Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto...

Author's note: I AM ALIVE!

Caution, due to circumstances this chapter will be unbeta-ed, unless of course one wishes to wait another month or so for me to somehow get this story to where my beta can fix it up. I definitely don't want to wait, and besides, I'm planning on doing a rewrite of the entire story and fixing up all the horrible spelling and grammar at a later time. :) Enjoy!

Kiki-The Healer

Chapter 21: Transformation

It was bitterly cold with in the large airy room Kiki and Deidara entered just moments ago after a few minutes of walking silently through the darkly lit halls. It wasn't a very appealing room, but it was a bathroom nonetheless. It had crudely tilted floors that were starting to peel at the corners and dingy yellow stains around the rims, but most of all, there was a fowl smelling, rust colored stain smeared over the center tilts and across the shower walls. Kiki was slightly unnerved by the sight.

Hesitantly, she glanced up at the young bomber with an inquiring gaze, unsure of what she should do now that they were in the bathroom. Should she wait until he said something? Was he going to leave the room? Should she just get undressed and head over to the shower? Her face heated up across her cheeks and the tips of her ears. He was her husband now, so, it should be okay…to actually do stuff like that. Her hands tightened at her side as these thoughts crossed her mind.

…Then why couldn't she bring herself to do it?

This was so much worst then the sock dilemma.

Deidara noticed her growing discomfort and misinterpreted it for something else. Something the Akatsuki seemed to be doing a lot. "Hidan sure left a mess, un, the Bastard. But that can be fixed." With a swift hand-sign and a few graceful movements, Deidara used a water jutsu to remove the crusting stain from the shower walls and floor. He stepped aside and looked down at the young woman with all the charm he could muster. "My lady." He gave her that charismatic smile which would give any woman the butterflies and gestured for she to enter fully, so full of youth and smug arrogance.

For a moment, the young woman looked up at the young shinobi and tilted her head as if she didn't quite understand what he was trying to insinuate by the comment. Her eyes were soft and full of curious question when she gave him a smile and walked into the room, her head swaying from side to side as she inspected the room.

By the way she had smiled at him, Deidara knew that she didn't completely understand that he was flirting with her. Had she caught on to his game or was it something else?

As the young woman made her way over to the tub and inspected it with a raised brow, Deidara closed the door as softly as he could and reached into his cloak with a small smirk. "Take a seat on the toilet, facing the back." Kiki immediately turned her previously occupied gaze on the blonde and stared with utter confusion as he pulled out a kunai and began walking towards her nonchalantly. Despite not feeling any indications of concentrated bloodlust on him, her eyes widened and she backed away as he came right up to her. He stared down at her as if amused by some joke he'd been playing. "You need a haircut, yeah." Another charming smile graced his lips.

Her heart had sped up and her breathing was heavier than normal, straining her dry throat. She had actually been afraid for the briefest of moments, unsure of what he'd actually been intending to do with the weapon he held. She had not been sure how to react to that situation, other than to hope he would resolve it himself.

She may have been able to sense emotions, but she was not a mind reader. No, like everyone else she could only assume what people were thinking. And that was the problem…

…Shinobi made everything difficult, since the general emotions attached to specific events were often hidden by well practiced masks and she couldn't always decipher whether it was the shinobi feeling the sensations or if they were her own emotions surfacing.

She frowned up at him with a vaguely unappreciative look at having been messed with, but did as she had been told and took a seat on the toilet seat facing towards the back so Deidara could better reach her hair. She was wary. She'd never had her haircut before, and the thought of having a sharp, pointed object used for killing so close to her head made her feel uncomfortable.

She was not stupid. She knew he could kill her any moment he pleased, and there wouldn't be a thing she could do about it. But that didn't scary her, not really. She had died many times. What she did fear was being locked up in this dark place, alone, if she displeased him.

She didn't want to be alone anymore…

Her hair was oily and grungy when his fingers began to stroke through it, untangling the hoard of knots hidden abundantly throughout her curls, and thick. Her hair was incredibly thick and long. It was longer than his own and he frowned at the thought of just how time consuming it would be to find every knot if he continued at the pace he was. He was being gentle and slow, trying not to scare her away from this sort of interaction by pulling or yanking on her hair too roughly.

Curiously, she tried to reach up and feel what he was doing with her hair, but she withdrew fingers when he gave her knuckles a warning flick. She did not try again, instead gritted her teeth and concentrated on blocking out the sting of having her hair pulled ever which way the bomber shinobi needed, jolting a series of tingles that made her scalp itch. She was perfectly silent, fighting not to pull her head away as she felt small hairs being pulled from the back of her neck.

