Hello all! It's up, it's here, the new chapter! And right on time too, as apparently Sunday was this Story's one year anniversary! So happy Anniversary to the Art of Emotion!
Beta'd by: loveandallthat
This chapter has a lot of character development, and things get serious.
Itachi could tell that his birthday party was going to be interesting. It all started when the door bell rang... Which was interesting in itself because his friends knew that they could just walk in. Sasori was the only one who ever rang the doorbell, and there was no way Sasori had arrived an hour early. He was almost certain the silent boy rang the doorbell solely to put off being inside the house as much as possible. However, what really surprised Itachi was when the person on his doorstep happened to be a certain blonde. A blonde he had only ever seen pictures of because a certain little brother of his was extremely possessive and protective.
"Happy Birthday!" the other cheered before practically skipping past Itachi's frozen form and into the foyer. "Is Sasuke not down yet?" he asked as he hung his jacket up, completely comfortable with being in the Uchiha home. Before Itachi could answer the other's question however, the sound of hurried footsteps could be heard pounding down the stairs.
"Naruto!" growled Sasuke, "I told you to call me when you got here and I'd let you in!"
The second thing that intrigued Itachi was the sight of his brother rushing down the steps. Itachi took in the image of his little brother who looked as though he had thrown on his outfit in ten seconds. The buttons on his shirt were buttoned wrong; he looked thoroughly rumpled and flustered too, and it wasn't even his fault. But what would cause my little brother to be so flustered?
"Oh come on Sasuke! I've told you a thousand times that your brother is not going to eat me; literally or figuratively. Besides, he'd have a hard time with it, as I am much more interested in being eaten by his little brother..." Naruto smirked lustfully as he began to fix the buttons on Sasuke's shirt for him.
Itachi raised an eyebrow at the site of his little brother blushing madly from head to toe. Perhaps he was the cause of his brother's flustered state... indirectly of course.
"Little brother," began Itachi as soon as he felt composed enough, "How very rude of you not to introduce me to your... friend." He cast a mock-disapproving stare at his brother before turning elegantly towards Naruto. Taking Naruto's hand in his with a flourish, he presented it with a gentle kiss, causing a light blush to dust the blond's cheeks. "Please forgive my brother's rudeness. My name is Itachi, Sasuke's older brother. You must be the lovely boyfriend I have heard so little about. I've only ever seen pictures of you when I hack into my brother's computer." He said with no shame whatsoever.
Sasuke, in the middle of finishing fixing his shirt sputtered at that last comment, "-you! Itachi! How many times have I told you to stay away from my computer!" growled Sasuke.
"Come now little brother, it's my job to invade your privacy and blackmail you," chuckled Itachi, making Naruto giggle as well. "So, what are your plans for today?" Itachi inquired towards Naruto.
"Why, your birthday of course! Sasuke told me he needed moral support if he was going to be present at your party!" smiled Naruto.
This caused Itachi to pause in surprise before turning to look at his brother in shock. Said brother was pointedly avoiding eye contact.
Naruto, looking back and forth between the two began piecing things together. "Sasuke, you didn't tell him you were going to be here for the party?"
Sasuke crossed his arms and scoffed, "I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. It's not like I need an invitation, I live here too..."
Naruto sighed, "I swear..."
Itachi, who was still frozen in shock abruptly realized that his normal, emotionless mask was completely gone and quickly moved to fix that.
"Oh, silly little brother," Itachi stepped forward to ruffle his brother's hair in a way that he knew would have Sasuke blowing his top.
"Stop that!" Sasuke attempted to step away, but Itachi caught him in a brotherly headlock before he was out of reach.
"If you wanted to spend time with your big brother you only had to say so," Itachi cooed while calmly petting the top of his head as he spoke. "I knew you still admired me somewhere underneath that hateful façade you always hide behind."
"Let go! Dammit!" Growled Sasuke, "I knew this was a bad idea, let go!"
"No," Itachi denied, "I want to spend some quality time with my baby brother..." Itachi smoothly began dragging Sasuke towards the living room while Naruto followed at a distance, chuckling. What an interesting day indeed...
