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Little brown and green pieces sank and danced inside the aquarium when I sprinkled fish food into the water. The small creatures swam in little circles, and only disappeared into their castle again when my finger tapped the glass. I leaned my arms against the table and watched Pinkie and Perky, my catfish, swish their greyish-brown tails from side to side.
"Gaara," Temari called up the stairs. I turned away from the illuminated, rectangular fish tank. "Matsuri's here." The red digits on my alarm clock read: 9:00pm. "Oi. Are you listening to me? I'm sending her up." I ran fingers through red tresses before standing to put a shirt on. I'd told her not to bother getting me, how many times did I have to tell her that the party was a no-go?
Matsuri knocked on the white, wooden door to my room just as I tugged a black tank top over my head, and she walked in before I'd even answered. I could've been doing anything - you'd have thought she'd learn after walking in on me having a quick tug. I still cringed every time I remembered her open mouth and wide eyes as I'd jumped from my bed, only to trip over the jeans around my ankles.
"Ain't you dressed yet?" she asked. I looked down at my sweatpants and black top. If I wasn't mistaken, I was already fully clothed. "Don't act dumb. Get changed, you can't go to Naruto's looking like that."
"Did you forget what I said the other day? I'm not going, especially after what he did." I'd be walking blind through enemy territory. And thanks to him, I now had to find a way out of some dance class on Monday. His punishment had better be worse than mine.
"It was probably just a joke." A joke? He chucked a bucket of rainwater over me! "Besides, there'll be so many people there you probably won't even see him." She passed me and threw open my wardrobe. "Let's see…"
"Matsuri, I'm not going."
"What about this?" She pulled out a red button-up shirt. "You looked great in it last year at my birthday party." She threw it atop my bed, letting it drape over the mattress before falling to the floor in a heap. "And these jeans?" A black pair of skinny jeans flew over her shoulder and landed a few feet away from the shirt. "And this belt?" A black, studded belt hurtled toward my head, and I caught it just before getting whipped in the face. She turned. "Well, don't just sit there. Get moving." Typical girl. You say one thing and she hears something completely different.
I threw the belt back at her. "I'm. Not. Going." Matsuri's translation. "Party. Woo. Chuck my clothes around the room, and let's get going."
"Why not?" Finally, now we're getting somewhere. "We'll have fun." She unzipped her brown jacket and pulled out a bottle of vodka. "This will get us started." Started? She'd be legless before we'd even made it to his house. She jiggled it in front of my face as if it were gold dust. "Come on, we haven't had a drink since-"
"Since I had to carry you home over my shoulder because you couldn't stand."
"That's beside the point."
"You're parents still blame me for that." I hadn't even been with her that night. She'd called me to sing a slurred song down the phone. She was just lucky I knew which party she'd gone to that night, and that I was a nice enough person to walk all the way across town to Tenten's just to make sure she got home alright.
"Whatever." She unscrewed the top and gagged after taking a mouthful of the acidic liquid.
"If you throw up on my floor, you're cleaning it yourself-" She took another mouthful. "- with your tongue." The metal lid was screwed back on and she chucked it to me. The clear liquid swashed around the edges as I caught the bottle. "Just have a drink, and stop being such an old man. You're seventeen, not seventy." I put the bottle down on the table, letting the dull thud shake the water in the fish tank, and she crossed her arms over her flat chest. "You've been no fun since…" Her mouth closed when I jolted my head toward her.
"No, go on. Finish what you were going to say. Since my parents died, right?" Did she expect me to be a bundle of laughs? "Fuck off, and take your alcohol with you." I twisted in my swivel-chair again to watch the last present my mum bought me swim around their tank, and Matsuri's arms folded around my shoulders so she could place her cheek against mine and peer at Pinkie and Perky's attempts at crashing into each other. Stupid fish…
Our reflections on the glass gazed back. "You know," she said. "They wouldn't want you locking yourself away. Just because you were there doesn't mean it was your fault. You have to stop beating yourself up about it."
