Disclaimer: I own nothing belonging to the Naruto universe…yadda yadda…*ties hands to a concrete block and jumps from a river-crossing bridge*

Firstly, a very big 'thank you very much' to all of you who reviewed the last chapter or put a favourite/alert on the story. Chapter two got a whopping 39 reviews, and there was barely a bad word to be found amongst them! As I said before, this is probably my most popular fic so far, and although I did put off this next addition for a while, it's mostly because I was trying to think of a decent way to keep the plot moving. I wasn't sure how the school day was going to map out, so I had to spend a bit of time thinking about it.

Also, I'd like to especially thank SilverMick64, who created an account for the sole purpose of writing a review for chapter 2. I was very touched by the sentiment, and I hope I don't disappoint with this instalment.

The biggest critique this fic is getting is its chapter length. WTH? I thought bigger chapters were better! It gives you more bang for your metaphorical buck! Meh, either way, this is another 10k+ chappy, but it focuses more on a small school time window, rather than a whole 24-hour+ span.

I've actually had a few people PM me asking about the possible importance of the red haired woman I mentioned in the flower shop in chapter 2. I will answer this as plainly as I can: No. That woman has no significance in the plot. She is nobody familiar, and she is not an OC, she is just a botany-loving Saturday shopper.

Okay, enough of that. Let's get to the reason why you're here: the story. Enjoy!

Face The Music

A Naruto Fan Fiction

Chapter 3: The Rhythm of Life's Bad Timing

Konoha High School – 09:26 hrs

He hated coming to school, he really did. Day in and day out, they would be there waiting for him; simpering, blushing, swooning, ass-kissing…nothing constructive, in his opinion. He wanted to question why everybody would act so brainless, for he was but one person thrust into the sample of a large and hectic life. All he ever did was sing, all he was really known for was singing…and that was it. He would have bothered asking whether a voice alone really was enough to rile crowds of mindless drones in reality, but the answer had already been shoved in his face over the past year. They all smiled at him; he knew why, but to him it was nothing but fakery brought about by the admiration of a false pretence.

'Is my voice really the only thing that matters?' Uchiha Sasuke thought to himself drearily, taking in the densely populated corridor that swam around him. Standing in front of his locker with arms folded and a face that screamed ignorance, he watched as the crowd flowed around his personal space like iron shavings around a magnet. He paid no heed to the chirpy 'Hi Sasuke-kun's and embarrassed turning of heads as he caught the glances of girls who knew that their gazes weren't meant to meet, for otherwise it would spoil the illusion of a chase that, to Sasuke, never existed in the first place.

Why did they always hound him? He liked singing, truly he did, he'd been doing it since he was eight years old; but the way these…sheep…badgered him without a care towards neither how he felt nor what he was truly like as a person was gruellingly aggravating. He may have had an illusion of greatness inside the massive walls of the school, but outside he was still behind, struggling to find something in which he could prove a genuine form of superiority.

Yes, Will of Fire was one such method, but it was a school band, thus he could not direct the flow and make it something he could be proud of without prior approval from about four different teachers, some officials, and his band mates.

Sasuke was not the only apparent stuck up person in his family. His brother, Itachi, had once been in the band spot that the younger Uchiha now possessed, but he had moved to greater heights. Graduating from the prestigious Akatsuki University in Amegakure, the twenty-two year old Itachi was very quick to succeed in grabbing a medical internship; his amazement with optical theory and the complexities of human sight urged him to study in the field of ophthalmology. Sasuke wanted to tighten his jaw at the thought, not because of Itachi himself; no, he was very proud of his brother, but it was because of the unbelievable feeling of expectation that his father had now placed upon him.

Uchiha Fugaku may have only got as far as graduating high school himself, but his own drive to become better whilst protecting his loved ones never faltered. Mere weeks before meeting his future wife, Mikoto, a twenty-six year old Fugaku had already become a Sergeant in the Konoha Police Force. By the time Itachi was born, the proud father was a Captain, and just as Sasuke was starting middle school, he had become a Deputy Inspector at the 4th Precinct, located close to the city centre.

So the Uchiha's were generally hard working, but that didn't mean that they were above thinking of themselves as superior. Sasuke hated the bogged-down feeling that had adorned itself atop his head over the past two years. Constantly, whether bad or good, Fugaku was always talking about his high hopes for both of his sons, how he expected them to become great in whatever field they should choose. Something that helped the general populous was definitely a good way to go, that is if Fugaku's reaction at Itachi's internship was anything to go by, but it seemed that 'selfish' causes such as singing and performing were rather dim. The constant hounding pressure from his father was such a heavy weight, and Sasuke felt like there was hardly any way to ignore it.

He generally disliked school for two reasons:

The first was because of the attention he got, despite nobody's apparent insight into the heavy burden and constricted life placed upon him. They just didn't understand, and believing that they did was an affront to his person, in his opinion.

The second reason was because his studies always forced him down the path from which he desired to be freed. He would still strive to gain a decent education, but he wanted to go about it and his future in the ways he wanted.

That was why he hated-

A harsh shove to his right shoulder knocked him off balance and out of his personal reflection. Finding his footing with a deep frown, he saw the offending person walk away from him without so much as a backwards glance. Feeling a slight ember of frustration in his chest, Sasuke quickly righted himself.

"Watch where you're going, loser!" The annoyed singer called out above the ambient chatter, still managing to make his voice sound as passive and dull as always. He ignored the looks of curiosity from some nearby students as his voice seemed to hit the back of the black-shirted offender and bounce off like a ping-pong ball. The familiar bandana-restrained hair of bright yellow atop the head of the body turned back enough to reveal an ice-cold blue stare that could freeze the sun.

"Bite me, choir boy!" The coarse tone of the ruffian steadfastly snapped back, but the boy in question simply kept moving away. Sasuke saw how both of the guy's hands seemed to meet in front of his body, hidden very well from view, before the offending moron - in Sasuke's opinion - turned into a bathroom on the left. Sasuke's eyes narrowed, he truly disliked that idiot of Class Four. The one who pranced around acting like nothing mattered just so happened to be the person he disliked the most, the one he was thinking about before being knocked about by said person.

