A/n: sorry for any mistakes! I did my best...

Until We Meet Again

The first thing he recalled about that day was that he was tired.

Not tired in the sense of being sleepy, something a good night's sleep could cure. No. Tired in the mortal sense, feeling as if he could sit beneath the comforting shade of a wide, old tree and sink into its embrace while the world passed him by. It was made worse by the fact that he was still young, still in his twenties but he felt as if he had lived his entire life already and then some. And not because he'd had a difficult life. It was just a life; everyone lived one, long or short and they all had their difficulties. This fatigue stemmed from something else, something deeper than having too many years or hardships.

He was tried because he had been in love and had outlived it. Now he was alone with nothing but the terrible ache of what was left.

Actually, he had hated his partner he'd first been assigned to when he had joined the Akatsuki. The man had in insufferable impatience and an obsession for everything to be just right. It had nearly driven the blond insane. The sand nin had dictated and bossed him around and because he was also one of the most powerful members of the organization, Deidara hadn't really been brave enough to defy the man. Sure, he'd been flippant, gave the older man a hard time but then again, that was in the blonde's nature. He wouldn't actively test his partner because, after all, Sasori of the Red Sands had brought down entire armies single handedly. If he was completely honest with himself, Deidara wouldn't have stood a chance.

And those damn puppets!

Art was supposed to be fleeting, beautiful in the impression it made. It wasn't meant to last. Yet each of those puppets, taken from the bodies and utilizing the chakra of other powerful ninjas, were meant to last, honed and used as unique weapons. They weren't beautiful and they weren't art. Now, Deidara made art. Great explosions that in their transience made them beautiful.

This particular subject had prompted many arguments between them until the blond was usually furious, screaming, seeing a red haze over his vision. It was so stupid, letting himself get so angry over a difference of opinion but he'd been horrendously offended by Sasori claiming his insufferable puppets were art more legitimate than the blonde's. Not only that but Deidara had only ever seen the other man ensconced inside of his big hideous puppet, Hiruko. That just pissed the younger man off even more. Not once did the man even once deem him worthy to show his own partner his true face; though Deidara tried telling himself it didn't matter. Besides, the sand ninja was nearly fifty years old. He probably hid in that abomination because he looked worse than most of his own puppets. Worst part was that the blond had to travel with the man almost continuously, nearly always in the other's company. Looking back, it was a wonder they didn't kill each other.

He should have known something was different when their arguments became one sided, the blond screaming at the hunched figure of the cloaked puppet only to receive silence in response. Sasori had become even more closed off and unresponsive than usual, unless he was barking orders. Orders that started to chafe at the younger nin.

Then it happened, the night his perspective began to change. That was the first time he saw the real Sasori, without the puppets or the cloak.

Deidara had returned to camp after collecting more wood for their cooking fire to find the great hulking puppet that he had trudged along with for seven long months had been carefully set aside and a graceful young man that looked even younger than himself sitting across the fire from where he had frozen, preparing dinner. Deidara had blinked a few times, to make sure he wasn't seeing things and when the man didn't disappear, he spoke up.

"Who the fuck are you?" he had grated at last, wondering for a single dense moment if he should be preparing himself for a fight. The twin mouths set into the palms of his hands had tingled with anticipation and the readying of chakra. Really, he should have known who it was he was looking at but the man had no form of identification on him. The black cloak with the tell tale red clouds was folded and on the ground and the red head only wore the typical black shirt, black pants, ankles wrapped with white bandage. There was no hitai-ite either. But then the deep, expressionless eyes had lifted to his own blue ones and he was lost in pools of dark red fire.

"I'd appreciate if you didn't use language like that, brat," the man had said calmly, leaving the blond sputtering. This man, beautiful and uncanny in his lack of human expression was quite obviously his partner. Yet, he was different too, without the aid of his puppet. His voice was smoother; still deep but like dark, calm water rather than gravely sand. And he was young; shockingly so. Deidara knew this man was more than thirty years older than himself but he didn't look a day over twenty.

Turned out, Sasori was a puppet just like the ones he used in battle.

Only he was beautiful, graceful, everything his other puppets were not. This was when the blonde's perspective began to alter.

They started a pattern. He would go out to find them food or wood or, if there was nothing they really needed, he would make an excuse and by the time he came back, the older man had shed his shell and was sitting calmly as he waited for the blond to return. Things didn't really change all that much, though, at first; the dynamic between them remained the same. A full month of them hunting for Jinchuriki when at night he got to see the true man, even if he was also just another form of art.

Then it changed.

He had been sitting, pouring over a scroll, singing a song he had learned a long time ago while he studied an interesting jutsu he had come across in the last town when the sharp, smooth voice across the clearing had cut him off.

"Shut up," surprised, he'd glanced up, veil of hair falling over one blue eye, ready to snarl back but the look in the uncaring maroon eyes had stopped his retort before he could even think of the words. Sasori was standing, face shadowed as he beckoned the other man.

"Come here, brat," no emotion, no question and the command pulled the blond to his feet, quelling the last pieces of rebellion, which had given way to curiosity. In this form, he had noted then, the younger man was actually taller than his sempai by several inches, something he found rather entertaining. So he had done as he'd been told, making his way across the camp to stand in front of the red head, idly wondering if he was in trouble. He himself had shed his cloak, which was usually too stifling, and had taken his hair down as the tail he tied it in during the day pulled. The deep red eyes studied his face carefully, taking in every feature in the dimming daylight, making Deidara nervous.

Then something happened he could not have predicted in a million years.

Sasori kissed him.

To say he had been surprised was a major understatement. Yet, for some reason, he hadn't fought it. Later, when they were done and sitting side by side watching yellow flames a deeper color than that of Deidara's hair, he had found that all along, he had wanted this. Even not knowing Sasori's appearance, even with their rather volatile differences he had wanted this.

And that was how it started.

The older man, surprisingly enough, was an attentive and…interesting lover. Being a puppet himself, he couldn't do things a man with a body made of blood and flesh could. So instead of taking pleasure for himself, he had given everything to Deidara, watching with darkened eyes as he turned the blond into a writhing, incoherent mess. Never once did the red head express any kind of affection with words but when Sasori kissed the younger man, no words were needed.

Just like that, Deidara had fallen for his stoic and ill-tempered partner. That had been almost a year ago, when he shared his first kiss with his sempai.

Just three months ago he had shared his last.

Living their lives as rouge ninja hunting down the nine tailed demon hosts, it was just a matter of time before one or both of them were killed. Except the blond had been sure that he'd be the one to go first. After all, he wasn't the one who'd defeated entire armies. Sasori was much stronger than the blond shinobi and while Deidara was confident in his abilities, there were still many ninja out there who could defeat him. The same was not true for the former red headed ninja of the Red Sands.

Or so he had thought.

