Bwahahahaaaaaa!!! It's soooooooooooooooo good to be back!! I was stuck with my family for a whole two weeks in a state that was two days away from home!! Just to go to an art camp! My mom is crazy… So, I finally finished the third story in the Allegiances series. Enjoy!!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Or Deidara. Why did he have to DIE???????? Or Tobi. I still don't get who the heck he is. Or Pein. He's got, like, seven piercings in each ear! (I counted.) Or the unnamed member. Finally!!! A girl!!! Okay. I'm done now.

- - -

"Why are we waiting out her again, un?" Deidara asked his companions. Tenten and Sasori were currently engaged in an unofficial staring contest, so it was Itachi who answered the question.

"I offered the one-year dead to Ino-san, but Sakura wanted to talk to her alone, and pushed us out into the hallway. I believe that she is trying to convince Ino-san to stay for sure."

"And why are we the ones out in hall?"

"Because we're too polite to protest when Sakura-san kicks us out of a room," Sasori deadpanned (A/N: I finally found out what that means!!), having broken eye contact with Tenten, who giggled.

Deidara pouted. "But why is Hinata-chan in there, too?" he persisted. Zetsu, who was randomly passing by, patted him on the head before leaving.

"Because she was also close to Ino-san, Sakura decided that she might be helpful," Itachi stated to an uncaring Deidara.

"So? I want my Hinata-chyaaaaan, un!" the blonde whined, not caring to keep his voice down. As if on cue, the door swung open and Hinata was pushed into his arms.

"You're so loud, Dei-kun," Sakura muttered, stepping out after Hinata and rubbing her forehead tiredly. "Ino needs to rest now."

"So, what did she say?" Tenten asked as Deidara glomped the poor blue-haired girl, squeezing her almost to death.

Sakura sighed. "Dei-kun, Hinata needs oxygen. If you strangle her, I won't let you see her for a week!" Without pausing to contemplate how that was possible, Deidara promptly let go, apologizing profusely. Hinata passed out from the attention.

"NOOO!! Hinata-chan, wake up, un! Sakura-chan, I didn't mean it! Hinata-chan, don't leave meeee!!" He dropped to his knees beside her.

A shaking hand came up and smacked his cheek gently as Hinata sat up. "I'm n-not d-dead, Deidara-kun," she said firmly. He poked her, as if making sure. She squeaked and doubled over; he seemed to take this as confirmation and immediately began crying in relief. Hinata patted his head awkwardly.

"Aww… And just as I was about to say you'd finally found a backbone," Sakura sighed ruefully. "Was that just a spur of the moment thing…?" Hinata blushed.

"You still haven't answered my question," Tenten prodded. Sasori and Itachi nodded in agreement.

"Well, Ino's come to a conclusion. In a nutshell, she's pretty sure she won't stay, because Konoha's got something that we don't. If we happen to gain it, however…" Sakura's eyes glimmered as she finished, "that would be a different story."

"And this thing is…?" Sasori prompted. Sakura opened her mouth to answer, but Tenten beat her to it.

"It's that strategist kid, isn't it?" she guessed. "When I saw Hinata-san's cousin, he was with Ino-san and that kid. They were staring at each other like – like – " She trailed off, unable to produce the word.

"Kinda like you and Sasori-san stare at each other?" Sakura suggested slyly. Deep in thought, Tenten nodded.

"Yeah, kinda like Sa – CHOTTO MATTE! WHAT WAS THAT?!" Sakura giggled and dodged a gleaming knife.

"You know it's true," she teased, catching another knife and a senbon needle in one hand. "But yes, it is Shikamaru. He and Ino are lovers; you can't have one without the other."

"A strategist, you said?" Itachi inquired. "Is he any good?"

Sakura shrugged. "He's the one who taught me how to play chess, if that's any indication," she answered nonchalantly. "To him, life is like chess. He has a plan for everything."
Itachi nodded. "I suppose we could use another good strategist," he decided. "Better to have one extra member than one less. If it would make you happy to have Ino-san here…"

"Aw, you're so sweet!" Sakura grinned. He scowled, looking away.

"Anyways, your mission is to find this strategist and convince him to join us. You will start tomorrow morning."

Sakura whacked him playfully. "Don't change the subject! It's rude! On a side note, we accept the mission."

"Hn… Don't whack me." She whacked him.

