13: Bitter Sweet – Hidan
I knew I would win. I always win. So why does it hurt so fucking bad?
Safely locked away in my room, I'm sitting at the end of my bed. Kakuzu's curled up on the pillows – it's the only time he'll sleep on a bed instead of under it. I feel close to tears. And I hate Sasori for reducing me to this weak being. I want to rip him apart and stab his heart and watch his horrified face. I grin at the idea. And then frown as I glance back at Kakuzu. I can almost see how he'd look as an adult perfectly. The child's silky, brown hair would be a bit longer, constantly falling into his eyes. Of course, his eyes would be colder and less innocent but that's just Kakuzu. He would be towering over me; built and tense almost all the time.
In a way, I long for that Kakuzu – even if he didn't take much notice in me. He was the man I had become accustomed to sharing life with. Sasori was something else. I hated comparing them but it wasn't hard. Sasori had been untouchable. He had been Deidara's. Sometimes, I can still see the contempt – the jealousy – in those little blue eyes if I get too close to the redhead. To me, Sasori has always been the perfect one. He turned himself into a puppet and now avoids flaws. I flinch, wondering if I'm a flaw now.
At first, I' too wrapped up in my crazed thoughts to notice the odd feel in the air. But after awhile, tension became thick in the air and I alert myself. I tear my gaze from Kakuzu and turn to look at the door. The attackers come through my window.
I' on my feet before I realize I have no weapon. Kakuzu wakes to the noise of the glass shattering and men shouting. He immediately screams. I scoop him up and go to my closet before remembering that even though the brats had admitted to taking my scythe, they had never given it back.
"Kakuzu, where'd you hide my scythe?" I ask, glancing down at the brat and racing into the hall.
The urgency in my voice must have alerted him to how bad our situation really is because his eyes widen. "We hid it in a wall." I glare down at him and he wiggles out of my arms. Then he drags me down the hall quickly. Abruptly, he stops and pushes aside a panel I didn't know existed. Thinking back to when Sasori and I had fallen into the basement, I start to think that there's a lot of stuff about this place that I don't know.
He crawls inside and when he pops back out, he's dragging my scythe with him. As he hands it up to me, Itachi and Kisame come barreling down the hall. Itachi dives in and comes back out with Samehada. Kisame takes the sword and we exchange a grim look.
"Okay, here's what's going to happen," I start, looking down at the two kids at my feet. "We're going to go get Tobi and Deidara and get you guys a pair of lanterns. Then we're going to take you to a room. In that room there will be a trapdoor that leads to stairs. The first set takes you to the cellar and the second will take you lower. You're going to take both."
Their eyes are wide and I'm sure they're terrified. "What about you guys?" Kakuzu asks before Itachi can.
"We're going to take these motherfuckers down and keep you four safe," I declare, only swearing because I'm pissed and I know that the kids will take it as determination. "But you have an important job too, you guys."
I can hear footsteps behind me and judging by the lack of urgency, I'm not betting it's Sasori or Zetsu. "What?" Itachi demands, his face now contorted to show his resolve.
"You have to keep an eye on Deidara and Tobi and make sure all four of you are safe. If we don't come get you by the time your lanterns start to run low, come upstairs and start preparing to take care of yourselves for awhile, okay?" The horror on their face almost makes me retract what I said but it's too late and they need a plan of action in the event that we – their caretakers – disappear.
Kakuzu swallows hard and seems to make some sort of decision. "Right. We promise, Hida-kun!"
Then I spin and wield my scythe against the attackers. I recognize them right away from our Akatsuki Hit List. It's the new and "improved" Team Seven creating a killer alliance with Team Eight. I grit my teeth, excited for a chance at sacrifice. Though I am slightly confused by this match-up because from what I can remember reading, the Hokage didn't like the idea of these teams working together. "Alright, what do you want?" I hiss, feeling Kakuzu press a hand against my leg. It was reassuring to know that they were waiting for me to tell them what to do next.
