A/N; Can't stop me once I've started; I'm on a roll here!

Ginseng and Honey

- Begin -

I felt truly angered by the woman's remark; he wasn't a monster! Far from it! And she knew this—she'd been the one to shower him with praise every day she'd come! She asked for him specifically to wait on her. I was unaware at the time of how beautiful he really was, especially to older women. But I was a girl, and only twelve years old at that, which left me unable to speak up to the customers.

Father had instantly stridden into the quiet tea shop, speaking to Deidara with cold eyes turned instantly warm at his customer. Deidara understood the silent command of Father's strict eyes, and made his way past the shaken lady, past the tables that must have gone on forever, and past me into the kitchen. I glanced once more at my father before dashing after my blond friend.

"What happened?" I asked instantly. Deidara grunted, leaning against the stove, arms crossed tightly across his chest. I remembered that Hinata was at my side, and turned to dismiss her. When she had gone, I moved closer to him and grabbed the front of his black yukata. "Tell me, Dei," I said, and he opened his mouth to speak before he was cut off by heavy footsteps and the angry clack-clacking of wooden sandals behind me. Father's cold face made me instantly jump away, and he took my place in front of Deidara.

I cried in surprise when he hit my friend on the cheek. Funny, Deidara didn't make a sound.

"I will speak with you after closing," he growled, and turned on his heel, making his way to his office. Once he was out of sight, I ran to the blond boy and took him by the hand.

"Come on-" I started, but blinked in surprise when he jerked his hand away. My eyes must have been as wide as saucers from shock; he'd never done that before. He seemed to notice my confusion and took pity, because his eyes suddenly became softer. When had they grown hard…?

"Sorry, Sakura-chan, un," he said quietly, and allowed me to lead him (by the arm) to my room. While I dug through my small chest of varied items for my first aid box, I noticed offhandedly that he sat on my bed.

"No matter how angry Father was, I'm sure he wouldn't break your jaw," I said half-jokingly, and kneeled on the floor in front of him. Opening the box, I instructed him to open his mouth so I could check for any missing teeth, or any damage to them at all. He bled a bit, and I dipped a small white cloth in a numbing salve before placing it on the affected teeth. I told him to bite down gently and moved on to his cheek, which also bled lightly.

"Just a scratch, un," I heard him mumble around the cloth, and I giggled at how funny he sounded.

"But it still needs to be treated," I said, and dabbed an ointment-tipped cotton ball over his left cheek while cupping his right cheek with my free hand to hold him steady. "This'll sting…" I warned, again pushing his blond bangs from in front of his left eye and assaulted cheek.

"When does it not?"

"True," I smiled. "So… what was that all about?"

His eyes shifted away from mine, something he rarely did, and I tilted his chin forcedly up, ceasing my disinfecting administrations. "Dei-chan… What did they see?" I wouldn't accuse him… I couldn't… How could I?

"They saw what they didn't want to see, un," he said quietly. I could tell that I'd have to be patient to get a better answer out of him, so I dropped the subject.

I healed in silence, because at least I had the knowledge that even this silence wouldn't be awkward. Because I knew what that woman did not:

No matter what he did or said, Deidara was not a monster.

- To Be Continued -

Forgive me if the chapters are too short for your tastes; I think their length fits the story well. Oh, yosh, and if you read, please review. It doesn't make sense to read something all the way through and not review!! Craziness, I tell you! Especially since within the first hour of the story's post, I'd gotten 3 alerts for it.

But I truly do love you all!! And I thank you for your time!