Author's Note: Okay so new chapter. Finally. So I'm hoping that we all recall where we left off. The charries are partaying at big bad Oro's shindig, Sasori is suspicious, Akatsuki is restless, Sakura is confused and stressed out, Shikamaru is hiding, Deidara is determined, Sasuke is having daddy issues, Madara is conniving, and uh…yeah and I think Zetsu is hungry. .'. Deep shit is going down. *starts rapping* "Meet me in da club…its goin down! Meet me in- *is chidoried* ….uugh ok so singing is forbidden. Onward to the next chapter of…urgh…my fic with the long ass title that I'd rather not write here rofl. Enjoy remember to review and well…as always, Ciao!

Disclaimer: I don't think I will be getting anymore trouble from those pesky arch nemesis lawyers, but as always I must continue to write these anyway. …Otherwise they might come back for me… So anyway here it goes I do not own Naruto or any of its characters. Now get to the reading.

Chapter Twenty Five: Advances

"Whoo! Check out Sakura!" Ten-ten had laughed watching her friend kill the dance floor with the blond biker babe. Neji frowned at the sight. He was not one to trample on anybody's happiness…at least not since middle school, but he had never trusted the likes of Akatsuki. She seemed to be searching the crowd for somebody with the tall blond trailing close behind, both talking animatedly. He had heard from Ino's incessant fangirling and simple putting two and two together whilst hanging out, that Sasori was the pinkette's cousin. So he supposed that it was fairly normal for her to be 'familiar' in a way with his best friend.

Still he had never been the easily trusting type. All he had ever known about the Akatsuki was that they were exceedingly dangerous, class A troublemakers. How could that change? They never did anything to attempt redemption for themselves. Why would they start now? The only logical explanation would be…they weren't. Thus the mistrust refused to leave his countenance. "You alright, Neji?" Ten-ten poked him in the ribs to get his attention. When he flinched, being very ticklish, she cackled loudly. "I think you need a drink to loosen up a bit." She stated. The tall brunette male put aside his thoughts for now and busied himself with enjoying himself for now. After all this was his first date with Ten-ten.

….

"Daddy must be keeping him busy, eh?" Deidara remarked. Sakura was fairly distraught that she could not seem to find Sasuke anywhere. Where did he go? Where did his father go? Even better…where was Madara? They must have been having a private discussion. The pinkette felt a pang in her gut remembering the not so fond attitude Sasuke had whenever he was discussing his family. "Relax, Miss Cherry, un. Chibi Itachi has spent most of his life taking care of himself and I don't think he needs a baby sitter, yeah." The artist remarked. Sakura glared at him.

"Look. I get that the two of you don't like each other…hell most of my friends hate you, but that is not the point. Please try to be understanding of my concern." She told him with an annoyed sigh. The blonds visible eye rolled and she placed her hands on her hips. "You know what? Whatever Dei, Jesus. I gotta go pee so later." She hurried off. The artist grunted in response before allowing himself to independently observe the crowd. Where exactly was Madara? His vision was abruptly obstructed by a blur of black, red, and ginger hair. He gave a start before recognizing the brown shade of eyes that stared at him so stoically.

"God damn it, yeah!" He protested. "Watch it Sasori! You nearly gave me a heart attack, un!" His best friend paid his tantrum no mind, looking back and forth. Deidara frowned at his room-mate's strange behavior. Something was getting to Sasori again…and the young artist had a feeling it was the same issue from before. Sasori gripped his room-mate's shoulder with a determined expression.

"Madara, and Fugaku have Sasuke cornered in one of the spare rooms. I have the feeling that we should take a look, are you game?" He asked darkly. The look in his eyes was beyond serious, it looked like he was onto something. Just like the old days. Aqua eyes blinked back and he noticed that Konan and a few of the others were keeping Pein busy. Oh yeah this was definitely one of their group efforts…'naughty time' as Zetsu would have called it, though the freakish cannibal freak was nowhere in sight. Nobody had Sasori's back the way Iwa no Deidara did during those times… and now would be no different. How could he even ask that question? His eyes closed and his face broke into his usual impish, wicked grin. In any case this looked like it could be fun.

