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Gone by xotakux2002x

Here’s to my favourite Akatsuki pairing! (Even if it does have SasoDei in it)

Gone

A tall figure was walking down the muddy road, rain coming down in sheets. He knew he’d have to stop soon, since the weather showed no signs of improving. The man saw a light up ahead, indicating that it was some form of shelter. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a tea house. Figuring that the weather would have kept down the number of people on the road, he determined that the tea house wouldn’t be very crowded and quickly ducked inside.

His suspicions were right; there were only three people in the building, and one of them was an elderly woman cleaning the tables. More than likely, she owned the place. “Hello deary,” she said in a cheery tone, a smile on her face. “What can I get you?”

“Hot tea,” the man answered, sitting down and sighing. He half-expected a voice to yell at him to get something to eat…but no, he was alone. A fact that tore into his heart with each passing moment.

“Here you go.” He blinked as a steaming mug of tea was set down in front of him.

“Thank you,” he muttered, picking up the mug and waiting for the woman to depart so he could think in peace. To his surprise, she sat down across from him at the table. “Problem?” he asked, curious about the woman’s actions.

“Forgive me deary. I’m an old woman who’s too nosy for her own good. But, I’ve been working in this place for years, and I’ve seen just about everything and every type of person there is. It makes me sound pompous, but I think I’m pretty good at reading people. And right now, I can see that you’re a person with a problem that’s weighing you down. Wanna talk about it?”

The man blinked in surprise before looking around the shop. The other two people didn’t look threatening; a hunch figure with his back turned to the duo, and a middle-aged woman who appeared to be knitting, probably only here to wait out the storm. Feeling reassured, he turned back to the woman. “Can I trust you to keep a secret?”

“Certainly.”

“I just want to be clear. Should I find out that anyone hears what I’ve told you, the results will be…most unpleasant.”

The elderly woman merely smiled up at the giant of a man. “Deary, you’ve no idea how many times I’ve heard that or similar threats. I may be old, but I know how to keep my mouth shut. These ears of mine are for listening to problems, not picking up gossip and telling it to anything with a pulse.”

“Um…are you a homophobe?”

“I’m old, sweetie, but not intolerant.” She raised a brow. “This a love problem? Go ahead and spill.”

For some reason, the elderly female’s words reassured him. In all honesty, he just wanted to get his problem out in the open, maybe even get some advice or information about what to do. “Ma’am-“

“Call me Dee, hun.”

“Alright, Dee. My name’s Kakuzu, by the way.” He sighed and pulled down his mask, taking a quick sip of the steaming beverage before pulling it back up. “You’re right about the whole problem thing. It’s in the form of a demonic, psychotic, foul-mouthed zealot. Who also happens to be the love of my life.”

 

“What’s his name?” Dee asked, a small smile on her lips.

“Hidan.”

“Nice name.”

“I guess. Anyway, we met about a year ago, when we were paired up.” He saw the confused look on Dee’s face and tried to find the right words to explain their partnership. “Well, see, Hidan and I are part of a…group…and all the members are assigned a partner, in order to maintain efficiency.”

“I see. Go on deary.”

“Well, as so as I saw him, I hated him completely and totally…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu stared at the man Pein had brought in. He was short, albino, and clearly had no idea how to properly wear a shirt. “Everyone, this is Hidan,” Pein said, introducing him to the half-interested group. The members that actually bothered to look up and spared the Jashinist a brief glance before returning to their various activities.

Pein walked over to Kakuzu, forcing the banker to look up from his checkbook. “Kakuzu, Hidan will be your new partner.”

“What?! Pein, you know full well I don’t need a partner-“

“Too bad, you’ve got one.” He turned and walked towards the door way, turning around just long enough to say, “Don’t bother trying to kill this one.” With that, he left the room.

Kakuzu looked down at the silver-haired man. “Well this is going to be fun.”

“Shut up, dumbass.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Needless to say, our relationship was off to a wonderful start,” the miser said, pulling down his mask to have another sip of tea.

“Then what?” Dee asked, clearly interested in the story.

“Well, after we were introduced, I took Hidan up to our room. That led to our first big quarrel…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Why the hell is there only one Jashin-damned bed?!” Hidan demanded, looking at the only mattress in the room.

“To save on laundry costs,” Kakuzu explained.

“I’m not sleeping with a dumbass heathen like you!”

“How am I a heathen? Or a dumbass, for that matter?” Kakuzu growled, already becoming extremely annoyed by his partner.

“You’re a dumbass because I can tell you’re a dumbass. And you’re a heathen because your sorry ass doesn’t worship Jashin!”

“Who the hell is Jashin?” Kakuzu asked, not realizing what hell he was about to unleash.

