C is for Crow


Sakura was very well aware that a large, blue-skinned man was tailing her dangerously. But she didn't particularly care, because all that mattered was that she had to run. She had to get away from her captors; she knew what they were capable of. She'd remembered Sasori's defeat vividly enough to keep this fact in mind.

She hopped deftly over rocks and tried to stay out of the bayou water and slick mud as much as possible, but it was nearly impossible. The land was too barren where she was running to keep aboveground.

Kisame appeared in front of her suddenly, and she flipped back, landing expertly on a jutting rock. From there she took off in another direction, running instead to the north. And Kisame kept following her, occasionally cursing when she zigzagged out of his path.

She half-turned long enough only to toss a few kunai at him, which he easily dodged. She didn't have any more weapons on her, and any chakra-based attacks would cut into the limited time she had. Kisame was big and he was fast. As soon as she slowed, he'd catch her and take her back to Deidara. Well, either that or he'd steal off with her into the distant forestry and do who-knows-what to her.

"Little girl," she heard him grind out, and was startled to find that he was close enough for her to hear the growl forming in his chest. So she did a full-body whirl around him, backtracking down her original path.

When she landed from one long jump, her sandal slipped and forced her against the ground sideways. As soon as she hit the floor Kisame was upon her, rolling and wrestling with her in the mud.

For once, Sakura applauded herself on wearing clothing that left quite a bit of her revealed. The mud made her skin a bit too slippery for Kisame's grasp, and she easily slid away from him several times.

Finally, he grabbed her by both ankles as she started to scramble away, keeping a firm hold onto her boots. "I don't think so," he growled, looking a bit less menacing when his face was half-caked with grime.

She made a strangled sound and struggled wildly before he could an even better hold. And, thankfully, enough mud had seeped into her boots to allow her to slip her feet out of them. She darted off to the west again in only her socks, dripping sludge everywhere.

She concentrated solely on his chakra then, her heart pounding in her chest and her legs pumping faster with each step. He wasn't moving away from that spot, which was a good thing. She concentrated so much on Kisame, in fact, that she didn't even notice when she bumped straight into another black-cloaked chest.

Before she could even register the presence of Deidara, who seemed to come out of nowhere, he was pressing her back to him and holding a kunai tightly to her throat. And really, this was all extremely unnecessary. The idiot was probably just trying to play up the image by doing some sort of action-film-trademark move.

"Enough running," he said, and his voice was low and dangerous. Sakura was suddenly more afraid of Deidara than she was of Kisame, by far.

Nevertheless, she figured that she'd rather take her chances and attempt escape than give in and travel with the two of them. So she shoved the heel of her almost-naked foot up and into where she suspected—no, scratch that—where she hoped was his groin.

Apparently it was, because the kunai dropped from his hand and he released her in favor of covering himself instinctively. He hunched over to gasp and retch pitifully.

A deep laugh sounded behind her somewhere, followed by the side of a thick, heavy hand ramming into the base of her skull. She slumped forward into the bog water, right beside where her former blond opponent was trying not to cry.

Curses. Foiled again.


"She'd be dead if she'd have kicked me there."

Deidara snorted, or, rather, tried to snort, but his lungs were just not going to have it. So instead he fell to his knees, uncaring whether or not he was coated in disgusting, insect-infested water. He was shoving his knees so tightly together that he thought he might shatter them. At least it'd be less painful than this.

Kisame laughed a little bit. "Walk it off." He bent down and hauled Sakura over his shoulder like some sort of cargo. "We've got to get out of here."

"G—" Deidara managed, but even this had his throat closing up and his abdomen curling in around him. "Give…"

Kisame, seemingly sympathetic, plopped himself down on a rock, the girl still tossed ungracefully over the hard jut of his right shoulder. "How long?"

If Deidara wasn't in immense pain, he might have killed Kisame on the spot. "I'll kick you in the crotch and see how long, yeah," he snarled out of sheer anger-adrenaline, glaring up at his much larger partner, who seemed ridiculously amused at his pain. Grimacing, he tried deep breaths for a second, but that didn't really help the pain now roiling through his abdomen.

However, if Deidara was anything, he was a man, and this fact was painfully obvious to him at that moment. So after a good ten minutes of hearing Kisame bitch about his weakness and several more threats to said shark man's currently intact groin, Deidara was able to lift himself to a shaky stand.

