Hoping that this is the last time he has to do this, the miser reaches the lair a few hours later. He is sick of this, he really is. Maybe it is indeed a good idea to take the little brat with him, so he won't have to shuttle between the Akatsuki's hideout and his own residence all the time.

He is surprised to see the kitchen almost empty when he enters it. All counters except one are gone, the table and the chairs are missing, and as Konan said, one of the windows is broken. What strikes Kakuzu most, though, is the huge painting on the wall. It is a symbol he has never seen before, an upside-down triangle in the middle of a circle. The paint it has been drawn with is thick, red and dripping, almost looking like – blood?

"The fuck?"

Hidan is standing in the doorframe, yawning and rubbing his eyes, still looking sleepy. Jeez, does this brat ever do anything else but sleep?

"Oh, it's you again", he says coolly when he catches sight of Kakuzu, "for a moment I thought you were gone."

"I was", the miser says and blinks. Something is different.

"Took you quite long to get breakfast," the silver haired smirks and raises an eyebrow, "at least got some candy?"

Kakuzu blinks again. Hidan is different. Not cute anymore. Not at all. Rather cold, aloof, and way more arrogant than before.

"No", the banker huffs, "I'm not your servant. Go get something yourself if you're hungry."

His voice isn't as angry as he expected it to be, and he knows very well why. He is – no, not afraid, just a little surprised by the other male. A strong negative aura is surrounding him, one Kakuzu hasn't noticed before. Red, if it was a color. Metallic, if it was a smell. A sort of chakra he doesn't know?

Hidan shoots him an angry glare.

"No need to fucking yell at me that early in the morning", he snaps, and although the miser is still wondering, he can't help but chuckle.

"Morning?", he asks. It is almost one o'clock.

With a snort the silver haired walks over to the single kitchen counter, quickly rummages through it, and then comes back with a handful of dango.

Kakuzu's jaw literally drops at the sight.

"Where the hell did you get that?", he asks, unable to believe his eyes. He is sure there was no food at the lair last time he came here, but he can hardly imagine Hidan going to one of the village shops to get some.

"The woman with the blue hair…", he starts to mumble a reply, while quickly stuffing the food into his mouth.

"Her name is Konan", Kakuzu snaps.

"Yeah, whatever. She gave it to me."

Of course. Konan always cares about others, unlike him. Is that what Hidan is trying to tell him?

The way the boy eats is similar to the way he talks – fast, and without interruption.

"You should stop gorging like that", the banker huffs.

"Shut up."

"That's unhealthy."

"Shut the fuck up!"

Hidan spins around and leaves the room as quickly as he has entered it, leaving behind a pretty confused Kakuzu.

What the hell has happened to that guy? When he last saw him, he was a peaceful little kid, cuddled up in some warm blankets on the bed and smiling at him, but now he looks like a grown-up shinobi, strong and powerful and even a little dangerous.

Once again, Kakuzu curses himself. He doesn't want to talk to him, but he is just too curious. Hidan is a complete mystery to him, and he hates not knowing things. After a short moment of hesitating, he follows the silver haired, who has disappeared in the room that has kind of become his up to now.

The door is open, but yet the miser doesn't enter. He just stares.

The wall is daubed with the same symbol as in the kitchen, and the room is full of trash. Pieces of wood are lying around, the floor is covered with broken glass, and the chair Kakuzu was sitting on not too long ago has disappeared. The only thing that is still intact is the bed.

Hidan is half-lying, half-sitting on it with his back against the wall. His eyes are opened wide, but nonetheless he seems not to take notice of the other shinobi standing in the doorframe. He is staring into nothing, and a strange smile has settled down on his face, almost making him look as if he was on drugs.

He is topless, and only now Kakuzu notices that he is touching himself. One of his hands has wandered up to his chest and is fumbling around at his injury, absent-mindedly pulling at the black threads that have pierced his white skin.

The miser can't help staring. The dark stitches look beautiful on Hidan's pale body, if in a very creepy way. This wound is a major injury, and even if it is healing, poking around there must hurt like hell. But Hidan seems not to mind. On the contrary, he looks rather – pleased.

Kakuzu slowly licks his lips.

"Enjoying yourself?", he asks, still unable to avert his eyes from the other guy.

As if moving in slow motion, Hidan lifts his head. It looks as if his eyes needed a few seconds to focus, and then the smile on his face turns into a wide grin. He obviously enjoys being watched. His fingers continue to fumble around at his injury with even more force now, and still he doesn't seem to be in pain at all.