When Deidara had left him in that cave with the old woman and her upstart companion, he had been sure that when he returned, Sasori would be sitting there, waiting with his normal annoyed expression on his face. He did not like to be kept waiting. Yet by the time the blond had dragged himself back to the cave, missing both arms after his tangle with the nine tails brat and his silver haired copy ninja, he had been devastated to find the red head dead, two poisoned swords piercing the only part of him that was still physically human. His heart. Deidara didn't cry then. He had never cried once in his life, he wasn't about to start then. But he had felt as if those swords had been driven through his own chest. Looking down at the broken body, deep red hair snagging on the rubble, he had come to understand what people meant by a broken heart. It sounded foolish, sappy, droll, everything their relationship was not but what he had felt then, as he stumbled to his knees beside the still figure could be described quiet accurately as such. Or rather, it felt as if someone had taken a kunai knife, plunged it into his chest, ripped out his heart and tore it into unidentifiable, bloody chunks. And all he could think was it wasn't supposed to happen this way.

It hurt. Hurt so bad he was sure he would die from it, shrivel up right there and crumble into dust. And when he didn't, he wished he could, just to make the feeling go away. Kneeling on the shattered ground next to the equally shattered body of the man he had fallen in love with, he tried to tell himself this was a dream; that he would wake up, curled in the red head's embrace and it would be nothing more than an image to be forgotten, fading like mist as the sun broke over the horizon.

Only this wasn't a dream and the memory would never go away.

And he didn't even have his hands to run through that beautiful red hair one last time or to bury the body of his dead lover.

Now, three months later, the burning rage and unstable thirst for revenge had turned into a grieving despair that had become like lead weights around his ankles and he couldn't even concentrate on his search for the nine tails to attempt his bid for vengeance and die so he could join Sasori once more.

It was just, he as so tired that it was beginning to get hard to care about anything. His feet dragged along a dusty path snaking along the edge of the fire country, big, leafy trees offering some solace from the bright summer sun. Thankfully, he'd had his arms reattached by Kakuzu (for a fee, of course, the bastard) but for all he could make sense of the world, it hardly mattered anymore. And all the time he saw in the back of his mind the blank maroon eyes that had once filled with an emotion only Deidara had known existed become nothing more than sightless pools of stagnant color. It made it hard to care about anything at all.

Somehow, past the muddle his mind had become, he found the source of water he had smelt a half a mile back, hidden from the main path by thick underbrush and great shady trees, which he was nearly defeated by before he stumbled onto the cleared lake side, breath coming a little short.

Once he might have admired the clear water dyed blue under the clear sky or the thick plants shielding some of the water from view. He would have dropped his cloak with a happy sigh as the warm breeze ruffled his long, sunny hair and turned to his companion, commenting on how much he liked the way the trees stretched out over the lake, shading some parts of it while others glittered in the bright, late afternoon sunlight. He might have seen how that very light filtered through the green foliage, turning it a warm, golden color. Once he might have seen how beautiful it was.

But not now. There was no beauty left now.

So he just dropped his pack by a large drooping willow which brushed the top of his head as he passed under it, his eyes that had once been a bright, fiery sapphire now a lifeless bluish-gray. His cloak followed the pack, falling haphazardly to the ground where it would stay. He had no one to snarl at him to pick it up and stop being a slob. Upon recalling that, he might have gone back to pick it up but he was too busy trying to remember the smooth sound of Sasori's voice. Already it was lost, tarnished with time.

Already he was beginning to forget.

The revelation struck him so hard, it dropped him to his knees in the soft dirt by the edge of the water, gasping for breath as he stared at his own reflection. He was so caught up in his inner turmoil, he failed to notice he was not alone in seeking solace at this particular lake. Because he couldn't stop staring at himself. At the self he was now that no longer even resembled the self that he used to know. His bright blond hair was flat, dull and in desperate need of a good wash. It hung limp around his face, shading his one eye in hopeless tangles. The blue, shining eyes that had always had a fire burning in them, a bright eagerness of just being alive had dulled, become murky with grief. Dark shadows had formed on the thin skin under his eyes, as if he hadn't slept in three months. Sasori had loved his eyes and the thick, glittering fall of his hair. What would he think if the older man saw him now?

Suddenly he was shaking, holding back something he had never felt before. It was like there was an entire ocean of agony trying to burst out of his body, clawing its way up his throat and out of his mouth, his eyes, his nose. And because he couldn't hold it back anymore, couldn't stop the anguish as it rushed through him with bright needles made of fire, he gave into it.

Deidara bowed his head, arms clutching the empty pit of his abdomen and sobbed.

Great, salty tears flowed over his face, down his chin and choking sounds raked through him. And with each gasp of air, the knife twisted a little deeper, making him bleed just a little bit more.

The onslaught didn't last long and to avoid the raw feeling of the salty tracks upon his face and the ache in his throat, he dunked his head in the shockingly chilly water, scrubbing at his face, his neck, behind his ears. Once he felt a little cleaner, he paid more attention to his hair. It had been one of Sasori's favorite things about the younger shinobi. As a homage to what had become just a memory, he cleaned it meticulously so that by the time he whipped his head back, crystal droplets shimmering in the air before they dropped back into the lake, the blond locks were once again gleaming brightly.

It was then, as he was wringing excess water from his hair that he felt the heavy weight of someone else's gaze.

Alarmed and stealing himself for the worst, he raised his eyes and was caught in twin orbs of familiar, fiery onyx that drew him like a black hole.

Even though the other ninja was half way across the small lake, perched on a rock in the middle of the water, he felt like he was standing right next to the blond, the wide, dark gaze compelling. For long moment, Deidara stared, caught up in the shock of finding this particular man here, by himself as if he too had just been looking for a place to find a bit of peace. Long, long dark hair, the deepest color of rave's wings caught in the soft breeze, blowing over the pale, finely chiseled features like a dark veil. The hair was out of its normal tie, set loose to do as it pleased, catching on dark clothes and the sharp edges of the rocks. He, too had shed his dark cloak, a knee drawn up into his chest so his arm could rest against it and he looked like he always did; cool and unaffected. There was a little bottle of dark polish they used on their nails set beside a slim hip and a distinct lack of a certain sword-wielding fish with grayish-blue skin.

A long moment he was trapped in that gaze, framed by long, black lashes and exaggerated by thin, black eyebrows. Then the unreadable gaze drifted away, finding a spot of water to watch and allowing the blond to drag in a much needed breath.

Three months ago he might have felt hate at the sight of this man, so strong that it nearly choked him but now all he felt was a nagging annoyance that he was not, in fact, alone. Besides, that it wasn't the black eyes he felt so strongly about. It was when they turned red, exposing the three pronged wheel that the terror and the rage threatened to overwhelm him. It seemed, however, the Uchiha was nothing but himself at the moment.

Grumbling under his breath, Deidara picked himself up, brushing the dirt from his knees and walked back to his tree, still wringing lake water from his hair from over one shoulder. As long as he wasn't bothered, he didn't care what the former Uchiha heir did.

Yet, despite his forced indifference, when the lithe figure stirred, standing and making his way back across the water to the lake side, the blond watched covertly from behind his dripping hair, pretending to be busy. The raven haired ninja wove his way through the trees, pausing to gather a cloak identical to the blonde's draped over a low branch and passed close to where Deidara was kneeling on the thick roots of the old tree.

