Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and I am making absolutely nothing from this story.
AN: This is completely and unashamedly AU, slightly crackish and contains spoilers up to chapter 404 of the manga. It also contains mild hints of SasoDei that can be mostly ignored if you aren't into that.
Her name had been Moriko. She'd been bubbly, feisty and Minato had fallen for her hard shortly after she had arrived in the village. She was a civilian, he thought, and took a job in the smithy. He'd often found himself searching for reasons to go there just so he could see her. They had dated for years before she vanished into thin air, and the next time he saw her she had been on the other side of the battle field with an Iwa hitae-ate tied around her forehead.
He'd left her alive, but had promised himself never to think of her again.
Deidara could only ever remember speaking to his mother once. He had been four years old, and he'd been lying in bed recovering from the ceremony used to seal his bloodline limit. He'd been lying there with his eyes clenched shut – trying to block out the pain – when a gentle hand had brushed his hair away from his face.
His mother had been beautiful, but she had looked tired and sad. He'd only ever seen her from a distance before, but he knew immediately who she was. She'd smiled at him and stroked his hair, and he'd only relaxed when he realised that there wasn't hatred in her eyes.
The only thing he'd ever asked his mother was "Why do they hate me?"
Her response had been in the form of a photograph. It was old and folded, but the subjects were still clear: his mother in the arms of a tall man with hair like the sun and eyes like the sky. In the background there was a monument with three complete stone faces and one under construction.
"Your father," she'd told him, "was the Scourge of Iwa. And they are afraid that you will follow him."
The night Deidara met his mother for the first and last time was the night a nine-tailed fox attacked his father's village. As she spoke to him, his little brother was born. By the time she turned to leave – leaving the photograph clutched in his stitched up hands – his father lay dead on a battle field on the other side of the continent, surrounded by corpses, with a newly created Jinchuuriki in his arms.
Like most shinobi clans, the Kuresekkou clan of Iwagakure ran to inbreeding to 'keep the bloodline strong'. By the time Deidara was born, they had inbred so much that the bloodline they so coveted was almost extinct.
The irony was that Deidara – the illegitimate spawn of their most hated enemy; not a full-blooded Kuresekkou – was actually the strongest child born to their clan in years. It was stupidity and hatred that meant that they never claimed or taught him, choosing instead to seal his bloodline, stitch up his mouths and make him servant to his weaker cousins.
Deidara was a prodigy. When he ran away from his clan at nine years old, he cut the stitches that held his palm-mouths closed and stole two bags of clay along with a hitae-ate, some food and some clothes. Despite not being able to access the full powers of his bloodline, he survived on his own for two years before the Akatsuki tracked him down. He did this with no form of ninja training and no weapons other than his clay bombs – a bastardisation of the clay spy figurines used by his clan – and managed to make S-classed status as a terrorist bomber.
It was only after he began appearing in foreign bingo books that the shinobi of Iwa began to worry about what he was getting up to.
Contrary to popular belief, the first time Deidara called Sasori his 'Danna' it was not because he respected him. It was really because after growing up as a servant, Deidara was more comfortable calling his partner his master.
Sasori doesn't know this, and probably never will. To his credit, however, he did notice when the honorific began to take on its other meaning.
The first time Deidara impressed Sasori was when the puppet master found out that Deidara wasn't actually a shinobi. He'd laughed long and hard until he'd realised that it was now his responsibility to drag Deidara up to standard.
The second time Deidara impressed Sasori was when he proved – much to Sasori's relief – to be a fast learner and a dedicated student.
Deidara never told anyone why he ran away, but Sasori guessed. In a moment of curiosity, he went snooping through his new partner's things when the boy was sleeping one night, and found a folded up picture of the Yondaime Hokage and a woman with Deidara's nose and willowy build. He never told Deidara that he knew.
He didn't know it, but Namikaze Minato passed a lot on to both of his children. His colouring, larger than life personality, taste for red-heads, stubbornness and balls of steel were all reflected in his sons. They also inherited his habit of making the impossible, possible. While Naruto managed to win the love of entire villages, inspire noble deeds, redeem murderers and become associated with more landmarks than any other shinobi; Deidara managed to become the first non-shinobi to be entered into a bingo book, overcome the sealing of his bloodline, and make Akasuna no Sasori actually like him.
It is debatable, but Deidara considered the last point to be his greatest achievement.
Minato also passed on his love of ramen. While Naruto was well known for his ramen addiction, Deidara was only been taken to a ramen bar once.
It was while he was being escorted back to Amegakure by Sasori, Itachi and Kisame, and the three older shinobi had very different reactions to the sight of a scrawny eleven year old packing away bowl after bowl of ramen. Kisame was amused, Sasori wondered how on earth the boy could slurp up noodles at that rate and breathe at the same time, and Itachi was strongly reminded of another scrawny blond kid – in a village far away – who did the exact same thing.