"What an ugly, ugly wound", the banker drawls, "you will open it again if you don't stop."

To this, Hidan just smirks. He looks strange, so strange – as if he really was enjoying himself. Something red is sparkling between his fingers, and Kakuzu clicks his tongue with an amused grin.

"Tz, tz – see? You already have."

Very slowly again, the other male removes his hand from his chest, eyeing his stained fingers with interest.

"Mhh", he mumbles, "blood."

"Yes, blood", Kakuzu says, "that's what you get."

There is a strange silence between them, a silence that feels like the calm before a storm, and the miser has this feeling that one of them is close to exploding. If only he knew who.

Hidan suddenly moves his hand towards his mouth and licks off some of the red liquid, grinning even more. He lets his fingers slide down, slowly smearing the rest of the blood across his chin and throat, before his hand comes to rest on his chest again. For a second, only for a split second Kakuzu is disgusted with the boy, but he can't help watching.

Hidan looks up at him with expectant eyes, and for a moment Kakuzu wonders if he wants to be praised for what he has done.

"You high or something?", the miser asks.

Yes, he likes blood, but this is sick. Maybe Konan has given the boy some pain killers that were a little too strong for him, and this is some odd side effect.

Hidan cocks his head to the side.

"Maybe I'm high, maybe I'm low", he starts to drawl in a singsong voice, "or maybe I'm just plain deranged."

"Maybe", Kakuzu repeats, unable to come up with anything else.

"Yeah… maybe…"

The crimson eyes go dull, but the grin is still on Hidan's face, making him appear like a real psycho now.

The miser would love to avert his eyes from boy, but he is so surprised about him that he can't help staring. Hidan looks good with the blood all over him. Attractive. Sexy.

Kakuzu tries to distract himself, tries to find something else to stare at, and suddenly he succeeds.

"What's this shit on the wall?", he asks quickly, "What symbol is this?"

Hidan turns his head to the wall, as if he couldn't remember what he has drawn there, and keeps his eyes glued to it for a moment.

"Jashin's symbol", he says then, still slowly, and still with this strange melodic undertone in his voice.

Kakuzu blinks. He has heard this name before.

"Jashin?", he asks, "Who's this?"

"The one who made me immortal", Hidan says, and the banker pricks his ears.

"Your sensei?", he asks curiously.

This could be interesting. If the shinobi who invented this technique is still alive, Kakuzu could go search him instead of waiting for this deranged kid to show it to him.

"My sensei?", the silver haired laughs out loud, "Well, even more than that."

His eyes start to sparkle when he turns his head back to his counterpart, and his smile looks way more sincere now.

"Jashin is my lord."

Lord? Oh yes, now the miser remembers what Konan told him.

"You're part of a religious community, right?", he asks, but Hidan just shrugs.

"Yeah", he says, "community, sect, cult, whatever you wanna call it. I'm used to insults."

"Insults?", Kakuzu frowns. He hasn't said anything insulting to the boy. Not yet.

But nonetheless, there is the explosion he has been waiting for. All of a sudden, an angry expression appears on Hidan's face, and his eyes start to glare at the other shinobi.

"Stop pretending", he huffs, "I know what's on your mind. You think I'm a psycho. You think I'm fucking insane. You hate me. You fucking hate me just because I believe in something else than you."

Kakuzu heaves a sigh.

"Okay, listen, Hidan", he says, "I'm not interested in this shit. I don't believe in anything, and I don't care what you believe in. But since it looks as if we had to spend some time with each other from now on, you'd better explain some things about yourself."

Hidan stares at him.

"Explain?", he asks bluntly.

Kakuzu sighs yet again, and before he can think about it, he has sat down onto the bed next to Hidan.

"Yes", he says, "I don't know much about you, and that pisses me off."

The silver haired grins.

"Curious, eh?", he asks, "Fine. What do you wanna know?"

"A lot of things."

The miser moves closer to the boy, his green eyes glaring at him. He feels anger build up inside him, and again there is this strange feeling, this voice in his head that tells him to hurt Hidan. He puts his hand onto his chest and starts to play around with the black threads, like he himself did a few minutes ago.

"What I want to know most", Kakuzu then continues slowly, "is why the hell you destroyed everything in here when I was gone."