Itachi had always mystified him. He was the youngest of all the Akatsuki members, only twenty one but he was the most self possessed person the blond had ever met. He supposed that's what came with true power. Because the former Leaf nin was certainly one of the most powerful men he had ever met and that included Sasori. Yet, somehow, the deep melancholy that hid under the surface, behind the uncaring mask was too great to belong to someone truly evil, like everyone claimed Itachi was. That and the man was undeniably beautiful, made more potent by the deep range of emotion being hidden expertly behind a mask of emptiness.

Why he called out, he couldn't say.

Perhaps it was that curious mask the other man wore or that his eyes were black rather than deep, bloody crimson. Or maybe it was that graceful glide the young Uchiha walked with. Or even the fact that Itachi did not need to pass by Deidara in order to get back to the main path but he did. Whatever it was, the blond found his inhibitions and dislike for the younger man rendered mysteriously insignificant.

"Where's your partner?" he called, just as the dark haired ninja pulled abreast of him. His voice wasn't loud or sharp but it carried, as the clearing was quiet. At first he didn't think the other man would acknowledge him; it wouldn't be the first time. Yet normally Itachi had his big, hulking beast of a companion with him. The Uchiha stopped, though, back stiff before he turned slowing and pinned the blond with a gaze so cold, Deidara was forcing back a shiver.

"I am by myself," responded the younger shinobi, voice steely and face impassive. The force of it made the blond swallow and wish he hadn't opened his stupid mouth. But now it was too late. He had said something so he couldn't back down now. Full lips twitching in annoyance, he glared.

"Yes, I can see that, thank you, un. It's not what I asked," now his tone was biting, an attempt to hide his discomfort. The dark eyes continued to regard him coolly, giving nothing away and he was beginning to wonder if Itachi was even going to grace him with an answer.

"What does it matter to you?" the dark haired man asked and he realized it was a very valid question. Why did it matter? Why did he even care? He didn't really. Kisame's whereabouts were none of his concern. Rather, he was, surprisingly, more interested as to why Itachi was alone. Though he could hardly say that, so he dropped his gaze with an uncaring shrug as he tried to fight back the awful feeling of awkwardness that had descended upon him. He had hoped to signal to the younger man that he really didn't care and he wasn't impressed with the aloof attitude. Apparently, this was not how Itachi chose to see it.

A split second and the Uchiha was standing right in front of him, black cloak right in Deidara's field of vision and he looked up, startled, discomfited that he had never heard the other man take a step. Then a strong hand caught his chin, forcing him to stare up into the dark eyes. Outrage filled him, shock causing the instinct to fight weaken, become non-existent.

"Hey-what—" was all he could manage, voice cracking with alarm before his upper arms were caught in the iron hold and he was being thrown against the rough, girthy tree trunk, skull connecting hard so that he saw stars, "What the FUCK!?" he gasped, blinking to clear his vision so he could fight against the tight grip holding him against the tree. Curses flew from his mouth as he struggled but the raven haired man remained composed, trapping every movement Deidara made in his bid for escape, anger beginning to melt away in the wake of fear. He fought, teeth bared, until his strength ebbed away, leaving him panting and efficiently pinned. Both arms were caught under two steel-like hands, hips pinned by Itachi's and a strong thigh immobilized his legs. The dark eyes never changed, either, remaining that cool onyx that seemed to see everything. The blond glared from under his tangle of hair.

"What the hell are you doing, Uchiha?" he snarled, pulling against one hand. There was another one of those long pauses that should have been awkward but wasn't before that icy mask shifted just a little bit in those dark eyes so he could see a question that Itachi really wanted to know the answer to.

"You're lonely," he didn't pose it as a question and for a moment Deidara sputtered, angered all over again. He renewed his efforts of getting free.

"WHAT!? Get the hell off of me, you fucking bastard!" there was a jerk of a knee, catching him in the stomach and his fight was affectively cut off. Gasping once again, stomach and the back of his head throbbing, he glared up once again into the black eyes that still had not changed.

"Do you miss him? Your old partner?" the question struck him like another blow, a barrage against the thin, crusty layer he had just built around the well of flooding grief to hold it at bay and he had to look away, using his hair to hide his face so that the young Uchiha could not see the agony that had seeped into his eyes. But the grip on his chin was back, freeing one of his hands and he couldn't even summon the strength to free himself. Because Itachi had seen the tears that glistened over the cyan pools, had seen the grief that was becoming an old friend wash over his features. And all he could do was stand there like that, pain obvious, the dark eyes roaming his face.

A moment later, he was trapped in a blinding, mind numbing kiss.

Somehow, it reminded him of the first time Sasori had kissed him. Shocking him motionless, searing him right to the bone. He could have overpowered the Uchiha. He was taller, bigger. Not by much but by enough that it might make a difference. Fear broke over him, fear that if he allowed himself to feel this, he would forget the already fading Sasori. And yet, this was different, too. For one, Itachi was warmer. Actually, his touch was blazing hot, the heat nearly burning the blond at every point their bodies were connected. He had assumed the man would be cool, just like his disposition but as the thinner lips caressed his own, he was nearly faint with the bright fire forging a shimmering path through him.

Also, Itachi tasted different. The breath slipping into the seam of his mouth was like black berries, as if the man had found a bush within the trees that still had ripe, sweet fruit clinging to its branches, and a black fire that flooded his mouth and any unwelcome thoughts fled. Deidara found himself relaxing, closing his eyes, letting the feeling of soft lips sliding along his own wash away the grief and the pain he had been harboring for three impossibly long months. It wouldn't disappear but it eased, finding a little corner where it could smolder quietly in the background.

The raven haired nin had eased his grip on the blond, body no longer resembling an iron cage and Deidara found himself softening into it. Concern for losing what he had left of Sasori disappeared as the red head had not been this soft or yielding, nor this warm. Not to say Itachi was soft because he wasn't; he was hard muscle strung over and connecting hard, graceful bones but he was a man, not a puppet. And the blond found it wasn't so terrible after all.

They broke apart, the older shinobi gasping for air only to have the raven haired man circle back, catching him up once again, lips slick and warm. There was no romance in the kiss but there was something that Deidara couldn't identify and it shot through him, bright and hopeful. A tongue swiping against his lips was another shock and when he gasped, it slid into his mouth to touch upon every secret corner. More of that sweet, burning flavor and he let a noise slip, breathless, wanton, a soft whimper caught in the back of his throat. Itachi swallowed it before sliding his tongue with the blonde's, the slick muscle strange and achingly good. He was trying to keep up, tipping his head so the slightly shorter man could reach as much as he wanted. The blond was used to doing such as Sasori had been even shorter than the young, raven haired Uchiha who had somehow fisted his slender hands into the damp strands of blond hair. Deidara groaned again with the feeling, as it seemed he had lost control over his vocal chords.

Surprise at the disappointment washing through him when he needed to surface for air caught him off guard.

