Have you ever wondered why the Akatsuki no longer have Bring Your Pets to Work Day? It's actually a very interesting story; I've heard it myself a number of times. There are different accounts, but only one true story as to why, because, once upon a time, they did have a Bring Your Pets to Work Day…

"She's so cute and cuddly."

"That's nice."

"She understands every word I say."

"That's quite a feat. I don't think even I could do that."

"She's even house-trained!"

"Good for you. I can't imagine what you went through to be able to say that without an inkling of embarrassment."

"And most of all, she's just so adorable! She cocks her head when she's listening to me, and she trembles when she's excited, and she doesn't eat more than her share and never tries to steal food. She's such a little angel!" Tobi sighed dreamily, sinking against the wall. Beside him, Deidara didn't even try to look interested as he messed around with a handful of clay in his hands.

"Oh, and her birthday is coming up," Tobi added excitedly. "I can't think of what to get her. Can you think of anything?"

"A gag," Deidara suggested, glancing up. "Something like that could really come in handy at all times."

"I don't think something like that would be helpful at all," Tobi said, frowning. "I was thinking maybe a blanket or something. You know, for if she gets cold at night."

"Good idea," Deidara said distractedly.

"Or I could bring her out to dinner!" Tobi continued excitedly. Deidara's eyes shut momentarily.

"Look," he said softly. "Shut up and let me concentrate."

"Oh, yes, sir," Tobi said quickly.

"Besides," Deidara continued loftily. "I'm sure my bird is much cuter than whatever you have, be it a cat or dog or even a monkey."

"You have a bird?" Tobi said excitedly. Zetsu appeared behind him.

"A bird," Zetsu repeated, having only heard the tail end of his sentence. "As a pet, Deidara-san? I have a cat myself. His name is Tigerius."

"Tigerius, huh? Must be some cat," Deidara snorted. "My bird's called Shut Up. It's not actually his name, but I told him to shut up so many times that he thought it was his name. He's a parrot, you see, so he can talk."

"Mine can talk, too," Tobi began excitedly.

"What are we talking about again?" Sasori's voice asked. He appeared suddenly just behind Zetsu. He looked up slightly, his dark puppet eyes gleaming with curiosity.

"Ah, Sasori, my man!" Deidara exclaimed. "We're bragging about our pets. I've got a parrot at home, and Zetsu's got a cat. What about you?"

"I do not have a pet," Sasori said with distaste. "I do, however, have a very large collection of stuffed animals that I collected myself over a long period of time. My favorite is Koguma, the male bear cub."

"How… pleasant," Zetsu said slowly.

"I'm certain none of them are as pleasant as my Shark," Kisame's voice said from above. He dropped down into the widening circle.

"What is this, a party?" Tobi demanded. Everyone ignored him.

"Oh?" Sasori frowned slightly.

"He's lying," Itachi's voice said shortly from behind him. "And anyway, the only proper animal for a man to have is a cat. My own cat is named Shi, meaning death. He's as black as night, and he's terrible luck to any fool who crosses his path."

"Zetsu has a cat," Deidara offered. "And I'm sure my man Sasori has gone plenty of cats in his stuffed animal collection."

"Mine is probably quite a bit bigger," Zetsu said slowly.

"I have at least seventeen different species," Sasori said proudly. "I have a bobcat, a lynx, an ocelot, a panther, a tiger, a cheetah, a lion—"

"Personally, I think my ant farm is much better than any of your high-maintenance pets," Hidan said from near Tobi. "I have each and every one of them named. They're actually a flesh-eating sub-species of fire-ant, and they never interrupt me when I talk to them. They make great listeners. Oy, Kakuzu! What've you got?"

Kakuzu shrugged from behind him and was silent.

"I'm telling you, a cat is the only proper pet," Itachi argued.

"Ant farms make excellent anger vents," Hidan pointed out. "Plus, they're also highly religious."

"A Jashin ant, huh? That I have to see," Kakuzu remarked.

"The only proper pet is a stuffed one," Sasori said, shaking his head.

"The bigger, the better," Zetsu added.

"I have an idea!" Tobi announced. Everyone looked towards him, and he was nearly bouncing up and down with joy. "We'll have a Bring Your Pet to Work Day! Tomorrow, when we come to work, we can all bring our pets! Then everyone can vote on which pet they like best, and we won't have to argue anymore!"

"An interesting point," Deidara admitted.

"I know Shark is much better than any other pet," Kisame objected.

"Good idea," Zetsu said, sniffing. "My cat, the majestic Tigerius the Thirteenth, will show all of your pets what it's like to be a pet."

"Mine will beat all of yours in intelligence," Tobi added cheerfully.

"My cat is quite smart," Itachi objected.

