Chapter 16

"As you all know, the three dorms compete at the end of the year for special privileges the following school year…" There were a few yells from the students in all the dorms as Sarutobi spoke of the competition. "This year, like every year, this competition will take place. As heads of the winning dorm for the past three years, Neji and Shikamaru will speak more about the events for this year."

The two boys stepped up and attention was on them, showing just how high their positions were in the school. "This year, like every year, will consist of multiple events to decide the winning dorm."

"And the dorm that wins gets access to the private bathhouse and training building on campus." Neji explained the prize and Kaoru's mood dropped a little at the mention of the bathhouse, only to decide it wasn't important. In seconds, he was back to normal, but Sasuke had noticed. "The events are…"

A drum roll sounded through the assembly room before Shikamaru started the listing. "Swimming." A banner with the different races dropped down behind him, but Kaoru paid no attention. He wouldn't even stick a toe in the school swimming pool, never mind compete in it.

"Basketball, baseball, soccer, football, tennis, lacrosse, and ping-pong." Next to drop down was a banner with the sport names on it, but again Kaoru only skimmed over it.

"Track and field." Two banners came down to cover all the events, and Kaoru finally took the time to read them over.

"And the marathon. It is open to any school student who wishes to compete." Neji finished the listing before handing the assembly back over to Sarutobi. Many students, however, weren't paying much attention anymore, and Kaoru was definitely one of them. I'm so doing this.

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"Dorm meeting. Get Sasuke and go to our game room." Kaoru had barely gotten into the dorm from the assembly after all classes were cancelled when Neji was at their door telling them to leave. But before he could say anything back to the dorm head, he was already at the next room getting the inhabitants out. Well, this is fun… Not.

"Sasuke, come on. We have a dorm meeting." Kaoru didn't even go back into the door to get the other boy, only grabbing his shoes from their place by the door and waiting for him to come. A few seconds later, they were making their way down the hall with other people from the dorm, all talking about the games that were still months away. "Any idea what this is going to be about?"

"Probably the games. They are going to want to sort out who is doing what event so that we can all start training for a specific thing." Sasuke shrugged, which seemed almost impossible since he was on crutches, but he managed. Once they reached the room, Sasuke took the only empty seat on a couch, leaving Kaoru to sit on the armrest.

Sasuke was right; it was about the games. Shikamaru was standing there with a clipboard and a white board, all the events listed with the number of people needed. When the room was filled to capacity and Neji finally entered, the pineapple hair boy slammed the clipboard on a table to gain everyone's attention. "Since we have the whole dorm here, you all better be quite. It's too troublesome to talk over you…" He looked around the room, meeting eyes with people every now and then. "As all of you know, in July we are having the dorm competition. For the past three years, we have won. Let's keep it that way."

"As we've seen in the last few years, dorm 2 will always dominate in soccer, so we aren't going to be wasting any good competitors in that area if we can help it. Dorm 3 is better at basketball and football. Lacrosse has switched back and forth between dorms 2 and 3, but we have yet to win that. Which leaves baseball, tennis, and ping-pong for us to try and score wins on in the team sports." Neji ran through the whole thought process on the board, circling the final three choices. "We'll be having tryouts for these teams in a week. Feel free to sign up for any of the other choices in this category and we will pull names from a hat. However, if you would be a better competitor in another event, we will put you there first."

Next Shikamaru took over in explaining the swimming events. "We are all trained in swimming in this school, so you can sign up for the swimming event and we will choose competitors with the best times on average for each race."

"And for track and field, we are the shoo-in winners. The majority of the track team is in this dorm, and we have dominated most of the events in this category for years. As we have done previously, you sign up and we hold competitions within the dorm with the winners as our representatives for the games. Before we start sign-ups though, is there anyone other than Kaoru who would be up for doing the high jump?" Nobody bothered to volunteer, and Neji looked at Kaoru out of the whole crowd. "You are representing our dorm for high jump. You better train hard to beat Sai."

Kaoru nodded and tried to ignore Sasuke nudging his side, focusing on the rest of the events. "And the marathon is open to anyone who wishes to try. We hope to get as many runners as possible for the highest chances. Understood?" Most of the boys nodded to the two heads, and Shikamaru unclipped the papers from his clipboard. "These are the sign-up sheets for each event. You have until the end of tomorrow to write your name on here to be considered for the tryouts. Good luck."

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Kaoru was amazed at the sheer amount of kids who tried to sign up right away. "I'm going back to the dorm. I'll sign up later." Sasuke nodded and stood to follow him, leaving behind the crowd of students as they returned to their dorm.