The guy seemed to know nothing of pressure, of a life constricted to 'do this, do that'. He was free, able to do what he wanted and say what he wanted. Sasuke's apparent hatred of his peer came down to one simple sin: jealousy. He wanted to be able to have some amount of freedom in his life, but there was always somebody on his back, dictating is life. And even when he was away from home and in school, he had no choice but to restrain himself because of the reputation gained from the band and in order to work for the sake of pleasing his father. Even though his private life was less than pleasurable in his own opinion, he still loved his parents enough to want to make them proud of him.

Thinking about it in more of a long-term sense, Sasuke knew that he was setting himself up nicely. In contrast, Naruto surely looked like he was going to get his sooner or later, and Sasuke honestly wanted to be there to watch the ignorant one fall. Then again, how could one fall if they were already considered low?

This time, for Sasuke, ignorance born from arrogance was not bliss…

…it was downright stupid.

"Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to contract chronic depression if I continue to walk with you?" A light voice with a tinge of passive-aggressiveness entered the right ear of the blonde girl who stared mindlessly at the floor as she paced the corridor…only for it to pass straight out of her left ear and break apart against the plastered wall beside her.

Those eyes…

"Hello?" Sakura patronisingly sang, humorously noting Ino's sudden non-responsiveness.

So angry, so menacing, so…full of distress.

"Piggy?" Now the tone of her friend was just getting ridiculously childish.

"WHAT?" So large was the shock of Ino's ear-breaking outburst that she herself jumped at the sound, along with her pink-haired friend, before covering her mouth out of common decency. Quickly looking around, the embarrassed blonde noticed the nearby students giving her two types of strange looks: the girls appeared slightly humorous about it, since the 'famed Yamanaka-sama' was put in an uncomfortable position; whilst the eyes of most boys fell somewhere in the region lower than her chin, creeping ever so slowly to the lowest part of her v-neck. Duly noting the stares, she huffed despondently before making with haste for the nearest staircase, Sakura quickly in tow.

Hanging at her friend's five-o'clock, Sakura watched with an unnecessary interest at how Ino's hard steps against the stairs gave her hips a completely unintended - but exaggerated, nonetheless - sway. Jeez, even when annoyed the blonde managed to continue exerting – and effectively show off – her beauty; such an observation brought a small pang of jealousy to Sakura's chest. Despite that, Sakura could feel relieved that she didn't get as much hampering attention as Ino; sure, the occasional guy would give her the once-over, maybe even compliment her figure if they had the nerve to speak up, but they never went as far as wolf-whistling at her, much like they did with Ino.

'Maybe if some guy can pull her away from Sasuke-kun one day, I'll be in with a better chance.' Alas, all Sakura could think about in regards to comparing herself to Ino were her opportunities in grabbing the singer. Sakura let her mind frivol around the thought as she followed Ino around the hairpin of the staircase that sat at a height between the ground and first floors. It was only as they exited the stairs and proceeded forward along the near-desolate first floor corridor that Sakura bothered noticing the tense silence that loomed above them like a tiny raincloud.

"Why are you getting so wound up about it? He broke a pen and hurt his itty-bitty hand, it's not like Mutual Assured Destruction was looking you in the face, right?" Sakura tried to ease the aforementioned tension by chuckling inside her declaration. Of all the things that could have happened after speaking, the rosette certainly didn't expect Ino to stop dead in her tracks, spin on her heel and glare at her like she was from a different planet.

"Were you in even in the same room as me?" Ino enquired in a tone of exaggerated worry. Sakura didn't say or do anything in response, which was why Ino took a step forward and firmly placed her one free hand on her friend's shoulders. When she spoke again, Ino's voice had turned shaky and with some amount of hyperactivity, which seemed to go well with her wide eyes and upturned brow.

"Did you see the look in his eyes? He looked like he wanted to destroy me!" Her speech trailed off with a highly squeaky inflection. The effect it had on Sakura wasn't what was generally intended, because the pink-haired girl simply scoffed and shrugged Ino's hand off her body.

"You're overreacting, Ino. Maybe the physician has some chill pills she can prescribe." Ino's jaw dropped in disbelief...her friend was messing her about! Now was so not the time for that.

"And what if you came across somebody who looked like they wanted to chop you into little pieces, huh? Would you go to their house with a chainsaw and just tell them to 'have fun'? You're supposed to be backing me up here, you walking highway sign!" Now it was Sakura's turn to let gravity carry her jawbone south, punctuating it with a frown of disdain. Ino looked amazingly unremorseful for her jab, even as Sakura huffed with an upturned head and walked off without a word. Ino wanted to fold her arms, but realised that her books were prohibiting her from performing such an action; she wanted to walk in the opposite direction, but remembered with aggravation that the room of her first class sat on the same path that Sakura was taking. Taking a brief pause to gather herself, she made her way towards what may very well be, in her opinion, the last class of her life...because Naruto had this slot with her as well.

For every step that brought her closer to her doom, she began to mentally list everybody that she was going to write farewell notes to: Sakura, her parents, that brown-haired woman who worked at the local branch of 'Bi' – a large clothing chain – who was always there to give Ino accurate observations on what would go well in her wardrobe...

'Hell, I might as well write my Senior Prom Queen Acceptance speech while I'm at it..." Indeed, Ino was that confident that she would have been nominated by her peers for the prominent 'ten–minutes-of-fame' role. Sadly, as with all moments of reserved thought, time flew by, and Ino was already turning right to walk through the doorway of room 102 and heading for her usual seat.

'More like 'Final Resting Place'...' She contemplated with dread before turning a humorous thought to her headstone, '"Here lies Yamanaka Ino, a young beauty suddenly taken from us by a drumstick-related incident."' The blonde looked out across the room as she claimed her seat next to a silent and visibly miffed Sakura, who herself didn't say a word as she aimlessly twirled a ballpoint pen between her fingers.

The majority of the study rooms on the first floor were oriented around theoretical and more academically constructed work that didn't involve the implementation of practical and hands-on studies. Most of the work was done with the age old pen, paper and textbook, not dissimilar to Class 4's homeroom. Room 102 had the most simple – and undeniably bland – layout that could ever be created by a teacher. The front wall housed a white dry board, scratched from its years of usage (and occasional student abuse), and with the teacher's desk sat a few metres away from it in the top left corner. The whole left wall was lined with hip-height, ripple-paned windows that seemed slightly darkened by a layer of polarising film; it dimmed the sunlight that was able to access the room, and it ruined the view of the grassy courtyard from the inside. The student seating was also relatively dull; there were three equidistant columns of two-seater tables that stretched to the back to make a total of six rows, meaning the room could accommodate 36 students.

