"Picked up some weight, yeah?"
Zetsu stared miserably at the grinning Iwa bomber standing in the front doorway.
"Don't start with me, or I'll eat your liver."
Deidara's grin only widened at the threat, his gleeful gaze stuck to Zetsu's bulging midsection. "Did you really eat him?"
"No. But Hidan was being… er, a little difficult, so I had to take steps to bring him back."
Zetsu's leaves rustled in an awkward gesture, and he winced when a terrified, muffled scream emerged from the confines of his cloak. The scream was followed by the sounds of muted sobbing. Deidara whistled, leaning forward to part the leaves and trying to peer in.
"You sure did a number on him."
"In a few years," his black half said with an ugly laugh.
Zetsu's white half chose to ignore that. "Deidara, just let me in. I need to make my report to Leader-sama."
"Yeah, about that…" Deidara smirked, standing to one side as Zetsu waddled awkwardly into the house. "Might want to give him a little space. Things have been gettin' a little exciting around here."
"I… can see that."
Zetsu stared at Tobi's limp, motionless body hanging from the lounge ceiling, and then sighed.
"What did he do?"
The grinning blonde jerked his thumb back in the direction they'd come from. "You see that stupid banner he put up? Those were Pein's favourite Egyptian cotton sheets. You know, the ones that took out three of Kakuzu's hearts 'cause he had a heart attack when Pein had 'em shipped over."
Zetsu winced. Pein was particularly attached to those…
"Shouldn't you let him down?"
"Nah," the blonde said indifferently. "I haven't had this much quiet in weeks. I'll think about it tomorrow."
"He's not moving," Zetsu pointed out. "And all the blood rushing to his head can't be good."
"…Think of it as a nap, yeah?"
If there was one thing Pein loved, it was good furniture. The smell of freshly polished wood, the soft gleam of antique chests under the afternoon sun, the feel of smooth leather under his fingertips… it was no coincidence that his office was the best, and most expensively decorated room in Akatsuki headquarters. Good furniture wasn't unnecessary expenditure, as Kakuzu called it, but a lifetime investment. Pfft, what would Kakuzu know about taste anyway? The man was content to sit on cheap plastic lawn chairs. Pein shuddered with disgust and turned his glare on the man huddled in front of him.
"That chair that you happen to be digging your nails into cost four hundred dollars," he informed Kakuzu coldly.
The shock of hearing a chair being associated with four hundred dollars was enough to jerk Kakuzu out of his horrified stupor. "F-Four hundred dollars?" he spluttered. "That's outrageous!"
"What I buy is my business," Pein said pleasantly, as a kunai appeared out of thin air and embedded itself between Kakuzu's slightly parted legs. Kakuzu actually squeaked.
"And the cost of the chair's repairs will be coming out of your pay. As will the money for the new kitchen table."
On the verge of wetting himself, Kakuzu could only nod, even as his soul cried out at the unfairness.
"Oh, and I do believe you also wrecked the furniture in your room. That little fit you had will cost you your entire month's salary."
Tears came to Kakuzu's eyes.
Pein smiled. Other than going shopping for antiques, nothing pleased him more than causing misery to his subordinates.
"Now, to get down to business. You were informed that Hidan would be returning to us, correct?"
On the verge of weeping like a little girl, Kakuzu nodded miserably.
"Your working relationship with Hidan has been somewhat… unstable these past few weeks."
The Falls nin made a noise that was halfway between a snort and a sob.
"Normally I wouldn't care how close the two of you are too nervous breakdowns as long as it didn't impede your ability to function as Akatsuki. Most of you–" his nostrils flared, "–are mentally unstable in any event. I wouldn't expect any less from S-Rank criminals. My problem now is that I have two Akatsuki incapable of doing their jobs."
Pein leaned forward.
"What do you suggest I do with two useless Akatsuki?" he asked silkily.
Kakuzu gulped. "I… have one suggestion. L-Leader-sama."
"Oh? Do tell."
"Get rid of him."
Pein settled back in his chair, touching the piercing in his chin pensively. "And why shouldn't I get rid of you instead? Accountants are easy to come by – granted, not every accountant is a shinobi with your skills, but immortals are far more difficult to find."
Kakuzu swallowed hard. "Leader-sama…"
He was cut off by the brusque knock on the door.
"Ah. That will be Zetsu with Hidan. Enter!"
Konan walked in, followed by the still bulging Zetsu and a grinning Deidara. Pein's brow lifted, but he didn't comment on Zetsu's awkward gait or the bomber's presence.
"What did you do? Eat him?" Kakuzu asked incredulously.
"No," the black half said sullenly. "Even though he would taste so good, we were too cowardly to…"
"Hidan is alive and safe," the white half said quickly. "Leader-sama."
"And look at this!" Deidara interjected gleefully, bounding around Zetsu. He poked Zetsu directly in the bulge and at the contact, there were muffled screams from the cloak, and what sounded suspiciously like, "get me the fuck out of here!"
"My apologies, Leader-sama. The paralysis seems to be wearing off."
Pein frowned. "Let him out," he ordered.