“Jashin is my god! He is all-powerful and-“

“Already boring me,” Kakuzu interjected, turning to leave the room. His partner’s religion was of no concern to him, and he had better things to do than stand around wasting time listening to a little zealot for some weird sect he’d never heard of.

Later that night, Kakuzu heard familiar screams going through the walls. “Jashin dammit, what the hell is that?!”

“It’s Sasori and Deidara. Just try to ignore it,” Kakuzu growled, trying to get to sleep, which was particularly difficult, seeing as how his partner refused to stay on his side of the bed.

“It’s annoying as hell!” Hidan growled and flipped back the covers, rising from the bed and heading for the door. “I’m gonna tell them to the hell shut up!”

“Hidan I wouldn’t do that-“ but his partner was already out the door. “Oh well. He’d have found out soon anyway.” He heard the screams stop for a second, followed by a cry from his partner. A moment later, his new partner was back in their room, looking severely freaked out. “What the hell-“

“I tried to warn you,” Kakuzu said, sitting up and shaking his head. “Those two screw on a near-daily basis.”

“But they were…the blonde was…oh dear Jashin, how can someone bend like that?”

“At least you’re better off than Itachi. There’s a reason he doesn’t speak a lot,” Kakuzu said, lying down and rolling over so his back was to the zealot. Hidan muttered a few choice words before climbing into the bed, stealing the covers from his partner.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“And that was Hidan’s first night.” Kakuzu turned and looked at the elderly woman. “You don’t seem too shook up.”

“Trust me, deary, it takes a lot more than that to freak this old lady out.”

“That’s probably a good thing, since the story’s about to get worse. You see, the next day, Leader sent the two of us on our first assignment together. And that was when all hell broke loose.

 

“Do tell, what happened?” Dee prodded.

Kakuzu took a deep drink from his tea mug, allowing Dee to refill it before he went on. “You see, we were at this lord’s castle…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hidan and Kakuzu walked into the building, looking around at the lavish decorations on the walls and elegant rugs on the floor. “These assholes don’t skimp around much,” Hidan muttered.

“Shut up,” Kakuzu ordered, the shear thought of how much this must have cost making him sick.

The two Akatsuki entered a large room, surrounded on three sides by glass windows. The feudal lord sat on a bench on the opposite end of the room, reading a scroll. He whispered something to a nearby servant, then turned to Kakuzu and Hidan as the man walked off. “Welcome, guests.”

“Hello,” Kakuzu replied, bowing slightly. Hidan was too busy looking around the room and praying the deal would fall through. Pein’s orders were very clear; get this guy on the Akatsuki’s side, or kill everyone in the castle.

As Kakuzu began talking with the lord, a man in a plain brown robe entered the room. He saw Hidan standing by himself and walked over to the Jashinist, smiling. “Hello, my friend.”

“Do I know you?”

“No, but we are all friends in the eyes of the Lord. Tell me, have you accepted Jesus as you lord and savior?”

You could have heard a pin drop.

“Jashin is my only lord!” Hidan declared boldly.

“Ah, I knew it. you worship a heathen god-“

“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST SAY?!” By now everyone in the room was staring at the two priests.

“Calm down; our lord commands us to forgive all transgressions-“

“Well my lord commands me to do this!” It was at that moment that Kakuzu regretted allowing Hidan to bring his scythe inside the castle. Before he could open his mouth, the monk was lying in pieces on the floor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…Oh my,” Dee finally said, staring at the miser.

“That’s a pretty bad understatement,” Kakuzu said rubbing his temples. Even remembering that little screw-up gave him a headache. “Needless to say, things got very messy shortly thereafter. But at least I was able to learn one valuable thing…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu stared at the bodies lying around him. Blood was splattered across the windows, giving the room a reddish tint.

His gaze eventually fell on the headless body of his partner. “Hmmph. That one did last very long. Oh well. Good riddance to the little loudmouth.” A flicker of movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned and saw a pile of bodies. Ever now and again it would jerk, as if someone lying at the bottom of the pile was still alive and trying to free themselves from the mound of corpses. Smiling, Kakuzu walked over and began tossing the bodies aside, eager to finish off his last victim and go home.

As he tossed away a particularly large body, he came face to face with Hidan’s decapitated head. And, unless he was sorely mistaken, the dead eyes were glaring at him.

“About time, dumbass,” the head growled to him.

Naturally, the banker’s mind shut down.

“Hey, asshole, I’m yelling at you!” Hidan barked, trying to get close enough to his partner to bite him.
  
“Carefully, in order to avoid being chomped by the Jashinist’s pearly whites, Kakuzu picked up and the head and carried it to Hidan’s body. He set it down ands began sewing it back together with his threads, still not entirely sure what was going on. “Mind explaining why you’re not dead?” He finally managed to say.