Ino was soon racking her mind as she sat in tense silence with her only support, who herself looked like she was going to relinquish that role if Ino said so much as a single syllable pertaining to any form of signpost, billboard or advertisement prop.

'Maybe he did go to the physician,' she pondered, 'maybe she told him to take it easy and sent him somewhere...somewhere that isn't here. Oh God, he's not sitting in the cafeteria and plotting is he? Argh! I don't want to die...at least not until I've graduated...but that still doesn't mean I'd be willing to die after that, either!'

"Oh, look who it is..." Ino somehow caught Sakura's ignorant remark and looked to her right to find her friend looking back at the door. The duo was sat in the second row of the column closest to the door, and as such they could only take note of the influx of students as they entered the room. Ino's complexion appeared to pale when she caught glimpse of a black shirt with rolled up sleeves, an underlying olive green t-shirt, and dark navy pants. Hoping to make herself scarce, Ino immediately snapped her head down to look at the graffiti-laden surface of the desk, raising her left hand to the side of her face as an extra resort.

'Don't look up...don't look up...don't look up...' was her mind's adamant order to her body. So what did she do?

She looked up.

Four Minutes Earlier – Konoha High School – Ground Floor

"Son of a bitch..." a despondent blonde-haired teenager grumbled inside a harshly ejected breath as he slowly and repeatedly curled his fingers back and forth over the pinkish skin of his right palm. The profanity was not directed at the pain caused by the small punctures that dotted his hand like an artificial star constellation, that pain was actually very miniscule. What the curse was directed to, though, was the teen himself for having allowed the incident to occur in the first place, not to mention the severely hampering thought that he had been completely compromised. His mind felt ragged from the sudden onset of frustration, dread, worry, anxiety and almost every other emotion that could be linked to the phrase, 'Holy shit, what the fuck am I supposed to do now?'.

"You seem conflicted." A calm voice spoke out to Naruto's left. Still giving his hand an unnecessary dexterity test, the blonde looked over and met the bland, black-ringed stare of his friend, classmate and fellow instrumentalist, Sabaku Gaara. A generally detached young man who only spoke when he felt it to be of utmost necessity, Gaara wore a long-sleeved red shirt with an overlaying grey hooded sweater; on his lower half was a simple pair of black pants that thinned out into a pair of dark-grey sneakers. The two stood at an equal height, looking at each other eye-to-eye, subtly probing the other's thoughts through their retinas; well...one more so than the other.

"Gaara..." Naruto said quietly, a loose breath inside the remark told the keyboardist that his company was somewhat appreciated, as well as some form of relief to the visually confused drummer.

"We have Social Studies next, we can talk on our way there", Gaara blandly stated before heading off, giving Naruto another reason to maintain his bemused expression. Even as Naruto swiftly caught up, dodging a student that was walking the opposite way for his troubles, Gaara could tell that the somewhat secretive blonde was a lot more interested in his hand than a conversation; the fact of such was made all the more obvious by how Naruto tried to unsuccessfully suppress another grumble that lay in his throat. Gaara didn't look across at his company, but was internally curious as to the whiskered boy's present attitude.

"You're bothered by something," Gaara spoke calmly whilst still looking ahead, "What is it?" The only thing the redhead received in response was silence. Looking across, he immediately knew that his question had fallen upon deaf ears, because Naruto was still looking at his hand, a hand that had soon caught the keyboardist's attention. The redhead's pale eyes slowly and thoroughly scoured the surface of the drummer's palm; even as Naruto's body bobbed with every step he took, Gaara could clearly make out the numerous dark dots that painted his peer's skin.

"It's been at least six minutes since I last saw you at homeroom, what could have happened in such a small window that has you acting in such an out-of-character manner?" Gaara had never been subtle in his use of vocabulary, and as such there had been moments in which the keyboardist thought that Naruto was ignoring him for a very trivial reason. In reality, Naruto was flummoxed by Gaara's complex tongue to the extent that he had to spare a few seconds in order to decode, and then respond to, the query.

Naturally, this was one of those moments. After a good ten seconds, and realising that Gaara was asking, 'What the hell's up with you, then?' in a longer-than-necessary manner, Naruto finally opened his mouth whilst intentionally gazing at the floor.

"Don't worry about it, you wouldn't care anyway." Gone was the excitement and chirpiness, Naruto's voice was now cold and calculating, which was the exact reason for why Gaara continued.

"You assume too much of me, Naruto. I am willing to lend an ear to your situation, so please do not be so swift in disregarding my offer to help. After all, Temari may wish to follow up if you don't confer to me."

That made Naruto freeze on the spot. He had never mentioned it to anybody in the band, but they all knew clear as day that a riled up Temari was one of the few things that scared the drummer. This was the biggest reason for why the guitarist's flirtatiousness after the gig on Friday night made Naruto steadfastly uncomfortable. Although a kind woman in her best moments, Temari's attitude could swiftly transition between pleasant, angered, hard-going, and chipper depending on who was around and what things had been said. Naruto, not wishing to elongate the matter, was quickly on the defensive.

"Alright, alright", Naruto waved a hand at Gaara to indicate his surrender, "But I still don't think you'll understand." Gaara was the first to start climbing the staircase, but continued to talk out in front of him like a man in a trance.

"There's a difference between not caring and not understanding. To not care shows a willing lack of empathy or sympathy. To not understand is almost akin to sympathy itself." Naruto raised an eyebrow and a corner or his upper lip in confusion, his mental dictionary and thesaurus clearly unable to comprehend what had just been preached by the admittedly more intellectual teenager.

"Erm, yeah, sure…whatever you say", Naruto gave a small roll of his eyes before jokingly murmuring under his breath, "Poindexter." Gaara caught the name and slightly turned his head to the right, allowing a brooding-but-smirking Naruto to enter his peripheral vision. As a gesture of humility, the redhead allowed the corner of his mouth to rise a few millimetres before dropping it like a brick. Just as the pair reached the turn in the staircase, Naruto finally answered the question that Gaara had spent at least two minutes waiting to hear.

"Yamanaka found out…and I think Haruno did as well."

Initially, Naruto thought that this would make Gaara stop. On the contrary, the keyboardist just kept walking, but he had slowed his pace down in order to allow Naruto more time to elaborate. The blonde also thought that what he had said would be enough to make Gaara realise exactly what he was talking about.

