Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

AN: As I previously said in my AN for "The Proposal", I love KakuHida, especially the dark, violent aspects of that pairing. Here is my first effort exploring those aspects. Enjoy.

Don't Apologize

"I'm sorry, Hidan."

It was the way it always ended, with Kakuzu wearily rolling off of the other man to lay boneless at his side, his voice barely above a whisper. And the immortal always scoffed at that, too sated to actually be concerned by his words.

"Like Hell you are."

But as soon as the afterglow had faded, once they'd resumed their daily activities, then Hidan noticed, truly noticed that those were the only times Kakuzu ever apologized to him. He wasn't sorry for treating him like shit, for ignoring his needs, or for the numerous attempts on his life. No, he was sorry for the passion, the intimacy, and the younger man could not fathom why.

The sex between them was always quick and violent, and that suited both men just fine. Hidan enjoyed his partner's brutality, almost as much as Kakuzu enjoyed being brutal. It served as a release of sorts for both of them, their way of draining the stress that came with working together. Their partnership was a tense affair, after all, despite all claims by the rest of their colleagues that they were well suited to each other.

Their whole relationship was remarkably cyclic in nature. It began as a calm alliance, a state that could almost be called peace. They didn't snap at or aggravate each other; they exercised tolerance and showed no hesitance for cooperation. They did their fastest, most efficient work in this phase, something both of them showed silent pride for. However, this period was the shortest of the entire cycle.

The next stage was when the camaraderie began to dissolve. Back were the short tempers and the biting retorts, the scorn and the sarcasm. Instead of being fully cooperative they began to compete. It was in this phase that Kakuzu once more started seeing Hidan as a liability, and the immortal started to consider his partner a threat to his integrity. This period was the longest of the cycle.

And then there was the third stage, the last stage, where the conflicts intensified well past the point of being harmless. This was when their partnership completely fell to pieces, and the competition escalated to violence. It was in this phase that Kakuzu tried to kill his partner, and Hidan fought back with equal desire for blood. They could accomplish no work in this period, no matter what any of the others did to try and break the tension.

And finally the conflict reached its peak, its ultimate crescendo. The violence became sexual in nature, and the building tension was released in the frantic coupling that ensued. All quarrels were forgotten, all hatred evaporated, and both men remembered all the things they liked about each other. And then Kakuzu would apologize, Hidan would accuse him of lying, and the two men would doze off in each other's arms. When the morning after came, the cycle would begin anew.

It wasn't something they ever talked about, their cyclical relationship. The subject was practically taboo; they wouldn't even tolerate anyone else discussing it in front of them. They would barely admit that they were intimate, preferring to vocally deny the brutal affection that existed between them. The others found it bewildering, but eventually learned to keep their silence, too.

Hidan was starting to resent this denial, this mental distance between them, was coming to hate Kakuzu and himself for perpetuating it. He would never admit it aloud—damn his pride—but he wanted more for them. Here was a man who had lived in his prime for longer than was natural, nearly a century, a man with a system for maintaining his approximation of immortality. Though still young and living in the moment, Hidan understood that one day he'd be in that same place; understood that he was doomed to know the pain of watching the world age while he stayed the same. A pain his partner surely already knew. His mother once said that the gift of their deathless existence could become a curse if there was no one to share it with. And Kakuzu, with his system and his meticulousness, his attention to detail and his methodic caution, was someone he could spend forever with, if only he'd let him.

But neither man ever went any farther than they did, neither dared to go out of their way to change things between them, so the routine remained unbroken. Camaraderie became competition, competition became conflict, and conflict became passion, which turned the cycle back to its beginning. Endless and repeating, and it was always the same. Always the intense, brutal affection, and always the inexplicable and unnecessary apologies.

"I'm sorry, Hidan," the older man murmured just like he always did once the passion was ended, rolling over to rest at the immortal's side.

"Like Hell you are," the silver-haired berserker scoffed right back, his response reflexive, automatic, curling into his partner's embrace. A sharp exhale that might have been a laugh had the stitch-nin any energy left was the only reply he got.

Hidan was completely relaxed, on the verge of drifting off when he felt a large, weathered hand coming up to gently pet the back of his head, and heard a quiet voice whispering into his disheveled hair.

"You deserve so much better than me."

The immortal's eyes shot open at those words, all shadows of exhaustion immediately chased from his mind. Kakuzu looked shocked for a moment at his sudden rousing, mouth agape, his own eyes wide. No doubt he had thought his lover asleep and beyond hearing his words. And suddenly, everything made sense.

Hidan smirked, hooking an arm around the older man's neck and pulling him in close, clashing their mouths together in a brutal kiss. He chuckled at Kakuzu's practically flabbergasted expression when he finally released him, but didn't allow him to pull away completely. He kept their foreheads pressed together as he told him exactly what he thought about this.

"Like Hell I do."