I have the misfortune to say we met a few years ago, brought together by Rei-sama. Really, I don't know why a man as intelligent and cunning as him thought it would be a good idea to pair the two of us up, but I can hardly go against the leader's words, now can I? Besides, it's easy enough to ignore the boy- well, most of the time.
At a first glance I thought he was about seventeen - as old as twenty, at most - and it turns out I was right. He's eighteen, or so Kisame has kindly informed me and there is, after all, little reason to doubt him. Other than his age and the name of the village he betrayed (Iwagakure, as it happens) the man had little else to tell me.
Oh, and he's an artist. Apparently that's one of the reasons he was paired with me. Something for us to "bond" over. Don't get me wrong, it intrigued me at first. Intrigued me, that is, until I actually met him. "Him" is a bit of a stretch too- I don't think I've met anyone in my entire life as blatantly feminine looking. Well, that was a first impression. As time went on I got used to the long and silky blond hair, and those soft, yet somehow dignified blue eyes; I've never confused his gender since.
Now, unlike me he's got a loud mouth on him. Three, in fact. There's not a moment in the day when he isn't yapping away to himself about who-knows-what, waving his arms around frantically all the time. I can drone it out so it's nothing more than a constant, albeit annoying, hum in the background, but more often than not I end up stopping everything to reluctantly listen to him.
The way he talks too. Un. Always with the un.
"I'm Deidara, un!" he introduced himself to me the first time with a lopsided grin and a little wave.
Deidara, un. I thought it was his name at first, or some sort of weird title they have in Iwa. Deidara Un? Un no Deidara? Yes, it confused me at first, but soon enough I learnt better. To this day I still don't know what his full name is- actually, it's debatable if Deidara's his real name or not. It's likely that it's something he ever-so artistically made up for himself when he left his shady past behind.
"This," Rei began in that monotonous drawl of his, "is Sasori of the Red Sands. He was partners with Orochimaru before he… left our ranks."
"Orochimaru-sama, un?" Deidara asked curiously as he glanced over to me from his upside-down position on the rocky ceiling. Orochimaru and Deidara had met briefly before when my former partner had the need to visit the Akatsuki headquarters; like me he preferred to stay away from base, coming and going only when the mood took him. In some unfathomable way the two had actually got on with each other.
"Yes, Orochimaru was his subordinate," Rei explained further.
His eyes widened when he looked at me again, almost in awe. "Subordinate? Him?"
The boy's words offended me, and I can still remember the way he looked away so quickly when I approached him. He was intimidated, almost. I had to look up to him and push the mess of hanging hair away as I spoke firmly to him.
"Yes, he was my subordinate, and now you are too. Do you have a problem with that?"
To my surprise he just laughed it off and with a dull thud fell to his feet.
"Well then, if that's how it is danna, un."
He called me danna for the first time that day, and it's never worn off since. I'm his danna to him, and I wish I could say he's nothing more than a subordinate to me.
Now, I mentioned before he's an artist. He's definitely not an artist in the way he speaks, because he can't string together more than five words without having to stick this un business on the end. He's not so much an artist as he is an idiot. All day he sits there with a handful damp of clay in his restless hands, mouths gnawing at it as he forms it into tiny little birds. Always birds. It's like an incomprehensible fixation he has.
Oh, and he has this other obsession with making things explode. His clay, objects, people… whatever it is, as long as it ends up in one grand, and often bloody, explosion he has that damn grin on his face. It's hardly art at all. It's not even a skill! There's no emotion in it, and yet he continues in his ways as if he's created a thing of unimaginable beauty with his own two hands.
Quite quickly he took to coming into my room, unexpected and unannounced. I don't think he enjoys being alone- one day I ventured into his room, only to be shocked by the flocks of those clay birds that lay all around. On his floor, on his cupboards, in his draws, on and under his bed… everywhere. I asked him why he felt the need for them all, and simply he looked away from me and muttered "they keep my company, un." But never-the-less, that doesn't justify the way he comes into my room and messes up my organised chaos as he rummages through my belongings. Oh, and he talks too much. Far too much.
What I'm trying to say is that Deidara's a little shit, basically.
That's what I thought of him initially, and to be honest my opinion hasn't really changed. He became ridiculously attached to me extremely quickly. Although he was outspoken and a strong person in his own right, I couldn't help but noticed the way he was so obedient to me. It seemed like everything he did was to please me, and at the time I couldn't understand it.
