(Re-Edited Version)

Since there's so little people in this fandom… well, decided this might be at least a decent fic. And in some way it feeds my addiction and keeps me sane to write. Crack pairings are so awesome, aren't they? TemarixHidan & KonanxItachi FTW!

But first, let me be clear. As hard as it will be to build up their characters, NO, Itachi and Konan do not like each other at the start (this chapter included).

Disclaimer: Naruto not mine.

Scorpio: Blood Saga of the Dead War
Part I: Disregard Imagination

"Heaven and earth may crack and fall, but you will never touch me."

"Oh, that was stupid of us."

In the heavy rain Konan sighed, pushing wet bangs out of her eyes and silently agreeing with the masked man. Tobi was right, and it didn't help all of them were getting soaked in the downpour, mixed with the tropical, humid climate of Leaf.

They all knew at the start this wasn't going to be an easy task, but letting it end like this…? With all of them in the group being powerful, S-class criminals, it was supposed to be a no-brainer they would succeed. Only with an incredibly rotten twist of fate, they failed.

"We need to regroup," she said, speaking up for the first time since they arrived, looking toward her partner.

Pain merely nodded, the spiked hair of his current body curving down from the weight of the water it had gathered. Tobi and Deidara, the other two people in their faction with them, agreed, the former nodding enthusiastically and the blond grunting a forced "Fine."


As they walked through the cobbled streets, street water entering their open-toed sandals, Konan couldn't help but wonder how everything had gone hellishly wrong. They were supposed to enter the hidden village, lock it down, and then take the Kyuubi's jinchuuriki.

Easy as shit, she knew Hidan would have said had he still been with them. Only he wasn't, because the zombie brothers were already dead for some time, and Kakuzu was killed by that blond brat himself. The other immortal, someone who wouldn't die no matter what happened to him, must have been decimated by someone, sliced into a hundred different pieces and hidden somewhere far away or scattered like confetti. There was no chance they'd be back any time soon.

The very reason they didn't have the Kyuubi's jinchuuriki in their hands was a stupid mistake on her and the Leader's part. Apparently, there had been a leak. A small one, but a leak nonetheless. A ninja in Hidden Rain had been kidnapped and tortured by ANBU, and thus the little tidbit of information that they were planning to invade a village was extracted. Leaf prepared in advance and Naruto had been hidden.

Ever since they discovered that, Akatsuki knew they would have a hard time finding him. The village was known to have plenty of allies who might agree to hide the precious jinchuuriki.

"Leader-sama, maybe we're lucky," said Tobi.

Even with his innocent childlike acts, his form towered over Pain beside him.

"What do you mean lucky?" demanded Deidara, his blond hair disheveled from the rain and the recent fight with the Leaf ninja who responded to their attack. "We don't have the stupid jinchuuriki, un!"

"Tobi's right," replied her partner, "the Hokage was not here when we attacked. And so was Jiraiya."

"I don't see the point," replied the blond, scowling that he had taken his partner's side and not his. "We could have blasted them into outer space, they're old bags anyway."

"Deidara-sempai, please don't talk like that to Leader-sama–"

"The sannin were not given that title for no reason," said their leader, ignoring Deidara's insolence.

Konan tried to ignore the whines of the blond, Tobi's pleading for him to stop arguing with Pain, and her partner's comments every now and then as he patiently explaining things to the other two. Being the only female in their group, ignorant people thought her a token. Sometimes even, and this made her blood boil, a comfort woman.

But she knew this particular group of men (although it was clear some of them were still considered boys) were never the type to be running after girls they thought were pretty. They all had other things in mind they held as far more important. The honor of being in the limelight belonged to Pain, whom everyone referred to as "Leader-sama". Although, behind closed doors, they both would be taking orders from Tobi.

She resented him for that, silently watching the masked figure beside her partner. She didn't like him at all.

She was merely thought of as their leader's right hand and would follow his orders without regard for her own decisions. Or so they thought, because she was supposed to be the meek and perfectly obedient doll. Nagato valued her opinions and saw her on equal footing, and she would only voice her doubts when they were the only people around.