"Sasori…you should know better than to ask that, un. I'm always game…its you and me, hm?" He punched his bestie's arm. "Quick question though, since when does the well-fare of chibi Itachi concern us, yeah?" It was not that he really hated the kid -well…okay so he did have a beyond strong dislike for him- but that was not why he was asking. It was just that they usually did not make such a fuss over him. None of them did besides Itachi. Sasori seemed unsure of how to respond to the question for a moment, however it was a legitimate one that his partner deserved some sort of explanation for.

"You and I have been busy so I haven't been able to talk to you about some of the things that have been going on around here." He began. "A basic summary? Due to some odd behavior from Pein we have come to a likely conclusion that Madara is up to something that -needless to say- might not exactly be within our benefit otherwise he would not be so adamant that we knew as little about it as possible. Normally if we are about to be assigned a task we are given notice ahead of time and all the details necessary to do it, remember?" At this Deidara's visible blue eye widened, pupil shrinking. Here it comes.

"Shit! I knew he was playing us from the moment he first bestowed his 'charity' on us, un." The blond clenched his fists. Sasori's word was as good as law to Deidara, as the red-headed artist was the only one who he had come to fully trust. Said artist shushed him harshly.

"Shhh! We have to watch every move he makes closely from now on. Everybody is agreed…we are leaving Zetsu out of the loop however. It appears that he is not to be trusted on this topic either."

"I could have told you that, hm."

"Would you stop that? Are you coming or not?"

"I already told you, 'senpai'. I am always game. Lead on, un."

…..

"I see that you have befriended the Haruno girl quite closely, Sasuke…is that right?" Uchiha Fugaku always spoke with such authority. It always seemed to get him what he wanted, sending others into a completely cowed state. His imposing presence. This was one of his most effective tools. However, when it came to his sons it did not seem to be at all useful. Yet and still he never stopped employing such methods. This puzzled the raven haired teenager as he sat before his father and uncle. Nothing scared the stubborn Uchiha Sasuke enough to cow him anymore.

"Hn." Was his only disinterested response. He did however, wonder how exactly his father even knew Sakura's name, let alone what made his friendship with her at all relevant. He would just see where this conversation went, and leave when everything became clear enough to him.

"I think we can take that as a 'yes', brother. You know how inarticulate the boys are." Madara chimed in carelessly, watching Sasuke with those stoney red eyes that had always been unnerving to the youngest Uchiha. "Right, Sasuke-kun?" Why were they even getting on his case? Itachi was the one who told him to ask he-…that bastard. Had he done this on purpose…to play some kind of sick prank on him? What was going on here? Fugaku stood to his full height.

Inky black eyes regarded him with an unreadable gaze…his mother had always managed to be emotive without giving away a single thought process…it seemed that Sasuke had both the Uchiha forte of masking emotion and his mother's natural mystery. His sons. They were swiftly becoming more and more dangerous with time. Madara had a certain interest about that girl…certainly it must have had something to do with….that little issue that he had assumed ancient history. At least for his family. Apparently not however. He desired to get this whole thing over with as quickly and silently as possible but his sons were no fools and they seemed to be making themselves into obstacles more and more as of late.

Two boys. Both quickly becoming men. He had involved them in ways that he should never have in this mess. Especially his eldest Itachi. As the boy grew he became more resentful, nosy,….and clever. To keep his influence from getting to Sasuke he sent him away, but now it did not seem to matter. They had grown separately and still managed to be on the same page, though the younger one may not have realized it. If he could get Sasuke to agree to his terms about agent Haruno's little princess, then there was hope yet. He said nothing to confirm Madara's statement however, which was not a good start.