Deidara sat stiff as a board in the smooth leather passenger seat of Sasori's car. He was sure this car cost more than any amount he would make in his life and he would be damned if he so much as put a scuff mark on it...
"Relax," scoffed Sasori, "Even if you somehow magically cause this car to combust, I can easily buy another one."
Well, excuse me Danna, But not all of us are rich bastards!" Deidara scowled at his newly acquired boyfriend; god, that word sounds so weird in my mind... boyfriend. "And you don't need to rub the fact that you have money in my face either!"
Sasori sighed before quietly speaking, "That was not my intention." Seeing the frown still on the blond's face, he reached over slowly and grasped a piece of hair by his face. Feeling the other boy stiffen, he simply twirled the end about his finger lightly; avoiding the other's face all together. "Relax" he breathed. Sensing the true reason behind the other's boy's agitation and stiffness he added, "There is no need to be so stiff. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you only need to tell me and we can leave." Feeling the other relax slightly, he pulled his hand away.
Deidara breathed deeply, in an attempt to calm down.
"We're here." Sasori parked the car in the large driveway of the Uchiha Mansion before stepping out of the sleek, black car with ease.
The blond looked up briefly only to stiffen in shock at the sight of the huge house.
When it became apparent that the blond was not going to move from the car anytime soon, Sasori sighed before walking around and opening the other's door.
Deidara, pulled from his gaze at the opening of his door, hesitantly took the redhead's offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled from the car. He had never felt more out of place. He felt nervous just sitting in Sasori's car, but seeing the Uchiha's house made him want to start hyperventilating.
Sasori, though he didn't show it, was panicking as well, but for a whole other reason. The blond looked like he was about to faint! He had no idea what to do! How should handle the situation? He reached for the blond, worried he was about to keel over. When he could come to no other conclusion; he simply placed his hand at the small of Deidara's back and began leading him towards the front door. His thumb subconsciously drew small circles on his back.
Deidara began to relax without even realizing it and allowed himself to be guided toward the intimidating home looming before him. He felt like slapping himself when he realized he was fidgeting nervously as Sasori rang the doorbell. He forced himself to be still and tried to muster as much confidence as he could while they waited. Footsteps could be heard approaching the door. As the door opened Deidara felt the hand on his back stop its previous movement and upon glancing at Sasori's face, he could tell the other was feeling a mixture of confusion and surprise. Though, to anyone else his face would appear blank. Since when have I been able to read him so well?
Upon seeing who opened the door he thought he might know why Sasori was so confused. There in the doorway was a blond boy who Deidara only recognized from a picture, and if what Sasuke said before was true... then Sasori would not recognize the other boy.
"You must be Naruto," Deidara smiled brightly, easily matching the mega-watt smile on the other blond's face.
"Yup!" Naruto grinned, "And since you're the only who has known my name so far, you must be Deidara!" He exclaimed. "I love my necklace by the way, thanks so much for helping Sasuke! He's hopeless with these things." He laughed.
"I was delighted," Deidara said sincerely.
Sasori looked back and forth between the two as he pieced together how they knew each other. Looking at the new boy's necklace he could easily see Deidara's handiwork in the piece of jewelry.
"Come on in!" Naruto stepped aside to let them in, "Everyone is in the living room. Sasuke is probably going to be really mad that I left him alone, but I was the only one who was willing to answer the door. I am sure Sasuke would have happily volunteered, but his brother simply refuses to let him leave his side..." Naruto rubbed the back of his head with his hand with a sheepish look.
Sasori simply raised an eyebrow at that comment before continuing on to lead the way into the living room. The two blonds followed behind him together.
Sasori had to admit he was curious. The normal birthday ritual had been disrupted. Deidara was the only blond abnormality he expected to see tonight. Upon walking into the living room, nothing seemed to be out of place except for the fact that Kisame's traditional seat was occupied by a miniature version of the devil himself, and his own usual seat was occupied by Kisame. Itachi and Zabuza were smirking, Pein was chuckling, and Kisame was out right laughing at Sasuke's expense. The mini-Uchiha was clearly trying to free himself from his brother's arm, which rested across his shoulders, without looking like he was trying. Though he was surprised that Itachi was practically cuddling the boy. Well, cuddling by Itachi's standard.
