I DO NOT OWN NARUTO!!

***

Itachi woke up to the dim light in his room at the Akatsuki Hideout. He stretched briefly, sat up and looked around. The studied the familiar interior surrounding him.

The four walls were painted red; the wall to his right had posters stuck up on it. One of them was a huge list of the Jinchuriki; those that they have extracted the Bijou from were scratched off. There was another poster of some J-rock band, whose members were sporting dark clothes and makeup. There was also a framed picture of Itachi's little brother when he was younger.

Itachi smiled at the photo. Sasuke looked so happy while holding out his first shuriken set his big brother had given him for his 6th birthday.

"Birthday…" he whispered to himself. Why did the word sound so tingly all of a sudden?

Oh, yeah. It was Itachi's birthday!!!

But he didn't mind.

He got up on the left side of the bed, facing another wall. For a moment he wondered why they haven't thought of putting windows in Akatsuki members' rooms.

He gave a long yawn and looked at the digital clock by his bedside table. 7:00 am. Too early… he wanted to go back to sleep, but then he noticed a note beside the clock. He picked it up and read it:

Itachi,

Head over

to the Akatsuki Cave

once you wake up, ne?

:)

Whoever had written that message probably meant business. The smiley says it all. Letting out another sleepy yawn, Itachi went to the bathroom and got ready.

***

After Itachi had teleported immediately to the cave, he scanned the whole place, which was very dark as usual, to look for his colleagues.

"Hello?" he called out. "Where is everybody? I got the message, and it seemed urgent…"

His words were cut when bright lights suddenly brought the cave to life. Where did those lights come from? There weren't any lighting facilities in the Akatsuki cave!

He jumped when he saw his eight companions at the far side, carrying what seemed like a huge banner which says…

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ITACHI-SAN!!!" they all cheered.

Itachi looked tearfully at Kisame, Deidara, Sasori (who was finally out of the Hiruko costume at the moment), Pain (who was holographic as always), Hidan, Kakuzu (Itachi was touched to see his colleague crying with such happiness), Konan and Zetsu.

"Oh, guys," he wiped his tears with a tissue which he magically conjured out of nowhere. "You remembered!"

"'Course, we did," Deidara raised his end of the banner. "You sent us all text messages yesterday saying, 'guys, it's my birthday tomorrow, and it would be nice if you all throw a surprise party for me'. Hm…"

Itachi scratched the back of his head. "What? I don't remember texting you anything like that!"

"You also said, 'after I send this text message, I'm gonna use some jutsu for me to forget that I sent you this message so that I would be in a big surprise tomorrow.' Hm…"

"Oh."

"Great," Sasori hit Deidara's arm, which broke off its joint easily. "You oriented the whole thing to him."

"Sasori-sama!" Deidara screamed while he picked up his arm (using his other arm, of course). "Now Kakuzu has to sew it back on again!"

Kakuzu, who was still crying, said from under his mask, "No way I'm doing that thing again!"

"Have you all forgotten why we are all gathered here?" Pain shouted from behind. Everyone turned to look at his only visible eyes.

"Sorry, Pain, sir…"

"That's better."

***

On one side of the cave there was a dance floor, complete with a spinning disco ball hanging from a stalactite. The cave never looked so alive! Everyone was definitely having fun. Music filled the whole place while Zetsu mixed and remixed songs behind the DJ booth.

Kisame was so pumped up on the floor that he was spinning his Sharkskin above his head wildly. Since he was dancing behind Kisame, Itachi ducked and the huge sword just went right through Pain, who was facing the other way.

"What was that?" Pain asked Itachi when he had heard the swish of the sword.

"What did you say?" Itachi couldn't hear well because of the loud music.

"What was that?" Pain said.

"I said, what did you say?" Itachi said.

"I said, what was that?" Pain Said.

"Never mind…" and Itachi walked away and past Sasori who was controlling a dancing foot-high puppet man.

Itachi went to the other side of the cave, where the buffet table was located. On the table were his favorite foods, including nachos and sushi and spaghetti and pizza and burgers and fries and eggs and bacon and ham and chicken and roast beef and baked potatoes and cake and brownies and-

"Hey Itachi," Deidara, still missing an arm, called from the punch bowl. "Wait until you see my artistic creation! Hm!" he pointed his thumb behind him. Itachi saw something draped with red cloth, concealing it from view.

"Oooh," Itachi exclaimed enthusiastically. "What is it?"

"Not until later, hm…"

Itachi got frustrated with the Blondie's clairvoyance so he grabbed the punch bowl, dumped it upside down Deidara's head and left.