The one with sandy brown hair – Kiba, I recall – steps up and looks furious. But why he's so furious, I don't understand. "Well, we were here just to locate your base." He glances down at Kakuzu and Itachi who are both still hiding behind me and Kisame who has just stepped up to stand next to me. "But then we saw the kids." It kind of clicks at that point. I figure that they must have thought we'd kidnapped the kids. I wish we'd been paying more attention – then we could have hidden the kids and these idiots wouldn't have ever smashed through our windows.
Shino, the mysterious looking one decides to come forward with the next reason of attack. "Where are the others?"
Frowning, I realize that we're not getting through them any time soon. Thinking quick, I bend down and say through barely moving lips, "Kakuzu, where does this tunnel in the wall lead?"
I knew they'd never know the answer because Kakuzu quickly catches on as to why I'm whispering. His mask helps this cause. "To Sasori-san's room."
"Anywhere else?" I ask, never letting my eyes leave the curious group in front of me.
"It branches off twice. One way goes to Zetsu-san's room and the other one goes to a really dark room that we've never been in because it scares us," he answers automatically. There's a hard edge to his voice that reminds me of the older version of him and makes me overwhelmingly sad.
I think about the information he's given me. I'd bet anything that the "dark room" he's referring to is Pein's room. I decide to take my chances. "Good. Take Itachi and go to the dark room." I glance at his surprised face for just a second and then back at the enemies. "We'll send Deidara and Tobi with lanterns, okay?"
"Yes, Hida-kun…" he whispers before I stand up. I hear him and Itachi crawl through the little tunnel and when I back up, they're not there anymore.
"Let's find the others really fast," I hiss to Kisame. We turn tail and flee. I notice that the door to their tunnel is sealed nicely. We race down the hall and into the kitchen where I collect two lanterns and a box of matches. Kisame's already in the living room, gathering up Deidara and Tobi. I hand him the lanterns and turn to the enemy angrily, brandishing my scythe dangerously. "Get them in that tunnel and they'll be fine."
One of the girls – Sakura, I believe – side-steps as if to block Kisame's path so I take a swipe at her. She jumps backward into a wall. I love the expression on her face because she looks so dumbstruck. Eager to fend off any more path-blockers, I shove myself between the hall and the group. Kisame squeezes behind me with the kids trailing along. Sasori then closes the gap beside me.
Kiba looks about ready to launch himself at us so I show him the blades of my scythe. His eyes go wide and he takes a step backward. "That's right, you little fuckers. Stay where I can see you and you'll be fine."
Sasori snickers. "At least, your bodies might be recognizable." He glances at me out of the corner of his eye and I know what he wants me to do. I give them one of the most crazed laughs I can manage and all but maybe two flinch. "So, what did you want again?"
"To get those children back in safe hands!" Sakura declares, pointing down the hall over my shoulder. Sasori and I both frown at her angry expression.
"They're with us," I hiss and leap toward her. She pulls out a kunai – one of my favorite weapons to work against because it's so easy to get past – and blocks my scythe. But she made the mistake of slipping the kunai between two of my blades, making it easy to slide the blade forward and with an easy flick of my wrist, twist the knife out of her hand and send flying across the room. It hits the opposing wall. "Wanna try that again?" I whisper, enjoying her slightly panicked expression.
Naruto jumps out behind me and embeds his kunai in my back, behind my shoulder blade. I frown, unhappy with their presence. I spin, almost taking Sai's head off with me had he not ducked, and catch him with the point of the first two blades against his chest. He's pretty close to Sasori now too. "Watch it," I warn.
Just then, Zetsu sneaks under us and promptly scares Hinata by popping out beside her on a wall. He grins at her as he takes one of her kunai and launches the blade at Sai. Kakashi, using his stolen Sharingan skills, manages to flip forward and grab it just before impact because Sai has his back turned. I laugh happily. "Alright, enough of this shit. Let's have some fun!" I swing my scythe out, managing to catch Naruto's chest on the way, and lunge for Shino.
I hate what happens next. I will always be afraid of bugs because of him.