It looked as if Itachi just finished opening the presents everyone had gotten him. A gift card for a free tattoo, a traditional present from Kisame despite the fact that Itachi never used them; a replica antique sword, obviously from Pein as the two of them shared a fondness for weapons; and a book titled 'How to Rule the World', from Zabuza by default, rested on the table with a pile of wrapping paper underneath them.
"Finally, Sasori," Itachi chuckled, "If I didn't know any better I would think you didn't want to be here!"
"Hm," Sasori smirked, "Clearly, you don't know any better."
Deidara stared at Sasori in surprise. Is he... happy?!
Itachi put on a mock-hurt face, "Don't be like that Sasori!" Itachi's pouting quickly turned serious, "Now, enough with the formalities, give me my pocky."
"I don't know what you are talking about," Sasori said, equally serious.
Itachi frowned, his stare becoming murderous, "Give. Me. My. Pocky." Itachi practically growled, making Sasuke freeze in both shock and a little fear considering he was the only one within reach of the murderous Itachi.
"Geez," scoffed Sasori, "You are the only person I know who loves Pocky that much..." Sasori pulled two packs of Pocky tied together by a black ribbon out of his pocket. "I didn't bother wrapping them." He tossed the pocky, his traditional present to Itachi, towards the appeased Uchiha. Itachi wasted no time digging in, even letting go of his brother unconsciously.
Sasuke quickly scooted as far away from his brother as the couch allowed causing a majority of the room to laugh loudly. Sasori simply smirked.
"I still can't believe you decided to finally join us, little-Uchiha!" roared Kisame, "I wonder what you bought for your brother, huh?"
"Don't be silly Kisame," chuckled Itachi between bites of his snack, "Him being here is my present of course, I feel honored that he has simply decided to grace me with his presence."
"You mean you haven't given him his gift yet?" Deidara blurted before he could stop himself. The only thing that surprised him was the fact that he and Naruto spoke at the same time.
The room went very quiet, everyone first looking at the two blonds before looking at Sasuke who was trying to bury himself alive in the couch cushions.
Both blonds looked at each other in surprise before sporting matching sheepish looks.
"Oh! What did you get him?" Kisame pulled the cushions away from a very red Sasuke before beginning to pat down his body for a hidden present.
Sasuke quickly switched from embarrassed to angry before he shoved the blue brute away.
"Shut up!" He growled. Glaring angrily and roughly pulled a horribly wrapped bundle and threw it roughly at his brother before storming from the room.
"Ow," wined Kisame, as he sat up, "that hurt. Little brat is strong..." he grumbled.
"Pft, your just a wuss," Deidara scoffed, while crossing his arms.
"Um," Naruto smiled weakly, "I guess I should go... see to Sasuke, um, you," he looked to Itachi, "should probably open you gift... um, yeah," he turned and followed after his angry boyfriend.
Deidara watched as Itachi looked at the present in his lap as if it was a bomb. Meanwhile everyone in the room was watching Itachi as if he was a bomb.
"Oh for the love of god!" Deidara grabbed a pillow off the nearest chair and threw it at Itachi. "Open the god damn thing! I didn't spend the last two nights trying to finish that thing for nothing!"
After Itachi was abruptly pulled from his stupor he glared at the blond before registering his words. "Wait, you made my present?" Itachi looked toward Deidara suspiciously.
"Yeah," shrugged Deidara, "I called in a favor from Sasuke, and that was the only way I could get him to help me."
Itachi slowly focused on the small package in his lap. It really was poorly wrapped. Slowly peeling back the wrapping paper his eyes zeroed in on the black cord adorned by three, thick silver rings. It was a very simple piece, but Itachi was a very simple person. It was from his little brother. It was... perfect.
Standing up slowly, Itachi calmly walked out of the room, in the same direct his brother had gone. Everyone in the room watched silently.
"I think perhaps it's best if we postpone the party until tomorrow," suggested Pein amicably. "It appears Itachi needs to spend some bonding time with his little brother." Pein stood gracefully, and leaving no room for argument began to stride towards the front door.
