Well, this has been a fine mess. I apologise profusely for the delay; and anyone who thinks I have abandoned this or any of my other stories can be assured that I have no intention of doing so, I'm just a professional procrastinator.

So here is a pretty long chapter with another soon to follow!

Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto there would probably only be two episodes a year.

Don't be Scared

Six weeks had passed before Pein had been satisfied that Deidara was not suffering from a relapse. New rules had had to be imposed; Itachi and Deidara were never to be left alone together or sent out on solo missions at the same time. The new rules were for Itachi's protection as much as Deidara's, and an uneasy peace had settled between Itachi and the other members; there had been assurances that it would not happen again. Sasori was not trusted to be even in the same room as Itachi without at least two other members being present.

Sasori was on his way back to his room after a briefing from Pein; Deidara had been declared operational two days earlier, and the two were to leave on a mission. He passed the room that used to belong to Itachi and Kisame – the two were moved to a different part of the base to keep the Uchiha as far from Sasori as possible. The room now belonged to Hidan and Kakuzu.

"Oi, fucker!" Sasori sighed, not in the mood to deal with the Jashinist,


"No need to sound so fuckin' pissed! Heard you were gettin' the mission to Lightnin'. Fuckin' lucky bastard, fancied that one for myself," the immortal laughed.

"Why would you want that job, you hate bounty retrievals?"

"Fuck the fuckin' mission! Lightnin's got the fuckin' Viper Lounge!"

"The what?"

"Fuck, you and Dei are fuckin' amateurs! Here, take Blondie for a bit of fun. Ask for Magenta, tell her that Hidan sent you. Maybe you can learn a few things," Hidan passed the redhead a business card – the silhouette of a snapping viper stood stark on the brilliant white card – and strode off to the kitchen.

"There's just something about you, brat," Sasori entered their shared room, mission scroll in hand. Deidara was sitting cross-legged on the floor packing fresh clay into his bags.

"What's that, Danna?"

"Pein gave us a mission – bounty retrieval. Said he didn't want you to be pushed too hard."

Deidara raised an eyebrow; this was not his or Sasori's line of work, the two mainly dealt with infiltration and assassination. Bounty retrieval was always seen as an easy ride, "So what's the LRD?"

"Two weeks."


Sasori could not help but smile, "Seriously."

The mission had been child's play for the two; the contact had been located after the minimum of observation and money had exchanged hands without incident. It had taken them to the furthest reaches of Lightning Country, and within six days the mission was complete.

Deidara was restless, having had no opportunity to use his art. Sasori had understood and the two had travelled slowly back to the Cloud Village – taking roads rarely used by travellers and passing through small settlements – allowing the blond to kill and maim as much as he desired. Sasori had joined in, and the two had cleaved a bloody path back to the capital. They had arrived earlier that day, not needing to disguise their identities as politics in Cloud currently supported the Akatsuki's goals. The redhead had calculated that after allowing for travelling time they could afford to spend six days in Lightning. He had checked them into a large guest house with plenty of other customers; Akatsuki may be tolerated in Cloud, but it was always best policy to try not to attract too much attention.

Deidara had needed refreshments, and now the two were sitting in a small tea shop; their straw hats obscuring most of their faces from view. Sasori was observing a black haired woman seated behind Deidara. A small tattoo of a snapping viper was visible on her right temple. She seemed oblivious to the redhead.

"Sasori-no-Danna?" Deidara asked for the third time. Getting no response the blond turned his head, curious as to what had his partner so entranced. He felt his stomach drop sickeningly at the sight of a beautiful young woman. He turned back to Sasori before lowering his gaze to the table, "…un."

Sasori flopped down on the bed, twirling the business card Hidan had given to him in his fingers. The redhead was lost in thought and had been since spotting the woman in the tea shop; he had completely forgotten about the card until then.

"Just what is this?" he mused aloud. There was no answer to his question – Deidara had gone straight to the bathroom for a shower. Sasori frowned, realising that the blond had seemed a bit down when they had left the tea shop. Hidan had said it would be fun for the blond, hadn't he? Sasori nodded to himself and stood up; if it would cheer up his partner he would find out what this "Viper Lounge" was. He knocked on the bathroom door loud enough to get Deidara's attention, "Dei? I'm going out for a little while, I won't be long."