Deidara didn't have ramen from a noodle bar again. The official reason is that Sasori couldn't be bothered to sit there while he practically devoured an entire shop, though the real reason also involved Kakuzu having a conniption fit at the sight of the bill.
Despite this, Deidara is possibly the only shinobi who has ever eaten more ramen in one sitting than Naruto.
When Deidara was about eight, an illicit photograph taken of him in Iwa somehow managed to find itself in the hands of Konoha shinobi. At first, there was a panic – the photograph was known to have originated in Iwa, after all – and an investigation into village security was launched. The investigation was stopped after someone took a closer look at the photograph, and noticed that the spiky-haired blond boy was missing a very distinctive set of whisker marks. Several shinobi went home that night feeling highly embarrassed by the panic they'd caused, and the whole thing was brushed off as a fluke.
There were several parallels between Deidara and Naruto's lives. The biggest was that they grew up in villages that hated him due to things out of their control. Both of them decided that if people were going to hate them; they might as well hate them for a reason. Naruto went on to become Konoha's greatest prankster and the owner of the world's most hideous jumpsuit. Deidara on the other hand had to be a bit more subtle, so he grew out the hair that the villagers hated so much and smudged kohl round his eyes to emphasise their sky-blue colour.
They both smiled far too much.
They then went on to become the strongest shinobi of their age group from their respective villages. It was a resounding 'fuck you' to both Iwa and Konoha.
Another parallel is that both of them were obsessed with Uchiha. The only difference was that Naruto wanted to save Sasuke, while Deidara wanted to murder Itachi in the bloodiest, most spectacular way possible.
It was Sasori who figured out that in the end, their Uchiha related goals amounted to practically the same thing.
Deidara never gave a toss about the Bijuu. He didn't care much for the Akatsuki, either, and only stayed with them so that he could remain at Sasori's side and stay close enough to Itachi to have another go at killing the bastard.
The only actual goals he ever admitted to having are beating Itachi and proving that his art was superior. The goal he kept quiet was that he just wanted to prove he wasn't useless.
Naruto was not Deidara's only sibling. He didn't know, but his mother had gone on to have five other children – none of whom had possessed the bloodline limit of their clan as strongly as him. Nor did Deidara find out that by the time he reached sixteen, he had killed three of his younger brothers in battle.
Deidara often wondered if his father would have liked him. The truth is: Minato would have. He also wondered if his father ever had any other children, and if they would be able to recognise Deidara as one of them if they ever met him.
Sabaku no Gaara looked remarkably like Sasori, Deidara noticed, and by the time he was nineteen, he was comfortable enough with his Danna to point this out and ask if Sasori ever had any love children all in the same breath.
He was still laughing about it when the door to the cave they were in exploded and Konoha shinobi poured in, intent on rescuing the Kazekage. His laughter only got louder when he looked into Naruto's furious blood-red eyes. He only stopped when Naruto tried to put a Rasengan through his heart.
Deidara, it should be noted, was a fan of irony.
In another universe, Deidara – just like the residents of Konoha – wouldn't recognise his younger brother for who he actually was. Instead, he would fly off with the Kazekage's body, lose his other arm as well as his Danna, be partnered with Tobi and end up blowing himself – and a large portion of the surrounding landscape – in a fight with Uchiha Sasuke.
It was not to be. In this universe, he scooped Gaara's limp body up in his arms – wincing in pain all the way – and presented him to Naruto as a macabre sort of peace offering. The ensuing confusion among their enemies allowed Deidara and Sasori to walk away with their lives.
Naruto only figured out why Deidara had done it after he had returned to Konoha. He looked in his bathroom mirror and saw Deidara's hair and eyes and borderline-insane grin reflected in his own. Seconds later, the mirror had shattered under the force of his fist.
His desire to keep the knowledge a secret was ruined by Haruno Sakura, who wanted to know why – exactly – she was being asked to pull shards of silvered glass out of Naruto's knuckles.
By the time Team Seven caught up with them, Sasori and Deidara had had a long and involved conversation about Akatsuki, its goals, and the likelihood that they would fail. They'd then defected, and Deidara had blown up their cloaks and rings in a spectacular display of fireworks that Sasori had actually rather enjoyed.
When Team Seven did catch up with them, they were staying in a civilian town just south of Kumogakure. The reunion would have been Deidara's second ever trip to a ramen bar – Naruto had suggested it – but the idea was destroyed by Sasori and Kakashi saying "I'm not paying!" in complete unison.
They had barbecue instead.
When Deidara heard of Itachi's death at the hands of his younger brother, he was hardly heartbroken. He wasn't even that disappointed that he hadn't been able to kill him himself.
Instead, he dragged Sasori forcibly onto his bird, flew them to Konoha, and threw a party in Naruto's tiny apartment involving lots and lots of sake and instant ramen. Sasori thought it was worrying how well Deidara got on with Rock Lee.