Deidara moved slightly closer to Sasori, who had been standing next to him silently, to let Pein pass. Sasori automatically put his arm around the blond's waist, making everyone in the room stare in surprise. Sasori, not even realizing what he had done, stiffened when Deidara leaned into his chest before quickly relaxing.
Pein paused at the door to the living room to watch the new scene with interest.
"So does this mean we can leave now?" asked Deidara, looking up he gave Sasori his best puppy dog face.
Sasori smirked and replied, "Lead the way."
Deidara's face lit up and he quickly wrapped his arms around the redhead and leaned in to whisper in his ear shyly, "We could go on a date? Like a real one, not just you coercing your way into my apartment..." Deidara pulled back to glance at Sasori's face nervously. Even though Sasori said he liked him, and he said he returned his feelings, he still wasn't sure where they stood.
Ever since that confrontation nothing had really happened. Sasori had started showing up at his apartment at 6 am to drive him to school, but since he showed up so early Sasori ended up bringing breakfast too. Sasori had kissed him on the cheek, but only when he dropped him off at work and again when he dropped him off at his flat. They never held hands or kissed on the lips. They hadn't even bantered during art class, Sasori was quiet, and the few times Deidara tried to talk to him, Sasori either ignored him or gave him one word answers.
Sasori wasn't sure what to say. A date? What would that entail... He'd never been on one before...
Deidara's felt his heart drop. Why's he not answering? Noticing they were actually the center of attention only made him more embarrassed. Slowly he pulled away from the other boy, and tried to avoid eye contact with the three others in the room. He chanced a glance toward Sasori and noticed he wasn't even looking at him, but over his shoulder at the wall. It was like he was steadfastly ignoring him! Maybe he doesn't like me...? But then why would he say he did... or maybe he thought he did, but realized he doesn't really like me...
Deidara coughed awkwardly to clear his throat and holding back tears that he felt were on the verge of falling.
"Look, it's fine," he said weakly, "We don't have to... it was just a thought. I'll just... go wait at the car, okay? You can say goodbye to your friends."
He then walked as quickly as he could out of the house without running. As soon as he got to the car he realized he didn't have the keys. Maybe I should just walk home? But that would be such as long walk... Taking a deep breath he leaned against the car to calm himself down. He wouldn't cry... he couldn't cry... he didn't even know they were friends until three days ago! There's no way he had gotten attached that quickly. Just, no. Stealing himself, he waited for Sasori to come out so they could leave.
Sasori, lost in thought about as to what a date with Deidara would entail, didn't even notice Deidara's disappointed expression. He only broke out of his deep thought when Deidara said something about it not mattering and walked away. He was so confused... first the blond asked for a date and now it doesn't matter? Are dates not important? Is that not where the term 'dating' comes from?
"Dude!" Kisame jumped up, "What the hell! You're supposed to be earning his trust, not breaking his heart! Why the hell didn't you agree to the date?"
"Yes, whatever were you thinking of so deeply," inquired Pein.
"When did I disagree to a date?" questioned Sasori, his brow furrowing with a frown before turning to Pein, "I was simply thinking as to how to go about a... date."
Pein appeared both amused and surprised, while Zabuza chuckled darkly.
"Oh my god, we're failing before it even begins!" cried Kisame in dismay.
"Relax, Kisame," chuckled Pein, "I am sure Sasori will fix things, after all, it's a miracle he's come this far." Pein wrapped his arm around Sasori's shoulder earning a malicious glare.
"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded. "Don't touch me!"
"Yes, yes," Pein replied complacently, "'Touch, it burns!' I know. I just wanted to make sure you caught up with Deidara before he decides his pride has been wounded enough and walks home." Pein steered him out into the foyer and towards the front door. "He seems that type of person," he added as an afterthought. "Now, why don't you take him to a movie? Or perhaps just dinner. After all, we wouldn't want you to feel overwhelmed on your first date." He laughed.
Sasori quickly shoved him back into the living room before storming out the door to his car.
Sasuke stood hunched over the balcony railing, hands clenching the rail so hard his knuckles were turning white. He felt so frustrated, why did he let his brother and his friends get under his skin so much? He knew they were asses from the beginning... He sighed deeply.
