Chapter 1: Eclecticism
Eclecticism - making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style
Standard disclaimers apply.
Rays of sunlight touched the skies, scanning the horizon and enveloping the darker shadows that dared to contrast with it. A hunched figure stared insipidly at the concrete wall opposite him, unaware he was being watched by two figures.
"Has he said anything? A single word?"
"I'm afraid not, Tsuchikage-sama. He hasn't said a single word despite the interrogations and threats we've made."
"He hasn't changed a single bit, has he?"
"No, no he hasn't."
It was winter in Iwagakure, and a rather bleak day for the Tsuchikage. He along with Kurotsuchi had previously attempted to extract information out of the ex-Akatsuki member, Deidara, whom they had captured during the Fourth Shinobi World War but to no avail had they succeeded.
Of course, Ōnoki's spirits hadn't been dampened. After all, the Allied Shinobi Forces had triumphed over Kabuto and Obito, prompting each Kage and Hidden village to celebrate the prevailing victory.
Still, he couldn't help but feel dismayed at the sight of the downcast ninja confined in a cell before him, a fallen student of his, a broken piece of art. Sure, it was true that he had never really understood the concept of Deidara's view of art – he had never really understood any concept of what art even was. But to see his old student in rundown state like this was rather disheartening, once a promising student, and now some rundown, decrepit castaway. Sighing, he beckoned two shinobi nearby, motioning for them to grab a pen and paper.
Perhaps he should leave the business to that trusty Kohona Nin, what was his name again? Ah yes, Ibiki Morino. A possible medic should be escorted as well too. Wasn't that Haruno girl one of the best? Trained by the Godaime Hokage herself and acclaimed to may one day surpass Lady Tsunade? Whatever the answer was, he groaned as a loud crack radiated off his back, scaring away a few birds that had come sit by his window sill. He would write a letter to the Slug Princess asking her if she could send in Ibiki Morino and Sakura Haruno for a few of his own purposes.
There were so many questions regarding Deidara that remained unanswered.
The main one being: 'Why is he still alive?'
If only he could stop that splintering sound that emitted from his knuckles as he wrote, if only.
This was it.
This was the final mission.
To make it safely and quickly to Yakiniku Q.
One more, one more painstaking step, and then they would be prospered with glorious food.
"Naruto! Sai! You made it – congratulations!"
An uplifting voice could be heard as cheers of delight and surprise rang through the entrance of Yakiniku Q. Seated in two separate rooms but gathered as one whole was: Shikamaru, Kiba, Akamaru, Choji, Shino, Ino. Hinata, Neji, Rock Lee, Gaara, Temari, Kankuro , and Ten Ten.
After the Fourth Shinobi World War, the group had decided to celebrate the triumphant feat, an attainment of pure success by none other than the act of feasting and revelling itself. However, it was the exception that Naruto and Sai had barely escaped from the hospital, having scarcely healed most of their injuries and wounds sustained from the war. Naruto, of course, was not one to miss out on any good social events.
"Sai, come on! We're gonna miss out on all the food!"
"Dickless, we really shouldn't be here, you know."
A gleeful Naruto could only watch in excitement as Ten Ten stepped forward to bring him around to the tables, pointing to each member as they walked along.
"Do not underestimate the Power of Youth, Neji! It is as Guy Sensei says, extremely resilient to anything that claims to have passion, and thus, that is where the amazing Youth Suit comes in!"
"I really could care less, Lee. In fact, your nonstop chatter fails to amuse me."
"You will never know the amazing experience of Youth until you actually try it –"
"I'm not interested. Keep your gay, green suit fetishes to yourself, Lee."
Growls of exasperation came from Temari as she bared her teeth in frustration, annoyed at the rather complex game of Shogi that a smirking Shikamaru was opposing her on.
"I give up! That is just ridiculous, how on earth did you counter my attack? I swear –"
"You failed to perceive my movement from the left; you really should learn when to use the correct tactic."
"But it was so obvious that you were going to attack rather than defend –"
"Word to the wise: incompetent Shogi players shouldn't always assume their opponents intentions for granted. Anyway, let's eat – I'm starving."
"I was wondering when you would say that, Mr Genius."
"Well even Mr Genius can find a game of Shogi to be such a drag."
A huge ball of white fur came crashing down on Shino as Kiba laughed in surprise.
"Loosen up, Shino. Akamaru just loves you – take it as a compliment will ya?"
"Get this thing off me, Kiba. I refuse to be a human bone."
"Really? Cause most humans are made out of bones!"
