A/N: I'M NOT DEAD! I JUST MADE YOU THINK THAT SO THAT I CAN LAUGH AND SAY THAT I'M NOT DEAD!

Ok, no, seriously? Just, shit happens. :P Or life does. Either way, I'm really sorry about the lateness of this chapter! (3 months...ho boy...) Don't hate meee! D: **dodges rotten fruit**

Deidara: You were just being a lazy-ass the whole time -.\/"
Me: SHADDUP! **hits over head with a giant text book**
Deidara: But it's true, un
Me: THEN YOU TRY WRITING THIS STUFF!
Deidara: I bet it would come out better, un
Me: SHADDUP! **waves book around again**
Deidara: **dodges book and sticks out tongue**
Sasori: **eyeroll** Kids -.-
Me: **Chasing Deidara with book** COME BACK HERE!
Deidara: Nya nya!
Sasori: Will somebody do the disclaimer?
Deidara: MIDNIGHT DOESN'T OWN US! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Me: GET BACK HERE YOU! **rage face**
Sasori: -.- Just shut up and enjoy the chapter.


Mission Impossible


Chapter Twelve: Caught?


Sasori cast a surreptitious glance back towards his younger partner. Deidara hadn't said a word since they had set out earlier that morning which was strangely uncharacteristic for the blonde. Sasori figured Deidara could just be lost in thought. Still, it was very unusual for him to go so long without saying anything. Normally, Sasori enjoyed the silence; he was often wishing the blonde would just shut up, but, this just didn't feel right. No, right now the blonde should be talking his jaw off while Sasori mumbled about annoying brats.

He would have asked Deidara if there was something wrong but he already knew the answer to that question. He wasn't sure what to do about it. What could he do? They would travel west until they were far from the borders of the Land of Earth before finding a smaller village where they could live in peace. What more could he do? Nothing, the answer was nothing and it was driving him mad. For reasons unbeknownst to him, he wished he could help his partner more, but he just couldn't.

"Danna?" Deidara suddenly spoke up, quietly.

"Yes?"

"Do you think Orochimaru will be following us, un?"

Ah, Orochimaru. Honestly, he had quite forgotten about the incident with his former partner until Deidara had brought it up. This could potentially be a problem.

"Probably, just keep an eye out for him."

Sasori waited to hear some sort of comment or remark from the blonde but received none.

Why do I hate this silence so much? I finally get him to shut up and now I want him talking. This is illogical.

They travelled on for a few more hours in this way. Neither of the S-class shinobi made anymore attempts towards conversation. Sasori would have except he really didn't know what to say. That was always Deidara's job, asking the questions and bringing up topics. If the blonde didn't say anything, Sasori didn't either unless he had something to tell his partner.

Suddenly, Sasori stopped. He could sense some other ninja in the area.

"Deidara" he called to his young partner, wanting to know if the blonde sensed the others too, but there was no response. Thinking the blonde must not have heard him he turned around to see that Deidara was nowhere in sight.

"Deidara?" His eyes scanned the mountainous surroundings but saw no sign of the blonde.

"Brat! We don't have time for this!"

Something told him Deidara just wasn't in the area. He cursed silently under his breath. This was not a good thing to say in the least.

He felt two ninja land behind him. He knew these shinobi.

"What do you two want?" He asked, turning to face none other than Itachi and Kisame.

"Where is Deidara?" Itachi spoke in a monotone voice.

"Why don't you tell me?" Sasori answered, narrowing his eyes a bit. What could they possibly want?

Itachi blinked once before saying, "It doesn't matter right now. We need you to come with us."

"And why would that be?"

"For Akatsuki"

Not this again.

"Tell Madara that no means no. I have not changed my mind."

"Oh come on Sasori, don't be like that. You know Akatsuki has benefits." Kisame tried to reason.

"You do know who killed leader-sama, don't you?"

"He betrayed Akatsuki, nobody killed him!"

Sasori stared blankly at the duo. Surely they didn't believe any of that spiel? Maybe Kisame, but he certainly couldn't see Itachi believing something like that.

Whatever. Let them think what they will. It's not like I'm going to change their opinion.

"Whatever. I still have not changed my mind."

"Why?" Itachi questioned.

"That's really none of your business."

"The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages."

"I said I'm not interested."

"Let's just drag him away already Itachi."

So that's how it's going to be then, huh?