Through whispers of passing subordinates or simple eavesdropping, she knew their villagers and people who didn't know them thought of her as Pain's lover. Sometimes it angered her that they could think such things about him. They weren't blood relatives, but the hurt hadn't subsided yet over Yahiko's passing.

Secretly, though, deep down inside, somewhere along the line she had fallen in love with him. Konan would never admit that to anyone, and kept it that way because she knew Nagato never thought of her the same. To him, she was simply the loyal friend. The one to take care of because he was asked to.

With everything that she had gone through with him, all those hardships they managed to overcome, she wasn't expecting any other possibility of anyone else catching her interest, because when Yahiko died, and she had vowed to be by Nagato's side all her life. She promised him she would do everything she could for his goals. His presence was all that she asked from him, and that in itself had to be more than enough.

Little did she know that with this new undertaking of Akatsuki, she might learn something new about her mismatched group of strange men.

"Goddamn it, it's been raining in your village, it's been raining on our way here, and when we arrive, it's still raining! Can't you do something about this?" complained Deidara, ripping off his wet, heavy robe and pulling it over his head to use as a shield against the water pellets.

"Bear with it," replied Pain.

They were nearing the foot of the Hokage mountain, on top of which was the tower where they were supposed to meet with the others at. The water running down the faces carved into the stone eerily looked like tears, creating the impression that all the five Kages of the village were lamenting its loss of control.

Having Kakuzu and Hidan dead, along with Orochimaru who had run off around a decade ago, there were only seven of them left in the organization. Seven strong, if she may add, because even with their dwindled numbers, all of them were capable of the utmost destruction, greater than even the sannin.

The others in the group may believe that Tobi was nothing more than a dimwitted dud, but she and Pain knew what kind of person he was, and believed otherwise. Of course, no one would underestimate the originator of the Uchiha clan, as he claimed himself to be.

With a burst of her chakra, millions of sheets of rustling paper flew through the air and formed the wings that had made her known as Pain's angel, beating powerfully as she took to the air alongside the others, their black forms nimbly leaping from the mountainside up to the building that dangled over the steep edge.


Pain landed on the windowsill directly behind the Hokage's desk with a heavy thump, his wet cloak sharply smacking against the wood, followed by Deidara and Tobi loudly coming to rest beside him and dropping down to the floor in the squelch of wet shoes and rustling of wet clothes.

"Where's Kisame?" he immediately asked.

"Took a piss," replied Zetsu's black side in its gruff voice, slowly turning around to see the newcomers from his spot above a window.

She soared through a window and alighted somewhere to the right of desk, beside Pain who had no qualms taking the Hokage's chair. Her origami dissipated into the air as she withdrew her chakra, yet what she immediately noticed was the Uchiha sitting opposite her on the other side of the room, still brooding like he always did.

There were actually very few instances where she noticed Itachi during the time she knew him. He was the type to be of little words and inane actions, during the even fewer chance encounters in person just nodding a greeting to her and going about his way. It was why she felt more than a little compelled to ignore him outright this time.

"Look what I found!" interrupted a booming, gravelly voice.

A girlish scream pierced the air and everyone turned to look as the doors banged open, Kisame marching in with a Leaf ninja in tow, dragging him by the back of his shirt and throwing him bodily to the middle of the room, in front of all of them. Leaning on the side of the desk with her arms crossed, she calmly gazed down at the man who was wearing the uniform of a Leaf chuunin, aware that all the others had the same piqued interest. He was wildly looking around at all of them, extremely frightened with wide, hazel eyes as he tried to back away from their curious stares, only to bump into the shark man.

"He was listening in on you guys," said Kisame, easily pushing the young man away from him and sending him sprawling back down on the floor's shiny surface. "Should we get rid of him?"

"Oh please no! I beg you, I'll do anything!" the man pleaded, scrambling to get on his knees and bowing in front of the looming form holding the huge samehada. "Please spare me! I'll do whatever you make me do!"