They were both breathing heavily, the young ninja's cool beginning to crack as his dark eyes were warmer than they had been, dark, ridiculously long lashes sweeping down to shade the onyx depths. They met his own eyes and a hand untangled from his hair to run the calloused pad of a thumb over the skin under his eyes that was apparently damp. When had he begun crying again? It was more like the tears had overwhelmed his eyes as the uncomfortable blockage that accompanied true sobs had long since disappeared. Then the young Uchiha did something that shocked the blond for the third time, turning the warmth that was still gently threading through him begin to brighten, deepen, turning into something else, something he was familiar with.

Itachi sucked the pale thumb into his mouth, licking away the salty water of the blonde's tears. Confused and beginning to feel a little overwhelmed, Deidara once again turned away, shielding his bright gaze from the light.

"Why are you showing me this, un?" he whispered, voice cracking, strained and he could feel the raven haired man pause, a finger once again collecting the tears that had collected at the blonde's jaw line. There was a slight exhalation of breath that stirred his hair and he was again being forced to look into those dark eyes, no longer expressionless, just unreadable. The perfect lips that he had just discovered tasted of black fire flattened slightly. When Itachi answered him, he offered Deidara a piece of himself, an offering that rendered him more human than the blond ever truly expected he could be.

"I too know what it's like to have loved," just like that and the blond wondered through the bright screen of his incredulous shock as the younger man tensed ever so slightly if he was expecting rejection. Deidara blinked, noting how his own hands were wound in dark, dark strands of hair.

"You!?" his voice was a little incredulous and he didn't think of insulting the other man until it came out. But he caught the slight quirk at the corner of the curved lips. A smile perhaps? No, just a reaction in response to a burst of amusement. He was sure the Uchiha had never once smiled a genuine smile in his life. The dark eyes accepted his outburst calmly.

"Indeed. Is that so hard to believe?" it was then that he noticed the younger man's voice was like the richest velvet, easy to get lost in. Deidara quirked a bright eyebrow at the question, aware that he was still rather intimately pressed against one of the scariest men he had ever met.

"Well, that would make you somewhat human," he quipped, careful to keep his voice light and teasing, "As a matter of fact, I honestly can't see you anything but detected and cold. Certainly not in love, un," the blond was a little disappointed when the dark eyes didn't change under his rather grim diagnosis, no new emotion forthcoming.

"Believe what you want," the Uchiha's voice was a bit sharp but not, he thought, in anger, "But I'm not lying to you," Deidara stared into the calm face, studying the pale features, taking in the sharp slope of the younger man's cheek bones, the sharp, narrow nose, the deep lines that marred his cheeks. He saw how vulnerable this man had just made himself and dropped his head with a heavy sigh. Dark hair brushed across his face, caught in an errant breeze and it smelled of bright, warm skies the Uchiha had been sitting beneath.

"I know," and pulled the shorter man close so he could taste that perfect mouth again. It wasn't hard or demanding. It didn't expect or assume. It was accepting, warm, soft. Hands tightened in his hair and the younger man tried to deepen the kiss, tried to dominate and for a moment, Deidara fought him, pulling back enough so their lips just touched, easy, sliding together with minimum contact. But the raven haired man was too strong and he was dragged forward again. Of course, when the hot, wet tongue once again invaded his mouth and drew his own out, he forgot to struggle, to care. Instead he plunged into the younger man's mouth, finding that the deep taste he was starting to like quite a bit. Long, slow licks touched everywhere then he slid his tongue with the younger man's, sucking gently as he did. It was something Sasori did to him to leave the blond weak kneed for hours. Yet it was just as incredible administering it, especially since it was beginning to draw reactions out of the dark haired nin. Itachi wouldn't make a noise, of that much he was sure but the strong arms had wrapped around Deidara's neck as if he was trying to find an anchor. The hard body had relaxed, leaning into the blonde's and it seemed what was happening now to the Uchiha was what once had happened to himself; weakening of knees, of cool masks, of defenses that had been in place for so very long.

It also had another interesting affect. Where the blonde's hips were connected with the younger man's, he could feel the beginnings of desire starting to stir. It ignited a familiar fire within himself, something he had thought he would never feel again.

Finally he had to pull away or he'd be supporting the entirety of the slighter man's weight. Who knew the once Uchiha prodigy could be so affected by a kiss? As it was, Deidara had his hands on the slim waist, holding the other man tight. He had to pry his eyes open, letting in the bright golden light to find dark eyes watching him, the clear color slightly glazed and he couldn't help a small, rueful smile at how much Itachi was still unwilling to let show. Yet his hands and the growing, hardening erection trapped within the dark pants were betraying him. Deidara might have said something then but if he had, he might not have noticed the dark fire flaring to life behind the ice in the onyx eyes. Now he kept the words, the tease, locked away in his throat and just tilted his head back when Itachi dipped his head and tasted the golden skin of the blonde's neck. Warm lips ran a line of gentle kisses down over where his pulse thudded anxiously, each one sweet, adding a small suck before the lips moved to administer the next one. It was something he hadn't even known the younger man was capable of.

Every kiss was like a little offering, adding to the threading ache that was washing through him, like he was being carried off by a gentle, swelling tide. Lips gave way to teeth, worrying his tan skin, tongue soothing away the sting of particularly rough bites. And still it remained unhurried, belying the need of the lengthening member against his thigh. With a sigh, he dropped his head to a slender shoulder, bright hair spilling against ebony strands and mixing together. He admired it lazily, absently, liking how it looked was the wind picked up their hair and tossed it about so that the contrasting colors shimmered black and gold. Then a sharp pressure at a sensitive spot just below his earlobe had him burying his nose into the pale skin of Itachi's neck in a vain attempt to stifle a breathy groan. Fire crackled through his veins again, heating the blood housed there. He wondered through a slight haze of pleasure as he breathed in the soft scent of the milky skin his nose was pressed against, would he have been this receptive to a man such as Itachi if the pain of grief had not been gnawing away his internal organs? Probably not. It's hard, he had discovered, to be in such a way with a person if they hid themselves behind masks made of the coldest ice.

Slender hands were straying from his long hair, sweeping down his arms, over his sides, to delve up under the hem of his shirt to skim along warm, honey colored skin. All the while the dark haired man worried at the curves and crevices of his collar bones, under the line of his jaw until he couldn't even open his eyes for the heat beginning to overwhelm him. Long, slender fingers skated over the ridges and flat planes of his abdomen, teasing the skin gently with blunt, black nails that had just been repainted. They playfully followed the line of soft hair down from the dip of Deidara's navel, ending at the edge of his pants and he shivered at the soft touch, goose bumps marring his skin. A sweeping touch at the belt at the waistline sent electric shivers up his spine, a small gasp snagging at the back of his teeth. Their hips had begun to rock together, perfectly aligned and the blond tossed his head again, clutching at slender shoulders as a bolt of bright fire rocketed through him when his own hardening member crashed against the younger man's, a tingling heat beginning to pool in the pit of his belly.