I sighed through my nose and moved my eyes away from the glass. What the hell would she know? She wasn't there. I could've saved them, or at least stayed. But I was a coward. I'd left them, knowing full well that they weren't going to be right behind me like they'd promised. "I'm not carrying you home this time," I mumbled, pushing her arms away so I could change into the clothes she'd chosen to dump on my floor.
"I've already said before, God knows what will happen to you if I'm not there."
So, Matsuri won. I changed into the red shirt, black jeans and belt, and we walked across town, taking it in turns swigging from the vodka bottle. White steam pooled from houses and disappeared into the air as we got closer to Naruto's house. And even with the alcohol in my system, I still didn't think this was a good idea. I knew what would probably happen. I'd walk inside and get kicked out straight away. That wouldn't have been embarrassing in the slightest.
When we entered the middle-class's section of town, the scenery changed. No longer were we surrounded by council flats and bodge-job houses, but instead, large housing accommodations, freshly cut lawns and clean streets. Other students from our school passed us while carrying crates of beers and bottles of sambuca, TVX, WKD. You name it, they probably had it. The blond's uncle was a dumb-fucker for letting his nephew have monthly bashes. I'd hate to think of the mess produced every time, not to mention cost for damages.
"Hey, Gaara, Matsuri," A girl with buns on her head called. Tenten crossed the street with Neji, her boyfriend, by her side. "I didn't know you two were coming."
"Yeah, neither did I," I said, holding my hands in my jean's pockets.
"This is going to be great." Tenten handed me a beer from the crate Neji was carrying. "I couldn't come to the last one since I was babysitting."
Matsuri tilted the vodka bottle up to her mouth and took another swig, nodding. "Mmhmm," she mumbled through a gag. "This is the first one I've been to." She nudged me in the arm as I popped the cap on the beer, making me spill a little on the pavement. "Gaara having a grudge against Naruto means he's never let me come before." I glared at her, sucking the spilt beer from my fingers, then from the rim of the can.
Tenten laughed and leaned forward to grin at me from the other side of Matsuri. "I heard about what happened in PE the other day. Lee and Neji told me. Naruto can be a little… yeah, sometimes. But he's nice ninty-nine percent of the time."
I snorted and took a mouthful of beer. "I guess that other one percent is saved especially for me."
Music vibrated the air as we turned up outside Naruto's mansion of a home. Already teenagers were laying on his lawn, and beer cans littered the grass. A couple were leaning against the house, eating each other's faces - they sorta looked like regurgitating penguins - and we stepped past them to walk through the door. Two steps in - so far, so good.
Bodies took up every room, hallway and seating area. All the sides were covered in cans, bottles and spilt alcohol. But Jesus Christ - the outside did the place no justice. His house looked like something you'd see on Cribs. It was huge! Slurred conversations came from every direction, and I could barely hear myself think over the thumping music. It was just a wander how the police never came to break these things up.
Matsuri grabbed my hand to drag me through to the kitchen, and I had to hoist her up when she stumbled over someone's foot. She giggled and turned back to tap me on the nose. "Thank you." I scrunched my face. Yup, she was getting drunk already, and we'd only just arrived.
"Dude, it's the makeup guy." Here we go. An arm slumped over my shoulder and Kiba's body pressed against my side as he moved a bottle of beer around in the air, letting it slop over the top. "This is the guy. This is the guy I was telling you about." A circle of girls laughed and looked at me through eyes with too much eyeliner and mascara, making their lashes clump together - did no one know how to put that stuff on properly? Needless to say, I hadn't applied anything before leaving my house - my face was officially makeup free. And I felt naked without it. "Where's Naruto?" he slurred to the girls and they shifted their shoulders in a shrug. "Aw, well." He tightened and loosened his grip around my shoulder to nudge me. "No hard feelings, eh?" God, people acted differently when drunk.
No point aggravating the boy. "Yeah, sure," I mumbled, feeling uneasy being the centre of attention within the small group.
"Didn't think I'd see you here-"
"I'll be in the kitchen," Matsuri said. Bitch, throw me to the pack of dogs, why don't you?
