Chapter 2-Blessing From the Gods: Hidan's Story

A/N: Well, here's Chapter 2 at last! Before I begin, let me first say that any similarities you may see between real religions and spiritual beliefs and the religion(s)/belief(s) mentioned in the following chapter are purely unintentional. Oh, and if you're squeamish about blood and violence, you probably shouldn't read this chapter.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize as being from the anime/manga Naruto.

"I hope none of you guys are squeamish about blood," Hidan began, chuckling, "Because if so, I probably shouldn't continue on with my tale."

"Just get on with it Hidan," Kakuzu complained, "unless you want to loose the bet…"

"No way!" Hidan grumbled, "You'll see! This'll be the one bet you'll never win! The story of how I came to the Akatsuki is WAY more interesting then your own tale!"

"We'll see about that." Kakuzu murmured, "Just get on with it!"

"Fine." Hidan huffed, "Well… I suppose the proper place to begin is the beginning of my life in a small little town in the Grass Country, not far from the wall of the great ninja city hidden in the grass."

"My father was a street peddler, and my mother was a painter. In short, we were dirt poor; you don't make much off selling little trinkets on the street, and you never hit it big selling art unless your dead. They didn't really have enough to support themselves, let alone a child...and while they were happy at my birth, they were afraid too; they had no clue how to provide for me. They didn't have money to feed me properly, or for tuition into school; they couldn't even give me decent clothing, so they were at a bit of a loss as to what to do… So when an offer was put before them that would insure that I would grow up with clean clothes on my back, and with hot food in my stomach, they understandably accepted at once."

"What "offer" was put before them Hidan-sempai?" Tobi asked curiously, cocking his head to one side.

"They shipped me off to live with monks and to serve as an alter boy of course."

Kakuzu burst out in loud boisterous laughter at that. "YOU?! A monk? An alter boy?! That's rich!"

Hidan glared, and slammed his drink down on the table with a loud 'Thud', "Shut up you! Its not like I chose to be sent off to live in some cloister! I was only 3 when it happened, so my memories of my parents are vague blurs of color, faces, and voices. Most of what I know of that woman and man I learned from the monks at the monastery. After that day when they shipped me off to live in some mountains on the other side of the country's Hidden Village, I never saw them again."

"Oh, that's so sad Hidan-sensei!" Tobi exclaimed, "Don't you ever wish that-"

"No. I don't." Hidan hissed, cutting off the mask-wearing youth harshly. "I don't care about those people at all." Hidan cleared his throat and continued on, as if Tobi hadn't ever brought up his parents at all. "Anyway, my childhood was a dull one; I was always surrounded by usually bald men in robes, and to this day I'll never forget the smell of the temple's incense: they were a mix of the smell of smoke, jumbled in with the fragrance of rain, and the scent of something sweet, but forever unidentifiable to me. My days were filled with the sound of bells, and the chanting of monks in different tongues—some of which I knew not a word of, and some that I understood perfectly—all blending together into one single mantra that seemed to mean everything and nothing at the same time. It was an odd existence certainly, considering that every day was jumble of prayer, chanting, and ceremonies, but I was never without food, clothing, and shelter, and that monastery—at the time—was all I had known, and as such, I was used to that life. In those early years, I was very different from how I am now: I was innocent, obedient, and had bought into the "holy", and "be kind and good to all" crap they fed me each day...but could you really blame me? After all, those walls and those people were all I had ever known. I never considered any other options, and I never thought of the world outside of the temple's walls; at the time, I thought it was unimportant… that was, until he came. When I first saw him, I was er… startled by his appearance…"

"Or rather you were scared." muttered Kakuzu under his breath smugly.