Sasori was suddenly reminded of the day they had recruited his blonde partner. He remembered thinking how stupid Deidara had been to not just come with them all at once instead of trying to fight and run away. He remembered thinking how he would never put himself in the same position and yet, here he was. How ironic. Now he could better understand how his partner had felt that day.

"I'm not going anywhere." He stated, taking up a fighting stance.

Kisame pointed his sword towards Sasori.

"Hate to say this then, but we're going to have to take you out."

Before Sasori could think of a proper response Kisame shot out at him, forcing him to pull out a scroll at random to defend himself.

Alright brat, wherever you ran off to, it would be really helpful if you could get your ass over here now and HELP ME WITH THESE DAMN BASTARDS!

Sasori whipped out a few more scrolls, fingers moving like lightning as he dodged then countered Kisame's blows. He wasn't all too worried about the shark-nin. Kisame was manageable so long as Sasori remembered to keep him at a few arms' length. The problem was Itachi.

The Uchiha favored fighting at longer ranges and his Sharingan was a definite problem. Sasori knew he could avoid the deadly Tsukyomi by averting his gaze from Itachi's eyes, but he also knew that Itachi had quite a few other jutsu up his sleeve.

Of course, he himself only had one weakness. Still, he was quite sure Itachi knew what it was and just because there was only one way to kill him didn't mean he couldn't be worn down. Considering that Itachi and Kisame only wanted to take him with them, he probably didn't have to worry about dying. This wasn't going to be easy. Where was the brat?

Kisame jumped in for another attack while Sasori jumped back and thrust his puppet forward, making a swiping motion at the other ninja. Sasori thought he saw his blade make contact and this was confirmed a moment later when Kisame jumped back in slight surprise at Sasori's ability to land a blow. However, Sasori knew it wouldn't do much. Though a slash like that might kill a normal ninja, Kisame had quite a large amount of stamina as well as high chakra reserves. It would be nothing more than a mere scratch to him. Still, it bought Sasori some time to ready another attack, putting him on the offensive and thus giving himself the advantage.

Yet, there was still Itachi. The whole time, the Uchiha had simply been observing the clash of the two ninja in front of him. Now, Sasori barely sensed the raven moving behind him and just nearly missed being burned to a crisp by one of Itachi's fire style jutsu. He turned, getting a quick glance at the Uchiha, but making sure he did not look into the eyes that he knew were swirling with the crimson red of the Sharingan.

Sasori's momentary distraction with Itachi allowed for Kisame to get in a bit closer, swinging his sword dangerously close to the puppet master. Sasori ducked, knowing that the chakra-devouring sword was not an object to be taken lightly. No sooner had he done this, however, when Itachi sent another fire jutsu his way. Dodging the attacks from both ninja, Sasori quickly maneuvered his puppets forcing the two Akatsuki back a bit. Sasori scowled. He knew he could hold out for a bit against these two, but the combined force of the team would just be too much to handle. He was fighting a losing battle. Where the hell was Deidara? At least then the odds would be evened out. And Deidara could fly; get out of both of their ranges and just attack if he so desired.

Both Itachi and Kisame suddenly came at Sasori in a movement to perform a combined attack on him. Sasori braced himself and readied his puppets. This was going to be a long battle.


Deidara walked with his eyes cast downward most of the time. Truth be told, he didn't really want to be going anywhere at the moment. But he followed Sasori more or less because he didn't want the puppet master to think him weak and besides, Sasori was probably right; he generally was.

He couldn't help but sneak a few wistful glances back towards Iwa every now and again. He wondered what Ayane had really thought of him, if she still hated him when she died or if she had forgiven him for that. Had she ever received any of his letters? Or had they never reached her? Or had she gotten them only to destroy them the moment they arrived? If she had read them at all, did it even matter? Had she cared? Or had she simply just rolled her eyes, thinking that he wasn't sincere?

Did she even think about him after she left or had she erased him from her memory? Had she even cared about him after that? Or had she stopped caring altogether and just completely hated him? Had she been happy to be in Iwa? Did she have friends? Did anyone else care for her? He didn't know. He didn't know any of it and he never would.

He didn't want to reflect on any of this anymore, it was making his head hurt, yet he still did. He wanted to forget and at the same time he didn't. He felt guilty. He knew it was his fault. Who else's could it be? If only he had died like everyone had wanted then none of this would have happened. But how was he supposed to know? It wasn't like he wanted it to happen, and yet it did.

