Before proceeding with this story, be warned that it contains graphic content, including: rape, abuse, mentions of insanity and self bodily-harm.

When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.

Cloudy blue eyes looked out through the window, watching a small song-bird as it flew past, its delicate wings flapping against the wind. To any other person, it may have brought a smile to their face. To Deidara, though, all it brought was a scowl. It reminded him of how he couldn't fly, himself. He couldn't sprout his own wings. He could mold them, but even they couldn't fly him away. He couldn't escape this place, these people. He couldn't escape what happened yesterday. Nor could he escape today, or tomorrow, or the following days where it would all be the same. Day in and day out, Deidara could do nothing to change or erase what was happening or what had already happened. It was a part of him, now, and he didn't know who to be without it.

A disgusted sound rose in Deidara's throat suddenly, sounding as if he were choking on something. He wrapped a hand around his neck, where faint bruise marks still littered. How long had it been, now? Deidara couldn't remember. A few weeks, a few months? All the days had started to meld together, just another repeat of the last, a reminder of what tomorrow would bring. It wasn't every day it happened, but it might as well have been. The anticipation, the expectation, the creeping around halls and waiting for it. The off-days weren't even a break to Deidara now, they only worsened the intense paranoia that whirled in his gut. A cyclone of anxiety, suspense and distrust. Sometimes, it happened while the wounds were still fresh, or sometimes it happened while they were healing up, just fading. Only to get torn open again.

Deidara was tired.

He was tired of each day being nothing but a waiting game, a nightmarish hunter versus hunted. He was tired of getting hurt, of getting used, of being trapped in this stupid fucking place with no way out and no way to escape the hands that clawed at him.

He kept the bruises and other marks, dark reminders, hidden under long sleeves and sweatpants. Those clothes were so out of character for Deidara that it prompted questions. Words usually came to Deidara with ease, spoken in a suave calmness. But, when Kisame had questioned his new choice in attire, he had scrambled for an answer. Normal clothes for Deidara were often made of fishnet, tighter, and less modest, in a sense. Itachi had been in the room at the time, and the question had brought his unwanted attention. With Itachi's cold eyes boring threats into Deidara's psyche, the teenager spouted off an excuse, of which he had quite a plethora of, now.

"Looser clothes are more comfortable," or "they're easier to train in," or any other lie that would get the asker off his back. Kisame accepted the lie without a doubt, nodding off the confusion and heading out, with Itachi close behind him. In passing Deidara, their shoulders bumped together. Deidara hunched his shoulders to close in on himself, the brief, discreet contact jarred him just as much as if Itachi had punched him. A hint of a smirk passed over Itachi's expression in the moment Deidara glanced up at him. Deidara immediately lowered his gaze to the floor until he could no longer hear the footsteps walking away. Seconds ticked by until silence washed over the room. Deidara looked down to see that the clay he had been sculpting before the altercation had taken place, was now pulverized in his hand. Deidara cursed as he yanked the handle to the sink, washing away the remnants of what clung to his fingers, just the same way he washed away fear.

"Ow!" Deidara startled himself out of the reverie by pressing too hard on a wound he had on his stomach. He pried his shirt open for a quick inspection, worried it may have started bleeding again, but it didn't appear to be. The wound had several like it in different spots. Bruises, cuts, to places where teeth, nails or weapons had torn into flesh like starving animals. The wounds went untended—Deidara didn't see the point in taking care of them when he knew they would only be replaced or reopened again. Besides, it wasn't worth it. A whore deserved to live like this.

Deidara's lips curled back into a grimace. A whore, a joke, that was all he was. That was all his peers considered him. The one person Deidara had respected in this god damn place had thought so, too, and he was gone. Sasori had left Deidara alone, and without that thin wall of intimidation, Deidara had lost a battle he hadn't even known he'd been fighting. How could he have? Who had the foresight to predict their own allies would turn against them—would do something like this to them? Deidara had never trusted Itachi, nor had he any reason to trust Hidan, but he had not thought them to be capable of this.