"Shut it! I was not scared!" hissed Hidan, "And anyway, I was just ten, and this guy was massive. He looked as though he were a tree that had been carved into the form of a man, and his face was chiseled with deep marks and scars, like the deep wrinkles and lines that are scrawled across the bark of trees. His skin too, was the color of bark, which was fitting for a man who so reminded me of a constant, immovable tree. He was so mysterious, so inapproachable, so steady, so different… and it scared the elders; they didn't like him, and so they shooed him into a corner of the temple in his own little hut so they could forget he existed, and ignore him. His reaction was really odd when they showed him his "home"; he didn't protest as I had anticipated. He didn't say or do anything...he only smirked, as if amused by their fear. At that moment, I experienced a dangerous new emotion that I had never truly felt before…curiosity.

Curiosity is truly the most perilous emotion one can feel; it is much akin to a hunger that will not leave you until you quench it with knowledge. I wanted to know who this mysterious man was, and that curiosity that I had was the first time I desired something forbidden. They hinted that it would be frowned upon to talk to him, and so, the others my age of course accepted it without question. I, however, was curious, and as such, wasn't particularly fond of this unwritten rule.

The night I slipped out of my bed to spy on him was the first time I had ever broken a rule. It was the first time I had ever gone against anything anyone had told me to do; it was the first time I had been disobedient, and it left my veins pumping with adrenaline and excitement. It was that night, that I saw him training for the first time. It was amazing to watch him move; for a man so bulky and awkward looking, he moved so gracefully, that his movements looked like a dance, albeit a deadly one. And if I were to have been scared of anything back then, I would have been scared of how something so beautiful could be so deadly; and if I could have felt fear, I would have been dreadfully afraid of how much I loved watching him, and how I couldn't help myself from coming back each and every night to watch him. I think that even from the beginning, he knew I was there, but that he simply said nothing. I think that perhaps he was… curious in his own way to find out why I was there; why I came back every night and hid at the window, watching him silently."

"It was fall when he finally called me out of my hiding place. That night, he simply just stopped in his motions suddenly and said 'Why don't you come inside to watch me this once? Its rather cold out there you know.'" Hidan laughed. "I remember being discovered scared shit of me… or err…" Hidan flushed as he realized he had just admitted to weakness, "I mean, I WOULD have been scared if I were a everyday person…" But by the looks on the faces of all in the room, it was obvious no one believed him.

"Er… anyway…" Hidan continued, "That night I came out form my hiding space and watched him train while sitting right there in plain view before him. He was even more impressive to watch at a closer proximity… and at the end of the night, he asked me why I kept coming back each day. Truthfully, before he asked me, I had never thought of the why before. I had just wanted too; there had never been need for a reason before! But now one little question forced me to question myself: why did I keep coming back anyway? However, it turned out that the question was rhetorical, and it seemed he knew the answer that I myself hadn't yet figured out.

'You're curious,' he told me. 'You're drawn to the danger, and to the fact that its forbidden, and banned. You've never lived on the edge, have you?' he asked me, 'You've never done anything besides what you've been told, and you've always blindly followed whatever you've been asked to do, right?' I of course, hadn't a clue as to how to answer that, so I remained silent, which only evoked a chuckle form him."

"'Don't know how to answer, huh? Well, you're a funny little kid, I'll give you that.' He told me with a laugh, ruffling my hair, 'I'll tell you what kid: because you amuse me, I'll train you a bit, hmm? How about that? Would you like that?' I was speechless, and thankful at that moment, and I simply nodded eagerly, agreeing to come back the next night to begin our training. And let me tell you, the guy didn't go easy on me; he was ruthless, brutal, and didn't believe that pain should hinder anyone from doing anything… so he made me do pushups until my arms wouldn't move anymore, and he made me kick and punch straw dummies until my fists and feet were bleeding and raw, all just to teach me one very essential lesson: what pain was, and how to become stronger than it. Before that moment, my life had been a very simple one that pain had never been a part of. Never before had I felt true humbling pain that caused my body to scream in agony and protest of its harsh treatment, and man was it hard to overcome it… but in the end, it made me feel so much more humble to my gods then I had ever felt before, and so much more thankful for what I had. I spoke to my new teacher about it, asking him what it meant, but he only smiled at me and ruffled my hair again telling me to figure it out on my own… however, after constant pleading on my behalf, he finally caved."

