to see if there were any blond spikes in the restaurant. She was too busy feeling sorry for herself, after all. Why had she been designated as a tutor, anyway? She was only a sophomore, and she was trying to teach a senior. It was some sort of blasphemy, and she was sure the gods of high school were going to strike her down any moment. "I-I don't know…"

"I don't think this is a punishment for Hinata herself," Shino said, adjusting his sunglasses. "I think it may be because of Hinata's inherent shyness and caring that Tsunade picked her for the job."

"I was recommended," Hinata replied around a bite of noodles. She swallowed, and reiterated, "Miss Tsunade said that I-I was recommended by s-someone."

"Did she say who?" Kiba asked, now more curious than angry on his friend's behalf.

"She said it was a-a friend of the student I'm supposed to be tu-tutoring…"

"Who's the dumbass you're tutoring, then? I'll hunt down that 'friend' and tell him not to volunteer you for jobs you don't want--"

"I-It's not that!" Hinata said hastily, cutting across his rage. Kiba blinked at her, then settled back down into his seat. She nervously poked her fingers together, not looking at either of them. "It's… I am getting a lot o-of extra credit, s-so I should pass this year w-with over a hundred percent. Fa-Father will be happy because of that." What was the phrase the principal had used? "It--It will be a learning experience."

Hinata nodded to herself, white eyes going back down to her bowl. If she approached this with a negative outlook, it was bound to turn out badly. But if she approached this with a positive outlook, it could only end well, right?

-.-.-

The weekend didn't last nearly long enough, and Monday eventually rolled around. Hinata breezed through her classes too quickly, and before she knew it, it was the last period of the day. She couldn't help but be nervous; she hardly knew any seniors, and she was a lowly sophomore, too. The only seniors she knew were one or two who had a class with her, come to think of it. She barely knew any juniors, even! It seemed like skipping a step in social connections, getting to know a senior when she only had a sparse few junior friends--

"You're stressing about something."

Hinata must have jumped a foot in the air. After calming her breathing, she shakily turned around to see Ino. The blonde had her arms crossed over her chest, but she didn't look entirely angry. Maybe just concerned.

"I--It's n-nothing," Hinata lied.

"Bullshit." Ino leaned forward in her desk, putting her fingers into a steeple. "I can see you shaking from behind. That means something's wrong."

"Re-Really." Was she shaking that badly? That wasn't good. Come to think of it, she was sweaty, and she felt faint… "I-I just have to meet so-someone a-a-after school…"

"A date?" Ino's eyes glittered at the slightest chance of gossip.

"N-No-No!!" Hinata shook her head a bit too firmly for it to be believed. Great; now there were going to be rumors of her dating a mystery person--what if Ino found out it was a senior?! It would be the scandal of the semester. Social suicide, in Hinata's case. "I-I have t-to me-meet--umm--meet Ki-Kiba and Shino…"

"Then why are you acting like you're about to be sent off to the executioner?" Ino asked innocently, tilting her head to the side behind her fingers.

"U-Um--" The bell rang at that point. Hinata shoved her books into her bag and hightailed it out of there before Ino could ask her any more questions. Maybe, if she got to the library fast enough, Ino couldn't follow her, and maybe she wouldn't meet anyone else she knew.

She was stopped at the library's door, however. There was a black-haired student slouching against the doorway, looking at her expectantly. Beside him stood a shorter, red-haired student. After doing a double-take, however, she recognized the shorter as a student teacher. Her last thoughts were I'm in trouble now.

"…Is this the girl?" the redhead asked. He tilted his head towards the other boy, but kept his eyes on Hinata. She felt her face heat up.

"Yup, this is her."

"This is she," he corrected sourly.

"Oh, come on! It's after school. Can't you lighten up a little?" the black-haired boy pleaded, turning his attention fully to the teacher.

Hinata wondered whether or not to say something. Obviously, they were looking for her--was the boy the one she was supposed to be tutoring? She was scared to ask.

"You two are blocking the entryway," someone spoke up behind her. For the second time in the last ten minutes, the sophomore jumped. She stepped aside and turned. It was another senior. For a brief moment, Hinata thought it was a girl, but then she instantly recognized him. His little brother was in her grade, after all.

"You could say please," the redhead replied with a slight lip curl.

"Please move out of the way, Sasori."

"As you wish, Uchiha." Hinata thought it a bit rude to call a student by his last name, but she supposed that teachers were allowed to do that. More than once she was called Hyuuga, after all. The redhead moved, but the other senior did not. Sasuke's older brother--she could not place his name--fixed a flat, almost-glare on him.

"Tobi. Move."

"Don't go bugging Deidara," he warned as he moved. Hinata watched blankly as he passed and walked into the library. For the tiniest moment, she wanted to dart in after him before these two could continue their bullying. Then, the black-haired senior, Tobi, turned back to her. She stiffened, wondering what would happen now. "Well, come on then. You have some tutoring to do, don't you?"

"Y-Ye-Yes!" she squeaked.