Deidara paused in the process of washing his hair, "Oh, okay Danna. I love you!" He called the last part out almost desperately. He waited for his lover to return the sentiment, but instead heard only the sound of the door to the corridor closing and locking. Deidara choked up as he tried his hardest to stop the tears from falling.

It had not taken Sasori long to locate the woman from the tea shop, and he had now been following her at a discreet distance. One thing that he had learned was that she was certainly not ninja, neither were the other people he had briefly spotted sporting the viper tattoo. He had followed her into the red light district – a bustling neighbourhood that Sasori noted seemed popular with tourists and visiting shinobi. It was still daylight, so Sasori waited until the woman took a turn down an empty side street before making his move. She gasped and spun round as her wrist was grabbed from behind.

"I'm not here to hurt you, I was given this," he held up the card for the frightened woman to see. The effect was instant as the woman visibly relaxed.

"Sir, I apologise – you startled me," she bowed low, eyes resting on his cloak as she stood, "Akatsuki?"

"Hidan sent me to see Magenta. Is that you?"

"No, Sir; but I can take you to see her," she bowed again, gesturing for Sasori to follow her. He didn't have long to wait – the woman took him to what looked like an abandoned store house; it was several stories high and built in a style that hadn't been in fashion for around a century. The windows were boarded up and only a single door of fortified steel could be seen from the street. The woman knocked clearly three times and waited until a small spy hole in the door was slid open. A few brief words were exchanged in what Sasori guessed were a series of passwords before the spy hole was closed and the sound of locks opening and bolts sliding could be heard. The woman stood aside allowing Sasori to enter first, where he was greeted by a lechery old man with a perverted grin rubbing his hands and bowing. The redhead paid him one disgusted glance as he began following the woman once more.

The first thing he had noticed – besides the old pervert – was the smell; a flowery scent like perfume, sickly sweet pervaded the air. He wrinkled his nose as he identified the undertones it was obviously the perfumes purpose to disguise; blood, piss, vomit, shit, sex and a few others he could not identify. The corridor they were walking down was bare and lit with occasional buzzing lightbulbs, however when they reached a velvet curtain which the woman drew aside for him, the transformation could not have been more stark. Where there had at once been silence upon the other side of the curtain there was now screaming and moaning and soft laughter all around him; the smell had changed too, the perfume becoming heady, almost overpowering; he could almost feel a tingle against his hard skin – his body trying to remember how to shiver; the taste of the air, where suddenly the perfume was inside him as well as all around him; and the sight – deep, rich colours and paintings on the walls that were both perverse and beautiful.

They were walking again – down another corridor then up stairs, then the process repeated. They passed doors on each side – some closed, others open where the acts of pleasure being acted out inside were clearly visible. Through one open door they had just passed Sasori witnessed a naked middle aged man was licking a filthy toilet clean; through another he saw a trussed up woman crying and moaning as sharp skewers were pushed through her bare breasts by a woman dressed and masked in rubber; through a third door, an overweight and gagged man was having his cock crushed in a vice. Sasori gave them all a passing glance as he continued to follow the woman.

While a civilian would no doubt have been disorientated by the twists and turns they had taken, Sasori had mapped out in his mind exactly where he was in relation to the outside street in case any surprises should come his way. They had come to a halt outside a red door – two hired heavies that had possibly once been shinobi before they got fucked on chakra powder – stood either side of the door. Sasori had calculated that they were on the fourth floor towards the back of the building that overlooked another street that he knew was made up mostly of cheap hotels and sex shops. Again, passwords were given before one of the men disappeared behind the door. He returned with a nod, holding the door open for Sasori to enter alone.

A woman he judged to be in her sixties was seated behind an impressive mahogany desk; she was glamorous in black and diamonds.

"Akasuna no Sasori," she drew the words out with a seductive smile.