“I’m immortal, dumbass,” Hidan answered, sitting up and rubbing the threads still embedded in his neck.

“Immortal.”

“You know; can’t die, can’t be killed-“

“I know what it means!” the miser snapped.

“Good, ‘cause I sure as hell don’t feel like explaining it to a dumb bastard like you.” Hidan reached into his cloak and pulled out a knife. He raised the blade to his throat and began picking threads out of his neck, which had already healed up. “Nice job, but next time make it hurt more, dammit.” After extracting all the threads from his throat (and giving himself a few new scrapes in the process) Hidan replaced the knife and walked over to a dead body, pulling out his scythe that was stuck in the victim’s back. “Can we get the hell outta here now?”

“Fine by me. It’s your fault we’re still here anyway,” Kakuzu stated, leading the duo out of the room.

“Tch. Whatever, dumbass.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You two are getting more and more interesting,” Dee remarked, smiling. “Hold on; that lady’s waving to me.” The elderly woman rose and walked over to the lady, before heading into the back room, probably to get more tea for the customer.

Kakuzu stared at his drink, wondering what in Kami’s name was making him spill his guts to a tea shop owner. If any other members were here right now, he and the woman would probably be killed on the spot, considering all the information he’d given out.

He looked up as Dee returned, a tea kettle in hand. The banker, however, placed his hand over the mug, indicating he didn’t want anymore. “I really don’t need to pay for anything else,” he explained.

“Nonsense, deary,” Dee replied, moving his hand and pouring a mug. “As long as you finish your story, the meal’s on the house. And from what I can tell, this story’s got a ways to go.”

“You’re pretty sharp,” Kakuzu said. “That little incident was pretty early on in our partnership, as you now know. Well, Hidan and I ended up going on more and more missions. And the weirdest thing began to happen.”

“Do tell,” Dee prodded, pouring herself a mug of tea.

 

“Well, I’m not sure how to explain it,” Kakuzu began.

“Nothing in this world ever gets explained right, hun,” Dee said. “Just do your best.”

“Ok. Like I said, Hidan and I began working on more and more missions together. I figured out how he fought, and he knew what to expect from me…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Kakuzu!” The banker ducked just as Hidan’s scythe swiped over his head, slicing a man in half. The immortal had a wild grin on his face as he ran forward, bloodlust apparent with each move.

Kakuzu turned and caught a woman that had attempted to get in range of stabbing him with a katana. He ripped the sword of the female’s hands, before tearing her in half. He noticed a man heading towards his partner, whose back was turned. “Hidan!”

The immortal spun and caught the man in the gut, sending blood and a death cry into the air. He was in his element; slicing people apart with reckless abandon, blood covering nearly all of his body.

The fight seemed to go on and on, with both Akatsuki members wearing down. The banker had just stabbed another attacker through the heart, when he heard his partner call out again.

“Kuzu!”

The nickname caught him by surprise, and a moment later he felt a searing pain in his side. Dammit, some chick had gotten close enough to cut into his side. His threads began stitching the wound up as he snapped her neck with his bare hands. A few minutes later, mounds of bodies surrounded the two men.

“Mind explaining where ‘Kuzu’ came from?” the banker asked, looking to his partner for an explanation.

The Jashinist merely shrugged as he wiped the blood on his scythe’s blade onto the bottom of his cloak. “It’s easier to say Kuzu, dumbass. Shorter name gives your ass more reaction time. That’s all.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“That makes perfect sense,” Dee said thoughtfully.

“I know. If we’re in a fight. But Hidan started calling me Kuzu whenever he could. It was his second favourite name for me…”

“Right after dumbass?” Dee asked, a smirk on her face.

“How’d you guess?” Kakuzu sat up straight, popping his back before slouching again. “So, in a way, we formed a kind of trust. We knew what the other would do in a fight, and how we’d each respond to different tactics or stressors. Perfectly normal, if you stay around a person long enough.”

“Except…” Dee prodded.

“Except, that on one particular assignment, Hidan started acting screwy. Very screwy…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The two Akatsuki members were walking down a hall in the large manor they’d been sent to. Their job was simple; come in, play the part of the rich guy’s allies, then steal a scroll from him in their sleep. Pein had also mentioned something about setting fire to the library to make it look like an accident, but the exact details were escaping Kakuzu at the moment. His partner was, once again, creating a problem.

Kakuzu felt Hidan bump into him for the fifth time in a very short while. Growling, he turned and glared at the zealot with piercing green eyes. “Hidan, would you kindly give me some space?”

“Sorry,” the Jashinist muttered, eyes looking to the side. They stopped in front of a door, which Kakuzu quickly opened. They stepped inside and dropped their bags onto a bed that their “friend” had been so kind to provide for them.

