They Won't Pay Their Taxes! (A.K.A. Kakuzu and the Three Little Pigs)
Disclaimer - I don't own Naruto, the Akatsuki, or the Three Little Pigs. Which might be a good thing...
Author's Note - This is the first of a (possible?) series of Akatsuki-fied fairy tales. The inspiration for this goes to The Akatsuki Writers' Society, and in particular A.E. Stover, Nutella's Biggest Fan, and Cattiechaos. Thanks, you guys, for all the LOLz (or lawls, if you will :P)
Warning - extremely morbid, disturbing, and known to cause the spontaneous combustion of your brain. Proceed with caution.
Once upon a time, there lived a big bad wol – ahem – tax collector. He lived in the smallest, darkest ramshackle house at the far end of town; the villagers hardly ever sighted him outside this dilapidated domain, and quaked in fear when he did. For Kakuzu the Tax Collector was known for two things – his adamant obsession about collecting people's money, and his appallingly vicious temper.
So today, when the ominous stature of the tax collector swept through the village, even the sun high in the sky seemed to darken a little. Silent as a shadow he moved, behind his mask his emerald eyes narrowed. Everyone hastened to clear the path, for they had paid their dues earlier in the month and didn't want to suffer the brunt of his fury now.
And Kakuzu was in a decidedly grumpy mood today; he had been contentedly counting his revenues all morning when he came to realize that three shares of his gold weren't counted for. In his tight fist he clenched a scroll containing his scrupulously detailed inventory – and the names of the three that dared defy him and his taxes. With steely focus he strode in the direction of the first house on his list – a neat straw cottage enclosed by a garden. There was a man preening the plants; but as he spotted the shadow approaching on the horizon he ducked inside his abode and shut the door.
Kakuzu paced up the path, trudging on scattered flowers, and pounded on the door once with his huge fist.
"N-no one's here," squeaked a voice within.
"You can't fool me," Kakuzu growled, eyes narrowing. "I know you're here and I know you've been avoiding paying your taxes, Bob."
Kakuzu and Bob had once, long ago, been partners; but that had been before the town council's pay cuts, and now Kakuzu worked alone in his field. He could practically hear his old associate trembling behind the door.
"Please Kakuzu-san, you know times are hard right now – just give me a week and I'll be able to pay you –"
"Bob, open this door," Kakuzu overrode him with icy calm, "and let me come in!"
"Not by the hairs on my chin!" Bearded Bob bravely retorted.
"Then I'll get in by force!" Kakuzu pulled back a hardened fist and plowed through the straw wall as though it were, well, straw. The dwelling toppled like a house of cards and Bob stood alone, blinking in the bright sunlight, gaping at the piles of useless straw around him. Unfortunately, he didn't have the sense to run.
In a few quick minutes it was finished. Kakuzu obliterated the last traces of his ex-partner's existence (heck, he'd never liked him. Bob had taken far too much share of their profit, in his opinion). He retrieved from the wreck of the house what value he could, and finally, to make the ransack worthwhile, pocketed the cold heart of his ex-partner in satisfaction. If it wouldn't prove useful to him, he could always sell it on Ebay.
Morbidly pleased with himself, Kakuzu wasted no time in finding his next prey; however, the man lived deep in the forest, and it took a good few hours of searching to find his camouflaged hideout. Finally Kakuzu stumbled upon the darkened house hidden beneath twining trucks; thick green canopy shadowed it from view. As he approached, he noted the entire fortress was built in twigs. Outside a snake was lazily coiled; it didn't even bat an eye as he pounded a burly fist on the door. The action shook the rickety house to its roots.
"Coming," hissed a silky voice, before a pale man opened the door. Orochimaru eyed Kakuzu over the bandages matting his face. "Yesss? I hope thisss iss important. You interrupted my daily ssspa treatment."
Kakuzu wisely didn't inquire further, only snapping, "Where is your tax money, Orochimaru? Since it seems you can afford facials," he added with a twisted sneer.
Orochimaru examined his nails thoughtlessly. "I have better thingsss to be doing than paying you. I am after all the leader of the Sssound village."
Kakuzu inwardly sighed. He usually reserved the inquest of Orochimaru last for this very reason – the hermit was rumored to be a bit "off" in the head. He believed himself to be a ruler of some sort – no one dared ask details – and he was constantly claiming to be searching for a "Sssasssuke". Whatever that was.
