Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

AN: Yet another piece of Akatsuki crack, poking fun at some of the less macho members. Contains implications of Pein/Konan and Kisame/Itachi. Enjoy.

Masculinity Fail

A good shinobi always maintains a level of paranoia about them. A superior shinobi doesn't let the world know they know it's out to get them. That was why, in spite of the feelings of impending doom he was experiencing, Itachi sat passively in the Akatsuki safe-house's main lounge, quietly reading as though nothing was wrong. He was alone in the room, and the house itself was virtually empty, save for Pein, Konan, Sasori, and Deidara, the latter two fresh back from a mission. Kakuzu and his newest partner, Hidan, had were off on a mission of their own, and Kisame was out doing big, tough, manly things, like buying new training weights to replace the ones he'd somehow broken. The Uchiha wasn't so sure he wanted to know how the shark-nin had managed to do that. The knowledge would no doubt only make him feel inadequate.

For the moment the safe-house was disturbingly silent. He could have used the phrase 'quiet, too quiet', but that would be clichéd and would probably be just asking for trouble. Just like going off alone in a horror movie was asking to die a horrible death. And because he knew the world was out to get him at the moment, Itachi figured he shouldn't be tempting fate, which he knew from experience could be a cruel, vindictive bitch.

Someone started screaming angrily upstairs, Konan, it sounded like. The more masculine screaming that followed was probably Pein. Sounded like there was trouble in paradise. Perhaps that was the storm he'd been subconsciously anticipating. He'd just have to stay quiet and out of their way until it all blew over and…

He didn't realize just how bad his assumption was until Deidara stomped into the common room, fuming and generally looking like he'd just found out that someone had pissed in his soup. The grinding teeth, the pronounced eye-tick, the shaking fists, and all this on a proud pyromaniac, too. This certainly explained the feeling of impending doom; the other teenager looked thoroughly incensed.

Itachi decided to acknowledge the danger by marking his place in the book, setting it aside, and giving the bomber his full, silent attention.

"The client mistook me for a girl, un!" the blond raged without preamble, coming to a stop just at the edge of what the Uchiha deemed his personal space.

"And?" Itachi quirked a brow at that, only mildly surprised. "Why would I care?"

"Well excuse me for expecting a little sympathy!" Deidara threw up his hands in exasperation. "I know I'm not the only one this happens to, un!"

The dark-haired one tensed a little at the accusation, recoiling ever so slightly.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he replied, trying to act casual and blasé, but it obviously wasn't working.

"Don't play ignorant with me, Uchiha!" the bomber pointed an accusing finger, his entire posture ridged and restrained. "I know all about those times you've been mistaken for Kisame's girlfriend!"

The corner of Itachi's left eyelid twitched ever so slightly at those words. Yes, it was true, he had been mistaken for a young woman on occasion, but not as often as the other teenager was implying. And as for the 'girlfriend' comment, while he and Kisame were… occasionally intimate, it wasn't his fault the shark-nin was doting, indulgent, and openly affectionate when the situation didn't require him to act professionally. That certainly contributed to the 'girlfriend' illusion.

"And, fuck, I think the only one in this organization who gets mistaken for a woman more often than us is Konan, un!"

With an exaggerated grimace and saucer-wide eyes—more facial expression than Deidara had ever seen from him—Itachi leapt off the couch and clamped a hand over the blonde's mouth before he could say anything else, hoping and praying that the female in question wouldn't hear him over the sound of her own raging. The yelling upstairs continued as if it hadn't been interrupted.

"Konan is a woman," the elder hissed, shooting wary glances up at the ceiling to where the domestic dispute was taking place. "And for all our sakes you'd better not let on that you think otherwise."

The bomber thankfully seemed to take the hint and stayed quiet when the Uchiha removed his hand and sat back down. Upstairs they could vaguely make out the sound of Pein screaming something along the lines of 'What was I supposed to do?!'.

"I know she's a woman, un," Deidara whispered now very conscious of the danger they were potentially in, sitting down as well. "It's just… I swear she's aggressive enough to make Kisame look like a cuddly kitty-cat."

Itachi decided to refrain from mentioning that the only times the woman was ever really noticeable was when she was in a foul mood, mostly at key points during the month. The rest of the time she just blended in with the wallpaper, which, incidentally, made her insanely good at low-profile assassinations. He also decided to refrain from informing the blond that the shark-nin had long been known as Akatsuki's least homicidal, most well adjusted member, so any comparison between him and Konan was moot. Now if she turned out to be more hostile than Hidan, who practically lactated testosterone he was so aggressive, then that would be saying something.