"Kiba, I am serious now. If you don't get this thing off me my bugs will –"
"Alrighty then. Geez dude, chillax. Any day now and your bugs will grow haywire because of you."
It appeared that Ino was conversing with Choji in a rather deep conversation – about finding the right girl.
"It doesn't matter what she looks like, or what she thinks of you. You just have to wait and it will all fall in the right place."
"But what if I never find the 'right' girl?"
"What did I tell you before as we were discussing your physical stature? Take that into some serious consideration."
Upon seeing Naruto, Kankuro had immediately grabbed Gaara by the ear and yelled out in desperation.
"Oi Naruto! Come over here and have a chat with Gaara." He leaned into his ear slowly and whispered, "I think he's been a bit lonely as the Kazekage for the past few months, he just won't stop talking to that cactus plant he keeps." He winked as he rushed over to help Ten Ten carry Hinata, who had fainted immediately at the sight of Naruto.
"You really don't believe that, do you?" asked Gaara, who had raised an eyebrow in the direction of Kankuro. Chuckling in response, Naruto answered with a wide grin.
"Of course not, but I heard the Kazekage does have a lot on his plate. How do you manage to handle it all?"
"Oh a daily dose of sand accompanied with numerous servings of gizzard and salted tongues do me just fine. In fact–"
"My apologies Lord-Kazekage, but may I speak to Naruto for a moment?" Out of nowhere, Sai had emerged in front of them, with a rather urgent look on his face.
Whipping around to face his teammate, Naruto narrowed his eyes in suspicion then softened as Sai referred to a rather trivial matter. Sakura.
"Naruto, we really shouldn't be here, you know. Sakura could be here any second, and if she finds out where we are she'll-"
"Relax, we'll be fine!" guaranteed Naruto, who slapped Sai on the back and sent him stumbling forward, nearly tripping over his IV. "We're here to party so let's dig in and enjoy the day." Turning to the different assorted food, he called out in eagerness. "So is the food ready?"
A loud horde of cries could be heard as everyone nodded in agreement.
"It sure is, Naruto!"
"Ready when you are!"
"N-Naruto –kun, all the food is ready to eat."
"What are we waiting for Sai? Come on, I'm starving." Grabbing Sai's ear, Naruto pulled him near the peckish mob. "Let's hope there's more than enough ramen, if –"
The last thing Naruto heard was the shattering of a nearby vase and the slapping sound of his own flesh.
A livid looking Sakura stepped out from behind a wall, furious at the equivocation of her own patients.
The rest of the group watched in disbelief as Sakura heaved a now unconscious Sai on the dining table, large visible marks and bruises as to where she had slapped him out of rage.
"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but sometimes, Naruto, you abuse the privilege as much as you eat ramen."
"Sakura - chan-"
"If you want to get out of your current state quickly, you can do that by resting in bed – not by sneaking around and snacking on food."
"But Sakura - chan –"
"Must I remind you that are absolutely no substitutes for sleep? None at all."
As a medic, Sakura knew how extremely critical sleep was for a fundamental bounce back of an injury or medical condition. Her numerous health encounters had given her a flaked experience, a whole new knowledge and erudition of medical and curative literary and terms to explore.
It wasn't easy to grasp the different concepts, though. Many of the crucial and decisive situations that required her to put these skills at use were the result of rigid practice and study – hours of rigid practice and study. Tsunade of course, had been very operose on the subject. After all, once you proceeded with a complex scheme there was no turning back. It was better to be safe than sorry.
Handling a patient's behaviour, however, was a totally different matter. They all came in different forms, some more broken and in tattered spirits than others. Each day at the hospital had its own rush hours, some more urgent as wards were filled and some more relaxed as patients were discharged. If doing a surgery act on a patient was hard, coaxing them to take their doses of medicine was hard enough.
Each had their own story, a tale of accidental injury or the mission of their lives which involved a strong purpose to shed blood. Many had their own ways of handling the pain that accompanied the healing processes; it was actually rather amusing to see their facial reactions at the taste of the medicine they were given.
Conversations were held with great respect and sympathy, after all laughter and joy always had a positive effect on both the 'doctor and her patient,' Extracting information was seldom, unless the situation was indeed a dire one. It was either a simple question being asked with simple answers, she could never forcibly hurt a patient for the sake of collecting data. That just wasn't her. When she wanted she could be coercing, she really could. But at heart, she was medic – a kunoichi who knew her place in the medical field.
A large fist on the door suddenly pounded hard, the voice of Ibiki Morino echoing through the hospital hallway outside.
"Haruno, Lady Tsunade has a request for you to meet her in her quarters as soon as possible. Don't be late."
