A/N: This has been done for a while. But I neglected to post it. 8| So here you go. Argh. Anddd I am renaming my chapters. xD So there's going to be. Ah, 21 chapters. FRICK ON A STICK. I've also decided to dramatically shorten the chapters, and smush them together. Everything's extremely uncertain about this story, so... I mean, don't hold me to anything. Sorry for my absence... ah, enjoy? D:
And- the chapter number thing bugs the hell out of me, but my computer ate all my files, so I'm not even going to bother trying to reupload everything. FML. D:

Credits: Don't own, don't want. ;~;


Chapter Eight

Deidara was sick of it. He was done with not knowing why his friend hated him, done with being completely oblivious of the entire situation. Since Hidan could do nothing about the matter, the Iwa transfer student realized that it would only make sense for he himself, to be the one to talk to the redhead. However, unless he sought a third party to balance out the tension when they spoke, Sasori would probably only repeat what had happened last time, which, of course, hadn't been quite as productive as desired

The person he wanted to accompany him was Orochimaru. The Oto student resonated a peaceful, wise air, and could help to set the pacification of the scene. When asked, he had unquestioningly agreed, knowing that the difficulties between Deidara and Sasori were strained.

"I asked Kin where he is, un," the college student revealed to his new teammate as they proceeded through the slowly darkening campus in nightfall, "And she said he's in the workshop, taking his frustration out on a block of wood."

Hearing this, Orochimaru lifted a thin, black brow in amusement. "Well, do be careful, Deidara-kun. If he really is as pissed as you say he is, he may divert his anger onto you."

The blond flushed at this, shuffling onward. "Yeah... I really hope not though... un."

As they made their way into the Arts building, the angry sound of wood slicing could already be heard from one of the first rooms in the main corridor. The Iwa-native recognized the source of the noise as the workshop where Sasori had showed him his parents' puppets, and so was certain that his friend was in there.

Getting nervous, Deidara beckoned Orochimaru forward, wanting his strong presence right beside him when he confronted the Suna student. He carefully opened the door, holding his breath as the redhead inside froze, the sound of cleaving material halting just as quickly.

The boy was sitting at a table in the far corner, surrounded by a pile of thin wood shavings and various carving utensils. "What the hell?" He growled hostilely, standing up from his stool with an alarming speed.

"Sasori-san, I just want to talk--"

"What's he doing here with you?" The shorter demanded, jabbing a dangerously glinting blade at the black-haired man standing dutifully behind Deidara.

The Iwa boy blanched, his visible eye widening. "Pl-- please don't point that at him, un," he stammered, wondering just how violent the Suna could get. "I just want to say sorry for whatever I might've done to you. I didn't mean to hurt you, I hope you know--"

"Get out of my sight," the puppeteer threatened with his knife, now picking up a sharpened block of wood as well. "I don't want to hear anything you've got to say. Not with that filth lurking in the background."

Deidara looked at Orochimaru for either help or an explanation (preferably both), but was rewarded with nothing more than an innocent shrug. Apparently though, this was a terrible move on his part, as there came a strangled scream of rage from the opposite end of the room.

"Get out!" Sasori's hysterical order was followed by the crack of wood on slate.

The blond looked in terror to his side - the block the redhead had been wielding lay prone on the tiled floor, a thin layer of dust coating one side of it from where it had been thrown at the dirty chalk board. "Sasori-san--"

"The next one is my knife, and I'm going to aim a little better, I promise. Get. Out."

Deidara would've stayed where he was and tried to talk sense to his former friend, but for a cold hand on his wrist, pulling him quickly away. "He's serious," Orochimaru warned him, tugging the unwilling transfer student out of the workshop with a sense of urgency.

"Damn right I am, fucking snake!" Sasori bellowed loudly after their retreat. Just before the door fell shut, they could hear the promised knife, clattering harmlessly alongside the wood block.

The blond could only stare in numbed shock at the closed port, his azure eye dilated in horror. "...What did you do to make him hate you so much?"

Orochimaru grimaced, starting to walk away. "I don't quite know," he answered sadly. "Anyhow, I'm sorry about your apology not working."

"Nah, I can't blame you," Deidara forgave, proceeding after the taller male on their way back to their dorm building. "It's probably me, more than anything else..."

Though the reptilian man sighed softly in sympathy, he said nothing to clear the blond's self-accusations.

