It was Saturday night and every student attending Nonin Academy was intoxicated. The streets were flooded with students flocking to the nearest party, lawn chairs and beer kegs in tow.
The prestigious school typically boasted a serious atmosphere, but nothing could damper the post-victory spirit. Though the most thriving parties were held by the celebrating football team in the frat houses near the center of the college town, it would prove difficult to find a sober soul.
It was barely past 8 o'clock and the night was in full swing. Not long after the news of the victory over the vicious Snakes of Oto University, triumphant fans began the celebratory post-win ritual of booze and convenience store snacks.
Students at the University were encouraged to partake in Greek Life, and most of the fraternities and sororities in the town were sponsored by the school. If you wanted a typical college life, complete with gender-separate dorms (that were within walking distance of all of the school buildings and the entirety of downtown, and were also outrageously priced), then the obvious choice was any of the mainstream Gakure dorms. There were a dozen total, and all were lined up in perfect rows around the school for the first few blocks. Eventually the brick-paved roads and immaculate lawns gave way to the shopping district. Rows of shopfronts and semi-affordable apartment buildings took up the next several streets, but quickly devolved to the rougher outskirts of the town. There weren't any schools, only a measly post office/city hall, a tiny police station nestled between the library and bank. Though it wasn't much, Nonin City was home to some 5,000 souls, most being students of the school it was named for.
Not everyone was drawn to the posh buildings or romanticized party life (or in some cases, couldn't afford the rent). One such case were the inhabitants of New Dawn dormitory.
The small two-story building was located some two miles from the school in the seedier sector of the city, but it was well-maintained and gave off a homey aura, despite its lower-class location. To an unsuspecting onlooker, the brick and wood building seemed like an ordinary dormitory, but the place was home to some of the most unusual and interesting individuals at the university, each odder than the last. Only a few weeks into the semester rumors had begun spreading through the campus. Of the ten inhabitants, four were freshman, three were sophomores, and three were juniors, but despite their three-year existence at the school, whispered rumors spread like wildfire at the very sight of their signature red-and-white cloud emblem.
They were delinquents, they were actually a yakuza, they're a cult that sacrifices virgins...
The rumors were all baseless, but when confronted with as many mysteries as the dorm held, questions and speculations were all one had.
Any place shrouded in as much mystery as New Dawn was bound to generate gossip.
Situated on the corner, right next door to the well-kept home to the strange band of young adults was a convenience store.
It was the same as any store you'd find anywhere- narrow, tidy aisles of shelf-stable products, an area for heat-able meals, a drink fountain, and a walk-in cooler of alcoholic drinks. From 5 PM until 9 PM each day, the same girl attended the store.
Today held no differences.
Her hip-length brown hair was wound into a loose bun at the nape of her neck and she wore a plain black T-shirt and matching black slacks under her green apron, and a pair of bluetooth headphones hung around her neck. The name-tag attached to her chest read 'Hiro'.
During the lapses of customers, she quietly thumbed through the pages of a thick textbook, occasionally pausing to watch pedestrians pass along the building, each individual on their own journey to to their own destination.
The door chimed as two people entered the store and bee-lined for the freezer. After a few moments in the back, they re-emerged, each toting a case of beer.
Hiro met them at the cash register, quickly scanning the bar codes and reciting the total.
An angry scoff came from the taller of the two and she immediately recognized them as two of the New Dawn crew. She'd never learned their names, only really knowing the duo by their unique appearances. The angry one was miserly, his bloodshot green eyes giving her a sharp look. His tan skin wrinkled at his brow, and judging by his impatient foot tapping and deep scowl, something she'd done had irritated him.
Resisting the urge to shrink in on herself, Hiro pressed a few keys on the register and looked again. That had only taken a few cents off. Offering an apologetic smile, she repeated the number.
"What about the coupon?" He asked, crossing his thick arms across his barrel of a chest.
"Sorry, that promotion is no longer being offered-" The sentence had barely formed before he was impatiently collecting the boxes and returning to the cooler.
His companion stayed and leaned down across her counter. "Hiro, eh?"
She offered a nervous smile. "I wish there was something I could do, but the coupon expired days ago."
He didn't seem to care too much about the promotion or its deadline, offering her a sly grin. "I'm Hidan."