The ache had, at some point, turned into want, desire and it was sweeping him away. Plucking at the dark material of the Uchiha's shirt, he fell against the sensation of the hands under his shirt sweeping upwards, rough, calloused fingers finding all the places where, when stroked just the right way had him arching into them, uttering little half-formed moans. All the while the hot mouth had been sucking on patches of skin the color of early sunset and he had had to bite his lip against the sobbing breaths that were being pulled from his throat. Then a thumb and forefinger caught one of his nipples and he arched up, pain and a fiery heat washing over him, shooting straight downwards to add to the pool of lava already making his pants much too tight. Itachi lifted his face from the blonde's neck and strengthened the pressure on the small nub, pulling, becoming unforgivable.

"AH!!" the sharp cry ripped out of him and he breathed a sigh when the grip released, a gentle fingertip rolling the soft, sensitive skin as if apologizing for the rough treatment. When he looked at the dark haired man, the black eyes were burning as they watched him. He breathed in a few breaths, trying to steady himself.

"Why?" he breathed, voice hitching as one of those elegant fingers gave another roll, "Why are you doing this, un? With me?" those lustrous ebony eyes shifted as they bore into his own blue ones, as if Itachi was disappointed with the question. The ministrations on his nipple stilled, just stroking the pebbled skin around it gently.

"Do you not wish to? I will stop if you so desire," and Itachi began to slip away, hands starting to slide from under the blonde's shirt. Deidara's eyes flashed, annoyed and he wrapped his own arms around the Uchiha's waist, holding him still, pinning him with a bright gaze.

"That is not what I meant, damn it. I mean, I hate you and you don't like anyone so what is this about, un?" his voice was gruff, the need to understand thick at the back of his throat. The feeling that he was once again losing his grip on reality washed over him as he watched the devastatingly long eyelashes sweep down once again, hiding the deep, mysterious depths from the other ninja's eyes.

"I already told you why," the smooth voice was raw and the blond was shocked at the display of emotion, "I told you that I know what it was like to love. It was a long time ago and I lost him when my entire clan was destroyed but it never leaves you. It may dull with time but it never lessens and it never goes away," the dark eyes were once again bearing into him, as if the younger man was trying to slip under his skin and read his soul. Deidara swallowed thickly as he realized just what it was the younger shinobi was offering him. A day. A day of solace, away from the pain of a shattered heart and the stabbing ache that accompanied grief.

This time it was the taller of the two who closed his eyes and he didn't really need to contemplate the decision being presented to him. He just couldn't help but wonder if the younger man would be getting anything out of this in return. Besides sex, of course. Itachi was beautiful and strong and apparently not as cold or as unfeeling as he pretended and Deidara was willing to find out just what he had to give. Maybe he too could give something to the raven haired man, something that might break through the ice, even for a few moments and he would be able to see what was truly behind the masks. He met the dark gaze.

"Then I'd like to forget, just for a while," once more he tangled his fingers in ebony locks. The stoic features still refused to change but a light had been flicked on behind the dark eyes, as if the younger man was still afraid the blond would push him away. Then his lips were once again sealed, warmth from the contact again igniting the spiraling heat that dripped into the already burning pool at the base of his spine. A strong leg caught him at the back of his knees so he was falling, being born gently to the soft carpet of dirt and leaves, the smaller ninja careful to keep their fall controlled.

Once, he might have felt fear as being in such a position with the powerful Uchiha. But that was before he had lost everything he had loved and was given just a small moment in an even smaller space of time that might, just might help him find a will to continue. He lay on the ground, desire threading steadily through his veins, bright hair spread around him, catching against stray twigs and leaves. He felt a little prone but Itachi was far from threatening as he crouched over the blond man, long, dark hair trailing against dark clothing. His eyes were once again unreadable but a slight flush had begun to spread over the sharp cheekbones, matching the fiery ache pounding through the blond.

The younger man started it with a blazing kiss, hovering over the golden ninja as he plundered his mouth, tongue once again seeking whatever taste he had found behind the full lips, using the same technique Deidara had used on the younger man earlier. Yet, while it left him with a fleeting impression of another mouth and another tongue and a love that had left him behind, this was different too, igniting more flames that scorched his mind until he was incoherent.

The slender hands were back, sliding up under his shirt once again, pulling at the folds of the dark fabric until the blond lifted his shoulders just a bit so the younger man could slide it over his head. There was a blind moment of muffled confusion before he was free, thick hair tumbling over his bronze skin. Dark eyes drank him in as the slim fingers wandered, desire becoming evident in the way Itachi watched, touched, moved. The blond reached up and wound a long strand of ebony hair around his fingers, the color deep and rich against his skin. Itachi leaned down again and the next kiss was soft, gentle and yet it fizzed through Deidara like a bolt of angry lightening. Firm lips slid against his own and he was struck again that this was indeed Itachi Uchiha, the thought making the desire liquefy, blindingly bright.

When their lips parted, he had to gasp for air or the black fire sizzling under his skin would have shriveled his insides to ash. Up over his chin blazed a trail of heat, down his neck and he closed his eyes, finally giving in to trust so that he could feel every touch in the farthest corners of his body. Dappled patterns danced on the back of his eyelids from the canopy overhead and all he knew came down to the light, feathery touches and the golden light falling onto his face. The moment was broken when teeth closed on a patch of skin just above the sloping curve of a pectoral muscle, making him gasp, eyes flying open at the sudden pain. But the younger man was already soothing it over with the flat of his tongue, dark eyes downcast as he was intent on his work and the expanse of sun kissed skin. And just like that, he couldn't take his eyes off the talented lips, leaving him clinging once more to slender shoulders, feeling like he was falling, being borne away into an alternate universe where the sky shone a milky, pale silver and the earth upon which he lay was made of the darkest sands and the smoothest, clearest ebony. In his flight, his soul was eased, for just a while in the cool waters of forgetting.

White teeth nipped up the slope of the muscle of his chest and paused at a nubbed peak, rolling the dusky nipple in warm heat. Deidara whimpered with the feeling of the sensitive nub being worried between teeth and tongue unto the point of pain, leaving him practically sobbing with need. Itachi then moved to the next, not stopping until he was drawing faint, breathless cries from the bigger man's throat. Every time, he arched into it, aching, begging for more. Just as it was getting to the point where he could barely stand it, the young man was blazing a trail downwards, tasting and pulling against random patches of bronze. By now, Deidara was straining against his too-tight pants, so hard it was beginning to hurt.

Lips sucked and kissed along the bright line of hair that disappeared under the constraining fabric of the older man's pants, pausing once again at the waist band so that the blond was groaning, aching with the need to be touched. Finger dipped under the pants' waist line, teasing followed by a sweep of a hot tongue and he lifted his hips in hopes Itachi would relieve him of the dark material. But instead the teasing continued, sharp sucking kisses being administered to his hip bones where they jutted out from under his pants. Each one drew the blood to the surface, leaving bright, bruising red marks on his dusky skin. Yet they weren't marks of possession. They were given, like a part of a ritual, sparking that need burning through him until the light was dulling behind his eyelids.