"Is that all?" Gaara's impassive tone struck at Naruto's patience, and the drummer easily demonstrated it by reaching forward and forcefully turning the redhead to face him. Despite the incensed gaze suddenly being fired at his face, Gaara stood as still and unaffected as ever.

"What the hell do you mean, 'is that all'?" Gaara could tell that Naruto was trying his best to not cause an attention-gaining ruckus on the upper half of the staircase by forcefully hushing his annoyed tone.

"She…" The blonde quickly looked up and down the staircase in a paranoid-like manner, "…she knows I'm in the band, dammit." All of a sudden, Naruto's voice had quietened and given off a defeatist kind of tone; despite that, Gaara's face remained unaffected, but he tilted his head as a means of conveying that he had at least heard what Naruto was putting across. Sadly, the reaction of unaffectedness was all that Gaara could give, and it spoke out in his response.

"I see. Unfortunately, Naruto, this is the kind of scenario that does not affect me. I don't know why, but you have always been careful, sometimes overly so, about not letting this school know of your musical affiliation." Naruto listened intently with a downtrodden frown still hovering over his eyes, and quickly jumped in to correct whatever deductions that Gaara had been incorrect about.

"It's not the school that I get scared about."

Gaara, now finding an opening through which he could understand Naruto's reasoning, pressed on by asking, "So what is it, then?"

That was enough to make Naruto's speech immediately halt and his eyes nervously break contact with Gaara's pale but drilling gaze. Gaara stood patiently but attentively in wait for Naruto's reason, however strange or farfetched, as to what always made him so secretive about his pastime around the students of Konoha high…at least the students who weren't part of the same pastime. Naruto simply took a step back and returned Gaara's stare for two seconds, by which time the keyboardist knew that the drummer wasn't going to give it up so easily. As Naruto continued up the stairs and left Gaara in his wake, he left some ambiguous words.

"Zabuza might tell you if you ask after the next practice." Gaara's brow slightly lowered as Naruto blew him off with such a casual air. This was now the second time that Naruto had ignored the responsibility of revealing his own personal matters, leaving the leader of RasenShuriken to explain or divert things, and although it didn't register on Gaara's features, it was certainly getting on his wick. The redhead would have kept the conversation going, but Naruto was soon to enter Room 102 and begin pretending that he and Gaara barely knew each other, just like he always did on school days.

Naruto suddenly found himself on even more of a downer due to Gaara's somewhat uncaring attitude. However, he couldn't blame him, for the problem was not Gaara's on the personal level, it was Naruto's. RasenShuriken certainly played a small part in his current situation, since he was the drummer for said band, but the ultimate problem came down to what Naruto was trying to keep secret and whom he was trying to keep from figuring it out. As he made his way through the doorway of Room 102, the class clown was hoping that he could hold off his worries for an hour or two while he got down to the source of it. Speaking of which…

"Oh look who it is…" Naruto heard a quiet, female tone emanate from his left as he walked into the classroom. He knew who it was, and the thought of the girl alone made him want to grind his teeth. Haruno Sakura annoyed him, plain and simple. She squealed, jeered and pissed and moaned like a goody two-shoes, and always had a competitive complex with that goddamn friend of hers. Naruto cut into the first of the two columns separating the desks and, much to his frustration and rebuilding anger at having seen it, caught the glossy near-white hair of that goddamned friend.

'For God's sake, don't fucking look at her. You gave it away the last time, so don't do it again.' Naruto adamantly thought to himself as he tried his hardest to look at the wall he was walking towards. The order to not look at the girl in question kept repeating itself in his head, so he did the only natural thing his body would allow.

He looked down; and found himself met with a teal stare that, much to his surprise, was emphasised with wide eyes and a high brow, instead of a smug sneer. But that wasn't what made him stop, it was the way those eyes physically dazzled and somehow captured his full attention, despite the stress they exhibited. The way her hand sat frozen by the side of her face only did a better job in framing the visible sections of her face due to the massive – and, in Naruto's opinion, unnecessary – fringe, it also made her look unfairly innocent, which made Naruto frown.

Did she think she could just mess with him in the way she did and not expect him to be unreservedly pissed at her? After trying to blow him out into the open like that?

On the other side of the ocular interaction, Ino was frozen solid due to the unremitting onslaught being fired towards her by a set of amazing sea-blue eyes. Despite all the rumours and visual dissidence that orbited the boy staring down upon her, his eyes looked so compassionate and even looked as if to rebel against his frown. How could he look so innocent facially, and yet act so boisterously in a physical manner?

It was those damn whiskers. If he acted or looked wild or menacing, those little cheek decorations doubled his animalistic effect; but when he looked at peace, much like as he was staring at her now, the weird feline marks only turned him into more of a kitten.

The two remained totally still, one probing their target for deep and hidden thoughts, while the other wilfully projected their obvious distrust and severe unhappiness. Only when Naruto heard echoed laughter from outside the room did he break his harsh eye contact and make for the rear of the room.

Ino suddenly felt a wave of relief akin to getting into a fight with a territorial lion and walking away with only a sore foot; even then, her eyes didn't move a single nanometre from the spot that Naruto used to occupy. She didn't pay one iota of attention to the stifled giggle originating from the seat next to her, nor the brown-haired boy wearing a black hooded sweater that walked past and threw a paper ball at the back of the room.

"Fuck off, Lassie!" Was the shout that came back seconds later; no anger was restrained as Naruto's coarse voice rang through the room. Inuzuka Kiba was quick to reply in a hard but thoroughly defensive attitude.

"Holy shit, Naruto, what the hell got your panties bunched up?" Ino suddenly found that she was trying to make her body small again by looking back at the desk, the reason why was something only known by three people in the room. Naruto, meanwhile, was just sitting down as he shot his estranged friend a death glare after receiving a lovely paper ball to the back of his head, courtesy of the dog lover. Verily, the drummer was definitely not in the mood to be messed about, hence his verbally violent reaction; on top of that, Kiba's rhetorical question actually had an answer, and it was Yamanaka Ino. Naruto crossed his arms with fervour and punctuated his face with a childish pout as Kiba lazily slumped into the seat beside him.