It would very become a very strong realization to her soon, that the world of interrogation would have to change that.
Three figures stood in the Hokage Headquarters, the sun shining brightly off a pile of papers on a desk that separated them.
"You understand Ibiki?"
"I understand perfectly, Hokage – sama."
"Permission to speak, shishou?"
"Of course, but what of?"
"My comprehension of this mission is somewhat flawless, but…"
A dangerous glint gleamed from Tsunade's voice, surely Sakura wouldn't have that many troubles in this mission she had been assigned too. Compared to the war they previously fought in, this was nothing.
A sigh escaped Sakura as she turned to face the letter Ōnoki had written, her eyebrows furrowed.
"I'm afraid I can't accept. I understand what I have to do perfectly, but I cannot accept. It is my duty to act as a medic, not as an interrogation analyst."
A letter to the Godaime Hokage.
As you may now know during the recent war, we have captured what has appeared to be a reanimation of 'Deidara.' Unlike many of the bodies of the reincarnated shinobi who were brought back to life, 'Deidara' has a rather unusual case as he still ceases to exist rather than act as a sealed dead corpse. Upon Uchiha Madara's defeat he has still maintained his physical features and emotional traits, his behaviour and disposition matching to when I last met him.
Throughout the recent weeks we have been unable as to find out why, or in fact how, he still manages to keep up with this. He has shown no signs of a breakout so far, preferring to be tight-lipped on his emotions and information he probably still has intact. However regarding this, our interrogators have had to resolve with numerous interrogation techniques, all of them failing.
Our medics can also do no more or no less, as he has diminished to a rather frail level of health. Due to this, I have asked for your help – in return I will do my best to help bring you all, the Hidden Leaf Village, to bring back Sasuke Uchiha.
All I ask is for you is to send forth Morino Ibiki as well as your renowned apprentice, Haruno Sakura as a medic. In the course of this situation I have also asked Ibiki to train her with a few basic interrogation and information gathering techniques. I understand that is it is entirely her choice whether she would like to accept this mission or not, as if she does I myself will converse with her of the positive and negative outcomes.
Besides this whole 'interrogation issue,' I am hoping to have Haruno and Ibiki teach a few of their own classes in our village as embarrassingly we are in dire need of resourceful medical and interrogation information. I understand that Haruno may be against this the torture and persecution that she will see and may herself inflict on 'Deidara.' But I'm afraid that this may be the only way as to figure out how he is still alive. Due to conflicting dates I ask for your response in two days' time.
By the way, would be able to send me some of your marrow and joint ointment?
I feel as if my bones are cracking and it is rather humiliating at meetings when I must repeatedly stand up and sit down.
Another sigh echoed in the room as Tsunade bit her lip at watching Sakura's fallen reaction. Her student stood in a casual position in front of her, her head bowed in shame. Good lord, she had been expecting a rejoinder like this, hadn't she?
"I'm not forcing you to do this, but I had somewhat expected to you do it."
It was obvious that she was torn between her morals, her ethics, her vows. As a medic it was her nature to help and heal without question, not torture and brutalize others upon decision and force. But she wasn't just a medic, she was a kunoichi of the Hidden Leaf Village. A shinobi of Kohona. True, emotionality was considered to be a great issue within missions, but it was not the most important.
Sakura's challenge was to overcome her personal feelings, in fact. This was just a training obstacle in the real challenge of getting Sasuke Uchiha back. If she could not rise over a situation such as this, what hope would she have in retrieving her old teammate?
"Sakura. I understand how you are feeling at the moment. It's true that as a medic our natural instincts are to aid the fallen, assist the weak and support the ones who need a strong pillar to lean on. But as a kunoichi, you must know where your overall place is."
"To torture and apply cruel techniques to others just for information, contradicts my beliefs." disproved Sakura, "And then to heal them again, to patch them up ready for another near encounter with affliction and physical distress – I can't accept that Lady Tsunade, I can't."
"You must push aside your personal feelings for this, Sakura. Remember that as a strong woman, especially as I taught you to be, we jump up to every occasion that requires our assistance. I can't stress enough that you maintain your honour and dignity – especially in a delicate state of affairs such as this one. But as a kunoichi, you must know where you stand. As a strong shinobi walks off to start a mission regardless of the different outcomes, you must push aside your feelings and know where your loyalties lie.
We ninja deal with deaths and the lives it puts at stake so this surely wouldn't be too much to ask of you. To become strong, we must all experience and toy with what pains us the most, didn't Kakashi teach this? If you cannot leave out your personal feelings all for the sake of this mission how can you expect to abet in Naruto's wishes of retrieving Sasuke back?"
