As much as Deidara wanted to enjoy the lovely weather, he couldn't.
University was boring, as much as it was in high school. Only it wasn't as worst.
He sat at the last row of the large room, listening half-heartedly to the professor's boring lecture in art history. According to Itachi, the actual program of the Red Cloud begins at nightfall – around seven. During the day, he would have to be like any other students, attending regular courses for the sake of his credits.
Deidara turned to the large windows at the side of the room, noticing that the rain was much heavier than before.
"Looks like I won't be able to test them out…un."
The blond heaved out a disappointed sigh.
Itachi pulled his gaze from the droplets of water sliding down the transparent glass. He continued his way down the hall with his black shoulder bag hanging at his side. He ignored the eyes upon him as he walked. Gazes were coming every possible direction, each filled with different mixture of emotions as they watched the Uchiha walked by. There were gazes that were filled with love and admiration to gazes that held hatred and jealousy. Itachi simply ignored them all, completely used to it as he focused on his path – the living humans in the hallway invisible to his eyes.
Since his class doesn't start for another two hours, he had plenty of time. He was half way through the skyway towards the Red Cloud's building when Itachi felt presences behind him. His gaze narrowed slightly. It wasn't anyone of the Red Clouds and certainly not any of his fans. No matter how attracted the women or men were to the teen, they would never dare to cross the boundary.
Not within the school at the very least.
Itachi shifted, staring out from the corner of his eyes to see three men slowly making their ways to him.
"Yo~ Itachi. First day back to school and you're still as popular as ever huh?" The brown haired man spoke; his tone dripping with sarcasm with a smug smile upon his lips. Hachiuma – Itachi remembered – as the man's name was the meaning of eight horses. "Heh…you really make people envy you." The two men behind Hachiuma snickered as the brunette continued with his speech. Itachi stood fairly still, his face looking apathetic as usual. It was really a wonder how people like them could actually get into Akatsuki.
"Good marks, good look, popular with lady and even rich–" Hachiuma paused before breaking out a smirk. "Oh, that's right! Your family's business went bankrupted some years back didn't it?"
For a split second, Itachi's irises flashed in crimson before a blow slammed against the side of his face.
"Don't look at me with those damn eyes you freak." Hachiuma hissed. "You're just a poor brat, don't get cocky with me." Itachi could feel the other's nauseating breath crawling against his ears.
"You're not even worth wasting my time." Itachi calmly replied as the arm over his shoulder stiffed.
"Bastard!" Hachiuma growled. He spun Itachi around and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. Before the brunet's knuckles could bash into that flawless face, a smaller hand intercepted and caught Hachiuma's tanner wrist in one fluid motion.
"My apologies for the interruption." A familiar voice spoke as Itachi shifted his gaze to see a pale boy around his age standing beside them. The boy had very feminine feature that could easily beat Deidara's with his long brown locks tied up in a bun at the back of his head.
"Haku-san…!" One of the men behind Hachiuma gasped as the physician smiled warmly at them.
"Fighting is strictly prohibited with the school. If you wish to continue, I will have to report this to the chairman." Haku said calmly as Hachiuma shot Itachi a nasty glare. Very slowly, his grip over the Uchiha's collar loosened before reluctantly letting him go. He knew what would happen if he was to go against Haku. Everyone in the school knows, aside from the freshmen who will have to learn through experience.
Though technically, it wasn't the gentle hearted Haku they feared…
"Beyond this point is restricted to only members of Red Cloud." Haku spoke in a hard, icy tone that he would hardly ever use. "I would ask you all to please step back."
Hachiuma glared, seeming to about to say something back when one of his lackey gave him a small tug. "Tch…" Hachiuma clicked his tongue, making a small sound of irritation. Shooting Itachi one last glare, he hurried away with his companions.
After they disappeared from sight, Haku turned to Itachi.
"Though fighting is prohibited, self-defence is not, Itachi-kun. If you let them do as they please, they will think you are easy to bully." Haku said softly, his honey brown eyes coated with a layer of concern. Itachi knew that…but although he knew he could easily beat them, he didn't felt like bothering.
"It's starting to bruise." Haku observed as Itachi pulled away. "Come to the infirmary, I'll get some–"
"No, it's fine." Itachi said softly. "Thank you." He turned and hurriedly crossed the rest of the way to the Red Cloud's building. With a wave of his ringed hand against the sensor, the pair of heavy doors were unlocked.
"Ita–!" Haku's voice never made it to him as the automatic doors slammed shut – drowning the air within a comfortable, calming silence.
