One of the Cool Kids
Note: Written because Tobi is adorable and needs more love. Oh and, I PROMISE I'll update "Trick or Pocky" after this. Seriously, my cousin won't leave me alone until I do, anyway. XD
One of the Cool Kids
Many people found their deaths at the hands of the dreaded Akatsuki. Just the mere silhouettes of those dark, cloaked figures on the horizon were enough to have the toughest shinobi crying for their mothers.
With their cruelty and devastating power, the Akatsuki quickly became the most feared organization on the east coast and there wasn't a bingo book without their mention.
They were feared and revered, fearsome and ruthless. Each member had found his place in the organization by demonstrating his capacity for bloodshed, and anyone looking to join was said to undergo an initiation test so brutal that ninety-eight percent of the candidates never came back alive.
Entry into the Akatsuki was extremely difficult, and as such, there hadn't been a new member for years.
That is, until now.
A fresh-faced, self-proclaimed 'good boy' took it upon himself to try and join. That boy's name was Tobi.
"Do you think there's room for me now, Zetsu-san?"
The man resembling a Venus fly trap glanced at the masked man sitting at his right, perched on a rock with his hands folded in his lap.
"Leader-sama hasn't said anything yet. Although it's possible, with Sasori being dead and all."
"I feel sorry for Deidara-san. Sasori-san was his partner, wasn't he?"
"He got over it quite fast."
"Do you think I could be Deidara-san's new partner?" Tobi asked in a hopeful voice.
Zetsu shrugged again.
"I don't see why not. But you can't just get in. There's an initiation process you have to go through to prove yourself worthy."
Tobi nodded exuberantly.
"Yes. I'm ready for it, Zetsu-san. I've prepared my strongest jutsu for it."
The black half of Zetsu's face emitted a dry, crackling sound resembling a laugh.
"If you fail, you die."
Tobi waved his hands in a carefree manner.
"No need to worry about me, Zetsu-san. Tobi will get in, no problem. I"—
Zetsu shifted suddenly, tilting his head to the side as if he were listening to something.
"Leader-sama is summoning me to a meeting," he said a moment later.
Tobi perked his head up at that, scrambling off his rock and standing eagerly before the taller man.
"Can I come, too?"
"…I'll have to ask Leader-sama."
"Can you? Please?"
Tobi watched excitedly as Zetsu melted into the ground he stood on, disappearing through it completely. A few minutes passed and Tobi occupied himself by plucking a daisy, pulling off each petal to the tune of:
"I pass and join…I fail and die…I pass and join…I fail and die…"
Just as he was about to remove the second to last petal, Zetsu slowly emerged through the ground, blinking in bewilderment when daisy petals came raining down on his head.
"Oh! You're back already, Zetsu-san!"
"Leader-sama says you can come with me," Zetsu said shortly, before the black half of his face laughed again.
"It's very likely you're going to die."
"Thank you very much," Tobi said politely, bowing and trying to contain his obvious excitement. "I will make Zetsu-san proud."
"Whatever. Just grab my shoulder."
"Can I hold your hand?"
"I said shoulder."
"Ne, what are we waiting for again?" Deidara said in a loud whisper, elbowing Kisame.
The shark man scowled, cursing his luck at having been put next to Deidara in the meeting room. The blonde had been elbowing him for the past ten minutes, asking him questions he obviously didn't know the answers to and blurting out random observations.
"You look like a shark, un. But you smell like…" Kisame cringed visibly when Deidara leaned in, sniffing his cloak.
Kisame glanced pointedly in Itachi's direction, who sat stony-faced despite his singed hair and feather-coated cloak.
It really hadn't been a good idea to put Itachi in charge of Friday's dinner, after all. The kitchen wall had a flaming hole in it where Itachi had unleashed Amaterasu on a crate of live chickens. What remained was charred, poultry entrails and burnt feathers, and Leader-sama wasn't pleased when they were forced to order takeout.
"This stuff tastes like crap," Hidan muttered, shoving his box of chow mein towards Deidara, who happily accepted. "Kakuzu, why do you always order the cheapest, shittiest food you can find?"