The silver haired twitches at the touch, but he doesn't seem to be frightened at all. He only laughs softly and shrugs again.

"Dunno."

Kakuzu tightens his grip and pushes against the small frame, almost crashes him into the wall which he is leaning against.

"The things you crashed were expensive, you know", he growls, "and I don't appreciate buying new ones without knowing why, so you'd better come up with a good reason."

"I dunno", Hidan repeats, "just felt like it."

He tries to push the older shinobi away from him, but Kakuzu presses his fingers down onto his chest with more pressure, right into his slightly bleeding wound.

"Don't fuck with me", he hisses.

The crimson eyes start flickering, and the miser grins to himself. Hurting other people feels so good. He digs his fingers hard into the already injured flesh and pulls at the threads violently, and finally he gets the reaction he wants.

"Oww", a tortured moan escapes Hidan's throat, a very welcome proof that he does feel pain.

"Now?", Kakuzu asks, "Answer me, Hidan. Why did you destroy the lair?"

The silver haired hisses through clenched teeth, tries to control himself, but finally he gives in.

"Cause I was angry", he spits his answer at the miser, "cause you fucking left me!"

Kakuzu is startled so badly by the answer that he lets go of the boy immediately. Hidan sits up and coughs, pressing his hand onto his wound, which the banker has obviously managed to open again. Blood is pouring down from his chest, but it is just a small stream of red that runs down the pale skin.

"You asshole", he whines, but for once, the miser doesn't care.

"You messed up the lair", he asks unbelievingly, "because I left you?"

Hidan looks up, and the angry frown on his face slowly starts to disappear.

"Yeah", he mumbles, "I fucking hate being alone."

Ah. Okay. He just hates being alone. Kakuzu heaves a sigh of relief. For a moment, he thought – oh well.

"You'll have to pay for all that stuff", he says, trying to distract himself once again from his weird thoughts.

The silver haired gives him a surprised look.

"Pay for it?", he asks, "What with?"

Kakuzu snorts. What a stupid question.

"Money", he huffs.

"I don't have any."

"You don't?"

The miser growls to himself. He can't believe this. He just can't. Not only has this kid destroyed everything in here, now he is the one to pay for it.

Hidan shakes his head.

"I don't have anything", he says, "apart from this."

Kakuzu's senses tell him to jump to his feet when the boy suddenly reaches behind him, but although he has reacted pretty fast, three sharp metal blades are directed at his throat a second later. Oh shit, he hasn't expected this thing to be that huge.

"Haha, gotcha", Hidan snickers, smiling maliciously at the older shinobi.

His weapon is almost as big as him. A scythe, deep red, and obviously pretty heavy. His pale hand grasping it is slightly shaking due to the odd angle he is holding it at, and Kakuzu can't help but chuckle to himself. Without much effort he has gripped the weapon himself, and before the silver haired can react, the blades are directed at his own throat.

Crimson eyes are opened wide with shock, but the miser only smirks.

"Gotcha", he parrots.

He slowly pushes the weapon forward, until one sharp tip makes slight contact with Hidan's skin. He secretly hopes that the boy twitches and cuts himself, but sadly, he does not.

"Damn, you're fast", he just says.

"Oh well, I'd rather say you're pretty slow", Kakuzu huffs.

With a small growl of disappointment he removes the scythe from the other's throat.

"Don't try that again", he says, "next time you do, I'll cut your head off."

To his surprise, Hidan only smirks.

"Well?", he asks, "Done with showing off now?"

Kakuzu has to force himself in order not to push the scythe forward again. What the hell is wrong with this brat? Anyone else would choose his words very carefully in a situation like this, but Hidan only gives him only a bored look while provoking him, staring at him from below with those ever cocky crimson eyes.

"So", Kakuzu says angrily, "being left alone freaks you out, huh?"

His plan to hit a soft spot obviously works. Hidan begins to shift on the bed, and quickly casts his eyes down before they start flickering.

"Yeah", he says, "not used to it."

The miser sighs. The silver haired looks so miserable again all of a sudden that he just can't help feeling pity for him. A kid. Just a kid. He hands the weapon back to him, and as expected, Hidan doesn't direct it at him again but puts it down onto the floor.

"Anything else you wanna know?", he asks quickly, obviously trying to change the topic. Very well then.

"Yes", Kakuzu replies, "as I said, a lot of things. Where you come from, for example. Why you're a missing nin, if you are one. And why Pein and Konan consider you a worthy member for our organization."