Kisame looked amused, grinning and showing all his hereditary sharp teeth, pressing his sword's blunt end onto the chuunin's back. He bore down on the poor man's head with an enormous foot and pushed his face into the ground.

"Sorry boy, I'm not the one you need to talk to about that," he said, shifting the heavy weight of his sword between the shoulder blades and chuckling in a sinister way at every whimper of fear the young man made.

"Kisame, you heard him," interrupted Pain, watching with emotionless eyes, however his intonations betraying his mocking humor. "After all, he said he'll do anything we wanted him to."

Konan looked away from the disturbance, observing the mixed reactions of everyone in the room as the shark man retracted his sword and slung it over his shoulder, its size causing it to almost brush against the wall some few feet behind him. Most were, like her partner, disinterested, and only Tobi and Deidara seemed to show any amount of feeling. Horror and glee, respectively.

"We'll use him as a spy. Deidara, go lock him in somewhere. Secure him."

Her light eyes focusing on her partner, it took little for an outsider to be able to make out who was in command here. Although if they were particularly talented at sensing something, they would be able to see Tobi hinting at things he wanted. It struck her as odd that the other people in their organization still haven't noticed Madara's presence, but all in all she had to give it to him for being able to keep up his jolly façade as the childlike (most of the time childish) Tobi.

The man was dragged off once more, screaming for mercy as the blond bomber kept telling him to shut up, his voice shrilly crying for pity ringing throughout the hallways.

"Have you found the jinchuuriki yet?" asked Pain after the shrieks died out, lackadaisical to nothing in feeling about what had just happened as he turned his attention to the only long-haired missing nin left in the room.

Two bloodline doujutsus gazed at each other before the one being asked decided to answer, his lean form by the window largely dwarfed by his partner's. It was almost a wonder to behold two of the most powerful eye bloodline limits at one instance, and she regarded the two people with the respect they deserve.

"They managed to hide him in time," replied the Uchiha a little more sullenly than usual, his partially open cloak showing his arms crossed in front of him, ebony hair matted at the side of his face and around his neck. Konan realized with satisfaction that it wasn't only her who was dwelling in their misery from getting wet and not able to speak up about it. "We still have yet to find out who were the ones who hid him."

"He's the last one we need. Just find the boy. If he gets stronger we might end up having no choice but to kill him. He continually learns how to control his bijuu, and that would be too dangerous for us."

The brat is just more stupid than brave, Konan told him silently, knowing that he wouldn't hear her. Talking about the Kyuubi vessel like he wouldn't be able to defeat him if it came down to it wouldn't help them one bit.

Invading Hidden Leaf had been tasked to her along with the others, having nothing else to do as the village they had control over was fine on its own. Well, that was if Pain was there to exercise his jurisdiction over it. All of them were dispatched to the village immediately after the eighth bijuu was captured and sealed, because the only remaining demon left uncaught was the Kyuubi.

Unfortunately, as it happened, Naruto got away, smuggled out from under their noses by some Leaf shinobi. So in the end, she was stuck here, running the village alongside six men, some of whom were clones. Pain far too important to appear in person, so rather than to risk being killed by a powerful counterattack from Leaf and its allies, they had to use Yahiko's body.

It worried her how much strain it placed on Nagato's body to be controlling it without being near, making her try to give a perfunctory glance at him to try and gauge how he was doing. She knew it was merely for her own selfish sake, to allay the fears rising in her because she knew that the body would function perfectly even though the controller could be close to death. Yahiko (stop calling him that, he's not him anymore, he's Pain...) gave her a cursory look of his own as if sensing her unrest.

Konan lost interest in the conversation and focused her attention to the quietly opening door as Deidara sneaked back in, a pleased grin over his cocky features. He slinked back over to where Tobi was, his partner starting to tap his shoulder for attention after which he shushed the masked man to ask his questions later once the meeting was over.