Some part of his mind, a very small part, told him he needed to stop blaming himself. That it was nothing he did that caused Ayane's death and there wasn't really anything he could have done to prevent it. He wanted to believe that part of his mind. It would have lessened the guilt and the pain if only a bit. He wanted to believe it and yet somehow, he couldn't. The feelings of guilt far overwhelmed the logical part of his brain.

Deidara closed his eyes for a moment, wishing it all away. It was a dream, he told himself, a horrible dream. He would wake up any minute now with Sasori scowling at him for waking up late. This whole mission; none of it had happened. It was all a very bad nightmare.

But it wasn't.

He knew it wasn't. Logically, he knew it wasn't. That didn't stop him from hoping the logical part of himself would go to hell. Screw logic.

Slowly, he opened his eyes again and realized he had actually stopped walking when he closed them; he had been so lost in thought. He looked ahead for Sasori but couldn't see the puppet master. In fact, he didn't even sense Sasori's chakra in the immediate vicinity. Surely he couldn't have let his mind wander off so much that he lost his way and his partner, could he have?

"Danna?" He called out, hoping that he may have just missed something and that Sasori was really right in front of him the whole time. But he received no answer.

"Danna? Sasori no danna?"

Still no answer.

"Danna? Are you around, un?" He already knew the answer to this question, but he asked it anyways. Sasori wasn't around, he could tell. Obviously, this was a problem.

He sincerely hoped Sasori hadn't changed his mind and just left him. It was strange but though he often thought he would be better off doing things his own way, he really didn't want to be left alone. Especially not now.

He shook those thoughts out of his head. Sasori probably didn't notice his absence yet. After all, he had been so quiet the whole time that maybe Sasori had assumed the blonde was still walking behind him. Well, no matter. He could find Sasori easily enough. He couldn't be that far behind and he knew this country well enough. Yes, it wasn't a matter worth worrying over.

With those thoughts in mind, Deidara started off to find his older partner when he sensed a presence in the vicinity. Noting that it wasn't Sasori, he quickly masked his own chakra and cautiously glanced around the periphery, snaking his hand down to the pouch on his hip. He saw nothing but kept on his guard as he began looking for Sasori. Sure enough, whoever it was, followed.

Just perfect. It's probably only an assassin or some sort of patrol. Still, that Orochimaru character showed up earlier, why not now? At least there's only one of them. That I know for certain.

Deidara continued on his way but noticed the other chakra signature coming closer and closer. All at once he turned and caught a senbon between his fingers and tossed a bomb in the same direction the weapon had come from. Once the smoke had cleared he found himself face to face with, once again, Sasori's old partner, Orochimaru. He sighed.

Why do I always attract the random freaks and psychos? Ugh…

"Why hello Dei-chan, fancy seeing you here again" Orochimaru grinned wickedly.

Deidara glared in response.

"Oh, not so happy to see me, are you? Too bad, I'm looking forward to this."

"Back off, un." Deidara wasn't in the mood for playing games with this man.

"Come now, why would I do a thing like that? I still have my prize to claim."

"Forget it, un"

"Such a disagreeable child. I don't see how Sasori puts up with you. Oh wait, he doesn't, he doesn't care about you at all." Orochimaru laughed airily, but there was nothing pleasant about it. His tone held obvious malice.

Deidara felt himself tensing a bit.

Calm down. Let him rile you up and you're playing right into his hand. Keep. Calm. Deidara.

"You don't know what you're talking about, un." Deidara said simply.

"Hm, I don't, don't I? Then where is your precious 'danna' now? Hm?"

"I just lost myself is all…" Deidara mumbled.

"Lost? Or left behind?"

"Shut up! Danna wouldn't leave me behind, un."

"How do you know that?"

He didn't know. But Sasori had said they were friends; that had to count for something, right? Or had Sasori only wanted to convince him for that moment? Though, what reason would the puppet master have for doing something like that? Then again, did he need a reason? Why should Sasori be any different from anyone else he had ever known? Everyone else had left him alone but he had trusted Sasori. Was that a mistake?

"Danna wouldn't do that…un…" He felt his voice wavering a slight bit. Deep down he thought he knew that Sasori would never do something like that to him. Yet, with everything that had transpired over the past week or so he just couldn't think straight. He was beginning to have doubts and Orochimaru latched onto this like paper to glue.

"You don't know that. What happened with Madara?"

"He didn't mean that…he's sorry. He told me, un."

"And you believed him?"

"Why shouldn't I, un?" Deidara felt like he should be angry but he couldn't seem to find the strength to be. He felt tired, worn down, sick of the same old games and much older than his seventeen years.

