Grotesque

His hair was black when they met. His hair was generic...but his eyes had always been hypnotizing. The radial, aesthetic perfection of those eyes were what had drawn her to him in the first place. They reminded her of times when meals and shelter were not a guarantee. Those were warring times. Times of death and blood--there was no place for children. Not in a town like Kiri. But she was orphaned by conflict she didn't understand and thrust into a merciless world. Konan liked to think she'd done well for herself. Her heavily lidded eyes slanted in a manner that was strikingly feline as she smirked. Unwanted whelp to the right hand of a deity. She could have done worse. Assuredly. Their bond was a strange one. Undefinable, really.

The crinkle of paper made her realize she'd been absently folding a sheet into the basic, first forms of a flower. Nimble, slender digits were slipping over its creamy surface in motions so familiar and sure that they didn't feel like memory at all. They felt like truths. Like the only concrete things the kunoichi knew. The blue haired female was certain of very few things after all. Konan didn't like to dwell on things that are not sure. She had done enough of that already. Instead she loves crisp lines and corners folded so carefully they cut flesh. Taking something as fallible as paper and making it battle worthy fascinated her. Almost the way Pein's eyes mesmerize her. Almost.

The tall, imposing figure that her god cuts in her mind's eye made the motions of her hands freeze for a split second. He had always had that effect on her, she realized. Even when his hair was black. Before he adopted the shade that stained their blades for his hosts. As the familiar practice of origami started again in her restless grip, the smokey-eyed female considered the night she first met Pein.

Kiri was a watery hell. War rent and half demolished buildings at a rate that the overtaxed Country could not keep up with. Mouldering, foreclosed structures formed up a skyline that was shaped like crooked teeth in a broken jaw against the livid sunsets. A young, poorly trained Genin named Konan found suitable shelter in one such place. At some point, the structure must have served as an office building. Reams upon reams of paper were stored in the middle floors of the five storey tower. How it escaped the rotting grasp of the never ending rain never revealed itself to the girl. Maybe it was some faded kind of fate.

Konan spent countless hours cutting the too large sheets into acceptable squares. Memories of her Jounin mother's dexterous fingers spurred her on. The dampness that permeated the very air crept in like madness until only the soft give of creasing paper beneath her fingertips held it at bay. Crane. Frog. Butterfly. Flower. At first, she only knew the simplest of shapes. But she folded them until the motions were ingrained into her very muscles and thin cuts bled her fingertips dry.

A reckless urge led her to steal an instructional book from one of the high class shops on the side of town where orphans like her weren't welcomed. The manual taught her masterful forms. Multiple sheets, tears and refolds were necessary to render their exquisite structures. Konan found them hideous. Water blue eyes inspected the clinically folded, painstakingly formed creations and found only ugly pride in their complexity.

She burned them and the tome to keep warm instead. Sitting in the bartered firelight, she returned to the simple, beautiful shapes she first loved. Her intense concentration kept her from noticing the eyes that would change her life, staring in from the rain outside. She still didn't know how long he observed her before revealing himself. It was uncharacteristically dry the day he did. Dusky sunlight slipped in between the boards that barred the grimy windows when she found his gift.

A small stack of heavy, semi-glossed origami paper. Her fingers were trembling when she skimmed them over the sheets with reverence usually reserved for holy relics. "For you." They were the first words he spoke to her. Surprised, she'd spun to face the soaked teen standing next to a window whose boards had been carefully removed. He was tall and somehow regal even with the threadbare, rain drenched clothing he wore. His dark, shoulder length locks were pin straight despite the moisture and hung like a cowl over his deeply set eyes. Something about him, even then, spoke of power.

His hands were square, the fingers thick with callouses and scars. A shiny kunai handle was just visible at his hip and he made no attempt to disguise it. For a moment, Konan had thought of her own knife where it lay rusting near the paper cutter a floor below her feet. Utterly beyond her reach and worthless. Just like she felt. Her skills as a ninja had never been superb and it seemed that their mediocrity may one day be the end of her. Rather than crumpling under the weight of her fear, the blue eyed girl rose her chin. Arranging her childish features into the most bored, unconcerned visage she could manage, she asked coolly, "And you are?"

From beneath a dark veil of hair, impossible eyes considered the half lidded ones pinning him so haughtily. He ignored her question, instead moving with a cagey sort of grace toward the willowy girl. He was nearly toe to toe with her when he murmured, "You fold it." Turning his head slightly to take in the immaculate stacks around him he clarified, "The paper." A gap between the bar like strands of his bangs allowed Konan a glimpse of radial irises. Her curiosity must have shown for he quickly stepped back, letting the trained locks fall back into place.

