Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
A is for Amuck
A/N: DeiSaku fic inspired by fellow fanfic author, Ivy Adrena, who also betas this monster along with Aelibia. Go check out both of their works; they're seriously awesome.
O O O
Sakura should have been discontented by his presence, really, but it was just so hard to do so when one had been wandering alone in the far eastern wastelands for days on end.
He was, nonetheless, a reassuring lump in the distance, sitting upon a squat of dry land within the murky bayou. His back was turned to her, but his black cloak, patterned with those disturbingly familiar red clouds, and bright blond topknot gave him away almost instantly.
He wasn't making any attempt to hide or flee or fight, so she advanced cautiously. Her footsteps were wet and loud, but Deidara didn't turn to acknowledge her existence. He just kept still, hunched over with his chin resting atop his knees.
She observed him for a while, of course, the sounds of the animals around them making everything seem all that much more anxious. But the only movements either made was the rise and fall of their chests.
So when all was said and done, Sakura decided to sit down. She said nothing, just dropped herself beside him, mimicking his pose. Because who knew? Maybe they were the last ones left after the systematic eradication of both friend and foe alike. The lines separating who was the enemy and who was an absolute ally had blurred considerably, to the point where Sound, Leaf, Sand, and the Akatsuki organization were forced to fend for themselves entirely.
Her side pressed against his warmly, and he didn't protest at all. His form was much larger than hers, despite the fact that he was among the smallest Akatsuki members, and though several instinctual presences within Sakura were urging her to get up and run before he killed her or worse, she was simply too tired to listen.
A northeast wind blew, and the scent of the bog filled her with a nostalgic sense of dread. She'd been separated from her cell, consisting of Sai, Naruto, and Yamato. She didn't have much of an idea as to where she was going, only that she was nearing the eastern coast. From there, she could find a neutral village and contact home. But she'd walked for so, so long, and she feared that she'd see the end of all things before she could even find the ocean. All she'd seen thus far was dense forestry and bubbling swamps. And quite frankly, she was sick of it all.
Deidara was a pleasant distraction from it, to be honest—a change in the constancy of the landscape and a break in the solitude. And though he was for certain the enemy and for certain detrimental to her well-being, she would take whatever she could get.
"Thanks," Deidara said suddenly, mumbling it into his knees, and scaring Sakura half out of her wits and almost into a defensive position.
Sakura nodded solemnly, though, when she'd reaffirmed that he posed no threat at the current time. "You're welcome," she said, eyeing him from her peripheral vision.
He sighed, lifting his head only enough to stare out at the bleak landscape before them. "You're not going to fight me, yeah?"
"No," Sakura said, taking his hint and keeping her gaze pointed at nothing. "I have no need to."
"You're not going to fight me?" she asked gently.
"I have no need to."
From where she was sitting, Sakura could see a side-profile view of his face. He looked ragged and worn, and a dark bag hung under his exposed eye. She knew the frown playing over his lips all too well, and a pang of sympathy clenched around her heart. "You've…" she ventured, finally turning to look at him full-on, desperate for conversation, for human interaction. "You've lost someone?"
He turned slowly toward her, his eye scanning over her and evaluating her question, it seemed. Finally, his frown deepened. "Yeah," he huffed.
"Oh." Sakura sank back into the cradle of her arms, but Deidara didn't follow her example. "So have I. My…my friends. Many of them."
"Because of the war between—?"
"Yes," she answered, cutting him off before he could speak any more of the battle raging back in her native land.
Deidara grunted softly and shifted, which Sakura could feel. He didn't make any move to disconnect where his side touched hers, though. It seemed he felt just as comforted by her presence as she did his. "You're a far way from home, yeah."
She closed her eyes, suddenly awfully tired. "I know. So are you."
"But I have a reason to be."
"And I don't?"
"You haven't told me one yet."
"And you haven't told me yours."
"You haven't asked, yeah."
Sakura frowned at the taller man. "Was I supposed to?"
"Well," he pondered, smirking despite the circumstances. "It would be considered proper manners."
She straightened her back, smiling right back at him. She could play his game, and she'd gladly do so. She recognized it for what it was: He was creating a temporary distraction from his grief by speaking with her, and she silently thanked him for being so creative. "I was picked up by…a tornado," she said, and she watched eyebrow lift in amusement. "A laughing, happy tornado that picked me up in his strong arms and dumped me in this yucky bayou as he passed through."
