The two men had been waiting for over four hours. Sunset had set in and the small coffee shop was beginning to fill up with long shadows. The air was thick with annoyance, frustration, and suspicion.
The dark haired man looked across the table over his mug at his partner.
"They were supposed to be here hours ago."
He glanced at the time piece on the table.
"Four hours to be exact."
The other man threw his hands behind his head and grunted.
"You think they died on the way here?"
The dark haired one swirled the contents in his mug, his unibrow contorted into an especially wavy line across his forehead.
"Even if they did, I still think we deserve at least some notification. I don't see the logic in wasting four hours of my life waiting on three dead guys."
His partner laughed.
"They'll be here. We'll charge them for the wait."
The dark haired man with the especially wavy unibrow grinned at this proposition. The two men immediately began to draw up a rough draft on how much the three Akatsuki owed them.
Meanwhile, Hidan and Deidara's bickering had only successfully managed to slow them down by another entire sixty minutes, making them late by a grand total of four hours.
Kakuzu was growing tired of acting as referee. He had even confiscated Hidan's scythe and Deidara's clay supply. What was the leader thinking when he granted Deidara permission to go out on this mission with them?
T hey turned a corner at the end of the street and finally arrived at their destination: the coffee shop where they were supposed to meet with their informants to discuss the whereabouts of the Kyuubi kid.
"You're late," the dark haired informant stated, pointing out the obvious.
Kakuzu grunted, and laid his briefcase on the table, one hand firmly gripping the handle. "It's all in there." He pulled a chair from a nearby table with his free hand, sat down, and stared long and hard at the two men. "And now, for the other part of our deal."
The dark haired man slid a piece of paper toward Kakuzu and smirked.
Kakuzu eyed the suspicious note.
"Compensation fee," the other informant chuckled. "You guys kept us waiting four extra hours. Heh. That has to be the tardiest ninja organization record I've ever come across!"
At this, Kakuzu snapped his fingers. The informants looked up, a little startled and uncertain, as Hidan and Deidara walked up and stood on either side of Kakuzu. Hidan wore a psychotic expression, and Deidara looked no less scary with his long mouth fixed in a devilish sneer.
The two S. J Gang members backed off a little.
"You know you're not going to get anything out of us if you kill us!" the unibrowed one stated in a panic.
"We're only asking for five thousand seven hundred and thirty five ryo!" his light haired partner added.
Hidan grinned. He sensed fear in the men. "Heh, Kakuzu, do we kill them now?"
"No," came the gruff reply from underneath the mask.
"Eh?" Hidan was obviously disappointed. After all, he really felt like ripping out some guts after having suppressed this instinct for four hours while spewing insults and creative names at Deidara. He admitted to himself that he'd never really gotten that creative his entire life. Name calling was definitely a form of art.
Deidara glanced at the old ninja.
"You're going to pay the five thousand seven hundred and thirty five ryo. Hidan pays eighty percent, Deidara twenty."
The two of them Eeehh-d simultaneously.
"Wait what the hell, why do I get to pay eighty percent and girly man over there has to pay only twenty?! What the hell is up with all this favoritism?"
"That's because it was your fault we got late in the first place."
Hidan caught Kakuzu's green glare and 'hrmph'ed. He knew there was no point arguing over it anymore because it was his fault for taking too long at the ritual. But then the other three-and-a-half hours didn't really count. After all, it was stupid Deidara who started every fight, what with all that shoving his hand-mouths in Hidan's face and all. And Kakuzu wasted a considerable amount of time trying to break up their arguments (which he really shouldn't have even bothered to, since killing off Deidara would have automatically solved the problem and put them back on track). And then there was the time when Kakuzu took a wrong turn. He really didn't know how to read a map…
The Jashinist glanced at the blonde Akatsuki, a sour look all over his face. He fished into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.
"Here, four thousand five hundred and eighty eight ryo." Hidan threw a wad of dirty bloodstained notes at the table. That was all of it, he thought sadly.
Deidara looked at him in surprise.
Turning to his team mates, Hidan added slowly: "You're so fucking mean Kakuzu, you knew exactly how much I had. And I was supposed to buy some shampoo since I forgot mine at home dammit!"
"That sucks, un. I know exactly what it feels like to go without shampoo for a day."
"Huh, yeah." Hidan's eyes lit up in a moment of sudden hope. "Hey, think you could lend me some just for today? I'll pay you back once we get home."
It amazed him that, despite their disputes, the two of them had another thing in common: priority for hair care. Passion for destruction and priority for hair care. This just might blossom into friendship…
"Like hell I would!"
Why that shitty bastard, Hidan thought, erasing all fleeting feelings of admiration and respect for the blonde Akatsuki. Brat's got to pay only a fraction of what he has and he doesn't want to part with a dime for a bottle of shampoo?!
Deidara was fumbling with percentages in his head. The Jashinist noticed this and smirked. "That's one thousand one hundred and forty seven from you."
Deidara's eye narrowed. "I know that, un!" he delved his hands into his pocket and fished out a considerably smaller wad of notes.
"Don't forget not to slobber all over them," Hidan added, grinning.
Tiny blood vessels almost visibly popped in Deidara's forehead. He literally felt like exploding at the moment.
"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
Kakuzu's fists were beginning to harden again.
Deidara chuckled. "No, just surprised. Didn't know you could count."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?! I'm really good at math you know!"
"I never would have guessed."
"It's true," added a gruff voice. Kakuzu's fists had gone back to normal. "Hidan's got talent. It's a shame he doesn't use it though. He'd make a good accounts assistant."
