Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or the characters thereof.

Afraid of the Dark

Summary: It doesn't bother him anymore. The dark, that is. The emptiness it brings is almost reassuring. Until he moves into a new house in a new neighborhood. Then everything is different and everything unnerves him. And then there's the guy of his dreams – who's counting money off in a corner – and his friends who all just happen to leave him alone. The dark is hauntingly empty and it always brings loneliness with it. And memories; it always brings those memories. hidanXkakuzu


I stared at the ceiling, the glow-in-the-dark stars glowing in the empty darkness. I liked to think that the dark was an escape, but I'd be lying. There's no comfort in the vastness of black. It only brings pain and misery. But that's what you crave when you sit in the dark alone, right? The rain outside started to get louder as it hit my window. I sat up and stared out the glass at the dripping moisture as it slowly slid down and disappeared over the frame. The wind whistled loudly. At this point, I wouldn't be getting any sleep. It was too loud. Too empty.

I got up, touching my feet to the prickly carpet before slowly standing and walking to my door. I opened it a little, checking to see if my parents' door was closed. Satisfied, I swung open my door and slipped out into the hall. The wind howled and the rain hit the roof of my house relentlessly. I was so tired, but at the same time, wide awake. I needed a safe place, somewhere that didn't feel so empty.

I walked down the stairs and into the family room. The TV was off and so were all the lights. I sat down on the couch and watched the rain fall through the back window. That room made me feel a bit more comfortable. It didn't make me feel so…alone. The house shifted a little with a creak and I flinched. I hated the nights. They only brought loneliness and despair for what was waiting the next day. I couldn't stand it. And I couldn't get away from it. There was a flash of lightning and I smiled serenely. Maybe this house didn't help ease my pain, but it didn't have to. As long as I was surrounded by the comfort of the storm and familiar objects that I could name, I was fine.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, a bit louder than the last time I had heard it, and twenty-thousand seconds later, lightning flashed again. I leaned over and rested my head on the armrest of the couch, slowly drifting off into sleep as I listened to the rain beat against the windows. Tomorrow would be a little better – a brand new school meant a brand new start.

When I woke up the next morning, it was because of a pale light that was somehow filtering through the thick clouds and into the family room. I sat up slowly, my shoulder aching from lying on it awkwardly all night. I forced myself to get up, slouch upstairs, into my room and go through all of the regular morning procedures. It was killer. When I was finally finished, I wandered downstairs again in search of breakfast and time. I still had thirty minutes before I had to go to school. I glared out the window at heavy, gray clouds that threatened to dump rain on me as soon as I left the house. I turned from the rain-streaked window to the fridge and started compiling a decent breakfast.

I still had ten minutes to kill before I had to go to the bus stop when I was done eating and doing dishes. I went upstairs, grabbed my jacket and backpack – double-checking to make sure that I had everything I needed – and hurried back downstairs. I dropped my backpack on the ground by the door and slipped into my jacket. I checked the time and decided that it was okay if I left a little early. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and stepped out into the cold. I closed the door behind me and locked the deadbolt with the key I'd taken from the bulletin board and pocketed. I pulled my hood over my head as I stepped off the porch, hearing the rain lightly tap the cement.

The bus stop wasn't far away from my house, so when I got there, I just sat on the sidewalk. I hated the neighborhood I was now living in. All the houses looked the same and I knew for sure that I'd try to walk into someone else's home after school today. The rain picked up, splashing into puddles that had been left there from last night's storm. I scowled and pulled my hood tighter around my head. Through the downpour, I heard someone walking up. I looked up and saw a teen with long blonde hair, part of it covering half his face. His hood was down and hair was quickly getting soaked. He didn't seem to care. Instead, he had his eye on me. He was looking at me in surprise. I glowered at him and stared out at the street again. A car sped past me and the newcomer. It didn't look like this was a busy street.

"Hi," the teen mumbled, from above me. I didn't look at him. His voice was annoyingly deep. Not puberty deep, but unexpectedly deep – as if I'd been anticipating a high pitched voice. The teen didn't say anything else to me, but greeted someone else when another person arrived. I finally stood up, hoping that the bus would be coming soon. If only I could drive.

The other teen, who had just arrived, was raven-haired. His slick black hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail at the nape of his neck – what was it with these people and ponytails? – and had stress lines under his eyes. His eyes were deep black, like if you looked into them too long, you might get lost in nothing. I shivered at the thought. As if I didn't have enough alone time. Two more people arrived – one wearing an orange mask with a black swirl and another who had bright red hair and profound maroon eyes. The redhead and the blonde hugged when they saw each other. I let out a low annoyed sound and looked back at the street, willing the bus to arrive. It didn't.

