Hi. Sorry this update is so late….I'm quite busy at the mo. But I'll try and make sure the next update is as soon as possible. Thanks you all for the reviews of the last chapter, they were much appreciated. ^^ And I suppose it goes without saying that I thank OneSecondEternity for directing half of you in my direction. XD

But, anyway, let's hope chapter 2 was worth the wait, eh? I'm getting anxious just thinking about it!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto! Or Sasori, or Deidara or- (*muffle muffle*)

Now, I wasn't an early riser, I'd deducted, and I was under the impression that where we were going had the same foundational structure of punctuality and time that any school did. So I was pleasantly surprised to be lulled to consciousness by the small of food, rather than a sadistic Itachi with a whip, and/or a cold bucket of water.

Rubbing sleep from my eyes with a yawn, I thought back to the night before After I'd had my fill of looking at my friend's faces, mixing in personalities and traits to fit their looks, while Itachi gazed off to the side in a subdued silence and left me to my own devices, he gave me a brief tour of the house, where my boundaries were (I had very few. But I'd sort of set my own for the time being), and showed me to my spare room. The interior wasn't a neutral one you'd expect of a spare room; pale and routine, so as not to offend, but not particularly interesting either. The walls were black, bordered with a single strip of crimson though the middle of the wall, several items left next to a mirror on the dresser as though the room had not long been vacated. It crossed my mind for a moment that there were so many things I hadn't asked Itachi, and so I added how long they'd lived in this home to my progressively growing list. When I'd first entered the room, the curtains had been sloppily tugged back, as opposed to a fresher, pinned-back look that I'd grown accustomed to. They dangled limply, allowing the morning rays to beat back enough energy for me to rise. And yet, Itachi claimed that this personalised room was simply a spare.

I blinked as I rose in bed, stretching like a cat as I gave a roar of a yawn. I couldn't quite identify the smell, but as I peered around my bedroom door, wondering if closing the distance would make it any clearer. The sound of laughter pooled down the hallway, greeting my ears in a way nothing in this house had. It almost seemed out of place, with the silent, spotless ambiance of the night before. I was positive such a hearty sound couldn't come from Itachi. My feelings were confirmed when I heard the soprano of a female voice join it. The sound settled my anxiety, and made me feel bold enough to leave the room, the sudden sense of security inviting. Hearing a quietly sighed insult from a voice slightly more shrill that Itachi's, yet gruffer, I paused again for a moment, weighing my options. I ran back through yesterday again, counting in my head the brief mention of the other occupants of the house. If I was right, they were all there, now. I nodded my head decisively. Now or never.

I descended the stairs, one foot at a time as I held onto the mahogany banister tightly. With each hesitant step I took, the mixed buzz of the household's murmur increased in volume. Peering around the last corner that acted as my obstacle and protective barrier, I noted that I had been correct. Seated around a rectangular table was Itachi, dressed already and helping himself to a bowl of food. From across the table to him sat two younger boys, one a spitting image of Itachi, yet his complexion even more pale, and his bizarrely spiked hair tinted a dark blue. A dozen bird analogies went through my head, as I noted that his eyes favoured an onyx colour, as opposed to Itachi's bright red irises. Beside him, his polar opposite; another blonde boy, his locks honey coloured and flicking out in an impish disarray that I approved of. With bright blue eyes, a Cheshire cat grin, and scars on his face akin to whiskers, I couldn't tell which of the pair made better devils or angels. And finally, a female young, yet much older than us, turned from her place across the room to set the last morsel of breakfast down to complete the mouth-watering set. With skin akin to the other boy, and a cascade of ebony flowing down her back, I identified her as Itachi and his Brother's Mother.

The first to notice me, she acknowledged me with a quiet smile and a nod, before placing some utensils on the table to match the last bowl. "Itachi." She prompted in a murmur, inclining her head to me. At that, all three heads turned in my direction. All Uchihas looked non-plussed, whereas the blonde peered curiously around Itachi's brother, a knowing smile on his face.

Once again, I grumbled to myself inside my head. Why did everyone always want me to make the first move? "Hi. I'm Itachi's friend, Deidara. " I bowed again.

Itachi blinked at the chiding scowl she gave him, before she beamed at me again. At least someone was on my side. "Hi Deidara. Nice to meet you. That's Naruto, and Sasuke." She pointed to them as she spoke. "Ignore Sasuke. He's not a 'morning' person." She giggled, Naruto barking out a laugh as Itachi snorted and Sasuke's eyes travelled languidly across the table to give her a half-hearted glare. Even I cracked a smile when she said something about hormones. "Oh, and you can call me Mikoto. Come and eat with us, Deidara." I grinned sheepishly, seating myself next to Itachi, who nodded to me before sending a teasing smirk to Sasuke, which received a glare. As I pondered over what that little transaction could have meant, Naruto grinned at me from across the table, falling into a conversation with Sasuke, and as the murmuring continued, the morning went off without anymore hitches.

