As Deidara runs blindly through the forest, his heart races faster than he ever thought possible, his vision blurs with his blood and sweat, his feet feel like heavy stones and like stepping on spikes when they make contact with the cold unforgiving forest floor, his blood is running down his limbs, chest, and face making him appear more savage than man, his lungs on fire begging him to rest. After hours of running, he is completely exhausted to the point he doesn't care where he is going all he knows is he has to get away, but he gives in to the need to rest. He stops at a large tree, quickly checks the area, slumps against the base hidden between two large roots jutting up from the ground, and as he sits there he starts to think about how he ended up in this situation and starts to regret his decision to leave the Akatsuki.
The day before, Pein called Deidara and Tobi into his office for a mission. "I want you two to go and destroy this village outside of Konoha, leave no survivors," said Pein with a very serious and threatening tone, that voice that says if he disobeys it will be his end. This shocks Deidara to his very core, it must have shown on his face because Pein turns to look at him directly in the eyes and says, "This will show Konoha that we mean business, and if they don't hand over the nine tails willingly they will be next. Think you can handle it?" Deidara gulped sharply and nodded his head in confirmation.
After he left Pein's office, he went to his room to "prepare", where he starts to pace back and forth, contemplating how he could get out of doing this mission without Pein killing him. About 10 minutes into his "preparations" there is a quiet knocking at his door, he would have missed it if he hadn't been close to the door. When he opens the door, Itachi is standing there, Itachi comes into his room, quickly looks around, turns to him, and says "I know you don't want to do this mission, I wouldn't want to do it either, and I'm sorry for forcing you to join the Akatsuki. To try and make amends I am going to help you escape." Deidara couldn't believe his ears at first, but after making sure it wasn't a dream or genjutsu, he saw the logic in this option, it seemed his best chance to get out with his life.
Upon leaving Deidara's room, Itachi put a genjutsu on the whole base to make it look like everything was normal, meanwhile Deidara quickly, and quietly snuck out the back, but as soon as he stepped out the door a loud alarm sounded through the whole base. As soon as he heard it his blood turned to ice and he froze, but just as quickly he snapped out of it and he took off as fast as he could run. About 20 minutes later he stops to catch his breath and check his surroundings but is ambushed by Hidan and Kakuzu. That's how he ended up running blindly through the trees, wildly, all sense of direction lost, with his long hair full of twigs, leaves, bugs, and blood, skin cut and bruised from blades and branches, and clothes waterlogged with sweat.
Just as he thinks he can't go any farther and starts to accept death, he hears a voice, a female voice, that sounds oddly familiar, after a couple of minutes it hits him this is the voice of the girl that was with the Nine tails when they kidnapped the Kazekage. Deidara quickly weighs his options, slow and painful death by his former "allies", probably sacrificed to Hidan's god, or taken prisoner by the Leaf Village and spend the rest of his life in jail. It takes him less than a minute to decide, he makes a break for the tree line towards the voice, but trips over a tree root and falls to the ground on the edge of the road. Due to the loss of blood, exhaustion, and coming down from his adrenaline high, he blacks out for a couple of minutes upon hitting the dirt, when he wakes up his vision is blurry and his ears feel like they are full of water, but he can feel someone gently touching him.
After his vision clears and can hear again, he can see that it's the kunoichi, Sakura, he immediately sits upright, making his head spin, gets on his knees, and starts begging for help, "Please, help me, the Akatsuki are chasing me and want to kill me! I will do anything, I will tell you everything I know, I will spend the rest of my life in prison, but please I just don't wanna die!" Sakura in her confusion doesn't say anything, she just sits there in a trance of sorts but is quickly snapped out of it by a figure dashing out of the trees, laughing like a maniac. Before Deidara has a chance to turn around he feels an arm wrap around his chest and smoke fills his vision and nose, then everything goes black, and by the time the smoke clears Hidan and Kakuzu are in the middle of the road alone.
