A/N: Occasionally, I find myself realizing that I need to go back and add curses into Hidan's lines, or the grunt to Deidara's. It's just hard for me to write it since it doesn't come naturally the way it does to most teens. It's a bit weird like that.
"I've just been friending all these inner-city kids. I just went to the profile of one of my ghetto cousins from Iowa, and friended, like, all seven hundred of his classmates…"
"Did you just say 'one of my ghetto cousins from Iowa'?"
"There's an inner-city in Iowa?"
- Paraphrased, but… dear god, my class has weird conversations… the first one is from the usual guy. The second is the guy that sits next to me. The third I can't remember.
One day was all Pein gave them to prepare. It was enough, particularly for the time that Deidara needed for one very special thing…
"Love you," Hidan muttered.
He lay on his back in bed, and Deidara lay on top of him, her face pressed into his chest, her hands splayed across his pectorals.
"Mm… love you too." She sighed, one hand lazily using a finger to trace lazy swirls around his chest.
"I'm glad we could get back to this. I mean, I didn't hate being a woman as much as some of those other f***ers did, but when it comes to sex…"
"You prefer intercourse where you have a d***." Deidara callously summarized.
Deidara giggled softly and scooted closer under the covers to get a kiss. "Mm. Can't say it wasn't fun, though."
"Once or twice, maybe." Hidan grumbled, his arms wrapping around Deidara's waist to hug her to his chest. "But it's not right, not for me."
"I know." Deidara let out a small noise like a coo as she nuzzled her face into the crook of Hidan's neck. "At least you're back now, and if you ever miss it…"
Deidara knew two things would be a problem if he got to the Ichibi without thinking through his options.
He couldn't go as a girl. At least, not aesthetically. While his fighting ostensibly didn't change between his male and female forms, the clothing involved did. The Lolita dresses, while pretty, easy to move in, and good for hiding weapons, could be a liability in a large-scale fight. The skirt could easily be caught, or be caught on fire, if the opponent was good enough to hit Deidara in the first place. In a small-scale fight, the difference was negligible, but in a large-scale one… And most other feminine clothing tended to be tight and inflexible, or in most kunoichi's cases, unnecessarily revealing.
The other thing was Deidara's tendency to overestimate himself, or underestimate his opponent, his tendency to taunt opponents, his tendency to take his time. He knew he had this problem, and rarely did anything to fix it due to generally being a completely different level from his, well, his victims.
He'd have to try to get this fight over with as quickly as possible. If he could undermine his opponent's confidence and moral standing then… okay, that would work. Saving the world by destroying the… yeah, that could get him off-balance enough for Deidara to pull off a few sneak attacks. And if he randomly did a switch from female to male a minute into the fight…
'Kay, he was ready for this.
Deidara sat on a large clay bird in the middle of Sunagakure, primped and preened. Legs crossed, hands folded in her lap, chin held high, she sat looking pretty on top of the Kazekage's office.
It was a viable confusion tactic, as the barely-there expression on said Kazekage's indicated.
"Why are you here?"
"Well, that was rude." Deidara sniffed, turning her head slightly away from her opponent.
The man's, boy's, eyes narrowed. "You are, by all accounts, an Akatsuki member. Manners are not currently my top priority in dealing with you."
Deidara's head tilted to the side, sweet and innocent. "Such a rude man. Well, you really should come with me, you know?"
"I doubt that such an action would be conducive to the continued well-being of my village." Panda eyes narrowed.
"It would be far more helpful than a fight. I heard you were close to the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. I almost killed him, you know. Do you really want me to try something here? I could end up killing everything." She tossed in a small smile, demure and slightly coy, as she stared at Gaara.
"You would do the same should I simply submit."
"Ah, ah, ah!" Deidara shook a finger in his direction. "Don't assume a thing. You know what it's like for someone to assume things about you. Don't be a hypocrite~! Besides, if you assume, you make an a** out of you and me."
Gaara raised a nonexistent eyebrow at the sudden cursing of the girl who was, up until then, acting like a lady, albeit a childish one.
"What do you want?" The question was blunt and seemed unfeeling, though the small burn that Deidara saw in those sea-foam eyes gave away just how important the question was to him.
"The demon you carry, oh vessel of Shukaku." She stepped down from her perch, uncaring of the sand that had suddenly sprung up on all sides, preparing for a fight. She ignored the hovering granules by the man she was to fight, and walked around to the other side of the bird, beyond the Kazekage's line of sight.
He came back.