Tenten hid a giggle. "What exactly is your relationship?" she wondered. She colored when they looked at her, realizing that she had spoken out loud.

"She is my subordinate," Itachi answered stoically.

Sakura whacked him again. "I am not!" she contradicted. "You're just my leader!"

He raised an eyebrow, twitching when she mimicked him. "Is there a difference, Sakura-chan?"

She scowled at him, relaxing her eyebrow. "Yes, there is," she insisted stubbornly. "You lead me and tell me what to do, but I'm not necessarily below you. A subordinate wouldn't be able to do this, would she?" She whacked him again, gently.

He caught her hand and leaned forward until he was towering over her. "How about both, Sakura-chan? A compromise." His voice left no room for argument.

Sakura sighed. "Fine, then! You win! …Why are we fighting over this anyways…?"

"We aren't," he replied as he pulled her to him. "Now go to bed; you will need your strength tomorrow." He sent her off behind Tenten with a swat on the bottom, making her squeak.

"Somehow, I can't help but think there's something more than that going on between you," Tenten remarked as they climbed into bed.

Sakura turned over. "Shut up."

Back outside, Deidara turned to Hinata, saying, "Come on, Hinata-chan! You can use my bed!" He grinned happily. Hinata promptly fainted.

- - -

A shrill shriek awoke them all the next morning. Sakura bolted up in her bed immediately, a kunai in hand. Tenten followed, armed with a katana.

"Hinata," Sakura muttered wearily. "If Dei-kun's done anything to her, I swear…" She trailed off menacingly, stalking towards his room. Tenten shook her head and followed.

They arrived in time to meet Itachi and Sasori at the door. They all mumbled good morning before Itachi opened the door. Three pairs of eyes widened. Sasori only sighed.

"Deidara. Let her go," he commanded calmly. Deidara pouted childishly and hung stubbornly onto Hinata, who was sitting in his lap (looking like a tomato)

"But Hinata-chan isn't complaining, un!" he protested. "Right, Hinata-chan?" Hinata shook her head timidly. "See? See? She likes it!"

Her face flamed. Th-that w-wasn't exactly wh-what I m-meant…

"Breakfast is ready," Hidan announced as he stalked into Deidara's room. When nobody moved, he stomped off, mumbling curses under his breath. Nobody noticed how he was still fast asleep.

"See?" Deidara said again. "It's time for breakfast! So get out, un; Hinata-chan and I have to get dressed."

At this, Sakura plucked Hinata out of his hands and slammed the door in his face. "Get dressed, my foot," she snorted, bearing the blue-haired girl away.

"N-NOOOO!! GIVE MY HINATA-CHAN BACK, UN!!" Deidara wailed.

Tenten looked at his door sympathetically. "Get dressed, Deidara-san," she advised. "The sooner you're out, the sooner you get to see Hinata-san."

"BUT SHE'S SO DARNED CUTE!!" In Sakura's room, Hinata fainted.

- - -

At breakfast, Deidara latched onto Hinata and would not be persuaded to let go of her. Chuckling, Sakura and the others let them be. Then Itachi made an announcement.

"Zetsu will watch Ino-san until the mission is over. I will join you in the search for Shikamaru-san."

"Are you sure?" Sakura asked. "I'm not sure Ino will like that…"

"He will behave," Itachi said firmly.

"But still – "

"Are you implying that you do not want me to come along?" he interrupted calmly. She colored, choking on her breakfast.

"No! Of course not! I was just – " She broke off, not quite sure how to answer. Luckily, Itachi decided to spare her the humiliation.

"It does not matter. I shall accompany you, whether you like it or now," he stated. Sakura stuck out her tongue at him, and it was then that Hidan decided to stomp in, still half-asleep and half-naked, effectively ending all conversation.

There was silence. Then:

"Hidan, what the hell do you think you're doing?"


"My eyes! …Oh, wait; he's not that bad looking…"

"Was that you, Tenten?"

"Yeah, well, he's not hideous, is he?" Tenten defended herself. Sasori looked almost forlorn until she added thoughtfully, "I'm sure Sasori-san is even better-looking, though…"


"Oh my god, Tenten-chan loves Sasori-san!!" Sakura sang teasingly. Tenten's face flame as she attempted to slip away; unfortunately, Sakura captured her arm and dragged her back. "Come on, don't be shy!"