When Deidara awakens, he notices everything is dark, the ground he is on is cold and hard, he can feel tiny pebbles pressing into his skin, but he is laying on something to keep them from digging into his skin. As his blurry eyes start to clear, he can see there is fabric above and around him, it's a tent, all his injuries have been tended to, he is covered in bandages, stitches, ointments, and all his clothes except his boxers are gone. As he sits up a sharp pain rips through his side and he lets out a low hiss, at this sound someone enters the tent. He looks up to see it's Sakura, he looks at her in surprise for a moment then says," You saved me, why?" She looks back at him for a moment then looks him straight in the eyes and replies "Yes, for two reasons, one as a healer I swore an oath to always help those in need, and two you said you would tell me everything you know. We have intel on who most of the Akatsuki members are and some of their abilities but we have no idea who all of them are, all their abilities, and what their goals are. I saved you now you owe me, you tell our interrogators everything you know, no detail is too small or insignificant, and maybe I will get you a plea deal with the court, maybe, do we have a deal?" After taking a moment to process all she said with his still very exhausted mind, he agrees, on the condition, she doesn't tie him up, when she asks why he says," First, if we are attacked by the Akatsuki again your are gonna need all the help you can get and I can't do that if I'm tied up. Second, it would be demeaning and demoralizing, if I walked into the Leaf village bound up people would stare and it would be humiliating. At least let me go in on my own recognizance, so I may maintain some small level of dignity." With that she agrees and tells him to get some more sleep, she wants him to get a couple more days of rest before they take to the road, and not to worry they are hidden in a secret hiding spot her team made on a mission as genin. No one but her and her teammates knows it exists or how to find it, comforted by that Deidara lays back down and is asleep before his head hits the pillow.
Sakura may have told Deidara she saved him because of ethics and for information but in truth she didn't, she doesn't know why she did, she just reacted. But, at any rate, she is glad she did, she didn't want him dying because she failed to show some mercy or compassion, she didn't want his blood on her hands, the guilt alone would drive her insane. She also didn't want to run the risk of other people, especially Naruto, dying because she refused to accept his offer for information, that amount of guilt would drive her to suicide. She sits by the fire outside of the tent, thinking about why she did it, but she can't think of any reason, she just reacted. All this thinking is giving her a headache, so she puts the fire out with some dirt, crawls back into the tent, into her sleeping bag beside Deidara. As she is laying there, she looks over at Deidara and starts to think again, "He looks so peaceful almost like an angel. WAIT! What am I thinking he is a former enemy, a criminal, a murderer, and an informant. That's it nothing more." With that, she rolls over and falls asleep within moments.
By the time, Deidara regains consciousness again five days have passed, true to her word, no one ever found them. But Sakura went into a nearby village, for supplies and him some new clothes, and as she was leaving she spotted the telltale black cloak with red clouds. She could tell it was Hidan, by the scythe he was carrying on his back, she watched him for a couple of minutes before getting out of there without leaving a trace, before he could spot her. But, that was two days ago, she dare not leave the hiding spot for fear of Hidan, another Akatsuki member, or one of their spies spotting her, after all her bright rose pink hair isn't exactly common. When she says that Deidara throws his head back in a laugh, she looks at him her head tilted slightly with a confused expression, and when he finally calms down a little he says with tears in his eyes and a gently mischievous smile on his face " No, it may not be common or normal but for some reason it suits you. I have only known you a short while and most of our previous interactions were less than ideal, but I can tell you are a very unique and special person. There probably isn't anyone else like you in the world so it seems fitting you have such unusual, unique, and beautiful hair to match your soul and personality." By the time, Deidara is done Sakura's face is completely red and she is in complete shock she doesn't know what to say she just sits there for a few minutes her mind a muddled mess. When she finally comes around its because Deidara has put his hand on her shoulder trying to get her attention, she starts apologizing profusely, says thank you, then asks if he is hungry. And, at that exact moment, Deidara's stomach decides to make its self known, at the sound he blushes, but then they both dissolve into fits of laughter.
After they eat, Sakura checks all his injuries, most of them have healed except the stitches, but they are starting to dissolve. Sakura breathes a sigh of relief, suggests they stay there one more night, then in the morning they go down to the village for a hot breakfast and to see if they can catch wind of anything to do with the Akatsuki and after hit the road. Deidara agrees, then asks if there is anywhere he can bathe, she goes quiet and eyes him suspiciously. He sighs, lifts his right hand, looks at her straight in the eyes with a serious expression, " I swear I am not up to anything, I just want a bath, I'm still covered in dirt, sweat, and dried blood. You have put a lot of trust into me I don't plan on betraying it, I swear on my mother's grave." She searches his face and body for any type of deception, but finds none, this causes her to feel guilty for falsely accusing him. "I'm sorry since Sasuke betrayed us I have been suspicious of everyone while trying to be nice to everyone at the same time. There is a stream about 20 meters over there." Deidara smiles gently at her, then stands up, pats her head, and says thanks as he walks through the bushes to their left and follows a small path that leads to the stream.
