Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi
Type: Alternate Universe/Romance
To say that she was tired was a complete understatement. Her mind was foggy, she felt not only weak physically but mentally too, and if her eyelids were to close right now, she would most definitely fall asleep.
Hinata questioned her own sanity for agreeing to do this favor for Kakashi and Gaara. She could have easily told them no, and then she would have had an easy 9-day shift; finishing up any paperwork leftover from last shift, help show Temari what her tasks would be, and having her evenings free with Naruto. Any normal and sane person would have made that choice, but of course, she was not like the others. By doing this, it made her uncle's and father's company look good. If she worked hard and showed dedication to getting what they requested done, then Konoha Energy would be impressed; which would make the family companies candidates for any future work that happened on site. While Hyuuga Electric and Hyuuga Power took care of all of the electrical needs on site, there was no stopping Konoha Energy from not renewing their contract with them. If they felt that both electrical companies weren't doing a good job, they could just hire someone else at the end of the contract. It was always important to keep the customer happy. Granted, while doing this one task was not going to tip the scale in this matter, deep down, it did make her feel good when Kakashi, Gaara or anyone with Konoha Energy praised and thanked her for doing such a good job.
But at what cost though?
She had not slept well the entire shift. Her mind was so caught up with work that every time she laid her head down, the numbers and procedures that she would need to do the next day would not go away; she would even dream about work! A few times she had even gone to the gym for a good run or hardcore workout, hoping that it would tire her out and clear her mind. But alas, it had the opposite effect.
Then there was the issue of not seeing Naruto at all.
The first few days hadn't been so bad, but it soon started to wear on her when the only contact she was able to have with him was text messages and brief phone calls. It was probably the first and only time she felt anger towards Gaara and Kakashi. Was her concentration and focus really in jeopardy if she saw Naruto only for a few hours each night?
But, she understood where they were coming from.
They were a new couple after all, meaning at times their emotions would be more in control than their logic. She could easily see them hanging out after supper, losing track of time, and going to bed late with little sleep. However, with how tired she was feeling now, would not seeing Naruto really have made a difference? As the days were passing on, she was starting to think that perhaps Naruto didn't mind the distance between them, or at least he seemed fine when talking to him on the phone. But, last night when she had seen him for the first time in 7 days, it almost broke her heart. The way he had looked at her, his blue eyes were so full of sadness, yearning, and longing, it made her throat clench. Without a word, he had marched over to her and hugged her so tightly that she was almost certain tears were start going to spill out of her eyes. It wasn't until she saw him and held him in her arms did she realize just how much she had missed him.
A light blush crept across her cheeks as she remembered how their encounter escalated quickly from hugs to deep kisses and heavy petting. While she was certain Naruto wouldn't have gone all the way, things certainly would have gotten very steamy in that trailer had Deidara not interrupted them.
Speaking of which . . .
Pale violet eyes shifted from staring down at the steering wheel to the permit trailer that she was currently parked in front of. It was 11 am, and while the place usually wasn't too busy at this time it was cross-over day, which meant there was a bigger crowd, and people were almost lined up out the door either waiting to fill out a permit or return one. Deidara was currently inside and had been for the last fifteen minutes. They had easily finished two transformers early in the morning, but the last two were becoming more of a headache than she had originally thought they would be. Even though both were in the Tank Farm, you needed two separate permits to work on them. Which led them to waiting to get the permit filled out, driving all the way out to the Tank Farms, and waiting for the Operator on the north end to sign it. Following the procedures and the testing they did, drive all the way back to return the permit, and now here they were waiting to fill out the second permit so they could test the last transformer on the south end.
I really question the logic out here sometimes . . . would have been so much simpler if we could just have one permit and test the last two transformers in one go. Now we have to drive all the way back to the Tank Farm and wait for the other operator to sign the permit . . . which could take up to an hour depending on how busy he is . . .
Sometimes working here you felt like you were sprinting at times, but then there were moments like this where a turtle walking through bubblegum would have been quicker.
While Hinata was annoyed, she couldn't deny that she was also a bit happy to have some alone time in the truck with music softly playing in the background and that after this last transformer was tested, she would be free of Deidara.