But, why not? They were all murderers, monsters, that's all they would ever be. Deidara was no stranger to cruelty in the world. He had committed murder, arson, and heinous acts, himself. To doubt the lengths of another's malevolence was a mistake only someone naïve could make. Deidara couldn't afford that, and he'd ended up on the wrong side of the consequences.

Hands came for Deidara, at night, in the dark. Detached hands that were cold enough to burn his skin. To make him writhe in sleep and wake up with his lungs barren and heaving. Behind his eyelids flashed images of a cold smirk, spinning crimson, and adroit hands. Hands that knew exactly where to press, and where to hurt. There would be a deep chuckle against his ear. There would be rough and calloused hands that bruised, and wielded blades that cut into Deidara's skin…

The memories were vivid, whether they were from a week ago or just that evening. Nothing ever dulled, they only seemed to grow stronger, more frequent. Deidara hadn't had a peaceful sleep in weeks. The words, the touches, the pain. None of it ever seemed to stop, now. It was a part of Deidara, and he didn't think he could ever recover from any of it.


The sudden knocking at Deidara's door slammed him face first back into reality. He lifted his gaze from his hands and towards the door, as if it were a portal opening for a monster to step through. Few people would knock on his door, and he could make a guess on who it was. "What do you want?" he called through the door. Though, he didn't know why he even bothered. He hadn't even finished his question before the door was flung open and one bounding, chaotic boy burst into Deidara's room, as if he owned the place.

"Senpai!" Deidara regarded Tobi with the same expression he might a bouncy, dumb puppy. He might've wasted breath asking what his partner wanted, but there was no reason, Tobi was already launching into it. "Get up! We have to leave on a mission, Leader-sama wants us gone, right now!"

"Where are we—"

"Kirigakure! We can't let him down! He needs us to fetch a scroll that someone stole from our allies. We're to kill the thieves too, to punish them for crossing us!" Tobi punched the air to punctuate his sentence. He didn't notice (or perhaps didn't mind) Deidara's flat expression. How a capable ninja had enough energy and enthusiasm for a room of children was beyond Deidara. He'd long since tired of lecturing Tobi. Or, at least he didn't bother doing it every hour. Tobi wasn't going to change, and Deidara supposed he had gotten used to his partner's overactive glory. That infernal orange mask, though, Deidara was never going to get used to.

"Got it. Give me ten minutes, yeah." That's all he needed, just ten minutes to pull himself together. Behind Tobi, a looming figure passed by. Deidara froze where he was beginning to stand up, catching the gaze of a pair of cool, fuchsia eyes. Hidan didn't say a word as he walked past the room, but the wolfish smirk that crossed his lips spoke enough. Deidara stumbled in his movement. His voice also abandoned him in one whoosh, leaving him feeling like he was struggling underwater. Hidan was already gone, but the panic didn't follow him, it lingered with Deidara.

Tobi approached Deidara once Hidan had passed, leaning down a bit to look closer at Deidara due to the blond being a few inches shorter. "Senpai," Tobi cocked his head, "are you okay?" Tobi had noticed the way Deidara had faltered, his eyes zeroing in on Hidan, widened with horror. It was very out of character for his senpai, whom Tobi knew to be afraid of no one!

Frustrated and humiliated by the cold fingers of fear that wrapped around him, Deidara shook off Tobi's worry. "I'm fine," he muttered under his breath. The last thing he wanted was to have Tobi pattering off a plethora of "are you okay?" throughout the week. Straightening up, Deidara nudged past Tobi. "Let's get this over with, un. I don't want to have to hunt someone down in the middle of the night." Deidara hurled the excuse, already exiting the room. He stormed down the hall in hopes he might finally outrun the vitriolic feelings in him.

Deidara didn't notice Tobi standing, calmly, watching him.