The next morning, Deidara is the first to wake up, he exits the tent and starts to put on the new clothes Sakura bought him, he didn't put them on last night cause he prefers to sleep in his boxers and he didn't wanna get them dirty so soon. He opens the shopping bag to find a black crew neck tank top, slim fit black jeans, and a black zip-up hoodie as well as a few hair ties, and essentials like toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, etc. After he dresses, he pulls his hair up into a ponytail, then starts packing up the stuff she bought for him in the new black leather backpack she got him, it had one small zipper in the front in the shape of a square perfect for clay, knives, and scrolls, and a larger area in the back perfect for everything else. It also came with a toiletry bag of the same design that fits perfectly in the bottom of the large area, honestly, it was nice, it was the nicest thing anyone had ever given him, and he felt he didn't deserve it. He was brought out of his musings, by Sakura exiting the tent rubbing her eye with one hand and stretching with the other, with a huge yawn she greets him good morning. Before he has time to stop himself he thinks this is the cutest thing he has ever seen, but immediately starts questioning why he thought that. Sakura sees his inner turmoil and asks him if he is all right, he says " Yeah, I'm alright, thanks for the new stuff, especially the backpack, it is honestly the nicest thing anyone has ever given me, I will give it back to you when we get to the Leaf village." This shocks Sakura she thinks for a moment before responding with "It's okay I bought it for you keep it." With this, she gets cleaned up and starts helping him pack up camp.
They leave the hiding spot and walk down to the village to find a place to get some breakfast, when they get there they find a small restaurant on the outskirts owned by an elderly couple. They ask to be sat in the back corner, then they order their food, Sakura gets traditional miso soup, rice, and fish fillet, and Deidara gets a chicken omelet. While they sit there Deidara decides to make small talk, "So, why were you out on that road anyway? You know the one where you found, well I mean saved me." Before she has a chance to respond they are interrupted by the elderly woman coming back with tea, after she leaves Sakura takes a couple of sips then responds to Deidara. "I was on a personal mission for Lady Tsunade, she has a friend in the hidden stone village, that was having some medical problems, and doesn't trust anyone. Now, let me ask you something, why were you being attacked by the Akatsuki? I thought you were one of them?" Deidara's face falls he looks down, then out the window, and after a few minutes, he starts to tell her about the mission and Itachi helping him escape. When he is done she asks why he had a problem with this particular mission, and that he must have done something like that before. He gets mad at first, but then remembers she has no way of knowing anything about him past him kidnapping the kazekage.
After taking a few minutes to collect his thoughts, and think about it, he decides to tell her about himself what harm could it do. "I'll tell you why but first you have to promise you won't interrupt me, this is gonna be a long story, but please save your questions for the end." With a nod from Sakura, he begins to tell his story." Before I tell you why and have it make sense I will need to tell you a little about my childhood first, that way you'll understand. I was born in a village in the land of earth, the place where I am from the land is infertile and the harvest never bountiful, all we had to work with was steep mountains and rocky grasslands. Most people scrape by with little grain and few potatoes the tired soil will give them, some make their living tending goats, that's the kind of place I was born and raised in. My father died before I was born, my mother was a sickly woman, but she tried to scrape by doing laundry and mending clothes. I was out playing with some other kids when a village elder came to get me when I got home my mom was in bed white as a ghost and cold as ice, someone came to get their clothes and found my mom collapsed on the floor. I stayed by my mom's bed for the next couple of days never leaving, neighbors would bring us food and check on us, three days later my mom breathed her last breath. It may seem cold and cruel but I was glad when she died so she could finally be released from her pain, finally, she could rest. After she was buried I was taken to the hidden stone village, I was quickly taken in by Onoki, at first I was hostile, but after a while, I started to see him as a father figure. I was 14, I was on a mission when there was an accident that resulted in the death of my team, when I returned to the village, and told them about what happened the Tsuchikage at the time, decided to make an example out of me, and put me on trial for murder. When I heard, I made a run for it, I was on the run for a year, eventually, I became the apprentice to a potter in a small village in the land of tea, and everything could have stayed that way if it wasn't for the fact that bad things started to happen around me. Like people would get hurt, things would go missing, rumors ran rampant that all the bad stuff was my fault, it all came to a head when I found all the missing stuff in my room under the floorboards. On the stuff was a single long red hair, there was only one person in the village with red hair, the potter's former apprentice, Akane, when I first arrived, she was jealous of me at first but when the potter found out that she was purposely sabotaging my works he kicked her out and told her never to return. In my anger I wasn't thinking, I went to confront Akane, and found her on the edge of a cliff that overlooked the village, I told her off about framing me, but when I was done she didn't react how I thought she would. She laughed at me then said she was going to ruin my life like how I ruined hers, she began to scream, begging for help, then she threw herself from the cliff. I don't know if she meant to kill herself or just injure, but when she hit the bottom she didn't get back up, she was gone, unfortunately, there were some foresters below who heard her screams, saw her fall, and then look up only too see me standing there. I knew it was going to be just like back at Iwa all over again, and just like back then I ran, a few months later I was recruited to join the Akatsuki by Itachi and the rest is history. The reason that mission bothered me so much is I have never actually killed someone on purpose, yes I kidnapped that kazekage, but I didn't know the draining would kill him, yes I threatened the people of Suna, but I didn't mean it just figured if I could get him to surrender no one would need to die, and the guards I didn't mean to kill them I just wanted to knock them out!" By the time Deidara was done both of them were in tears and their food was on the table cold and untouched, but neither was hungry anymore. The next thing Sakura knew she was out of her seat and hugging him, she began whispering "It's okay now your safe, you don't have to fight anymore." With those words, he finally broke and began to cry, no not crying, sobbing.