"How closely exactly would you say?" The question threw Sasuke for a loop and he stopped himself from craning his neck back in suspicion. His already dark eyes seemed to darken all the more. Alright so speaking to the two men was unavoidable it seemed. However, that did not mean he was going to cooperate with them, he was much smarter than that. Since when did Fugaku concern himself so much. Perhaps he was worried that his son was romantically pursuing a foreign 'peasant'? Peh. Yeah right. He may have liked Sakura but not like that.

"How is this even relevant to anything?" He folded his arms. Madara and Fugaku exchanged glances.

"I see. No problem with the boy forming a bond with this girl, so long as he knows where his priorities lie." Madara remarked with a meaningful look at Fugaku, who frowned back at him. Sasuke got the brief feeling that neither men were on the same page about this. Then it would be difficult to know how he would have to act. His dark eyes shifted between them emotionlessly, not saying a word. It was his father's turn to speak apparently.

"My son is not to be forming such attachments with girls of a common background." He declared. "It could prove problematic later when he is expected to marry." At this statement Sasuke felt disgusted. Like he was going to get married to anybody that he did not like anyway. Plus it sounded a whole lot like bullshit to him. There was something that they were trying to keep him from catching whiff of. Madara and his father stared each other down.

"My friendships never caused you concern before. You never once mentioned my bond with Naruto, and when I dated Karin I knew you despised her but you never once attempted to force me to stay away from her. Bottom line…why do you suddenly give a shit now?" To call them out so bluntly was extremely risky, but so help him, he was going to prove a point to these men. He was not a child anymore, and they did not scare him. He would have his own life. Madara seemed rather annoyed by both of them and gave a puff of air that implied he was surrounded by incompetents.

"Fugaku. Sasuke-kun is no fool." The words were clearly more meaningful than they sounded. "Let's be…diplomatic about this, shall we?" Maybe this was some sort of twisted good cop, bad cop tactic? "Tell me about this girl. Sakura am I correct? She was with you in the hospital, and your brother seems familiar with her. As well as most of my protégées." Sasuke wanted to laugh in his face. He called that circus act of delinquents his 'protégées'? More like evil minion bitches. The young Uchiha had the feeling that Madara saw those guys as disposable as long as he got what he wanted. He'd managed to get Itachi under his wing somehow…why his brother had sold out like that he could never understand. The traitor.

"Sakura-" The raven haired boy cut himself off. Wait a minute. Why were they trying to figure out how close he was to Sakura? Especially Madara. He leaned back stoically into his seat. How could he have not guessed it already? This was not about him at all. It was about her. But why? "It doesn't matter. Cause I'm not dating her. I only asked her to come with me here because you father, were forcing me to bring a date. She was the most logical choice." There and that was all that they had to know. Whether they knew about Itachi making the suggestion or not was not his problem right now.

"Why?"

"Not that its any of your concern, but any other girls would simply think that I am showing an interest in them by asking." His bangs hid the irritation in his eyes as he thought about those ridiculous fan girls. His response was met by silence and he could almost feel his uncle's smirk.

He and Itachi once when they were children and still held some semblance of affection for one another…had suspected that their uncle had something to do with their mother's death…and to this day Sasuke had never quite been convinced otherwise. Suddenly though…Itachi had distanced himself from him…and then just left. Fugaku had stated that Itachi went to a new school to get away from the grief of their mother's death and Sasuke had thought it too selfish for Itachi to do…but after trying and trying to contact him with no success, he was left…a broken hearted little boy, all alone. The day he saw Itachi again…he was different. Colder. Darker. There was an air of the killer about him…and he was standing beside the very uncle they had once feared and hated. Things were never the same between them. Madara had worn the very same smirk he currently sported as he had looked down at him.

Sasuke clenched his fist, waiting for their responses. "Anything else you would like to tell me?" Before he walked out on the conversation that is. They were taking way too long to respond.

"Not at all…but I'm starting to agree with your father. It seems that your attachment is fairly deep-rooted. It could prove troublesome." Now Madara was suddenly switching roles? Sasuke was confounded about what exactly was going on here, however one thing was perfectly clear to him. No matter what it was. He was not going to stop being friends with Sakura. Or Naruto. Or anybody else that he allowed himself to associate with. He chose his side. Standing up, he placed his hands in his pant pockets calmly.