“Leave your scythe in here when you go out,” Kakuzu ordered.

“WHAT?!”

“You heard me. We’re not allowed to kill this guy, so I can risk you going off again on some poor sucker that tells you your religion’s screwed up.”

Hidan swore softly for several minutes but set his weapon of choice against the wall. The immortal flopped down onto the bed, glaring at his partner.

“Quick giving me that look. It’s your fault for not having any self-control.”

“This coming from the bastard that ripped a bitch in half for overcharging us by six f-ing cents at the Jashin-damned ramen vendor.”

“Shut up.”

“Make me.”

Five minutes later Hidan’s lips were sewn shut, and the words he was attempting to call out would have made Tayuya’s hair turn grey.

“Hidan, stop it,” Kakuzu growled, voice low and deadly. “We have to go down to dinner in a little while, and so help me if you screw up down there, I’ll make you find out whether your organs grow back or not the hard way.”

Hidan merely hmmphed and walked over to the miser, waiting for him to untie the threads. Once his lips were free, he returned to his bed. “If you’re so worried, asshole, just let me skip the damn meal.”

Kakuzu raised a brow. Hidan’s voice wasn’t its usual mocking tone; in fact, he sounded almost hopeful that “Not likely.” The banker walked to the door, opening it. “Come on. We’re going.” Hidan reluctantly climbed off his bed and followed Kakuzu out of the room.

Hidan insisted on sticking close to the banker when the entered the dining room and sat down at the table. “Hidan, what the hell’s wrong with you?!” the banker hissed.

“That guy keeps giving me weird looks, dammit,” the zealot answered, tilting his head to the side.

Kakuzu looked to where Hidan was motioning and saw the “friend” from earlier looking at the immortal. It took the miser all of ten seconds to realize the man was checking Hidan out. “Looks like you’ve got an admirer,” he stated.

“I don’t like it, Kuzu,” the immortal said, moving closer to the banker.

“Well what am I supposed to do?” Kakuzu asked in an annoyed toned.

“I don’t know, dammit!” Hidan hissed, moving closer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m still not sure what exactly came over me next; I’ve settled on calling it temporary insanity. Or maybe I was just worried, seeing Hidan that freaked out. But, well…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu’s arm moved and wrapped itself around Hidan, pulling the masochist close. “Better?” he asked in an annoyed tone.

“What the hell?!”

“He’s not looking at you now,” Kakuzu stated plainly. Hidan clammed up shortly thereafter and moved closer, so now he was leaning against Kakuzu’s torso.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“After that, our mission was soon completed. We went back to the base. At first, I thought I could just let it go and forget about that.”

“But it kept bugging you,” Dee said knowingly.

Kakuzu shook his head. “It was more than that. This man, that I had spent every waking moment of my days hating, was the only person I had ever willingly guarded from harm. And that little incident brought out this strange desire to…well, protect him. At all costs.”

 

“It’s normal to feel like you have to protect someone, once you stay around them long enough,” Dee said.

“That’s what I thought. So, I tried to keep my distance, and just watch his back more closely in a fight, since I couldn’t just reverse what I’d done. And then…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hidan and Kakuzu were running through the treetops, trying to evade their pursuers. They were on a tight schedule, and it would be much easier to just run and avoid the men than try to fight them all. “Can we stop soon, dammit?”

“If you want to stop, help me find somewhere to hide,” Kakuzu ordered, his partner doing little to improve his already bad mood. Hidan remained silent for a few minutes, then suddenly ducked down through the trees without warning.

Kakuzu followed him, more out of curiosity than anything else. Hidan was standing before the mouth of a small cave, grinning from ear to ear. “There, bastard. Shelter.”

Kakuzu said nothing as Hidan walked inside the cave, following him. The mouth was barely big enough for Kakuzu to get through, and the inside wasn’t much larger. “Damn, if I’d known this was so damn cramped-“

“Shh!” Kakuzu ordered.

Hidan stiffened as he felt the chakra signatures of their pursuers approach.  “Dammit, what-“

“SHH!” The banker ordered again, clamping a hand over the zealot’s mouth. He pushed Hidan to the cave wall, body blocking Hidan’s from view. The immortal said nothing, more out of shock than actually listening to his partner’s command.

Once the enemies passed, Kakuzu backed away from Hidan, hand still over the Jashinist’s mouth. He refused to remove it for a few more minutes, then finally dropped his hand. “I suppose you want to stop for the night,” he said.

“Hell yeah.”

“Alright.” The miser pulled his cloak off and set it on the ground, before lying down on it. “Then go to sleep; we’re leaving at dawn. And if I hear any arguments, I’ll rip your throat out.” Hidan glared at his partner through the dark and sat down, growling softly.

