"The countries were split so that they were non-contiguous, which is… a recipe for disaster!"
"Also a delicious soufflé."

- My history teacher (Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948), and then the usual guy

o.o.o.o.o

Kakashi's visible eye narrowed, wondering just what he had done to garner the 'interest' of this particular Akatsuki member.

"Would the secret be your identity?" Kakashi wagered a guess that the secret would be this, but he couldn't be sure, particularly if the 'secret' ended up being something more along the lines of 'kunai to the face!'

"Well, I am going to take off my mask. Whether or not you recognize me is up to you, though it should be fine… so long as you don't channel the idiocy of the man that calls himself your 'Eternal Rival.'" Tobi sounded amused, darkly so, as though he was mocking Kakashi with everything he had. Then again, he probably was.

"Gai isn't an idiot." Despite Kakashi's own tendency to mess with the Green Beast, he felt compelled to defend the man that had grown to be his closest friend over the years.

"Sure, he isn't." Tobi reached for his mask again, but was interrupted by Naruto.

"Wait, you're not just wearing another mask under that one, are you?"

There were several seconds of silence, barring heated whispers that were passing mostly unnoticed between Jiraiya, Pein, and Konan.

"…Where the h*ll did you get that idea?"

Naruto pointed at Kakashi.

Tobi stared for a second. "Bullsh*t."

"Er… no, it's not." Kakashi admitted.

Tobi sighed and just reached up for his mask one last time. "And now that you have successfully shattered all the drama that I tried to build up, I'm just going to pull off the mask and avoid the fanfare."

"Boring, un."

"Shut up, brat." Sasori snapped, more through force of habit than genuine irritation.

"In any case…" Tobi sent several waves of annoyance towards the two artists. "Allow your eyes to feast on what may be the worst revelation of your reasonable-length life."

With a certain amount of flourish, since he was still a little prone to dramatization, despite it all, Tobi pulled off his mask, exposing his mutilated face to the world.

Kakashi's jaw worked up and down as he tried to come to terms with what he was seeing, even as Naruto wondered just what was going on. Tsume, Hiashi, and Shikaku all took a closer look at the man in the center of the room, trying to call up memories that hovered just out of reach.

"Forget your moisturizer, un?"

"Deidara, would you stop trying to ruin all my dramatic set-ups? I'd like to see one actually play through for once." Obito shot the blond a withering glare.

Deidara just shrugged. "It was getting boring, un."

"Then eavesdrop on Konan and Pein's conversation or something." Obito waved a hand dismissively.

"…Nah." Deidara crossed his arms, leaning back to put more weight on Hidan's chest and tugging Kurotsuchi slightly off-balance.

"You are incorrigible."

"Yes. Yes, I am, un." Deidara grinned cheekily at the older shinobi.

Kakashi finally seemed to speak, his extended, staggered silence eerily reminiscent of the one that Shikaku had displayed nary a few minutes earlier. However, Kakashi's voice was still quieter, whispery and cracking. "…Obito?"

"Surprised?" Obito laughed humorlessly. "Never came back for the body, did you?"

"What the—of course we did!" The accusation knocked Kakashi out of his stupor, and gave Obito a pause. "But by the time we came back, you were already gone!"

"And you didn't find that suspicious at all? Didn't try to start a search? I know you already had some of your pack by then." Obito's every word dripped with sarcasm and suppressed anger.

"The bodies of the Iwa nin that were there were gone as well. We assumed that the enemy, no offense to present company, took your body as well! You were a supposedly dead Uchiha in the middle of a war with no guard, and a working Sharingan! We thought they took you to get at the eye, and trust me, there was no trail for us to follow!" Kakashi was nearly panting from all the yelling now. The entire situation was just FUBAR, and when his dead best friend showed up as the enemy and said that it was Kakashi's fault that he was so messed up…

Well. Suffice to say, Kakashi wasn't happy.

Obito kept his eyes trained on Kakashi for several seconds, betraying no emotion, and then turned to Zetsu.

"…What? Stop staring at us; it's annoying." Zetsu shifted under the stare.

"Is what he said true?"

"I wasn't even created yet. And I was too busy underground keeping watch over you for Madara. Didn't have any clones up on the surface beyond guards."

Obito's eyes narrowed and he swung his gaze back over to Kakashi. Two eyes met one, and then didn't move at all.

The undeniably awkward situation was broken by none other than Sai.

"Would this situation be one that is put under the label of awkward?" The pale boy tilted his head to the side and looked over at TenTen, the person that was currently closest to him.

"…Yes, Sai. This situation was very awkward."

"Was?"

"You broke the tension. I think. Maybe. Can't you ask someone else?" TenTen seemed eager to get out of the job of explaining 'awkward' to Sai, and meandered over to Neji and Hiashi in an attempt to get away.

Sai blinked and turned to Shika-chan. "Shikamaru?"

"…Troublesome."

This was the point at which the focus of the room at large would normally return to the action, over by Kakashi and Obito, but instead ended up shifting to Jiraiya as he, quite loudly, shouted out a line that was said by many an overprotective father, grandfather, uncle, or other male relative across the world at some point in their lives.

"You're pregnant?"

Konan introduced her forehead to her palm. "…Yes."

"But, but, but," Jiraiya pointed back and forth between Konan and the Deva Path thoroughly confused and somewhat disgusted.

"Get your head out of the gutter, sensei." Konan stressed the last word as though it were something unclean. "It was due to a scroll that Deidara and Sasori pilfered from one of Orochimaru's abandoned bases after his death. It outlined a technique called artificial insemination that allowed for impregnation without intercourse."

