A/N: I think that Pein/Konan is definitely LOVE. And that it needs more attention, and exploring. This pairing has so much potential it is mind-boggling. So, here is one of my interpretations on their relationship.

Oh, and, just pretend, for the sake of the story, that the name I gave her for reasons that will be uncovered in the story itself is alright with you, even if it isn't. Thank you in advance for your attention. (grins)

Handle With Care

She knew for a fact that her high and mighty housemate was busy running his insanely important errands out today so she didn't even consider it a possibility that the bathroom was occupied.

Imagine her surprise when she found that to be the case, said roomie's tall, heavily cloaked black figure standing out rather blatantly among the room of pure whiteness.

She blinked in her disturbance and turned her head away before her mind could process that he was actually several feet too far from the loo to be using it. Then again, her mind was so preoccupied with trying to keep her embarrassment from appearing unhindered on her face to be able to do much else.

After all, this is definitely not the type of situation you want to land yourself in with a person around whom you're uneasy as is.

"You're back?" She finally managed to string together a coherent sentence with a straight face. She wished herself to drop dead right that instant or to be anywhere else but where she was, but seeing as neither would be happening any time soon, she strained herself for another sentence. "I thought you were out."

Someone had to award her for her mastery of her emotions. For all that was sacred, she managed to snap at him when what she wanted deep down was to run off, possibly even while screaming atop her lungs just to feel a bit more comfortable about herself. She deserved her attempts to be recognized.

"I was," he said as evenly as ever, not the least bit perturbed by her barging in on his most private time. "I was just going out again, too—needed to see something."

It was at that moment that the marine haired woman realized that he was actually standing in front of the bathroom mirror and not where she'd initially expected him to be.

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. Pein was never the type to hold mirrors in very high regard. What could have possibly changed his mind?

"Did something happen?" she asked slowly while he turned around briskly, large Akatsuki cloak billowing majestically behind him.

She wasn't about to be led astray by his show of power though. If there was one thing she knew, it was when she was being brushed off. And she did not appreciate being brushed off. Besides,

"What's wrong with your face?" she inquired with a grimace as he passed her by. Before he could walk off, she grabbed his arm and turned him around so she could take a better look at him.

He wore the same expression of utmost listlessness as always but it wasn't even partially enough to draw her attention for the unnatural swelling around his nose. His severely pierced nose. Her delicate brows furrowed but she didn't let go of his arm as she studied the damage more thoroughly.

He rolled his eyes in what he attempted to be a nonchalant movement but she could tell by how easily the motion mismatched them that whatever he said next would be said in another petty attempt to shrug her off.

"I was born this way," he said, a tiny glimpse of irritation shining through his measured tone. "If you don't mind, I'm off now."

And he had the sass to try to walk out on her. And, well, considering he was the person chosen to stage as a leader to a truly powerful organization by a formidably demented shinobi she supposed he had a reason to act as cool about himself as he did. It's a good thing her reaction time was shorter than it took him to sidestep her.

"No, you aren't," she told him as if he was a retarded child while she latched onto his elbow again. "You're going to quietly sit down until I heal your nose and hear what got it in such a state—then you're going to be off."

He looked really disagreeable at first but when she pulled on his arm that was her captive he let her guide him to sit down on a chair. She gave his obviously infected nose another critical look before seating herself right in front of him.

"This looks horrible," she concluded finally after a while. "What did you do to it to make it swell like this?"

Annoyance flashed through his face as he glared severely at her.

"I know how to handle my piercings." He actually looked insulted for her suggesting otherwise for a second there. She would have been amused if she wasn't too busy being irritated herself.

"Oh, sure, I can see that quite well."

"It's not my fault Hidan needs to be taught his place." There was no questioning that this time he'd snapped at her. She didn't let it faze her.

"So, you got in a fight with Hidan?" she inquired while running a quick statistical medic jutsu on his nose to see what was wrong with it on the inside.

Her eyes narrowed more when she received the results of her chakra pulse.

"No." He was quick to reply. "We just got a little rough."

"Which means to say that he punched you and then you floored him?" she clarified, getting more and more irked with his lack of cooperation so far. And she was just trying to be a good partner and deal with his wound for him. This brought her back to what had bugged her when she ran the statistical jutsu. "Did you try to heal this?"