"- I have nothing against you, dude. But you have to admit, the other day with the water was funny." Yeah, didn't he see me creasing with laughter as I'd knelt against the ground dripped wet? It was hysterical. "Hey, where's Naruto?" he repeated, and again the girls shrugged. "Aw, well. He'll be around here somewhere… Hey, where's Sasuke?" Bloody hell, somebody get me out of here. "You know, I have nothing against you. But the other day in PE was funny, you have to admit."
I peered sideways at the dog-lover. A red tint shadowed his nose and his lopsided grin made him look like he'd been drinking for hours. I moved his arm off my shoulder slowly and stepped back. "Yeah, I'm just gonna…" I pointed to the kitchen with my thumb.
"Yeah, that's fine, dude. I'll catch you around." He turned back to the pack of girls and began chatting as they gazed at him through their eyelashes - looked like someone had his pick of the litter. I think I preferred him when he was being an arse. At least then he wasn't slopping beer over me.
I pulled at the waist of my shirt and wiped my hand against the material to dry it off a bit. Bloody perfect, this was my favourite one as well. I entered the kitchen, where the source of the music came from. "Matsuri?" I called.
"Hey, Gaara." I really wished people would stop leaning all over me. Did I have 'human leaning post' hung around my neck? Matsuri dumped the vodka bottle in my hand. "Have a drink. Loosen up a bit. You're so tense." And you're so drunk.
"Maybe you've had enough," I shouted over the music.
"Aww, don't be such a party-pooper." She pushed the bottle closer to me. "Drink it, or I'll finish the whole thing myself, and you don't want me getting too drunk, do you?" I unscrewed the lid and had a small swig, letting the warm liquid heat my chest as it passed through. "No, no, no," she said, holding the base so I couldn't take it from my mouth. "Bottoms up." She laughed as the toxic acid spilt down my throat to land in my stomach. The liquid crawled back up, making me gag and step back. The bottle left my lips and the last half of the vodka slopped over my shirt before the glass slipped through Matsuri's fingers, smashing against the floor. The shouts around us stopped as everyone looked down at the mess.
"Matsuri!" I shouted behind my hand whilst trying to keep the alcohol from coming back up. Her eyes widened as she gazed down at the smashed shards of glass, then threw her head back in a laugh. What the bloody hell was funny about this? "Matsuri!" I repeated, wiping my hand against my now soaked shirt.
The music stopped and my ears buzzed in the now silence. "What smashed? Is everyone okay in here?" I wanted to sink into the ground as Naruto stepped through the door in an orange shirt and light-blue jeans. Now he was definitely going to kick me out.
Naruto gazed down at the smashed glass before raising his blue eyes to my face. I looked side to side nervously, hoping someone would jump to my rescue before I had to add another reason to my list of: Why I hated Naruto, and why I was going to kick his arse one day.
He shooed everyone out the way of the glass. He opened a cupboard, pulled out a dustpan and brush, and stepped between the shards to bend down and sweep up the pieces. My foot stepped back, and glass crunched under my shoe. "Don't move, you idiot," he said without looking away from the glass he was brushing into a pile. When he finished, he stood and tipped the smashed bottle into a bin. He turned the music back on.
'GaGa, ooh la la. Want your bad romance. I want your ugly, I want your disease. I want your everything as long as it's free. I want your love. Love, love, love. I want your love…'
Fingers curled around the neck of my shirt, dragging me from the room, between slumped bodies and through the hallway. When the front door came into view, I grabbed Naruto's hands, trying to pry them from me. "Get the fuck off!" I shouted, but he didn't open the door and chuck me out like I thought he was going to. He began pushing me up his staircase. I stumbled up a few steps before turning and looking down at him, a confused look probably playing on my features.
"Well, move then," he said. "Do you want some dry clothes, or not?"
I think I went into momentary shock. Dry clothes? "What?"
"Just get up the stairs."
What the hell? Why wasn't he kicking me out? Perhaps it was a trap. When we got to his landing, he stepped past me and walked on in front. An inner voice screamed at me to run back down the stairs and leave, but I stunk of vodka, and if I went home like this then Temari was going to literally kill me. She thought Matsuri and I had gone back to her house to study.
