Disclaimer: Blah blah blah don't own Naruto or any of its characters blah blah blah
My first fanfiction in ten months.
This is just pathetic.
But anyway, do give a round of applause to firefly for giving me the prompt that helped me get off my rump and write again. I nearly forgot how satisfying a thing writing fanfiction is. Thanks again, dearest. This one's for you.
Characters: Hidan, Ino
Prompt: "at the wrong funeral"
Note: Takes place shortly before the Hidan/Kakuzu arc.
Frowning, Ino reached into her black button-up blouse and tugged at the string of her camisole, inwardly cursing herself for unintentionally throwing on the one that was a size too big in her post-haste rush to get dressed for her great-uncle's wake. In all honesty, she'd never really known the man all too well and had had a hard time putting a face to him until she'd actually peered into his casket and studied him in all his embalmed and powdered splendor. Even then she still could not place him from any past encounters and once she'd paid her respects alongside her parents, Ino had resigned herself to a secluded corner in the funeral home, allowing herself a brief moment to sit and fume over the fact that she absolutely had to pass up a high-paying B-rank reconaissance mission to sulk around in some random funeral home in the River Country and make small chat with family members she didn't even want to talk to and pay tributes to a man she hardly even knew.
Not keeping her eyes on anything in particular, Ino allowed herself a moment to soak in the plain but still tasteful arrangement of cushioned chairs, lacquered end tables, and framed oil paintings set up in the viewing parlor, gaze drifting over to the almost kaleidoscopic arrangement of assorted flowers, baskets, and wreaths tidily sorted around her great uncle's casket. On the surface, aside from the murmurs of idle conversation and the occasional sniffing and sobbing from various relatives, all was relatively hushed and placid.
Inside, Ino wanted to scream.
I want to go home. For God's sake, Ma, stop talking to Aunt Rie and take me home already.
For the fifth time that afternoon, the strap of her camisole started to slip off of her shoulder. Ino huffed as she once again did her best to feel for it under her blouse as covertly as possible.
Grumbling, Ino pointed her head up at her mother.
"If you're going to do that, do it in the bathroom. I didn't raise a savage."
Rolling her eyes, Ino briskly removed her hand from under her top. "Whatever."
"And once you're done with that, go and talk with Aunt Rie for a while."
Whining, Ino pulled a face. "But Ma--"
"I don't want to hear it, Ino. She wants to know what you've been up to lately, and it'd be courteous if she heard from you rather than from me."
"But Ma, she never shuts--"
"Ino, don't even say it. Now quit your griping and go."
Ino glared at her mother's back when she spun on her heel and strode off for a quick chat with a small gaggle of guests huddled in the opposite corner of the room. Teeth grinding, Ino swiftly took the oppurtune time to realign her camisole strap before tearing into her purse and digging out a small but weighted pouch from under a bundle of tampons and small kunai. Setting her bag aside briskly, she gave the pouch an almost violent shake until out onto her palm spilled a tiny cluster of red jellybeans. Sparing herself and others any propriety, Ino promptly threw her head back and popped the entire bunch of candy into her mouth, almost groaning in bliss at the feel of the chewy confection turning into mush under her teeth. It was almost enough to make her dismiss the fact that she was stuck in a stuffy funeral parlor with fifty other family members, half of whom she couldn't even name.
This was exactly why Ino felt nothing short of miserable during civilian funerals. When a shinobi died, it was never just a casualty. It was a rite, a hallowed solemnity built on mutually shared grievance. The demise of a comrade hit home for everyone within the shinobi community, not only because of what was lost, but also because it called to mind what could be lost. Death was more than just a regularity in Ino's line of practice. Hell, it was essentially a guarantee. Paying respects to a fallen shinobi served as a reminder to her of her own vulnerability, that one day -maybe tomorrow, maybe in ten years- she too could end up with a kunai in her skull.
Ino had made her peace with that. Her father told her that she'd have to if she wished to be a ninja.
