Aaah I hate that this idea came in the middle of the night. I don't even know what to do with this.

-:-

They kept saying he had an illness. A disease. They said there was no cure, but she had found one within the first hour of meeting him. What he had was no disease, and by no means was it incurable. What he had, in fact, is something that we should all get in touch with every once in a while.

His illness, his disease, was being a child at heart.

He was 20, in college, getting good marks for all his assignments and papers. He interacted with people very well, but everyone noticed something a bit off about him. He was weird – extremely weird – to the point where it could almost be used as an insult.

Well, that all depends on your perspective.

-:-

"Deidara! Come on, get back here!"

Hinata was a 20 year old, too. She excelled in all her beginning college classes, was nice to everyone, and everyone was nice to her in return. What was she doing chasing another full grown 17 year old across the courtyard, at 6 a.m., telling him to take a bath?

"Only if you catch me, Hinata!"

This was ridiculous. What self-respecting grown-up would run around refusing to take a shower? Then again, what self-respecting grown-up would chase around said person around the courtyard telling them to do so?

"Deidara."

The man-boy, Deidara, stopped in his tracks as a teacher, Professor Sasori, stepped out of the cafeteria. He was sipping a cup of coffee, looking extremely tired.

He would take none of this shit.

"Sasori!" Deidara waved happily. This was allowed, for the two of them had established a relationship titled, 'Best Friends.'

"H-Hello, P-Professor…" Hinata stumbled, unsure of what to say. Being friendly with Sasori was a confusing thing to do, for their relationship was only student-teacher, teacher-student. He eyed her with confusion. "Hinata… Hyuga, right?" he asked. Hinata nodded, fidgeting nervously. He smiled at her. "What seems to be the problem, Ms. Hyuga?" Hinata was about to speak, but Deidara cut in.

"She's trying to make me take a shower!" He pouted, and Sasori gave him a stern look. "Take a shower, or I won't eat lunch with you." Deidara flinched as if he was hurt, then surrendered, walking up to Hinata. "And apologize to her for all the trouble you've caused." Deidara looked up at her, then muttered, "I'm sorry." He grumbled as he made his way past Hinata and up to their co-ed dorms. "You'd better be squeaky clean come class time!" Sasori yelled after him.

He looked at Hinata, who looked exasperated with a flushed red on her cheeks. "I'm sorry about Deidara. I know you're his new Student-Mentor or whatever it's called. I hope he isn't causing too much trouble." Hinata shook her head. "I-It's okay. It's just because I'm new…" She blushed a little. He invited her to walk with him to the classroom, which was a slow walk through the courtyard.

"I remember you – you're in my first class of the day." He said, more to himself than to her. She nodded. "So, why'd you decide to become Deidara's babysitter?" Sasori took one last sip of his coffee before throwing it away. "Because… What Deidara has isn't a disease." They were silent for a minute as they walked. Hinata dared to look up at Sasori, who was staring back at her with a smile. "I completely agree with you, Ms. Hyuga."

-:-

A few weeks had passed since Hinata started being Deidara's mentor. They lived in the same dorm room, in the quieter part of the building. In this part of the building, the majority of the population was female, except for Professor Sasori, who was housed next door to Hinata and Deidara's room. Sasori himself requested that he be near Deidara, for comfort's sake.

Hinata was used to being around both Deidara and Sasori. Though he was a teacher, he was constantly in and out of their dorm. Deidara would get so happy when he came by – he immediately offered to play a board game with him, or put together a puzzle. Hinata secretly watched them from the kitchen as she prepared dinner or washed the dishes.

However, today, without meaning to, she overheard a conversation she wasn't meant to hear.

"Deidara," Sasori said as he put a piece of the puzzle together. It formed the sun, which was in the upper left corner. He held it up carefully, analyzing it. "Yeah, Sasori?" Deidara stared in wonder at the piece. "How do you like Hinata so far?" Hinata glanced at Deidara, who turned red for some reason. Sasori noticed this too, and he glanced knowingly at Hinata in the kitchen. She flinched behind the wall, turning on the sink to make it seem like she couldn't hear them.

"I…" Deidara's blush increased, and he fiddled with two pieces that clearly didn't fit together. Sasori smiled. "Do you like her?" Gasping, Deidara shook his head. "No! Of course not, she's a girl. Girls have cooties." Sasori laughed out loud, deep and heartily at this. Hinata, turned off the sink, laughing quietly to herself. He's such a kid, she thought.

