"I wanted to buy one of Kakuzu's heart."
No use beating around the bush.
Pein observed Madara dully over his fingertips. He then stood up and started ambling aimlessly around the room.
"You have to know I've done researches about Deidara months before I'd ask Itachi to bring him to me."
Madara's eyes followed Pein, scrutinised his tired face. He wondered whether his former pier was playing games with him. In any case, it was hard to tell; the man was unfathomable.
"Deidara is in need for an immediate heart transplant, and I'm ready to pay whatever price you'd ask for." Madara felt panic blooming inside him. If only Pein would stop averting his gaze...
"It will bring you to no avail", Pein muttered.
"Kakuzu's body is a masterpiece of adaptation, what with his having different hearts cohabiting. No matter what blood type he has, if only we could transplant his heart... I'll find replacement..." Madara knew he was sounding more and more desperate, his croaky voice going higher and higher.
Pein stopped abruptly, his back turned to Madara.
"Sit down", he whispered.
Madara obeyed. Pein took a deep breath, preparing himself for a tiring explanation.
"Unlike most ninja doctors, Zetsu has taken interest not only in chakra related sciences, but also other overlooked ones, such as the true nature of the human body. Blood cells, flesh, vitamins... He asked for a full study of the new recruits' family members and health antecedents."
"But how did you find about Deidara's mother?" Madara asked, confused.
Pein shook his head.
"I'm afraid there's something about Deidara even he isn't aware of."
Saito tried to concentrate as hard as he could. Each minute detail could prove to be essential. Each word pronounced. Each little slip from Tenshi.
Saito felt empty. He couldn't believe his friend had hidden this fact from him for so long. But then, hadn't he ever so discretely mentioned it, as if he wanted Saito to understand even though he himself couldn't bring himself to confess.
"Most uncommon... I don't think I've ever heard, or read, about this form of organism..."
"Please, Saito, it's not as if I were some kind of alien, for God's sake."
"Hardly. By the way, it seems to wear your body off..."
"A small price to pay, really. But I do declare that it is altogether a harder skill to master as I've had no other choice but to develop it on my own."
"You said your own family barely know about it. I thought it was some kind of genetically transmitted skill."
"The skill in itself... is its own entity."
"It chooses by itself members among my family... scarcely. Only one every generation or two."
"What powers does it enhance?"
"What exactly do you mean by harmony?"
"It unites faith and physical power, unifying both before distributing the resulting chakra equally throughout the body."
"Is there anything we could call faith in this world..."
"It seems so."
"And I suppose this divine power has a name."
"I don't understand."
"What don't you understand, Saito?"
"The reason you didn't use your power to counterattack your opponent. You used fairly basic techniques."
"Tenshi, you're hiding something from me."
"What has brought you to leave behind such godly powers?"
"They wouldn't have worked."
"Nonsense! You could have fuelled raw energy from faith, I fail to see what flaw it could have met."
"The flaw came from my faith."
"I lost faith in myself."
After a few calculations, Saito realised the last conversation must have occurred within months after Deidara's birth. Deidara had never known his true father, but now the medi-nin realised he'd known him all along.
The only way Deidara could've gotten the hold on this technique.
The reason why Tenshi's depression was in near perfect synchronisation with Deidara's birth.
Why he had cared so much for the child.
"Please forgive him."
Saito nearly jumped out of his skin. Just a few seconds ago Deidara had been fast asleep, and now the boy was speaking to him as if he'd read his elder's mind. Something that left Saito puzzled.
"Forgive who what?" he asked, in an attempt to set things clear. Deidara smiled feebly.
"I know you've now worked out who father really was. I knew all along" Deidara whispered with a small smile. His feeble state thoroughly affected Saito, even though he'd always known the boy to be weak.
"How?" he asked hoarsely. Deidara gazed at the wall on the opposite side of Saito, avoiding eye contact.