"So this is you guy's first year?" I asked.

"Yeah. It took a while to choose a name, but in the end, we called it 'black wing.'" He snickered. "I was all for calling it 'Naruto'…" He made a show of making 'jazz hands' as he gazed up into the space above him. I wasn't the only one to roll my eyes at that one.

We explored the vast hallways inside the half-abandoned building. It was rich in dust and 'knowledge', and old. The 'grand piano' type of place, with high, mahogany arches and huge scenic windows from which we could see what easily could have once been a campus of some kind. Itachi mentioned something about it being a derelict boarding school on the way to Sasuke and Naruto's high school.

It was evening, not quite dark, but the sun at its peak and giving way to dusk to become the new monarch of the sky. Even if I couldn't really remember attending the school, the thought of something out of the norm was exciting. My chest pounded painfully with anticipation and weariness all at once as I fell into step with Naruto and Sasuke. My original plan had been to wedge myself between them and gain Naruto's attention. He was sociable, and I easily felt comfort around him, as opposed to Sasuke who had said few words to me without prompting from Naruto or Itachi. The two were joined at the hip. Practically inseparable, even though their charade of bickering. Every now and then Sasuke would glare at Naruto, or administer a slap or punch, to which Naruto would respond with equal violence. But then the grin would re-appear on his face, and Sasuke would direct his attention elsewhere, their sleeves brushing from close proximity. I almost expected more teasing from Itachi, but if he noticed anything he hadn't said so.

"-And so ours was just as good as good as Akatsuki's." Naruto finished accounting to me the tail of their class's debut performance. Avengers, a love triangle, lots of guns. They were younger, and had way more girls in their group, which obviously meant they had to appease them somehow. Although I'd have loved to see the special effects for the guns. Why I wasn't in the 'behind the scenes' branch I didn't know. I didn't exactly feel like an exhibitionist at the moment.

Sasuke scoffed, his head turning in our direction nonchalantly. "Please. Ours was better than Akatsuki…" He boasted unashamedly.

"Watch that mouth of yours, little brother. I'd hate to remind you just who is superior in the relationship."

That comment ruffled his feathers particularly well. "Superior my ass! I can beat you any day of the week, Itachi!" He snarled.

"Where was I during this alleged 'but whooping'? The only thing I've seen you do to my behind is ki-"

I flinched, immediately throwing myself out of the path of danger as he launched for Itachi. I blinked, and Sasuke was pinned to the floor, arm restrained behind his back by one of Itachi's, his other on Sasuke's head as he sat on his back. He blinked theatrically, as if only just noticing that he had an audience.

"Oh, look, you've embarrassed yourself in front of our audience." Naruto rolled his eyes, mumbling a warning to Itachi as he dusted himself off and extended a hand to Sasuke. Begrudgingly, he took it, his face flushed as he looked anywhere but our direction. I glanced at Naruto questioningly.

"Brotherly love; Itachi pisses Sasuke off, Sasuke looses fight. Both have odd bonding moment. Frequent pass time. Itachi gets a sadistic kick out of it." At Naruto's explanation, he earned an icy stare (it wasn't even a glare. They were good at getting their point across with out actually…Doing anything.), and a somewhat more chipper looking older brother. Maybe they weren't as similar as I had imagined.

We continued walking for a short while more, before the two younger of our little foursome paused in front of a door labelled '207'. I stared at the golden number imbedded in the door, my chest jumping in that nasty, yet pleasant way again.

"This is our stop." Naruto announced, hooking an arm around Sasuke's shoulders. After a moment, he removed it calmly. "Good luck, Dei!" he called, and then the two were gone, the hallway momentarily resounding with the sound of the old door clicking shut.

Following Itachi once more, I stared at the smile on his face incredulously. "So you are a sadist."

"The brightest of them," he chirped through his monotone, a skip in his step. I considered fleeing, before weighing the cons. Sasuke was used to Itachi's fights. It'd probably take less than a blink for him to grab me and haul me back. I got the feeling he knew what I was thinking, because he smiled in a way that was enough to show a tiny bit of teeth, without his mouth looking alarmingly wide. I decided then and there that subtle insanity was the worst kind.

And then we stopped again. From inside, I could hear a voice. Only one. The acoustics in this building were really interesting. I wondered if it had been abandoned before this because the echo was disruptive. Or if it was perfectly normal when filled with the bustle of hectic students and lots of furniture. This looked…Barren.

