"No, Kisame-san! The star has to go right on top. You'll have to reach higher!"
Kisame grumbled something about masked idiots, but nevertheless stretched on his tippy-toes (a sight worth seeing) to get the star so that it was the highest it could be.
Finally it fitted on, and Tobi clapped with excitement as the Akatsuki surveyed their handiwork.
"Not bad," Itachi said. "It would look better if we turned the lights on though…"
Tobi skipped over to the power point and flicked the switch. The entire Akatsuki sighed with wonder as they fairy-lights cast a multicoloured glow around the room.
"It's almost artistic," Deidara commented.
"Yes," Sasori agreed. "Even if it isn't eternal."
Tobi skipped back over to where the rest of the Akatsuki were looking approvingly at the newly decorated, brightly lit, shining, covered-in-tinsel, Christmas…Zetsu?
"Zetsu-san makes a good Christmas tree!" Tobi squealed. Zetsu's black side beamed at the praise; his white side just grumbled.
"Don't be like that, Zetsu-san!" Tobi exclaimed. "Christmas trees are traditional!"
"Are stories traditional?" Hidan asked eagerly. Tobi nodded enthusiastically.
"Oh yes! Tobi should tell one!"
In a flash the Akatsuki were gathered around the roaring open fire (it was snowing outside, and even criminals need to be warm).
"Wait just a moment!" Tobi said, dashing out of the room. Everyone waited expectantly for his return.
They were not disappointed. Moments later, Tobi raced back into the room in a full Santa suit, complete with a fake round belly and a beard that was taped to his mask.
"Everyone ready?" Tobi asked. "Who wants to hear about how the Grinch stole Christmas?"
"Who's the Grinch?" Pein asked, more eagerly than was befitting for such a renowned leader of an international gang of criminals. Tobi paused to think.
"That would probably be…Kakuzu!" He exclaimed. Kakuzu glared. Tobi ignored him, and began to read.
"Every Who Down In Who-ville Like Christmas a lot...
But The Grinch, Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT!"
"I thought the Grinch was Kakuzu?" Konan pointed out. Tobi nodded his head, almost detaching his beard.
"Kakuzu hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."
"That's not right!" Deidara said. He was much more willing to be "subjected" to fairy tales than he once had been. "Kakuzu has heaps of hearts!"
"Maybe all of them are too small?" Tobi said.
"But, Whatever the reason,
His hearts or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.
"And they're hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!"
"No!" Kisame exclaimed. "He can't stop Christmas!"
Itachi stared at his partner until the shark blushed. "What?" Kisame said defensively. "Don't you want presents too?"
"For, tomorrow, he knew...
...All the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
"Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
And they'd FEAST!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!"
Zetsu's stomach rumbled audibly. Deidara, who was sitting nearest to the "Christmas tree" and knew only too well of the plant's eating tendencies, edged away warily.
They'd do something
He liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
"They'd sing! And they'd sing!
AND they'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more Kakuzu thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
he more Kakuzu thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
"Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming!
"Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!"
"What was it? What was it?" Hidan and Konan chanted. The rest of the Akatsuki leaned forwards, wanting to hear what came next
"I know just what to do!" Kakuzu laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santa Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
"With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!"
"Just like Tobi!" Deidara exclaimed. "Tobi? Are you the Grinch?"
"All I need is a reindeer..."
Kakuzu looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop old Kakuzu...?
No! Kakuzu simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
"Who's Max?" Itachi asked. Tobi stroked his beard as he thought.
"Hmm…" The masked man mused. "I think it should be…Pein-sama!"
He loaded some bags
And some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max."
"I thought it was Pein?" Deidara asked.
"It is. But I have to call him Max or it doesn't rhyme! And rhyming is important!"
"Then Kakuzu said, "Giddyap!"
And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos
Lay a-snooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
"This is stop number one," Kakuzu-Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
"Kakuzu? How could you?" Konan turned to the "Grinch" with tears in her eyes. "Think of all those poor Whos!"
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
"These stockings," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then Kakuzu, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!"
"You seem very well practised at this," Itachi commented suspiciously at Kakuzu. "I hope it wasn't you who took my hair straighteners."