Hence why she was currently having trouble relating to a seventy-seven year old man who had died of a severe heart attack a few mornings ago. Honestly, where was the fanfare and sobriety in suddenly keeling over dead while you were flipping through your newspaper? Maybe the rest of her family could feel it, but Ino sure as hell couldn't. Swallowing what was left of her chewed-up jellybeans, Ino mentally steeled herself for her pending encounter with Aunt Rie, who was notorious for her aggravating tendency to let her mouth run at a mile a minute without pausing for air. Bracing herself to get up from her seat, Ino inwardly muttered a swift prayer to whatever omnipotent being present to somehow get her out of having to throw herself to Aunt Rie.
Just... please. Anything to cause a distraction. Anything that'll get me out of here, I beg of you.
To Ino's great misfortune, someone had been listening.
For it was only when Ino had begun to rise from her chair that a thunderous thud resounded from the other side of the wall opposite from her, leaving behind a multitude of angry cracks in the drywall.
For all of two seconds, everyone present in the room -including Aunt Rie- fell silent.
Then with a clatter even more booming than before, the entire wall gave way to flying, haphazard chunks of rubble, some of them nearly grazing Ino's poor grandmother. The entire assembly of people in the room hardly had the time to panic when out from the cloud of debris strode a tall, young-looking man, sterling hair gleaming and slicked back from his face. He seemed fairly normal dressed in a simple though slighly dusted sloe-black double breasted suit and he would have fit in neatly with the crowd if not for his unorthodox entry. The ominous three-bladed scythe strapped tightly onto his back did absolutely nothing to help.
Grin tilted with amusement, the man gave everyone around him a curt wave.
Still in her seat, Ino wasted no time in snatching a handful of kunai from her open purse and sliding them into her sleeves. Relieved to see that he hadn't outwardly noticed her sleight of hand, she listened as the assailant continued.
"Sorry about the wall and everything. Some asshole at the door got a look at my scythe here and wouldn't let me in. Now, everyone stay abso-freaking-lutely calm and I promise I'll be out of here in a heartbeat. Just gotta kill one of you and then I'll leave, mmkay?"
At the sound of the word 'kill', the room burst into with a panicked cacophony of whimpers and gasps. Ino tensed but made not a sound, prefering to scope out any potential openings while still entertaining the possibility that this man may have already sniffed her out. The kunai hidden in her sleeves lay cold against the skin of her arms.
Frowning at the sudden onslaught of distress, the intruder began closing in on the crowd of people around him, his back turned to Ino briefly. "Oy, I said chill, seriously. Just be good and tell me where this guy I need to find is, alright? 'Cause I know he's got to be in this room somewhere. The faster you tell me, the faster I leave."
Not being one to waste oppurtunity, Ino instantly flung two kunai from her sleeves, both of them bee-lining towards the man's shoulderblades. With a sudden flurry, the assailant flickered out of sight, leaving the kunai soaring towards the rubble in the distance.
The second after that found Ino being pinned roughly into her chair, the man looming over her with a sardonic smile on his face, all three blades on his scythe pointed dangerously close to her throat. From out of the corner of her eye, Ino could see her mother and Aunt Rie clutch their chests with discernable horror.
Above her, the man chuckled dryly. "Go ahead and try, sweetpea. I'd be fucking amazed if it worked, seriously."
Ino gulped, her wide teal eyes glued to his.
"You know, for a blonde you're one smart fucking cookie, you know that? You haven't left this chair the entire time, now haven't you? Cool as a fucking cucumber. You look like a you're few years younger than me, am I wrong? So that'd make you... what, a chuunin now? Am I right, sweetpea?"
Some meager trace of aplomb left in Ino's system allowed her to frown sourly at the moniker. The assailant merely grinned.
"Cute, real fucking cute."
The two of them remained that way until something at Ino's side suddenly captured the man's attention. Somewhat thrown off, Ino spoke for the first time since the wall collapsed.
"What the hell are you looking at?"
The man ignored her for a moment, staring thoughtfully at her open purse. Ino's scowl intensified; if this oaf even thought about making a go at her wallet, he was getting one between the ribs.
"Are those jellybeans?"
"Jellybeans. In your purse."
