Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of the respective characters. If I did, Hidan would be snuggled in my pocket right now.

There is blood on the sand. She can smell its rank stench, it stings her nostrils. She can feel it marking a sticky path over her skin, feel it trickling down to join the pool underneath her body. She wants to move, but her body refuses. She is trapped by the cool steel embedded in her stomach. Her blood flow, her heartbeat, her breathing… she notes that all are slowing down. Soon they will stop completely. She is surprised that there is no more pain, but realises that her body is beyond it. She wonders why she is still alive – wonders if he has anything to do with it.

"I have a secret, blondie. And I want to share it with you before you die."

She blinks as the hazy figure above her moves. The man –Hidan is his name, she remembers vaguely– bends down, cups his hands around his mouth and whispers into her ear. She shivers as his warm breath brushes her earlobe, the soft caress of a lover.

"I can save you."

Her lips form the word "liar".

The man looks offended but then he smiles, tenderly brushing a curl of blood-encrusted hair out of her eyes as he moves to sit by her side.

"You know, I get that a lot," he says conversationally. "And it used to piss me off until I realised something. Heathens have no concept of the truth. They have no fucking clue, seriously. All of you are fucking sheep. I should know. I see how fucked up your spiritual lives are everyday. But it's my job to fix that. I'm the one who will bring you to God. I am the shepherd who will lead you to Paradise."

He touches the rosary around his neck reverently and looks down at her, continuing in a softer tone.

"Do you believe in God?"

Temari shakes her head, the motion sluggish and lolling. She wants to laugh. God is a stranger to her as he is to all shinobi. She expects him to know this, but she is also aware of the maniacal glint in his eye – this man will not accept a rejection of faith.

Because he is a man of God.

No, she thinks, it's not that. It is because he is a man that he will not accept her rejection. Fallibility is in his nature. He is blinded by his devotion. Flawed.

"God is a lie," she manages to whisper.

She is right. He looks displeased at her answer, and he makes a sudden movement to place his hand around her throat. But he stops. He chastises himself harshly; he is not driven by bloodlust, he has a duty. If he is to save this woman, fulfil his purpose, she must be brought to God.

"Are you a virgin?" he asks suddenly. "Your body is the temple of God. Have you kept it pure?"

Temari is too tired to lie. She nods almost mechanically.

Hidan smiles, pleased. He believes her. "Good girl," he breathes, fingers drifting down to where his scythe is embedded in her abdomen. She feels his touch and is revolted; she wants to scream, to stab him in the neck with her kunai, to rip and tear until he lies in bloody pieces at her feet, but her body will not allow it. The desire to destroy fills her, hate spilling over until she wants to cry for release.

He senses it, sees her hand twitch, but only smiles again.

"I meant what I said, you know. I can save you from this hell."

She gives him a baleful look. "Fuck you," she mumbles, so soft he can barely hear, but he does.

Hidan grins. "You know something, blondie? I like you. Most people would've started begging by now, telling me all kinds of shit about how they'll repent and serve God if I let them live. But you… hell, if those heathen fuck-ups they call priests had half the balls you have, I'd be out of a fucking job, seriously. You're one tough bitch, I'll give you that. But…"

He leans forward, stares directly into her eyes. Temari wishes that he had the energy to spit in his face.

"You're still going to die."

No shit, she thinks.

"Where do you think you'll go when that happens? Heaven? Hell? You may not be a whore, but you're still a sinner. If you keep going the way you are, hell's the only place waiting. But I can save you. I can deliver you to sanctuary. Sounds good, doesn't it? Sounds perfect."

He whispers the lie again and she hates him for it.

Hidan sighs, shifting where he is sitting cross-legged beside her. "You can consider that a promise," he tells her, as if it makes any difference. "I don't want to damn your soul. I want to save it. I want you to return to God. If you don't want to repent before that happens, I won't force you."

Temari draws in a deep, shaky breath, cursing the effort that it takes.

He looks expectantly at her. Hidan wants her confession, even though he says he will not force it from her.

"You can go fuck yourself in hell," she hisses. Her voice is a hoarse rattle in her throat, and she knows what speaking costs her body, but it's worth it just to let him know she isn't going to submit, not even in death.

Hidan nods, looking reproachful but not unsurprised. "Yeah, I had a feeling you'd say something like that," he sighs, rising to his feet.

She watches as he draws a metal pike and a kunai from under his cloak and calmly slices his arm open with the kunai. He lets the blood drip over the sand around her, carefully marking the seal that is so familiar to him. When it is complete, he seats himself again, but this time away from her. Hidan sits in silence, head bowed, lips moving silently in prayer.

Temari turns her head to watch him.

The minutes tick by, and neither moves.

She slips in and out of consciousness, watching the sky overhead darken to streams of rose and gold as the sun sets. They swim across her vision as each breath grows increasingly shallow. The dulcet tones of his voice lull her, until she feels like she is floating in a void. Each time she opens her eyes, Hidan is still there, praying for her absolution. Thirty minutes pass before he finally moves.

"Hey, congratulations."

The sound of his voice is sudden, and her body jerks in reaction. Hidan returns to her side, pausing at the confusion in her eyes.

"This is your baptism, blondie. The day of your rebirth," he explains. "You should be grateful, you know. This rite guarantees you a place in heaven. Trust me."

The irony sickens her.

Idly, he bends and traces the pattern of his rosary onto the blood-splattered sand near her face, ignoring the way her body twitches at his words.

"I don't expect any thanks from you. What I do, it's a thankless job. But I don't mind, seriously. God will reward me."

He raises the pike.

"God will reward me," he repeats.

That is all that matters.

Hidan leans down, placing a feather-light kiss on her lips. It is sweet, chaste, fleeting and he imagines that in her blood he can taste the sin leaving her body. His kiss is also a farewell. But Temari welcomed death, as he knew she would, even though hatred for him still burns in her blank eyes. He doesn't care. He has brought another soul to Jashin and maybe, just maybe, hers will be the one to bring him death.

Her death is a shame, though. He feels regret, which is unusual for him. Temari would have made a good disciple. He appreciates the strength of her convictions, even if they would only have lead her to Hell. Still, because of him, she has been granted a place in Paradise, and he flushes with pleasure at the thought.

He places a hand on her chest, one hand still caressing his rosary. The body is cooling quickly in the twilight. Soon, he knows, the sun will disappear completely and she will be cold.

Pure, but cold.

Whatever, he thinks. The sacrifice is worth it. It didn't matter if she thought differently. She was blinded by her heathen beliefs. His sacrifice is the one that counts. He's the one who has to continue living. He envies her – she has the peaceful rest he craves, the union with God that he is so desperate for. In this way, Hidan considers himself a martyr. No, he knows that is what he is.

The sacrificial lamb.

It's true. It's the reason that Jashin wishes him to continue living. As long as Hidan lives, as long as he is denied God's embrace, he will cleanse mankind and return them to Paradise.

Hidan smiles and relaxes, comfortable in his role. He knows it, he accepts it. And somewhere, somehow, he knows now that Temari does too. He believes it.

He has to.