Tobi didn't block the door again, so she took it as a sign to continue. Hesitantly, she shuffled towards the door, not at all keen on getting close to the senior who was just at Sasuke's older brother's throat. Metaphorically, of course, but seniors could still get pretty nasty with each other.

"Just a moment." As she'd feared, she was stopped. Hinata turned, staring up into Tobi's eyes. "You are going to ensure he passes, aren't you?"

"Y-Yes!"

"Be a good girl," the redhead advised, and then walked away. Tobi looked after him with a frown, and then patted her on the head before leaving her as well.

Hinata shakily sighed, deciding that she would never be that mean when she was a senior. Never. Now the only problem was who she was supposed to be tutoring. It definitely wasn't Sasuke's older brother, and Tobi had said that the boy's name was Deidara… But that didn't give her much to go off of. She could now see that they probably should have planned this out a bit more, but hindsight was always twenty-twenty.

Hinata signed into the library, and then scouted it out. There weren't that many people in there. The computer area was the more crowded out of the two areas, but they had agreed to meet at the reading area. There were only a few other students there--and unfortunately, one of those people was Sasuke's older brother. He was currently engaged in a half staring, half glaring contest with a blonde girl. Hinata counted her out.

She sat down at one of the empty tables, hoping against hope that the boy she was going to tutor showed up. If she'd been recommended, it must mean that he at least knew what she looked like, right? If all else--he knew her last name, so he could pick her out of a crowd. Hyuuga were quite distinct in appearance, after all. For once, Hinata was glad of that.

But as the minutes ticked by, Hinata began to fidget. He wasn't showing up. She discreetly began to study the other students in the area. One of them was the librarian's aide, a blue-haired girl who was busy putting away books. It wasn't her. There was a freshman couple in the corner taking turns reading funny poems to each other; it wasn't them, either. Aside from those three, and another sophomore, it was only Sasuke's older brother and his blonde 'friend'.

It isn't him, is it?! she thought in horror. No, it couldn't be. The Uchiha family and the Hyuuga family hated each other; they would not agree to let one of their children be tutored by a Hyuuga, especially a younger one. Hinata looked at the blonde girl; it wasn't her, either. She was supposed to be helping a boy, after all.

With a heavy heart and after ten more minutes, Hinata gathered her things and stood up. Those two were the only seniors in the area; she had to ask.

-.-.-

"…Uchiha," Deidara spat.

"Deidara," Itachi replied politely. That made the blond fume more; only Itachi would be so indifferent. "Why did you have your two guard dogs posted by the door?"

"What? I didn't."

"…Hm." Itachi tore his gaze away from Deidara's, much to the latter's annoyance. Deidara didn't understand what he meant by the door comment, either. "…Then--"

"E-Excuse m-me-me…" Both boys looked up when a faint voice interrupted. Deidara blanched when he saw it was the girl; she was his tutor? Sasori had neglected to tell him that little tidbit. Deidara quickly looked away, back at Itachi. He was studying the sophomore girl boredly.

"Yes?"

"I-I was… I me-mean…" She cast about vainly for a complete sentence. Neither senior helped much with that. "Um… I-I have this tu-tutoring session a-an-and…"

Now, Deidara had a moral dilemma flung in his face. He could do the chivalrous, kind thing and offer himself up in front of Uchiha as the one that was in need of the tutoring. And while Itachi wasn't one to spread rumors, it would just be degrading to show that he was getting help from an underclassmen. (Not that he actually needed the help; he just didn't feel like failing.) On the other hand, he could let her flounder and fail, embarrassing herself further in front of two senior boys, probably scarring her for life. But he would save face when it came to Uchiha.

Which should he choose?

Deidara leaned back in his chair, mouth a firm line. The dark-haired girl glanced at him for a brief moment, looking stricken. It was that look that made him cave in; he would have stayed silent otherwise. But she looked so… helpless. He couldn't help it.

"Let's leave the artless Uchiha, yeah?" He pushed his chair back and stood up. He closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to see either of their reactions. Deidara reached over and grabbed his things, kicking the chair back under the table as he passed. Only afterward did he wish he would've kicked it into Uchiha's chair. He walked briskly away, hoping the sophomore would have enough sense to follow him without question.

"U-Um…?" No such luck.

"Come on. Tutoring, right?" he called over his shoulder, opening his eyes to see her staring forlornly after him. He didn't miss Itachi's look of mild surprise, however.

"…Tutoring?" Even Itachi had to know that Deidara was not an idiot; that, somehow, only made it worse. It meant that he would be looking for an explanation. Deidara hoped that Sasori headed him off before he asked anyone else.

"Ri-Right!" With a half-skip, the dark-haired girl pranced over to him, shifting nervously when he spent a moment too long glaring at his fellow senior.

He dragged her out of the library. He knew where to go. It was a place much more private and Uchiha-less than the library: Sasori's classroom. Okay, technically not Sasori's, but it was the classroom he was in charge of, and co-inhabited with the art teacher. It wasn't until he was in front of the door that he realized he was holding her hand--and that she was practically limp in his grasp. "Huh?"