Itachi closed his eyes, enjoying the quietness before he took the elevator and arrived at the top floor. He brushed his ring by another sensor, opening the door to reveal a large change room. He stepped into the room, walking by dozens of lockers before exiting to the other side. The second Itachi came out into a larger room, the smell of chlorine filled his nose. He stared at the room graced by the darkness with faint greyish light from the sky seeping through the glass wall. He walked around the large pool at the center of the room, passed the steam room and to the table by the transparent wall. He didn't bother opening the light, for that he enjoys the dimness as the way it was. He placed his bag down at a table and leaned against the glass. His eyes stared at his faint reflection as he counted the droplets sliding down the glass wall. Once he grew more comfortable in his position, Itachi's eyes slowly slid close, enjoying the coolness of the glass pressing against his bare arm and stinging cheek.
Itachi always found himself loving this place. Since none of the members of the Red Cloud were the athletic or health type, the workout room and pool were never used. He would always come here, whether for works or simply for some quiet rest…
"Isn't it lonely admiring the rain in such a dim room?" A voice that was not his suddenly spoke.
Itachi's eyes snapped opened in surprise as the peacefulness was shattered like fragile glass. The sound of water breached his ears as ripples ran through the surface of the pool. Itachi turned and caught a silhouette of a person slowly rising from within the water. It didn't take Itachi long to realized that the person was far from anyone in the Red Cloud he knew. He stared as the person stepped onto the dry tiles of the floor. The man was huge. Itachi wasn't considered short and this person easily beat his height by a head. His eyes slowly trailed down the figure before catching a glimpse of a dark shadow weighted heavily on the man's finger.
From the size and shape, it was a ring of the Red Cloud.
Tearing his gaze from the man, Itachi walked to the table. He hurriedly grabbed his bag, about to leave when he was stopped by something cool gliding by his cheek. Itachi shuddered at the touch and took a couple of seconds to register that what was caressing his bruise was the stranger's soaked fingers. In a swift movement, Itachi slapped the offending hand away.
"Don't touch me." Itachi whispered and hurried away without glancing back.
"Where was that room again?" Deidara muttered to himself as he glanced around the hallway.
After what felt like eternity, that boring session was finally over and Deidara has an hour of break before his next class begins. Once he was freed, he tried to find that workshop Itachi had showed him…the one where every artist's tools were hung on that grand, white wall. Never mind the workshop; he doesn't even know where the Red Cloud's facility is. This place was like a gigantic maze. He tried asking some students for direction, but when they heard Red Cloud, they hurried away in a panic, not daring to meet his eyes.
"What's her problems, un?" Deidara mumbled to himself as another girl ran away from him. He was just trying to ask for direction…was that wrong? Deidara scratched the back of his head and heaved out a sigh in frustration. Only forty minutes left before his next class begins and he was completely lost.
"GAAH! LOOK OUT!" A loud, destructive voice rang down the hall.
Deidara turned. Before his eyes could focus, he felt a force slammed painfully against his side. The people around stopped, all of them turning to the two boys lying over the black marble floor. Deidara groaned, feeling his left arm throbbing in pain from the impact.
"What was that for?" Deidara snapped and quickly pushed the dead weight off him.
"Ouch!" The person whined; hitting the floor when Deidara sat up. When Deidara glanced down at the person who ran into him, his eyes immediately caught sight of an insanely bright orange mask the other was wearing. Deidara stared at the swirly pattern over the mask before taking note of the small hole for the right eye.
'Great…another weirdo.' Deidara thought to himself, about to look away when something particular caught his eyes. He quickly turned back to the boy who was rubbing his side. His blue bell eyes locked onto the ring the stranger wore on his finger with the kanji of void engraved on it.
"That ring…" Deidara mumbled as he quickly pulled out his own from his pocket.
"Oh! You're from the Red Cloud?" The boy exclaimed in shock, earning various gazes from the bystanders.
"So I take it you are too huh?" Deidara mumbled as he started at the boy who was suddenly on his feet, jumping around in excitement.
"A new member!" The boy laughed. "I'm Tobi! I just became a Red Cloud this year myself!" The boy–…or Tobi, said as Deidara slowly pulled himself up and patted the dirt off his clothes.
"So what's your name?" Tobi asked. Although Deidara felt reluctant to reply to the teen, he did anyways.
"Deidara-senpai!" The boy waved his arm into the air which made Deidara raise an eyebrow.
"So senpai, where are you going?" Tobi asked in excitement, unable to keep his feet still as he jumps around.