"The better question is, why should you? Even your own sister betrayed you; why would someone like Sasori even show an inkling of care for you? If you want to argue over recent events, don't think that he didn't have anything to gain from all that. No, the only reason he kept you alive was me. Ah yes, don't look so dumbfounded. Of course he kept in contact with me after I left Akatsuki. I was his partner for a long while after all; I know him better than you. But come, are you really all that surprised? Why should he be concerned for you? You were only my replacement to him, half his age, annoying and weak. No, he doesn't care, he doesn't care about you, Deidara."

Part of Deidara just knew that Orochimaru was lying about the whole thing. The other part of him believed Orochimaru quite strongly and that part seemed the stronger. He just had so many doubts and Orochimaru was only echoing them. Still, he did not want to believe it.

"S-shut up" He said, his voice quaking with rage. "Danna wouldn't do that. H-he wouldn't, I know it, un."

But even he could hear the doubt in his own voice.

"Well no one can ever accuse you of being disloyal. You defend him even when all the facts are clearly laid out in front of you. But no matter. This talk is beginning to bore me. So, are you going to be a good child and come with me now or am I going to have to make you come?"

Almost instantaneously, Deidara sent a volley of explosives towards the snake sannin in answer and the explosives kept coming. He wasn't angry per se but one thing was for certain. He wanted Orochimaru gone and he wanted it now. He didn't like the man at all.

Orochimaru dodged the explosives and tried to use his shadow snakes to pin the blonde down as he had done the first time, but Deidara was expecting this. He dodged and molded a quick bird, escaping to the sky and sending down explosive after explosive towards Orochimaru.

They carried on in this way for about five minutes before Deidara, growing tired of the situation, packed some extra chakra into a fast moving bomb and swooped in, hitting Orochimaru at full force with the explosive. Orochimaru was sent flying backwards and slammed into a tree, landing on the ground battered and bloodied from multiple wounds. He glared up at Deidara, then, suddenly smirked.

"Very impressive. I'll let you say you won this one, Dei-chan. And just remember, Sasori doesn't care."

In a flash, he was gone, leaving Deidara on his bird staring at the spot Orochimaru had been in.

Damn him to hell. Sasori didn't leave me…he said he wouldn't. He's probably just sitting right up ahead, waiting for me. In fact, I've probably pissed him off at making him wait so long. Orochimaru is…a crazy idiot. He's just…lying…really…

Deidara shook the thoughts out of his head, willing his mind to focus only on finding his partner. Sasori would be right up ahead. He wouldn't leave the blonde, he said so.

No, he said he wouldn't let you die. That doesn't mean he won't leave you. He could have just been keeping you alive for Orochimaru…like Orochimaru said.

Sasori had called them friends, right? Or had he only been playing his cards carefully?

Of course he would say that. He needed an excuse and he wouldn't tell you the real reason, now would he?

It was times like this where Deidara wished he could he turn his mind off. He was thinking about the whole matter too much, reading far too into it. But the same questions and doubts remained, especially now that Orochimaru had brought them up. He shook his head. He would only concentrate on finding his partner now. He just lost himself; that was all. Sasori would be waiting.


Sasori dodged a swipe from Kisame's sword and sent a puppet towards Itachi who had been encroaching from behind. He still wondered where on earth his partner could have wandered off to, especially at a time like this. The thought crossed his mind that perhaps Deidara had gotten engaged in battle too. Orochimaru had shown up once. Had he come again?

The thought angered Sasori that his partner could be battling the slimy bastard at that very moment. Didn't Orochimaru have enough fun with his little "experiments" without having to drag his partner along too? Sasori figured that there may have been someone behind Orochimaru's appearance. Twisted though he may be, Orochimaru never did anything without a purpose. And the snake had so conveniently shown up right after they had gotten away from Madara and right after the incident in Iwa. Sasori found it all very suspicious.

He slammed a puppet with more force towards Kisame than necessary. Now he just wanted to find the blonde as soon as possible. He knew what Orochimaru was capable of and though he wasn't completely certain that Deidara was being detained by the man, he didn't want to take any chances. He knew what Orochimaru did and he knew what Orochimaru had come for. But he would not get it so long as Sasori had something to say about it.

"Danna!"

Sasori immediately swung his head around, feelings of both relief and anger sweeping over him at the call. Itachi and Kisame stopped too for a moment, looking over the newcomer. Deidara seemed to have taken in the situation immediately as he readied himself for a fight, sending an especially nasty glare towards Itachi. Before anyone could say or do anything, however, Deidara's eyes widened a bit as his body went limp and he fell to the ground.