There was an ominous, resounding clap of thunder above us that made the ground quiver under my feet. The blonde let out a yelp and the redhead laughed quietly. I smiled. Thunder was like nature screaming. My smile disappeared when the harsh wind beat at my back, mixing with the rain to soak me. I suddenly wished that I had a waterproof jacket. Finally the bus came into view and the orange masked teen cheered. As soon as the bus stopped and opened its doors, I leapt inside and took a seat somewhere between the middle and front. The others shuffled in and made their way to the back. We were the first stop. I loved it. That meant we'd be the last stop too. The bus took off as soon as the raven-haired teen was on the bus and seated in the back with the others.

I leaned against the window as we went four more stops through our route and then to the school. The bus hummed with the soft chatter of girls who liked being up at five 'o clock in the morning doing their hair. Most of us were silent as we made our way to the school. I stared out the window, watching the town race past us. The town was quiet. Someone from behind me suddenly shrieked and another laughed hysterically. How could people be so awake so early?

When we reached the school, I realized that I didn't know where I was going. Why had my mom made me take the bus on my first day of school? I mean, who does that anyway? I stood there, feeling moronic, for a few minutes before deciding to go looking for room 212. There were three floors in one building that made up my school. It didn't seem like a lot to me since I'd just moved from a place where the schools had three floors, a basement and three other buildings. I decided that I probably wouldn't get too confused if I paid a lot of attention to the numbers.

My first period was English. I wanted to take it so that I could go to America to go to college when I was older. I'd heard that the universities didn't have very high standards – for the most part – and that totally interested me. It meant that I could slack off a little as long as I was getting passing grades. When the bell rang, my teacher waltzed in and said something in English that made me roll my eyes. She couldn't talk in English through the whole year, even if she could speak it. We'd never get it.

Finally she said, in Japanese, "Hello, class! How was your summer?" We all gave a half-hearted answer and she smiled. "Alright. For this whole semester, we'll focus mostly on greetings and phrases that are most commonly said. Like…" I blinked as she said something in English again. "Which roughly translates as 'how are you?'" She wrote what I assumed was the sentence in English on the board. The characters looked disoriented – like someone had taken lines and randomly put them together to make a letter. When she was finished, she repeated the phrase in English and then in Japanese, telling us to "give it our best shot". This class would be interesting.

My second period was math. I was a little pissed about it because I really sucked at math, but I figured that it was placed at just the right time of day. The second one in where I could get it out of the way and concentrate on things that I actually enjoyed. My math teacher was a man that looked like he didn't even want to be teaching anymore but couldn't find anything else that he was good at so every other interesting occupation was out of the question. He was a pretty crabby old guy too. As soon as my foot touched inside the frame, he snapped, "Who are you?"

"Hidan," I stammered, a little taken aback by his attitude. He squinted at a piece of paper on the desk in front of him. Oh brother. Finally he lifted his head and pointed at a desk in the last row by the window. The desk wasn't in front and it wasn't in back so I was happy with it. Several other people who filed in got the same treatment. Then he walked in. All of his face except his eyes was concealed by a black fabric mask. It was attached to his shirt which was tightly fitted to him. He wore only a thin vest with a hood – like he'd need it when the mask already covered his head. I rolled my eyes and smiled to myself.

"Kakuzu," the teen stated, like he'd been through the procedure before. Or maybe he'd heard what happened to the last guy who walked in and was still shaking in his desk. The teacher muttered something about respect and peered at the paper again. When he looked up, he pointed to the vacant seat next to me and I inwardly moaned. The guy walked up to the desk, throwing his bag on the ground and jumping over the seat before sitting in it. Showoff. The teacher yelled at him to respect the equipment and I almost laughed. Like anyone cared what was school property and what wasn't. It was all theirs until the end of the year when they decided that it had been a bad idea to carve their names into desks.

The teacher went to the front of the room and picked up a marker. He wrote his name on the board and told us that this year wasn't going to be easy. At least the guy was straightforward. He passed out the disclaimers with a, "If these aren't returned to me by tomorrow with a guardian's signature, I'll fail you right off the bat." This teacher was going to be the end of me. He droned through the "crucial points" and then wrote a problem on the board. He told us to get some paper out and solve the problem because this was going to determine how much time we'd have to spend doing homework in study hall – "if we have that class, if not then it's just a lot of homework."