She didn't even need him to answer that but became quite short on patience when he adopted as sheepish a look as he was capable with that expressionless face of his. Massaging her temples to calm herself, she grabbed his chin and forcefully made him turn to her so she could start doing some quality healing.

"It will take more time to undo the damage of your failed medic jutsu than it would have taken to just heal the infection." She sighed in irritation and pinched the bridge of her nose to keep her anger at bay. This man was just too much trouble some days. "Do me a favour and next time don't try anything on your own when you obviously can't pull it off well enough to save your own skin."

He looked like a petulant child about to complain but he held his mouth shut, mercifully. If he hadn't, she just might have told him how tired she was of fixing his messes. For a leader—even a fake one—of a group of people as dangerous as Akatsuki, he was surely very irresponsible.

She took off all three of the barbells puncturing his nose bridge and cast a quick disinfecting jutsu on them before placing them on the table. A soft sigh of despair escaped her when he flinched back at her rough touch of his tender wound. This was definitely not the kind of thing that she joined the Akatsuki for.

Still, she made herself handle the matter with more care and not give her partner reason to shrink back from her touch. There was something oddly off putting about him not wanting her help anymore.

"You'll have to be more careful with it from now on," she told him. "No more punches to the face from anyone and no more touching the nose for anything other than putting the barbells on."

The woman took the said accessories and her hands glowed in a soothing green light with her healing chakra tampering with the metal.

"I cast an anti-septic on them to assure that the infection doesn't spread again because it might lead to complications if it repeats so soon again after it happened once." She handed him the three objects and he took them with a grateful nod. He chanced a tentative touch to his nose again, his facial muscles twitching only slightly beneath his fingers.

She was about to leave the room and go back to her business for the day when his deep voice broke the silence that she hadn't noticed before he'd cast it away.

"Thanks for your trouble, Konan." Something about his expression had softened severely—it made her chest constrict.

It was exactly that kind of talking on his part that made her uneasy around him. He would say things that one would deem him incapable of—"thank you", "sorry", "excuse me" – words that didn't suit that morose façade that he always wore—with that utterly pathetic look on. She didn't know how to react to something like that.

That, and it always amazed her how well he could adapt to a change of surroundings.

At Akatsuki meetings, when the whole merry bunch of mentally unstable megalomaniacs was gathered, she was referred to as "Morimiya-san", in a respectful and yet comfortably detached way that only a superior could turn to a minion worth his time of the day.

When it was just their two-man cell, she was "Konan"—his equal, his support, his partner worthy of just as much respect as reverence for her helpfulness in various situations and more talents than could be counted.

Maybe that was why he always did as she told him to, even though he was supposed to be the one in charge.

It made her really uncomfortable, how carefully he handled her, how well he read her when she didn't even consider him a friend.

"Don't mention it," she managed to get out after a prolonged pause. Realizing she had been just standing there, staring at him for the longest time as if he'd grown another head on his shoulders, she cleared her throat and shook her head free of her daydream. "So, erm, if I could just run one more check to make sure I didn't overlook anything…"

He gave a noncommittal nod, and went back to following her with his eyes with that completely unreadable gaze of his.

The next she knew was that she'd caught his head in her hands, the heels of her palms resting against the back of his neck, brushing lightly the surprisingly soft short spikes of his brick red hair. If anyone had asked, she would have claimed that it was to keep him from moving while she cast her jutsu on him but it rang horribly untrue when her skin became hypersensitive where his warm breath caressed her face because of their incredibly close proximity and the world seemed to slow to an agonizing pace.

And it was at that moment that she realized how standoffish the barbells had made him look, when she looked him up that close without them. He suddenly appeared so much more approachable, much more down to earth than ever before and had he always had that pretty boyish aura?

Had these thoughts always been on her mind? Was this why she was tense around him? Maybe this was why she desperately wanted to keep her distance—because when she didn't, this flock of butterflies went wild inside her, sweeping her mind away in their hasty escape, because wherever her skin touched his it felt as if he was scalding her and she felt claustrophobic in her own body.