Sasori stood, totally shocked for a moment before what happened actually registered in his mind. He noticed the presences of Itachi and Kisame disappearing in the background but only barely. He began to take a step forward when he heard some sinister laughter.

"Well, well Sasori, we meet again." Orochimaru stepped out of the shadows, an evil smirk playing on his face.

"Orochimaru" the name rolled of his tongue in anger, laced with as much poison as one of his special senbon.

"Well, I am glad to see that you haven't entirely forgotten me, my old comrade."

Orochimaru smiled in a charming yet sinister way. Sasori knew this face, he knew this game, he knew what was being played. He knew it all too well. He had spent too much time with the man when they had been partnered in Akatsuki.

"Why don't you go crawl back into the slimy little hole you came from and leave me alone?"

"Certainly, if that's what you want. I only thought you might be interested in a little deal I have to offer. But if you don't want to hear it then there's nothing I can really do to change your mind. I'll just take my prize and go; I've done my job."

Orochimaru's voice was smooth and calm, yet Sasori knew the whole thing was a hoax. He knew Orochimaru. He knew what the snake was talking about.

"Leave. Deidara. Alone." He hissed darkly.

"Or?"

"Or I will personally make sure your death is a slow and painful one."

Orochimaru laughed airily.

"That's certainly a lovely way to treat your former partner. But what's it to you anyways? Last I checked, this child has nothing to do with you. Other than, of course, the obvious fact that he was my replacement in Akatsuki. Was. You're not in Akatsuki anymore though. You're not bound to him Sasori. What could you possibly want from him anyways? Why do you care? You can't feel emotions in your state; you've said so yourself. Why does it bother you so much? He's not your family. And he doesn't understand you one bit. He's an ignorant boy that serves no purpose to you or to anyone as a matter of fact. It's much better if I just take him myself."

"Go to hell" Sasori spat.

Orochimaru laughed again.

"I don't really have time for such things." He walked towards the collapsed blonde and bent down. Sasori felt himself tensing, readying for an attack. "Come now Sasori" Orochimaru began, his back to the Akasuna, "In the past you would have supported me. What has changed in you?"

"Don't you dare touch him or I'll kill you."

"Yes, yes, you've said that before." Orochimaru said waving his hand in the air and standing to turn to face Sasori. "But, if you really want me to leave him alone, then maybe you want to listen to my proposition."

Sasori raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Orochimaru smirked like he had just won a great victory.

"Let's see, well, a certain friend of mine asked for a little favor. I believe you've met him? Uchiha Madara? Ring any bells? Well, let's say he wasn't too happy at your refusal. My proposition is simple: you perform whatever tasks he wants and I won't lay a finger on the child. However, you should know, the fate of that brat is contingent on your obedience. Overstep the boundaries even once and…" Orochimaru pulled out a kunai and began to idly flip it around, "I can't promise the little brat will come back unharmed."

Sasori glared at his former partner, mind racing. Well, the answer seemed obvious; do what Madara wanted then they could be on their merry way. But, knowing Orochimaru, there must be a catch. Just what it could be was what Sasori needed to figure out, and fast.

"Oh, and one more thing, you can't tell your little friend what you're going to be doing. That is, you are simply to tell him you changed your mind about Madara's offer. That is all. So no, you can't take him with you. But don't worry; he'll be in extremely good hands."

There it was. Of course he couldn't do that. He couldn't trust this man nor could he trust Madara Uchiha, of all people. In such a case, there was only one option. He was going to have to fight with Orochimaru.

Quickly, he pulled out a puppet scroll and slammed Orochimaru back into one of the trees with his weapon. Noting the impact of the blow and calculating the time it would take the snake to recover, he rushed towards where Deidara had collapsed and gently lifted the blonde's head off the ground. A short sense of relief shot through him when he realized his partner didn't seem to be seriously injured. Still, he was wary. He didn't put it past Orochimaru to do something sneakily sinister.

Hearing Orochimaru curse and begin to get up, he hastily moved Deidara out of the way before turning back to Orochimaru.

"You've just made a mistake, Sasori, and you're going to regret it." Orochimaru hissed, wiping blood from his mouth. Sasori said nothing more but simply pulled out another scroll and readied himself for any attack.