"Ah, well", Hidan smiles, "that's some easy ones. First: from a village far away from here. Second: because I've killed a lot of people. And third: because I'm the most talented shinobi they've ever seen."

That is what he says. Just so.

Kakuzu tries to detect some irony, some sarcastic undertone in Hidan's last sentence, but there is none.

"The most talented shinobi they've ever seen", he repeats tonelessly.

"Yeah."

There is no doubt about it – the boy is absolutely positive about this. What a cocky little brat. Sort of telling him, an age old, experienced S-rank shinobi, that he is more talented than him? This is ridiculous.

"What the hell has Konan given to you, huh?", Kakuzu asks calmly, "Something that made you get too big for your boots, it seems."

"They fit quite well, thank you", Hidan purrs, and the miser starts to regret having given back the scythe to him.

"You didn't seem too talented to me a minute ago", he huffs, "you couldn't even hold your own weapon."

To this, Hidan just snorts.

"It's not supposed to be held", he explains lazily, "it's supposed to be thrown, you know."

"Is that so", Kakuzu says, tonelessly again.

"Uh-huh. Jealous?"

"Jealous?", the miser almost bursts out laughing, "Of you? Oh, come on."

The silver haired smirks at him once again.

"Stop pretending", he says, "I know you are."

Kakuzu raises an eyebrow.

"Why the hell should I be jealous of an annoying little brat like you?"

"Oh well", Hidan replies with a small yawn, "maybe because I'm a high-skilled shinobi, because I'm powerful and intelligent and handsome and sexy and fit."

The banker's eyes widen in disbelief.

"You're none of these", he growls.

"Yes, I am", Hidan says, "I'm a lot cooler than you. I'm young, but you're old. I'm handsome, but you're so ugly that you've gotta hide under a mask and hood. I'm a high-skilled shinobi, but you're just aver…"

Kakuzu raises his arm so quickly that even he himself is surprised by the movement, and before he can control himself he has slapped the other male so hard across the face that he cries out in pain.

"Oh shit", the miser hisses when he realizes what he has done, "but you really asked for it this time."

Although his cheek already starts to bruise, the silver haired looks amused.

"Oh well", he chuckles, "no need to apologize. The truth is hard to take, especially for an old fart like you."

The second slap he gets is even harder than the first one. Way harder. Kakuzu has involuntarily hardened his hand, like he usually only does in battle, and therefore, he has almost knocked Hidan out. With a choking moan the silver haired loses his balance and slumps down to the bed, his eyes clenched shut in pain.

"You really need to learn how to hold your tongue", the banker growls, "if you don't, I'll cut it off, I swear."

To his surprise, Hidan looks somewhat happy when he looks at him again.

"Hey, Kakuzu?", he asks quietly, "You know what? You're different."

"Different?", Kakuzu asks, "From what?"

"From all the other people I know", his counterpart explains, "although I'm much younger than you, you didn't hold back."

"You insulted me", the miser huffs, "and I don't give a damn about your age."

Hidan gives him a weak smile.

"See? That's why you're different. Because you don't give a damn. You don't give a damn about my age, you don't give a damn about what I believe in, and you don't give a damn about who I am."

His voice starts shaking, and with a surprised look Kakuzu watches him move his arm across his eyes. Wiping away tears?

"All you do is yell at me", he continues, "no matter what I say, you just yell or shout or huff at me."

"Yes", the miser says, "that's pretty much it."

He doesn't know why exactly he does this. Usually he is quite calm. Even if he gets angry, he doesn't feel the urge to yell at others. But in Hidan's case, it is different. The boy just annoys him to no end.

"And when I get on your nerves", he goes on, "you…"

He stops and snuffles, and the miser curiously pricks his ears.

"…when I get on your nerves, you… just…"

Was that a sob?

"…y-you just… hurt…"

It was.

"…me…"

The silver haired starts trembling all of a sudden, and before Kakuzu can take a closer look at his face, he has rolled onto his side with a jerk. He is covering his face with his hands, but even without seeing it, the miser can tell what is going on.

Although he hasn't expected this, the choking sobs coming from the small frame are music in his ears. It is fun to see him like that. Tough little Hidan curled up into a ball, biting down on his lip, but yet unable to control himself.

"You never cry, huh?", Kakuzu asks quietly, and this literally pushes Hidan over the edge. Tears start flowing down his reddened cheeks, and although one of his hands is pressed onto his mouth now, he can't keep quiet.

