Genre: Character study, more than anything.
Characters: Sasori and Deidara, with mentions of Orochimaru. Sasori-centric. Gen or Sasori/Deidara, whichever you want to read it as. (Note that that means it's not a heavily pairing-oriented story, so don't read it expecting that! When I say SasoDei, I don't mean fluff.)
Rating: PG (K+)
Warnings: It's Sasori's PoV, so there are some references to bodily unpleasantries. Kind of tried to keep this between the lines.
Word Count: apprx. 3300 words.
Summary: Deidara is the one person who can really get under Sasori's skin.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Naruto, anime or manga, and I make no profit from writing 'fanfic.
syzygy (def: 3. any two related things, either alike or opposite.)
They made him years ago, in Suna.
This was before he made himself.
Upon reflection, he realizes-
(or he would realize, if he let his mind think this far into it, but he does not – no, never)
-this is precisely why. Why he has done it, done everything.
Because of them who made him.
War is its own kind of puppeteer. With its fingers, armies move, sway; dance, and men and women come together, collide, crash, break apart like wooden fragments.
Sasori, a child then, watches them shatter; his parents.
At first, he felt nothing, or else feeling nothing is all he recalls.
Looking at the pictures, holding them, running his fingertips across those faces; he is five years old. Breathes in and sets to work, making the designs as his grandmother has taught him, but he is young and his fingers are clumsy.
They shatter. Again, and again.
Inside, something goes groaning with them, some piece of him.
By his sixth birthday, it has already crept up on him, this thing inside, and this he does remember.
He remembers because he is all alone, because all the others are at war, and in Suna, you grow up young; strength or death, and they say he will get over it, so no one comes to him, and he's in his room, alone alone alone, but for his puppets, their eyes on him.
The nothing swells; becomes something, and that something fills him. It is anger now, rage. Misery. At first, he is on his knees, head pressed to the sheets, sweating and crying. He remembers that pain, because it is like nothing that came before and nothing that will come after; it sears and consumes, all the pain that had been shuttered before – repressed, because this is what they teach you to do in Sunagakure, even the children – pours forth, and he breaks.
Sasori trembles, and his knees give way.
And then he is lying there, on the ground, surrounded by useless puppets.
Odd, thinking upon this years later, because he was a child, thought as a child thought, and he did not know - could not comprehend-what and why? These feelings. This hurt.
All he is aware of (and he knows this for truth, even then) is that he will not feel this way again, ever.
He lies still.
Curled in a ball, body still aching, cheeks still wet with tear tracks, throat raw.
Sasori's eyes shift out of focus. As if looking through another world, he sees the puppets of his parents (broken) lying on the ground across from him, eyes level with his own.
He has his answer.
Replacing the tense numbness - the pain - Sasori begins to feel the calm of the grave, the calm that only the dead and the never-have-lived know.
It is beautiful.
What the Sand has made, so did he break.
So will he make again.
Twelve years later, Sasori leaves Sunagakure.
With him, he takes Hiruko, his puppets, and his plans for the future. He is not done with Sunagakure.
No, there is something more he must do. He cannot resist. The thought makes his fingers itch.
Itchy, twitchy fingers; he has those, but he is an artist. Since that day, he has been a compulsive craftsman and puppeteer; his skin had grown pale, even in the desert, as he never left the house. Always his hands need strings, wood, something more; he needs more more more.
He is not lonely now. He thinks he never was lonely. He cannot remember what loneliness is supposed to feel like.
He cannot remember what anything is supposed to feel like.
He likes this.
When Sasori leaves Sunagakure, the desert does not scorch his flesh.
He has little flesh left.
War was the name of the puppeteer who took hold of the strings of his life and manipulated him, but he is taking himself back. He is making himself perfect.
Ens causa sui.
It is wonderful, not to feel.
The irony, Sasori muses, is that now he has hardened his body and spirit to an extent that not even the sternest Sand shinobi could manage. From infancy, he has been told that to be a true shinobi is not to feel, not to pity; he does not feel, he does not pity, and he does not bleed.
Akatsuki is not an organization, really; no, to call it an organization is to paint a pretty face on the thing.
