Chapter Twenty Five ~ Resurrection

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Before the blow could land, I was repelled by a heavy force.

"Eight trigrams; airpalm!"

The action was instant. In front of me stood Team Gai. The force that had knocked me back must have been the Hyuuga's technique.

I took in their faces from where I was kneeling on the ground, blade dug into the earth to counteract the force of the airpalm. Neji was assessing me silently; Tenten looked terrified; Lee was clueless (always giving people the benefit of the doubt, that one); Gai stared at me warily, clearly ready for anything. I wonder if he was thoroughly informed about my situation.

His hand tightened on the kunai; he was.

My calculating gaze finally landed on Deidara. He was staring at me with just a hint a wary fear and surprise, though he never lost the smirk. He hadn't seen me. He hadn't expected me. I would have succeeded if it hadn't been for...

I turned my stare back to Team Gai, and this time a glare replaced my calculating look. Deidara's chances of escape just rose considerably because of them.

"Good work, Neji," Gai congratulated, eyes never leaving Deidara and me.

Neji simply nodded, at the ready for anything and everything. "Ah, the Byakugan," Deidara smirked. "So that's how your team approached me from my blind spot." He sent a brief, agitated glance over his shoulder towards me, clearly hating having me at his back but unwilling to turn away from a full team of shinobi. He settled for turning sideways so he was facing neither of us, but his back wasn't to either of us. "I'd like to see how the byakugan differs from Itachi's sharingan."

I twirled the blade in my right hand once and everyone tensed, prepared for sudden action as though I was some sort of wild animal that could be set off at the slightest provocation.

"But I think escaping from this situation comes first now," Deidara continued. I didn't understand why Gai's team just sat there, allowing him to ramble on instead of engaging. But I couldn't make my move without being 100% sure of how they would react.

"Heh," Gai scoffed, "now that team Gai, the strongest in all the Leaf is here... you can't escape!"

I narrowed my eyes. If he'd allowed my strike to land, Deidara would never even had a fighting chance to escape.

"Exactly!" Lee agreed with Gai.

"Prepare yourself!" Tenten exclaimed. And why the hell would you order the enemy to prepare, or give him time to? Neji, the only one who seems even slightly sane, did  nothing but tense slightly, ready to explode into action.

Deidara's smirk deepened, and then he exploded off of the ground. Team Gai followed him into the air. Their first mistake: never let the enemy choose the fighting grounds. It would be easier to defeat him pinned here on the ground, and yet they allowed him to take to the trees. And now he even had a kunai in his mouth!

I watched the fight closely, studying Deidara's fighting style. He was entirely on the defensive, which was to be expected. If I joined the fight now I would simply interrupt Team Gai's dynamics; I would get in their way, and they would get in my way. Best to wait for the opportune moment to strike.

Deidara seemed more amused by Tenten's weapons than anything. He could only be a few years older than her, and yet he was in an entirely different league. The only two who seemed to truly bother him were Neji and Gai.

Escaping by foot would be impossible for him with these four on him, and soon enough Deidara would realize the same thing. Neji managed to land a hit with his airpalm, but I was already moving away. Deidara would realize that escape by foot was impossible, so...

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