Firstly, I must apologize to every one of the late update. School is pretty stressful just a while back but things are finally letting up now that May is here so Morning Orchid is officially back! Thank you for all for your kind supports and patience and thank you Chillybean for still being able to continue to be my beta-reader even after such a long delay. I also need to thank all the reviewers. Your understanding comments to my situation really put me at ease.
Some of you may have noticed, but the Christmas Special has been removed. I did it because I don't want to spoil much for any newer readers that has just recently discovered this story. I will repost the Christmas Special once the story is completed.
I hope you'll all enjoy this chapter. Update time will now return to normal, meaning a chapter per month!
Beta'd by Chillybean
"I wonder what Danna is doing." Deidara whispered as he stared up at the white clouds drifting in the sky. He felt that itch in his heart return, the same itch that he had gotten familiar with in the three suns following the reuniting with his friends.
He held his hand towards the sky, his blue bell eyes staring at the pink scar on his palm.
"You're in love, Deidara." Itachi's voice echoed in the back of his mind, causing the blond to let out a frustrated scream as he sat up from the soft cotton of the cotton flower and furiously scratched his head.
"Why can't I get his words off my mind?" He shouted, ignoring the stares from a couple of passing insects.
"What the hell are you doing?"
The butterfly turned, recognizing the voice and the buzzing sound of wings, to see the silver haired dragonfly hovering in the air behind him. "You're supposed to be getting the cotton, and I come here and find you lazing around."
"You're one to talk, un." Deidara countered as his friend landed beside him. "You're supposed to be gathering sticks, yet here you are at the cotton flower field. Aren't you the one slacking off?"
"Ya caught me there." Hidan laughed. "Like hell I'd pick up some branches just for that prick."
Deidara stared as another cloud drifted by before looking over at the dragonfly. "Say, Hidan…"
"How did you and Kakuzu no Danna got together?" The blond asked curiously.
"Ah?" Magenta coloured eyes landed on the blond insect. "What brought this up?"
"Just wondering…" Deidara mumbled. "You and Kakuzu no Danna didn't seem to have anything in common, and you two even argue most of the time, unlike Itachi and Kisame no Danna…"
"As if I remember. That was ages ago!" Hidan waved his hand, but stopped when he noticed the dull look on his companion's face. The dragonfly glanced up at the sky. He then heaved out a heavy sigh as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Tch…how did it happened again?" He spoke his thoughts out loud. Deidara glanced at the dragonfly who was digging for the past in his mind. "Well, it just happened."
"Just…happened?" Deidara asked slowly.
"Well yeah, we hate each other's guts, right?" Hidan snorted. "I guess that's the only thing that kept pulling us together. It's hard to forget the face of a jackass. The first thing I wanted do was punch him in the face when we first met, not that I don't have that kind of feeling now."
"Then how did you come to like him?" The butterfly pushed on.
"Like him!" The dragonfly squawked, causing the butterfly to jump back in surprise. "Who the hell in their right mind would like that fucking bastard?" He blew in the blond's face.
"Huh? Wait…eh?" Deidara opened and closed his mouth, unable to form any words as Hidan jumped to his feet and stomped down on the flower, causing it to sway wildly.
"It's always 'money this and money that' with him! Ordering people to work day and night as though they're his slaves…!" Hidan then trailed off with a string of curses and swears that made the blond shifted uncomfortably. The butterfly clutched onto the cotton and looked down at the ground. He gulped, having no doubt that if Hidan kept this up the stem would snap from the pressure and the two of them would fall.
"But," Hidan suddenly stopped his tantrum, causing the blond to look up in question, knowing that the dragonfly didn't stop because of him. "He has some good points. He's nice when he wants to be, though he's always too shy to admit it." The silver-ette cackled. "Even though he always puts on that I-don't-give-a-damn act, he actually knows everything that's been going on. Like that time when I twisted my ankle. That bastard acted as though he didn't notice, but later that day he…"
Deidara stared intensely at Hidan's face, no longer able to hear his words as his ears drowned out the other's voice. The dragonfly didn't seem to realize it, but he was now speaking of his lover with complete fondness. The hatred and irritation from before was gone, as though none of it had ever existed.
The blond recognized the face his friend was making. It was an expression of happiness mixed with some other emotions he couldn't make out. He was instantly reminded of the expression Itachi had during their talk that night. The moth had this peacefulness rather than the excitement and joy Hidan was showing. The two expressions on the two creatures were very different, yet strangely similar.