"In any case you are worrying over nothing. Romance is the last thing on my mind and that is the whole reason that I asked Sakura and nobody else. Quit wasting my time-" Madara caught him by the lapel of his jacket.

"You…" The man's red eyes narrowed, before falling into a calm smile. "…are such a stubborn and selfish little boy. You still haven't changed. Perhaps a lesson from your brother." Fugaku glared at Madara. Sasuke just angrily swiped his uncle's arm away from him.

"Madara…that is enough." His father warned. The boy was absolutely livid at this point. He maintained a cold façade but was nobody was capable of keeping back that violent tick in his jaw. His black eyes darted to his father meaningfully. The bitterness and resentment completely unconcealed. "You are dismissed Sasuke…for now. We will discuss this later." The boy snarled and opened the door.

"There is nothing more to discuss…and if I were you I'd reprioritize who I put my trust in, Father." With that simple hiss, he was gone. Madara looked at Fugaku.

"Your boy…has officially labeled himself…an obstacle."

….

When Sasuke found himself cornered by three Akatsuki, including his brother he gave a sigh of frustration. Could they not see that he had better things to do than be bothered with their hostility? "What?" He demanded harshly, making sure to get his disdain for their presence across to them. Not like they would really care, but whatever. None of the parties present paid the distant music down the hall any mind. Itachi motioned for Sasori and Deidara to keep quiet before he spoke up.

"What did Madara say to you?" The question threw Sasuke for a loop. He had expected them to be warning him off of their 'mentor's' scent. Could it be that perhaps that they knew just about as much about this business as he did? Wow. He gave them a suspicious glare and pushed Itachi by the shoulder out of his way only to have his brother twist his arm and slam him into the wall. Dark eyes popped in shock. "Is it about Sakura?" At these words Deidara suddenly perked up all the more, blue eye sharpening.

"What about the cherry, un?" He demanded looking at all the guys around him. Sasori shut his eyes with a silent sigh.

"I'm not sure, but I have a few theories." He told his blond partner. This was not a satisfactory response for the hot headed artist. Instead his aqua eyes shot to the youngest Uchiha. Sasori held him back by the shoulder.

"Spill it, chibi, hm!"

"Hush." Itachi told them darkly. Sasuke hated how easily he was incapacitated by his brother. With a growl he struggled violently. "What did they want, Sasuke?" Itachi was insistent. "Tell me. Please." That simple six letter word caught the younger brother's attention. "We have to know what is happening. There is a lot at stake here. It was about Sakura-san wasn't it?" The teenaged boy stared at them as if pondering. He gave a hesitant nod. Sasori then angrily snapped his fingers in a 'eureka!' sort of way before simmering down. "What about Sakura?" The elder Uchiha boy pressed. Sasuke was not ready to trust him that much…he would tell him what they said to him, not his suspicions.

"They said that they do not wish for me to form any sort of attachment to her. For the sake of my 'future'." He stated, pulling his arm away from his stunned older brother. "Now if you're satisfied…leave me alone." Off he went.

"Sasuke."

"Hn!"

Sasori and Deidara both frowned at one another before Itachi turned to them. They were silent, staring at each other. It was clear that they were all thinking the same thing because it was not but a few moments that passed before they were abruptly rushing the nearby door to listen to what the two grown Uchihas were discussing now. A simultaneous move.

"…Really Madara. After what happened to Mikoto, and what I stood by and authorized my sons to go through years ago…I myself am not quite sure whether or not my sons have a point about you."

"Fugaku…you wouldn't want to become an obstacle as well, would you? After all you wont be of much help to them in their position. Mikoto's demise was a terrible tragedy and it would pain me to see the boys suffer the same fate."

"Sasuke has nothing to do with that chip."

"Maybe not. However be it unwittingly or not he has involved himself. Its clear that not only will he not be of any help but in fact become a problem. Not to worry. You'll not have a second thought about this once the chip is recovered…and not by the likes of Danzo."

