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Sleeping Student Society - Ramen Style

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"So, you're the president, huh, Miki?"

"Sure am!" the impetuous redhead made herself comfortable before elaborating. Only after she stretched back, closed her eyes, and crossed her arms behind her head did she continue. "They wouldn't have it any other way, after my impressive speech."

Surprised, the Missus slipped her arms further into the full sink, splashing some of the sudsy ramen remnants to the hems of her plain, no-nonsense pants. She tsk-tsked fretfully. "So, my daughter was able to come up with an election speech on the fly, was she? I guess journalism isn't such a bad fit for you after all, eh?"

Scowling, Miki opened one eye to peer at her mother belligerently. "I still don't see why you made me take these stupid courses for this stupid major, or why you'd think I'd be any good at it, anyway," she groused. "It's not like investigative journalism has anything to do with being a serving girl at a ramen shop."

"Well, you have stamina, tenacity, and most important of all, an unhealthy disregard for safety in pursuit of your goals. I think you've got what it takes," her long-suffering grocer neighbor Ohta observed, a pained grin on his face as he reminisced. However, he soon shook his head, clearing it of the demon girl's description-defying past antics. "Never mind that, Miki. What exactly did you say in your speech to convince them to elect you?"

"Ah, that!" Miki waved a hand airily, not even bothering to raise her head from where it lay on the bar. "I just figured, I need to show my enthusiasm for their goals, you know? Actually, I just wanted them to accept me into their club. I was tired of getting rejected by the twelve I applied to before them; I really need to get into a club so I can keep my scholarship. I wasn't actually running for an office, I think they must have misunderstood. Member acceptance was taking place right before elections. Seems like a pretty laid-back club, if you ask me."

"Of course it is, Onimaru Miki!" roared a charging bullet train of a young man as he bulldozed into the (fortunately closed) ramen shop. "The Sleeping Student Society is not even an official school organization, nyan!"

"Ah, hello there, Kankuro," Ohta calmly greeted him.

Miki only raised her head and looked around vaguely. "Who?"

"Oya, I hope you didn't damage the doors, Kankuro," the Missus informed him cheerfully, not even looking up from her dishwashing.

Her placid smile did not put the pale haired boy at ease. He carefully inspected the doors, even using his sleeve to polish a bit of the wood he noticed had gotten dirty. "Nope, Missus, no damage here!" he reported with relief. Regaining his focus, he turned impetuously to face the slender girl lounging on the barstools. "Onimaru Miki! Joining the Sleeping Student Society won't fulfill your scholarship requirement for extracurricular participation, nyan! You should join the debate team so that I can finally defeat you fair and square, in a dignified manner nyan!"

Miki nodded thoughtfully, realization dawning. "Ah, you're that kid, 'Letter of Challenge'. I thought you must have left or moved away or something when I stopped seeing those."

Kankuro spluttered for a few seconds, unable to process all that was wrong with that statement. "We just saw each other yesterday! I said that now we're both starting college, we should continue our rivalry in a manner befitting our age! And I'm older than you nyan!"

"Oh, I remember; that makes sense now. I thought you meant you'd powered up or something and wanted to fight outside on the lawns. I was waiting for you there. I wondered why you never showed up. That's okay; I found a pickpocket and beat him up instead. Got lunch money from the guy I saved from him, too."

"Somehow, even when you do something that seems admirable, I never feel like I can praise you with a clear conscience," Ohta noted, resigned. "But, Miki, why did you want to join if it won't satisfy your scholarship requirement?"

"That's an easy one! It will be a recognized organization if we put enough effort into it. This way, since it's so small and unorganized now, I can still get in, but I'll get the benefits from it once we build it up. That's basically what I told them. To get their attention and show my resolve, I stood up on a desk, and told them that I would lead them to recognition and destroy all opposition. I tried to demonstrate my enthusiasm by raising my fist, but I forgot I was standing on a desk so I punched a hole in the ceiling. They didn't get mad though."

"I think I see why they thought you wanted them to elect you. You really need to stop scaring people so much, Miki-chan," Ohta chided her futilely.

"But… the Sleeping Student Society? What exactly have you gotten yourself into?" the Missus asked dubiously.