Kisame scowled at him. "Took you long enough."

A dry heave shook Deidara but he was able to swallow it back fairly well. "She's stronger than you think, yeah." He held out one quivering arm.


He wiggled the arm fruitlessly. "Help me walk! Lend me a shoulder!"

A look of disgust and shock passed over Kisame's features, and then he simply continued forward. "Sorry. My shoulders are occupied."

Deidara stared in wonderment at his retreating partner. "Occupied by what?"

Kisame poked Sakura in the side. "The girl."

He summoned a clay bird in seconds, refusing to speak with Kisame for the rest of the day.


Deidara had promised himself he'd stay near the coast, but the fact of the matter was that he hated water. He'd tried to spar with Tobi in the water once, but he'd found it increasingly difficult, what with the crashing waves and all. Besides, his clay masterpieces turned to sticky, gooey mush when they were exposed to water for too long. Tobi had taken advantage of that, being a wee bit smarter than he looked, and had actually beaten Deidara.

It was humiliating.

But then, of course, so was this.

Kisame dove into the spring first, arms outstretched and body perfectly streamlined and straight like a professional. The water roared in protest when he completely submerged himself, and the splash sent Deidara reeling and bobbing in the water.

When he resurfaced, he flipped his hair back behind his head, as it had been plastered over much of his eyes, and grinned contentedly, leaning back against a rock wall.

Deidara sighed and sunk up to his neck in the hot spring. "How long are you going to be?" He really didn't want to stay any longer than necessary.

A large blue finger pointed in his face. "Hey. You owe me."

"For what? You wouldn't even help me walk."

Realization dawned over Kisame and he hopped out of the spring, muttering, "Oh, yeah," over his shoulder. When he returned, he had the girl over his shoulder once more. He set her at the side of the spring and proceeded to remove her clothes carefully—methodically.

"What are you doing?" Deidara asked, walking on his knees to get closer to Kisame.

Kisame huffed. "What does it look like? She's dirty."

"And?" Deidara said incredulously, resting one elbow on the ground outside the spring as he stared at his partner.

He pulled off her last sock and laughed, and then, without warning, tossed her in.

Deidara shrieked. "She's unconscious, you idiot!"

Kisame laughed again, louder this time. "Well, then go save her before she drowns!"

"Damn it, this isn't some sort of game!" Deidara tore off his scope, took a deep breath, and dove into the deep part of the spring. The water was scalding against his face, and he knew he'd have a hell of a time pulling the tie out of his hair now that it was wet, but there were more important matters at hand.

Turns out, Sakura wasn't in any real trouble at all. As soon as he approached her, oblivious to the fact that he was stark naked, she'd shouted something that erupted in nothing but bubbles and kicked away from him frantically.

Deidara grabbed her ankle grimly and hauled her to the surface, where she gasped for breath.

She was scolding at him through her panting breaths, but he just glared at her. And if Kisame was there, then damn it, he would have glared at him, too.

"Why—?" she began, but she was cut off when she was dragged quickly down into the water.

Deidara, cursing a blue streak, dove back under, where something grabbed his ankle, pulling him down into the dark depths, as well. Of course, the extent of the "dark depths" was roughly nine feet, but it still wasn't anything he was enjoying by any means.

In a split-second decision, he kicked his captor square in the face, grabbed Sakura by her hair, and swam as fast as he could to the world of wonderful, beautiful oxygen. When they ascended to the top he didn't release her, but kept swimming to the ledge of the spring. He threw her over the top, and then heaved himself over, as well, beside her.

They both lay there for a moment, sucking as much air into their lungs as they could, hot water running cold rivulets down their bare bodies.

Sakura choked on a cough, turning over to face him.

He turned only his head, staring at her as he fought for breath.

She bowed her head and pushed herself up, grabbing fistfuls of grass to steady herself. "Was that…was that…a shark or something?"

Deidara tried to laugh derisively, but found he couldn't. "It was Kisame being a retard, yeah."

Sakura collapsed again atop her clothes. "Same thing." It seemed she was too tired for embarrassment, because she pulled her clothes on effortlessly.

For reasons unbeknownst to him, Deidara turned away to give her some decency and draped his dirty cloak around his shoulders.

Neither noticed the blue hand slowly inching its way toward Sakura until it was too late. She screamed, briefly, but Deidara was there in an instant, gritting his teeth and playing a small game of tug-of-war with Kisame over the girl.

