Author's note: Deidara and Ino. Yes. Take the jump with me…

I have some thank-yous to give (or perhaps, blame to share) for this fic. It was Enecola's gorgeous DeiIno art that served as the catalyst for me actually writing a story for a pairing that had always struck me as pretty but otherwise wasn't on my writing list. This fic is, essentially, her fault. Thank you also to Renaerys for being a wild-eyed Ino fan with me, for the beta read, for her endless patience with my comma splices, and for generously lending me her real-world legal expertise for the lawyery bits.

Cover art: by Enecola and used with permission. (And oh my god, it's perfect.)


Flash Point
No smoking, no open flames, no sparks.

"I have plausible deniability," said Deidara.

"You really don't," said Ino.

"I do, though."

"No. You don't. I have 200 stills of security footage showing you trying to break into the vault right here. Look. Number 142 shows you stacking up the C-4. Number 161 shows you running for cover. Number 185 captures the explosion. You do not have plausible deniability."

Ino pulled out the three stills in question and laid them out in front of Deidara. Her flawless nails, painted a frosty white, caught the light as she tapped each photograph.

Everything about Ino was flawless, really: her elegant bun without a hair out of place; her white-blonde bangs sweeping just so over one eye; her crisp skirt suit; her immaculate Manolos.

This in stark contrast to the man slouching in the chair across from her who had, by all appearances, slept in the same clothes for three days straight, who had tried – and failed – to break into a bank, and who was now wasting her time in the most spectacular fashion. Presently, Deidara flipped through the photographs looking unconvinced, as though this (concrete, irrefutable) evidence of his guilt was, somehow, doubtful at best.

Everything about Ino was flawless, really – except for her temper. The heel of one of her Manolos tapped the floor once. The clack resounded in the quiet interrogation room, crisp and expensive despite the cheap linoleum covering the floor.

This was the only display of impatience that Ino permitted herself to evince. Technically (sigh) this man was a client of hers and so she had to choke back the unkind things that she wanted to say and behave herself, for the sake of her reputation and that of her firm. However, he wasn't a paying client – so she didn't need to behave herself that much, did she? Especially when he was so astonishingly stupid?

"This is a good shot," said Deidara. He held up number 185; the still of the explosion. "Can I have it?"

"No," said Ino.

"But I want it," said Deidara.

"No," said Ino.

"Just give me a copy, then."


Ino slipped photographs 142 and 161 back into their folder. She looked up to find Deidara holding number 185 to his chest like it was his firstborn child.

She held out her hand. "I need that."

Deidara stuffed the photo down the front of his shirt. "I created it and I'm keeping it."

Ino pressed her lips together. Deidara set his jaw – and in his eyes simmered a latent stubbornness that suggested that he was prepared to draw this disagreement out for a long time if she didn't let him have the stupid picture.

This was stupid. He was stupid. Everything was stupid.

Ino's heel tapped the floor again and, in the interests of moving on with her life, she made a strategic concession: "Fine. I'll get you a copy."

"Good," said Deidara, handing the picture back.

"Now you have to do me a favour and–"

"I plead the fifth," interrupted Deidara.

Ino heaved the tiniest, controlled little sigh. "You can't just repeat stuff you heard on Law and Order and hope that solves the problem."

"I'm not."

"Then why would you plead the fifth with me? I'm your lawyer. I'm here to help you."

"You're right," said Deidara. "Anyway, I wasn't at the bank."

"Um. There is conclusive evidence that you were."

"No, I wasn't," said Deidara. "I can prove it."


"I have an alibi."

"An alibi."


Against her better judgement, because she had a stack of photos of Deidara's blond head in front of her as proof to the contrary, Ino humoured him. "Who is your alibi?"

"My cat."

So either he was fucking with her or she was dealing with an actual imbecile. Only the flare of Ino's nostrils marred her impeccable composure. She fantasized, briefly, about strangling him with his own hair.