--xoxoxo--

Night had given him no reprieve from his worries, and well into the early morning, Deidara was still rolling from side to side of the miniscule dorm bed. He rewound the happenings in the workshop room, mulling over every spare millimeter of Sasori's outraged expression, trying to dissect each movement of the boy's face. Certainly he'd detected fear more than once in the scarlet eyes...

A loud snort from Tobi in the bed beside him alarmed him then, and he blanched, staring at the boy across the room. Finding sleep was impossible, he decided, and groaning in frustration at everything, the blond kicked his legs over the side of the mattress, getting up.

He left his dorm room silently, seeking a clear thought in the bathroom.

Inside the restroom though, the utter peace was marred by the annoying buzz of cheap lighting and the water heater growling under his feet. Deidara stood prone, leaning against the sinks for a moment, but promptly forgot why he was so upset; his thoughts flew everywhere and nowhere, and sometime during that minute, his brain must've imploded.

"Screw this, un," he swore tot he unlistening quiet. Pushing himself off the wall, the blond walked to the bathroom door and gave up his search for lucidity. Maybe he could fall down on his bed, hit his skull on the headboard, and knock himself out. Hopefully.

But as soon as he exited the lavatory and stepped into the narrow hallway, he was seized by an inexplicable urge. Who said it needed to make sense? It was college - he himself had said to be spontaneous...

"Sasori-san..." He murmured, quickly stepping toward the end of the hallway where the redhead's room was. He had to do this-- even if it meant disturbing the other student from sleep or studies.

Standing in front of the door with a nervously pattering heartbeat, the blond lifted a fist to knock at his friend's port, but halted as soon as he raised his hand. He was scared of what would happen; would he knock and get turned away? Rejection wasn't something he could even allow to rear its ugly head - not when he knew so clearly what it was he had to say. So with the utmost authority and self-composure, Deidara pulled the knob handle and let himself into the dorm room, prepared to scream Sasori awake in order to talk.

What he found inside though, was anything but the quiet he'd anticipated. The first, foremost thing he registered under the hallway's weakly streaming light, was that a figure was draped unspeakably over one of the beds. Deidara blanched away, lowering his gaze as a terrible blush darkened his features. Why the hell wasn't the door locked? "So-- Sorry, un," he gasped, falling over himself in his attempts to back out.

He made the mistake of looking back though, whether by guidance of fate or sheer stupidity, it was hard to tell. The face that glared back at him from the bed was none other than Orochimaru. "Shit," he cringed, shrinking under the snake-like man's withering look. Just like that, he'd quite essentially lost another friend.

But then, as if the situation was determined to mortify him into oblivion, a mop of red caught his eye. Flinching, Deidara finally noticed another body on the bed, which had been almost completely covered by Orochimaru's considerably larger frame; Sasori.

"F- Fuck," the blond whimpered, cursing his instinct for telling him to barge in on another college student's dorm room in the middle of the night. Hadn't he learned anything from Kakuzu and Hidan?

As he stood transfixed in stupefied horror though, the minute details began to pronounce themselves. Sasori's face didn't appear angry at all- in fact, rather the opposite.

Distinct tear trails were streaking down the Suna's visage, though by the gleam of the dim hallway lighting, Deidara could see that the crying had subsided, already beginning to dry off. That didn't take away from the redhead's face of utter anguish though, and he trembled at the scene, only just starting to compute the full nightmare laid out in front of him. "Oh... god..."

A sick, nauseous anger rose in his chest, and not even completely aware of his own actions, the blond lunged forward, fury in his azure eyes. "Get the fuck off of him, un!" He roared, forgetting the volume of his own voice as he desperately started toward the bed.

Orochimaru didn't bother with a fight though, simply disentangling himself from his victim and sitting back, unashamed and disturbingly calm. "Take him," he smirked, gesturing the the exposed, obviously wary Sasori in front of him, as if daring anyone to snatch the prize from his unsprung claws.

Deidara cringed again, suddenly self-conscious under the redhead's angry gaze. He shakily tore the bedsheets from the unoccupied cot, and in a manner demanding no opposition, swathed the cloth around Sasori's shoulders, and helped the boy to his feet. "Let's go, un," he advised quietly, careful to avoid the snake-like man's eyes. When the redhead leaned heavily into him though, Deidara sighed, realizing what the impact of what had happened to the Suna student, and kindly swung one thin arm around his neck, helping the shorter male out of the haunting dorm room, without another look at Orochimaru. There was so much to be said between them, but absolutely no way either was willing to bring it up first.