Deidara grinned at the Kazekage, no longer sweet and coy, but scathingly condescending and roguish. "You see, the world is falling to pieces, and I can't quite fix it if you don't comply, un."
"Forgive me for considering that a lie." The two men began to circle each other, one smirking, the other wary, and both ready to jump into battle at the slightest hint of provocation.
"The destruction of the Juubi caused growing instability in this dimension eons ago, and it's only gotten worse since then, un." Deidara did a little hop-skip, enjoying the twitch that Gaara made to ward against any incoming attack. "I can't help Hida-kun fix it without helping Akatsuki with its eventual goal, un."
Gaara said nothing, no doubt hearing the hisses that came from Shukaku.
"Well, sand boy? Do feel up to the task, un?" Deidara leered.
"Leave my village." Sand came from everywhere, and Deidara leapt back up onto his bird and flew up.
"Was that a C4?" Sasori hissed as Deidara landed next to him with the Kazekage in the bird's mouth.
"I thought it was a good occasion, and used it after I kind of panicked. No time, un, run, run, run!" Deidara whispered, grabbing Gaara's unconscious body and following his own orders towards the door.
Sasori rolled his eyes, but urged Hiruko along behind his blonde partner. "You seem worried."
"There's a phantom pain in my arm, un." Deidara muttered. "Like it should be missing, but it isn't."
Sasori frowned inside. That was… odd.
A sudden shout behind the two nukenin caught their attention. "Uh… you can take care of this, Danna."
Three days later, Naruto glared around at the complete wasteland that was the portion of Sunagakure that had been caught in the giant blast. There were no survivors. Even the town that the last fight had taken place in had at least had a few children survive. Here…
His fist clenched as he thought back to what had happened to Kankuro. He was nearly dead when they got there, and only Sakura's abilities at healing had saved him.
Akasuna no Sasori. And from what else Kankuro had said, Bakuhatsu no Deidara as well.
All those people, dead again.
Akatsuki had gone too far, and if Naruto didn't stop them, there would probably be a third massacre occurring under the blond bomber's mad hand.
He had to be taken down at all costs.
Deidara grinned and winked over at Hidan's hologram, which winked back. They'd just finished up the sealing, and as well as this first sealing had gone (it should have been the third or fourth, but they had lost track of the Yonbi, Gobi, and Nanabi during the sex change mess), there would be… celebrations later.
"If I may make a request?" Sasori spoke up. Pein sent a nod in his general direction. "Could we have someone prepared to come as backup should we require it?"
Though no eyebrow could be seen to raise, the shape of the ripple-covered eyes changed in such a way that the motion was implied. "Why would you need it?"
Hiruko's tail whipped through the air. "After the battle with the Gama-Sennin and the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, Konoha will be on further guard against the organization. With the close connection that the two villages have, particularly the rumored connections between their Jinchuuriki, it is very likely that they will have sent reinforcements. And knowing Konoha, they'll have sent the Jinchuuriki's team, which means not only the Kyuubi to contend with while low on power, but the copy-nin as well."
Pein's head drifted down a little in thought, and then he nodded. "Tobi, Zetsu, prepare to use your travel to get to the area with extra people if necessary. Reinforcements will be…"
"Hidan and Itachi." Deidara interrupted at the lull that signified Pein's thinking. Heads turned to him. "They've fought the Jinchuuriki before, they know his moves. And we can keep other people's secrets, well, secret. Kakuzu will still be a complete surprise, and Kisame won't be as much of a—"
Deidara blinked. "What?"
"No, I won't send Hidan. Itachi and Kisame can send those special possession clones to stall the team. If those fail, then Tobi will come to fetch you and Sasori while Zetsu distracts them."
Deidara mulled it over, and then sighed and nodded. It wasn't as though he could argue it, anyway. Pein's orders were law. And not a petty law either, they were more like the laws of physics. You could break them, but not without considerable effort and punishment.
S***! S***, s***, s***, s***, s***, s***, s***, s***, s***!
Deidara ducked and dove as the kid lobbed one of those swirly chakra balls at him.
What the h***? Where did that even come from? And how did he survive having a C1 bird detonated less than a foot from his head?!
Maybe those weird markings, the orange things around his eyes, had something to do with it. And his eyes… Deidara spurted a bit of chakra into his scope, and confirmed it. The kid's eyes were yellow, with the pupils being strange bars, like a frog's. This wasn't the influence of the Kyuubi, this was something else entirely.
