Sculpting for Dummies:
Rating: M, eventually
Pairing: Tobi/Dei, mention of others/Dei
Spoilers up to chapter 362, and usage of the Tobito theory.
AN: because the fangirl in me is in denial about the latest chapter. Deidara is immortal, damn it!
The forest was in turmoil. Animals were scurrying left and right, foliage was flying, and every few minutes, a faint "Katsu!" could be heard in the distance, followed by another explosion. Dirt and bark and burnt up chipmunks were raining down. Tobi, the newest member of the Akatsuki and resident 'good boy', paused amidst the fray.
"Deidara-sempai told me to get out of here." He reminded himself, and started to run again. He stopped when he heard another furious explosion. "But the battle should have ended by now…sempai might be in trouble."
The masked man tried to use his arithmetic skills, which were scant, and his observational skills, which were much keener than anyone who knew him suspected, and made a mental calculation of how much chakra Deidara had left. Even though he knew it was only a rough estimate, the result wasn't good.
"He might try to use 'it' soon." Tobi whispered to himself. He wasn't sure what 'it' was, only knew from a passing conversation with the blond what he was supposed to do in the event of Deidara's last resort jutsu.
'If I'm ever running low on chakra and have to use 'it', you'd better make sure you get your dumb ass out of the way, un. Ten kilometers at least. Understand?' Deidara had told him.
And Tobi had nodded. 'What about you, sempai? How will I find you if I run that far away?'
Deidara hadn't answered right away, but after a moment said, 'If it comes to that, I'll find you, dumbass. With your crappy ninja skills, it's not like you could hide from me anyways, un.'
Tobi should have been following his sempai's advice and high-tailing it out of the forest. But he was worried. He turned on his heels and headed back toward the source of the blasts. Surely the battle wasn't going to come to that last resort, not when Deidara-sempai had been so certain of victory. In fact, he'd probably already won; he was, after all, the strongest shinobi that Tobi knew.
Tobi decided he would just go and have a peek, to make sure Deidara didn't need any help. And Deidara would definitely be done with the battle and dusting himself off and would berate Tobi for running away and then for coming back before he knew it was safe. 'Did you think you were gonna show up at the last minute and be my knight in shining armor, un? Dumbass!' He'd say.
At least, Tobi hoped that was how it would be…
Uchiha Sasuke was beginning to think that telling the crazy nin who had attacked him out of nowhere that none of his earth-based jutsu would be effective against him might have been a mistake. The teen had hoped that the revelation that the battle was over would lead the Akatsuki member to surrender quietly. Sasuke was not having that kind of luck, though. Instead, the enemy nin's eyes lit up with a psychotic glow, and he started raving about his final, artistic self-destruction.
'Great, he had to pull this one after I finished up the last of my chakra.' He thought to himself.
After everything was over, he'd never admit to it, but in the heat of the battle, there was a moment when Sasuke felt panic take over. The blond shinobi across from him had ripped off his shirt, stuffed that damned annoying clay into a mouth over his heart, and started glowing white-hot. For a fraction of a second, Sasuke was terrified.
It was a flash of orange out of the corner of his eye that stirred him to action (and wasn't it always?); this time, though, it wasn't his dead-last former friend. Nope. It was the second ninja Sasuke had ever encountered in his fifteen years that thought orange was an acceptable color for a shinobi. Briefly, Sasuke wondered if this Tobi person and Naruto would get along if they met.
"Deidara-sempai?" Sasuke heard Tobi whimper. Then, with dawning realization, "Crap! Deidara-sempai, stop! You won't survive this!"
"He doesn't plan on it." Sasuke shouted at him. "If you want any of us to get out of this alive, you have to use a lighting jutsu on him now!"
The heat from Deidara's body made the air crackle around him. "Sempai?" Tobi whispered again.
Sasuke wondered if he could escape in time if he used the wings from his cursed seal form. Probably not. "Listen, use a lighting jutsu or all three of us die!"
For the first time since his arrival, Tobi turned and faced him. Sasuke wondered what kind of half-assed ninja he was to keep his back to the enemy for so long. He'd definitely get along well with Naruto.
