Author's Note: Not actually much to say or warn for. This is a little piece I did several weeks ago, and realized I'd forgotten to post here. Spoilers for those not following the manga. One bad word? I was never particularly interested in Konan, until the end of the last arc, and then suddenly, I was curious about her. This is just exploring that curiosity a little.

Life After Death

The journey was quiet, but Konan was used to that. Both of the men she'd lived for, who she built her life around were dead, and she was rather surprised to realize, she was used to that too.

Oh, Nagato hadn't accepted it for years. He'd kept them both alive in Pain. He'd denied it, because that was his privilege; because he was powerful and determined enough to pretend. And Konan had supported it. How was one to say no to a dying friend? Especially when his death—their deaths—were on her. She knew him, though, knew him when he was alive. The only time, in all those years, when he lived again was when he recognized that he was already dead. When he remembered what he had been.

And for that, she'd thanked the young man, the boy, who finished him.

The world was a fucked up place, but Konan was more used to that than anything else.

When the weight of Nagato and Yahiko's bodies grew tiring, she set them down gently in their paper coffins, and she sat on a log, and she rested. Damp from the bark seeped into her Akatsuki robes, cool and soggy, inevitably ruining more than a little of her paper. A well known, almost comforting hazard. At the moment, she didn't care. She wasn't fighting.

She was returning home. There were still people who depended on them there; they'd depended on Pain, but she was all that was left. His angel. She was picking up his responsibilities, but somehow the prospect seemed light. How taking on a village, how taking on her own life, could feel as insubstantial on her shoulders as rice tissue, was a testament to how much carrying two dead men for decades warped the perspective. She smiled a little at the thought. A sad smile. Nagato would have worried about her for saying that, once. Yahiko might have laughed, if he thought he got the joke.

She laughed then, very soft and very dry, for him. She laughed, and she stood, and she approached the coffins. Leaves of paper peeled away, revealing one face, then the other. They seemed peaceful. Proof that these were empty shells.

Konan blinked before she could cry.

In the privacy of the forest, just off an empty stretch of trail, Konan kissed her two fingers, and pressed them first to Yahiko's lips, then to Nagato's. Their skin was growing brittle, parchmenty. A silly part of didn't want to get lipstick smudged on them like this. It didn't really matter at this point, but there it was.

It took very little encouragement to burn the coffins, and with enough fire, enough heat, their cargo. The Akatsuki cloak burnt too. It was hardly damp enough to make a difference. The hard part was keeping the fire from spreading, but she did. Letting it go unchecked would have been a poor sign of her gratitude. She left them there together, their ashes keeping each other company, paper flowers with singed edges marking the grave in a way she deemed artistic.

She walked the rest of the way home alone. It was time to get used to that now.