Kakuzu was about to drift off, when he heard a clacking noise. “Hmm?” Frowning, he focused on the sound, trying to figure out exactly what he was hearing. It took him a while to finally realize that he was listening to the sound of Hidan’s teeth chattering.

He sat up, trying to see his partner in the dark. Failing to do so, he called out to the immortal. “Hidan?”

“What is it, asshole?”

“Are you cold?”

“No, I’m just sitting here shivering like a Jashin-damned fool for no damn reason! Of course I’m freezing my ass off, you bastard!”

Kakuzu rolled his eyes and grabbed his cloak, wadding it up and throwing it in the direction Hidan’s voice appeared to be coming from. “There,” he said. “Now shut up and go to sleep.”  

“Thanks,” Hidan muttered, wrapping the fabric around himself.

Kakuzu lay back down, the rocks digging into his flesh now that he didn’t have the cloak between them and himself. A few moments later, he heard the same chattering sound and sighed, sitting up. “You can’t still be cold.”

“I am,” Hidan spat out. He stood and walked to the banker, flopping down beside him. Before Kakuzu had time to question what the zealot was doing, Hidan’s hand shot out and grabbed his. The banker’s eyes widened.

Hidan’s skin was ice cold to the touch.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I don’t suppose you’d happen to know if albinos are particularly susceptible to the cold,” Kakuzu asked Dee.

The elderly woman shook her head. “Nope. Sorry deary.”

“Oh well. The fact was, Hidan was freezing, and I was perfectly fine. So, I did the only thing I could think of…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Damn, you really are cold,” Kakuzu remarked.

“Told you,” Hidan muttered, glad the banker finally believed him.

Kakuzu reached out and pulled the zealot to his chest, easily wrapping his arms around the smaller man. Hidan was practically a child when compared to Kakuzu’s size.

The miser expected to hear more than a few protests from the zealot at this treatment, or at least some squirming. However, Hidan’s desire to escape the cold clearly outweighed any protests he may have had.  He nuzzled into the banker’s chest, muttering something about Kakuzu being nice and warm. After a short while, the masochist stopped shivering. Low and even breathing a few moments later told Kakuzu that Hidan had finally fallen asleep. The banker stayed awake for a while, wondering why he’d done this, before drifting off as well.

The next morning, Kakuzu was awakened by light coming in through the mouth of the cave. He turned to yell across the cavern for Hidan to wake up, before remembering that the Jashinist was still asleep on his chest.

He looked down, intending to wake his partner, when a better idea occurred to him.

The banker studied Hidan’s features, eyes roaming over the immortal’s tiny frame. A few hairs had fallen out of place in his sleep, and the two cloaks that were wrapped tightly around him were a bit wrinkled, but other than that, he looked perfect. Like some sleeping angel of death.

Hidan frowned and began stirring, eyes slowly blinking open. He looked around, then up into the banker’s face. “Is it morning?” he asked in a sleepy voice.

“Yeah.”

“Jashin dammit…” the masochist shut his eyes, collapsing against Kakuzu’s chest. “I don’t wanna get up, Kuzu.”

“Too bad. We need to go.”

Hidan frowned again but climbed off of the banker’s lap, standing and stretching. “By the way, thanks, asshole.”

“Don’t mention it.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu drained his most recent cup of tea, before setting the mug down on the table. “And that was the end of that.”

“Sounds like you guys were getting closer,” Dee said, a smile on her face.

“In a way, I guess we were,” the banker said. “Well, little did I know that at that time, Hidan was plotting against me.”

 

“Plotting against you?” Dee repeated, concern written on her face. A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, lighting up the interior in a brilliant flash.

“Yup. I didn’t recognize the signs at first…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu and Hidan were sitting in their room, Hidan praying and Kakuzu counting his money. As the banker wrote down a few more figures in his checkbook, the immortal rose from where he had been kneeling and traveled to the bed, flopping down on the mattress and grabbing his bible.

Suddenly, an odd feeling washed over Kakuzu. He did his best to ignore it, trying to focus solely on his money. Ten minutes passed, and the feeling remained. Finally giving up, the banker tried to figure out exactly what it was. It took him a little longer, but he finally realized that it felt like he was being watched.

Slowly, he turned around to look at his partner. He saw that Hidan was still reading his bible, clearly engrossed in whatever law of Jashin he was now going over. Kakuzu turned around, deciding that he was just being paranoid, and that he should just g back to counting his money.

Until he felt it again.

This time, he snapped his head around, and was able to see Hidan’s eyes quickly dart back to his book. “But not quick enough,” the banker added to himself, once more returning to his cash. It was a while before Hidan’s gaze returned to him, and he waited a bit before jerking around once more. “Ok, why are you staring at me?” he demanded.

