Hej, so this is my first attempt at writing a 'realistic' SasoDei high school fic. I was writing a completely different fic, but then I had an idea for this one and became obsessed with it in a flash. That's also why I wanted to publish it right now and not later when I've finished more chapters. I don't know, maybe you've already grown tired of high school fics, but I certainly haven't. I hope you like it.
Also, just in case, I added the definitions of the phobias mentioned in this fic to the end of the chapter.
Chapter 1 - Arrival
It was a pleasant late-summer morning in the city. Deidara's mother drove him through the town down the empty streets, taking no turns as the GPS told her to only follow the main road. They lived on the other side of the city and it was a long way. They had been on the road since 3 pm; Deidara's mom was allegrophobic.
The clock on the dashboard was nearing five o'clock, but Deidara didn't feel like closing his eyes yet. He'd used to have it so easy falling asleep at all hours, whenever he'd willed, but it all had changed two months ago. Now he couldn't close his eyes even for a short period of time during the night when it was dark.
The fear wasn't in his mind, it was somewhere much deeper. He couldn't shake it off, he couldn't fall asleep in the dark to save his life. Involuntarily, his tired eyes stayed open and gazed out of the window, taking in the passing scenery.
It was already quite light in the city center, the sun was about to rise, tinting the lower part of the sky pink. Deidara had rarely visited this part of town, he hadn't been in need to go so far from home often. This current block was unfamiliar to him.
It may have been only his imagination, but the city seemed to grow darker again as they neared the other edge of town. It wasn't so much the missing light, but the atmosphere that radiated off the buildings. It was unfriendly, malicious and turned ominous the moment they were past the city boarder an hour later.
"About an hour to go, darling," Deidara heard his mother say from the front seat. She made it sound like a good thing. Deidara would've preferred spending his whole life in this car, a 2004 Ford, than set his foot in the place he'd been exiled to.
He'd spent his summer running between shrinks' offices and the police station, neither of them having any effect for the better on the situation. The police men hadn't been interested in finding the one guilty, he'd realized, their only interest had been to close the case. The shrinks couldn't cure him, he'd known, the only help for him could've been amnesia.
Deidara couldn't tell people what was wrong with him when he didn't even know it himself. He didn't know the cause for his constant anxiety, he only knew the growing list of phobias that came with it – claustrophobia, nyctophobia, social phobia, aquaphobia.
He'd once suggested visiting an asylum, high-class if possible, but it had been laughed off in his face. There weren't many people who believed him and one of them who would have was dead now.
It was all quite similar with the police investigation. Once the denial had slipped from his lips, he'd been confronted with the question of 'who had done it then?'. But how could he tell them, if he didn't know himself? It had been dark, there had been many people, he didn't know! By a mere chance, people had seen him standing the closest to the victim. It had been a coincidence!
The police obviously hadn't bought it. Throwing a fit and shouting at them that it was their job to find out who had done it and not his hadn't helped either, Deidara had noted after thinking it over countless times. He didn't like dwelling on the topic, but there was no escaping from it as it had become his past, present and future.
Having been found guilty of murdering his best friend by the jury, Deidara was now on his way to the strictest reform school in the country.
The campus of the Otogakure no Sato Academy, commonly known as 'hellhole' among its students and as 'Oto no Sato' among everyone else, was surrounded by a perimeter fence with spiraling barbed wire on top. It took a good half an hour of searching to find the gate. While walking along the fence, Deidara grew more and more certain that he did not want to go inside.
The scenery was most awful, the grass and trees looking like there hadn't been any rain for the last five months. In each corner of the campus there stood a large square building with grayish-black walls and barred windows. The ground was mostly yellow and brown, cigarettes and broken glass covering most part of it. If they had a groundskeeper, he was dead and his ghost hadn't shown up to continue with the work.
Sighing, Deidara sat down on his dark-blue duffel bag in front of the locked gate. His mom had already taken off to make it on time to her work. He wasn't worried about being the first to arrive as it certainly wasn't his first time to arrive hours earlier. In the letter they'd received it had been clearly stated that all students, both the new and the old, were expected at 11 o'clock sharp. Without having to check his phone for it, Deidara knew that it wasn't even 7 yet.
Fortunately it wasn't dark anymore – the reason Deidara had begun to love summers and despise winters. His body felt weak from the lack of sleep and almost acted on its own, lying down on the bag and letting the boy close his eyes. Deidara felt his body relax and the tension left him, his shivering arms becoming still as he fell asleep in seconds.