Suddenly Itachi leaned down and nipped at the bulge in Deidara's pants, teasing the dark fabric with his lips, making the blond jerk, crying out as a bolt of pleasure shot through him from the unexpected touch. With that he was fully hard and when his erection was engulfed by that hot mouth from under the black material, he squeezed his eyes shut lest he lose them somewhere in the back of his skull. It was all he could do not to buck his hips to find more of that touch. Finally, though, it seemed the dark haired shinobi had gotten tired of just teasing because when the long, slender fingers returned to the waist band and he once again lifted up his hips hopefully, his unspoken request was obliged, freeing his throbbing and already leaking member. Cool air met pulsing heat and he hissed at the shocking sensation.

There was a brief moment in which the Uchiha regarded him, dark hair brushing against the blonde's flushed, heated skin. And for a second he was self conscious, wondering what the raven haired man was thinking. Then the dark gaze met his own and he nearly groaned aloud at what he saw there; burning desire and naked lust. A hand slid through the coarse, sun colored curls that surrounded the thick, blushing erection before warm fingers wrapped around his base. The simple touch set his very blood on fire, becoming steaming, glowing rivers of lava and the pooling pleasure in his lower belly began to spread. Itachi moved his fingers up the shaft gently, thumb nail running lightly along the throbbing vein on the underside of his erection and the blond shuddered, one hand fisting in the ground beside his head. One stroke then two before calloused pads of pale fingertips rounded up over the sensitive foreskin, teasing the slit in the tip, sliding in the pearly cum already dripping down the needy length. The blond watched out of one eye, a hand pressed to his mouth but he wasn't prepared for the agonizing pleasure as the long fingers slipped into his slit, rolling mercilessly, forcing out thick pulses of more cum. His voice was broken was he cried to the canopy above their heads, carrying past his shaking fingers and through the thick underbrush. Another touch joined the first, stroking his length slowly as the fingers in his slit continued to move. It was so good, his eyes were watering and so slow he was moving his hips without even realizing it. He was so far gone, as a matter of fact, that he didn't even hear the slighter man shifting in the dry leaves until a hot tongue joined the dry touch of the hands, sending him spiraling even faster. The blond couldn't even hear the sounds he was making because all he was aware of was his knees being pushed apart then being swallowed whole.

The heat engulfed him, wet and tight, replacing the warm, dry palms. Small cries added to the sounds being ripped from his mouth, all muffled by his hand. The slick fire slid over his shaft, scorching the thin, over-sensitized skin. Teeth scrapped against his foreskin, lips beginning a suction that started a blinding friction that wound within him, wave after crashing wave until he could feel himself tightening, preparing for his release.

Yet, just as his peak was about to come crashing down on top of him, Itachi moved away, leaving him aching and nearly purple with the need to come. A hiss of protest escaped his lips, clear pools of cyan opening to glare balefully at the dark haired ninja only to find Itachi working the blonde's pants, leaving his legs bare also before pushing the tan thighs wide. Deidara might have protested at being the only one naked but that deep, consuming lust was threatening to incinerate him with dark fire and the sound caught in his throat. The younger man, leaning down, swiped his warm tongue down the dusky erection once more before shocking the blond as he moved lower. He lapped at the thin skin of the older man's balls, which tightened at the unexpected touch. It was a different feeling than the one before, odd but it jump-started the already throbbing heat so that as the younger man trailed even lower, he found himself trying to desperately hold back.

That is, until the slick tongue found the small pucker of his entrance and circled the opening before plunging in. It was hot, wet and alien but it felt so good, he was pushing into it, lost amid the breaking sea of black fire. By the third thrust, Itachi pressing in just deep enough to find the spot that sent bright white sparks racing up his spine and he couldn't hold onto the expanding heat anymore. It exploded through him, around him, dropping him into a bottomless sea filled with silver stars. Both hands scrabbled to find purchase in the dirt as he arched right off the ground, screaming his release to the entire forest. So lost was he that he didn't feel the younger man's mouth moving back up so each blinding pulse was caught, swallowed. Just like that, he was left shattered, breathless, empty when the last bit left him, sprawled on the forest floor with an arm flung over his eyes as he attempted to recover.

Finally, when he thought he could put thoughts together somewhat coherently, he let his arm slide away and glanced up to see the young Uchiha sitting back, leaning with one hand planted on the ground beside his hip, watching the panting blond with an unreadable look in his raven colored eyes.

Suddenly shy, Deidara sat up, unaware of the leaves clinging to his bright hair. A few drops of his own cum clung to the neatly curved lips and a shock of desire washed over him again at the sight. It made the younger man that much more appealing, seeing evidence that he was not as perfect as he pretended to be. So the blond sidled over to the raven haired man, all the while being watched with those cool eyes, intent on just licking away the white flecks of cum. Yet once he was there, he found the taste of himself mixed with the dark fire that was Itachi irresistible and he swiped his tongue over the seam of the younger man's mouth. The flavor he found there was intoxicating and a moment later, Deidara was kneeling over the Uchiha, hands fisted in dark hair, plundering the hot cavern as if his very life depended upon finding every last drop of that deep flavor. The sweet, black fire was still blindingly good and on top of that, he could taste his own cum, a bitter addition to Itachi's sweet essence. The combination had him hardening all over again, remains of the devastating fire flaring up at the base of his spine once more. He knew he was making all sorts of noises; it had been one thing Sasori had teasing him about. Deidara was loud. But he couldn't control them with slim hands ghosting over his neck and down over the curve of his ass. He was just beginning to mimic the thrusting movement Itachi had just been using in him when he was brought up short buy a sound slipping from Itachi's mouth to his own.

Itachi had moaned.

The blond had felt it more than heard it, vibrating through their connection but it was there. Surprised, he pulled back and the dark eyes looked as surprised as he felt. Apparently the younger man's precious control was beginning to slip. Pleased, he grinned at the dark haired ninja, sliding his fingers through the soft, silky hair.

"Perhaps he is human after all. I was beginning to wonder, un," he teased and earned himself a rather scathing glare. Yet, he was able to laugh lightly, finding the discomfited look in the other man's eyes unbearably sexy. Freeing one had from the raven hair, he swept it down, brushing his fingertips against the considerable swell in Itachi's pants. His expression changed, intent on drawing the other man in as he looked up through his golden eyelashes, saying softly, "I want you."

The deep coal eyes stared at him, as if that had not been what Itachi was expecting before he nodded ever so slightly, a gesture that was barely even there so that he might have missed it if he hadn't been looking for it. The rave haired man then gently untangled himself from the taller man, freeing himself from the blonde's grip. Deidara might have been worried but for the pale fingers that brushed across his cheek before the dark haired shinobi stood. The gesture offered reassurance, a promise to see this through so he just sat back on his elbows, for now ignoring how his erection brushed against the smooth skin of his abdomen as he moved.

Itachi started with the white stirrups over his shins, kicking away his sandals as he did. As he moved, he kept his gaze locked with the bright blue one drinking in every one of his movements, blazing color of cyan hungry. The shirt went next, followed by the dark mesh, baring skin as smooth as starlight and as pale as sea foam, which slid silkily over the hard muscle defining the slim frame. He was stunning, every inch of the milky skin and the dark hair tumbling over it as Itachi dropped his shirt to the ground, contrasting beautifully. Every movement the younger man made was graceful, careful.