He gave me a gift once. I wasn't sure how to respond to it really- I hate his art. I think I've made myself quite clear on the matter. What he makes isn't art, it's some sort of… anti-art. Well, anyway, this gift he gave me was nothing short of an example of his art in the fact that it was made of his trademark clay, colourless and rough against my fingers. However, I found myself surprised by it. It was a small and delicately caved statue of a puppet, adorned with feathered wings (what else?) with joints in all the right places. I held the heavy effigy cautiously and a distance away from my then flesh-body, waiting for the inevitable explosion. Deidara must have read my mind.
"Danna hates my art, un?" he asked with a mischievous grin. "Don't worry, un. It's a gift for you, and I knew you wouldn't like it if it went bang."
I was stunned by this, but before I could say anything he had span on his heels and made his way back to his room. It may not sound like much, but for an artist to change his ideals of beauty and art even once just to make another appreciate him… well, it was shocking.
The gift annoyed me, and I don't know why. I've always kept it on the corner of my windowsill so that it's constantly in the corner of my eye while I work, so it was hardly the craftsmanship. However, I found myself in the same position as him the following week. Awkwardly I knocked on his door and shoved a box of bright primary colour paints into his arms, and muttered to him:
"Here. Paint your idiotic birds."
To say we became close after that would only be half true. As rude and outlandish as he was around me, I soon noticed that he had some sort of respect for me coursing through his veins. You see, even thought he spent so much time around me and was often physically close, he never dared to touch me. He'd sit there, scanning me with those eyes of his and intrude my privacy with his words and actions, but he would never so much as, say, pat me on the back encouragingly when I couldn't get such and such to work on one of my puppets, nor did he ever tug my cloak for attention. Those kind of things.
And for some reason, more than anything - more than his speech pattern, the words he said, more than his art, even - it infuriated me.
Still, I've never been one to seek out physical contact with another, and so I merely shrugged it off. As I said, we did become close during this time. In fact, I can safely say it was at this time I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life with Deidara. It's surprising, isn't it? As much as I complain about the boy, and as much as he pisses me off, that's what I decided. I didn't just decide it for the sake of deciding either- I was more than content with my decision.
We clashed in every way imaginable, and at times it seemed like all we could do was argue about our opposing arts. But maybe that's what fascinated me. It was as if he could never run out of things to say- things which would either stun me with their intellectual depth or shock me at the sheer level of stupidity. Truth be told, I was more frustrated when he wasn't there to irritate me.
"Danna," he asked me one day, "how do you want to die?"
I glanced up from my pile of half-finished puppets, and perhaps looked thoughtful for a moment, because the look on his face suggested he thought he was about to receive an answer. It was just like Deidara to ask such a stupid thing, and so at first I merely grunted and shrugged it off. He rocked back and forth on the edge of my bed making the most intolerable creaking noise as he waited for his answer. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed and I still hadn't replied, but his face was eager and that damn noise was still grating against my every nerve.
I sighed as I dropped my puppet, and stated bluntly, "I'm not going to die, Deidara."
The creaking stopped as he sprang to his feet, and began blurting out all kinds of nonsense: "What's the point in that?" I remember him asking.
"The point is that I will always have this body, exactly as I am. And that is art," I said, knowing that it would do nothing to help prove my point. He's absurdly stubborn when he wants to be, just like the child he is. However, he calmed down a little at my words, and thought about them for a few moments.
"Forever, un. I'm not going to live forever… I'll go out with a bang, un! A bloody mess, and my beauty will be gone."
I hated the way he spoke like this all the time; "bang!" this and "bloody mess" that. Moreover, I hated the way he spoke so casually and somehow so fondly of his own death, with that vibrant look in his eyes.
"Idiot," I practically spat at him, not aware at the time how loudly I was talking.
"If you can be stupid enough not to appreciate real art, then when you die I will make your body anew from clay."
I'm not sure why I said what I did, but for some reason it seemed fitting in my mind. For once he didn't have the words, and silently moved down to the floor and sat besides me with a distant look in his eyes.
If there was a major turning point in our "relationship", I'd have to say that that comes in second. Ever since then we had more of an understanding towards one another. I'm sure he became aware that although I felt I should I somehow couldn't bring myself to hate him, and he began to see clearly where the line was drawn between us.
