After shutting the sliding door, Itachi turned towards the rest of the group. His heart hammered inside his chest, the encounter with Deidara leaving more behind than he was willing to admit. It was perhaps harsh to tell the ANBU that he should not trust Itachi merely because they came from different villages. But weren’t they taught to lie and deceive if it were to protect Konohagakure?
Itachi would willingly sell out Deidara if it were to safe one of his own. Even if it would somewhere deep down hurt him.
“Everyone should freshen up a little. We’ll be meeting Iwa for dinner,” Kakashi announced.
The other three ninja scurried around, Naruto loudly announcing he was going to wash himself before anyone else. Sakura grumbled something under his breath about him needing to be polite and let a girl go first. Sasuke did not seem to care one way or another about who was going to clean themselves up. His dark eyes were strained on Itachi and Katsuki, getting the hint of what was about to happen.
A nice ruse to give Kakashi and Itachi a private moment to talk things through. Neither ninja was opposed to the others staying, but it was something they needed to figure out for themselves. A test Kakashi had conceived specifically for Sasuke.
“Aren’t you coming, Sasuke?” Sakura asked innocently. Her green eyes watched him intently, wishing he would join them in their silly little escapades.
A quick shake of the head was Sasuke’s reply. Itachi bumped him with his elbow, forcing him to use his words rather than his neutral expression. “I’ll catch up to you,” he muttered. “Naruto is a menace when he’s washing his face.”
“Hey!” Naruto called back, but was ushered away by Sakura, clearly seeing through Sasuke’s pathetic lie.
The sliding door was shut once more, the room silent in an instant. The three ninja gazed at each other, creating this discomforting energy that said neither were all too happy with the situation. Something was definitely up with this mission and with Iwagakure’s involvement.
“Okay, let’s stop being so glum,” Kakashi said, his eye sparkling with a smile. An easy way to change the mood. Something he must have learned as he trained the younger generation. Itachi was not very familiar with this side of his previous sensei. “Sit down and gather the information we have so far. I am curious what you’ve all gathered.”
Kakashi sat down by the small coffee table first, waving the other two over. Itachi sat down opposite of him, sinking through his knees. Sasuke joined them last, warily looking from one male to the other, unsure of why they were throwing away the formalities and were relaxing in their shared room. But he remained silent, waiting on some guidance on this part.
“So I am rather curious about what you found out,” Kakashi said, pointing at Itachi. “I thought paring you with Kurotsuchi would be a good idea. I think in her emotional vendetta against you, she would spill some secrets. Am I wrong?”
Itachi was a little taken aback by that. He was sure Kakashi had paired him with Kurotsuchi to keep him away from Deidara, since they did have a bond they shouldn’t have. But the matter was different. Kakashi had seen how close Kurotsuchi was to Deidara and how she could not close of her emotions when it came to him. She was protective of her friend.
“You’re not wrong,” Itachi replied. “She did change the subject to Deidara and asked questions about my intentions.”
“Why does that matter?” Sasuke asked bewildered.
“It doesn’t,” Kakashi answered, explaining the situation to the Chūnin. “She shouldn’t have asked in the first place, because it puts a strain on this mission. She is aware of that, but her focus lies more on her friend than on what we need to do. It’s why she is a weak spot when it comes to intel. So Itachi, tell me what you did find out through it.”
Itachi squinted his eyes, recalling the conversation they had previously. “Most of that conversation you heard,” Itachi said, referring to the moment they all met up. Kurotsuchi had chosen the wrong moment to talk about those things. Even Deidara had heard, as displeased as Kakashi had looked. “I did learn that Deidara is not a loved member of Iwagakure, but an ANBU member doesn’t have to be.”
Slowly Kakashi nodded, taking in the information. “Is that all?”
“Before we walked back Kurotsuchi asked me if I thought the Akatsuki would return. It seems to go against Deidara’s firm believes. She also evaded the question why the Akatsuki did not destroy this village in the first place. I think they know more than they led on.”
“I can add to that,” Sasuke pitched in, pulling their attention to him. “The two we were with pulled back a little at some point. They seemed to be whispering about something. I tried to listen in and caught the last few lines. They wondered why they had to go after the Akatsuki now.”
“Implying they haven’t done so before,” Kakashi finished.
Sasuke nodded, seeming quite pleased he could actually help the mission along. “I could’ve heard more if Naruto hadn’t jumped into their conversation and started ranting to them about covering more ground.”
“That’s alright,” Kakashi said, his eye twinkling with a smile again. “It’s best if we don’t all appear suspicious of them. Naruto is a good cover for us.”
“What about you?” Itachi asked, nodding at Kakashi to relay his story as well.
Kakashi hummed, casting a look up at the ceiling. “I didn’t get much, but I didn’t expect it either. Deidara is as wary of me as I am of him. He cooperates well though.”
“But isn’t it weird that he knows the Akatsuki will be back?” Sasuke asked the question that was running through all of them.