"Oh, I think they reprimand students sleeping during class. It's disgraceful, really. I mean, if they're so tired, they should just leave and support the economy by buying food here or something."

"I feel like there's some sort of logical step missing there…"

"But that's not what the Sleeping Student Society is at all!" Kankuro exploded. "They promote sleeping during class!"

"You mean I'm going to have to beat up my subordinates?" Miki's face was the picture of confusion. "That's a really weird system."

Ohta sighed. "I really don't think you get it."

later –

"MEGUMI!"

An irate demon ramen girl slammed open the door to the girl's locker room.

"What is it now, Onimaru-san?" the addressed blonde finished sliding off her shoes and placed them neatly in her locker.

"Why does my taiyaki have congealed fish oil instead of anko filling?" the incensed redhead demanded, waving the offending article in front of the smug blonde's face.

"Oh-ho-ho-ho! So you noticed, did you, Onimaru-san?" Megumi lifted a delicate hand before her grinning face as she snickered. "I needed to test out a new blend to deliver essential omega fatty acids for a class project."

Miki growled at her in response. "What does a blend of fish oil have to do with osteopathy and holistic medicine with a concentration in acupuncture?"

"Even I have to branch out sometimes," Megumi sniffed. "I needed a live subject. Preferably a willing one. And I knew you must be willing. After all, you were so certain I would be willing to be the main suspect in your story on the wet laundry incidents."

Miki snorted. "I know it was you. I don't need proof. It's only been my laundry that has gotten wet, except that one morning that the girl who lives underneath found hers drenched in water instead. I still haven't figured that one out."

Megumi winced. "Yes, I am sorry about that. But really, it is your fault, you know. If you did not start taking in your laundry so early after the first week, I would not have been so tired and I would not have tripped and dropped the water on her drying clothes. And I would not have even started at all if you hadn't taken apart my stethoscope before my lab final and put that bassline recording inside. It took several minutes before I could figure out why the dummy's heartrate was three times the normal."

"Hah! You admitted it! Good thing I brought –" Miki rummaged in her satchel "- this!"

"This" was a miniature recording device, which the gleeful girl displayed triumphantly before the enraged Megumi. She continued to wave it tantalizingly out of the range of Megumi's swipes. Finally tiring of her game, Miki pocketed the recorder, nodding to herself satisfied. "Finally, my hard work waiting for another of your traps pays off!" Then she frowned. "Of course, I need to erase what you just said about how I sabotaged your final."

"Allow me to take care of that for you!" Megumi suddenly trilled. Before Miki could react, she felt a sharp impact at her hip pocket. She glanced down, seeing a broken shaft of wood falling to the floor.

"Moving up from bakery skewers, I see. Do the labs know what use you're putting their tongue depressors to?" Miki bantered, checking her pockets. When she discovered their smashed contents, she howled in rage. "Do you know how much money I spent on that recorder, Megumi? That's it! You're going down!" With a wordless bellow, Miki sprang towards the vindictive blonde.

Despite her prim demeanor, Megumi gave as good as she got. After a few flurries of blocked punches, jabs in the ribs, and dodged kicks, the two girls settled into a mutual lock of old-fashioned mouth stretching. Miki soon tired of the stalemate, and with a grunt of frustration, swiveled behind the medical student and grasped her long locks firmly in her two fists. She gave a hearty tug and then –

Megumi's pony tail fell clean off!

Both girls could do nothing but gasp in shock. Slowly, they turned to face each other in horror.

The sight that greeted Miki's eyes was a strange one. Megumi, without her spiral of golden hair, was nearly unrecognizable. Slowly, she shrank in on herself.

"No!" she wailed. "Onimaru Miki, you have found my one weakness!" She covered her face and ran away shrieking. Miki stepped forward to follow her, but –

Her face hit the desk with a particularly loud bump.

The long-suffering professor turned from the board in the middle of an equation. "Have a nice nap?" he queried dryly.

"I – I – " Miki stuttered. Suddenly, she collected her resolve. "Excuse me!" She dashed out the door, running through the hallways at a dead sprint.

Soon, she crashed into the doors of the girl's locker room.

"MEGUMI!"