She started, turning towards him with a red face. She didn't say anything, but did manage to pull her hand nervously away from his. Deidara mentally shrugged it off. She had a reputation for being shy, after all. "Wh-Where are…we?"

"Master Sasori's classroom, yeah. He lives here."

Deidara knew she wouldn't get it, but it was a habit with him. Ever since he and Tobi figured out that Sasori a) had a name that meant 'scorpion', b) liked his classroom cool and dark, and c) liked to work late, they had joked constantly about that being his cave, his home. Mostly, they did it to annoy him.

Come to think of it, did she even know who Sasori was? Or any of his friends? …Or who he was?

"Cl-Classroom?" she repeated dumbly, looking past him at the door.

"A place people learn in, yeah," he replied sarcastically, before picking the lock and opening the door. Deidara pulled her inside, shutting the door behind them. No interruptions, then, and he'd get to sabotage the room. Win-win situation.

"Wh-What was wrong w-with the library?" She skittered over towards one of the nearer desks, sitting down delicately in the chair.

"It had a fatal infestation of Uchiha."

"You know him?"

"I wish I didn't, yeah." Deidara perched on one of the desks, feet resting in the chair. He tossed his bag carelessly in the corner, before turning back to her.

-.-.-

Hinata was entirely unsure about the tutoring business--the whole 'being in a classroom alone with him' made things worse. She was careful to keep her knees together and skirt down, and hands folded neatly in her lap. Any guy would hopefully not notice her posture. (Though she knew any girl would recognize the defensive stance immediately.)

Be polite, and just get this over with, she told herself sternly. She didn't want to get in the middle of any senior fights, especially if it was as bad as the blond boy let on. …This week won't end soon enough.

"I-I'm Hinata Hyuuga," she said, throwing the conversation out of dangerous territory. "I-I suppose I will b-be your tutor, then…"

"Deidara."

No last name? No, I suppose he just doesn't want to get tied up with a sophomore… Just a week, and we'll never speak to each other again, Hinata thought, looking down at the bare desk in front of her. "I-I understand that you are failing Hi-History."

"I'm not failing it. It's just that stupid bitch of a teacher wouldn't know how to properly teach a class if it slapped him in the face, yeah," Deidara hissed dangerously. Hinata looked up at him, surprised at the venom towards a teacher. True, he didn't seem to be any ordinary senior, but teachers were still to be respected. Not insulted and cursed.

"O-Okay." How else could she have replied to it? That, too, was a fight she didn't want to get in the middle of. The crossfire would no doubt be nastier. "Then I-I assume that… Umm."

"Umm?" Now, he seemed relaxed again, leaning forward until he could set his chin in his hands.

"Umm, that you know your basics…?"

"Yeah, I do. Kind of, yeah."

Hinata hung her head and sighed. The end of the week definitely couldn't come soon enough.

-.-.-

"What the hell, Tobi?! What'd you go and recommend her for?" Tobi winced with a grin as he answered the phone. Deidara must be done with his first tutoring session, then.

"She was suitable for the job. Sasori pulled up her grades and she's passing all of her classes, too." He shifted the phone to his other ear, holding it there with his shoulder as he continued to type. Deidara might be free right then, but it didn't mean he was. His essay wasn't going to type itself, as much as he'd like it to.

"I said one thing about her, and you assumed I had a crush, didn't you?" It was hard to miss the suspicion.

"You're paranoid."

"Am not, yeah."

"If you hadn't gotten someone recommended for the tutoring job, Miss Tsunade would have picked someone herself--from our grade. And guess who she would have picked."

The line fell silent for a few moments. Then, Deidara spoke up again, still sounding rather sullen. "…She could have picked someone else."

"No, she wouldn't have. She wouldn't have picked me, that's for sure! She wouldn't have picked any of your friends, either." Tobi paused to laugh. He only now understood why Deidara was so worked up, or why he had been, anyway. He was caught off guard by the sophomore girl being his tutor. Or maybe there was something more? One could only hope.

"She could have picked Konan, or even Pein, or--"

"She wouldn't have," he replied blandly, peering at his latest paragraph. It came up full of red lines, and he soon realized why; he had been partially typing what he'd been saying and hearing. Just great. Tobi sighed, a bit more serious now. "She would have assigned you Itachi, and you know it. He's top of the class, a perfect little student."

Deidara made a sound like he was retching. Tobi swallowed, hoping that his friend was kidding. After a pause, it seemed to be true, as Deidara continued speaking. "Don't remind me, yeah. …But why did you have to suggest her?"

"Hinata." Tobi held down the backspace key until the document was empty again. "Her name is Hinata, isn't it?"

"Yeah…" Another pregnant pause. "…Damn it, Tobi, I made one comment--"

He laughed, cutting him off. "And I figured that it would be a good start! 'Hey, look, she looks like a loli'! Tobi thought she would make a cute little loli tutor."

"You said she looked like a loli," Deidara corrected waspishly. "I said that her skirt looked like a Lolita skirt, yeah."

"All of the skirts look like that. It's the uniform." He sighed, looking for some way to turn this conversation back in his favor. "…Sasori thought it was a good idea, once he heard it."