A nice long line of earwigs form and crawl um my sleeve, around my throat, and a few make it into my ears before I realize what's going on. I brush a bunch off but more take their place. Starting to squirm from the stupid bugs crawling around in my ear and trying to find entrance to my inner ear, I slash at Shino. All the bugs drop from my body and I shake my head desperately. He tries again but this time, conjures about five or so giant spiders. They're not quite something from an imaginary world but they're still pretty freaky. A little larger than a dinner plate, they all launch at me at the same time. I scream and stumble backward, slashing at the air in front of me.
Something sharp behind me forces me to stop but I continue to slash at the huge spiders in front of me. I'm very aware of their giant pinchers snapping in my general direction. Managing to slice the last two in half, I turn on whoever has their blade in my back. Kurenai stands there with one kunai in my direction and another in position to be flung at Sasori. Angry and frustrated, I pull out my pike and slam it into her shoulder. Then I turn to look at the stunned young ninja behind me. "You all better scram before I impale all of you through your hearts!" This actually seems to piss Naruto off more though the girls look a lot less sure than they had before.
He lunges at me but Kisame flies out from the hall and knocks into him. Standing up, he looks at me with a satisfied grin and says, "Don't kill anyone yet. We're not quite big enough for a war against a country yet, don't you agree?"
I pull out my pike and wipe it on my cloak, acting bored. "Yeah, yeah. But if I accidentally killed someone, no one could blame me." Then I grin insanely and look straight at Naruto. "I'd be willing to kill everyone in this room besides the Nine-Tails."
Naruto looks slightly crazier with fury and it makes me laugh – until Kurenai punches me in the jaw. Unhappy with the snap that my jaw makes, I spin on her and don't hesitate to give her a black eye before jumping back. I didn't like to be that close when fighting with my enemy. The room feels intensely small for 12 people to fit in. I'm starting to feel claustrophobic. Frustrated again, I get a better hold on my scythe, slash at a few people and make a break for the back door. I can hear people following me.
Because I know that it will be a pain to fix later and I kind of need it intact, I actually pause to open the back door before continuing to run. I hear Sasori laugh at me from the living room. Once outside, I feel like I can think better. My mind clears and the first thought that pops into my brain is, "Survive and avoid capture for Kakuzu. Protect Kakuzu." With a new – grim – determination, I spin to face my pursuers. I have Naruto, Kiba, Hinata, and Kakashi. I frown, sure I'd pissed off a few more people. But that gets momentarily washed from my mind as a giant dog runs into view. "What the fuck?" I screech, unhappy with the thing in front of me.
Kiba walks out to greet it and the dog responds by barking. "Meet Akamaru," the boy says with a note of triumph. I want Kakuzu back. I don't want to face off with a giant dog. I need to create a distraction and get it and its owner away from me. But it's the distraction that I can't think of. Frowning deeply, I prepare to be attacked. Naruto, the most riled up, is the first to launch himself at me. I throw my hand up and block him with the handle of my scythe. The clanking sound resonating from his attack brings my awareness to the kunai in his hand. "Haven't you learned that those weapons are useless?"
Then someone comes up behind me and slashes at my back. Angry, I realize that Hinata is missing from the two left standing. I don't really want to kill anyone at the moment because I don't have Kakuzu to fix me – though I'm sure if he found me alive and decapitated, he wouldn't hesitate to offer his assistance. So my only other option is to try and scare them off. Morbid curiosity makes me wonder if I could Curse Akamaru. Grinning manically, I push Hinata out of my way – and slash at her just for good measure – before drawing out Jashin's symbol beneath my feet. Then I turn to Akamaru with an intensity that even the dog understands. "Ready or not, here I go!" Then I slash at my chest.
Blood spurts satisfyingly from the dog's chest and soaks Kiba, who looks shocked and horrified at once. Happy with the results, I try again. I stab my pike through the arm supporting my scythe. In the exact same spot on the dog, blood flies. I am very happy with these results. But I don't want to give away too much because I know that I'm going to be letting these guys go. Just as I'm about to drop my scythe and shove my pike through my hand, Kurenai runs out of the house with the rest of the Konaha brats following. "Let's go – now!"