"Will he live if I do it?" The masked man asked, as if they weren't all facing impending doom.
"I don't know! He has a better chance than if he blows himself up!" the Uchiha hissed. That seemed to be good enough for the Akatsuki member, who turned and started forming seals. He stepped forward, ignoring the waves of scorching air coming from his partner even though they doubtlessly burned him. And to Sasuke's utter amazement, the jutsu he slammed into his comrade's chest was a perfect copy of his Chidori.
Tobi felt Deidara's jutsu fizzle out as soon as the lightening came into contact with his body. His sempai flopped to the ground, unconscious and smelling like burnt flesh. He didn't look like he was breathing.
"Crap! Sempai, please don't die." He begged. Tobi tried to remember if he was supposed to do mouth-to-mouth to get Deidara breathing again, or use medical jutsu first to ensure his system could support him once it got restarted. 'I can't remember the first thirteen years of my life. How am I supposed to remember how to save a life?'
A sickening burning smell wafted up from a hole in Deidara's chest. Strange, Tobi hadn't even noticed that. That seemed a good a place to start as any; Deidara definitely wasn't going to heal with sizzling hot clay over his heart. Ignoring the temperature of the clay glob, which burned through his gloves, and the teeth of the unnatural mouth that snapped at his fingers, he scraped the clay away and flung it to the side.
Tobi placed his singed hands palm side down on Deidara's chest and performed a healing jutsu he didn't know he knew. The ninja often found his suppressed memory supply him a long-forgotten technique when he needed it. He forced his chakra through Deidara's system, flushing away the clay residue, and started regenerating burnt-out cells.
The boy Deidara had been fighting, Itachi's brother, approached him, but he was too busy trying to force his sempai's lungs to inflate. He leaned over, pinched Deidara's nostrils shut, and placed his mouth over his partner's. Without even a thought to how many different ways Deidara would murder him for this if he survived, Tobi expelled all the air he could into his sempai's mouth. He took a second breath and blew it past Deidara's unmoving lips.
"Where did you learn that jutsu?" Mini-Itachi (Tobi couldn't remember his name, and had more important things to concentrate on) demanded. Tobi ignored him in favor of a third breath for Deidara. With relief, he watched the blond's chest rise and fall, and felt a faint pant of air against his lips. He pulled away and focused on repairing the burn damage that spanned his partner's entire body. Mini-Itachi grabbed his collar and jerked him away from Deidara.
"How did you know that jutsu?" He growled again. Tobi smacked his hand away. He really should have been quivering in fear- the ninja boy had defeated Deidara, after all- but healing was a delicate operation, and he wasn't going to let a distraction from the Uchiha leave his sempai permanently scarred.
"Most of this is basic healing. I assume I learned it in my old village." Tobi remarked. He really had no clue where most of his jutsu came from; his forgotten past seemed like a whole different life. Deidara's face was beginning to blister; now wasn't the time to worry about his amnesia. He combined a water jutsu with wind without thought and used it to cool down Deidara's reddening skin.
"Not that. The lightning jutsu from before. No one but myself and my old sensei know it, and neither of us are known to share. How the hell did you know how to use it?" The ex-Konoha nin sounded frustrated by Tobi's lack of response.
Well, Tobi was frustrated too! Didn't the Uchiha realize that his sempai was going to die if he didn't heal him in time? Couldn't he see that Tobi didn't have time to deal with his possessiveness over that damned jutsu? Didn't he know how important it was that Deidara live? No, Tobi admitted he probably didn't.
Tobi was relying in instinct alone to save his sempai, so his thoughts were free to wander. He forced the cooling jutsu into Deidara's chest to counteract some of the damage that the stolen lightning jutsu had done. The Uchiha snorted impatiently, but Tobi left him waiting for his answer. Deidara was the most important thing. The blond was his partner and his mentor, and Tobi had been admiring him long before Deidara even knew he existed. Tobi didn't know much about art (a fact that his sempai reminded him of constantly), but he knew that his sempai was a masterpiece on his own: strong, talented, and beautiful, even if he did hurl exploding clay at anyone who mentioned the last one. Tobi wasn't about to let the ex-stone nin die. Zetsu-san and Deidara-sempai were the only friends Tobi had in the world, and he would fight to protect them. Deidara would live, even if Tobi had to regrow every cell in his body. And if Mini-Itachi was going to interfere, Tobi wouldn't hesitate to kill him. He was just a good boy like that.