The masked man glared at him.
"Because our finances are already stretched tight. I just had to subtract half our savings to pay for repairing the kitchen wall."
At that, he turned his glare on Itachi.
The Uchiha pretended to not notice.
A few seconds later, the Leader descended the stairs leading down to the meeting room, and the room fell into silence when he strode towards his seat.
As soon as he sat down, Zetsu's head materialized through the floor, and with him came a black-clad individual with an orange, swirly mask.
"Who the hell is that?"
"Nice to meet you," Tobi greeted, bowing to each member in the room. "My name is Tobi."
"He's here for an initiation," Zetsu explained, gesturing tiredly to a stool. "Go have a seat."
As Tobi happily flounced over to his seat (next to Deidara), the Leader cleared his throat.
"We have a candidate to replace Sasori. I'm sure you all remember what's expected from you in the initiation process."
Everyone nodded amidst an enthusiastic "un!" from Deidara.
Deidara was hell bent on making sure Tobi didn't get in. There was just something about the man that bugged him. He was immature and dim-witted and most importantly, not artistic in the least. He would never fit in.
Oh yes, Deidara though deviously to himself. Tobi won't be able to pass my test for the initiation. He's dead meat, un.
"If by some chance he happens to pass the test…" the Leader paused. "He will be appointed as Deidara's new partner."
"What?" the blonde yelped from the corner.
"There will be no more new arrangements or partnerships. We cannot afford to customize new name plates for your rooms. Isn't that right, Kakuzu?"
Deidara shot to his feet, pointing indignantly at Tobi.
"But I don't want him as my partner!"
"Be seated," the Leader said flatly.
"He's boring and dumb and he's too—GUH!" Deidara fell over, collapsing into a twitching heap after the Leader blinked in his direction.
His voice was like ice when he spoke a moment later.
"Does anybody else have any complaints?"
"No," the room sounded in unison.
"Good." The Leader turned his gaze to Itachi. "Bring me the hat."
Tobi watched in curiousity as Itachi got up and disappeared into a dark room adjoined to the meeting room. He returned a moment later with a battered old top hat and handed it to the Leader.
The Leader's hand disappeared inside it, his fingers shuffling its contents. A moment later, he pulled out a slip of paper and unfolded it.
"Kisame. You will be the first to give Tobi a test."
Another slip of paper was removed.
"Hidan, you next."
The rest of the names were drawn out in the following order:
Kakuzu, Itachi, Zetsu, and Deidara.
He set the hat down before speaking, his words hanging ominously in the air.
"My test will come last, of course."
Tobi was fighting the urge to wiggle excitedly in his seat, completely oblivious to the dirty looks Deidara was throwing him from the floor.
"I can't wait," Tobi blurted, hands clasped together in his lap as all eyes looked in his direction. "I won't disappoint you, I promise."
The Leader stared at him in silence for a moment.
"All right. Whatever. Just get out of my sight, all of you."
As everyone stood up to leave, the Leader glanced over at Tobi once more. It would be troublesome to send him back to wherever he lived, as he'd seen the headquarters and knew his—the Leader's—identity.
No, it would be better to let him stay the night. He would die if he failed, anyway.
"You," the Leader pointed at Tobi, who shot to his feet, standing erect with his hands by his sides. "Pick up that idiot from the floor and find his room. You will stay the night with him."
"Yes, sir!" Tobi said happily, saluting before hefting the twitching blonde onto his shoulder.
"Urgh…put me down, un. I don't need your help," Deidara muttered, cross-eyed.
"Don't be like that, Deidara-senpai! I am your pupil now," Tobi chirped, carrying him up the stairs and into the hallway.
"What did you call me?"
"…you're a dead man. Un."
Deidara ended up staying awake all night, unable to sleep as Tobi sat up in his bed across the room and talked incessantly. The blonde's eyes were bloodshot as he stared at Tobi's shadow puppets on the wall, a vein throbbing dangerously in his temple.
"Look, Deidara-senpai. It's one of your clay birds," Tobi said, making the shadow of his fingers flap against the wall.