Tobi was many things. Among those things were loud, fast, energetic, but above all, he was a liar. His personality was built on a foundation of deception, brick by brick of lies to create the inconspicuous persona. The secret had lived for years, hidden underneath a mask and a high-pitched voice, because the truth was that Tobi wasn't anything at all.

A cool gaze watched Deidara's back retreat down the hallway. Tobi waited until the boy had vanished completely before relaxing his stiff posture. It wore on one's nerves, living out a life as someone who wasn't you, but it was a price Tobi was more than willing to pay. For now, at least, this was a necessary sacrifice, no matter how weary it became. Tobi served a purpose, and damned if his use wasn't going to be drained dry.

"Tobi! Hurry up, un!" Tobi lifted his head when he heard Deidara's voice echoing down the hallway. A small smile curved the man's lips despite the heavy weight on his shoulders. Tobi had grown a bit fond of Deidara in the several months they had worked together, a partnership that Tobi himself had made the decision for. Sasori's death had come as a surprise and as a significant loss to the organization, one that had been a struggle. Rather than hunt for a subordinate to replace Sasori, Tobi instead chose to take Sasori's place. Deidara was a powerful asset, one Tobi wanted to keep an eye on, and in the end, it was turning against Tobi.

"Tobi!" Deidara's frustrated shout drew a scoff of laughter from Tobi. The boy had always been impatient, even into his early adulthood.

Lifting his head, Tobi cleared his throat and called back to Deidara, "coming, Senpai!" The voice grated even on his own nerves. Remind him, if he were to ever need another persona, to create one that was much less vivacious a character. It didn't suit him, anymore. With a quick readjustment of the mask, Tobi squared his shoulders and headed out of the door with the ever-present spring in his step. He passed through the dim corridor, leading out to one of few exits in the expansive underground base. This one opened into the mouth of a cave, where the darkness soon cut into blinding sunlight. Tobi covered the eyehole in his mask with a despondent screech, one that went largely ignored by Deidara.

Deidara glanced at Tobi as the boy struggled to collect himself. How many times had Deidara warned Tobi to cover his eye upon exiting the base? Enough to where the blond no longer had much pity for the idiot. Still, watching Tobi scramble for composure was funny, in a way that watching a child make a silly mistake might be. Deidara covered his mouth and turned his back to Tobi, covering up the would-be smile. "I have to focus, idiot. Calm down for a second."

Tobi quieted instantly at the order, gluing his attention to Deidara as the young man set a small clay bird on the ground. The pure white creation began to enlarge, burgeoning into a gigantic bird big enough to carry two full grown adults. Tobi clapped his hands at the show, only to pause and cock his head in apparent confusion. "Senpai, there's only one!" Deidara almost always made Tobi ride on a separate bird, he said it kept him sane.

"I know, dumbass, I'm the one who made it. Hurry up and get on it, yeah." Deidara folded his arms after uttering the impatient command. Tobi didn't need telling twice. It was clear Deidara wasn't in the mood to explain anything, so Tobi shut his trap and bounded up to the bird so that he could hop up on it. He whirled around and knelt on the bird, thrusting his hand down to help Deidara on. He always offered to help Deidara, though the blond usually smacked his hand away.

Deidara was apparently also not in the mood for that, either. With one cool look up at Tobi, he clasped the hand offered to him, and allowed Tobi to pull him up. Tobi did so with an unnerving ease—of course, Deidara had always been someone slight, compared to Tobi's own stature. Now, it was surprising how easy it was to pull Deidara onto the bird, as if he had lost weight in the last months. It was hard to notice any difference, with the baggy clothes Deidara had taken to wearing as of late. Immediately upon getting steady on the bird, Deidara yanked his hand from Tobi's grasp, clenching his fist at his side. Tobi could have thought he'd just burned Deidara, by such a reaction.

"Sit in the middle, un. I don't want you fucking falling off again." Deidara crouched on the bird and, with a quiet murmur, it began to rise off the ground. Tobi scrambled to get seated, clinging to the bird for support. Deidara glanced back once, just to reassure Tobi was steady. He didn't want to have to make a last-ditch rescue, again. Deidara's nerves were shot as it was.