"What events are you going to do?" Music filled the dorm as Sasuke turned on his radio, adjusting the volume so it was just background noise. Once he was finished, he glanced up at Kaoru, who was gathering supplies to clean their shoes.

"Some races probably. And you heard that I'm our high jumper." He shrugged as he laid a towel down on the floor near Sasuke's bed, arranging the many pairs of sneakers at the edge. "Do you have any other shoes for me to clean?"

"Nope." The elder sat back against the wall on his bed, watching Kaoru over his laptop he was working on. "You should do the marathon. You'd beat everyone."

"I wouldn't be any good at it." He paused as he scrubbed the side of one shoe before continuing when suds weren't flying everywhere anymore. "I've never run a marathon before."

"All the more reason to try. It doesn't matter how you do in the school one, since it only matters who wins." Sasuke nudged the back of Kaoru's head with his good foot, pushing his forward while he was still sitting. Hinata's really flexible. She's almost bent in half…

"What are you doing?" Kaoru tried to push the offending foot off, but it didn't move at all.

"Holding you down until you say you will."

"I'm not going to." His face inched closer to the suds-covered shoe and he pushed it away in fear of getting a mouth of cleaner. Still, his head got closer to the ground, until his forehead was touching the towel. "If you're trying to get me to say it from pain, it's going to take more than this. I can stretch farther."

Sasuke cursed a little and finally let Kaoru up, unable to stretch anymore himself. "I'll just write your name on the list tomorrow morning then."

"Good luck with that."

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Kaoru moved around the dorm silently since Sasuke was sleeping, not even putting on shoes as he slipped out of the door, pen in hand. The hallways were dark, but he used the old phone Sasuke had given him after the police incident to light the way. It was the only light in the common room, but Kaoru still managed to find the lists hanging on the wall.

Holding the phone between his teeth, he wrote his name on a few race sheets before turning to leave. His eyes caught on the marathon list, noticing only a few people had signed up. They needed at least fifteen runners for their dorm to compete, but so far there were less than ten. They should get enough tomorrow.

And as silently as he left, Kaoru entered the dorm again and was soon asleep on the couch, too tired to even climb the steps to his bed silently.

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A thud resounding through the dorm woke Sasuke, and he sat up quickly to glance around the room for the cause. Finally, his eyes landed on Kaoru sitting on the ground by the couch, rubbing his head. When the boy pulled his hand back to reveal red, the Uchiha cursed. "You can't even sleep without getting hurt?"

"…I fell off the couch. I guess I hit the table. It's fine." But the huge gash above Kaoru's eye said otherwise.

"No, you're not. You have blood dripping down your face." He hurried to stand and used one crutch to hobble for the kitchen and get a towel. "Hold this to that. We're going to Kakashi to get it cleaned."

"I don't need that…" He was proven wrong when a few drops of blood fell from his chin to the wood floor. Sighing, he grabbed the towel and held it to his head before finally standing. Sasuke grabbed his other crutch before rushing out of the room faster than Kaoru had ever seen him move before. "Why are you rushing? It's not like I'm going to die."

"The soaked towel on your head says otherwise." Kaoru only sighed and picked up his pace a little more to keep up with Sasuke. It was still very early in the morning, too early for anyone to be up, and Kaoru was thankful for that. There was nobody to see his early-morning fail.

When they finally reached Kakashi's office, the lights were still off and the door locked. Sasuke cursed again and looked at Kaoru carefully. "Sit here and I'll go to the office to see if someone can help."

"Help with what?" Both of them jumped when Kakashi rounded the corner. His eyes fell to Kaoru, who was leaning on the wall heavily and was paler than he should have been. "What the hell happened here? Sasuke, explain."

He wasted no time in opening the door, throwing his bags down on the chair while Kaoru sat on the bed, Sasuke telling what happened as best he could. Rubber gloves were snapped against his wrists in his haste to pull them on before Kakashi finally pulled away the blood-soaked towel, examining the cut on Kaoru's forehead. "This is definitely going to need stitches. Sasuke, come sit over here." He motioned to the seat next to Kaoru's bed, producing a new glove from the box on the table. "Put this on and hold this gauze to his head. Use as much pressure as you can. Kaoru, don't move."

He watched the boys as he set up a van to the hospital as quickly as he could. When that was done, he was dialing the hospital with his cell phone, getting the wheelchair out as he did. As soon as he hung up, he was directing Kaoru and Sasuke again. "Kaoru, can you stand to get into the chair?"

"You two are really over-reacting. I'm fine." But as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Kaoru went to stand from the bed.

And promptly collapsed, eyes rolling back in his head. "Shit."