Jiraiya opened his mouth, but was cut off by Tsunade.

"If you say anything about how that takes all the fun out of it, I will break your ribs." Her tone was unbearably pleasant.

(This, of course, caused another confused conversation between Sai and Shikamaru.)

Jiraiya shook his head, seeming slightly affronted. "I wasn't going to say that, hime. I can be serious when necessary, as you very well know."

"Sasuke!" And Naruto finally skipped to the part that he would have done immediately upon entering the room, had he not been distracted by the many people that would have until very recently, tried to kill him.

Sasuke stepped to the side, pulling Suigetsu into his place. He knew that, had this been a true battle, this move would have either failed to work or ended in Suigetsu becoming a red stain on the ground, but this was not a true battle. This was a situation where he could take advantage of his 'status' and influence events for the sake of an outcome that would entertain people. As Naruto crashing into Suigetsu was a humorous event, the movement could occur.

Sasuke was rather proud of how thoroughly he had analyzed the ways he could take advantage of being the Irrationality Locus.

Of course, then Naruto grabbed his shoulders anyway, and started shaking him back and forth, yelling in his face, and, oh Kami, Naruto was literally spitting mad, wasn't he? Ugh, he'd have to wash his 'shirt' soon, because this was just disgusting.

"Excuse me." The low, authoritative voice drifted over the room, quelling most of the arguments. Pein had moved to stand at the center, slowly pacing the edge of the center to address the entire room. The Kage all narrowed their eyes at him, while the rest of the non-Akatsuki stilled their movements at the tone that seemed to strike deep into their bones and demand that they listen.

"…Thank you for your attention." Pein's ripple-like eyes moved slowly over the room, focusing on the Kage and Mifune one by one. "I assume that my subordinates already explained much of the situation to you, regarding the bijuu and the coming… apocalypse?"

"The supposed apocalypse." Onoki clarified, arms folded across his chest. "We haven't been shown any proof yet, now have we?"

Pein turned his gaze on Onoki, and then didn't turn for approximately 28 seconds. He eventually looked over at Hidan and Deidara, and nodded at them. "Deidara, I believe Hidan made several… enhancements to your scope."

Deidara blinked, and then pouted at her esteemed leader. "Do I have to, un? I don't want that old gasbag wearing my scope! It's nice and pretty and shiny, un, and he's… ew."

"Deidara." Pein's tone brooked no argument, and Deidara sighed, tossing the named instrument over.

"Fine… don't have to like it, though, un." Deidara crossed his arms and pouted, an expression that didn't look nearly as appropriate as it would have on his female face.

Pein snatched the scope out of the air, and then held it up for all the Kage to see clearly. "Now, which of you would like to see the world through a priest's eyes first?"

"Not me." Tsunade spoke immediately, and continued without a pause as people sent questioning stares her way, glowering back. "If that thing is a trap, then I'd be better off waiting in case someone needs to be healed. We all know d*mn well that I'm the best medic here, and I'm sure as h*ll not letting you take me out first."

She crossed her arms under her impressive bosom and glared around the room, daring them to argue.

Pein didn't react, simply let his eyes cross over the rest of the Kage. Onoki was too paranoid, and Gaara had already had less than pleasant dealings with the Akatsuki. None of the Kage were the type to sacrifice a guard, and Tsunade had already demanded to be kept for last in case she was needed. That left Mei and Ei, as well as possibly Mifune. The three of them were seated one next to the other, with Mifune at the center. Pein made his intentions clear as his eyes traced over the three, head turning from one side to the other with unnerving, inhuman regularity, and finally stopped on Ei when the man held the hand out, demanding.

"Fine. I'll see whatever the h*'ll it is that you're trying to convince us with."

"Just don't crush it, un!"

The noise of a man-made tail smacking against a rather hairy head was heard clearly.

Ei grunted, an audible show of his irritation, but held the scope up to his eye anyway.

"I would suggest looking at Uchiha Sasuke, if you want to see what it is that we wish for you to see." Pein suggested, and his tone would have been light, had it been capable of expressing such a sentiment after so many years without.

Ei sucked in a breath as he saw the oily spillage of irrationality that circled the littlest Uchiha.

"…What the f***?"

Hidan grinned. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

o.o.o.o.o

A/N: Yeah, I think I'll end it there. Would have had it out a few hours earlier, but my dad and brother decided to go see Despicable Me 2 (ended up seeing Pacific Rim instead, and by the gods, it was amazing; the CGI was beautiful).

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering about my IB DP exams and scores, well…

I passed! The specifics:

Extended Essay: C
TOK Essay: B
Overall Essay points: +1 (Could have been better, but good enough to get bonus points.)

SL Physics: 4 (I knew this already.)
SL Spanish: 4 (I'm not sure how I passed this one, but it did.)
SL Psychology: 5 (Yay~!)
HL English: 5 (I knew I'd do well on this one.)
HL History: 4 (Better than expected.)
HL Math: 3 (I failed it...)
Overall Exam points: 25

Overall score: 26

If you're unfamiliar with IB scoring, then you need 24 points from the tests to graduate (I got 25), and you can't get a two or less on any test unless you get sixes and sevens on everything else. So I passed, if barely, and I'm getting my IB DP diploma!

If you want more information on IB, feel free to ask me.

Remember: poll, contest, reviews. Love you all!

Ja ne,

Phoenix