Deidara woke up to the bright sun shining straight into his face. The position he was in on the duffel bag seemed intolerably uncomfortable now that he was awake and he pushed himself up, shielding his eyes with his hand.
Casting a shadow, a pleasant-looking woman gazed down at him, her lips forming a friendly smile once she saw the blond awake. Even though she seemed sincere enough, Deidara had trouble believing anyone in this school could pull off a truly friendly act. He'd heard too many rumors for that.
The woman's expression remained unaffected by the blond's prejudice. "Hello there, are you new here? You've arrived early."
Her talking pissed Deidara off for more than one reason. Firstly, he knew god damn well that he was early. For god's sake, for his entire life he'd been early. In addition to that, Deidara finally understood the reason for her friendly act. She thought he was female. Deidara knew he looked mostly like an innocent teenage girl; it had affected the way other people talked to him for as long as he could remember.
Not wanting to start his already crumpled page here in a bad tone, he flashed the lady a shy smile. "Yeah, I misjudged the distance."
The woman looked taken aback, covering his mouth with his hand in surprise. "Oh my, you're a boy."
"Indeed," Deidara nodded, keeping the forced smile on his face. The woman gave him an apologetic smile that he waved off. "Don't worry, you're far from the only one who's made that mistake."
"Oh, alright. My name is Shizune, I'm one of the teachers. And your name is…?"
"Iwaga, Deidara Iwaga."
Shizune flipped through her papers, searching for his file. Deidara noticed her eyes widen after scanning the paper she'd found. Her expression darkened, the friendliness fading and turning into cold indifference. Deidara guessed she was reading his criminal history. He sighed. He'd almost forgotten; nobody was going to believe him here either.
When she looked back at him, all traces of pleasantness had disappeared. Deidara could read right from her eyes that she felt disgusted. Even though she was a stranger, it broke Deidara's heart to know that people thought he'd killed someone. Broke his heart, or what was left of it anyway. His face feeling cold and hot at the same time, he lowered his head in embarrassment and sorrow.
He didn't think of Shizune badly now because of it; he knew that if he'd been in her shoes, he would've felt the same way. Looking at someone in front of you who you knew had taken a life with their own bare hands - it was hard imagining something more sickening.
Mentally, Deidara would've wished for their death. He would've regarded them as despicable creatures not worthy of breathing the same air as others. He would've treated them coldly, expressing in any way possible how much he loathed them.
And now he was in one of the despicable creatures' shoes and would remain there forever more. He'd done nothing, but that wasn't the saddest part. He wished he had done it or at least owned the power and will to have done so. Then, at least, he thought, he would have the tolerance to bear with all the pressure that fell upon him. Had he been capable of taking a life, people's hatred towards him would have seemed like nothing.
Shizune sighed. "I guess I'll see you to your room then, since you're already here." Deidara noted in surprise that her voice didn't seem angry or loathing, but rather expressing sadness. Was she mourning another teen's life gone to waste?
Deidara didn't want it to be like that. He wanted to open his mouth and explain everything; explain that it hadn't been him who had killed the boy, not him who had pushed him under water and kept him from surfacing until he'd drowned. Not him who had left his body lying there at the bottom of the sea. He hadn't killed his best friend, he wanted people to understand that.
But he also knew that it was impossible and not going to happen. After all, it was his word against the jury's.
Feeling hopeless, he let out a devastated sigh and got up to his feet, slinging his bag over his shoulder. Shizune unlocked the gate and pushed it open, treading inside. Deidara followed him unenthusiastically, feeling like he was entering a prison. In many ways, that feeling was accurate.
"The building on your right is where all the classrooms are and the one on the left is for the gym, library and cafeteria," Shizune said, her voice mostly emotionless now. It would've been alright for Deidara, had he not known that she could sound happy as well.
Solemnly, he looked to his left, giving the building a skeptical look. It looked too big to be containing so few rooms, surely there had to be more. He looked back at Shizune in front of him, noticing a stadium coming into view behind her. It was situated right in the center of the campus.
As they walked across the football field, Shizune motioned towards the two remaining buildings. "On the left is the dorm for students ranked from E to C, on the right side for those ranked from B to S."
Deidara didn't quite get the system. "Ranked?" he repeated.
"There are six ranks, classifying the seriousness of the crimes a particular student has committed. The lowest rank is E, which is mostly for students with behavior issues and who are sent here by their parents. Those students don't usually stay here longer than a year. Following rank is D, then C, B, A and finally S, the highest rank."