"Senpai, I can see everything up here!" Tobi exclaimed, leaning precariously close to the edge to see over it. Deidara fought the urge to yank Tobi back to the middle.

"Get back, idiot. You've seen the same things countless times, they don't matter anymore, yeah." No response came after that, which wasn't as much of a relief as Deidara wanted it to be.

Tobi stilled, his eyes narrowing behind the protection of his mask. Deidara had never said something like that, the teenager had always had a vibrant way of looking at life. As painful as it was to speak the pun, Deidara lived explosively. To hear him speak with such nihilism roused suspicion in Tobi, and it wasn't the first time Tobi had had doubts, lately. He had known and observed Deidara before they were paired together, enough to read him pretty well. In the year that he had worked alongside the bomber, Tobi had noticed changes in Deidara's personality.

It hadn't been enough to warrant curiosity at first. A sobered appearance, a quieter disposition, nothing that Tobi would have considered out of the ordinary. Not until it began to grow more common...and until Tobi noticed the bags under Deidara's eyes. That had prompted questions, and concern over Deidara's sleeping habits, in the form of Tobi poking him about it. Tobi had noticed Deidara's pallid appearance and his skittish glances around the room, even if Deidara didn't realize Tobi was paying attention to him.

Tobi was always paying attention. He saw what he wanted to, regardless if others didn't.

Several seconds of silence passed with Tobi staring at Deidara's tense posture. "Senpai?" he ventured. Had he not been watching the blond, anticipating a reaction, Tobi would have missed the flinch in Deidara's shoulders. When no reply came, Tobi continued, because why would this fool ever stop? "You don't look very well! In fact, ever since Hidan—"

"Shut up." Deidara's cold, hissed words coupled with a glare over his shoulder. Tobi recoiled from the ice emanating in Deidara's expression, but not without emitting a startled squeak, first.

"I was only asking!" Tobi exclaimed, waving his hands in a gesture of surrender. The bird took a sudden drop, lowering towards the ground at an alarming rate that wrenched a cry from Tobi. Deidara, unaffected by the plummet, only stopped the bird when they were just inches from the ground.

"Well, don't." After spitting the words out, Deidara jumped off the bird before it touched down. Tobi didn't stop him, nor did he bother calling out after him. The wheels in his head were turning, searching for the pieces that were missing to his answer. Or rather, perhaps it was the question that still wasn't quite put together. Deidara had never been fond of questions, but that hadn't ever earned such an intense reaction. What had brought on such an outburst? He had been still until Tobi said Hidan's name, then his entire demeanor had changed within the span of a blink.

Tobi paused, just about to hop down. Deidara's behavior earlier, when Hidan had walked past them... Tobi had noticed Hidan's pause right in front of the door. He hadn't acknowledged the Jashinist at the time, he'd had his gaze on Deidara. Deidara had turned as white as a ghost, all in the moment Hidan had been there. The way he had lashed out when Tobi spoke the other man's name only served as fuel to the suspicion burning in the back of Tobi's mind.

It was hard to miss the way Hidan behaved around Deidara. He was crude, overly physical and knocking into Deidara, intimidating... It was usually how Hidan acted, but it was Deidara's reaction towards him that was worrying. Tobi set his jaw, sliding down off the bird and looking out towards Deidara. The young man stood off near the edge of the clearing, waiting on Tobi to begin scouting. The group had a camp nearby, where they lurked at the outskirts of a small town that they got their provisions from. The mission would be simple and fast, if all went well.

"Are you ready, un? Let's get it over with!"

Nothing was well, and Tobi wanted to learn why.

"That mission could have gone better, yeah." Deidara's sarcastic mutterings were, at least, a part of his personality that still appeared intact. Tobi trotted past the sulking blond, destination being a place to stay in the little town they were close to.

