Christmas morning rarely felt so exciting. The last time Itachi had been so hyped for such an event was when he was a child, creeping through the house with Sasuke at his side to venture down the stairs and see if Santa had arrived to leave gifts, and whether he had eaten the homemade mince pies their mother cooked.
This time he was buzzing, mostly because he wanted to see Deidara's face light up when he opened the markers. That, and the idea of going to see the family was for once a welcome one.
He didn't complain when Deidara woke him at five in the morning, gladly getting up and fixing them both pancakes for breakfast while Deidara showered. He arrived back with dripping wet hair and a smile on his face, looking delighted at the unusually fancy breakfast.
"You have to open this when you're done," Itachi told him as he retrieved the present from under the tree and setting it on the table. "It's from me. There's a gift for you from Sasuke, too."
"There is?" Deidara remarked, eyes widening in surprise as Itachi sat down to join him for the breakfast. "Did he chose it or did you and force him to buy it?"
"It was a mutual thing," Itachi told him with a smile, even though in reality it was more the latter.
They finished their breakfast quickly, leaving Itachi to push the beautifully wrapped gift across the table to his partner. Deidara eyed it curiously as he picked it up, tearing into the paper and nearly dropping the markers in surprise.
"Copic markers?" He whispered, tearing at the rest of the paper to rid the gift of it. "Itachi- are you serious? Copic markers?"
"You were looking at them, weren't you?" Itachi shrugged. "I knew from the price tag you couldn't have owned any."
"Even if I did I'd never afford to replace them," Deidara continued, his voice still low and his eyes still widened. "And this is the largest set they do! Itachi- I love you! I- I don't know what to say-"
He cut himself off, putting the markers down and jumping up. He practically ran round the table and flung his arms around Itachi, hugging him tightly and taking the Uchiha's breath away.
"It's okay," Itachi laughed, lightly pushing him off to loosen his grip. "I'm glad you like them. Why don't you get the one from Sasuke now?"
Deidara looked intrigued and did so, opening it and grinning in delight. "You told him you'd bought these and suggested the case?"
"Something like that."
"I'll have to make a cinnamon cake before we go to your parents to thank him," Deidara mused.
"He doesn't like cinnamon cake, remember? He just makes it for me because I do."
"Oh. What does he like?"
"Nothing we can make with what with have," Itachi told him quickly, not wishing to sound rude by suggesting that giving Sasuke food poisoning for Christmas wasn't the nicest idea, which was all that would happen if Deidara was left in the kitchen without step by step instructions on what to do.
Itachi left Deidara to test out his new markers while he showered and dressed, picking out smarter clothes than normal. He knew his parents would dress up for Christmas since they always did, and they definitely would when there would be a guest coming. He chose a smart red shirt and black jeans- not too smart, but not too casual.
He had a hard time dragging Deidara away from his sketchbook and markers, finally convincing him to carry the gifts to the car while he locked the house. Naruto's one stayed under the tree alone and would do until he came back from visiting family out of town- Kisame's were now gone, taken with him unwrapped the previous night. He'd been very pleased with new cuddly creatures, asking Itachi to thank Sasuke for him in case he didn't get to see him.
When he had opened the painting he had gone quiet, glancing up in surprise and giving Deidara and Itachi a sincere thank you before hugging them both and admiring the colours of the shark for at least half an hour. Both of them had branded that a successful gift when he wouldn't stop talking about shades of blue and asking Deidara to see the ones he had used. That had got Deidara on a discussion about his Aquatone pencils, which Kisame seemed to tune out on once they stopped discussing his favourite colour.
They stopped to pick up Sasuke, who was also dressed smartly. He'd gone with a blue shirt and dark navy jeans, giving a civil nod to Deidara as he got in the backseat and a wave to Itachi.
"It's too early in the morning," he complained.
"It's six am," Itachi remarked. "That isn't that early."
"Says the guy who used to hate getting up in the morning without his eight hours of beauty sleep. Why are we leaving so early anyway?"
"To surprise Mum and Dad. They won't be expecting us just yet."
"They might not even be awake." Itachi didn't even answer that, leaving Sasuke to sigh and correct himself. "Or they will be, like always. You early risers confuse me."
The wrapped canvasses were on the seat next to Sasuke. He cast a curious glance to them but said nothing, setting his own bag of gifts down next to them. Itachi caught him slowly reaching a finger to one of the tags, seemingly intent on reading what was inside it.
"Hands off," he instructed, causing Sasuke to jump and look sheepish. Itachi didn't say anything more about it- deep down he knew his younger brother was only just an adult, and still had a child's attachment to Christmas gifts.
Fugaku opened the door to them with only a hint of surprise before standing aside to let them in, giving Itachi a clap on the shoulder and hesitating a moment before giving one to Sasuke. He and Sasuke had finally begun to patch things up a little- all the younger Uchiha had needed was some time to get used to the idea of existing within a functional family unit, complete with two parents that cared.
"Your mother will be down shortly," he remarked, turning his attention to Deidara and holding out a hand. "Good morning, boy. Lovely day today, isn't it?"