Upstairs the screaming had only gotten louder, but was suddenly silenced with the sharp sound of something shattering. The safe-house was then disturbingly still. The two teenagers stayed completely frozen for a long while.

"Oi, Itachi," the blond spoke up at long last, breaking the silence. "There's something about this whole thing that's been bugging me for a while, un."

The Uchiha shifted his head ever so slightly to indicate that he was listening.

"Is Konan, like, an honorary man, or are…" Deidara struggled to find the most neutral words. "…some of us… honorary women, un?"

Later, in retrospect, Itachi would realize that provoking him had been an immature and ultimately pointless thing to do. He never would be able to explain why the impulse took him.

"I'm sure we both know what she'd say regarding you're status, oh most-effeminate-one."

"Oh, that is IT!"

And for a few minutes, both boys conveniently forgot that they were a long-range bomb-wright and a mid-range genjutsu type respectively, and proceeded to roll around on the floor without any mind to taijutsu forms, punching and clawing and ripping at each other's hair. But their little… cat fight… was soon brought to an abrupt and rather humiliating end: by the sound of Konan clearing her throat.

"If you two young ladies are quite finished."

The young men froze up like a pair of frightened rabbits, eyes wide as they took in the kunoichi's tense frame. Hair down and a disordered mess, eyes red and slightly puffy, barefoot and wearing men's clothes, probably Pein's. And speak of the devil, their esteemed leader was standing passively behind her, sporting a bandage over his left eye, the edges of a bruise peeking out from under it. Well, looked like that crashing sound from earlier had been Konan throwing a vase at his head, and instead of dodging it like a shinobi he had elected to take it like a man.

"Get up, both of you," the blue haired woman ordered lowly, eyes shadowed by her unkempt bangs. It was around then that the two teenagers realized what she and her lover were holding: ice-cream, two pints and two spoons each. But in spite of the horror they both knew awaited them, the darkness in her tone compelled them both to obey.

"Sit." Another terse order, also hastily obeyed, the boys seating themselves stiffly on the couch in perfect unison. Satisfied with their compliance Konan approached them, holding out one of the ice-cream pints to Deidara while Pein meekly followed suit, handing one of his to Itachi, mouthing 'sorry' as he did so. The cowed teenagers took what was offered, dreading what was to happen next.

"Bear with me, girls, I've had a bad day," the kunoichi announced as she plopped herself down on one of the armchairs, opening her own pint of ice-cream and promptly digging in. And once she'd had her first bite swallowed, she began ranting at a rapid, droning pace. On the armchair beside her, Pein sat down quietly and started eating from his carton like an automaton, grey eyes going blank and glassy as he tuned out the world around him.

But Itachi couldn't notice this, or Konan's ranting. No, all he could pay attention to was the fact that sometime during the commotion, Kisame had returned from his manly excursion, and was currently standing just outside the entrance to the sitting room, behind the woman's back, gaping at them like a landed fish. And damn if those bags in his arms didn't look heavy. Deidara noticed him, too, but only after he'd been joined by an equally stunned Hidan and Kakuzu, apparently just come back from their mission.

The bomber nearly cried inside as he watched the silver haired immortal silently, and very deliberately, laugh at their misfortune. He was quite dismayed by the fact that the usual loudmouth actually could stay quiet in the right situations. The zealot's face screwed up further as he searched around in his pockets for something. Kakuzu just rolled his eyes and walked away. Having dug out a scroll, Hidan unfurled it and started searching his pockets again, probably for something to write with. Coming up empty, he simply opted to cut his pointer finger on the edge of his scythe and started scrawling on the scroll with that. Kisame just grinned sheepishly at his partner and shrugged before he, too, left the boys and their leader to their fate, likely not wanting to become another victim of the madwoman who was clearly in need of some female friends.

Hidan made another big show of silent laughter before he revealed what he'd written on the scroll in a big, bloody scrawl: 'manliness fail!'. He leered and nodded definitively, gesturing pointedly at his makeshift sign.

And as the immortal also bid a hasty retreat Deidara despaired and Itachi resigned himself to their fate, adopting Pein's strategy of glassy-eyed disconnect and mechanical ice-cream eating. The blond cast pitiful glances at the two remaining males in the room, but got no consolation. He then looked warily down at the ice-cream in his lap; strawberry, he noted.

"I think I just felt my testicles getting sucked back into my body," the bomber groused dryly.

"No, that's just because you're holding cold ice-cream to your crotch." Pein didn't even have to look up to dodge the carton lid thrown at him like a shuriken.