"Come on, cheer up, senpai! Look how cute this place is! They might have a perfect hotel for us to stay in!" Tobi turned over his shoulder, as if Deidara could see his expression. "Besides, we got the scroll! Mission success!"

"Mission success, if you consider blowing a crater in the ground and almost blowing the stupid thing up along with all those bozos, un." Deidara had the scroll secured in his pack, ready to deliver back to Pein, but there had been a bit of a…miscalculation. There were a lot more people in the snappy gang of wannabe anarchists than anticipated. They were also ranked nin, something not taken into account, as the intel had hinted none of them were ninja. Right, tell that to Deidara's clay pouch, which was half empty. The explosion had destroyed a patch of forest about a mile around in circumference, as well as most of the enemy nin. Hopefully all of them, but Deidara hadn't exactly thought to stop and count smoldering remains.

"Senpai, you usually consider a blowing a crater in the ground to be a victory!" Tobi was too busy talking over his shoulder to notice the door rapidly approaching his face, until he ran smack into it. Deidara snorted to stifle the laugh that erupted forth, but it only made him laugh even harder. He watched as Tobi held his head and proclaimed a threat to the door. "Why are you laughing? This thing could have seriously injured me! Senpai!" Tobi's whining got through to Deidara soon, though said blond was still holding an arm around his stomach to keep himself from busting a gut.

"You've fallen off my birds before, idiot. I don't think a door would've done you much damage, so get through it before you break it, un." Deidara reached past his mortally wounded partner and opened the door, prompting a cool blast of air to hit him in the face. It was much colder inside than it was outside, which was unfortunate, considering Kiri was nothing but a foggy icebox. Tobi trudged in behind Deidara, still bitter about the door incident. But, at the back of his mind, his consciousness had the tatters of a different problem at hand.

Tobi only listened with vague focus as Deidara ordered a room for the night. The receptionist was one small and anxious looking young woman, who watched Tobi the entire time instead of Deidara. She all but threw the key at Deidara once the payment completed. Before following Deidara up the stairs, Tobi gave an exaggerated bow to the burdened receptionist, and proceeded up the stairs two at a time. Deidara whipped around in Tobi's direction when the boy landed at the top of the stairs. The blond's arms were already reaching up to brace in front of him.

"It's just me!" Tobi's voice deepened for a moment, but it ended in an exclamation. Deidara's arms dropped and he scowled at Tobi, though what on earth he could have said wrong was beyond the masked boy.

"I know, idiot. You're just too loud." Deidara jammed the key into the lock and yanked the door open, miraculously not snapping the key off in the process. Anyone would have been reluctant to follow the storming boy into a room alone; but, Tobi was not anyone, and he trusted that he knew how to handle this.

Tobi shut the door and locked it, he even made a show of loudly clicking the lock and setting the key down on the bedside table. The one bedside table in the room. Because there was only one, queen sized bed. One. Tobi felt irritation crawl up the back of his throat, but he swallowed before it burned long. Deidara didn't comment on the arrangement, so Tobi shouldn't, either. The clerk may have mistaken Deidara for a woman, which didn't happen often. With the way Deidara's hair hid his face and the loose clothes hid his frame, perhaps it was a bit difficult to tell. Tobi would have to take the floor, but that was a step above sleeping outside, which might happen if he complained.

Deidara made to sit on the bed, but Tobi clicked his tongue in disapproval. "Shower first! You'll feel much better, and you'll get to sleep easier!"

The look Deidara aimed at Tobi could have frozen black flames solid. Tobi cowered back from the display, but if anything, the fact that Deidara got up and headed towards the shower was more of a fright. Deidara sometimes listened to Tobi's advice, but it was rare and far between. Tobi waited until he heard the shower turning on, then he heaved a heavy sigh full of too much weariness for Tobi to have in him. It was beginning to test him, continuing this. Now with the added suspicion that there was a threat to his partner's well-being, well. It was lucky that the physical mask didn't crack when the one inside his head did.