"Magenta," he was not surprised that she knew his name. Sasori gave nothing away as the woman continued to smile at him for a number of minutes, trying to reach some sort of private decision. Eventually, it seemed that she had.

"Bitch!" a naked man in a latex gimp mask emerged from behind a velour drape, "Bring refreshments." The man bowed low and backed out of the door. Magenta turned back to Sasori, "Tea, Akatsuki-sama?"

"Please," he saw no reason to refuse her, and tea was one of the few human pleasures he was able to enjoy – his sense of taste was intact, and his body could easily be drained of small amounts of liquid. Magenta moved from her desk to recline on a chaise, she gestured to the matching piece of furniture opposite. Sasori sat as the man in the latex mask re-entered. He placed the silver tray he had been carrying down on an occasional table and poured two cups of mint tea. Without a word, he left the room once again. They both took a sip of their drink.

"And now to business, perhaps?"

"I do not - ˮ Magenta silenced him with a small laugh,

"Hidan told me everything," she pulled down her plunging neckline even further revealing a faded tattoo of a Jashinist symbol, "we fellow disciples like to keep in touch, and this is one of the few places our kind can come to engage in sexual intercourse with a member of the Jashinist priesthood. Now, Hidan tells me you are in need of some…tuition."

Deidara ambled slowly through the winding streets heading towards the brightly lit area around the docks. Though he wasn't familiar with Cloud, he wasn't walking slowly because he was lost; Deidara knew as well as anyone that every city has its shopping districts and residential areas as well as its red light districts and drug dens. Rather, he still wasn't sure if he wanted to reach his destination. It was all that fucking drug's fault, but damn it if it didn't always dull the pain. He choked back a sob as his mind turned to thoughts of Sasori; Deidara had sat at the window in their room for two hours watching the street below for any sign of the red head. Had he finally pushed his lover away? Life without Sasori was not a life Deidara could even contemplate. That was why now he was looking for a fix; fuck Sasori, fuck Pein, fuck Itachi, and fuck Akatsuki.

Once he reached the docks it wasn't hard to locate a dealer, and now the blond was in the process of buying a large amount of black-market powder

"Back so soon? You got some money this time or do I gotta take you to see my friend again?" The man smirked.

Deidara paused in his money counting to see who the dealer was talking to; a small, skinny blond boy had a tight hold of the dealer's sleeve. The child's eyes were sunken with thick dark rings around them,

"Please, mister, I…I need some. I'll do anything…"

Deidara froze in place as the child turned his haunted eyes on him. It felt like hours passed before the blond could break the child's gaze. He knelt down to be level with the boy,

"I'll get you what you need; wait for me around that corner." The child nodded in understanding and scampered away. Deidara turned back to the greasy dealer, eyes narrowed, "You sell powder to kids? What if they can't pay?"

The man shrugged, "There's other ways a pretty little boy like that can-ˮ the man's sentence was cut short as he gurgled on a mouthful of blood, his lifeless corpse crumpling to the ground. Deidara took a deep breath to calm his anger and rounded the corner in search of the little boy, kunai hidden behind his back,

"Don't be scared, kid. I can help you."

The boy crawled out from his hiding place behind some dirty bins.

It had been quick, but messy. Deidara stared impassively down at his hands as he washed the child's blood from them. He wasn't sad and didn't feel any remorse for taking that innocent boy's life; as far as Deidara was concerned, the boy was far better off dead. Afterwards, he had gone back to the dealer's body and searched it for drugs. He had taken the whole supply and dumped it into the dock. All this time he had assumed it was only himself he had been hurting with his addiction; now, after somewhat of an epiphany, he finally understood. He had been hurting everyone who had ever cared (in some way or another) about him; Hidan, Konan, Pein…Sasori…And through every ounce of that poison he had paid for, he had been supporting the business of the kind of scum that would sell a child's body.

He dried his hands and wandered back in to the bedroom…to be grabbed from behind, a leather-gloved hand covering his mouth. A sharp prick in his neck followed.

'Poison!' Was Deidara's last thought as his vision faded to black.

GOOD GOD! Poor Deidara, what could possibly happen to him now?! Expect more Dei abuse to follow.