Kakuzu clenched his fist. Crazy hermit or not, money was money, and he wouldn't leave until he had the satisfying cold hard cash in his palms. Or, if not, a heart would do. "Whatever you are, hand over your money now."
"Come back later when I have my ultimate vessssel," Orochimaru dismissed, closing the door. "I will ssshow you all my true power… Kukukukuku!"
Kakuzu listened to Orochimaru cackle on the other side of the door, irritation and blood pressure mounting. Finally he growled in some coherence, "Orochimaru, open this door and let me come in!"
"Never!" crowed the hermit. "Not by a hair on my –"
Kakuzu didn't have the patience to let him finish; he pulled back his fist and slammed it point-blank into the middle of the door. Wood splintered beneath his taut fist; Orochimaru's surprised expression stared back at him as the entire fortress crumpled, sticks clattering to the ground against one another like a long line of collapsing dominoes.
"Now then," Kakuzu growled, advancing. Orochimaru froze as a statue beneath his steely glare, his visible amber eye wide.
Kakuzu collected the same dues of Orochimaru's dwelling, disappointed to find hardly anything of value in the wreckage. There was nothing, not even a trace of gold to symbolize his supposed "rule"; what a crazy old hermit, he deemed. Kakuzu settled for claiming instead his heart and dusted off his hands, leaving the ruins behind him. Only one more to go, he thought with some glee. Then he could return home and calculate his spoils – until the time came around for another tax collection.
He loved his job.
Humming faintly, he strode through the forest until he reached his final destination. The house on the hill was more ancient than any other in the village: its bricks were darkened from years of exposure, the trees in the yard gnarled and charred beyond recognition. Kakuzu sniffed faintly as he straightened his collar and strode to the front door.
His pounding knock echoed eerily; a pause, then a voice within yelled, "Jashin curse you for disrupting my ritual!"
Kakuzu restrained a groan. It was his least favorite customer, worse than whiny Bob and disturbing Orochimaru combined. A loudmouthed, irritating, complaining, and equally hotheaded religious fanatic seemed to take sadistic pleasure in defying him every year. The aloof rector was just as solitary as him and equally feared by the village. Not only did he feud endlessly over his taxes, he had caused Kakuzu quite a few nuisances in the past by killing off the other dutifully tax-paying villagers – and a costly loss like that, from him of all people, was intolerable.
Kakuzu took a long breath; this year, he promised, he would finish this. He was on a roll today. All he had to do was break into one last house, and feel the satisfaction of holding that man's finally silent heart.
"Hidan," he rumbled, "open this door and let me come in!"
"Fuck no!" Hidan yelled back.
"This is your only warning," Kakuzu growled, his dark anger clouding the air. "I won't be responsible for what happens next!"
"Touch my house and I'll fucking sue you for fucking damages!"
"It's not your house I'm going to destroy…" Kakuzu's hands coiled into fists; he could imagine that ingrate's smirk and couldn't restrain his longing to throttle him.
"Oh, yeah? Well, I dare you to go ahead and try. Jashin will smite you before you can lay one of your greedy hands on me!" Hidan scorned from within.
Kakuzu growled, pulled back his fist, and aimed his most powerful punch at the door. But the bricks held; reverberations coursed through his body and he stumbled back, stunned, cradling his wounded knuckles.
"You think a door will stop me?" Kakuzu muttered under his breath. He was smarter than this crazy zealot. Even as he spoke, his gaze wandered upward; there was a blackened chimney protruding from the crooked roof. Yes, he could manage a secret entrance… The bastard would never see it coming…
With all his stealth Kakuzu rounded the house and set about climbing; holes in the brick proved sturdy handholds, and swiftly he gained the roof. He crept along the creaking tiles, finally reaching the chimney. Cautiously he gripped the edge, peering down through ages of soot. Lucky, he'd just be able to fit. He slithered inside, then carefully lowering himself.
Kakuzu inched soundlessly down the chimney shaft, hand over hand, grinning wide as a Cheshire cat in the shadows. His plan was perfect…! He released his careful grip on the sides and plummeted the last few meters.
Kakuzu glanced down in surprise to see he had landed in a large pot of water; flames flickered below, the scorching liquid bubbling menacingly. He raised his eyes to the silver-haired man across from him, who now stepped out of the shadows, leering insanely. He brought up a long stake from his side, its shaft glinting in the firelight.
"Finally. Jashin's been waiting for a sacrifice."
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