Sasuke startled slightly at the sound of Naruto's concerned voice. He felt a pair of arms wrap around him cautiously before he felt the other's chin rest on his shoulder.
"You know," Naruto started softly, "There's nothing to be embarrassed by. I personally think it's weirder that you haven't gotten him a present in 10 years than the fact that you got him one."
Sasuke sighed before turning around. Looking up into Naruto's concerned, blue eyes made him feel loved. He stepped back to lean back on the rail and to see Naruto more clearly. Looking away, he spoke, "It wasn't their teasing that pissed me off..." He began.
"Then what was it?" asked Naruto, slightly confused. He reached out to grasp Sasuke's arm in support.
"It was the look on his face when he... when he heard I got him a present. He looked like hell had frozen over," grumbled Sasuke. "Like he couldn't believe that I would get him a present!" Sasuke scoffed at that, getting slightly angrier. "I mean, it was his fault I stopped giving him presents! I used to make him things! And he always took them! And then, when I was seven, seven years old, he was the one that told me to stop giving him such stupid, childish presents! So I did!" He ranted, "I simply told him happy birthday every year instead, and still he looked at me with this... this disappointed look! And that's why I cannot stand his birthday! Why I always leave and never stay, even when he or his friends jokingly invite me! Okay? That's... that's why I am angry..." Sasuke buried his face in his hands feeling exhausted all of a sudden, but at the same time like the world had been lifted off his shoulders.
Naruto didn't know what to say, there was nothing he really could say to make things better...
Naruto jumped in surprise while Sasuke stiffened.
"Would you mind giving Sasuke and me a minute?"
Naruto turned around to see Itachi standing at the door to the balcony, his red eyes unreadable.
"Um," Naruto glanced back at Sasuke's frozen form, before turning back to the door and slowly walking towards it. "Sure, I'll just wait out in the hallway..." He passed Itachi as he walked into Sasuke's room, where the balcony was located, and then out into the hallway; closing the door behind him for added privacy.
Sasuke continued to stare at the ground in hopes that his brother would just disappear.
Itachi sighed deeply before moving to stand in front of his brother. "So this is why you hate me? Huh, little brother? Because of some stupid thing I did when I was nine?"
Sasuke stood straight abruptly, pushing Itachi back roughly. "Don't start, okay? You think you're better than me? Well, fuck you! Because I am happy the way I am! I have somebody who loves me, I have friends, and I don't need to be a condescending bastard to enjoy my life!" Sasuke tried to storm passed his brother, but was quickly caught in a strong hold. He tried to free himself, but Itachi only held on tighter.
"Sasuke!" growled Itachi, trying not to draw attention, "Don't run away! That's not what I meant!"
"Let go of me!" Sasuke yelled.
"No," Itachi responded calmly, or as calmly as he could. "I will be the first to admit it was my fault! I was nine, and I was angry!"
Sasuke stopped struggling, wondering where this was going. Both brothers were breathing deeply, but Itachi refused to let go, worried that Sasuke would still leave.
"I was nine, and I was angry that our parents died while picking up my birthday present!"
Sasuke stiffened in shock, he hadn't known that their parents were picking up his brother's birthday present when they... when the accident happened.
"And then I was disappointed when every year my favorite little brother didn't give me his cute little presents, and merely wished me a happy birthday..." Itachi continued more softly. "And I only ever invited you to my parties jokingly because I didn't want my pride to be hurt if you said no..." Itachi wasn't sure what he was feeling right now, his best guess would be anxious. He hadn't had a real conversation with his little brother in years. Not even when he was given guardianship the previous year. He always just assumed his brother was going through normal teenage bullshit when they quit talking. That's what their previous guardian had said as well.