"What about your 'wards'?-"

"The members of Akatsuki understand where their priorities lie. They know the rules of this world."

The three eavesdropping young men exchanged glances. This didn't sound good. They were startled upon hearing footsteps coming down the hall and made a break for it. In that same instant it was like they had never been there. Old habits died hard. Red, brown, and blue eyes peered from their hiding places in the shadows. It was Pein. His tall shadowy frame trudged gracefully down the hall to knock on the door. He was let in and did not seem the least bit aware that they were standing out there watching him. One could never tell with Pein however so as soon as the door was shut the three Akatsuki boys rushed soundlessly down the hall back to the party.

…..

"Sakura." The sudden sound of Sasuke's voice would have normally startled the pinkette if she had not been looking for him or any sign of her cousin and his animated room mate for forever. She turned to face him with a sigh and an annoyed frown.

"Well its about damn time you decided to reappear! I've been looking everywhere. I asked everybody I came across! Akatsuki didn't even know where you were damn it! I swear if you r-!" The look on Sasuke's face silenced her. The irritated expression on her face dropped into a look of concern for her friend. "Are you alright, Sasuke?" She gripped his shoulders with both hands and squeezed stubbornly. The dark haired boy ran a hand through his spiky hair and looked around.

"…Nobody bothered you while I was gone did they?" He asked, gravelly serious. Green eyes blinked. Releasing him, she was not sure how to respond. There was that little 'interlude' between her and Kabuto. Was that what he was talking about?

"N-not particularly…except when Kabuto the prick tried to get me to dance with him…" She trailed off thinking about it. "Don't go making a fuss about that though!" Her hands waved defensively in front of him. "Please. That might cause unnecessary problems. For now, lets just forget everything and find the others…it's a party after all right?" He glared at Orochimaru's back as he chatted with another renowned Professor. So it seemed like he probably did not hear a word she had just said. "Sasuke?" She shook his arm slightly and as if brought out of a trance he caught her arm sharply and shot his gaze back to her. "What is it?" He looked back and Orochimaru was no longer standing there.

"…It's nothing. My dad just got on my nerves earlier is all." He wanted to avoid speaking to any other of these 'authority figures' here. Catching sight of Kabuto leaning against the buffet table, his eyes narrowed. The medic grinned at him. He looked in another direction and there were other people that seemed to be very keen on staring at his friend. What was going on here that he and the others didn't realize yet? Becoming suddenly protective he endeavored to move her away from the path of the white haired medic as he made his way over. "Let's just dance." He dragged her to the floor much to her surprise.

Her heels clicked across the floor as she hurried to keep up with his long strides. "Something is bugging you. You really don't have to dance if you don't want to. Can we talk about what's going on? You're scaring me."

"Not now, Sakura." He told her sternly. Akatsuki was watching them with some level of intrigue. He did not trust them either. If there was one thing his childhood had taught him, it was that nobody was to be trusted. If keeping Sakura occupied during the party meant that he had to dance in front of a bunch of people he either -A. Couldn't stand- or -B. Didn't even know-…then so be it.

"Fine." She finally relented. "Later then…and I wont forget either. Lets just have fun for now." Her eye caught sight of Ten-ten and Neji, Karin with a handsome escort of her own, and Hinata with Sai. Gaara was currently dancing with Sora. Everybody that she could recognized seemed to be pretty intent on giggling over the fact that Sasuke was actually dancing and she herself couldn't help but bite back a grin. Too bad they didn't have any cameras. Two words. Facebook,…and YouTube. Really it was not like he was a bad dancer. His family had likely seen to that. Still it was a bit out of character for him. Okay so it was a lot out of character for him. A small giggled escaped.

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing at all." They both knew it was a damn lie.

…..

