A/N: My first ever DeidaraxOC story! I'm so excited!! -dances-

Artist's Alley
By: roses.red

Chapter 1:

Since I was a kid, my dream has been to become a famous artist. I'm still a long way away from achieving it, but hey, anything is possible if you try hard enough. At least, that's what I've always told myself. But by the time I'd gotten the grade back for my major art project, I'd all but given up.

--

"Cheer up, Kaya. It's not the end of the world," my best friend, Mitsuki, said as we walked down the street on the way home. She patted my shoulder comfortingly.

Mitsuki is very pretty. She has chin-length, straight, shiny black hair that frames her oval face perfectly. I've always envied her hair (and her looks), as opposed to my frizzy mess of shoulder-length dark brown, which is such a pain to do anything with, I usually just tie it in a ponytail. My parents say I'm pretty in my own way, but they're my parents. Of course they're going to say that.

"Yeah, don't worry," Keito said, throwing his arm around my shoulders and making me stumble from the excess weight. "One D isn't a big deal."

Keito is my other best friend. I've known both him and Mitsuki since fifth grade. Keito is very handsome, and pretty popular among even the second and third years, even though we're only first years. He's a little above average height, has shaggy light brown hair that looks the most amazing when he lets it hang loose, and beautiful hazel eyes. Mitsuki and I both had a crush on him until 8th grade, when he started hanging out with us. It didn't take long for me to realize I could never like him as more than a friend, but Mitsuki is another story. If anything, I think she likes him more now.

I ducked out from underneath his arm, sighing loudly. "It's not the first D, Kei-kun, and I doubt it will be the last," I told him. "Maybe I should just give up."

"Kaya! Don't say that!" Mitsuki cried. "You've got talent!"

"What talent?" I said. "It's great that you guys are trying to support me and stuff, but let's face it. I'm failing art. That's not even supposed to be possible!"

"Okay, so maybe you're not the greatest artist," Mitsuki agreed.

"Understatement of the year," I muttered.

"But, there's still hope! You can get help from the great Iwato Deidara!"

"Iwa-who?" I said suspiciously, wondering what "brilliant" plan Mitsuki was about to come up with now.

Both she and Keito stopped, gaping at me like I was completely out of the loop or something. "What?" I asked.

"Kaya, are you that out of the loop?" Mitsuki said. See what I mean?

"Ha. She who claims to be an aspiring artist doesn't even know who Iwato Deidara is," Keito laughed.

I glared at him. "Shut up, Kei-kun. Now what are you talking about?"

"Gosh, Kaya. He's only the most famous modern day artist in Japan!" Mitsuki said. If that was the truth, I really felt like an idiot. Keito might actually have a point…Darn it. She linked her arm in mine, skipping happily beside me while she continued her explanation. "Legend has it, he can mold even the most pathetic of artists into a master."

Pathetic meaning me. For being my best friends, those two really had a knack for using choice words. "Is that true?" I asked, eyeing her skeptically.

"Of course it's true! Right, Keito?"

Keito shrugged. "That's what people say, at least."

Okay, well it sounded pretty fishy, but if even Kei-kun said it was true…"Where is this Deidara guy?" I asked.

"He teaches at the Tokyo Academy for Young Artists," Keito replied. Wow, the most elite school of the arts before university. This guy really must be something else. Keito paused. "Wait, you're not actually planning on trying to find him, are you?"

"Of course she is!" Mitsuki jumped in before I could answer. "It's her only chance to fulfill her dream!"

Keito gave me his "I don't approve" frown. (I swear, the guy suffers from the delusion that he's my big brother or something.) "Kaya-chan, I don't think that's a good idea. He might be a great artist, but I've heard some questionable things about that man."

"Keito, don't say things like that! You don't even know him!" Mitsuki scolded. "And don't worry. It's not like she could get in that school, even if she tried. It's just something for her to aspire to!" She smiled brightly.

Remember what I said about choice words? Fortunately, I didn't really care what Mitsuki or Keito said right at that moment. I was too busy planning, and I knew exactly what I was going to do.