After their tears stop, the go back to their food, uncaring that it was now cold, and eat in silence, until a thought pops into Sakura's mind, "Hey, Deidara I have a question, what was the accident that killed your team?" Deidara takes a minute to chew on his food and thoughts before answering " I had just discovered the technique of infusing clay with chakra to make the 'come to life', unfortunately, back then I didn't understand the difference between infusing with chakra and concentrating it with chakra. I made a little ball of clay, put as much chakra as I could in it when nothing happened I put it down, walked away, next thing I know, BOOM!" It sounds like he is joking, but Sakura could see the pain on his face, so she reaches over the table and puts her hand on his, he looks up to see a gentle smile on her face. With that they go back to their food, after they finish eating, they pay for their food, and leave, unbeknownst to them someone had been listening to them the whole time.
By the time, night falls they have covered a lot of ground, they have also have done a lot of talking, and have become friends. As they find a place to camp for the night but to Deidara, something doesn't feel right, this feels almost too easy, as he looks around nervously he sees two yellow dots in the bushes 50 yards away. His eyes widen in shock, he grabs Sakura's arm and says " Run!", with that they both take off as fast as their feet can carry them. After running for what seemed an eternity, Sakura stops and asks Deidara why are they running, just as he turns around to tell her, he yells "GET DOWN!", as kunai come flying out of the trees at them, next thing they know Hidan is once again run at them scythe in hand laughing like the maniac he is. Remembering what happened to Asuka, Sakura immediately takes action dodging all of his attacks, before finally landing a blow that sends him flying back into a giant boulder decimating it on impact and rendering Hidan unconscious. With Kakuzu nowhere in sight, once again Deidara grabs Sakura's arm and they start running, by the time they stop the sun has completely set, instead of setting up camp they decide to eat some rations, then curl up together in a small enclave hidden by some bushes.
By the following afternoon, they finally reach the gates of the Leaf village, before they are seen by anyone Sakura tells him to put his hood up and keep his head down, he cocks one eyebrow but does as she asks. They cautiously walk through the gates, Sakura greeting the guards, they quickly and quietly make their way through the village, dodging all of Sakura's friends. They finally reach the Hokage's mansion Sakura finally lets out a breath, that she didn't know she was holding, they walk in through the back entrance so no one will see or recognize Deidara. When they reach Lady Tsunade's office, Sakura tells him to wait there and again to keep his head down, with a nod from Deidara, Sakura knocks on the door and enters. After briefing Tsunade on her mission, she starts to tell her about what happened with Deidara, Tsunade is angry at first, but then remembers what kind of person Sakura is and decides to give him the benefit of the doubt. Sakura lets Deidara into the office after calling for Shikamaru and Ibiki, Ibiki tells Deidara " Alright, boy better tell us the truth, the whole truth, if you don't know something just tell us, no information is better then false information. If I catch one hint of a lie I don't care if Sakura is your new friend your ass is mine, do I make myself clear?" Deidara looks at him directly in the eyes with the most serious expression he can muster, "Sir, no offense Sakura saved my life, she has put a lot of trust in me, I don't plan on betraying that anytime soon, she knows more about in the week and a half we have traveled together than people who called themselves my so-called 'friends'. Finally, unlike what most people think especially the Akatsuki, I am not as reckless as they think I have a sense of self-preservation, I am no longer a threat to you and the people of the land of fire. And, even if you for whatever reason don't throw me in jail and throw away the key I am no longer going to fight I am from now on and forevermore a civilian unless called upon in a time of need, I plan to only use my abilities to help people and creat, not kill and destroy, sir." With that, Deidara begins to tell them everything about how and why he escaped from the Akatsuki, as well as all the sordid detail of the mission, details he didn't even tell Sakura, "I don't know if they are still gonna do it but if they do it might be a good idea to get the Naruto underground, and put some patrols in that village as well as the other surrounding villages. Also send a general alert out to the rest of the country to be on alert, ramp up border controls, and send notices to all our allies and villages with jinchuriki." Shikamaru said with a solemn expression. With that Shikamaru and Ibiki leave telling Deidara they will be meeting with him more for all the info he has on the Akatsuki, Tsunade