"PMS much?" Kiba remarked with a strained voice as he stretched his arms out above him. Naruto, whose hard eyes were still firmly pasted at the platinum-blonde head of hair a few desks ahead and to the right of him, remained still.

"Shut up", he said sharply without letting his attention slip from his new nemesis. Kiba, ever the similar joker, continued the line of mockery.

"You want a tampon?" Kiba smirked as he looked out the corner of his eye. Naruto continued to paste his hard glare on the blonde girl who was now silently doodling on the inside cover of her notebook.

"You want me to spay you and make you a real bitch?" Naruto growled, finally looking over at his company with a look that said nothing less than, 'This boy is in no mood for jokes right now.' Kiba, although not unfamiliar with Naruto's patented angry face, raised his eyebrows and held his hands up defensively. His attention was soon diverted back to the entrance of the room as a beautiful young woman with long violet hair made her way to the left side of the room and walked down the aisle between the desks. She was a very striking girl who held an unbelievably peaceful air around her, her large lavender eyes could captivate anybody should she have wished it, and her gentle smile was enough to raise anybody's spirits on a rainy day.

"Dude, there's Hinata", Kiba whispered while leaning towards Naruto's ear and emphasising the girl by subtly pointing at her. Naruto didn't move his head, but his eyes briefly snapped across to look at his band mate's cousin and acknowledge that she was indeed who Kiba said she was. As if barely fazed by the girl, Naruto quickly turned his eyes back to the front of the room.

"And?" Naruto said in a somewhat uninterested manner. Kiba, being a fellow male, was struck by Naruto's impassiveness.

"And? Just look at her, man; she's hot!" Naruto had to admit that with her graceful demeanour aside, Hyuuga Hinata was certainly a looker. The free-flowing white cotton fabric of her knee-length skirt openly displayed the fluid curve of her hips, while the waist curved inward around her midriff and met the bottom of her dark blue, short-sleeved blouse. Naruto shrugged his shoulders, all while Kiba had a smitten smile written across his face.

"If you like her that much, then why don't you ask her out?" Kiba was quick to stop his…spying…as Naruto fired some logic at him, and quickly lowered his head to look down at his desk.

"Erm...well, people are saying she likes someone else." Naruto was too bothered with his own personal matters to notice the strange look his friend gave him.

"Oh, yeah? Who?" Kiba wanted to smack himself in aggravation and repeat the motion upon Naruto for being so ignorant; however, whether that ignorance was deliberate or not was something the dog lover didn't know. Regardless, Kiba saw it as an opportunity to keep his friend from realising the sometimes blatantly obvious truth.

"Err, I don't know. So…what do you think of her?" Kiba decided to milk Naruto's dimness and find out the boy's own attitude. Naruto quickly looked over at Hinata again whilst tapping a small rhythm on the table surface with his fingers.

"I'll give that she looks pretty good, but she's way too quiet. Last time she tried to talk to me, she barely said 'hello' before she walked away like I was the goddamn plague. If I'll be honest, I don't think she likes me very much." Naruto knew that Hinata was aware of his out-of-school hobby due to her cousin, but Neji had informed him that she had agreed to keep that knowledge to herself; as such, he was a little more lenient when it came to the good-natured young woman, despite his belief that his mere presence rubbed her the wrong way. Kiba, for what is was worth, brought a palm up to this face, but inside he was jumping for joy.

'You fuckin' idiot…' Kiba thought before, finally, their Social Studies teacher entered the room and walked over to his desk. With attentive eyes, the man quickly scanned the present students and parked himself behind his desk.

"Alright, settle down." The man's happy but calm tone was heeded with enough respect that one would expect from a teenage school class. The more sensible students complied, while two particular boys near the back started trying to slap each other. The reason for why it started stemmed from the blonde boy tapping his hands on the desk, and subsequently using Kiba's cranium as a ride cymbal. Noticing the kerfuffle, the teacher's eyes narrowed in disappointment before he performed his usual crowd control technique.

"NARUTO! KIBA! PACK IT IN!" Both of the ruffians turned their attention back to the front of the classroom, but that didn't stop Naruto from smacking Kiba's arm with the back of his fist as a 'last hit' sort of gimmick. Already slightly perturbed by the actions of his two irresponsible students, the teacher let the fingers of his left hand caress the scar that ran parallel to his eye line from cheek to cheek and marred the bridge of his nose. Although the way in which he suppressed rebellious students was often scaremongering, Umino Iruka was a kind-hearted and understanding man who was willing to lend an ear to any student who was willing to talk about any problems, both academic and personal, that may have been having a profound effect on said student.

It was commonplace for Shikamaru to be jokingly asked as to whether he had a long lost brother in Iruka, since the two shared the gravity-defying explosion-style ponytail that magically sprouted out the back of their heads.

"Right, now that I have everybody's attention, I'll take this opportunity to make sure that you all know of this new assignment that I've been asked to give you." A massive wave of groans and cries from the seated students washed over the teacher, who found a small sadistic part of him bringing out a mocking smile. For a brief moment, the teacher thought he heard someone say 'Dream on Iruka-sensei.' It wouldn't be hard to identify who that person was, since only one student in this particular class called him by his given name.

"Quiet, please", Iruka held up a hand in patience, and finally continued once the droning had reached a minimum, "Now…there's going to be a significant difference here, because you'll be working in pairs to write a report, a report that you'll be presenting to the year in the main hall." The 'main hall' that Iruka was referring to was only a second duty imposed upon the gymnasium, since the school was never constructed with a purpose-built performance hall.

"So what's this report going to be about, sensei?" A large, rotund boy close to the front of the class asked without bothering to put his hand up. Iruka, who was straightening out a pile of cover sheets on the desk, looked up in order to explain.

"Throughout history, there have been instances of people who have lived with hidden agendas. No, I'm not talking about government conspiracies, but more along the lines of people who have kept their real motives hidden whilst putting up a front against those that saw them in a natural light. For example, there was one man who lived his life as a traffic cop and was married to a city prosecutor, it turned out that he was a criminal who masterminded a massive organised crime syndicate." Iruka saw the obvious disbelief in the eyes of the students sat before him, but he didn't let that stop him. "In another case, there was a normal day-to-day radio presenter who was actually an informant for the ANBU, and he helped stop around ten planned acts of domestic terrorism. And so on and so forth." The teenagers, who were still sceptical of the stories Iruka had just mentioned, were waiting for the teacher to actually explain what it was they were meant to be reporting, despite the fact that they had a rough idea from his stories.

