Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Author's Note: Hey! After a long writer's block, I finally found my inspiration for a new story, and who better for it to be about than my newest favorite characters, Sasori and Deidara? ;) As usual of me, this is AU, set sometime before the timeskip. My sincerest apologies for any unintended OOC-ness - this is my first time writing the Akatsuki, and I'm rather new to Shippuden. Also, I've decided to add honorifics, so please correct me if I've gotten any of the terms wrong.
A very important note: I did not intended this to be yaoi in any way between any combination of characters, as I generally disapprove of slash pairings. This is only a warning that I'm not taking that particular direction with this story, I'm not trying to chase off readers or anything :P
It was supposed to be a one-week mission. The newest Akatsuki member – the youngest, at only seventeen – was to be tested, alone, out in his homeland. The ex-rock ninja had already been a part of the Akatsuki for nearly a year, since their Leader had finally decided on a replacement for Orochimaru's traitorous leave. As such, the over-energetic brat had been assigned to Sasori.
The puppet master hadn't been pleased with the Leader's decision, and his new partner still grated on his patience. He had been secretly relieved finally to have a week to himself without Deidara contradicting his every statement, annoyingly chattering about his art, or flaunting whatever had captured his interest.
Already twelve nights had passed with no sign of the blond; the Akatsuki lair continued to function as usual in his absence, its currently housed members silently going through their routines with little interest in each other. Without Deidara's boisterousness – or even that annoyance that sometimes shadowed Zetsu, Tobi – it seemed oddly unreal.
The silence was a blessing. Sasori relished in the seclusion; at last, he could breathe without anyone penetrating his personal space. He could finally think without that brat interrupting him. However, more and more often, his thoughts lingered on his absence, and it irked him to no end. Deidara wasn't even there, and yet Sasori's mind filled in the silence with what he would predictably say.
Tonight was like any other. As evening fell, Sasori retreated to his private chamber to work on his art. In the candlelit darkness, he performed intricate operations on his newest puppet. Many nights had been slaved in this particular one's creation, as it was giving him a fair bit of trouble as he installed numerous hidden weapons. He worked his fingers stiff adjusting the puppet's joints to his liking, and his eyes began to blur from staring so long at the elaborate detailing of its insides. He paused, leaning back and sighing wearily, flexing his aching fingers. Glancing around at the dancing shadows on the walls, he noted the strange tranquility. Normally by now Deidara would have come in, chiding his obsession over the art of puppetry. Art is fleeting, un, he was so fond of saying. But the Akatsuki lair was silent, perfectly silent – it was almost unnerving.
He gently laid his creation aside, striding to the window and pushing it open, only to hear the whisper of wind outside. Dark clouds shadowed the moon, and the Land of Rain suffered one of its numerous light rainstorms. He stood at the window, unfeeling to the faint spray of water on his skin. As impossible as it seemed, he almost – Sasori caught himself from admitting it – missed his partner.
He always was easily distracted, Sasori decided. The brat must've accomplished his mission and got sidetracked on the way back. It was, after all, a simple mission: take out a leading senator in Iwagakure and report back. Sasori frowned disapprovingly; Leader-sama had almost as little patience as the redhead, and if Deidara was lingering on his duties, he would not be pleased.
He turned away from the soft patter of the rain, returning to his puppetry. He could not focus, however, and around midnight he sat back with a sigh, running a hand along his face.
That stupid brat. He should kill his partner for preoccupying him so. Twin bright blue eyes surfaced in his mind, and he could recall a cheerful voice.
"Don't worry, danna, un. I know you'll miss me." Deidara's annoying smirk haunted him. "Try not to get too lonely without me, though, un."
Sasori remembered his response, equally as dry: "I'll be happier when you're gone. I'll actually get missions done on time."
He hadn't seen his partner since he had leaped atop his clay bird then, giving a cheeky wave as he took off into the sunset. The sunlight blazed upon his high ponytail as he took to the skies, robes flapping wildly behind him. Sasori had watched him fly off, his face emotionless as always. Hardly anything could catch him off guard.