The incident that resulted in Deidara becoming the Godaime Tsuchikage was so bizarre that Deidara wasn't even sure that it had happened until after he had been forced into the damn hat for his inauguration. Afterwards, when he turned to Sasori and demanded to know what the fuck was going on, Sasori could only shrug.
He hadn't a clue either.
All he knew was that it was the last time he was ever going to leave Deidara on his own ever again. He clearly couldn't be trusted to stay out of odd situations.
There had, obviously, been several vocal objections to Deidara's sudden promotion. The dissenters – primarily from the Kuresekkou clan, interestingly enough – would have had their way if it wasn't for a tiny little bylaw that stated that no missing-nin or a shinobi affiliated to another country could become Tsuchikage.
Deidara, technically, had only become a shinobi after he had left Iwa and so couldn't be classified as a missing-nin, and despite their power and Pein's delusions of grandeur the Akatsuki didn't actually count as a country.
The letter Deidara sent to Tsunade asking for her to consider an alliance had an interesting post script. Added at the bottom of the scroll, in Deidara's barely legible writing, was the sentence 'Catch up quick, little brother.'
Upon hearing of it, Naruto went to Ichiraku's to celebrate.
When he heard that a similar letter – one with a post script saying 'No hard feelings, right?' had been sent to Gaara, Naruto gathered together the rest of the remaining Rookie Nine and Team Gai and got completely and utterly hammered.
Tsunade did the same.
It was actually Deidara's election as Tsuchikage that turned the tide in the fight against the Akatsuki. For some unknown reason, Pein – or rather, Tobi – had assumed that people who had betrayed their own villages and were renowned for being ruthless murderers, wouldn't betray them. Needless to say, they were wrong.
Iwagakure was one of the major powers in the Shinobi Nations. When Deidara decided to team up with Tsunade and Gaara – who agreed to the alliance rather bemusedly – it meant that the Akatsuki and their allies were up against three of the major powers in the Shinobi Nations instead of just two.
Kumogakure decided that staying neutral was their safest bet, while Kusagakure and Takigakure took less than five minutes to realise that siding with anyone other than Iwa, Suna and Konoha would mean certain death.
The Akatsuki's only support outside of Amegakure – which Pein controlled – was Kirigakure. Apparently Tobi was the Mizukage or something like that, which sent Deidara into a fit of hysterics when he heard.
He then took off on his bird and vanished for a few days.
By the time he returned, he had earned himself the title of 'Scourge of Kiri', and Tobi was the Kage of a crater instead of a hidden village.
Deidara heard the title and laughed himself silly all over again. Sasori merely sighed.
When Tsunade asked him about the complete annihilation of Kirigakure, Deidara shrugged and said "That should teach Tobi that a Kage shouldn't spend his time running around like an idiot in a stupid mask, un."
Tsunade didn't argue.
Uchiha Sasuke was not as intelligent as the leaders of Takigakure or Kusagakure. Nor did he have as much common sense as the Raikage. In fact, if Itachi had been alive, he would have wondered why he'd bothered.
Naruto was not pleased to discover that his one-time best friend was part of an organisation that wanted to kill him by ripping a demonic fox out of his stomach.
Irony struck again when the brother who had wanted to save his Uchiha was actually the one who killed him.
After the war was done, Tsunade handed the robes and horrendously unfashionable hat of the Hokage over to Naruto, making him the Rokudaime Hokage. His first act in office was to send a messenger hawk to Iwagakure with a message for the Tsuchikage.
'I made it, big brother.'
When they first saw each other in their robes of office, it was at a Chuunin exam in Suna. They pointed, laughed, and didn't stop until Sasori threatened to poison them both. They listened for about two minutes, before Naruto called a break to the meeting in order to teach Deidara the Rasengan.
That was the first time that Sabaku no Gaara resigned himself to being the sane one in the room.
Deidara's office in Iwa was an ever changing riot of colour and had been ever since he was let loose in there with a paintbrush. In fact, he became notorious for skipping out on his paperwork in order to doodle on the walls or sculpt clay.
In fact, there were only ever four pictures in that room that weren't – literally – on the walls. One was of him with a reluctant looking Sasori, another was him with Naruto giving identical grins to the camera and looking stupid in their hats of state, another was of his father – a copy of the one that hung in Naruto's office in Konoha, and the last was a much abused photograph of Namikaze Minato and Kuresekkou Moriko: the only evidence – outside of Deidara himself – that they had ever met in person.
Naruto's office was less intensely decorated, although he did have a few photographs in it. His favourite decoration, though, was a small sculpture of a toad with an eagle perched – wings outstretched – on its head; the only sculpture his brother had ever made that wasn't set to explode.
Sometimes, Tsunade would meet up with Sasori – the grandson of her one-time rival – and they would talk about Deidara and Naruto and the fact that two hated, dysfunctional idiots had managed to bring peace and prosperity to two of the largest and most powerful countries on the continent.
It took them all of five minutes to decide that, in the depths of the Shinigami's stomach, Namikaze Minato was probably laughing his ass off.