Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.
Warning! This fic is set in the same universe as my Path fics! You may need to have read those to understand some of this!
Alternative Universe DeiItaDei- this means it is set in our world, not Konoha and is about the homosexual pairing of Itachi and Deidara.
If you're here because you enjoyed my Path fics, thank you so much! I'm so pleased to actually have this ready for you guys at last :) Please enjoy!
The Path to Christmas
By Nanaki Lioness
Christmas meant a lot of things to many people- the chance to see family, celebrate their religion or simply receive presents if one was particularly selfish (or a young child). For all that celebrated it and gave gifts it meant one shared thing that was either loved or despised.
Shopping. Shopping for food or for gifts, both equally stressful and tedious to one particular individual who was attempting to hear himself think over the loud sound of Christmas music in the air and his boyfriend singing loudly along.
"Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas partyyyyyy hop-"
Itachi growled in Deidara's direction in an attempt to get him to just shut up, so he could get what he needed done and go home. However Deidara simply gave him a serene smile and carried right on singing. It wasn't that he was a bad singer- rather, that Itachi had been bombarded with Christmas since October and now it was one week away he was beginning to get sick of it.
It didn't help that he had never been a fan of the festive season, since it meant having to socialise with his family. In previous years, it had meant he'd had to visit his parents and stay in his old bedroom to avoid his mother's company and his father's infuriating way of giving him more things to have a complex about. Either that, or he'd be forced into a car and driven halfway across the country on Christmas Eve to visit some other family- he enjoyed that less, if possible.
This year was different. Not only was he looking forward to the day itself, minus all the commercial trappings that went with it, but he was eager to actually spend the day with his family with Deidara at his side. However, it didn't make the job of shopping for gifts any easier on his usually everlasting patience.
"Can we stop for a bit?" He asked, putting the CD he'd been looking at back on the shelf and indicating the doors behind him. "I need to get out of here. The atmosphere is driving me insane."
Deidara looked disappointed his singing would be interrupted but let Itachi lead him out of the store, taking them to a cafe and ordering them both cinnamon cake and coffee. It was quiet, with only the soft sound of the radio playing normal music in the background as Itachi sat down and sighed, gladly closing his eyes.
"I take it you aren't a fan of shopping," Deidara pointed out needlessly.
"What tipped you off?" Itachi asked mildly.
Deidara eyed him curiously for a moment before breaking out into a smile. "You've gained a sarcastic sense of humour these last couple of months, you know that?" He remarked. "I would say your irritability, along with the look on your face that suggests you want to murder anything related to Christmas, yeah."
"I've never been a fan," Itachi admitted. "I'm looking forward to it a little more this year. I always struggle buying gifts and this year is no different- plus I have you to think about. I have no idea what would be good."
He'd already decided he would buy something related to art. That was almost a given, but he had no idea what. He'd ventured out alone and to the art store in their current shopping centre a week beforehand and felt drastically overwhelmed, fleeing almost as quickly as he'd entered.
"You don't have to buy me anything."
"I know I don't. I want to, though. I have no idea what to get Sasuke or Naruto either, or my parents. Or my friend Kisame, for that matter- he usually stops by around Christmas."
"So you have no idea what to get anyone?"
"Precisely, and it's why this entire thing is stressful," Itachi concluded. "Christmas is next week. I'm normally more organised than this."
"So we're here to browse and hope you find something?"
"Yes, but I'm not."
"Maybe you're just looking in the wrong places," Deidara shrugged, winking at Itachi and sipping his coffee. "Relax, yeah. I think I have an idea, but I want you to enjoy the quiet first."
Itachi couldn't enjoy it from the moment Deidara said those words, because any plan Deidara had could possibly be a hindrance rather than a help. Regardless he finished the cake and coffee, beckoning to Deidara to follow him back out into the crowded shopping centre.
"So what's your plan?"
"Follow me," Deidara grinned, leading him by the arm through the horde of people towards the art store Itachi had only just been thinking about. Frowning in confusion, Itachi let himself be led inside, wondering what on earth his boyfriend had in mind this time.
"I could paint them all something," Deidara said once they were standing by a selection of canvasses. "Something unique for each of them that they'd want to put on their wall, yeah. What do you think?"
Itachi's eyes widened slightly. "Deidara, you're a genius!" He exclaimed, instantly feeling happier. "That's a wonderful idea!"
There was a tiny voice in the back of his mind reminding him that Deidara's idea of art was rather eccentric, and did he really want to subject his loved ones to that, but he silenced it. Deidara wouldn't do anything too ridiculous if Itachi was going to put his name to it as well.
"It's more a gift from you than me though, right?" He pointed out at that thought, his voice faltering slightly.
"It's a gift from both of us." Deidara shook his head in disagreement. "We're a couple, so what is mine is yours and all that, yeah. You've helped me so much over the last year that this is the least I can do is help you out in return."
"Thank you," Itachi said sincerely. "So why are we here? Don't you have the supplies at home?"
"I do," Deidara nodded in confirmation. "But I'd like to you to pick wall mountable canvasses. Whatever sizes you want, yeah. I'll leave you to that while I look around and admire."
He wandered off, leaving Itachi to look at the requested items with a small smile on his face. Perhaps the shopping wasn't as bad as he'd originally thought- or maybe it was that this shop also had a normal radio on, devoid of festive music to drive him up the wall.
He selected four canvasses in varying sizes- smaller ones for Naruto, Sasuke and Kisame and a larger one for his parents. A quick glance around found Deidara with a set of markers in hand, admiring them just as he said he would.
"More markers?" Itachi said teasingly as he joined his side, but secretly he was attempting to procure hints from his boyfriend. He had rather hoped Deidara would turn to him and tell him something like 'oh yes, these markers are incredible and I conveniently don't own any of them' but instead Deidara put them back on the shelf and gave him a smile, taking the canvasses from him to inspect.