"Knock it off!" Deidara yelled at Kisame, who was still submerged.

A froth of bubbles at the surface was the only answer he got, so he used one hand to bite Kisame's wrist. The shark man instantly let go, and Sakura, who was resisting against being pulled into the water, toppled forward.

Once more the two of them lay sprawled over the grass, though Sakura's chest was pressing into his as one of her legs rested between each of his, making him extremely nervous.

Deidara scowled and put a hand to his temples. "I don't understand why he does these things, yeah. He's so annoying."

Sakura snorted, not seeming to realize that she was all but straddling a naked S-Class criminal. "I wonder where he gets it from," she muttered sarcastically.

Deidara rolled over, pushing her off in the process, and immediately disrobed, sensing the frown on his back. "I'm washing my clothes, yeah. I don't know about you, but I refuse to travel in a filthy wardrobe when I don't absolutely have to."

"I don't think so."

Deidara cast a sidelong glance at her over his shoulder. "Suit yourself."

"You'll just…" In what seemed to be an instinctive move, Sakura crossed her arms over her chest and hugged herself. "You'll just do nasty things to me."

"Please," Deidara said, rolling his eyes as he tossed his cloak into the spring. A splash of water signaled that Kisame had retrieved the offending item for some reason or another. He tossed in the rest of his clothes, as well as Kisame's. "If either of us had wanted to do anything to you—anything at all—we would have done so a long time ago, yeah." He paused for a second before smirking. "So don't flatter yourself."

Kisame poked his head above the water, just so that his eyes—almost glowing in excited glee at his favorite environment—were able to latch onto Deidara's gaze.

Deidara frowned. "What are you staring at, yeah?"

He lifted his mouth slightly out of the water. "You." And then ducked it back under.


Mouth above water. "I'm waiting for you to jump in." Then right back in.


A sly raise of his eyebrows was all the warning Kisame gave before he disappeared into the water again.

Deidara turned to Sakura who was just finishing pulling off her boots and tossing them into the spring. The rest of her clothes were already gone. When she spotted him facing her, a pink tinge crawled over her cheeks, and she attempted to cover as much as she could. "Stop looking!"

Deidara snorted and turned back around.

Sakura dove in the spring.

As soon as her head connected with something solid yet soft, she knew she was in trouble.

Opening her eyes barely, she managed to make out the blurry form of Kisame, the object she had landed on upon diving in. He was swimming a little underneath her.

All at once, he grabbed her around the waist and swam quickly to the complete other end of the hot spring. The spring, itself, was around fifty feet long, so she was forced to stay underwater for quite some time.

When he finally released her, she clutched onto the rock wall for support and gasped, panted, and hacked.

Kisame laughed. "You can do better than that, little girl!"

"Stay away from me!" She kept a vice-grip on a particular boulder jutting out from the wall, glaring at the shark man staring at her like she was dinner.

Somebody surfaced close to Sakura—so close, in fact, that she could distinctly feel a slick body pressing against her side—and she scrambled away.

Deidara wiped his face with his hands, pushing his long hair out of his face. He'd managed to pull out the hair tie, and the scope was still missing, as well as his clothes.

And then it hit Sakura, much like a sack filled with bricks.

She was nude, in a hot spring, with two other equally naked members of the Akatsuki.

The fleeting inclination to try and run once more flashed through her head as her face turned an interesting shade of pink, but she dismissed it. Run without clothes or shoes? Even her kunai holsters had been removed to wherever Kisame had put them. Besides, even if she managed to get away from Kisame and Deidara, there was nowhere she could go.

She was trapped by the emptiness all around them, and it wasn't a nice feeling.

"Kisame, if you pull me down there again, I will blow you to smithereens, yeah," Deidara warned, raising one foot out of the water to kick the blue man in the shoulder.

Kisame laughed and moved to rest against the wall beside Sakura. Deidara settled himself on the other side of her.

Sakura had never felt more uncomfortable in her life.

"He's not usually this stupid," Deidara muttered, glancing at Sakura out of the corner of his eye. "He just gets excited over water, yeah."

Kisame leisurely stretched, yawned, and then settled his head back, closing his eyes.

Silence fell over them, and Sakura watched the steam rise from the water for a while. Then, almost out of instinct, she spoke. "Where are you taking me?"

Kisame's lips twitched upward into a half-grin. "Everywhere."

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