"It's settled, then," Hidan said firmly. "We'll all bring our pets tomorrow and prove to everyone that religious ant farms make the best pets."

"Cats," Itachi corrected.

"Stuffed animals," Sasori corrected.

"Birds," Deidara corrected. All three men glared at each other for a moment.

"Ooh, I can't wait!" Tobi exclaimed.

~ The Next Day ~

Deidara had a huge lump underneath his robe when he arrived that morning. Only Itachi and Kisame were already there, and Itachi had a black furry ball of sulking cat in his lap. Kisame had something in his hands.

Deidara proudly reached under his robes and pulled out the birdcage, where a magnificent parrot with green, blue, and red plumage flapped around angrily.

"Handle with care, idiot!" The parrot squawked.

"Shut up," Deidara replied as he sat the cage on a nearby table and looked down Kisame. "So where's your Sharkie?" He asked smugly. Kisame held up a glass bowl in reply. Deidara froze.

"Let me get this straight," he said slowly. "You have… a goldfish… named Shark?"

"You have a problem with that?" Kisame asked, holding his goldfish bowl close. Deidara shook his head quickly and turned to Itachi instead.

"Does he bite?" Deidara asked.

"No," Itachi said, and Deidara reached forward to pat the cat on the head. "He mauls," Itachi finished. Deidara yanked his hand away quickly.

"Shark can eat three Fishy Bites in a day," Kisame boasted. "AND fit in a fruit fly for dessert. He eats like a pig."

"Yeah, because pigs love fruit flies and Fishy Bites," Deidara said sarcastically.

Zetsu appeared in the doorway, paused when he saw the small group, and headed wordlessly to the back of the room, where he sat down firmly on a bench and crossed his arms. Deidara headed over quickly.

"So where's Tigerius?" Deidara asked excitedly.

"Pein said that I wasn't allowed to bring a wild tiger inside the camp," Zetsu grumbled. "I tried to tell him Tigerius wasn't wild, but he wouldn't hear of it."

"That ass," Deidara's parrot squawked from the other side of the room.

"Yes, exactly," Zetsu said, relieved. "Your parrot is pretty smart."

"Shut up," Deidara called over his shoulder. He grinned.

"Well, I guess that's one out of the running then," he said cheerfully. Zetsu stuck his tongue out and went back to sulking.

"Now give daddy a kiss," crooned a voice from the door as Kakuzu entered, a small cage in his hand. He lifted something towards his face.

"What is that?" Deidara demanded in disgust.

"This is Geraldine," Kakuzu said indignantly, holding out the gigantic eight-legged pet. Deidara shrieked and leapt back.

"Is that a spider?" He demanded. Itachi started chuckling from behind him.

"Tarantula," Kakuzu corrected sweetly. He looked down at his pet. "Now come with me and we'll go away from these vulgar existences," he crooned as he headed towards the other side of the room.

"Oy, Kakuzu," Hidan's voice said in an annoyed manner. "You'd better not let that monster get anywhere near my religious ants." Hidan arrived carrying his large glass set with both arms, and the dirt was visible inside, with the various tunnels and little red shapes.

"They're man-eating, right? Don't let them get anywhere near Geraldine," Kakuzu retorted, holding his dear tarantula closer.

"Tobi's not here yet," Deidara noted.

"Yeah, and all that talk about his cuddly adorable pet gone to waste," Zetsu spoke up. "I mean, Tigerius was never ever not cuddly."

"Well, I'm sure he'll be here soon," Itachi said smoothly.

"It can't be as cute as Sharkie," Kisame said. "So it's probably nothing much anyway. No waste if we don't get to see."

"Come now, Akari, just a little further," said Tobi's voice from the shadows of the entrance. Everyone looked up expectantly.

"A little more," Tobi's voice said encouragingly. "Don't be shy. Come meet my coworkers. I'll introduce you." Slowly Tobi emerged. At first his pet wasn't visible, but then everyone saw the little white hand clench a handful of his robes, and then a little face appeared from behind him.

It was a little human girl.

"Cuddly just took on a whole new meaning. I do hope you don't sleep with that thing," Zetsu said, aghast.

"It's all furry on top," Kakuzu said disgustedly.

"It's so cute," Deidara found himself saying.

"It's a little girl," Itachi said shortly. "What in hell are you doing with that, Madara? Don't you know this is no place for little girls?"

"Well, it is Bring Your Pet to Work Day," Tobi said indignantly. "And I said she's a lot cuter than any of your pets, and I was right. And she's intelligent, and she's adorable—"

"And cuddly, and house-trained, we get it," Deidara finished angrily. "But that's not a pet, so of course it's more intelligent and it talks! That's cheating!"

"Her name is Akari," Tobi said. The little girl grasped his robes more firmly with both hands, her dark little eyes fearful as she looked around at the people and their pets.