Oh yes. He was a dead man.
The next morning, it was strict business. Kisame came to get Tobi from his room, smelling like burnt waffles after another one of Itachi's failed attempts at breakfast.
"Hey you, it's time to go," Kisame said, quirking his brow when he found Tobi making his bed.
"All right, just a moment, Kisame-san. I need to make Deidara-senpai's bed."
Kisame stared at him, the gears in his mind slowly turning. Tobi was obviously going to die; there was no doubt about it. He was a complete fruitcake and had just demonstrated that by making his bed.
He was a dead man, surely.
The shark man raised his hand, tapping a finger against his chin in thought.
Since Tobi was a hopeless case, it was very likely that he'd fail the initiation tests of the others. And if he failed, he would die.
Kisame's stomach growled pitifully.
He grimaced, patting his starving gut consolingly. Itachi may have been able to stomach those concoctions, but Kisame had a more sophisticated palate and craved a good, home-cooked meal. All the takeout food had left him feeling sluggish and made his gills greasy, too.
Kisame came to a resolution.
"Don't bother bringing any weapons or anything. All you'll need is the kitchen."
Tobi turned to face him, cocking his head slightly to the left.
"What's my task, Kisame-san?"
The shark man grinned.
A few moments later, Tobi found himself in the spacious kitchen down the hall, the high-tech stove and tall, metal fridge glinting invitingly.
In the corner, the hole Itachi had left in the wall still smoldered with black flames.
"Yeah, you should ignore that," Kisame said, steering Tobi towards the fridge.
"What would you like for lunch, Kisame-san?"
"Anything, as long as it's edible. Can you cook?"
"Good. I'll be back in an hour."
Kisame quirked his other brow at the enthusiastic response before departing, leaving Tobi to his own devices.
Without wasting a second, Tobi plucked the blue apron from behind the kitchen door, donning that and a red bandana around his forehead before he got to work.
When Kisame returned an hour later, he blinked in surprise at the smells wafting through the hallway. Something smelled…good.
Kisame poked his head into the kitchen, eyes widening when he saw Tobi setting the table, complete with a floral centerpiece and all. Tobi glanced up a moment later.
"Oh, Kisame-san! Just in time," he said airily, pulling out a chair for the speechless man.
Kisame slowly made his way over to the table and then slowly sat down.
Tobi ladled a steaming, thick broth into a bowl and set it before him, offering him a spoon a moment later. Kisame slowly took the spoon and cautiously mixed the thick stew, brow furrowing in paranoia.
"I hope you like it, Kisame-san," Tobi chimed in from the side.
"You didn't poison it, did you?" Kisame said doubtfully.
"Um, I don't think so. You didn't ask for poison, did you?"
Kisame's fingers slackened in relief. This guy was a dimwit all right, and a harmless one at that.
Tobi waited for a response when Kisame spooned some of the stew into his mouth.
"You made this?"
"It's…really good," Kisame said, tearing up a little as the taste of real food graced his abused taste buds.
Tobi was ecstatic. "Does that mean I pass?"
"What?" Kisame said distractedly, intent on swallowing the soup along with the bowl. "Yeah, sure. Why not."
Tobi thanked him repeatedly, bowing and saluting until something occurred to Kisame. He paused, holding the spoon in his mouth.
"What is this, anyway? I never had something like this before."
"My specialty," Tobi answered gleefully. "Shark fin soup."
The spoon fell out of Kisame's mouth, clattering against the empty bowl.
"What…?" he said blankly.
"Shark fin soup! I used the dorsal fin of a Mako shark and"—
Kisame didn't let him finish. He stumbled out of his chair, throwing a hand over his mouth as his cheeks bulged. His blue skin suddenly seemed greener.
"Something wrong?" Tobi asked innocently.
Kisame made a muffled, devastated sort of sound in his throat before he staggered out of the kitchen and into the nearest washroom. Tobi stood there, scratching his head as he heard the blue-skinned man retching into the toilet.
"Well, as long I passed," he said bemusedly to himself before wandering off to find Hidan.