Orochimaru pulled out a sword and rushed to attack Sasori who simply threw him back with even more force. A thought crossed the Akasuna's mind; he could probably get away now. In fact, that might be the best idea. He had caught Orochimaru off guard twice; it wouldn't happen again. And, Sasori knew the sannin was at the very least matched in power to him if not stronger. The battle would be long, drawn out, and Sasori really wasn't sure who would win this one. There was also the chance that Itachi and Kisame could come back and that would be a bad thing. Now that he knew all three were working for Madara they could potentially team up against him. He might be able to hold them off for a while, but it would be difficult, especially when Deidara could be no help.

Weighing all these things in his mind, he quickly made his decision and jumped back to lightly scoop up his unconscious partner before taking off. He thought he heard Orochimaru shout something at him, but he didn't care to listen. He knew he was faster than the snake and he had a head start. He should get away. Yet, he ran for a good while before confirming that Orochimaru wasn't following them and stopping.

Deidara still had yet to wake up, and it almost worried Sasori. Physically, the blonde was fine, as far as he could tell, but his younger partner hadn't even stirred the whole time. He nudged the blonde's shoulder to try and wake him up but to no avail. The only logical conclusion he could draw from this was that Orochimaru had come up with some new drug or something. Then, it hit him. The drug Orochimaru had made his partner drink must have some sort of reaction with whatever was on the senbon. How terribly clever of the snake bastard; it seemed the man had all his ducks in a row.

Speak of the devil…

Sasori whipped around as he felt Orochimaru's presence once again.

"Thought you lost me, eh Sasori? You should know better. I never give up my prize."

Sasori readied a puppet for an attack but stopped when he saw that Orochimaru had somehow managed to get his hands on Deidara.

How the hell did he…?

"Surprised? You shouldn't be. I have my tricks Sasori."

"Put him down." Sasori growled.

"Why? Why do you care so much about this brat? He's not your family and you're not bound to him. Besides, you failed to accept my proposal earlier and I don't like giving second chances."

Orochimaru had a point. Why did he care so much about the kid? Sasori struggled to come up with a reason. There was only one logical explanation to this. Who would have ever thought that he, Akasuna no Sasori would say something like this? But fate just has a way with things.

"Maybe he is my family now. So, I'll say it once more. Put. Him. Down. Now."

"Well, well, the emotionless bastard has feelings. I am shocked, Sasori. And you must be desperate to consider this child as a part of your family." Orochimaru snorted. "But, who am I to judge? And what do I care? All in all, I'm still not releasing him to you." The snake sannin laughed sadistically.

Sasori sent a puppet towards Orochimaru who only dodged.

"Ooh, I wouldn't do that if I were you. I do still have your little blonde partner here; I could snap his pretty little neck right now if I wished. I hardly think you're in any position to make demands."

Sasori growled. He highly doubted Orochimaru would actually do that, considering the snake's line of work was research. Like the man had said, he wouldn't give up his prize so easily. Yet, at the same time, he knew Orochimaru could still get something out of his research if the blonde was dead and, though he knew the sannin would rather not kill Deidara, he probably wouldn't hesitate to do so if he had to.

But then, what could he do? He couldn't let Orochimaru get away, that was for certain. He needed to think of something to get the bastard away from the blonde. The question was, how? Orochimaru smirked, obviously enjoying the situation.

"Well I see you're in quite a predicament, Sasori."

Sasori glared at his former partner. He had to think quickly but nothing was coming to mind. What he wanted to do was go and whack Orochimaru over the head a few times, then beat him within inches of his life, the poison him. Or something. But he couldn't do that if he wanted his partner back alive.

"We meet again, Sasori."

The puppet master whirled around to see none other than Madara standing behind him.

Him too? What could he possibly want?

"You seem to be having troubles; funny how I could make them all just, disappear."

"What the hell do you want?"

"Oh come now, you already know the answer to that question. But consider this for a moment. Right now, the only thing keeping that kid untouched by your former partner is me. Agree to work with me and we can have things stay that way. Decline and I'm afraid you're on your own again."

Sasori sucked in a breath. He couldn't trust these two, he knew he couldn't. But he didn't have much of a choice. If he declined, who knows what Orochimaru would do to his partner? There was only one answer.

"Fine" he mumbled "but how do I know you'll keep your word?"

Madara smirked.

"Do you have that little faith in me? You can't know for certain but you know it's your only choice. Don't worry, you'll have your precious partner back when you're all done. For now he stays with us until you finish. So if I were you…" Madara was suddenly beside Sasori as he whispered in the puppet master's ear, "I wouldn't mess up."