He took some sushi from a platter and walked over to Hidan, who was sitting on the far corner of the cave.

"Don't tell me you're still praying on my birthday?" he asked the silver-haired Akatsuki.

Hidan didn't move.

"Hey!" Itachi took Hidan's scythe which was placed against the cave wall and prodded the base and onto the owner's shoulder.

All of a sudden Hidan quickly jumped, took the scythe off Itachi's hands and pointed the blade at Itachi. All of that happened in a split-second, along with Itachi putting the sushi inside his mouth, chewing it thoughtfully and swallowing it completely.

"Whoa," Itachi held up his hands defensively. "It's just me!"

Hidan squinted to see his 'attacker' better, then his eyes widened when he saw that it was Itachi.

"Dude, I'm sorry!" he bowed his head in apology.

"Dude, you almost killed me!"

"I'm sorry, dude."

"I was so close to choking on that sushi!"

"I'm sorry dude- hey, we have sushi?"

"Yeah, fresh from the ocean, man,"

"Cool…"

"Sweet…"

"Why are we talking like surfers?"

"No idea." And Itachi left Hidan, who raced immediately to the buffet table.

Itachi saw Konan doing something. She was putting more decorations around the cave.

"The decorations are nice," he complimented. Konan turned around to face Itachi who suddenly gave out a bloody scream.

"Eeeaaaaaarrrgh!!!!!!!"

Konan raised an eyebrow. "What's your problem?"

Itachi breathed, familiarizing himself with the sight of Konan's face. Her skin was peeling bit by bit, like small pieces of paper, then floating up to become parts of the decorations.

"It's…" inhale "nothing…" inhale, exhale, inhale, "really…"

"Oh don't tell me," Konan pouted, while she folded a piece of paper, or her skin, whatever. "Don't tell me I look fat in this Uniform!"

Itachi twitched. "N-no… you don't!" he wondered why he had never known about Konan's ability. Probably because she was always with Pain, and barely shows up in meetings.

"Good…" she sighed, more skin peeling out of her face.

"You don't run out of sk- paper?"

"No," more came fluttering out.

"Ever?" Itachi asked.

"Never,"

"Why?"

"What do you mean, why?"

"I mean, why don't you run out of paper?"

Konan caught one piece and folded into a paper crane. "It's a unique ability, and I'm proud of it," she handed the origami to Itachi. "Here, take this. Consider it as a gift."

For a moment Itachi was sure he saw blood dripping from it, but it was definitely his imagination. So he took the paper crane by its delicate wings, careful not to touch the whole thing.

"This is just disgusting," he whispered at the thought of skin being made into fine handicrafts.

"Excuse me?"

"No-nothing! It's just that, I've never seen anything so breathtaking!" he pretended to admire the origami.

Konan's uneven cheeks blush. "Oh, you're just saying that!" and she turned around to continue her work.

Itachi swiftly walked away, and burned the skin/paper crane completely with his fire jutsu when Konan wasn't looking. He took alcohol from inside his coat and poured as much as he could in his hands then rubbed hard.

"Disgusting!" then he bumped into Kakuzu.

"Ouch…" the Akatsuki treasurer whimpered. He still hadn't stopped crying since Itachi arrived.

"Kakuzu," Itachi said. "I know touching moments just make us want to tear up, but you've got to enjoy this party!"

Kakuzu cried more.

"Aren't you happy that you surprised me with this party? It seemed like you put a lot of work- and money into it."

Kakuzu cried even more.

"Try going to the buffet table. They sure picked some delicious and expensive things off the menu!"

"My moneeeeey….."

Itachi blinked at the reply. So that's why. He just stood up and left the sobbing man behind.

"Alright, everyone," Pain's voice rang throughout the cave. "It's time for a little surprise show for Itachi!"

"Ooooh," Itachi mused. "I wonder what it is..." He skipped merrily and found a small stage with curtains standing in the middle of the cave. Sasori came out from behind the curtains.

"Welcome," he said, "to my humble puppet show. I shall be reenacting an event which I am sure, has a wonderful meaning to our very own, Itachi-san."

They all turned to the blushing Itachi, and clapped lowly for him. Zetsu nudged Deidara gently with his elbow, and Deidara, with his free arm, pulled a chair for Itachi to sit down.

The show was presented by puppets. Sasori did a good job at everything; from Itachi's childhood, his betrayal to the clan, and the infamous murder of his parents.

Itachi clapped his hands appreciatively. He loved the puppets. The Itachi puppet really looked a lot like him, and the Sasuke puppet also looked so weak. Everything was perfect. He conjured another tissue and blew his nose, very runny from all the crying.