The point, actually, is how very disorganized it is.
They do not come together because they care about Akatsuki's goals. They do not meet because they are interested in their leader's plans. None of them care. None are fooled into thinking the others do.
They come together because they are drawn together, because they are all people who have no place elsewhere in the world.
Criminals. Murderers. Betrayers. "Sick in the head." The damned. Broken, condemned. Orochimaru, obsessed with immortality; Itachi, clan killer, Kakuzu, the monster. Masters of the forbidden.
They know how much they do not fit in this world.
It does not matter whether they like it or not; this is simply how it is, how it was meant to be.
They are not lonely. They do not discuss intimate matters with anyone, ever. They simply do not have intimate feelings.
They are not lonely.
They are the loneliest people in the world.
This is fate. This is how they shall live.
And their kind congregate, because even the damned are comforted in the knowledge that hell is not theirs alone.
First, he is partnered with Orochimaru.
Orochimaru, Sasori thinks. Quite a reputation.
But by then, he is amassing a reputation as well. Akasuna no Sasori.
And that's without their knowledge of his other masterwork.
He and his partner do not like one another, which is an understatement, and which is also the point.
Men of their kind gather because they need the company of men of their kind, but this does not mean they always like one another. Most of the time, it means the opposite. Their mutual dislike and distrust of one another fuels them to work harder, to constantly aspire to one-up their partners, because they are all betrayers, and none want to be the betrayed.
Sasori knows of Orochimaru's powers. He knows something of his weaknesses, though not everything.
One of the Sannin. Master of many jutsus. Seeker of immortality. Summoner. Deadly.
And now those twitchy fingers are twitchier than ever. All night, every night, Sasori works, and works, and works. He builds and he experiments; he twists things and bends them; until everything is twisted and bent but his heart, still beating.
He shoots himself full of poisons, covers his body in knives and blades.
He takes human after human, turns them into puppets, objects to his whims, and it's thrilling, addictive, necessary.
He and his partner do not trust one another, and so Orochimaru goes to learn, and Sasori builds, and builds and builds, because this it is how it is. A constant, undeclared competition, and though they do not insult one another, there is resentment between them, but this is a resentment they can tolerate, a resentment they can need.
Resentment is what Sasori thrives on, because he has forgotten how not to resent, and so he is of no use to anyone who can not resent, and they are of no use to him.
Fire and poison, peeling flesh and cutting out organs, piercing with needles; he is an artist, a surgeon, holding his chakra strings, making beautiful, useful things for himself, things which don't complain, things which accompany him, always, things which will last forever and not perish before him. Sasori is always making them, when he's not going on the missions of a shinobi, and even then, he is contemplating crafts, because a true artist has no time for anything but art.
It fills him. He fills himself, passes the time on himself, with coils of metal and spikes and poison, until he's his own fortress against the world, and in Hiruko, even more so.
The ultimate weapon. The ultimate protection.
He thinks, along with his humanity, along with how to feel, he has forgotten what he must be protecting himself from, but it does not matter, because this is what he is now, and what he does, and who he will be, forever.
He is always re-inventing himself, and adding to his eternal collection; even the Sandaime Kazekage is a part of it now, but it will never be complete.
Caught in the frenzy of the artist's unstoppable, unquenchable obsession. This is Sasori's heaven, and his hell. Or perhaps, more accurately, it is limbo, because he is constantly working, constantly going nowhere, and he has forgotten how to do anything else but work, forgotten how to do everything, and this is all that is left – the artist's art, the ego made tangible, and so he pushes on, to make himself, to triumph over himself, to stay as twisted in his human experiments as Orochimaru, if not more so.
It will never end.
Orochimaru leaves Akatsuki, and Sasori hates him, because that is what Sasori does, and Sasori plants a spy amid his ranks. It's exciting to have this newer, more intense hate.
But Sasori is no child. He is not reckless. He is a man who plans. He does not like to waste time, or waste other's time, and he has very little time and if something is not worth his time, it is of no use to him. Useless things he ignores, crushes, or makes useful.
Now he is alone.