“I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, dumbass,” the Jashinist replied, shrugging.

“Sure you don’t,” Kakuzu said, rising to his feet. There was no point in even trying to do his work now; he may as well take a shower and call it a night. “He walked into the bathroom, after hearing Hidan mutter, “paranoid bastard”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Things like that began happening more and more often. Especially when I was injured. He was waiting for something to happen; but what, I had no clue.”

“But something did happen,” Dee pushed, hoping to hear more.

“Yeah. One night…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu was once again at work at his desk. It was late at night, and he’d just gotten been from a mission. In short, he was tired, frustrated, and lacked the patience to deal with the Jashinist who was currently hovering his should. “Hidan, go to bed before I rip you to pieces.”

“That a promise, bastard?”

The banker rolled his eyes and sighed.  “Just beat it.”

“No.”

Ok, now he was getting mad. “Hidan, do us both a favor and get the hell away from me.”

“Make me.”

The banker clenched his teeth, all thoughts of work now forgotten. “If you don’t, I’ll make you regret it.”

“I’d like to see that,” Hidan replied, moving closer.

Kakuzu shot up from his chair and grabbed Hidan by his collar, lifting him off the ground to bring their faces dangerously close. “What the hell do you want?” he hissed.

To his surprise, the zealot grinned. “This,” he said, arm shooting up to the banker’s face. Before Kakuzu could react, his mask was ripped down.

Instantly the miser released Hidan and pushed him away, eyes wide and full of shock. It had been years since he’d let anyone see him without his mask on, and there was a good reason for that. The stitches that marred his body went up to his face, going down his cheeks. Most people found this repulsive, and he knew Hidan wouldn’t be any different.

To his surprise, though, the zealot was merely staring at the stitching, eyes tracing over the black threads. “Whoa…” he said, moving towards his partner, eyes never leaving the banker’s face. He reached up and lightly touched the stitches with his fingertips.

Kakuzu flinched, more out of reflex than anything else. Hidan started, then returned his fingers to the stitches. “Damn, I knew they were on your arms and chest…but I never thought you got your damn face too, bastard.”

“My whole body’s like that,” Kakuzu said, before he could stop himself.

“Seriously? Must’ve hurt like a bitch,” Hidan stated, fingers now stroking the threads lightly.

“Hidan, why aren’t you freaking out?”

“Kuzu, if I pull out my damn organs ever other time I sacrifice to Jashin, tear bastards to shreds on a near-daily basis, why the hell would I have a problem with this?”

“Everyone else does,” was the only answer Kakuzu could offer.

“You really are a dumbass.”

“You’re a pain in the ass.”

“Wait to ruin the moment, asshole,” Hidan said. He stopped moving his fingers, thinking, before jumping up and kissing his partner on the cheek.

Kakuzu’s mind froze, and Hidan’s eyes shot open, realizing what he’d just done. “Damn, I just-“ A quick kiss on the lips from the banker silenced him a moment later.

Instinct took over, and Hidan’s arms wrapped around the miser’s neck, pulling him closer. Kakuzu responded by slipping his own arms around the immortal’s slim waist, hugging him close to his own body. They would have stayed like that longer, but a knock on the door and the sound of their leader’s voice interrupted them. “Speaking of Pein in the ass…” Hidan murmured, pulling away.

“Hidan, are you seriously ok with my face?” Kakuzu asked, walking to answer the door.

“Hell yeah. And the rest of you too, dumbass,” Hidan said, grinning as he flopped down on their bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“May I take a moment to just stop you and say ‘awww’?” Dee said, smiling sweetly.

“Hmmph. You think it’s cute.”

“It is.”

“I guess. But more importantly, that was the first time that anyone had ever looked at me without a mask on and accepted what they saw,” Kakuzu went on, wondering once more why he was pouring his heart and soul (or lack thereof) to an old tea shop owner.

“Anyone can reject or just tolerate a person’s appearance or being. It takes a special kind of person to accept people for what they really are.”

“You get that out of a fortune cookie?”

“That is years of experience talking!” Dee answered, huffing.

“Alright, I’ll buy that,” Kakuzu said. “That was when things got a little more complicated. Because now, instead of just caring about Hidan’s safety, I actually had full-blown feelings for the guy.”

 

“So, what happened then?” Dee asked.

“Well, it could have been my imagination, but it seemed like Hidan started to bitch more and more…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“And then that stupid cross-dresser told me to screw off, and before I could do anything to him, that bastard Sasori came in there and got all damn protective. Jashin dammit, I still can’t look those two assholes in the eye anymore…” Hidan was complaining about life in general yet again, and Kakuzu was being forced to listen to every second of it.