She was sure that what was going through her head in that stretched moment in eternity could be the end of what fragile friendship they might have had when she leaned slowly, cautiously, uncertainly in but its fate was sealed irreversibly for sure when he closed what little gap was left between them in one fluid motion.

Her breath hitched at the back of her throat when he leaned in further, finding a comfortable angle as his soft lips melded with hers in a tantalizing pliant rhythm which was about the time that her brain decided to go on an impromptu vacation.

She'd had her fair share of kisses before she'd joined Akatsuki but this was turning into her best one yet.

And that was before she let him into her mouth and his tongue started working miracles to her with the help of that amazing tongue ring of his. They wrestled for dominance, a passionate display of power and dormant emotion that neither had noticed before it had engulfed them in its embers.

He explored, massaged and ravished and it was all she could do to keep her mind from going insane just from the sheer force of the feelings that he stirred in her. She was a sinful and godless woman, but that day she knew Heaven and plunged so deep in it she wasn't sure if she'd ever come down from the cloud she was riding.

Reality caught up on them when they could no longer continue for lack of oxygen, parting, both panting, eyes glazed with desire.

And, from this close, without the barbells maiming the fair skin of his face, it's as if she saw him for the first time. Creepy and power-thirsty, formidable shinobi, smugly smirking bastard that knows he's something better than most, arrogant and conceited, self-centered and ruthless murderer; and in the same time an incredible kisser, a man who knows how to handle things with care when he has and wants to.

She was in on him over her head.

She had to flee while there was still hope for her… well, relative sanity.

She nodded curtly to herself, avoiding his gaze at all costs.

"Well, it seems to me that you're all ready to leave. If you'll excuse me, I think I should get back to work," she said as calmly as she could manage but the effect was partially lost to her still flushed cheeks and the knowing smirk on his god-awfully gorgeous face.

He chewed cutely on the side of his fuller bottom lip, taking in one of the spikes on it and toying with it in mouth as he watched her with a blatantly amused look as she squirmed internally under his intense scrutiny.

Bastard, she decided mentally while turning on her heel and marching out of the room, intending to go search for some common sense before she was lost irretrievably.

Fifteen minutes later, she found that it was all a lost cause. It had been a while since anything had her as hot and bothered as one of his kisses did and she could think of nothing else than the things she could do to him when he came back.

Which in and of itself was so wrong because she wasn't that kind of person!

Accursed, bastardly creep! Maybe he had her under some genjutsu? Who knew if those weird—mesmerizing—eyes of his didn't have some secret skill to them, like the Uchiha's Sharingan? A genjutsu would explain perfectly everything.

She would have kept pondering in front of the bathroom sink, coming up with theories—excuses—for her unexpected weakness but all brain activity was cut short when a pair of black clad large arms were placed on either side of her on the sink, trapping her before the mirror.

Her lungs ceased to work temporarily again when he whispered huskily in her ear, his warm breath setting her whole being stiff with anticipation and desire.

"Would I be stepping out of line if I asked you to keep your hair down while there was no one else but us around?" He brushed said silky tresses gently away, exposing creamy white flesh beneath it.

She swallowed dryly and balled her hands into fists. She was a kunoichi and she'd be damned before she was brought to her knees because of a single man's whim.

"Depending on your reasons for such a request…" She responded coolly but her resolve crumbled when he started placing open-mouthed kisses on the crook of her neck up to the column of it.

"You look like a divinity descendant when it's down—every man's dream in the flesh."

It is most certainly true that Akatsuki is an organization of insane maniacs gathered for the single purpose of world domination. It is undeniable that the organization is composed solely of assassins, ruthless killers and murderers who hadn't hesitated to kill even their own parents and families, that every single one of them had a certain amount of issues and personality quirks, every single one of them weird and creepy to boot.

It is true that, in a society as ugly as that one, there can be no place for fuzzy, squishy touchy-feely emotions.

In Akatsuki, there was no room or time for love or affection.

But since the dawn of time, people have been known for their ability to adapt to change and to what seems at first unbearable situations.

Most of all, people have been known for making possible things that at first seem inconceivable to achieve.

If there was no room for it, they'd make some.

That's what Konan Morimiya decided when she turned around and kissed her teasing superior with the force of all the feelings he'd stirred in her with his tender ministrations.

Because some things just needed to be handled with care to thrive.