Title: Religion and Music

Epilogue: When We Were Together

The last few weeks of school passed quickly, and graduation came before I knew it. One minute, I was sitting in class, bitching about homework, and the next, I was walking through the auditorium to take part in the final ceremony of high school. It was weird.

Asuma-sensei, my first period teacher that day, handed out the diplomas to us as soon as the event was over. When he handed mine to me, he smirked.

"Congratulations," he rewarded. "You've earned this. I was really impressed with your improvement towards the end of the year." He suddenly frowned. "Just don't come back, okay? I think you took a few years off my life."

Surprisingly enough, I laughed. It wasn't a really big laugh, but it was enough for the two of us to smile, shake hands, and leave each other in peace.

The rest of the day wasn't much except for a bunch of graduates running around and celebrating their passage into college. Most of them tried to leave the school as soon as possible, making plans to go out or party.

I stayed a little while longer.

Once the rest of the students were gone, I walked down the hallways of the school one last time. I passed Tsunade's office and could see her chugging down sake through the window. I then passed a few classrooms and took last looks inside the ones I had learned something in. The smell of Kurenai-sensei's final pastries of the year had begun to fade from the home economics room, and the chemical smells from Yamato-sensei's room were gone along with all the experiment materials. The book shelves in Kakashi-sensei's room were empty, and the posters from Iruka-sensei's room had been taken down. The gym was empty and lonely, void of Gai-sensei's commands and cheers. My voice echoed when I spoke.

I ran to one last place as I finished up. If this room was empty, then the school year was definitely over.

I opened the door to the bathroom and stared. There were no traces of the art brothers.

That did it. I was no longer a part of high school.

Tayuya and I spent the last few weeks of school seeing each other whenever we could. We spent a hell of a lot more time together over the break before the next school year would start. Tayuya formally introduced me to her family, one by one. Orochimaru seemed like a nicer guy than I thought he would be, which was sort of shocking. I personally think he was just happy that his daughter had found someone.

Tayuya had told me during school one day that her brothers were the real assholes of the family. However, when she introduced me, they were quite polite. Later, she explained that Kimimaro's death had had a major effect on everyone. Losing one of the boys' own brothers must have really taken a toll on them, because I noticed that the entire house was a little...closer, if that makes any damn sense at all.

One day, while we were out, Tayuya asked me what I was doing with myself now that I was a high school graduate. "Are you planning on going straight to work?" she asked.

I shook my head and grinned. We sat on the park bench together on an early spring afternoon, and I figured that it was the perfect setting to tell her. I reached into my pocket and pulled a letter out, the same letter I had shown Pein. "Read this," I told her.

Carefully, the pink-haired girl opened the letter and looked over it. Suddenly, her eyes widened. "Holy shit..." she whispered. She looked up at me with glossy eyes. "That's a fucking awesome university!" she gasped. "You're going HERE?! Immortality University?!"

I nodded. "Read the next line."

Tayuya immediately looked at the rest of the letter, and her face turned pale. "YOU GOT A FULL SCHOLARSHIP?!" she practically screamed. "WHAT THE HELL?! HOW?!"

I laughed a bit. "The school just introduced a new religious studies program," I explained. "It's testing it out and looking for students who want to major in that field. I was one of the only ones, so they immediately accepted me and gave me a full scholarship. They really wanted me to come."

"NO FUCKING SHIT!!" Tayuya cried, a huge, stupid smile on her face. She pounced forward, grabbing me, and the two of us fell onto the soft green grass. We laughed together for a little while and then just took a moment to look upon each other. Tayuya's voice was quiet and loving. "Congratulations..."



"Can I kiss you?"

That afternoon, I had my first kiss.

A few weeks later, I had to get going for college. I packed everything up into my bags and brought them to the train station. Kisame had already gone down to Okinawa, Tobi had been in America for weeks, Zetsu was already off at the institution, and Itachi was in the hospital was Sasuke, so Kakuzu, Pein, Konan, Deidara, and Sasori sent me off. We exchanged good-byes and good-lucks until I heard the train whistle blow.