"'The first thing you need to understand kid is that in this world there are many people who have many different ideas on how to worship "God". The people at this temple believe in quiet prayer, studying, and meditation… but I don't believe in all that hoo-ha; personally, I believe that our Gods want more then weak people sitting around mumbling silly rhymes, and begging for forgiveness. This world is that of warriors kid, so it would make sense that we would have a warrior god; not some wimpy "god of the people". No, the god I believe in is a god that wants sacrifice and blood, and one that we are closest to when we are in pain, and striving to overcome what is seemingly impossible. Its that belief that got me here anyway; I was sent here, because the thought that being here would help me become a better person, and that it would help be repent for my sins. You see… I'm an S-ranked Criminal Ninja, and I've been labeled as such because I killed an entire civilian town bordering the Village Hidden in the Grass…' I asked him 'why?' feeling a little… er… irked, and not knowing why in the world this man that had become almost a role model to me had killed actual people. His answer however, was simple, and said with a smile: 'I killed them as a sacrifice to my Gods' he told me 'And though you may believe what you believe, I believe I live to sacrifice to my Gods.'"

"I think it was then that I started to question the life I was living; my entire life, I had let the elders spoon feed me everything that was supposedly the "absolute truth"… and I had lapped it all up without a second though, but now, I was beginning to question if my entire way of life was right. It was also around that time that I discovered a gift that my teacher would later call a 'blessing from the gods.' My entire set of beliefs at the time stood on shaky ground, and surprisingly, the one that ultimately made me turn from my old viewpoints to see through new eyes, were the very monks who had originally stuffed their religious ideals down upon me.

I don't know how they knew of my training, but somehow, they found out, and came in the dead of night to my teacher's hut. I remember the monks trying to take me away, and my teacher trying to prevent them from doing so, but everything was happening so fast, and before I knew it, someone drew a weapon, and their was a scuffle between my teacher and the monks that happened too fast for me to follow… all I knew, was that it ended with a sword I had accidentally gotten in the way of, piercing my torso. To say that everyone in the hut was horrified would be an understatement, but I—by far—was most defiantly the most terrified one in the room…"

"So FINALLY he admits it." Kakuzu interrupted, "Poor little Hidan, terrified of a little wound…"

"SHUT UP!" Hidan roared furiously, "MUST you interrupt at every little thing?" Kakuzu didn't answer, but merely looked amused, and motioned Hidan to continue.

"As I was saying," he continued, "Some monk had accidentally speared me with his weapon, striking a vital point that SHOULD have killed me, and at that moment, I was just sure it was all over…But a minute passed, and nothing happened. Two minutes, three… a full hour passed, and I still stood alive, with a sword in my chest. Of course, at that time, my Sensei seemed to have decided that enough was enough, and so he walked forward, and pulled the weapon from my body, and calmly went to his things, and pulled out a medical kit, and began to stitch up my pierced skin.

The monks, of course, were frightened by what they had witnessed, and fled at once, leaving me in my teacher's care. He cleaned, and sewed my wounds up silently, with a contemplative expression on his face. But I dared not ask what was on his mind; I too, however, couldn't speak, for I had things of my own to wonder about… like how I was still alive when that blow should have killed me. And it was then that my master spoke. 'That's a mighty fine gift you have there Hidan.' He told me, his voice bearing a unidentifiable emotion within it, 'It's a blessing from the Gods.' He assured me, 'It seems that the Gods have much in mind for you kid. The gift of immortality, and invulnerability… I believe you are meant to be a sacrificer Hidan; if you would, I believe that with your special powers, you could offer up many a sacrifice to the Gods, and thus, appeasing the Gods, and bringing a great peace to the world. I think, that you're meant to be a hero Hidan.' Naturally, I asked, 'Why me? Are the Gods truly those that you believe in, or is the true God the one that the monks believe in? Teacher, what should I do?' And honestly, he answered 'Do what you think you should do.' And I think even at that moment, my mind was made up, and it was at that moment, that I was completely converted from my old religion to this new set of beliefs that had been introduced to me by my teacher. And that night, as a member of my new religion, I decided to offer up a great sacrifice to the Gods with my teacher's help. What was the sacrifice to be you ask? The sacrifice was to be every soul within the temple, and we swore we would finish the ceremony all before the sun rose on the new day."