"I don't know. It was... like I always knew... at night I sat on my bed waiting for something, felling empty. A power in me wouldn't let me rest until I found something that would... unite my soul... with the world." Deidara murmured slowly. He slowly turned towards Saito. "It makes no sense, does it?"
Saito's face was solemn. "You searched for harmony, didn't you?"
Deidara was dazed.
"How did you know?"
Saito didn't answer. Tears were rolling down his cheekbones.
When he first came into Leader's study, Madara had first asked himself whether his world had gone topsy-turvy.
Now he was sure it was barking mad.
"Let me get this straight... you say his true father is... his adoptive father?" he asked Pein shakily.
"And you say his father's skills, which Deidara inherited, stop us from transplanting a heart to Deidara?"
Pein nodded once again.
"I've once tried to unveil the secrets of Tendo", Pein started, "but the only things I discovered were scraps of information. For one, Tendo permits its user to select any kind of elemental skill he'd like before working on them. I guess that it was Deidara's taste for sculpture that made him choose Doton. Furthermore, Tendo ends up by soaking its users with its essence, and they end up by needing special medical care. They have a typical condition which make usual medical operations very tricky. You wish to find a donor for Deidara. I'm afraid only a Tendo user will do."
Madara stared at Pein, horror-struck. He asked a question to which he thought he already knew the answer.
"Are there any other members of Deidara's family in possession of Tendo abilities?"
Pein didn't answer, but instead approached Konan and discreetly whispered an order. The blue haired girl swiftly departed. After she had closed the door after her, he sat down again to face Madara.
"We only know that the last member of Deidara's family, on his father's side, has died last year."
"Who... who was it?" Madara stammered.
"Akamatsu, from Oak village."
Madara's face blanched instantly.
"Where did... Tobi... go?" Deidara wheezed. His breathing was laboured, his days were counted.
"He went to try to find a way to cure you", Saito answered gently. He was under the impression he was at someone's deathbed. It's not the case, he tried to convince himself. Vainly.
"Why, Saito?" the blond asked.
"Why does he always try to save me? Even when he knows it's hopeless?"
Saito said nothing.
"When I first started have feelings for Tobi... I thought I'd gone mad... I thought it was useless... I thought... I thought..." Deidara went into a coughing fit. Saito hurried to slap him firmly on the back. Deidara gasped a few times before letting himself fall back on the bed. He held his eyes closed, his chest rising and falling in a quick rhythm.
Saito gave him a few minutes before resuming their conversation.
"What did you think, Deidara?"
Deidara took a deep breath before slowly opened his eyes before taking a deep breath.
"I was a fool..." he muttered. "Afraid of the pain I encountered... the day father died..."
Saito tightened his lips. It was harder to hold a grudge against his long lost friend now he knew Deidara had always known the truth. Memories of Tenshi came back in a rush, of him and his son, and suddenly Saito realised that they had been the only family he'd ever had. Tenshi had been closer to a brother than all of his callous siblings had ever been, and Deidara... Deidara...
"I don't want you to die."
Saito was aghast by his own words. His profession had always obliged him to be cold towards his patients, and his family hadn't been the cuddly type. Deidara smiled.
"From you, I'll take it as an "I love you"" he chuckled. Saito scowled.
"If you weren't bed-ridden, boy, you would have been good for spanking" he grumbled. Deidara laughed out, but soon started sputtering. Saito held him against himself to pat him softly. He felt the youngster's head falling upon his shoulder.
"Saito..." he breathed out.
"I don't want to die... anymore..."
Madara sat lankly in his chair, his eyes opened in horror.
"Madara, Tendo abilities are "offered" only to people who have a "pure" soul" Pein said impassively. "Do you really think the man could've been a user?"
Madara remained silent. Pein sighed.
"When you came back, you reported the existence of a brother of his everyone thought dead. I sent Konan to find him."
Madara started. He gripped Pein's coat with all his might.
"Pein, it's true? You did? You-" he exclaimed. In a flash, Pein had pressed his finger against Madara's neck, making him faint in a second.