"Master Sasori would think feeding me live to a crocodile would be a good idea."

"Nah," Tobi said, waving his hand in the air, although the other on the phone wouldn't see the gesture. "'Master Sasori' would care too much if he lost the best art student in school, wouldn't he? Without someone to argue with, I bet he'd go on a shooting spree after the first week."

"You're twisted, yeah? First, the loli thing, and now you're wondering what Master Sasori would do if I died. Do you have that much time to think?"

"Yup."

-.-.-

"…And what was the Renaissance?" Hinata asked for the twelfth time. Deidara popped his gum loudly, ignoring the question.

Instead, he was thinking about the girl giving the questions. She was patient, that much was obvious. And she was pretty cute when she blushed or poked her fingers together so shyly. But that, aside from her name and grade, was all he knew about her. "Say… How old are you, yeah?"

"Th-That doesn't pertain to your studying," she replied stubbornly, staring hard at the book in her lap. "What was the R-Renaissance?"

"When Leonardo da Vinci lived, yeah," he finally gave in and responded with. Hinata looked an interesting mixture of pleased and pained.

"…Well, he did, but that's not the definition…" She sighed and turned the page, however.

"So how old are you, yeah?" Deidara tried again. He could have sworn he saw her roll her eyes, but since they were white anyway, it was hard to tell. He didn't think she'd ever actually answer him; he had been asking about her age since she'd started asking about the Renaissance. Every time she switched topics, so did he. Still, she stayed miraculously patient.

"When did the Bronze Age start?"

"Is that your natural hair color?"

"Why do you need to know?!"

"I don't know. It's pretty, yeah," he said, making sure he meant no harm. She blushed and looked down at the book again.

"Wh-When did the Bronze Age start…?"

"Is it your natural color? Or do you dye it, yeah?" Deidara persisted, leaning forward in his desk.

"It--yes, it is. Now, when did the Br-Bronze Age start?" She seemed to be catching onto the fact that he would ask the same questions when she did, so she must have been guessing that since she answered his question, he'd answer hers.

Deidara didn't like getting figured out. "Why did you decide to grow your hair out? I remember when you were a freshman and it wasn't that long, yeah."

Hinata looked up at him, mouth open in a perfect little o. That made the blond blush; okay, maybe he should have phrased that differently. It wasn't as if he stalked her in the halls or anything. He just remembered a shy little freshman girl who had shorter hair than hers last year.

"I don't know when it started," he said by way of apology. "I've never liked the Bronze Age, yeah; not artistic enough. The Renaissance was a little better."

Hinata eagerly pounced upon that admission, switching back to Renaissance-era questions. Just like that, she was done being embarrassed, he noticed. She might have blushed crimson, but at least she got over it quickly. "Where did Leonardo da Vinci die?"

"Why don't you wear weird socks, yeah?" Now he was kind of going out on a limb, but he was curious nonetheless. In the halls, in between classes, he constantly saw girls with all sorts of odd socks, whether it was colors or designs. Hinata just wore white ones, or occasionally black. Very plain.

"Excuse me?"

"Stripes, polka dots, neon colors, yeah… Anything! Don't you own any weird socks?" he continued with a grin. She pressed her lips together, still at a loss. "Come on. Everyone has at least one pair of weird socks, yeah!"

"Wh-Why?"

"I don't know. Gag gift?"

"Do you have any weird socks?" Hinata challenged, narrowing her eyes a bit.

"I think so. Yeah, I do--Tobi got me some with little chicks on them for Easter last year." Deidara scratched his head, fishing around for any other socks he might own that were noteworthy. Anything to keep her talking--and not about History. "And… I got bright blue ones from Kisame, and… Hmm. I have a few pairs, yeah."

Hinata nodded to herself, thinking for a moment. Deidara anticipated her owning up to having a pair or two, but instead she asked, "Where did da Vinci die?"

Deidara, bored, set his chin in his hand. He just couldn't get this girl sidetracked, no matter what he did. Was she some sort of super student? "Amboise," he replied flatly, popping his gum again a moment afterward.

She peered at him, looking suspicious again. "…You know these answers. Why are you failing History, then…?" she asked softly.

"Because the teacher is an inartistic jackass, yeah."

"That's no reason to fail a class!" the dark-haired sophomore scolded, turning the page in the book. "You don't even need this tutoring… You just need a-an attitude adjustment."

"Talking back to a senior now?" True, it was Wednesday, and she'd gotten a bit bolder, but she hadn't said anything so audacious until then. Deidara watched in amusement as she blushed up to the roots of her hair. He laughed, leaning back in the desk. "You're cute, you know that? You could get a lot of guys using that blush of yours, yeah."

If anything, she blushed harder.

The next day, when Deidara caught sight of her in the halls--they usually saw each other once or twice in passing--he burst out laughing. The two girls flanking her turned and glared at him, but Deidara paid them no heed. Tobi looked a little confused, too.

He wasn't laughing at her, merely at the fact that she was wearing pink and black striped socks.

-.-.-

"What is he laughing about?! He sounds like he's on drugs," Ino said snappishly, turning her blonde head over her shoulder for one last glare.