"I'm looking for the Red Cloud's facility, un." Deidara replied, though he doubted it will help much. This boy was a complete airhead…and new, just like him. There was no way he'd–
"Oh! I know where that is!" Deidara stared, taken off guard by the answer. "Come on, hurry up, senpai!" Tobi shouted, already on the other side of the hall in a heartbeat. Deidara glanced at the clock hung down the other end of the hallway before following after Tobi. Although the boy was acting way too familiar with him, he didn't mind as long as he could get to his destination. He followed Tobi down many turns and hallways until they came to a pair of steel doors, like the ones Deidara seen with Itachi. Tobi frantically waved his hand over the sensor as though his life depended on it. It was then when Deidara suddenly realized how much grace his raven haired friend had. With a soft click, the steel doors slowly pulled open to reveal the passageway on the other side.
'He really brought me here…' Deidara was slightly surprised since he had suspected that Tobi was just fooling around when he said to lead him.
"So senpai, which department are you heading for?"
"Huh?" Deidara stared at Tobi, lost in words for a moment. "Un…the art workshop." Deidara answered unsurely, wondering if they had any specific way to call these rooms.
"Deidara-senpai's in arts?" Tobi gasped before happily waving his arms over his head like a five years old child. "Then you're with Sasori-senpai!"
There it was again…that name he heard for the third times today. Not knowing what to say, Deidara just nodded out his reply and once again following Tobi down the hall. When he stared at the boy, he couldn't help but found him a splitting image of Naruto.
"Hey Tobi. How long–" Deidara was cut off when Tobi stood by a familiar pair of doors. The minute the door was unlocked, Tobi practically kicked the door open and dashed in. "Sasori-senpai!" He shouted in gleam as Deidara quickly caught the door just before it shuts. The next moment, Tobi's scream came bashing down against his eardrums and causing the blonde to jump back from reflex.
Deidara stared as the door was locked right in his face. "Tobi?" Deidara called once he snapped out from the shock. He quickly waved his ring over the sensor, unlocking the door before quickly dashing in to find Tobi lying on the floor. The boy was bounded in strings – which upon closer look, Deidara discovered that it was actually fishing line. The boy's limbs were sealed off from all movements so all he could do was flail around like a fish suffocating on land.
"How many times have I told you to keep your hands off my works?" A deep voice snarled coldly.
Deidara tore his gaze from the ground. He slowly looked up to find a red haired man standing on the other side of the room. He has fair skin with an extremely young outlook though his voice had betrayed his appearance.
"Sa-Sasori-senpai! I'm sorry!" Tobi pleaded.
'Sasori?' Deidara stared at the man. So this is the Sasori everyone's…
Deidara paused in his thought as he stared at the man again. That face. Where had he seen it before?
"I told you not to call me that." Sasori snapped before giving a tug at the strings on his hand. Deidara glanced down to see the fishing line around Tobi tightening as the boy began crying and beg for his senpai's forgiveness.
"Sasori…" Deidara whispered as his mind suddenly clicked together. "You're Sasori of the Red Sand?" The red haired man glanced up to notice Deidara for the first time.
"Who are you?" He questioned.
The fact that he didn't deny confirmed it.
How could he be so stupid? Deidara could remember seeing the man's face everywhere…on television, news or magazines. He was famous throughout the world and was known as the era's most talented puppeteer. At the age of thirteen he created his first master piece known as Red Sand and since then, that had become his title. 'So this is Sasori of the Red Sand…' Deidara thought to himself. Although it was a shock to meet a big name celebrity like Sasori, Deidara wasn't that impressed. He admit that the redhead was truly a genius and the best artist he had ever known, he just never found himself to like any of the puppeteer's works.
"This is Deidara-senpai!" Tobi answered before Deidara could even react to any of this. "He's going to be in the arts department too!"
"…Is he?" Sasori said; suddenly interested as he released his grip over the fishing line. The binding over Tobi was loosened and the boy wasted no time at all struggling to untie himself from the mess.
"Never seen your face before. You're new to Akatsuki?"
"Yeah." Deidara replied as Sasori carefully eyed him. Deidara shifted under the gaze of those honey-brown eyes. "What?" Deidara couldn't help but snapped, feeling uncomfortable by the other's gaze. "If you got something to say, say it, un!"
Those honey-brown eyes snapped to the blond's face. For a split second, Deidara thought he saw a look of shock crossing Sasori's fragile feature. But when Deidara blinked, that shock was replaced by a smirk with those brown eyes dancing in amusement. Without a word, Sasori turned and silently walked away. Deidara watched as the famous puppeteer made his way to a large table where there was this large pile of puppet limbs. The redhead began working right away sanding and chipping his works.
Deciding to ignore the redhead just as he did, Deidara turned to the masked boy. "Hey Tobi. Just now, when you said too – are you also in the arts department?"