"Is that so, yeah?" Deidara asked, his tone laced with humor and possibly a certain loss of dignity. "In that case, I was taken here by a magical cloud. And the cloud told me that I'd have to sit here on top of this ridiculous little island until…"
Sakura laughed a little out loud. "Until a princess came to rescue you?"
"Until a princess came to rescue me, yeah," he affirmed, rolling his eye.
She snorted, shaking her head gaily. "Talk about role-reversal."
"I find it quite befitting. And what were the tornado's reasons for depositing you here, yeah?" Deidara asked, turning his whole body to face her.
Sakura did the same, and as they sat cross-legged, their knees touched. She noticed that his cloak was tattered and dirty, but she tried not to think about that. They were creating a story together—they were momentarily forgetting all that was currently wrong with the world, and it was a one-in-a-billion chance that she'd found him at all, so she reveled in it while she could. "I believe…he was testing me."
"Yes." She pouted slightly, putting a finger to her bottom lip in concentration. "He was seeing if I was suited to rescue the prince from his…island."
"Akatsuki Island," Deidara said with a challenging sort of tone. He grinned, showing some teeth, and Sakura laughed. "I do believe that you are a very suitable princess to save this prince, yeah."
She smirked. "Well, I'm glad. So what are the conditions? What must I do to rescue you?"
That grin because all that much more predatory, and it unnerved her a bit. "Dance with the prince of Akatsuki Island, yeah." He stood quickly, pulling her with him by the hand.
She could feel the mouths on his hands pressing against her palms, and it was an odd feeling, but she didn't think on the sensation much. "This is silly."
She found herself being swung around, whirling around his body in a daze. And he laughed all the while, occasionally dipping her backwards.
He curled her into him, and she pressed against his body for less than an instant before he released her and she twirled away. "You have two left feet, yeah," he teased, being careful not to step outside the island.
"Yes, well, you're not exactly the King of Dance," she retorted.
"Of course not. I'm the Prince of Akatsuki Island, obviously." He took a misstep and found himself fumbling over his own feet until he fell flat on his rump.
Sakura laughed the hardest she could ever remember laughing. "Some prince you are."
He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down into the mud beside him, hair disheveled and filthy. "And it seems that you look nothing like a princess, yeah."
He quickly found himself with a face full of bog water and sputtered. "Hey!" He wiped his face with a sleeve of his cloak. "You're not very lady-like, princess."
Sakura was about to bark out a quick-witted retort, but a shuffling of leaves caught her attention.
Deidara also immediately snapped to attention, rising to his feet quickly. A serious expression overlaid his previous one of frivolity. "Wh—?"
A kunai planted itself neatly at the base of Deidara's neck. He cringed for a barely a second and then slumped over, falling sideways into the water.
Sakura immediately got to her feet, turning around. What she saw angered her more than it probably should have. A rogue ninja stood in battle position, kunai poised between each finger, sans the one he had thrown at Deidara. He wasn't wearing any detectable headband.
He dropped his battle position and advanced upon her, cold, grey eyes frowning upon the Akatsuki member lying still in the water. His gaze flicked to Sakura. "Are you okay?"
Fury at the loss of another life exploded in Sakura, and she whirled on the ninja. "You bastard! What the hell did he do to you?"
The man, apparently confused, shook his head. "It looked like he was attacking you. And isn't he an Akatsuki?" He waited for her answer, but when she didn't give him a viable one, he held out a hand. "You're wearing a Leaf headband. Allow me to escort you back."
She bit her lip and took a step back. Had she been younger, she might have cried. Had she been younger, she might have run. Had she been younger, she might just have done both. But because she was much older, she shook her head determinedly. "No."
The man dropped his hand, staring at her intently. "What?"
"I said, 'No,'" she said, bending down near Deidara to help him out of the water to preserve whatever dignity was left of him. "Now please leave."
"Are you sure?"
She didn't reply, and in seconds he was gone. Did he think she was stupid? This was a war. She trusted no one. Not even friends, but that didn't mean she should just let them die.
She turned her attention back to Deidara. He was still breathing, but barely. She put one hand around the the entry wound and gripped the offending kunai with the other. A faint, mint-colored glow showed that she had begun to heal him.
The only sign that he was actually awake and able to function was when he opened his visible eye a touch to watch her. "That was you friend?"