She returned her focus back to Pain and Itachi as their conversation ended, just in time to watch the Uchiha give an almost indistinct nod of his head to her partner. He and Kisame were preparing to take off. She never understood the need to be all encompassing and the reign-over-the-world thing, but knowing Nagato – or Pain, she should always call him Pain – he was only thinking of the good of all in the long run.

Always the gentleman, even with his reputation for massacring his family, Itachi behaved as if she had been also part of the discussion. He bowed his head toward her as well.


It started there.

He looked up at her, the move protracted. It began from his bow, the way he moved his head up, his dark eyes dragging upward from her feet. The gaze felt as if it was raking through her, excessively slow in meeting her light ones. Those eyes that were red as blood watched her brazenly from under heavy lashes and perhaps it felt just too much. He straightened, and the contact was broken.

How dare you, she felt her face turn hot as his sharingan faded to black and he turned to face Pain once again.

There was definitely something different in the way he looked at her but it was hard to tell apart what emotion was from simple lack of his bloodline limit. But it clicked into place, as if there was some kind of hidden amusement behind them.

"Go back to your posts," said Pain, oblivious to what happened. "We'll talk later."


Even here in this village, Pain cast a storm cloud over it, sending down an out of season shower of rain. ("I knew that was Leader-sama's doing, damn him, un." "Deidara-sempai, you shouldn't talk like that about Leader-sama, it's for our own good." "Shut up, just go to where you're supposed to go!" "Deidara-semp–" "I said go! Or do you want me to blast you there? HM?") That had always been his way of being able to observe everything happening under the downpour, and this time she didn't like it.

There were few options of being able to scrutinize what was happening in and out of the border of the village, and since she had been posted on the wall itself and not on a watchtower, she was getting drenched through the thick Akatsuki robe. As if she could get even wetter than she had started out with. The material was so much heavier when wet, and it was weighing down on her shoulders, gravity adding to the strain.

Are you also investigating me? she quietly asked her partner, gazing up to the dark heavens. It had been a long time since she last saw a sunset, and it was already around that time of the day by now. She also hadn't seen a sunrise in years. Or the sky at night.

The pitter patter of rainfall on the concrete, alongside those on the houses and stonework in Leaf, and the woods on the outside was the only sound she could hear for a long time. No complaints from her but it was depressing, even to someone like her who grew up in a place where it rained incessantly. Weren't they supposed to use hired ninja to do this?

It was nearing the end of the day since they first took the village early that morning, and they still had yet to wait for their subordinates to arrive. They may be powerful people but that didn't mean they didn't have limits. After days of cold rain and being always drenched, on the road and here, Konan had had enough. She was tired and she wanted to rest, and her shift still had an hour more to go.

"You're exhausted," said a gravelly voice to her right, and she automatically turned to look at its owner.

Kisame didn't seem to have any problems with getting wet, and he had been also placed on the border wall. For the first time since she met him, she envied his shark traits.

"Just a little," she replied, reaching up for the hundredth time to tuck her bangs behind her ear. The skin on her elbows were getting raw from being rubbed against the rough material of her wet cloak. She had used her sleeves to wipe off her makeup some couple of hours into the invasion and the dark tint was surprisingly stark against the black cloth. Her back felt like it was carrying some dead weight, arms and legs so heavy they might as well have been made from lead.

"You can go find yourself some shelter if you want. I can take over your section until Zetsu arrives."

She looked up through the icy rain to be able to meet Kisame's eyes directly, wondering if the offer was too good to be true. Usually they would do each other favors, and by they, she meant the rest of Akatsuki except her and Pain because, well, they weren't exactly close with any of the others. They kept to themselves. well, if Kisame was willing to finish her shift…

"I can't. Someone might try to run," she replied, looking back down to the concrete and sorely wishing she could accept. Her duty came before her, and she'd see to it that she finished her job first.

"Aw, c'mon, it's fine. Leader-sama might not want you getting too tired," he told her, shifting the weight of his gigantic sword to his other shoulder. The statement struck her as odd. It was like…

Are you implying something? "I'm sorry, what?" she asked.

