Title: Whiteout
Summary: AU. The air was filled with words left unspoken. —Itachi/Deidara
Notes: Merry Christmas, you lovely, lovely fandom.
Disclaimer: Naruto and all related characters are property of Masashi Kishimoto.

It was three in the afternoon when Itachi stumbled back into their shared apartment, cheeks and fingers reddened from the cold.

Deidara looked up from his sculpture, frowning at the highly unwanted and way-too-early interruption. "I thought you were going to your parents' place," he asked around the sculpting tool that was held loosely between his teeth.

"I was," Itachi answered, shedding his jacket and hanging it neatly on the coat rack. He sounded slightly disappointed, which was a rarity for the usually apathetic Uchiha. "As it turns out, the interstate is closed due to the weather."

Deidara didn't like where this was going. "When's it gonna be re-opened?"

"Not until tomorrow morning at the earliest, I'm afraid," Itachi answered, a gentle sigh escaping his lips. He strode into the living room and took a seat on the couch across from the artist, his usual indifferent façade already falling back in place. Deidara had always hated that about him.

"What, so you'll be spending Christmas here, then?" he asked, though he already knew the answer.

Itachi was quiet for a moment, then raised onyx orbs to meet the other's gaze. "Yes, Deidara," he said, sounding drained. "Unfortunately, this means I will be spending Christmas here."

"Great," Deidara said, his tone laced with sarcasm. Truthfully, he was probably just as disappointed that Itachi wasn't able to go. He had so been looking forward to spending his Christmas in an empty apartment, with nothing but his clay and artistic inspiration to keep him company. Leave it to Itachi to ruin his plans.

The other man got up to make a phone call—probably to tell his parents that he wouldn't make it—before returning to his seat on the couch. They sat there in silence, Deidara engrossed in his work and Itachi in his thoughts, until six o' clock finally rolled around.

"We should probably get something to eat," Itachi finally pointed out, sounding like he was in no mood to venture out and was only suggesting it out of necessity.

It took Deidara a moment to come out of his artist's trance and comprehend what Itachi just told him. Then, grudgingly, he answered, "Probably, yeah."

The other man placed his hands on his knees and stood up, not looking at Deidara. "Then let's get going."

It only took a little coaxing for Deidara to agree.

Predictably, most of the restaurants had closed for Christmas. The two drove around for half an hour until they finally came across a place that was lit. It was a truck stop diner that smelled heavily of grease, but it was homey enough and, according to Itachi, infinitely times better than fast food.

If Deidara had been the driver, he would have immediately driven them off to the nearest McDonald's just to spite him.

They sat across from each other at a booth in a corner of the restaurant, silently chewing their burgers. Itachi was gazing out the window, and Deidara peered at him from over his sandwich. With his distinguished looks and polite countenance, Itachi definitely didn't fit in with the rough crowd that usually went to low-class places like this. Surprisingly enough, though, he didn't look uncomfortable. In fact, he looked quite the opposite. Deidara would never understand how someone of Itachi's status could look right at home in a dirty truck stop, holding a sesame seed bun in his hands.

It was then that Deidara noticed that he was staring, and he averted his gaze to anywhere that wasn't Itachi's vacant expression.

"Deidara," the other said slowly, causing him to look up. "Is there a reason that you don't visit your own family for Christmas?"

There were a lot of reasons that Deidara didn't visit them, most of which had to do with the fact that he was an only child with a father that had become a reclusive asshole after Deidara's mother had died. He hadn't had a Christmas dinner with the old bastard in a long time, and frankly, he didn't want to start up the tradition again.

"I don't get along with my dad, yeah," he said instead, and left it at that.

Itachi let the subject drop as well and went back to gingerly sipping his tea. Deidara curled a hand around his own mug of coffee and took much larger gulps. Becoming an art major had given Deidara a dependency on caffeine in order to run on four hours of sleep a night, and though he had dropped out after the first semester, some habits were hard to break.

He looked up over the rim of his cup to find Itachi looking at him with an unreadable expression on his face, and he scowled. "Can I help you with something?"

Itachi was silent for a moment before answering. "No," he finally said, and once again turned his attention to the window.