He wasn't a horrible person to work with, by any means, but after having to be with him for almost seven straight days in a row, she was so close to talking to Kakashi or Gaara and asking for a different work partner. At first, she didn't really mind his pompous attitude or the way he tried to flirt with her. Also, the rumors and gossip going around about the two of them didn't bother her either. But as the days went on, everything was started to wear her down. She was tired of how cocky Deidara was and how he would talk shit about all the guys on their crew but made himself look like a rock star. She was tired of hearing that she was sleeping with a man whom she had no desire or feelings for. She was tired of being asked if the rumors were true or who her boyfriend was. She was tired of working over 14 hours a day and not being able to see Naruto.
Hinata was tired of everything.
Letting out a sigh, she ran her cold hands over her face and took a few deep breaths to calm down.
Just one more to go . . . just one more to go . . .
Hinata was brought out of her stupor by the sound of her phone buzzing. She pulled her hands away and glanced down at her electrical device to see she had a text message from her sister.
Good Morning! Your shift is almost done! Can we meet for a coffee and catch up on Thursday? Hope you're not working too hard!
She stared at the unread message and bit her lip. While her family knew that she was testing the transformers, Hinata hadn't been honest with them on how long her days were and how tired she was getting. She knew her father and uncle would be furious, Neji wouldn't like it one bit and Hanabi would be worried about her. Hinata couldn't remember the last time she had worked this hard, probably a few years ago when the flu had been going around at work; half the staff had been sick and she had been going on out on emergency service calls during the night shift. In the end, she ended up getting sick and her father had been very unhappy with her and had given her a stern scolding.
Grabbing her phone, Hinata quickly typed back to her sister that for sure they could meet and that she could pick the place and time. Before putting her phone down, she swiped to see if Naruto had read her message yet from earlier in the morning. However, there was no time stamp, meaning that he hadn't seen it yet.
I hope he's not working through his coffee break. However, Kiba did rant in his text this morning about how Naruto was gung ho on getting their last Heat Trace Controller Panel set up as soon as possible. If I had to guess, I'm pretty sure he wants to get all his work done early so that he and I can . . . can . . .
The blush once again returned to her cheeks, but it was a slight shade darker.
When Kakashi had arrived earlier yesterday afternoon and requested for her to come into his office, she assumed it was only so she could give him a status report on where she was with the transformers. To her pleasant surprise, he merely complicated her and asked if she was interested in a well-deserved evening and morning off. At first, she thought this just meant being able to see Naruto at camp and just sleep in a bit the next morning, but when Kakashi had suggested that both of them stay at the hotel, her cheeks had become inflamed and she was left speechless. He teased her a little bit about needing some alone time with her man, but told her he wouldn't book them the room until he ran it by Naruto.
As excited as she was to finally see Naruto and spend some time with him, Hinata was also unsure of what he was picturing their evening would be like. She did miss him terribly, and the thought of finally being able to kiss and touch him made her body tingle, but at the same time, she was beyond tired. Her brain was completely fried, and Hinata was willing to bet her next paycheck that after a good meal tonight, all she would want to do is sleep. But for Naruto, she could only imagine what his expectations would be, however, she could at least take an educated guess he was hoping for a night of passion.
It's not that I don't want that either . . . I just don't know if I'm going to have the energy to . . .
Movement to her right caught her attention, and she looked over to see Deidara walking towards the truck. Taking a deep breath, she tried to prepare herself mentally on dealing with him for the next two hours.
"Fuck sakes, it's like a god damn zoo in there!" cursed Deidara, jumping into his seat before slamming the door shut.
Hinata shivered slightly as the cold air momentarily seeped into the truck from the opened door. "I'm actually surprised you weren't in there longer. When we got the first permit for the farm tank I'm pretty sure I was standing in there for almost half an hour."
Deidara sighed. "At least this is the last one we have to do. Dropping off the permit and signing it off won't take as much time, so long as there's not a line up out the door."
Hinata shifted the truck into drive, and once again they headed back out to the tank farm, which was about a twenty-minute drive from the permit trailer. Normally, Deidara was quite the chatty catty, either talking about himself, gossip around site, bombarding her with questions about her boyfriend, or flirting with her. However, this morning he was unusually quiet. In fact, he had been really silent last night too after Naruto had shown up to bring them their dinner.