Sakura stood still for a few moments, too confounded to reply back.
How could she retrieve Sasuke back?
Was she just going to stand there like last time as she prepared to kill her past teammate? Kunai in her hand and attack stance ready only for the tables to be turned quickly. Too quickly that she hadn't even seen it coming or anticipated his rigid and cold nature. She shook her pink hair to banish any unwanted thoughts and focus on the next concept – information.
"I understand where you're getting at, but all this for a slab of information? To repeatedly attack, heal and then attack again for a few sources of data?"
Ibiki stepped forward, now his turn to see if words of choice would resolve this issue. "You'd be surprised, Haruno. You'd be very surprised with what the advantages of having that extra knowledge and information can give you."
"Information: it can be the most valuable weapon in a battle. How well you gather can determine whether a mission is a failure or a success." His lifted as his black eyes rose to meet a pair of green orbs, the green specks daringly bore into his. "You may be able to help us with that, Haruno."
A few silent seconds passed as none of them spoke before Sakura spoke again. How far was she willingly able to go?
"I don't care." Repeated Sakura stubbornly, "It is my duty to act as a medic, not an interrogation analyst. Besides some people are too difficult to handle because of they have too much information."
A surprising chuckle came from the brooding figure next to her, his eyebrows drawn in curiously.
"Ah, but this is where the real mission starts. The idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another. After all, everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense, do they not?"
"All men desire information and knowledge by nature. Thus –"
"I was born not knowing much and have had only a little time to change that here and there but I still believe that perplexity that is the beginning of knowledge. I have had many positive reports about you Haruno, especially from your dear friend Yamanaka Ino. It would be unwise to decline the offer as you may miss out on some rather interesting experiences that could be positively benefited here."
"Just consider the mission, Sakura." Answered Tsunade, "That's all I'm asking. I won't force you. We'll always have plenty of other healthy candidates up for the proposition. You have until tomorrow to decide as Ibiki will be leaving after then. As they say: 'Duty before Honour' and 'Evasion before Interpellation' – only you can decide as to where each one belongs."
Yamanaka Ino let out a groan as she flicked her blonde hair in the moonlight. Honestly, how could it really be this hard? She perched on the edge of her windowsill, staring intently at Sakura's still form lying on her bed opposite her.
"You know, Forehead, you're really going to have to accept this mission whether you like it or not. Whether your heart is above your head." She added. Lady Tsunade had recently told her of Sakura's somewhat dissuading behaviour regarding this new mission, of course she had to go and meddle up a few things as she ventured through her best friend's apartment.
"Exactly that, Pig." Responded Sakura, her eyes gazing up at the bare ceiling wall, "Exactly that. Duty before honour, evasion before interpellation, heart above head – what else?" she asked.
"I'm sure somewhere in that mighty thick head of yours, you'll find the answer."
"I'm serious Ino!"
"So am I! If you really want to bring Sasuke back, this is your chance to regain the courage you were stripped of. To renew your strength! Think of Naruto, think of the others and the village – think of me for god's sake!"
The constant ticking by of a nearby clock was all that the two figures could here, its perpetual sound ringing into Sakrua's ears.
"If you were in my position what would you do?"
"I would accept the mission." Answered Ino, who could care less if her response was nothing but the blunt and honest truth. "I know that life has a shinobi is filled with its ups and downs but that's what makes us strong, that's what makes human. If you can't accept seeing death, bloodshed and gore, why are you even in the medical field? Only you can answer that. The only reason I'm not doing this mission is because I'm about to leave on another one anyway."
Another silence filled the bare air between them, but the only thing that grasped Ino's attention was a sigh and a pair of green spheres staring at her in curiously.
"I guess your right, Pig. Would it be weird if I told you that I'm slightly scared of Ibiki?"
"Scared? You know, he's quite a family man once you get to know him. He and father always seem to have the best conversations about their 'next victim.'
"He's just so..so.. intimidating."
"All interrogators tend to be like that."
"But your father has the exception, he actually has emotion."
"He has too many emotions, honestly."
"What do you think of Ibiki?"
"Ibiki? I'm sure I've never known such an emotional man."
"You really should work on your sarcasm checks."
"Like I said Forehead, he's really nice when you get to know him. He reminds of a big cuddly bear wait to be hugged, you know?"
"A bear? Seriously? Honestly, he's the last person on Earth that I would run to for a hug. Even his smile is kinda scary..."
"That reminds me, I've got to go and get some flowers for his departure!"