turns to him and says, "Okay you have two choices, one we throw you in a cell guarded 24/7, with chakra suppressing restraints, or two, since I trust Sakura and think of her as a daughter, you can go stay with her under her and her team's constant supervision, you will be confined to her apartment, and only allowed to leave if you have an escort or its an emergency, like the buildings on fire, unless you have my express permission to go out alone." Deidara looks at her in astonishment, beams a bright smile, and says he will take the second option. "Sakura like I said I trust you and love you like a daughter but if he betrays us or something happens he is responsible for on your watch, you will be held accountable and receive the same punishment, am I understood you two?" Tsunade says with a stern solemn expression. Sakura says yes mama, then they both leave, as they exit the build Deidara falls to his knees and cries, she asks him what is wrong, and he replies "I have gotten the second chance I didn't deserve today I am crying with joy, meeting you has been a blessing, thank you Sakura, thank you, you're my god-given solace!", she gets on her knees, hugs him, and they stay like that for a while.
After Deidara stops crying, the two of them go shopping to get stuff for him, he objects at first but eventually, Sakura's doe eyes won out. As they are shopping they bump into Naruto, who tries to attack Deidara, but Sakura stops him. They explaining everything over some Ichiraku ramen, Naruto is skeptical but agrees to not attack him, but that he has his eyes on Deidara. When they are done eating and shopping night has fallen, so Sakura shows Deidara to her apartment, after he walks in the door Deidara sees, the apartment is small but nice and cozy. On the left of the front door is a small L shaped kitchen tucked into the corner with a small L shaped wall opposite the corner only big enough for the fridge, it had a white stone floor, ivory cabinets, grey countertops, steel fridge, and steel gas stove/oven. In front of the door is a tiny 3 meter long by 1 meter wide hallway with coats, umbrellas, and other miscellaneous items on the wall that had the fridge on the other side to the left, and to the right was a beautiful painting of the ocean in the moonlight with a white ship in the distance. The tiny hallway that opened up into a living/dining room combo, the floors and wall all had a nice cream color to them, the wall to the left of the hallway opened back up into the kitchen, the wall adjacent to that had various paintings as well as a TV on a wood stand of rich mahogany, the wall opposite the entrance had a glass double sliding door that leads to a balcony with wrought iron railings, the wall to his right had even more paintings and some photos and sitting against this wall was a dark grey couch ended by two mahogany tables with steel lamps with white shades, a chair matching the couch back facing the porch, a mahogany coffee table with magazines and scrolls, and dining table in the middle of the room same mahogany with four dark grey upholstered chairs. Also on the wall to his right was another small hallway, this hallway was L shaped, on the short side to the right were two doors, adjacent to that was one door on the longest wall, another adjacent to that on the smallest wall, and finally on the long side to his left was a set of double folding doors. Sakura showed him the first door on the short side was a closet for coats and shoes, the one on the longest wall was a bathroom that had the same design as the kitchen with a glass standing shower/tub combo to the left of the door and toilet hidden behind a small wall on that side, and on the right was a double vanity. The door on the smallest wall was her room same cream walls and floors, upon open the door to the left was 3 sets of folding doors, the wall opposite was bare except for a large window, the wall adjacent to that was covered in paintings and had a full-sized bed with a mahogany headboard and two matching night tables with the same steel lamp on them, the bed had white sheets and pillows, with a rich brown duvet. The double folding doors outside her room was the laundry room with a steel washer and dryer and a steel wire shelf above them. And finally, the second door on the short wall was his room it had the same design as Sakura's except smaller, one night table, one set of folding doors, no window, and one large painting over the bed of an autumn forest. "And, this is your room, his eyes almost flew out of his head he expected her to make him sleep on the couch, but this was brighter than his cold dark room back at the Akatsuki base with only a rickety twin bed and threadbare sheets, better than his traditional floor futon back at the potter's house, nicer than his small hovel of a room back at Iwa. He felt like crying again, but he didn't just hugged Sakura, said thank you, and wished her good night, after he unpacked he sat on his new bed thinking how great his life was now before he curled up under the warm but lightweight duvet and falling asleep.