"Oi oi oi! You know how I feel about dealing with money! Helping you count how much you earned from killing people is the lowest and sickest thing I've ever heard!" Saying thus, our Jashinist couldn't help stealing a glance at Deidara, who was trying his best to suppress a chuckle. He felt something purr inside him.
Kakuzu completed gathering information on the whereabouts of the Kyuubi kid while Hidan fought with himself to control the highly uncalled for reactions stirring within his body. Hidan was struggling with himself silently lest Deidara should hear or suspect something was up. However, the artist was quick to notice. He waited till they were outside the coffee shop to ask Hidan about it.
"Hey," he whispered.
"What's wrong, un?"
"Huh, what d'you mean?"
"You're acting weird, un. Every time you look at me, you act weird."
Hidan gulped. Shit! How much does he know?!
"So… ?" Deidara asked with a playful grin.
"So what?" Doki doki. Hidan looked away. Don't… don't look at me like that you idiot!
"So why're you acting weird?"
"I'm not acting weird, so get off my face!"
"Tch! Geez." Deidara frowned.
"No, we're not staying at a hotel tonight."
"Aww come on Kakuzu-chan!"
"But I really need shampoo! And it's free at the hotels, so why not?"
"I'll have to pay a hundred times more for the room than for the bottle of shampoo."
"Yeah, so? You'd still get a free bottle of shampoo. I don't think you heard me right the first time 'Kuzu, I said freeshampoo. F-R-E-E. Aww come on, you couldn't have missed that!
"No. Now shut up and go to sleep. We've got a big day tomorrow." Kakuzu laid his bedroll down on the grass and settled in.
Hidan spread out his bedding next to Kakuzu's and stood up to straighten it with his foot. He looked at the blonde head next to his bedding: Deidara was already asleep.
"Nnh… Dei… dara…!"
"Ohmagod! Holy shit un! Get your dirty hands off me!"
"Hidan! You idiot! Get off of me!"
"Guh! Wh-WHAT?!! NO! Not there! Not there you stupid shitty bast—"
"DEIDARA! What the hell is going on there?! You're scaring the stars away from the sky."
"It's Hidan! Kakuzu help! He's ARGH! KATSU!"
A singular explosion ripped through the night air.
"Hmm…?" Hidan hovered between dream and reality. He felt his arms wrapped around something that felt like it was trying really hard to get away from him. (That would make sense because that something was a very terrified and violated Deidara.) He looked up with half opened eyes at Deidara and smiled. "Hey…" he said as he smirked a super sexy smirk.
"You stupid idiot! What the hell do you think you're doing?!" The arsonist felt one of his hands come free from Hidan's embrace and used this opportunity to land a hard punch on our zealot's face.
Hidan looked around, obviously highly confused. By now the sleep had worn away and he gradually came to his senses.
He noticed his arms and legs were wrapped tightly around Deidara. The realization set in.
"Oh my Jashin! Oh my god! What the fuck? What the FUCK were we doing?!"
"We? It was you un! You had your dirty hands all over me and you were like all 'mmm' and 'nnh' and…"
"Shut up! Just shut up! Oh god I don't want to hear it!" Hidan screamed, hands over his ears.
"…and making weird noises and… "
"I said shut up dammit I don't want to hear it!" But Deidara continued recounting his traumatic experience.
"…and you were just scaring me shitless un! And then you were putting your hands in here and…"
Unable to take any more of it, Hidan ran away with his scythe to the edge of the river.
"I feel so violated, un."
Kakuzu observed the scene from a few feet afar, and then offered to sleep in between them so as to avoid any further feisty midnight adventures between the two. He sighed and wondered how his old bones were going to put up with more of the pair's gimmicks. They were definitely going to sleep in late tomorrow as well.
Deidara gladly pick up his roll and scampered on to the other side, next to Kakuzu.
Kakuzu slowly made his way to the river. The zealot stood still, crouched and sobbing by the river bank, rosary to his heart.
"I didn't think you'd go that far just to get your hands on Deidara's shampoo."
Hidan raised his head and glared through the tears of shame and guilt.
"Goddamn you Kakuzu, I was not after his shampoo. What the hell kind of logic is that?! It was just a dream okay?! Just a fucking dream!"
"Then why are you so upset about it?"
"Because I've been feeling this way ever since I killed that Amegakure ninja."
Kakuzu raised his eyebrows.
"It's like this thing, this… this other life force got into me or something and it's conflicting with my normal self. Gah dammit, what the hell is wrong with me 'Kuzu?! What the hell is wrong with me?"
The waterfall nin sat in comtemplation.
"Well…" he offered, "either you're just gay, and it's all happening as part of a natural sequence…"
"No! I'm not gay!" Hidan's expression was pained and contorted. "I don't feel that way at all!"
Kakuzu felt sorry for the man. Here was a poor soul trying to live by the strict code of discipline set out by his religion, fighting off emotions and suppressing everything just to accomplish that. The confusion and frustration on Hidan's face was saddening to look, but also quite funny, Kakuzu observed. At least this was a welcome break from having to bear witness to his usual annoying expression.
"Okay," he continued. "Then maybe it's this 'life force' you contracted from the ritual. Isn't there something about such… 'hitchhiking life forces' in any of your DIY ritual books?"
"It's possible… but I don't remember reading about anything like that." Hidan clutched his rosary tighter. "I swear I better do something about it before it totally takes over me."
Kakuzu nodded and left the Jashinist by the river and walked back to his bedroll.
He shook his head and went back to bed, convinced that his initial diagnosis was right: Hidan was finally 'coming out'.
That night, neither Deidara nor Hidan could get a wink of sleep. Deidara lay on his side the entire night, wary, and surrounded by explosives. Hidan spent the night performing a series of 'forgiveness rituals', stabbing himself at the river bank.