"In short, you and your partner will be writing about a person who has led a secret life. All the finer details have been made clear on these cover sheets. The deadline is a little over two months from now, on June seventeenth. That should give you plenty of time to make something at least half-decent. However, there is one thing you must be aware of." Iruka saw a familiar head of blonde hair sink as the face below it was smothered with a hand. Moving to the first desk of each column, Iruka gave each student a small wad of paper from which they could take a sheet and pass the rest down.

"Because of work that is sure to given to you in other classes, it is highly likely that the majority of your work will be compiled out of school hours. That means you will have to meet in your spare time in order to write this report. Now, as for your partners, I think we'll let the register decide." Ino's eyes shot open while her body froze. Naruto's body, meanwhile, went slack from disbelief.

"Let's see…" Iruka pondered as he held the class register up to his chest, pen at the ready, "…Aburame Shino?" There came a light hum from Iruka's left, and he looked across to see a boy with a black sweater hood blanketing his head and a pair of thick-lensed sunglasses blocking all possible view of his eyes.

"And…Akimichi Chouji?" Iruka looked at the second desk of the central column of desks. The arm of the student whose name he had called out made a sharp movement to reveal itself from underneath the desk.

"Here, sensei." The large young man with spiky brown hair tried is best to look innocent by throwing his gaze at everything other than the eyes of the teacher.

"Chouji, what have I told you about eating in class?" Iruka continued to stare at the hungry student with a raised eyebrow and inquisitive look. For what it was worth, the hungry boy had enough respect to look embarrassed. "Anyway, you and Shino will pair up for your report."

Naruto was now crapping himself. From an alphabetical standpoint, which seemed to be how the pairings were being determined, he was immediately below Uchiha Sasuke on the register, and only one person separated him from Yamanaka Ino. How could this day possibly get any worse?

55 Minutes Later – Room 102 – Konoha High School

Naruto was now sat alone in an empty classroom, arms folded and huffing through his nose as he found himself being stared down by Umino Iruka. Naruto felt that the reason he had been held back after the class was stupid, but he had a niggling feeling that the social studies teacher had another reason. It was only then that he thought back to what had happened.

The student numbers were dwindling, and each pairing that was confirmed made Naruto want to sink further and further into his seat and pretend that he didn't exist. Hmm, maybe he should have gone to see the medic in the first place, maybe then he would be placed in with somebody as a supplemental.

Despite the popularity of surnames beginning with the letter 'I', Kiba seemed to be the only person in the room with such a family name. He got lucky because Hinata's surname was the last in the 'H' line. Haruno Sakura ended up with a random girl called Hibanara Hitomi, while Nara Shikamaru was partnered with Nobushi Motoko, a foolhardy but very sports-oriented girl.

Naruto looked to his left and saw the up-himself singer sitting and brooding without a care in the world. But inside he was freaking out over the possibility of having to work with somebody that had it in for him for what must have been a totally ridiculous reason, all while Naruto himself didn't like the guy either.

"Tsuchikawa Oda?" Iruka continued his visual trek down the register, as slowly but surely the number of students left to be accounted for dwindled. Just as he heard the student's reply, he looked up to confirm that the next person down the register was present, "You'll be with Uchiha Sasuke."

Naruto could finally breathe a sigh of relief. At last, something had gone in his favour.

"Uzumaki Naruto…" Iruka simply said the name to himself, having seen and scorned the (unbeknownst to him) drummer once already, "Watanabe Kensuke?"

Total silence.

'Open your mouth, Ken. Come on.' Naruto mentally urged the called student to confirm his presence. Iruka, after a brief wait, repeated the name whilst thoroughly scanning the sea of students before him.

"Huh," Iruka blurted in realisation, "Well, we'll have to put him somewhere later. Okay, next is…Yamanaka Ino?" The platinum blonde reluctantly opened her mouth to respond, she herself realising just who had been paired with her, but was immediately cut off by a loud bang that echoed throughout the room. Iruka's head snapped up from the register, and many of the students turned in their seats to locate the origin of the sound. What met their eyes was the sight of a sunshine-blonde head of hair with its owner's forehead lying flat on the surface of the desk.

"Naruto?" Iruka called out, prompting more students to turn around and look at the boy in question, "Are you okay?"

Slowly, and rather creepily, Naruto rotated his head upward, rubbing his nose along the desk before allowing his head to be held up by his chin. The look in his eyes was so hollow that he now looked like a shell of what he used to be. It was only a few seconds before Naruto spoke up once again.

"I'm absolutely…fucking peachy, Iruka-sensei. I was just wondering whether my day could get any shittier than it already has." The ruffian spoke so confidently, but the profanity that sat within his explanation made people gape in shock. Not bothered by it himself, Naruto turned his head to imitate the ever-lazy Shikamaru; Iruka, however, held a hard frown.

"See me after class, Naruto."

"Whatever", the downtrodden blonde shot back. Just as he went to let his head relax on the desk in unhappiness, he noticed that Ino had her hands resting on her forehead, as if to also be dismayed by their newly-formed work coupling.

Because Naruto was thinking back to how he had been reprimanded yet again, he was unaware that the teacher, now sat across from him, was talking.

"…and I know that you haven't been the best and brightest student ever, but what concerns me more is how you seem to be totally unbothered by what consequences your actions bring to you. Sometimes I worry that you're willing to let your entire education go down the drain. Is…is everything okay at home?" Naruto was originally staring down at the paperwork strewn across Iruka's desk, but when he was asked about his domestic situation he was shooting a somewhat defensive look at the teacher.

"Yeah", Naruto broke his eye contact with a shrug of his shoulders and a rapid shake of his head, "Everything's fine. I mean, I'm only the godson of a pervert and people love to take the piss out of me for some really old and out-dated reasons, why wouldn't I be okay?" Iruka let off a nasal sigh, knowing Naruto's situation. The teacher was undeniably empathetic when it came to Uzumaki Naruto; from the very first lesson he had with the boy, Iruka knew that his student had some problems with both his school and personal life. He took the liberty of looking at the boy's record and was saddened to see his history, and how it became the source of his bullying problems. Iruka had been in almost the same boat when he was at school.


"Look, Naruto, you just have to do your best to ignore those people who are troubling you…" Iruka's voice became muffled as Naruto drowned him out once again with his own thoughts.