Sakura frowned and shook her head as she managed to pull out the weapon. Blood immediately rushed to fill the open wound, but Sakura's chakra was quickly remedying this. "No. Not a friend. An enemy."
Deidara closed his eye again. "Friends, enemies…who knows who's who anymore, yeah?"
She forced a smile. "Yeah."
As she reached down to fit him into a position that wasn't having him half-lying in the murky bog water, he put two gentle fingers to her neck, touching the curve of her jaw in a reassuring manner.
Something was a little off about the position, and she opened her mouth to speak. Before she could finish, however, his fingers pushed hard into the place where her carotid artery would be.
She only got the chance to glance at him briefly before she hit the ground, a veil of black sweeping over her eyes.
O O O
It was as if the sky had torn open and wept as Deidara flew through the heavens on his clay bird, dashing through the low clouds and keeping his cloak wrapped tightly around himself. The rain drenched his hair into a stringy, straw-like heap atop his head. Raindrops obscured the lens of his scope, and he had to partially close his exposed eye against the roaring wind.
From somewhere behind him, the grey-eyed man, heavily dressed, shouted, "Where are we landing?"
Instead of trying to raise his voice above the wind, Deidara pointed to a not-so-far-off town. Lights twinkled amidst the drab scenery.
Kisame nodded as Deidara steered the bird toward the ground, just on the outskirts of the ramshackle town and atop a small knoll heavily mantled with tall trees. Once his clay vessel alighted, he motioned for Kisame to wait.
"Cover her with some of the extra clothes you have, yeah," he called over his shoulder, "and then bring her in separately. Remember the plan?"
Deidara watched Kisame nod and gruffly pull an extra tunic over her head, where it completely draped about her body like a dress. Satisfied with the new, rather grungy apparel she sported, he pulled off his Akatsuki cloak, turned it inside out, and strode toward where the town lay in all of its dilapidated glory.
There was a worn path that led him in a curvy sort of trajectory to the front gates of the municipality, if it could even really be called that. From what he could see at his distance, the gates were made of randomly-shaped wood planks tied crudely together with some sort of twine. The tallest buildings of the lot were located to the west of him, and they leaned against each for support, as if some incredible force had knocked the two of them together.
"Hello, stranger!" someone called as he stepped onto the small stone walkway at the gates. "What business have you with this town?"
The tone of his voice didn't seem hostile at all, and he looked like an imbecile if Deidara saw one, but he still put his pinky finger through the loop of a kunai in his pocket cautiously. "I'm just traveling through, yeah," he shouted back, looking up at the man. He was seated in a crow's nest, some ten or fifteen feet above the ground.
"I see," the man said, leaning comfortably against the guardrails. "If it's an inn you're seeking, you'll not find one here."
This had Deidara's veins boiling. There wasn't another town in site for miles. "No lodging whatsoever? Even a guesthouse will do, yeah."
"Should you be lucky enough, you might find a family who is willing to extend to you their hospitality." He grinned wide. "We are but a humble fishing village, after all."
"Great, yeah," Deidara mumbled, heading on through the gates.
"Wait a minute!"
The blond man halted immediately, glancing once more up at the supposed gate watch. "What is it?"
"You look…familiar. You haven't visited before, have you?"
"No, yeah," Deidara replied fast--automatically.
The watch frowned. "So…was that a yes or a no?"
Deidara sighed dramatically. "That was a 'no.'"
"I see." He scratched the back of his head warily, and Deidara found that he was quickly becoming annoyed with this town. "I couldn't tell because of your…" The man faltered, searching for the right terminology. Finally, it seemed he had found it. "Your speech impediment."
The mouths on Deidara's hands gnashed their teeth. "It's not a speech impediment, yeah. It's habit."
"Ah. In any case," he said, waving one burly hand, "I hope you enjoy your stay!"
Quickly—possibly quicker than he had ever walked to get away from somebody who was pestering him—Deidara wandered into the center of the town. It wasn't bustling by any means, but there were still a significant amount of people strolling about listlessly. There weren't any vendors set up anywhere, just a few conjoining shop-homes.
Two children ran past him, laughing and slapping each other with unidentifiable fish.
He sighed. What a sad, degenerate place to live.
A woman stood outside a particularly large-looking house, trying to fix a nail jutting out of her doorway.
"Excuse me," he said, approaching her.
She turned just her head toward him, stopping with her current task. "Can I help you?"
"Do you offer lodging, yeah?" he asked, making sure to keep his hands tucked tightly into his pockets. They'd throw him out on his ass for sure if they saw his little "mutation."