"We have Humanities together," Hiro told him, pointing to the textbook that lay open on the counter next to her.
"Huh," he said, stepping back. Before he had a chance to say anything else, his friend returned, toting two different cases of beer.
She cleared the previous transaction and rung up the new beer, adding on her employee discount to keep the customer happy, and told him the new price. "16.84."
The taller man elbowed the silver-haired weirdo -Hidan, who eached into his pocket and fished out his wallet.
Hiro resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Why make such a big deal out of it if you're not even the one paying for it? She accepted the wrinkled $20 and counted back Hidan's change.
"Have a good night-" Her cheerful recital was cut short by the sound of the doorbell ringing, signaling their departure. She let a sigh loose and resumed her nightly chores.
Thirty minutes of cleaning had the convenience store almost sparkling, and Hiro fought the urge to pat herself on the back. She ran through inventory quickly, making a list of what would need to be re-stocked by her overnight-shift coworker, a weirdly pale guy called Klaus, then grabbed her bag and slipped into her jacket. She clocked out as Klaus was entering the back door. "Have a good night," she told him as she passed him.
"Yeah, you too," he said, disappearing into the front of the store.
Hiro fought her headphones for a second before managing to slip the bud into her ears. Immediately, her music deafened her, blaring a piano theme from one of her favorite video games.
She didn't even notice the person yelling at her until she ran face first into a solid body, falling flat on her ass. "Oh shit," she cursed, dropping her phone just as the unfortunate soul she had just ran into dropped their overly-large slush drink.
"Nooooo!" She seemed to yell in slow-motion as the device clattered to the ground and cracked against the sidewalk. At the same time, the ice-cold blue-raspberry slushie spilled down the front of her black T-shirt.
That's it, Hiro thought as she threw her arms up in despair, my life is over.
"Hey, um, you okay?" A male voice asked and she looked up through her bangs at whoever it was.
Not one, but two of the New Dawn members stood before her, one more concerned while the other spewed profuse apologies. The one who offered his hand to her had long blonde hair pulled into a high ponytail and wide blue eyes. The other wore a orange mask that covered the lower half of his face.
She recognized the mask guy as one of the Uchihas- renowned prodigies hailing from a well-known family, and were usually very stoic. This one was Tobi- she had passed the energetic oddball a few times on campus, but had never directly spoken to him.
Hiro realized they were waiting for a response from her, and gently placed her hand in the blonde guy's. "Yeah, I guess I'm okay. Just ruined my phone and my shirt."
"Tobi is so sorry, convenience-store-girl-chan." Tobi blurted, "Tobi dropped his slushie on you."
"It's okay, I'm the one who ran into you." She said, brushing a glob of melting flavored ice off of her shirt. At least it wouldn't stain. "And my name is Hiro."
"Hiro-chan, do you want Tobi's jacket? Youre is ruined now." The tall dark-haired boy held out his own leather jacket to her, but she didn't reach for it.
"No, it'll be okay." She had a feeling she'd have to say it at least four more times before the strange man would eventually let up on the apologies.
"Tobi, you can't give her that anyways," the other boy reminded his friend. "Pein-san would kill you."
"Oh, right. Sorry, Hiro-chan, Tobi can't give you his jacket."
Hiro shrugged. "Do you want me to replace your slushie?"
"No-" the blonde cut in. "Don't give him more sugar."
"Oh-" Hiro said, casting a glance between the duo. "I should probably get going now-"
"Wait, here." The blonde took off his own leather jacket and peeled a red zip-up hoodie from his body. "It's a bit chilly."
Hiro tried to refuse at first, but eventually gave in, slipping her small arms into the too-big jacket and zipped it with a flush. It was weird to take clothes from strangers, but when they spill their drinks on you, what can you do?
Hiro thanked him. His jacket smelled faintly of fireworks and ash, and she felt heat rise to her cheeks. Why was she blushing? She quickly excused herself and walked the few blocks to the home she shared with her father, who worked as a professor at the school. He would be out with his colleagues tonight, celebrating the teams victory at the bar until at least midnight.
Hiro's walk home was normal, and upon entry to her home, she made a beeline for the shower. After her long day at work combined with the slushie incident, all she wanted to do was relax underneath the hot spray of her shower.