Sasuke was really starting to hate this 'Deidara-sempai'. He had been planning on going easy on him, and would have gladly let him and his partner go after he received his information on Itachi's whereabouts. But no, the blond had to go suicidal on him, and now his idiot partner was too busy trying to patch him up to even tell Sasuke how the hell he knew Sasuke's private jutsu.
He was going to find out, even if it meant breaking his policy of not killing anyone who wasn't a body-snatching pervert or a clan-killing psycho. His katana was too far away for him to fetch at his current state (he'd used a Chidori on himself, and his jutsu was something to be reckoned with), so he drew a kunai instead.
From what he could see of the masked ninja's priorities, he'd get an answer faster if he threatened the unconscious Deidara. He held the point of his knife on the burned skin of the stone-nin's throat. Before he could react (once again, with a Chidori to the chest, he was moving a little slowly), Sasuke found himself being tackled by the orange-wearing healer.
"Touch Deidara-sempai and I'll kill you." He growled; his voice sounded much fiercer than the normal, goofy way Sasuke had heard before.
"You actually think you could defeat me?" Sasuke bluffed. Despite Tobi's ability to pull jounin-level jutsu out of thin air, Sasuke could tell he was a weakling, and hoped to intimidate him into submission.
"I think I could right now. If you didn't have the chakra left to diffuse Deidara-sempai's bomb, I'm sure you don't have enough left to fight me." Tobi stated bluntly. Then he hopped off of the Uchiha and scrambled back to his partner. "I'll give you all the information you need, after I've made sure Deidara-sempai is ok."
It wasn't exactly what Sasuke had been hoping for, but under the circumstances, Tobi's offer would have to do. The avenger picked himself up off of the ground and knelt down to watch Tobi work. The jutsus that the man was turning out were fascinating, now that he thought about it. Yes, most of them were basic healing techniques, but he was combining two or three at a time. That was unheard of by anyone without bloodline jutsu or below kage-level strength. And every once in a while, he'd throw in an extremely advanced jutsu, as if he didn't even notice the difference.
"Hmm, breathing, circulation, organs, burns…damn, I know I'm doing these out of order…what else…?" Tobi muttered to himself. He fidgeted nervously. Only because he wanted to find Itachi as quickly as possible, Sasuke decided to lend a hand.
"There's a wound on his back you'll need to fix. I made sure not to hit anything vital, but there's still a chance of shock, and it could get infected if you don't clean it out right."
"Shock…right." Tobi muttered, and continued his healing.
It took about two hours of half-remembered techniques before Deidara was stable enough for Tobi to consider talking to Mini-Itachi. The Uchiha had been impatient, but he had redeemed himself in Tobi's eye by pointing out where his sempai was injured. He'd even used his sharingan once or twice to monitor his chakra flow and make sure it was healing correctly. So as Tobi began to sooth the superficial skin wounds that laced his partner's body, he spoke to the other nin.
"I probably copied the lightning jutsu from you. It's something I've always been able to do, see a jutsu and know how to do it." He explained. The Uchiha looked startled, but that might have just been because he had broken the eerie silence of the last two hours. Deidara's bombs had scared away every moving organism for at least three kilometers, so there weren't even birds to sing or bugs to buzz annoyingly.
"Do you have a bloodline limit or something? Because your ability sounds like something only my clan could do." Mini-Itachi looked wistful as he spoke about them. Tobi had heard in passing that they'd all been slaughtered, but didn't know much about them, since Itachi had the tendency to mangekyo sharingan anyone who mentioned the Uchiha clan.