“Hidan, this is just a thought, but have you ever considered trying to be nice to them?” Kakuzu asked, attempting to focus on his work and failing miserably.

“Give me one good reason, asshole.”

“Because,” Kakuzu went on, gritting his teeth, “Your bickering gives me a headache. Listening to you talk about bickering gives me a headache. In fact, 95% of the time you give me a headache!”

“Take some Tylenol then,” Hidan suggested, shrugging.

“Or I could just throw you out and be done with it,” Kakuzu muttered, rubbing his temples.

Hidan said nothing as he rose from the bed and walked into the bathroom the two of them shared. Before Kakuzu even had time to question his motives, the Jashinist reemerged with a bottle of painkillers and a glass of water.

The banker stared incredulously at his partner, making Hidan frown as he thrust the items into Kakuzu’s hands. The miser rolled his eyes and quickly swallowed a few of the pills, draining the glass of water and setting the objects down on his desk. “Sorry, Kuzu,” the immortal whispered.

Kakuzu raised a brow at the apology. Manners weren’t Hidan’s forte, so an apology from him was as rare as a blue moon. The miser grabbed his partner and pulled the zealot down into his lap. “Just try and be a little less antisocial. That’s all I’m asking,” he said.

“No promises there, dumbass,” Hidan murmured, snuggling into the banker’s chest.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You were his lifeline,” Dee stated. “He was venting everything around you, because he knew you were the only one there who could take it.”

“Well, he was wrong,” Kakuzu muttered gravely, clenching his fists. “One day, I was in a horrible mood. I don’t know what did it; there had been budget cuts, I’d nearly lost my mind trying to find my checkbook, and Tobi kept trying to get me to lend Zetsu money. Well, Hidan came into the room that night…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hidan slammed the door as he entered their bedroom, aggravating the already pissed off banker. “Will you keep it down?!” Kakuzu snapped.

“Or what?” Hidan asked, surprised at the normally calm miser’s shortness.

“Just stay quiet; I don’t have time to deal with your bitching,” Kakuzu answered, deciding it would be best to ignore his partner for the time being.

“What the hell crawled up your leg and bit you on the ass?” Hidan asked.

“Nothing! I just don’t want to put up with your selfish whining right now.”

“Selfish?! You’re the bastard who’s always got his nose buried in some crappy little book, too busy counting you Jashin-damned money to give a fuck about what’s going on around you!” Hidan snapped.

“I though I told you to shut up!” Kakuzu yelled, getting it from his chair and sending it toppling to the ground from the force.

“And I said or what!” Hidan cried just as loudly.

Kakuzu swung his fist at the Jashinist’s head. Hidan jumped out of the way ad grabbed his scythe, swinging it at Kakuzu. The banker ducked and kicked Hidan’s legs out from under him, sending the zealot to the floor. He would have attacked again, but the immortal still had  a hold on his scythe, and gracelessly swung it at Kakuzu. It was enough to make the banker back off, and it gave Hidan time to rise to his feet again.

The fight lasted for several minutes, and by the time it was over, their room looked like a war zone.

With both of them panting heavily, Kakuzu turned and walked to the door. “I don’t ever want to see you again,” he growled before exiting the room. A moment later, he heard the sound of wood splitting and turned to see three blades sticking out of the door. “He’s paying for that.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kakuzu stopped speaking and pulled down his mask, draining his mug of tea.

“…Go on deary,” Dee said softy. “I want to know how this story ends.”

“It’s not that hard to figure out what happened next,” Kakuzu said. “I came back into the room a few hours later. Hidan’s cloak was folded up on what was left of our bed, and his ring was sitting on top of that. He only left with what he had brought, and didn’t take anything that he got while he was with us. He even left behind a knife I leant him…”

“So what you’re saying is…” Dee began.

“Hidan was gone.”

 

Kakuzu didn’t look willing to speak, so Dee looked around, trying to think of what would be best to say right now. “There’s more,” she finally settled on. “Something had to happen between you walking into that room and popping up in my tea shop.”

“I decided I wanted to find Hidan,” Kakuzu said. “So, I told our leader that I’d be going on a long mission. He doesn’t know anything about me looking for Hidan, and I’m perfectly fine keeping it that way.”

“So,” Dee prodded, pouring him another mug of hot tea, “what are you going to do when you find him? Take him back to your organization?”

“No,” Kakuzu replied, shaking his head. “I just want to talk with him. He left without a parting word; I may be stupid to feel like this, but I think I deserve that much. Even if it’s just to hear him say he hates me, I’ll take it and let him go.”