"So basically all that we heard back in the hall is completely useless to prove that his hidden agenda is to work against us…only that we are in fact being left out of the loop." Sasori remarked as they all stood around in an obscure corner of the party. Nobody would consider such a thing suspicious coming from them. They always isolated themselves when they were in large social gatherings anyway. Deidara sat backwards in a chair watching his pink-haired friend dance with the boy Uchiha as they all spoke.

"I did not find very much comfort in the way Madara spoke about us. However, he has always spoken about us in such a manner." Itachi remarked. "I suppose there is nothing new there." They all nodded wordlessly in agreement.

"A bright side to your sneaking, guys. We now know that one of our opponents in Chief Inspector Danzo." Konan spoke up, in deep thought.

"The chip? Big deal, un." Deidara murmured ever the pessimist, his chin resting on the back on the chair, not bother to look at his companions. "If you guys ever remember properly the 'chip' ordeal started with three main names Madara, Sound Inc., and ROOT -run by Danzo- duh, yeah. Of course he would be trying to get at it too, un…and most likely Orochimaru." They all stared at Deidara, completely speechless. Sasori maneuvered his foot to spin his blond friend's chair so that he faced them now. The boy's eyes hardened from the intrusion of his space.

"How did you know about that?" Brown eyes held aqua ones. Deidara just blinked in puzzlement.

"They never mentioned it in front of you, hm?" He asked. The boy could still remember with perfect clarity…the voices of the guards. The silence of the others surprised him. So all of this time he had known more than he was meant to. His face fell and he gave a grim scoff. Suddenly they all pulled up chairs around him. A wordless demand for him to tell them the story of how such information had come by him as a child. Some lackeys must have slipped up. Once again the blond blinked at them. It was not going to be fun to re-open…that specific event in his childhood.

A long sigh broke his silence. These were the members of Akatsuki not doting mothers…and they wanted to know. So steeling himself for a trip down memory lane he began to speak.

"So…I'm sure you guys remember what happened to me in the facility after that outburst that I had right…un?" Sasori let out an 'oh boy' sigh. The word had squeezed itself out when he tried to stop it…just as it used to. This was not working out so well already. He internally cursed himself. "Anyway I was a mental wreck already by that time, yeah. I never spoke a word and due to my violent nature and 'nasty habit' of biting was constantly sedated so the idiots who were in charge of watching me I guess they didn't assume that I was capable of grasping concepts, un." He paused to make sure they were following -mostly out of social instinct as it was obvious that they were pay attention- before continuing.

Flashback:

Their voice felt distant…with a mild echo…but he could hear them. He had learned to do so after who knew how long he had been kept in there. Though his eyes were unfocused and he cared little for the two assholes who sat around on their asses watching him suffer all day…they were still the only human interaction he had. Their conversations were probably the only thing keeping him in contact with reality. So he learned to listen in spite of the drugs.

"These kids are a waste of time… we were picked out to watch them because the real respected guys have all been chosen to help create that chip…you've heard of it right?"

"These children are highly talented and skilled weapons. Do not mistake them as wastes of time and accept your job like a man. I do wonder however, what exactly is this big commotion over this chip?"

"I understand that, but I hear that the Professor says though the reasoning capabilities of human beings can make them superior weapons to machines, that they also have a free will and that makes them risky tools that could very easily go rogue. That implies a lot about the kids. Don't you think?"

"You be careful how you open your mouth. This kind of talk is dangerous. Say, I think its time to feed goldie locks here."

"It's your turn this time, bucko."

End Flashback

"Thus. A chip, un." The artist then slipped back into his own little world and turned his chair back around with a screech. They blinked at him. He just shut down so casually. It was strange…but it was Deidara. The Deidara they were used to. He used to be much worse. "They want the chip…and that means that the only reason this could have anything to do with Sakura…is because they think she has it, yeah." Sasori just nodded at his reasoning. Too true.

"Why the hell would she have it?" Kisame frowned. An ordinary girl like that?

"'Cause the bastards figured it would be the last fucking place anybody would look I'm guessing." Hidan added in his two cents. "Still Jaws has a point it is one long fucking shot. Shit my head hurts." Kisame's giant blue hand pushed Hidan to the ground in one smooth motion, causing a 'thud!'.