I wonder if Naruto said something to him? I know we talked about keeping our relationship quiet for now, but, if Naruto had told him we were dating, I have no doubt that he would be attacking me with questions about it. I mean, I guess there's really nothing holding me back either. If he were to ask me again, I could just say it's Naruto I'm seeing since it's the last full day of the shift . . .
She didn't like hiding the fact that they were a couple, but as Sakura had told her earlier last shift, the fewer number of people who knew about them the better. Perhaps if her uncle wasn't the owner of the company, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. However, Hinata feared that if people found out about them, that Naruto would face the most damage. It was her last shift, but for him, he still had one more to go before starting his new job in January. Would rumors start that he was only dating her because she was the owner's niece? Or would other nasty gossip start that they were just sleeping together with no strings attached?
At least for Hinata, she wouldn't be coming back to Konoha Energy anytime soon in the near future, meaning the rumors and gossip wouldn't affect her, but they might cause Naruto a bit of trouble. She didn't like the idea of people spreading nasty words about him, especially since she wouldn't be here to defend him.
Why is having a relationship up north so complicated?
The next twenty minutes went by peacefully, and when she pulled up to the south side of the Tank Farm beside the MCC, she let out a sigh of relief when she spotted the last transformer. It was on top of a large grated platform that had two large 36-inch diameter steam pipelines underneath it. These lines were always hot, and even though it was freezing outside, there were still a few puddles of melted underneath them.
Putting the truck into park, she switched her radio over to the operator's channel, which was number three. "South Tank Farm Operator, do you have a copy?"
There was a long silence and Hinata was about to repeat her words, but then a voice crackled over the speaker. "Go ahead for South Tank Farm Operator."
For a split second, she thought the voice sounded familiar, but she couldn't quite place who it was. "This is Hinata from Hyuuga Electric. I am here with one other person to test out the transformer and I need you to sign onto our permit."
"What is your current location?"
She glanced up at the sign on the MCC. "Sierra Tango Mike Charlie Charlie number forty-five."
"Copy that. Give me about five minutes and then I will meet you there."
"Ten-four, thank you."
Once again silence filled the cab, and Hinata couldn't deny that she was enjoying the quietness, but, all too soon it came to an end.
"So, you're still committed to your boyfriend? We could hang out tonight if you've changed your mind." Said Deidara, taking off his seat belt and giving her a wink.
Normally, she would have politely refused, but with how tired she was, Hinata was on the verge of speaking what was really on her mind. It involved some very colorful words, a dirty glare, and telling him to stick it where the sun didn't shine. Perhaps if this had been the first time he said something like this to her, she would have been nice, but right now she had lost count of how many times he had asked her to 'hang out', and quite frankly she had had enough.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to be professional, but firm at the same time. "I'm not sure how many more times I can make myself clear that I'm not interested, nor do I have any desire to cheat on my boyfriend." She cut herself off before saying anything more.
Deidara sighed. "Fine. But you know, I'm not the only one thinking it. Lots of the guys on our crew are interested in you, you know."
Hinata hummed in acknowledgment and hoped he would soon drop the conversation.
"For example, you should have seen the way Naruto was staring at you last night. He told me to stop bothering you, and that if I wasn't careful you might kick my ass. But, I could tell that he was just jealous and that he would leap at any chance to spend time with you."
You have no idea how true that is . . . but that does answer my question now. Did he tell Deidara that I know Karate and Judo? Not that I would ever resort to violence, even if Deidara makes me really mad at times.
"You don't say." Hinata tried not to sound sarcastic, but she was done with playing the nice girl and with repeating herself. At this moment, she was prepared to just spill the beans, have it over, and done with it. Reaching over to the cup holder, she grabbed her phone. "You know what, why don't I show you a picture of my boyfriend and me."
Deidara sort of perked up. "Really? You're finally going to show me?"
Hinata sighed as she began to punch in the passcode to her phone and almost immediately regretted her decision. Her co-worker looked like a kid on Christmas morning, and she knew the moment she showed him a picture of Naruto, that word of them dating was going to spread like wildfire. However, she was exhausted from keeping it a secret and didn't want to hide it any longer.