"Not even a senior would come to class high," Sakura pointed out. Then, in a maddeningly more informed tone, she added, "It's already fourth period, too, so unless he was actually doing the drugs on the school campus, it would have worn off about a half hour ago."

"And yet again, Sakura, you've earned your giant forehead." Ino rolled her eyes, unimpressed with yet another spurt of genius from her best friend.

Hinata hastily said goodbye to the two of them, stopping at her locker as they went to class ahead of her. As she was putting her books away, she gave herself a luxurious moment of letting herself blush; she knew who he'd been laughing at, after all.

Stupid senior, I shouldn't have worn these socks… They weren't unduly outlandish, but most people had noticed the shy sophomore change in that small way. Come to think of it, she didn't know why she had. Had she wanted to prove him right in the fact that everyone owned weird socks? Or had she merely wanted to let him know she wasn't as stuffy and bookish as she had been acting in the tutoring sessions? Hinata sighed again, resting her forehead against the metal locker door. It was cool to the touch and made her feel a little better. Stupid Deidara…

"Nice socks." Hinata jumped and squeaked, stepping back just in time as a hand slammed her locker shut for her.

She turned to see Tenten grinning at her. "I-I needed another book from there," she said lamely. After all, she didn't know what else to say in regards to her socks. Who talked about socks, anyway?!

"Oops. Sorry, then." She didn't sound in the least apologetic, however. The brunette smiled at her, waiting patiently for her to reopen her locker and retrieve the needed text before slamming it shut yet again.

"Wh-Why are you here…?" Once it came out of her mouth, she regretted how rude it sounded. She hadn't meant to be rude; she was just curious. She usually didn't see Tenten during the day, and definitely not after third period. (She only knew this because her fourth period class was with Neji, and she knew her cousin's schedule as well as any of her friends'.)

"Can't I visit my favorite little sophomore?" Tenten put on a mock pout, walking with Hinata to her class--though the junior's was in the opposite direction.

"…These socks are n-nothing special," Hinata said, guessing at what she was getting at.

Tenten chuckled, moving her messenger bag to her other shoulder. "That's only kind of what I was going to say, you know. It's actually Neji who wants to know, but you know him--he doesn't want to ask you himself."

"Oh." That made more sense. "I-I just felt like… wearing something different today."

"Oh really." Tenten's smile shifted into a bit of a smirk, and she elbowed the younger girl in the side. "Wearing something different… to impress someone? Huh?"

"No!" Hinata shook her head, probably more than what was necessary. The brunette caught on to that, too.

"I'm telling Neji that you have a crush!" she sang happily, laughing.

"I-I do not!" Hinata wondered briefly if she would believe that someone had dared her to wear the socks. But no, that wouldn't work; everyone knew that Hinata wouldn't do dares, after getting dared to kiss Naruto in the seventh grade and passing out from the embarrassment it caused. (She hadn't done it, either.)

"Then why are you wearing those socks?"

"I-I wanted to wear something different today! Instead o-of white or black or plain socks…!" Even to her own ears, the excuse sounded lame. Oh, she'd never live this down if Tenten managed to relay this conversation to Neji…

Luckily, her classroom was right around the corner, and before she could get into more trouble, she darted into it. She had never been so glad to come to Math before in her life.

-.-.-

"Whose assassination led to the start of World War I?"

"Did you wear those socks just for me, yeah?"

They were in their usual spots, already falling into their usual routine. Deidara was sitting on top of one of the desks, while Hinata was dutifully sitting in one, like a good student should. She had the book on the desk, trying to ignore Deidara's feet propped up on the edge. He wasn't even wearing shoes, however, and apparently picked that day to wear his weird socks, too; the bright orange was very distracting.

"Wh-Why would I have done--"

"We were talking about weird socks yesterday, and I said you never wore them. Today, you wore them, yeah. That's not a coincidence."

"You're wearing weird socks, too," she mumbled, wiggling her toes in her shoes. At least her socks weren't neon orange. She thought hers were actually quite cute, with their pink and black stripes…

"How is that relevant to this conversation, yeah?" Deidara challenged with a small smirk.

"Y-You could have worn the socks…" She didn't want to finish that with 'for me', like he had said. That's probably what he had been aiming for, anyway; she wouldn't give him that satisfaction. "Whose assassination led to the start of the first World War?"

"Or the Great War, as people called it before World War II, yeah," Deidara said, displaying his knowledge of the subject, even as he directly ignored the first question in order to annoy her. "You wore those socks for me, admit it, yeah."

"I-I did not," she lied.

"Did too."

"Did not."

"Did too, yeah."

"Did not…" Hinata was losing ground, and they both knew it. So instead of pushing her, he finally relented. He nudged the book with his toes. She moved the book out of his reach, but he just moved his foot, and this continued until his legs were completely unbent, and his feet were practically in her face. Hinata, clutching the textbook to her chest, glared at him. "G-Get your feet away from m-me!"

"Are you going to make me, yeah?" he asked innocently.

"I'll stop being your tutor, a-and then you'll get in trouble," she threatened.