"Oi!" Hidan glowered at his friend. "Are you even listening? I'm telling you this because you asked!"
"When I saw Sasori, I could see the confusion and frustration of not being able to understand the foreign emotions he had never felt before. I didn't think much of it at first, but now that I have sat down and given it some thought, I realize that he had the same expression I had shortly after meeting Kisame." Itachi's voice returned, only much louder and clearer than the last time.
"That same expression…" Deidara muttered. Then with a gasp, he quickly jumped onto his feet, startling the dragonfly by his sudden movement. "Sorry, Hidan, you go back first, un." The blond said, ignoring the dragonfly's shouts as he quickly took off into the air. He winced at the soreness in his wings. He knew he shouldn't try flying until fully healed, but he had to go there.
The faster he flapped, the more pain Deidara felt stabbing his scapula. The blond was forced to land shortly after, his right wing paralyzed by the pain. He ran the rest of the way, stumbling over blades of grass until he burst out into a clearing. The sunlight beamed down from behind a lump of cloud, causing the water of the pond to shimmer brilliantly.
The butterfly knelt down at the edge and poked his head over the surface of the water to see his own reflection. His lips dropped into a deep frown when he couldn't find what he was searching for.
"I don't have it." The blond whispered almost devastatingly. "They all have that expression, but I don't have it, un."
The butterfly sat back and glanced at the sun that had hidden behind the cloud again. "They all…have it." The blond remembered all the times he had seen his mated friends interact with each other.
"What did Itachi mean by Danna having the same expression?" Deidara choked out a laugh at the thought. "The only face he ever had on was that scowl. There's no way…"
Deidara's words trailed off as an image of a scowling Sasori entered his mind. He could clearly remember that scowl glued to the predator's face like a mask. "That kind of stupid face, there's no way he could…" A tear rolled down his cheek as he remembered that cocky smile the Orchid Mantis would show when he won a conversation or got something to go his way. He remembered how irritated he would look whenever he claimed that the butterfly was wasting his 'precious time'.
And then…he remembered that smile. The very first smile Sasori had ever shown him. Even if the red head's actual intention wasn't all that admirable, it was still a beautiful smile nonetheless. It wasn't a smile like the ones any of his friends had shown. It was a smile that solely belonged to Sasori.
That smile carried the mantis' arrogance, his superiority complex, his confidence, and…
Deidara's eyes widened as he suddenly found himself staring at the red haired predator on the surface of the water. He stared down at that same smile that had quickened his heartbeat and had made blood rush to his face. When a droplet of salty water fell from his chin and landed into the water, it created ripples, destroying the mantis' image as Deidara gasped.
"Danna!" He instinctively reached out in attempt to grasp that image, but it was too late.
Instead of auburn eyes, a pair of blue-gray ones stared back at him. The butterfly stared at the yellow knitted eyebrows and the tear-stained cheeks. The pain in his heart was back as Deidara used his bare hands in an attempt to stop his crying, but he only succeeded in making it worse. He stared down at his own face that was so different than the one he was hoping to see.
It wasn't like the ones Itachi and Hidan had expressed. It was a completely different one—opposite even, filled with hurt and bitterness. However, there was one part that was similar. A very small part, but nowhere near insignificant.
Deidara's eyes widened when realization hit his head like a ton of rocks.
He knew what it was. That one emotion that acted as link to tie all those different expressions together.
"Affection." Deidara slowly repeated the very word Itachi had told him. Tears spilled even faster as he cried into his knees, chanting the name of the mantis like a mantra.
He wanted to see him.
Even if Sasori didn't want him anymore, he wanted to see him even if was just one last time.
"Danna…" The butterfly sniffed before jumping onto his feet. "I have to go see him, un."
He honestly has no idea what he would say when he saw the mantis again, but he couldn't deny the emptiness inside him any longer. He wanted—he needed to see Sasori.
The blond stretched his wings, but he instantly regretted it as pain jolt through his body again. Swallowing the saliva gathered in his mouth, Deidara knew that he had no choice but to walk. Just as he turned towards the direction of the forest, a pair of hands suddenly shot out from the tall blades of grass and grabbed him by his injured wing.
With a scream of pain, Deidara was thrown to a part of the ground hidden from the sun by the long grass.
"Who– hmmph!" The butterfly let out a muffled scream into the piece of cotton pressed tightly against his nose and mouth. Knowing most likely what the cotton was used for, the butterfly stopped his breath. He glared at the insect who was straddling his hips, but it was difficult to see any features because the sun was directly behind his attacker, cloaking the creature in nothing but a dark silhouette.