Just as she was opening up the pictures app, a tall figure covered head to toe in winter gear with shaded safety glasses came around the corner of the MCC and waved at them. Almost letting out a sigh of relief, Hinata put her phone away and turned to Deidara. "I will later, but right now the operators here, so let's get this transformer done and out of the way."
Deidara let out a frustrated growl. "Oh, fine. But promise me that as soon as we are done, I get to see?"
Hinata only nodded and started to put on her toque, balaclava, face mask, and the rest of her winter gear back on. Once she was bundled up, she grabbed the permit on the dashboard and slipped out of the truck while Deidara was finishing up putting on his gear. Hinata approached the operator, who was standing at the bottom of the staircase of the MCC. He pointed to the building and started to walk up the stairs so they could all talk inside where it was warm.
Inside the MCC, it was nice and toasty. All the cabinet doors were shut which contained the electrical brains of the area. Everything that ran in the area was controlled in this single building. There was the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) that was hooked up to the main power and also a large container that had twenty-four big batteries that would kick on if the power ever went out. It wasn't mean to supply power for very long, but hopefully long enough for someone to bring the main power back online. There was also an eye-wash station in case you got debris in your eyes and an SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) in both corners.
Pulling down her face mask, Hinata approached the operator and handed him the permit. "Thank you so much for meeting us. Keeping warm out there?"
The operator nodded and also pulled their face mask down, along with taking off their safety glasses. Hinata glanced up to see the operator's face and froze when she realized who exactly it was standing next to her. She couldn't see his white hair, but it was still easy for her to recognize Toneri's slim face and pale eyes. He gave her a warm smile before looking down at the permit.
"So, Hinata, I hear you and your colleague here have been testing all of the transformers on site," Toneri said, his eyes scanning down the piece of paper in front of him.
"A-ah, yes we have." Hinata stuttered slightly. "I didn't know you were the operator out here, Toneri. Don't you usually cover the areas in the main plant?"
He laughed softly, but then sniffled due to his runny nose from being out in the cold. "Usually, but after with what happened last shift . . . " His pale eyes darting briefly over to Deidara before returning back to her. "Onoki thought my punishment should be walking down areas that aren't as comfortable as the plant. This is why I'm all the way out here walking down the south tanks, and my co-worker Kisame is handling the north tanks."
While on the outside, the job of an operator seemed easy. You were given an area for a shift, and during that time you walked it down to make sure there were no visible problems and did a gas reading of the perimeter and area. You also signed onto any work permits that needed to be done in your area and while inside a trailer you monitored the pressures and flows of any product via a computer, before going outside again to do a walk down of the area once more. Simple yes, but if anything went wrong you had to be on your toes on how to either fix the problem right away or shut down the area in question before it caused any problems to other areas, with the worst-case scenario being an explosion.
Toneri continued. "Since the tank farms are so large, I don't get to stay inside as much. And since I worked a double shift, I've been monitoring this area since you guys left last time on your days off and it's been freezing cold the entire time. But the good news is I get to go home tomorrow too."
Deep down Hinata felt a little bad that she was the root cause of him having to work out in this area, but only for a split second before reminding herself that he had brought it upon himself. In all honesty, it didn't seem like a bad punishment to begin with.
"Well, I hope you have a warm and rested days off." Said Hinata. She glanced over at Deidara who was still covered head to toe in his winter gear and was starting to look bored as hell. He had been quiet the entire time she was talking with Toneri, but she could tell he was getting agitated.
"Oh, that's right! This is your last full day on site isn't it?" Toneri leaned forward and started writing his name on the permit after being satisfied with how it was filled out. "Back to the head office at Hyuuga Power?"
Hinata nodded. "Yes. I have enjoyed being up here, but after this shift, I think I'm ready to be in a toasty warm office for a bit."
"Well then, perhaps next time my father and I swing by for a business meeting we can catch up then. How's Naruto doing? Did you two have a good time at the Hyuuga Electric Christmas Party?" asked Toneri, handing her back the permit.
Hinata froze and her eyes widened in realization.
Oh my god! I forgot Toneri knows about Naruto and me! But, wait . . . how does he know that we . . .
Deidara suddenly whipped around from just staring blankly at the wall and stared at the two of them. Toneri didn't notice but seemed a little confused by her wide-eyed reaction. "Oh, I'm sorry did I say something wrong?"