My eyes panned upwards, away from Itachi pressing the tips of his fingers against the door and waiting for my signal. Ironically enough, this was the last door on the hall, and the wing. The number read '250', in a shining silver, contrasting oddly with the neglected gold. Chrome snakes encircled the numbers, coiling around them in a dangerous embrace. I raised a brow, but decided to store it away to ask about later. I nodded my head, licking my lips as he pressed the handle and put enough pressure on to push the door forward.

He paused. "Oh, and a word of warning; whatever you do, just relax. He likes that." I opened my mouth to ask who, but he was already halfway though the threshold. I followed hurriedly.

I half expected it to be like it was in those TV dramas, where the new kid was ogled at, and everything was put on hold for me at my chagrin. But as we glided across the room, to the west side, not one eye strayed from the teacher. Through the adrenaline, I managed to make out long inky hair, ashen skin and moss green eyes that shone as he talked animatedly to the small group of students. His eyes strayed to mine for only a second of brief acknowledgement, before he continued whatever he was talking about.

There were plenty of spare seats. I pondered idly if they were redundant, or if they really belonged to student who may or may not show. I still wasn't quite familiar with how it worked. I settled between Itachi and a girl with long, magenta hair and a black bandanna. At my approach her fingers flitted protectively over her flute as a reflex, a strange, dark tattoo travelling from said fingers, around her wrist, and as far up her arm as was exposed. So this place had musicians, too.

Again, besides that little action, she wasn't too bothered by my presence. It was then that I realised why that was. I wasn't a new kid. These were faces I once knew, perhaps came to grow fond of, they had memories of my life, my face, that I didn't. I scanned the room for any faces from the picture, and to my happiness, I picked several from where I sat, though not all. Grinning wildly, I clicked my heels against my chair wildly as I fiddled with my hands, threading them in and out of each other. From the side, Itachi, who had been watching me, closed his eyes, a little 'hn' of approval greeting my ears. For his presence, I was grateful. He'd made easing back into the normal world much swifter then I'd expected. Though I wasn't ready to branch away from him just yet. I could say, and feel, that in this life, seamlessly beginning to thread itself into my old one, that Itachi was my friend. And nobody forced that thought from me.

He knew as much.

"So, fucker. Welcome back!" The albino slammed his hands on the table frantically. He did it with so much enthusiasm that his rosary swooped up and hit me in the face.

"Don't scare him with your stupidity, moron." A voice to the side grumbled. My eyes widened as I noticed the Akatsuki approaching me one by one. It was time for a half- hour break from Orochimaru sensei's lecture, and I'd almost slipped my mind that I'd still yet to meet my 'crew'. A part of me also took into account the fact that none of them had changed much from their pictures. I'd assumed that it had been theatrical makeup for the most part, but it seems that our gang did things seriously. The eight, possibly more piercings I spotted on the orange-haired guy and the huge tattoo across the face of the grumpy looking guy were proof of that.

"Give the poor guy some space." The only girl in the crowd approached me, pushing the sliver haired guy out of her way and sitting on my desk. Upon closer inspection, she had one tiny piercing below her lip, too. It moved slightly as she gave me an inviting smile. "I think introductions are necessary."

I nodded gingerly, waiting for her to tell me her name. "So, I'm Konan….That's Pein…" She pointed to the orange-haired dude. What kind of parent called their child that? Unless it wasn't his real name… "Husband and Wife over there are Kakuzu and Hidan." She jerked her thumb in the general direction of the two that had spoken earlier.

"Oi, bitch! Its bad enough snake eyes says it! Don't think I won't sacrifice you just because you have piss flaps!"

After a death scowl, she turned and poked the big, blue guy with spiky hair and sharp teeth that Itachi had turned around to. He waved his hand in a wide arc at me. "Kisame." Then inclined her head to the right, where the two 'painted' boys stood, Identical. One scowled at me, and the other stared at me like I was a piece of meat. The only difference in their appearance was the colour of their clothes. One in white, and one in black. "Zetsu. Er…." She backtracked, waving her hands wildly. "That's what they tell us to call them. But we differentiate by personality. They like to mix colours up. Today, they're wearing the right ones, but you'll have to learn quick. Shiro Zetsu and Kuro Zetsu." Well, that was the longest introduction so far.

"Konan sempai!" A muffled voice asked. "Can I be next?" The boy who still had an eye patch asked. An orange lolly lolled to the side of his mouth, puffing his cheek out as he beamed with the same red eyes Itachi possessed. Konan giggled. "Sure."

"I'm Tobi!" He wiggled his fingers at me. Despite his size, quite taller than some of the members, me being one of them, he was the most childish. Staring at his eye patch, I wondered what was underneath it that was too obscured to show in public even now.