He banged on a closed door before swinging it open. "No shagging in the spare rooms." A couple squeezed past him in the doorway, pulling clothes back on and going downstairs. "The amount of time I have to tell people." He chuckled. "Sexually frustrated teens, huh?"
"Yeah…" I mumbled.
Naruto pushed open a door at the very end of the hallway and leaned against the wall for a second to turn the light on with his shoulder.
I entered slowly, and he opened a walk-in wardrobe before disappearing inside. Damn, I peered around the corner, that was a lot of clothes… and a lot of orange. I left him digging through a shelf to gaze around his bedroom. Orange walls, orange bedspread, orange lamp… yup, this boy had some weird fetish for the colour. I stepped past his bed and curled my fingers around a large curtain - which surprisingly wasn't orange, but blue - and pulled it to one side.
A balcony overlooked his back garden. Teenagers staggered around, laughing, singing and talking with gesturing hands. Dropping the curtain back into place, I turned in the quiet room for a better look. What the hell did his uncle do for a living? Because it certainly wasn't shop work.
On his nightstand, just beside the orange lamp, stood a small trophy. I took a step toward it, but Naruto exited his wardrobe with a black shirt in his hands. He chucked it to me, and I caught it in one hand. My coordination was still intact - looked like Matsuri's cunning plan to get me drunk hadn't worked. One of us had to be sober to make sure we both got home safely - it just always ended up being me. Being intoxicated never did interest me. Why would people want to drink something that tasted rank just so they had an excuse for making fools of themselves? The whole thing was pointless and degrading.
"That's the smallest thing I could find. It should fit," he said, closing the wardrobe's sliding doors and leaning against the wall beside them.
"Right… thanks," I said, looking down at the black material. I unbuttoned my red shirt and slipped into the black one. "What's that for?" I nudged my head toward the trophy while popping the collar on the shirt before flattening it down.
"Huh?" He looked in the direction of his nightstand. "Oh, nothing. That shouldn't even be in here. You got a smoke?"
He smoked? Since when? I dipped my hand into my jeans pocket, "Uh…" and pulled out a pack. He'd given me a dry shirt to wear, after all. "Yeah."
Taking one of the white sticks from my packet, he pushed aside the blue curtain and unlocked the glass door which lead to his balcony. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and leaned his elbows on the metal railing. I came up beside him, sparked my own cigarette and leaned my back against the railing, letting my elbows falls slightly behind me to lean against the thin surface. The awkward silence drifted between us, only being disturbed by the sound of smoke being blown and the music downstairs.
"I didn't know you smoked," I said, trying to murder the silence.
"Hmm." He blew a cloud. "Social smoker. I only do it when I'm stressed." What was there to be stressed about? He was having a bloody party. In fact, why wasn't he downstairs soaking up the attention? He laughed. "You can go if you want. You don't have to stand here talking to me. But thanks for giving me an excuse to get away. I was starting to get a headache."
I peered sideways at him. The moon's silver light turned his tanned skin a pale cream, and reflected in his eyes as he watched the people in the garden below us. "It's cool. I was beginning to feel like a human leaning post with everyone draping themselves over me, anyway."
"What made you come?"
"Matsuri. She's in the year below us, and she wouldn't take no for an answer. I didn't want her coming by herself." I took a drag and tilted my head back to let the smoke blow upwards over our heads.
He chuckled softly. "The big, bad Gaawa didn't want his girlfriend getting hit on."
"What's that supposed to mean? And I've known her almost my whole life. We're just friends."
"That explains why I never see you holding hands or kissing. You're together all the time, I just thought you were frigid." Bloody charming. "You don't seem like the mothering type." I raised a thin eyebrow. "You know, going out your way to look after a girl who you're not expecting to get into the pants of?"
"Hey, don't take it personally. There just isn't many guys who would do that… who are straight, anyway."
My eyes narrowed into slits, and if I hadn't been halfway through a cigarette, I would've left there and then. Perhaps stumping it out on his forehead was an option? "Fuck you. I am straight."