She shook her head before grabbing the permit, folding it in half, and then slipping it into her coat pocket. "N-no! Not at all! I was just surprised that you remembered! And that you knew we went to the Christmas Party together!"
Toneri laughed softly and put on his safety glasses. "I was working closely with Kushina Uzumaki last shift, she was out here for a few days before Kisame showed up, and she was showing me all the pictures of you two at the Christmas Party that Naruto had sent her. She's quite sad that she can't be with her son during Christmas this year, but she did mention being really excited to finally get to meet you next week. Anyways, I had better head to the trailer and see how Kisame is doing. If you need anything don't hesitate to radio me, I'm about a ten-minute walk away. And, when you're all done, just give me a quick shout on the radio to let me know you are leaving. Stay safe you two!" He pulled his facemask up and gave them a wave before heading outside.
Hinata stood there motionless for a split second, and she could feel Deidara's eyes burning into the back of her head, but she didn't give him a chance to say anything. Marching forward and pulling her facemask back on, she headed outside and back to the truck so they could start to unload all their equipment. Pale violet eyes only stared straight ahead while walking down the stairs, passing by the truck, opening up the back door, and pulling out her tool bag. Alone, she walked through the snow, down the small slope before going up the stairs of the platform and setting her tool bag on the grated platform beside the transformer.
Satisfied, she walked back towards the truck, but there was no sign of Deidara. Hinata let out a sigh of frustration but continued on with her task. She still needed to bring out the paperwork and the meter, however, she wouldn't be able to start work until Deidara was beside her. While she wanted to finish this last transformer as soon as humanly possible, she wasn't about to do it without her partner.
I may be tired and eager to get this done, but I'm not rash enough to test live equipment by myself.
After a few more trips to the truck, Hinata had everything she would need, that is except for Deidara. It had been over fifteen minutes and the blonde journeyman was still inside the MCC. She stared at the large building for a few moments to see if there was any sign of him through the small windows on the doors, but unfortunately, she couldn't see him at all. Hinata could feel her patients start to shatter and the thought of contacting Kakashi and telling him to send her someone else to work with was so tempting that her hand was already on the radio and ready to push the call button.
She sighed, tilted her head back, and stared up at the blue cold afternoon sky. In her mind, she had two choices. Option one was to say screw Deidara, test and inspect the transformer by herself, get this job over with and head back to the office. Option two, the one which unfortunately made the most sense, was to walk over to the MCC and see what was taking him so long; although she could take a wild guess. It was almost noon, and soon most, if not all, of the electricians would be on their lunch break. While Deidara wasn't supposed to have his cellphone on him out in the field, she had a sneaking suspicion that he was currently texting anyone he knew on site, and telling them about her and Naruto's relationship. The first option was so tempting, but she knew that if Toneri saw her working alone on live equipment, it would not be a good scenario. Accepting her fate, Hinata began to walk back towards the MCC.
Deidara was of course still inside and was casually sitting in one of the chairs; his hard hat and facial winter gear laying on the table beside him. He didn't' acknowledge her at first when she walked in, but as she got closer to him his grey eyes finally looked at her. "So . . . you and Naruto, huh? After last night, I was starting to get a sneaky suspicion that something was up between the two of you. How long has that been going on?"
Ignoring his question, Hinata got straight to the point. "I've brought the tools and meter out to the last transformer. I'm going to give you five minutes to meet me out there, and if you're not there in the required time, then I'm contacting Kakashi and Gaara about this." She had never threatened anyone before, and to be quite honest just saying the words felt wrong, but at the same time, Hinata was completely over this.
His eyes widened slightly. "Well, what's stopping me from radioing them and spilling the beans about your relationship? Seems odd to me that you two have been trying to hide it." He stood up and looked at her angrily. "Is that what happened last night? Things started getting hot and heavy between the two of you? That's why the door was locked and your face was beet red?"
So many emotions were swirling through her right now. Anger, embarrassment, sadness . . . but most of all uncaring. Perhaps on a normal day, she would be self-conscious that Deidara had guessed what had happened between Naruto and herself, perhaps she would have been sad that someone she had worked with for the entire shift was now spouting mean words towards her . . .
Done . . . I'm done with this . . .