Her eyes sought out the clock. She'd been here for an hour. In that hour, she had gotten precisely nowhere with this man. Perhaps today was the day when she would, for the first time in her illustrious career, give up on a case and pass it on to some other schlub. There were a hundred other cases she could take on to complete her pro bono hours; she didn't have to tolerate this idiocy…

Then Ino stared at the scruffy man before her and found herself offended that a random thieving drifter like him would be the one to make her a quitter.

No. Ino was not a quitter. Ino was a winner.

"Hello…?" said Deidara. He slouched forward. "You know, I'm concerned. I need a lawyer who can focus."

"I am focused," said Ino. (And so she was: on not killing him.)

"Anyway, no one actually saw me," said Deidara with a shrug. "All security camera stuff? That shit was all doctored."

Ino felt her jaw tighten. "Just so that I'm sure I understand. You're claiming that all of this footage is fake?"

"Yeah. 'Cause I'm being framed. That's my story."

"A security guard saw you. In person. His statement is at tab 32."

Deidara flicked to tab 32 in the file, read the statement diagonally, and shook his head. "Nah. You can't believe anything this guy says."


"He's blind."

"Blind," repeated Ino.


Ino indulged again in her strangulation fantasy – only this time, it lasted longer.

"Are you suggesting that Wells Fargo would hire a blind security guard? Are you…hearing yourself?"

"He is blind, though," said Deidara. "Because he didn't see the beauty in my art."

"What art?"

"The explosion."

"That's…not art."

"Not art?" repeated Deidara. He gave Ino a look of eminent disgust. "You know nothing."

Ino's glance flicked to the clock again to see how long she had left to endure this bullshit.

"I'm sorry, do you have somewhere more important to be?" asked Deidara, having noticed the glance.

"Yes," said Ino. "I'm meeting a client in an hour. An actual, paying client. So we're going to wrap this up now."

"Are we?" Deidara settled back into his chair like he had all the time in the world to waste and pinned Ino with a look of defiance.

"Yes," said Ino. She smiled a patient smile and thought violent thoughts. "Here's the thing. I'm taking this case. I'm doing it pro bono. That means free–"

"I know what it means."

"–Free," resumed Ino, "because you couldn't afford my services in your wildest dreams."

"They say the best things in life are free," said Deidara.

"They do–"

"But that's Hallmark bullshit," said Deidara. He looked Ino up and down. "In real life, you get what you pay for. Obviously, that's the case here."

Excuse me, what? Had this criminal smelly vagrant boy really just informed her that she was worthless?

Ino wouldn't give him the pleasure of seeing that he was getting to her. "Is it the case? I work at the top firm in the city and I am good at what I do. You're lucky to have me."


"I'm here to help you. Why are you being so uncooperative?"

Ino's question was blithely ignored as Deidara, picking at the file in front of him, caught sight of her name on one of the documents.

"…What did you say your name was again?" asked Deidara.


"Ino what?"


"Yamanaka. Like the telecoms conglomerate?"

"No relation," lied Ino, just as she did whenever this question was posed. (Her father's multibillion dollar enterprise was a source of pride, of course – but Ino liked to get by on her own merits, not her father's name.)

Deidara sniffed. "K."

"Can we get back to the matter at hand, here? I can minimize your conviction, if you help me help you. So if you could just be cooperative–"

"I don't wanna be helped by you."

Ino sat up straighter. This guy…

"May I ask why?"

Deidara sat up straighter too. "Because I don't like you–"

"I don't like you either," cut in Ino, because it seemed important to point out.

"–You come in here like you own the goddamn place, like you're doing me a favour by even talking to me, and you expect me to be cooperative? While you look at me like I'm a complete waste of your time? You, this – this overpaid, overdressed, uptight twit of a lawyer, with your prissy-ass blouse and your attitude and your shoes–"

Deidara interrupted himself to look down at Ino's heels. "No, okay, the shoes are fine…"

This remark probably saved Deidara's life that day. But, nevertheless – he had hit a nerve. Ino was done playing nice. She let her veneer of cold professionalism slide to reveal the real Ino. You know the one. The Not a Nice Person Ino.

"Thank you," said Ino, glancing down at her Manolos. "Overdressed, though? As opposed to you…? What do they call your style these days? There's a name for it, that kind of rustic look…"


"Oh, I remember," cut in Ino with a snap of her fingers. "Homeless chic."