"What is it now, Onimaru-san?" the addressed blonde finished sliding off her shoes and placed them neatly in her locker.

Miki merely stood there panting. Megumi waited, tapping her toe impatiently.

Finally, Miki regained her breath. "Megumi, this is important. Please listen to what I have to say and take my words seriously."

Megumi began to show concern despite herself. "Of course, Onimaru-san. What is it that you need to tell me?"

"Megumi," Miki placed both hands on the girl's shoulders and looked her in the eyes. "You must never cut your hair short."

Megumi's eye twitched. Miki took no notice.

"If you do, it will destroy you. Also, you'll look like a boy, only stupider."

Megumi had had enough. "MOU! STOP WASTING MY TIME!" She shoved Miki out the door and slammed it furiously in her face.

Miki walked away, satisfied. She had done her duty.

OMAKE

"I can't believe the old man at Ichiraku's is out sick," the blonde-haired brat whined. "Can't complain about the ramen here though."

Miki just lifted an eyebrow at the comment. She couldn't imagine how he could complain, given her clear view as she leaned on the counter next to his barstool. He resembled nothing better than a jumbo-jet intake in an orange jumpsuit – provided you replaced the sucked-in air with steaming ramen. However, he was a customer – he paid for all four bowls so far from that fat little frog purse – and the customer is always right.

"Well, we appreciate you choosing Onimaru Ramen as your next choice," she responded mildly. Or at least mildly for Miki. Actually, most hitmen stuck in a Mexican standoff sounded milder.

The diminutive noodle enthusiast wasn't put off by her bad service manners, regardless. In between giant slurps of soupy goodness, he continued his laidback conversation. "It feels really weird eating ramen inside though. I mean, I eat it inside lots when I make it myself from those instant packs, but that's because from it's my own kitchen. I guess it feels weird to eat ramen in one place when it's made in another. Say, do you feel weird eating your shop's ramen in your house, Nee-chan?"

Miki's eyebrow traveled further skyward. "This is my house, kid."

The twelve-year-old nodded his head sagely. "Ah, that's right, this is one of those two-story shops. I forgot." He sighed, and sunk his head to his folded arms, his ramen bowl ignored (for the first time since he walked into the shop, half an hour ago). "I've been forgetting simple stuff lately. There's been so much going on! I can't talk about it with the old man at Ichiraku or Ayame onee-san, since they already know my teammates…" he suddenly lifted his head and stared straight at the noodle shop girl. "Maybe I can talk about it with you."

"I don't really know…" Miki began doubtfully. She didn't mind helping children per say – but really listening wasn't her strongest point. She was more of the straightforward, action type. Got a cat stuck in a tree? She could climb up and retrieve it, no problem – unless it was one of those lame, spindly trees. Then she'd just kick it down. Cats are by definition indestructible, and it'd be better to put such a sorry tree out of its misery anyway. Of course, her kaa-san would probably put her in a headlock and grind some remorse for the tree into her afterwards. Bullies bothering you? She could instill some respect into bullies with her fists – or elbows, or feet, or knees, or even her sturdy forehead – she wasn't too picky. Her kaa-san wouldn't be too happy about that either. Actually, now that she thought about it, every time she tried to help someone, she generally got into trouble afterwards. She opened her mouth to tell the kid this, but it seemed that she was a bit too late.

"… So 'S' is dead set on leaving with 'O', but since that's stupid and I promised 'S-chan' that I wouldn't let that happen, I don't know what to do! I don't want to hurt him, but I can't think of anything I can do to keep from leaving that won't be dangerous, since he's my teammate and already knows almost everything I can do."

Miki was understandably confused. "Wait, you promised someone that you would stop them from doing something they wanted to do?"

"No! I already explained that 'S-chan' didn't want 'S' to leave. Maybe you've got some problems you're worried about too, nee-chan? You don't seem to be remembering very well."

"Oh, they're different people. I get it. Your choice of abbreviations is confusing though. Maybe you should use their full names."

"I said at the beginning, I'm just using letters in order to protect the innocent! Or guilty, I guess. 'O' is in the Shinobi Bingo Book."

"Shinobi? You mean you're a ninja? I've never met a ninja before."