With a muffled cry, Deidara brought up his knees to kick the back of his attacker. However, the insect's back was unbelievably hard. To the butterfly, it felt like hitting rock and his useless attacks only succeeded in hurting himself. Just from that fact, the butterfly knew that he was dealing with an insect from the beetle family. Since beetles were weak in the front that was where he tried to aim next, but his attacker had apparently calculated the distance. The beetle was sitting back just enough so that the butterfly's fist wouldn't reach him, and with his longer arms, he was still able to keep the butterfly's head against the soil.
Growing frantic with hardly any air inside his lungs, Deidara hammered against the arm and scratched at the hands. He tried to do everything he could to pry the cotton off, but nothing he did affected the beetle.
"Just give up and– Ugah!" Whatever the butterfly's attacker was about to say, he never got the chance to finish as Deidara scratched out a handful of gold and black coloured scales from his wing and threw it at the insect's face. The beetle cried out in pain as one of his hands flew to his eyes. Taking his chance, Deidara twisted his body and threw the other insect off. He took in a gulp of air the instant the cotton was removed from his face and scrambled to his feet.
Without even glancing back to see what his attacker looked like, the blond made a run for it, but he found it difficult as the muscles in his legs were weak from the lack of air.
"Deidara!" The blond suddenly heard the muffled voice call from the distance. His face instantly brightened as he hurriedly looked up to the sky.
"Hida– Ah!" Deidara choked out as an arm suddenly shot out from behind him and wrapped around his throat to seal off his windpipe. The butterfly scratched at the arm and kicked back in attempt to hit the insect. When his bluebell eyes caught sight of a certain dragonfly passing over their heads, he immediately tried to call out to him once more. However, the only thing that could escape was a strangled whine.
"Yo blondie, stop fooling around! We have to go back before that bastard begins to complain again!" The dragonfly continued to shout. The butterfly watched in despair as his friend vanished into the distance without even sparing his location a look.
As time passed, the blond's struggling eventually ceased. His lungs hurt from the desperate need for oxygen and his face was burning from the trapped blood in his head. His arms fell to his side; no longer did he have the strength to lift even a finger. His knees gave in, but he didn't fall because of the insane grip on his neck. Just as the blond thought he would die from suffocation, the arm around his neck suddenly loosened.
With his mind hazy from the lack of air, thinking was no longer something the Swallowtail Butterfly was capable of. The second he was given the chance, the blond gulped in air, never realizing how the piece of cotton was back, pressed tightly over his face.
As darkness consumed Deidara's vision, he heard a dark, unpleasant chuckle beside his ear.
Sasori stared at the sack of nectar in his hand. He twirled the thing around before glancing down at the armour and blood stained clothes of his breakfast. After giving the nectar another long look, the mantis turned to the shelf before him that was stocked with many packages just like the one he held in his hand, all of them being spoils from his meals.
"You've been staring at that for a long time." The voice of a male suddenly spoke. The red head didn't react. He kept his gaze firm on the stack of nectars, letting his eyes linger a bit longer before they narrowed into a sharp glare.
"What do you want?" He spat out, not in the mood to deal with his uninvited guest.
"I'm just curious as to what you would do with that." The creature spoke as footsteps echoed through the room. "The last time I checked, mantis didn't eat these things, or has your taste changed over the cycles, Sasori?"
A hand stretched into the mantis' view and the calloused fingers brushed over the package in Sasori's hand.
"If you're not going to eat it, I'll–" With a quick flick of his wrist, Sasori smacked the hand away and turned to glare at the Large Milkweed Bug*.
"What do you want, Yahiko?"
"That was just a joke. You didn't have to hit me for real." The orange haired creature said as he waved around his reddening hand.
"You've known me long enough to know that I don't enjoy jokes." The mantis said dryly. "What do you want?" He repeated the question that he had yet to receive an answer to.
"It's just been a long time, and I thought I'd visit to see how you're doing." Yahiko said with a light smile before glancing down at the discarded clothes. "I caught you dinner as a present, but it seems that you've already eaten."
The bug trailed off in a hum as though debating what to do. Sasori simply looked away with a click of his tongue as a sign of his irritation. He silently cursed Nagato in the back of his mind. He had no doubt that Yahiko's appearance before him was linked to the Assassin Bug.