"Hey guys, there's something I need to do. I'll see you later." I waved goodbye to them and ran off ahead to my house.

"Why do I get the feeling she's about to do something idiotic?" I heard Keito mutter.

I yelled hi to my mom as I came in, making up an excuse about having lots of homework so she wouldn't bother me before running upstairs. Of course, I had no intention of actually doing homework. I dashed into my room and closed the door, grabbing my piggy bank off the shelf so I could empty its contents onto my bed. There wasn't much left of my life savings. I wished I hadn't spent half of it on that expensive art set. Well, it would have to do.

I gathered the money up, and dumped it into the side pocket of my travel bag, then proceeded to stuff as many art supplies as I could into the backpack. I couldn't think of anything else I needed. All that remained was to wait until night fall.

Okay, so as much as I hated to admit it, Mitsuki (and Keito) were right. Running away from home wasn't too great of an idea, and the chances of me getting into an elite art school, let alone any art school, were pretty much non-existent. But I had to at least try, and besides, I had a plan B if that didn't work.

Six hours later, after suffering from a "stomachache" and going to bed early, my parents had finally gone to sleep, leaving it safe for me to sneak out. I pulled a thin jacket over my t-shirt, grabbed my bag, and crept as silently as possible into the hallway. Before going on my way, I paused at the room next to mine, and laid my hand on the closed door.

"Wish me luck, Kiyo," I whispered. "I promise, I'll fulfill our dream no matter what."

I smiled at the door and made my way down the stairs and out of the house. The bus ride to Tokyo took almost another six hours of jolty sleeping on the rubber seats and changing buses multiple times, but I knew it was worth it. I stepped off the last bus a couple of hours before dawn, which left me just enough time to find the Tokyo Academy for Young Artists.

I arrived in front of the large, open gates separating the school from the rest of the city. They loomed with intimidation over my head, and for a moment I just stood there stupidly staring up at them.

"Can I help you, un?" a man's voice said behind me.

I turned around to see a beautiful young girl standing there. Wait, a man's voice coming from a girl? Unlikely. Then it had to be a guy. I had to make a mental effort to keep from gaping. Really, it should be illegal for guys to be that gorgeous.

He had long blond hair, part of it held in a high ponytail, and bangs which hung below his chin, covering the entire left side of his face. His right eye was blue, giving him the appearance of the stereotypical foreigner. He dressed nicer than most guys my age (I assumed he was about my age, maybe a year or two older), wearing black slacks, a skin tight dark blue shirt, and a black jacket over it. Looking at him, I realized he was totally my type.

"Well, un?" he said, growing impatient for me to reply.

Un? How cute! Oh… "Um, um," I stuttered, my face reddening as I realized I'd been staring at him. "I, I was going to apply."

"Apply? You mean here, un?" He glanced at the backpack slung over my shoulders. "Your bag is open," he said nonchalantly.

"What? Oh." I craned my neck around to see that the main pocket of my backpack was hanging wide open. I must not have closed the zipper properly. I started to sling it down so I could close it, but in the process I managed to dump the contents onto the ground. "Oh, crap!" I cried. I bent down, starting to gather all of my things back into it. I was reaching for my sketchbook when a hand picked it up.

I looked up in horror as the guy started flipping through my sketchbook. A smirk spread across his face as he paused on a page. "It was here that you were applying, un?" he asked.

I glared at him and snatched it away angrily, shoving it back into my bag and blushing furiously. "Wh-who asked you?" I shot back in what was supposed to be a tough voice. Unfortunately, the nervous stuttering sort of killed the effect. Curse my stupid nervousness! "It's not like your opinion counts anyway!" I sapt, whirling around and marching through the gates.

"Good luck, un!" he called after me. I could almost hear the smirk.

Stupid, insensitive, "un" muttering jerk. I couldn't believe I'd thought he was cute! Okay, well he was the physical impersonation of the dream guy of probably half the female population in Japan (myself included). But that didn't mean I had to like him, darn it!

I fumed into the school, hoping I would never have to see him again. Boy, was I in for a surprise.