The banker stared at his mug, and began thinking about his partner. “When I first met Hidan I wondered if he was really human. I mean he’s immortal, practically a demi-god. You would think someone like that would have a unique color blood, not the everyday red. No, something different. Maybe the color of mercury, a beautiful liquid silver. But then you see that his blood doesn’t run silver, it runs red. As red as yours or mine. That’s when I learnt that despite his immortality and his tendency to sacrifice people, he is very much the human. And like everyone else he can bleed, he can feel pain, he can cry and he can be hurt both physically and emotionally. In truth he is very much the human. It’s too bad I didn’t realize that until it was too late.” He sighed and shook his head. “Sorry. I got carried away there.”

“I don’t mind at all,” Dee replied, smiling. “It’s nice to see someone so attached to someone else.” Her gaze fell on the windows of her shop. “Look, it’s stopped storming. Those two,” she said, motioning to her other customers, “will probably take off now. I’m guessing you will too.”

“Yes,” Kakuzu answered, rising to his feet. “Thanks for the tea, Dee.”

“Where are you headed now?” Dee asked, also rising.

“No clue. His trail’s been cold from the start, so he could be anywhere by now. Up north in the mountains, out by the sea, going through the desert-“

“Or sitting in some Jashin-damned tea shop, being forced to listen to a certified dumbass pour out a crappy sob story to some old hag.”

Kakuzu’s eyes shot wide open. “Hidan?!”

The hunched figure turned around and gave the two a bored look. “In the flesh, dumbass.”

The old woman who had been knitting had already left, and Dee had walked into the kitchen to give the two of them privacy. “Outside,” Hidan said, rising to his feet.

The two of them stepped outside, and Hidan turned to his former partner, glaring daggers. “First off, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna apologize, bastard.”

“I’m not asking for that,” Kakuzu said.

“In fact, right now, I should be sacrificing your sorry ass to Jashin.”

“But you’re not,” Kakuzu pointed out.

“Shut up or that’ll change!” Kakuzu did as instructed, and Hidan went on. “You took everything out on me, treated me like shit, and then more or less told me to get the hell away from you. And now, after I do what you say, you come all the way out here, spill your black heart to that old bitch, and then say you’re looking for my ass! What the hell?!”

“Hidan, you know I didn’t mean-“

“You didn’t have to mean it, you still f-ing said it!”

“I’m sorry for that, but Hidan-“

“I hate you! I really, really do, dammit!” Hidan took several shaky breaths, then began walking towards his partner. “And you know what else, dumbass?”

“What?” Kakuzu asked cautiously.

The masochist collapsed against his chest, finger’s grabbing the fabric of Kakuzu’s cloak and squeezing tightly. “I missed you, Kuzu.”

The banker hesitantly put his arms around the Jashinist, giving the immortal a gentle hug. “I’m sorry,” he said again.

“I know,” Hidan murmured, reaching his arms up like a child. Kakuzu picked him up, and Hidan quickly wrapped one arm around the banker’s neck, while the other pulled down Kakuzu’s mask.

The zealot gave the miser  a chaste kiss, pulling away and wrapping his legs around Kakuzu’s waist. “Hidan, get off.”

“No. You’re carrying me back to the base as punishment, Kuzu.”

“How can I carry you and you’re scythe?!”

“You figure it out, dumbass.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dee watched as the two men headed back to their home. Kakuzu was piggy-backing Hidan, who had strapped his scythe to his back. The two looked tired but happy, and Dee wasn’t complaining about how things had worked out. “What sweet boys. I hope they have a happy ending.”

She was brought out of her daydream when another customer entered her tea shop. “Hmm?” the woman wasn’t used to having so much business this late at night. “Young people these days…”

She walked over to the door and saw a dripping figure, a straw hat obscuring their face. “Oh, poor dear, you must have been caught in the storm!”

“I was, un,” the blonde said, ringing out their hair. “Could I get some hot tea, please?”

“Certainly! Sit wherever you like; as you can see, I’m not too busy right now,” Dee said, motioning to her empty tea house.

“Thanks, un.” The figure sat down at a table in the corner, as far away from the door and the cold outdoors as he could.

As soon as Dee had served him his tea, she heard another person enter. “What is it with my store tonight?” She shook her head and walked forward to greet the guest.

The man was a short redhead, looking either bored or worried; she couldn’t be sure which. “May I help you?” she asked.

“Tea please,” he asked, sitting down at the same table Kakuzu had been at not too long before.

Dee brought the beverage to him and sat down beside the redhead. “Is there a problem?” the man asked.

“Dear, you look like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders. Mind telling an old lady what your problems are?”

“…You swear you won’t tell anyone about this?”

“Of course! I’m no gossip, honey.”

“Are you a homophobe?”

“Not a chance.”

“Well,” the man began, “my problems are in the form of a hyperactive, short-tempered, explosive loving blonde, named Deidara…”


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