"Which rank am I?" Deidara blurted out without thinking. He paled when he realized his mistake. Shizune cast him a serious look over her shoulder, as if to say 'you killed a human, which one do you think you are?'. Deidara looked down again.
They proceeded to the dorm on the right. The grayness surrounding Deidara never disappeared as they went up the stairs to the sixth, the highest floor. There were two floors for each rank.
Shizune led him down the hallway, passing the two bathrooms. Turning an even lighter shade of white, Deidara could feel claustrophobia crawling in on him again, flipping his stomach. He tried to force his attention away from the surrounding walls and low ceiling, focusing on the few barred windows in the walls. Not only did this place resemble a prison, it was a prison. And now also his new home.
Deidara's 'new' room turned out to be quite old, matching the rest of the place. It was at the end of the hallway, its north-facing window to the forest behind the campus. Unlike the campus, the forest looked fairly green and welcoming, seeming untouched by the dryland plague that had killed the school's territory.
Deidara let out a dreamy sigh, allowing himself some happiness before the bars he'd looked through came into focus again. He looked around in the room, taking in the depressing details of it.
The four walls were a light shade of purple, the color not standing out that much among the countless scribbles, cuts and holes in the walls. There was an empty shelf hanging beside the window, a beheaded teddy bear lying on it. The plushie was yellow with blood marks on it and a kitchen knife sticking out. Someone must've forgotten it there. Deidara wasn't particularly disturbed by it, but made a mental note to throw it into the first trashcan he came across later.
On the old wooden desk lay stacked Deidara's new - new for him – school books and clustered papers under his key for the room. Shizune picked it up and handed it to him. "It's partly a skeleton key," she said. "It won't open other dorm rooms, but will open the doors for the buildings. You see, they are usually locked."
Deidara nodded and pocketed it, sitting down on his bed that threatened to collapse any moment. Its covers looked old and itchy after being washed at least a hundred times. The list of things he wanted his mother to send to him only grew and grew.
"Before I leave you to unpack here, I'm obliged to confiscate any hazards that you might own."
Deidara automatically reached out for his pockets, but then thought it over and withdrew his hand. "What exactly are considered hazards here?"
Shizune stared at him, probably having hoped that he wouldn't ask. She then sighed and flipped to the first paper in her map. "In Otogakure no Sato Academy it's forbidden for a student to own any sharp edged objects, exempli gratia knives, sharp-edged scissors, razors, needles, box cutters; any fire producing objects, exempli gratia a lighter, matches. Firearms, cell phones, pagers and any other two-way radio devices are also prohibited."
Deidara sighed and fished out his mobile from the pocket, handing it over. It wasn't like he had anyone to call anyway, except his mom. Actually, it could've been a good thing – he didn't have to reject all the calls coming from his tactless and curious classmates and ex-friends, who'd all taken off once realizing how much the incident had messed him up. Now they were all likely to call and fake sympathy, restlessly inquiring about how exactly it all had happened to have something to tell forward.
None of them really cared about the truth, only the rumors. None of them had cared about his friend then, why should've they started caring now? They only found him interesting because he was dead now.
Deidara knew the faces they'd make at the ceremonial that the school year would start with, a ceremonial that he wasn't going to. As a rule made up by the jury and police, Deidara wasn't even allowed to attend the burial. Yet another reason why Deidara wanted to chop their heads off.
"Is that it?" Shizune asked in a surprised tone, staring at the old Nokia the boy had given her. Deidara understood that for an S-rank student, he didn't own that manyhazards and he smirked at that. He was glad that no one had thought of adding clay to the list.
He nodded, feeling free of any guilt under the skeptical gaze of the teacher.
"Oh, alright then. I suggest that you read the school rules through before leaving for class. Classes start at 12 o'clock sharp today. Also, your schedule is on the desk as well." She gave a confirmative nod, before turning around and walking out of the door, pulling it closed behind her. On the other side of the door, a chained naked woman had been carved into the wood. Deidara stared at it in disgust, suddenly feeling like killing himself.
To be continued...
List of phobias mentioned:
(Deidara's mom) Allegrophobia - the fear of being late
(Deidara) Claustrophobia - (even though it's widely known) the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms.
Nyctophobia - the fear of darkness
Social phobia - (also known as 'social anxiety disorder') is characterized by intense fear in social situations
Aquaphobia - the fear of water