He held his hands up in mock defence. "Okay, don't get so touchy." He laughed and puffed on his fag. "Did the old hag go all out to piss you off as well?"
It took me a second to catch onto what he was talking about. "You can say that again."
"So, what's your mission?"
I snorted and turned to lean against the railings like Naruto was. I gazed down into the garden. Silver light lit the ground and reflected off the swimming pool at the far end. "Don't ask. What about you?"
"Ugh. You wouldn't want to know." I laughed. Hopefully his punishment was worse than mine. Sure, he seemed okay at the moment, but that didn't cancel out the fact he'd knocked me out with a soccer ball two years ago, and now I had public humiliation added to the list. "Listen," Naruto said, taking one last drag on his cigarette before flicking it over the balcony. "Sorry about the other day in PE. You caught me on a bad day, I guess I went a little too far, but you did start it." Perhaps he should've stopped at 'sorry'.
"What? You started it." I flicked my cigarette like Naruto did, and sparks from the ember floated from the tip and twisted in the air before going out.
"Hey, you hit me first. I was just defending myself."
"You were taking the piss."
"You were wearing friggin' makeup, what did you expect me to say? 'Dude, your makeup looks awesome?' What were you planning on doing, trying out for the Miss. Konoha beauty pageant?"
I couldn't bloody believe it. My mouth hung open to shout back, but I closed it again. I refused to get into another argument with him - especially at his house… on a balcony which he could easily chuck me over. "Fuck you, bastard." I threw open the balcony doors and stormed across his orange bedroom, before stomping downstairs to enter the midst of drunken teenagers and thumping music.
'Welcome to the club now. Gonna pump it up now. This is an emergency. Music is my galaxy. Welcome to the club now. Everybody up now. We've gotta going on. Till the break of dawn.'
I didn't care if Matsuri wanted to leave or not. We were going. I found her dancing on a table between two boys from my year. I grabbed her by the wrist and ignored her protests as I basically dragged her to the door. She stumbled slightly on the front step.
"Woah. Where's the fire?" she slurred. "Where did you go? And who's shirt is that?"
I looked down at the black material on my chest. Goddamn it. I'd forgotten my shirt. I killed my speed before stopping completely and throwing my head back in frustration. Should I go back and get it, or just leave it? I shook my head, it wasn't worth going back for… but it was my favourite shirt. And if I left it, he'd probably burn it or something. "For fuck's sake," I mumbled. "Matsuri, stay here. I'll be right back."
She saluted and wobbled a little. "Ay, ay, Môn Capitan." I rolled my eyes. At least she was sober enough to stand this time.
I re-entered Naruto's house, dodged teenagers hanging around on the stairs and tiptoed down the second floor's hallway. I'd left it in his room. Hopefully Naruto wasn't there, because strolling back into his bedroom, picking up my shirt and leaving again while he stood and watched didn't sound very appealing. The door was closed, so I guessed he'd gone, but I palmed my hands flat against the wood and pressed my ear against it just in case.
"Yeah, I know, Jiraiya," Naruto's voice seeped through the wood, but there was no reply, so he must've been on the phone. It was rude to listen to people's conversations. I pressed my ear harder against the wood. Hey, I said it was rude, I didn't say I wasn't going to do it. "I'll be fine… seriously, it's okay. You don't have to come on Monday if you're too busy… yes… ugh, don't remind me. I don't know how many weeks I'm being made to do this… You know it… of course. I'm going to slaughter them all." My brows furrowed. "I'm going to knock them all dead, I'll bring out the big guns and they won't know what's hit them… okay, see you next week." Slaughter? He was going to bring out guns and knock everyone dead?
I stepped back from the door when his footsteps moved across the floor behind it. He really was fucking crazy. I had to get outa there while I still could.
Man, it's 11:30pm and I have to study for an A-Level which is tomorrow. I'm so screwed. I do this every time. I get study leave and spend my whole time writing. This is why I did so badly in my As-Levels! I never learn.
Anyway, reviews are appreciated. I always seem to update quicker when I get loads of reviews. They're the cherries in my pie, the flake in my 99p -( I don't know if Americans will understand the last one. It's an ice-cream.)