Tobi picked up the scroll that Deidara had set on the table, staring down at it with an interest that would have to wait until later. It contained a powerful jutsu, one that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands. Of course, some may believe their hands to be the wrong ones, too, but Tobi's plans did not consider them.

The shower cut off, ending the brief peace. Tobi turned when the door opened, letting out a burst of steam as well as a towel-clad Deidara, whose hair was loose and still damp from the shower. The blond was carrying his pack with him, but he paused when he saw Tobi holding the scroll. A fine brow cocked. "You planning on taking that and destroying the town, un?" It was obvious by the hint of a smile on Deidara's lips that he was kidding. He couldn't have had any idea that he was somewhat on the correct path, there.

"I wouldn't need a scroll for that, senpai!" Tobi set the scroll down again and turned around, snatching up his pack to head for his own shower. It was a quick affair, but Tobi did linger for a spell, wishing the hot water scrubbed away much more than blood and dirt. Once he stepped out to dry, Tobi glanced in the mirror. He looked again, taking in the features that were starting to grow unfamiliar. How long had he hidden behind that mask, how rarely did he take it off? His own face was starting to look strange to him. A deep sigh blew past Tobi's lips, exhaling reluctance to replace the mask. Perhaps there would be a good enough reason, someday; for now, this was who he was.

The door creaked in protest when Tobi opened it, as if it wanted to retire from a life of constant opening and closing. Tobi might have worried about the groaning noise, had he not looked to the bed and found Deidara already unconscious. The blond was curled up on his side, his hair down and spilled around the pillow. Tobi's gaze drifted towards a silver glint sitting on the bedside table—Deidara's eye scope. The sight took Tobi by surprise, because he almost never knew Deidara to take it off. At some point, Tobi had asked if Deidara even could, only to be met with a judgmental scoff.

To take the scope off was a mark of trust, one Deidara had once only shown Sasori. Tobi wasn't sure if he admired this honor, or pitied Deidara for it.

The floor did not look at all inviting, and the bed beckoned with a seductive warmth that Tobi didn't quite want to ignore. Deidara would be annoyed in the morning, but that infamous temper was a risk Tobi was going to take, tonight. The mattress dipped beneath his weight as Tobi slipped into it, the sheets were cool and smooth and much more inviting than the usual cold ground. The same weariness plaguing his head seemed to be drizzling into his body too, now. Tobi winced as the edge of the mask cut into his face. Sleeping with the damn thing was unpleasant, but was it worth the threat to take it off? Tobi usually woke before Deidara did, he should be able to put the mask back on before Deidara even noticed. The boy's curiosity had grown less and less over the months. Perhaps he wouldn't even comment on it, if Tobi kept his back to Deidara it shouldn't present much of a problem.

Tobi was arguing with himself. Maybe his sanity really was growing questionable. Reaching up, he slipped the mask off and moved to set it down on the floor beside him. He conked out before the mask was even out of his hand.

The turning point came in the middle of the night, the quietest time and where nothing felt quite real. Tobi woke several moments before he dared to move. He lay still, eyes closed and his hearing sharp as he tried to pick up on the sound that had awoken him. After another minute of nothing, Tobi began to doubt it was anything of importance, then it came again. It was a quiet, muffled noise that sounded like someone covering their voice behind their hand.

The bed shook underneath movement from Deidara, who had just jerked in his sleep. Tobi opened his eye, welcoming his vision to brief darkness while they adjusted quickly. He sat up in bed while assessing the room for any threats. It was an unbreakable habit for the man, by now. Nothing was out of the ordinary, it was all the same as when he and Deidara had fallen asleep.

The noise. Tobi heard a raspy inhale, one sucked in by desperate lungs, and glanced down. He'd heard the noise plenty of times in his life, the breathing of someone so terrified they could scarcely get enough air into their ashy lungs.