"You have to tutor me--the principal told you to." He called her bluff, and Hinata lost out on that one, too. What could she win when she argued with him?

"Um--"

"I like the socks." He changed the subject again, to her mixed annoyance and relief. She tried (and failed) to keep herself from turning red at the unexpected compliment.

"They're just socks…" she mumbled, hiding her face behind the book. They were getting nowhere fast with these tutoring sessions, and he knew it. All he had to do was keep her flustered and she couldn't do a thing against him. It was a little unfair. Hinata sighed, and tried one last time to return the subject to History. "Whose assassination--"

"Archduke Franz Ferdinand. What other kinds of socks do you have?"

"I only have this pair and one with puppies on it Sakura gave to me…"

"Puppies?" He laughed.

"There are weirder things worn in this school!" she replied defensively.

"That's true, yeah." Deidara wiggled his toes again, still uncomfortably near her face, so she did the mature thing and moved to another desk. He pouted at her, but didn't make any immediate moves to follow.

"Okay… Who suggested the Fourteen Points?"

"Do you have any other weird clothes?" Now he seemed bent on embarrassing her further with more clothing-related questions.

"Fourteen Points."

"Other weird clothes."

Hinata hit her forehead against the book. She wasn't getting very far with this. Was she even doing enough to warrant the extra credit? "N-Nothing weird…"

"Woodrow Wilson," he answered obediently. "Then do you have anything other than a school uniform and pink and black socks? Oh, and your puppy socks, yeah?"

"Of course I do!"

"Like what? With these stupid uniforms, students never get to see how each other dress, yeah." Deidara set his chin in his hand, looking at her intently.

"I-I don't know." One simply did not explain one's fashion statement at random.

"Hmm…" Now he looked her over appraisingly. "…With those socks… Do you dress like an emo?"

"No!"

"Punk?"

"N-No!" Her family would probably ostracize her if she dressed punk… or emo, for that matter.

"Preppy?"

"Not really--Who was the leader of England during World War II?"

"How do you dress out of school, yeah?" Deidara just didn't know when to let something die. For switching conversations as often as he did, he sure liked to draw out subjects he wanted to.

"I wouldn't know how to describe it!" Hinata burst out, getting fed up.

"Winston Churchill," he stated smugly.

Before he could come up with another question, she quickly found another of her own. "What happened on December 7th that drew the United States into World War II?"

"What's your favorite kind of movie?"

Hinata switched tactics, and decided to answer every question he came up with. Maybe they'd get through more History that way. "Musicals, or romantic comedies."

"Chick flicks, in other words, yeah." Deidara rolled his eyes, letting his male distaste for the feminine movie show. "The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii."

"What country was invaded that formally started World War II?"

"Do you like horror movies?"

"As long as I'm not watching them alone," she admitted. "And as long as they have some sort of plot--I hate pointless slasher or gory movies."

"Poland, yeah."

They were making progress! It was the first real progress of the week, and Hinata was ecstatic. She happily turned another page in the book, scanning the print for another suitable question. "What were the two cities bombed by the United States with the atomic bomb?"

Deidara had to pause and think of a new question to ask. "…What about book movies, yeah?" he asked finally.

"If I've read the book, I'll see it. Otherwise, I usually don't see book movies without reading the book first."

"Nagasaki and Hiroshima. What's your favorite book, yeah?"

"Either The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter… I think."

"You think?" He dubiously raised an eyebrow.

"I read a lot and have a lot of favorites," she replied with a slight frown. "Answer the question, Deidara."

"You didn't ask one," he replied smugly. Before she could recover from her slip, however, he continued, "My favorite book is probably Battle Royale, yeah, or maybe Frankenstein. What's your favorite color?"

"…Lavender," Hinata said quietly, giving up now that he'd beaten her at the question game. "Wh-What's yours?"

"Blue, yeah. Favorite song?"

"I Think We're Alone Now."

"That's old," he laughed.

"So?" She felt her face heat up, but was somewhat pleased that he at least knew what it was. Usually, when she mentioned the song, people just gave her a clueless stare.

"So what, yeah. I think we're alone now," he mocked, gesturing about him to the empty classroom. Hinata couldn't help but blush a little; the song was one of those sappy romantic ones, and the whole purpose of it was to get away so the singer and his love could be happy together, probably kissing and hugging and other couple-y stuff. She just liked it for its happy ideal, though it was fun to sing to in the shower…

Suddenly, someone's phone rang. Like any good high school student, both of them immediately reached for their own. It turned out to be Deidara's. "Yeah?" It figured that he'd answer it like that. After some barely audible phone replies, he turned around and looked at the clock. Hinata leaned sideways in her desk to see it, and was shocked to find that it was a half hour after they were supposed to stop. "I'm coming, I'm coming, damn it. Stop shouting, yeah." With that, he hung up and turned back to Hinata.

"It's late," she said, already standing and gathering up her things.

"Yeah…" He jumped off the desk and looked around for where he'd kicked his shoes off earlier. Hinata was ready to go before he was, but she politely stayed behind and helped him retrieve one of his shoes from underneath the teacher's desk. "Thanks."