"I think it would be better if you rested for a while, Madara-sama."
The sound of the breathing monitor and the plik-plok of the perfusion resonated in the room. Saito crouched over the frail body he was guarding. He felt alert even though he hadn't rested properly in days.
Deidara had lost a lot of weight in days, and dark circles had formed under his eyes. His pale complexion had turned deathly white. Had Saito been superstitious, he would have said that The Reaper was near.
He heaved a sigh, and brush a lock from Deidara's face. Slowly, his hand stroked his cheek before cupping it. Saito had never had children, but he was sure the fondness he felt for Deidara was fatherly. The blond stirred before waking up. He watched Saito intently, and lifted in a trembling but determined way his hand, reaching for the elder's shoulder. He gave it a gentle squeeze. Saito gathered Deidara in his arms, embracing him. He didn't want to let go. He decided never to let go off him. He caressed the blonde's back slowly, staring at him straight in the eyes. How could he have missed how those cerulean orbs were as similar as Tenshi's? The colour was a little brighter, yes, but the shape... Almond shaped eyes... He could drown himself in them and be dead to the world. He wouldn't care.
"I don't care for anything... I only wish for you to live", Saito murmured. Deidara looked up.
"Saito... I'm sorry I went away."
Saito kissed Deidara's forehead.
Tobi woke up groggily. His surroundings went in and out of focus. He barely recognised Konan and Pein, wearing Akatsuki coats, but the third figure seemed unfamiliar. He squinted his eyes and gasped.
It was Akamatsu's brother.
Madara pondered. He hadn't given it a thought yet, but how was he suppose to ask someone to scarify himself for his lover's sake?
"Bring me to him" the elder ordered.
"Wha...?" Madara asked stupidly.
"Bring me to Deidara."
Well, that was unexpected.
"Don't waste time" the elder scolded.
Tobi stood up and bowed before him.
"We are ever so grateful for-" he began, only to be pushed off towards the door.
"Lets leave already!" his well-doer snarled.
Behind them, Konan and Pein followed.
Saito cupped his charge's cheek. The blond was barely breathing, the end was near. Saito's fingers were quivering upon Deidara's hand. He understood now what Deidara meant about being afraid of bonding with another person if there was a risk of losing him forever.
The ominous silence threatened to swallow him whole. He strained to find a pulse, held his breath, and exhaled in relieve when he felt the measured heartbeat against his fingers.
He wanted to hear something, anything, to reassure him, to prove him that life was still going on-
The door banged open.
Tobi marched into the house, followed by three people Saito had never met before. He went straight for Saito, looking at him straight in the eyes.
"Saito. We have a donor. Yes, he's a Tendo user", he said solemnly.
Saito gawked at him.
"B-but... h-h-how?" the medi-nin stammered.
"Never mind!" growled a man about Saito's age. He looked grave, and his chakra felt strangely familiar. Saito couldn't believe it.
He did it.
"I'll prepare Deidara straight away", Saito finally stated. He turned and started fumbling with his equipment, giving Tobi time to speak with Akamatsu's brother.
"Why did you agree?" Tobi asked quietly.
"I don't know" the second man answered. "I think I value a youngster's life who has everything to lose more than that of an old grouch who hasn't much time left anyway."
"But... how much time will an... aged heart give him?" Tobi worried.
"Tendo allows you to go on as long as you have faith. His heart will keep him alive as long as he believes in life."
"He can live endlessly?" the Uchiwa asked, amazed. The elder shook his head.
"The more you live, the more you'll end up musing on how your life isn't worth a-"
"We're ready when you are", Saito interrupted. Tenshi's relative left Tobi without a word and lied down next to Deidara. Konan came and squeezed Tobi's shoulder from behind.
"Let's go, Madara", she said, and with a last look at his lover, Tobi left his home.