"What about them?"
"Can I have some?"
"Those jellybeans in your purse there, can I have some?"
"I'm sorry, but are you--?"
"Are you fucking touched in the head or something? I said can I have some?"
Disbelieving, she merely stared at him, inexplicably lost for a reply. "Well, I-- you... no, you can't."
"Why the fuck not?"
"Well, why the hell should I let you?"
"I haven't had anything to eat since last night, that's why."
"Then go to a goddamn diner or something, you creep. Why the hell would you crash a funeral if you're hungry?"
"Oh yeah, about that..." Then without any preamble, the pale-haired man calmly snatched the small pouch of jellybeans out of Ino's purse, the candy inside making a discernable clinking sound within.
"You asshole! Give them back!"
"I will if you do me a favor."
"Piss on your favor. Give them back now."
"Chill pill, sweetpea. Just do me this one little favor and I promise I'll give them back after I've had a few."
Ino would later recall that it was both horrifying and hysterical to see how quickly she had measured up aiding a man who for all intents and purposes could have been missing-nin against rescuing her coveted jellybeans from said missing-nin's clutches.
Her brows knitted together with aggravation. "What do you want?"
The man smiled. "That's better. Y'see, my boss gave me this assignment to," he gave way to dramatic pause before continuing, eyes looking upward as if reciting from memory. "And I quote, 'seek out this individual and eliminate him via discreet mechanisms. It is pivotal that you remain as covert and anonymous as your circumstances will allow and blah blah blah-'. God, that son of a bitch needs to get a life. Anyway, he said that this guy I'm being ordered to knock off is supposed to be at this funeral in the River Country. Hence, why I'm in need of your services, got it?"
"Understood. But that doesn't mean I have interest in helping you, jerk."
He shrugged before digging out a handful of jellybeans from her pouch. "Suit yourself."
"Hey, put those back!"
"I fucking told you I was going to have some."
"I didn't give you my permission, dumbass!"
"Boo fucking hoo. Like I said before, just tell me where this guy is and I'll stop."
"Go to hell."
"You first. Now, if you want these jellybeans back that fucking badly, all you have to do is just point out anyone in this room named Hideki. Then I'll give these back, I'll go slit his throat or something and I'll never come back here again. Deal?"
Ino gave the room a brief once-over, shortly racking her memory before frowning at him. "I don't know anyone here named Hideki."
"Horseshit. This is where he's supposed to be. You're going to fucking sit here and tell me you don't anyone named Yamaguchi Hideki?"
"Yes, I am. Because I don't know a Yamaguchi Hideki. No one here does."
"You've got to be shitting me." Keeping his scythe angled at Ino's neck, the man drew back and faced the rest of the crowd. "Look, don't get me wrong, people. It's not like I really want to be here right now. Hell, I'd rather be taking a fucking nap or something, but an order's an order. Someone's head needs to fucking roll before I leave. And don't even fucking try to cover any shit up. I know you're all Yamaguchis here, and there's got to be at least one sucker in this room named Hideki. So spill it. Where the fuck is he?"
The company of people in the funeral parlor stared back at him in bewilderment, whispering frantically amongst themselves with puzzled fervor.
Ino rolled her eyes. "Yamanaka."
"This is the Yamanaka clan, not Yamaguchi. Get it right, shit for brains."
Deadpan, the intruder glanced around the room expectantly, scanning every befuddled face in the room before slowly returning his scythe to his back and scratching the nape of his neck, dumbfounded.
"Ah.... well, shit."
The man's stupefied expression suddenly morphed into one of wry yet eased amusement.
"Would you fucking believe it," he chuckled. "I think I'm at the wrong funeral."
Ino's jaw hung open, eyes wide with disbelief.
"... excuse me?"
The man merely shook his head, mirth evident.
"I'm supposed to find this asshole named Yamaguchi Hideki and here I end up in a room full of Yamanakas. Fucking unreal. Isn't this the Takada Funeral Home, though?"
"No, asswipe. It's Tanaka's."
"Goddamn, even the name of the funeral home almost sounds the same. Isn't that just fucking spooky, sweetpea?"