I panic a little, afraid that they had somehow managed to get a hold of the kids, and almost step out of my symbol. I am quickly reassured by the lack of children in their arms and stay put. Kiba looks furious and takes a step toward me only to be stopped by his teammate, Shino. They exchange a look and then they all flee. As soon as they're gone, I'm unnerved. "Too easy…It's not as though they were short on people or anything…"
Then I calm down and try to retract the curse. But Akamaru must still be in range because I can't. Sighing, I decide to take my chances and go inside. "You're an idiot, Hidan," Sasori says as soon as he sees me.
I glare at him. "Oh? And how is that?"
"You were attacking the dog?" Unlike Sasori, Kisame looks like he's holding back laughter.
"It was bigger than me!" I shout and then stow away my pike. "I don't care what state we're in, we need to go check on the kids." They all assume serious expressions and we head to where Sasori and I remember Pein's room to be. We open the door and see that the trapdoor is open only ever so slightly which makes me hope that Kakuzu and Itachi remembered the rest of my instructions. I swing open the trapdoor and head down. We go down both sets of stairs to see the kids all up and in battle positions of their own, crazed determination in each of their eyes. I suck in a sharp breath. "Hey, guys…"
"Hida-kun!" Kakuzu shouts, relief in his voice. But I notice that none of them drop their somehow-acquired weapons.
I realize that they're very smart ninja kids. "Okay, okay…Uh…Kakuzu, your favorite food is sushi and you love to draw. You saw me, Kisame, you, and Itachi as a little family at one point…" His eyes shine with recognition but he waits for the others to confirm their identities. It's then I pause, wondering how he had seen me through my skeleton-like look that I was currently still wearing.
"Your favorite color is orange like sunrise, and you hate the dark because of your parents," Zetsu tells Tobi who nods with relief.
"You can never decide on your favorite food but you love to blow things up because it's…" Sasori struggles with himself to get the next word out. "Art." I snicker and he shoots me a death glare.
Kisame looks at Itachi and mutters, "J'aime la mer quand elle reflète le ciel." Itachi smiles happily and drops his weapon, running at Kisame. He wraps his tiny arms around his legs. Tobi does the same thing to Zetsu. But Kakuzu and Deidara stay rooted to the spot and I know that their fear has now just reached them. I frown, sad.
Deidara looks curiously at Sasori who looks about as messy as I do. The coil in his stomach is loose and he has a slightly crazier look in his eye. With his pants ripped up a bit, blood splattered across his bare chest, and a sword in his hand, he looks rather unapproachable. I can't imagine what I must look like. I want to turn and run – and that's not a feeling I'm accustomed to. I put a hand to my chest, starting to wonder how much blood I'm losing.
"Hida-Kun…" Kakuzu suddenly whispers and little tentacles swarm my chest, removing my hand and sewing me up quickly and efficiently. Seeing Kakuzu's resolve must have clicked something into place for Deidara because he wanders over to Sasori and, looking up at him, takes off his shirt and starts wiping blood off his chest.
Something in me screams and all I feel is an overwhelming sadness. Before I can stop myself, I mutter, "I want the old Kakuzu back…" His threads stop and I catch his eye.
"Old?" he wonders aloud, his brow furrowing in concentration and confusion. "What do you mean?"
I bite my lip, debating with myself on whether or not to just vent all my frustrations and end in an explanation – the real one – as to why he's standing in front of me. Finally, I turn my head and say, "Never mind." Then something catches my eye and I wander away, Kakuzu retracting his threads. "What's this?"
Sasori, Kisame, and Zetsu all came to stand behind me. "A…A VCR?" Kisame ventures, hitting a play button. One of the TVs off to the opposite wall jump to life. We turn around to watch and are awed to see Sasori on the screen. He's in the kitchen, spraying something on a few pieces of fruit. "What are you doing?" Kisame's voice is barely audible. I feel myself pulling away, detaching.