"Madara-sama," she whispered.

"Look at that," Kisame said, impressed. "It does talk."

"Little brat, ack, little brat," Deidara's parrot exclaimed, flapping its wings threateningly. The little girl gave a little shriek and disappeared back behind Tobi.

"I'm scared," her voice said softly.

"See that? You're scaring her," Tobi exclaimed.

"I'm scaring her? It's all your fault for bringing her!" Kisame exclaimed.

"Shut up, stupid," Deidara's parrot screamed.

"I can't guarantee that Shi won't eat her," Itachi said coldly.

"I won't argue with that," Kisame said, taking a furtive step away from him.

"No one argues with Itachi," Zetsu pointed out.

"We still haven't been able to find the head of the last person who argued with Itachi," Kakuzu pointed out. "And the rest of him had to be pieced together by hand."

"Who wants to see Koguma?" Sasori sang cheerfully, waving a stuffed bear in the air. It wasn't simply a stuffed animal; it was an actual real stuffed bear.

"I didn't see you come in, Sasori, my man," Deidara said thoughtfully. "When did you arrive?"

"I'm not your man," Sasori said crossly.

"Has everyone forgotten about Tobi's pet?" Kisame demanded.

"Of course not," Itachi said. "He'd better take good care of it."

"It's a cat," Akari remarked softly from behind Tobi, one little hand pointing as her dark eyes set on the sulking form in Itachi's lap. Itachi's hand still ran down its back, although the cat seemed to be only just grudgingly accepting it.

"Yeah, don't pet that one, sweetheart," Tobi crooned, patting the hand that still held tightly onto his robes. "It'll maul you."

"What's 'maul' mean?" Akari asked, dimpling as she looked up at him.

"It means something yucky," Tobi replied.

"Like… tofu?" Akari asked, her eyes brightening up.

"No, not like tofu," Deidara exclaimed. "Geez, Tobi, what've you been teaching that thing? I'd assume you've at least been teaching it how to use a kunai knife!"

"Actually, she only knows how to use chopsticks yet," Tobi said thoughtfully. "She and I eat dango together all the time."

"Dango!" Zetsu exclaimed, shaking his head woefully.

"She's young," Tobi said indignantly. "She eats fish, mostly."

"She's not getting my Sharkie," Kisame said warningly, clutching his fishbowl closer.

"Tigerius!" Zetsu exclaimed suddenly. There were various screams as a huge orange and black shape streaked into the room and launched itself into Zetsu's lap. Kakuzu suddenly gave an exclamation of surprise, and everyone looked towards him.

"Geraldine?" Kakuzu exclaimed, looking towards the floor and dropping to his knees. "Geraldine, where did you go? Don't leave me!"

"Ah! The tarantula's loose!" Hidan shrieked, dropping his religious ant farm and jumping onto the bench to warily watch the floor. The ant farm hit the ground and shattered, and the next thing they knew, flesh-eating red ants were covering the floors.

"Help!" Kisame yelped, jumping onto the bench beside Hidan. Hidan pushed him off.
"My bench!" He exclaimed. "Get your own!"

Tigerius the Thirteenth roared, sending waves of echoing fright through the walls of the room. The next thing they knew, everyone was panicking except for Tobi, who was watching the room with an oblivious expression as he tried to figure out what was going on.

"Shi!" Itachi yelped as the cat dug its claws into his thighs and leapt off his lap, and then shrieked as it raced towards freedom.

Deidara looked down at an ominous furry eight-legged shape that had somehow made it up to his chest without him noticing. It rolled its eyes at him, all eight of them, and waved its little brown mandibles at him. "Oh! It got me," Deidara exclaimed, and swooned to the floor.

"Geraldine's not poisonous, you idiot!" Kakuzu exclaimed and he leapt over to collect his tarantula.

"Idiot, you idiot!" Deidara's parrot squawked, racing about the little cage in a flurry of feathers until the latch on the little wire door popped open. The bird hopped out with a joyful cry and took to the air, letting fly a little splatter of white over its unconscious owner on the floor.

"Somebody kill those damn ants!" Kisame yelled from his bench, for he had at last found a refuge.

"Don't touch my Jashin followers," Hidan snapped.

"Get the little girl out of here, Madara!" Itachi exclaimed as he tried to chase after the streak of black that made its way to the exit.

"Fine! I'm going home, then!" Tobi warned.

"Go ahead!" The room roared.

"Goodbye!" Tobi exclaimed. He took hold of Akari's hand and tugged her towards the door, his head held high as he marched into the darkness of the exit. He paid no mind to the sounds of utter chaos behind him, and his loyal pet followed doggedly at his heels.

And this is why the Akatsuki no longer have Bring Your Pet to Work Day.