"Nope!" Tobi sang. "Tobi is in…"
A moment of pause.
"Sasori-senpai, what department am I in again?" Tobi asked as he scratches the back of his head.
Deidara nearly bashed his head into the nearby wall at the ludicrous question. "Are you serious?" Deidara mumbled to himself before noticing the death glare Sasori was sending the boy. Obviously he doesn't appreciate Tobi's presence here.
"How should I know?" He growled, but Tobi seemed oblivious to his senpai's mood and just hops around.
"Hey Sasori-senpai! You've been working on those for hours now…" Tobi said, making sure he keeps a good distance as he peered at Sasori who was wrapped within his work. Deidara stopped, suddenly feeling something tugging at the back of his head.
"Isn't it time you…"
Gasping in remembrance, Deidara's head quickly wandered around before finding a clock in the room. "My class!" Deidara nearly screamed before he dashed out of the door with Tobi's call vanishing behind him. It was only when he ran out of the Red Cloud's facility did he suddenly realized that he had no idea where he was. Groaning in frustration, he skidded to a stop and quickly glanced for the nearest person for directions while hoping he wouldn't be ignored like before. Just then, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw two figures coming from around the corner. He turned, about to part his lips to ask his question when he froze. The two men were huge! They were both tall with strong, stiff muscles that looked everything of the definition of barbarians.
'What's with the people in this school?' Deidara seriously began to wonder if there were any normal people here.
The brown haired man with menacing eyes had bandages strangely wrapped around his mouth. The much taller man beside him was blue…literally blue. His hair was in shades of indigo and sky blue colouredskin. His eyes were round with irises only a small dot…almost resembling a shark's.
He thought about changing his target, but unfortunately, the shorter and rather more normal man noticed his existence.
"What do you want?" The man asked as Deidara quickly snapped out.
"I er…" Deidara mumbled. He thought about turning away, but knew it was too late. "I'm wondering if you know where the B-Wing is."
"What's your class kid?" The man surprisingly asked. Deidara blinked, half expected to be brush off. 'They don't seem annoyed…' He thought as he pulled out his schedule from his pocket and handed to the bandaged guy. "Sculpting, un." Deidara replied. The bandaged man took a look before returning the paper to him.
"Walk down that hall, pass two buildings and take the elevator down to the third floor."
Nodding and giving the man his thanks, Deidara hurried away, hoping that he has only missed the professor's introduction.
"New students…" The brown haired man mumbled as he continued on down the hallway.
"You got to give credit to the kid. Not much has the gut to talk to you like that, Zabuza."
"As though you have the right to talk, Kisame." Zabuza retorted as another couple of students evaded from their path.
"So where is Haku?" Kisame asked. He glanced around the people in the hall, searching for a certain brunet. "I haven't seen him for years. I thought you two would be together."
"The kid works in the infirmary." Zabuza replied. Then he gaze shifted to Kisame through narrowed eyes. "For someone who was reluctant to return from America, you seem rather happy."
At that, Kisame smirked, revealing a row of sharp fangs hidden behind his bluish lips. "I just found something interesting. Beside, it isn't much different from the school in America. They even speak English as the main language here."
"That is because this school is an international one."
"Hmm..." Kisame hummed before turning to Zabuza. "The Red Cloud. Do you know how many members they have?"
"I don't know about new comers, but there were only seven last year." Zabuza replied as they stopped before an elevator. He reached out a finger and pressed the down button. "Either way, you'll be seeing all of them tonight at the meeting."
"I suppose." Kisame mumbled. He glanced down to his fingertips where he could still feel the lingering sensation. The softness of that alabaster skin he had touched burned vividly within his mind. Kisame could remember the shock when his eyes fell upon that lonesome figure leaning against the glass, face waxed by the grayish light. He couldn't find himself to forget. He had heard about people looking as though they've walked out of a picture, but he has always thought it was only an exaggeration. However, what really caught his interest wasn't that boy's angelic face. It was his eyes. The gaze that was lonelier than the moonlight. When Kisame saw those eyes, he couldn't help but felt them touched his soul.
"Kisame." Zabuza's voice brought the blue skinned man back to reality. Kisame glanced down to see Zabuza stepping into the elevator that had arrived during the time his mind had drifted away. "Don't be late for my class. There will be punishments if you do." Zabuza said and with that, the elevator door closed, leaving Kisama to deal with the curious yet fearful eyes boring his way. Obviously the people here had never seen anyone with natural blue skin before.
Kisame just shrugged the gaze off, completely used to the treatment and began making his way to his first class of the day.