"Oh, that's the last call," I announced. I looked back at my friends. "Good luck to all of you. Pein, Konan, I hope you guys get everything figured out soon. If you get married and own the inn, can I stay free? I'll be poor after all."

"You already are, bastard," Konan giggled. I was about to make some rude comeback when she leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She smiled. "Good luck, Hidan. I'll miss you."

"You can come whenever you want," Pein added as a smile grew on his face. "If you ever need a place to stay, come back here. We'll give you a good meal and some shelter for the night. Good luck with college."

I shook his hand. "Thanks."

Deidara suddenly slapped a hug on me. "I'll miss you so much, un!" he practically sobbed. "You'll come back and visit, right? You'll come to see my art shows, un?"

I nodded. "Of course I will." I played with his blonde hair. "You just keep it up with Sasori, okay?" I turned to the redhead. "Don't you go hitting on any artsy chicks, alright? You've got everything you need right in front of you." I pushed the blonde into Sasori's arms, and they both smiled.

"Don't worry," the toy-maker sighed. "I'll keep this guy safe and happy." He wrapped his arms around his lover and held him close. Deidara's face turned pink yet happy.

I grinned and turned towards Kakuzu. "I'll miss you a lot, money whore," I hissed jokingly. My friend just snorted amusedly and slapped me on the back.

"We'll see who makes a million before thirty."

I smirked and turned towards the train. "I have to get on now," I told everyone. "Thanks for sending me off. I'm sure you'll all do well in college." My friends nodded and waved as I made my way onto the train with my bags. I set them down in the nearby cargo area and looked out at them one last time.

Something pink caught my eye. I opened the train door and looked out into the crowd to see Tayuya with a bitter scowl on her face. Her chocolate brown eyes were narrow, and her face's color matched her hair's.

"DON'T YOU DARE COME BACK, MOTHERFUCKER!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, silencing everything in the train station.

After a long, awkward moment of silence, my lips curled into a smile. Suddenly, I let out a huge, hysterical laugh and waved at my girl. She picked up her arm and waved back as the tears fell down her cheeks. "Damn it!" she shouted. "If you're going to leave me, you BETTER fucking LOVE that school and do damn well in it!"

I couldn't pass up a request from her.

I fucking LOVE this college. It's everything I wanted it to be.

I only have a few weeks before I need to go back, so I figured I'd come see what had changed about the city. There's a new kid working the bar where Kakuzu used to work, and he's not bad at what he does. Otherwise, the bar hasn't changed. The park is the same as always, too.

I haven't seen a lot of my friends in a while. I did get the chance to stay one night with Konan and Pein once during my summer break during freshman year. The inn is really nice with good food and good beds. Konan and Pein seem to be happy together.

At another point during the summer, Kisame invited all of us down to Okinawa for a weekend. Konan, Pein, Deidara, Sasori, Itachi, Sasuke, and I showed up. I was a little upset that Zetsu couldn't take even a day off from his recovery, but I supposed it was in his best interest. Kakuzu dudn't come, claiming the flight cost too much money, that bastard. Still, I was just glad to see Itachi up and about. He had learned to get around with his cane, so he and Sasuke agreed to fly down with us. I was also happy to hear that he had learned brail in record time, so at least he was able to read again.

That weekend, we spent most of our time on the beach, playing like idiots and not caring who saw. We all got drunk on Saturday night and passed out on the hotel floor. Good times.

However, none of us had gone out to the beach on Friday night. Why? Well, let's just say that the art brothers had found their vacation alternative to the high school boys' bathroom. Ugh.

I haven't heard anything from Tobi though. I'm guessing he's still studying in America, but I really have no idea.