"Maybe you should let her go, Sakura-chan," Itachi suggested, tugging her fingers gently from Tenten's arm. She jerked away from the unexpected touch and as a result, Tenten got away. It came as no surprise when, a moment later, Sasori excused himself as well. Yeah, right.

"So," Itachi began after they'd finished staring at the door, "do you have any idea where we might find Shikamaru-san?"
"He'll probably be with the rest of the remains of Konoha," a new, female voice said. They all turned to see Ino standing in the doorway. "I followed the sounds here and figure that I might as well help you if you're so desperate to find Shikamaru. I don't want to be stuck with plant-face any longer than I have to."

"So where is what's left of Konoha, un?" Deidara asked as he squeezed Hinata. Every moment seemed to bring his nose closer and closer to her face, which was as red as Tenten's had been.

Now Ino looked uncertain. "If I tell you, will you attack them? The last time I saw you, you were trying to crush us!" She glanced anxiously at Itachi and Deidara.

"No harm will befall Konoha," Itachi assured her quietly. She still looked undecided until Hinata pointed out softly that even if Ino didn't answer, Hinata had also been part of Konoha after Sakura had seemingly died and knew where they would be – and that she was determined to prove her worth to the organization.

Ino gave in and provided directions in a way she knew Sakura would understand. They thanked her, reassured her that nothing would happen to Konoha, and found their way to Tenten and Sakura's room, where they picked up Tenten and Sasori before slipping out into the street.

"Shall we stick to the shadows?" Sakura asked as she closed the door. They all glanced at Itachi, who shook his head.

"We aren't on a mission that necessarily needs to be kept top-secret, like an assassination, so we can travel on the main streets. They will take us a little longer, but we won't be risking even more time and safety by trespassing on other gangs' territory," he reasoned. Satisfied, Sakura nodded and led them out of their alley.

- - -

"A little longer" turned out to be an understatement. Sakura had a suspicion that they were actually going in three sides of a square. Unaccustomed to walking in broad daylight, they grew thirsty before long – all except Itachi, who seemed to notice nothing different.

He did, however, notice how the others' footsteps lagged, and when Sakura's breathing became painfully audible he suggested stopping at a shop for drinks. They agreed gratefully.

Tenten ordered a chocolate smoothie, for which Sasori unexpectedly offered to pay, along with his water. She blushed and tried to argue, but he ignored her and paid anyway.

When Hinata saw Tenten's order, she announced that she wouldn't get anything. Worriedly, Deidara asked her why.

"I d-don't th-think I can f-finish a d-drink th-that b-big," she admitted quietly.. "It w-would b-be w-wasteful…"
"There's an easy solution to that, Hinata-chan!" Deidara exclaimed excitedly. "Why don't we get one and share it, un?" Without waiting for an answer, he went on, "What do you want?"

"I'd l-like a b-blueberry sm-smoothie, b-but – "

"Okay, then! We'll have a large blueberry smoothie, un!" Before Hinata could protest, Deidara had returned with the smoothie and two straws. He held it out to her; she shyly accepted. He grinned at her. "It's good, isn't it?"

She smiled back. "H-hai…"

Sakura, observing from nearby with Tenten, squealed. "They're so cute together!" Tenten nodded and sipped her smoothie, which reminded Sakura.

"Oh! I'll have a…" She trailed off, thinking."

"A cherry smoothie and a water," Itachi said smoothly, paying before Sakura could object. He handed the smoothie to her.

"You didn't even ask me what I wanted," she muttered before mumbling a small "thanks". "What if I'd been allergic to cherries or something?"

"Well, you're not, are you?" Itachi replied calmly. "Besides, your eyes were on that drink anyway. You would have gotten it even if I had said nothing."

It was true, so Sakura sighed and took a sip of her drink. "Allergic to cherries?" Tenten snorted as they left the shop. "That's gotta be the lamest think I've ever heard."

"I'm sure someone could be," Sakura retorted, but it was half-hearted at best. "Oh, well. It's good, even if I wasn't the one who ordered it." She glared at Itachi, who merely smirked at her. "We're almost there."

They walked on, unaware of the glint of glasses hiding eyes that observed their every move.

- - -

OMG Deidara is dead. No, I'm not going to kill him off, but… I'm going to wear all black for a week. Or something. Haha… I've decided on a title (FINALLY!!!), but I still thank you if you suggested a different title. Gotta go, now!!!