The door opened suddenly and unexpectedly, letting in a blast of snow and cold wind along with a hunched figure who immediately fell to the floor. He moaned in pain, curling further in on himself, and called out weakly, "Sasori-danna?"

"He's not here." a cold voice answered, and Deidara looked up to see a dark shadow looming over him, silently reaching across his prone body to shut the door.

"Hidan?" he asked, confused. "Kazuku, un?"

The figure looked down, and the blonde caught a flash of bright red eyes. Mentally, he groaned. "It's Itachi." the figure answered stoically, confirming his suspicions.

"Is anyone else here?" Breathing was getting harder now, and he could feel blood dripping from his lips. He was desperate for some kind of help, but Itachi didn't seem to understand his condition. (Not that he would, the bastard.)

Wordlessly, Itachi turned on his heel and walked back to wherever he had come from. "No." he tossed back over his shoulder, and Deidara groaned again. He would have to drag himself to his bedroom and take care of his wounds as best he could, and pray that Sasori-danna or even that hanger-on Tobi got home soon.

Biting his lip to refrain from whimpering, he laboriously got to his feet once more. "This sucks, un." he muttered as the room spun wildly around him. Stupid Leader-sama, sending him out alone because Sasori had his own mission. Stupid Sasori-danna, for refusing to wait for him. Stupid Itachi, for making him join in the first place. Stupid, stupid Itachi. He coughed, and blood spattered the carpet - yet another mess for him to clean up, because it was sure as hell that no one would do it for him.

He held his arm tightly to his side as he limped down the hall - it was definitely broken, because he could feel the bones grinding around under his skin and it was disgusting. For once, he was glad of the overly long, overly feminine Akatsuki uniform, because it was wonderful at staunching blood.

To his exasperation, the whole place was dark. Stupid Uchihas and their ridiculous night vision. Deidara cursed as he stubbed his toe against some kind of table, then winced when he realized it was one of Sasori-danna's puppets. The idiot needed to learn how to clean up after himself, instead of leaving his shit around and getting mad when it got broken.

His room at the end of the hall, of course, was much messier than anything his mentor could create - littered with packets of clay, scrolls, and small unfinished creations. However, Deidara knew exactly where everything was and was able to zigzag around the jumble and flop wearily into his bed. His head sunk into his pillow and he undid his topknot one-handedly, realizing with a small sigh that he was in no way strong enough to set his arm, and he would probably have to rebreak it in the morning to make sure it worked properly.

He did manage to unzip his stupid red and black uniform, wadding it up and pressing it to another wound on his side. Man, he was majorly fucked up. He had told Leader-sama that an assassination attempt - because even Leader didn't expect it to succeed - on the Hokage of the Grass Village was stupid and suicidal. But of course, no one listened to him because he was the newest member and he needed to learn to do what he was told.

He hated this place. He hated his job. He was out risking his life every day while stupid bastards like Itachi got to sit on their ass and 'keep watch' over the headquarters. Like there was anything that needed watching! He huffed and regretted it as a small jolt of pain brought him back to reality. Where was Tobi when you needed him?

"Tobi..." he tried calling out. "Toooobiiiiiiii... C'mere, boy!" When no one appeared, he laughed painfully. "Like that would work, un." He flopped back onto the pillow and closed his eyes. If he died because no one helped him, he would make sure to come back and haunt them all.

Suddenly, the light in his room flicked on. He opened his eyes and tried to get into a defensive position, but his strength failed him and his eyes began to water because of the brightness. Dimly, he saw a figure bustling around silently, taking his robes off his wound and trying to ease open his shirt.

"Tobi?" Deidara asked, catching a glimpse of dark hair. But Tobi didn't wear Akatsuki robes... did he? "Zetsu, un?" Perhaps he had mistaken green hair for black. But, then again, the plant-man's appearance was so striking that he doubted it could be mistaken for anything other than what it was.

"It's Itachi." a stone-cold monotone answered for the second time in less than an hour. Cold hands were pressing against his torso now, leaving icy imprints as they pressed torn flesh together and expertly tied off a length of white cotton. The blonde bit his lip at the tightening feeling, and let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding.

"I hate you, un." Deidara murmured as his limp arm was probed with chilly fingers. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck..." Flashes of red and yellow sparked behind his eyes as he shut them tightly, hating each tiny pain in the crushed bones and knowing the worst was yet to come.

He managed to hold his breath and not look too weak when his radius and ulna were reconnected. To distract himself from the steady throbbing in his forearm as it was bound by a strip of cloth, he tried making conversation. "Why are you doing this?" he asked. Deidara knew Itachi disliked him almost as much as he hated Itachi. To have the self-centered, arrogant prick actually doing something for him...

"You were calling out for Tobi," the Uchiha replied, his lined, sleepless eyes not meeting Deidara's own. "I figured you were pretty desperate."

The blonde nodded, then did a double take. Wait. Did Uchiha Itachi, single-handed murderer of his clan, possessor of the Magekyou Sharingan, almost-leader of the Akatsuki, just tell a joke? He sat docilely in shocked silence as Itachi splinted and tied off his impromptu cast, leaned over to take off his sandals, and drew a sheet up over his shoulders.

As the ponytailed Uchiha flicked off the light and turned to leave, Deidara debated asking him if he actually did have a sense of humor. But both his mind and his body were too weary to question anything, and instead he ended up mumbling, "G'night, stupid ice-prince, un." He bet Itachi wasn't expecting that!

The man stiffened and paused, his hand upon the doorframe. Deidara never expected him to actually answer.

"Good night." And instead of the usual chill to his voice, Itachi sounded almost warm - almost friendly. The blonde widened his eyes in surprise, but soon sleep claimed him and he began drifting back into oblivion.

Was Itachi going insane? Deidara asked himself. Or was his tired mind just reading too deeply into everything? Had this all been a hallucination? Whatever the case, he found himself wishing that Itachi would be there when he woke up, too - to wish him good morning.