I peered around me at all the different degrees of expression, from Hidan's gum-revealing leer to Konan's humble little glance. I waited anxiously for the introductory air to fizzle out to awkwardness and for the words on everyone's tongues to freeze away, but eventually everyone dissolved into mindless chatter in their messy semi-circle around my desk, enjoying each other's company and mine. Adding the occasional word to integrate myself into their conversation without actually being too involved, I was well aware of the light creak from the door and the lean figure that peaked through the crack, before pushing the door out of his path and making his way over to a flailing Orochimaru Sensei on the other side of the room, whom then attempted light banter with him, and failed, giving a martyred pout in his direction before dismissing him.

He wandered over to us blindly, seamlessly navigating through desks and other animate objects, nose buried into the same navy folder he'd ambled into the room with. Luck finally catching up to him as he bumped into Kisame, his head jerked up, revealing the same russet eyes from the shattered picture.

"Ah-sorry I kept you waiting, guys. Tsunade-sensei went off on another of her drunken rambles. And Shizune was out. I think that's why the snake bastard sent me. Rotten fool." He grumbled. Well, I say grumbled, but it was too soft to be one. Yet the undertone of annoyance gave his murmur a gruff quality. I watched as his bloody-tinted hair followed his movements, a long, stray strand caught between his lips for a moment before he brushed it away indifferently. He'd yet to see me, and yet I waited, entranced.

"But for you guys to wait, Jeeze, what's the occasion?" He mocked.

At this comment, several of them stiffened. I cocked my head to the side as Hidan huffed and evaded the slowly creeping awkwardness. "You threatened to cut my balls off, that's why. Little red-headed shit."

I waited for Konan to create a link for me to grapple on, but as she said nothing, simply inching close enough to Pein to touch his fingers, a furrow in her brow, I grew impatient. "Yo." I called, jerking my chin up slightly.

Everybody's heads snapped towards me, his included.

"Deidara." He spoke my name, faintly startled. He seemed to dabble between expressions, for settling on a frown. "You're back."

"And I want to know your name." I told him, oddly not put off by the frown in the slightest. In his presence, my movements abruptly grew to be bolder, as though my mind wanted a challenge. No one had dared frown at me like that yet, and it instantly had me on my toes.

"That's not how you ask for someone's name, brat." He scoffed. But I noticed how his shoulders tensed at the word slipping from his mouth. My eyes strayed from his long enough to notice that Konan's hand was now firmly in Pein's palm.

"And I'm pretty sure that's not how you greet people. So give me your name and we're even."

He paused, frown settling into a glower, before the corner of his mouth turned up into a tiny crooked smirk. "You still have backbone. Fine, you earned it. Sasori." His already loose tongue spit out rather lethargically at me.


Not even realising I'd leaned forward in my zeal, I sat back, contented by our little game as I fought to lessen the grin on my face. He blinked his long lashes at me, his face completely apathetic again and the tiny hint of amusement gone with it.

"Five minuets, guys!" A guy with silver hair who dressed way too smart at the front clapped his hands at us. I snickered as I noticed Orochimaru rolling his eyes behind his back from his perch at the front, but not commenting any further.

"Today was pointless." Kisame whined as we exited the not-so-daunting door on our way out. It'd been hard for me to follow, at first, but once I'd gotten over the initial nerves, it seemed like our teacher was as harmless as a gnat. Besides his Zealous personality he clearly wanted to be infectious. I'd noticed he'd given every pupil he'd interacted with a little nickname. He'd go from dramatic idiot to a professional educator with a dangerous streak in a matter of moments. Scorpling, Jaws, Husband and Wife. And the other student loved him for it. It was a twisted routine they'd all seemed to have slipped into. Who was I to question it?

"But someone caused quite a stir in today's agenda…" Itachi gave me a pointed glance before responding to Sasuke's call a head of us. We spilled out into the dark, a hundred creatively-recruited students milling around us and making their own way home.

"Really? I didn't notice." I retorted, waving as the group began to disperse and part ways in front of the large fountain. Only Sasori lingered with us as Naruto struggled to tow a reluctant Sasuke over to us.

"Will you continue to keep us on our toes?" He stood beside me, his eyes completely dismissing my presence and settling on the blonde and dark-haired teens.

"I need something to do, don't I, Sasori?" I whispered, playing his game in every sense of the word. We spoke low enough so that Itachi couldn't hear us, though I didn't know why.

He 'hmphed', closing his eyes for a moment as his lips twitched, before taking his own leave, Naruto and Sasuke less than a yard from us now.

"Then I look forward to it." He shrugged, tossing a hand over his shoulder in farewell.

He continued around the corner, his body devoured slowly by the rapidly approaching night.

And So the Akatsuki officially come into the picture! Yay or Nay?

Thanks for reading…Let me know what you make of it!