"These are fine," he nodded. "Ready?"
Itachi gladly paid for them, wracking his mind over the markers he'd seen Deidara looking at. If he'd picked them up it was likely he didn't own any- Itachi reasoned that he could check when he got home but Deidara owned enough art equipment that it was everywhere, finding its way into cubby holes and various other hiding places. There was no telling what he owned, especially when attempting to look discretely. That and he hadn't managed to see what they were called.
"Why don't you put these in the car to save us carrying them around?" He suggested, pulling his keys from his pocket and handing them to Deidara.
Deidara gave him a curious glance. "I don't mind carrying them."
Itachi mentally resisted strangling him on the spot. "It'll be awkward, right?"
"If you care so much you put them in the car, yeah," Deidara countered.
"Please?" Itachi sighed, attempting not to seem too obvious. "I'm going to the bathroom, so you may as well do it while I'm gone."
Deidara accepted the keys, still looking sceptical as he finally headed away. Itachi waited for him to turn the corner before jogging back towards the art store, falling through the door and making his way back towards the markers he'd seen his partner admiring.
He picked them up, turning them over in his hands and noting the price tag. He hissed- there was no way Deidara owned these. Even though he had money, Itachi was a little weary of spending three digit number sums on what was essentially (to him anyway) felt tip pens.
He took them to the counter and held them up to the clerk, who gave him a smile and a polite hello.
"Is there anything special about these markers?" He asked.
"Copics?" The girl noted, taking them from him. "They're very good."
"Are they worth the price tag?"
The girl chuckled and handed them back. "If you can afford it, I would recommend it."
"If I pay for these now, would I be able to pick them up later?"
Itachi took that as a sign that the markers were meant to be, paying for them and leaving them in the care of the store. He knew he couldn't leave with them- he had nowhere to hide them for a start on his person, and he had to get to Deidara before Deidara went looking for him.
He managed to meet Deidara on his way back from the car, taking his keys back and giving him a smile. "Thanks. What else do we need to do now that's sorted?"
"The card shop is this way," Itachi sighed, beckoning and heading straight for it. Now he had the gifts covered he couldn't wait to get out of the crowds and go home.
Once inside the card store he relaxed a little, smiling as he inspected the rolls of paper on display. One thing he did enjoy about Christmas shopping was making the gifts he wrapped look perfect. Despite his progress with his perfection complex some things remained, though they were generally harmless things. After much deliberation he picked red tartan paper and matching red bows and ribbons, much to Deidara's delight.
"You use bows and ribbons?"
"Always," Itachi agreed.
"Good," Deidara grinned, slipping an arm around his waist and giving him a sly hug. "That's the artistic way, yeah."
Once they were walking back to the car Itachi inspected his watch, feeling satisfied. They'd arrived only two hours earlier and were already on their way home, and it was only just beginning to get dark. He rated that a success, feeling quite pleased with himself. In the space of thirty minute he had managed to solve all his gift dilemmas, and he wouldn't have managed it without his partner. He chalked it up as yet another reason why his life was now edging on perfect, despite being taught by experience and his therapist that the word 'perfect' was rarely appropriate.
Later that night when sitting staring at the blank canvasses on the living room table, Itachi wasn't sure things were perfect after all. He glanced up at Deidara, sighing and resting his head against his palm.
"I have no idea what you should do," he sighed. "You're the artist- do you have any suggestions?"
"They're your family and friends," Deidara replied. "I have no idea what they'd like, yeah. Why don't you tell me what each person likes? How about your parents?"
Itachi thought hard about that, feeling a little ashamed when he finally shrugged awkwardly. "I've barely had much to do with them in recent years. I don't know."
"Alright... What about your friend Kisame?"
"Anything related to marine life," Itachi replied immediately. "Is that any help?"
Deidara flipped open his sketchbook and began jotting notes, nodding. "It is. Carry on- what about Naruto?"
"Sasuke said he took that fox you won him out of the crane machine home with him because he liked it so much. Apart from that and my brother, I don't really know what else he likes."
"That's fine," Deidara replied. "And Sasuke?"
"No idea," Itachi said immediately. "He's just a normal teenager who does normal teenage things like socialising and studying. He might be my brother but I don't know what he actually likes. Every year I have the same problem with him."
"Leave it with me," Deidara beamed, shutting his sketchbook. "I can draw what I think is appropriate."
"Is that wise?" Itachi asked, weary eyes straying to the kitchen wall where the googly eyed sun was painted.
"I won't do anything ridiculous," Deidara promised. "Honestly! Don't look at me like that, yeah. I know how important it is to you to make the pictures look normal."
Itachi had to smile that Deidara sounded positively dismayed at the idea of normality, but was clearly stomaching it for his sake. "Thanks," he replied, reaching across and clutching his hand gently. "Where would I be without you?"
"Stuck trying to be perfect and hating the idea of visiting your family this year," Deidara replied easily with a cheeky grin before letting his boyfriend's hand go, snatching up one of the smaller canvasses. "I have an idea already which I'm going to get to work on, yeah. Don't worry- you can trust me, Itachi!"
He vanished off to fetch his art supplies, throwing Itachi out of the living room once he returned. Itachi stood in the hallway, blinking a few times in confusion before retreating to the bedroom with a sigh. Trust Deidara- it shouldn't be too hard, right?
Author's Notes: This fic! ARGH! THIS FIC! I have rewritten this about three times over the last month before finally settling on what I have here. I've so glad to finally have it on track and in time for Christmas!
This is part one of three. The last part will be posted before Christmas Day and the second somewhere between now and then, whenever I get it sorted. Thanks for reading! :)