"–Bohemian," said Deidara.

"The gloves, though? In July?"

"Fashion statement," said Deidara, pulling his black-gloved hands under the table.

Ino's attention shifted to the coat-thing that Deidara was wearing – a repurposed sack of some sort, she surmised, one which had at some point held root vegetables.

"That's a nice sack. Where did you find it?" asked Ino, in the way you ask a slow-witted child where they found a treasured piece of garbage.

"It's not a sack, it's a jacket, and I didn't find it, I bought it."

"Right," said Ino. "You totally didn't dig it up from some barrel at a farmer's market."

Deidara gave Ino a dark look. Ino gave him a pitying smile because he was such a peasant.

"So let's recap. I, the person who could get you out of five years of prison for breaking and entering and property damage and attempted theft, am worthless to you because 'you get what you pay for' and you're not paying for me, and you hate everything about me because I dress nice, get paid nice, and actually do something with my hair–"

"I do something with my hair; I've just been in a cell for three days–"

"–And you're worthless to me," continued Ino, "because you're a failure of a petty criminal paying me nothing, whose case will bring me no prestige or connections that I could ever possibly need to use. I can't even hate you; you're so far beneath my notice you don't register on my radar–"

"Jesus, you really think you're hot shit."

"I am," said Ino. "Anyway – unfortunately for us, my bar association insists on me giving up hours of my precious time on pro bono work every year for all sorts of fluffy bullshit reasons, you know – to give back to the community and help the underserved and the poor…"

Ino drew a fingertip along her bangs and tucked them behind her ear so that both of her ice-blue eyes were visible to Deidara. "I'm going to take on your case and I'm going to win. And then I'll have finished my pro bono work for the year and you'll be home free, and we'll never have to talk to each other again. Ever. How does that sound?"

"Too good to be true," said Deidara.

"It is true. So, let's forge ahead here and see if we can accomplish this with minimal pain for either party. Now. To defend you, I need an angle from which I can explain your actions. Okay?"

Deidara did something with his shoulders that might've been a noncommittal shrug; Ino couldn't tell under the sack.

"You have three prior convictions," said Ino, flipping through her file. "For arson, arson, and…arson. A total of six years served. What's with the change in your M.O.? Why were you breaking into the bank? On whose orders?"

"I told you, art," said Deidara, with a kind of pained misunderstood look towards the ceiling.

"You'll have to explain this a little bit further for me."

"Explain? To you? How?" asked Deidara, giving Ino a tremendously critical once-over. "I've never seen anyone less artistic in my life."

"Try," said Ino.

"No," said Deidara. "You wouldn't understand. Plebe."

He had the audacity to flip his hair at her.

She was going to kill him.

Ino unclenched her jaw enough to say, "You're not giving me much to work with."

"I plead insanity," said Deidara.

Ino closed her eyes. "You know what? Let's work with that."


That night, Ino met up with Sakura – doctor, rival, best friend forever – at their favourite lounge.

"So how was your week?" asked Sakura once they had found themselves a private corner in which to drink too many martinis.

"Kill me," said Ino.

"That bad?" said Sakura. She pushed her martini towards Ino. "Then you can have my olive."

"Thank you," said Ino, sliding the olive off of its cocktail stick and into her mouth. "You have no idea how much I deserve this."

Sakura smiled that smile that she smiled when Ino was being especially dramatic. "Tell me."

So Ino explained about this dumbass Deidara, the smelly criminal vagrant with the hair, and how she wasn't sure she could endure another meeting with him without throttling him, and plus he insulted her clothes and called her uptight (she wasn't uptight, was she? she was cool and fun, right?), and he was wearing a hideous jacket thing that made her want to puke just looking at it, and why did Ino have to deal with cretins like this, all she wanted to do was make millions defending corporations, not useless poorsies; her life was so hard…

"Well," said Sakura, "I pulled a Barbie out of a man's butt today."

This put things back into perspective for Ino.

"Okay," said Ino, pushing her martini glass towards Sakura. "You can have my olive."