Deidara groaned and sat up as he rubbed his eyes open, his first thoughts being: Why am I always getting knocked out and into trouble? Sasori is going to kill me.

He looked around the dark room he was in but couldn't see much. The area seemed to be almost pitch black except he thought he could make out the vague outline of a heavy door. The floor was a cool metal and when he reached to touch the wall behind him he found that it too must have been made of metal or a similar material. There were no furnishings in the room so far as he could tell but it seemed awful small to him and the air felt stale.

Now's really not the time to start getting claustrophobic. Where the hell am I and how do I get out?

Deidara reached down to his waist where his clay pouches should have been but, unfortunately for him, they were gone. Only now did he realize the situation he was in. He must have been taken captive by someone. But who? Itachi and Kisame maybe. They had been fighting with Sasori before he lost consciousness. Yet somehow he didn't think that was right.

Then, speaking of Sasori, where was the puppet master? Had he been captured too? Or had he just left the blonde? Had he been…killed? Deidara tried to shake those thoughts out of his head. Sasori wasn't that stupid and he said he wouldn't leave the blonde so either he was captured or he was looking for the blonde at that very moment. Logically, anyways. Still, Deidara somehow couldn't think that way. The truth was, he didn't know what happened to Sasori.

I can't worry about that right now though. First things first, find a way out of this place then worry about finding Sasori.

Deidara got up slowly, stretching his stiff muscles. Maybe he could figure a way out through that door thing. Though it was most likely locked and sealed with a jutsu. It still didn't hurt to investigate.

He made his way over the door and placed his hands over it, trying to find a handle and also to see what material the thing was made out of. The darkness wasn't helping much but he deduced that the door was made of some sort of heavy metal and yes, it was locked with a seal and everything.

"Damnit…" he cursed aloud, "now what, un?"

Even if he had his clay to make bombs with, the small size of the room meant that he probably would end up blowing himself up as well. Which wouldn't really accomplish much. And besides, there was still that stupid seal to worry about. Obviously, whoever locked him up sure knew how to keep S-class shinobi under lock and key.

Deidara sat back down and crossed his arms, pouting at the offending door. He could try breaking it down, but it was heavy. And still there was that seal. All the other jutsu he knew flashed through his mind in an instant but not one of them could really help him at the moment. He was just going to have to wait. Unless…

"Hey! Whoever owns this damn place, let me out!" He began shouting. Childish? Maybe. Unwise? Perhaps. But what did he have to lose? He had nothing better to try. "Hey! I know there's someone out there! Let me out now, un!"

He began kicking at the door too. Why not? He wanted to make as much noise as possible. He wanted to know who would come.

"I said let me out! I don't like being kept locked up like this! Let me out, un!"

All of a sudden, the door swung open and Deidara found himself blinking and cringing from the abrupt change in lighting.

"Aren't you a loud one? You've got some spunk kid, I'll give you that."

"Orochimaru" Deidara hissed. So this was his captor. "Where's Sasori-danna, un?"

Orochimaru laughed and let himself in, not bothering to close the door behind him, Deidara noted.

"As if you haven't figured it out; he's obviously not here."

"I can see that; where is he, un?"

"What did I tell you earlier? He doesn't care about you. He went his own way." Orochimaru smirked evilly.

"You're lying, un."

"Am I? Then why are you here?"

Because I was stupid and let myself be here?

"Because some bastard thought it would be a funny joke, un."

Orochimaru cackled a bit.

"You are quite an interesting specimen, no doubt about that." The snake sannin smirked wickedly. "But what I tell you is the truth; Sasori left and went to work with Madara. He doesn't need you at all."

"Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about, un!"

"I think I do. Where is Sasori now, if he didn't leave you? You can't expect that he would just let me capture you if he cared, now would he? You're fooling yourself Deidara, and the sooner you realize that the better for you."

At this point, Deidara had become infuriated with the man, but also, he was beginning to doubt himself. Where was Sasori? The things Orochimaru said made sense. Stupid bastard.

"You're lying, un."

With that, Deidara slammed his fist into Orochimaru full force before dashing out the open door. He was going to have to hope that he was just fast enough to outrun the sannin now as he had absolutely no weapons and no clay on his person. He had to find a way out.

Sensing the older ninja behind him, he pushed more chakra towards his legs and picked up the speed. He didn't know where he was going, but one of these halls had to lead outside. They just had to. Once he got out, he could make it.