Deidara didn't think the day was lovely, especially not judging by how much he'd complained about the cold when they'd stepped out the car, but he took Fugaku's hand and shook it politely and nodded in agreement anyway.
They dropped their hands to their sides, the small talk pleasantries over with, before Fugaku led them into the living room. A tall Christmas tree stood at one side of the room, decorated in red and gold and looking like something that would be in a shop display. One glance around the room told Deidara where Itachi got his show-home tendencies from.
There were wrapped gifts beneath the three, decorated with bows and ribbons of varying colours- all matching too, another trait Deidara presumed Itachi had picked up from whatever parent had wrapped them. He sat nervously sat on the edge of the leather sofa, feeling awkward and out of place.
"At least take your coat off," Itachi told him, holding his hand out for it with a sigh. "You don't need to look so nervous. Let me show you around."
He led Deidara out into the hall, keeping a firm hold of his hand despite Deidara attempting to pull away when Mikoto made her way down the stairs nearby.
"Hi Mum," Itachi waved, giving him a small smile. "You look nice."
"You look nice too dear," Mikoto complimented, smiling prettily and smoothing down the front of her party dress. It shaped her figure well, strapless and just above her knees in length. It was pale blue in hue and looked like silk, a blue ribbon around the waist tied loosely at the side.
Deidara gave her a small wave as well. "Hello Mrs. Uchiha."
"Deidara," Mikoto replied, giving him an equally bright smile. "It's a pleasure to have you today."
She headed past them into the living room, where they heard Sasuke greet her enthusiastically. Itachi led Deidara up the stairs and to his old bedroom, pushing open the door and indicating inside.
"Here's where I grew up," he remarked. "I practically lived in this room."
Deidara nodded, looking a little overwhelmed by everything that was going on. Itachi sensed it and gave him a kind smile, giving him a light kiss and curling his arms around his neck in an embrace.
"Relax," he whispered. "It's going to be a nice day."
"I know," Deidara whispered back. "I don't remember the last time I had a nice Christmas day, though."
Itachi felt as though he had been struck with a knife, feeling a pang of sympathy for his partner. He tightened his arms around him, brushing his lips against his neck softly.
"This year is different," he said firmly. "And it's going to be different from now on. Forgot those times- look forward to now."
"I am," Deidara replied as they broke apart, a smile once again on his face. "It's just going to take some getting used to."
Itachi led him back down the stairs and gave him a brief tour of the ground floor of the house, finally leading them back into the living room where both parents and Sasuke were sitting chatting. Itachi was impressed by how comfortable Sasuke looked with the situation too, but he was sitting next to their mother.
"Can I give you these now?" He asked as he headed to the table, where the gifts had been laid as they'd come in. He beckoned for Deidara to sit, which he did so- on the other side of Sasuke no less, though Itachi presumed he felt most comfortable sitting near his sibling than his father. He had to fight down a smirk at the thought of Deidara willingly seating himself with Sasuke, though.
"If you wish, son," Fugaku nodded. Itachi smiled and handed Sasuke his one first, waiting for him to open it. Sasuke looked curious and did so, making quick work of Itachi's beautiful wrapping. His eyes widened slightly as he realised it was a painting, turning his attention to Deidara.
"You did this?" He asked.
"I did," Deidara nodded. "Do you like it?"
"It's nice," Sasuke agreed, which both Deidara and Itachi knew in Uchiha Sasuke terms was a high compliment. "Thank you."
Itachi left him admiring it with masked delight, picking up the second gift and glancing between his parents.
"Who wants to open it?" He asked, glancing between them. His mother eventually held her hand up so Itachi walked to her, gently laying it in her lap. Mikoto gave him a smile as he knelt down on the floor in front of her, gingerly tearing into the pretty tartan paper. Fugaku got up and hovered over Itachi's shoulder, clearly curious about what it was.
"Oh, Itachi," Mikoto murmured as she laid eyes on the painting. "It's beautiful."
She laid a hand to the likeness of herself on the canvas, running her long fingers across it gently while Fugaku looked visibly impressed. He glanced at Deidara, who was looking as though he wanted the sofa or the floor or perhaps the walls to swallow him whole.
"Why do you look so frightened, boy?" Fugaku asked. "It's lovely. I'll have it hung right here in the living room this very afternoon."
"It's beautiful," Mikoto said once more, eyes shining with happy tears as he met Itachi's gaze. "It means a lot that you would be happy to give us something like this."
"The past is the past," Itachi said firmly, for the second time that day. "Let it go and look forward to the future."
"Inspirational words," Fugaku nodded in agreement as he took his seat once more, leaving Mikoto to continue admiring the canvas with Sasuke glancing over his shoulder in curiosity.
"Itachi, can I borrow your car keys?" Deidara asked quietly.
"Why?" Itachi asked immediately, frowning in confusion.
Deidara gave him a wink and a smile. "Just hand them over, yeah."
Itachi did so, realisation dawning on him that it was quite possible Deidara's excuse about using his wrapping paper for his brushes was a small white lie. The grin and gift wrapped parcel Deidara returned with only reinforced his belief, unsurprised when his boyfriend handed it to him shyly.