Then the slender hands moved down to the belt of the dark pants which he could see even from where he sat must have been unbearably uncomfortable and his mouth dried. Anticipation raced through hum, hunger making his cock twitch as he watched those hands drag down the silver tab of the zipper then slide the dark pants down the graceful hips.

Finally the younger man was completely bare, kicking his pants away carelessly and Deidera realized he had never known true beauty until that moment. Everything about Itachi was perfect from his long, clean limbs, smooth, pale skin down to the throbbing erection that reared up from a dusky patch of dark curls. And the blond wanted him so bad, he was sure he would combust with the intensity of the feeling. Insecurity didn't show on the dark haired ninja's face but his eyes dropped briefly as the blond stared. When Deidara found his voice again, he used it to catch the younger man's attention.

"Itachi," a deep, husky voice he almost didn't recognize as he spoke a single name, that name, something he had never done before and the dark eyes were back on him, smoldering with an emotion the older man couldn't read. It was the only invitation he was going to voice but he pushed apart his knees as if to show the Uchiha just how much he needed him.

Before he realized what was happening, he was once again flat on his back, the younger man kneeling over him, cool eyes blazing with the same flames threatening to consume the blond. Three fingers were pressed against his lips, which he nipped at, amused.

"Its fine, you don't have to do that, un. Sasori never did," the dark eyes flashed brightly, almost as if the statement had angered the young Uchiha, accompanied by a wry twist if the neat lips.

"I am not Sasori," he snapped, voice rough before he coated his fingers with his own saliva, pushing Deidara's legs wide once again. The already slick entrance was found instantly and the first digit thrust brutally in. Used to rougher treatment, the blond clamped down on it eagerly, pressing his hips down against the intrusion in order to drive it deeper. It was deliciously good, leaving him panting once again, begging wordlessly for more, which was given in the form of a second finger, pushing in to join the first. He gasped, bearing down on them as they began to move, scissoring and loosening. The feeling of something sliding and prodding his inner walls was driving him once more to the star litter brink. Then a third slipped in and he threw a groan to the ceiling of leaves. The blond met the dark gaze that was watching him with lust written in every line of the pale features.

"I told you I didn't need—HAH!" Itachi had caught the gist of his words and had twisted his hand brutally so the fingers buried inside of him struck hard against the blonde's prostate. He writhed, white hot pleasure tearing through him, leaving him breathless and aching for more. But the fingers slid free, leaving him empty and he once more looked into the black eyes hovering above him. It seemed Itachi had finally gotten impatient. Strong hands slid under his knees, hoisting them up over slender shoulders and his heart thudded against the back of his teeth, their eyes meeting, holding. Then the younger man lined himself up, pressing the blunt head of his erection against the blonde's entrance.

Deidara saw an entire sky of twinkling stars when the dark haired Uchiha pushed in.

It was swift, a single sharp thrust and he was filled to the brim with blinding heat, the throbbing length inside of him agonizingly good. And he watched as the younger man thrust in, the dark head tipping forward, hair sliding over one shoulder to brush against Deidara's chest, the muscles in the sharp jaw bunching as he tried to hold back whatever sound he had been about to make. The slip in control was stunning and he wanted to see more so the blond reached up, wrapping his arms around the slender neck, lifting his hips to pull the Uchiha deeper. Dark eyes filled with a darker want met his own and he tugged gently on the long, raven colored hair.

"Please move," and he did.

The rhythm began slow, as it seemed Itachi was even more concerned with hurting the blond than he let on. Each thrust was smooth, steady, perfect just like the man, slow in, faster out and his prostate was struck every time so that the blinding pleasure whipped up his spine, coiling tighter between his legs, hotter. What was even more fascinating than feeling the younger man moving inside of him was watching his face. Even cool, collected Itachi wasn't able to hide what he was feeling in the face of such a scorching pleasure. The dark, thin eyebrows were drawn down, dipping tight over the bridge of his straight, elegant nose and the onyx eyes had slid into little slits, eyelashes shading the bottomless depths. The blond decided he liked the young man like this, with his icy mask crumbling into tiny shards to litter the forest floor.

For the first time, he was forgetting, forgetting deep red hair and redder eyes in favor of the deepest black and the palest white. With each plunge, each strike that drew him closer to that inevitable end he was offered solace, healing, an escape from the pain that had been defining him for the past three months.

A particularly hard thrust had him arching up into the lithe body covering his own, groaning and closing his eyes but he opened them right away as he couldn't not watch as Itachi's expression tightened because the blond had clamped down on him. The dark head dropped to a golden shoulder and the sound that was torn free of the pale throat was beautiful, something between a gasp and a moan. The coil tightened further and he knew he wasn't going to last much longer. Bright blue glazed over and blond hair catching on twigs and leaves, he breathlessly urged the young Uchiha harder, deeper. The raven haired shinobi lifted his head and complied, catching the blond in a searing kiss as he did.

The combination of the soft lips claiming his and the brutal, unforgiving rhythm their hips had set was unbearable and he couldn't hold back any longer. Once more Deidara was lifting off the soft forest floor, searing fire flooding through his body with glittering bliss. Never did he release so long or hard as he did then, great, shattering pulses that ripped free and left him sightless, unaware. So strong was the wave that carried him out until he was sure he was dying, drowning, being broken apart to be remade and suffused with light. He didn't hear his own voice as he roared a name. A name he wouldn't have been surprised to find was Itachi's.

It took a long moment to find himself again amid the shifting shores left behind by the earth shattering orgasm, but when he did, he realized Itachi had held back, still delivering nerve tingling strikes to the blonde's sweet spot and he shuddered. The normally stoic face had cracked, became knotted, drawn when he finally managed to open his eyes and he had to bite back a smile.

"Itachi," he breathed and tortured coal black eyes met his, taking in his sated expression, "Stop holding back," then those deep eyes flickered shut, the dark head dropping back to his shoulder. The slender body stiffened, trembling with the force of his violent release. Deidara clung to the slim, shaking shoulders as he filled the blond with pulse after pulse of white hot fire, flooding him, filling him. The blond groaned at the feeling, arching up again with Itachi but his noise was drowned out by the younger man's cry. The sound filled him as much as Itachi's searing release did and he closed his eyes, trying to memorize it. Everything Itachi did was perfect and it seemed this was no exception. The blond had given to the raven as much as Itachi had given him and he wrapped himself around the slim body as it collapsed on top of him. Erratic breath puffed against his skin and he kissed a slender shoulder as the younger man fought for control.

When the dark head lifted once more, the black eyes were again calm but no longer cool. They burned with a deep smoldering flame, the very depths blacker than any starless, moonless night. They stayed like that for a long moment, reluctant to move then Itachi did something that had his heart ceasing in his chest and his breath catching.

Itachi smiled.