Looking back up at Kisame, she ignored the pain her cramped neck muscles shed down into her back. He was using the samehada's rough skin to clear a clog of mud that stuck to his sandals.

"Nah, nothing," he replied scruffily, going about his business. "You wanna act tough, be my guest, but I'm pretty sure you're not built for endurance."

"You don't know me."

"You'll be surprised."

Konan sighed, fighting the urge to roll her eyes away but keeping it in check since she knew doing that would be far too childish of her. Water was already pouring down on her past her cloak in tickling rivulets that kept going and going, and even if it did help numb her aching muscles to some extent, oh what she wouldn't give for warm shelter and sleep.

Her clothes were clinging to her body in various degrees of wet coldness and damp warmth, the rough texture grating her skin and causing her elbows and legs to sting with every move she made. It didn't help that every now and then she had to change her position to keep herself alert.

"The Uchiha district is close to here, ya know," said Kisame after a while, leaning on his sword and staring into the general direction in the shadows of what she could only assume as the location of what he was talking about.

"I said I'd finish my shift. I'm fine," she replied firmly.

She felt a tad exasperated from the swordsman's pushiness. Doing nothing wrong by staying just a little bit more, Konan saw no point in taking off earlier that needed. If there were people inside who tried to make a getaway, or vice versa (she doubted anyone would want to be in Leaf with its current status right now), a few minutes might as well have been days if they succeeded.

The folded flower that was in her hair had long been reduced to wet wads of white paper that tore and scattered down the side of her robe in a fashion that reminded her of the time she forgot to take out a length of tissue paper in her pocket before throwing it into the laundry. All her clothes in that pile had been ruined and knowing she had no extra robe, she might have to settle going on without it.

The heavens continued to send down infinite torrents, in its black depths small flickers of lightning barely visible from the thick, dark clouds. From memory she knew Nagato never liked electricity much, and only every now and then when he was in rare moods would he indulge in creating it.

"Trust me, you don't know want to drop unconscious for some reason," continued her companion, looking down on her from his height as they continued to be pelted by icy drops of water.

She turned her head to see as he slowly stooped his large frame to sit down on the top of the wall, his legs dangling off the edge as he let out a sigh of relief with his sword beside him, never out of his sight.

Being approached by other Akatsuki members was relatively normal to her, in these recent years growing more frequent. And they almost always were because of their concern for her. Konan never really believed it was real, that they were just buttering her up to ask for some favor or to levy for better missions or other things, but those concepts never came. They would simply see to it that she was fine, and then some would continue to talk about random things, like they were buddies or some random thing like that.

Kisame was one of the "some" who liked to talk, and she was actually flattered because the small conversations helped her nerves when there wasn't anyone to have a decent conversation with. Being part of a highly sought-after criminal organization might have something to do with that.

She knew it was the normal human trait of socializing, trying to form bonds and be close. Most of them that were left in Akatsuki had been around each other for a long time that they were unconsciously gravitating closer, yet she knew that despite her own want to indulge in easy conversation with them, she would be spelling trouble further down the line.

A gust of strong wind blew and whipped their wet clothes around, greedily taking back what warmth she derived from standing agonizingly still for minutes. Konan wrapped her arms around herself against the cold that settled once more over her. Her big, blue, sanguine companion, on the other hand, didn't seem affected at all, grinning at her reaction that his sharp teeth glinted in what little light there was left.

Damn it. She was pretty used to being cold, but like being used to the rain, she got tired every now and then. Here in Leaf, with its naturally warm atmosphere that hadn't left the place, the downpour felt colder than usual.

"Your teeth are chattering," Kisame told her, calmly staring straight up at the dark storm clouds. "This isn't natural rain, ain't it? It's Leader-sama's?"

Konan nodded, clenching her jaw tightly to keep her shivering from being too obvious. Nagato might be overdoing it, if she was reduced to this pathetic state. She could barely feel her limbs, what little feeling left was of an unfriendly chill that was bone deep. This rarely happened to her and it was rather embarrassing that it took place with someone around who could see it as a weakness of hers. She was from Hidden Rain. She was supposed to work under these kind of conditions and deem them completely normal.

