Genre: Romance

Rated: K

Word Count: 2837

Naruto © Kishimoto

Story © Happii Haden

It was cold. It was always cold. That's what Sasori thought anyways. Sasori didn't like the cold.

The cold always seemed to follow him. Even as a young boy, when he lived in a desert, the night's cool breeze slipped through the cracks in his window. It didn't matter if Sasori stood directly in the sun, a breeze would just blow past him. No one else, only him.

It didn't help, when he was forced to move. He moved to a place where the weather was always bipolar. It could be sunny, then the next hour passed and it was suddenly fall in the middle of June. Sasori moved a lot. He moved to seemingly warm places, freezing places, and some places he just wished didn't exist. It didn't matter though. Cold always had it's hand on his shoulder, accompanying him like it was some kind of good friend. Which, come to think of it, it might've been at some point.

Sasori lived in a place where it constantly rained now. There was no snow, no wind, and no sunshine. Nothing but cold, drizzling rain. He was an adult. He could move, but what was the point? Sasori felt like the rain; Dull and unchanging, constantly pouring down from the sky and hitting the ground.

He'd stare out the window often, just watching. The rain tapped against his window, asking politely to be invited in. Sometimes, Sasori would let them in. The rain was a fun guest to have. Sure, it made his couch and floor wet, but it wasn't the rain's fault. His cats liked the rain too! Well, Sandaime did anyways.

Sasori had two cats. He loved him more than humans. They listened well and understood him. Sandaime, the playful cat, was a Japanese Bobtail. He was a gift from his adoptive family. Hiruko, the grumpy older cat, was a Munchkin. His granny gave him that one. Sandaime often irritated Hiruko, but the two got along well. Sasori related to Hiruko the most. At times, he'd wish Hiruko was a bit more like Sandaime though. It'd make bath time a lot easier.

When it came to leaving the house, Sasori made sure that it was short trips. He didn't like to be out and about. He'd rather be home with his cats and the rain. Alas, mammals needed sustenance to survive. Not that he wouldn't mind dying, but he was worried nobody would take care of Hiruko and Sandaime.

The next time Sasori left was during Spring Break. He dreaded the time off that the brats still in school were given. Although, he was sure no one would come to this rainy town. He thought wrong. For the first time in the longest while, the rain lightened up and the sun peeked through the clouds.

When he exited the grocery store, hands stuffed with two big brown paper bags, he was nearly ambushed by a group of teenagers. Sasori had to steady himself to keep from tumbling.

"Sorry about that!" they laughed happily.

Sasori bitterly followed behind them - his house was the same way. As he did, he noticed one of the teenagers kept looking back at him. He let out a silent sigh and was gratefully thankful when his house appeared in sight.

"He's totally following us," one of the teenagers whispered in the group.

"Dude, that is creepy. Do you think he's gonna kidnap and kill us?"

They looked back at him, meeting his eyes before quickly scurrying away.

Sasori scowled and nearly stomped up to his house. Nearly slammed the door just to prove that he wasn't following them and was just trying to get home to his two cats. Nearly. He would've done all that, but it was unnecessary, took up too much energy, and caused unwanted attention. So, he didn't.

He set the groceries down at his kitchen table and was greeted by his cats. Sandaime was quick to jump onto his lap when he attempted to eat his dinner. Sasori rubbed the top of his head and frowned.

He may have been surrounded by so many warm things, but he only felt colder.

Sasori had left his house again. It was odd. He'd never leave the house unless it was necessary. Today, however, he decided to go pay his local gallery a visit. He had been reading the paper early this morning and discovered that a new gallery opened up just yesterday.

Sasori loved art. He always had. He was an artist after all. Although he was a writer for his career, he enjoyed wood works. From time to time, he'd carve a few toys for his pets since he didn't have a lot of room for his kind of art - he made marionettes.

The gallery was small, almost as small as his house. It used to be a tea shop, he remembered. The inside, though it still needed some renovating, was covered in various art pieces. They looked like donations from their town. Not that they were bad; they were just ordinary and not professional.

It made Sasori think. Perhaps he could carve them a doll and show them what true art was supposed to be. The pieces he saw lacked real passion. He was so deep in thought that he didn't realize he had reached the end.

Then he saw them. It was the teenagers from yesterday. It brought a scowl to his face and he was ready to leave. However, they left first.

"We're going back to the hotel, Deidara! You're taking forever!"