"Four minutes," Hinata said, and without another word, she walked out of the MCC.
The freezing cold air hit her face hard, but she ignored it and continued to march back down the transformer. Her mind was completely numb and she was starting to feel like a robot; only operating on autopilot. When she reached the top of the platform, she took a deep breath, turned around, finally Deidara appeared and was heading towards her. Hinata knew he wasn't done talking to her, but at the very least they could get started on their task.
When his steel-toed boots hit the first few steps, Hinata grabbed the maintenance check-list and started to read it out loud. "Is the transformer in good condition? Are there any signs of damage or rust?" Pale violet eyes scanned the metal box. "No, looks good to me. "
"Are you going to answer me at all? Or just ignore my questions?" Scoffed Deidara.
With all of his winter gear on, and shaded safety glasses, she couldn't see his facial expressions but he also couldn't see hers. "Does the nameplate match what's on the drawings?" Hinata looked for the small lamacoid that was usually on the front of every transformer, but to her disappointment, it seemed to have fallen off; leaving only a faded area where it had once been. "I will make a note that they will have to order a new one."
"Is this really how you're going to act? Like a snobby-three-year-old and pretend I'm not here?"
Hinata paused and took a few deep breaths.
As soon as I get back to the main office I am speaking with Gaara and Kakashi . . . but for now I need to finish this transformer.
"Perhaps if you asked me in a nicer tone, I wouldn't be giving you this kind of treatment." Said Hinata, her voice remaining disinterested. "Are all the cables and connectors installed correctly and not lose?" Her small gloved hands reached down and checked to make sure the cables were installed correctly.
"Last I checked, you're the one that has been lying to me this whole shift! You said your boyfriend was back home and didn't work up here!" Deidara was starting to get mad.
The visual checklist was complete for now, so Hinata started to put on the heavy-duty Arc Flash gloves, face shield, and chest cover so she could remove the top covering on the panel. "And last I checked, you were the one behind spreading the rumors about us, saying that we were sleeping together; I heard about it this earlier this morning. I never led you on, I was honest that I was in a relationship, but who I am with is no one's business, except for myself and Naruto. So I don't understand what you are so upset over."
With the safety gear on, Hinata grabbed her 9/16 wrench and started to loosen the screws.
"I'm guessing Kiba told you about that; he really needs to mind his own fucking business. But why Naruto of all people?" asked Deidara. "You could have any guy on site, but you chose him?"
Hinata was aware that the blonde journeyman was still speaking to her and asking questions, but by now she had completely tuned him out. He was obviously frustrated with her, however, not one part of her seemed to care. It felt so surreal.
One by one she removed the screws, and without a word handed them all over to Deidara, who was still trying to get her attention but she ignored him; he still took the screws and held them all in his hands. Pulling out the meter and turning it on, she set the setting to Volts before placing the clamps on Phase A of the Primary side. 240 Volts appeared across the screen, and she took a step back to monitor the meter for the next five minutes. This was the part that always seemed to drag on; checking all three phases on both the primary and secondary side to make sure there were no spikes and that it maintained its set voltage, which would prove the transformer was doing its job.
Her mind had completely shut off, but she was vaguely mindful of her surroundings; the sound of the steam roaring through the pipes below them, Deidara angrily trying to get her attention, the cold air nipping at any exposed skin, how hungry her stomach was with them working through lunch. Finally, after five minutes, Hinata jotted down the reading she got from Phase A and moved the clips over to Phase B. When she backed away from the transformer again, her head turned towards Deidara who was still standing to her right but was finally quiet and staring off into the distance. She was about to look back at the transformer, but something caught her eye, or rather, lack of.
"Where's your 4 head Gas Monitor?" The small yellow safety device was nowhere to be seen on her co-worker.
Deidara let out an angry sigh. "It's in the truck and I ain't fucking going over there to get it now! You've got yours on, so we're fine!"
Hinata barely reacted to his fuming tone and turned her attention back to watching the meter. Normally, she would have been a bit persistent that he take the extra two minutes to walk over to the truck, grab his gas monitor and then come back. However, he was a Journeyman electrician who had been on this site for over four years, he knew the consequences of not wearing one at all times.