"Thank you, thank you," Sasori bowed after putting away the puppet characters.

"It's time to showcase my art, hmmm…!" Deidara shouted. Everyone turned to him. He led the group to where the draped object was. Itachi was so excited he was shaking uncontrollably. Kisame had to hold him in place.

"Behold, Itachi," Deidara exclaimed. "My ultimate maste-"

He stopped when they saw a puff of smoke next to the Blondie.

"What the-?"

"Sorry I'm late!" it was Tobi!

"I didn't know he was invited," Zetsu whispered to Sasori.

"I didn't know he existed," the puppet master shrugged.

"He was supposed to replace you when you die," Konan appeared from behind the two, staring at the surprised Sasori.

"Wha- DIE?!?!" he shouted.

"Happy Birthday, Itachi-senpai!" Tobi greeted, his mask practically glowing from all the excitement.

"Thanks," Itachi replied.

"So, what's up?" Tobi asked, looking around.

Holographic Pain walked over to him. "We were about to witness Deidara's gift for Itachi!"

Tobi squeaked. "Oooh! Is it that Itachi clay statue you guys were talking about the other day? I can't wait to see it!"

"Idiot! He wasn't supposed to know that, yet! Hm!" Deidara kicked Tobi hard on the shins.

"Ow, senpai!" he leaped around like a kid.

Itachi fumed, angry at Tobi who ruined his surprise. But before he could walk over and strangle him, Kisame pulled him back.

"Wait, Itachi," he said, "don't you wanna see the statue?"

Itachi sighed, and made a "I've got my eyes on you" gesture on Tobi, who was shaking, and nodded at Kisame.

"Good," Kisame said.

Deidara turned to the concealed artwork and pulled the drape off.

It was indeed a life-sized clay statue of Itachi!

"Wow!" Itachi exclaimed. "It really does look like me!"

"I know, hm…"

Sasori interrupted. "Hey, what about the Itachi puppet; it took me months to make that!"

"It's obvious that my sculpture is way better than your doll, hm…"

"It's not a doll; it's an action figure! I mean, it's a puppet!"

"Doll…"

"Puppet!"

"Doll… hm…"

"Puppet!"

"Doll… hm…"

Before Itachi could get in between the fighting pair, Sasori opened his coat, and let out a long hose from his puppet self. It attached onto Deidara's only arm and pulled it off.

"Puppet…" Sasori snickered. "And it's definitely better, since puppets last for a long time, unlike your clay which explodes immediately…"

An angry vein appeared on Deidara's head as he watched Sasori drop his arm on the ground.

"I can still perform my jutsu without my arms, you know," he said, smirking at the Itachi statue. "Stand back, my friends- except you, Sasori-sama."

Sasori obediently stayed in his place, while the others hid behind rocks and peaked eagerly to see what Deidara was about to do.

"Like I've said before," he continued. "Behold my masterpiece… Katsu!"

The Itachi statue, as predicted, turned into a big explosion, letting out beautiful fireworks everywhere. Sasori was very close to the statue so he caught on fire from the explosion and died.

"I'm not eating that, it's made of wood…" Zetsu eyed the burnt puppet with disgust.

Deidara let out an evil laugh; his sleeves swaying freely from the absence of his arm. Itachi was so overwhelmed; he fainted.

"This is the part where you become a member, Tobi," Pain turned to face Tobi but he wasn't there behind him. He looked around, "Tobi?"

He saw Tobi by the buffet table, fighting with Hidan over the last piece of sushi. They were probably there before the fireworks.

"Tobi!" Pain loudly called.

"Yes, sir?" he immediately ran towards Pain, leaving Hidan happily with the roll.

"I said, you're a part of Akatsuki, now."

Hidan walked over to them. "Hey, what did I miss?"

"Deidara made Itachi this statue which exploded into pretty fireworks," Kakuzu, who surprisingly stopped crying, replied. "Sasori got caught in the explosion and died, so the guy with the orange mask is his replacement."

"Oh," Hidan raised his eyebrows, appreciating the orientation. "So it seems that we have to buy a new uniform for the new guy, huh?"

Kakuzu's eyes grew wide at the idea then he fainted.

Itachi regained consciousness and stood up, rubbing his temple. "Hey, guys, what did I miss?"

Hidan replied, "Kakuzu fainted because we have to buy a new uniform for the new guy."

"The new guy?"

"Yeah, Tobi's replacing Sasori."

Itachi looked at the masked man. He looked really stupid; Itachi couldn't imagine having him as a new member for the Akatsuki, so he fainted again.