Things didn't change for another month or two, until winter slipped into the early spring in the blink of an eye. It was one of those warm April mornings where it does nothing by rain oh so quietly for hours on end. Deidara loved this weather, and somehow convinced me to join him for a walk. Well, I wasn't sure whether it was me or my arm he wanted; when we left the building he made sure I held an umbrella over his head. That boy has a strange obsession with his hair, and as a result whenever I let so much as a drop hit that delicate head of his he shot the most frightening glare at me.
I on the other hand didn't care so much about my fiery red shock of hair; it was constantly a mess anyway, and I felt a few drops of rain wouldn't harm me. He paused quite unexpectedly at one point and looked at me in the most unnerving way.
"That's your problem, un," he murmured as he let his eyes linger on the drops of rain that ran down my face.
"Un," he said and he hesitantly raised a hand. I watched as he awkwardly brought it up to my face, and then after a moment's contemplation I felt it run through the tangled mess atop my head. I can't pretend that his warm fingers didn't make the blood freeze in my veins, but it certainly didn't make me feel uncomfortable. Surprised, yes, as I never did expect it from him, but definitely not uncomfortable.
Eventually he finished his trail of thought. "You'd have such nice hair, if only you took care of it, un."
That unnerving look vanished as quickly as it appeared, long before I had a chance to work out just what it was. With a forced and almost bitter laugh he withdrew his hand, and before I knew it he had turned away, leaving both me and the umbrella behind.
Now, I won't even suggest to you that I know what happened next. The only way I can remember it as is as a thick mist enveloping us, and I really don't think what I was doing was any clearer to me at the time. One moment I was grabbing his cloak to pull him back under the umbrella before he became angry, and the next thing I knew was those two people in that misty haze were pushed together, the smaller on his tip-toes so he could reach the blond boy's mouth. I said that I always viewed his art as "anti-art", and much in the same way he tasted to me like anti-clay; rich and colourful in my mouth, smooth and disturbingly fragile as my tongue ran over it.
And once we started, we didn't stop. It didn't happen all at once, but after a few weeks not a day went by when I didn't wake up to see Deidara curled up so innocently next to me, usually undressed. He slept a lot, and I would often have to lay there awake for hours, watching the shadows dance on the ceiling above us. However, I think he faked it a lot of the time; whenever I went to move away his arms would shoot out towards me and pull me back under the covers. He really does hate being alone, and I suppose he thought that I would be able to tolerate him better if he was asleep.
"Sasori-danna," he asked me uncertainly one particularly cold morning. "How old are you?"
Age wasn't something I had thought about for a long time. My body, of course, still doesn't look much older than when I left Sunagakure all those years ago, but my mind has long out grown it. To most people I probably look no older than fourteen or so, but the reality is far harsher.
"About… forty-five," I replied, making a rough estimate. For all I know I was ten years out in either direction.
"Hah!" he exclaimed with a burst of laughter. "I was beginning to think I was the pervert."
For a reason unbeknownst to me he seemed to take delight in his fact. Just another one of my imperfections he could use to dig at me with, I expect.
"But you have to agree, Deidara, that you always feel the same constant feeling for me. And that is where the beauty lies in our… friendship," I came back with as my feeble defense. I don't know if I was trying to spark an argument or not, but it took his mind off of the whole "pervert" issue.
"Not at all, un." Stubborn, as ever.
"It's always different, un. Some days I see you and think I would like nothing more than to let my hands find their way into your trousers, danna," he opened both fist and his tongues flickered about momentarily, "yet sometimes I sit and watch, trying to figure you out. And then again, sometimes I want you to talk to me, and sometimes… I just like having you around, un."
"And so your feelings are constant are they then Sasori-danna, un?" He challenged me, his voice betraying him a little. He sounded hurt; hurt because of my cold response.
"Yes. You are what you are to me. That does not change over time."
"So you're saying that I don't annoy you sometimes? Nothing like that, un."
"No Deidara, the annoyance definitely is constant."
And that's how we were from then on. Definitely more than friends, but somehow we failed to be lovers. We didn't lace our words with false compare and make promises we inevitably couldn't keep, nor were there any sweet-nothings or candle-lit dinner. We were partners, as we always had been, bound together by our differences. After all, what outside could we expect to accept us after all we've done? No, it's certainly not wrong in our own eyes, but the outside world frowns on us.