Now it was the boy's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'm a ninja, believe it! Didn't you see my forehead protector?"

"Oh, I didn't notice. What's that engraving mean?"

"Uh, the leaf for Hidden Leaf Village?"

"Where's Hidden Leaf Village?"

The short blonde stared at her slack-jawed. "Man, you must have some really tough problems, nee-chan. Believe it."

Miki shook her head, clearing it of this nonsense. "Well, from what I could figure out, you basically just need to stop this 'S' guy from leaving, right? So just subdue him! You're a ninja, aren't you?"

"Yeah, but so is he! We went to the academy together and learned the same stuff, except he graduated first and I finished last. I mean, I've learned a lost since then, but he still calls me 'dead-last' all the time and thinks that by learning from 'O' he can get stronger."

Miki thought she could relate to this. "I know someone like that. I tried to be nice and teach her everything I knew, but for reason, she thought I was bullying her. I mean, I was just demonstrating self-defense! It was for her own good! Then she decided to get even by learning chalk-throwing from our teacher and now she throws these sharp wooden sticks at me when I'm not looking – when she's not leaving them in my shoes or deflating my bicycle tyres with them."

The boy looked concerned. "You mean she uses senbon? Are you sure she's not a ninja targeting you?"

"No, she's just a civilian." Miki paused and frowned, uncertainty creeping into her mind. "At least, I'm pretty sure. Besides, she's a hundred years too slow to catch me! Though I can't say the same for my bicycle tyres," she muttered reluctantly. "Regardless, I think I have an answer to your problem."

Walking out the restaurant door, Miki beckoned the curious ninja to follow her.

Sometime later, in the evening –

"Sasuke, you can't leave!" The pink-haired girl shivered - whether from the night breeze or the dangerous atmosphere permeating the air, it was impossible to discern.

The raven-haired boy whose back she addressed merely lowered his eyelids, the picture of resignation. However, the passive expression was shattered as his eyes opened the next instant, unveiling carmine irises with fearsome ebony tomoe circling predatorily in their depths. His figure flashed out of visibility, then reappeared over the girl's shoulder.

"Goodbye, Sakura," he intoned, as his fingers descended towards a vulnerable pressure point on her neck.

A swift slap and slide backwards halted his motion. Head bent, the girl clawed the ground until her skid was arrested; she remained crouching, chest heaving - from exertion or anger, Sasuke couldn't say. As soon as she caught her breath, she snapped her head back and glared at him fiercely. Loudly and clearly, she announced, "Secret Onimaru style! Burial Fist!"

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her – he'd never heard of this jutsu before, but it must not be anything worthy of his concern, if Sakura had mastered it so quickly. He was forced to amend this thinking at least a little as he began to dodge her blows – none too heavy or powerful, but swift and unpredictable enough to warrant almost all his attention. The rest he devoted to analyzing this bizarre jutsu with his Sharingan. The word "oni" formed part of its name; could this give him some clue?

Apparently not. There appeared to be nothing demonic, much less pertaining to the ninja arts in Sakura's attack, except for a heavier lacing of chakra in her fists than usual. This was beginning to frighten Sasuke, just a little. Why couldn't he see anything else with his Sharingan? Could the jutsu include some trap or reversing defensive ability? Should he only evade and not exchange blows? The only odd thing he could see about the barrage was that it was all aimed at his upper torso – a strange constant in an otherwise cleverly random offensive. Just as he was beginning to consider what this could mean, the upward sweep of a blue open-toed boot caught him squarely under the jaw.

Sasuke couldn't be sure, but he thought there hadn't been that many shooting stars in the sky – but maybe there were just fireworks exploding under his eyelids.

As he slipped into unconsciousness, he mumbled, "I thought you said it was Burial Fist."

Sakura's image dispelled with a loud 'pop', leaving a smirking Naruto behind. "That's what I told Nee-chan when she demonstrated on me!" He shrugged and lifted a limp Sasuke to his shoulder, grunting with the effort. "Now we'll have to do that free C-rank for nee-chan at that bakery across the street from her in exchange. It's a small price to pay though." Naruto hummed to himself thoughtfully as he plodded back to the center of the village. "I guess I should visit other ramen shops more often!"