Freed from the bitter, undefinable, sickeningly co-dependent partnership that Akatsuki shoves its members into, that he has grown accustomed to, and a newer bitterness rises and chokes him, and he channels it, as he channels everything, as a puppeteer does - always at a distance.
Then, Sasori meets Deidara, and Sasori is not impressed.
He resents him immediately, since resentment is all he has, but it is more than that. Here is another criminal, a self-proclaimed artist, holding up his amateur-ish little balls of clay; just a loud, ignorant child, and Sasori wants to ask him if he works constantly on his "art", wants to challenge him, wants to knock him down and show him that he is the master of crafts and his views are superior.
He wants to put Deidara in his place. He wants to make sure he knows to stay there.
But Sasori is an adult, a patient man – not a rash child, not like Deidara.
So they are partnered.
On their return trip, Itachi is with Kisame, and Sasori is with Deidara, and Sasori is not sure what to think. He has no use for Itachi and Kisame; he has even less use for Deidara, and Sasori does not trifle with useless things.
So he crouches within Hiruko, surveys the world, and plans.
"Turned yourself into art, hmm?"
One of those curious hands moves toward Hiruko, mouth ever like a mocking smile, tongue poking out.
Sasori flexes his fingers and the tail poses warningly.
He is cleaning his puppets, having removed his own body from Hiruko's form, and he barely flicks his gaze toward Deidara.
Deidara pulls his hand back, but without a flinch. He is either brave or stupid; brave and stupid. Reckless.
He will die, Sasori thinks. He will get himself killed. But Sasori does allow that perhaps Deidara will give a good show or two first.
"My body is art, too, hmm." Always hmm, like a critic surveying.
"People do not touch my masterpieces," Sasori tells him, quietly.
The warning in his tone should be obvious. Not even Orochimaru encroached on his boundaries. Their hate of one another was like a defined creation, too, in that they knew boundaries and precisely how to behave around one another, how to use their feelings to enhance their lives and careers. Around Deidara, Sasori is at a loss.
He is useless, and Sasori wants nothing to do with him.
Deidara does not take the hint, does not leave. He lifts his hands, presses them together, and smiles down at himself, and Sasori sees this from the corner of his eye, knows the man is lost in his own world of daydreaming. Cool, detached contempt rises.
His puppet features do not reveal this, save for his eyes, which are made for contempt.
He hears those mouths gurgling, tongues touching, spitting out clay, rolling it.
Sasori cannot resist.
"You call that art?"
It is an insult to the word.
He looks with disdain at the clay bird Deidara holds. It's not even a very impressive sculpture. Crude, at best. Few features, no colour; no life. Juvenile.
Deidara just smirks. "The art is in how it ends, hmm?"
He throws the bird, lifts his two fingers, and watches it explode.
Sasori shakes his head, if slightly.
"An artist likes discussing the subject with another of his kind, Sasori-danna, hmm."
Deidara walks forward and takes a seat near Sasori – not too near; he's apparently not entirely stupid.
But stupid enough, at any rate.
Sasori knows that Deidara does not like him, and only partially respects him.
He supposes Deidara is grateful for another shinobi who doubles as an artist, but they also feel challenged by one another, and disrespectful; Sasori is honest, will admit he thinks little of Deidara's views, but Deidara resorts to passive aggression – insults phrased as saccharine compliments.
"War taught me the meaning of art, hmm," Deidara says, eyes narrowed, grinning slyly.
This catches Sasori's attention.
"People - " Deidara's hands form another ball of clay and quickly begin to mould it. " - like this. Imagine this! A person. Could you picture this, Sasori-danna?"
He waves the sculpture before himself, displaying it, cupping the tiny body almost lovingly. It is not even a sculpture made to look like a human, in spite of his words. Just another bird.
Deidara's fingers tremble. His smile is wide, and the light of the night lamps gives him a haunting expression.
"This is what they are. And imagine one, like the one holding this sculpture, looking through the window. It is noisy. The noise – ah, Sasori-danna, I always remember the noise. And then there is a flash. A bang!"