It wasn't until hours later, laying across her bed, that she realized she'd need to wash and return the hoodie to its owner, which meant either waiting for him to come into her store, or making the trip to the fabled New Dawn Dorm herself.
While the idea wasn't favorable, Hiro decided she'd do it the next morning. She didn't need to keep the jacket, she had plenty of her own, , and that was the only reason, definitely not because it meant she'd get to see the blonde boy again.
Shaking the memory of vibrant blue eyes and the boyish charm he exuded, Hiro gathered her comforter up and flicked her light switch, padding through the darkened house toward her father's bed, where she curled up and drifted to sleep.
8:36 AM, Sunday
Hiro awoke in a brief panic, alone and cold.
She wasn't surprised that her father hadn't returned the night before, he'd probably drank too much and crashed with a friend. After washing off the red hoodie and folding it neatly, she placed two midol and a bottle of water on the kitchen counter with a note to her father, briefly explaining that she had a few errands to run and would be back later in the day with fatty, greasy food, and to call her when he arrived home. Though she doubted he'd call, he was more likely to crawl into his bed and sleep out the hangover.
She locked the door behind her and pushed up the sleeves to her red-and-blue plaid shirt. It was mid-fall and still sunny and warm. Not many would be up and around at this hour, most souls were recovering from the previous night of partying, so she could enjoy a nice walk without bumping into anyone and risking awkward small-talk.
Her brown hair was piled on top of her head and she opted for some ripped jeans and converse, and a dark gray shirt underneath the open flannel-shirt. It was breezy and nice, the sun still shining rays of light through the trees that lined the downtown streets.
Luckily, the school afforded a nice duplex downtown for their staff, and Hiro got the luxury of living in a bedroom above the garage instead of paying outrageous fees on her own apartment or dorm room. Not that she'd even be able to afford it on the low salary she had at the store.
She'd worked there for nearly four years now, almost as long as her father had been employed at the school, and got on pretty well with her bosses and coworkers, as well as a pretty good reputation among the regulars as well-mannered and helpful.
As she'd expected, the streets were mostly empty, a few straight-edge professors and higher-ups waved a cheerful hello to her as she passed, and most of the shops were open, but dead.
She made it to the store in fifteen minutes, entering with a wave to the morning clerk- an older man who always seemed a bit clueless, but was always friendly and grandfatherly to Hiro.
"Good morning, Hiro-chan!" He chirped, giving her a wide smile.
"Good morning, Kishimoto-san," she smiled back, beelining for the fridges. She snagged a few energy drinks from the rack and picked up a package of peanuts.
"How are you today, dear?" He asked, punching numbers into the register slowly.
"I'm good," she replied, already pulling the exact amount from her wallet. "$8.37"
He smiled and accepted her money, returning the receipt to her. "Have a good day, Hiro-chan."
"You too, Kishimoto-san." She replied, exiting the store and turning the corner.
New Dawn loomed above her like a dark mountain. A shiver ran up her spine as she opened the gate and treaded up the path to the front door.
With all luck, nobody would answer and she could just leave the jacket on the step.
She cautiously rang the bell and waited a moment before placing the folded hoodie on the door-step and turning to leave.
She made it halfway up the path before the door opened and someone called to her. "Hey!"
Hiro winced and turned around. She met eyes with the hyper boy from last night, Tobi.
Of course he'd be up at this time, he's basically a ball of energy in Human form. "Hello-"
"Convenience-store-girl-chan!" He exclaimed gleefully. "You came to see Tobi!"
"Uh-" She began, but he bounded up to her and grabbed her hand.
"Come inside and say hello to everyone!"
Fuck. She couldn't back out now, he seemed so happy she was there.
"Okay," she agreed quietly, stopping to pick up the jacket as he led her inside, toward her doom.
AN: Heyo! I've had this in my drafts for a while and opted for working on this in leiu of an AK update! Sorry if anyone was actually looking forward to that, I've kinda hit a block on it and hate it, so there's that. Plus i'm a bit busy with work and don't have a lot of time to write anymore. This is actually the first half of the first chapter and I cut it in half, so the first two chapters are being posted at the same time! I hope you all enjoy, and PLEASE let me know if this is worth continuing or not... Thanks!