"Though it was the first time I was in an actual fight, I could feel the God's power, and my teacher's reassuring presence cheering me on, and giving me the confidence, and the strength to kill them: all the monks who had once taught me to talk and walk, and even all the other boys who had once been my playmates. I killed each and every one of them, hardly flinching, because my purpose was greater then all their collective souls combined. I killed with the purpose of serving the Gods I had ignored for so many years in favor of worshipping false ones. To this day, I think they still call that old temple "the red temple", because even now, I think that all the walls are still colored red from the blood of all those who died there that day. But not a soul who died there that day mattered to me… well, that is, all but one. No matter how many times I was stabbed or wounded, I just kept going, but my teacher didn't have the same gift as I, and could only take so much. I am only thankful that he lived long enough to see the fruit of our efforts.'"

"'You did good kid.' He told me, his voice strained, and strangely weak, 'The Gods… most surely will be appeased. Here,' he told me, taking off his slashed ninja forehead protector, 'Take this; you're a far better ninja then some I've seen, so you deserve it.' I didn't know what to say. 'Teacher…' I began, but he cut me off. 'Don't call me that,' he told me, 'I am no longer your teacher; we are equals, so call me Miki kid: that's my given name... And never forget to serve your Gods well.' I can only say that I am glad he died knowing that someone would continue his fine religious work in the world. I traveled the world for several years after that on a religious pilgrimage, and never during that time did I go a day without forgetting to offer up a sacrifice to the Gods. Soon after, I joined the Akatsuki, and the rest of the story is, as they say, history."

There was a pause in the room for a moment before at last, Kakuzu spoke: "And so you became an S-Ranked Nin then, huh?" Kakuzu questioned rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "Well, I suppose your rather spectacular slaughter at the end made up for your pitiful beginnings… but honestly, this is a bet that you've most certainly lost Hidan."

"Don't be so quick to judge Kakuzu." Itachi murmured, speaking for the first time that day, and thus startling almost everyone at the table. "So don't start bragging before you have obvious reason too."

Kakuzu huffed. "FINE then. But you'll see after I've told my tale Itachi-san, that I am the clear winner of this gamble…. Oy! Hidan, go find Kisame and see if he's gotten more sake, will you?"

"Fine, fine, I'm going, I'm going…"

"Get lost Kisame-san?" Hidan asked when he found his associate standing, looking out at the sunset.

"Hmm? Oh, no. I just stopped for a moment to watch the sunset. I'm sure the others will want their sake, so I'll just go bring that to them now…" and with that, the shark-man departed, leaving Hidan to stand alone on cliff for a moment, looking out where Kisame had just stood staring at the sunset only moments ago.

"A Blessing…" he whispered pensively, staring down at his hands, "Do you think I've used my gift well Miki?"

Hidan stood on the cliff silently for only a few more moments more before shaking his head with a sigh, and disappearing once more down into the darkness of the Akatsuki base.

A/N: Well, there you have it…And as always, Reviews are always loved and appreciated. :) Next up is Kakuzu!

EDIT: Sorry for the re-submission, but I needed to make some minor formatting changes.

Terms You Might Care To Know:

1- Miki: Japanese name that can be used for boys and girls that roughly means "tree"