But enough about the gang. Here I stand on this hill, the first of the cherry blossoms starting to fall behind me. I sigh. Looking back on all of this had made me realize just what is important in life. I sill worship Jashin, hell yes, but love is a part of my life. There will always be hate, I know, but love for one specific person can change the way another sees the world.

I look towards the school in front of me. It's Shinobi High. I was always the kid who claimed he would never return, but now I find myself drawn to it. I know that there's a special someone inside, and she just finished her second year of school.

I see her.

"TAAAAAYUUUUUUYAAAAAAA!!" I cry, spreading my arms out wide. The entire student population looks up at me like I'm some sort of mental case, and I can see the horrified expression on Tayuya's face. The crowd thins a bit, so I can see her better. She now has an angry expression.


I wait. She rubs her eyes.

And when she brings her hands away, there are tears, lots and lots of happy tears.

She runs up the hill towards me and leaps into my arms, happily crying quietly. I hold her close and run my fingers through her hair. Jashin, I missed her. I missed her strawberry hair and her chocolate eyes, her skinny arms and her tiny fingers, her soft skin and her lack of boobs, her curses and her hugs. I missed all of her so damn much.

"You came back," she whispers, looking up at me. "You actually came back..."

I nod. "Come with me," I order her. "I want to show you something." I take her hand and lead her down the hill towards the street. There's my motorcycle...with a little addition. Tayuya gasps and I smile. "I had it fixed so it can fit two people," I explain. I pet the back seat. "Hop on. I have a helmet for you, too."

The two of us board the bike and put our protective gear on. Tayuya wraps her arms around my middle, and we speed down the street towards the cemetery.

Once there, we walk up to Kimimaro's grave. Tayuya clasps her hands together and murmurs something; I'm guessing it's a prayer for her brother's soul. We both bow together before the grave, and the wind begins to blow.

I smile. "I think he's happy and safe," I sigh, "wherever he is."

Tayuya nods. "Can we come back later with some flowers?"

I nod back. "Sure."

We slowly board the bike and head for my apartment. Once there, I park the machine and lead Tayuya up the stairs. While I was away at college, I asked my landlady to keep an eye on it since I would be needing it when I came home. She agreed and promise not to charge me for the months I would be away.

Tayuya grins when I open the door. "You kept it clean," she realizes. "Heh, a hopeless dumbass like you actually kept it clean."

I roll my eyes and pull two strawberry ice cream bars from the freezer. "Here." I toss one to her. We eat in silence. Tayuya leans on my shoulder and sighs contently.

As soon as we're done, we throw the sticks away. I wrap my arm around my girl's shoulder and kiss her forehead. "Do you mind if I do a quick ritual?" I ask. "It won't take very long."

Tayuya shrugs. "Just don't get too bloody."

I nod and push the bed towards the wall to reveal the Jashinism symbol. It's faded a little bit from lack of use, but it's perfectly capable of holding a proper ritual. I pull my scythe out, close my eyes, and start making little cuts.

About five minutes into the ceremony, I hear Tayuya's backpack open. She opens up what sounds like a box, and I hear metal clashing together. Once it stops, I hear a few notes.

She's playing her flute, and she's playing it more beautifully than ever before.

I smile and remember something I had learned during my first few weeks of introduction courses for the religious studies major. Did you know that some small cultures of the world actually have entire religions that center around music?

Somehow, I think that a little change has to be made to the Jashinism Holy Book. There needs to be a section on songs or just some kind of music. Other religions, everything from big-name ones to the practically unknown ones, have some sort of musical affiliates.

After all, religion isn't complete without music.


Author's Note: Well, it's been fun. This has been my first ever AU high school fic, and I hope that you enjoyed it. Reviews are loved very much. I ask that if you have any constructive critique for me that you take a moment to let me know what you loved, what you hated, and what you think needs work. Like so many other authors out there, I'm always looking to improve. By the way, I love fanart and other gifts like that. I have a DeviantART account, so if you want to draw something from the fic, don't be shy. Let me know! I'd love to see it!


Gothic Dancer