"Hey," said the shark man gruffly, fixing his circular beady eyes on her, "Fifteen minutes not on watch wouldn't matter, would it?"

"It would," she replied, grinding her words out to keep him from picking up on her trembling tone.

Surprisingly, he looked exasperated with her answer and didn't bother to hide a rumbling sigh of frustration coming from deep within his chest. Kisame scratched the back of his ear with a big blue hand and Konan wondered if she might have said something particularly wrong.

"It's fifteen minutes!" he declared as if it was some important point, staring up at her where she stood beside him with a glance that seemed to beseech her to understand. "It's not like some Leaf nin would try to kill me before Zetsu appears. And that guy comes early, if you noticed."

She stared at him, taken aback. He was, after all, one of the Seven Swordsmen, and he had that huge chakra resource. She was powerful herself, but surely, a few minutes wouldn't hurt?

"Why do you want to get rid of me so much?" asked Konan, a smile quirking at the edge of her lips. "Am I that repulsive to be around with?"

"No," Kisame replied, his booming laughter that followed showing a whole lot of teeth and still tinted with his gravelly tone. "Ya haven't slept since us prepping to come here. Like I said, you aren't built for endurance, Konan, it shows. You look wretched right now."

The smile grew on her lips, the cold of the water running down her face seeping through the metal of her piercing and was felt through her skin. She had forgotten that she wiped off her makeup hours earlier, and her lack of sleep must have showed through perfectly.

Maybe that's why Itachi stared at you? she asked herself, immediately dismissing the thought. He hadn't been staring, he just glanced. That's all. Maybe that's why Itachi took the time to glance at you, because you looked so damn horrible?

"I don't have a place to stay. I might as well keep watch," she told Kisame, tucking another rebellious lock of blue hair behind her ear and successfully causing her skinned elbow to burn with the minimal movement. It was nothing but it was irritating, trying to hide the wince she made.

"Again, I told you Itachi's house is near here," he replied, grinning inoffensively and showing her the second row of his teeth.

The idea of her staying at the Uchiha's place seemed a bit far fetched in her opinion, and Konan just stared at him like he told her his mom was a shark and his dad was a ninja shark-caretaker who happened to have the extra sperm to spend. That notion seemed far fetched as well, but it was the more likely one to be true.

"I don't even know him," she said, knowing well she would appear to be taking advantage of her position in their group if she agreed.

"Aw, c'mon. I'd be crashing there later, and so might Deidara-chan. It's gonna be fine. Itachi's hospitable."

"And Pain?" she asked. He came first. Always.

"You're on opposite shifts. Leader-sama's on when you're off, so I bet'cha he's not gonna care much," he replied, as if it was going to be particularly easy to explain this to Pain.

She knew how the other members approached her differently when her partner wasn't around. They were more relaxed, casual. Like students in classroom when the teacher is out. She wasn't blind to not see how their mood lightened, how everything felt so easy without Pain's presence, and somehow it beckoned to her. The warmth of companionship felt tempting, yet she constantly chose to disappear despite them trying to reel her in.

"I'm still not sure about this," she said, aware the surroundings had been gradually darkening as night fell.

"Konan," Kisame said, using a rebuking tone that she didn't react to albeit she knew he was getting serious. "Three days without sleep isn't good, even for us. You worry too much about Leader-sama even though he could take care of himself. He's pretty strong, and a day without agonizing over something would do you good."

She lay silent, wondering if she should tell him to shut up, but her mouth just wouldn't move, because… she had to face it. She was overprotective of Pain, but he was always her priority. He was her only precious person left. She could rest if their subordinates arrived.

"Can you take care of him if you die of exhaustion?"

"Kisame-san, watch your tone," she replied coldly, staring out at the village that was starting to light up. Even with Akatsuki's presence, it had to roll on, keep on living the time they still had.