"Stop calling me that."
The man merely smirked and made for the handle of his scythe. "Make me."
Immediately, Ino clamped down on her tongue. The last thing she needed right now was for a conflict to start in a place with this many civilians in close range.
Sensing her compliance, the man lowered his hand back to his side, his other hand still occupied with Ino's pouch of jellybeans.
He stared idly at her before glancing over at the open casket to his left.
"So, uh... who died?"
Ino stared vacantly back before answering. "My great-uncle."
"Were you two close?"
"... not really," she replied, sinking deeper into skeptical confusion as to why this person was trying to get personal with her.
Her confusion turned to absolute surprise when he reached into his jacket and produced a rosary, plain with the exception of a peculiar insignia bearing an upside-down triangle encased in a circle.
"So... is it okay if I say a prayer for him or something?"
Not for the first time that afternoon, Ino fell dead silent.
Who the hell was this guy?
Shaking herself out of her stupor, Ino pinned him with furrowed eyes while extracting another kunai from her sleeve.
"Try anything funny and this kunai's going to make nice with your brain stem, buster."
"Geezus shit, sweetpea. Don't get your panties in a bunch, seriously. Just a quick prayer and I'll leave, okay?"
Ino watched as he almost lovingly donned his rosary with a gentleness she would never have imagined he'd possess and brought the pendant up to his mouth for a tender kiss before striding slowly towards her great-uncle's casket. Her eyes stalked his every move, never leaving him even when he lowered himself steadily onto his knees and bowed his head in reverence.
Everyone in the room held in their breaths, anxious with anticipation.
"So, um..." he began unhurriedly. "We pray today in your presence, Jashin-sama, to ask that you relay my deepest apologies to sweetpea's great-uncle for crashing his funeral like that. And stuff. I mean, I just really want to get this fucking over with and go home but god forbid that shithead Leader will ever give me a fucking break to begin with, not to mention that retard Tobi gives the most piss-poor directions ever. I mean, seriously, what the fuck does he mean when he says I'm supposed to come to three forks in the road? Is that even fucking possible or-- ah shit, I digress. Anyway, we also ask that you openly accept the soul of sweetpea's great-uncle, that he may come to be in thy glory and sing thy praises in the heavens and all that awesome shit... unless, of course, the asshole did something that really pissed you off, in which case he can just fry in hell, 'cause he'd totally fucking deserve it."
The rest of the onlookers gasped -Aunt Rie's gasp unsurprisingly being the loudest-, taken aback at the man's shameless dismissal of their dead relative's memory.
"And also, please be with thy humble servant as I try to get the right fucking funeral home this time. I dedicate any and all ensuing destruction in thy name, that you may look favorably upon me and not send my soul to hell where I'll be sodomized by pitchforks or something fucked up like that. If need be, I will gladly offer penance by sacrificing a virgin in thy name. Maybe not sweetpea, though. 'Cause if you ask me, she looks really fucking suspect, what with that camisole of hers riding so damn low--"
"I'm kidding! Learn to take a fucking joke, seriously," he retorted before recoiling back into his prostrated position. "So, yeah. We pray these things in thy name. May thy judgement ring throughout the earth to time indefinte and forever. Amen."
Not sparing any haste, the man stood back and gave his rosary one last kiss before pocketing it back into his jacket. He turned and faced the rest of the people in the room, all of whom were staring at him with uncertain apprehension.
"Um... yeah. Sorry about the wall," he declared, making his way back towards the crudely improvised entrance as he spoke. "Shit happens, eh?"
Keeping to the status quo so far, no one else in the room uttered a reply back.
"Right. See you later, I guess."
Ino watched on with pensive expectancy when the man halted and faced her.
She fixed her eyes on him, waiting.
Then nearly boiled over when she saw that he still had her candy pouch.
"Thanks for the jellybeans."
As it turns out, Shikamaru isn't that great of a genius.
Afterall, he never foresaw the suckerpunch to the face that Ino sent his way when he asked her how the funeral went.
Reviews, as always, are love.