He is sobbing quietly now, his breath coming quick and in shallow pants, just like in the night when he was having the nightmare. Maybe this is why Kakuzu feels guilty all of a sudden. The image of shaking Hidan flailing in his arms is stuck on his mind, and whenever he thinks about it, it makes him feel bad. He doesn't exactly know why, but he never wants to see him like that again. Never.

"Hey", the miser finally says, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit you that hard."

With a jerk Hidan turns his head. His eyes are reddened and full of tears, but yet he manages to glare at Kakuzu.

"You asshole", he cries, his voice shaky and cracking, "I'm not crying cause you hit me, I'm crying cause I'm fucking happy!"

A hole. A big, black hole appears in front of Kakuzu's mind's eye, and for a moment, all his thoughts are about to be swallowed by it.

What the hell is with this kid?

"Happy?", the miser asks.

He must have misheard.

Hidan faces away from him again, burying his face to the mattress. He doesn't say a word, he just continues sobbing, and the miser continues staring.

Only after what seems like an eternity, the silver haired is able to speak again.

"You know", he says, voice still a little shaky, "you're the first person to yell at me for years."

Kakuzu blinks.

"And that makes you happy?"

He doesn't get it. Not at all.

Hidan has finally calmed down a little, and directs his eyes at the other shinobi once again.

"Yeah", he says with a faint smile and wipes away his tears, "kinda."

Kakuzu lets out a sigh. If only this kid would talk in full sentences.

As if he had read his mind, Hidan goes on.

"You know", he slowly starts to explain, "in my home village…"

"Which is…", the miser interrupts.

The silver haired lifts his head, giving him a shy look.

"Which is Yuka…"

Kakuzu can't help but give him a content smile. This is just how he likes it. Controlling others without doing much, and finally getting some of the answers he wants.

"…things were different", Hidan continues.

Suddenly, the crimson eyes aren't sparkling with tears anymore, but look somewhat normal again. The boy sits up and clears his throat, and then continues to talk at his usual speed.

"I used to insult people all the time, you know", he says, "but they never got angry at me. Oh well, they did, but they didn't do anything. They didn't slap me, they didn't kick me, they didn't even fucking yell at me. They just smiled. All my life."

The miser is surprised.

"They just smiled?", he asks, "They didn't get mad at you one single time?"

He can't imagine this. Hidan got on his nerves the very first minute he saw him, and although he really tried, he couldn't hold back.

"Nope", the silver haired says, "they weren't allowed to."

"Not allowed to?", Kakuzu asks, "Why not?"

"Because I was… like… I was… I mean I am… the chosen one."

The miser blinks.

"The chosen one?"

Oh damn, if only he could stop sounding like a parrot.

"Yeah", Hidan says, "exactly. That's what they called me. The chosen one. The blessed child. The reincarnation of Jashin."

Kakuzu is close to repeating the word reincarnation, but this time he manages to control himself. He just raises an eyebrow.

He doesn't believe in things like that. He doesn't believe in rebirth. As far as he is concerned, after death there is nothing. That is why he doesn't want to die.

"And why", he asks lazily, "did they consider you the chosen one?"

"Oh well", Hidan replies, "there aren't too many immortal guys out there, you know? And if one happens to be born into a clan of religious people, they tend to believe he's blessed with divine power."

The miser pricks his ears. Divine power? Sounds interesting.

"And are you?", he asks curiously, "I mean – do you believe you are?"

The silver haired leans back, a smug smile on his face.

"I thought you didn't give a damn about what I believe in", he smirks.

Oh, what a pain.

"Right", Kakuzu growls, "I don't."

Hidan looks all cheerful now, happy and also a little bit thankful, and it keeps the banker going.

"You're a freak", he goes on, "but all members of the Akatsuki are. All my former partners have been freaks, too. I don't mind freaks, you know. I just want to know what kind of freak my new partner is."

The silver haired smirks.

"An immortal freak", he says.

"Yes. Right. An immortal freak."

Kakuzu can't help but grin. For a strange reason, this sounds good to him. Familiar, kind of.

An immortal freak. Just like him.

Maybe…

Maybe Konan is right.

Maybe this guy is the best partner he will ever have.

****

Note:

This story is finished for once.

Maybe I'll write some more chapters in the future that continue the plot; but this story is now complete.

Hope you liked it.