Zetsu opened the front of his cloak, and slowly, his leaves parted to reveal the curled up form of Hidan nestled in the plant. Every inch of him was covered in a foul-smelling green slime. He was blinking slowly, mouth opening and closing, drawing in wheezing gasps.
Everyone besides Zetsu wrinkled their noses.
"It's useful to catch dinner," the black half of Zetsu's face said wickedly as he reached in to pull Hidan out.
"Zetsu. Not on the carpet. Deidara, take him to the bathroom and get Hidan cleaned up. Bring him back after you've ensured he won't ruin my study."
Deidara, still smirking, gave him a mock salute before pushing Zetsu out of the room. Ten minutes later they were back, pulling a shivering – but clean – Hidan, wrapped in a new cloak.
"Sit." Pein ordered; pointing imperiously to the chair Konan had placed next to Kakuzu's seat. "The rest of you, out."
"I said out, Deidara. And you stay," he snapped, hawk-gaze pinning Kakuzu back to where he had been surreptitiously trying to slink away.
Konan bit back a smile, but bowed along with Zetsu, and then each of them took one of Deidara's arms to drag him out with them.
"Oh, and Leader-sama? About Tobi… could we let him down now?"
Pein scowled. "Those sheets were Egyptian cotton," he hissed.
"…I suppose that means no, then."
Zetsu blinked and looked at the quivering figure huddled in the chair.
Hidan pointed at him and said hoarsely, "don't you ever fucking do that to me again. If you try, I'll fucking cut you to pieces with the dullest pair of garden shears I can find and I'll feed you to rabid donkeys while you're still fucking alive, I swear to Jashin!"
"It's nice to know you're alright, Hidan."
"Sit down and shut up! For the last time, all of you, out."
Hidan lapsed into sullen silence as everyone filed out, looking everywhere around the room except at Pein or Kakuzu.
"So. Spiritual incapacitation. Care to explain that, Hidan?"
The Jashinist mumbled something unintelligible under his breath, fidgeting in his chair. He yelped when a kunai thunked past his head, taking a few silver hairs with it, and embedded itself in the wall behind him. Wide-eyed, he stared at Pein.
"You almost hit me with that, asshole! I mean, fuck, I'm immortal, but that shit still hurts!"
"Answer the question, Hidan." Another kunai appeared between Pein's fingertips, and he twirled it lazily, eyes fixed on the Jashinist. "Because next time I won't miss. And like you said, it will hurt."
Hidan's mouth twisted, but he nodded resentfully. "I needed to leave to cleanse my soul," was all he mumbled. "And I couldn't do it around here."
"I believe I told you before Hidan, that I don't care what happens between you and Kakuzu, as long as you function as Akatsuki. Judging from both of your recent behaviours, it is clear that that is no longer possible. I can tolerate maiming, I can tolerate you ripping each apart, but I cannot tolerate desertion. You do not desert Akatsuki!"
Both men flinched when Pein's voice rose. He glared at both of them before continuing.
"Kakuzu has suggested that I solve this problem by getting rid of you. That," and his gaze flickered to the Falls nin, "is not an option. And neither is getting rid of Kakuzu," he added flatly when Hidan perked up.
"The two of you complement each other's abilities. You are a perfect cell within Akatsuki, unable to partner anyone else. Either you stay and work together, or I kill and replace both of you."
"I don't care that you're immortal," Pein cut him off. "I will find a way to annihilate you completely and in the most painful way possible."
"Yeah," Hidan muttered glumly, hunching over in his chair. "I don't doubt for a second that you wouldn't, you bastard."
"So, it is either that you stay and co-operate with each other, or you both die. Your choice."
Kakuzu heaved a sigh. He hated to admit it, but it was game over. Between his sanity and his life… he had to go with his life. Even an insane man could still make money. Perhaps if he confessed his plot now, it would stop these damn emotions floating around in his brain. He could limit his contact with Hidan as much as possible – surely his partner would agree to do the same. They could push the past few days behind them and continue with a purely business arrangement.
"I'd rather die than live with this heathen fucker anymore!"
Pein's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I know you've always hated each other. I knew you would hate each other before you even met. But this is different. Something changed recently. What was it?"
Kakuzu had to act now before this blew up in his face. "Leader-sama–"
"He wants to have sex with me!"
Kakuzu nearly went into cardiac arrest then and there.
"All this," Pein said slowly, "is because Kakuzu wants to have sex with you?"
"Yes!" Hidan exclaimed brokenly, clutching the armrests of his chair with hooked fingers. "He violated me, forced me to break my holiest of vows… that's why I left! He tainted me with his filthy heathen ways. I had to preserve what little sanctity I have left!"
Silence. The only thing stopping Kakuzu from leaping out of his seat and strangling Hidan was the fact he really was having a heart attack. One of his hearts had had enough.
Then, through the pain, a strange noise reached his ears. A sound that filled him with fear… Pein was laughing. He was laughing so hard that he was slapping his palm on the desk, doubled over in mirth.
"You expect me to believe," he said, through snorts of laughter, "that Kakuzu wants to engage in sexual intercourse with you?"
Insulted, Hidan snapped back without thinking, "why the hell wouldn't he want me?"