"Nevermind that. We have a lead to go on and its all thanks to our blondie baby here." He chuckled gruffly, ruffling Deidara's previously perfect hair. Everybody began to get up and crowd him in a similar manner much to his chagrin. He wrenched around with a snarl at the unwanted attention.

"See what you started, hm?" He shouted and threw a near by piece of cake at his face. He dodged. The others easily avoided it, with subtle smiles.

"Hahaha! Come on kiddo! Don't reject the love just cause you're in the middle of the throws of jealousy." God did he love to piss Deidara off. His left eye twitched.

"I'm not jealous, yeah!"

"Then why the hell do you keep looking over there, huh?"

"…Is it really that unbelievable that I might be just a little worried, un? Not particularly jealous…ish, hm." He looked back over to where Sakura was now. Chatting up her friends. Kisame watched him silently. The kid did look scared. Though he really was not sure as to whether or not it was about jealousy…or that he truly thought her to be in danger. He couldn't blame him. The pinky was a good kid. It really would be fucked up if she didn't survive the ordeal and they did. She really never did anything to be classified as involved…and as for them? Well for years they had been the tools of high profile organizations. Little murderers.

"If they called Sasuke in to speak with him about Sakura. Then I have the feeling my uncle is trying to ascertain where potential pawns and current pawns stand on this chess board of his." Itachi murmured as he swiveled the wine in his glass. "Otherwise he would not have bothered with Sasuke's 'love life'." He said the phrase with skeptical disdain taking a sip. "This means we have to be careful now. No doubt he is assessing us as well."

"Zetsu is watching us guys." Kakuzu spoke up. Scarcely did Kakuzu take it upon himself to speak he simply took in information calculatingly…but when he did speak everybody listened. Especially now that it had to do with a certain -quite possibly cannibalistic- plant freak. They did not look all together…Itachi simply surveyed him subtley with those keen eyes of his.

"Perhaps we should continue with this conversation at a later time." He stated from behind the rim of his wine glass. A perfect maneuver for keeping his mouth covered. Just in case he might have been trying to read their lips. Sasori nodded for everybody. Deidara threw Zetsu off of the group's mood by pretending to catch sight of him and flashing him with his normal mischievous grin that he always sported, turning back to them. They all waved at him and he only nodded back.

They all then received a text simultaneously. It was from Sasori.

'So. What do we do about this lead now?' -Sasori.

"Well. Text away guys, un. I'm off cherry picking, hm." He grinned impishly, Sasori gave him a warning look.

"Don't cause unnecessary trouble. No picking fights with Uchiha Sasuke, no provoking Yamanaka Ino into a screaming rage, and most of all…No. Depraved. Behavior. Towards my cousin. Yes?" Deidara narrowed his eyes at him.

"You're no fun. Oh yes picking fights with Uchiha Sasuke is my reason for living right? Please Sasori give me a fucking break, yeah." With that he made his way off. That troublemaker. Sasori had a feeling that there was going to be a whole lot of baby sitting that night.

…..

Fugaku left the room feeling extremely disappointed. He had hoped to solve an issue and to be at ease when the conversation had ended. However, instead things had become much worse. Madara watched him leave with calculating red eyes. Pein stood beside him silently waiting for the other Uchiha to make his exit before finally remarking. "I feel rather uneasy with all of this secrecy, Madara." Pein stood tall speaking to his mentor. The man's eyes slid to the young Akatsuki leader. "I do not question your reasoning, I am simply concerned that the other members of Akatsuki are beginning to get restless…perhaps we can speed up the plan? Or perhaps something to placate them." This made Madara raise an eyebrow at him.

"You know already, Pein. I can not tell them such information until I have ascertained where they stand. Especially Sasori…and currently Deidara as well I believe. Correct?" The tall red head was not surprised to hear these words. He made no visual response, only taking a seat and nodding. Deidara had been spending quite a bit of his free time with the girl as of recent after all. He leaned back in the seat casually. "We had best get out of here quick, Orochimaru would be onto us if he found us slinking about his place."

