Of Oranges and Lemons.
“Tobi!” Deidara growled, fingers itching to close around the brats impertinent neck. He’d done the patient thing, the waiting forever for Tobi to get out of the bathroom, the turning a blind eye whenever one of the boy’s attacks fell short or went way off target, but this… This was the final straw. He could deal with the rest of it, hell, even keep a cool head when Tobi had eaten the last of his Oreos, but now... “Do you want to get us killed, un?”
“No.” The masked nin muttered miserably, scuffing his toe into the carpeted floor of the rented hotel room, refusing to meet his eyes.
“Then take it off, nitwit!”
It was an ongoing argument that spanned from the first time they met, when the two had been left alone after being assigned together as partners. One of the first things out of Deidara’s mouth, after “Oi, nitwit,” and “You have no artistic qualities, un” was “What’s with the orange snail shell anyway, un?” At first it had started off as a polite request, an innate curiosity as to what lay beneath, what was hidden so carefully. As time passed, this curiosity developed into a desire, and then a need, an unreachable itch under Deidara’s skin, flaring whenever he glanced the orange loving ninja’s way.
Tobi didn’t reply, his digging increasing in intensity. Deidara sighed, crossing his arms irritably.
“It’s too eye-catching, un. People are most likely going to remember us if they see you wandering around with that orange monstrosity. Just take it off before I take it off for you.”
Normally it wasn’t that much of a problem; he’d just resign himself to the fact that unless hell froze over, it was unlikely that he’d ever see his partners face and get on with his life. But due to circumstances out of both his and his partner’s control, they’d ended up with a mission that required them to go undercover. Incognito or whatever the word was. In other words, in disguise. Those final two words being the crucial components. Deidara had already sorted himself out, the worn clothing and battered hat that would make up his farmer-out-to-the-market disguise already tucked neatly into his bag. But Tobi…
Deidara didn’t think he’d be so stubborn about this. It’s only a mask, afterall.
“At least trade it for another mask, un.” He tried again, trying to make the options sound appealing. Somehow he didn’t think it was working. “Something less… Conspicuous.”
“But… But…” The boy sat abruptly on the edge of one of the two beds that filled the suite, gloved hands clutching his mask protectively. Deidara resisted the urge to growl and raised his hands to his head to rub his temples. Why did he always have to be so damn difficult?
“It’s just a mask.” He told the unresponsive Tobi, stressing every single syllable through gritted teeth. “A piece of plastic. You can’t even see out of it properly anyway, un.”
“I don’t care.”
The slight tremble in Tobi’s voice made Deidara look up, his anger slipping away slightly when he saw that the masked nin’s hands were shaking. Sighing once more, he got to his feet, mentally complaining that he’d joined the Akatsuki to get more excitement out of life, not to baby-sit. Once there he paused, took in the boy’s body language, sighed a final time for good measure before he walked up to him and sat carefully beside him, an annoyed scowl slotting into place.
“I don’t give a damn what your face looks like, un.” He told him bluntly, weariness causing him not to soften the harsh edge to his voice. “You could be a freaking pixie for all I care; it won’t stop me from thinking that you’re the same, immature, unhealthily happy nitwit who can bake a nice cake.” Was that a smile? “So suck it up, un, and take the bloody thing off.” He dragged himself off the bed, throwing his last words over his shoulder.
“Life’s ****. Get used to it.”
Tobi gave no response as he watched his partner totter towards their bathroom, smiling distractedly as a small stream of curses slipped from the blonds’ mouth as he stubbed his toe on the dresser. The boy didn’t move as a contemplative silence settled into the room once more, he just stared at his gloved hands, making his decision.
When Deidara returned from the bathroom, Tobi was lying in the center of his bed with his eyes closed, mask off, scarred face glowing dully in the light of the single lamp. Deidara smiled slightly at the sight, before nodding in approval. “Much better, un.” Apparently oblivious to the look of surprise that spread across Tobi’s face as the nin cracked an eye open, the blond simply tottered over to the only available bed, slipping exhaustedly under the covers. It was only after Tobi had slid under his own sheets and settled himself in that Deidara spoke at all, voice thick with tiredness.
“I still don’t see why you had to wear the blasted thing in the first place, un.” He shifted onto his side, his back facing his partner as the boy looked up, puzzled. “You look perfectly fine to me.”
If Deidara’d heard his partner’s whispered thanks, felt the grateful smile beaming at him from across the room, he gave no sign of it, burying deeper into his blankets and dropping off to sleep.