Naruto tore after the pyromaniac that had hair and eyes way too much like his own natural coloring. He'd had a month to learn from Jiraiya after healing from the battle, even if Jiraiya only had one arm now. That didn't make him any less deadly, of course. If anything, he was even deadlier because of how people would underestimate him because of the missing limb. He explained that he now realized just how bad of a situation it was, and that he was going to teach Naruto a technique, a new one, that was meant to go hand in hand with the strange, opening-riddled taijutsu style that he'd been teaching for months.
Naruto batted away another attack with a nature-enhanced hand, pouring on yet more speed to get the fight over with before he ran out of juice.
With Sage Mode, he could win this thing.
Deidara glanced up for barely a second, and then back at the kid. Sage Mode? He'd never heard of it, though the words 'nature-enhanced' implied that it had something to do with, obviously, nature and the chakra that was in it.
Maybe someone else would kno—whoa!
He dodged a boulder that came flying towards him. Where had that come from?!
Sasori dodged yet another chakra-enhanced punch from the pink-haired girl, wondering how it was that she hadn't run out of chakra yet. And the fact that the girl was being aided by his grandmother of all people, that was infuriating.
Sasori didn't think, he just ducked. Then his thoughts caught up to him. "No!" He whispered to himself, or more likely, at the author. "No, you were supposed to be gone!"
Hiruko's tail whipped through the air, sending a spread of poison-covered senbon at the girl. Where was Chiyo-baa?
He spun, lashing out, and managed to prevent an attack from hitting him. What was going on?
I want to keep you alive, moron. Be glad you're only hearing the italics.
"Joy." Sasori growled. Great. Just great. Less than a week and she was back.
For the duration of the fight, not forever, you angry little puppet.
He ignored her, as usual. If she gave him hints to survive, he'd take them, but he'd ignore the rest.
Isn't he showing such wonderful gratitude?
Deidara cursed, flipping backwards through the air as he tried to get out of the way of yet another overpowered spinning ball of death. This was bad. They needed backup now. He could even see the other team, the one with the Hyuuga and the eyebrow guys, coming to try and capture him. Or kill, and the latter was definitely more likely.
C0 was out of the question, and he didn't have enough chakra to use anything above C1. And C1 was doing nothing since the Jinchuuriki was immune for some ridiculous reason called Sage Mode, and the copy-nin had somehow started diffusing the bombs midair as they came to hit him. Deidara had sent off a different bird with the Kazekage's corpse several minutes ago, and—!
What the h*** was that?! He tried to dodge, and suddenly found that his elbow was gone.
It was gone.
He looked at his empty sleeve.
And turned full eyes on his enemy.
Hidan stared at the ceiling, and then shivered and turned to Pein. "Uh… we should really send someone for them. Like, now."
"Well, Deidara just lost an arm, and puppet's f***er's been reduced to taking advice from the author." Hidan explained, actually a little nervous. "Seriously, just get them out of there, please."
Pein turned to look at him, blinking. Had Hidan just said please?
…Well, it wouldn't hurt to check…
Deidara very happily noticed Zetsu in the corner of his eye, but realized that he was not going to get out of this that easily. No, he needed a distraction…
He looked at the Jinchuuriki. The eyes were fading, and he was out of scrolls (whatever those scrolls had done), so he was out, but the taijutsu team and the copy-nin were still fairly fresh, and Deidara hadn't slept in three days, and was down to one arm, so—
"The body's three kilometers in that direction, un." He shouted, pointing towards where he'd sent the Kazekage's corpse.
This one sentence was enough to throw them off, if only for a second. And then they were moving again, and Deidara realized that he needed something more before Tobi got there, something to stall.
He laughed, deep and cynical. He was a good actor; he had to be after all those years. A real-sounding laugh was no trouble at all. "You think you're in the right, don't you, un?"
"What?" The Kyuubi brat was the one who asked the question.
"You think," Deidara licked his dry lips a little nervously, though he managed to make it look slow and intentional, patronizing, almost. "That you are all the good guys, un."
"Of course we are!" The whiskered kid was shouting again.
"Are you? Do you know the whole story, un?" Deidara taunted. He had their attention, so now he just had to keep them occupied until Tobi got there. And if he held the truth in there, made it a true confession that they would take as a lie, see as the finest of sarcasm, well, then it would be even better. "What if, by capturing the Jinchuuriki, I'm actually trying to save the world, un?"
The sound of grinding teeth came from several directions.
"What if I'm trying to undo what the Rikudo Sennin f***ed up, un?" Deidara leered again. Okay, he could run with this, if only for a few minutes.