"I…I tainted some fruit," Sasori replies, sounding half-ashamed and half-relieved. "Yes, that's the night I did it…" On the screen, he goes back to bed and the screen holds an empty kitchen. We sit there for awhile before I punch a fast-forward button. I stop when I see Kakuzu standing on the screen, talking to Itachi. An explosion sounds off-screen and shakes the camera. Seeing Kakuzu that way makes me wander forward, in a daze.
That, I think, is when I realize how badly I miss Kakuzu. Baby Kakuzu does nothing but make me want the adult version of him back. I don't care if he abuses me when he is himself again, I need him. I glance coldly at Sasori over my shoulder. "What did you taint the fruit with?"
Surprise coats Sasori's features. "Well, a potion of sorts. It was only supposed to put the person in a state of hypnosis so that I could ask a few questions…" But we all know what really happened even before Zetsu hits the fast-forward button again and replays that first morning.
Something seems to click for the kids who are also watching the screen intently and have now turned to us. Deidara and Kakuzu particularly look angry while the other two look rather betrayed. Whoops. "You lied again," Kakuzu accuses. "That's twice now. What are you trying to accomplish by lying to us?"
"We didn't think you'd understand when we ourselves didn't until now!" Sasori shouts back. I can't tell if he's angrier with himself or with the situation. "You were adults once, yes. You were our partners. Do you want to know what we did?" The kids look unsure now. "We killed people. You're killers."
I lunge at Sasori, knocking him off his feet. "Shut-up, you prick!" I scream. But almost instantly, I drop my scythe and am on my knees crying. This isn't fair. I didn't like being this way. I suppose now I understand that I have been a child in Kakuzu's eyes. Ever since he's been a child here, he's had to see me try to collect myself and be the grown-up.
Sasori sits up, using his hands to hold himself, and glares at me. "I hate you," he hisses but I know the contempt for him will show in my eyes as I look at him sharply.
"STOP!" Tobi shouts, sounding in tears. I glance behind me to see the kids all huddled together looking terrified and upset. And I feel like an idiot. How selfish of me to throw a fit while they're still around. "Please," he adds and I'm guessing I haven't completely flushed the anger out of my eyes.
"I'm sorry," I whisper, glancing down at my hands. I frown deeply. They haven't changed back to normal. "Something's not right…" I say, standing up and looking down at myself. "Akamaru's still in range."
"The dog?" Kisame asks doubtfully.
I spin to face him, not comprehending why they don't seem to believe me. "He's the one I used the Curse on, isn't he?"
Realization dawns on Zetsu's face and he grabs my arm. "Are they staking out?"
"I don't know. But they haven't left yet. They're still in the area," I mutter, looking up at the ceiling as if that will hold the answers.
"I'll go close the trapdoor," Kisame declares and heads for the stairs. "We tried fighting them and we're nothing without the rest of our team right now." I nod, knowing that he also means we can't focus while worrying about the kids. He dashes upstairs, leaving us in a tension-tight room.
I glance down at Kakuzu who seems to have decided something. He walks over to me and reaches his arms up. I pick him up and immediately his threads start weaving through my wounds once more. Without really taking his eyes off of mine, he pulls down his mask and kisses me on the cheek. "There are some things that are hard to forget, no matter the circumstances."
A/N: Eh. I'm not sure I like the turnouts of this chapter. But considering it's late and I've been working on it pretty much all afternoon, it's getting posted anyway. So I hope you like it. It was hard not to kill Naruto. XD Oh, and "J'aime la mer quand elle reflète le ciel" basically translates to "I love the sea when it reflects the sky." And it's French, just so you know.
Also, I know I just updated but I'm having too much fun with this story right now. And there will be no pattern anymore, I think. It's too troublesome. Ha-ha.
Thanks to all of you who put this on their alerts or favorite lists. Thanks to those of you who reviewed. And thanks to those who just read this. :D