It wasn't a grin by any means, just a gentle curling of the sweetly curved lips but it reached the calm, dark eyes and succeeding in rendering the stunned blond momentarily speechless. The smile disappeared a second later as if it had never been but like the younger man's cry of release, it was something he would never forget. Then he was being caught up in another incapacitating kiss, one that he felt all the way down to his toes and when their teeth knocked together and their tongues battled for dominance, he wasn't sure which one of them made the keening moan. Perhaps they both had. Itachi let him lead, giving him access to his mouth once again where the blond drank in as much of that beautiful, deep taste as he could, until he was forced to pull away for air. Deidara was grinning as he pulled back only to be rewarded with another one of Itachi's smiles. The man's smile was like the blonde's art; blinding and fleeting and exceedingly beautiful. He reached up and traced the expression with one fingertip.

"You should smile more often. Makes you less scary, un," he said, husky voice light and the younger man's eyes darkened with amusement as he sat up, pulling out of the blond who winced at the sudden loss. Dark hair shaded one side of the pale face, tumbling over a single shoulder and as he knelt in the carpet of crumbled leaves, Deidara was sure he was never going to see anyone quiet as stunning as this man ever again. Mirth still crackled in the ebony gaze, watching as the older male sat up as well.

"Am I scary?" the smooth voice questioned, tone deeper than before and Deidara once again felt the heated stirrings of desire. It was his turn to snort.

"Very," then he eyed the young man in all his stunning glory and softened his teasing tone, "But not now," and was amazed when a soft, pale pink flush washed over the sharp cheekbones. Without thinking, he leaned forward to brush his fingers along the colored skin, feeling the heat against his fingertips and caught the shy look he was getting from the Uchiha. It reminded him that Itachi was indeed younger than himself and he had not had a lover since he was a young teen. He might have been one of the most powerful shinobi Deidara had ever met but he was still human.

"You did not have to say that. That was not what this was about," the deep voice was strained as if Itachi was upset by the blonde's careless words but Deidara just pulled his hand back, shrugging as he watched the blush fade.

"It's nothing less than the truth—hey! Where are you going?" the last part was sharp as the younger man was rising gracefully to his feet. The dark eyes, once more unreadable, looked down at the tawny hand circling a pale wrist.

"I'm going to get something to clean us both off," and gestured at the dying cum spattered on his chest. Now it was the blonde's turn to blush and he let the dark haired man go, watching him use the end of the dark cloak to wipe away the evidence of what had been exchanged between them. When he knelt beside the blond, he was gentle as he cleaned off the dusky gold skin, eyes closed off and Deidara caught him once again as he threw the now stained cloak away, drawing the younger man close once more so that when they sank to the earth once more, they were hopelessly entwined.

"Don't leave yet, un," he whispered, bright head pressed into a pale, slender chest and strong hands dipped into his hair, reassuring and quieting.

"I won't," a soft promise and fatigue began to seep into his bones that had been made of liquid just a few minutes ago, making his eyelids heavy. Just before he succumbed to the gently lapping waves of sleep, he spoke up once again.

"Itachi?" the name was like sugared silk on his tongue and a soft hum was pressed into his hair, "Thank you," the younger man gave no response but the slender body tensed slightly, hands tightening in hair the color of the sun and knees curling up, long legs slipping around Deidara's as if the younger man was afraid he'd disappear.

The blond realized, as unconsciousness stole over him like a soft blanket woven of night skies and pale, silver stars, today had been the first time since he had smiled since Sasori died.

…………………

Deidara came to in the last dregs of daylight, just before the sun dropped from the sky to be lost in the glittering folds of darkness to find himself alone. He sat up abruptly, the cloak that had been covering him as he slept sliding to his waist and he glanced around the darkening clearing to find his were the only clothes that littered the ground, Itachi having left him long ago. The younger man had, however, covered the blond with the long black cloak. A lump formed in the back of his throat at having been left alone once again.

As he hugged his knees to his chest and contemplated the shadowed water of the lake, he realized that the younger man had indeed given him something in the way of healing. He still missed his red haired partner and he still loved him but the ache had dwindled just enough that he thought he could maybe live once again. Not only that but he had been given a memory of a beauty that shone brighter than any sun, giving himself something else to long for.

The blond was gathering his things, preparing to move on when, in the last throes of sunlight, he found a note pinned to the tree he first kissed a black haired Uchiha with a kunai knife. On it was written four words in impeccably neat handwriting that made his slowly mending heart soar.

"Until we meet again,"

………………………

When Deidara met the dark haired Uchiha once more, two years had passed. The blond was sitting outside a small tea house, hair pulled back so as not to be blown around and tangled by the seasonably sharp winds. He'd long ago gotten rid of the dark cloak with the bright red clouds and now just moved across the land, using his skills as a shinobi sparingly and for a profit. There was nothing left of the Deidera that used to be.

The day would have been warm if not for the strong breeze, white fluffy clouds scuttling across the sky, blue as his eyes and he was thinking he was going to have to secure another job soon as he was rapidly running out of money when someone stepped in front of him, blocking the light. A long, cool shadow disturbed his rambling thoughts and he looked up, annoyed, about to tell this jerk to go fuck off when his voice shriveled in his chest. Dark eyes looked down at him from behind a soft fall of raven-black hair and the familiarity of the bland expression on the pale features struck him hard.

"Itachi?" his voice was a mere breath and he forgot he was still holding the earthenware mug with hot tea that he nearly spilled on himself. Long, slender fingers plucked it neatly from his slack hands before it could stain his pants and set it on the bench beside the blond. All the while he watched the calm face as the bottomless eyes turned back to him.

"May I sit here?" the soft voice was a little deeper than he remembered, richer and all he could do was nod jerkily. The Uchiha sat gracefully. He too had escaped from the Akatsuki, his garb just that of a wandering ninja, pain and dark. The blond thought it suited him much better. The two years since he'd seen the younger man had been kind to him; where he had been beautiful, he was now breathtaking, hair still worn in the low tail but now it was longer, brushing the taunting curve of his butt and looking as soft as silk. The dark eyes were still cool but they took everything in with more interest, like he actually gave a shit now. His face, though, had sharpened, broadened ever so slightly so that the last traces of boyishness had melted away to reveal the stunning man underneath.

They sat there for a long time, watching the patchy foot traffic on the path beside which they sat. Deidara could feel him, sitting so still he might have been carved of the finest marble and little wisps of night, wondering what to say. That he had missed the other man? That he had wished every day of his lonely existence that he could just see the raven one more time? Hardly. Yet now that he was there, the blond could not seem to find any words at all. It was Itachi who broke the silence.

"I have been contracted by a noble in the Land of Waves about work as a bodyguard for a year. Would you…be interested?" he heard the catch in the velvety voice, the slight hitch as hope worked its way into the younger man's question and Deidara had to control his suddenly pounding heart as it raced with that same burning hope. He looked at the raven haired man and smiled, watching the dark eyes deepen.

"Yeah, I think I would," and the blinding smile he received in return was the last piece to fit back in place of his finally, fully mended heart.

Last time they had given each other healing. Perhaps this time they could give each other something more.

~Owari~