"The Rikudo Sennin was the founder of ninjutsu, he—"
"Designed a whole new way to kill people, right? Isn't it all just wonderful, un?" Deidara laughed again. "Creator of ninjutsu, destroyer of the Juubi, and he's the man that may have caused the world to end, though that hasn't happened, un. Not yet."
"The world is not ending." The copy-nin glared at Deidara.
Deidara smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Really? How would you know, un? Hey!"
He made a little hopping motion, coming closer to the Konoha nin. "Did you know that Jashinism came about as a result of the Juubi's split, un? Every sacrifice made was to keep the world from ending. Do you want to help keep the world spinning, un? I know a priest that can still make the sacrifices, you know. The only one left, at this point, un."
"You're insane." The girl had said it, the one with the buns on her head. She looked disgusted with Deidara.
The man waved his half-arm through the air. "I've got half an arm and barely notice it, darling, un. I hear voices, and fire is one of the most beautiful things in the world to me, un. I welcome Death and then shy away from it. I'm mad, I know, un. Sorry, I've been off my meds for the past few days. Can't exactly go to the medicine cabinet while I'm sealing up a bijuu, un."
A strange look crossed several of their faces. The Hyuuga was the one that spoke up. "You're on psychological medication?"
"Duh." Deidara rolled his eyes and put his remaining hand on his hip. "What did you think, un?"
"Tobi thinks Deidara-sempai should take his medicine again!"
Deidara slowly turned to see Tobi sitting on the ground, cross-legged, with one hand waving in the air like a kindergartener. He turned back to the Konoha nin, and gestured in a sarcastically grand manner to the man on the ground. "Tada, un. The magical Tobi, everyone."
"Oh!" There was a noise, as though he had stood up. "Tobi is happy to meet all of Deidara-sempai's new friends!"
Deidara rolled his eyes as Tobi came up and put an arm around him. "And I have to deal with this every day, un. Still, it has its good sides." He grinned."Bye, un."
They disappeared into Tobi's eye.
Zetsu found a hand with a mouth on the ground. "So… do we take it? Of course we do."
A/N: Shippuden wasn't as hard to write as I thought. I do have to say something before I go on, though: I'm not rereading the manga to make sure I get things right. By only using what I vaguely remember, I can make sure that I don't copy things and that I'm more original than other authors. Plus, it's faster this way. I may check things on the wikia if I need a bit of a refresher, but overall…
Yes, I let Sasori survive. But! You didn't see him at the end of the fight. You saw him during the middle, when he was still holding his own.
Now, for the omake. The 200th reviewer was Crystal M. Key, who asked for Maia to try eating Kisame for being a fish. Now, I actually made it a large part of her characterization in my head that Maia's one of the only cats that doesn't attack Kisame on sight for being fishy (oh, the horrible puns), but I managed to twist it around to make it work.
Deidara looked down at Maia as he fried the fish for dinner. He made a little noise, shunting her away slightly with his foot. "No, I already gave you your food."
Maia continued to stare up at him, and Deidara broke. "Fine, I'll give you some more tuna once I'm done with dinner."
The eyes, those wide orange eyes, continued to drill their way into the back of his head. He finished up quickly, still taking enough care to not burn the food, and turned to find that Maia was still watching him. He rolled his eyes. "Alright, alright."
He opened a small tin of tuna, and turned away from the counter to empty it out into Maia's food bowl. Unfortunately, the bowl had recently been put away into the dishwasher, so he needed a new one. Without putting the tin down, he pulled a chair over to the side, cursing his short stature all the while, and pulled himself up to some of the cupboards. He fumbled around one-handed, and then a voice from behind caught his attention.
"What are you doing?"
Deidara, turning to answer, lost his balance and fell forward. He caught his balance easily. He did not catch the tuna at all.
Deidara looked up, and saw Kisame covered in tuna flecks and fishy smelling oil. He was glaring at the younger man with pursed lips and narrow eyes… or he was just trying to keep anything from getting into his eyes or mouth.
Kisame sighed and closed his eyes completely, blindly reaching out for the drawer that held the kitchen towels. Unfortunately…
"Deidara, why is there a tiny tongue licking my face? I swear, if that's one of your hands…"
"It's Maia." Deidara quickly interrupted, and then smiled in a winning manner, despite the fact that Kisame couldn't see it. "She looks adorable!"
And she did.
For the rest of the day, Kisame dealt with Maia trying to climb up onto his shoulder and lick away the scent of tuna that still clung to him.
Adorably, of course.