"Not that I know of." Tobi told him truthfully. The burns on Deidara's face and arms were now reduced to pink healing skin. He moved onto the smooth chest, avoiding the mouth on the left side. "But, then again, I don't remember any of my life from before I was thirteen. I can recall jutsu from the past when I'm in a situation that I need them, but I don't know who I copied them from or where I came from. Strange, huh?"
The Uchiha tilted his head as if he were trying to see though the eye hole of Tobi's mask. The gaze made Tobi uncomfortable, so he leaned down over Deidara's chest and examined the mouth hole there. He fingered the stitch marks in the skin around the mouth.
"Was this sewn shut before?" He asked Mini-Itachi. "We've been partners for months, and I've never seen sempai without his shirt before. I guess this is why." The tongue lolled half out of the mouth in question shuddered as Tobi traced the opening with his finger. He tucked it back inside.
"Yeah, it was. So, those healing techniques, you don't know who you got them from?"
Tobi pulled out a needle and thread from his belt pouch and quickly sealed up the mouth once more. Deidara's breaths were a little less shallow now.
"I think the regeneration one was from Zetsu-san. He mentioned using it on me when he found me, but I wasn't really coherent at the time. The rest are from the past." He traced the opening in Deidara's chest one last time before he moved on the burns on his lower stomach.
The Uchiha furrowed his brow. "Who's Zetsu? That jutsu is very advanced; the Hokage herself might not even know about it. He's Akatsuki, isn't he?"
Tobi figured the information wouldn't hurt (and he was a little distracted by the blond hairs that disappeared under Deidara's waistband), so he told him. "Zetsu-san is one of the older members. He sponsored me. Turn around."
"What?" The Uchiha gave him a funny look.
Tobi wished for a moment that he wasn't wearing his mask, so that he could give Itachi's little brother an intimidating glare to make him comply.
"Turn around. I need to take Deidara sempai's pants off to treat the rest of the burns." He put a hand on Deidara's chest protectively (and also because he found he liked touching the smooth skin and feeling the hard muscles underneath).
"Fine." The Uchiha said, and turned around. Tobi sliced away the singed pants gingerly, and healed the reddened skin underneath. His legs at least had faired a little better than his arms, since they'd had the added protection of his pants. Finally, with a nervous gulp, he cut Deidara's underwear. He was afraid to look for a moment. What if the two layers of cloth hadn't been enough of a shield for Deidara's more delicate parts?
Finally, Tobi gathered up his courage and looked. He nodded as he appraised the damage- it was nothing he couldn't fix right up. He put his palms down flat over the burned skin, and then blushed as he realized what exactly he had his hands on. His relief at the relatively light damage gave way to embarrassment, and a little lust. "Deidara-sempai, you really are a work of art." He whispered to his unconscious comrade. "I just wish it hadn't taken such drastic measures for me to get you naked."
Mini-Itachi coughed awkwardly. Tobi had forgotten for a moment that he was still there. Well, he hoped the Uchiha was a little more open-minded than he seemed. If he couldn't handle Tobi's attachment to a shinobi as sexy as his Deidara-sempai, what was he going to do when he finally encountered his nail-polish wearing, devoted-to-a-shark-man brother? Tobi stifled a giggle as he imagined the kid rocking in the fetal position. 'I bet he wouldn't look so infinitely cool then!'
"Itachi's little brother, go find Deidara-sempai's cloak." Tobi ordered. The Uchiha bristled at the name.
"Don't call me that." He hissed. "I'm Uchiha Sasuke, and I no longer consider that traitor my brother." Mini-Itachi…Sasuke looked around, though Tobi noted that he made sure not to look backwards toward the naked man, and then sighed. "I think that cloak is gone anyways. Your partner destroyed half of this forest."
Since Deidara's mesh shirt was burned beyond repair, and Tobi had cut his pants and underwear to avoid jarring him as healed the wounds underneath, the masked man striped his own Akatsuki cloak off and wrapped it around his sempai. He covered up his partner just in time, it seemed. As soon as he finished sliding the black and red cloth under Deidara's body and fastening the hooks in front, he heard voices drawing near.