Pein only laughed harder, while Kakuzu's heart finally gave out. For a brief moment, he was rendered blissfully unconscious, until another one of his hearts kicked in.
"Oh, I don't doubt that he might find you attractive. I just don't believe that he would act on it. He despises you."
Clutching his still throbbing chest with one hand, Kakuzu knew he had to talk fast. Now.
But first, there were things he had to consider.
If he and Hidan didn't co-operate with each other, Pein was going to kill them. It was clear that Hidan had no intention of co-operating; he was just jabbering hysterically to Pein about Kakuzu's apparent quest to screw him up the ass.
Kakuzu could confess right now, which would mean Hidan would find out everything.
Which was fine, wasn't it?
"Well then," Pein said slowly, an amused glint flickering in his eyes, "I think I have just the way to deal with this particular… problem."
"Wait, I still have something I want to say–" Kakuzu began, but Pein waved a hand, cutting him off.
"No, no, I've made my decision. The two of you will be confined to your room starting today. For a week. Completely and utterly alone."
The explosion was simultaneous.
"Are you out of your mind?"
"What the fuck is that supposed to accomplish?"
Pein only offered a serene smile in response to their screams. "Your relationship needs work, gentlemen. And I believe you need some time alone to… sort things out amongst yourselves."
"You can't be fucking serious," Hidan said weakly.
"If by the end of the week, you still cannot work together, I will kill you both without hesitation."
"That's not fair!"
"I don't believe I care if it is or isn't." Pein rose from behind his desk. "I'll even accompany you there myself and make sure you stay there."
"Well, fuck me," Hidan muttered, storming out of the room.
"I'm sure Kakuzu will oblige if you ask nicely enough."
Kakuzu winced at the shrill noise of Hidan's high-pitched shrieks and fought the urge to throw himself out the window as he dragged himself after Pein.
There is no escape from this!
Pein had kept his word. Their bedroom had been made completely inescapable. And Kakuzu knew that the leader had laid traps outside the window – and knowing Pein, they would be the nastiest and most sadistic traps known to man. If he wanted to continue living with his body wholly intact, he had no choice but to stay locked in this room for a whole week. Seven days. One hundred and sixty eight hours. Ten thousand and eighty seconds.
He sat down heavily on the bed, ignoring Hidan, who was still banging on the door and screaming to be let out. Three hours later, Hidan gave up and gave himself to prayers, clutching his rosary with a vice grip and mumbling hysterical garble. All while shooting dirty, hostile looks at his partner.
Kakuzu fought the urge to try and kill him – being stuck with a bitching, injured (and probably dismembered) Hidan would make this imprisonment infinitely worse.
So he spent the first day of their imprisonment banging his head against the wall. Unfortunately, it didn't block out the whine of Hidan's voice.
The second day of their incarceration, Hidan locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out. He only unlocked the door when Kakuzu threatened to piss all over his bed and clothes.
The third day, both of them sat on their beds, backs to each other, not saying a word.
On the fourth day, Kakuzu re-considered his options. He had to rectify the mistakes of the past few days. Nothing had gone as he had originally planned – hell, he'd fucked himself over to the point of a nervous breakdown – and his situation with Hidan had spiralled horribly out of control. It wasn't possible to solve all the confusion or take back all that had been done, Kakuzu knew that and he wasn't stupid enough to think it could be pushed so easily aside. But they had to come to some sort of agreement, and at the very least… he could – no, should – confess his entire scheme.
"We should talk."
He was met with stony silence, broken only by the sound of the door slamming as Hidan locked himself in the bathroom again.
On the fifth day, when Hidan emerged from the bathroom again, Kakuzu was determined to try again. But when the door opened, and he saw the expression on Hidan's face, his mouth just opened and no words came out.
They both just stared at each other, until–
"I think…I think I might be gay," the Jashinist said in a strangled voice.
Kakuzu froze. "No," he said calmly, fighting down a rising wave of panic. "No, you can't be."
And the tidal wave burst.
"I'm fucking serious, you jerk. God, this so typical of you! I try to tell you something, I'm trying to find a way fix this pile of shit you dumped on us and you just blow me off. Don't you understand how bad this is? I'm a servant of Jashin, I belong to a fucking god and then there's you. Do you have any idea how much you're fucking up my life?"
"You kissed me. You tainted me. Now you have to take some fucking responsibility!"
"It was just a kiss—"
"It was more than that, you asshole!"
"It didn't mean anything, idiot. That's what I've been trying to tell you!"
There was a sudden horrible silence.
"Nothing? Nothing? How the fuck can you say that when it means everything!"
"No. No! You shut your goddamn mouth and listen to me. I've had it with all your bullshit. You started this, and I can't take anymore. We're sorting this shit out now!"
"Wait–" Kakuzu's brain was still struggling to process what Hidan was saying. Specifically, one thing Hidan had said. Everything else made sense, except–
"What do you mean, you think you're gay? That's–"
Impossible, impossible, impossible, impossible…! There's no way he's gay! It can't be!
But what if it's true?
What would it mean – for both of them – if Hidan was actually gay?
A/N: Five chapters and over 10 000 hits? Thank you so much xD