Chapter Twenty Four ~ True Art

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"Gaara!" Naruto screeched again. I closed my eyes for a split second. What an embarrassment. I could hardly stand to appear to be teammates with him. Stop telling Gaara to wake up. Stop telling him to stand up. Stop. Stop. Stop.

He was clearly dead.

Before I could snap at Naruto for his lack of control over his emotions, Kakashi did it for me. "Enough, Naruto!" Kakashi ordered harshly. "You should already know."

I stared at Naruto and wondered if he was truly so innocent, so naive, so idiotic as to think Gaara was merely sleeping, or if he knew the moment we stepped into the cave, as the rest of us did, that Gaara was dead.

"That's right," the blond one mocked. "He's been dead for a while." Deidara reached down, rapping lightly at Gaara's cheek. I didn't flinch. I had done worse to corpses.

Naruto attempted to sprint towards the enemy, but Kakashi stopped him. "If you charge in without thinking," he intoned, "we're all dead."

All? I think I could escape.

"The one on the left is the one who took the Kazekage," I murmured the information to Kakashi quickly. "His name is Deidara. He has a kekkai genkai; explosion release. He's a missing nin from Iwagakure. The one on the right is Sasori, a puppet master. He's responsible for the state Kankuro is in right now. But I think someone," my gaze cut over to Chiyo, "might know more about him than I."

"True art is eternal beauty!" Sasori snapped, pulling me from the conversation.

"Eternal beauty?" Deidara scoffed. "True art lasts only for a moment!"

Naruto threw a large shurikan, which is simply batted out of the air by the puppet tail. Sasori continued glaring at Deidara, not even sparing a glance for Naruto. "Are you deliberately trying to piss me off?" Sasori growled.

"That's why I said this would probably piss you off!" Deidara defended himself.

"You should know what happens when I get angry!"

I grew rigid at Sasori's words, grip tightening on my knife.

"Neither of you are correct," I finally spoke up, monotonous tone catching their attention. "True art is neither eternal nor instant. True art is an art that only you can appreciate, because only you can see it."

"Ehh?" Deidara called out. "What are you prattling on about?"

I transferred my dead gaze over to Deidara. This should throw them off: they seemed to truly care about art, so someone disagreeing with them would make them angrier, more susceptible to manipulation.

"True art," I continued. "Is painting a picture out of real life. It's manipulating a situation to meet your will and watching every single piece fall into place just as you planned, without others even realizing it. True art can only be seen by yourself."

Deidara and Sasori exchanged a glance. "At least we can agree that her definition of true art is wrong, hm?" Deidara smirked. "Besides... true art... is an explosion!"

He tossed a white ball into the air and made a handsign. It transformed into a familiar bird. The bird opened its mouth and made the most ridiculous noise; a high pitched, squeaky cry that almost made me snort. Instead, I maintained my straight face. The bird took Gaara into its mouth and Deidara jumped on, avoiding a strike from Sasori. "Later, master!" Deidara called mockingly.

Naruto would almost certainly run after Deidara. Chiyo would stay with Sasori. Sakura would probably stay with Chiyo: I'd seen the idolizing stares. Chiyo and Sakura could handle Sasori themselves. I'd go after Deidara with Naruto and most probably Kakashi. There would be no stopping Naruto now. Might as well help him take the course of action least likely to get him killed.

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