I asked him what it was he'd done once. I don't think I've felt chills like that since I spoke with Itachi about the massacre of his clan, just because of the way his words were so cold and calm.
"I made my mother a present one. A little clay bird, un… she used to love watching them with me out of the window of our rocky house. I was young, eight, un. She looked so happy, smiling so brightly at the thing I'd carved for her… I got so excited and it just went "bang", un. There was so much blood. So much. On my hands and face, un. It made my heart beat so quickly and my head spin! Soon enough anyone who approached me shared the same fate, un! Those villagers hated me because of my hands though - my mother was the only one who treated me fairly - and were quick to exile me, un."
Sex soon became a regular practice between us. It wasn't so much about the blurred physical sensation, or even the dizzy heights of ecstasy we reached when our bodies would come together in a mixture of sweat and breathlessness, nor was it the gratification of hearing my name painted on his lips, violently echoing into the shaken night. No, it was more about the way we grasped at some sort of desperate warmth as I looked into his wide eyes, knowing that to him I was his whole world and he was the same to me. It was the way that for once, no matter how brief the moment might have been, we could both agree on what was true art.
By then I had know him for a year. I knew all the secrets of his mind and I had his body too at my disposal, which you might think should have been more than enough for me. However, I found myself wanting more; I found myself wanting to test his limits. I wanted his unconditional loyalty. I wanted to know that the word danna on his lips was nothing but the truth.
And so I set out to get what I wanted.
"Deidara," I whispered as I brushed back his hair so that I could see his entire face. "Your eyes really are beautiful."
I swear for an instant I saw him blush, which was not at all unexpected. I had never said anything like that to him before, and never planned to again.
"Sasori-danna?" he asked, rightly confused.
"I can have one, can't I?"
As soon as the words fell out of my mouth he literally jumped back, eyes open wide (which probably wasn't the greatest idea) in a mixture of horror and shock. I sighed almost affectionately, and with more force than I needed pulled him back into my arms.
"Now Deidara, it's not like you even use this eye. After all, look at the way your hair flops over it," I said with a smile, not wanting to have to force him into it, but simply persuading him as if it was some as casual as changing his socks.
"You're kidding right, un?" he laughed awkwardly, trying to convince himself. But of course he knew better; when have I ever joked about anything?
Half an hour later he was slumped into a shaky wooded chair, bound down by ropes of chakra strings. I didn't believe for even a moment that he couldn't escape from them had he wanted, but he knew that he really had no choice but to obey me. It's one of the few times I've seen fear in that boy's eyes, and the only time that lopsided grin has been completely erased from his face.
I used the tools I would normally use on my puppets; a long thin needle and a scalpel. I wasn't bothered about making it a clean job, rather, I figured the messier the better. Deidara likes that kind of stuff. I can still hear the way he screamed out in panic as I brought the needle up to his left eye, calling out pleas of "danna, no!" as it came closer and closer. With a little force I pierced the surface, and he let out a shriek so loud I'm sure every other member in Akatsuki must have heard it. I felt the tears he probably didn't even realise he was crying run down my puppet hands as I roughly carved the entire eye out.
I moved back once I had it all in my hand, and placed it carelessly on the table. Deidara had his face bowed so low that I saw only the top of his shaking head, but I heard the heavy sobs and the spells of vomit that ended up over his lap and my floor.
Eventually I knelt down before him, and spoke softly to him as I stroked his head gently. "Deidara, it's over now. Thank you."
His body was racked with sobs, but when he looked up to me I was taken aback. His once glowing blue eye was now a dark hole, and the blood that seeped from it found its way down the side of his pale face and trickled into the corner of his mouth. He has such a manic grin on his face that even I felt scared of him for a moment.
"Now that," he panted heavily, "was art, un."
Deidara was undeniably loyal, and most importantly he was mine.
But now things have changed for the worse, and all in a flash. Perhaps Deidara is right after all, because now I can see how beauty really is fleeting, all because there's little life in me now. And yet at the same time I know that some things are eternal. Deidara was wrong about feelings changing, that I know now. On the surface they may appear to change, and although I'm convinced he's sure I've always hated him, I can assure you that it it's very much the opposite.
I can only wonder whether Deidara will feel any remorse for me after he sees these swords dug deep in me.
I can only wonder if he'll want to make me anew out of his clay.
After all, the company of little birds does not benefit a man like him.