She smiled. "Yes, I do. Do you require it?"
He nodded, and she led him inside. The first level of her home was small and humble, with the occasional family portrait decorating an end table or wall. Then they were up the stairs, rounding a corner, and coming upon a hallway containing at least three or four rooms.
"Here are the guest quarters," she said, bowing deep. "You can choose any of these rooms. They're all currently vacant."
"My brother and my wife will be coming soon, yeah," Deidara said, approaching the far door and placing a hand carefully on the knob. "Will they be welcome, as well?"
"Of course!" the woman said, smiling bright. Deidara nodded and went to open the door, but she stopped him once more. "Dinner will be tonight at seven o'clock, and breakfast tomorrow will be at eight o'clock. Of course, neither is mandatory."
He nodded, and without another glance, entered the room.
Whereupon he immediately spotted Kisame lounging on the large queen bed, one leg folded casually over the other.
"Kisame," Deidara muttered, nodding his acknowledgment. "You were quick, yeah."
Kisame shrugged. "I just followed you. Wasn't that difficult."
"So where's the girl?"
The shark man pointed at a far corner of the room, where Sakura sat propped up, though her head still slumped forward, in an armchair. "There."
"And she's bound, yeah?"
"Good." He sat down on the bed beside his partner, yawning. The day, no matter how anticlimactic it was, had been long. Deidara was an artist, not an actor, and he'd been worried that he'd fail miserably in that department.
However, as he lay down with his arms folded behind his head, he couldn't help but feel even the smallest sense of fulfillment. He'd pulled off the impromptu capture of the medic-nin, and he'd managed to migrate farther east than he ever could have imagined. Plus, he'd found Kisame. Well, technically, Kisame had found him…
And speak of the devil, Kisame began to laugh deeply.
Deidara frowned at him, glaring through his exposed, half-lidded eye. "What?"
He laughed a little harder. "I was just remembering you and your little dance with the girl."
Deidara snorted and rolled onto his side, removing his arms from behind his head to instead tuck them across his chest. "It was a part of the act, yeah. Don't read too much into it."
"Act," Kisame mocked. "You were dancing with her before I even showed up."
"It's not like I just thought up this grand, master plan when you appeared, yeah. I knew I was going to either kill her or capture and use her the first time she sat next to me."
"But you were still dancing."
"What's your point?"
He stifled another laugh. "My point is that you were dancing."
"Shut up, yeah." There was silence for a moment, and when Deidara felt a bit of his pride return, he broke it. "How'd you escape, anyway?"
He felt rather than saw Kisame shrugged as the whole mattress shifted from the brief movement. "I fought. I ran. And then I fought some more."
A thick, suffocating barrier of hush blanketed the two once more.
"I didn't find anyone," Kisame said simply, as if he'd been reading Deidara's mind.
Deidara sighed through his nose. "Me neither. I thought I was the only one left, yeah."
"Yeah, well," Kisame grunted, finally turning onto his side, facing away from Deidara, "that's not the case, now. We're a team of three: you, me, and the girl."
"That's not exactly a team," Deidara muttered, and he would've rolled his eyes if they had been open. "More of a forced armistice."
"Fine, let's just call us all a working dynamic and leave it at that."
"Works for me."
More of that damned dense, silent air followed.
"We head to…where after this?" Kisame asked, turning only slightly so that he could glance at Deidara out of the corner of his grey eyes.
"I don't know. We'll stay to the east coast, yeah," Deidara answered, shifting uncomfortably. "We'll try and contact Leader."
"I'm almost positive Leader's dead."
"Don't jump to conclusions," Deidara scolded. "But…if that's the case, then we'll stay dormant for the remainder of the war. When it's over, and if we still can't find Leader, we'll just have to resurrect the Akatsuki ourselves."
Kisame scoffed heavily at this. "Sounds like a long trip."
"Nothing comes without a price, yeah."
"And the girl?"
"What about her?"
"What will we do with her?"
"We keep her, yeah. What else?"
"Wouldn't her friends be looking for her?"
The sound of a grandfather clock carried down the hall and into the room. Deidara listened to it chime six times, and then spoke. "From what she told me, most of her friends are dead."
Kisame paused for a moment. "Surprise, surprise."
"It leaves one to wonder," Deidara speculated, shuffling one of his feet over the other, "how she managed to survive at all."