Taking advantage of the situation and sauntering steadily after the retreating male, Konan skimmed her fingers over a nearby tower of paper. "Yes." She tilted her head a little, half heartedly trying to see beneath the hair shielding the boy's face. "I like making things." As she spoke, she slowly drew a masterfully folded flower from her pocket. His hidden gaze watched her thin fingers trail over the razor sharp edges of the blossom. Slowly, he muttered, "I know."

When her blue stare locked onto his, he added, "I saw the paper." Tucking a hand into a ratty pocket, he leaned back a little to straighten his posture as if out of habit. "I felt it better suited you than some pampered lady." Seemingly noticing how verbal he was becoming, the man looked to the floor and became silent once more. The tall girl just smiled wanly, studying the form in her palm. "I was supposed to be a lady like that once." Fisting her hand around the flower and relishing the crumpling of the paper as it gave, she laughed a little breathily.

The light that began to shine in her azure eyes flickered out as she shuttered the window to her past. Cocking her hip, Konan smoothly drew a piece of the paper he'd brought her from the stack. In only a few graceful movements, she folded a new blossom. Its thin petals were exquisitely formed and the spread of the higher grade paper was smooth and even. As she tucked the pale flower into her strange blue locks, she asked, "Do I look like a lady?"

When the interloper shook his head in the negative, Konan just laughed. "Good," she said. Neither could decide if she sounded relieved or disappointed.

From that day on, she and the boy had been inseparable. Raids on Kiri's open air markets and ramshackle shops were a team effort. It was harder to find food for two, but the comfort of simple company was worth the price. Knowing that she was coming home to a shared roof brought more peace of mind than seemed proportionate and Konan was something near content. A third member joined their party on a washed out street, one winter morning...but those memories were too raw to touch.

Her mind, even years removed from the tragedy that changed her, changed Pein, shied away from even their teammate's image. It was as if he was comprised of broken glass and sandpaper surfaces in her memory. Gripping onto him, pulling him before her internal eye was like torture. Cold, self depreciating hatred gathers behind her teeth when she realizes she can't bear to even think her precious person's name. The one that does float toward her whimpering consciousness makes furious hatred roil in her heart. Jiraiya.

The Toad Sage. The reason they were a team of two, no longer a trio. No longer complete. Satisfaction isn't far behind when she remembers Pein reaping vengeance at last. A watery grave for the betrayer. The one who left them to rot in the unyielding rain, drowned. Konan was an artist and knew poetic justice when she heard it. Witnessed it. They are bound by him as well, she thinks. A peculiar smile must have settled over her features because a shadow of curiosity stained Pein's voice when he uttered her name.

Charcoal rimmed eyes swung towards his silhouette. Her partner was standing, dripping calmly with a rainstorm at his back. Stray gales slipped into the open portico and licked at his spiked mane, flattening them occasionally. As a pair of bangs flash over his swirling gaze, a curl of darkness casts an illusion over his bright hair. For a second in time, Pein is the washed up little Genin who brought her oragami paper once more. Too soon the timeline is righted and reality snaps back into place. Still, the thought is so tender to her aching heart that Konan wants for an insane moment to touch him. Fear has crept up under her skin and she feels for an unfounded instant that maybe the last decent thing she possesses is slipping away.

This time she is sure that her visage has given her away when Pein ducks fully into her quarters. On most occasions, he simply barks orders from the balcony before disappearing back into his rain. Into the weather that he controls with godly grace. But now he's behind her, staring into her eyes through the vanity mirror. The exquisitely padded chair she's sitting on no longer feels plush beneath her as he peers seemingly into her very thoughts. She may as well be seated on a rough hewn log with his intense regard zeroed onto her. Her words are whisked away under his heavy gaze so instead she falls back onto the haughty mask that serves her so well.

Pein isn't fooled, nor was he ever. Instead they remain still, at an impasse for what feels like a small eternity. At last Konan cracks as he knew she would and speaks hoarsely, "I was...remembering."

Breath fills her lungs at last when he tilts his head in understanding, or a mockery of it at least. Her blue eyes watch the reflection of his thick but careful fingers pluck the paper ornament from her fashionably pinned hair. His concentric irises scan the familiar folds of the blossom on his palm, latching instantly onto a bright stain on a single petal. Konan's gaze is beyond the edge precipice of her penthouse apartment, among droplets at the beck and call of the man at her back. She doesn't see the mania creeping into Pein's until it's too late.

The grip around her slender wrist is too tight and Konan can't stem the instinct to panic quickly enough. His distantly wounded look is punishment enough for her slip up and she stares chagrined at the floor as he finds what he's searching for. There is a thin, faintly bleeding line on her right forefinger and Pein has found it in an instant. The fact that he knew which hand to check is a testament in itself to how many times he has watched her preform her favorite past time.