A blond, who seemed to have his face pressed to the glass case of a ceramic piece, waved at them.

Sasori decided to stay. Something was wrong with him today. He must be catching a cold or something. As he stood around the gallery, he discreetly followed the blond and watched him. There was something about him. He made Sasori feel something. He couldn't place it, but it wasn't a bad feeling.

The blond didn't leave the ceramics area and he kept coming back to one piece in particular. He'd wear the biggest smile when he saw it too. When he finally- finally -left, Sasori walked over to the piece. It was a simple ceramic sculpture. It was a ceramic bird, it's belly cut open wide and a pair of forceps "holding" it open. Inside the bird was some kind of garden or forest.

He couldn't understand why the blond liked this so much. Sure, it looked better than the rest of the crappy art in the place. He traced a finger over the glass case and ran over the name tag in the corner.

Sasori left the gallery with a new intention. He was greeted by his two cats upon entering his home, but he did not bend down to pet them as usual. His hands were full with a wooden box. The content inside wasn't too heavy, but he couldn't exactly balance it on one hip. Despite his clear avoidance, the two cats trailed behind him.

Once in his room, he set the box on the floor next to the neatly organized desk. He threw himself into his swivel chair and popped open the box. Inside was a set of tools and some fine carving wood. Sasori had been inspired by the gallery and that quirky blond. With the first cut made into the block of wood, Sasori felt a spark of something. Something closer to warmth.

Sasori donated the marionette he had made. Having done so allowed his mind to feel at ease. It was near the end of Spring Break when he decided to swing by the gallery once more. Upon his arrival, he saw a blond blocking his display. Sasori approached them. Their face was stuck to glass. It was familiar.

He wasn't sure what to do about the leech, so he left his display and sought out the one piece the blond had drooled over when he first saw him. A problem occurred. The piece was nowhere to be found, but in it's place sat a new ceramic work. Still the same name tag.

Sasori frowned and observed the piece. It was bigger than the last. It didn't even have a casing anymore. It was of a human with a very intricate city on it's back. The piece was breath-taking, but Sasori found himself feeling an ache to outdo the other artist.

So, he did.

He became more involved with his artwork. Spring Break had ended and the big ceramic had not changed. Sasori had removed his smaller puppet from the gallery and entered a much bigger piece himself. It wasn't pretty; he was well aware of that. It was meant to be ugly. It was meant to be intimidating. It was meant to be cold. It was meant to be...himself. His inner being.

Soon, it became a habit to visit the gallery. Sasori always made sure to walk past the ceramic exhibit to see if it had changed; it had not. He knew summer was right around the corner and somewhere, deep in his darkened heart, he wished for the piece to challenge him once more.

It didn't change for the longest time, but when it did...Sasori grinned in satisfaction. The new ceramic piece was life size. The size of a full grown man. It was kinda funny. It looked sorta like himself - only the sculpture was colorless. What kind of game was this? He ran his fingers across the name tag. It was the same. A true artist was the title of the piece.

Sasori wandered over to his piece. What could he do to impress the other artist? He thoughtfully rubbed the cheek of his marionette. He had become so lost in his thoughts that he failed to recognize a new presence in front of him.

"It's a neat piece, yeah?

He nearly jumped - nearly. Instead, he turned his owlish eyes to the person which startled him. It was the devil himself! Calming his nerves, Sasori nodded and made brief eye contact with the blond.

"I never saw something so beautifully crafted with wood before. It's not real popular back home. Wood work, I mean, yeah."

Sasori nodded and tried his best not to stare at the other. What a peculiar look the blond possessed. He definitely belong in such a dreary place. Sun-kissed skin, ocean blue eyes, long sunny locks, and a blinding white smile. He was a definition of real life chiaroscuro. What madness.

"Not much of a talker, I see," the other laughed. "That's okey. I can talk enough for the both of us. I'm Deidara, yeah. Although, I'm sure you're already aware of that, huh?" he grinned,

It was weird hearing the name. After all, Sasori was only used to seeing it.

"Akasuna, yeah?" Deidara asked, tapping the name tag on Sasori's piece.

Another nod from Sasori's head.

"Do you have more pieces than this? I've only seen two, but I find them really fascinating. I'd love to see more."

Sasori shook his head. He wish he had room for more. Perhaps he should have bought out a lot and turned it into his own personal gallery. It wasn't a bad idea at all.