"You have got to be kidding me Ino!"
Dawn broke out early as gentle breeze blew through the trees, startling a flock of birds and prompting them to fly elsewhere. The horizon had started to already a make a quick move, the slight hints of a rising sun creeping up.
Four figures stood opposite each other. Two of them facing the entrances of Kohona's gates. The other two facing the outskirts of the Leaf Village.
"I'll give it a shot, shishou."
"That's my girl."
"But if I this unsuccessful, I'm going to…"
"Poison your sake."
"Don't tell me you've learnt that ridiculous torture scheme from Ibiki?"
"You'd be surprised, Shishou. You can get information from anywhere. Even from a hairless mutant."
"I heard that Haruno. Besides, I obtained these scars on my scalp from a mission, that still doesn't make a mutant."
"You'd better get going Forehead. You'll be late!"
"I'll miss you Pig. Don't forget to tell to the others I'm leaving. I'll be able to write a lot of letters now."
Watching the two figures leave her sight, Tsunade uttered a loud grumble.
"Where's my sake? I want it tested for any unwanted prescriptions."
Envisaging what his life would turn out like was the only thing Deidara could truly focus on. Plainly, he was a wreak. His physical appearance, his mental health, his emotional state, all remnants of a deteriorated bomb. Or in his own words, an explosion.
Trapped in a fake body that wasn't even considered his, he felt disgusted. What on earth had he done to deserve this sort of shit treatment? Sure, he was a badass and had his own ways with the Akatasuki but why wasn't he dead?
The only thing he knew was that he had been previously brought back to life with Kabuto by Orchoimaru's Reanimation Jutsu. He alongside his Sasori no Danna had been captured. Although he was damn certain that red-headed partner had been defeated, giving into his stupid emotions as usual. Ironic though, wasn't he supposed to the loud one and talkative one?
He had been detained in a wooden puppet and secured by the samurai and as soon as Kabuto had been defeated he felt a slight shock run through him, then all was dark. Madara was probably long gone, served that useless git completely right. It was sorta hard to believe that the one who was pulling the strings all along was the orange – masked lunatic that used to stand beside him. Who would've believed that?
It had been a while since last encountered Ōnoki, speaking of him, where was that old man? His timing couldn't have been more perfect. He had to deal with that old bag for years and now here he was again.
He gave a slight tug at the thick iron chains that had rendered him useless, immobilising him completely. '
Art is a blast!
That had been his pride and joy. That had been his life. Look at him now.
His pride and joy.
Honestly, there was nothing more to life at all.
He had been in this cell for months, gone under a heavy case of interrogation with the factor of starvation and thirst. All for some pieces on damn information. How he still was alive. Why he still was alive. Heck, he didn't even know himself!
True, he had no intention of escaping whatsoever. There's was no point in trying to make a new life himself. No point in trying to carve a clay sculpture when it was already dry and cracked.
Another growl echoed across the cell and onto the brick walls, as the teeth on Deidara's hands began to gnaw their way through the thick chains. Totally oblivious to the fact that it was completely hopeless.
Voices could be heard from outside as one stood out to him, snapping him out of his thoughts and back into an old memory. It had been a while since had last met his old mentor, Ōnoki.
"Deidara, you don't have to do this. You – "
"Fuck off old man. I'm in no mood for your tarty lectures, yeah."
"You can change your way of living. Your way of art."
"Don't you dare bring my art into this you old bag, yeah."
"If you listen to me now your art – "
"What would you know about art? Art is a blast! What could you possibly understand within that concept? Fuck off will you? Stupid old man…yeah."
"I'll never understand you or your art. Will I? "
"Yeah, yeah you never will."
Author's Note: So we have reached the end of Chapter 1. Hopefully it was alright? I have tried to maintain the characters, well in character...
This is my first attempt at ever at writing a Dei/Saku fic, although the hard part was actually putting my ideas into words on a piece of paper was hard enough! In case some of you are confused as you read on, the following story here will be set after the 4th Shinobi World War. Tsunade is still in her position as the Hokage. And I cannot stress enough that Sasuke has NOT brought back to the Leaf Village yet.
I don't know how long this story will be, to be honest. We'll just have to wait and see, perhaps? Sakura and Deidara will be meeting up soon, perhaps in the next chapter or so. Unforgettably, their relationship will obviously take some time so I ask you to bear with me along the road ahead of us. My updates will depend on my schedule, but I definitely won't be abandoning this fic.
Constructive criticism is always welcome, as I tend not to listen in some of my classes at school ;) And reviews are very much appreciated (encouraged even!)