I stared at the problem for a minute, trying to uncover the mystery of it. It had a lot of integers and exponents. I felt my heart skip a beat. I had study hall after lunch. And I didn't get this problem. I mentally cursed as I wrote the problem on my paper and tried that P.E.M.D.A.S process. I finally came up with an answer just as the teacher called time. There were several protests and a lot of moaning. I glanced next to me. Kakuzu looked like he was asleep. The teacher told us to all shut up and pass our papers forward. As he collected them he told us, "I won't correct your bookwork…" There were several cheers but he wasn't done. "I only make you do the odds so you can check them yourselves. I don't want you to fix them the first time. When you correct them, you mark the ones you get wrong. If I don't see any marks, you fail. I hand them back and you fix the answers. You put star next to the ones you fixed and hand them back." There were even more people groaning.

The teacher told us to get out our textbooks and if we hadn't gotten one yet to go get one. And then he gave us a three page assignment – but we could only do the odds. I had an excuse not to sleep tonight.

The day slowly passed with world civics in third, gym in fourth and then lunch. I was a little surprised. There were only two lunches and I had first. I was also pleased because I was hungry. Gym had been killer. The coach had given us the standard disclosures and then tested us to find out what he could make us endure this year. Apparently, I got one of the higher ranks. It wasn't my fault that I tended to take care of my body. World civics didn't seem so bad, actually. My teacher was crazy. He said he was also a Literature teacher and he talked to a picture of Shakespeare because he was the only person who was smart enough to hold a conversation with. My classmates, however, were all made up of morons. And that included the orange masked teen from my bus stop.

Before I dove into the hectic mobs that somehow formed into lines in the lunchroom, I searched for my locker. It was all the way by my first period classroom. And then the lock combination wouldn't work. So I hit the locker. There was a slight dent afterward, but the lock finally worked. I shoved several of my books into my locker before slamming the door shut again and wandering down to the cafeteria again. There were about five places to get food and all I wanted was some rice. It took a few minutes, but I finally found the line. When it was my turn, I served myself and stopped to type in my ID number.

"Do you have lunch money?" the lunch lady grunted, reminding me that I didn't have free lunches. What was free in this world now anyway? I pulled my wallet out of my back pocket. I had two twenties. I decided I'd regret it if I didn't forfeit one of them, so I passed a twenty over to her. She took it, typed something in and tucked the money away. She nodded and I went to find somewhere to sit. There was only one free table and I took advantage of that. As I walked over to it, I passed the guys from my bus stop, Kakuzu and some other kids at a table. They were all talking in low voices, making me wonder how they could hear each other over the chaos of the rest of the cafeteria.

I put my plate on the table, pulled my phone out of my pocket and my headphones from my backpack. If I was going to sit alone, I figured that I should have something to do. I thought about doing my math homework, but then I'd look like too much of a goody-goody and I didn't want people to get the wrong impression. Instead, I ate my lunch exaggeratingly slow. And I still had time to kill. I almost panicked. That meant more time alone with nothing to distract me. And then I heard the screaming.

"You asshole!" Kakuzu was yelling at the redhead. "I don't even know why I put up with you!"

"You don't have to, you know," the blonde retorted angrily. "There are plenty of other places that you could sit, un."

"Oh shut-up, you bitch," Kakuzu cried, rolling his eyes and throwing his arms in the air half-heartedly. "You're so goddamn annoying!"

"Would you stop picking on him, fuck-face?" the redhead screeched, standing up. He was actually pretty short compared to Kakuzu. I hadn't noticed earlier because the blonde was only a little taller than him. "It's not his fault that you're stuck in your junior year for the third time."

Kakuzu looked a bit taken aback by this. He was quiet for a minute and then he screamed, "At least I'm not some puppet-obsessed freak! One who everyone in the school hates except for your stupid little bitch of a boyfriend!" And he stormed off, leaving the redhead and the blonde speechless.

I watched him go and then the bell rang. I gathered my stuff and took off; dropping my trash in the garbage can on my way. How could someone so good at math be stuck in his junior year for the third time? Even I, the one who could barely pull off a C in math, had managed to make it from my sophomore year to my junior year with minimal problems.

Study hall was boring. All I did was draw. The teachers didn't really take notice of us after they handed out and went over the disclaimers. They said that they were there to help us with our homework if needed. I didn't believe them.

My mind was still buzzing with the boredom from my last class when it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be going. I pulled out my schedule and grinned. Biology was next. Human biology, to make things even better. I practically ran to my next class. The teacher didn't disappoint me either. She was a petite woman who looked like she was barely over twenty. But she knew her stuff. After she'd gone over the disclaimer, she told us some of the things we'd be doing that year. I loved this class. She told us that we'd even be dissecting frogs this year! I'd done it last year, but it never got old. She gave us a quiz, to test where we were and how much help we'd need. It was too easy. When the class ended, I was almost sad. I had to wait for tomorrow. And then I felt the panic. I had to go home after three more periods. I had to face the emptiness and loneliness.