"I wanted to give you it earlier but I thought it would be nicer to let you open yours when your family did," he explained as Itachi smiled at gift. It was wrapped beautifully- Deidara had even made his own bow from a section of the tartan paper. It blew Itachi's own perfectly wrapped presents out of the water but Itachi didn't expect any less, nor did he care. Deidara was the artist, after all.
"Open it," Deidara urged lightly. Itachi glanced around, noticing his family all had their eyes on him, also intrigued. He tore the paper off, fingers connecting with canvas as he did so. He hastily tore at it quicker, pushing it aside to be confronted with a portrait that took his breath away.
Deidara had painted them both together in lavish watercolours. They were standing side by side- Deidara was making a peace sign over Itachi's head with a grin on his face. Itachi was standing with his arms folded, looking unimpressed but on the corner of his lips was an imperceptible smile. Itachi couldn't imagine a painting that described them any better than the one right in front of him.
"Deidara," he breathed. "This is amazing. Did you do this at the same time as the others?"
"Mm," Deidara nodded, looking proud. "I did it first, actually. I'm glad you like it."
"I love it," Itachi whispered, still unable to take his eyes off of it. He traced the lines of the portrait Deidara, noticing the blue of the painting's eyes and golden shine of his hair- the colours were absolutely perfect. He felt his breath hitch slightly and his vision blur, shocking him into finally looking up at Deidara before he cried all over the painting.
"You sappy jerk," Sasuke said, but his tone was good natured. He got up and left regardless, followed by Mikoto and Fugaku. Apparently they could all sense a romantic moment when one existed.
"You idiot," Itachi chided. He ran a shaky hand across his eyes, giving Deidara both a smile and a glare. "You could have given it to me alone so you didn't make me cry in front of my family."
"It shows you care," Deidara soothed as he gathered Itachi up in a hug. "Merry Christmas, Itachi."
"And to you, Deidara," Itachi whispered, burying his head in his boyfriend's neck. "Thank you. I'll hang it up as soon as we get home."
"Where are you going to put it?"
Itachi thought for a moment about that, unable to pick between the living room and the bedroom. "The living room," he finally decided on. "It'll make it clear to anyone who happens to visit that it's our place."
"Your brother's right- you are sappy," Deidara laughed as he broke the hug. "I appreciate that, yeah. I'm quite proud of it. It took me ages to get the colours mixed right."
"It's perfect," Itachi agreed.
"Ah ah," Deidara scolded, holding a finger up disapprovingly. "We don't use that word anymore. Remember what your therapist said? 'Perfection is impossible'. I can see the mistakes on it from here, yeah."
"Mistakes? Are you kidding? I don't see a thing wrong with it!"
"That's because we creative people always critique our own work with the highest standards," Deidara explained. "To myself or another artist, they'll see the mistakes. To you, it's fine, but that doesn't make it fine."
"Deidara?" Itachi murmured. "Be quiet. It's just fine. I love you, and if you call me sappy for saying it I'm going to make you sleep on the sofa."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Deidara hummed innocently. "I love you too, Itachi."
Itachi glanced towards the door, seeing Sasuke hovering uncertainly. He beckoned, giving him a smile.
"It's okay, the moment's over," he remarked. Sasuke took that as a good reason to re-enter the room, glancing at the portrait on the sofa next to Itachi with narrowed, vaguely critical eyes.
"There's just one thing wrong with this," he mused.
"Oh?" Itachi asked as Deidara bristled. Apparently only he was allowed to say it had mistakes- or perhaps it was just Sasuke criticising rubbed him the wrong way.
"It has Deidara in it," Sasuke finished, a smirk on his face. "I can't call a portrait with that idiot in it a nice one, can I?"
"You jerk, I'm sitting right here! I can hear you!"
"You were supposed to hear me, Blondie."
"Please don't kill each other on Christmas day," Itachi near-begged, putting up his hands to pacify them. "T'is the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la..."
He stopped, realising both Deidara and Sasuke were staring at him like he'd just grown a second head.
"...La?" He finished, giving them both a weak smile.
"Weirdo," Sasuke muttered.
"I have to agree for once," Deidara nodded. "That was rather unlike you, yeah. What's got in to you?"
"Christmas spirit?" Itachi tried.
"Nice try," Sasuke snickered. "Something tells me you're actually enjoying the festive season for once."
"Maybe I am," Itachi relented with a sigh. And in truth, he was. Christmas really couldn't have been any more perfect. He allowed himself to think the now-forbidden word, smiling as he did so. No matter how many times Deidara or his therapist reminded him nothing was perfect, right then he really did disagree with that sentiment.
Author's Note: Happy Christmas to you all! I hope you all have a lovely time! :)
There is a possibility of a third Path fic. I have ideas, but I won't be writing it until my SasuNaru is finished if it happens. I'm not promising anything, but these guys just won't leave me alone! Though I will take a slightly different turn with it, since the main issues of the first two have been cleared up. Keep an eye on my profile or alert me if you're interested! :)