A/n: Hello! Since the last chapter was kinda slow, and since I made you guys wait so long, I decided to go ahead and post the next chapter as a special treat. This one is a much better chapter. Hope you enjoy it!

Artist's Alley

Chapter 18

I said one last goodbye to my parents and followed Deidara out the door. As soon as the door was shut and I was alone with him, my nerves kicked in completely. My heart rate picked up. I watched his back as we walked to the car. He was again dressed in a white button up shirt and black slacks, I guess for my parents' benefit. I started thinking about the time in the hotel room, when I had seen him without a shirt. What would it feel like to touch his bare back, to run my fingers over the taut muscles?

At that moment, Deidara looked over his shoulder at me. "Good morning, Kaya, un," he said.

I jumped and felt my face start to burn, horrified that I had been caught thinking about such things. I quickly looked at the ground, hoping my hair would cover the redness. Of course, he was probably used to my incessant blushing by this point, but that didn't make it any less embarrassing. What if he somehow suspected that I was thinking dirty thoughts about him? I had already made it pretty obvious that I was attracted to him, since I gone so far as to call him beautiful and then kiss him. Oh my gosh, how was I going to live with him? What if he remembered that every time he looked at me? Oh no! "G-good morning," I said.

Deidara came to a stop at the car and I chanced a glance up at him to see he was looking down at me with a raised eyebrow. I looked down again, chewing nervously on the inside of my lip. He turned to the car and opened the passenger door for me. I mumbled a thank you and slid into the seat. To my shock, I suddenly found Deidara leaning over me, his face so close to mine that no matter how much I pressed my head against the seat our lips were almost touching. "W-what?" I stammered.

"You smell nice, un. Are you wearing perfume?"

Oh no! I thought I had put a small enough amount on that it wouldn't be noticeable. Maybe he could tell because he was so close. "No!" I lied. "Um, i-it must be my shampoo or something."

He leaned forward and placed his hand on the back of my head, pulling me toward him to bury his face in my hair. His hand slid around my neck to my chin, tilting my face up to his. My heart was hammering and my breathing fast. "Your hair smells nice, too, un," he murmured softly. "You don't have to be embarrassed to wear perfume."

"I, um, I," I stammered like an idiot, trying to make myself respond. He chuckled and released my face, standing back and shutting the car door. I stared at him in a daze, my head in too much of a rush to work properly for a moment. Then my senses slowly started to kick back in. What if my parents were watching? Terrified, I quickly looked at the house, but no one was standing at the windows staring at us. That was a relief. Deidara climbed into his own seat and started the ignition. I glared at him. Why did he have to keep doing stuff like this? Was he going to keep teasing me like this from now on? Part of me hoped not, but another small part of me sort of liked it.

"How has school been? Are you keeping your grades up, un?" Deidara asked. I wondered if he was making fun of me, but he looked and sounded serious. That was surprising. Was he actually trying to have a normal conversation with me?

"School is okay," I said. "My grades are good too." I had spent the past two weeks doing major studying so that I could make at least some good grades before I left. It was my small way of trying to make up the past several months to my parents. It hadn't been easy either. I hadn't realized just how behind I'd gotten, but I didn't want to tell Deidara that. What if he changed his mind about bringing me back?

Deidara nodded. "Good. I'm going to bring you some textbooks, un. You should keep your studies up, in case you decide to go to college." I grimaced, which I guess he saw because he laughed. "It's going to be all work and no play for you, un. I made a promise to your parents."

Oh please. I shot him a glare. "Pretty much everything you told them was a lie."

"Not a lie, only a slight exaggeration, un," he said. I rolled my eyes. More like a huge exaggeration. He glanced at me and smirked. "Would you rather I told them the truth?"

I puffed out my lips. "No." That brought up a question that I'd had in my mind. I wasn't quite sure I wanted to know the answer, but I decided to ask him anyway. It was better than not knowing and letting my crazy imagination run wild trying to come up with explanations. "Why did you do it?"

He turned to look at me, and I glanced down at my hands, too scared to look at him. There was a long moment of silence before he answered. "Kaya, I was so lonely without you," he cooed, and I knew immediately that he was just teasing me again. I should have known better than to think I could get a serious answer out of him. He grabbed my chin with his hand, turning my face toward his and leaning in. "If you want, I don't mind making a little playtime for us, un."

My face was instantly red. "K-keep your eyes on the road!" I cried. Really, his driving was scary enough when he was paying attention. He was driving so fast, I had a feeling we would make it to his house in half the time it took the bus.

He laughed and obediently returned his attention to driving. I crossed my arms and turned my head away from him. I was pouting like a little kid, but I didn't care. Why did he have to be so mean all the time? Why not just tell me the real answer? "Are you mad?" Deidara asked.

"N-no," I said. "Why would I be mad?"

He grunted in response, and then my stomach decided to growl. It was very loud, to my horror, and Deidara turned to look at me with a humored grin. "Hungry, un?"

"I guess," I mumbled, wishing I could disappear into my seat. Why hadn't I made time for breakfast this morning? I'm such an idiot.

A few minutes later, we passed a McDonalds and Deidara pulled into the parking lot. I was pretty humiliated that he was having to buy me breakfast on top of coming all the way out here to get me, but since I was pretty hungry I decided to just be grateful. We climbed out of the car and as we were walking inside, Deidara suddenly grabbed my shoulder and leaned down to whisper in my ear.

"I was serious, un."

I stopped dead in my tracks, staring at his back as he walked through the door. He was serious? Did that mean…he had missed me? But that couldn't be right, could it? I wanted to ask him, but before I could muster up the courage to run after him, he stuck his head out the door, glaring at me.

"Stop dazing off and hurry up, un. I've already wasted enough time on you today."

In the end, I never got around to asking him what he was serious about. Had he really meant that he was lonely without me? It was the only thing that seemed to make sense, even though it didn't make sense at all. Why would Deidara have missed me? He also could have meant he was serious about making 'playtime,' although there had not been much doubt in my mind that he was serious about that. He was such a pervert. I just couldn't decide what he'd meant, and it was frustrating, but maybe, just maybe, there was a little hope that he might return my feelings for him.

I was right about his crazy speed driving. While the bus ride was about six or seven hours long, we made it in just under five, even with the breakfast stop. I found myself getting anxious all over again as we pulled into the driveway. It was his house. It was really his house. I followed him to the door and waited while he unlocked the door, then stepped inside the familiar living room. It was pretty much the same as last time, except that now of course I wasn't waking up on his couch paralyzed and completely confused. No, this time he had brought me here, and I was here to stay, at least for a while.

"Help yourself to the food if you're hungry, un," Deidara said. "I have to run some errands, but I'll be back in a couple of hours."

"Oh, you're leaving?" I asked, feeling a little sad that he was going so soon.

He nodded. "You'll find an easel set up in your room. Paint something before I get back, un."

I gaped at him. I hadn't even been back for a whole minute and he was already putting me to work? He ignored me and stepped back outside, closing and locking the door behind him. If he was going to be back in a couple of hours, that didn't give me much time. I wouldn't even have time to rest from the trip or to eat. Sheesh. Feeling annoyed, I stomped back to my room.

My annoyance left me temporarily when I opened the door and saw that my room was exactly as I had left it. It looked like he hadn't moved anything, except for setting up the easel. I sat down on the bed, feeling tears welling up in my eyes. I wasn't sure why I was crying, but there was something about the nostalgia of being back in my old room at Deidara's house, and knowing that, whether he had missed me or not, he had wanted me to come back. The painting would just have to wait. I laid down on the bed and buried my head in the familiar pillow, letting the tears flow freely.