"It's just a story!" Kakuzu exclaimed. Then he paused. "…Wait, you use hair straighteners?"
Itachi didn't notice Konan averting her eyes at the false accusation.
"Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos' feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!"
"Not the Who-hash!" Hidan cried, regardless of the fact he didn't even know what that was.
"Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!"
Zetsu flinched. "Please be gentle with me," he pleaded with Kakuzu.
"And Kakuzu grabbed Zetsu, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two."
"Who's Cindy-Lou?" Deidara asked.
"You are, Deidara-sempai!" Tobi exclaimed.
"Why me…?" The blonde moaned.
"Kakuzu had been caught by this little Who daughter
Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at Kakuzu and said, "Santy Claus, why,
"Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?"
But, you know, that Kakuzu was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,
"There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side.
"So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
"I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here."
"Kakuzu! How could you lie to Deidara like that!" Pein exclaimed, leaping forwards and covering the bomber's ears. "Don't listen to the horrible Grinch, little Who!"
Pein barely leaped back in time as an explosion went of near where his hand had been. Deidara yelled as his ear was caught partially in the blast, but Tobi ignored this and continued reading as though nothing had happened.
"And his fib fooled Deidara. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.
And when Deidara went to bed with her cup,
He went to the chimney and stuffed Zetsu up!
Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse."
"Poor mouse…" Sasori commented. His comment was backed up by a heart-wrenching sob from Itachi.
He did the same thing
To the other Whos' houses
Leaving crumbs Much too small
For the other Whos' mouses!
It was quarter past dawn...
All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!"
"How cruel, Kakuzu."
The entire Akatsuki was glaring at Kakuzu now. "Don't look at me like that!" He protested. "It's just a story!"
"It might be just that to you," Konan told him sternly. "But to all those poor Whos out there, this is their Chrismas!"
"Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"
"You had better make this right!" Itachi told Kakuzu threateningly. The "Grinch" pretended without much success that he wasn't intimidated.
"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch,
"That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...
But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!"
The Akatsuki let out a cheer, and Zetsu started dancing around the room, his decorative bells jingling.
"And Kakuzu, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then Kakuzu thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then...?
Well...in Who-ville they say
That Kakuzu's small hearts
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his hearts didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys!
And the food for the feast! And he..."
Tobi paused dramatically. Everyone leaned forwards in their chairs until they were leaning so far forwards that both Deidara and Hidan fell off at the same time.
The Grinch carved the roast beast!"
Tobi closed the book with a snap, and everyone cheered. Then Tobi stood up and pulled from under the chair (don't ask how it fitted under there, no one actually knows) a brown sack bulging with presents.
"And another thing that's traditional is Santa giving everyone presents!" Tobi exclaimed to the delight of the Akatsuki. He pulled open the sack and pulled out a parcel.
"This one says "to Kakuzu"."
The parcel looked suspiciously square and small, and when Kakuzu pulled off the wrapping, a small wad of money sat in his hand. The rest of the Akatsuki looked rather unimpressed, but Kakuzu, overwhelmed with emotion, swept Tobi up in a choking hug that Itachi had to rescue him from before the masked idiot expired from lack of oxygen.
"And this one's for Deidara-Sempai!"
No one was surprised when a lump of clay was revealed.
"Hey, Tobi, didn't you steal this from me last week?"
For Pein were some clip-on earrings to "brighten up his appearance". Tobi then insisted that he put them on. Konan couldn't hold back her hysterics when she saw the metal flowers dangling from Pein's ears.
Konan received paper, which she promised to cherish, and add to the thousands of sheets she already had.
Sasori received a hand-puppet to add to his collection.
Itachi was so touched to receive a photo album of pictures of Sasuke that he threatened to castrate anyone who went near it.
Kisame was "thrilled" to receive a fish tank.
Hidan, ever the difficult person to buy for, got a gift basket of Jashin-symbol-shaped cookies.
Zetsu got a bottle of liquid plant fertiliser.
And Tobi, according to himself, got the best present of all: A hand-painted picture of the Akatsuki and a promise from Konan that it would go up on the fridge.