'You just partnered me to write a report with one of those people who are 'troubling me', how in the hell am I supposed to ignore her?' Naruto could imagine her jeering face constantly taking shots at him during the time in which they would have to collaborate on their report.

"…and I'm not sure whether your…'head-desk'…was in reaction to being paired up with Miss Yamanaka…"

'It was. Consider yourself on the list of people who are ruining my life.' Naruto pulled the 'depressed teen' card, in which almost everything bad that happened in a teenager's life was a direct attempt at 'ruining their life'.

"…and you're not listening to me, are you?" Naruto, who had been mindlessly nodding during his inner monologues, nodded yet again; however, he finally snapped back to reality when he didn't hear Iruka continue with his preaching.

"Err, yeah…I am", Naruto innocently said, but knew something had gone wrong when Iruka sent him a light frown.

"Oh, really? Then what did I just say?" Iruka crossed his arms in wait for what was more than likely to be the wrong answer. Naruto pulled a smirk as he replied.

"You asked if I was listening to you or not." Seeing Iruka's reaction, which was a very flat and sober glare, Naruto tried to suppress a laugh that threatened to break through his restrained smile. Iruka, aware that he had probably made Naruto late for his next class, shook his head in submission. Sometimes, the boy was just too stubborn for his own good, and it worried Iruka to think that it may become the teenager's downfall.

"Alright, never mind." Iruka looked at the leather-strapped watch on his left wrist before sighing. "I think I've made you late for your next class, so I'm sorry about that; just tell your teacher that I had to talk to you. And remember to tone down the language in future as well, please." Without a word, Naruto was up and walking towards the classroom door with the gaze of an attentive teacher burning into his back. As the young man walked out of sight Iruka began to wonder if anything would ever turn in Naruto's favour, having read about what the boy had gone through in his childhood, and seeing what kind of problems may be laying ahead of him in the near future if he didn't start taking his school life seriously.

What he didn't know, however, was that Naruto had had his own plans for the future.

Konoha High School Cafeteria – 12:24 hrs

The south-eastern wing of the high school (i.e. the wing that faced the entrance gate) was the largest out of the three wings of the main academic structure, for it had to accommodate some form of student and staff eatery, lest the board of education slap a fine and construction order on the school board. As was expected of any human being, hunger equalled grumpiness, so it was almost no surprise that the first sets of doors across the hall from the building entrance were those that opened up into the slick floor and musty, greasy smell of the cafeteria. Along the right wall from the entrance was the long hot plate down which the students queued, and the remainder of the large, open area was reserved for large and small group seating. Row after row of twelve-seat tables laddered along the left wall and encroached towards the centre, while smaller, four-seat tables lined the multi-windowed far wall which perfectly framed the gymnasium that sat in the far distance as if spotlighted by the ever-present sunshine.

It was a lovely sight, but it was a shame that a very disheartened drummer was left to bear witness to the sight on his own. Even then, he was only looking down at the tray of stereotypical lukewarm school food sat before him with a face of semi-repugnance. Just like on Friday, when he was spending the whole day revving himself up for the Sixty-Four Palms gig by paying more attention to his iPod than his work, he was currently drowning his ear canals with the world that he loved. He didn't just retreat to his audible haven in order to listen to music willy-nilly; it was the only way he could escape his damning reality, it allowed him a brief moment in which he could pretend that he wasn't a hampered and unpopular school student, and that his own personal 'secret life' hadn't been unveiled by one of the few people he was trying so hard to keep it from.

'And now I have the amazing pleasure of having to work with her.' Quickly shaking his head, Naruto removed his iPod from the confines of his right pocket and began flicking back over the album list, eager to find something new to focus his attention on…something gritty, something from one of his most admired bands: Kamizuru Ichizoku.

(Song = Cypher Drone by Disarmonia Mundi)

This group had immediately struck a chord in him for two reasons. The first was because the anger that was held in both the lyrics and general style of their instrumentals and vocals really connected with him when he had first heard them two years before. Secondly, he was amazed by the fact that they, as a group, consisted of only three people. One man was the vocalist and electronic programmer for the techno-sounding effects, a second man played the drums and bass guitar and often performed backup vocals, while the third member, who happened to be a woman, played the lead and rhythm guitar tracks.

Got no time to think about what they did to me
I have lost my former self and still I'm changing

Lyrically, this song managed to vaguely connect with Naruto for the simple fact that it managed to slightly describe his thoughts and, at a stretch, the attitudes of those who mocked him.

Rain, come down on me
Nightfall, won't you just set me free?
Rain, come down on me
Rain on me

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

The food long since forgotten, Naruto began tapping his free left hand next to the tray in order to simulate his hitting the snare drum of an imaginary kit. At the same time, underneath the table, he was doing his best to bob his heels up and down in synchronicity with the clicking bass drums; however, he had to restrain his movement enough that it didn't look like he had a massive onset of restless leg syndrome.

Banish me to feel safe in your prison of gold and morality
Cursing my birth as an aberration
A sick child of subhuman breed

Okay, a lot of students may not have been all that nice to him, but Naruto was sure their general dislike of him didn't root as deep as wishing he had never been born.

Life, it ends tonight
Breaking the chains of eternity
Life, it ends tonight
Set me free

Okay, so maybe the suicidal hints that lay inside the lyrics weren't applicable to the drummer; but as a whole, only certain parts of the song applied to him.

What should I know?
What should I do to get rid of you?
Your life to me equals nothing

Indeed, what on Earth could Naruto do to get rid of Ino? She may not have been a nothing in his eyes, but the fact he now had to think about how he would handle being around her was enough of a mind-boggler.

Nightfall, come down on me
Rain, won't you just set me free?

Nightfall, come down on me
Rain on me

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

Take me back to where my soul still means a thing
I don't need your world of lies, just want release

To that small lyric, Naruto could only relate the place his soul 'still meant something' as the house he shared with his godfather. He could properly be himself in that single sanctuary…it was a shame that very few people ever saw just what the 'real him' was like. If only they were more understanding…

Memories are just fading ghosts telling the story of someone else
I never had a past, the present is a lie and now I know my future is dead

Life, it ends tonight
Breaking the chains of eternity
Life, it ends tonight
Set me free

Rain, come down on me
Nightfall, won't you just set me free?
Rain, come down on me
Rain on me

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

Just accept the sorrow - fade away
Look around for turning points - let me go
Bringing back tomorrow - led astray
'Cause you're the only one who knows

Naruto swiftly finished off the song by miming the outro drum track with subtle hand movements, so as not to garner any unwanted attention. He truly loved Kamizuru Ichizoku, their style sat well with his general music interests, and he was genuinely upset to hear that they would never tour for the simple fact that they were a band of only three people. The option of recruiting musicians to collaborate had been raised, but they had never been keen on the idea.