"In any case, it shouldn't matter, right?" The sap-sucking insect spoke up again. "You can always save her for when you're hungry."
Sasori looked up just as Yahiko gave the string in his hand a hard tug. He turned to the doorway and his eyes flew wide when a butterfly stumbled in. The mantis' eyes widened at the sight of the beautiful, shimmering gold wings that carried patches of blue. Long blond hair fluttered around the butterfly's feminine frame as the creature collapsed on the floor. The mantis instantly grabbed the hand that was gripping the sting binding the creature. He parted his lips, about to snap at the bug when an unfamiliar yelp reached his ear.
The voice wasn't deep. Instead it was light and held a higher pitch.
Sasori turned his eyes to the butterfly. The illusionary image of a certain blond in his mind shattered as he realized that this Swallowtail was not the same Swallowtail he had grown accustom to. For one thing, this butterfly wasn't simply just feminine, she was a female. Her wings were smaller, hair much longer and paler than the one he knew, and it was tied into a tail at the back of her head. Her long bangs covered the right side of her face, not the left. Her exposed eye was nowhere near the brilliant blue the brat from his memory had.
Yahiko looked down at the hand that had released his. A sly smirk slid over his lips, but it was wiped away when he turned to the mantis. "What's wrong, Sasori?" He asked, giving a hard tug on the rope that caused the butterfly to whine out in pain.
Sasori said nothing. He just stared at the butterfly that was trembling in fright. She had her eyes closed, her face turned to the ground and her body curled up, revealing a pale leg that was twisted at the knee joint.
"Throw her out." The mantis said coldly, ignoring the stunned look from his companion and the hopeful look from the food.
"You don't have to be so cold." The milkweed bug said. "Still angry about the joke?"
"I've already ate." The red head ground out. He glared down at the butterfly. He knew this female wasn't him, he knew, but the similarity was still there, not to mention the fact that she was the same species.
"Keeping this thing around is meaningless. Throw her out." The mantis didn't give his companion any options. It was a demand, and the orange haired bug would be brainless as not to notice.
"But I've spent quite some time capturing her. Papilionidae aren't common in this area after all." Yahiko pushed on, but he was ignored as Sasori stepped around the butterfly and headed for the door. When the orange haired insect realized how the other wasn't about to change his decision, he sighed.
"If you're full, it can't be helped. I'll give her to Tobi and Nagato then. I was going to visit them after–" Yahiko was cut off when the mantis suddenly slammed his fully extended blade into the door, slicing the wood into pieces before slamming into the wall, causing it to cave in and crumble. The butterfly screamed through her gag and ducked her head in fear as dust and sand from the impact showered over her.
Not the same.Those three words echoed painfully when Sasori saw how the butterfly reacted. He didn't even hit her and she was already curled up from fright. It was a pathetic sight, something that the butterfly he knew would never do.
"Throw her out. I won't repeat myself a third time." Sasori said as his blade scattered into threads. He then walked away, leaving Yahiko alone in the room with the still terrified butterfly.
The milkweed bug waited until the mantis' presence completely disappeared before he decided to leave the mantis' house, knowing better than to push his luck. Once outside in the open air, he knelt down by the prey he had caught. He spun out a small, black dagger that was polished and sharp. With a flick of his wrist, he cut off the bindings from the butterfly he had caught.
"Leave." He hissed darkly. "If you don't get out of my sight within ten seconds, I will feed you to a spider."
With a sharp intake of breath and a furious nod of her head, the butterfly flew as fast as her wings could take her just to get away from the supposedly peaceful species. Now alone, Yahiko let out a small chuckle as he tossed the rope aside and glanced at the entrance to the mantis' home behind him.
"I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. Who would have thought for Sasori to…" Yahiko trailed off with a chuckle as he pulled out a pack of nectar from the large sleeve of his cloak.
"I guess my job here is done." He smirked down at the nectar he had taken before coming back out. He was sure Sasori wouldn't mind, seeing as how the mantis had no sweet tooth and wouldn't be using them anytime soon. At least, not yet.
"I should go back and tell Nagato that the plan was a success."
Large Milkweed Bug (Yahiko) – From the Hemiptera order of bugs and the Lygaeidae family. It feeds mainly on grains, particularly those of the milkweed. Because the Milkweed Bugs feed on milkweed, these insects are fairly safe from predators due to the fact that the chemicals in the milkweed sap are toxic. It's the same concept as the Monarch Butterfly.