Then she felt the kunai being brushed down her hair in long strokes, smooth and perfectly steady in his grasp. She felt the blade push up against her neck and back, and sweat began to build on the inside of her palms. She closed her eyes and hoped dearly that Deidara was as good with his knife play as she thought he was. Cold sweat crept up the back of her neck each time she felt the cold steel of the blade against her skin.

She did not want to see anymore of her blood stained on the floors of these halls. Just the memory of that earlier experience made her feel lightheaded.

With the soft rush of air crossed over her back she realized with a jolt that he had cut a straight line across the bottom ends of her hairline, shortening it by a few inches. A little too stunned by the speed of his action, she looked back to look down at the heap of dark brown hair laying uselessly on the floor, shining dimly in the light. She stared for the better part of a minute, lost in her thoughts, until her eyes eased up to meets his.

His brilliant blue eyes were overflowing with pride over his work, and she could feel his satisfaction seep into the deepest part of her being, embracing her. She had help to achieve that, and she felt a surge of warmth perch within the inner workings of her heart.

A charming smirk slid across the smooth skin of his lips, shining daringly in the light. Her eyes were subconsciously drawn to them for the briefest of seconds, but he missed the look. "You already look like a work of art." He turned her around on the seat and took hold her over hand. "Now for the nails, yeah." He still had the kunai in his grasp.

Now, it was not uncommon for Kiki to pull out sticky black substances from under her nails when she would on occasion look down and notice the dirt and grime had accumulated, but this was a bit much she'd think. Using a deadly weapon to remove such unharmful things from her nails as if it were an enemy. Strange use of weaponry, she thought while she watched with vague surprise as Deidara traced his kunai under the rims of her nails and wiped the nail boogers onto a dirty cloth laying uselessly on the ground; probably left there by Hidan. Hey, it got the job done.

"Now…" Deidara said with a small smirk, apparently amused, but also disturbed by her utter lack of knowledge in such common activities as grooming. "I trust you can bath your self, un." His blue eyes watched down at her with a bit of disappointment when she gave a brief and hesitant nod in confirmation, the faintest tint of red gracing her thin cheeks. She looked so delicate in that moment, with her eyes hooded over in a tired stare and her cheeks flushed in shyness, and Deidara had to wonder yet again why such a person would be allowed into Akatsuki.

What the hell was leader thinking!

The red in her cheeks grew darker when she glanced up into his face and saw him staring down at her with a strange expression of concentration in his eyes. Her lips tightened, eyes focusing in on Deidara as if trying to decipher something that she couldn't quite grasp. His actions and his emotional state confused her greatly due to the conflicting messages within them. While on the outside he showed interest in her in ways only her demon had ever seemed to for so long, inside he always seemed to regard her presence with amusement or annoyance and always with an underline curiosity. She understood that this was what one would call deceit, but even in this knowledge she couldn't bring herself to be angry with him.

Steadying her fidgety hands as best she could Kiki stood up from the toilet seat and glanced shyly at the door, her lips pulled into a firm line as she waited for his reaction. She tensed just the slightest bit when Deidara raised a single brow, feeling the uncertainty lingering in the back of her mind pushing forward once again. Something in his posture put her on edge, but the moment a charming smirk slid across his lips she loosened up and watched with faint curiosity as the young ninja gave a small wave and headed out the door. He didn't say anything as she might have expected, but in that silence something about the young bomber became very clear: he was not what he appeared to be.

Her head tilted in curiosity at the discovery, out of habit, and stared at the door for a few more seconds, lost in her thoughts. She started to zone out temporarily, forgetting why she was even in the bathroom area, until a drifting thought crossed her mind and all but ripped her from her silent thoughts. She felt a small wave of cold sensation sweep through her as she turned back, staring blankly at the hair scattered carelessly across the floor. It did not scare her, nor did it make her sad that she had lost a part of herself, but it made her feel…odd. For the first time since Deidara had cut it she touched her hair, gently, as if he would burst into the room and scold her if she did so. It felt smooth, neat, but also very, very oily. Her had can back slippery and smelling of something unpleasant. She needed that bath.

A little hesitantly, she began removing her clothes with much uncertainty, letting the blood encrusted pants she had on slip uselessly to the floor. She picked up the pants right after and cringed when a blood smear appeared on the floor where it had been. A shiver made its way though her body, but she ignored it. Then came her jacket. She looked down and saw the ripped and blood covered cloth sticking firmly to her belly, showing clearly the way her body had become disfigured by fatigue. Had she not been use to the sight, she would have cringed. She reached to the rim of her jacket, pulling it down lightly, and reached her hand down the nap of her neck, searching.