The blond started to stagger toward his own room, but Sasori denied this with a low hiss. He broke away from Deidara, wrapping the blanket tighter around himself as if bandaging his broken pride, and stumbled toward the stairs, a determined glower on his face.

"Wait... Sasori-san, un--" The Iwa-native watched helplessly as his friend pushed his way past the heavy metal door, and slowly proceeded down the four flights. "Where the hell is the punk going," the blond growled in annoyance to himself, finding it irritatingly possible to be exasperated with the stubborn Sasori, even in his current situation.

He desperately followed the limping redhead down the four staircases, calling out to the Suna-student between breaths in hopes that he would be allowed to at least walk next to the proud boy. "Sasori-san, seriously I think you should slow down. If you trip and fall, un--"

"I'll thank you not to be my mother, brat," the smaller male snapped back irritably, though even this threatening voice brought assurance to Deidara that his presence was permitted.

Finally, the redhead made it outside the dorm building and into the freezing thunderstorm, an immensely concerned Deidara just on his heels. Shivering as the pouring liquid already set to drench him, the blond wrapped a firm arm around Sasori, flinching at the mere imagination of how being naked save for a few bedsheets must be faring on the thin body beside him. Seeing the faintly irked expression on the shorter boy's face appear, he decided to keep silent, counting his armhold as a quiet success.

The redhead seemed to have a strong idea of where he was going, so carefully, the sculptor kept close, attempting to provide both a sense of comfort and personal space fro his newly regained friend, which, under the circumstances, was rather difficult.

Sasori was struggling through his rain-blurred vision back to the garden, and as the two awkwardly walked on, Deidara could see that he was being led back to the thornbush, where, with a surge of warmth, he remembered their first, real encounter. Glancing down at the dogged look on the smaller's visage though, he morosely came to terms that after that ordeal with Orochimaru, the redhead would hardly be considering the first time he spoke to an Iwa brat about art.

It was this train of thought, that as the two crouched beneath the sour branches, inspired the blond to look up. Through the various twigs and pelting rain, he could see the rumbling, gray clouds, flashes of illumination darting out magnificently between their dark folds. "Oh... un," he faltered in awe, a bordering-manic grin breaking over his face at the sight of lightning. Filling the silence between he and Sasori, he gently nudged the smaller frame's shoulder, gesturing to the split sky in excited urgency. "Look. This is probably the most dangerous thing I've ever done, including that cornfield escapade: Run outside under a frigging bush in a lightning storm, but... isn't it beautiful, un?" He finished in a hoarse whisper that he might've used on a dying lover, quickly brushing away his golden fringe to take in the wonder with both eyes.

A furtive glance back to the Suna student told him that a hesitant smile was also on the redhead's, just temporarily blocking out the anger and shame. "It's alright," Sasori admitted, seemingly too tired to argue.

Taking pity on him by choosing to ignore the boy's rather apathetic description, Deidara asked, "So... does this mean I win, un?"

Crimson eyes locked onto blue, confusion hazing Sasori's visage. "...Win...?"

"'Member? Right here, ages ago, un, you challenged me to prove to you that fleeting art is better than eternal. And here, you just said lightning is 'alright'!" A teasing, light grin was dancing on Deidara's lips as he tore his vision from the sky to look his friend back in the eyes.

A familiar frown replaced itself on the redhead's expression, and he huffed, tilting his head. "Lightning doesn't even qualify as an art," he muttered, but his tone alone betrayed his relief. He'd never felt so comfortable around Deidara before, and in that one, brief moment of staring into azure, he'd actually forgotten about the recent events of that night... About Orochimaru, about everything that had ruined him. Still too mixed about his thoughts and emotions, the Suna kept his frown on - a safety device, almost - and shot back in his usual snaps, "I never said you'd win either."

To his surprise, Deidara playfully bumped shoulders, practically bowling him over as he was unexpected. "A challenge is too, something to win, un. And didn't we establish that art can be anything as long as it's an interpreted expression of the person who sees it?"

Sasori recalled no such establishment, but seeing the blond's ecstatic face as he gazed dreamily up at the charged clouds, struck something similar to benevolence in his chest. "Right," he grudging allowed, feeling like a pet-owner bullied into giving his puppy extra treats, even as he knew that Deidara was just doing all he could to distract both of them. "You win. Happy, brat?"

The taller student cackled, effectively tucking Orochimaru far from both their heads. As if to celebrate the start of an unmistakable trust's rebuilding, the sky shone a blinding blue-white, and rumbled its approval deep into the night.