"Alright, if you don't like her, then why are you turning red?" Sasori grinned as Deidara's blush turned darker. "I'm not!" He shrieked. "Yeah, Deidara. You are." Sasori teased, pointing at Deidara's cheek. Embarrassed, Deidara stood up and headed for the kitchen for a glass of water. What he didn't know, however ,was that Hinata was at the kitchen stove, cooking up dinner for the three of them.

He didn't notice her at first, but when he heard the macaroni and cheese bubbling in the pot, he looked over and yelped with surprise. Hinata looked at him and smiled a little. "Are you thirsty, Deidara?" She asked, walking to him. He turned the darkest red before running out of the kitchen, into his room. "Ah, Deidara!" Hinata ran after him, Sasori a few steps behind. He seemed slightly amused at this.

Hinata knocked on Deidara's door. "Deidara, are you okay?" She asked, worried. The door opened for a split-second – enough for Deidara to tape on his door a sign that said, 'No Girls Allowed.' She sighed, backing away for Sasori to swiftly enter Deidara's room.

-:-

"You do like Hinata, don't you?" Sasori said, spying Deidara sitting on his bed with his knees hugged to his chest. "Of course I do. She's my mentor. I have to." He muttered, a tear of frustration in his eye. "Yes, that's true. But what about… more than a mentor? A friend?" Deidara opened his mouth to talk, but stopped. "What?" Sasori sat beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I…" Deidara buried his face in his arms.

"I'm not Hinata. You can tell me if you like like her or not." Sasori assured. "Promise?" Deidara looked at him, blushing. "You won't tell her a thing?" Sasori placed a hand on his heart. "I, Sasori, do solemnly swear that whatever is said in this room will stay in this room, so help me God." Deidara seemed at peace with this, so he sat against the wall. He hugged a pillow to his chest. "Okay… I do like Hinata. I just… don't think she likes me back." Sasori nodded. "Why not?" Deidara clutched the pillow tightly.

"Because I act like this all the time."

Sasori stared, surprised, at Deidara. Many thoughts ran through his head. Deidara only acted like this? If this is how he really was, then what was wrong with him in the first place? Why doesn't he act like a regular grown-up? A very powerful feeling came over him – similar to relief. There was nothing wrong with Deidara. He was only a normal person, like everyone else.

"Deidara," Sasori said, leaning over towards Deidara. "Hinata'll like you if you stop acting like a kid! Maybe if I helped you, you'd stop being a childish brat!" He grinned, but Deidara didn't.

With a huff, Sasori was shoved out of Deidara's room and a sign was taped up that said, 'No Sasori's Allowed.'

Sasori grumbled and scratched the back of his head as Hinata silently giggled behind him.

-:-

The college was giving Hinata a few days off because she was working so hard on taking care of Deidara. Thinking about it, she didn't know what she was hoping for in living with Deidara. It was just like babysitting, only ten times more embarrassing. She was getting a bit frustrated – having to clean up the board games after he was done playing with them and cleaning up the mess he always made when brushing his teeth. Truthfully, it was exhausting. And she hated it.

Deidara watched as Hinata sat on the couch, looking like she was about to fall asleep. Deidara, who whined about wanting the room with the balcony, stepped out and let the cold air of late winter bite at his cheeks. Next door, he saw the mess Sasori had accumulated onto his porch.

"Isn't that Deidara?"

Deidara heard a voice from below – the tenants who lived diagonally below them were looking up at him from their balcony.

"Yeah, it is. The guy who acts like a kid. I heard they're giving his babysitter a few days off – she must be exhausted."

Deidara frowned to himself. She was exhausted?

"Oh, she's in my first class of the day, with Professor Sasori. She does look tired every day. I talked to her a couple times – she said that she gets up at 5 to prepare breakfast, wakes Deidara up at 6, then lets him play while she cleans until class starts. She also stays up late cleaning up after him."

"That sounds awful. Why would anyone volunteer for that?"

"She's a saint, but all she did was made things harder on her. She said that Deidara didn't have anything wrong with him, but I beg to differ."

Depressed, Deidara stepped back inside, grabbing a teddy bear on his way in. He hugged it to himself, then walked out of his room. He found Hinata sleeping on the couch with the TV on. He felt like crying. He really was making her tired, huh? He wanted to change. For her.

Looking at his teddy bear and then looking at Hinata, he decided that he wanted to try cuddling her instead of his stuffed animals. Carefully, he placed the bear on Hinata's side, then he sat down next to her other side. He felt his heart beat faster and his cheeks flush red. He reached for her hand and held it, letting their fingers tie together. Still blushing but feeling at ease, he laid his head on her shoulder and closed his eyes, easily falling asleep next to her.