Somehow, this had. The thought of his partner's long absence lingered at the back of his mind, pesky like the constant prick of a thorn.
Sasori growled under his breath, knowing he wouldn't be able to return to his work with this matter on his mind. Though, being half-puppet himself, he could endure long periods with no food or sleep, he decided to head to bed and leave these thoughts for morning.
He convinced himself he wasn't worried. Deidara, despite his young age, was a full-fledged member of the Akatsuki. He could take care of himself.
Breakfast with the Akatsuki was always a disorganized affair. Sasori emerged, blinking, into their shared bright kitchen. Two ninja were already awake at this hour, dining at opposite ends of their long and well-beaten table. The rest were out on missions or enjoying a rare break; Hidan was complaining, as usual, about how Kakuzu had left without him on some assignment; Konan looked up from her crossword puzzle with a smile. He gave them only a faint nod before heading to the cupboard.
Sasori moved mechanically through his tasks that morning, his mind set. Leader-sama had given him free reign of the lair until his partner returned; he would not be missed if he set out alone, incognito, on a personal mission. This was, of course, a personal affair: no matter their dysfunctional partnership, he needed Deidara for his particular talents.
He formulated a plan as he sat, tuning out the others' banter. Knowing he was doing something, anything, gave him satisfaction: he hated waiting around. It was less than a day's journey to Iwagakure, if he ventured alone. He could then retrieve the wayward brat and have the pleasure of giving him hell before Leader-sama killed him. A three-day journey, tops.
Sasori nodded to himself, decided. He would leave as soon as he gathered his puppets; the only problem was…
"Have you heard anything from Deidara-san?" Konan spoke just as he rose to leave; Sasori forced back a sudden pang of irritation, turning to her. "He was supposed to be back by now, wasn't he?"
He could read concern in her eyes; Konan knew, just as well as he, that the mission shouldn't have taken more than a week. She always was too soft on their younger members. Women, Sasori thought bitterly.
The finality in his voice stopped her from continuing; however, her gaze lingered on his retreating figure, and he felt the silent accusation. Deidara was his partner; it was his responsibility to find out what was taking him so damn long.
"Inform Leader-sama that I am out on a mission," he said shortly, pausing in the doorway. Glancing back impassively, he saw Konan blink and regain her composure.
"Where else," he muttered, relishing the thought of throttling his partner for causing all this nuisance.
Konan stopped him again. "Then you should take someone with you. I trust your skill, Sasori-san, but my latest reports show Orochimaru was recently in the Land of Earth. You know how he is about vengeance."
Sasori turned back to her, his face emotionless though a bitter taste had come to his mouth. Orochimaru had once been one of them…his own partner. The snake lord had turned on the Akatsuki when they refused to go along with his ideals; in particular, he held a grudge against his old mentor.
"This has nothing to do with him." Sasori's voice was edged with ice.
"I know," Konan sighed, "but if he hears that you of all people are there, well, just be careful." She paused thoughtfully. "You could take Hidan, he's free."
The Jashinist, miraculously silent at that moment, whirled on her with a look of fury; Sasori eyed him coldly.
"I am going to find my partner, Konan-san. I do not need another brat."
"Now hold on a second!" Hidan burst out. "I never volunteered for this! I'm not working with this fu-"
"Weren't you just complaining that you didn't have a mission?" Konan overrode him smoothly. "Go with Sasori-san. I'll tell Pein-sama immediately." She flounced out of the room, smiling.
Sasori stood frozen in the doorway, fighting back his rage. He of course realized how easily Konan had managed to manipulate him – a mission with the hothead was worse than Deidara. Curse her.
He glanced over his new associate, gaze hard. "Pack your things. We leave within the hour."
Hidan muttered darkly under his breath; Sasori didn't stay long enough to allow him a retort. He strode back to his chamber, prickling with irritation.
This mission is off to a brilliant start, he thought sarcastically. When I find that brat, I am going to tear him limb from limb.
It's actually really fun to write in Sasori's POV :) It gets longer from here, I promise.