"Wouldn't it save time if I just called them both in here now?" Unique, swirly eyes frowned. It would save a whole lot of time. Madara looked at him as if it were obvious.

"No. There is no time for that right now. Not the two of them. They are much easier to….negotiate with when they are alone." Madara explained simply. "Thus we will have to talk to them at separate times." Pein did not seem to feel very easy about it, but he did not contradict, that was all that mattered…for now anyway. Madara could pay it no heed for a while. Eventually however, he would need him to be less hesitant to carry out orders. He stood up. "Tomorrow…I'll have to have a word with Sasori. Let's go, Pein."

"I'm sure that Konan would understand if you let me explain it to h-"

"Pein." The tone of Madara's voice was eerily even…yet stern and harsh. It stopped even the hardened young man in his tracks. Pein could not pretend that he did not know who held the true authority in Akatsuki. He had a healthy respect for how dangerous his mentor could be.

This was a touchy subject that Madara absolutely refused to bend on. He only built up the nerve to make a remark because he wanted to make amends with Konan so badly. To prove to the others that he still was one of them and not trying to double cross them. He had feared that they would come to that conclusion already but when Sasori had actually confronted him and brought the scenario to life…it felt dreadful. Pein didn't want this.

"You are once again putting her above everyone else. If she knew now she would certainly tell the others what with the way things are going now. Didn't you yourself said that you feared they were becoming…what was that word….restless?" The red head just cast down his eyes.

"I am just getting tired of lying to them. I apologize." He opened the door to leave and Madara followed behind him.

"You are pardoned. It is for the greater good. In any case take heart…you wont have to for much longer." Those words should have made him feel more secure…so why didn't he?

…..

Shikamaru was sweating as he crawled through the ventilation system. "Shukaku." He grunted into the ear piece he was provided with. "Akatsuki is officially unsure of where exactly the chip is. I have the feeling Kakuzu is right…we have to somehow stop the activation from happening…and I get the feeling it might just happen any moment. Oh and uh…Sakura knows I'm here." He stated. After this was over he was going to grab a pile of all of his favorite dishes and hybernate in his dorm until even the bears were banging on his door demanding that he get his lasy ass up.

"Copy that. I will kick your ass for being spotted later. However, the activation will make the chips location beyond obvious. I swear I am going to murder Danzo if we live through this ordeal." The red head growled.

"Hey, I am surprised that Ino has not seen me. I'm doing my best here." The lazy undercover student drawled. "Dolphin and Copy-cat are holding up?"

"Superbly of course. Don't forget to block all electrical signals. I'm counting on your reputation, Mastermind."

"Yeah, yeah don't even worry about it. Where are they now?"

"She is at the buffet table…Sasuke is doing a great job at keeping the competition away despite the obliviousness to the situation. He is useful even subconsciously. That kid has good instincts, I knew I liked him. Except for that…blond one…Sakura keeps insisting on allowing him to chat with them."

"I'm uneasy about it too. Sasori may be her cousin but these kids from Akatsuki have been trained to shun everything from family to a baby kitten in order to complete tasks. I say we assign a few of our guys to keep an eye on him. Just to see if he goes anywhere to inform after he spends his time with her."

"Akatsuki is more clever than that. He could just text his superiors while he's still with her for all we know."

"Excellent point. Troublesome." He wiped his forehead. "Damn its hot up here. Madara and Pein are gone…I'm headed back to the restroom. Over."

"Roger. Over and out." *static*


Author's Note: Well I had to revise this a whole lot. Really I don't have any excuses as to why I have not updated. The wells have been dry and it is very hard to do this work properly damn it. I almost abandoned fan fiction recently because of a depression that I fell in after my father died in a car crash like two days from my birthday. I dragged myself out of it however and am back on the scene. So be gentle with me. Thanks to everybody who stuck with me for this long...and if there are many grammar issues...ah fuck it.