About an hour later, during his lunch break, Sasori dropped by and saw the two sleeping on the couch. He spied Deidara's hand holding hers, and the teddy bear on her other side. He almost laughed to himself. He went over to their fridge and prepared a quick lunch for the two of them that they could microwave later, when they woke up. Oh, he could imagine it – both of them turning red and the like.

When he placed the plate in the microwave, he saw Deidara standing in the doorway. "Morning, sunshine. How was your nap?" He smiled at him, but Deidara gave him a serious look. "Sasori…" He paused. Sasori moved to sit at the table. Deidara did the same.

He took a deep breath, then said, "Sasori, please teach me how to be a grown-up." Sasori drank from his cup of coffee (which he brought with him from the shop outside). "Why do you want to be a grown-up now?" Deidara bit his lip and looked away. "Because… I want…" Sasori smiled a little, but kept a firm, I'm-A-Teacher look as he stared at Deidara. "I won't teach you if you don't tell me." Deidara almost shouted in protest, but didn't. "I want to be a grown-up… for Hinata! I want her to look at me like I'm a man, not a kid." Sasori stood up, about to leave.

"Deidara, if you want me to teach you how to be a grown-up, meet me in the courtyard after dinner." He stood at the door and glanced back at Hinata, who was still asleep on the couch. "And don't let Hinata find out."

-:-

As Hinata was washing the dishes (He hated himself for letting her do chores again), Deidara slipped on his jacket and the quietest shoes he owned (he only had one pair, so it was an easy choice) and tip-toed his way to the door. Halfway there, he decided that walking tip-toed was a kid thing, and he should stop. He heard Hinata walk around in the kitchen, so he darted out the door, heart pumping with the excitement of sneaking out.

Sasori was sitting at a bench, smoking a cigarette. He was staring up at the sky, which was surprisingly clear. Deidara looked up, too. He couldn't see the stars very well – the courtyard was well lit – but the few stars he could see were twinkling – except for one.

"That one over there is Venus." Sasori said, his eyes not moving from the sky. Deidara moved over to sit by him. "The planet?" he inquired. Sasori chuckled. "Do you know another space entity called Venus?" Deidara looked downward. "You know why that's Venus?" He shook his head. "Well, Venus is always North and doesn't twinkle, like the stars do." Deidara nodded, genuinely interested, but that wasn't what he came here to do.

"Are you going to teach me how to be a man now?" He asked bluntly. Sasori laughed out loud. "Of course, Deidara. I was just talking about space because I'm a science teacher." The two stood in front of each other. Sasori stared into Deidara's eyes – no, his soul – and asked him this: "Why do you want to become a man, Deidara?"

Deidara looked away, but Sasori ordered him to stare back at him. "Because… I like her." Sasori didn't even blink. "Deidara, you don't like her. You like me. You like sleeping. You like reading. Is the way you feel about Hinata the same as how you feel about sleeping or reading?" Deidara shook his head, confused. "What do you mean, Sasori?" he asked. Sasori took one last drag out of his cigarette before stomping it to the ground.

"What I mean, Deidara, is that men do not like women. They love women. Now, men can like women in the sense of friendship, but when they are attracted – specially – to a woman, it's not described by a small word such as like. There is a more intense word, a more passionate word. This word, Deidara, is LOVE. Is love the thing you feel when you see Hinata?" Deidara fidgeted under Sasori's gaze. He wasn't used to saying – or hearing – the word love. He rarely used it, and was embarrassed to say it when he meant it. We all felt it at a time, and we never found out why.

"I… I do." Deidara admitted. "Say it." Sasori commanded. "I… l-love…" He gulped. "Hinata." Sasori slammed both hands on Deidara's shoulders and shook him vigorously. "Say it with confidence, man! This is the woman you're standing out her in the cold and under the stars for! The reason you want to abandon your childish ways and open up to the new ways of MANHOOD. Now, Deidara, tell me, WHY DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A MAN!?" Deidara felt a new sensation bubble up inside him. "Because… Because…!" His heart beat faster, motivation flowed through his veins, the reason was coming up through his throat in a vocal chorus that yelled,

"Because I LOVE HINATA HYUGA!!" Deidara jumped up, spreading his arms and legs wide. He yelled it to the world, "I love Hinata!" Sasori watched proudly as a few people nearby gave them strange looks. "I'm in love with Hinata Hyuga! I'm in love with Hinata Hyuga!!" He danced around and jumped on the bench, professing his love to the world. Except Hinata.