'What I'd give to play on-stage with them', the young musician thought before he saw the cafeteria losing its student populous at a rate of knots. Figuring the lunch period was coming to an end, he quickly stood up and picked up his tray of half-eaten mulch.

And now Naruto was back in the harsh reality of life, back to asking himself questions about Ino and – on the odd occasion – Sakura.

Konoha High School Forecourt – 15:36 hrs

The whole day had provided nothing but prolonged sunshine that caressed every little nook and cranny it could possibly reach; and even as the sun began its inevitable decent back towards the horizon, it still shone high and proud over the city of Konoha as if to live up to the name of the city's host, Fire Country. Sitting quite comfortably on the circular bench that soaked up the shade of the large oak tree in the forecourt was the day's most unfortunate boy. With his elbows on his knees and his arms crossed, Naruto looked halfway towards a full hunching position as he bobbed his head to another fitting song that his iPod had automatically selected through the 'Shuffle' setting. He watched with a somewhat overly-attentive eye as the ball of his right foot repeatedly lifted off the ground and touched back down as it tried to play out one half of the tune's rhythm; if he used both feet, his elbows would jitter all over the place and it would make the boy look like he was having a miniature seizure.

Despite the fact he was free of school for another fifteen hours or so, Naruto wasn't looking forward to informing Jiraiya of what had happened over the course of the day. The reason for this was founded on the fact that the old geezer would always ask him how his day had been. Having lived with him for over ten years, the author could read Naruto like a proper book, and he could easily tell when his godson was lying.

'I know I've fallen in too deep
I cry out
But who will end my screams?'

Naruto suddenly felt that even his little electronic companion was trying to deliberately throw his mood into the gutter, too. The drummer's thumb slid over the touch-sensitive surface of the device as he tried to pick out a song that had body, but at least something tantamount to pleasant lyrics. However, his thumb froze dead as the thin veil of shade enveloping his body darkened considerably, whilst directly around him it maintained a certain degree of opacity. Rotating his head to the right in order to follow the path of the darker shade, he came across a pair of somewhat small shoes directly connected to the ankles of some denim-covered legs. He slowly looked up, taking in how the body slimmed as he came to its waist, but the slightly baggy turquoise t-shirt didn't give him an accurate denotation of the body's upper section.

His inquisitive stare quickly transformed into a hard frown as he met the sky blue eyes and platinum blonde hair that he had come to associate with the day's severe misfortune. Hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened before their first lesson, Naruto quickly broke his eye contact and looked back at the fine gravel a few feet ahead of the bench. Quickly, his right hand shot up and got a grasp of the wires sprouting from underneath his shirt before forcefully yanking them down, pulling the attached buds from his ears and leaving them to dangle freely from his neck.

"What the hell do you want?" Naruto shot out in a heavily restrained tone of distinguishable unease. He didn't bother to look over at his company as she stood silent for a grand total of five seconds before replying with something he genuinely wasn't expecting to hear from someone of her standing.

"To talk."

A/N: Phew! There we go! To be honest, I'm not all that fond of this chapter. It's mostly because I consider it pseudo-filler for what will come in the next chapter. The only non-filler parts of it would be the Sasuke-oriented section at the start and the report that Naruto and Ino are paired up for, I had that planned before I wrote chapter 1.

I know I've only touched a little bit so far on why Naruto has been so secretive about his musical talent, but that's because it was my plan to explain it properly in the next chapter.

I hope you listened to the Disarmonia Mundi track that was featured, like I've said before, it's to increase the feeling of immersion. Also, I won't be using the names of any real world bands in this fic, hence the name 'Kamizuru Ichizoku'. I'm using real world songs, but I will be changing the names for the 'in-fic' bands. Disarmonia Mundi really does only consist of three people, and even then the vocalist isn't a proper member, he's actually the front man for Soilwork.

Yes, 'Kamizuru Ichizoku' means 'Kamizuru Clan'. And yes, the three people I described are the Iwagakure clan members who were in the Bikochu bug anime filler arc from Part 1. They'll be brought out in greater depth at a later time.

And at last, Sasuke has made his first plot-relevant appearance.

You'll be surprised to know that the two 'secret life' examples that Iruka gave (the traffic cop and radio host) are actually true stories. Don't believe me? Look up William Leasure (traffic cop) and Hal Turner (radio host). Leasure was effectively a real world Keyser Soze, even today nobody has a clue as to how wide his criminal web had been spun.

I know I said ages ago that I was going to make Sakura the 'Sasuke's Bitch' character, but ever since I released chapter 2, I've been reconsidering by having her be affected by the RasenShuriken revelation as well. How, exactly, I'm not sure, but since I personally hate SasuSaku as much as I hate brussels sprouts, I think I can cook something up (pun partially intended).

In case anybody's curious, the song whose lyrics are featured whilst Naruto is sitting on the bench at the end is 'Conveyer' by Machinae Supremacy. Check it out, it's really catchy :-3

I'd like to extend my gratitude to everybody who put music suggestions in their reviews. Unfortunately, despite narrowing it down, nothing really stood out. As a result, I have already finalised Will of Fire's Battle of the Bands set. No more bets, please ;-P

Standard procedure, folks. If you like it, put it on your alerts, if you love it, put on your favourites. Reviews are very much appreciated. Let's see if we can break the 100 review barrier with this chapter!

What do you want me to release after the two things mentioned below? Don't be afraid to vote in the poll on my profile!

Music Disclaimer: All musical materials featured in this non-profit fictional work are the rightful properties of Disarmonia Mundi, Machinae Supremacy and the record labels associated with them.

Next 2 Planned Uploads:
1. Prologue and Chapter 1 of 'She Made Him Wait'.
2. Chapter 9 of 'The Diary of an Ex Businessman'. I admit that I've been a moron and put it off for WAY too long, and I think it's time I took it off the shelf and put my arse into gear to get it rolling again.