Tobi paced up and down, in front of the door. From time to time, he stopped to fiddle with his fingers, before resuming. Pain leant against the wall, his visage emotionless as ever, but his light treading betrayed his concern. He wasn't as afraid for Deidara as he was for Madara: he knew how his former master, no, friend, would fall in despair if his lover should meet an early demise. Meanwhile, Konan drowned her misery in origami. Soon she was surrounded by an army of paper butterflies and roses.
The front door clicked open and Saito walked out, his hands bloody and hardly holding straight from exhaustion. The three rogue ninjas hustled around him with a jumble of question.
Saito held his hands up, and they all fell silent.
"Deidara is all right. He only needs rest. Lots of rest", he said with a grin. He then sobered. "We need to burry Akaname."
The ninjas around him blinked, before taking in the name. Akamatsu's brother.
Tobi declared he'd take of it by himself. Pein and Konan offered to help, but the Uchiwa declined, explaining it was something he needed to do.
He dug the grave under the bright sun, brought down Akaname's body, and filled the hole without looking up. He stood before his work, wondering what to add as a monument. Akaname hadn't possessed any good other than the clothes he was wearing. Tobi hasn't known much about him except that he was a straightforward man. Tobi simple put up a wooden cross and planted it in the freshly turned ground.
Deidara slowly came back to his senses a few days later. He was puzzled to find so many people around him. Saito, Tobi, alright; but Pein and Konan?
Tobi hugged him as tightly as he could without hurting him, burying his eyes into the crook of his neck.
"Deidara... Never do this to me again..." he spoke softly, before capturing the artists lips with his own. Konan crooned. Pein raised his eyebrows.
"And by the way, now we're at it, don't you dare neglect your health that way again, BECAUSE THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY I'M GOING TO SPEND MY BLOODY TIME NURSING YOU AGAIN!" Saito noted in his usual subtle tone.
Deidara watched them all in disbelief, still not understanding how come he was still alive, and felt finer than he ever had in his life.
Tobi took him in a half hug and turned Deidara's face towards him.
"I'll explain..." he told his lover".
Pein and Konan stayed a few more days at Tobi and Dei's place, sleeping outside in an enormous and perfectly comfortable origami house. They had added an extra room for Saito in order to leave a little intimacy to the lovers.
"I don't understand how your power didn't permit you to fight your heart disease", Tobi once mentioned during lunch. Deidara swallowed a small spoonful of rice before answering.
"I had this disease since birth, it came from my mother's side. Apparently the fact there already was a problem to start with made it hard for me to master the skill properly, let alone cure myself", he answered matter-of-factly.
"Didn't you hold a grudge against your father for abandoning you?"
"He didn't know about any of it until he met my mother again just after my birth. Their first date, or whatever it was, supposed to be a onetime thing. My mother had always been the paranoid kind when it came to men, she didn't trust him to accept me. The only thing she had left was her dignity, she wasn't about to give it over for my wellbeing. She fled the village when my father learnt about me. She didn't want pity."
"Do you truly believe this?"
"I suppose so. Why would he abandon me only to adopt me a few years after, when he always had been rich? Moreover, everybody knew I came from a cathouse. That's not the kind of thing that would improve one's reputation. My mother chose to keep me away from my father to save her dignity, only to abandon me afterward. He took me back. Full stop."
"That's what your father told you?"
"No. I learned it from a shopkeeper about a year after father took me in. He got scolded by father afterwards. He wouldn't hear anything against my mother."
"I've missed you", the brunet said, bending over to kiss Deidara where his neck and head joined.
"So have I..." the blond moaned. Tobi slipped a hand under Deidara's shirt. The latter smirked.
"I'm not supposed to overexert, you know, or else Saito'll have my skin. And yours, for the matter."
Tobi grinned wickedly.
Sex is the best therapy I've ever known.
A.N.: Epilogue in the next chapter. Don't worry, more TobiDei love coming soon!
*I lurv wicked Tobi*
P.S.: as you know, Saito and Tenshi are OC. Tell me what you think about them, and if you'd want them back if I was to write another TobiDei fanfic! 3
Love you all