Beside him, Deidara had further curled in on himself, shrinking into the sheets like a child struggling to erase themselves from view. Time slowed as Tobi watched Deidara's expression contort into one of pain. No stranger to nightmares, Tobi considered turning back over and allowing Deidara to sleep it off, but something brought him to a pause. Deidara's lips were moving, and though it was barely audible, he was talking in his sleep. Tobi leaned a bit closer to see if he could discern what Deidara was saying. The words came rushed and breathless, but Tobi could still pick some apart.

"Please…get off…don't do this…not again…stop!" Deidara's voice went from an incoherent murmur into a pleading exclamation, pushing Tobi back a bit. Deidara lashed out, clawing at the sheets and shoving them away from him. His head shook back and forth wildly, making it a legitimate concern that he might give himself whiplash. Tobi hesitated before he reached out, waiting to see if Deidara might shake himself awake. The only thing Deidara did was continue to mutter incomprehensibly and toss and turn. Finally, before the blond could hurt himself, Tobi reached out and grabbed Deidara by the shoulder to keep him from falling off the bed.

Tobi might as well have torn Deidara's arm off, by the reaction he received. Deidara did wake up, violently, and he ripped himself out of Tobi's grip without even opening his eyes. Only after the teenager had bolted up and was safely out of grasp did he open them, as if just realizing he was awake. Glittering blue eyes pried open, greeted by several seconds of darkness. Gradually, a blurry figure came into focus, but it didn't register familiarity with Deidara.

Immediately, Deidara stood off the bed, his hands reaching for the clay pouch that wasn't attached to his hip. His eye scope still sat on the table, where it did him no good. Deidara felt as good as naked. "Who the fuck are you, yeah? Where's my partner?" Deidara demanded, pinning this stranger with a cold, impatient glare, only to find him not so unfamiliar at all. The man's face was mostly concealed by the darkness, but Deidara could see his stature, his build.

Deidara wavered a bit. He was not fully awake, his body and mind both exhausted, and he was still half in the nightmare. Deidara started to collapse under the immense weight, and if not for Tobi, he would have hit the floor. Tobi wrapped an arm around Deidara's waist and supported the boy's weight. The sheets fluttered back onto the bed, disturbed by the unnatural speed with which Tobi had moved. "Easy," Tobi muttered, lowering Deidara to sit on the bed, "you aren't in any danger."

"Let go of me," Deidara spoke in a strained voice. He relaxed once his command was obeyed. Tobi stepped back to allow Deidara the space he needed so much. "You—you aren't Tobi, un." Deidara's disoriented thoughts were running amok, and as clear as his question was in his head, he couldn't voice it exactly the way he wanted to.

Tobi lifted his chin a bit, keeping his eye shut, and Deidara's voice caught in his throat. It was a reaction Tobi expected, people were not…used to an appearance like his. "You're right, in a way," Tobi began, "I am Tobi, but it isn't my real name. I created him as a mask to use." There were many other lies intertwined with that of "Tobi" and his creation, but if those could be avoided for now, they were going to be.

Deidara's gaze rose, away from the scar marring Tobi—the man's—face. "What's your real name?" Deidara wasn't sure if he was truly asking or if he was humoring the man.

Tobi opened his eye.

"My name is Uchiha Obito."

Hey, guys! This story is very old and I doubt any of the new readers will return to it, and frankly they shouldn't have to because I have changed some very deep elements of this fic. It was once a MadaDei story, but that was before the big revelation in the manga, I decided during the rewrite that I'm currently doing with everything, that I would change the main pairing and write in Obito instead. I was very hesitant about that decision, but I find it works better than Madara did and I can take a little more artistic liberty considering Obito is a bit more free-spirited and open than Madara.

I hope this decision flies with those who were old fans of this story, and if not, my deepest apologies and I'd be happy to email you the previous version of the fic, though it's a nightmare written by a fourteen-year-old. Still, do feel free to message me if you liked the Madara version better.

This story is very hard to rewrite, considering how unrealistic and OOC it was prior to me attempting it again, so it still will be no work of art; but it will at least be a step up from where it was before!