"Hey," the redhead stopped by my desk, frowning as he watched me finish shoving things into my backpack in a flurry. I grunted. "You like biology?"

I almost laughed. "Yeah; internal organs fascinate me." I tried not to sound too enthusiastic. I only had so much pride. "You?"

"I like it, for the most part," he answered, sounding like he was really distracted. "Name's Sasori. You?"

"Hidan," I muttered, standing up and draping my backpack over my shoulder. "You have a reason to be talking to me?" He didn't really seem like the kind of guy who'd 'extend his hand in friendship'. It'd probably be closer to 'extend his hand so he can rip your throat out'.

"I was just curious…You don't really look like the sort of guy who'd be interested in the human body," Sasori informed me as he scrutinized me.

"Looks can be deceiving," I retorted, wanting to leave already.

Sasori nodded absentmindedly. "In most cases, that's a lie. But I suppose in your case, it's true." He smiled coldly at me before stalking off. I was free to go. I raced from the room, desperate to get to my next class before the bell rang. I couldn't afford a detention. My parents would be extremely mad at me. I finally found the class. But then I started to wonder why I had asked to take this class. It looked too complicated. Web-designing.

After an excruciatingly long day, I managed to find the bus without too many problems. But when I got on the bus, I didn't have any choice but to sit in the front because I'd taken too long to get there to choose a decent seat. I could have gone to the back and sat with the others. I didn't risk it though. I was almost positive that they didn't like me. The look Sasori had given me today made wonderful evidence. The moment I was seated, the bus roared to life. Someone from the back yelled, "About time you got here, asshole!"

I almost didn't turn around. But I did. I could see the guy snickering in the back. It wasn't really anyone I recognized. That was a good thing though. He was staring straight at me. So I flipped him off. He frowned and returned the gesture. It wasn't any fun when they guy decided he had the right to reply. I turned around and sat in my seat, fuming and pouting at the same time. I hate this place. Idiots should know their place and stay there.

When we made the second stop, the guy I had flipped off started walking off the bus. I casually stretched a leg out and caught one of his ankles. He stumbled and almost fell. I withdrew my foot and snickered as he glared at me before stalking off the bus. Yes, I loved having the last stop. By the time we made it to my stop, the panic of what was waiting for me at home almost overwhelmed me. I even considered staying on the bus to see where it went. Anything to escape the emptiness. I couldn't avoid it though. I silently got off the bus and stood on the sidewalk, suddenly more afraid of walking into someone else's house than the emptiness I was going to face.

I finally got tired of feeling like an idiot and wandered back the way I had come that morning. The sky was still a light gray, but the clouds looked too weightless to hold anymore rain. I was safe for now. I shuffled down the street. Annoyingly, I was behind the blonde and Sasori. They walked down the same street as me until I had to turn a corner and they kept walking. As I turned the corner, Sasori looked back at me with a glare. What had I done to him again? When I made it to my street, I was very confused. All the houses looked the same and nothing in the front yards gave me any clue as to where I lived. I wished I had my address memorized. I looked for the house with the WELCOME sign on the front door. My mom was anal about giving people the right impression.

It took several minutes – and most of them were occupied by me walking up and down the street a few times – but I found my house. I checked the number and repeated in my head several times as I walked into the house and up into my room. I wrote it on the whiteboard so I would see it when I woke up. If I slept in my room tonight. I started on my math homework as a pastime. I got about half of the answers wrong. I suddenly hoped that the teacher wouldn't be grading us on how many problems we got wrong. If he did, I'd flunk for sure.

When my homework was done, I sat there, staring at my surroundings. They all seemed like they belonged to someone else, not me. And yet, they were all my things. The silence dragged on, slowly becoming louder. The emptiness slowly started suffocating me. I felt like screaming. I stood up abruptly, knocking my chair backwards, and hurried downstairs. I raced out the back door and into the backyard. A few birds chirped obnoxiously in the distance and there were kids down the street laughing loudly. The sun was peeking through the clouds now, making the world a bit warmer than this morning. But I was in shadows. Where it was always cold.

A/N: My first HidanXKakuzu fanfic. I think it's pretty good so far – all things considered. That's just me though. Yeah, another one of my silly little high school fics. But that's what Darkmoonphase does best! I hope you like it so far. Please review…