It was said so calmly, as a way to shut down the conversation. Itachi had been confused by it, wondering why Deidara was convinced that they would return if there was no reason to do so. They had found no information about them so far. Hadn’t even found a sign that they had been here, except for hearsay.
“I think that comes back to something we’re already thinking,” Kakashi said. “Iwagakure knows more than they let us believe. Even the Chūnin know something, so an ANBU member surely knows even more. I think if Deidara says they’ll be back, we should trust his words and prepare.”
“Agreed,” Itachi replied.
Sasuke nodded, not satisfied with that explanation. He wanted to talk more about this. Discuss it until they all came with an answer. Perhaps one where they could abandon Iwagakure and close the mission without them. But they would need to see this through. Not just to repair the bonds between their villages. It’s better to keep the enemy close.
“Now let’s get ourselves cleaned up as well and join the others for dinner. We’ve travelled for a long time and deserve some relaxing, don’t you think?”
Kakashi’s offer was kind, getting up from his seat. He slapped Sasuke against the shoulder in a comforting manner, trying to get his pupil to feel less down about things. Sasuke was known to fret about things, Itachi had learned that first-hand.
Right as they were about to leave the room, Naruto came rushing back in, sighing happily as he flopped down on one of the mattresses. Sakura followed suit, complaining to Naruto about being rude towards their teammates. Naruto really had no idea what kind of conversation the three of them had been having, unaware of what he could’ve walked in on.
“Hope you didn’t use all the warm water, Naruto,” Kakashi shot over his shoulder, making the boy flinch.
As they walked out the door, they were joined by the members of team Iwagakure, all ready to freshen up as well. Itachi ended up at the back of the group, politely letting the two women pass. He ended up walking right beside Deidara, who remained very silent as they continued their route. It was such a difference between meeting Deidara all those weeks ago. Itachi had to admit he preferred the Deidara that filled the air with mindless chatter.
The small bath house did not offer enough space for everyone to go in there at once. It happened to cut off right before Itachi and Deidara, who had to wait outside together. Something they perhaps should not do, but the choice was already made. Kakashi shot one look at them, but trusted Itachi enough to make the right decisions.
“Had a nice long talk about us?” Deidara asked, filling the silence.
Itachi glanced down at the shorter male, keeping his usual unreadable expression on his face. “We discussed the mission. I expect you did the same.”
Blue eyes shot up to him, his expression as neutral as Itachi’s. “There was enough to talk about, un,” he answered.
“At least we can now get ourselves cleaned up. It has been a while since we last saw a bath house,” Itachi said, changing the subject to something lighter. Something less distrustful. Not necessarily something he was good at, but after spending some time with Deidara, he had gotten better at holding a conversation.
“You’re right,” Deidara said. “You stink, un.” The cheeky smile that formed on Deidara’s lips made Itachi’s heart flutter. He was not one to smile a lot, but at that he felt it tug at the corner of his lips.
“I’ll make sure to wash myself well, then,” Itachi returned.
Blue eyes slid over his form, something darker taking over those bright blue orbs. Itachi instantly saw what it meant. The memory of their night together was still imprinted on Itachi’s body. He could still feel Deidara’s body pressed against his, sliding along with every thrust. A moment in time where they had enjoyed each other so thoroughly. Something so unfitting for the mission, but once Deidara thought of it, Itachi could not push it out of his mind.
“I could help you with that, un,” he said, feigning innocence. “Make sure you don’t smell anymore. Cannot trust you with that. You’ve been stinking up the place for weeks, un.”
Itachi shivered at the offer, knowing what Deidara was implying. Everyone would be washed up before they even got their turn, which meant they would have the bath house all to themselves. A moment of privacy they couldn’t get the rest of the mission. They should always be on edge, waiting on the next attack to come in, but hearing Deidara say that, made Itachi actually consider it.
Another night with that beautiful tempting man.
“Are you certain you can get me clean?” Itachi heard himself say, playing right into Deidara’s advances.
Deidara bit a plump bottom lip, keeping in the sound that was about to leave his mouth. “A dirty man like you, un? I will need a little time for that. I promise I will work long and hard to get you all clean.”
As that sentenced finished, Kakashi walked up to them, eyeing them both suspiciously. At least he had not heard the things Deidara had said. It left very little to the imagination and Itachi was getting quite excited. Much too excited.
“Don’t take too long,” Kakashi ordered. “The hotel has provided us with a dinner, and I cannot promise Naruto have eaten everything by the time you join us.”
“Got it, un,” Deidara said, winking at Kakashi as if he had not just offered Itachi something else. “Kurotsuchi is the same. I know how to fight for my food, un.”
“I resent that,” Kurotsuchi said, slapping Deidara against the shoulder as she left as well.
In a manner of minutes Deidara and Itachi were left all alone in the steaming bath house. Itachi felt his heart flutter, his body jittery as it prepared for this next moment with Deidara. It was foolish to even consider. They both knew better than this. ANBU were not supposed to engage in physical contact during missions, because it diverted their attention.
But when he felt those plump lips pressed against his, all was forgotten.