That errant tangent is swept away when the heat of his lips around her digit eeks into her sluggish mind. This particular approach to her injury was new. Black lined eyes are round as they find Pein's over their conjoined hands. He has always hated the sight of her blood. Konan knows that it shatters his pure image of her. Angels do not die, do not bleed. So how could she? The oversimplified thought processes that her brilliant partner applies to her are baffling, but she finds herself delving into them anyway.

Konan has never been a romantic or even mildly receptive person in matters of affection after all, and the situation presenting itself is beyond her caliber on so many levels that she's almost dizzy with implications and worries. Rather she is burrowing her head into pointless meanderings. It seems logical enough, given the circumstances. But gun metal eyes are barreling down a perfectly, hauntingly symmetrical nose at her and she can't recede into her thoughts any longer. Pein won't let her.

Now she's locked in a stare with the man she's built her entire life around and she doesn't know what to do or say. Her infallible deity, her pillar of strength has presented a challenge that she is unsure of how to approach. She knows with utmost certainty that Pein will not act further. He wants something from her and she is afraid of what will become of them if she cannot meet his expectations.

At last a scene begins to roll in crisp black and white behind her slowly fluttering eyelids. A couple on a quaint street are caught in an embrace not unlike the one she and Pein are sharing, though theirs is infinitely less stilted. Konan thinks that she must have seen them in her travels and studied them out of sheer curiosity. Annoyed at her disjointed ramblings, the kunoichi pushes them aside dutifully observes them in her mind's eye. The female of the pair has her hand threaded tenderly into her counterpart's hair.

Slow burning courage begins to form in Konan's abdomen as she tells herself it is a challenge. Her unoccupied hand finds Pein's hairline with quiet grace. She is satisfied when the agitated spinning of his irises whirs to a halt. The grip around her captive hand is softened then and she feels vindicated. An emotion that is strangely warm nestles itself in the proximity of her chest when he leans imperceptibly forward.

Her paper smooth palm unfurls gradually, like one of her blossoms and finds the startlingly cool plane of his cheek at length. As his pale lids slide over his hypnotic gaze, Konan realizes that it is the first time she has seen Pein blink. The possibility that he is revealing a human element to her makes her steady hands shake. A chink in his legendary facade seems almost blasphemous to her but she's far more afraid of denying him this impulse. Whatever madness has overcome him is encompassing her as well, because for the first time in her life Konan wants to be more than Pein's pretty temple.

The heretical ideal is spreading behind her eyes like a darkly blooming flora, stretching its whimsical roots into her mind and letting her think impossible thoughts. Love and happiness are seeming more and more plausible to her cynical psyche until Konan isn't sure what to believe anymore. The metallic bite of one of his many facial piercings against her fragile skin anchors her amidst her stormy musings. A phantom touch skims her lips, down to her chin and finally traces her delicate jaw. Muscles accustomed to stoicism shudder and Konan at last feels like a woman and not a paper doll.

Thousands, millions, trillions of emotions dance over her and she wants the stolen moment to last a lifetime. But too soon Pein's voice reaches her ears, clinical and unshaken. "We set out at dawn for the final bijuu. Be prepared." The warmth her skin has leached from his is cooling rapidly into the atmosphere as he steps away from her, toward his torrential downpour where it awaits him outside.

She somehow finds the strength to nod as she stands where he has left her. Ruins of what she has believed for a lifetime are scattered around her, but she only has ears for the tempo of the rain. Pein is there, she knows. What he really feels is painted by the sheets of water thundering down beyond her window. He is gone when Konan fixes her gaze once more on the vanity before her.

Some invisible chain has been broken inside of her, but Konan knows that she looks the same. Hooded eyes and perfect hair are still her most prominent features and she feels a sort of comfort in that. The hand curled in her lap whispers a different story, though. One that could end happily. That alone is more than she'd ever dared to hope for. But Pein's words circle in her mind and Konan knows now what will be done.

She knew now that he loved her. In his way, Pein felt for her the way she never imagined he could. But there were cities to burn and lives to end before they could find their path together at last. His pride, his lust for power dictated that. So, tilting her chin up towards the heavens, Konan prepared herself for another day of sin. Her god had demanded it of her and he was her weakness. A dark smile found her painted lips as she found the word that fit their unique bond. Her beloved grotesque.


Right. I'm in an odd mood, if you can't tell. But I'm happy with the way this one turned out, honestly. I think that Pein and Konan are probably VERY odd and dark and warped at their cores. This one's inspired by the word 'grotesque.' I heard it a month or so ago and this has been rolling around in my head since. Hope you liked, thanks for reading.