"That's a shame," the blond sighed. His body jumped slightly - it was like twitch - and he reached for his pocket. He checked it over and shot Sasori a smile. "I have to go now, but it was nice meeting you, yeah."

Sasori didn't say anything, but he watched the blond run off waving his hand at him as he did so. He waved back just slightly and awkwardly, then dropped it when the other was out of sight. He lingered in the gallery for a little bit longer - just to make sure Deidara had left for real. After some time, Sasori finally left. With him, he brought along a new idea to outdo the other artist.

Early July Sasori finished his project. He helped the gallery set it up and was perfectly content with the beauty. The gallery owners loved it too. So did everyone else. Many told him that he should sell his art or give it to bigger galleries. Sasori didn't want to do either. He was waiting for that leech to come stick his face all in the piece. He was waiting for that leech to absorb and learn what true art was. Sasori didn't like waiting, but...he'd be patient just this once.

The air outside was cold to Sasori. People said it was sticky, due to the rain, but he felt none of that. It was late July now. The other artist stopped coming to the gallery. Sasori was gravely disappointed, so he too stopped visiting the gallery. He returned to his normal routine. He only left the house for groceries.

Hiruko had passed away. This made Sasori feel colder than ever. He could tell Sandaime felt the same. The cat wasn't as playful anymore. They'd sit together on his couch and stare out the window. Sandaime would often curl on his chest and mew softly. Sasori, in return, would rub the bridge of his nose - he really liked that for some reason.

It was on a stormy day, when Sasori was walking home from his editor's office - the other reason he sometimes left the house. He had passed a home that had a sign in the window. Sasori stopped in front of the house, the rain beating hard against his umbrella. He contemplated the idea for a minute. He glanced at the sign once more. Free kittens!

By August things had gotten better. Sasori had taken one of the kittens from the family who was giving them away. He found it amusing how Sandaime was with this new cat. Much like his older cat - may he continue to rest in peace - Sandaime acted like a grumpy mentor to the kitten. Although he was still very playful, the kitten seemed to tire the older cat. Kankuro was the kitten's name he had decided.

The rain had lightened up and Sasori believed things couldn't be better. He was at home, writing, like usual and watching his two cats play with a ball of string he had laying around. A sudden knock at the door startled him. It was fast and unmelodious - urgent even. Sasori sat his stuff on the ledge of the window and scurried to the door. Upon opening it, he was shocked.

"S-Sorry," the voice apologized in a quick breath. "Needed to see you, yeah."

Sasori allowed the boy to step in. He took note that the boy was wet, so he went to fetch him a towel. Deidara was thankful. When the was dry, he joined the redhead in his kitchen for some coffee.

"It's been awhile, huh?" the blond asked. "Since we've been to the gallery, I mean."

Sasori nodded.

"Still quiet?" Deidara laughed. "That's fine, that's fine. I saw your piece, yeah." The blond smiled and traced the edge of his mug. "Would it be vain to say it was beautiful?"

A head shake.

"Huh? Well, I suppose not. It's me though, right…?"

Sasori pressed his lips into a thin line, a faint tint of blush on his cheeks. He crossed his arms and tried to look defiant as he could.

Deidara laughed and stood from the table. He sauntered over to Sasori, who had been reclining against the counter, and stood still in front of him. "I appreciate it. Hey, would you think I was crazy if I said that I had fallen in love with you, yeah?"

There was silence for a while. Then, "I'd think you were stupid." He kissed him anyways though.

Deidara seemed so shocked that Sasori nearly made a run for it. However, when a big smile graced the pink lips and a bright scarlet flushed the blond's face, Sasori didn't regret his actions.

From then on, the two artists worked together, lived together, ate together, even slept together - in more ways than one. Sasori was happy with that though. It was pleasant. Life felt nice for once. The rainy weather didn't bring him down. His cats enjoyed Deidara's presence as well and Deidara loved them just like Sasori did. He found it funny when he'd come home to see Deidara sprawled out on the ground, the two cats playing with his blond locks as if they were yarn.

The best part was the late evenings - just a little after dinner. They'd put a movie in - it didn't matter what - and cuddle up on the couch. Sometimes, Sandaime and Kankuro would jump up and cuddle next to them in their own little embrace. The longer the two artists were together, the more Sasori felt. Each time they embraced, kissed or made love, Sasori felt it.

He felt true warmth.