He demonstrates with the second sculpture; as it explodes, he holds his hand up, then turns his palm downward, flat.
"I can't remember the moment, hmm. Only the noise, I remember. But I knew that - that is art! That perfect moment, Sasori-danna. That flash."
The flash that took your parents. The flash that you've been trying your whole life to duplicate, and capture, because you were obsessed, and everything you do, you do hoping that someone, anyone, will give you attention. Recognition.
Deidara does not say this. He does not have to.
"You shame yourself, calling that 'art'. What a true artist does, he does for the art, to make something eternal and perfect. What you do, you do for yourself, because you like chaos, because you can't do anything else. Light and noise. Those are the only tools you have for getting people to notice you. Pathetic."
Deidara is unfazed. At first, Sasori believed Deidara to be impervious to criticism because he was just oblivious, perhaps dense; now, he is certain that the truth is that Deidara is simply too stubborn to let himself be insulted.
"Ah, but Sasori-danna knows, I'm sure, that all true artists are worthless apart from their art. Art - " And his eyes twinkle as he regards Sasori. " - is how one cries, bleeds, lives - "
" - and dies."
Sasori stares at him, eyes still unforgiving.
Then, he returns his attention to his task.
Deidara is sitting near him, legs outstretched, elbow on his knee.
The only sound is the creaking of the puppet as Sasori cleans it and repairs its kinks.
Deidara speaks again.
"Do I have to leave, hmm, danna? Leave you to your business?"
Sasori does not reply.
Deidara stands, brushes the dust from his knees with his disgusting hands.
He turns to leave.
"I don't like you," Sasori says, and Deidara stops walking.
Now he is standing there, watching Sasori, waiting for his next words. Sasori can see that grin, suspects there are three grins.
"True art is eternal. You will get yourself killed in no time."
He hears, to his surprise, a touch of envy in his voice.
They both hear it.
Sasori knows he is losing even as he is winning. He has maintained control all throughout this exchange. He will always maintain control, because Deidara is weaker than he is, and because he is the definition of control, whereas Deidara is anything but.
Yet, Deidara gets under his skin, though he has no skin left to get under. Sasori has spent his entire life seeking immortality, pursuing everlasting creations, whereas Deidara chases and challenges death, throws himself into dangerous situations for no other reason besides that he can, and no matter how much life might beat, break, or abuse the man, he is and always will be completely unafraid.
He is unafraid - not because he is stupid, Sasori realizes, but because he does not care, because by his own standards, he has nothing to lose.
Whether he jumps back in time to evade death or whether death catches up to him for all his risk taking; either way, he will win.
And Sasori, to his own astonishment, is jealous.
(He wonders how it is that he can even recall what jealousy feels like.)
Deidara returns and resumes his seat.
Sasori does not look at him.
They do not talk.
This is how it will be.
In the villages, in the forest, in the desert, they come together.
Not because they like each other, not because there is much respect between them (even if Deidara grudgingly respects Sasori, somewhat), but because they are alike and different, because society has never wanted and will never want them.
There is no place for them. There never will be.
They are the world's orphans, war's orphans, still grotesque children playing with toys. Shunning society, desperate for its acknowledgment – for without acknowledgment as masterful criminals, they are merely freaks. War has made them. They must make war. Art. Without it, they have nothing.
They understand one another, irritatingly so.
They understand one another not because of what each says, but because of what each does not say.
The endless burning drive, the obsessions and compulsions of those who create and destroy, and who have nothing besides the drive to create and destroy, with no other talents, no other hobbies, no connections to humanity. Their heaven, hell, and limbo all in one, because they are not lonely, and they are the loneliest people in the world.
It will never end.
Sasori looks at Deidara, and thinks perhaps it will.
Notes: This was written as something of an experiment. I thought Sasori/Deidara seemed like an interesting pairing, in theory, so I wanted to try my hand at a little something for it. However, I don't pretend to have read much fanfic for the pairing, nor have I really done as much thinking about the characters' personalities as I have for some other pairings, so if this seems wildly "off", well . . . apologies. :) Also, it's been a while since I saw their backstories, so I may be taking some liberties there, too.