"Yes, Deidara. Use this enthusiasm in this lesson in manhood, and you will succeed! Your outer childishness will soon be your inner child in this one-time-only LESSON IN LIFE. Use this energy, the fire of your LOVE, to transform you into the MAN YOU WERE MEANT TO BE!" Sasori held a fist in the air and Deidara jumped down to the ground, saluting. "Teach me well, Sasori!"

And so, the transformation began.

-:-

Hinata panicked, searched the entire building for Deidara. But he was nowhere to be found. No one knew where he was or where he might be. And Sasori wasn't anywhere to be found, either. At least she had the slight comfort that Deidara was with Sasori, whose care she could trust. But there was always that one chance that Deidara could be out there getting raped by a hobo or another awful thing like that.

Scared and worried, she slipped on her jacket and shoes and ran out the door, out onto the campus where she ran past two familiar-looking men heading towards the dorm building. She noticed that one had red hair, like Sasori's, and blond hair, like Deidara's. This stopped her in her tracks. She turned around swiftly, and the two men stared back at her.

She was more surprised to see the blond one, who looked extremely like the Deidara who was missing right now. But… his aura wasn't the same.

"Hinata, meet Deidara. He's a colleague of mine who just underwent an intense transformation." Sasori held Deidara by the shoulders and gently pushed him towards Hinata. Deidara gave her a dashing smile and a nod that made her heart melt like a fangirl's. But this was not Deidara. "Deidara… Wh-What happened to you?" She walked up to him and placed a hand on his chest, which was covered by a nice, clean dress shirt and red tie.

"It's quite chilly outside, Hinata. Here, take my jacket." Deidara draped his blazer over Hinata's shoulders. She was already wearing a jacket, but she didn't mind the gesture. "What are you doing out here? We should go inside and have a nice warm drink." He offered her his arm, which she awkwardly took. Sasori observed and nodded approvingly. However, his smile held a small sense of ulterior motives.

Hinata, still confused by all this, felt weak at the knees. Then, suddenly, she fainted and Deidara caught her effortlessly.

--

Back up in their dorm, Hinata was placed on the couch, Deidara kneeling at her side. He brushed her hair away from her face and leaned over to kiss her cheek. When he pulled away, he frowned a little.

"Sasori…" He started. Sasori stood next to him. "What is it, Deidara?" he questioned, crouching down to his eye level. "This… doesn't feel right." Deidara looked at him, then back at Hinata. "Right now, I'm getting the feeling that… she wants the old me back. You know, the kiddy one." He lightly touched Hinata's face, which stirred slightly. Sasori sighed. "Well, I think that's something only you can find out. You only asked me how to be a grown-up, not how to fall in love."

After a few minutes of making sure Hinata was okay, Sasori left for his own dorm room.

Hinata was awake and observing Deidara very closely. She cupped his face, combed her hands through his hair, patted his shoulders, arms and chest, trying to see if anything was wrong. "What happened?" she asked, sounding concerned. Deidara closed his eyes and let Hinata feel him. "Is this… not what you want?" he said in a low murmur. Hinata stopped and rested her hands on his face. "What I… want?" She repeated, confused.

Deidara took a deep breath. "Hinata, I…" He took her hands in his. "I…" He realized a bit too late that he couldn't say it. Yet.

"I'm gonna… go to my room. Okay?" It made sense, right? Besides, he was only a kid to her. Being the sweetheart she is, she's probably going to offer… "Do you want me to tuck you in?" For once in his life, Deidara was embarrassed by his kiddish behavior. He really wanted Hinata to see him differently, but he didn't know how. He held up his hand. "N-No. Don't tuck me in. I… can do it." Hinata gave him a concerned look, then silently followed him to his room. She made sure he didn't notice her watching.

Deidara looked at his door, staring at the signs he put up. He ripped both of them down, crumpling them up and opening his door. He looked around his room – the stuffed animals, the baby blue wallpaper and furniture, his themed sheets and posters on the wall. In his hands the crumpled paper crinkled as anger bubbled up inside him. Then, suddenly, he gave a loud yell, throwing the paper across the room and kicking over the chairs and side tables. Stacked stuffed animals toppled over, and books fell from their shelves. Deidara ripped the sheets form his bed and rolled them into a ball and threw them into a corner. It hit the lamp, which fell over with a crash.

Hinata, alarmed, ran to Deidara's room. She saw him and his tantrum, throwing his belongings every which way and ruining his suit in the process. He kept yelling and screaming – surprisingly in coherent sentences. He tried lifting his clothes drawer, but it was too heavy. His arms gave out, and he quickly set the drawer aside before falling on his knees. He leaned forward, his hand landing on the crumpled paper that said, 'No Girls Allowed.'