Things are already tense between us. If I nag at him to go get it, the situation is only going to get worse. I just want to finish this transformer and then go back to the main office . . .
Time slowly started to crawl by.
Phase B and C on the Primary side were finally complete, meaning it was time to move over to the Secondary side. There were only three more phases to go and then they would be done. Hinata started to feel anxious that all the sweat and tears she had put up with the last seven days were finally coming to an end. A part of her thought that perhaps a good cry afterwards would make her feel better from all the shenanigans she had put up with.
Maybe I can convince Naruto to let me have a hot bath in the hotel . . . just the thought of soaking in hot boiling water is starting to make me feel better . . .
It was a grueling fifteen minutes, but finally, the testing was complete. Hinata let out a mental sigh of relief, before removing the clamps and placing the meter back in its case. Sliding it off to the side, she placed the cover back on and motioned for Deidara to hand her the screws back.
Aggressively, he placed them in her outstretched palms, and the force caused to screws to fall through the grating and land below between the two steam lines. Deidara let out a string of curse words, rudely called her butterfingers, and then proceeded to walk down the stairs saying he would retrieve the lost screws.
Hinata let out a sigh and started tightening the cover back up. She felt relieved that they were done, but was dreading the long drive back. Either Deidara was going to bombard her with more questions, or he would remain silent the whole way; she quietly prayed for the latter.
She glanced down to see Deidara just reaching the hot steam lines below her and crouching down to find the lost screws. He disappeared from her view, but she suddenly heard him yell. "Hey! That stupid fucking lamacoid is down here too! Must have fallen off! We can put the damn thing back on with the silicone we have in the back of the truck!"
A small smile spread across Hinata's lips.
What a relief. That means I don't have to bother Kakashi or Gaara about ordering a new one.
All the screws were tightened, except for the two that had fallen, and Hinata stretched her arms above her head, letting out a well-deserved sigh of relief. Just as she was pulling the Arc Flash gear off, it suddenly dawned on her that she hadn't heard or seen Deidara come back out. It had only been less than two minutes when he had last yelled at her, but it certainly didn't take that long to pick up two screws and a lamacoid.
"Hey, Deidara! Everything okay down there?" she called, staring down through the grating.
The two steam pipes blocked her view. Hinata's head whipped over towards the truck to see if he had moved like The Flash and was already getting the silicone, but there was no sign of him. A chill ran up her spine and she dropped the Arc Flash gear on the grating and immediately started walking down the stairs, her eyes fixated on where she last saw him.
"Deidara! If this is some kind of prank, it isn't funny!" she called out again. Hoping that the Journeyman Electrician wasn't immature or stupid enough to pull a stunt like this.
As her feet hit the bottom of the stairs and she turned to see where he was, suddenly her whole body froze and she almost let out a scream at the sight before her.
Deidara was lying unconscious belly down on the ground, his face was turned to the side with half of it in the small pool of water below the steam pipes.
"DEIDARA! DEIDARA ANSWER ME!" Hinata screamed.
He didn't move.
Her body began to tremble and she couldn't breathe. An instinct suddenly took over, and that was to run over there as fast as she could, pull him out from underneath the pipes and see if he was still breathing.
Just as she was about to take a step forward, a loud, booming voice in her mind made her halt.
STOP! DON'T TAKE ANOTHER STEP!
Realization suddenly dawned on her, that whatever invisible gas had knocked out her co-worker was probably still there and would do the same thing to her if she got close. Suddenly her consciousness was finally leaving panic mode and she remembered the steps she needed to do to call for help.
Snatching the radio off her shoulder, Hinata turned it to channel one. "M-man down in the Tank Farms! Man down in the Tank Farms!" she cried into the speaker with a quivering voice, her eyes still fixated on the unconscious man just a short distance away. Immediately, she got a response.
"Emergency in the tank farms, copy. The ambulance will be dispersed immediately. Please tell me your location and which emergency muster you are by!" A voice answered on the radio.
"Southside!" Her eyes scanning fanatically for the muster sign that was nearby; normally it was something you memorized beforehand for cases such as this. "Emergency Muster 24!"
The train horn alarm suddenly sounded loudly across the entire site, calling for everyone to muster and keep the roads clear for emergency traffic. Hinata's exhausted consciousness was trying to keep up with what was going on. Help was on the way, and the man she had been talking to on the radio was asking her for more details. "What kind of injury does the person have?"