"See you tomorrow."

"Yeah, see you."

-.-.-

Once he was outside school, he irritably called Tobi back. "What the hell? You didn't have to interrupt, yeah."

"I didn't know I was, I'm sorry," came the meek reply.

"Whatever…" Deidara sighed. He had been making progress. Towards what, he didn't know, but towards something. She was actually a pretty cool girl, and she was downright adorable. The socks helped. So what if he had stayed an extra half hour?

"Did you have a nice time with the loli?" Tobi asked after having regained his courage.

"Yeah, sure," he replied, mind elsewhere.

"She sure wore cute socks today."

"Yeah."

"Did she wear them for you?"

"Yeah, sure."

"You're not listening to me."

"Yeah."

"Deidara!!" That jarred him out of his thoughts. He blinked a few times to clear his head, and then pressed the phone against his ear again when it stopped ringing. "Just because you have the attention of a cute girl, it doesn't mean you should ignore your friends in favor of her."

"I don't have her attention, yeah," the blond replied flatly. "Next week, once the tutoring is over, she won't look twice at me. She's only doing this for the extra credit, yeah."

"Oh? Well, you know… I heard from a friend who heard from a classmate who heard from a friend--Hinata has a crush on someone." He could hear the smirk in Tobi's voice.

"Really." Deidara knew better than to get his hopes up; there were a lot of boys in school, a lot of them closer to her age, and a lot of them she surely knew better than him. Didn't she usually hang out with a couple of boys from her grade?

"Yeah! Apparently, she wore those socks today to impress that someone."

That annoyingly optimistic thing called hope was suddenly there. He shook his head to get rid of it. "No, she didn't. She wore them to prove that she had them, yeah. Someone probably just assumed she has a crush. Don't get so ahead of yourself, Tobi, yeah."

"Sorry," he said, and Deidara could only imagine him hanging his head in shame. That soon passed, however, like all of Tobi's dark moods. "So--are you going to ask her out?"

"Not if she has a crush on someone!" he snapped.

"You said she didn't have a crush!" Tobi cried, confused.

"Well--she might, yeah." Now Deidara was the one who was confused. Did he have a chance with her or not? He didn't even know if he wanted a chance--that was just Tobi teasing him. Sure, she was cute, and she was smart, and pretty interesting, but she had her own life to get back to once this week was over. She had her own friends, who didn't include Deidara, and possibly even a boyfriend already. "Tobi, do you know if--" Then, the stupidity of that almost-mistake hit him. If he asked Tobi about that, he would tell the entire school that Deidara was interested in the 'cute loli sophomore'. That was not the message he was trying to convey. He was just curious, after all. (Or so he told himself.)

"…Do I know if…?" Tobi prompted expectantly.

"If… If Master Sasori is done grading that art assignment yet?"

"Ask him yourself."

"Fine, yeah."

-.-.-

It was finally Friday. Hinata didn't know whether she was happy or sad for it. On one hand, she did have her weekly ramen meal with Shino and Kiba to look forward to, and it was the weekend. On the other, it meant the end of her daily tutoring sessions with Deidara. Next week, she would just fade into obscurity again, and the senior would again ignore her. She had thought they were friends, but would he think the same?

What if he just thought she was an annoying little girl who he only had to be with as a punishment? The thought haunted Hinata all through the school day. She could barely concentrate in any of her classes, which was bad, considering she had taken a test in one of those classes. She could only dread the grade she'd receive.

She shuffled nervously into the empty classroom they'd adopted as their own. He was already waiting for her, like he normally was. He didn't look up as she entered. Deidara was lying across two desks, shoes already off, staring at the ceiling. "What are you doing?" she asked cautiously.

"Thinking, yeah."

"W-Well, now you can think about History," she said, more briskly than she'd intended. If he had noticed, he didn't say anything about it.

They breezed through the questions, this time miraculously staying on topic. Deidara continued asking her questions, even if they were a bit less personal than yesterday. Was that some sort of preparation for breaking off their tiny friendship? Hinata was alone with her worries.

On the flipside, she had done her required task. She would get enough extra credit to pass with over a hundred percent, pleasing her father, and such a thing on her transcript would look excellent. Plus it meant she had a bit of leeway, if she really had messed up on that test…

Every so often, she glanced up at the clock. Time kept on passing, regardless of how much she wished it didn't. Deidara remained firmly on his back on the desks, still staring up at the ceiling as he answered and inquired in turn. "Why did the Great Wall of China not do what it was supposed to do?"

"Because it didn't," he replied shortly. "What's your favorite flavor of Jell-O?"

"Probably black cherry…" she said after a bit of thought. She didn't bother trying to pursue the Great Wall question. Maybe he had some sort of hatred of China? Or maybe he's just mad at me for not talking with him like yesterday… Even though we weren't supposed to! she thought, biting her lip. "Um… How many wives did Henry VIII have?"

"Too many, that polygamist, yeah." Deidara snorted. "What's your favorite flavor of ramen?"

"Miso. Who was Cleopatra married to?"