When it didn't seem like Sasuke was going to speak, he continued, "I still have all the presents you've ever given me little brother. The pictures, the clay figurines, everything... even though I said that so long ago, they were precious to me. I feel really stupid that that day was the cause of the rift in our relationship..." Noticing that Sasuke seemed to have relaxed in his hold, he slowed maneuvered him so that they were facing each other. He looked into his brother's black eyes... the eyes that had yet to show signs of inheriting the genetic disease that ran in their family. He forced himself to look into those eyes, and not be embarrassed. Briefly touching the foreheads he whispered, "I love you Sasuke, you're my brother, and no matter what I say, I will always love you." Finally allowing himself to close his eyes, he added, "I only hope you can forgive me and forget what happened when we were younger." He released his hold on Sasuke and began to step away when he was surprised by a fierce hug. Surprised, he opened his eyes thinking he was imagining it. But no, his baby brother was really hugging him, and he quickly returned it.
"I'm glad I know now," whispered Sasuke, so quietly that Itachi almost didn't catch it.
"I am too little brother, I am too," he replied just as quietly.
When they finally pulled away, Sasuke noticed that Itachi was clutching his new necklace in his hand.
"So do you like it?" he asked.
Itachi smirked, "I love it, foolish little brother. Now I do believe we are missing the party."
Sasuke returned the smirk, "After you."
Together they began to head towards his bedroom door where they found Naruto waiting in the hallway like he said.
"So you guys worked things out?" he asked, and when then nodded he whooped. "Thank god, for a second there I thought Itachi was trying to throw you over the balcony and I was going to have to rescue you!" He chuckled, easily removing any remaining awkward tension. Both Uchihas gave a small smile.
"Man, I thought I'd like Deidara when you told me how you got my necklace Sasuke, but now I really like him!" Naruto exclaimed as they began heading toward the stairs.
"Intersting," mused Itachi, "Why might you say that?" He inquired.
"Well because we only stayed for your birthday because Sasuke owed him a favor, and Deidara was nervous about hanging out with you and your friends!" Naruto laughed, "It's actually a funny story."
"Oh really?" Itachi struggled to hide his surprise, how was it that the new kid at school turned out to be the reason for their reconciliation? "You must tell me all about it."
"Definitely," agreed Naruto.
"You two go on ahead, I'll be down in a minute," he said calmly as they passed the bathroom.
"Hurry up Itachi, or I might just have to eat all of your pocky..." Sasuke threatened jokingly.
Itachi only smirked at the inside joke, they both knew he hated sweets. Stepping into the bathroom, he used the mirror to quickly place his latest present about his neck. Smiling slightly, he headed back into the hall way to go downstairs, but just as he rounded the corner he was grabbed roughly and slammed against one of the walls. Before he could retaliate, he realized he was looking into the furious onyx eyes of his brother, with a glaring Naruto behind him.
"What the fuck did Kisame mean when he told Sasori: 'You're supposed to be earning his trust, not breaking his heart!' or 'Oh my god, we're failing before it even begins!'" Demanded Sasuke, "I know the rumors about what you guys have done. What the fuck are you five planning?"
As understanding washed over him, Itachi could only think of one word to summarize the situation: Shit.
Upon approaching his car, Sasori could tell that Deidara was hiding behind a tough façade.
"Are you ready to go?" he asked.
"Yeah," Deidara climbed in the car as soon as it was unlocked and avoiding looking at Sasori as much as possible. Which was easy since he could just watch the scenery go by. About 20 minutes into the trip he realized something was up, mainly because the city began to turn into rolling hills, and it should have only been a 15 minute drive to his flat. "Um, where are we going?" he asked nervously. He noted that they had been going in the opposite direction of his flat.
"We're here," was the only thing the other said.
Once Deidara realized where they were he felt the heaviness in his chest ease just slightly. "Why are we here?"
Sasori looked at him, openly confused. "Did you not say you wanted to go on a date?"
At that answer Deidara smiled genuinely, all thoughts from before gone.
Because they had just pulled into a drive-in movie theatre.
Itachi pondered what he should do, he just promised his little brother that he wouldn't hurt his new friend... and he had to keep his promise to his little brother. The only problem was as to how to fix the situation. If Sasori truly didn't like the blond, then to pull out of their plans would involve hurting him. Because Sasori wouldn't even want to be his friend, and that would probably hurt the boy. For once, he really hoped Sasori put a dent in their plans by liking the boy. Maybe if he helped things along...