She blinked a few times and shook her head, trying to focus on the situation at hand. "P-possible H2S gas exposure! My co-worker is unconscious and isn't responding! He's been like this for maybe four minutes now!"
Tears were rolling down her cheeks and her throat was tightening up, making it feel like she was choking on the air around her. Even though the alarm was still wailing she couldn't hear it and her body felt like it had gone completely numb. A sense of guilt swept over her as she realized just how serious the situation was.
It's all my fault! I should have told him to put on the stupid gas monitor!
The man on the radio was trying to get her attention, asking if she was alright and if she was in any danger, but the device slipped through her fingers and landed silently in the snow. Soft whimpering sounds started to leave Hinata's throat, her body swaying side to side as she had an inner debate of what to do. H2S was a deadly killer, and if she didn't act fast now, the soon to arrive ambulance wouldn't be performing a rescue mission, but a body retrieval instead.
Part of her mind was screaming at her to stay put and not move, while the other part was telling her to do something and not just be a bystander while her co-worker died right in front of her. A sickly feeling suddenly took over, and Hinata ripped her face mask away as she started to gag. Even though she had gone through so many courses and was told the dangers of working in the oilfield, Hinata never imagined that it would happen to someone she worked with.
Suddenly, an idea popped into her head.
Time was of the essence, and if she didn't do something this instant Deidara was as good as dead. As fast as she could, Hinata bolted towards the MCC. Almost tripping on the stairs, she burst through the door and immediately saw the SCBA's still sitting in the corners. Riding on adrenaline, Hinata ran towards the oxygen tank and mask while pulling off most of her winter gear; her coat went flying off to the side, along with her hard hat, gloves, and anything else she was wearing on her upper body. Normally in training, certain steps needed to be followed before performing a rescue with an SCBA, but with the emergency she was facing, Hinata swiftly grabbed the oxygen tank and swung it onto her back. With the tank behind her, she tightened the straps and pulled the mask over her face. Her fingers trembled while holding the clear mask securely and her other hand tightened the latches which would keep it in place on her head. She then grabbed the knob and opened up the oxygen, taking a deep breath to make sure she was able to get air.
Ignoring all her gear on the floor, she immediately bolted back outside. The cold air pierced her bare skin, but she was unaware of it or the dangers of going outside without any protection from the elements. The adrenaline rush she was having was so high that the only thing she could focus on was getting Deidara out of there. Her legs tried to carry her as fast as they could, but due to the weight of the tank and being physically tired, she fell a few times down the small slope towards her co-worker. Finally, she skidded to a halt on her hands and knees beside him. With all his winter gear still on, Hinata couldn't see Deidara's face, meaning she wasn't able to tell if he was still alive or dead.
Small hands grasped onto the collar of his jacket and Hinata gritted her teeth as she pulled his dead weight from underneath the steam pipes. Once his face was out of the puddle of water, she rolled him over onto his back and immediately pulled his headgear off. He was pale and cold to the touch. A part of her wanted to check if he was breathing, but she knew that right now it was more important for her to get him out of the danger zone as soon as possible. Grasping his collar again, Hinata clumsily started to pull the unconscious electrician towards the MCC. It was a slow and awkward procedure; she was so exhausted that every time she pulled him towards her, she fell down into the snow as well. Her hands were numb and she could barely see anything with the tears that were still coming out of her eyes.
Don't you die on me Deidara! Please! Don't you die on me!
In the distance, she could just barely hear the sirens over the continuous wailing alarm; help would be here soon. Just as she had reached the steps of the MCC, she gave one final tug so that the ambulance would be able to reach them easily, but Hinata had finally reached her limit. She tried to turn around to see where the rescue team was, but she suddenly lost her balance, slipped, and fell hard against the ground. Her head hit with a sickening thud against the ice. A throbbing pain swept over her, and it was only then that she realized just how cold her body felt and the agonizing ache coming from her hands from being out in the freezing weather and continuously digging into the snow. Someone was screaming her name nearby, the sirens were getting louder and it felt as if someone was slowly turning the lights off around her.
She closed her eyes and succumbed to the darkness.
To Be Continued . . .