"Oh, brother," Hidan mumbled then went over to the buffet table again. "Oh, yeah," he said. "No more sushi…"

Then a smirk crossed his face when he saw the Shark Man pass by him.

"Oh, Kisame…" he called, swaying his scythe dangerously. He had to have some sushi.

Deidara kicked the unconscious Kakuzu awake. "Kakuzu, reattach my arms again this instant, hm!"

Kakuzu stirred and got up. "What did I miss?"

Deidara ignored the question. "Just sew my arms back on, man!"

"Alright, alright!" and he did as he was told.

After finishing his work on Deidara's arms, he noticed that he was out of sewing thread.

"Thanks," Deidara said, stretching out his newly-attached arms carefully. "Oh, I see you need to buy new strings now, hm…?"

Kakuzu cried again.

Konan woke Itachi up since it was time to open his gifts. He quickly got up and followed her to the mountain of presents his colleagues had brought him.

"Which one should I open first," Itachi asked excitedly, tapping his fingers together. "This one? No, this one! No…"

"Try this one!" Deidara proudly handed Itachi a rectangular box. "On behalf of the late Sasori-sama, I hand this to you."

The gift was from Sasori. Itachi took it and tore the wrapping off immediately. Inside the box was a mannequin used as a guide for drawing.

"How thoughtful," he said as he lay down the gift beside him.

"This is my gift for you, Itachi-san!" Zetsu handed his present to the birthday boy. It was a pair of cool shades. "You can use that when you have missions on sunny places!"

"Thanks, Zetsu!"

Itachi went on opening presents. There was an amulet with a strange pendant from Hidan. There was a note saying that it was something from his religion. There was a bill for all the expenses used for the party, from Kakuzu. He received a CD of his favorite J-rock band from Kisame. He twitched when Tobi handed him a rock.

"I was invited in the last minute," he explained. "I just picked it up along the way. You can use it was a paper weight, or a weapon!"

"Time for our gift," Pain gestured Konan to hand the present to Itachi, since when he tried to pick it up, well, he couldn't. "We shared our savings for that!"

Itachi took the box, and when he was about to tear the wrapper open, Pain stopped him.

"Don't rip it!" he said, holding out a holographic hand. "That wrapper was made from Konan's jutsu!"

Itachi suddenly screamed and threw the box away. But when he saw Konan's disappointed face, he quickly picked it up.

"Uh, there was a bug," he said. Konan's face lit up with understanding.

Itachi carefully opened the present without ripping (and without completely touching) the wrapper. What's inside was…

"A brand new iPod!" Itachi exclaimed.

"I hope you like it. We also took money from Kakuzu's savings."

They heard a loud thud and realized that Kakuzu had fainted again.

"Anyway," Itachi said. "How can I update this when we don't even have computers in our hideout?"

Pain looked at Konan. "Oh, right, we forgot."

"There goes our 40,000…" Konan said. Kakuzu had just gotten up dizzily then collapsed again when he heard the amount.

"You can go update it in some computer shops around Amegakure," Pain suggested after clearing his throat.

Itachi thanked everyone for the gifts when suddenly, somebody knocked from outside the cave.

"Tobi, get the door!"

Tobi rushed to push away the rock that was blocking the cave entrance.

"It's Sasuke!" Everyone gasped when they saw who the guest was.

Itachi froze, and stared at his little brother in surprise.

"I came," Sasuke timidly walked inside, not looking at Itachi. "Since I knew it was your birthday."

"Oh, little brother!" Itachi's eyes began filling with tears again.

"It's no big deal; I just, um, brought you a gift."

"Oh, you shouldn't have!"

"Here," he handed a small box to Itachi. "Uh, happy birthday."

The other Akatsuki members 'aaawwed' at the scenario. "Mushy…"

Itachi cried tears of joy while Sasuke remained composed, his hand resting on his hip.

Itachi opened the box, and there was a badge inside, saying:

): DIE, BROTHER :(

"Oh, Sasuke," Itachi sobbed. "This is the best gift ever!"

"It should be! I've put all my hatred in there!" Sasuke said. "I should get going now, big brother; but remember, I'll kill you someday!" and he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Itachi waved goodbye then pinned the badge onto his coat. "How does it look?"

Everyone gave him two thumbs-up and another happy greeting.

"Happy Birthday, Itachi-san!"

"Kisame's gone; has anyone seen him?" Itachi asked, looking around. Everyone, except Hidan, shrugged.

Itachi ignored it and they all went to the buffet table to feast on the occasion.

And oh, yeah, there were sushi again on the platter.