Deidara ran down endless halls and no matter how fast he went it seemed as if Orochimaru was only a few steps behind him. He never turned to check behind him though. A second's pause could be the difference between escape and imprisonment.

He ran for what felt like hours but in reality were only a few minutes. It just seemed that each hall he turned down led to a dead end. And Orochimaru seemed to be gaining on him. He felt tired and low on chakra. He didn't know how long he had been out for and he didn't put it past his pursuer to drain some of his chakra to prevent an escape like this. Still, he couldn't give up. Down one of these halls there was bound to be an exit. There just had to be.

Finally, he saw it. An opening. He made a mad dash for it but before he could make it out Orochimaru managed to grab him by his still-healing arm, and pull him back. Deidara yelped as pain shot through his arm and he was brought to the floor. Orochimaru smirked triumphantly but not for long. Deidara wouldn't give up that easily. Quickly, he swept the older ninja to the floor before pushing himself up and into a fighting stance. If he was going to have a change now, he would have to wear Orochimaru down first and then make a break for it.

Orochimaru got up slowly and glared at the blonde.

"You've made a mistake, child, and you're going to realize that."

Orochimaru lunged at Deidara, launching a variety of techniques his way. Deidara did his best to dodge and return a blow but it was difficult. Taijutsu had never been his strong point.

Orochimaru seemed to be totally on the offensive, and he seemed to have the advantage. Deidara didn't like his odds in the match, but if he didn't fight then he couldn't escape. He would win. He had to. Freedom was just out that door. All he had to do was deliver a hard blow on Orochimaru then run. He willed his mind to focus.

Unfortunately, Orochimaru had the upper hand. Little by little, Deidara was able to block less and less of the techniques until finally, Orochimaru kicked the blonde in the gut, hard. Deidara felt himself meet full impact with a stone wall before crumpling to the ground in pain. Orochimaru smirked evilly, standing over the blonde and breathing heavily.

"You put up a good fight, but there's no way you could have won that."

Deidara groaned his he tried to pick himself up off the ground. He had to get up. He had to fight. He just had to. But Orochimaru saw the blonde's attempts and kicked him in the ribcage, sending him back down to the ground. Deidara gasped in pain as Orochimaru kicked the blonde onto his back.

"Pathetic really. Did you think you could beat me? You fool."

Orochimaru kicked the blonde, hard, and Deidara swore he could hear his ribs crack. He moaned as Orochimaru kept on kicking him in the ribcage. Seriously, didn't the bastard know when to stop?

"Oh well, you're going to have to be punished for that, you know? Too bad you didn't have your precious clay with you. Maybe things would have been more interesting. Then again, probably not. You're just a child. What could you do against me?"

Deidara closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He was so close. He couldn't let Orochimaru win. Balling his hands into fists he somehow managed to bring his legs around and sweep the unsuspecting Orochimaru to the ground. Staggering, he got up, and looking around he saw some rusty iron rod lying on the ground. Picking up the blunt object, he chucked it towards a surprised Orochimaru, hitting the snake sannin square in the forehead, causing the man to fall to the ground.

"Never underestimate your opponent, un."

With that he turned and ran as fast as he could out the door. He had to get as far away as possible, but that was going to be difficult with his injuries and no clay to mold a bird. He had knocked Orochimaru out but for who knows how long? He didn't have the strength to keep fighting. He didn't even have the strength to keep running. But he had to. His adrenaline kicked in and he forced himself to run.

Eventually, after the adrenaline wore off, he had to stop. He was fighting to even keep himself awake with his depleted chakra levels and the pain from his injuries. Moaning, he dropped himself into some sort of undergrowth and clutched at his abdomen. He struggled to keep his eyelids open, but it was too much as he felt himself fading.


A/N: That's it! Hope it was worth the wait, and I am terribly sorry it took so long! Yes, I leave you at a cliffhanger but hopefully the next update will be soon-ish...that chapter took a while...

Deidara: Actually, you had half the thing written for two months but just decided to take the time to finish it today, un.
Me: YOU! **waves book around again**
Deidara: **Runs off laughing manically**
Me: COME BACK HERE!
Sasori: **sigh** Leave a review. For my sanity please. -.-
Deidara: AND YOU CAN ALL THROW ROTTEN FRUIT AT MIDNIGHT CUZ SHE TOOK SO LONG FOR YOU AWESOME READERS, UN!
Me: GET OVER HERE YOU!
Deidara: **Runs off laughing again**
Sasori: Why me? -.-