Sasuke supposed there was one thing he couldn't hold against the ninja Deidara: the fact that his subordinate practiced less than ninja-ly abilities. He could hear his own comrades stomping through the forest, any pretense of stealth long abandoned. He decided that the old saying about not being able to find good help was true.
"Karin, are you sure he's here? This place looks like a dump!" Suigetsu whined.
"I've told you three times, you idiot, he's here! Now shut the hell up and let me find him!" Karin hissed.
"Heh…heh…I think I should kill a redhead…no, it should be a brunette. Definitely a blonde. Silver hair? I'll kill them all! Yes, all of them! Hehehe!" Juugo giggled.
"Shit!" Sasuke heard Karin and Suigetsu swear simultaneously. "We'd better find him soon." Suigetsu said through clenched teeth.
"I'm hurrying!" Karin replied. Juugo continued his maniacal giggling.
When his subordinates finally came through the bomb-cleared section of the forest where Sasuke and Tobi (and the unconscious Deidara too, he reminded himself) were seated, the Uchiha heir considered greeting them with a few well-placed shuriken. He decided against it at the last moment only because he considered it a waste of a few good projectiles. Now that they weren't being supplied to him by a Hidden Village, Sasuke was starting to realize how expensive his equipment could be.
"Sasuuuuuuuuuuke!!!" Karin squealed, and threw herself at him. "I've been looking all over for you." Sasuke took the glomping in stride. If he hadn't learned anything else from his years in Konoha, he had learned how to ignore fan girls.
"Sasuke, you'd better do something about the big guy here." Suigetsu said, motioning to Juugo. The said giant was eyeing Deidara and giggling.
"Juugo, what would Kimimaro have to say about that?" Juugo looked at his feet and pouted. "Well?" Sasuke pressed.
The giggling stopped and Juugo looked browbeaten for a moment. Then, the huge man regained his control. "Thank you, Uchiha Sasuke. I needed that."
Sasuke nudged Karin out of his lap and stood up. He turned to Tobi. "Tell me where Itachi is." He ordered once again.
Suigetsu slunk past him and began circling Deidara like a panther stalking its prey. "Woah, boss, I didn't know you had it in you. Who's the blonde bombshell?" The watery man leaned down as if to touch the ex-stone ninja, and found himself staring down the end of a kunai.
"Lay one finger on my sempai and you die." Tobi snarled. He kept his body firmly planted between the swordsman and the artist. Suigetsu took a step back.
"Sasuke!" Karin pressed her body up against the Uchiha and tugged on his sleeve. "I can't believe you! I get stuck with these two brutes and here you are with another woman? I thought you were supposed to be the serious one here, but you're…dallying with this trollop while those Konoha nin are creeping up on you."
"What Konoha nin?" Sasuke asked, ignoring Karin's accusations. Karin huffed.
"You didn't know? Those brats you warned us to look out for, the annoying pink one and the little one in orange, they're in town looking for you." The redhead smirked and put her head on Sasuke's shoulder. "See, aren't I much more useful than that blonde tramp?" She cooed.
"She's way hotter than you, though." Suigetsu laughed. Karin's face flushed bright red and she flung herself at the silver-haired swordsman.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY!?!"
Sasuke tuned his warring companions out. "They're here already? Damn it! We've got to move." He looked at Tobi, then at his cohorts. "You two will have to come with us for now." He said to Tobi.
With a wave of his hand, Juugo scooped up Deidara and tossed him over his shoulder.
"Careful!" Tobi hissed, and followed closely behind him to protect his partner. Sasuke figured the mother henning would get old very quickly, but at least it assured the shinobi would come with his group quietly.
"Hey, Sasuke, why does Juugo get to carry the hot chick?" Suigetsu griped.
"Because 'she' is a guy." Sasuke replied, and couldn't help but smirk at the devastated expression on the Mist nin's face. "Now, back to the hideout." He ordered.
AN: Chapter one complete! Tune in for chapter 2, to see Tobi and Deidara in Hebi headquarters. And beware, some smut lies ahead in the next chapter or two…I think.