Suddenly, he felt arms wrap around him. His breathing became easier, and he let the person holding him guide his body to lie on a pile of stuffed animals. Deidara opened his eyes (which he wasn't aware had closed) and looked at Hinata, her eyes tearing up with worry. "No girls allowed…" he sighed, sitting up and making Hinata lay down in the pile of dolls. He leaned close to her, their faces nearly touching. "…except you." He softly pressed his lips against hers. He held her hand and pulled it close to his chest.

He paused to look at her, surrounded by fluffy animals with beaded eyes. He blushed, looking downward at their hands. Hinata turned red and looked at her hand in his, letting her fingers interlace with his. "Deidara…" She closed her eyes and smiled a little. A few seconds later, she felt something wet fall on her cheek. Alarmed, she opened her eyes and saw Deidara crying. She sat up, and he leaned back and sat up, too. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his dress shirt.

"Deidara, what's wrong?" Hinata asked. "H-Hinata, I…" Deidara stopped himself. He couldn't tell her now, either. Not while he was like this – a blubbering mess surrounded by stuffed animals. He needed to man up.

-:-

Deidara sat at Sasori's kitchen table, his head in his hands. Sasori sat across from him, smoking a cigarette. "…And you kissed her." He said. Deidara nodded silently, turning a light pink. He heard Sasori chuckle, making him feel even more mortified. "Deidara, if I could tell you anything right now, I'd say that you were well on your way to becoming a man." Deidara looked up and stared. "You were bold enough to give your own first kiss. And it didn't sound like she rejected you, either, huh?" Deidara felt better thinking about this.

Sasori took a last puff of smoke before grinding the cigarette into the ashtray. "Deidara, just continue in your practices and you'll be just fine. You'll have Hinata falling head over heels for you." Deidara didn't completely agree, but felt confident enough to try.

-:-

A couple months passed, and Deidara's room became less and less kid-like. There were only about 5 stuffed animals within the entire dorm, except for Hinata's. And his wallpaper was now a mellow shade of blue instead of the old baby shade. And Deidara wore more dignified clothes, and his speech became more… mature. His voice sounded deeper, but if you really knew him before, it sounded the same, only different.

However, as Deidara's childishness faded, so did Hinata's lively manner. She was quiet most of the time, almost sad. It broke his heart to see her like that, but he wasn't ready to talk to her yet. He had sworn to himself that the next words they exchanged were 'I love you.' It seemed silly, but it was his ultimate goal. And he intended to reach it.

There was a knock on his door. He got up to open it, and Hinata stood there, holding a stuffed teddy bear. Deidara looked at the doll, then Hinata. She stepped into his room, and he closed the door, watching as she took a seat on her bed and hugged the bear close to her chest. He acknowledged that there was a part of him that still wanted to hug the bear. It made him decide that he really wasn't ready to talk to Hinata yet.

However, breaking his unwritten code, she began to speak to him.

"I miss you, Deidara." She said softly. Confused, Deidara tilted his head to the side as he walked to stand in front of her. She held out the bear for him to hold. He didn't take it, so she pressed it to his stomach. "I… liked your kid self, too, you know…" Deidara reached over and held her hand, which was clutching the stuffed bear tightly. He kneeled down to her level and gave her a sad look.

I'm sorry, Hinata. The old me isn't coming back.

Hinata leaned over, her cheeks turning a light pink. "Deidara… I… I love you. And… I am always willing to accept you… for whatever you want to be." Deidara stared, wide-eyed at her. His cheeks turned red, and he felt his hands shake a little. "H…Hinata…" He croaked, "…I love you, too." He reached his arms out and pulled her into a hug. In between them was the teddy bear. "I want to be with you, Hinata." He held her tightly, and he felt a tear make its way down his cheek. "Right now, I'm not sure what I'll be, but… I know that I'll be happy… as long as you're with me." Hinata hugged him back, letting the teddy bear fall to their feet.

They pulled away from each other and looked into each other's eyes. Slowly, they leaned towards each other in a soft kiss.

--

Sasori, who found his way into their dorm, was leaning against the wall just outside Deidara's room. He smiled, glad that his teachings were brought to some kind of use. He lit a cigarette and his cup of coffee and left the dorm, retreating into his own.

-:-

Well that was weird.

Sorry if it didn't make much sense. Like I said, it came dead in the middle of the night.

I'll go update 'Rich Girl' soon… now… I hope… gaah.