Deidara hadn't felt like going home right away, so Itachi had agreed to drop off his car off in front of the apartment building before heading down the street with him, neither having a particular destination in mind. The air was dry and frigid, leaving the snow a fine, powdery substance and causing their exposed skin to sting with cold.

Snowflakes drifted down heavily and haphazardly as they trudged down snowy streets, clinging to their skin before quickly melting. Deidara noted that, like before, Itachi's cheeks and fingers were red from the winter air, though he didn't show any outward signs of discomfort. Deidara also noticed how the snowflakes landed in Itachi's dark hair and collected in sinfully long eyelashes, and it was then that he decided he didn't want to look at him anymore.

"The storm is getting worse," Itachi said quietly, his gaze trained on the black sky above them. "We shouldn't stay out too long."

"You're such a killjoy," Deidara said in annoyance, turning to face him with the passionate expression he only wore when talking about art. "You just don't understand the artistic beauty of storms."

"There is nothing beautiful about chaos."

"Chaos is the most beautiful form of art, yeah."

Itachi seemed to consider him for a moment, onyx eyes burrowing into azure with serious contemplation. His eyes were dark, so dark, and with black hair framing flushed ivory skin and sculpted facial features, Deidara thought that he was probably the furthest thing from chaos.

How ironic, Deidara thought bitterly, that he was the chaotic one, but it was Itachi who was the masterpiece.

"Regardless," Itachi finally said, putting a quick end to their debate, "it's rather cold out. I don't want either of us to become ill."

The pair stopped in the middle of the street and faced the other with an unspoken challenge in their eyes. Their breaths came out in puffs of white haze, meeting in the space between them before disappearing altogether. Deidara entertained the idea of throwing a snowball directly in Itachi's face, but he knew it would be useless to try. Powdery snow wasn't good for molding.

"Ten more minutes," Deidara bargained.

Itachi nodded. "Ten more minutes."

They stayed out for two more hours—two more hours of wind and snow and endless, endless drifting—before returning home.

The heated air of the apartment building hit their bodies in a rush of warm relief. They were soaked to the bone and shivering violently, but they still walked into their unit as if they hadn't just spent the past two-and-a-quarter hours in near-blizzarding weather.

Deidara was the first to take a shower, one that was as hot as he could stand and much too short to be satisfying. Itachi got in immediately after him (he wasn't so desperate as to wait by the bathroom door, though. This was Itachi, after all: always dignified), and by the time he got out not ten minutes later, Deidara had already returned to his previous spot in the living room, fingers expertly working the clay lying on a newspaper on top of the coffee table.

Itachi disappeared into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with two cups of hot tea. He handed one to Deidara, who wordlessly accepted it and returned to critically eying his work, before taking a seat opposite him. It wasn't until Deidara distractedly took a sip that he realized Itachi had brought him coffee instead. He hadn't even heard him turn on the coffee maker.

He became so engrossed in his work that he didn't even notice that intense, coal-colored eyes were glancing at him from under equally smoky lashes, studying the way his experienced artist's hands molded the clay within them.

(Vaguely, Deidara wondered why the hell they were still in each other's company, but the thought was as fleeting as the storm outside.)

It was only several minutes later that he was able to break out of his trance enough to notice Itachi's eyes were now focused on his face. Blond eyebrows furrowed irritably, and he sent a scowl in the other's direction. "Do you have a fascination with staring at me, Itachi?"

Itachi didn't answer right away. Deidara hated the way those eyes continued to pierce right through him, but he still looked back with an equal, challenging intensity.

"No," Itachi finally said, dropping his gaze to the cup of tea in his hands. A moment passed, and as an afterthought, he added, "Merry Christmas, Deidara."

The air was filled with words left unspoken, but Deidara still managed to tear his gaze away from pale skin and wet ebony hair that spilled over navy flannel pajamas. Pretending nothing had happened, he wrinkled his nose and returned his attention to the project in front of him.

"...Merry Christmas, yeah," he mumbled.

They sat like that—as artist and secret observer—until the sun crept in through the slits in the blinds and bathed them in morning light.