"Trust me, that happened to some subordinate of one of us sword guys before, and Zabuza went all crazy and gone batshit on his ass because he always tried so hard."

"I'm not some little boy who has no mind of his own," Konan replied, looking down on the blue man. As much as possible, she tolerated her teammates. "I can take care of myself, thank you, but no."

She heard Kisame mutter something under his breath and tried to suppress herself from snapping at him. She had a moderate temper, not easy to anger, not patient forever. Only her string was getting pulled now because she knew he was forcing something on her that she didn't like.

Don't like? Are you sure?

That was pretty hypocritical of her. An hour ago she was wishing for shelter. Now... She probably just didn't like the idea of being bossed around. Although he appeared to do just that to her, Nagato never did. He kept up the appearance as a public thing for power and intimidation, but she didn't know if she was being irrational now because she was admittedly cranky.


"I said–"

"Go," Kisame repeated, shaking his head like a dog would to get the water out of his sopping blue hair. "Your shift's over, I can see Zetsu."

She looked toward the direction where he was pointing the huge samehada, and sure enough, the wide green eaves of the other Akatsuki's body were prominent against the dreary grays around him, the surroundings and that seemed to lose shades of their color in the heavy rain.

"Are you sure about this?"

"Itachi won't eat you," he replied, chuckling at the faint tinge of pink on her cheeks from the insinuation.

With a heavy sigh of disappointment, she just waved a small goodbye to her temporary companion, then landed with a loud thwack on the cobbled pavement below, the pooling water splattering around her in a ragged circle. The tempests didn't stop after she hit the ground.


Starting along the road, traversing with tired muscles and sore feet, she began seeing the smaller division wall inside the village and immediately knew those who lived (or used to live) inside it were aristocrats or bloodline clans. It was the same in Rain where high walls separated the elite from the others, like a protection against anyone destroying their flawless world.

She wasn't part of that. Too many in Rain never became shinobi through official means. They just picked up where they had to because of the political unrest and instability of the hidden village being caught in too many wars. She was thankful Jiraiya had decided to pick them up out of nothing, but there still remained the twinge of jealousy in whenever she saw those born of noble blood pass within their territory. Such naivete. Such ignorance of the world. Such painlessness.

From being blank, every panel of the two-man-high walls were now brandishing painted symbols of the clan who lived inside of it. Red and white paint that had chipped from since it was last touched-up, the rust from the roofs above inking down in slow, brown spills staining the symbols and the gray concrete.

They were fans, similar in shape to what Jiraiya had used to kindle the fires so long before. But this... She had seen this before, on the back of Itachi's shirt years ago when he joined them. He had been so young, now that she remembers that moment.

Up ahead was a portion of the wall that had been destroyed, the old stone on the ground starting to grow moss, the sides of the gap worn down into smooth, rounded edges through time. It was an ancient scar in the rock, and since she knew that there would be no one inside (no one alive, at least) to scold her if she used the shortcut instead of the main gate, Konan stepped over the rubble.

Then she nearly lost her footing in the slick algal growth.

"Damn it," carefully leaping down from the pile and onto the other side.

Rows and rows of black houses and establishments that stretched far into the forest met her eyes. Down one lane, a single house stood out among the rest, gated and within another smaller division wall. It caught her attention, not because it seemed to belong to that of an elite within the elite abode, but because it was the only one with any signs of life being lit from within. The orange glow from its windows were cast in blocks on the wet streets, the rain thundering on the roofs all around her.

With a sigh of disapproval, Konan took the first step towards it, when she suddenly felt a presence make itself known behind her that she immediately stopped.

"I never expected Kisame to take that joke seriously, but to see you actually agreed to it…" came a low baritone from her right.

Konan turned to look and sure enough, there was the Uchiha, watching her with dark eyes and making he feel like a deer caught in the headlights as he stared down at her, holding a red umbrella with a rather amused smirk.

AN: Not experimental for once, heh. Reviews and comments will be highly appreciated.