She nearly fainted at the discovery.

The bath had been pleasant to say the least, but the whole while she could not even find it in herself to feel happy by the notion of finally being clean after being in a constant of filth for so long. She wanted to relax and just enjoy the moment, she really did, but every time she look down, and found that her necklace was still gone, the pain would rise in her heart. She had lost it. The only thing she had left of her mother and she had lost it. The guilt and the unrest she felt shook her to her core and she- despite her best attempts at telling her self that it didn't matter, that she'd always survived when life threw new obstacles at her- could not convince herself that she was okay. Again…she wanted to cry.

But she held them back as best as she could, the tears that threatened to take her, to consume her with their traitorous ways. The burning at the corners at her eyes were burning as they always did when she was at the edge of tears, but this time the pain was much more intense. Her vision was blearing over, distorting the world round her and blending the colors of the room into one big splat of vague outlines. The warmth of the bath water did not help, only pushed her further and further to the edge. The first warm line of warmth that escaped down her cheek was the hardest, and then came another, and another, and another. She couldn't hold it back anymore, the flood of emotions which took her was too great, and for the first time in since that morning not so long ago in the wheat fields, she let them fall, and fall, and fall, and fall.

For the first time since she had first encountered the Akatsuki, she wept. She wept for the pain and the confusion and the stress. She wept for all those things and so much more and yet did not know why she was weeping so wretchedly when her life had always been filled with those things. Her hands came her face and wiped at the tears, trying to hide them. Even if no one was there with her to see them, she did not want to show how weak she was: she did not want to have to be reminded of her own shortcomings. So she closed her eyes, and let herself sink under the water. There she was safe; there she would not have to see; there she could close her eyes and tell herself that they were only a few in a vast ocean of tears.

Dead end after dead end; this was not something Zetsu was accustom to encountering in his endless searches for truths and lies, but here he was, struggling to make connections regarding the woman's secretive past and identity. It was almost disheartening for the spy to look down to the small necklace and know that even in his most passionate efforts, he was drawing up blanks as too where he could find information about her- those rumors about what she could do counted little in this investigation, since it was quite obvious once one met the woman as they had.

The only bit of information he had managed to scrounge up was that she was often seen around the land of fire and perhaps had origins around there. For most that would seem like a significant piece of information, but Zetsu knew all too well that it was just as likely to be coincidence that an actual piece of evidence in the simple reason that he had seen how the young woman had been living and knew what was expected from such background.

Zetsu kept in mind that as a wonderer, constantly outside and at the mercy of the elements, it would be in her best interest to keep to more hospitable areas where food was more plentiful and the overall weather was relatively temperate. The Fire country just so happened to find into these categories, with vast forests and wild game for consumption and fairly warm nights in the summer. It was perhaps the best place for a young traveler to spend much of their year during the harsher months.

Zetsu frowned, though it was unseen by any of the passersby walking unknowingly above him. At that moment, he was encased deep underground beneath one of the busiest areas of the Leaf village, just waiting for even the slightest tidbit of information to slip from an unsuspecting mouth that could help him in his search for answers. If there was ever a place to gather information of strange happenings or newly discovered abilities, it was the hidden villages, and since she had allegedly spent so much time in the area, surely someone must have heard something useful.

The Leaf village is so vulnerable to his scrutiny: not a single shinobi of the region had yet to sense him lurking about under their feet, and it would be so easy for him to simply reach out and kill a few roaming citizens with no one the wiser as to who could have done it. It was pitiful to be truthful. The thought just crossed Zetsu's mind on a whim, a flickering of thought, but that thought brought other thoughts to mind; the nameless woman. He wondered how she was doing, trapped within a damp cave, secluded from the outside world she so loved, and no doubt in the presence of her new partner. He cringed at the thought.

He would have loved to have her as a partner, she having been the first person he held any sort of connection to, but he knew that was an illogical for the Akatsuki's goals. They, the Zetsus, were already a sufficient spy who worked best on their own and having the young woman with them would only slow them down and become a definite liability to their work. A tinge of something close to guilt drummed lightly at his heart, but not enough to provoke an expression. He hoped- for the first time for someone other then themselves- he hoped that his leader had saw it fit to take some lenience on the young woman and place her with one of the more tolerable of the Akatsuki. Hopefully not Hidan: Defiantly not Hidan.

Author's note:

It's been far too long since I last updated, but with the discovery of a new Internet source after months of being deprived- school policies have banned the usage of computers for anything other than school work- I have kicked myself in the butt and gotten this chapter done in record time. NOW I MUST WRITE MORE! XD