"Different people," he said, in that infuriating way that wasn't quite incorrect but definitely not specific enough to be correct. "What's your favorite kind of cupcake, yeah?"

"Yellow with chocolate frosting." She couldn't help but smile at the way he continued calmly to interrogate her, even as he didn't reply properly himself. "What are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?"

"The pyramids, the gardens, the temple… And four other things, yeah," he said, closing his eyes. "Do you have a boyfriend?"

It was such a sudden change from flavors of things that it took her a few moments to adjust to it. "Wh-What…?"

"Boyfriend. Do you have one, yeah?" he asked calmly, blue eyes still closed.

"N-No." She couldn't help but think of Naruto, but he would never look at her. In fact, he was still chasing after Sakura. Hinata was, year by year, slowly detaching herself from him, but he could still count as a crush. "Do you?"

"I'm not gay."

"I-I mean have a-a girlfriend!" she squeaked, embarrassed at the slip. He didn't seem to mind, however.

"Not at the moment."

"…What are the Seven Wonders of the Modern World?"

"Do you want to go see a movie tonight, yeah?" Deidara turned to her, rolling over as he did so. She blushed, hiding her face in the book.

"I-I have plans…" she mumbled. After all, it was Friday. She always went out to the ramen place with Kiba and Shino on Fridays. Even if she had a date--did I just get asked out on a date?! Her mind promptly caught up with the rest of the situation and she must have been scarlet by that time. Hinata didn't dare look up from the book.

Deidara grunted a noncommittal reply, rolling back onto his back.

Then, she promptly realized what she must have sounded like. It must have sounded like she wasn't interested. Am I interested? He's a senior! I'm only a sophomore! But… Am I interested in him? Hinata peeked shyly over the top of the book, finding him staring at the ceiling yet again. She decided then, to at least give him a chance. She couldn't just say no to a senior, especially Deidara. "I-I mean, I-I'm just going out with some friends tonight, bu-but… I'm free tomorrow night?"

Deidara flipped open his phone, and turned to her with a serious look on his face. Hinata stared back, wondering what was with the phone. "I'm going to need your number, yeah," he told her.

"What? Why?"

"So I can call you, yeah." He grinned.

That evening, as Hinata was gulping down ramen like it was going out of style, Shino and Kiba could only stare in wonder at her piece of news.

"…You… were asked out? By a senior?" Kiba repeated, blinking.

"Do you mean asked out as in a single date, or as in dating?" Shino, always the more perceptive of the two, asked.

Hinata continued eating her ramen, trying to think of a way to phrase it without it sounding bad. But, as all things come to an end, soon, she finished her bowl and had to speak while she waited for another. "I… I think it's just a date. S-Singular," she replied faintly, poking her fingers together.

"What's his name?"

That was right; she had never gotten the opportunity to tell them Deidara's actual name. The last they'd heard of the situation was that she was having troubles getting him to properly answer questions. "De-Deidara."

"The blond one who is constantly mistaken for a girl, has a feud with Itachi Uchiha, and is usually seen in the company of either Tobi or the student teacher Sasori," Shino clarified, adjusting his glasses. Hinata bobbed her head in agreement. "What movie?"

"I don't know yet… He said he'd call and ask me which I wanted to see tomorrow…"

After a long silence, in which their second bowls arrived, Kiba asked, "What are you going to wear?" Hinata nearly choked on her noodles, not having thought about that detail before. Deidara had never seen her in anything but a school uniform before… What could she wear?

"I don't know," she admitted, disconcerted. "I-I'll ask Sakura and Ino tomorrow…"

-.-.-

Deidara leaned against the wall outside the theater, arms crossed over his chest. He was early, but by habit, rather than by consideration; Sasori hated being kept waiting, so he was usually early in most things he did. They had agreed to see one of the comedies, because it was neutral territory; he was not seeing a chick flick, and she didn't particularly want to see one of the action movies.

She showed up with about ten minutes before the movie actually started. For a brief moment, too, he didn't recognize her. He was used to seeing her in a school uniform (granted, with pink and black socks). She was still wearing a skirt, yes, but it was longer. It came down to about mid-calf, and was dark purple in color. She was wearing a white blouse, kind of formal, but not unbearably so. He supposed she just dressed like that. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail at the base of her neck, aside from two locks of hair that were left out to frame her face.

"You look cute," he said immediately as she approached. She looked shyly down at her feet, poking her index fingers together.

"Y-You look nice," she replied; he was glad she hadn't used the word 'cute' as well, though she could have used something more descriptive than 'nice'. Oh well--what was that saying? 'Beggars can't be choosers'.

As Deidara walked into the movie, he decided to skip most of the formalities and reached down, taking her hand in his. Her first instinct was to pull away, but she relaxed a moment later. When he looked at her, Hinata gave him a hesitant smile.

Maybe, he decided as they interlaced their fingers and grinned at each other, learning experiences in school weren't so bad. Sasori had been right--he got something out of this one. So did she.

And maybe he'd have to fail another class next week, just to continue with his tutoring sessions. You know, just in case.